How I’m Side Hustling Differently (& Happier!)

I’m still all about Side Hustles – but I’ve noticed a change in approach, especially since my last big foray with Side Hustles back in October.  Here’s what I’m doing differently that’s working for me:

Narrowing Focus

Back when I did the #1khustle Challenge in October I was all over the place – I wanted to make money on every site and open about 100 different businesses in the process.  I have always loved a lot of projects and especially love a challenge, but having that many different ideas meant that I wasn’t focused on any of them.

Now I’m focused on not just the projects that make the most money, but the ones I enjoy the most (and there’s clearly a correlation there).  I’m working on my Etsy shop and my Poshmark boutique, and taking a break from things that seem like a chore, like survey sites and eBaying (god I loathe printing my own shipping labels).  My Etsy and Poshmark sales are both better than ever because I’m spending more time perfecting these projects instead of trying to make money however I can!

Investing More (Both Time & Money)

Since I’m spending more time on the side hustles that are the most profitable and the most fun for me, I’m also putting a little bit more time and money into those projects – and I don’t feel bad about it, because it’s not just an expense – it’s an investment.

Instead of spending time clicking through surveys I’m not qualified to complete or scrolling through social media, I’m reading blogs on how to get Etsy traffic and how to get into wholesaling on Poshmark.  I’ve spent some money on upgrading my Etsy products too, finally leaping into manufacturing for my vinyl stickers instead of printing and hand-cutting each one – a slight increase in expense but a huge upgrade in quality and in the amount of time I’ll be spending on each purchase!  I have put some money into learning more about Etsy too, including paying for some expert shop critiques and short-term online courses about things like SEO and marketing that I don’t know too much about.  I have definitely seen a return so far so it has been time and money well spent!

Making it Social

Because I think that my ventures are fun, I’m happy to spend time in Facebook groups or on Twitter or on blogs learning more about how to do these things well, and connecting with others who have similar interests.  Social media and engagement is a huge part of any business, and being genuine in my interest for my side hustles and my desire for my customers to be happy really comes across.

Side hustles are not just get rich quick schemes, and I have found that by treating them as the businesses that they are, however small the scale for now, has helped me grow them and helps me not get burnt out from spending the time on them!

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5 Things to Do Before Buying Your First Home

This summer was huge for me – after 10 years of living on a college before-buying-your-first-homecampus, I started a new job and in the process, moved off-campus for the first time in my adult life.  Fortunately, due to solid pre-planning on my part and some flexibility from my employer who didn’t kick me off-campus immediately, instead of scrambling to rent an overpriced apartment in this college town, I took the plunge and bought my first home!

Even though this process went incredibly smoothly (especially with an awesome realtor on my side), there are definitely things I did not know going into it as a first-time home buyer, and things I could have done to be even better prepared.

1.  Check Your Credit Score 

This is good to do regularly anyway!  There are several free sites out there where you can check your credit without paying and without impacting your score. It’s a myth that checking your credit score lowers it – sites like CreditKarma request a report on your behalf (known as a “soft inquiry”) which doesn’t impact your score (as opposed to a “hard inquiry” from a potential lender).

Having as high a score as possible is important for a number of reasons going into the home buying process. Having a solid credit score makes you a competitor for both loans and for homes with potentially multiple offers.  A higher score also allows you a lower interest rate (since you’re less of a risk than peers with lower scores).  Check your score and see what you can do to raise your score before applying for a loan.

2.  Save Your Money

The down payment on your home is obviously a huge expense, but it pays off (no pun intended) in the long run.  By making a 20% down payment, you are not only a better candidate for loans, but you also avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add $100 or more to your monthly payment.  A larger down payment also means that you will have smaller monthly payments, which either makes your budget more manageable or makes it possible to pre-pay on your mortgage and pay it off quicker!

In addition to saving for a down payment, make sure you have money leftover – moving is expensive (hiring movers, gas to get to your new location, buying boxes and supplies), and you want to be able to account for potential repairs or needs that almost always arise when moving to a new place.

3.  Get Pre-Qualified

You will need to be pre-qualified for a mortgage before making an offer on a home, and you can do this through a mortgage company or a bank.  I went to a local savings bank to meet with their mortgage officer and had a brief conversation about my salary, savings, and debts, and he was able to generate a pre-qualification letter on the spot with an approximation of what I would be qualified to borrow from the bank.

