April 1, 2012

How we made an extra $1,000 in March – no gimmicks, just saying goodbye. . .

We’ve known since before Christmas that my husband’s car is on it’s last leg. It turns off randomly and does some weird things that make the check engine light come on about every other time you drive it. The repair for it is $800 buckaroos. . .which isn’t exactly cash we can dig out of the couch. Without any foreseeable increase in income, how do you tackle a big expense like that without delving into savings or handing over a credit card? Well in March – I buckled down and got serious about earning some extra cash for the repair. . .and found an extra benefit – ridding ourselves of another burden . . . STUFF.

Now even though I blog about “shopping” and deals 24/7 – I really am not a big shopper. I don’t generally “decorate” my house and I’m by no means a fashionista. My kids are clothed primarily because they’re grandma loves finding a good deal on clothes and I would be happy wearing the same comfortable outfit and shoes everyday. But still we still manage to have stuff. Lots of stuff and frankly – I’m tired of it. Tired of the burden it brings. The dust it collects and the space that it takes. I was ready to say goodbye stuff and hello funds for the car repair. . .

Here’s the method to my March Madness:

  1. I took a real hard look at what we NEED in our home.
  2. If it wasn’t a “need” I evaluated whether or not it had any value. 
  3. If it had any real value, more than $40 – I sold it on Craigslist. I picked $40 as the minimum value worth taking a photo, listing it online, corresponding with potential buyers and waiting for them to show up and purchase the item.
  4. If it was less than $40 it was donated to a local charity and we saved our receipt for taxes next year.
  5. I went through all the children’s clothes and toys – and pulled out the nice items (worth $2 or more) and sold at the LMNOP Consignment sale March 23-25.

Here’s what I discovered and how I earned more than $1,000 in March

Extra fridge
When we moved to our house about 2.5 years ago, we brought our fridge with us from our old house. The new house had a fridge that worked just fine, so our “old fridge” went in the garage. It was nice to have some extra freezer space and it sure was nice to have a “drink fridge” and a place to put extra food (mostly if we were having company). But it was a luxury and was most of the time EMPTY. We bought a upright freezer last fall to hold our freezer meals and found we weren’t really using the fridge to it’s full capacity.
So we sold it = $200!
Plus extra space in our garage AND our electrical bill will go down. We had initially listed for $250 but because good friends of ours ended up buying it we dropped the price to $200.

Leftover envelopes from our book business long ago
My husband and I ran an online bookstore through Amazon when we were first married. It was a fun way to make extra money on the side (definitely recommend it) – and we had nearly 3,000 books in our basement at one point, all for sale on Amazon. It ended up funding my husband’s Master’s degree but the business fizzled out after we had children and traveling the state looking for books became too much work with the kiddos. We had thousands of padded envelopes hanging out in our garage, leftover from the book business. It took me 30 minutes to catalog, sort and post the envelopes on Craigslist.
Sold every single stinkin’ one = $200
Plus extra space in our garage!

Daughter’s old high chair
My daughter had almost outgrown her high chair, so we moved her to a booster seat at the table and sold her high chair on Craigslist. She’s happy to join the family at the table and I’m happy to have the extra room in my dining room!
Sold it = $100
Extra space in our dining room!

Old corner desk
We did some room re-arranging in February and moved my daughter from sharing a room with my son, into her own room (for fewer sleepless nights) – which means I no longer have an office. The big old corner desk we had bought on Craigslist many years ago was now too big for a workspace in our living area. I ended up using an old small dining room table for my “office” and we ended up selling the big old desk!
Sold it = $75
Forced me to streamline all my “office supplies” and the result is a much less cluttered work space. 

Corner shelving unit in kitchen
We had a little IKEA corner unit in our kitchen that we bought in the AS-IS section for $40 long ago. We had a vision for it that didn’t quite pan out, so it was holding our coffee pot, our cutting boards, and a few other odds and ends in our kitchen. I looked at it with a critical eye and decided I could move the coffee pot to the counter and find better homes for everything else . . . we no longer needed the unit!
Sold it = $40
My kitchen looks a lot less cluttered and more spacious!

