The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources

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Easter Events

I promised before I would share our Easter plans, and Easter is almost here!

I had lofty goals of making a paper mache tomb around a jar like we had when I was a kid. We’d block it off with a paper mache lid Friday night, station G.I. Joe guards in front, and then Easter morning the guards would be on their faces, the stone rolled away, and a cabbage patch tiny angel would be standing inside. But I didn’t get very motivated, because I didn’t think it would mean anything to PG, and because I didn’t want to buy stuff right before we move in a month-ish. So, back to the basics–here’s what’s going on around here.

–Possibly attending the Good Friday service tonight.

–Free egg hunt tomorrow if PG doesn’t get sleepy at that time. 🙂

–My brother and his girlfriend arrive!

–Sunday morning cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Probably with icing crosses painted on. (I do like the idea of the Empty tomb rolls, but I have a bad memory of them making a huge marshmallow mess on the pan when I was a kid. I don’t think anyone else has had this problem, so one of these days I need to face my fear and give them a try.)

–Easter basket for PG. Here’s what hers has in it this year:


(puzzles and summer hat [both from Once Upon a Child], hair barrettes, and hair bands)

–Resurrection Day service at church.

–And then–what I have done the past seven years for Easter–Potluck! This is the second year I’m hosting it.   We love the potluck–not only does it cut down on cooking while still hosting lots of fun foods, but it is great to celebrate with friends, and the resurrection is the event that makes all events worth celebrating! Sometimes the friends we invite join us for the Easter service at church beforehand.

So, not the most intense or spiritual Easter plans, but they are becoming family traditions, and we are really looking forward to them.

What are you doing for Easter this year??


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Creative Ways to Make Money #8: The Last Resort

(This is the last post in the series of creative ways to make money I’ve been doing with Katherine at Rhymes with Smile.)

This is the garage sale post. I call it the last resort because with many items, you can get more money by selling them in other ways (Craigslist, consignment shops). But with items that don’t make the cut in these methods (and there will be many), hold a garage sale, and make a few bucks!

This will be the third year in a row which I have held a garage sale. I do not get stressed out about garage sales. I probably don’t make as much as I possibly could, but I clean out my stuff, and I make much more (around $70 each of the past two years) than I would by taking stuff to the thrift store (which is where the garage sale rejects may end up).

Here are nine steps I do to hold a successful garage sale.

1. Throughout the year, gather stuff from your house you want to get rid of, and move it to “the garage sale pile” in a closet or garage.


2. Pick a Saturday you are free at least from 7am- 1pm and mark it down. Tell all your friends you want to hold a garage sale on that day, and see if anyone wants to join you. If you have several people, it doesn’t matter if each person only has a blanket full of stuff. If it’s only you, you may want to have a decent amount of stuff to sell. Hold the sale at the person’s house that is closest to a main road. My yard is visible from Main St, so it’s ideal.

3. The week before, post an advertisement on Craigslist. List some of the specific items that you think might be most popular (e.g. guitar stand, baby clothes sizes NB-2T, corner bookshelf, 2008 Mac desktop) along with a general description of the other items. You may post pics of the popular items if you like, especially furniture. Please do not post a pic of your “garage sale pile” if no one can tell what is in the pile (see above).

4. One day before, refresh the Craigslist ad. Make a couple half-poster signs that say “Garage Sale” or “Moving Sale” (if it’s true), the address, and the date–nice and big, so you can read it while driving a car. One pet peeve of mine is garage sale signs that say “Today.” This is because people frequently forget to take them down after the garage sale, and then for the next week, the sign says “Garage sale today.” I find times unnecessary on these signs unless your times are unusual. Most garage sales around here go from about 8am-1pm, although people will show up around 7.

5. Put sticker labels on stuff you are asking more than $1 for. When you price the items, try to think what you would be willing to pay if you found it at a garage sale. You can price it more if you are willing to hold onto it, but if it is going to the thrift store regardless afterwards, price low. You have to let go a bit of what you paid for the item originally, and think what someone would be willing to pay today. For example, a computer that still works might have cost you $500 10 years ago, but, let’s be honest, not many people want old computers, so if you get $20, you are probably doing well.

