Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

The Best Websites to Sell Your Stuff

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The Best Websites to Sell Your Stuff

Signing a new lease or closing on your home should be an exciting time, but it’s during this time you realize how much stuff you have.

You may realize a lot of it – like that corner bookshelf or your old bike – just won’t fit in the layout of your new place.

It’s time to sell.

You could host a yard sale, but you’re limited to a local audience. Your best bet is to sell the cyber way: the Internet. However, the best website to sell your couch is not necessarily the best site to sell those old Pyrex dishes.

Here’s a breakdown of the best sites for sellers, and what to sell on them.

Craigslist for Bulky, Hard-to-Move Items
Selling a bed, a dresser or a couch? Obviously, you’ll never be able to box it up and ship it if you sold it across the country. Craigslist is the best site for such large items. Local Craigslist posts are only really browsed by people who can visit your home and cart away the sold item.

Keep in mind: Take the posting down once your item is sold to avoid repeated calls.

Etsy for Antiques and Handmade Crafts
Etsy is a great site to set up a storefront and sell certain items. Antiques, especially jewelry, sell very easily on the site. If you have a craft – knitting, making magnets, small sculptures or anything else — you can also sell them through Etsy.

Keep in mind: You can keep your Etsy storefront once you’ve moved, and use it to start your own small business.

Half.com for Books and Textbooks
Half is known as a hub for cheap college textbooks. If you’re a recent graduate, you can easily unload those textbooks for two or three times what you would get selling them back to the university bookstore.

Keep in mind: You can also sell fiction, DVDs and video games if you want – but Half is specifically designed with books in mind.

Freecycle for Valueless Junk
Sometimes you have items that are usefu,l but essentially worthless. There’s no sense in setting up a website listing for an item that will only sell for $1. Yet the item still functions and still has value, so you don’t want to throw it away. While you could donate the item to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, you can also post on Freecycle. You might even see something you want.

Keep in mind: Freecycle is a community based around item trading and free recycling.

Threadflip for Clothing
While you can sell clothing just about anywhere, Threadflip is a site designed specifically for second-hand clothing. Browse the site to see the kind of items they sell, and post your old items. It beats trying to move a bunch of clothing you’ll never wear.

Keep in mind: Second-hand doesn’t mean old torn jeans or your faded tee shirts – they mean gently used dresses, jackets, shoes etc.

Gazelle and NextWorth for Electronics
When you’ve decided to bid adieu to your old Nokia cell phone, Playstation 1 console, or old laptop, check out Gazelle.com or NextWorth.com to cash in on old devices.

Keep in mind: Not only will you get money for electronics you’re not using, by not throwing them away you’re doing your part to keep e-waste out of the environment.

The Anything Alternative: Amazon
You can become an Amazon vendor and sell virtually anything. Amazon is a trusted retailer, and it doesn’t cost you a cent to list an item.

Keep in mind: You only pay fees when you actually sell the item, so remember that when setting your prices.

Alexander Caffrey is a guest contributor to Billy.com’s blog and freelance writer with a focus on technology and new media. Admittedly, the majority of his furnishings have come from Craigslist. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, but you can reach Alex via his email.

The opinions and views expressed at or through this website are the opinions of the designated authors and do not reflect the opinions or views of Billy.com, it’s employees, associates or the opinions or views of any other individual.

Another 7 Free Summer Activities for Kids

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Free summer activitiesLast year I wrote about summer freebies that were designed to keep your children entertained without breaking the bank.  And while many of those activities are available again this year, I thought it wise to consider 7 new free summer activities for kids, to spice things up a bit.  Below are some ideas that I had – if you have others, I’d be happy to hear them!

