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Home is where the heart is.

It’s also where you can find some hearty cash.

Consider your unwanted clothes, dated jewelry, books collecting dust in your attic and toys—all your junk, as they say, is someone else’s treasure. In return, you could make $500, or more, just by opening your eyes to what’s taking up space in your house. It’s a fast and easy way to help pay down your bills next month or buy a few fall fashion must-haves.

Here's where to look:

Your Closet: $100 to $5,000, depending on the hotness of your duds.

Got buyer’s remorse from those pumps worn once and never again? No longer care for that denim blazer you thought you just had to have?

Unwanted clothes, handbags and lightly worn shoes from your overflowing closet—preferably still carrying their price tags—price well at second-hand, vintage or used clothing stores. In this economy, resale shops are getting tons more items, as folks look to turn their unused garments into cold hard cash. In fact, the number of resale shops in the country is rising by 5% each year, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops. At used, contemporary clothing stores, the higher the ticket price is in retail, the more shop owners can demand in resale. Best to bring in items from the past two or three years, that are still in style. Depending on the store’s policy, you can generally earn up to 50% of the resale price.

At vintage clothing shops, managers there typically want clothes 20 years or older. If you’ve got a pair of go-go boots hiding in your closet from the 1970s or your grandmother’s flapper dress – those are hot items. Don’t be discouraged if one shop rejects you. Every store has it parameters of what they accept, they may have restrictions on sizes, styles and colors. Go back and look in the Yellow Pages or online for more used clothing shops in your area. Try the National Association of Resale and Thrift, click on 'Shopping Guide' and search by zip code.

Earn the most money if you bring items in during the right season, since retail stores prefer to have items in the same timeframe as normal retailers in the area. Right now is a great time to bring in fall items like corduroys, blazers, knits and scarves.

Your Jewelry Box: Old Bling Can Make You $100.
With the price of gold at around $800 an ounce, 'tis the season to cash in on those old gold chains and mate-less 14-karat earrings. To figure how much your gold pieces can fetch do the following math:

1. Take the current market price of gold per ounce (available at and and divide it by 20 to give you the pennyweight or dwt, a measure used to weigh precious metals.

2. Then multiply that number by the gold purity. A 24-karat piece is almost entirely pure gold, so in that case you multiply by 100% or 1.00. An 18 karat ring, though, is 75% pure gold or .75. The higher the purity, the higher the value of that gold piece.

3. Find the actual weight of the piece in pennyweights. You can buy a scale or you can do this at a jewelry store. You covert grams into pennyweight by multiplying by .64

4. Finally, multiply those three numbers: the pennyweight, the gold purity and the actual weight of the piece.

5. To sell it, you can either attend a gold party in your neighborhood or go to a local gold buyer or liquidator and cut a deal. (HOT TIP: Before you go, make sure to put each piece in a separate plastic bag. If you go in with a big blob, they’ll just figure everything at 12-karat gold, but maybe you have 18 or 24-karat gold in there!)

Your Dusty Bookshelves: $10 to $12 a stack. In a year that’s $100.

Those books in your basement from your kid’s high school and college courses may collectively be worth a weekend ski trip if they are still in good condition. (Best if books still have dust jackets, too.) A pre-owned hardcover copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, for example, is up for grabs for about $40 at Powell’s Books, a giant seller of used, new and out-of-print copies in Portland, Ore. There, original owners earn 25% of the book’s resale price. To get a sense of what certain books might resell for check out aggregate search sites such as, and

Find $100 in an Old Toy Chest.
Turn old memories into money. Your kids are out of the house, but their My Little Pony Collection and their Beanie Babies are left untouched. Toys and collectibles make big bucks on sites like eBay (STOCK QUOTE: EBAY). At last check a My Little Pony from 1986 was listed for $100. With more than 600,000 auction listings on eBay, old-school toys, board games and dolls are in demand. Julia Wilkinson, publisher of eBay newsletter, jokes that her daughter’s Beanie Baby collection is going to pay for her college. Recently she sold a box of her son’s old Thomas the Tank Engine trains for a total of $100 on the site, which she estimates, is more than she could get selling through a yard sale.

Make $90 a Year Checking Underneath Your Couch Cushions Each Year.
America could be $10 billion richer ($90 per household) if it simply cashed in all the loose coinage lying around, according to Coinstar (STOCK QUOTE: CSTR), which operates coin machines in more than 15,000 supermarkets worldwide. It costs 8.9% fee to convert coins to bills, but is free when turning coins into a gift card or gift certificate. Commerce Bank’s Penny Arcade machines are free to use - but are only available in some states.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.