A Beginner’s Guide to a Successful Yard Sale

yard sale

Guest post from Yvie of Road-Schooling Gypsies

I was privileged to have a mother who shopped garage sales long before it was trendy. Hand-me-downs were no big deal — they were new to us!

We learned that, except food and toiletries, pretty much anything we needed could be bought secondhand. It’s a legacy that I began passing on to my children as soon as they understood what a quarter was.

Would you like to clean out your house and make a little egg money? Here are a few of my tips to help you have a successful yard sale:

What to Do Before the Sale:

The more stuff you have, the more traffic you’ll get — so ask your friends to join in on your yard sale, and make it a party.

Don’t pick a holiday weekend (or a weekend where there is a big, local event happening). Also, aim for the first of the month, right after folks get paid or get their SSI checks.

Check to see if you need a permit, or if there are area restrictions.

Advertise! Use your newspaper, Craigslist, Facebook groups, and put up signs. Make sure that your signs are legible, and large enough to be read by cars going past at 50mph.

Decide whether you’re selling stuff to make money, or to get rid of it. Price everything, and price accordingly.

Use bags to contain sets, puzzle pieces, etc. and then label the bags.

In the months prior, throw all your yard sale items together, so that you’re not trying to find it all the week of the sale.

A couple days before the sale, get cash: you’ll want a roll of quarters, a stack of at least twenty-five $1 bills, and a few $5 bills. Keep your money with you (fannypack?) at all times — don’t leave the cashbox sitting around.

If you are having a group sale, make sure to have a ledger to keep track of how much money goes to each person.

Stage your items just like they would stage them in a store. Place like items together, set those big items out front to draw customers, and cross-sell your items. If you have books, use a bookshelf to display them. If you have clothes, find a hanging rack. Show that you took care of your items, and they’ll be more likely to sell.

Have an extension cord handy in case someone asks to test an electrical item.

Use sheets to cover anything left in the garage that is NOT for sale. Otherwise, you’ll be fielding questions all day about what that is and how much you’d take for it.

After it’s staged, walk through your sale like a customer. It is easy to navigate? Are the prices reasonable?

What to Do the Day of Your Sale:

Turn on some background music — avoiding anything offensive.

Be friendly and greet people. If they want to chat, chat. Otherwise, leave them be. And don’t hover.

Be prepared for folks to bargain, but be less flexible at the beginning of the sale. Also remember that you don’t have to accept their offer.

Set up a big box with toys in the middle, this way moms can shop the perimeter while keeping an eye on kids that are being entertained. (If the toys are breakable/expensive, don’t put them in this pile.)

Keep your cash with you at all times, and keep an eye on your items as well. Shoplifting happens, even at garage sales.

Set up a free box, and fill it with things that you just want gone. Everyone likes free stuff.

Run that lemonade stand, especially if it’s a hot day. Better yet, let your children run it. They’re cuter than you are, and people will be more likely to buy from them.

Consider doing “stuff-a-bag” or “half-price” for the second day. This will depend on how much you want stuff gone.

Have a plan for after the sale is done (see below) so that your stuff doesn’t all come back into your home.

What to Do After the Sale:

Use the ledger to divide up your money.

Consider having an impromptu “swap” amongst your friends. (Assuming you haven’t already spent the last two days shopping each others’ items.)

As you break down the sale, divide leftover items into categories such as: 1. used bookstore 2. consignment store 3. donate boxes, and 4. Craigslist/Ebay. The first 3 groups should never come back into the house — and if you’re going to sell anything on Craigslist or Ebay, make a plan to do that ASAP!

What are your best tips to host a successful yard sale?

Yvie is a homeschooling mother of two boys, who has been perfecting the art of frugality since childhood. Find her on Facebook at Road-Schooling Gypsies.

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What an Old Laundry Hamper Taught Me About Living Simply

laundry hamper

Guest post from Abby of Mother on a Mission

When my husband and I got married nearly five years ago, we were gifted nearly everything we needed for our new home together.

One item we didn’t get, however, was a laundry hamper. It wasn’t a necessity because my husband still had his red mesh fold-up hamper left over from college, but it was something I really wanted.

Soon after our wedding, I made a trip to Target (armed with gift cards and a 20% off coupon) to purchase some remaining items from our registry. I began to fill my cart with things we needed: dish towels, shower curtain hooks, a broom, and dust pan.

When I reached the aisle of pretty woven laundry hampers, I was shocked. The cheapest basket on the shelf was $35; some cost upwards of $60. Until then, I’d just assumed I would purchase one. But then I had an ‘a-ha moment’ right there in Target.

