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The 3 Ps of planning a garage sale

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

If you’re like most people, you have a spare closet filled with clothes you haven’t worn in a long time and may never wear again. Or, if you’re recently married, you may now have two of everything, including sofas, televisions, stereos, and microwave ovens. And when was the last time you actually had room to park your car in the garage? 

Do you really need all the stuff that’s cluttering up your home? Probably not. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who do, creating an opportunity for you to make some extra money while freeing up needed space in your home. Yes, it’s time to hold a garage sale.

You’d be amazed at what all that stuff is worth on the garage sale circuit. From small ticket items – books you’ve already read, CDs you never listen to, clothes that don’t fit – to such big ticket items as furniture and electronic equipment, there are people who will buy it at bargain prices.

Planning a successful garage sale can be broken down into three primary concerns: promotion, pricing, and presentation.

Promotion.  To promote your event, buy a classified ad in your local newspaper starting a few days in advance and running through the last day of the sale. Include the address, with directions to your home from a nearby main road, and list some of the nicer items that will be available. Also, include the hours of operation, which should be as early as possible to accommodate the serious garage sale addicts. Signs strategically placed around the neighborhood are also a great way to help people find your house.

Pricing.  Your next priority is pricing. By visiting some garage sales in your area beforehand, you’ll see what people will pay for certain items. Typically, prices run at about 20 percent of retail because people like to feel as though they’re getting a bargain. Also, to make the handling of money easier, have plenty of change ready and price items in multiples of a quarter. If you have a lot of inventory on certain items, offer discounts to buy several. For example, if you have 50 CDs priced at four dollars each, selling out will net you $200. But if someone wants to buy the whole collection, cut the price to $150. After all, there’s no guarantee that you’d sell them all anyway. Another good strategy is to cut prices in half during the final hours. The more you sell, the less you’ll have to deal with in the end. And remember, by that time, all the really good stuff is gone, so shoppers need some extra incentive to buy.

Presentation. Finally, you should concentrate on how you present your inventory. In retail stores, this is called merchandising, and it’s just as important for you as it is for department stores. Put as much clothing as possible on hangers and display them properly, with a full-length mirror nearby so people can get an idea of how a garment will look when worn. You can even set up a small dressing room by hanging blankets in a corner of your garage. Make sure you have batteries and electrical outlets available so shoppers can try out electronic equipment.

Finally, you can donate any leftover items to charity and take a tax deduction, provided you keep good records on the contribution. Plus, you’ll avoid cluttering up your home all over again.

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Energy efficient summer savings for your home

 

Summer has officially started and as the mercury rises so does the energy bill. Air conditioning alone can account for up to 50 percent of your home’s energy costs during the summer months. This may lead many families to look for ways to cut their energy bill while keeping cool.

Having an interest in conserving energy isn’t only about saving money, but that extra cash sure is a nice reward for helping the planet. During the hot, summer months having an energy efficient home can save you money. The financial experts at MMI are helping consumers beat the heat while combating the high cost of energy. Below are tips to help you live more green without spending a lot of green.

Check light bulbs. Consider switching to energy smart light bulbs and energy saving power strips. They use less electricity and will help you save on your electric bill.

Consider energy efficient appliances. Check your appliances to make sure they are not wasting energy and your money. Test the rubber-like seal around the door of your refrigerator by closing the door on a dollar bill. If the dollar slides out easily, your refrigerator may be leaking cold air into the house. Energy Star appliances, which are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, can save you up to $700 per year according to www.energystar.gov.

Perform a home energy audit. Many utility companies offer free energy check-ups to their customers. The utility company will send an expert to your home and alert you to areas where you may be wasting energy. You will also receive other helpful tips on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Turn up the thermostat. Letting your AC run when you are not at home can rack up your bill. A good rule of thumb for when you are not at home is to turn your AC five degrees higher than you normally have it set. If you are willing to make the initial investment, a programmable thermostat can save you money in the long run. To help keep cool around the house wear lightweight, loose clothing made from natural fibers.

Maintain your system. Replace the filters in your air conditioner every month. Dirty, clogged filters are a major waste of money because the air conditioning unit has to use some of its energy just to force the air through the obstructed filter. And, that’s in addition to the energy needed to cool your home.

Turn your yard green. Landscaping is a fun summer project that can provide shade and wind barriers for your home while you give back to the earth. Worried about your water bill? Try watering at night to cut back on evaporation.

During the summer months every little change can make a big difference. Keep in-and-out traffic through the doors to a minimum when possible. And, consider grilling outside instead of using the oven.


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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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