  • Scavenger hunt – Look at a map of your neighborhood or a nearby area, and consider what interesting things you can find with your children.  Make a list, then set out by car or foot to find them.  Depending on the ages of your children, you can include landmarks, interesting people, animals or signage.  Assign point values to each item depending on how hard it is to find, and designate a winner based on whichever child finds the most items on the list first.
  • Volunteer – This activity may not be appropriate for children under age 5, but most children can appreciate the beauty (and excitement) of volunteering from a relatively young age.  Choose one organization to volunteer with and commit to going one day or afternoon each week during the summer, or create a list of interesting places to volunteer, and head to a new one each week.  Some kid-friendly options include soup kitchens, public parks that can benefit from little collection, or organizing a bake sale to benefit their favorite charity (or yours).
  • Write and record a short skit – Most children love to be creative, and to have your undivided attention.  Why not let them create a short play and have you record it to send to the grandparents (or other loved ones)?  This is an excellent free summer activity because it encourages your children’s creativity and creates memories that they can take with them.  Don’t be afraid to let the preparations and ‘rehearsals’ take more than one day.  Let your kids plan it out over the course of days or weeks.  Who knows how long it can keep them busy?
  • Go for a hike – There are many beautiful state parks that offer free admission and easy hiking trails.  Why not encourage your children to get moving while enjoying all the beauty that your state has to offer?
  • Host a sleepover – Warning: there’s a high likelihood that letting your child host a sleepover will cause extreme fatigue and possibly crankiness the day afterwards.  However, if you plan to have a relaxed day after the sleepover, your child likely won’t mind, and you can enjoy a day without serious programming.  There’s also excitement before the sleepover, so you can plan a low-key day the day before as well.
  • Teach your children to cook – Most parents don’t have time to teach their children how to cook during the school year because time is short and the work is long.  But one of the most practical free summer activities is teaching your children how to cook.  Show them how to measure fractions of liquids and solids, how to separate eggs, and of course, how to clean up.  You may be surprised at how eager your children are to make dinner in the following days!
  • Get wet – If you have a backyard, why not turn on the sprinkler and let the kids water your lawn – and themselves?  One of my favorite activities as a kid was a “Slip n’ Slide”, a plastic strip attached to a hose that allowed you to slide across the yard without getting grass stains.  Alternatively, let your children have a water-balloon fight or play some water-based relay races.  There is a plethora of things to do with water on a hot summer day.

4 Necessary Expenses Learned from Japan’s Earthquake

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In the financial world, analysts are abuzz with forecasts about how Japan’s devastating earthquake will affect the Emergency Preparationmarkets, both tomorrow and in the long-term.  But when it comes to bloggers who write about family finances, I’ve found none who have broached the issue.  Isn’t there something that we can learn from the earthquake in Japan that we can translate into our own lives?  I’d like to suggest that there is – and that it’s worth mulling over these lessons from the Japanese earthquake so that we can better prepare our own home and finances for the event of an unforeseen emergency.

Reconsider earthquake insurance (or at least keep your house up to code).   Most people think that unless they live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, they don’t need coverage.  However, this may not be entirely accurate.  The whole point of having insurance is that it offers a financial net ‘just in case’ something disastrous happens.  In other words, even if you don’t expect to have an earthquake, you may want to cover yourself anyway.  Chances are, if you live in a low-risk area, you can find earthquake insurance for around $1000/year (possibly less).  If you really don’t want to spend this money, make sure to check that your home meets all current building codes, so that in the event of a catastrophe, your damage will be limited.

Stock up on food and water.  There are a million excuses as to why most of us aren’t prepared for an emergency.  There’s no room in the pantry, buying water is a waste of money, or we live in a low-risk zone, to name a few.  But I’d like to suggest that spending a few dollars to make sure that your family will be better off in the case of an emergency is money well-spent.  If you don’t use the supplies within 6 months, make an effort to use them and to replace with fresh supplies, so that you’ll always have what you need when it.

