Real Money: Discover Cash in Unused, Broken Electronics

Image credit: ABC News

Even though Mary and Steve Burt Godwin had been saving up to buy bunk beds for their girls, Lexi and Lilly, they still found themselves $700 short.

So ABC News had Jessica Dolcourt, a tech writer for, visit the Burt Godwins' home in Carlsbad, Calif., to shed some light on a four-step hidden tech treasure map that she said could unearth a cache of old electronics to help the family raise cash.

"Even if you get half price," Dolcourt said to Mary Burt Godwin, a mommy blogger, as the two went through the house, "that's some serious money."

The Burt Godwins scored $758 - enough for their little girls' new bunk plus a little extra money to spend.

Below are the four tips that Dolcourt shared:

    1. Round up old cell phones and cameras. Dolcourt said they have the highest resell return of any electronics in your home. Even if the phones are broken, she said, the parts are still valuable.
    2. Don't be lured off the treasure map. There are three big things that resellers will not pay for: printers, fax machines and stereos. They are usually too outdated to be worth much.
    3. Cut out the wait and haggling and sell your stuff online. On, Dolcourt looked up Steve Burt Godwin's Nikon DSLR D90 camera and found that she could get $265 for it. They went to to look up a Mac Book Pro and found that it could be resold for $300.
    4. Use an ecoATM, a self-serve robotic automated teller machine that doles out cash on the spot for old mobile devices. The ecoATM identifies the phone's make and says what it's worth. Find out where the nearest ecoATM is in your area.

On average, most cell phone users replace their phones every 18 months, according to ecoATM. Compass Intelligence, a consulting firm, estimated that there were more than 278 million idle cell phones in the U.S. And only one in five were reused or mined for parts.

At ecoATM's San Diego headquarters, the phones are assessed, refurbished and then resold. It's called "e-cycling."

"About 75 percent of everything that we get finds a life as a cell phone," said Tom Tullie, CEO, president and chairman of ecoATM. "About 25 percent of everything we get is going to get smelted for the gold and platinum and palladium."

There are about 150 ecoATMs in the U.S. and that number is expected to double this year.

The Burt-Godwins' old working iPhone garnered $146 and their shattered iPhone got $37.

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