Garage Sale Advertising Tips – 7 Best Places to Advertise Yard Sales

Garage sales are a staple around where I live. Every Saturday and Sunday (and often Friday, too) here in Southern California sees a seemingly unending amount of people selling their belongings in their driveways or front yards. Whether they need the extra money or are just looking to clean out their attic, one could spend 10 hours each weekend day perusing used goods at these sales. When I was a kid, my family had them as well, but the only way that anyone found out about them was from a couple of signs posted up in our neighborhood. Since there was no internet, interested parties had to drive around looking for these signs in order to find out where the sales were. But nowadays (man that makes me sound old) there are plenty of ways to advertise your own garage sale and thus ensuring that you get a crowd — that hopefully takes away all your unwanted “stuff”. Let’s take a look at a few of these methods.

  1. Craigslist – If you don’t use Craigslist at least once a day for something, you are most definitely missing out. From job listings to For Sale items to dating, Craigslist is an amazing 100% free online classified service for almost all metropolitan areas — and their outlying communities. Putting your garage sale listing up on Craigslist almost guarantees a good turnout.
  2. Local Newspaper – Your hometown may or may not have its own local newspaper, but if it does you should also put your listing there too. While the internet is most definitely the most popular place to look for garage sales today, a lot of shoppers are still used to checking out the back of their local paper. Don’t overlook the power of print.
  3. Community Boards – Have a favorite sandwich shop that always seems busy? Be sure to put a posting up on their bulletin board! People waiting in line for a sandwich love to have something to read, so why not also provide them information with something to do next weekend?
  4. Church Bulletins – If you attend church (and really, even if you don’t) this may be a good place to advertise your sale. Call up local churches to inquire about putting a classified in their church bulletins.
  5. The Lowly Cardboard Sign – This is what I mentioned at the beginning of this article and it still works today. What better way to make your kids do some exercise then have them jump out of your car every 50 feet to nail a sign onto a telephone pole?
  6. Tell Co-workers – You never know which one of your co-workers is going to be interested in your old Matchbox car collection, so be sure to mention it in the lunch room at work.
  7. Facebook – Sure, not everyone you are friends with on the social networking site lives in your area, but I bet a few of them are. By posting your garage sale on your Facebook page, you let your friends know about it and they in-turn can let their friends know about. Pretty soon you will be having a Facebook-themed garage sale!

Well there you have it — a few ideas for promoting your next garage sale. What could you add to the list? What have you done in the past that has made a difference? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

(photo credit: John Beagle)


How to Negotiate and Lower Your Phone, Cable & Internet Bill

Some of you may remember that in the past I have mentioned using Twitter as a way to get customer service issues taken care of. I have also used my Twitter account to get deals on cable and internet service from both Comcast and Charter, and I recommended at the time that if you use Twitter that you try that route as well. But with or without Twitter, in order to negotiate your phone, cable, or internet bill you need to be prepared with as much information as you can gather. With that in mind, I wanted to fill you in a few tips on how you can attempt to either get a great deal upon signup or in negotiating your existing service as it stands today.

Throughout this post I will use cable TV as my example, just to make things a little easier. The first thing you need to do if you want cable TV is to see what different services are available in your area. These can range from DirecTV satellite, (which from personal experience I highly suggest you skip LINK), DISH Network satellite, regular old cable TV providers, and/or FIOS (fiber optic service) TV. While satellite TV is generally available in most places, making it popular for people who live in rural areas, most communities do have some sort of TV provider in their locale. Here where I live, my options included the two satellite providers and Charter Cable, which made my decision that much easier. Because I refused to sign up with another satellite provider, I didn’t have much choice in where my TV would come from. Internet was a different story, but TV was going to be from Charter.

That being said, if there were multiple companies offering service in my area, you as a potential customer needs to research what each one offers and at what price point. You can then use that to your advantage as you call each company, saying that “XYZ company offers 123 — can you beat that or offer me something better?”. In probably 99% of cases, the customer service reps in sales are able to discount any rates you found on their websites. You must be a gatherer of information if you want to get the best deal possible, so do your homework on any company or service available for your home and use it to your advantage.

Once you have the info, call around. If you get a customer service rep that doesn’t want to help, hang up and call again. You are basically calling into call centers, and the chances of getting the same person again are pretty close to nil. Pit each service against each other. Tell DirecTV you aren’t keen on putting a satellite on your roof, so ask how they can make it worth you doing so. Remember, you are in charge and not them.

As soon as you decide on a service and agree to the terms, be sure to get the reps name/number and extension so that you can reach them again if you need to do so. I did all my signing up for Charter via Twitter and now I have a guy who works there I can Tweet right to and have issues taken care of. This is vital – you need a lifeline to a human just in case.