Invest in an emergency-preparedness kit.  If you enjoy saving money, chances are that you’re hoarding it for a ‘rainy day’.  But if there’s one thing that we can learn from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, it’s that once it starts raining, it’s too late to purchase what you’ll need.  So, take some of your hard-earned funds, and invest them in an emergency-preparedness kit.  Not sure what should be in it?  You can find dozens of lists online, and you should choose the one that makes you feel the most comfortable.  Some critical elements – whistles, garbage bags, first aid supplies and a can opener.

Purchase a fire and waterproof box.  It’s important to keep your most important documents safe during an earthquake, flood or any other national emergency.  Not only can having your important information help you during the event, it can make your life easier afterwards.  For around $50 you can purchase a waterproof, fireproof box that will store your documents as safely as possible.  If you’re extremely nervous, you can also scan in your most critical documents and store them in a cloud storage solution.  However, protecting the originals is a safer strategy an investment of this type can truly pay off in the long run.

Birthday Gifts Under $25 for Men

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Following last week’s post about affordable birthday gifts for women, I’d like to give men the same attention.  After all, despite what you may think, sports gear isn’t an ideal gift for every man.  So, without further ado, here are 10 creativeMen's birthday gifts birthday gifts for men that cost under $25.

  • A Blog – I’ve only seen this done once, but let me tell you – it was a gift that was talked about between friends internationally because of its creativity and the publicity of the gift. If you have a friend that has always wanted to start a blog but hasn’t actually done it, registering their desired domain can be the gift of a lifetime.  And, assuming that the man in your life is seeking a relatively normal domain name, it’ll cost way less than $25 (at least for the first month).
  • Personalized Boxers – You may only think of boxers as underwear, but you should be thinking of them as a great gift! Personalized gifts are always appreciated, and personalized boxers are significantly more creative than a boring personalized t-shirt.  In fact, some might even say they’re both practical and adorable.
  • Personalized Shot Glass – While we’re talking about personalized gifts, personalized shot glasses are an uncommon but extremely popular gift, especially for men who enjoy drinking – or those who like to pretend that they enjoy drinking.
  • Camping Gear (and a camping trip) – There’s plenty of camping equipment that you can buy your man for under $25, including flashlights, folding stoves storage containers.  Give your man a night or two out with the guys (while you stay home to watch a movie with some friends), and you’ll be his favorite person for weeks to come.
  • Magazine Subscription – I suggested this as a great gift for women, but it’s ideal for men as well (as long as he didn’t already get it for you!).
  • Insulated Travel Mug – It doesn’t matter whether your man travels regularly – having his own insulated travel mug will ensure that his coffee stays warm between Starbucks and the office (and that it won’t spill all over him).  Some gourmet coffee shops even offer discounts (or larger servings) for customers who bring their own mugs, so this birthday gift may be one that really pays off.
  • Gourmet Chocolate – You probably think that expensive chocolate is akin to an overpriced Hershey bar, but you’ll likely be surprised at just how much more decadent it can be.  For $25 you may not be able to get much, but you’ll surely be able to find a generous serving for one or two.  Your birthday boy will be impressed that you shelled out money for something delicious and fattening.  Who says you always need to nag him about his weight?
  • Barbecue Tools – He’ll get to feel like the king of the grill, and you’ll get him to make you dinner.  Sounds like a great idea to me!
  • Regular Tools – It doesn’t really matter if your partner is handy with tools.  If you give him some tools, he’ll think you appreciate his talents, and he’ll appreciate you even more.
  • Video Game Accessories – If you have a video game console which isn’t yet outfitted in its entirety, additional accessories can make a great birthday gift.  Just make sure that you won’t mind when your partner is too busy playing to finish his chores…

Creative Women’s Birthday Gift Ideas for Under $25

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my birthday was on its way…and since its arrival is eminent, I figured I’d continue in the birthday theme, by writing about brilliant birthday gift ideas.  However, since men tend to have a harder time finding gifts than women do, I figured it’d be wise of me to start by suggesting some creative birthday gifts for women.  If you’re a woman who is seldom gifted, I suggest you ‘like’ this post so that your partner sees it and takes the hint.  And if you’re a man, I strongly recommend considering one of the gifts below.  Take it from me, you’ll be happy you did.