This isn’t a commitment to this loan amount, or even to this lender, it’s just a letter verifying that a lender would allow you to borrow a certain amount of money.  I ended up having to go with a different lender than the one who pre-qualified me and had no issues getting the amount I needed for a low interest rate.  It’s important to get pre-qualified to see how much you would be able to borrow, but also keep in mind that this is a maximum amount, and it of course benefits the lender for you to borrow a higher amount because they profit from the interest.  Don’t go wild just because you get pre-qualified for thousands more than you were thinking.

4.  Account for Other Expenses

Before jumping for a home that is the full amount that you get pre-qualified for, consider what you can afford monthly.  This includes your existing expenses, such as student loan payments, your phone bill, food and personal expense, as well as things like water, electricity, and home insurance that you may not be paying as a renter (or a person who was living on campus for free).

Consider your pre-qualification to be the maximum that the bank would lend you, rather the the price range that you should shoot for.  In addition to this, you should budget out your monthly expenses to see how much of a monthly payment you would be able to account for.

5.  Find a Realtor You Trust

Having a patient and kind realtor was a huge deal to me as I went into buying my first home, by myself.  My lovely realtor spent a full day with me and my mom looking at homes in the area and really walked me through the home buying process.

Take the time to find someone who will be a great support system to you – check their website and reviews, or ask friends and family to refer you to someone.  I liked my realtor right away because I sent her an inquiry on her website and she got back to me within just a few hours – quick e-mail turnaround is important to me, and I knew she would be responsive to what I assumed would be many questions and requests.

If you aren’t getting a good vibe from a realtor – it takes them a long time to call you back or schedule a meeting with you, or they are trying to push you to spend more than you are comfortable with – you’re within your rights to find someone else to work with. First-time home-buying can be stressful and overwhelming, so build a solid support system by finding a great realtor!

Are you ready to buy your first home?  What are your tips for getting ready to be a first-time home buyer?

How to Start Couponing: A Beginner’s Guide

What is couponing?a-beginners-guide-to-couponing

Couponing is exactly what it sounds like – using coupons to get a better price on items in a particular store. There are coupons for virtually any store and any type of item, and it is particularly effective for household goods, groceries, and personal care items.

The key to couponing is to combine a coupon or other specific deal with an existing sale or cash back offer. By combining multiple offers, you get the best price on items. It takes some time and preparation, but it’s sort of like putting together a puzzle where the prize is 50 cent shampoo.

Here’s an example: Tresemme Shampoo is available at CVS for $6, but is on sale for 2 for $8. There’s also a deal on Tresemme products where you get $5 Extra Bucks for spending $15 or more. I would buy 6 Tresemme shampoos for $16, and get $5 back for my next visit, essentially meaning I spend $11 for 4 shampoos. If I also had a $4 off of 2 Tresemme products coupon, I would spend $7 on the 4 shampoos, or $1.75 per shampoo. I also wouldn’t have to buy shampoo for a while.

Where to Get Coupons

  • Weekend Local Newspaper: The weekend paper generally has 1-3 of the major coupon inserts (Red Plum, SmartSource, or Procter & Gamble). You can also find inserts for specific stores – I usually save Michael’s and Staples as places I usually go to. I try to buy a newspaper on Saturday because it’s cheaper than the Sunday paper but has all of the inserts.
  • Online: Many brand websites offer coupons for specific products – if you find a good deal at a store, try checking the brand’s site for an additional coupon. You can typically combine manufacturer’s coupons with specific store coupons, even if they apply to the same product.  Ebatesalso has an in-store option where you can link your credit card to your account to get up to 10% cash back when you use that card in stores.
  • On Your Phone: Many stores have apps that make their coupons available to you – some of my favorites are Michael’sCVS, and Cartwheel by Target. You can often save on specific products or on a product category. There are also money saving apps that get you cash back on your purchase.  One of my favorites is Ibotta, which offers cash back on a wide array of products, especially grocery products.
  • In Stores: Some places print coupons on receipts for your next visit, or have a coupon station in store where you can scan a rewards card and get a stack of coupons. CVS is one of the best places to coupon because of the availability of different offers – there are usually a comical amount of coupons on the end of the receipt, and they have an Extra Bucks station in-store to print coupons there too.
  • Mailings: Sign up for rewards programs and e-mail lists to get coupons both in the postal mail and in your e-mail. These are often off of your whole purchase, which can really supplement your savings.

