Cooking the Books podcast: How to use furniture flipping to make extra cash


The Herald’s Cooking the Books personal finance podcast is here to get you the tips you need to weather the financial storm. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode.

When you’re trying to manage your money, it’s all about money in versus money out.

While that means clamping down on spending can help, it’s just as important to be on the lookout for ways to increase what’s coming in the door in the first place.

Listen to the Cooking the Books podcast here:

There are all sorts of interesting side hustles that people turn to, but one that many overlook is furniture flipping.

In basic terms you find a piece of secondhand furniture that’s seen better days, you restore it with some elbow grease, and then sell it for a profit.

Nicky Rutter is one New Zealander who has tried this, and used it to help her family pay down debt.

She said being a stay-at-home mum meant she often had an hour here or there to work on the pieces she found.

So upcycling furniture became a satisfying hobby with flexible hours that she could then turn into money once she was done.

She said the trick was to find quality pieces, often made from solid wood, that could be easily updated or fixed.

“The most I’ve made was $220 on an oak sideboard – the cost was about $20,” she said.

“Normally I’ll take my husband with me to the secondhand stores, have a look around. Sometimes I’ll just see something and be immediately drawn to it.

“It starts going through my head what I’d do to it, I can visualise what I’d like to do.

“The next thing that comes into play is the price. Say it was worth $50 I’d probably just pass it up. But $12.50, that’s such a score I have to get it.”

Rutter said she and her husband were careful to check the quality of the furniture, even taking a torch with them to check for borer in hidden nooks and crannies.

She warned it was important to factor in materials like paint, oil, or handles when you were thinking about whether you could make a profit on a piece.

When it came to the skills needed to make the furniture look good again, she said she simply jumped in and learned as she went.

“I did a few pieces for friends and they were saying wow this is really cool, you’ve done such a great job.

“That built up my confidence and then I was thinking, well hold on, other people might like this. I get to upcycle furniture so that we’re reusing it rather than just buying something from the store.”

When trial and error failed, she would look up the problem online and soon find simple tutorials to guide her through trickier techniques.

“I truly do believe that anyone can do anything. Okay, maybe not anything, but like I tell the children: the more you do it the better you will get.

“You can’t just try it once and say oh no it didn’t work. Keep trying, and keep at it.”

• Listen to the full interview on the Cooking the Books podcast. You can find new episodes on Herald Premium, or subscribe on iHeartRadio, Apple podcasts app, or Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

• If you have a question about this podcast, or question you’d like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I’m on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

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