Book Review: Disneyland On Any Budget by Jessica Sanders

Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

Before my family and I went to Disneyland last fall, I did a TON of research on a million different website and blogs trying to learn as much as possible about lodging and food and travel and strollers and souvenirs and anything else I could think of that I might need to know about when planning a trip to Disneyland.  I learned a lot and everything I found was really helpful.  Our trip to Disneyland was a huge success and I even learned a few things that I’ve been able to share with others.

I received a complimentary copy of Disneyland On Any Budget for review.  All opinions are 100% mine.
Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!

But what if you don’t have the time to to sift through all that information and find what’s really relevant?  That’s where Disneyland On Any Budget comes in handy.  Jessica Sanders from The Happiest Blog on Earth is all about all things Disney.  She and her family go to Disneyland several times a year and she is always up to date on the latest changes and updates to the park.

This post contains affiliate links which if clicked on and a purchase is made, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

I received a copy of Disneyland On Any Budget and was able to read through it in less than an hour.  But all the information Jessica packs into this little book is well worth the read (and re-read)!  She covers ways to save for Disneyland, where to get discount tickets, how to save money on food, where to start your day, hotel accommodations, grocery stores, best places to find souvenirs and on and on.  Jessica really knows her stuff!

Disneyland On Any Budget is a must have for the latest and most up-to-date information on Disneyland!  It is packed with information!
Used by permission from The Happiest Blog on Earth

One thing I loved and thought was a great little touch is that each chapter/section starts off with a fun quote from a Disney movie that goes along with what the chapter is about.  Jessica also shares examples and real life experiences (both her own and others) to help illustrate her points.  At the end of each section, she gives a little recap.  If you buy the book, you also have access to bonus content on her website!

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to plan a trip to Disneyland in the coming year.  The information you’ll learn is invaluable to making your experience the best possible.  No matter what your budget is, Disneyland On Any Budget is a great tool to help you and your family visit the happiest place on earth!

To buy the paperback version, click HERE.
To buy the Kindle version, click HERE.

To visit The Happiest Blog on Earth, click HERE.

What has been most helpful to you when planning a trip to Disneyland?

Affordable Toys for Toddlers

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

During the next four months, we’ll be celebrating Christmas and both of my kids’ birthdays.  This means that we have to budget well for gifts and be selective in what we choose to bring into our home.  In addition, we want good quality toys that aren’t going to break the bank.  I’ve always prided myself on being a bargain shopper and Christmas and birthday gifts are no exception.  Just last week I saved $15 on a present for my son by shopping around, which turned something over-budget into something affordable.  I always give myself a good pat on the back when that happens. *wink*

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’d much rather spend a couple of extra dollars on something that is better made and longer lasting.  Kids are hard on toys so this is important to me as a parent.  Today, I want to share with you my picks for affordable toddler toys from The Baby Cubby.  One of the things I love most about their toys is that they are unique and durable as well as affordable.  Most of their toys are for boys or girls (with the exception of a few).  The toys I’m showing below are for 2-5 year old range.  (Click on the link below the picture to see more information.)

*This post is sponsored by The Baby Cubby.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Zoobrella Umbrella (3 styles)  |  Hedgehog Backpack (4 styles)

Affordable Toys for Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Baby Primers (30 classics)

What makes The Baby Cubby different?
So if you’re anything like me, you’ve been on tons of websites for baby/toddler/kid stuff searching for great products at a great price.  We all like to get the best bang for our buck!  But it’s also nice to know that where you’re shopping values more than just your money.  At The Baby Cubby, their team is made up of parents just like you who want the best products for their kids.  They want to support you through parenthood with helpful resources and encouragement.  (And don’t we all need a little bit of that? *wink*)  You can read a little more about them HERE.

Besides great products, they also offer price matching (even on Amazon prices) and free shipping on orders over $49 (which isn’t hard to do, believe me!).  If you are local, they are located about 10-15 minutes south of Provo and about 25 minutes north of Salt Lake in Lindon.  You can find directions HERE.

My Experience with The Baby Cubby
I recently placed an order with them for some Christmas gifts for my kids (the makeup set, a book, bath pipes and bath cogs).  Ordering was easy and I could see shipping costs, a breakdown of each item, tax, etc prior to placing my order.  Earlier this week, I got a call from their customer service about one of the items being out of stock and they wanted to know what I wanted done with the order.  I called them back and briefly explained the reason I was calling.  The girl I spoke to happened to be the same one who had called me and she knew exactly what I was talking about and handled my call quickly and efficiently (which is huge because no one wants to be on the phone with customer service forever when they have kids).  I cannot wait to get these items and give them for Christmas this year.  I have no doubt I’ll be a repeat customer.

I hope this post gave you some ideas of what to give the toddler in your life!  Happy shopping!

How Decluttering Helps Your Community

Decluttering and donating can help your community in unexpected ways.  How?  Read more here.

I feel like I am constantly decluttering: used up coloring books, old toys, clothes and shoes that have been grown out of or are no longer wanted, empty cardboard boxes… The list could go on and on.  I’ve always been the type of person to use something for as long as possible before I get rid of it.  But as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed a desire to purge my belongings more often and give away things I no longer like or find useful.  I don’t like stuff just lying around cluttering up my space (pun intended).  Do you feel the same?

So what do you do with these things?

You could just throw them away.  But some of these things are good enough to be reused by someone else, which means you have a couple of options:

  • Sell it.
  • Donate it.

At the beginning of the summer, I posted about how to host a successful yard sale.  I have a lot of experience with yard sales and share some really valuable tips that really make all the difference between selling your stuff and…not selling it.

Then, a couple of months ago, I wrote a 4-part series about “How To Sell Your Stuff Online”.  It is a really in-depth look at how you can make money selling your unwanted stuff online and tips for getting the most for your items.  You can click on any of the links below to learn more:

Another way to earn money from unwanted items is to sell it at a local consignment store.  These types of stores generally take clothing and shoes and sell them for you.  You then receive a commission from those sales.