Where To Shop 

You can go just about anywhere to use coupons – whatever is local to you.

My favorite place to go is CVS, as I mentioned, because of all of the in-store coupons and rewards. They also offer Extra Bucks both on specific products and on a percentage of your spending over each year, and have a really easy to use website to plan your visit.

Target is another one of my favorites because of the Cartwheel app – you can scan products while you’re in store to see if there are additional offers available, or search for them in the app to plan your trip in advance.

Other Resources

There are several excellent and thorough blogs that focus on couponing that I use as a resource when I go. Krazy Coupon Lady is one of my favorites, and she lists a huge number of deals by store so you can plan your trip. She links to a lot of online coupons as well, which is helpful so you don’t have to go searching.

Another one of my favorite blogs is Raining Hot Coupons, where she posts exceptionally good deals across the internet or in stores on particular items. I got a Kitchenaid mixer for my mom for about $120 because of a great deal that she posted!

I also like to use store gift cards to pay for couponing adventures – it helps me limit how much I’m going to spend so I don’t get carried away, and there are lots of opportunities to get discounted gift cards or cash back on gift cards that will save you even more money in the long run. Raise is a gift card-reselling platform where you can get discounted cards (I get CVS cards for 11% off). I also use MyGiftCardsPlus, which is partnered with Swagbucks, to get cash back on gift card purchases, essentially putting more money in your pocket.

When online shopping, I use the Chrome plug in Honey. When you go to check out, Honey will scan their database for eligible coupons so you don’t have to – I have gotten free shipping or a percentage off that I never would have found otherwise thanks to Honey, and it’s totally free.

Good luck couponing! Any tips for couponing newbies?

 

 

Side Hustle Challenge: Week 3

And just like that, week 3 is through!  Here’s how it went:

Etsy:  $17

I sold a couple of cards and sale items, but am anticipating a larger order in the coming days.  I did some promotion on Instagram over the weekend and gained about 20 followers – so I’m hoping to post daily with fall items this week leading up to Halloween, and I’m hoping to break 300 followers. I did get a little distracted crafting and focused on making things for myself instead of for my Etsy…

Poshmark:  $30.30

This was a great weekend on Poshmark, which I put some energy into!  Last time I committed to finding at least 5 new items to post, and I listed 7 and sold 3, including one of the Halloween items I had purchased to flip a few weeks back.  I didn’t make a huge profit on it but agreed to a lower price since we’re getting down to the wire with Halloween next week!

Swagbucks:  $0.20

I haven’t been putting much effort into survey sites after getting rejected from so many surveys in a row, but I got lucky on a few Swagbucks clicks.

Week 3 Total:  $47.50
Challenge Total:  $225.83

Goals for Next Week:

  • Add 5 new higher priced listings to Etsy.
  • Visit thrift stores to try to find items to flip on Poshmark.
  • Surpass 300 Instagram followers for my Etsy.
  • Surpass 200 Twitter followers for my blog.
  • Create at least 2 new blog posts.

Side Hustle Challenge: Week 2

Well I’ve pretty much cleanly missed the end of week 2 now that we’re almost at the end of week 3, but I’m far too competitive to just let this slide.  If you aren’t familiar with the Side Hustle Challenge, check out my goals here and my week 1 updates here.

Here are my updates from week 2!

Etsy:  $36

I did a couple of posts on Instagram with my sale items and started clearing out some inventory I’ve had for a while. I also sold some fall cards and stickers!  This weekend I’m going to focus on promoting a couple more fall items in advance of Halloween.

Something I didn’t get around to was making some higher price point items, which I plan to work on this weekend while I have some down time.

eBay:  $15

I haven’t had a chance to fully get into eBay, but I did buy some Halloween items to flip and successfully made $15 off of my first sale.

Week 2 Total:  $51
Challenge Total:  $178.33

Plans for This Weekend:

  • Promote fall Etsy items on Instagram.
  • Post at least 5 higher priced items on Etsy.
  • Find at least 5 items that can be posted on Poshmark.
  • Create at least 2 new blog posts.

