House and Home, Organize It!, Staycation Vacation

Clear the clutter…and make a few dollars at the same time.

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If you’ve been following my “Staycation-Vacation” posts you know that since quitting my job last fall, I have been going through my home room by room, making changes to transform my house into a more comfortable place — a place that feels like a favorite vacation rental where stones and seashells become collectibles and the outdoor spaces are as important as indoor rooms.

As I’ve worked my way through this process, what has struck me most is just how much “stuff” my husband and I have accumulated. I knew we had a lot of things, but I hadn’t realized just how many until now. There are a ridiculous number of things — things that we never use. And so, I’ve taken a break in my decorating to do a more thorough cleaning up and cleaning out of all the unnecessary excess.

The little next door village of Unionville will be having their annual street sale next month.  I live about a mile away on the same street and plan to set up my garage sale/craft sale that same weekend to take advantage of the increase in traffic that will drive past my house — traffic which is already heavy.

I’ve also been making an attempt to increase my income a bit by stepping up my on-line selling. Etsy is still my main outlet for the items I handcraft. Quilted tote bags and purses, stuffed “WhackyCats,” original artwork, and upcycled, handpainted goods join my sister’s line of gorgeous glass bead jewelry in my on-line store: (www.etsy.com/shop/whackyshack). 

I have been listing my overabundance of household goods and clothing items on Ebay. Things that I look at and think “Maybe I should keep that,” begin to lose their sentimental value and become much less “necessary” once I discover that they can be sold for a nice profit! I fill out my Ebay listing, usually matching the current lowest price. I refuse to price my item any lower than that because, while it may not be against the rules, I think it’s rude for a seller to drastically undercut all of the others and set a price so low that no one else can make a profit.

I also worked through the instructions and set up a seller account with Amazon. I now have about 40 books listed for sale — Books that were bursting from our shelves and which neither my husband or I will likely ever read again. Amazon has an app that allows me to scan a book cover or ISBN number with my tablet or cell phone and information about the book including the current selling price immediately appears on the screen. I am so fascinated by the “magic” of it that I have become scan-happy, scanning for the value of every book in our house!  The problem with selling on Amazon is that so many big book sellers have deflated used book prices by listing their books for a penny (a penny!). When someone buys the book, Amazon pays the penny plus $3.99 for shipping. But since it only costs about $3.22 to ship the book the dealer makes money on the shipping. If he has a warehouse full of books that he’s selling that way he can make a profit. But for the rest of us individual sellers, it isn’t worth our time and effort and the cost of packing materials to sell a book for 78 cents. That makes most of the books that I could sell worthless on Amazon.

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In addition to clearing out my household clutter, I shop the thrift stores for items I can resell for a decent profit. I aim to buy things that I can sell for triple or quadruple the price I pay. That allows me to pay online fees and still make a profit worth all of my time.

I mostly sell small items that are easy and less expensive to ship. Buyers are reluctant to pay shipping costs that add significantly to the bill, but the cost of postage is high. The lightest items can be shipped first class which is the least expensive rate but most things are too heavy to qualify. It sometimes pays to use the post office’s flat rate boxes but only if an item is particularly dense and heavy. Otherwise, flat rate boxes that provide packaging and postage all in one are wonderfully convenient, but they are also small and expensive when compared to the price of packaging your own box.

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The profits from online sales make it worth my efforts and keep me interested, but the time it takes to do the listing and packaging, plus making several trips to the post office each week, rivals that of a part time job.  As packages are shipped and as my garage sale stash grows however, it becomes worth all of the time and effort it takes as I watch my house becoming cleaner, leaner and less cluttered.

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