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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in laterlife 

Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 

Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers



January 2012

 Having a clear out

Now is a good time to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents as well as empty the loft (before adding more insulation, perhaps) and garage. So here are a few ideas to help you do that using your computer.


The most obvious place to sell 'things' is eBay as you have an audience of millions and a safe and simple method for receiving money. But there are other methods too.


I still find many people who have never tried eBay because they are nervous about it. So for those new to selling on this auction website, here is a brief checklist to help you start.

Get yourself an eBay account. It is all very simple – just go to and register with the website. You will need to provide details of your bank account as they take your fees from it (usually quite low to put up a listing and a percentage of the final sale price if your item sells).

2. Set up a Paypal account at This is different, as you can use this financial service as an online bank account when paying for things yourself or for people to pay into when they buy your items. You either link your Paypal account to your bank account or set it up with a credit card, but it is a good idea not to leave money in your Paypal account for too long after making a sale. Once you have been paid, log in and move the money out into your own bank.

3. Paypal is an excellent system as, without it you either have to be able to take credit or debit card details from purchasers (difficult for individuals, rather than businesses) or use cumbersome facilities like cheques that must wait to clear. Whatever you do, try not to rely on cash – even if the purchaser has to collect heavy items in person – as you should always have the money sorted out in advance. Many people buy goods and then change their minds – leaving you without a sale. They don't do that so often if they have already paid!

4. Armed with an account, you can use the step-by-step guide provided on the site to sell something. Decisions to be made include:

a. What title to give it (very important as this is what people search on and read before opening your advert out). Searching is by key words so include EVERYTHING that might be relevant e.g. size, colour, condition, unique selling point etc. and various alternative spellings if this might be an issue.
b. What category to advertise in – less important for key word searching but people sometimes scan down a category to see if something catches their eye. So be careful, for example, that kitchen utensils made of plastic end up in the "kitchen" section and not the "plastics" section if you want them found.
c. What pictures to provide. Try to take at least one excellent picture and also display one of any defects if these are mentioned in the details, so people know what you mean by "dog-eared", "cracked" or "stained". If you look at current adverts you will see items for sale with no picture, or a badly lit, fuzzy image, and you will also see beautifully presented items. Guess which ones attract the highest price??
d. How to describe your item. The most important thing is to provide full details that are accurate. There is nothing worse than having items sent back (together with poor feedback) because you said "perfect condition" or "large" and your buyer doesn't agree. Also – don't be too vague or you will just get lots of email questions you should have answered in the fairly generous space provided for a description. Take measurements, explain how things work and, as well as any 'soft' sell, think what you as a buyer might need to know and add that information.
e. The price. To help you set a starting point or reserve below which you wouldn't go, use key words to identify very similar items and then, in the left-hand index, click "Completed listings." Here you will see the price they either sold at (green) or were left unsold (red). You will also see the number of people bidding (to indicate what interest there might be in your item) and what postage charges people set – to help you with that decision as well.

eBay sales


f. Whether to set a Buy Now price or not. If you really want bidders, you can just put a starting price and leave the auction to run, but if you want a quick sale you can also add your top hoped-for price as a Buy Now.
g. Postage. As well as checking other sellers, you should be able to click a link on eBay to go to Royal Mail to find out what your sized parcel might cost, and then can set a reasonable price for postage. Do not try to make money from postage and advertise your item too cheaply as people get very annoyed. Remember, whatever happens before, during and after the sale – your buyer can post positive or negative feedback that will be online for ever!!!



If you want to sell unwanted books, a better site than eBay is Amazon, (and you can also sell other items if you want to). Go to any listing and you will see underneath it the number of "new" and "used" books available, with their prices. All you need do is undercut the cheapest slightly (if you are prepared to let it go at that price, of course) and you should be the first seller.

Click the Sell your Item link and then use key words to search the website for your book. When you see it listed, click the Sell yours button. Follow the steps to add your own book details such as condition etc and price.

Sell on Amazon

If someone buys your book, Amazon will send you an email. You must log onto your Seller account section of the website and, firstly, print off a label and despatch notice to put inside your parcel and then, when you have taken the book to the post office and have proof of postage, go back and confirm it has been sent.

You will be paid the book price and a set amount to cover postage, minus an Amazon fee.




For some goods, especially if they have to be collected rather than posted, you might like to try your local Gumtree at . This is quite free and will require you to click the Post an Ad button. Select the region and town that is nearest to you, then the categories before filling in all the details.


You can click to upload one or more pictures of your item but, remember, this is NOT set up financially like eBay. All you can do is ask buyers to contact you by phone or email to discuss your item and how to pay. If you have a Paypal account, they can use a credit or debit card to pay you via that service, which is the safest for both of you, but they can also send you a cheque or bring cash when they turn up to collect.

Specialist websites

Many websites cater for different audiences and may have a section set up for selling relevant second-hand goods. Once such is aimed at people looking for mobility aids.

Here, you can usually list your item for free and then, like Gumtree, negotiate with purchasers as to how they pay for and collect it.

Giving things away

For the more generous of you, or if your items are simply not saleable, an alternative is to barter them e.g. on or or give them away. Many organisations including charities, food banks, housing associations etc would love to have old furniture, food, clothes, shoes or computers and a quick search on the Internet should locate more than one suitable organisation that may also be happy to send round a van to pick things up.



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