Tuesday, June 30, 2009

5 Tips for Having a Successful Yardsale

Thinking about having a yard or garage sale this summer to clear out some of those corners in your attic and basement? Go for it! Yard sales are a lot of work, I'll admit it, but they are worth it. What better way to make some money while cleaning house and getting organized?

This past weekend a couple of friends and I had a yard sale. We had a lot of fun, even though it took a lot of work to set up everything. I got rid of 3/4 of my stuff so I was pretty tickled- especially considering I had a lot of trinkety type of things. I meant to take some pictures, but go figure, I forgot!

Anyway, here are 5 tips that I have found that have helped me have a successful yard sale.

1. Advertise
This is a simple no-brainer in bringing in more customers. Make sure to do this at the beginning of the week at least if not earlier.
  • One way is to place an ad in your local classifieds, however this usually costs from my experience. For some free ideas use Craigslist, Yardsalesearch, or Garagesalesource.
  • Make sure to include your full address, not just Hillside Development, Brownstown. What if I don't know where that is? If people have your full address they can get directions online right to your place.
  • List any unique items or items that may be of interest. For example: Lots of books, baby clothes, baby furniture, plus-sized ladies clothing, tea cup collection and more.
  • Don't forget to post the hours and date(s) of your yard sale.
2. Show them Signs
A sign screaming YARDSALE will catch people's attention and attract interest even days before you have the sale. Keep it simple and make sure it is neat looking and attractive. The point is to catch people's attention not to distract them. If you care to, attach a couple of balloons to the sign as well.
  • Post the sign several days in advance. For instance, I like to put my sign out the Sunday or Monday before the yard sale starts.
  • Place it where it is very visible and also be sure to make it big enough that it is readable from the road.
  • One of my friend's likes to put up a different sign the actual day of the yardsale. It simply says, Yardsale Today. That way if you are having a two day yard sale people don't assume by the second day that all the good stuff is gone. Not a bad idea I think.
  • Another option is to post a flyer at your local grocery store, laundromat, garage etc.
3. Price things low to go
Maybe I am strange, but I detest yard sales that just have stuff sitting out with no price. I like to know what something costs without having to search out the person in charge to ask them. In fact I often pass up some things just because I don't feel like going to the bother of asking the seller. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in this either from hearing others talk. Yes, pricing takes a bit of time, but I promise you it will sell things for you too.
  • Lay aside all sentimentalism. Remember, even if that fuchsia and orange flower arrangement is special to you because your great aunt Henrietta gave it as a housewarming gift when you bought your first home, it doesn't mean that I will think it is worth $5. Think how your customers will think. When you are pricing items ask yourself, "How much would I be willing to pay at a yard sale for this?"
  • If you really want to get rid of things, keep the price low. Lots of 10, 25, and 50 cent items appeal to people. This last yard sale I even priced some things 5 cents that I was sure no one would want. But guess what? They were some of the first items to sell! Remember the goal is to get rid of things...and making a little money is a fringe benefit.
  • If something is new or is electronic and works well feel free to write that on the tag too. But remember, you can't expect to sell it for what you paid for it when it was new.
  • Be willing to take a lower offer on an item. Again, remember the goal is to get rid of stuff. Another way of looking at it is that if you don't take the lower offer, you may not sell it at all and then you'll make nothing.
4. Organize your merchandise
I can't believe how many yard sales I have been to that don't do this simple, easy step. I doubt that I am alone when I say that I don't enjoy looking over tables full of a hodge-podge of items or digging through boxes piled full of who knows what. Very quickly I loose interest. I am much more likely to browse and spend more time looking at items if they are organized and "easy on the eyes".
  • Put like things together such as all dishes, all home decor items, all electronics.
  • If you can't lay books, CD's, and DVD's out nicely on a table then put them in boxes- but don't make the box so full that you can't flip through the items easily. If you have a lot of books, it is nice to also put all children's books in one box, all fiction in another, all non-fiction in another and so on.
  • Hang as many clothes as you can. No one likes to dig through boxes full of unorganized clothes. An easy way to do this is to get to step-ladders and put another regular ladder through the two of them, creating a nice hanging spot.
  • Organize baby and children's clothes by size. Again, no one likes digging through a bunch of unorganized clothes. If you have both boys and girls clothes of the same size, make a separate spot for each one. I like to put them either on a table or in a box with a clearly marked sign with the size and gender on it.
  • Place bigger items on the ground propped up against the table legs BUT make sure that they are visible!
5. Greet your customers
You know how stores have someone greet you when you enter? Well apply this same principle to your yard sale. It makes people feel welcome and lets them know that you are open to talking to them about any questions they have about your items.
  • I like to try to say hello and smile at people as soon as they walk up.
  • Make small talk if possible too.

