Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Love Craig! (Part 3: Coping with Inquiries)

The hard part is over and now Craig can do the rest of the work!  You've represented your item well and it stands out amongst all the others.  Hopefully your inbox or phone will soon become flooded with interest.  By the way, if you're just now joining us in this 4-Part Blog series about Why I Love Craig, be sure to check out the beginning where we cover the "pre-listing" or Getting Ready and how to create a great listing that will sell.

In this blog series I'll cover:

1.  Getting Ready to Sell

2.  The Actual Listing
3.  Coping with Inquiries
4.  The "Drug-Deal"

This next phase involves waiting and patience.  I've had items sell same day to the first person who inquired.  But then again, I've had to re-new items over and over for 6 months, often lowering my price.  I've had 0 people contact me and I've had 10 people contact me, but then none of them followed through.  A lot of people ask me about being leery of scams so I'll start there.

Here's Part 3 on Coping with Inquiries:  

You're eager to sell your stuff, but be aware of phony baloney responses like the ones below that I received.  You may say DUH, these are totally obvious, but my aunt who was desperate to sell a car almost fell for one.

Red flags often include very poor spelling and grammar.  They are usually general or vague and never mention the name of the item that is for sell.  Scammers will always have a reason they can not meet you in person and there is a sense of urgency in completing the transaction.  They will also post multiple ads in multiple cities.  Sellers are only allow to post their ad in one city so if you see the same listing, word for word, in a far away location, it's likely a scam.  Another common tactic is to offer to pay you more money than you're asking but then request you return some.  (Who falls for that? Never made sense to me!)  Remember, if there is any doubt, just hit DELETE.

The Bad & Ugly:  

hello i m intrested i can spend in cash how i can contact you ? please reply to me asap 

Im interested in the posted item, I hope it is in good condition?


Is ur advertisement still available? I am just quite intrigued. Tell me of your answer.


I don't have time to come have a look cause of my Job transfer, I'll take care of that by engaging the services of a mover hence I'll be sending a check to cover the cost and it'll be delivered via United Parcel Service, so I'll need you to provide me with the following information below to facilitate the mailing of the check ...




The Good:

Hi, I'm interested in your tub of K'NEX pieces.  My number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx.  You can text or call anytime and set up a time to meet.  Thanks, Tyler


Interested in toy lot -  would you take $45? 


Could you give a total price for your 18-24 mnth girls clothes? - Nancy


Tips for good correspondence:

Don't be offended if someone wants to barter.  Isn't that the name of the game?  As a matter of fact, I take that into consideration when I name my price.  Hey, if someone wants to pay $50, then great! Little do they know I have priced it slightly higher - so talk me down to $40 and I'll probably accept.  If you are firm on your price, say so in the listing.

If you don't like their offer, here are some possible responses: "I just listed this item yesterday so at this time I'll stick to my original price.  However, if I have trouble selling it, I will contact you right away."  Or a simple, "Thank you, but I'll pass.  This item is in mint condition and I know I'll have no problems getting my asking price for it."

Let's say the item sold, reply as a common courtesy to anyone left waiting:  "Sorry Jessica but the person who emailed before you came and picked them up early this morning.  The only other toys I have listed right now are these ..."  

Even after the item sold, take 6.4 seconds to let people know. I appreciated this response from a seller to me:  "Hi Vicky, Sorry - they're gone.  Good luck!"  Better yet, let Craig know.  Craig's List does hope that you will delete your listings once you've successfully sold your item.

As a buyer, it drives me bonkers to see multiple listings.  People re-list their stuff over and over to keep their item at the top of the search page, but they don't delete prior posts.  This summer I was looking for landscaping rock and kept stumbling upon the same ad.  The wording slightly varied but ultimately it was from the same seller.  It was just confusing.

On occasion I've asked my buyers if I can keep their email handy for future reference.  If I know they are looking for baby stuff for their little one who is a year behind my daughter, I can notify them of new listings for a super easy sell!

Final tip: Don't forget to keep tabs on your junk file when you're selling.  Replies from Craig's List always end up there and you don't want to miss a potential customer!

Are there any new scams you're aware of? Please share!  Stayed tuned for the last post of this series.   Next up: The Drug Deal.  LOL!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Love Craig! (Part 2: The Actual Listing)

Yep, still loving Craig here.  As you may remember, I've made a little over $1800 from selling my stuff on Craig's List over the past year.  I've de-cluttered, recouped money, and hopefully helped other people out.  I've taught my son, my selling assistant, some valuable money lessons.  I've made more money than I would have from a yard sale (with a lot LESS work!)  And I've put money toward a family trip to Disney!  Read Part 1 for an idea of the stuff I've sold and tips for "Getting Ready" to sell an item.  I'm hoping my Craig's List mistakes and money-making adventures help you if you're looking to sell your stuff too!  Now, on to "listing" your items for sale.

In this blog series I'll cover:


1.  Getting Ready to Sell 

2.  The Actual Listing
3.  Coping with Inquiries
4.  The "Drug-Deal"

Here's Part 2 on The Actual Listing:

Since Part 1, you've already done your research on the item you want to sell.  You've determined a fair price, taken the best photos and you have selling points to list.  You've also checked out the competition locally on Craig's List so you can really make your item stand out.  When creating that listing remember these tried 'n true tips:

Create a selling TITLE:

• Be brief, yet very specific in your title:  VTech - Bouncing Colors Turtle
• If there is a name brand or significant model number, include it:  DeLonghi Space Heater TRH0715 - Electric Oil Filled
 • NIB is worth mentioning in the title.  It is an easy way to alert buyers who are looking at a long list of cell phones that yours is "new in box".  It makes yours stand out:  All in One Motorola EX126 (NIB)
• If the item has a size, consider listing it.  As a buyer, I don't want to have to click through tons of Halloween Costume listings only to find out most of them are the wrong size.  The size in the title helps me to narrow it down and saves me time:  Adorable Giraffe Costume, 24 mos
• List quantity if applicable.  My son had a bucket of K'NEX and I actually had him count them.  A photo of a bucket of building blocks could be misleading one way or the other, but listing there are approximately1,000 pieces is more of an attractive offer and tells the potential buyer what to expect:  K'NEX 1,000 piece Set
• Do NOT ask a question (i.e., Do you need a more efficient refrigerator?)  That can be perceived as spammy.

What people MUST know:

• All important details of the item: material, brand, model number, quantity, size, etc.  I retrieve information from the official product website to help with my listing so I don't leave anything out.
• Note the exact condition of the item:  mint, good, average, like new, etc.  Craig's List now includes a pull-down menu for this, so you will remember.  If my item is like new or mint, I promote that right off the bat!



• Is your price an "asking price" or is it "firm"?  State it upfront so you don't waste your time or anyone else's.

• Is your item missing anything?  What does it need (batteries, a good cleaning, missing one of the blocks)?  I sold a broken dishwasher once.  We opted for a new one instead of repair.  I listed it "as is" and stated what the exact part was that it needed, how much that would cost, and where the buyer could find the part.  When it sold, I told the buyer to let us know if they had trouble fixing it.
• Be honest and note any additional damages or flaws: minor scratches, small tear in left corner, finish worn on leg, button needs sewn on, etc.  Include close-up photo of said damage.

What people APPRECIATE knowing:

• Why are you selling the item?
• Is it from a non-smoking or pet-free environment?
• How long have you had the item?
• Is there a recall on it? Go to: http://www.recalls.gov.
• Is there a manual?  If you can't find one, find a link online to include in your listing.  It's just a nice gesture.

What people DON'T need to know:

• Your full name
• Your home address
• Your important email address.  I provide my "extra" email address that I use for shopping, newsletters and other online purposes.


One of my listings that sold right away!

Other HELPFUL tips:

• Have someone proof it.  Spelling and grammar errors suck.
• If your item(s) are being sold in a lot, will you sell items separately or not?
• If I have multiple listings at one time, I like to add this to the end of my postings: "Inquire about these other items I have for sale."  Then I list the items by name.
• Give a first name.  People will be more comfortable contacting you if they have a way to properly address you.
• Know WHEN to list your item, especially if the item is seasonal.  For example, don't wait until mid-October to list your Halloween costume - plan ahead.
• Post your item in the right category. I was so used to posting in "baby and kid stuff", that I posted my son's Storm Trooper Helmet in that same category.  No bites. Later I realized there is a "toys and game" category - I swapped categories and finally got inquiries.  Once I posted in the wrong city - oops! Double-check yourself to avoid mistakes.
• Be extra clear when you describe your item to avoid confusion upon pick-up.  True story...  Here was my listing:  Space Heater: Electric Oil Filled Radiator by DeLonghi - $25 (Ft. Thomas)  Note: I have 3 of these to sell.  The buyer showed up expecting to get all 3 space heaters for $25.  Really?!?!  I should have been more specific and emphasized all important information in this listing.  For example, I have 3 space heaters to sell at $25 each.  Buy 1 individually ($25) or all 3 for $75.  You can also bold, underline, and use all caps to highlight key points you don't want the buyer to miss.

Final tip:  avoid bullets or unusual characters in your listing.  Keep it simple since you don't know how it will show up on someone's phone or computer. 


Whew!  Most than likely, the most time-consuming step is over!  You're getting closer to the "drug deal"!  But... Next up: Coping with all those inquiries.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Love Craig! (Part 1: Get Ready to Sell)

Here's what I love about Craig.  Over the past year, I've made a little over $1800 from selling my stuff on Craig's List.  I've de-cluttered.  I've recouped money.  I've helped other people out.  I've taught my son, my selling assistant, valuable monetary lessons.  I've made more money than I would have from a yard sale (those are so much work!)  And I've put money toward a family trip to Disney ... all with a little effort, just a few mistakes, and a lot of patience.

What have I sold?  Everything!  I've sold used video games, old cell phones, children's toys and clothes, computers, printers, old televisions, odd furniture, space heaters, Halloween costumes, kitchen appliances (big and small), guitars, bikes, and baby equipment - priced from $5 to $100.  I can't wait to share my selling experience with you in this 4-part blog series.  I hope it helps you in your clutter and selling endeavors... maybe you'll love Craig too.

In this blog series I'll cover:

1.  Getting Ready to Sell

2.  The Actual Listing
3.  Coping with Inquiries
4.  The "Drug-Deal"

Here's Part 1 on Getting Ready (the pre-listing, if you will):

Clean your item to sell - always.  I've taken things outside with a hose and a scrub brush.  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my best friend for scuffs and other marks.  Toothbrushes are invaluable for small crevices that have collected dust over the years.  If it's electronic, blow it out.  You get the idea ... These extra small steps makes it more sell-able and appealing to the buyer.   

If you have a box or manual, find it.  I keep manuals and related papers in an accordion office file for easy access, plus I have a large shoe box on the closet shelf where I throw in extra parts I don't need.    Take out batteries, unless you are including them and double-check to make sure you have all the pieces.  I actually have a couple toys I want to sell, but I've shelved them until all the pieces show up!

Can items be sold as a "lot" or in a batch to make more money?  In my opinion, you would sell the game of Candy Land at at yard sale for a couple bucks, but you would sell 4 favorite childhood games in a batch or lot on Craig's List for more, let's say $20.

Take photos.  Use your own, not a photo of the product as listed on Amazon.  And for the love of Pete, take good ones.  No one wants to see a pile of your dirty laundry off to the side.  If your toes get in frame, re-take the picture. (Eww!)  Your kids are cute - but I wouldn't include them in the photo.  Make sure you have good day light and a clear empty space.  Zoom in.  I've use the tops of tables or a bare floor.  I've even used a white sheet as a backdrop.  A table pushed against a solid wall allows you to prop items up.  Take photos of multiple angles - front, back, side, underneath - and if there is a damaged area, take a close-up of it and explain.  If there is a model number or name brand, snap a photo of that.  Include photos of the box or manual, if applicable.


