How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

clutter-free garage sale

Many of us who struggle with clutter are reluctant to part with certain items because of the money we spent on them. The problem is, we won’t recoup even a fraction of what we paid for those items.

And that’s OK.

There is no better deterrent from bringing new items into your home than seeing that candle you bought for $24.95 re-sell for only $2.50. This is the Clutter Tax we all pay for excess stuff.  If you’re ready to face the music and rid yourself of the surplus items in your home, a garage sale is a great de-cluttering option.

Hold a clutter-free garage sale

Here’s a no-fail, step-by-step strategy to make it work.

  1. Strategize. First, sit down with your family and talk about the possibility of a yard sale. Are they willing to participate? Do they have old clothes, toys, or books to donate to the sale? I’ve found it’s easier to get buy-in from the whole family if you have a common goal in mind. Perhaps you’re looking to save for a family vacation or a play set for the backyard. Get your kids excited about contributing to the family goal.
  1. Plan. Next, put a “Garage Sale” date on the calendar. Make sure it’s at least a month out. This gives you and your family time to go through closets, drawers, basements, and garages and come up with the items you’ll sell. (What a great goal in decluttering!)
  1. Organize. Start off with some empty boxes in an out-of-the-way place in your home (the garage, the laundry room.) Then as you come across items you no longer need, add them to the boxes.

Plan a day to work with your kids in their rooms. If they waffle about whether to sell an item, encourage them to put it in the garage sale box. If they want to retrieve it and play with it, great. If they never think about it again, then it’s probably safe to sell. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a change of heart on the day of the sale, but often the excitement of selling something makes letting it go much easier.

As you start to gather more and more items, sort them by type (kids’ clothes, kids’ shoes, toys, books, household gadgets, DVDs). Items will be easier to price and display if similar objects are grouped together.

I encourage you to start pricing items a few weeks before the sale. It’s easy to print price stickers on your computer’s printer. Younger kids will have a great time putting stickers on things.

If your kids part with some toys that have a lot of little parts, gather up everything in a resealable plastic bag to keep things together.

Start collecting paper bags for shoppers to use to take home their treasures.

  1. Advertise. There are several ways to get the word out for successful clutter-free garage sales.

On the web. The best way to know where to advertise is to google “garage sales” or “yard sales” (whichever is the common terminology in your area) and the name of your city. You’ll see where most people look for the information and then announce your sale there. But don’t spend a lot of money doing this. Most of your traffic will likely be of the drive-by variety. Be sure to highlight the kinds of things you’re selling (tools, kids’ clothes, furniture, etc.) so you attract the right buyers.

On the street. Signs most likely are your best means of getting people to your sale. While it’s tempting to let your kids create the signs, you should manage this project. Cute is not your objective—readability is.

My favorite kind of sign is made of neon poster board (think hot pink or neon green) cut in the shape of an arrow. Clearly label your cross streets. Kids can definitely be part of the sign-hanging process the night before. Make sure you bring copious amounts of clear packing tape, scissors, string, and even some balloons to attach to each sign.

Your friends. Tell your friends about your sale and even the goal you have in mind. Your kids will have a lot more fun if they know some of the people who stop by. Be sure to let your Facebook friends know as well.

Newspaper. Running a cheap ad in your local newspaper or an online classified service will bring you more shoppers.

  1. Merchandise. Before I was an author I worked as a sales rep in the gift industry, and now as a speaker, I have a book table wherever I go. One thing I’ve learned in both these roles is the power of merchandising—staging items for sale.

Clothes. You are going to sell a lot more clothes for much better prices if you have a garment rack to hang them on. Even a shower rod hung from your roof or garage door is a big help. The next best option is to fold clothes neatly on a table (this is a great option especially for kids’ clothes). Unless you have a stash of wire hangers you’re dying to get rid of, be sure to put up a sign that says “Hangers Not Included.”

Books, CDs, DVDs. Drag a bookshelf out of your house as a temporary display. If you have enough shelf space, place the front covers face out. To keep the shelves looking full, put one of your kids in charge of moving items from the bottom rows to the top as books begin to sell.

