Over the past three and a half years I’ve gotten rid of a lot of baby items. I kept quite a few of my son’s favorite toys, super cute clothing and big ticket items like bouncy seats and highchairs, but a lot of other things were passed on to others. I thought we might have another child, but I didn’t want to keep everything around forever.
I did keep my son’s activity mat. You know those little rainbow shaped contraptions that hold toys your infant can attempt to kick and grasp. I can’t remember exactly who bought it for us, but I received it as a gift at my baby shower. It was priced around $75 when I received it, so it seemed like something I store for the future. As soon as my son outgrew the need to use it I wrapped it in plastic wrap and stored it in an upstairs closet. It remained in that closet, (safely stored), for years.
When my nesting craze began I dug through the closets and gathered as much of the baby related stuff as I could find. When the remodeling project began I decided to corral everything into one place and settled on a small corner of our sun room. There you can now find my son’s old shoes, baby clothes, infant to toddler toys and one or two pieces of baby equipment still wrapped in plastic wrap.
A few weeks ago after work finished on our basement we moved our cat’s sleeping quarters into that sun room. He’s the type of cat that roams around from room to room so every evening I place him ever so gently into his little bed, shut the door and wish him goodnight.
One morning I noticed some torn plastic resting on the floor in the sun room. I figured the cat may have gotten restless and torn a few pieces off. It was clear he hadn’t eaten the plastic so I wasn’t worried that he would get sick and it was such a tiny amount that I simply picked it up, threw it away and forgot about it.
This morning I noticed a HUGE pile of plastic resting on the floor. Not only had the cat ripped nearly all of the plastic off of the activity mat he had actually torn the mat itself. White tufts of cotton batting were scattered across the floor. The fabric itself is also filled with large teeth and claw marks.
This is not the end of the world. As far as I can tell the fabric slits will still hold the arcs in place and odds are I can place a blanket on top of the mat so a baby can still lay safely on there. Despite knowing much worse problems could exist in this world it is one of those kick-yourself-in-the-pants type moments. After two to three years of holding on to something my cat attempted to destroy it in a matter of minutes.
I’ve written many times about the decision to lend or sell versus keep. It took my husband and I awhile to conceive and I think deep down I worried that getting rid of my son’s outgrown belongings was a sign that I didn’t want any more children. I realize that sounds insane, but in some crazy superstitious way it made perfect sense to me at the time.
Now as I look at the torn and tattered baby equipment scattered across my sun room I wonder if I should have sold these items as soon as my son outgrew them. ugh.
I received a couple of emails in response to yesterday’s post. Two readers wanted to know if I would list items on eBay again and whether or not it was really worth the trouble of selling there.
Honestly, I think it depends on what you want to get rid of and how much you think you’ll earn from the items you sell. I listed unwanted gift cards, movies, an old cell phone and a video game controller. (None of these were high ticket items.)
My goal was to earn a minimum of $10 off of each listing. As you can see in the table below I failed to achieve this in five of my thirteen listings; not very good odds.
Here are the results of my listings:
|Listing||Price + Shipping||Fees + Shipping||Profit
|Disney Blu-Ray & DVD||$37.86||$7.44||$30.42|
|Disney Blu-Ray & DVD||$10.68||$3.77||$6.91|
|Disney Blu-Ray & DVD||$16.50||$4.68||$11.82|
|Outdated & Cracked Cell Phone||$29.50||$6.53||$22.97|
|$25 Gift Card||$24.01||$5.33||$18.68|
|Disney Blu-Ray & DVD||$16.74||$5.19||$11.55|
|$25 Gift Card||$21.53||$5.08||$16.45|
|Play Yard Sheets||$10.25||$5.56||$4.70|
|3 Children’s DVDs||$12.55||$5.24||$7.32|
|Video Game Controller||$106.00||$22.22||$83.78|
Total Earned: $269.48
All of these items were extremely easy to list. For the most part I searched for the UPC, used the generic details provided by eBay and added a sentence or two about the quality of items for sale. I took two or three pictures on my iPhone and quickly uploaded them to the auction site. The worst part of that process was rotating the images, because everything I uploaded seemed to load into eBay sideways. The total time for listing was just a minute or two.
