How Do You Apply for a New Job?

How Do You Apply for a New Job?

Job searching has changed dramatically in the last five years. You used to be able to email your resume with a cover letter, and, if you were in a creative field, directly to a hiring manager or Human Resources. You could even upload your cover letter and resume into Monster or CareerBuilder and they would send it to an employer for you. How do you apply for a new job?

Today it is not so easy. Most employers pre-screen applicants via online job applications that require you to fill out your qualifications before submitting your cover letter and resume. These applications, and the resumes, are parsed, or electronically searched, for specific keywords and phrases before they even hit human eyes.  Here’s what you need to know, and what you need to have in front of you, before you click that “apply” button on Indeed.

  • Hunt and Gather It – Before you even log onto SimplyHired, gather your resume, contact information for references, college transcripts, the names and addresses of every school you have attended, including high school and put it in one place. Having all this information in front of you will make it easier to quickly customize your cover letter and resume and fill in those online applications.
  • Google It – Google a description of the job you are applying for and peruse both job postings, sample resumes, and the qualifications of other professionals in that field. Make a list of the skills, qualifications, certifications, and experience that come up repeatedly amongst all three.
  • Optimize It – Now that you know what employers in your field want, SEO, or Search Engine Optimize, your resume so that those skills are mentioned repeatedly in different ways on your resumes. If a specific skill or certification is mentioned by name, you want to state its name and say your exposure to it. The more keywords in your resume, the better the chance it will make it to the next level. Check out this example on LiveCareer for an example of how to accomplish this.
  • Detail It – Your resume should include a list of technical skills, i.e.: Microsoft Word, Adobe, etc. It should also demonstrate that you have used them in your job experience detail. Be sure each job description on your resume does this. For example, instead of saying “Developed press releases” when a job calls for MS Word, say, “Used Microsoft Word to develop press releases.” These days employers know better than to pull in a candidate who doesn’t show the use of a particular skill they’re looking for. Naming that skill is not enough.
  • Cover It – There is some argument that cover letters are going the way of the dodo. I say they are still important. A cover letter can explain why you’re living in one state and applying for a job in another, or a gap in your resume. Most companies will also call for a cover letter as part of the online job application process. If not, a cover letter can easily be added to your resume and the two documents can be combined into a single Adobe PDF. Make sure your cover letter is Search Engine Optimized, and that everything you have on your resume matches your cover letter.
  • Customize It – Since you are already taking the time to fill out a job application, take an extra few minutes and fine tune your resume before you upload it. Make sure the resume states how you have done whatever the company’s job description states as the required skills and experience.
  • Create a Plain Text Version – Odds are, your resume or cover letter will be parsed by the online system and formatted into plain or real text format. This can be awkward if your resume has customized formatting. Create a plain text version of your resume with linear formatting. This will ensure your resume is clear and easy to understand when it finally hits human eyes.

Applying for a new job is not a fun task but by having yourself as organized as you can be will make this experience a more pleasurable task.

Photo: Gerd Altmann

How to Store and Save Lego Creations

How to Store and Save Lego Creations

Ah Lego… Sitting in their neatly boxed kits on toy store shelves these tiny bricks seem full of possibilities. Lego has been proven to foster creativity, build imagination, and improve problem solving skills. They are also an excellent way to spend quality time with your child. There are almost no downsides to a good, inexpensive box of Lego bricks. That is, until you stumble out into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and step on a forgotten brick. Ouch! Here’s how to store and save Lego creations while enjoying all of the benefits of Lego bricks and avoiding accidental foot torture.

  • Sort It Out – Sort out the Lego bricks that will be difficult to find in a large container. These include the tiny connector pieces used to connect pipes, tiny flat pieces, single dot “1×1” bricks, specialty pieces from previously assembled and disassembled kits, and especially wheel pieces. This will be invaluable for the next time you build free form, or lose a piece for a Lego kit to your carpet mid-build.
  • Stack It – Stack or store difficult-to-find Lego bricks in a stackable storage container. Stackable craft containers are ideal for this purpose. You have easy access to all of the pieces you need without a lot of space. A client and her son used this system for years with great success. If you want to decorate and stay true to Lego, you can purchase large storage bricks in bright colors directly from Lego. Using the bricks as a limiter to how many Legos may be accumulated is also a great trick!
  • Store It – Many Lego brick sets come in their own plastic storage containers. I recommend Ikea’s Trofast line to store Lego bricks. Trofast is also inexpensive and allows you to customize both the configuration and the storage bins you want to use. Trofast also has longevity. This system can be used to store video game components, makeup, and school supplies when your child ages out of Lego.
  • Lay It Down – Store a plastic play mat with your child’s Lego bricks. Have them take out this play mat and build on it each time they play with their Lego bricks. I personally like this one, that has a drawstring and automatically gathers up all of the bricks when your child is done playing and it’s time to clean up.
  • Play-Again Kits – Some Lego kits are designed to have a “play with it after” component. The Ninjago, Minecraft, Disney, and Powerpuff Girls sets, for example, have minifigures that can be played with on whatever the particular kit creates. Set aside space to temporarily store these repeat play kits. Hint: if you have a train lover, the Lego Train sets can be built upon for years and store easily in under-the-bed bins.
  • Show It Off – Many Lego kits, such as the Architecture series, are designed to be built once. Once the Lego creation is done, what do you do with it? Anything built with a Classic Set should be dismantled and the bricks saved for the next project. For the one-time build sets, set up a temporary space to display a limited number of these creations for a limited time. After that time is up, break down the bricks for the next project.
  • Donate Them – Some children never outgrow Lego, no matter how old they get. Others eventually stop playing with Lego bricks and take up other hobbies. When this happens, contact your local charity and donate the bricks. If there isn’t a charity that can accept them, contact a consignment shop, secondhand toy store, or your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. These organizations will take the bricks off your hands.

Lego bricks are a great way to connect with your kids. With a few basic storage tools, you can spare yourself the pain of unexpectedly encountering those painful bricks, stay organized, and build cherished memories for years to come.

Photo: JenFongSpeaks

Creating a Home Gym Space

How to Create a Home Gym Space

Exercise offers many benefits – everything from increased energy to stress relief and even better long-term health. Not everyone can afford a monthly gym membership, or has time to dedicate to hitting the gym. Fancy exercise equipment is a double-edged sword: you want the best for your dollar, but a lot of exercise equipment ends up gathering dust in a spare bedroom. Here’s how to create a home gym space with equipment you’ll be motivated to use without breaking the bank.

  • Set Aside Space – Any space in your home can be a workout area. I know people that use their bedroom floor to do their daily morning stretches. A friend of mine keeps a set of free weights and an exercise mat in her sewing room. A colleague of mine has a stationary bike next to the bookshelves in his family room. Choose a space where you will work out. Make sure there is plenty of room for you to move without accidentally injuring yourself on a piece of furniture.
  • Stash It – Once you’ve decided where you will work out, find a nearby space for your exercise equipment, including free weights, exercise mats, workout videos, and resistance bands. You don’t need a fancy weight rack or exercise equipment container for these items. A plastic crate will do. Having all of your exercise equipment in one place, near where you plan to work out, will motivate you to get moving.
  • Get Some Free Weight – Free weights are a great way to increase strength and add muscle tone to your body. They are also invaluable for increasing the level of an exercise once your body has gotten used to a particular movement or routine and can do it easily. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on free weights. Check out these colorful weights. Don’t buy a whole set of free weights at once. Start with the lowest weight that gives you some resistance and, once you can lift those with ease, upgrade.
  • Increase Your Bandwidth – Resistance bands are another great way to build strength and add resistance to a workout. In addition to taking up virtually no space, these bands are available at most retail discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
  • Stream It – Streaming exercise videos are a great way to build a workout library without taking up additional space in your home. Most major broadcast TV providers have at least one exercise channel. Amazon Prime offers exercise videos. You can also buy exercise videos on Amazon and store them your video library to access wherever you go.
  • Go Old School – Walmart, Target, Marshalls, and all offer inexpensive workout videos on DVD. Many of these videos use your own body weight as the resistance, eliminating the need for additional equipment. One of my client’s personal go to every time she needs to lose a couple pounds is Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, available for under $10 on Amazon.
  • Look NextDoor – Looking for more than an aerobic workout but don’t want to spend money on fancy exercise equipment? Check out your local NextDoor Community or Facebook Marketplace. You can often find very high-end equipment for half or less of its retail cost and older, sturdier models for $100 or less. Make sure to look up the reviews on the make and model of the equipment and test it in person before you pay any money to the seller. A good way to do this is to enter the brand and model number into Google. You can also visit websites that sell this equipment and read the consumer reviews.

With just a few feet of space and a minimal investment, you can have a great workout at home, no “Lunk Alarms” or long waits for the treadmill required.

Photo: Alfred Derks

Five Must-Have Products for Your Cruise

Five Must-Have Products for Your Cruise

You have booked your dream vacation, a cruise. Congratulations! Now the time has come to start packing for your trip. Here are five must have products for your cruise. And the best part, they are all available on Amazon!

  • Waterproof Pouch– You are going to need a pouch that will hold your cell phone. Here is one example. Just make sure you test the pouch out before you put your phone in it to make sure it truly is waterproof, and you know how to securely close the pouch.
  • Water-Resistant Watch– It doesn’t have to be the most expensive but you want to make sure it works when near water. You are going to be near water and although you can’t wear a water-resistant watch when scuba diving, you need to be on time for various outings and make sure you make it back before your ship leaves you in port.
  • Magnetic Hooks– Who knew that the walls of a cruise ship are metal? Having a bunch of magnetic hookswill increase the way you can store items such as a hanging purse and cosmetic bag.
  • Magnetic Bag Clips– One convenient use for theseare to hold the ship’s daily schedule and adhere the clip to your cabin wall.

Sticky Notes– Yes, that is right! A great way to leave notesfor your cabin mate in case you each decide to split up for the day. Purchasing the extreme notes is worth it as they are water resistant!

What are your must-have products when you cruise?


How to Organize Your Portable Media

How to Organize Your Portable Media

Everyone uses external, or portable, media to store and transfer files easily. This type of media can include SD Cards, Flash, or USB, drives, and even, in some cases, old CDs, flash, or USB, drives to store and transfer files. USB drives are an easy, inexpensive way to store and move files. You can literally find these devices for sale at even the local drug store. Over time, the sheer number of SD Cards, USB Drives, and, yes, even those dinosaur CDs, can accumulate. This puts you at not only an organization risk, because you don’t know what data is on which media, but also a security risk should one of those drives get lost. Here’s how to organize your portable media so that the right data is readily available when you need it, and so that all of your information is safely protected.

  • Do NOT Use a Portable as a Whole PC Backup.My first, and most important, piece of advice is that any data storage device you plan to use to transfer or share data should NOT be used to back up your computer. A back up of your primary PC is bound to include sensitive data such as account numbers, passwords, financial data, and even proprietary work files. Definitely back up your PC to external media. Place that media in a secure place in your home and leave it there. Alternately, use a secure account on the Cloud.
  • Gather Them Up.Start by going through your purse, your desk, your brief cases, and the places you typically keep media storage devices including those storage crates in the attic. Choose a single place to put all of your storage devices and put them there. A clearly labeled plastic container, makeup bag from a “bonus”, or shoebox works well for this purpose. As you go through the house during your daily routine and find storage devices add them to the pile.
  • Find Out What’s On Them.The best way to start organizing all of the files on your portable storage devices is to see what it on them! This may be a tedious job but how else will you know if there is anything worth keeping on the drive? Make time to insert each USB Drive, SD Card, or CD into a computer and see what files/folders are stored on it. Delete any files you no longer need from the drive immediately.
  • Put It All In a Single Place.Set up a folder on your computer or laptop called “USB Data”. As you go through each USB, CD, or SD Card copy the information you want to keep into this folder in a separate folder, such as “USB 1”, “USB 2” etc. This will put all of your data in the same place, but avoid overwriting files on different devices with the same file name until you can be sure they are not duplicate files.
  • Check for Duplicates.Once you have all of the data from those external drives in once place, compare those files with each other and to what you currently have on your computer. Delete any duplicates and anything already backed up to your primary computer backup.
  • Use the Cloud.If you are using external portable media to store files that need to go between multiple computers, consider a cloud-based service, such as DropBox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. A list of highly rated cloud storage services can be found on by clicking here. Having only one version of a file floating around will cause less confusion.
  • Wipe It.Dispose of any external media you for whatever reason do not want to keep by wiping the drive. If you plan to throw the physical drive away, consult with an IT professional for ways to permanently remove the data from it before you do. CDs can be broken into pieces and thrown away or if you have a shredder that can shred CDs, all the better.
  • Mark It Up.If you want to also keep the storage device, you will need a way to identify the info. Although flash drives are small you need to label them. One way is to use a label maker and adhere the label to the drive. Some of the flash drives have a loop that you could also attach a label on a piece of paper and punch a hole in the label and tie a string or twisty tie and slip it through the loop. A black Sharpie Magic Marker also works great for marking CDs, USBs, and SD Cards.
  • Dedicate Space.Whenever you need to keep external drives, please make sure you have one dedicated spot to contain all of them, so you aren’t constantly running across them and more importantly, not knowing where the one you need is located.