Put the wows up front. You want items up front that literally stop traffic. Furniture, tools, and electronics are your best bet for getting hubby to pull the car to the curb.

Group items. It’s helpful to have similarly priced items on one table. You can have a dollar table, a fifty-cent table, and so on.

  1. Capitalize. When the kids were little I would help them set up a lemonade stand to serve those thirsty shoppers in the summer heat (and for my kids to make a little extra cash). This was great for the kids when they were young. They could still be a part of the action, but they didn’t have to negotiate with hagglers. Who is going to dicker over a fifty-cent lemonade?

The only problem was that running a lemonade stand is as much work as the actual garage sale. Finally, I wised up. For our next garage sale, I went to Costco early in the week and bought sodas and bottled waters. All we had to do was ice the drinks and replenish the supply throughout the day, both of which my kids could do without my help.

The kids were thrilled to see their bank grow, and many of the adults were just as excited to get a cheap soda in the middle of a July day.

  1. Improvise. Garage sales aren’t rigid. You aren’t working for Sam Walton, so things don’t have to go a certain way. So if something isn’t working, improvise!
  • Tired of sorting through piles of trinkets that are really worth nothing? Give them away for free with a purchase. Or set out a free box for people to sort through. Better them than you, right?
  • Play music to encourage people to stay a while.
  • Put out a plate of cookies or some lemonade.
  1. Have a plan for the end of the day. The objective is to get rid of everything–do not, under any circumstances, let it back into the house.

At the end of the day, figure out what you are going to do with the leftovers.

Last Call: In the last hour or two, let people know that you will be selling everything for a dollar. Your objective is not to make money, it’s to get rid of stuff. Bringing it back in defeats the purpose of having a clutter free garage sale.

Make Arrangements: At the end of the day, have a plan to make everything go away. Load up the van and take everything to the donation center. Don’t let it come back into the home!

Don’t be fooled. Having a garage sale is a lot of work. But if you are looking for a way to recoup some of your Clutter Tax, this is a great way to spend a day. Pad your bank account and clean out your house at the same time.

Now it’s your turn–tell us your best tips for clutter-free garage sales!

Spring Fling #10: It’s Time to Get the Garage in Order

Spring Fling #10: It’s Time to Get the Garage in Order

garage

Day 10 and it’s time to get out of the house … and declutter the garage.

For years, my garage has been the dumping ground for everything. My business, my kids’ stuff, tools, craft projects, out of season clothes, out of season decorations, mid-project projects, suitcases, gardening supplies, games, puzzles, and the bike that never, ever gets ridden.

It Gets Better in your Garage

I’ll be honest with you: my garage is still a huge work in progress. The good news? There IS progress. When I went to go work on my 20 items today, I knew the corner I had to tackle: the “Camping Corner.”

garage

Roger and I love to go day camping, so we keep a lot of supplies. But this corner has been overrun by one too many “dump and runs.” There were out of season clothes, decorations (apparently, I’m obsessed with giant fall pumpkins), wrapping paper, books, and the results of too many Costco runs. We’re good on toilet paper for the rest of our lives.

So, I gave myself an afternoon to go through the corner, get my 20 items, and make sense of all of the stuff.

I was done in 30 minutes.

Why did it take so little time? Because after all my flings in the past, there really wasn’t that much to declutter—it just needed to be put away properly.

I know that as a clutterer, I tend to be overwhelmed by projects and think they’re going to take more time than they actually do. Starting off with only 15 minutes is going to help you break things down and get them into doable chunks. You can do this!

Instructions

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. One shelf. One corner. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start sorting and revel in the space that you are reclaiming!
– Set a timer and go for it. 15 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 15 minutes on the timer, go for it.