I split the listings into two separate weeks and set the duration of each sale to seven days. My goal was to end all sales by Saturday evening. I like ending on Saturday because it gives buyers an extra day to pay. (I can’t ship anything out on Sunday anyway.) On Sunday evening, after all the auctions were paid, I packaged everything up and dragged it off to the post office in one big trip.
For the most part this worked. A few buyers were slow to pony up their money, but luckily the items they purchased fit in the blue postal box at the end of our street.
Three of the thirteen items did not sell the first time I listed them. I lowered the price ever so slightly and a week later they all sold at higher prices then I originally expected. For the record eBay suggests starting listings at ninety-nine cents. They say low prices will spark interest from more buyers, which might be true, but I’ve also been burned by setting auctions too low in the past. There is always the possibility that an item will sell for next to nothing. I’d prefer a slightly lower ending price then risking a ninety-nine cent sale. Perhaps there is some happy medium to knowing just how low to start while still ensuring a decent profit.
For each auction eBay charged 10% of the sale price, plus 10% of shipping costs. A few times the cost of shipping, (including packaging supplies), was more than I expected. Oh and when selling on eBay you can’t forget about PayPal fees, which tacked on anywhere from sixty-eight cents to an additional five dollars in the auctions listed above.
If a similar situation presented itself I would certainly use eBay again. I earned $269.48, which isn’t an earth shattering amount of money, but it’s certainly better than $0.
Next time around I probably won’t sell anything that isn’t valued at over $20. I also wouldn’t offer free shipping, because those auctions resulted in the smallest amount of profit.
How about you? Have you ever sold stuff on eBay and what was your experience like?
Lulupop rarely puts up a fuss, except when it comes to wearing pants. Dresses, dresses, dresses, is all she will ever wear! With time, a little drama, and no lack of imagination, Lulupop realizes that wearing dresses is not always the best choice.
- In your picture book “Pants No Chance,” Lulupop, the main character loves dresses. When you were a little girl did you love dresses? If yes, do you still love dresses?
- As a little girl I did love dresses but only certain ones, depending on the fabric and style. I remember being around three years old and my mother wanted me to wear a particular dress. Although I was still too young to express my discomfort with it, I do remember throwing a tantrum to get out of wearing it. Unlike the mother in my book, my Mom won the argument and I was forced to wear the uncomfortable dress.
- What genre do you write and why?
- “Pants! No Chance!” is my first picture book but I write for adults as well. I have short stories about everyday things that happen to me. Real life is where I get my ideas. I decided to write picture books because when my kids were little I read to them a lot. Many picture books did not appeal to me. Because we read picture books over and over to our kids, as a parent, I wanted to write a book that was entertaining for parents and their children.
- Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
- I get writer’s block all the time. To overcome it, I take a break from my writing and hope that eventually I will have a breakthrough. Sometimes I begin a totally different story. Often I rely on my subconscious to work while I am focused on another task. It usually does and then I revert back to writing the old piece.
- Do you write every day?
- Although I wish I could answer yes, I don’t. Often whole weeks will go by and I haven’t written anything. My three kids are still young and they take up a large amount of my time. Writing is currently a hobby but once my kids are a bit older, I hope to make it my profession.
- Do you think it’s important to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor?
- Yes. Without my mentor, I’m not sure I would have written this book. Having someone with experience in the industry supporting me made all the difference. My good friend Elaine Arsenault is my mentor and the author of eleven children’s books. When I mentioned to her that I had an idea for a picture book she encouraged me to write it and once it was written she pushed me to send it out to publishers.
As a little girl I distinctly remember asking to wear dresses every single day. My mom was fortunate enough to receive bags full of hand-me-downs from a family friend and my closet was filled with dresses of every texture and color.
When I look through the photo albums of those early years I see picture after picture of myself wearing those dresses. There I am sitting in front of my Easter basket with a violet dress trimmed with delicate floral shaped buttons. On Christmas day I am posing in front of the tree wearing a deep red velvet dress adorned with white lace.