The long winter months ahead are a great time to gather all of your external devices and sort them. This is a great activity for when you are streaming a movie on your PC or sitting with your laptop watching a movie you’re not quite into. Knowing where all of your data is will give you piece of mind, and having all those small, pesky storage drives in a single place will give you piece of mind.

Photo: Cristina M. Miller

Transitioning Your Pre-Teen’s Room to an Organized TeenCave

Transitioning Your Pre-Teen's Room to an Organized TeenCave

By the time most children turn 13, they have a combination of beloved childhood items and new video games, electronics, and games – not to mention clothes they’ve outgrown – taking up space in their rooms. Here’s how to decide what to throw away and transitioning your pre-teen’s room to an organized teencave.

  • Take it One Step at a Time. Decide which part of your teen’s room you’re going to tackle first. Are you going to take on that dresser full of clothes they’ve outgrown, or the childhood toys they haven’t touched in years? Is your teenager’s desk big enough to accommodate middle school and high school homework? Formulate a game plan with your teenager on how you will prepare for the years ahead.
  • Create a Homework Space. All junior and senior high school students need a place to do their homework. This space should include a desk big enough to accommodate a computer or laptop, a monitor, notebooks and printed handouts from teachers. It should also have drawers or storage for the “school supplies” they will need to do their homework. There should also be a place – be it the desk itself or a smaller stand – for a printer.
  • Shelve It. Wall shelves come in a wide array of sizes, styles and configurations and can be used to hold everything from books and video game cases to childhood toys your teen can’t bear to part with.  Decide what you will put on shelves and where the shelves will go in your teen’s room. After you hit Home Depot, hand your teenager an electric screwdriver and assist them in putting up the shelves. Not only will you have a more organized teencave, but you will also foster your teen’s independence.
  • Make That Old Bookshelf Multitask. Classic bookshelf units can be used to hold books or fabric storage bins that can hold the unsortable trinkets that teens always seem to pick up. A bookshelf placed at the foot of a bed, in combination with storage bins, can serve as a video game center. Place the TV on top of the bookcase, the different video game consoles on the shelves, and the extra controllers and accessories in storage bins on the bottom shelf.
  • Sit Them Up. Most teens can be found either on their computers or on their beds. Invest in a solid, comfortable desk chair and a firm foam reading pillow for their bed. Both will encourage good posture.
  • Have a Game Plan for Outgrown Clothes. Adolescence is a time of growth spurts. Teenagers generally need a new set of clothes every 6 months. Have a bin set up for outgrown, unwanted clothes to make it easy on your teen and you. Decide what you want to do with that clothing. Do you have younger children to save the clothes for? Can you consign or give away the clothes to a charity or another family?
  • Let Go of (Some) Childhood Toys. Have your teen decide which of their childhood toys and memorabilia they want to keep in their room, what they want to save, and what can be donated or recycled. If they don’t want an item, don’t force them to save it just because YOU have memories of it. If you have the opposite problem of your teen wanting to keep it all, set limits of a quantity or a space.
  • Don’t Forget the Closet. Store seasonal items such as winter jackets and swimsuits, in your teenager’s closet. Airtight storage bins can be used to store childhood items your teen isn’t ready to part with. Upper closet shelves are perfect for board games that only come out periodically.

Once you’ve done all this, encourage your teenager to keep their new teencave clean. Give them the weekly chore of cleaning their room and putting away their laundry. Encouraging your teen to organize and keep their room clean will foster their independence. Bonus: you’ll cringe less when you open that perennially closed door.

Photo: Luis Rainero

How to Successfully Plan and Prepare for a Cruise

Cruises offer a wide array of experiences and entertainment for an unbeatable value.  With a wide array of ships and destinations, you can sail to and from just about anywhere in the world, even Alaska.  Which destination and what type of cruise are for you? What do you do once you book? How do you pack? Check out the answers to these questions and more below on how to successfully plan and prepare for a cruise.

  1. Pick a Boat.Today’s cruise options include everything from Maine Windjammers to luxe cruise lines. Before choosing a cruise, ask yourself who you will be traveling with, why you’re traveling, and what type of traveler you are. For family vacations, one of the major cruise lines is probably ideal. If you’re looking for a young, hip, party boat, you might want to consider a line that caters to a young adult crowd.  Are you more at home in hiking in the woods?  Maybe a small ship traveling up the coast of New England is for you. Choose the best type of cruise for your traveling companions, purpose, and unique personality.
  2. Where To? Where do you want to go? Are you wanting a warm, sunny break in Mexico, Bermuda, or the Bahamas? Are you looking to see the coast of Alaska, or sail the Mediterranean? What about heading up the coast of New England? Decide where you want to go and check out the cruise lines that travel there.
  3. What’s Your Budget? Set a budget and decide what you want to spend it on. Is your priority a luxury ship with all the extras? Will you splurge on extras such as shore excursions, alcohol, specialty restaurants, or off-duty shopping? Know the answers to these questions before you start looking for your perfect ship. When you set your budget, be sure to account for any “hidden” fees or extras you might not find out about until you’re on board, such as additional fees for premium liquors.
  4. Listen to the Critics. is a great place to get impartial reviews from other passengers about specific cruises and cruise ships. Before you book, check out the passenger reviews and pictures from the ship you are considering. A one off about a poor cabin steward can be dismissed. Several people complaining about the food should be paid attention to.
  5. Get an Agent. Yes, you can book a cruise directly, but a cruise travel agent will provide invaluable assistance. Agents can help you choose and get the best deal on your dream cruise. They can also advise you on options you’ll want, such as a balcony stateroom, or a late dinner seating. Agents can also take some of the more annoying, cruise-planning off your hands, such as purchasing insurance, booking and coordinating transportation to and from the port, and even printing and mailing luggage tags and cruise documents to you.
  6. Insurance is Key. Very often, cruises are booked months in advance. Anything can happen between when you book your cruise and when you finally set sail. Purchase all-inclusive travel insurance that covers everything from the onset of a pesky sinus infection to a family emergency.
  7. Choose Your Options. Once your cruise is booked, read up on all the options the ship you are sailing on offers, including food and drink packages, cell phone and data service, shore excursions, and on-board activities and experiences. Choose the ones that match your personal preferences and budget. Decide if you want to book these options in advance to be sure you get the activities and time slots you want, or if you want to risk getting a better deal by booking on board. Very often, special deals for on-board services, such as spa treatments, are offered on the day the ship sails.
  8. Know Where You’re Going. Read up on the ports of call you will be visiting. Select what you want to do and see at each port, and how you want to do or see it. Do you want to go independently into all the ports or sign up for guided excursions? With guided excursions there is less risk of the boat departing without you, but these are often more expensive than self-guided tours.
  9. Check Out the Itinerary. Very often, a cruise line’s itinerary, or a sample thereof, will be posted on the cruise line’s website, or on one of the cruising message boards. Check out what kind of activities will be offered, the ship’s dress code, and evening entertainment. Most luxury cruises have at least one “formal” night. More casual cruises, such as Maine Windjammers, offer a lobster bake. Know what you will need to bring and start shopping for anything you don’t have in advance to get the best deals.
  10. Read Up. Spend some time researching cruising on the ‘net. Amazon offers several inexpensive e-books on cruising. A favorite is Tips from the Cruise Addict’s Wife by Deb Graham. The Internet includes several solid packing lists and tips for first time cruisers.  CruiseCritic also has a “Roll Call” section for passengers booked on a specific cruise ship and sailing to connect with each other prior to departure. A little advanced preparation will go along way once you’re on board.

Vacation time is so precious to us. A cruise can be a fabulous way to spend that time. By doing your homework in advance, you will ensure you have the experience of a lifetime from the moment you set sail.

Photo: Cristina M. Mille

You’ve Found Your Dream Job, Now What?

You've Found Your Dream Job, Now What?

Congratulations! You’ve found your Dream Job, or at least a new job with new opportunities, now what? Leaving a current employer for a new position is far more than simply giving notice and collecting your last paycheck. Here’s everything you need to do to end your tenure with you now former employer on a positive note.

