Do you get a truckload of charities and non-profits sending you requests for donations? They can really pile up–especially at holiday time!
This scenario may sound familiar…
You write a check to a charity. A few months later another donation request from the same charity lands in your mailbox. You don’t remember whether you’ve donated to them or not so you do one of two things:
• you send them more money
• you toss the envelope on your desk and now it’s clutter
Today’s Organizing Quick Tip will help you keep track of all of those donation requests…
Create a home for
‘donation request’ envelopes.
Follow these steps to keep those donation requests under control…
• Get a small box–approximately the size of a shoe box.
Examples of some boxes for this task:
|Stockholm Photo Box from The Container Store
|KASSETT Box w/Lid from IKEA
• Place the box in an area close to where the mail enters the house.• When a donation envelope comes in the mail, place it in that box.
• Go through the box every three months to sort and purge for duplicates. I guarantee–you WILL have duplicates!
• After Thanksgiving, sort and purge the the donation envelopes one last time and decide which organization(s) you’ll donate to. Spread the piles across your dining room table or sofa if you need a lot of room.
• Make your donations in December–once a year (if possible). That way you’ll have no problem remembering when you sent your charitable donations. This eliminates the need to look back at a year’s worth of checkbook and credit card statements to see when and who you donated to.
• If you don’t already have one, create a ‘tax file’ for papers you’ll need to collect for tax purposes.
• Place receipts for your charitable donations in the tax file.
• Empty your ‘donation request’ box and start over.
I recently set up this system for a client and she said it made her life so much easier in these ways:
• It organized all of her donation requests in one spot.
• It allowed her to notice when she had multiple envelopes from the same charity/non-profit.
• By doing her donations once a year, she no longer has to try and remember or look back in a check book register or credit card statement to see if she already made a donation.This will save you time, money and brain power. Give it a try–let me know how it works for you!
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In 2000, my husband and I got married and merged two households. Between all the stuff we came with and the beautiful wedding gifts we had received, our home was overflowing with three of this, four of that and too much of a whole lotta stuff. So, we decided to sort through what we owned, purge out what we didn’t need and have a garage sale.
I wish I had pictures to show you but our driveway and lawn were filled with our belongings. People thought we were downsizing and moving! I overheard one woman on her cell phone yelling to a friend, “You gotta come over here–there’s so much great stuff!”
Two days and almost $1000 later, we had done a good job of clearing space in our home. We used the funds to buy a patio set which we still own. At the end of day two, I turned to my husband and said “I never want to have enough stuff in our home to do a garage sale again…”
It’s now 2013. We’ve had two children and our house was feeling full. My husband swore our attic floor would soon buckle and bins of stuff would crash to the floor below. In the Spring we began, Operation ‘Get It Out of the House.’ Big ticket items like our crib and two exersaucers found new homes. Bags upon bags of baby clothing found their way to three different expectant mothers. My husband says he could hear the attic exhale for the first time in years.
|Multiply this times three and that’s how many bags of 0-12m baby clothing I gave away!
I kept purging–kiddie toys to the preschool, old pillows to the trash and then it happened…My neighbor tells me our town is having it’s first town-wide garage sale.
I pass the great news on to my husband. He’s as excited as I am.
I continue purging. I started to collect boxes and plastic bags, and began pricing. I even dug up the Word file for the garage sale sign I had created in 2000 (Hubby says that didn’t surprise him one bit…).
|My cousin Dale gave me the ‘Fill a bag for $1’ idea. Brilliant!
After pricing, I sorted our items by category–Baby, Kid Toys, Housewares, Books, etc. counting down the days when I could finally reclaim my garage space again.
We had about a tenth of the stuff we put out in 2000. Our friend gave us some of her things to put in the garage sale so she could purge her house, too. We had two beautiful sunny days and although foot traffic was light, enough customers made purchases to say it was successful.