Tasty Tuesday: Iced Coffee

Ahh...what is better on a hot summer day than a big glass of iced coffee? I love that stuff but I hate spending big bucks at Starbucks or Sheetz or wherever. So I tweeked a recipe that a friend gave me a number of years ago, until it suited my taste and now whenever I get one of those coffee drink attacks I just make myself some. It is WAY cheaper than buying it somewhere and oh so simple too.

I also love the fact that, unlike lots of iced coffee recipes, it takes basic ingredients that you probably always have on hand. So take a few minutes, make some iced coffee, then sit down and prop your feet up for a bit and enjoy!

Iced Coffee
3c. brewed coffee (vanilla or hazelnut are really yummy)
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant coffee*
1 c. sugar
Milk (about 1/2 to 3/4th gallon)

Mix brewed and instant coffee and the sugar together in a gallon pitcher. Add 1 to 2 trays of ice cubes** then add milk until the pitcher is full. Stir well...Enjoy!

* I generally use decaf since I get a little buzzed if I use regular for both coffees
** It depends how watered down you like to make it. I usually do 1 tray and then when I think it is cold enough I even scoop them out so it doesn't get as watery and is more creamy- the way I like it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Freebie: Tide Total Care

Okay, so even though I am now making my own laundry detergent, I will not pass up free Tide!

Go here for your sample. You will have to scroll down the page until you get to the Free Sample listing.

Borders: Free Coffee

Sorry about the late notice on this, but go here to print out a coupon for a free 12 oz. beverage from any Seattle's Best coffee located in a Border's store. This is only good through Thursday the 25th.

Freebie: Great Value Granola Bars

For your sample of Great Value Strawberry granola bars go here.

Free Music

One of my favorite recent discoveries has been Pandora.com. This is a site that allows you to listen to all kinds of music free. Basically you choose a song or artist that you like and then it will play songs on that "station" that are similar. You can create all sorts of stations, each with different types of music. For instance, I have one station that is worship style music for when I want a pick me up. Another is more relaxing music for those times I need some calming down. And another is just a fun station for whenever I am in that mood.

A neat feature that I have found helpful is that if a song plays and you really don't like it, you can give it a thumbs down and it will not play again. If you give a thumbs down twice to the same artist, well then that artist will never play again.

I have discovered some new artists that I really enjoy as a result of Pandora. And just so you know, if you do take a liking to a certain song or artist, you can click on links and learn more about them and even find places to purchase the music or CD.

Check it out and have fun listening!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ways to Save: Samples

Product samples are one of the fun ways that I have discovered that help us save a little. You see, there are many companies out there that are willing to let you try their product free- all you need to do is request it. There are samples available for everything from food to toothpaste to shampoo to pampers. You simply fill out the request form, submit it, and then, several weeks later you can be surprised with a little sample package in your mailbox! Because by this time you have forgotten that you even signed up for the sample. Oh and another neat thing? You almost always get a coupon for the product with the sample, which of course can make for some nice savings later.

One of the great things about samples is that they allow you to try out many different products. Some of the samples I have tried I loved and knew that if I had the chance I would buy the product in a heartbeat. Others? Well, I was glad that I never had to spend the money to find out that the item was definitely not worth buying!

I have gotten lots of shampoo and body wash samples and these are great to save for traveling because they are just the perfect size. I joke to my husband that we will never have to buy feminine hygiene products again because I get so many samples free. My favorite though, are the food samples. I frequently get cereal and granola bar samples which we love. And just recently we got a coupon for free hot dogs and yogurt. How cool is that?