Birthday Gift Ideas

  • Fashion Watch – The woman in your life might already have a watch, but if she’s into fashion, chances are high that she’ll enjoy another one to make a different fashion statement.  Even better – she’ll remember you every time she checks the time.
  • Coffee Cup Warmer – As someone who absolutely hates lukewarm coffee, I can imagine that this would make a great gift for anyone who feels the same.  I’m suggesting this coffee cup warmer as a gift for women, but believe me, it would be great for any man too!
  • Photo Book – As birthday gift ideas go, this one is among the easiest to mess up, because men often miss the point (no offense).  A birthday photo book isn’t a celebration of last summer’s family vacation – it’s a celebration of the recipient’s life.  Ask the birthday girl’s family to contribute pictures from the past, and your woman will be inspired by the gift and by your efforts.
  • Mani/Pedi (or Just the Pedi) – A pedicure is a welcome gift for nearly any woman, especially if she has kids and you offer to watch them while she gets pampered.
  • Picture on Canvas – This gift will not only give you’re her home or office wall a lift, but it’ll warm her heart as well (sigh…but it’s true).
  • Movie Night with a Friend – Offer to babysit while you send your woman to the movies with the friend of her choice.  You’ll get to escape her preferred ‘chick flick’, and enjoy a night with the guys once the kids go to sleep.
  • Purse Holder – I don’t carry a purse, but I think that these inventions are truly ingenious.  Purse holders clip to the table so that women needn’t put their purses on the floor.  And best of all, they start at around $13!
  • Costume Jewelry – Any fashionista will appreciate another piece of stylish jewelry, and you can find some really nice ones for under $25 if you know where to look (hint, not at the flea market).  Browse through Overstock.com’s ample selection, or consider this chunky glass bracelet from Ice.com.
  • Gift Certificate – It may sound trite, but if your birthday girl is a bit of a careful spender (as some other people I know are!), she’ll really appreciate the ability to spend money freely, without worrying about her budget.  A gift certificate to the local mall, to her favorite department store or even to Starbucks can really allow her to cut loose (while you take all the credit).
  • Magazine Subscription – Most women find it hard to find time to read, but if the magazine arrives monthly, there’s no question they’ll make time to relax.  Magazine subscriptions are extremely affordable and they allow your birthday gift to ‘keep on giving’ all year long.
  • What’s the best inexpensive birthday gift you’ve ever given?

And, We Have Another Winner!

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

blog_giftEach week I give away a great prize to one of my lucky Facebook fans.  So far I’ve given away iPod Nanos, Canon digital cameras, and $100 Amazon gift certificates?  Next week I’ll be giving away a new prize – spread the word, all of my fans are entered automatically!

Congratulations to this week’s winner, Alexandru Vasilcenco!

5 Ways to Avoid Overspending on Almost Anything

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

As I mentioned last week, it’s pretty easy to waste money (with or without realizing it) by purchasing things that you don’t really need.  But as I was thinking about it, I realized that overspending is a habit that is just as dangerous as wasting money.  The difference between overspending and wasting money is that overspending means paying more for something that you’d be purchasing anyway, while wasting money also includes spending money on things that are generally unnecessary (even though they are often very nice).  And so, I thought for a while about how we can avoid overspending and I’ve come up with the following suggestions for how we can end this destructive habit.