Kid’s Consignment Sale
I had held on to most of my son’s baby clothes because I wasn’t sure if I was going to have another boy or not. Then my daughter came along and we ended up with twice as many clothes! I saved them all, in tubs by size. I gave some to friends and family – but really I kept them, just in case. They took up a TON of room. They stressed me out. And after careful consideration I opted to sell all of the nice ones at the  LMNOP Consignment sale, along with a bunch of toys the kids had outgrown and were no longer using. I spent a good long day going through bins and tagging/pricing everything (see photo above, it was not pretty) – dropped it off Thursday night and didn’t think twice about it until picking up what was left Sunday night.
Funds from selling kid’s clothes = $436.69
There is no way I would have made this much by selling them at a garage sale, where I think $0.50-$1 is maximum price for kid’s clothes. But many of the clothes were Gymboree, name-brand clothing items and sold for $2-$5 an item at the consignment sale. Of the $435, we will be giving Grandma and Grandpa a $200 Lowe’s gift card – because well frankly, they are responsible for buying most of those clothes anyway. They would refuse cash if we offered it to them – but we know they are working on some projects around the house so a gift card will be perfect. We donated bags of other clothes, books and toys to local charities and friends/family. I will definitely do the consignment sale again – it was a piece of cake! There was a lot of work up front to tag items, but I didn’t have to sit at the sale, someone else did the work for me!

After everything shakes out we’ll have the $800 we need for our car repair.

But I think more importantly – our house is a little a LOT cleaner, we donated a ton of items to local charities and we can feel good that we took some “stuff” and turned it into something tangible and beneficial for our family. I’m right in the middle of the Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy bible study by Beth Moore – and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. The Daniel study really looks at the Babylonian society that we live in . . .the luxuries that we have in our country and how we can so easily get sucked into the status of stuff. I’m finding more and more lately it’s a burden of stuff and I’m letting go and cleaning house – for a much simpler, clutter-free surrounding.

I hope this post inspires you to clean house and really evaluate needs versus luxuries. Whether it’s a garage sale, Craigslist or eBay – you might find that selling some of your stuff can free you of the burden of stuff and free you from some extra bills you may have hanging around.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for making extra money or ideas for clearing clutter in your home. 

WELCOME Money Saving Mom readers! I’m so grateful to have Crystal link to my post (isn’t she amazing?). If you like what you see here, I’d love for you to follow Queen Bee Coupons on Facebook or you can sign up for my daily email (and be entered to win $100!).

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  1. I’m a pack rat, but getting VERY tired of it. We went from a large house to another one half the size about 5 years ago and I’ve got all this ‘stuff’ in storage. We are currently in the process of building a bigger house (my husband’s doing most of the work himself), so I’m hanging on to a lot of things. But meanwhile, I’m starting right now in my small house motivated by others to get rid of all our accumulations. I’ve been inspired by Randy Alcorn’s book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity”. So last month I sold things on Ebay about $400. Plus my husband had lots of aluminum and others things like steel and copper to recycle. He’s a carpentar who can fix/build anything and some of the aluminum was saved from jobs where he replaced windows. Spring motivated us to clean house after years of accumulation and we hauled 4 truck loads to the recycling place with $500 extra cash. This money helped us tremendously with all my husband’s days of no paying job. I would love to be more educated with selling books through Amazon. We’ve got a great thrift store in town where I can pick up books next to nothing and in turn be able to sell online. Would Amazon or Ebay or half.com be the best place to sell?

    • A really good book to help you find other ways to save is
      “The Complete Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn
      I have read and reread this book.I Always find another way
      to save.

  2. Hello! I really liked this entry and I am very curious about your online bookstore you ran through Amazon!! How does one go about getting started with this?? I would love some info on how to do this if you have a second. I’ve been looking for something like this to do to earn a little extra income so I can stay home with the kids, but all these “work from home” businesses seem so shady! I would be so grateful if you would give me some info/tips. Thank yoU!!

  3. I’m getting ready to participate in a Just Kid’s Stuff indoor community garage sale. I am planning to put most of the clothes out for about $1, perhaps setting aside coordinated outfits (Gymboree) at $2 or more depending. Your success at the consignment sale is an inspirations. I had sold some last fall through an local online mom’s group.

    Sold it by the size/season and made about $40 – $50 per lot. The mom’s that bought got a ready to go wardrobe and I got space!

