Thursday, March 31, 2016

Excess Stuff - Sell It or Donate It?

I read an interesting blog this past week by the Clark Howard Staff. It was entitled "39 ways to sell your old stuff for the most cash". Below are some tidbits from their blog and my take on it.

According to the Wall Street Journal report several years ago, Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on goods and services they don't need. According to Orlando Sentinel, nearly one out of 10 American households rents a storage facility, costing anywhere from $125 to $165 a month. Of those who rent the storage areas, 65% have a garage, 47% have an attic, and %33 have a basement!

It's obvious that we have a lot of stuff we don't need and that we are paying monthly just to keep those things out of sight.

The blog's take is to get money by selling these items. A lot of good ways are mentioned including ebay, Bonanza, eBid, Etsy, and Craigslist. For designer clothes they mention Tradsey,com, Poshmark, The Real Real, Threadflip, 99Dresses, and Buffalo Exchange. They also suggest consignment stores. For gold, firearms, musical instruments, and collectibles, they suggest Pawn Shops. They then go on to list yard sales, and a couple of links for selling to people who live nearby and links for used electronics. They even list some websites to help you determine value of collectible items or antiques.

The first step is getting organized.

I have some clients that have 25 or even 40 years of "stuff "in their basements, attic, spare rooms, offsite storage, garages, etc. Most of the stuff is stored there because:
  • It just needs fixing
  • I'll need it someday
  • It was inherited
  • My children may want it
  • It brings back great memories
  • I think it's valuable
  • I'm holding it for someone
The sort begins. This I plan to keep. This I plan to sell. This I need to give to ____ if they want it. This is trash.

They may be fairly good at culling out what they plan to keep (but usually some of these items will also have to go). And the very obvious trash is taken out. But it is the "This I plan to sell" piles that begin to become unreasonable - especially if they are looking at a deadline. And the "This I need to give to__"  also takes a lot of time.

I encourage these people to keep in mind that selling takes time and the return is not as great as they might think. All of the "keep to sell" items will need a further sort and a decision on how they are going to sell them. The items will need to be cleaned, polished, or repaired.

As they sort through their items, I would rather the self talk be more of "Would I go 20 miles and spend over $20 for this?" rather than "Someone might buy this." I would encourage every sorting session to end up with a big pile of items to donate and trash with just a few items for the sale pile.

Those items that are going to be sold could be divided into possibly real value and good items for a garage sale. Then, if time is an issue, hire someone to do your selling. That person can also usually help you determine what really is worth the time and expense to put it on the market and what is not. If they plan to have a garage sale, they should be aware that the sale also takes a lot of time sorting, organizing, advertising, setting up, and holding the sale.

Just think about it. Think what your time is worth. Then decide and act.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tips for Organizing CDs and DVDs

Seriously, I thought by now CDs and DVDs would have gone the way of the old VHS tapes and cassettes. I know a lot of teens do stream music, listen to their music on YouTube with videos, and "bump" music from iPhone to iPhone. Movies are watched from the computer or Netflix. But, I can tell from my clients' homes (and my own), there are still tons of CDs and DVDs out there.

We have quite a few of both at my home but it seems we rarely listen to them or watch the movies. We are much more likely to listen to music streamed from u-verse. Still, I think a lot of the music and movies hold fond memories and hence the reluctance to let them go. Also, all family members need to agree or have their say on what goes when purging.

I see in clients' homes that the CDs especially are scattered everywhere. You find them in the family room, the office, bedroom, kitchen, and even in the car. So, the first organizing step is to gather them all up in one location. Often you will find that you have some duplicates.

Now, divide by category. This can be done several different ways and you chose the one that makes the most sense to you. You can divide by genre, performer, director, year, children/adult, or season.

Cull out the duplicates and the ones that no longer speak to you.

