how to list your stuff on Ebay and make $

eBay packages for blog

It’s been a while since you’ve seen me write about any money I’ve made selling anything on eBay.

I have posted about my Craigslist luck. I managed to clean out our old furniture, making enough $ to buy our BOB stroller. In the past week, I’ve sold enough furniture from our old guest room to put tile in our new laundry room.

But eBay? Perhaps I was disillusioned, but I haven’t listed anything there in around a year.

One of my summer goals was to clean out 3 large bins full of old clothes. These were the clothes I affectionately called my “post-pregnancy and nursing” clothes. I hadn’t worn them in 3 whole years!

So, I made myself a rule. I decided that if I wasn’t super excited to see  any of these things come out of storage, then I would sell or thrift them without a second thought. No guilt. I need clothes that I’ll actually WEAR, especially since storing 3 bins of clothes I don’t even like anymore is kind of a drag. I also cleaned out my closet with the same cut-throat premise.

And then, on a whim, I revisited my friend Mr. eBay and listed it all, shirts for $2.99, pants for $9.99.

Lo and behold, in ONE week, I made exactly $190!!! That’s profit– there was more money for shipping costs.

This money wouldn’t have come at a better time. Gregory is bumping up into size 3T now, and when I pulled out my bin full of garage sale finds I’d been saving, I realized that I hardly have anything after 2T in there. I think that part of my brain just could not wrap around the fact that my little baby would ever get that big. But they do! Oh, they do!

Jesse had also expressed a need for new clothes this Fall. Heck, the guy still wears a few shirts he got in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s definitely not one to buy new clothes, so when he asks for them, it must mean he needs them. 🙂

But buying lots of clothes is not exactly in our budget right now. I am trying to carve out a surplus each month to put into savings, not spend it! Before my eBay extravaganza, I had estimated that we could buy new clothes for Gregory in September and October, then Jesse in November and December (Jesse thought we should wait and just ask everyone for clothes for G on his 3rd birthday next month…but what kind of 3 year old only wants clothes for his birthday?)

Using this money, without tapping into ANY of our monthly budget, I was able to turn it around on eBay and buy:

1 pair of Dockers for Jesse

3 Lands End shirts for Jesse

8 shirts for Gregory

4 pairs of pants for Gregory

1 pair of Keens shoes for Gregory

3 shirts for me

1 pair of pants for me

See? ALL that! In exchange for a bin full of clothes that I haven’t seen in 3 years! And there’s still a little bit left over.

Having caught the “eBay Bug” once again, I decided to outline a few tips that I’ve found greatly help one when navigating online selling.

In order of importance:

1. PICTURES. As many as you can! As of right now, eBay gives you 12 free pictures with each listing. Back when I used to sell stuff, it was 10 cents a picture, so I was stingy. But 12 is a lot. Use a free picture editing app to get the lighting and coloring right.

For pants: Take one picture of the front laid out not folded, one of the back, one of the hems, one of the button fly, and one of the inside tag.

For shirts: Take one of the front, then the back, then the tag. You should also take one of the shirt hanging on a nice hanger, so that the bidders can see how it will hang.

For shoes: Stand them up, then take pictures of the tag inside, the soles, and the toes. Make sure to take a picture of every single scuff so as to protect yourself.

Pictures are the most important ingredient. Whenever friends ask me why their item didn’t sell, it’s almost always the pictures.

2. Description. I always spend the first paragraph describing my item as poetically as possible. I talk about how it’s fashionable, about what it would look good paired with, about how flattering it is, etc. On the second paragraph, I take every possible measurement. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they will have emotionally moved on to a different item by the time you reply. When shopping, I almost always pass on items without measurements. Even if you know your “size” in a particular brand, sizes vary by year and style. Also make sure to list what materials it’s made of (for instance, some people only like to buy jeans with 98% cotton, 2% lycra).

For shirts: Take measurements of the bust, sleeve length, waist, and entire shirt length

For pants: Take measurements of the rise, inseam, leg opening, and waist.

For shoes: Take measurements of the width and height of the boot shaft.

3. Make your title full of search words. I always include the size, color and brand within my title, even if I detail it later as well. You can put abbreviations like “NWT!” (new with tags) or if it’s in good condition, put, “LIKE NEW!” at the end.