My mom only kept one or two dresses from my childhood, but despite not having seen them for over thirty years I can still distinctly recall the way a few of them looked and the way I felt when I wore them. I loved putting on tights and dress shoes and twirling around the living room as the dresses fluttered up and down around my legs.
By the time I was six or seven I completely outgrew this phase. My mom said I quit wearing dresses cold turkey. One day I woke up and said, “I don’t want want to wear dresses anymore.” I don’t remember this decision, but when I told my mom the story of Pants! No Chance! she said I behaved exactly like Lulupop. One day I simply changed my fashion preference.
As a mom to a three year old boy I have never faced a fashion conflict. Well that’s not entirely true, I do struggle to get my son dressed every morning since he would much rather run naked throughout our home, but thankfully he doesn’t fuss over which shirt or pair of pants is chosen. I know a lot of mothers with young girls though who say getting their children dressed can be become quite a power struggle.
I love that the mother in this story allows her daughter to wear dresses even when she doesn’t think it’s a great idea to do so. I also love the fact that Lulupop learns from the natural consequences of her actions.
After failing to heed her mother’s advice she figures out that wearing dresses might prevent her from participating in enjoyable activities like playing sports, riding her bike and picking apples. After dealing with the consequences of sitting out, getting bug bites and ultimately catching a cold she reflects on her decisions and recognizes that she can now choose a wiser path.
Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.
One of the hardest things about purging is figuring out what on earth to do with all of the stuff we no longer need. After watching my husband clean out the garage I am surprised by just how differently we approach this problem.
While I cleaned out the majority of the house my husband was in charge of a small section of the basement and the garage. When it was his turn to remove clutter he pulled six large trash cans into the backyard and began tossing everything in sight into them.
A couple of things were tossed into a pile for family members, but the rest were pitched with little regard. He could have donated some of the stuff, but truth be told everything was in need of a good cleaning. Those Christmas bulbs may have worked, but who is going to dust off fifty little glass balls before bundling them up for donation? A few days later he rolled those trash cans to the street and early the next morning all that unwanted stuff was taken away. Within an hour or two his work was complete.
Unfortunately getting rid of stuff is not so easy for me. I tend to review every item carefully and ask myself whether or not we should keep it. I didn’t see my husband ponder for more than a second. He looked at each item and either pitched it into the trashcan or placed it back on the shelf.
It’s not so easy for me. I run through a series of options in my head. If we aren’t going to keep it should we donate it, toss it or try to sell it. If I sell it how much time and energy will it take to find a buyer? If I donate it when should I drive over to the donation center? Should I continue to gather items before making a trip over there or should I make a trip every time I fill a bag up?
Where do I store things while waiting to drag them off to donation and where do I hide things so extended family members don’t see the bags I plan to donate?
While I think some of the things my husband tossed could have been donated or sold I did appreciate his simple approach to getting rid of the junk. It seemed a whole lot easier than the mental hoops I jump through.
I settled on a few rules this time around that seemed to make my life easier.
- First, I set aside any new and/or like-new items in a drawer in my dresser. If I found anything new in a box or with tags still attached I turned to eBay to see if I could sell it. I put watches on similar listings and waited to see if they sold. If they sold I created a seven day listing and waited. If the items failed to sell I listed them one additional time.
- I didn’t waste time listing any items I didn’t think would sell or any items that would earn less than a $10 profit. Unfortunately I failed to earn that much on three or four of my transactions!
- I sold all of my books to book buying services. I know I could earn more selling each book individually, but I wanted the stuff out of my house so I sold them in big bundles and figured some cash back was better than nothing.
- I took a lot of trips to the donation center! I could have waited until I was finished with every room in the house, but just like the books my ultimate goal was to get these items out of my sight. Some nights I took the bags right out to the car, other times I stacked the items to be donated in large paper bags and stored them in a corner of my dining room. (I like the paper bag approach because unlike garbage bags you can line them up neatly.)
The amount of time I spent cleaning, compared to my husband, is quite shocking, but I still feel good about my approach. After all…
- Unlike the garage and basement a lot of the items within the main rooms of the house were in good condition and can be used by someone else. I would feel terribly guilty throwing anything away that could take on a second life.