Decide on what you will use to contain them. I like to really limit my collection so I keep them in their cases and put then in wooden or plastic containers in my entertainment center. If you have a large number, you will probably want to use binders. Purchase a binder that works best for you. Some will hold not only the CD or DVD but also covers or title notes. Slip in the in the discs according to the category. Leave some empty sleeves in each category for new purchases.

Label the binders and also the sleeve of the CD or DVD if it is not obvious and you have not kept the covers.

Decide where you will house these containers. You may have more than one home but it should make sense. Children's music and movies may be stored in a different area than the rest of the family's. Seasonal items may be stored away and brought out for that season. Do what makes sense but do have a home for each container. I also like to use the container system to tell me when I have too many of an object. If there are more items than space to store them, it is definitely time to go back and ask yourself what ones can now go and be enjoyed by other people.

If you have a large number of CDs and DVDs you will probably want to make a spreadsheet to inventory your media on your computer. Some of the columns might include title, genre, performer/director, or even the year. A plus of doing this spreadsheet is that it can be kept on your smartphone or on line and when you are out shopping, you can check to see what you already own.

Now, reward yourself by pouring your favorite beverage and listening to your favorite music or watching a favorite movie.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Priorities and Self Care

I love my work and I love my hubby. Sometimes it is important to put the work aside for a few days and just enjoy some "our time".

I try to schedule a couple of days each month for us to just go off and play but sometimes a little more is needed. It's great to put the daily routine aside and really let go and relax. I find myself laughing more, enjoying food I haven't prepared, taking in different scenery, and just feeling grateful for this time. I feel healthier and invigorated. I know I'll come back from vacation a renewed person.

Good memories are made on vacations. I'd rather have a vacation than a piece of expensive jewelry or a new gadget. When we vacation we experience new things and meet new people.

It's important to take time to take care of yourself and enjoy vacation time. Vacations are healthy. When we return, we will both appreciate our home life even more.

Now, pardon me while I pack.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lighten Up for Spring

Spring is around the corner! This is the time we want our home to feel fresh and ready to let the sun light shine in. The living room is usually the first thing you see when you walk into your home. That is why I chose the living room to organize and clean during the month of March in my Zone Plan program.

My first step in working with this zone is to review my vision for the living room. I like to start my day here with coffee and the newspaper. Later in the day, My husband sits in his chair with coffee and the paper and maybe watches the news on TV. Together we often connect in this room and plan our day, week, and the future. For entertainment we work on the daily jumble and crossword puzzle. On a more passive note, we often listen to music or perhaps watch a DVD or television. if we are having a light meal, we may eat here. We entertain family and guests in our living room and welcome people from our front door. I want to feel relaxed in this room and ready for guests at any time.

Papers, books, brochures, and magazines can accumulate here as we relax and read/discuss the literature. It is a central gathering place for family and friends. Look around your area. What has accumulated? Make a plan for that paper that is going to end up here. My rule for newspapers is when a new one comes in the old one leaves. Magazines have a basket to hold them - but again, every month a new one comes in so keep those magazines circulating. When a new one comes in, out with the old. If you have an article that you have not yet read but want to read, leave this one magazine out on the coffee table and read it in the next few days. Have a landing place for that one book you are now reading in the living room and a tray or landing pad for any brochures you are checking out. When finished with book or brochure, recycle or put them away.

Multimedia like DVDs and CDs are usually found in the living room. Take time to sort the entire collections. Cull out the ones you are ready to donate or pass along to a friend. I use the container system for our DVDs and CDs. I have allotted containers that fit into our entertainment center. We can keep as many as will easily fit into those containers. As I usually only do this task once a year, it is important to leave a little extra room for new ones coming in or make it a rule that when a new one does come in, an old one goes.

This month I change out accessories to match the season. Gone is the nut bowl, the poinsettia, and the winter candle. In their place I have fresh spring flowers and a pastel candle. I clean and polish as I declutter each area.

When the zone is complete, I celebrate by having a nice glass of wine, a lit candle, and some down time with my hubby.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer