What To Do With Those Old Electronics

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By now, everybody has an old cell phone, mp3 player, digital camera, or any number of other types of electronics floating around.

But, what’s the best thing to do with them? Are they worth anything? Should you just throw them away? What if somebody reads all those embarrassing text messages to your now-former significant other?

Well, let’s handle those questions one at a time.

Selling Used Electronics

What to do with one of these devices depends a lot on the device, and on how much time you’re willing to put into disposal. Some devices are worth hefty cash. Some are better off recycled.

Prices largely reflect the condition of the item, and how up-to-date the technology is. The mint condition iPad you just upgraded can probably fetch a pretty penny. But if you’re finally ready to part with your VCR or LaserDisc, chances are they won’t pull much on the secondary market.

If you’re wondering whether selling a device is worth the hassle, get a rough idea how much the device is worth. Do a few quick searches on eBay and Craigslist, and see how much similar items are selling for. While you’re looking, make sure you’re comparing items in like condition, and with the same accessories.

The resale value of many devices quickly falls of if original cables and packaging are missing. In other words, always hang onto the AC adapter! If while you’re price checking you decide the amount is worth the time, you can put up an ad while you’re there.

When looking for a quicker sell, there are companies that will take your goods in exchange for cash or gift cards. If the item is in rough shape and they won’t be able to resell it, they can still help you recycle the item.

Give companies like Gazelle, Nextworth, and YouRenew a look. Companies like these are anxious to take your smart phones, digital cameras, pocket video cameras, laptops, gaming consoles, e-readers and video players off your hand. Prices vary depending on model and condition. You can get as little as a few dollars for a camera in rough shape, or $125 for a perfect condition 16GB 3G iPhone.

Donation and Recycling

If you’re not strapped for cash, consider donating the item. Some companies, like Goodwill, help recycle electronics so they can be used in schools or offered to low-income job seekers.

If you have items that simply won’t pull any cash on the secondary market, there are several options available to recycle them.

Best Buy offers free disposal services that guarantee your device won’t be sent to the landfill. Many cell providers offer donation and recycling programs for phones. If you do want to donate your item but aren’t sure if it’s worth keeping, take it to a company with a donation and recycling program, so that a nonprofit without such a program doesn’t have to pay extra to recycle an unusable item.

Dealing with Sensitive Data

Now a note on sensitive data.

Regardless of how you get rid of a device, you might be worried about sensitive data floating around your phone or computer. You don’t want a stranger walking around with contact information for your friends and family, or logging on to your Facebook account with your saved information.

The companies above will take care of erasing sensitive data before a resale. If you’d rather have the peace of mind of doing it yourself, or if you’re selling the device directly to the new buyer, you have some other options.

For cell phones, there are many cell data erasers available. For computers, try this video.

Hanging on to old electronics you’ll never use again isn’t a great option. So whether it’s the VCR you’ll never use again or the iPhone with the busted screen, use these tips to offload those old electronics.

Published or Updated: April 21, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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