But what if you don’t want to go to the work of selling it?  The other option is to donate it to a local non-profit organization, where it will go to those who aren’t able to afford these things on their own or need to buy them but don’t have much income.

Donate It
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a blogging event at a new thrift store/donation center called Deseret Industries the week before it opened.  (If you live in Utah, you are probably pretty familiar with these stores, but they also have stores in California, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho.)

Decluttering and donating can help your community in unexpected ways.  How?  Read more here.

We got a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on there.  And it’s more than simply reselling donated items.  In fact, their main purpose behind the store isn’t to sell things.  It’s vocational rehabilitation.  They offer assistance to those who need help getting back on their feet.  Maybe it’s something as simple as going through a certification course so they can qualify for a higher paying job.  Or they need some help sprucing up their resume for a new job.  There are others who have addiction problems and need help maintaining a consistent job while receiving help to kick their addictions.  They offer business partnerships and internships to help people gain on-the-job training and experience.  (You can read more HERE.)

Decluttering and donating can help your community in unexpected ways.  How?  Read more here.

Another aspect of how the Deseret Industries (also known as the D.I.) helps the community is through their humanitarian efforts.  When items are donated, they are sorted, priced and put out on the floor to sell.  If an item doesn’t sell after 4-6 weeks, it is removed from the floor and sorted once again.  Depending on the item, they will take it apart and reuse or recycle it.  For clothing, they sort it out based on type (pants, skirt, long/short sleeve, etc), whether or not it has a logo, pattern, etc and then it is bundled and shipped out to other countries based on need.  The store manager for the location we visited made it clear that a huge effort is made to use as many items as possible before letting it go to waste.

I was really impressed with all the different resources offered through Deseret Industries.  I’ve been donating to the DI for years, but wasn’t aware of everything else that went on behind the scenes.  Their mission to enable self-reliance is a service to both the people who learn the skills they need through the program and to the community who benefits from their skills.

When you donate your items to Deseret Industries, you are helping people you’ve never met in unexpected and miraculous ways.  If you want to help others in your community, but aren’t sure where to start, begin by decluttering your home.  What you donate might be purchased by someone who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.  Or it might end up donated to a family out of the country unable to purchase it.  Regardless, you can feel good about knowing you are helping your community.

(If you’d like to see if there are any locations near you, you can click HERE

I hope this post gave you a little more insight into what goes on at Deseret Industries.  For me, just knowing that what I donate actually makes a difference in someones life is a huge motivation to look at what I have and try to donate more freely.  I encourage each of you to do the same!

Preschool Halloween Party on a Budget

In August of this year, I attended a blogging workshop.  While there, I met a fellow mommy blogger named Kyla (she blogs over at Ford-ology) who lives about 15 minutes away from me and has two kids the same ages as mine but opposite genders.  It was like a match made in heaven!  That night, she and I got to talking and decided that we definitely needed to collaborate on a post in the near future.

One day Kyla and I ran into each other at Hobby Lobby with our kids, who immediately started talking and playing with each other like they were already friends.  As Kyla and I were talking about activities our kids could do together for a playdate, it slowly evolved into a preschool/toddler Halloween party on a budget.  (Funny how things work huh?)  The more she and I talked, the more it all came together.  So today we are each sharing how you can host a fun, simple and entertaining Halloween party for your kids and their friends without breaking the bank.

We blocked out a two hour period of time to do everything which included prep time for each activity.  You could easily choose any one of these activities and do them with your child(ren) or for a playdate.  There is enough here that if you decided not to do an actual Halloween party, you could have some type of Halloween activity for almost every day of the week!  Some take a little more prep time, while others are fairly simple.  But the main thing is that all of them are budget friendly.

To start out with, we had the kids dress up because what’s a Halloween party without costumes?  We just used some dress ups we had at home rather than their real Halloween costumes.  When we got to Kyla’s house, we found that our girls had both chosen to dress as Sleeping Beauty/Aurora and our boys were both dressed as superheros: Spiderman and Superman!  So if our kids look like they are dressed the same, they pretty much are, but it was totally a coincidence.  (A very cute coincidence.)

While the kids played together, Kyla and I finished some of the prep work.  She already had a cute little table all decked out in Halloween decor with a tablecloth, fake spiderwebs and spiders (total cost: $4).  Each place was set with a cute paper pumpkin with each child’s name on it, a pumpkin and the paper goods we were going to use for lunch time.

Photobooth
Our first activity was a photobooth.  Kyla had found some cute monster props for the kids to use for $3 from Target and the Happy Halloween banner for $1 (also from Target).

We also used some darling little tissue paper tassels from my friends Etsy shop, Eve’s Party Market, to add a little extra Halloween fun. 

The kids thought using the props was hilarious and Kyla and I even got in on the fun, using our kids as stand-in photographers. *wink* (The tassels were kindly provided at no cost by Creative Juice Cafe.  The retail price is $4 for a pack of 5 tassels.)

Decorating Pumpkins
The next activity was decorating pumpkins.  We gave the kids some stickers, pompoms, googly eyes and paint and let them go to town.  (I already had the pompoms, paint and glue and Kyla spent $2 on stickers and $4 for the four pumpkins.)

It was so fun to watch them each create their own little masterpiece!  When the pumpkins didn’t have anywhere left to decorate, we set them aside to dry.

Pumpkin Toss
While the kids took a little break to get out some energy, we set up the next activity which we called the Pumpkin Toss.  I bought 3 buckets from the Dollar Tree for $3 and I made six beanbags using some leftover material and plastic pellets (purchased from Hobby Lobby for $3).

