Turning unwanted items (stuff) to cash in Costa Rica is not an easy task. There a are a few options, however: the Compra y Venta (pawn shop), online sales, tell all your friends and the garage or yard sale. Let’s look at each.

1. The Compra y Venta is quick but expensive. This alternative is for raising cash but not really to get rid your stuff permanently, just letting it go for a little while. Interest rates can range from 10% to 15% per month. And if you want to repay early – get your stuff back faster – you will still have to pay out the full interest on the contract, which is usually three months.

If going this route, shop around. Many of the Compra y Venta are located in the area know as La Coca Cola in San José or commercial centres in small towns and communities. Not all Compra y Venta are the same. Negotiate. Get a clear understanding of the terms, like the interest rate, the cost of early pay out and late fees.

2. Online sales. There are many websites out there that you can post your stuff for sale and free. Craigslist and Encuentro24 are just two that offer a free service for most items.

Placing an ad is simple, for the most part, all you need is an email account. Some, like Craigslist verify your email before you can post. Add photos of the item(s) and a good description for best results. Use a generic email (like GMail or Hotmail) if possible to avoid being spammed. Be careful to include personal information that will be available to anyone.

3. Newspaper ad. The king of the jungle is La Nacion classifieds. Placing an ad with them gives you exposure to three newspapers – La Nacion, Al Dia and La Teja. They are also post the ad on the online publication. This form of sale can get expensive and no guarantee of any buyers.

Placing a classified ad in the newspaper is simple today. At the La Nacion you can do so online (a credit card is needed) or you can visit anyone of the La Nacion points of sale around the country. For the Diario Extra, for instance and others you will have to visit personally at their main offices.

4. Tell your friends. Let everyone know that you are selling and what. But don’t be surprised if you get them telling you of the stuff they are selling. Great for trading but no so for raising cash, your original goal.

This option works if you have friends. If you don’t, then maybe your enemies?

5. The garage or yard sale. One, you don’t need a garage or yard for a garage or yard sale. Two, holding a garage sale means opening the doors to your yard and home to anyone. This goes in smack in the face of having bars, barbed wire, triple locks and alarms in the first place. So, for a few colones, you are willing to trade your security?

If you do hold a garage or yard sale, you will have to either place ad and in the newspaper, online or tell your friends. When holding the sale, make sure your items are clearly priced and be prepared to negotiate. And cash payment ON THE SPOT  is usually the best policy.

As to security, make sure that you can control who gets into your yard, garage or home. This one you will have to figure out depending on where you are located. And definitely never at night. Or when it is raining.

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Surely there are other ways of – legally – turning your stuff into cash. But, probably the best way is to show financial responsibility in the first place: don’t  buy what you don’t need, don’t impulsive shop, don’t use you credit card and don’t spend more than you can afford.