    I’m hoping a kid focused sale will help me move even more stuff than I would at a garage sale. So many times, the people that come to a garage sale at a house are not looking for kid stuff.

  4. My friends and I started a sell and swap facebook page for the Tacoma/Puyallup WA area called South Pierce Upcycle. It’s in it’s beginnings but a great place to sell your stuff!

  5. K Harrington says

    Are my husband and I the only ones who think it is ok NOT to live wth such little? I mean who cares if you dont “need” it if it brings joy to your child isnt that enough to keep/have things around? Not sure i agree with all this but…

    • I only got rid of clothes my kids had grown out of (kept sentimental ones) and toys they no longer play with. They have PLENTY of toys left that bring them joy – if not still an excess. They haven’t missed a thing that went out the door.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I feel like I purge a lot but always take it to goodwill because I don’t have time to resell it. You encouraged me with your $40 limit!

  7. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m trying to raise $1200 to fly my family home for my sister’s wedding in June, and selling our stuff is next on the list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Hey There =) Found you on MSM of course! Awesome job!!!! I am a craigslistaholic! I sell everything even if it is only $1…lol since I am home all day I figure who cares if it is only $1. Infact as I was reading your article someone came by and picked up an old stick vacuum for $4…lol =) I do not have much stuff though so I could see how you only picked things that were $40 or more =) Oh and what kind of high chair went for $100 on craigslist????

    • I do love Craigslist, too. I just don’t like all the coordinating with buyers, so that’s why I picked the $40 number. The high chair that sold for $100 was a Boon Pedestal High Chair, which we actually got at a super, super discounted rate when my daughter was born. It still looked brand new when we sold it, and I think we ended up selling it for more than we originally paid!

  9. Great post! I try to find 5 – 10 items a month to sell on Ebay. I don’t make a lot of money but once in a while something sells for a lot more than I thought it would! I’m just glad to get rid of it. If it sells for $0.99, then I am just happy it is gone! I would love the motivation to do a massive sell off like this! Especially the tubs of clothes in my basement just like yours.

    • I need to do more Ebay stuff, but haven’t made it a priority. I should look into listing some items on there, especially the items that are worth more.

  10. Thanks for the detailed post. When I first read the heading I was a bit dubious, thinking (a bit judgementally, I confess) that usually folks can do better financially if they just don’t buy as much stuff only to resell it later. I’m very much a minimalist…my kids’ don’t have a ton of clothes or toys, just enought, etc. However, when you spelled out selling the extra fridge, furniture, clothing purchased by grandparents, etc., it made much more sense! You’ll love the feeling of having a more spacious house now that there is less in it…enjoy! 🙂

    • Lynn – So glad that you read the post and found it made “sense” – I agree, it’s not a great deal if you don’t need it – and so often in society we buy, buy, buy. It’s so nice to simplify!

  11. We’ve been doing the exact same thing for the same reason! We needed to save money for a new vehicle that will be needed sometime within the next year and I had no extra room in the budget to set aside the money. I started selling everything in our home that was just taking up space! Between that and a few other ways that we make extra income we’ve saved up $4000 towards a new vehicle. I’d say about $2500-3000 of that was from selling our old stuff- and we’re not even finished yet! http://preservingpennies.com/how-we-earn-extra-money-selling-our/

  12. This is AWESOME! I feel so very inspired…I actually even have boxes of stuff waiting to be gotten rid of…what am I waiting for?! Thanks for the push to get it done already! One more “sweep” of what to purge and I WILL have it done by the end of the month! Thanks for the push!

  13. My Father’s church is doing the Daniel bible study too and my Dad said that he will let me have his book when he is done with it…I can’t wait! My church is doing the James bible study by Beth Moore and I am doing the “Breaking Free” Beth Moore study in my own time. I really like her studies (in case you couldn’t tell). My church is REALLY old fashioned though and some of the ladies in the bible study think Beth is a bit to charismatic…oh well, I enjoy her!

    • I really enjoy Beth Moore’s studies! She does an amazing job relating the bible to real life scenarios – that we can all relate to. Hope you enjoy the study!

  14. LOVE the idea of giving some of the consignment money (in the form of a gift card) back to grandparents. I always feel obligated to hold on to clothing given as gifts from grandparents but when we are finished with all of it, I will be doing it!