Since the kids are all fairly little, we just told them the rules were to try and get one beanbag in each bucket.  My daughter and her son (both 4 years old) accomplished this pretty easily, while the 2 year olds weren’t quite coordinated enough to aim accurately.  But they all had fun and wanted to try multiple times.  (I’m thinking this will be a fun game for my kids during the cold winter months when we’re stuck inside.)  If you have older kids, you could label each bucket with a point value and then tally up points for prizes.

Lunch
Putting together the kids’ lunch was so fun!

We made PB and J sandwiches and then cut them out into ghosts and pumpkins using cookie cutters.

The mummy juice boxes were made by ripping up white fabric I had in my scrap pile and wrapping it around the boxes and gluing some googly eyes on.

The string cheese ghosts and mandarin orange fruit cup pumpkins were made using a sharpie to draw the faces on.

Lastly, we gave the kids some yummy Jell-O popcorn in individual popcorn buckets, also from Eve’s Party Market.  They were the perfect size to portion out the popcorn.  (The popcorn buckets were kindly provided at no cost by Eve’s Party Market.  The retail price starts at $1 for 1 with bulk discounts available.)

Treasure Hunt/Goody Bags
The last activity was a treasure hunt that led the kids to some goody bags.  Because the clues were hidden around Kyla’s house, her kids led the way to most of the clues but all the kids had fun running from room to room to find the next clue.

When the kids found their bags, they immediately sat down to find out what was inside: pumpkin bubble necklaces, spider rings, vampire teeth, pencils, small notebooks, coloring pages and a little bag of candy corn.

All of the items for the goody bags were found at Target in the dollar section and cost $6 to fill 4 bags.

I found the treasure hunt printout on Imagination Soup and just printed it off at home.  The coloring sheets are from Honey & Lime.  Kyla put two on each page and then cut them down and stapled the corner to make a little coloring book.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, our whole goal with this party was to make it budget friendly and have activities that anyone can put together.  Even if you don’t consider yourself crafty, you can take any one of these activities and tailor it to your kids.  Kids aren’t going to care if everything is fancy or picture perfect.  All they want is to enjoy the activities and spend some time with you and their friends.

Total cost out of pocket: $29

Honestly, I had so much fun putting this whole little party together for the kids!  Each activity kept their attention for just long enough to complete it and they were able to get their excess energy out while Kyla and I set up the next activity.  As Kyla’s son said at the end, “It was the best morning ever!”  I think we can definitely count that as a success!

If you’d like to read Kyla’s post about the party, click HERE.

What are you favorite Halloween-themed activities to do with your kids?

How To Sell Stuff Online: Posting and Followup Etiquette (Part 4 of 4)

Knowing when to post your items for sale and what to do once someone shows interest are just two keys to selling online.

Welcome to the final part of the How To Sell Your Stuff Online series!  Thank you for sticking with me and reading through each of my posts.  I know it is a lot of information to digest, but I truly believe that if you use my tips that you’ll see success in selling your own items.  If you haven’t already, please be sure to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before continuing to make sure you are all caught up on what I’ve already gone over in terms of taking pictures, pricing and the anatomy of a good post.

In this part, I’ll be going over some tips when it comes to posting your items, as well as some follow up etiquette.

After you’ve created your post with all the necessary information about your item, you want to actually post it.  If you are using Facebook, they have a little drop down menu next to the ‘Post’ button that allows you select multiple groups to post your item in.  This saves a ton of time!  Before they had this feature, you had to go into each group you were part of and post the same thing multiple times.  Super time consuming.  So before you click the ‘Post’ button, make sure to select each group you want to post the item in, as you won’t have the option once you’ve posted it.  See my example below:

Knowing when to post your items for sale and what to do once someone shows interest are just two keys to selling online.

When it comes to ideal times to post your items, I’ve found that evenings are best because that is when most people are winding down and just browsing online.  I usually post between 8:30-9:30 or 10pm.  I also prefer to post on Thursday or Friday night because then you have the weekend to try and schedule pick up times.  People are a little more flexible on weekends and so arranging a pick up is easier.  I’ve had some success posting early in the morning because sometimes people will browse while they are getting ready in the morning.

Once you’ve posted your items, the next thing to do is…wait.  I know, it’s not very exciting, but if you’ve followed the steps I’ve gone over, then it shouldn’t be long before you start getting some interest.

So let’s fast forward a bit to the point when you’ve had someone express interest in your item.  I recommend being readily available to answer any questions people may have or being ready to work out a pick up time/place so you can catch them while they are still at their computer/on their phone.

I like to use full sentences when I reply.  I also like to assume the sale.  If someone simply writes “interested” on one of my pictures, I’m going to assume they want to buy the item since they didn’t ask any further questions about it.  Don’t haggle with them on price.  Simple ask them to message you and you can discuss it.  I don’t give any personal information out and I don’t arrange a pick up time/place on the thread.  I will say something like “PM (personal message) me and we can work out a pick up”.

Below you’ll see how I typically respond to someone:

Knowing when to post your items for sale and what to do once someone shows interest are just two keys to selling online.

Once I get a message from them, I like to clarify that they want the item.  After I’ve received confirmation, then I will ask them about a pick up time/place.  If we arrange a pick up at my house, my address is the very last bit of information I give them.  If we are arranging to meet somewhere else, I will provide my phone number.

*A word of caution: Be very, very careful about what information you choose to disclose about yourself online.  Don’t tell people you aren’t going to be home between _____ and _____ time, especially after you’ve given your address.  You don’t need to tell them that you have kids taking naps.  Just simply arrange a time and place that is convenient for both of you and leave it at that.

The next thing I do after arranging the pick up information is to go back to all my posts for that item and write “sold PPU”.  PPU means “pending pick up”.  I never say something is sold until it’s actually been picked up and paid for.  Going back through all the posts is kind of a pain, but it’s important to do so that anyone looking at that item knows that someone else wants it to. (Refer to the picture above.)