6. Make sure you have a decent amount of change, mostly in small bills and quarters.

7. The morning of, get up early, hang your signs in a very visible location on the nearest main road. If people are going to have to drive a little ways, hang some more signs so they know they are still going in the right direction. Lay your stuff out on tables or tarps so each item is visible. I usually put all my $1 items on a couple tarps with a sign “$1.”

8. Set up a chair, wait for the customers, and if you really want to get rid of stuff, announce things like : “any $1 items you can fit in a grocery bag for $5. ” Barter if you like.

9. Around 1pm, gather your remaining stuff and take it to the thrift store. Count up your money!

By the way, I’m planning to have a moving sale on April 27,  so let me know if you want to join in, or stop by if you are in town!

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Creative Ways to Make Money #5: The Drop-off

I am all about a good garage sale (that post will come later), but at least around here, garage sales are for selling out-of-date or lesser quality items. If you want to get the most money for high quality, modern clothes, children’s stuff, or sports items you don’t use any more, consignment or buy-sell-trade stores are the way to go.

Consignment shops:


Consignment stores are those which take your items and have you sign a contract stating what price they will list the item for and what they will pay you if the item sells. They usually only accept up-to-date name-brand items in really good condition. You only get paid if your item sells, but you have the potential to make more than a sell-buy-trade store, as many will give the donor 50% of the profits. The downside of these is you don’t get paid if the item doesn’t sell, and you have to remember to call them in 60 days (or something similar) to see if they sold your item–and then you need to go pick up your money. For formal or high-end clothes, I think these inconveniences are worth it, as you could make around 25% of the original price of the item. I currently have some items in the store above, but you can use a search engine or the yellow pages (does anyone keep those around?) to find consignment stores near you.

Buy-Sell-Trade stores:


A more convenient type of store to take your stuff is the kind that pays you up front–buy-sell-trade stores. The items still need to be up-to-date and in good condition, but these stores pay you up front, and then you walk out with your money. Some examples are Crossroads Trading Company, Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet (all for adult clothes), Play It Again Sports (sports equipment), or Once Upon A Child (children’s toys and clothes). Some of them give you an option between cash or a higher amount of store credit, which can be good if you need clothes or kid stuff.  The downside of these is you don’t get a lot for each item. More than a garage sale, probably, but maybe around $2.50 for an originally $20 item.

What you need to do: gather your up-to-date items that are in good condition, but that you don’t use anymore, and make sure they are clean, wrinkle-free etc. Look up what consignment stores or buy/sell stores are near you and take them in. (The consignment shops tend to like the items to be on hangers, and like you to make an appointment.) The store will make you an offer for each item, and you can refuse if you don’t like it. Walk away with your money!

Let me know if this helps you at all!


Creative ways to make money #3: The Service

 (This is the third installment of a series on making extra money co-hosted by me and Katherine at Rhymes with Smile.)

One of the biggest ways I earn extra cash is by services. In China, this was by tutoring students in English and reading English scripts for radio programs and the students’ city-wide English tests. Yes, I used to be a famous voice in Beijing. 🙂

These days, I watch another little girl one day a week. I get paid $5/hour, roughly the cost per hour of putting a child in daycare. While it is true I don’t get any errands run on these days, letting my daughter play with her BFF is a pretty fun way to earn money. Just check out this cuteness:


If there are groups that have MOPS near you, they are always looking for and compiling lists of people to work the nursery or babysit, and ours pays $8/hour. Also, Craigslist has a section for childcare.

TSH does a service also–he does sound for weddings at our church. He has to be at the rehearsal and wedding, and gets paid $100 for each wedding–roughly $20/hour.  Here is the crazy part–TSH didn’t know how to work the sound board at all 5 years ago, but as my friend Mike Webster says, “Every church could use more sound guys” (or gals), so TSH volunteered and they trained him. That is his ministry at church, and it has also given him a near monopoly on sound at weddings. (Here he is, uploading a sermon after church.)IMG_6709

One year, he used the wedding money from a summer to buy this digital SLR camera. (Any low photo quality is due to this user’s ignorance, unfortunately. I’m working on that…)

Services are also a good way to give gifts. A couple of my videographer friends donated to the Pregnancy Resource Center near us by making them a promotional video. One of my skilled photographer friends frequently gives a session of maternity or family pictures as a baby shower gift.

So, think outside the box! What service can you do to make money or give as a gift?