 

Find a box or bag, if needed, for safe transport, or simply for easy hand off to the next owner.  I use plastic zippered bags, shoe boxes, or one of my MANY free canvas bags or totes I've collected over the years.  Presentation, right?

Determine your price.  The first step is to remember this - you are selling an item that is probably used.  That means you have to let go of how much you paid for it 5 years ago.  Act like a buyer and search for your item on Craig's List, Amazon or eBay.  How many other strollers are up for sale right now on your local Craig's List?  Price your item slightly lower if possible.  If it's VERY clear that your item is better, price it slightly above the competition.  When I sold my Magic Baby Bullet, I also checked prices at Target and Wal-Mart.  Mine was in MINT condition, yet I priced mine about 60% less than the retail because it was used. 

Side note: As you are researching your price, grab ideas or helpful wording about the product.  You'll need this for your listing (Part 2 of this series).  I find the manuals especially helpful for creating my description too.  

Keep a log so you have quick access to your information, prices and photos.  No need to over-organize here.  This is so silly-simple.  I merely keep a folder on my desktop labeled "Craigs List Photos" and I trash the photos once it's sold.  In Pages, I have a document titled "To Sell on Craig's List".  There I keep descriptions, prices and a log of what I've sold.  That's how I know I've sold $1800 worth of stuff.  I mainly do this so I can teach my son that pennies add up to dollars and that a long time of saving can lead up to someone big and worthwhile, like our family vacation.  I keep a running list of what I hope to sell one day too.  I keep forgetting that I have a box of Precious Moments figurines in my basement!

Are you going solo, or will you get your kids involved?  This "getting ready" part has lots of job opportunities for the kids, however, will you pay them a percentage? Or will the money go into a family fund?

Final tip:  Everything I want to sell on Craig's List, I pile up in my hallway as motivation.  I easily get annoyed by the mess which keeps me listing and listing and listing ... 

If you have any tried 'n true advice for "getting ready to sell", be sure to let us know.  And stay tuned for 3 more posts in this series!

Next up:  The Actual Listing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide (for August)

We LOVE this month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  

With Monica's practical tips you can say GOODBYE to (insert your own here): overwhelm, knick-knacks, disorganization, lost items, and stress.  Then say HELLO to (insert your own here): joy, organization, cleanliness, productivity, and focus.

Below you'll find an excerpt from August, but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!




AUGUST ...

In the heat of summer it makes sense to tackle indoor organizing projects so what better time is to clean out your family’s clothing closets? Cleaning out closets in August prepares you for the upcoming change of season and makes room for new school clothes too. 


Evaluate every piece of clothing in each closet, setting aside items with holes, missing buttons or anything that just looks worn out. Make a second pile of items that don’t fit or that are simply unloved. These items will be donated. Finally, organize the “keepers” in the closet first by type (shirts, pants, dresses, skirts) and then organize each section by color family. 

To make ongoing closet maintenance easy for both you and your kids, place a bin or box on the floor of each closet and just drop in items that are ready for donation. 

Need more closet help?  We covered it on The Big O:  Wardrobe and Closets.  Good luck and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

KCD: Organizing Messy Kid Stuff


Our Kids Can Do means easy. 
And quick. And fun. And inexpensive.  

Usually we share simple crafts or activities for the kiddos in our KCD blog feature; however, this time, we're looking at it from the parents point-of-view.  This one is for the moms, dads and caregivers who go bonkers over loose puzzle pieces, legos, messy art supplies, game pieces, and other pesky little things.  Code it, group it, organize it, recycle it, protect it and even hide it!

The Ultimate Bucket

Must start with the coolest idea ever ... read about Aidan's 5 gallon art bucket, which has now been taken over by little sister Ellie.  It's called Easy Art Caddy.