- I made a small pocketful of change on the items I listed on eBay.
- By donating the majority of stuff and selling some things off to bulk buyers I didn’t earn as much as I probably could have, but I did get everything out of the house quickly!
My husband says I don’t thank him enough. He’s absolutely right! On a day-to-day basis I often fail to tell him how thankful I am to be his wife.
We’ve known each other for nearly nineteen years and I am often amazed at how well we’ve continued to grow together. When you are young you don’t think about how organized your spouse might be or how well they handle money. At least I didn’t. At the time these things didn’t seem important.
Nineteen years later I believe compatibility is the key to a strong marriage. If you want an organized home you will be frustrated by a messy one. If you want a safety cushion in the bank you will be upset when your spouse spends wildly.
While my husband and I are different in many ways we are quite similar in others. We prefer staying home to going out, order to chaos and cleanliness to filth; neither of us are the type of people to leave dirty dishes in the sink after dinner. We also don’t follow typical male/females roles. I can manage the finances, apply and organize the paperwork for refinancing our home and put together full sets of IKEA furniture. He can wash the laundry, mop the floor and cook dinner.
There are many reasons our marriage has succeeded so far, but one of the main reasons is that we choose to remain together. The truth is we would both be okay on our own, (we don’t need to rely on one another), but life is simply better together.
Here’s a short list of reasons I love my husband.
- He’s honest.
- He’s intelligent.
- He cries at sappy commercials that involve young children and their parents. (This didn’t begin until after our son was born.)
- He works extremely hard at everything he does.
- He’s kind.
- He’s modest about his success.
- He’s thoughtful. While most people like to talk about themselves he always goes out of his way to ask questions and make others feel appreciated and important.
- He focuses, (for the most part), on the important things in life and tries his best to balance work and life.
- He participates in our son’s two to three hour bedtime routine.
- He values my job as a mother.
- He jumps right in to help with the dishes after dinner and the laundry before bed.
- He knows when I’m sad, disappointed, upset and angry even if I never say a word about feeling any of those things.
- He doesn’t make excuses.
- He compliments me on the food I prepare and never gets angry when I ask him to order carry out.
- He’s realistic.
- He remains calm when I am at my wits end.
- He is one of the most skilled and intelligent people I know. As long as he remains in good health he will always be able to find employment.
- He can fix almost anything.
- He enjoys the high rewards of delayed gratification.
- He’s dependable.
- He doesn’t mind getting dirty, stinky and/or smelling like chlorine, paint or glue.
- I trust his judgement.
- He coddles, wrestles, tickles and snuggles my son.
- Even when he’s tired he gives my son a bath each evening.
- He can think through alternatives and options and solve just about any problem.
More odds and ends…
- The cold weather, school closings and delayed openings have kept me out of stores the past few weeks. This is a win-win in my book. The less often I find myself in a store the less often I find myself craving something I really don’t need.
- I’m a little torn about the latest grocery shopping bills. My husband and in-laws have graciously offered to pick up milk, bread and other household staples for us a couple of times over the last few weeks. While I am very happy not to trudge off to the store with a three year old in tow our food bills are much higher than usual. I can’t ask them to look over sale prices while they are in the store and I hate to hand over a wad of coupons that may or may not work properly, so I’ve decided for now convenience must win over saving money. This trend will probably continue for at least a few weeks or months after the baby arrives.
- For Valentine’s Day my sweet husband brought home a $47 box of chocolate covered strawberries. The frugal side of me cringed just a bit, but the very pregnant, craving sweets girl was more than happy to receive them. For the record they were some of the tastiest strawberries I’ve eaten in a very long time.
- It seems I ran over some nails and screws on my way to or from preschool. One punctured the sidewall of my tire, which will require a $250 replacement. I just bought the car, (brand new), in December. Needless to say I am not happy about having to replace it!
- Indoor adventures for toddlers aren’t cheap. I took my son to the bowling alley this week and spent $20. I must say it was really nice to get out of the house for a few hours, but I couldn’t believe the bowling alley didn’t have a discounted price for preschoolers. The shoe rental alone cost $5. It seems I need to find some cheaper indoor adventures that aren’t too difficult or tiring for a very pregnant woman to maneuver.
- I’d love to find a few more go-to recipes that I can prepare quickly or even freeze in advance. With a little one on the way I’d really love to stock the house with staples and know that dinner won’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. If you have any favorite recipes or sites you frequent please leave a comment below.
Unlike most baby care books, expert pediatrician and health communicator DR. PAUL Roumeliotis takes a unique approach by emphasizing what scientific advances have confirmed—that what happens early on in life affects one’s overall health decades down the road.
Baby Comes Home communicates the latest science that explains how positive or negative early childhood experiences can have lifelong consequences. The book begins by describing the vital changes that occur in a baby‘s brain during the first 18 months. It then explores the new “Science of TLC”, that shows how tender, loving, and caring relationships with babies help to positively shape their brains. The book then presents important practical information on safety in the home and outdoors, baby routines/patterns, immunizations, injury prevention, nutrition, and more. To complete this useful guide, DR.PAUL also reviews common baby care issues and concerns as well as illnesses and conditions commonly seen during the first few years of life.
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, daycare teacher or child caregiver, this book is an excellent reference resource for your baby‘s current and future health, wellness and prosperity.
Dr. Paul begins this book by focusing on why the first eighteen months are so important to the health and development of a child. He starts out the book, (on page four to be exact), with the science of coddling and loving your child. He explains how children are born with “many more brain cells (neurons) than adults and the ones that get used are the ones that remain. During the first few years of life these brain cells start to develop connections that on the outside we see as development. When the baby’s brain grows, it is actually these nerves – the wiring – that are forming, interconnecting, and expanding.”
Due this important time in neural development it is extremely important for babies to live and thrive in an environment that promotes “their brains, nerve cells, connections, and learning/cognitive abilities to develop to their full potential. We know that, if they do not achieve this development properly or fully, there can be long-term consequences.”
My husband and I are big believers in hugging and coddling our three year old son. We provide a lot of hands on attention, time and love and I enjoyed reading about why these have all been and will continue to be important to his development and overall well being.
As a personal finance blogger I love how the author of this book puts love and attention in the context of money. In essence, he points out that none of these things require money. It is more about the time, attention and care with which we care for our children. Not the money we spend on them or the toys we purchase to fill their playrooms.
Much of Dr. Paul’s chapters focus on the health and safety of babies and young toddlers. I think this book would function as a great guide to the common health questions and concerns of any parent. He discusses everything from constipation, earwax, nasal congestion to more series issues like allergies, apnea, croup and ear infections. In fact, over 150 pages of his book are dedicated to the symptoms and treatments of childhood diseases.
As a new parent this isn’t necessarily the type of book that you need to read cover to cover. While the first few chapters are quite helping in preparing your home for a new baby, the rest of the book could be kept as a guide to any medical issues that might crop up in the first few years of your child’s life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.
Random financial thoughts cause I can’t seem to concentrate on any of the posts I planned.
- The original quote for basement remodeling was $25,700. So far, the total now stands at $46,000. We made a few drastic changes to our original plans, which added $9,300 worth of contracting work. The rest came from a combination of flooring supplies, sinks, toilets, radiators, accessories, a new television, speakers, organizational supplies and furniture. Yikes! The original quote didn’t include any of these items.
- After our recent purge of unwanted items I really enjoyed reading the Forbes article: The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits. I don’t like the author’s use of the word “chicks,” but otherwise this is a very interesting article about the time, effort and money spent acquiring, organizing, maintaining and storing items we buy. The moral to her story, (and mine after remodeling our house), is to simply stop buying so much stuff.
- I’m burning up unused gift cards like crazy. I have a huge stack that has been sitting in the safe at our house for years. As each holiday passes the stack grows just a little bit taller and while I always think I’ll manage to find a use for them I never do. So this week I sold two I know we’ll never use on eBay, used two more to buy a set of queen sheets from Burlington Coat Factory, one to buy a supply of new underwear and burned three more on take-out dinners for my family. If possible I’d also like to use a few spa related cards before baby #2 makes his or her arrival. I hate to admit this, but I still have hundreds of dollars worth of cards remaining.
