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Who would have thought we could accumulate so much stuff over just 2.5 years of living in a house?
That was my thought while decluttering our home this summer and preparing for the community yard sale.
Mr. FAF and I are not the type to make impulse purchases all the time.
Sometimes we give in to temptations like a nice dress for me or some gadgets for Mr. FAF.
But over all, we try to keep our expenses to the minimum.
Stuff takes up too much space!
Below are the items we rarely use that take up the most space in our house:
— Baby FAF’s 0-3T clothes, gadgets, and toys
— My father-in-law’s clothes (3 full suitcases) after he left for China 2 years ago
— My mother-in-law’s (MIL) clothes, accessories, shoes, and home decor (3 suitcases and 4 big boxes) after she left for China this summer
— My old clothes from probably 6-7 years ago that I can no longer fit in
— Old plastic containers, cardboard boxes, our old shoes, odds and ends in the closet, pantry, and almost every nook and cranny in the house
One week after my MIL left, my townhouse community had a yard sale. Time to get rid of stuff we didn’t need and earn some extra cash!
I took this pic after making $30 from the yard sale!
This is how we decided what to sell at our community yard sale:
1. My MIL’s stuff
Before my MIL left for China, she told my husband and me to keep all of her stuff and not throw anything away. She even suggested we put her suitcases and boxes in the living room since there was no more space in the house.
We respect her wish, but at the same time, we need to declutter our home and prioritize what we need instead of trying to keep everything for all 6 members in the family (in-laws, Mr. FAF, Baby F1, Baby F2, and me).
We decided to keep her clothes and shoes but sell her other items like a table mirror, vases, and other miscellaneous things she had gotten from yard sales and the curbside.
Baby F2 will be born in about three months, and we need space for our baby’s stuff as well. Plus, we don’t know when my MIL will be back in the US. We might have moved to another city when she visits us the next time. Either way, in the end, we need to get rid of things we don’t really need.
2. Our stuff
I’ve also decided to sell some of the clothes and shoes I’ve held on for years in the hope that I’ll get skinny like before and be able to fit into them.
Mr. FAF doesn’t have a lot of clothes to begin with, and he doesn’t mind wearing his jeans until they have huge holes in them, so he’s off the hook.
I’ve organized Baby FAF’s clothes into summer and winter clothes by age so that we can easily access them when we need them for our daughter.
I really don’t care that they are boy clothes. We got hand-me-down baby girl clothes from my neighbor, but I think many of Baby FAF’s clothes are unisex.
I also cleaned out the pantry, threw away a bunch of expired food, try to use up what we already have (saving money!), and sell some kitchen gadgets we’ve gotten for free from friends (i.e. an electric whisker, a blender) at the yard sale.
Our packed food pantry after being re-organized. It was like a war zone before and still looks like one.
Our freezer chest #1
Freezer chest #2
Curbing the temptation to buy
This was the yard sale I had been waiting for all year. Last year we had a community yard sale which didn’t go very well (at least for me). We didn’t advertise the event much. Only a few people showed up.
I ended up making $12 in total. My neighbor who lives next door to me got $10 from the sale and ordered a Domino pizza for lunch that day.
This time our Social Committee got more aggressive. They advertised the even on social media and put flyers everywhere near our community. I was super excited to get rid of unnecessary stuff in our house and earn some extra cash.
I tried to have low expectations about the event (8AM-noon) since I didn’t want to get disappointed. But I secretly hope that I’d be able to turn at least $30 from it.
Although I told myself not to buy anything, I started thinking I’d love to buy a pair of ballerina shoes for myself, a double-stroller for our kids, and a toddler bed for Baby FAF. We can, however, do without those items for the following reasons:
— I’m enforcing my clothes shopping ban for 2018 and would prefer not to purchase any new or used clothes or accessories.
— Baby FAF will be almost 4 years old when we need the double-stroller. He might not even want to sit in the stroller or we might even get something for free before we need it. Plus, the double-stroller will definitely take up a lot of space in our house.
— We have a twin bed in our house that can easily serve as a bed for Baby FAF.
What we plan to do with the money
Initially, Mr. FAF and I wanted to use the money from my yard sale to use it for a Vietnamese meal out at Eden Center (a popular Vietnamese plaza in the DC area).
When my MIL was here, Mr. FAF and I rarely went on a date since my MIL wanted to come with us or preferred that both of us stayed at home with her.
Now that my MIL is no longer in DC, we want to enjoy our couple life and go out to have fun with our son. It’s like a new chapter in our lives with more freedom.
However, at the last minute, Mr. FAF invited his friend over for a hotpot, which I absolutely loved. We had A LOT of dry and frozen food in the pantry and freezer and even fresh veggies in the fridge after my MIL left that would be great for a hotpot.
We decided not to buy any new food and just use up what we had at home. Plus, we were going to Raleigh the next weekend and could get groceries there for cheaper. Frugal win!
One of the hotpots we’ve had with our friends
The yard sale was a success!
And guess what, I made $62 from the yard sale. Woohoo! I was hoping for $30, but it ended up being much better than what I had expected.
There are two reasons why I went from making $12 from the yard sale last year to $62 this year.
First, I priced everything from 50 cents to $2 since I wanted to get rid of as much stuff as possible. There are clothes I’ve kept for 10 years but haven’t worn in 6-7 years. It was time for them to go.
Last year, it was still hard for me to let go of many items, so I priced them even up to $10, and people barely bought anything after they saw the prices.
Second, the social committee did a great job of advertising the yard sale on Craigslist, local yard sale Facebook groups, and other social media platforms. They also put flyers everywhere in the community and nearby areas.
In my opinion, the yard sale was a big success!
After the yard sale ended, I learned important lessons that I will need to keep reminding ourselves about:
1. We need to stop buying stuff and/or accumulating items we don’t really need.
We had baby gear such as a hand-me-down pack-and-play and feeding chair trays that we kept for three years and never used.
There were clothes, tools, and home decor we got for $20 but ended up selling for at most $2.
It’s so easy to swipe our card to buy something. But it’s much harder to get rid of them due to factors such as emotional attachment and fear of possibly needing them in the future.
From now on, we will need to be careful about what we buy and even get for free from other people to avoid cluttering our home.
Related: 3 Things We Fail To Do To Save Money
2. It is exhausting to declutter.
I was the only one decluttering the house and reorganizing everything. Mr. FAF helped move heavy items downstairs and to the storage shed, but he wasn’t sure what to keep and what not to keep.
My MIL told him not to throw away anything. But seeing the amount of trash and recycling we were told to store in the house really bothered me.
1/4 of the trash/recycling we were told to keep by my MIL
3. It is not easy to make even $0.5.
The yard sale was from 8 AM to noon. Initially, people just came to look at my yard sale and left. I felt really sad and desperate to sell something, but no one even bothered to stop for more than 20 seconds.
Gradually, traffic picked up, and I was able to sell more.
In the days leading to the yard sale, I had already organized everything I wanted to sell. That day, I started setting up my shop at 7:30 AM and started selling at 8:30 AM.
It was literally at least 6 hours of work for $62 (~$10/hour). It’s more than a minimum wage. But I kept thinking that if we hadn’t purchased so many items, I would have been able to spend that time doing something more productive with my life.
Overall, the yard sale went well, and I was very happy about it. But I really hope that in the future, we won’t have so much unnecessary stuff to the point where I need to sit outside for hours to sell them.
We can just maintain a simple life with less clutter and more happiness with what we already have.