  1. Wait for It. If your new employer requires a background check, always wait for official notification that background check has cleared before giving notice, no matter how tempted you are to do so beforehand. Even if you are squeaky clean, you never know what could come up.
  2. Exit Gracefully. Like my Mom used to say, ‘You never know when you will run into that person again…’. Unless your well-being is in danger, always give notice both verbally andin writing to your manager. HR will need the written notice for your employee file. Start with “I am very grateful for this opportunity, unfortunately…” and then give your reason for leaving. The rule of notice holds true even if you never intend to use a company as a reference. LinkedIn lives on forever. You never know who knows who.
  3. Clean Your Cube (Or Office). Removing your personal effects from your cubicle or office space gradually eliminates the need to carry large boxes out on your last day. You will also be prepared if your employer asks you to leave immediately on receiving your notice. Take a few things home every day. Backup and delete personal files, including emails, from your computer. Take any hard copy personal files home.
  4. Don’t Take What Isn’t Yours. Leave all company property, no matter how old or unused, behind unless you have permission to take it with you. Even more importantly, understand your employer’s Intellectual Property Do not take copies of materials that fall under this policy, even if you created them. If you must take such materials, i.e.: if you are a writer and need material for your portfolio, get your employer’s permission. Carefully remove all references to proprietary information, including client names, specialized processes, and patented technology, from such materials.
  5. Understand Your Benefits. If HR does not schedule an exit interview to review separation logistics, request one. Ask about your last paycheck, payout for unused vacation time, medical benefit eligibility, and 401K policies for former employees.
  6. Confirm when you will be eligible for medical, dental, and vision coverage with your new employer. If these benefits do not start Day 1, COBRA at least your medical coverage until they kick in. Even if the gap period is only a couple weeks, COBRA! A couple years ago, my friend switched jobs and didn’t COBRA. During that time, her son had to go to the E/R. The result was over $5,000 in medical bills. Don’t gamble with your health.
  7. Know Your Vested Balance. If your 401K has a vested balance under $5,000, a former employer has a right to remove you from their plan without notice. Avoid potential tax penalties by contacting the firm that manages your 401K and rolling over your vested balance if it is below this threshold. If you have a vested 401K balance over $5,000, contact the 401K manager and find out what the fee for leaving your money with your former employer will be.
  8. Stay in Contact. Be sure to gather any contact information for colleagues you will want to stay in touch with for future networking. Connect with these colleagues – and endorse them for relevant job skills – on LinkedIn. For more information on using LinkedIn to strategically manage a job change, check out this article on The Muse.
  9. Leave on a High Note. On your last day, thank your manager, co-workers and any personnel you have worked closely with. If you are required to have an exit interview, by all means, don’t go on a rage about co-workers or management. If you are leaving because of a specific conflict, be honest about the conflict, but not bitter. Have a positive word to say about everyone you worked with.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but don’t leave the pasture before your last day. Perform your job duties to the best of your ability until you turn in your ID badge. If you leave your former employer thinking highly of you, you will reap great rewards in the future!

Photo: Pixabay – Wemer Heiber

Setting Up for a Successful Garage Sale

Setting Up for a Successful Garage Sale

Holding a garage sale is a fun, profitable, eco-friendly way to clear clutter from your home. The saying is true “one person’s trash is another’s treasure”. Virtually anything can be sold at a garage sale. Old glassware? Check. Fabric scraps? Check. Old kids toys? Check. Discarded electronics? Absolutely! Just throwing items out on a folding table and putting a sign on your lawn won’t make your sale successful. Here are some tips for maximizing your time and creating a fabulous, fun garage sale.