- I recently became a huge fan of Kohl’s. In early January I bought two bottles of shampoo & body wash, one tube of toothpaste and a twenty pack of hand sanitizer wipes for just over $14. I used three coupon codes to knock $10 off a $30 purchase, 30% off the remaining cost and received free shipping. This is a phenomenal price for all four products. Subscribe and save would cost $8.37 per bottle of body wash, which means I received all four items for less than the cost of two. For some reason my shipment never arrived so I contacted Kohl’s, cancelled the first order and resubmitted over the phone through a friendly customer service representative. Somehow the representative knocked my price even lower and I paid just over $10 (after tax!) for all four items! I was so excited by this order I placed a similar one a week or so later and received six products for less than twelve bucks!
- Thanks to my Things to Look out For List I recouped a $15 gift card from J. Crew. When I placed an order way back in December one of my items was out of stock. The order was cancelled because the item was never restocked, but J. Crew failed to issue me a new gift card. If I hadn’t written myself a note I would’ve lost out on the value. I called customer service and asked for a new one to be sent via snail mail.
- By the way after seeing $46,000 in black and white saving $10 or $15 here or there seems like nothing. My husband says I think in terms of dollars and cents, but really looking at a number that big definitely makes me see the value of big money.
I’m feeling surprisingly anxious about the arrival of child number two. For the past three years my son has been the primary focus of my life and I’m not sure how best to balance the wants and needs of two children.
I’d love to hear any parenting advice from those of you who have two or more. Do you have advice on carving out time for the older child when you are feeling exhausted from staying up nursing/feeding the first? Do you have advice on handling sibling rivalry? What about the basics? What worked for you in the first few days, weeks and months?
I’m not sure what to expect and I’d love to hear any words of wisdom from those of you have already lived through it. If you have any advice feel free to leave a comment below. Oh and if you have any ideas for baby names make sure to let me know that too!
November and December tend to be the two months of the year where we buy and receive a laundry list of gifts. The one key to making any holiday run a little bit smoother is organizing the receipts that come with each purchase. All those little tiny strips of paper are sure to get lost in your purse, wallet or shopping bag if you aren’t careful. A week or two after Christmas when your son’s sleeper doesn’t fit and your husband’s shirt is just a little too big you want to be able to dig up those receipts so you can enjoy hassle free returns.
My solution: a small plastic binder that can store receipts easily and efficiently. There are many ways to organize, but I like to label my binder tabs with the stores I frequent the most. My labels look a little like this:
- Home Depot
- Marshalls/TJ Maxx
Every single time I return from shopping, (whether it’s the holiday season or not), I gather up my receipts and place them directly into the appropriate compartment. If you have a spare minute write a description across the top of your receipt. For example, “red sweater,” “racing cars,” “blue sheets,” etc. I keep a pen clipped to the side of my binder so I can easily pull it out and write down exactly what I bought. Of course, this is easier for some stores than others. If you bought twenty things at Target just write down the key items you may one day need to return or try to classify them. For example, “pool toys” or “groceries.”
Once you write down the description, file that little piece of paper into your binder. Then weed through the compartments every few months and shred any receipts that are no longer useful. For example, Target permits returns for ninety days after purchase. If ninety days have passed go ahead and shred that tiny piece of paper.
Most stores list their return policies prominently on their websites and many permit returns for a short period of time; typically thirty to forty-five days. Make note of the timeline for returns so you can keep receipts on hand for as long as they are relevant. A few stores, like Kohl’s, will accept returns for much longer periods of time. I wouldn’t keep a Kohl’s receipt for years, but I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it stored away for five or six months.
During a particularly dark period in my life I attempted to alleviate stress by shopping. One week I would walk out of a store with a bag full of items and a few days later I would feel guilty and return everything I purchased. Thankfully I am no longer in this predicament, but during that time I learned that staying organized was the only way to receive full credit for my purchases.
Just a week or two ago I cleaned out the closets and found $54.36 worth of stuff we didn’t really need. Without my handy-dandy receipt organizer I wouldn’t have been able to return any of these items!
Do you have a method for storing receipts? Have you ever been a serial returner?