Bonus

Some bonus things you can do in the basement or garage:

  1. Label storage areas. Make a big sign so everyone in the family knows where things go.
  2. Boy, can my garage get dusty. If there are items you care about, dust them or store them in a storage box.
  3. Speaking of storage boxes, can you get rid of a few now that you’ve flung so much stuff?

garage

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #7: Create a Clutter-Free Living Room

Spring Fling Day #7: Create a Clutter-Free Living Room

The living is easy …

Okay, depending on what you use your living room for, maybe the living isn’t all that easy. And whatever you call it (living room, family room, den), it can be a clutter trap. In many houses, the living room sees the worst of every family member’s clutter habits. It can become the dumping ground for All. The. Things.

And if you are the Clutter Monitor, it’s often a full-time job keeping the living room clean.

It Gets Better in the Living Room

I know you want a room you’re not embarrassed to host unexpected guests. And a place where you can relax at the end of the day without feeling all jittery from clutter surrounding you.

living room

We now have that kind of living room. When it came to finding my 20 things, I was frustrated because it was so hard. But then it dawned on me: my years of decluttering are paying off. I can be thrilled with the progress I’ve made.

So for all of you who have had a hard time finding your “things”? Celebrate – it’s working!

Instructions:

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. Maybe the TV console or the coffee table. Just pick one area, and if you run out of things to fling there, you can move on.
– Set a timer and go for it. 10 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 10 minutes on the timer, by all means!

Bonus:

Maybe there are other rooms that fall under the “living” category. Your dining room, a den, your family room? Get 20 things out of that room if you have a little extra time and a little extra motivation.

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #3: Clear Out the Bathroom

Spring Fling Day #3: Clear Out the Bathroom

clear out the bathroom

Day three of the Spring Fling, and it’s time to get serious … Let’s clear out the bathroom!

I’m not so worried about your sentimental attachments in the bathroom. (“But I can’t throw away that bottle of Axe Body Wash! I have to keep it — it was the last time my son smelled good.”)

But if you are anything like me, your bathroom can easily get filled with “just in case” items.

I am a worst-case-scenario kinda girl.

“What if we run out of money and I can never buy shampoo again. I don’t want to regret throwing out that six-year-old bottle of Head and Shoulders my cousin left here.”

What if I lose my job and I can’t buy lipstick again. Even though this color makes me look like an extra on the Walking Dead, it’s better than nothing, right? I should hold on to it.”

I get it. I’m a sick, sick woman.

clear out the bathroom

Those things in the picture? Those were all from my kids’ bathroom.

No kid has lived here in over a year. But I kept it all — just in case.

Did I mention that I’m a sick, sick woman?

I bet you may have had some of these thoughts as well. Otherwise, why would you have six containers of foundation and only use one?

It Gets Better

One of the best things you can do to reduce clutter in your bathroom is become brand loyal. If you are a product junkie, always trying out new lipsticks, hairsprays, etc., it’s easy to keep six different kinds of mascara around because you’re never quite sure which one is the best. Find a product that works for you, and when you start to run out, buy another one. But stop buying products you already have.

Instructions:

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Start with one drawer or one shelf.
– Do NOT pull everything in your bathroom to sort it out. Take it one drawer, shelf, or basket at a time.

Bonus:

Want to stay Clutter Free in your bathroom? Commit to using up what you have. Only buy a new bottle of shampoo once you’ve used up the rest of the shampoo you have on hand.

You say, “But I would never use that old bottle of Head and Shoulders!”

clear out the bathroom

Then throw it out. Only keep what you will actually use. This goes for makeup as well. When you run out, you can buy a new bottle, tube, or jar guilt free. Not only will this save you space, it will also save you money.

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Taming the Paper Piles with Amy Carrol (Vlog)

Taming the Paper Piles with Amy Carrol (Vlog)

Taming the paper piles

Paper, paper everywhere! Do you have more paper piles in the form of mail, bills, and notes than you know what to do with? Amy has a simple system to help you tame the paper monster.

Today Amy shows you her notebook system she’s used for several years to help tame the paper piles. It was especially helpful when her kids were small, but even now she uses it to organize papers and keep everything she needs at her fingertips.

One Small Win: Make a family notebook to corral your papers.

Amy Carroll

Amy Carroll

Amy Carroll is a speaker, writer, and International Initiatives Coordinator with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner.

Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org