Side Hustle Challenge: Week 1

It’s the end of week 1 for the #1kHustle Side Hustle Challenge so it’s time to check in!  In case you missed it, my goals for the challenge are here.

Here’s how I did this week:

Etsy:  $83

I made two large sales in my Etsy shop – one custom order from a repeat customer, and one of an assortment of cards. I also made some individual card sales.

I worked on promoting fall items on Instagram and building a better Instagram following by engaging better with my target market.  I also organized my inventory, including discontinuing some less popular items and posting some items I had made but forgot to list.  I also registered for two craft fairs around the holidays – which won’t help me with this challenge, but will be good in the long run!

This week, I’m going to work on adding a couple of new, higher priced items and continuing to engage on Instagram.

Survey Sites:  $8.79

I primary used Swagbucks and InboxDollars during my downtime.  I did a couple of surveys and some video watching and e-mail reading for a couple of sense – ultimately I don’t think this is going to be the thing that makes me rich, but it’s an easy mindless activity to do while watching TV.

Blog:  $0

I have not made any money blogging this week, but I did make moves to self-host using Bluehost and WordPress, which means I am a better candidate for affiliate programs, and can more easily monetize going forward.  I also gained about 30 Twitter followers and created 2 new posts last week.  And, in case you didn’t notice, I’m now the proud owner of makingandsaving.com!  Technically, my blog is at a loss after paying for hosting and a domain, but I’m not going to deduct it from this challenge right now.

Poshmark:  $5.05

I did not put a ton of energy into my Poshmark sales this week, but I did lower my prices since my current inventory has been sitting for a while and I managed to make a sale.  Next week, I’ll work on going through my closet to see if there are items I haven’t worn since my last major purge in July.

Other:  $30.49

While I was decluttering my house, I found a check for $30.49 that had been mailed to me previously – so it pays to clean, people!

Week 1 Total:  $127.33

Plans for next week:

Going into week 2, I’m going to:

  • Continue posting Etsy items on Instagram.
  • Work on a couple of higher priced projects to list on Etsy.
  • Continue building a Twitterfollowing for Making & Saving.
  • Clean out my closet and find at least 5 new things to post on Poshmark.

Is anyone else participating in the challenge?  How did the first week go for you?

Can You Make Money Selling on Poshmark?

Use code NJMYJ to get $5 in your account to get started!Before I moved in July, I purged a ton of stuff from my old apartment after not having deep cleaned in the three years I lived there. One of the categories of items that desperately needed help was my clothes – I had two closets, one dresser, and some overflow in various other places, but rotated the same few outfits all the time.

I am so much happier having a lighter wardrobe – not just because of the ease of moving, but because I got rid of things that didn’t fit, that were old, or that I just didn’t like as much as I once did. Now I have easy access to see everything in my closet, and I have some money in my pocket from clothes I wasn’t wearing.

One of the ways I got rid of clothes was selling them on Poshmark, an app for buying and selling secondhand clothes, shoes, and accessories. I was hesitant at first but after some time poking around, I love it and continue to use it post-move.

I have been using Poshmark for about 3 months and have made around $300 selling clothes that were mostly just sitting in my closet. The added incentive of having money in my pocket in place of those clothes certainly helped my mindset as I set out to have a simpler wardrobe. The experience has had a few hiccups, but overall I’m happy I joined.

Poshmark Pros:

  • You Get Money: Sure, this is obvious. But I can’t stress enough how much easier it became to part with clothes I wasn’t wearing when I knew I could get something in return for it. Even if I wasn’t wearing something, the fact that I spent money on it was enough to make me think I might need to keep it – but with the trade off of getting something back for it encouraged me to cut the cord.
  • Easy to Use: To set up shop, you just download the app, create an account, and you’re set to start selling. There are no hidden charges or elaborate websites to set up. Listing items is super easy too – you just take photos, select necessary information about size, color, etc. from dropdown menus, write a brief description, and the item is listed.
  • Active Community: Poshmark is an active site – I started by listing about 40 items, and in the first week or so sold around 10. Things have obviously slowed over time, but it was nice to see that there are a lot of active buyers and not just a bunch of sellers. People have also been incredibly kind – sharing items, leaving nice comments, and buyers have all been very polite (the same cannot be said of my eBay experiences over the years, a story for another day).
  • Reasonable Pricing:  After selling on some other sites, including eBay, I have found that Poshmark users are willing to pay a more reasonable amount for clothes, especially recognizing name brands.  Users are looking for a good deal but generally don’t lowball you.  Similarly, you’re not selling consignment or to a reseller, so the price you’re getting is most likely the best you would get for that item.