My neighbors across the street set up a few tables and my nine year old neighbor decided to try his hand at selling some toys he and his brother didn’t play with anymore. I advised him to lay them out on towels grouping ‘like’ with ‘like’–dinosaurs with other dinos and all vehicles together, too. He sold a few items (including one of the bikes in the background) but at least half of them went to my son’s preschool or to my own kids!
|The wares of a budding entrepreneur…
A few shoppers commented on how organized my labeled pricing system was. I smiled and said, ‘Thanks.’ Oh, if they only knew…
Two days later, we made less than a tenth of the money we had made in the 2000 garage sale but that’s OK. We weren’t doing it for the money–we were getting rid of the ‘old’ to make room for the ‘new.’
Some funny/unexpected things that happened during the garage sale:
• My neighbors bought some of my stuff!
• A shopper thought a painting marked $3.00 was actually $300. We all had a good chuckle…
• A grandma about six inches shorter than me bought and then picked up a Little Tikes picnic table and walked back to her house with it.
• I sold a NJ Devils giveaway towel to my seven year old for $ .25. I thought it would be a good math lesson…
|He said, “Mommy, I can’t believe you were going to sell this!”
Some great things that happened during the garage sale:
• I had fun hanging out with my neighbors and celebrating our selling successes.
• My kids acquired some cool toys and baseball mitts from our neighbors across the street.
• I got to read two magazines during selling ‘downtime.’ Any mom of small kids know that this is quite a feat!
• We made a little extra spending money.
• We purged our home of things we no longer needed.
At the end of the garage sale, I packed up all unsold goods and split them into three categories. Give to Preschool, Give to Thrift Shop, Bring Back in the Garage. The ‘Give to Thrift Shop’ bags and boxes went from my driveway to my car to a local donation center. My ‘Preschool’ items are enjoying a new home in my son’s classroom and the one (!) bin marked ‘Bring Back in the Garage’ is being dealt with this week.
So, if your town is declaring a town-wide garage sale soon, or you’re looking to make some room in your home and some money for your wallet, here are a few tips to make your garage sale successful:
• Use a color coded pricing system and hang your signs everywhere. I used blue painter’s tape and a marker for any item over $2.
• Wear comfortable clothes with pockets and comfy footwear. You’re going to be moving and standing a lot.
• A few weeks before your sale, start collecting large and small plastic shopping bags for customers to put their purchases in.
• Group like items together. If someone is looking for kids toys and they’re strewn across your lawn, customers are less likely to see them and buy them.
• Smile and welcome your potential customers. Engage them in conversation and ask if you can help them find anything special.
OK–Who is ready to have a garage sale?
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It’s 2012. You’ve made a resolution to get organized in the new year. That’s great!
But, I’m getting the feeling there’s something bothering you…
What’s wrong? Low on cash after the holidays? Got a pink slip for Christmas?
OK–I get it. You don’t have a lot of money to put into the organizing project (or projects) you’d like to tackle this year.
Not a problem. Organizing doesn’t have to cost you a lot. In fact, getting organized SAVES you money long-term. Getting there doesn’t require a whole wad of cash.
You need time, elbow grease and some free and low-cost products to help you achieve your organizing goals. There’s no need to max out the credit cards when you’re organizing on a budget.
For inexpensive (or FREE) ideas on how to declutter your space or create places of order in your home and life, read my article, Organizing on a Budget. In the article, I talk about products and resources for getting organized on a budget. Here’s an example…
Some of the best organizing products are FREE!
Boxes from the liquor store, shoe store, jewelry store or from your bank shouldn’t cost you anything and most of the time, they’re happy to hand them over to you. So when you buy jewelry, ask for a box and when your checks come in the mail, don’t throw out the box they came in. **It is best to not use boxes that might have had contact with any type of food product.
• Use boxes from liquor store as temporary file holders and for storage of infrequently used items.
• Use shoe boxes as deep drawer dividers (Ex. to separate different colored socks, scarves, etc.) or to hold shoes.
• Use check boxes (from your bank) or jewelry boxes from a department store as drawer dividers in anything from a desk drawer to a junk drawer.
For more ideas and ways to keep costs down while getting organized, take a look at Organizing on a Budget. Even if you use just one of my tips, it will bring you one step closer to your organizing goal and keep your financial status ‘in the black.’