So how do I find all these samples? Well, first of all, I signed up for different e-newsletters. When I receive these I simply skim over them and see if they contain any coupon or sample offers and then typically delete them. Another place that is usually full of samples is the Walmart.com website. I check this from time to time to see what they have added. And of course I rely on my blogging friends. Often when I am reading a blog I will come across a post about a new sample offer.

One tool I highly recommend, especially for doing sample request forms, is Roboform. This little tool is free to download and really speeds up filling out forms. You simply download it, plug in all your information, and then when you come to a form that requires say, your name, address, date of birth, and gender, it will automatically fill it out for you and save you the time it takes to type it in. I used to sort of inwardly sigh a bit when I went to fill out sample request forms, but now I just click my Roboform button and sigh with relief because it's as simple as that.

Below are some of the latest offers around. I plan to try to keep this site updated with new samples as I find them too, so keep checking back!

Sample of Dove Heat Defense here:

Sample of Steaz organic Energy Shot drink here:

Sample of Aveeno Hair Collection here:

Sample of Sun Crystals natural sweetener here:

Sample of Carefree pads here:

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Pie

I thought it would be fun to start a weekly post where I share one of my favorite recipes with you and so I introduce... (drumroll!) Tasty Tuesday!

The recipe I am sharing today is for my Grandmother's strawberry pie which is one of my absolute favorite fruit desserts. It is so easy to make and I think has to be the best strawberry pie there is. Whenever I make it I always get lots of raves and often request for the recipe. So without further ado, here it is:

Strawberry Pie
1 c. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. water
1 small box (3 oz.) strawberry jello
2-3 c. fresh sliced strawberries
whipped topping or cool whip
1 baked pie crust

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water together and then cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and mix in the jello. Allow to cool (if you are in a hurry, you really don't HAVE to cool) then add the sliced strawberries. Pour into your baked pie crust and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, top with freshly whipped cream or cool whip.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CVS: Freebie Deals

I got all of this free at CVS today. Actually I made $3 on it!
Here's how.

I bought:
20 Soy Joy bars at $1 each
- got $20 in Extra Bucks back
2 Thermacare Neck Wraps (1 count) at 2.49 each
- got $4.98 (or 2.49 twice) in Extra Bucks back

I used these coupons:
$1/5 coupon from here
$1/1 coupon from the 3/29 and 4/19 SmartSource coupon inserts

How you could make this deal even sweeter:
use the $2/10 or Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons from the 5/31 SmartSource coupon inserts (I couldn't find these)

I personally have not tried the Soy Joy bars because they just did NOT look appealing to me. But my husband tried them last time I got them free and rather liked them. So I figure this is good snack food for his lunch!

The Thermacare wraps are going to be sent to Romania with my sister-in-law who lives over there. One of her friends has severe arthritis in her neck and would love to have these. That's one of the joys of getting things for free or cheap- you can have a blast giving them away for others to enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some Fun Giveaways

I love giveaways, although it's not real often that I actually win anything from them. Still I love the spirit of giving and the thought that I just might win something.

Here are a few giveaways I liked this week- check them out:

Saving Cents with Sense is giving away a $100 Home Depot giftcard just in time for Father's Day. What's not to like about that? I know my husband for one would be thrilled to get that!

Frugal Freebies and Deals is doing a giveaway that will delight all those bookworms out there. She is offering a $50 Barnes and Noble online giftcard this week. Vince and I both love to read and Logan loves to be read to so this sounds good to me!

The Giveaway (how appropriate) is offering a $100 JCPenney giftcard. Hmmm...I can think of lots of things that we could use if we got that one!

STL Mommy is giving away not one but two $25 giftcards for Target. I love Target and would have fun using it to get some good bargains.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Okay, so I am officially sold on homemade laundry detergent! I've been thinking for months of trying it after reading about different bloggers who love the stuff. But see, we have really hard water and from what I was reading, people weren't really happy with the results of the stuff when they used it in hard water. I mean, I didn't feel like making a 5 gallon bucketful of detergent only not to be able to use it! So, I kept putting it off. But every time I used my store bought detergent I would feel almost guilty thinking of the money that was literally washing down the drain.