4. List lots of stuff at one time! Not only is it more time effective since you can take all your pictures at once, but you can also write at the bottom of your listing, “Cleaning out my closet! Listing dozens of items!”. This is particularly effective if you have a bunch of popular name brand items with some not so popular. Buyers love combined shipping, and chances are if they are your size and style in pants, they will also want to buy a few of your shirts as well! This time around, ALL of the no-name shirts sold quickly. There’s no explanation for how much traffic they got, other than the fact that people who were buying “JCrew Jeans” also clicked and found my Kohls shirts.

5. Price reasonably. For a popular brand or item, I list it at a third of the retail price, sometimes less. For a not popular item, I only price it at a couple bucks. $3 may not seem like much, but if you sell 10 of them, that’s $30!

Also, keep shipping prices reasonable. Charging too much for shipping is a totally rookie mistake. Some people list the item for 99 cents, then charge $11 for shipping. I immediately walk away when I see something like this. Also, when you ask the program to itemize your search lowest prices first, your item will appear as costing $12, not 99 cents.

If you can keep your packaging costs low (see #7), then you can afford to keep shipping low! I’ve found that it costs between $4-6 for shirts, $6-8 for sweaters, and $9-10 for pants.

If you ship from home, make sure to weigh your item AFTER you’ve packaged it, not before. I’ve had several eBay items I bought delivered to me with a bill attached. If you are off by even a couple ounces, the post office will charge the RECIPIENT the difference, and they tack on fees. I’ve had to claim an extra $5 from sellers before. If they had weighed it correctly in the first place, they would’ve paid an extra 5 cents.

6. 3 Day Auctions: Let’s not kid ourselves, unless it’s a super nice Anthropologie Blazer, there won’t be lots of people bidding and outbidding. Most people wait until the last day anyways, because they’re afraid of running up the price. Do yourself a favor and pick a 3 day listing. I rarely ever use the Buy It Now option.

6 days is also a long time for people to wait if they want the item. 3 days gives people time to find it and bid, but not so much time that they get impatient and find something else in the meantime.

7. Buy your packaging at the Dollar Store. This last round, I sold and mailed 17 items. If I’d spent $2/each on packaging at the post office or Walmart, I’d have wasted $35. Instead, go buy $1 worth of packing tape and $2 worth of recycled brown wrapping paper (or, you can use paper bags cut up. Our county has a ban on plastic bags and makes us pay for paper bags, so we don’t have many lying around). I shipped all of my items with $3 worth of packaging! Win!

If you package this way, just make sure to tape up every corner and seam. Postal carriers are pretty rough and you wouldn’t want the item to break out of the packaging and arrive dirty (it happened to me once).

8. List on Tuesday, end on Friday. Most buyers will pay within a few hours of the auction ending, but others take a day or two to get their act together. You don’t want to punish the people who paid right away, but you also don’t want to take multiple trips to the post office. If you end on Friday, 98% of your buyers will have paid by Sunday night, letting you make one trip on Monday. It also gives you extra time over the weekend to package everything!

Also, people LOVE shopping on Fridays. I got a lot of last minute people out of the blue who weren’t even originally “watching” my items!

Family Command Center

First and foremost, a disclaimer: I am not claiming to run a perfect household. On the contrary, these things are tools so that I can one day HOPE to have clean clothes and dishes on a normal basis 😉

Over the past couple of months, I’ve worked hard to perfect our family command center in the hallway and on the side of the fridge. I had a lot of strict criteria for this space– extremely functional, uncluttered AND pretty.

command center 7

Absolutely essential, first and foremost, is our large wall calendar from Amazon. Our phones are synced with our schedules as well, but a visual calendar makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Electronic calendars only work if you use them– visual ones are right there in your face every day.