I have had a lot of times where someone will comment “next”, which just means that if the sale falls through that they want the item next.  If you didn’t include FCFS (first come, first serve) on your post and someone writes next, you will need to decide on a way to keep track of who is “next”.  I do this through a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.  I also have the item, price, person, pick up time/day, notes and next columns.  You can see my example below:

Knowing when to post your items for sale and what to do once someone shows interest are just two keys to selling online.

Another little tip is to “like” all of the comments that are made on your items (unless they are mean or something).  It just lets people know you saw their comment, especially if it is a “next” comment.

Once you’ve sold your item, go back through to all of the posts you made and click the ‘Sold’ button.

And there you have it!  You’ve sold your item(s)!  Go do a little happy dance, put the money in your wallet and take it to the bank.  Or go treat yourself with a donut or a pedicure.  Rejoice that what you were trying to get rid of got sold and you got a little money in return.

If you found this series helpful, please pin the image, share it with your friends/family or leave a comment below!

How To Sell Your Stuff Online: Anatomy of a Post (Part 3 of 4)

How you organize your post and what you include in it makes a huge difference in whether or not you sell it

We are on Part 3 of the How to Sell Your Stuff Online series!  It’s been so great for me to be able to share some new information with you and hopefully help you sell your unwanted stuff.  If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, I highly recommend checking those out before continuing with this post so you’ll be all caught up.

So you’ve learned about taking good pictures and pricing to sell.  I could probably stop right here and it’s likely you will sell your item.  But if you want to sell it fast and avoid lots of questions like “How big is it?” or “What are the dimensions?” or “Is that brown or black?”, then you’ll want to read on.

Before we go much further though, I want to point out that most of my selling experience is with yard sales and online yard sale type sites.  I have sold a few items on Amazon and a couple on Ebay, so be aware that I don’t claim to be an expert in those areas.  I have also never sold anything on Etsy, however, some of the same tips I’ve covered could apply there as well.

Most of the items I sell are posted on local Facebook yard sale groups and I am most familiar with selling this way.  I am part of about 15 different groups that cover most of my county, or about 30 minutes in either direction of where I live.  I found these groups by simply searching for “(city) yard sale” and had a few options come up for each city I typed in.  I have also sold through a local classifieds site which advertising anything from jobs to rentals to furniture and is run by a news station called KSL.  I do not use Craigslist.

When you’re posting an item for sale, you are essentially using marketing and advertising.  Marketing because you are trying to communicate to the audience (the people you are trying to sell to) the value of the item you’re selling in order to increase your profit.  Advertising because you are promoting your item in a way that will catch the audience’s eye.

So what does this mean in practical terms?

It means that you need to be clear and concise when choosing what to include in your post because you only have a few seconds to interest someone in what you’re selling before they’ve moved on.

Next we’ll be going over what I’m calling the Anatomy of a Post.

Below you’ll see an example of how I post an item for sale on Facebook:

Anatomy of a Good Post: Learn how to sell your unwanted items!

Descriptive Title
Your title should be simple but descriptive.  Anyone looking at the title above would know exactly what I’m selling.  Make sure your spelling is correct.  I see so many people who don’t double check their spelling and it reflects negatively on them.  Like I mentioned above, you only have a split second to grab someone’s attention.  Make sure it’s not because you didn’t spell a word correctly.

Price
Your price should be a whole number and not a range.  If you have multiple items you’re selling in one post, perhaps because they are similar or part of a group, choose a mid-range price to display.  If you are trying to sell the items together as a group or set, put the amount you would take for everything.  In the example above, I include the cartridges in the title so people aren’t thinking I’m wanting $80 for a printer.  The fact that I included the cartridges should actually attract people to my post because cartridges are expensive so to be selling both together is a great deal.

Location
On Facebook, you have the option of putting a zip code which will then populate with the name of your city once you hit ‘Post’.  This is a good piece of information to include so people have all the information they need to decide if they want to drive to you to pick it up or perhaps meet somewhere if it’s a bigger item you are selling.  (We’ll discuss the pickup/drop off portion of selling in Part 4.)

Description of Item
The description of your item is so important!  If you’ve gone to the trouble of taking pictures and trying to price your item right, why wouldn’t you take the time to write a good description?  Included in the description should be the following:

  • Is the item new/like new or used?
  • Are there any problems with it? 
    • Mention any rips, stains, missing pieces, chipped corners, etc.
    • Be honest, but don’t give so many details that you talk people out of buying it.  Just tell them what you would want to know if you were buying it.
  • If your item is something that could be multi-purpose or it’s not completely clear what it could be used for, give an example.
    • Example: older piece of wood furniture
    • Description: I bought this to refinish for my daughter/son’s room, but didn’t have time.  Would make a great project!
    • Something people just need a little help imagining what they could do with an item or know what you did with it to get them interested.
  • Dimensions are important so people know if what you have will fit in their space.  Pictures can be misleading when it comes to scale so it’s better to just list it as part of the description.

Link to Item
In Part 2, I talked about doing your research.  In the example above, I found the printer on Amazon and then included the link as part of the description.  That way, if someone wants to know more about it, they can get all the information they need from an outside source and then decide if your item is what they’re looking for.

Good Photos
The number of photos you use in your post will depend on what you’re selling or if you’re listing multiple items in one post.  In the printer example, I posted two pictures: one close up of the printer and one that included the printer and cartridges.  If you’re selling a group of items, like dishes for example, take pictures of one dinner plate, one salad plate, one bowl and one mug separately and one with them together so people can see how they look.

*Note: Some Facebook yard sale groups have rules about posting more than one photo with the main post so check the rules before you post a million pictures.  You can always post additional photos in the comments and mention it in the description by saying “additional photos in comments”.

