Saturday, July 10, 2010

Balancing garage sales and uncluttered living..

As you guys know, garage sale season is well upon us. For us, it starts in May and goes until September. And I think the world knows.. that I love garage sales!!

In fact, I have this inborn sensor that goes off as soon as a sign appears. Long before anyone else sees the sign, I have this "beep beep beep" going off. It's so good that my Dad has threatened to take me hunting and see if my sensor works with the deer... No Daddy-o, my hunting is south of that bridge (the Mackinaw bridge)...

Yesterday, I had to go out of the house and had a break between appointments. No problem! I'll just garage-sale my way from one location to the next. After about the fourth time out of the car, Emily (our five-year-old) was getting weary of buckling and un-buckling herself and wandering around the seemingly endless tables of stuff. Even though she loves a good sale, it's hard on her. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who are carting around 2, 3, 4, or more to these things.

Finally, I conceded. I'm an obsessed nut. I have been dragging my kids to these things for almost two decades now (oldest is 18).. Speaking of oldest, he refuses to go to garage sales anymore. I think he has sufficiently attended a "life's worth" of them.

And now I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to "sneak" the fabulous extra long sheets for his dorm room that I found for only $5.00 into his repertoire of stuff without him knowing I got them at a garage sale. I think if I find a hunk of cardboard and stretch them over it--just like they do at Kohl's, he may not notice...

Anyway, I digress.. How do you control yourself at the garage sales in order to not have a completely cluttered up house at the end of the summer?


Loose grip.

Because I can find almost anything at a garage sale for almost any price, I don't stress out about getting rid of it. In fact, I am a freecycle queen. I love to give stuff away.

Yesterday, I listed two items on my local Rockford freecycle. They were both gone within hours. I've never actually been fast enough on the draw to get things through freecycle, but that doesn't bother me. I do well enough at my garage-sales that I don't mind paying for things. But the people who come are so friendly and appreciative for whatever they get.

Also, I just buy things that I can see someone in my family using right away, with the exception of things like: construction materials, and stuff like that.

For clothing, I buy for the current season or one season ahead for the kids. I do not buy for 10 years down the road. For myself, it has to fit "right now" and not when I loose 10 pounds.

I don't have a problem buying sweaters in the middle of summer as long as they will fit next winter. For school supplies, I buy what they need for the next year.

Emily is starting kindergarten this fall. I bought "sight words" flashcards, phonics materials, and a Kindergarten workbook. I resisted buying the fourth grade workbook--let someone else get that one. So far, I've spent $2.25 for kindergarten.

I bought a very cool great big orange hat for $2.00 yesterday. Perfect for the cruise we're going on in November. I'm going to find a flirty floral dress to wear with it. (pictures...? let me think about that)

So, the point I'm making is: just buy what you need/ want right now--even if it's cheap! That will keep your home uncluttered.

Go through stuff every so often and get rid of what you aren't using. Have a space for sentimental things, and try to keep that pared down also. Sentimental things are in a different category than useful things. Nobody uses sentimental things, but try not to be sentimental about everything.. (different post--later on?)

And don't be afraid that you'll offend people by "buying nothing" from them. I struggle with this. I genuinely feel bad that these folks are sitting out in the heat all day and selling their things for almost nothing and I can't even find ONE thing to buy from them?? Sometimes I give in.. Or I just buy a bottle of water or a rice-krispie treat from one of the kids.. The kids are thrilled, and you get a little snack along the way.

And if you've taken the time to buy it, you also need to take the time to put it away when you get home.. Assimilate these things into your life as soon as possible, or they will just seem like junk. Put all of the clothing into the very next load. Put the books on the shelf. Wash the kitchen items and find a home for them, etc. Don't let the bags sit there in the middle of the livingroom floor!

And that will keep your home uncluttered with all of your good finds!!


Jenny P. said...

I'm not a skilled garage saler. I fall into all those traps -- buying things I don't need, buying out of pity... etc. I must say the day shopping with you was quite the learning experience! You made it, well, FUN to look at the junk other people don't want any more :)

sara said...

Where are you garage sale-ing that they have snacks available? We folks over here could learn a thing or two about hosting a successful sale, I think.

Organizing Mommy said...

Jenny: that WAS fun--especially when they thought you were my daughter!! And we actually kind of look alike! Too funny. I love purple dishes you got!

Sara: maybe it is regional, but one in every five garage sales has a treat center. They will sell everything from hotdogs to salsa, lemonade, cookies, brownies, homemade stuff--and it's pretty good, too!

One time I bought out the entire supply of rice krispie treats, and brought them home. My MIL was so impressed with my individually wrapped treats. Now, do I tell her that I got them from a garage sale??? LOL. Is nothing sacred? Is there nothing I won't buy from a garage sale???

Braley Mama said...

Amen to this. I feel like why not get rid of it if i just bought it at a garage sale or thrift shop:O)
Great tips mama!!!!

Mrs. Parunak said...

I think I need a day of garage sale lessons from you. Jenny sounds just like me: "buying things I don't need, buying out of pity," and my personal worst (being too shy to really haggle).

Organizing Mommy said...

Mrs. P: You are a lot like Jenny--both as sweet as the day is long. Why do you guys want to be a bulldozer like me?? find a new role model already.