  15. I’ve also been doing this and have had amazing luck posting items on area Facebook “Swap & Shop” sites. We’ve gotten rid of exercise equipment, framed prints that were collecting dust in the basement, extra kitchen supplies & more. The best part is that I’ve also connected with a few other local moms!

  16. Thank you for the motivation! We have all our old baby stuff in the basement to sell, and I just cannot find the motivation to lug it upstairs, take a good pic and post it. But, a giant chunk of change might do the trick! Great Job!!

    I have also been wondering about selling my kid’s clothes in “lots” on craigslist, I figure that would bring in more than a garage sale.

    • Kellie D. says

      Sara, Seriously look for children’s consignment sales in your area. Baby stuff especially high chairs, bouncers, swings etc. go like crazy and you will more than likely be able to sell it for more than obviously a garage sale but also on Craig’s List. What I notice and even sometimes myself get caught up in the rush of the sale.

      I consigned a few things a couple of weeks ago…things I know I wouldn’t have gotten much at a garage for it. One thing I was surprised sold really well was VHS movies. I saran wrapped a couple together and put $2 or $3 on them and they ALL sold. Also toys are huge money makers.

      Like the author said a little more work at the front but totally worth it. You don’t have to babysit the stuff and take off work to watch it like you would a garage sale.

    • I haven’t tried the “lots” on Craigslist – but I can’t speak highly enough of the consignment route. People are willing to pay a little more if it’s on a hanger, nice shape, brand name, tagged well and in a “retail” setting vs. a garage sale.

  17. Michele A says

    That is a very motivating story! You really made out at the consignment sale! I am curious, what kind of books did you sell on Amazon?? Would you do a post on that experience? 🙂 Thanks

    • Glad this story was motivating for you! We sold mostly non-fiction on Amazon, those seemed to be worth the most money. I am hoping to do a post on how to sell books on Amazon in the near future.

  18. luv it! usually each year i will let goods collect in a corner till spring and have a big community yard sale where i usually make at least 3-500$. But this year we just didnt want the clutter so donated most things to the goodwill. But two weeks ago i did start going through my craft room of stamp sets that i no longer used, in almost 7 years. I listed about 20 sets on line and earned 300+$ which i in turn have used towards another hobby without touching the household $$ at all. (i like that!) Now hubby is clearing his goods out as well for me to sell to cover a few of his hobbies too.

  19. Great job! I am trying really hard to get the clutter out and to overcome our pack rat ways. It does feel so good to have the space back.

  20. This is an AWESOME post girl!!! You had a great consignment sale “sell”… GET IT!!

  21. michele husfelt says

    Reminds me of an old song Michael Card sings that says, “You can’t imagine the freedom you find, from the things you leave behind.”
    We are finishing up Financial Peace University and this is just the section we’ve been talking about. Thanks for sharing:)

  22. I’m doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, I’m a week into it and happy with my progress so far. I’m going to have a garage sale with everything afterwards. I probably won’t make a ton of money but it will be an adventure and the stuff will be out of my house 🙂 If anybody wants to know more about this challenge here are some more details:

    http://bkdarr.blogspot.com/2012/03/40-bags-in-40-days.html

  23. Great Post! This is something I’m working on doing soon too, but it was great to be inspired by someone who’s already purged and gained in the process!

  24. Very inspiring article. Time for me to put in some time and effort to make some money for upcoming expenses.

  25. Good Job! I’m trying to get motivated to downsize my massive book collection (I used to sell online) and clean out Mt Everest aka my climb in bedroom closet. I guess with this awesome Spring weather it will be awhile before I can do anything outside so I might as well start on the inside.

    • Do any of you have any tricks for selling books online – or do you just jump in (buy used books?) and learn as you go?? Thanks! 🙂

      • You can take them to half priced books. I love that store! They give you cash too, which is really nice 🙂

  26. I’ve been on the same ‘clean out’ kick myself. My husband and I went through all of our closets, all of our stored boxes in the garage, and used a critical eye around our house to rid ourselves of things we don’t really need or want. We had a big garage sale 2 weeks ago and made $1100.! Making some money is really great, but it also felt so good to get rid of ‘stuff’!

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