Next in line in importance is the weekly meal calendar. I used this free printout from Jenny Collier, and had my dad blow it up into a big 11×14 copy at his work. Jesse then laminated it for me so that I could use dry erase markers on it. Having a meal calendar may seem like overkill, but it makes our household run so much more smoothly, since Jesse is often the one who starts dinner on the weekdays since I am teaching piano. Before we started doing this, we were constantly finding ourselves staring at a pantry full of food, wondering what we should eat, deciding to go out to eat instead. “Fail to plan, plan to fail”, I’ve heard it said. It also forces me to make grocery shopping a one time a week deal.

command center 3

Gregory also has his own little chore chart (free from Dandee-Designs). I give him little stars whenever he completes any of these things: making his bed, putting on his clothes by himself, putting away his dishes, brushing his teeth, and putting away his toys.  There aren’t many stars on it right now because he keeps ripping them off later 🙂 Oh well, boys will be boys!

command center 2

Then there’s my dollar store frame trifecta.  I have my weekly workout calendar (free from design finch) to keep me motivated, my daily cleaning schedule and my weekly cleaning schedule (free from Blooming Homestead).

command center 4

The daily/evening chore chart is one that I created myself, just because I couldn’t find anything I liked on Pinterest (gasp!). You can click here for the free printable: Daily Chores.

Daily Chores

Why do I have two different cleaning checklists? Honestly, because the weekly one has extra chores on it that I don’t always know if I can get to during my morning routine. Basically, they’re my “wish” list, but I don’t need to feel devastated if they don’t happen. The daily chores are the ones that NEED to happen if our house is going to run.

Last but not least, I have a Valentine that Jesse gave me last year, hung right at eye level. Every time the going gets rough, or it seems like I can’t get everything done, I’m reminded that I’m enough, either way 🙂

command center 1

Cloth Diapering for 2 Babies under $86

Thanks, everyone, for listening to my rant about my crappy August. I went to bed feeling rather ashamed for complaining, especially considering everything going on internationally, but one can’t always live globally– sometimes it comes down to the smaller troubles in life and learning how to move on. Perspective is good, but not everything.

AJ in cloth

I’ve been wanting to write about our recent experience with cloth diapering for a while, but I wanted to wait a few months to work out the kinks in our system. For reference, we cloth diapered exclusively with G for his first 9 months, using only prefolds and Thirsties covers. It worked great with our top loader washing machine and good ole’ Texas water. When we got to CA, however, for some reason the stink built up beyond repair. I wasn’t able to make them work with our front loaders, and we all got sick of how bad they always smelled. I tried three different stripping methods, but came to the conclusion that I might be beating my head against a brick wall for not much gain.

We were also living with my parents at the time, saving all of our money for our down payment on a house. My mom politely BEGGED me not to keep cloth diapering during this time, so we signed up for Amazon’s automatic diaper shipments. And then I had a newborn to go with my 1 year old, and life got crazy.

Of course, after about a year of using disposables, it was hard to think of giving up that convenience and going back to cloth, but I got tired of spending the $60/month on diapers. So, sometime at the beginning of summer, we embarked upon a new phase.

My first criteria was that we not spend much more than $80 on the whole project, seeing as the boys don’t have much longer in diapers (fingers crossed)– AJ will probably only be in them another year or so, and Gregory, a matter of weeks (although I also said that 2 months ago!). I was able to include them in the monthly budget under our disposable diaper fund, with the hopes of being able to cross that item out in the future.

And….we did it! Cloth diapering for two boys for under $86! We have 9 Bum Genius Diapers that I got through Craigslist for $60. I got them so cheap because I was willing to replace the elastic on 6 of them. It was a daunting thought, but in the end it was so super easy and worth the $1/diaper elastic kit from cottonbabies.com. To replace them, I used this tutorial. It took about 2 hours total.

cloth diapers 2

To round out our stash, since I was doing diapers every 1.5 days, I just purchased a few econobum prefolds and 2 Flip diaper covers (they were “seconds” at cottonbabies, so they were only $7 each!). If I find that I’m still doing too much laundry for my liking, I’d buy a few more econobum prefolds in a heartbeat– they are much cheaper than the Bummis I used to have for G, and they are much nicer! We don’t need any pins or snappies this point– just a trifold stuffed in the cover.

cloth diapers 1

Here’s how we wash the diapers on an every other day basis:

1 rinse, cold water, with 1 cup of white vinegar for stink

1 hot wash, diaper detergent

1 hot wash, 2 scoops of baking soda (sometimes I use Borax instead)

1 cold wash/rinse, 1 cup of vinegar

Air dry covers on the line, 45 minutes of drying for the inserts

cloth diapers 3

When I stripped the used cloth diapers, I used this method (I found it somewhere online, but don’t remember where):

1 wash with detergent (unless they’re already clean)

2 hot washes using 2 tsp. of Dawn liquid soap (the blue, original formula)

1 hot wash with bleach

3 hot washes, no soap

That’s it!

Montessori-Inspired Playroom

Anybody that knows me also knows that I’ve been obsessed with all things Montessori since long before we had kids. Our first year living in Dallas, I worked at over 6 different Montessori schools, teaching over 80 piano students (yes, 80 individual students a week!). I got to see the good, bad and ugly.

As a result, I’m very cautious when I recommend Montessori schools, because while they can be a huge asset to a child’s learning (provided all the teachers are “certified” Montessori), they can also be a huge detriment, especially if they foster an indifference for respect. Most of the times though, sub-par Montessori schools are just a waste of money. They have the name and maybe a few of the “toys” from some catalogue, but few, if any, of the teachers are trained in the actual philosophy, making it just some daycare/preschool with an exorbitant price tag.

But I’m straying from the topic at hand. When I taught at these Montessori schools, I noticed that the Montessori kids universally outperformed their peers at normal preschools, especially when it came to dexterity, self-reliance and math. Ever since, I’ve self-studied the Montessori philosophy to figure out some of their secrets.

To be clear, I’m not officially trained. In fact, I don’t buy the philosophy whole-sale. One of my greatest pet-peeves in parenthood is when some philosophy comes along and preaches 100% adherence (attachment parenting is another one!). Every child is unique, and instead of sticking to one and falling flat on my face (sigh), I’ve tried to integrate them with my own instinct as a mother.

As a result, our homeschooling/playing room is not 100% Montessori. It’s not 100% academic (um, my oldest kid is only 34 months??). It’s DEFINITELY not 100% clean 😉 Let’s be real here.

Without further ado, here it is!

Playroom 8

Playroom 11

Playroom 10

Playroom 12 Playroom 13

Here you can see the changing table (hopefully just for my 16 month old soon!) and Gregory’s handwashing station by the door. He LOVES this thing, and it’s one of my favorite take-homes from the Montessori classroom. It not only teaches kids personal hygiene, but it also teaches them control.

Playroom 4

For the actual handwashing, there is a small portion of water in the pitcher. Gregory is able to pour it into the bowl, rub his hands on the soap, rub the sponge on his hands (his FAVORITE part!), then rinse his hands in the water. After drying his hands on the towel, he gently dumps the water in to the big container below the table.

Playroom 3

I have a lot of faith in Gregory’s abilities to be precise and conscientious of details, and even I was surprised at how quickly he got the hang of doing things gently enough not to make a mess! Whenever we go anywhere now, he is asking to “wash his hands”, because he is suddenly very aware of how they feel after eating.

The chalkboard table in the middle is one of my favorite things. We got it for $5 off of Craigslist, and I painted it using some leftover khaki chalkboard paint and a Serena and Lily paint sample someone gave me a long time ago.

Having a child-sized table and chairs is super important to any homeschooling or Montessori room. Gregory knows where all his little activities in the room are and loves to bring them here.

Playroom 1

Playroom 5

Another thing I love about the Montessori philosophy, especially for preschoolers, is how much they focus on using three fingers to accomplish various tasks. They emphasize these “games” for months/years before ever teaching kids how to hold a pencil. I can personally attest that this aspect of the Montessori philosophy results in a huge disparity between the dexterity of Montessori kids and mainstream preschool kids. My piano students from Montessori schools have a much easier time with everything about the piano. This isn’t to say that mainstream preschool kids don’t catch up– they definitely do, in most cases. But the extra confidence at such an early age seems valuable, especially if it avoids frustration for the child.

We have just started “games” involving transferring objects using tongs and a spoon. Gregory found these acorns by himself in the backyard, giving the game an added dimension!

Playroom 2

Before we added the handwashing station, we had the table against the wall under our vintage alphabet cards. My guess is that most Montessori classrooms would find these too high or too “busy”. However, the Montessori goal is, ultimately, to create a peaceful environment without clutter that overwhelms the child. I am very sensitive to clutter, and I don’t find these to be distracting. We are also dealing with a space issue in our small room, so I had to stack them higher.