Other Information

  • Cross Posted: If you are posting your item in more than one place, it’s a courtesy to mention it.  It also helps people realize that if they want the item, they should act fast because someone else could ask for it first.
  • FCFS vs Holding: 
    • FCFS means “First come, first serve”.  This tells people that whoever can pick it up the soonest can have it, regardless of who asks for it first.
    • If you don’t put FCFS, then you might run into people wanting you to “hold” the item until they can pick it up, or their friend, or their neighbor, etc.  If you only have a handful of people wanting the item, then this might be fine.  But if you start having a lot of people request the item, you might need to change to a FCFS method to prevent yourself from going crazy trying to keep track of who asked for it and in which order.
  • Bundling: If I’m selling similar items that belong as a set or group, then often I will drop the price if they buy everything together.  People feel like they are getting an even better deal this way–and they are–plus, you get rid of your items faster.
    • Example: 3 unused decorative candles for $3 each or $8 for all 3

So there you have it.  The anatomy of a good post.  I hope you found this information helpful as you try to get rid of your unwanted items and make a little money in the process.

Check in next Monday for the last post in this series (Part 4) which will be about posting and follow up etiquette.

How To Sell Your Stuff Online: Pricing (Part 2 of 4)

Knowing how to price your stuff is a key part of selling your items online.

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of the How To Sell Your Stuff Online series!  If you haven’t read Part 1 about taking pictures, I would highly recommend checking it out before continuing on.  After you’ve read it, please come back and read this post here.  (Or, you can check it out after you’ve read this post.)

One of the most difficult parts about selling stuff online is knowing how to price your item.  If you price it too high, people might not even bother looking at it.  If you price it too low, you will probably sell it, but you might regret feeling like you “gave it away” and could have gotten more for it.  It’s a delicate balance and can be tricky to figure out.

When it comes to pricing what you want to sell, you have to remember that the goal is to both get rid of stuff AND make money.  In many cases, you’re selling items that are used and the price should reflect that.  I have found that by selling stuff online, whether it’s through a Facebook group or a local site, I can usually get a little more for it than I do at a yard sale, but it’s not a ton more–maybe a few dollars depending on the item.

I don’t have some mathematical formula that I use every time I need to price something but I do have some basic guidelines that I follow and questions that I ask myself.  I’ll go through each of these to help you get a better idea about how to price your item(s).

To start with, ask yourself the following questions:

Is it new or like new?
When I was helping my in-laws sell items at the yard sale we held this summer, I found a lot of new items.  There were a TON of things that were still in boxes or packaged up, never even used.  Most of them still had the price tag on them.  These items were either brand new or like new.  Unfortunately, many of them were also purchased at discount stores, such as Ross or TJ Maxx, and the time frame to return them was long past.  Items that are new or like new will generally sell for more than used items.

What did I pay for it?
In many cases, I can remember about what I paid for an item.  Not an exact amount, but I can estimate pretty well.  In the example above about my in-laws items, the price tag was still on it and so I didn’t have to guess.  Knowing what you paid for an item, coupled with how new/old it is will help determine a price as well.  It’s possible that there are going to be items that you overpaid for or bought on a whim and the odds that you’ll get what you paid for it are slim unless the right person happens to see it.

Is it a current item?
What you have might be in perfect condition.  But if it’s 5, 10, 15, or 20 years old, that might not matter.  My mother-in-law is a talented seamstress and has a sewing room filled with fabric and other materials.  But she doesn’t sew much anymore and one day we were helping her sort through her sewing room and found a huge bolt of peachy colored lace that was clearly many years old.  We suggested she simply throw it away but she insisted that it was in perfect condition and that someone would want it.  What she said might be true, but not likely.  The same principle applies to clothing.  My mom takes great care of her clothes and I’ve even seen some pieces still in her closet from 20 years ago, but if she were to try and sell them, she probably wouldn’t be too successful.  Items that are current will sell better and for a better price since the demand is higher.

Am I placing too much value in it?
So often we see an item that we no longer like or have a use for and decide we want to sell it, only to find that no one wants to pay what we think it’s worth.  This is where this question is helpful.  You have to be honest with yourself and think about why you priced the item as you did.  Maybe you have a memory attached to the item or it was given to you by someone special.  Keep in mind that while someone else might be interested in it, they don’t have the same attachment you do and they won’t see the same value in it.

Now that you’ve asked these questions, here are a couple more tips for pricing.

Do Your Research
If I have an item that I’m not sure the current value on, I will try and find it online, usually on Amazon.  This works well for electronics, entertainment (DVDs, books, etc), kitchen appliances and name brand items (excluding clothes).  If you can’t find the exact item, try and find something similar.

Take The Price You Want and Drop It
Even now, I still find myself wanting to see if I can get just a little more out of an item.  When I realize I’m doing this, I will stop and think about the difference between what I wish I could get and what the reality is.  For example, if I have a nice picture frame that I’d like to get $7 for, I will usually drop the price by a couple of dollars knowing that someone else will be more likely to pay $5.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to get what you want for an item, but if you post it and don’t get any interest, consider dropping the price a little lower and see if you get some interest then.

Be Willing To Negotiate
Sometimes you will post an item and get exactly what you asked for it.  Other times, you’ll find that people want to talk you down in price.  If you feel comfortable with the price you’re asking and you feel like it is fair, then stick to your guns.  I’ve found that many people are willing to pay what I’m asking, but they figure that asking me to take less won’t hurt.

Below I’ll show you some items I’ve sold and how I priced them.  Hopefully it will give you some ideas about how to price your own items.

Example 1: High Chair

Knowing how to price your stuff is a key part of selling your items online.

This was my in-laws that they kept at their house for when they had grandkids over.  It was in good shape but definitely used.  I wiped it down as well as I could and then took some pictures.

Based on what I know about high chairs, they tend to be on the more expensive end.  I looked on Amazon to get an idea of the price range for a brand new mid-grade high chair, which is about $50-$70.  I cut that price in half to $25-$35 and because it was used, I cut the price in half again to $12.50-$17.50 and then split the difference and asked $15 for it.  I sold it within a couple of days.

Example 2: Floor Vase
Knowing how to price your stuff is a key part of selling your items online.

Another item from my in-laws.  It was brand new and still had the price tag on the bottom: $20.  It was purchased at Ross and according to the tag, retail would have been $40.  However, since only $20 was paid for it and it was brand new, I cut the price in half and sold it for $10.

Example 3: Air Mattresses
Knowing how to price your stuff is a key part of selling your items online.

More items from my in-laws.  Before we took pictures, my husband blew these up with our pump to make sure there weren’t any holes.  Once we knew they were good, we researched online to find out about the brands.

One was a triple thick queen air mattress from Cabella’s, retailing at $70.  The other was a queen mattress bought at a local chain store, retailing at $20.  For the triple thick mattress, I priced it at $15 because I knew that someone would see the value of it, especially knowing where it came from (we’ll talk more about what to write in your post in the Part 3).  We sold it within 30 minutes of posting it.  The lesser quality mattress (not pictured) was sold for $5 and again, we sold it within about 30 minutes of posting it online.

Example 4: Clothes

Knowing how to price your stuff is a key part of selling your items online.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to get what you paid for when it comes to clothes, especially if they are not brand new and even then people are looking for a deal.  I shop mostly at discount stores, small boutique chain stores, Target or the mall so many of my clothes are in decent shape but aren’t extremely high quality.  If you’re going to take the time to take pictures of each item of clothing, make sure they are in good shape or you’re going to waste a lot of time for not much return. 

My rule of thumb for pricing clothes is the following:

  • Womens/Juniors Clothing
    • Dresses: $5-$10
    • Skirts/Pants: $2-$3
    • Sweaters/Sweatshirts: $2-$3
    • T-shirts (long sleeve, short sleeve, sleeveless): $1-$2
  • Mens Clothing
    • Pants: $3-$5
    • Dress Shirts: $3-$5
    • T-shirts/Polos: $2-$3
    • Sweaters/Sweatshirts: $3-$4
  • Kids Clothing
    • Tops: $.50-$2
    • Bottoms: $.50-$2
    • Boutique or Name Brand in new or like new shape: varies
  • Baby Clothes
    • Same as kids clothes
  • Shoes
    • Boots: $5-$10
    • Flats: $3-$5
    • Sports (example: cleats): $5-$10
    • Dress: $5-$10

Learning how to price items to sell is a learning process and takes a little bit of time so be patient with yourself.  And if you have a question or are unsure, you can ask your family or friends for their opinions/advice.

Part 3 of this series will be about the anatomy of a good post, which will be on Friday of this week so stay tuned!

How to Sell Your Stuff Online: Taking Pictures (Part 1 of 4)

Taking good pictures is the first step to making money selling your stuff online.

Today I’m introducing the first of a four part series about how to sell your stuff online.  Just this summer, I sold over $1100 at ONE yard sale.  I’ve sold hundreds of dollars worth of stuff through Facebook yard sale groups over the last few years, as well as through local sites.  I’ve even sold items on Amazon and Ebay although not as often as the others.  So I feel pretty good about sharing some advice with you in the hopes that you can have some success as well.

In the first part of this series I’m going to go over taking pictures.  I’m going to explain why good pictures make a difference and I’ll give some examples of good and bad pictures.

To begin with, let’s start with the obvious: good pictures sell.  If you see a picture of an item or product that is bright and shows off the item well, you are more likely to be interested in buying it.  If you see a picture of an item that looks dusty or the lighting is bad, you probably won’t be all that interested in checking it out further, even if it’s something you’re looking for.  Some people are good at seeing the potential of an item, but many people want to skim through pictures and will stop on the one that is bright, clear and easy to see what’s being sold.

So how do you take a good picture of what you want to sell?

First step is to clean it up.  If it’s furniture, wipe it down.  If it’s clothes, hang them up or put them in the dryer to get the wrinkles out before hanging it up or laying it out flat.  Even something that looks old can look decent if you clean it.  (This is also important when you’re hosting a yard sale.)

Second step is to take a picture.  Here are some tips:

  • Good lighting: Don’t take it in the basement where there’s only one light bulb.  Try to take pictures in the daytime in a well lit room.  If that’s not an option, turn on the light so it’s bright.
  • Use a decent camera, even if it’s just your phone.  Most of the pictures I take are with my phone rather than my point and shoot or DSLR simply because it’s more convenient.
  • Have a neutral background behind your item.  I use my couch, which is grey, or a plain wall.  Complicated or busy backgrounds will detract from whatever it is you’re selling.
  • Take individual pictures of each item, unless it comes as a set.  If it comes as a set, take pictures of each item and one picture of everything together.  Do not take a picture of a bunch of random items and then list off each item in the picture.

Here are some examples of bad pictures vs good pictures.  I just want to point out that the good pictures really are the ones that I post online.  The bad ones I took to contrast, but I’ve seen so many people post pictures like this.

Taking good pictures is the first step to making money selling your stuff online.

Taking good pictures is the first step to making money selling your stuff online.

Taking good pictures is the first step to making money selling your stuff online.

Taking decent pictures takes time, but as they say, time is money and if you spend a few extra minutes to get those pictures, it will definitely pay off.  (Pun intended.)

Lastly, upload your pictures onto your computer and save them in a file.  You will want to save all your for sale items in one place so you can find them easily.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series about pricing, which I’ll be posting on Wednesday!

Top 10 Craft Supplies From The Dollar Store

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

A week or so ago, I was at the dollar store picking up some supplies for the magnetic puzzle I was making when I realized how much craft stuff I buy there.  Now, granted, there are some really crappy items at the dollar store that are definitely not worth your dollar, but we’ll save that post for another day.

Today I’m sharing the top 10 craft supplies I buy at the dollar store.

