Clutter = Cash!

Posted by  | Wednesday, August 18, 2010  at 6:56 PM  
I laugh at myself as I get older. Things excite me that I would have never, ever expected. I'm 30 years old and I love some [pretty nerdy] things like: budgeting, de-cluttering, garage sales, all things consignment, coupons, organization, simple living, and letting go.

Our world is busy. My husband works way more hours in a week than anyone should, while I'm running a business at home with two small children. It's hectic and crazy. So I guess somewhere between the toys & clothes, the princesses & baby dolls, the papers & coupons, I have found that a simple, clutter-free home can still somehow be an attainable [never-ending?] goal of mine.

I went to school with Hollie & was thrilled when she asked me to write on this topic. (Further confirming how much of a nerd I really am.) I'd like to share with you all a few ways that I stretch our budget in regards to kids' stuff, shopping, de-cluttering, and gifts.

I used to keep every single baby outfit from my first daughter. It came in handy when daughter #2 arrived (2 years later), although the combination of all the toys & clothes really overwhelmed me. I had thought that if I kept everything for the second child, we'd save ourselves from buying more. The reality is that family & friends still love to buy for a second baby, and of course birthdays and Christmas still happen for her, too! Needless to say - we had way more than enough kids' stuff in this house - and it somehow felt like the stuff multiplied daily.

I decided to start acting a bit more like my sister-in-law, who has 4 kids and has really mastered the art of letting go and de-cluttering. I used to be shocked when she would sell a baby item that she knew she'd need again for the next baby. But she always reassured me that she'd find it again (used) when she needed it, so no worries. I like her style.

I have found that you'll get the most money for your kid/baby items at consignment sales. I sell at two consignment sales per year. One is for Spring/Summer clothes in February and one is for Fall/Winter in August. A few things I love about consigning:

1. You set the price for your items.
2. You decide if you'll let it go at 1/2 off on the last sale day.
3. You decide if unsold items go to charity afterwards, or you can pick them up.
4. You can work the sale and get more of your profits in exchange for your time.
5. Because you're a seller, you get to go to the pre-sale and shop, getting the best pick of like-new items for a fraction of what you'd pay retail. (this is how I buy most of the girls' Christmas presents throughout the year.)
6. Your items will sell well at consignment sales. People shopping there are looking specifically for children's items like the ones you're selling. In other words, they aren't going to walk up and ask to buy a baby dress for a quarter. (like they will at garage sales!)

On top of the two consignment sales per year, we also do two garage sales per year. I don't honestly know how to explain what the junk is that we sell. It's stuff like: adult clothing, electronics, home goods, old pieces of stuff from home projects, things I'm tired of looking at, things I haven't been able to part with since we moved here 8 years ago, etc.
A few tips I've learned about garage sales:

1. Make a spot in the house that is always designated for garage sale stuff. When I can't find the lids to stuff, a shirt doesn't fit, or I see something I don't really love or use anymore, off to the spot they go. Same thing with things that our consignment sale doesn't accept - like tennis shoes, plush toys, and stained clothes. Having a spot definitely makes garage sale prep time so much easier.
2. Invite friends to join in. I usually have about 5-6 families that join us. Yes, it's huge. And some bring 10 items, and some have 100. Doesn't matter. The bigger, the better. I advertise (online & with signs) as a multi-family garage sale, and it's always crowded.
3. Don't be discouraged; it will add up. I used to think I had nothing to sell, and I laugh at that now. We usually average about $600 per garage sale on just our stuff, and that's with no items priced over $20. This is small stuff.
4. I don't recommend pre-pricing the items. Yep, I throw the stuff out there with no price tags. In my first sale, I quickly learned that unpriced items sell way faster than those priced. Plus, it's fun to negotiate and let people make an offer.

So there are two main motivators for me to de-clutter our home:

1. The amazing, clean, organized feeling that comes with living simply. (and soothes my OCD tendencies, just a little.) ;)

2. The cash we make is thrown back into our cash budget & re-used for future gifts or clothing.

We use a simple, cash envelope system for our spending. We budget through the year, and pay cash for our gifts, including Christmas. The extra cash income from these sales is simply added to our cash budget. Think of it as trading in the stuff that isn't played with, or the clothes that are outgrown - to fund the next birthday or Christmas for your family. It's a load of fun, and you'll be amazed at how your budget can stretch.

{If you enjoy tips on budgeting, I'd love for you to check out my site, or follow us on facebook & twitter! }



Melissa Pearce said...

Oh my! Where on earth do you live? Yard sales used to bring in big bucks when we lived in California, but lately, we're lucky if we top $200-- including big items!

Ansley said...

I live north of Atlanta...and I'm always amazed too at how fast it adds up!

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