Also, I’m selfish, and I REALLY wanted an alphabet wall. Nuff said 🙂

2013-08-31 01.12.45

Last, but not least, here is our children prayer corner. You can definitely see the mix of philosophies here– we don’t have ALL the icons at child height, simply because we want the boys to respect the fact that some things are special and shouldn’t be touched all the time. But Gregory does have two unbreakable icons at his height, given to him by his wonderful godmother 🙂

Also, speaking of mixing philosophies– how many Montessori rooms have YOU seen with an Orthodox icon corner? 😉

Playroom 7

Playroom 6

If you’d like to see any of my other playroom or preschool ideas, you can follow my Preschool Pinterest board!

That’s all for now!

Source List:

Handwashing Station: Soap, tray, bowls and pitcher– our awesome 99 cent store. The table was a find from 5 years ago in TX, probably Homegoods.

Alphabet Wall: A free printable from Handmade Home.

Banners: A free printable from Shanty 2 Chic.

Bookshelves: Walmart, Baskets from Ikea, Wooden Chalkboard labels from Etsy

Teepee: Poles from Home Depot, full sized bedsheet from Walmart

Rug: World Market

Table and Chairs: Craigslist for $5, painted in Serena and Lily’s “Sprout” paint

Easel and paints: Melissa and Doug

Changing Table: Changing Pad cover– Pottery Barn, Diapers– Econobum and BumGenius, I Love You printable– free from I Heart Naptime

$72 Concrete Patio Tutorial for the Beginner

Patio Tutorial header BIG

Jesse and I have been gathering our momentum when it comes to DIY projects around here. I think that this is partly because our confidence has been growing the more we finish things with a certain degree of success!

One of the projects we embarked upon early this summer was a patio for our awkward courtyard that is sandwiched between the garage and the french doors of our downstairs bedroom.

Here’s what it looked like when we bought the house:

Valle 7

 

Ew City, right?

Ew City, right?

 

This little spot felt so awkward and gross to us. I mean. there was a ratty old carpet and everything by the door.  We felt that the french doors should open onto something more welcoming!

We considered using pavers for a while, until we realized that for our 9×10 plot, we were talking about something close to $300-400, when all was said and done. We wanted something more immediate, rather than waiting forever to save up.

Then, I read a few interesting reviews for a $25 product on Amazon called the Pathmate. We didn’t know anyone who used it, but we got excited and decided to give it a try.

Patio Tutorial 2

After just under $75, here’s what we ended up with!

Patio Project 8

 

Patio Project 6

 

Patio Project 7

 

I didn’t take step by step pictures, but here’s what we did:

Materials:

Pathmate– $23

Concrete– 15 bags x $3

1 bag of bark– $4

Sand– Free from my inlaws’ creek bed! Any sand will do, as far as I know.

Total: $72!

1. Clear out and level the ground. Don’t skimp on this step! If the ground isn’t level, the mold won’t sit well, and the concrete won’t dry level. We used a 2×2 board on the ground to determine whether or not the ground was level.

2. Find a large wheel barrow to mix the cement in. DO NOT waste money on the cement mixer that they sell! As long as you have a hubby with huge guns, he can mix all that concrete, even if you decide to do this project on two of the hottest days of the year (whoops…).

3. Mix up a batch of concrete, using hose water and a shovel. We found that things worked best when we had a soupier mixture than the directions called for.

Patio Tutorial 3

4. Place the Pathmate mold in your first spot, and have one person spoon the cement mixture in with the large shovel, while the other person smoothes things out with a small trowel. We found that this method was less messy than pouring it in with the wheelbarrow.

5. Wait 3-5 minutes, shimmy the mold gently off, and move it “next door”! It should fit together like a puzzle piece. You can also add concrete stain at this point, although we didn’t.

6. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat……make sure you have lots of water to drink……(seriously, why did we choose to do this project in JULY????).

7. When you have the patio shape you want, wait at least a day for the concrete to “cure” (see, Dad! I could’ve been a civil engineer like you!).

8. Add sand in the cracks to smooth it all out and hold it together. You definitely don’t want lots of bugs making their homes in the hundreds of 2 inch deep crevices! Yikes! We used sand from Jesse’s childhood home, so it was free.

Patio Tutorial 4

9. After pouring it on liberally, use an outdoor broom to sweep it all off, making sure that the sand settles where you want it to in the cracks. Then spray it down with the power nozzle on a hose.