Baker’s TwineThe dollar store sells baker’s twine over in the craft section by the pipe cleaners and pom-poms.  It comes in a variety of colors and comes in a pack of three, so it doesn’t cost much to get a bunch of different colors.  Baker’s twine is great for scrapbooking, wrapping around jars or vases, attaching tags and so many other things.  It adds that little bit of color that just ties everything together (no pun intended).

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Glass Vases
If you’ve seen my tutorial for hurricane vases, you might remember that I bought the vases and the candlesticks from the dollar store.  They have a surprising amount of glassware in a decent variety of sizes and shapes.  You can paint over the glass to match your home, use the vases to give away a small bouquet of flowers, display candles or candy.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Wire Wreath Forms
Earlier this year, I shared a tutorial for my Valentine’s rag wreath.  The wire wreath form was purchased at the dollar store, saving me a few dollars.  They only had one or two sizes, but the sizes they had were perfect for my door and the rag wreath.  I found them on the aisle with the floral supplies.

Washi Tape
Oh, washi tape.  How do I love thee?  There are so many uses for washi tape and it comes in so many different colors and patterns and textures.  Surprisingly, the washi tape they have at the dollar store is really cute and you can’t beat the price.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Poster Board/Foam Board
I always like to keep a couple of pieces of poster board around just in case.  It’s useful to make signs, of course, but you can also cut it down to size to make separators for binders or organize pictures in a box.  If you have school age kids, poster board and foam board are great for projects and presentations.

Scrapbook Paper
Every once in a while, I find scrapbook paper at the dollar store.  Sometimes it’s adhesive sticker sheets.  Other times it’s specialty paper (glitter or corrugated paper). I generally scrapbook using 12×12 sheets and most of their paper comes in an 8 1/2×11 size, so I use it more for embellishments.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Glue Sticks
My daughter goes through glue sticks like nobody’s business.  Most of her projects are just gluing pieces of paper onto other pieces of paper and she doesn’t really need anything quality to hold it on, so I will buy a pack of four glue sticks for a dollar and that holds her over for a little bit.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Glass Accent Gems, Rocks and Shells
You’ve probably seen the glass stones that people put in glass vases to hold flower arrangements.  The dollar store sells glass, rocks and shells for much cheaper than craft stores and they are the same thing.  You might not get as much variety in color, but the colors they have are common colors to decorate with.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Colored Sand
Same thing goes for colored sand when it comes to variety in color, but they do change out the colors they have occasionally so if they have what you’re looking for, them grab a few bags, because you really don’t need to be paying a bunch of money for colored sand.  I like to use sand to layer in glass vases, but you could also use it to help your kids with their letters or spelling by putting it in a container and having them use their finger to draw in it.

A list of the top craft supplies to buy from the dollar store to save you money!

Foam Craft Balls
If you have ever gone to a craft store searching for foam balls, you know they are kind of pricey.  At the dollar store, you can get a pack of eight in 3 sizes for, you guessed it, one dollar.

Do you have favorite craft supplies you buy from the dollar store?

How To Host a Successful Yard Sale

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Each summer, my mom would hand us boxes or bags and tell us to go through our room and get rid of the things we no longer liked or used.  She also had us help with going through other rooms in the house.  Then we’d price the items we wanted to sell so we could put them in our yard sale.  We had to get up early on the day of the yard sale and help set up, try and sell things to our friends and then take it all down and give away anything that didn’t sell.  For as long as I can remember, we did this every single summer.  Even after I moved away to college, I could count on my mom holding a yard sale.  I learned how to let go of unwanted/unused items, how to price to sell, how to count change and many other skills.

So when my in-laws decided they wanted to sell the home they’d been in for 26 years and needed help getting rid of stuff, I volunteered to help sell it.  I had sold plenty of my own items using Facebook yard sale groups (a post I will do soon!) and knew I could help make them some money as they purged.  As their unwanted items continued to accumulate, I knew I was going to need to do a yard sale.  The thought kind of excited me because I love the challenge of selling things to others (although I am definitely not a sales person and could never be one).

For the last two weeks, I’ve had two words on my mind: yard sale.   Eat, sleep, breath, yard sale.  Eat, sleep, breathe, yard sale.  Slowly our garage filled up with all the things they wanted to get rid of.  Finally, this last weekend, I held a yard sale at my house and made over $1100.  How?  Let me tell you.

Advertise Like Crazy  If you’re going to spend the time that it takes to sort through your stuff, price it and set it all up in your yard, you better make sure that as many people know about your yard sale as possible.  I am part of 15+ Facebook yard sale groups and two neighborhood Facebook groups.  In addition, my city allows you to submit your yard sale information and they will post it in their yard sale listings for free.  So when it came time to let people know about the yard sale, I posted in every single yard sale group I belong to, the two neighborhood groups, the city listings and my personal Facebook page.  That is over 20 listings that expose 1000s of people to the date, time and location of my yard sale.  The day before the sale, I posted in each of the groups I just listed and also included pictures of some of the best items I was going to have for sale.  Items such as furniture, tools, baby clothes and home decor are great because people are always looks for good deals on those things.