Poshmark Cons:

  • Flat Shipping: Shipping is $5.95 for everything, and it’s almost always higher than what it would cost to have the items weighed. As a seller, it is really easy to not go to the post office to have things weighed to be shipped (you just print a prepaid label from home and that’s it!), but the high cost gets factored in when your buyers review the prices for your items. Keep that in mind when negotiating and when choosing what to list. Your scarves or inexpensive jewelry might not sell when a $3 item becomes $9 with shipping.
  • Customer Service: I have contacted Poshmark customer support several times with no real luck. I received an item that I purchased much later than anticipated, and it was not as described. I contacted Poshmark and they said because the buyer shipped so long ago, there was nothing they could do. Now I’m stuck with an item I don’t want and I’m trying to “re-posh” by listing it on Poshmark, but with no bites yet. Another issue I had was a buyer on one of my items who was clearly suffering buyer’s remorse, probably after seeing the $5.95 shipping, and begged me to cancel after I had shipped, then left me a one-star review saying it was damaged (it was a scarf). I contacted customer service to ask to have the review removed with no response at all.
  • Fees: In addition to shipping, their fees are a little high – $2.95 for anything under $15, and 20% on anything over $15. It’s certainly not a deterrent but is something to keep in mind when pricing your items, and makes it difficult to sell exceptionally low-priced items (like accessories or jewelry).

Overall, I recommend Poshmark and have made some good money in the past few weeks. If you’re going to try it out, use the code NJMYJ to get $5 added to your account automatically!

Have you had a positive or negative experience with Poshmark? Or are there other apps you would recommend for selling clothes?

October Side Hustle Challenge Goals

I’m excited to have discovered the #1kHustle challenge, hosted by the Butler Journal and Sophisticated Spender. The challenge is to earn $1,000 from side hustles from October 3rd through November 4th.

I’m a firm believer in planning and spreadsheets – so here are my hopes, dreams, and goals for these next 5 weeks:

Goal #1: Etsy

When I get busy at work, my Etsy shop suffers – so for this challenge, I’m going to prioritize my shop to increase my income.

  • Promote fall products on social media regularly.
  • Review previous sales and do a clearance event on low selling products.
  • Create 2 new products to add to inventory.

Goal #2: Survey Sites

I have a couple of favorites that I will share in the coming weeks, and I plan to explore some new ones as well.

  • Use survey sites while watching TV/relaxing.
  • Find new survey sites to add to the rotation.

Goal #3: Blog

Of course I am already blogging – but I have some big plans for content in October that I’m excited about, and I’m ready to take some steps toward making my blog more “official.”

  • Move to self-hosting.
  • Explore using affiliate links and advertising.
  • Focus more time on promotion and creating new content.
  • Publish #1kHustle updates weekly with progress.

Goal #4: Poshmark

Poshmark is an app I have been using over the past few weeks to clear out items in my wardrobe that I don’t wear – so far I’ve made over $300.  If you’re interested in signing up, use code NJMYJ to get $5.

  • Use price modification and sharing listings to clear out current inventory.
  • Do a closet cleanout to identify new things I can part with.
  • Try flipping items from thrift stores.

I’m looking forward to this challenge and to updating you all!  Is anyone else doing the #1kHustle?

How to Make Money from Your Old DVDs

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.15.44 PMWhenever I’m getting rid of stuff, one of the first places I start is with my DVD collection. I purge anything I haven’t watched in the past 6 months that isn’t an old favorite – one of my weaknesses is a low-priced DVD with a familiar title, but when I purge my collection I find a bunch of newly wrapped DVDs still waiting to be played. With my latest DVD cleanout, I brought back about $50 through the sources listed below.

eBay

On the surface, eBay is the natural choice for selling used DVD, because when you search for a title the selling price is between $1.00 and $10.00, while many of the other sites will offer you far less. However, there are some things to remember about eBay.