  1. Pick a date. Research the best time in your town to have a garage sale. You can also check your town website to see if a Town-Wide Garage Sale is planned. If so, sign up for it. If not, pick a date and put it on your calendar. Setting a deadline in advance means you won’t procrastinate getting ready for your sale!
  2. Start gathering. A garage sale is a perfect excuse to go through your home room by room and pull out items you no longer love and use. Check your attic for old electronics, baby clothes, and toys gathering dust. Place them in a central location in your house.
  3. Sort and Clean. Sort each item by category into its own container for storage and easy transport to the area where you’ll set up your sale. As you sort each item, wipe it down, inside and out. Buyers will be attracted to clean items and you’ll get a better price for them.
  4. Price it Out. You’ll sell more items if they are priced in advance. Set a realistic starting price for each item but leave some wiggle room for bargaining. If you’re not sure how to price out your items, check out The Ultimate Garage Sale Pricing Guide on Angie’s List. Use neon colored price tags to make the prices easy to find. Several hardware and stationary supply stores sell pre-printed, adhesive price tags specifically for garage sales. These are a great investment. Use a black Sharpie to write custom prices.
  5. Organize – Don’t you enjoy going into stores that have defined categories? It is so much easier to shop. Have sections for clothing, electronics, housewares, travel; whatever you can group together will make a nicer experience for your shopper and you want them to stay and look around. If you have several of the same item, create a sign with the price of each item on card stock.
  6. Advertise – Put your yard sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor, and any town related news sites. List a few teaser items and definite hours. If you don’t want early birds, state that! You can also specify cash only and items need to be carried away that day. If you can’t assist hauling stuff to people’s cars, say so.
  7. Have Cash on Hand. I recommend having at least 2 rolls of quarters, a handful of $5 bills and at least $20 in singles ready before your first customer arrives. If you expect any items to sell for pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters, make sure you have that to give change back. Use a cash box or large, zippered pouch to keep your money in. Those cosmetic cases that come with beauty bonus buys work great for this purpose.
  8. Bag It. Have extra bags, plastic boxes, and newspaper on hand for customers who request a bag to carry their item in, purchase multiple items, or purchase fragile items. You can store up plastic grocery bags and reuse them for this purpose.
  9. Hydrate and Screen. You’re going to be standing or sitting in the sun for the majority of the day. Avoid dehydration and sunburn by keeping plenty of bottled water and sunscreen on hand. Reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
  10. See You Next Year! Have a plan for what you will do with your unsold items at the end of your garage sale. On my last sale, I created 3 separate groupings: Toss, Sell Online, and Save for Next Year. Anything I was going to sell online (VCR from 2000 anyone?) I put a neon sticker on. Everything I plan to sell next year went into boxes labeled “Save for Next Year”. I photographed the stuff I planned to sell online and posted it. The “Save For Next Year” boxes went into my attic.

Above All, BE SAFE! Do not let shoppers into your home no matter what the emergency. If they are truly in distress, call 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, direct them to a nearby public facility.

Happy Selling!

Photo By: Cristina M. Miller

Simplify Your Hobbies

Simplify Your Hobbies

If you’re like any hobbyist – sewer, woodworker, scrap booker, etc. – you’ve accumulated materials for projects that have never been done and scraps from projects that have. These tips will help you decide what to keep and what to toss from that craft closet and simplify your hobbies.

  1. Evaluate – If you have many hobbies, are you really working on all of them? Can you pare down to just a few and focus on them? Are you engaging in them regularly to justify all the stuff that goes along with each hobby? It’s not a bad thing if decide you enjoy a different hobby. Letting go of the items for the less interesting hobby opens up space for the hobbies you enjoy more.
  2. Make Space – Choose a place where you will work on your hobby. This can be a dedicated area, such as a sewing room or basement workshop, or a double use space, such as a dining room for scrapbooking or a home office for digital photography. Ensure the space you choose is big enough to support your hobby and has the proper furniture for it. Can you spread a queen-sized quilt across that dining room table? Is there a bench in that basement workshop to properly trim the lumber for that bookcase? A friend of mine uses her living room sofa table as a sewing desk. It allows her to be close to her kids while she is working. A popular place for scrapbooking is a dining room table.
  3. Storage – Containers are your best friend for hobbies. They not only keep your stuff all together, they act as limiters to how much your need to be storing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive, hobby-specific storage devices for this. Check out this articleon how to reuse everyday household containers for craft supplies.
  4. Easy Access – If you can’t grab the stuff you need when you need it, why bother? You need to find a dedicated area to store your hobby items. Find a dedicated area to store your hobby items sorted by hobby. This Neatfreak! closet organizerworks great for storing hobby materials in a closet and requires no assembly. Whether you turn a guest room closet into the storage area or a dedicated corner or shelving unit, pick a location that will enable you to have ALL items associated with that hobby in one spot. If possible, it should be the place where you will work on that hobby.
  5. Sort and Label – Most of us only have a few hours a week to spend on our hobbies. Make the most of that time by placing all of the materials you need for each specific project you are working on in its own container and label that container. These 12×12 containersare great for scrapbooking. The zippered plastic bags retailers sell sheet sets in are excellent for sewing projects. By sorting and labeling your hobby projects, you’ll be able to instantly grab what you need when you need it.

Photo: Alison Headley