Patio tutorial 1

10. Dress it up! We used bark for the edges. I would have LOVED to plant flowers, a little trellis, etc., but we have 10-15 deer visit our yard on a daily basis, and nothing survives the onslaught.

Patio Project 8

That’s it! While I still love the look of travertine tiles, this was a MUCH MUCH cheaper option, and I’m so glad we gave it a try! Next up, we’d love to build a small box enclosure for our ugly air conditioning unit!

Another Laundry Room Update: Almost Done!

Guys, this laundry room is getting done! This week is our second to last week before School Orientations starts, so we are working hard to tie up all the loose ends on our summer projects.

The biggest priority for us is to have a functioning, organized and classy lookin’ laundry room! We’re so close!

2013-08-31 01.14.06

And to think, this same view used to look like this!!!

Before

Before

Not everything’s done, however….one of the shelves fell down not too long ago (our washing machine is like a space ship, I tell ya, and the high efficiency spin cycle just about ripped the wall anchors out!). Jesse is patching the holes and working on putting it back up as we speak.

Here's the closer side of the room from the same exact spot

There will be a second shelf below this as soon as the putty dries.

Hard at work

Hard at work

Again, it’s amazing to see how different it used to look!

Progress

Progress

Here’s the left side of the room!

My laundry folding station!!!!

My laundry folding station!!!!

We have the option of putting the last 2 baskets on the bottom, but I'm wondering if it would be better for shoes?

We have the option of putting the last 2 baskets on the bottom, but I’m wondering if it would be better for shoes?

The biggest thing we have left to do is level the flooring and place down tile. We MIGHT tackle that next week, but you never know!

Chalk Paint Hutch

Remember that old hutch I bought off of Craigslist?

After we added chicken wire to the doors (instead of glass)

After we added chicken wire to the doors (instead of glass)

It has now been transformed using chalk paint! I removed all of the hardware, then slapped on some DIY chalk paint that I made using this tutorial from the Clumsy Crafter. I decided to make my own instead of buying it online because it’s quite expensive! I already had the gray I wanted to use, and the Plaster of Paris was only $6 at Home Depot!

Hutch after milk paint Hutch after milk paint closeup

 

More pictures once the laundry room is complete!

Staining

I mentioned in my last post that we finally tackled the staining of our deck. This project has been weighing on our minds for months, as the original deck wood was not protected. We were warned to stain/seal it before it got too hot.

Unfortunately, the warm weather coincided with the end of the school year, when we are always super busy. But we promised ourselves that we would tackle it the second school was done.

It took us (and, by us, I mean 75% Jesse) two mornings to get this done. The hardest part was the prep work. We had to use butter knives to scrape ever single crevice! On a deck of this size…let’s just say it was not something I’m dying to do again.

Deck Before 2

So much deck…

Deck Before 3

We used a paint sprayer and it worked really well!

Deck Before 1

SUCH a difference!

But the results were worth it! We just moved our furniture back up on the deck tonight and got to enjoy a few last minutes of daylight as the sun set.

Deck and yard with people

Decks are always better with family members

Deck Furniture Adirondack chairs

I made an extra pillow for the adirondack chairs

Deck Furniture After

My $30 table and chairs that came with peeling paint and UGLY fabric. I love how they turned out!

Deck Furniture Upholstered

Upholstered patio furniture

Patio Furniture Slipcovers

You may remember this $20 wicker patio set I picked up at the thrift store a few months ago:

Garage Sale Deals 11

I believe that I also mentioned they came with super ugly floral chair cushions (let us never speak of these again).

Patio Slipcover before

Back in April, I bought some outdoor fabric that I absolutely love. Yesterday, in between piano lessons, I finally had the opportunity to sew up some fitted slipcovers/pillow covers for these guys! (note: you’ll have to excuse the placement of the furniture on our lawn. We’re FINALLY staining our deck today, so everything is out of place).

Patio Slipcover bench

Patio Slipcover chair and pillow

If you could see how lovely and cheery it is in person, you’d just die. It’s that awesome. I picked this fabric because the blue, yellow and mocha brown match other things on the patio (not to mention our blue house).

Next up (later…) I have to tackle the upholstery on our outdoor dining chairs (you can see two of the khaki corners in the picture above).