First, you only get money if you sell the item – no brainer for the most part, but used DVDs are a dime a dozen on eBay and it’s likely that movies that are a couple of years old aren’t exactly in demand. You also have to account for listing fees, final value fees, and the cost of shipping materials, particularly because you have to package each sale individually.

For this most recent purge, I sold a couple of series box sets and some more recent, newly wrapped movies, but anything more than 2 years old was a bust. I would recommend eBay for popular titles or box sets only – otherwise you won’t make much money after the fees and cost of mailing items.

Amazon Trade-In

While the offer price is less than you might be able to get on eBay, you are more likely to “make the sale” on Amazon Trade-In, and the great part is that they let you know up front how much you can expect and if they are accepting the title.

I have found that Amazon has the highest payout of the DVD trade-in opportunities online (ranging from $0.30 – $2.00 depending on the title and condition) but is also the most selective about what titles they will accept.

Another major difference is that you only have to mail in one package, which saves on not only packing materials but time and effort as well (since packaging individual DVDs in bubble mailers is not exactly easy or cheap). You can print a prepaid label from Amazon to ship it, so no need to be worried about estimating shipping (which I never do correctly and usually lose money on from eBay).

Amazon accepted a lot of the titles I put in and offered me more for newly packaged DVDs than for used ones (of course), but also accepted ones with writing on the box or damaged cases. Amazon does accept DVDs that do not have the original cases but you will get less for it.

Decluttr

Decluttr has a similar process to Amazon Trade-In – you input the titles that you have, and they provide you with an estimate of how much you will receive. You need to enter the UPC in order to add the title to your cart, so you do need the original packaging in order to get anything for the DVD from this site. Decluttr has an app that makes it super easy to scan UPCs for each DVD and add them to your cart, instead of individually typing each one.

Decluttr took all of the titles that Amazon did not and offered me either $0.30 or $0.50 for each one. The also took CDs which I had a small number of lingering around (and they weren’t recent ones, I’m talking Usher’s “Confessions” and J.Lo’s “On the 6”).

Once your list is complete, you print out a prepaid label, box everything up, and drop off your package at the post office.

I got about $10 from Decluttr for 20 DVDs, meaning I averaged about $0.50 per DVD and ultimately got more for them than I would have by selling them individually on eBay and going to the trouble of mailing them.

SecondSpin

While I didn’t used SecondSpin this time around, I have used them in the past – particularly when I got rid of almost all of my CDs about a year ago. SecondSpin works similarly to Decluttr and Amazon Trade-In, where you type in a list of titles and they give you an estimate of what they will offer you for it, between $0.05 and $2.00.

I got about $40 for my collection of about 60 CDs and DVDs. While I was satisfied with the payout and service last time, many of the titles I was getting rid of this time weren’t found in the database.

Donation

At the end of my cleaning spree, there were still a small number of DVDs that I couldn’t send to one of the four sites – mainly ones that didn’t have their original packaging (since Decluttr accepted every title I entered that I had a UPC for). These were ones that I donated to Goodwill to finish clearing out my collection!

A quick Google search of “what to do with unpackaged DVDs” showed me a number of craft projects or classroom games for elementary school kids – which says to me that there aren’t many people giving money for these.

What have you done with your used DVDs? Any great successes or failures?
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5 Places To Shop Secondhand This Summer

We are approaching what I believe to be the peak time to find some of the best things that people are getting rid of!  The summer is prime moving time for people who are selling homes or switching apartments.  Many leases end at the end of May, June, or July, particularly in college areas.  The summer is also the tiSecondhandme when the weather is best to sell things outside!

First of all, I absolutely believe that buying things is a huge part of personal finance – knowing when and how to be frugal is a huge asset when you’re trying to put away money.  Collectively, consumers in the US owe about $733 billion in credit card debt, which indicates two things – consumers are spending more than they have to on items because they are (most likely) accumulating interest over time, and consumers are using credit cards to live outside of their means.  While sometimes people encounter expenses where it is necessary to take on debt, household goods should never be one of them – especially when there are so many ways to get those goods for less.

If you are in need of things over the next few months, why not save a few bucks on a perfectly nice used version of the same item instead of paying full price for something brand new?  Here are a few suggestions for seeking out used items this summer:

YARD SALES

Finding and going to yard sales is one of my favorite summer hobbies – you get to spend some time outside in the sunshine, and find some great deals in the process.