A few other things to keep in mind when shopping for the best price on cable/phone/internet:

  • Sometimes bundles of 2 or 3 services are worth it and sometimes not. Be sure to add up all the costs of what you need to see if it’s really a deal or just a marketing ploy.
  • Be sure to ask for free or discounted installation, even if any offers say they charge for it.
  • Don’t worry about deals offering $X price for 12 months only. Most (however, DirecTV wouldn’t) providers will have new offers when your 12 months are up and are willing to offer them to you so you don’t jump ship.
  • If you don’t need a home phone, don’t get one. Don’t let a rep bully you into buying phone service, even if it’s cheap, if you don’t need it.
  • Just because your contract/term isn’t up doesn’t mean you can’t call and ask for a discount. Plans are always changing, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of them. If a provider thinks you may jump ship because another option has made itself available, they will usually be more than willing to discount your costs.
  • Don’t pay for more internet speed if you don’t need it. None of us really need 35MB download speed, as I have 15MB and it’s just fine for everything, including Netflix streaming.

Of course, you could skip TV altogether and use some of the methods to watch TV for free at home. But that’s up to you to decide! The most important thing is to get the best deal possible, because it’s your money we are talking about. Now go out and negotiate!

Photo by sfxeric


How Do Banks Make Money?

Banks are in the business of money. Some companies sell goods and others sell services, but banks are in the money business. From credit cards to personal loans to mortgages, banks make money the old fashioned way — they earn it (in interest charges). Well, that and they like to charge random exorbitant fees to their customers, too. But in the end, they are just trying to cover the spread between the money they take in and pay interest on and the money they lend out and charge interest on. It’s a pretty simple concept, if in theory only.

Ever wondered why a bank charges you a 20% interest rate on your credit card but pays you just 1% interest on your savings account? That’s how they make money. That 19% difference, while not all profit, is the spread and how the bank keeps money around to lend out to other customers or companies. Accounts with longer terms like CD’s often pay more than checking accounts because the money you have deposited doesn’t have to be available for withdrawal immediately — they loan it out to other people. Checking accounts pay a miniscule amount of interest because you can walk in any day of the week and take all your money out. Banks must keep enough cash on hand to satisfy the deposits of their customer’s “demand” accounts like these.

In addition, banks are free to lend out their money as long as they stay below the threshold “reserve rate” set by the Federal Reserve. They have to have some money available in reserve, but banks don’t have all of our money sitting around waiting for us to need it. In fact, a lot (most?) money isn’t even real – it’s all on paper. Our system is completely dependent on all of us not asking for money at once, causing a run on the banks. If that happened, chances are you would show up for your money and the bank would say “too bad, so sorry” and not have anything to give to you. As someone (like most of you, I imagine) who as a kid used to think that the bank kept my money in a “David” drawer, the idea that banks don’t actually have all that money on hand kind of blew my mind back in the day.

Banks can also make a healthy income by charging their customers fees for assorted “services”. Checking account maintenance fees, ATM access, overdraft protection plans (for info on the new laws, check out this post), card replacement fees, late fees, service charges, or anything else they can possibly dream up; they are always looking for new ways to make money off their customers, especially right now when interest rates are so low. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle wasn’t a fan of banks making money off of the money itself:

“The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. Their common characteristic is obviously their sordid avarice.”

At the the end of the day, banks make money by lending your money to someone else, paying you a little bit of their earnings and keeping the rest. In a nutshell, they charge borrowers more in interest charges than they pay you for the use of your money, and that’s how they pay their bills.

(photo credit: Aranami)


How to Make Money Recycling Paper, Plastic, Cans & Scrap Metal

Looking for a little extra income? Willing to put in quite a lot of work for a potentially small payday? Start recycling items for cash. While the most common (and most-well known) way to recycle for money is by turning in aluminum beer and soda cans or plastic water bottles, there are actually a bunch of different products that can be recycled into money in your pocket. In these economic times every little bit counts, so I figured I would put a post together about the ways you can start recycling to put some scratch into your bank account. Let’s take a look at a few of them…

The old standby – aluminum cans. Whether your state has a put a deposit value on each can or not, aluminum cans are worth money if collected and turned in for recycling. With can deposits, collectors get back whatever the deposit amount is (it was $.05/can where I grew up. In areas without deposits, the cans are recycled for by the pound. One couple even paid for their wedding by recycling cans. They got back $3,800 in proceeds from recycling 400,000 cans, which is just about $.01/can. Regular old aluminum from such items as car and boat parts, household utensils, and skiing equipment is also recyclable by the pound.

Plastic bottles are also worth money, depending on your locale. Not every type of plastic is recyclable, so check with your local recycler, but chances are this plastic is also worth something as weighed by the pound. There are 7 different types of plastic and each has their own code # and use.

