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Yard Saling Without a Yard

As my more recent posts have shown, I am a big fan of yard sales. Not only are they a wonderful world of unknown shopping delights, they are also a great way to accomplish two tasks that most of us sometimes need a little help with: decluttering our living spaces and making money. Now, despite my great love of all things yard sale, let me confess my own dirty little secret: I have not held a yard sale in almost ten years. I know, I’m terrible. But, before those chants of “hypocrite” swell to a roar out there in cyberspace, let me explain myself.

For the past six years I have lived in an apartment. But that’s not all, those apartments I’ve lived in have never been on the ground floor. For those of you out there who haven’t done the math yet, let me do it for you. It’s been almost logistically impossible for me to go out and have my own yard sale. Sure, I could have teamed up with a home-owning friend but the thought of dragging all of my unwanted junk to someone else’s house was just too much for me. Being held hostage by my living situation, I had to get creative. How can you have a yard sale without actually having a yard sale? Enter God’s gift to the weak, the oppressed, and the lazy– the Internet. Instead of having a physical yard sale, I’ve been having a virtual yard sale. So, here are my tips to selling your unwanted stuff without having to tape up “For Sale” signs and haggling with grumpy shoppers.

Pawn your stuff. That’s right folks, they aren’t just for degenerates and underwater gamblers anymore. With the recent success of various reality television shows featuring pawn shops, it’s easy to see that these shops have come out of the dark and into the light of legitimacy. Pawn shops are a quick and easy way to sell your items with little to no fuss. Of course, there are some things to be wary of. If the item you are trying to sell is in high demand, a pawn shop offers a way to make some good money. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true so don’t expect to sell all of your items at top dollar.

Consignment shops. The idea of a consignment shop is something that might be new to some people. These are shops where the store sells your stuff for you and then takes a cut from the final sale price as a commission. This is a great option for those of us who hate the haggling game. As the seller, you never have to advertise or deal with shoppers. Of course, such luxury comes at a price and the amount you take home in your pocket will probably be less than if you put in the legwork of salesmanship yourself.

Sell your stuff online. The internet is full of places you can sell your stuff. Ebay is probably the most well known of the online auction sites, but if you look around, there are others as well. Personally, I like to sell my stuff through Amazon.com. Like a consignment shop, Amazon let’s you have a more hands-off approach to selling your things. People shopping on the website look up what they want to buy and then they have the option of purchasing used from you. Its a great system and a great way to parse down your stuff.

What yard sale alternatives have you used? Which options work best for you?

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/08/2012

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Who doesn’t love Disneyland? You know, besides the Nazis and Satan himself. Everyone loves Disneyland. Even people who say they don’t like Disneyland, secretly like Disneyland. What’s not to like?! It is a magical place, and even more so for kids. I think every child remembers their first trip to Disneyland as nothing short of a mind-blowing experience. The rides, characters, experiences, sights, and smells all combine to add up to more than the individual parts. Disneyland is quite simply amazing.

Okay, now that we’ve established the obvious, taking your family to Disneyland can be less than magical for your wallet. Disneyland has recently upped ticket prices once again and unfortunately, it’s not getting cheaper to visit ol’ Walt’s dreamland. So this begs the question: how can you save money visiting Disneyland? Here is part one of our tips to help you experience the happiest place on Earth without sending you directly to the poorhouse.

Search for discount tickets, but don’t expect much. Let’s get this out of the way first. It seems like the most obvious place to save on a trip to Disneyland is by finding a deal on the entrance ticket. Unfortunately, Disney is not one for giving big discounts in this area. It you are military (or know someone who’s in the military and owes you a favor) you can find some deep discounts on admission. Ditto for Southern California residents; Disney frequently has deals for locals. As for everyone else, we’ll have to settle for the small discounts you may find online or through AAA. One small tip is to look on Craigslist or eBay for people’s multi-day passes that still have time left on them. Sometimes you can grab a day or two of admission below the gate-price. Of course, if you buy tickets for multiple days of admission, your price per day goes down. Long story short, don’t expect to save a ton at the gate. This should provide some motivation to look for other ways to save money.