*Extra Tip: Clean the items you’re selling to make them look as nice as possible, both before taking pictures and during the yard sale.  People will pay more for something if it looks clean.  Even if what you have is nice, if it is dusty or has cobwebs on it from being in storage, people won’t look as closely at it.  If they do look close, they might not want to pay as much as it’s worth because it’s dirty.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

3 B’s: Big Signs, Big Words and Balloons
Part of advertising for a yard sale is making it as easy as possible for people to get to you.  This year, I bought two pieces of white poster board and three yard sale signs with a place to write my address on them from the dollar store, as well as balloons (all the same color).  During the summer, there are a lot of people who do yard sales.  If you want people to come to yours, you have to do two things: 1) get their attention and 2) tell them where to go.  When making a yard sale sign, I only include the following: the words YARD SALE (or MULTI-FAMILY YARD SALE or MOVING SALE), the date, the time and the address, and usually in that order.  Use black sharpie and make your words big and bold.  I generally write in all caps.  Don’t get fancy.  The mistake a lot of people make is trying to fit too much in a small area and then you can’t read anything because you don’t know what to focus on.  Give people the basic information they need to know and they will come.  Another way to get a person’s attention is balloons.  How often do you see balloons attached to a sign and wonder what it’s for so you look when you pass by?  Other people do the same thing.  Be consistent so people can follow your signs.  (This is why I use all the same color poster board, markers and balloons on each sign.)  Place your signs at crossroads (like a four way stop) and at the entrance(s) to your neighborhood.  Include arrows on your signs so they know which direction to go.

Organize Items Into Categories
This tip might sound like a no brainer, but if you’ve ever been to a yard sale where anything and everything is just thrown haphazardly onto tables or blankets, you know this is important.  Whenever I do my yard sales, I always put similar items together: home decor, tools, craft supplies, games/toys, holiday/seasonal, jewelry, kitchen, etc.  As I’m sorting and pricing, I try to keep the same things together in bins or boxes.  Then, a day or two before the sale, I set up tables in my garage and start sorting the bins/boxes into tables so I know exactly how much I have in each category.  This year, I had a ton of home decor stuff so I found that I needed two tables to display it.  Kitchen items also needed two tables.  Yard and tools needed one.  And so on.  Doing this makes set up go a whole lot smoother the morning of the sale.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Up Off the Ground
One of the best tips I can give for hosting your own yard sale is to borrow as many tables as you can.  I borrowed at least 12 from family and friends (in addition to the two I already had) and I still didn’t have as many as I would have liked.  The reason having tables is important is because stuff sells better when it’s on a table as opposed to the ground.  It displays better and it looks nicer.  When you couple this with organizing items into categories, you will have more people buying things because it’s easier to browse through and it’s more visible.  They don’t have to stoop down to sort through what you have.  Get your stuff off the ground.

Make Signs
Another nice touch is to make signs for each of the tables indicating what is on them.  Some people come to yard sales with specific categories they are looking to browse through.  If you make it easy for them to find what they are looking for, they may be more willing to buy what they find.  I’ve had plenty of customers come up and tell me they liked how organized everything was.  People will notice if you take the time to add little touches like signs for your tables.

Label Everything
This is definitely my least favorite part of prepping for a yard sale.  It takes a long time to label everything.  But if you decide not to label your items, you’ll be frustrated during the sale when you have people constantly coming up to you asking what the price is for this or that.  The only things I don’t label are clothes.  Instead I put the price on a sign: $1 for long-sleeve shirt, $.50 for pants, etc.  If you make signs for a group of items, be sure to have a list of the prices with you at checkout.

*Extra Tip: If you are hosting a group yard sale, I would suggest color coding or marking each label with the seller’s initials.  Section off a few pages in a notebook for each family/person participating in the yard sale.  Have the notebook with you at checkout.  Take off the price stickers as you total their purchase.  Then put each sticker in the notebook on the corresponding page.

Greet People When You See Them
If you’ve ever worked in retail, one of the most important things they teach you is to try and greet every person who walks in the doors.  The same goes for yard sales.  When you see someone come up, try and catch their eye and say ‘hi’ or ‘good morning/afternoon’.  It lets people know that you saw them come up and they will feel good they were recognized.

Make Friendly Conversation
I always make an effort to talk to the person who is checking out.  I will comment on the items they bought or compliment them on their shirt or purse or ask them what they plan to do with the item they purchased.  It (generally) puts people at ease and it passes the time while you are totaling up what they bought.  Smiling and being friendly will go a long way and people will feel good about their experience.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Sell Baked Goods and Drinks
If you have kids, and even if you don’t, selling baked goods and drinks at a little homemade stand just makes people feel more comfortable.  We had a lemonade and cookie stand at our most recent yard sale with a cooler full of soda pop and bottled water.  Last year, I had muffins and banana bread next to me at checkout and I had a lot of early morning shoppers buy some for their breakfast.  It’s an easy and inexpensive way to provide something that people want or need, especially on a hot day.  Plus, if you have cute kids manning the stand, you might get the neighborhood kids coming too!

Be Willing To Negotiate
It might be tempting to want to sell your things for exactly the price you marked them at, but when it comes down to it, you need to be willing to negotiate.  You have to get into the mindset that you put these things out in your yard to sell and if you want to get rid of them, you might have to take a little less than you’d like.  If it’s a decision between a few dollars and selling the item(s), just sell it for less.  For example, I had a family purchase a ton of stuff, mostly small items, but it was about $85.  This was a great deal for what they were getting.  They asked if they could get a discount for buying so much stuff.  I offered to knock off $5 and make it $80.  And then, rather than asking, “Is that ok?”, I said, “Does that seem fair to you?”  By forming the question this way, they had to think about what they were getting in proportion to what I was offering to do for them by lowering the price on already low priced items.  There are always exceptions of course.  We had a handful of things that I wasn’t willing to negotiate on.  One was a Christmas tree from Costco that my in-laws had bought for $350 and used it one year.  I had it marked at $75, which was a fantastic deal.  There were a few people who offered $40 or $50 but I turned it down because I knew the tree was worth more and I knew that if I didn’t sell it at the yard sale, I could sell it online through a Facebook yard sale group.

So there you have it!  My recipe for success!  While I can’t guarantee you’ll make $1000 at your next yard sale, I can tell you that if you follow these tips, you’ll have a much better chance of getting there.

**Also, if selling items online is your preference, or you just don’t have the space or enough items to host a sale, you can check out these great posts about how to sell your stuff online.  It’s a four part series which goes over the following:

Good luck!