Don’t toss that glass without recycling it! Glass is accepted at most recycling centers, and some centers still pay for it by weight. Drinking glasses, food storage jars, single-pane windows, vases — you name it, if it’s clear glass it’s probably recyclable for some extra money. Glass bottles, like for beer, also can have that deposit I mentioned above when talking about aluminum cans, so be on the lookout for them.

Paper is recyclable, but it’s going to take a lot of it to make any money. Paper doesn’t weigh much and the per ton rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-$75. That’s a lot of paper to store in your backyard before bringing it over to the recycling center, but I suppose every dime counts. This includes cardboard, phone books, and scrap paper.

Scrap metal is a big seller right now. Quite often on the news we hear about copper piping and wiring being stolen out of new homes being constructed, and there is a reason for that; it’s worth a small fortune. But copper isn’t the only metal worth recycling for money. You can also recycle metal window frames, gutters, bed frames, stainless steel sinks, filing cabinets, and even parts from retired appliances. The town dump where I grew up, while they say it isn’t allowed, still allows town residents to dig through their scrap metal pile. Sometimes they can find a perfectly good chair to sit in, but most of it is scrap – and could be worth money to scrap metal dealer.

Recycle those electronics for cash. Just a few weeks ago I wrote about what to do with old cell phones, and the list included ways to make money from recycling them. Well, the same goes for the other electronics in your home. Most all of it probably worth something to somebody, so keep that in mind before sending it straight to the recycling center that doesn’t pay for goods.

If you need help finding facilities near you or just more information on how to recycle different products for money, check out the following websites:

Happy hunting!

Photo by bucklava


8 Best Ways for How to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

What should you do if you find yourself overburdened with credit card debt and you are having trouble keeping up with all the payments? It may be time to consider debt consolidation to make your debt easier to manage, easier to track, and to potentially lower your monthly payments while you get back on track. I am a huge proponent of paying off your debt rather than just filing bankruptcy, so debt consolidation is something I preach about quite often. When I was in debt up to my eyeballs, I did all sorts of balancing acts to consolidate my debt to get it paid off, so I figured I could post about some to maybe help some readers out.

A big selling point for consolidation of debt is to reduce the number of bills coming into your house to a more manageable level. Rather than getting 4 credit card bills, all with their own balances and minimum payments, you can consolidate down to 1 (or 2, at most) bills that you can then make bigger payments on. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one bill that you pay $150 on rather than 4 bills with 4 separate payments? Thought so. Doing this also lets you see any progress you make on that singular debt, so it’s kind of a no-brainer just from the “encouragement” perspective. But how do you consolidate your debt? Well, there are a few different options.

1. Home owners can take out a home equity loan, which borrows against the value of their home, to consolidate their debt. By doing so you are basically putting your house up as collateral for the loan, so be sure to don’t default on payments. Since interest on this loan is tax-deductible, it is often a smart way of consolidating any credit card you may have built up.

2. Home owners can also do a “cash-out” refinance on their homes. This allows owners to refinancing and take some of the home value out to pay off their bills.

3. People with pretty decent credit could possibly open a new line of credit with a much lower interest rate and roll their debt onto that card. Granted, if you are in debt so bad you need to consolidate it, new credit may be difficult to obtain. But it is definitely something to keep in mind as you are looking at options, and credit cards are great for this because you don’t need to put anything up as collateral for the loan.

4. Watch for special offers of 0% interest balance transfers from an existing card. This is one of the most common ways of consolidating debt, and something I did quite frequently when I was working on paying off mine. I did many, many transfers over the years it took me to pay off the debt, but the effort was worth it because at 0% interest, I paid it off quicker.

5. Apply for a personal loan from your bank or credit union. Watch that interest rate to be sure it’s lower than what you pay now on your debt, but sometimes credit unions have great loan rates available for borrowers.

6. Borrow from your retirement money. I don’t recommend this at all, but for some people it may make sense. If you have a 401(k) plan, you can borrow against it. Keep in mind you cannot borrow money for retirement, so be really sure of what you are doing before signing on the dotted line.

7. Borrow money from a family member. This is a touchy subject for many, and I honestly would recommend against it unless the money you receive is a gift of some sort. Money issues can really pull a family apart, so be sure you know what you are getting into before agreeing to anything. If you know for sure you can pay off the amount borrowed in a reasonable amount of time, a no or low-interest loan from a family member could be feasible.

8. Contact a debt consolidation company. These can definitely be pretty shady, but I do know someone who used the NFCC, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, to consolidate and pay off her debt. Organizations like this contact your creditors for you, negotiate payment settlements, and then set you up with a single monthly payment to pay towards the negotiated amount.

No matter the method, the most important thing you can do today with your debt is to get rid of it. While I find no problem with the responsible use of credit, carrying debt around can really limit your life and lifestyle. You can check out my previous series on getting out of credit card debt for more tips on getting that monkey off your back, and good luck to you on doing so. Debt be gone!

Photo credit: alancleaver_2000

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