Stay near the park. If you are traveling to Southern California to visit Disneyland, plan to stay near the park. This is especially true if you are bringing young ones to visit with you. By having your base of operations close by, you can utilize your hotel room to save you money. It would be nice to stay at a Disney hotel; they are close and very convenient, but unfortunately you pay through the nose for that convenience. Look to stay somewhere within walking distance or a hotel that has shuttle service to the Magic Kingdom. By staying close to the park, you can save money in other areas.

Try to eat big meals outside of the park. Here is where staying outside of the park can save you big bucks. For some reason Mickey and his pals charge $15 for a $4 hamburger. Food is notoriously expensive in the park itself. You have two options then when it comes to eating: suck it up and try to not let the cost ruin your fun, or stay close enough to the park that you can leave and eat something in your room. The savings only increase the more people you are paying to feed. Also, bring snacks into the park. Plan to carry a bag and load it up with snacks you and your family love to eat. You’ll need the energy for all the walking you’ll be doing and a few cents worth of pretzels is easier to swallow than a $7 turkey leg. You may still have to spring for a few churros while you’re strolling through the park (it’s just part of the Disneyland experience) but you’ll buy less and you’ll save money.

So there is part one of our tips to save at Disneyland. In our next post, we’ll look at how to avoid screaming kids in the souvenir shop.

Article publié pour la première fois le 16/09/2013

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Article publié pour la première fois le 09/06/2010

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Saving Rocks (Double Entendre Intended)

Today I was procrastinating.  Fortunately, it was one of my positive procrastination days.  

Rather than surfing the internet looking for totally rad Christmas presents, I decided to clean.

There’s one room in the house that is basically a big junk drawer.  Instead of paperclips, matchbooks and errant pieces of paper, however, the junk room collects boxes, small children (who can’t escape), holiday decor and glitter.  Lots and lots of glitter.  By the end of the day I looked like I had been mauled by a fairy.  

Picture the room in your mind.  It’s important that you do this so you can understand just how miraculous it was that I found what I found…  

I   f o u n d   m y   d i a m o n d   e a r r i n g !

Side-note: Now do you get the title?

Before you start judging:

A. They were a gift from my awesome sister.

B. They aren’t even 1/4 carat.   

C. Oh, like you never lost a diamond before.  Sure, sure.  Kettle much? 

Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that I lost it over 4 years ago and that I somehow managed to hold on to its pair all this time.  

I mean, what do you do with an unmatched, small diamond earring?  And don’t say, “Get a nose ring,” Hubs would kill me.  

Chalk another one up to saving – with a purpose.

I talk a lot about how we need to let go of things.  This is partially because I’m a little OCD and can’t stand clutter, and partially because I want people save what they do for the right reasons – sometimes any reason at all would suffice.  

I saved a single diamond earring for a couple of reasons:

1. This should be obvious: IT WAS A DIAMOND and no matter how small, it’s probably a teency tiny bit valuable.   

2. My sister gave it to me, on a college student’s income, and that’s special.  

Saving in general, be it money or things, should have a purpose.  

Lindy at Minting Nickels had an excellent post this week about, what I refer to as, “extreme saving.”  You know, the people who cancel cable and live off $2/week?

My question about this type of saving is always, “what’s the point?”  Sure, there are some valid reasons to undertake extreme cost-cutting measures, but when does it end?  Tell me. When does it end?!

Never save just because something is a waste of money (or it would be a waste of money to throw away).  Much of life could technically be considered a “waste of money,” depending on who you are.  Waste would be denying yourself simple joys for the sole reason of putting more money in the bank.  

Save with purpose.  And never ever throw away diamonds.  It simply isn’t done. 