Here are 3 things I learned:

I don’t need to impress anyone else.

I didn’t need a new laundry hamper. The one we already had was in adequate condition. I wanted one because they are pretty, and because it seemed to be necessary if I wanted to rid our bedroom of that dorm room feeling.

In reality, no one besides my husband and I would see the hamper, and my husband could care less what sort of device we used to store our dirty clothes.

I don’t always need what I want.

I really wanted a hamper. Maybe, for me, it was a big step in transitioning between childhood and adulthood.

Instead, I took another big step that day: thinking practically. I was a full-time student and full-time preschool teacher, and my husband was making a measly salary as a teacher at a private Christian school.

As much as I wanted to get rid of that old mesh hamper, it just wasn’t practical. Gone were the carefree college days when my spending decisions affected only myself. I had to think as a wife, and that meant putting aside my frivolous want in favor of our needs as a couple.

My frugality paid off with unexpected rewards.

Now, six years into our marriage, we still have that red mesh hamper — and I still plan to replace it one day!

For now, though, it’s still doing its job. My three-year-old son loves to help with the laundry, including returning that red hamper to our room after I’ve emptied it into the washing machine. It’s a simple thing, but I love watching him run down the hall, dragging it behind him — something he couldn’t do with a fancy hamper.

It’s funny to think how vital that new hamper seemed six years ago. Standing in the aisle at Target, I was pained by the decision to go without. But, since then, my life has been pretty unaffected by the absence of a pretty basket.

Now, when I’m debating purchases, I often ask myself if the item I’m about to buy will significantly improve my life, or the life of an immediate family member. If the answer is no, I usually don’t make the purchase.

I’ve learned that I only “need” as much as I think I do.

Abby is a wife, a mother of two, a high school teacher, and a wannabe game show contestant. She blogs at Mother on a Mission about getting crazy in the kitchen, her parenting (mis)adventures, and her baby steps toward creating a frugal, happy household. Abby’s mission is to be the mom — and make this world the kind of place — her children deserve.

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4 Tips to Stop Eating Out – Even if You Hate to Cook

4 tips to stop eating out

Guest post from Alexa of Single Moms Income

It pains to me admit this, but June was the first time I haven’t eaten out for an entire month in years.

You see, over the past year I had developed a really bad habit: I started eating out all the time. To be honest, I was going through a drive thru about five times a week.

Something had to change.

In May of this year, I started cutting way back on our eating out; and in June, I stopped completely — cold turkey. I can proudly say that we didn’t eat at a restaurant one. single. time!

And it felt good.

I know there are many others out there, like me, who may be embarrassed to admit they have this same problem. So I want to offer you a solution. Here are a few suggestions to help you stop eating out, even if you hate to cook:

1.Get a Dishwasher

I’ve never had a dishwasher. My parents have never had a dishwasher.

After meals were cooked and the mess was made it was then time to roll up my sleeves and hand wash the dishes the old fashioned way. And between working and picking up after two young kids, cleaning up a big kitchen mess was the last thing I wanted to do.

That changed this year when I finally had access to a dishwasher. I cannot even begin to explain what a huge help this has been to me.

I discovered that I really didn’t hate cooking. I hated cleaning up the mess. The dishwasher I have is pretty old and could probably be found on Craigslist for $50 or less. But it gets the job done!

2. Stock Up at the Grocery Store

This might seem a little ironic but I’m actually pretty cheap. Yes, I would go through the drive thru five times a week but when it came to grocery shopping I wanted to spend as little money as possible.

I would buy the bare minimum.

At the beginning of June I decided I’d have to change my ways. Instead of buying the bare minimums I started stocking up on the things that I needed. This included buying several bags of chicken breasts when Kroger recently had a sale and also stocking up on flour, sugar, and other staples.

I also have a garden, so we’ve been using the produce from that for side dishes.

3. Keep Dinners Simple

Simple dinners work for me. I’m also incredibly lucky that my girls LOVE vegetables.

A dinner for us would be some type of meat (chicken several times per week) either cooked on the grill, crockpot, or baked and cut up vegetables on the side.

We’ve also made several batches of the best zucchini bread ever and froze a few loaves. I’ll often thaw some out and add it as a side.

4. Have Crockpot Dinners Handy

After seeing the 40 crockpot meals in 4 hours post I decided I’d do something similar. Instead of cooking 40 meals though, I keep about five in my freezer.

A family friend recently gave me a ton of roast they had from one of their cows and I’ve put several small roasts into freezer bags along with other ingredients.