Enter my friend Jewel. She was "bragging" about how she loves this new detergent she made and how simple it is to make and how it is sooo cheap and how it just smells so nice. Well, I got brave and asked her if I could try a little and she was of course more than happy to give me a quart. The next day, with a bit of reservation, I loaded my washer, added the homemade detergent and shut the lid. "Here goes," I thought and waited eagerly to see what the results would be. And guess what...it came out clean and smelling fresh! So I tried it on towels; same story. Logan's soiled clothes; same story. And now today I gave it the real, true, see what it's made of test: I washed my husband's very dirty work clothes with it. I'm talking he-works-in-construction dirty.

I put the detergent in and decided to add just a little bit extra for good measure, then closed the lid and anxiously waited for the load to finish. In fact I checked twice to see if it was done yet. Well, my sister-in-law is staying with us right now and she actually took the clothes and hung them outside before I did since I was taking care of Logan. Well, as soon as I could I dashed out and eagerly fingered the different pants and shirts. I was so excited to see that they were clean- very clean in fact.

And so I'm sold. I will definitely be buying the ingredients for this detergent and making it. Sounds simple enough to make and according to Jewel it is. And of course, I am all for the fact that it is going to save me LOTS in my budget!

Here is the recipe, originally from the Duggar's website:

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

I'm curious, have any of you tried homemade laundry detergent? If so, have you liked it and what recipe did you use?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Shampoo at CVS

I just got back from CVS and want to tell you about a great deal I found there. They have the Vitamin brand shampoo and conditioner on sale for Buy One Get One Free AND here is the cool part- the bottles at my store had Try Me Free Tags attached with a mail-in rebate on it. The rebate is good only for 1 bottle but hey, you are already getting the other one free.

Also, you might want to do a quick scan of the rest of the shampoo section. I found a couple other brands recently that also had Try Me Free stickers on them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ways to Save: Forget Brand Loyalty

Not having to stick with certain expensive name brands has been another one of the big ways that we have saved a lot. Actually, this was a "rule" I have followed since I started buying things for myself when I was a teenager, not just one that I have implemented since I am married. For me it hasn't been too hard, but I know for some of you, it's a toughie.

Now don't hear me wrong, it's not that I am against name brand products, it is simply that as a general rule, I am against spending extra money on name brand products. Because of this, there are two main reasons why I believe you should generally forget brand loyalty.

The first is simply because the similar generic product is almost always just as good as the name brand or at least good enough that you won't mind the difference. For instance, I virtually never buy name brand cream soups because I can save at least $0.20 t0 $0.30 per can by buying store brand at Wal-mart or Aldi. And I for one can't tell any difference- especially since I almost always use them in casseroles and soups. Same goes for store brand body wash, vegetable oil, eggs, butter etc.

Now there are some things that I agree just simply aren't quite as good as the name brand but that I am willing to fudge a bit on the flavor or quality for the sake of money. Cereal is one of those things. I know that the name brand cereals are usually tastier but not enough that I am willing to spend a considerable amount more on them!

The second reason I think you should generally forget brand loyalty is related to using coupons. Now coupons are pretty much always for name brand products, right? So just what am I getting at here? Well, I am all about getting good deals and if I can get name brand products for the same price or cheaper than off-brand, hurray for me! But if you think you MUST have Skippy brand peanut butter and so you pass over the coupon for Peter Pan brand peanut butter which with the coupon would be cheaper than both the store brand or the Skippy brand well,... then you are essentially wasting money.

Now I will admit, there are a few things that I do like to have my name brands of. Kraft mayonnaise happens to be one of them as does Scott toilet paper. And there are a few recipes, including my chocolate chip cookie and my pie crust, that take Gold Metal flour and just don't turn out right without it. So that means that I keep an eagle eye out for ways that I can get these things as cheap as possible and honestly I think I usually get them cheaper than I could store brand anyways.