Yard sales are a great way to find home decor, appliances, and kids’ stuff at a reasonable price.  If you want to maximize your time out at the sales, flag sales that are multi-family or billed as moving sales, as those will typically have the greatest variety.

Make sure to get there early, especially if there is something specifically being advertised in the listing that you want.  People get to yard sales very early – there is definitely a weirdly competitive culture to it, but even a few hours after the start time most of the stuff will be thoroughly picked through.

The best place to find yard sales is on Craigslist – my favorite tool for yard saling is the Yard Sale Mapper app, which pulls all of the listings from Craigslist and places them on a map, so you can see which sales you’re close to once you’re out and about.

FOR SALE GROUPS

Facebook has a special setting for groups based on sales – similar to Craigslist listings where you can put a price and location alongside a photo post or description.

Chances are, there is at least one selling group in your area – trying searching for any of the following terms to find one (don’t forget to try your town name as well as neighboring towns):

[Town Name] Tag Sale Group
[Town Name] Free and For Sale
[Town Name] Garage Sale

You also may have the option to search for all sale groups under “Favorites” on the lefthand menu – for me, the bottom one is a green dollar sign symbol that says “Sale Groups,” and it displays all of the sale groups in my geographic area.

If you live in a college area, also try searching for [College Name] Free and For Sale.

If you find something in one of these groups that you want to move forward with purchasing (and the rules of the group don’t state otherwise!), you should both message the person and comment on their post – they will likely get a notification from the comment but not from your message, since Facebook settings on messages seem to be constantly changing.

“DUMPSTER DIVING”

Now I don’t like things that are particularly yucky so I have never been inside of a dumpster.

However, I have found some great stuff on the side of the road or outside of trash areas that have not entailed me touching actual garbage at all – hence why dumpster diving is in quotes.

Take a drive through some apartment-heavy areas to see what people are throwing out, especially at the end of the month when many leases end.  If there are complexes in your area, look for one or more dumpsters, often in the back of the complex, where people will often leave furniture items they don’t want.  If an item is a little worn out but has good bones, you can always paint it or stain it to give it a new look.

In addition to furniture, packaging supplies are also plentiful in dumpster areas at the end of the month – so if you are in need of bubble wrap or boxes, look no further.

I personally stray away from clothes or upholstered furniture but if you are cool with it, they can always be cleaned!

College campuses are also full of items that are easier to throw away than to take home at the end of the academic year – you can look up the residence hall closing date and graduation date on your local university’s website, and time a drive around campus to see what is being left behind.  I have gotten shelves, lamps, unopened food, and even a North Face jacket that was new with tags!

THRIFT STORES

The end of the month is also a great time to check out furniture and household goods, as people use a move as a major opportunity to purge some of their belongings.  I regularly swing through Goodwill and Salvation Army when I’m near them just to see what is available and the selection is definitely the best at the end of May and the beginning of June.

Keep in mind that most things can be cleaned up, painted, and otherwise spruced up, so try to see the “bones” of the item rather than taking it at face value – there is a Pinterest solution for just about any aesthetic irregularity.  (And spoiler: in future blogs I’ll share some of my updates on some thrift store and even dumpster finds!)

SECONDHAND WEBSITES

If you’re a big online shopper there are a number of great places to find secondhand items online!  While eBay is often a go-to, the shipping costs can sometimes negate the cost savings, and sellers frequently overcharge for shipping (since it doesn’t add to the fees they need to pay once an item is sold).  I reserve eBay more for collectibles or books, but there are other options for household goods and clothes:

  • Amazon has secondhand options on a huge number of their products – on any listing, you can find options from additional sellers that say “used from [price].”  Several of these items are Prime shipping eligible (and even though Amazon Prime is an expense, it more than pays for itself once you take advantage of free shipping the first couple of times).
  • ThredUp is a great resource for stylish secondhand women’s clothing in a variety of sizes.  You can also send in your clothes for cash if you are trying to get rid of stuff – I have used it several times and will do a review in a future post!  And, if you use my link to sign up (available above and also on the right), you get a free $10 to spend.
  • Craigslist is an oldie but a classic – particularly if you want larger items that can be picked up locally.  It saves on shipping and usually allows you to communicate with the seller before you commit to a purchase.

What are your tips for shopping secondhand?  What have been your best finds?