Now on those busy days when I know I’m not going to cook I can just empty my freezer bag meals into the crockpot and come home to a nice, hot meal.

And the cleanup is a breeze.

My month-long experiment has taught me several things — one of the most important is that home cooked meals are so much better than anything you can get from a dollar menu.

I feel like I’ve turned a new leaf. Not only am I feeding me and my children healthier, more nutritious food, but I’m also saving hundreds of dollars a month!

Alexa is a work-from-home-mom who loves online business. When she’s not playing with her kids you can find her glued to her computer. She chronicles her journey as a single mother trying to make it big at Single Moms Income.

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Swagbucks Paid for Our Emergency Kits

emergency supplies

Today’s Swagbucks success story is from Emily:

I’m not by any means a “Doomsday Prepper” but I do have a realistic fear of some sort of catastrophe. I live in Las Vegas where water is supplied to the masses from the ever-shrinking Lake Mead. Should something happen that prevented water delivery to the city, I’m prepared thanks to Swagbucks!

I started using Swagbucks after seeing the numerous postings about it here on MoneySavingMom.com. I quickly got a good system going, and managed to get $25-50 each month while staying home with my little one. I used my Swagbucks for the Amazon Gift Cards and started ordering my emergency gear.

We now have three kits (as seen in the picture above). One kit for each vehicle and one for the house. Included are: emergency water packets, water purification tablets, lifestraw, emergency rations, Mylar blankets, hand crank radio/emergency beacon, and moist towelettes.

This is by no means a long term survival kit but I feel better knowing I have enough water to get my family to a more stable location. I use Swagbucks everyday so that I can get more supplies, such as first aid books, large water storage containers, and books regarding local plants and animals.

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How To Save Money On College Textbooks

Saving for college

Guest post from Addi of Frugal Fanatic

Do you have a child starting college? Or are you going back to earn a degree? You may be shocked at the high cost of textbooks that are necessary for each class.

Well, there’s good news — even though you do have to purchase the books, you do NOT have to pay incredibly high prices!

Here are five ways that you can save money on college textbooks:

1. Avoid the school bookstore.

It may be the easiest route to take, but is always the most expensive way. Be sure to check online first. You may be able to find all the books you need for a lot cheaper than the bookstore.

2. Use Amazon.com.

Sites like Amazon often sell books for a discounted rate. There are a lot of sites out there that offer gently used books for a much lower price. Buying used books is a great way to save yourself a ton of money on your books.

3. Consider renting your books.

You also have the option to rent the textbooks you need for each class. You can find several websites that offer book rentals for a much smaller cost than buying the book outright. Most likely you will not need the book after the course is complete so this is a nice option to save some cash.

4. Ask about eBooks.

Be sure to check with your professor if an eBook is allowed for the course. You will often save more than 50% by purchasing the eBook version. Plus you won’t need to carry a book around with you each time you head to class.

5. Swap books with your friends.

Find friends who have taken the same courses and ask them about swapping books. If you are able to trade books with a group of friends you can save a ton of money on your books.

These are just a few ways to save on the cost of college text books — I’d love to hear any other ideas you might add to my list.

Also, keep in mind that you can usually re-sell your textbooks when the class is over and put that money towards your books for the next semester!

Addi Ganley is a work-at-home mom of 3 young boys. Her blog, Frugal Fanatic, focuses on how to live a frugal lifestyle. She is passionate about saving money and believes that if you save where you can then you can spend where you want to. Frugal Fanatic is her way of helping other people learn how to manage their finances in every day life.

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Swagbucks Pays for my Gluten-Free Flours

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Today’s Swagbucks success story is from Mallory

I love to bake, so when I found out I was allergic to wheat and gluten about two years ago, it was a rough transition. I eventually found some good recipes and resources — the next challenge was finding the right ingredients.

It’s difficult to find gluten-free flours for a good price in our small town, but after doing some research, I found a good deal on Bob’s Red Mill brand cases of gluten free flour on Amazon.com and starting ordering from there.

Then, a little over a year ago, I learned about Swagbucks and how it worked here on MoneySavingMom.com!

When I first signed up with Swagbucks, I didn’t really know what I was doing and felt like I was doing well if I earned enough for a $5 gift card every month. Now, I am able to get $15-$20 per month by doing the following:

1. Doing the NOSO every day

2. Answering the poll and doing to corresponding activity

3. Using the toolbar

4. Running videos for a large chunk of the day

5. Using the search bar

This has been a great help and has paid for many cases of gluten-free flours. Now I can continue to bake and feed good food to the people I love!

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