So, I am not saying that you should NEVER buy name brand products or even that it's wrong to have some things that you just LIKE to have your brands of. My point is to be open minded about using other brands and I think often you'll find out that you don't even know it is an off brand or the brand you don't typically use. AND you can save money in the process, which is what it is all about!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Restauraunt.com- Pay $1.50 for $25 gift certificate

Restaurant.com is running a hot deal right now where you can get 80% off their gift certificates when you use the code PRESENT at the checkout. This means that you can get a $25 gift certificate for $2! Want to make the deal even sweeter? Shop through Cashbaq and get 25% back on what you pay meaning that you get 50 cents back on a $2 purchase making your $25 gift certificate cost only $1.50. Now that is some cheap food!

As always, read the fine print with each of the certificates. Many have restrictions about using them only for lunch or dinner or with a minimum purchase amount.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ways to Save: Coupons continued...

So if you are wanting to use coupons, where do you find the helpful little critters. I think most people know about the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper but there are also a LOT of coupons you can print of websites as well.

Kraftfoods.com and Coupons.com are two of my personal favorite websites for internet coupons. But Betty Crocker, SmartSource, Eat Better America, and Pillsbury are also some other good sites to check out. A helpful site that has all sorts of links and information, including a coupon insert schedule, is A Full Cup. Mommy Saves Big is another website that you might want to check out for coupon links, especially to specific stores. One thing to keep in mind with each of these sites is to check back often as they are constantly changing and updating their available coupons.
Kraftfoods.com is one that you'll especially want to make sure to check out the beginning of every month since that is when they usually update and reset their coupons.

Now for the coupon inserts. If you ever check out the deals people show for different stores you will notice that they often have several coupons for the same item listed in their deal idea and often these coupons are from the weekly inserts. So what are some good ways to snag several copies of the coupon inserts? Well, obviously, you can buy several papers, however, I didn't really want to pay that much so I got a bit creative.

First I talked to my parents and my grandparents and asked them for their coupon inserts and they were thrilled to give me a hand in saving money- you know how parents and grandparents are. Then I put a post on Freecycle and a lady across town offered me her inserts 'cause she only uses about 2 coupons a week'. I was tickled pink and so now every couple of weeks as I have opportunity I stop by and pick them up. That gives me 3 copies of the coupon inserts every week which has worked well for me.

My suggestion: be creative in ways to get coupons. Some people dumpster dive. Some ask for them at the library. Some scavenge people's recycle bins sitting by the curb. Find what works for you and have fun saving with coupons!

Ways to Save: Coupons

I thought I would start off by posting about some things that we have done that help us save money. I am definitely still learning about living frugally, but have picked up lots of ideas from blogs, books, and friends.

Coupons have been one of the biggest ways we have saved money. Every week I use coupons to get items either free or almost free. For instance, right now I have enough toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and body wash to last us probably about 6 months. I got all of them free with coupons. Recently I also used coupons from Kraft to get BBQ sauce free at Wal-mart and salad dressing for 9 cents at Target.

Some people think that using coupons is a waste of time and money since you have to take the time to cut them out and since you can get store brand products for less money than brand products. However, I have found that it does not take that long to snip out a few coupons each week. And as for the brand versus store brand issue? Well, I am not a brand snob and generally use store brand products. But hey, if i can get a brand product for cheaper than the store brand, why not?!

I estimate that coupons save us at least $300 a year. Maybe more. So I feel that it is VERY worthwhile to take the time to snip those little guys out of the coupons inserts each week.

Check back tomorrow for more tips about couponing.

Staples $1 Printer Paper

Do you need printer paper as badly as I do as a result of all your coupon printing? Well, Staples has come to our rescue! They have Hammer Mill CopyPlus Copy paper 500-sheet ream for $1 after rebate this week. Just purchase the paper at your local store for $4.99 and then a rebate will print out with your receipt. Submit the rebate and get $3.99 back...and you will have only spent $1 out off pocket. Note: limit 2 per customer.

Thanks Common Sense With Money!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Well, this dream has finally become reality! I've thought for probably well over a year about starting a blog that was primarily about saving money and living frugally but also with tidbits about motherhood and family as I felt led. And now, I finally decided to take the plunge!

I am excited about what all this blog will hold...so keep checking back. I hope that it can be a source of inspiration and encouragement to you as I talk about living simply, saving money, enjoying frugal living, and much more. Until later....