As many of you know from my previous post about My Dirty Little Secret, I am working on simplifying and removing clutter from my life and home. It’s amazing how clutter can affect you not only physically (from stepping and tripping over everything) but emotionally as well. When there is clutter surrounding you in your home you can feel more sad, down or overwhelmed by all the items and the large task of cleaning it all out. The key to successfully decluttering is to start small and allow yourself the time to adjust to the process.
Step One – Identifying The Problem and Accepting
When you have decided that enough is enough you first need to look at what you have and decide what you need to clean out, whether it’s one closet, one room or the entire house. Then with the problem acknowledged you need to accept that you will be getting rid of things that hold memories or may have been important at the time but have outgrown their purpose. After my mom passed away in 2006 I was not at the accepting stage because I physically and emotionally could not let go of things because of my recent loss. I strongly recommend letting yourself go through the grieving process (if you are in the same situation as me) before making decisions on what to clean out. Because I waited I am now at the place where I can truly judge whether keeping her clothes versus keeping her favorite figurine is more important to me.
Step Two – Starting and Sorting
The first thing you will need is a sorting system, whether it be boxes or plastic bags. You will need one for TOSS, DONATE, YARD SALE, KEEP. Tossing items that are no longer functional to anyone like broken items and donating anything that may still be functional but to someone else, especially to those in need, is important. Next if an item is in good shape and you can recover some money then it should go into the Yard Sale pile. Finally anything that has sentimental value (my mom’s favorite ladybug figurine) or historical value (my grandmother’s old dishes) should be placed in the Keep pile as these will continue to bring you happiness once the rest of the clutter is gone.
Step Three – Yard Sale Prep
Now that you have tossed, donated and safely tucked away your keep items, you will need to tackle that pile for the yard sale. My suggestion is to pick one room or place in your house to become your staging area for the yard sale. As you begin to purge and label for the yard sale you will need a place to temporarily store these items. Since we don’t have a garage we used our dining room as our “staging” room for the yard sale. We placed all these boxes in the room and as we purged we labeled and placed in a box. Then on the day of the yard sale we simply brought the entire box out to the yard and it was ready to go! Be warned though…you will have to deal with a “mess” until the day of the yard sale so make sure everyone is in agreement on where to stage the boxes.
One of the biggest things I have found is that spending the extra ahead of my yard sale to label everything has paid off big time. When we had yard sales in the past we always just threw things out on tables and never labeled. Buyers would have to come up to us and ask how much something was in order to find out. But this past yard sale we separated everything into boxes by categories and labeled not only the boxes (such as “Kitchen Items”, “Clothes”, etc.) but we also labeled every single item. At first this seemed like a huge investment of time however, I can say after having our first yard sale this summer at the end of July we made DOUBLE what we have ever made in the past. So this time spent is well worth it.
Here are some supplies I kept on hand for this process:
- Boxes (accounting boxes from Walmart)
- Pricing stickers and blank stickers
- Clear plastic bags (both ziploc style and “tie” type)
I used the plastic bags to have a collection of items such as Happy Meal toys put together and priced at $0.50 per bag. All those little toys the kids get at birthday parties or Easter that they only play with once went into these bags and because they are clear everyone can see what they are getting.
I also used these bags for things like all the Little People my kids had collected over the years. By placing a large amount in the bag I could easily ask for $2 for the items and simply wrote the price on the plastic bag before stuffing it full.
Step Four – Advertise
So you are ready to have a yard sale and know what date you want to hold it. Check with your town to make sure you don’t require a permit (ours does) and then look at ways to advertise. Craigslist is an excellent resource for advertising but wait until the day before the yard sale to post your ad. Then when people start to search for yard sales that weekend they can see yours first (plus it doesn’t list your address out there for the world to see longer then necessary). After the yard sale remove your ad from Craigslist and simply post anything individually that you didn’t sell particularly if it’s large items like furniture.
Step Five – The Big Day
The day of the yard sale you will need lots of help especially if you have kids. We personally hired a babysitter because I knew the girls would want to be with us outside and since we live on a very busy road we can get a lot of traffic with yard sales. I was worried about watching them and the buyers at the same time. So be on the safe side and find a babysitter.
Since it was just the two of us I also knew it would be difficult to carry things out to the yard if “early birds” were arriving so I sent out a plea to some friends to help for the first hour to carry things with us. That way there was always someone around if the early birds wanted to buy something before the sale started. For the record…the early birds were there an entire hour before the sale started and we didn’t even advertise except on our mailbox.
Make some lemonade or special treats and have the kids sell them as a way to teach about earning money and saving. Or even donate all the proceeds from the lemonade/bake sale to a charity and teach them about something even better…helping others.
Step Six – Clean Up
So most of everything worth buying has been bought (see step four for items worth money that you want to continue to sell) and now you are left with the pick-overs. What to do now? Well we are famous for piling that stuff up at the end of the driveway, hanging a huge FREE sign and sitting back and seeing who shows up. We also have had great conversations with people when doing this. In fact we found out that there was a place in town that takes donations of baby and kid items to give to low-income single mothers. So my husband boxed up all the baby items including bassinets and brought it over to donate.
So now that you have successfully finished your yard sale…take a day off and enjoy the simply joy of less clutter. And then…if you are like us…look around and plan your next yard sale!
Here are some books to help with the process:
- Too Much Stuff: De-Cluttering Your Heart and Home by Kathryn Porter
- Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify by Francine Jay
- Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In
- 101 Ways to Have A Successful Yard Sale
- One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good
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