Keeping Track of Puzzles 

Code the backs.  To prevent a mix-up of puzzle pieces from different puzzles, label the back of each puzzle piece and the box or puzzle tray with an identifying  mark.  For example, a puzzle of a kitten could have a k on each puzzle piece and also on the box. Melissa & Doug puzzles have shapes on the back - a tiny circle, square, star or triangle.

Recycled "Pretty" Paint Trays 

Take a cup holder tray that you would get from a restaurant, like McDonalds, and place yogurt containers in them. Fill them with paints and voila!, instant and sturdy paint tray. One container on the tray could be filled with water for brush rinsing. The yogurt containers are easy to clean and the trays become uniquely decorated over time.

Keeping Materials Handy 

Use a three pocket apron that's similar to a tool belt to tie around the little artist's waist.  Markers, small notepads, pencils, stickers, pens, and crayons stay tucked in the pockets so that they are never searching for these items when it comes to drawing time!  


CLEVER finds, no explanation needed!


Source: DollarStoreMom.com

Source: DesignDazzle.com

This is messy glitter!
Source: Pinterest "Kids Craft Organization"

Source: DIYnCrafts.com


Source: ApartmentTherapy.com

A Milk Carton Caddy

Cut the tops off four used milk cartons and glue them together (in two rows of two) with a strong craft glue. Reinforce them with colored duct tape around the base.  Children can decorate them with their own unique style then use them to keep art supplies organized or collect materials for hobbies.


Storing Puppets (or Art Stuff)

Use a shoe rack!  The puppets are readily available and easy to choose (and put back!) when a shoe holder is used. Use the kind that sets on the floor (or under the bed) and each puppet fits nicely over the area where the shoe is normally kept. An over-the-door shoe caddy might work too - especially for art supplies.

Hide-a-Way Curtain 

Have messy boxes or toys you want to keep out of sight? Spring tension rods and curtains are great for hiding clutter.  The suspension rod can hide a nook in a room or even hang between two piece of furniture.  The curtain doubles as a great display area where you can pin up art or provides a space for puppet shows.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide (for July)

We LOVE this month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  

Below is July, but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

It's soon going to be back to school time and that means getting off a summer schedule and back into tighter routines.  An important part of the transition is getting the kids (and yourself) to bed a bit earlier each night to help ease back into an earlier morning wake-up schedule.  Next, evaluate your "drop zone" where your kids hang their pack and jackets to be sure it's still a good system they like and will use.


To set your kids up for school year success, carve out a niche for them to work. A small table against a wall with a few shelves above it for supplies makes a perfect student office for studying, homework and projects.  Late July is also the time to keep an eagle eye out for school supplies on sale so you can stock up for the year ahead.

Enjoy The Big O: De-Cluttering Guide episode with Monica. With Monica's practical tips you can say GOODBYE to: overwhelm, knickknacks, disorganization, lost items and stress.  Then say HELLO to: joy, organization, cleanliness, productivity and focus. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

WIN: Skinny-Size it (101 Recipes!)


We are giving away 5 copies of "Skinny-Size It: 101 Recipes That Will Fill You Up and Slim You Down" by Molly Morgan, this week's interviewee.  

To enter, leave a comment on the related post on our Facebook page.  Share any great skinny-makeover strategy (i.e., your favorite skinny-sized recipe, your best ingredient swap, frequent flavor booster) and be eligible!


Names will be drawn and announced on Monday 6/30, noon (est).



Now for the show ...  Molly shares her best strategies for fast, easy and healthy food swaps and skinny strategies.  Listen here.


Friday, June 20, 2014

I am flipping for it ...

Well, not really flipping, because that would be totally scary and quite dangerous, with my lack of coordination in my old age.  But, I do really love my FlipBelt.

It is no longer cool outside on my walks so no sweatshirt or jacket is needed.  By the way, I am SUPER happy about that!  So, now I put my FlipBelt around my waist and it holds my phone and my house keys flat against my waist.  I can jog, although not very long ;), and it totally stays put.  A lot more would fit in the several split pockets and could be perfect for a night out at a festival or for play at the park, when you don't really want to carry stuff around.