Article publié pour la première fois le 18/11/2010

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This Christmas, Drop Some Love

Help give a Love Drop this season!
This Christmas the team’s coming together for Diomi and her son Nallee, who are going into the cold Milwaukee winter with very little food, clothes, and other necessities. Diomi has been through so much, including the loss of her father, the loss of her job, and clinical depression. But even through the pain you can see all the love she has for Nallee, who has one of the most beautiful personalities you’ll find. 🙂

We want to make this month special for them! We’re working with their pastor to help get things they really need, including school uniforms for Nallee, interview clothes for Diomi as she looks for a job, and food to help them through the winter months.

If you can find it in your hearts to give one extra gift this year, whether it be money or a helpful item they can use, please send it in – our goal is to reach $3,000 worth of necessities.

Want to join us in helping Diomi and Nallee? Here are 3 ways:

  1. Give $1.00 – This money will be put towards basic necessities and care. Maybe even a Christmas present or two (They’re currently spending it alone, w/out anything at all).
  2. Give a gift card – Gift cards are extremely helpful, especially to places that are national.
  3. Donate personal products -These two need anything you can thing of in the personal product department: bathroom/kitchen/bedroom stuff, etc.

Thanks guys! You can reach the Love Drop team anytime over at: team (at) love drop (dot) us, or by checking them out at LoveDrop.us. Thanks everyone! We’ll let you know how it goes!

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/12/2011

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Five Skills to Save You $$$: Financial Skills

The second skill in our series of skills to help you save money is perhaps the most obvious, but also the most important of the five skills: financial skills. While learning about finances may be boring to some people, it is time well spent. Here are the skills you need to acquire to save money and make yourself a financial genius.

Demystify finances/economics. Perhaps the greatest hurdle to being a financial ninja is fear. Let’s face it, for many people, finances are scary. They can be obscure, technical, and full of terminology which might as well be a foreign language. Most people bury their heads in the sand and ignore their finances because of this fear. One of the first things you can do to gain the financial skills necessary to save money is to get past this financial threshold. I have found that one of the best ways to stop this fear of all things money is to immerse yourself in the world of finance. Take a look at the Wall Street Journal. Read books on various financial topics. And there is always my favorite, financial podcasts. I listen to Planet Money, produced by NPR, at least once a week. They discuss deep economic and financial issues but they make it accessible to us lay people. By putting your toe into the world of finance, it becomes a lot less scary and lets you have the confidence to make better financial decisions.

Learn to budget. Perhaps the greatest financial skill you can acquire is to learn to budget. You not only need to learn to budget, but you need to learn to live by a budget. It can be too easy these days to simply spend away in blissful ignorance of where the money is going. By keeping track and watching how you spend money, you can put that money to better use. Nobody got rich living beyond his means. A budget will keep you on track to financial success. Learn how to track your finances and predict how much you’ll spend monthly. There are plenty of websites and software that make budgeting much easier. Use these to make the budget habit stick in your own life. By learning this skill, you will save money simply because you will be more aware of your finances.

Learn about credit. There are two sides to credit: one which will help you and one which will hurt you. If you learn what credit is, how it works, and how to properly use it, it can help you save money when buying a house, buying a car, or buying anything else on credit. Learn how the system works. Learn about the three credit reporting agencies. Learn what your credit score is and what it means. The more you can figure out the enigma that credit is, the sooner you can have it working for you rather than against you.

Figure out investing. Investing is what grownups do with their money. As you become more solidified financially, you will find that investing is how you will prepare for your financial future. Learn about the stock market and how it works. Learn about mutual funds, annuities, and other financial tools created to help your money grow. The more you can learn about how to make your money work for you, the faster it can grow.

Learn to plan for retirement. For many people, retirement seems a LONG way off. Unfortunately, it can sneak up on you before you know it. If you can gain the financial skills necessary to plan for retirement now, you can save money and secure your financial future. Much of this preparation will overlap with learning about investing (because like I said, investing is what grownups do with their money) and will serve your overall financial health. Planning for retirement now will give you financial freedom and peace of mind for the future.

Ok readers, what advice do you have for learning all things finance?

Article publié pour la première fois le 02/04/2013

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