Visit FlipBelt.com to check them out - they are truly a simple and genius product!

And just in case you were wondering, the images aren't me - hee hee!



Friday, June 13, 2014

Audiobooks: The Unconventional Summer Escape

The Unconventional Summer Escape

The warm weather months have arrived. If you are one of those people who are looking for ways to mix up your summer routine, enrich your staycation, or make your way through your summer reading list – try audiobooks!

Portable, available in many different formats, and FREE at the library, audiobooks are the perfect warm weather companion. And, because of their rising popularity, many audiobooks are now releasing simultaneously with print. So, you can listen whether your reading list contains new releases, best sellers, or the classics.

Here are 5 convenient times to start listening this summer:

1. During your daily commute.It’d be nice if the term summer vacation applied even after college, but for many of us responsibilities continue to pile on even as the sun beats down. Since this often means spending a great deal of time in our cars commuting to work, running errands, and transporting our families from here to there, audiobooks are an easy way to make that drive time more fulfilling. See how quickly you listen your way through a popular trilogy or challenge yourself to pick up a new language on-the go.

2. While walking with friends (or your kids).Combine two popular social activities and start a walking book club. Walk together and listen one day during the week, then walk a second day and talk about the book. You’ll burn some extra calories and create some meaningful dialogue along the way. 

3. On the sidelines.If you have kids, you know sports schedules really kick into high gear during the summer months. While you are sunning on the sidelines during practices, press play on an audiobook. You can still watch your kids (which will mean a lot to them) and do a little something for yourself at the same time.

4. On road trips with the family.Crossing state lines with the entire family in tow? Pick a book you can all enjoy and turn up the volume on the car speakers. It’s a meaningful way to share a book together, spur conversation and make the drive time fly by. Plus, it’s a great way for the kids to get their summer reading started.

5. While cleaning up around the house.Washing dishes, doing laundry, mopping the floors – we all have to devote some time to household chores even when the sun is shining and we’d rather be outside. Add an audiobook to the mix and you can do what you have to do, with a little distraction from captivating narration. This could work to motivate kids as they work through their chores as well. Combining their summer reading list with clean-up time means they are freeing up some extra minutes for carefree summer fun!

Thanks to Playaway® for the tips and a great way to easily "read" and enjoy books - anytime!  If you are new to audiobooks and want a simple way to get started, visit your library and borrow a Playaway all-in-one audiobook. Playaways are pre-loaded with an entire audiobook and fit easily in your pocket for listening on the go. All you’ll need to do is plug in your ear buds and enjoy. More than 4 million Playaways are currently circulated in over 30 thousand schools, libraries, and military installations across the country and abroad. Learn more at www.my.playaway.com.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kids Can Do: Last Minute Gifts for Dad

Our Kids Can Do means easy. 
And quick. And fun. And inexpensive.  


Since Father's Day is this coming weekend, here are two simple and cute last minute gift ideas for dad!

Homemade Puzzle Card:  These can be made from enlarging family photos or other special pictures.  Print them on heavy paper or attach them to cardboard.  Write a message on it, if you like.  Then cut into 12 pieces or so.  Present in an envelope.  Dad will have to assemble his own unique card before reading it!





Things I Love!  In the center of a piece of cardstock or fancy scrapbooking paper, decoratively write “ One Hundred Things I LOVE About You”.  In a graffiti-style fashion, highlight simple things that you love.  Take a nice pen and let your heart be your guide.  Decorate your paper creatively with single words or short phrases that bring a smile to your face.  Maybe you love the smell of maple syrup in the morning when you have breakfast with dad, dad's scruffy whiskers, or having a Friday night movie fest with your whole family!  


Extensions of this activity is to do the same graffiti-style journaling on a white photo frame matte and gift it with a special picture inside.  Or how about decorating a blank note card?  “Reasons You Deserve a Happy Father's Day!”, for example.