  1. Always look for stores that will beat the price of their competitors or at the very least, offer a price-match guarantee.  I’ve recently discovered that many stores actually do honor price match requests, even though they may not advertise this service.  Here are some stores that will beat out their competitors (or, at the very least, match the price):
  2. save-on-brandsBed Bath & Beyond

    Best Buy

    Diapers.com

    Home Depot

    Kitchen Cabinet
    Hardware

    OfficeMax

    Sears

    Stop & Shop

    Staples

    Walmart

    Some stores also offer price adjustments if the item you bought goes on sale within 7-14 days.  Keep an eye on prices to see if you’re eligible for a refund at these great stores:

    Banana Republic

    GAP

    Gymboree (within 7 days)

    Hollister

    J Crew (within 7 days)

    Kohls

    Old Navy

    Target (within 7 days)

  3. Look for coupons, discounts or deals.  I know I say this often, but the best way to get a bargain is to actively look for it.  One easy way to find a deal on almost any item is to Google it.  Chances are you’ll find deals on nearly everything you’re looking to purchase.
  4. Wait for sales.  Unless your desired item is price-fixed, chances are good that it will go on sale at some time in the next few weeks or months.  Enjoy extra discounts if you can double up coupons on the sale price.
  5. Buy a knockoff.  I hate to say it, but having a name-brand doesn’t mean much these days.  Purchasing an expensive designer or branded item will lead to overspending, when you can get a great look and decent quality with a good knockoff.  The best part about buying a knockoff is that you can afford to replace it when the trends change.  The same theory holds true for electronics, by the way – you may not want to buy the cheapest MP3 player, but there are several options that can provide years of reliable service, even if they don’t have a little apple on the back.
  6. Reduce membership fees.  Do you have a gold membership to the gym or a gold credit card that is costing you money each month?  Why not stop overspending by giving up expenses that aren’t really critical.  If you’re not taking advantage of that extra spa time or aren’t hitting your credit limit, you don’t really need these expensive upgrades, and changing to standard memberships can prevent you from overspending on a regular basis.

How to Buy Inexpensive Wedding Flowers (That are Still Beautiful)

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Ask any wedding planner and she’ll tell you that the average couple spends 7-10% of their wedding budget on the wedding flowers. The Bridal Association of America estimates this amount to be somewhere between $700 and $2000, which is, needless to say, no small sum. But, like most wedding-related expenses, the wedding flowers don’t last much longer than the ceremony itself. And so, many brides looking to scale down their wedding costs look for inexpensive wedding flowers that will look beautiful without costing a fortune. Fortunately, with a bit of creativity and effort, it is possible to buy wedding flowers that fit these criteria. And while the wedding guests may not noticed that the couple saved money by purchasing more affordable wedding flowers, the new couple will appreciate having a few extra dollars in their new bank account.

wedding-flowersOne of the most obvious ways to save money when you buy wedding flowers is to purchase less. And, while you can technically reduce the number of flowers in each arrangement, you can also eliminate the need for larger arrangements by planning your wedding in a venue that has natural greenery or other built-in decorations. Of course, even if you manage to save money in this way, you can save even more by purchasing inexpensive wedding flowers.

Start by considering which flowers are in season during the month of your wedding. If, for example, you’re planning a winter wedding, you can choose from holly, hypericum berries, daffodils and jasmine. For a summer wedding you may want to consider hydrangeas, lilies or snapdragons. There are also classic wedding flowers that are available year round, such as roses, baby’s breath and alstroemeria. Avoid expensive flowers such as birds of paradise that cost several dollars per stem.  While a florist can advise you as to which flowers may provide the most affordable options for your wedding, you can also do your own legwork by researching flowers online- and even purchasing wholesale wedding flowers directly from a flower importer in your area or from a reputable website. Enlist friends or bridesmaids to help you assemble the flowers into bouquets or arrangements so that you can spare the expense of paying a professional to do it for you.

Finally, if you’re looking for truly inexpensive wedding flowers, consider putting a full bouquet on half of the tables (or, possibly no tables) and decorating the other remaining tables with rose petals and tea lights. This romantic centerpiece idea can create a wonderful ambiance for your wedding and cost only a few dollars per table. Alternatively, consider using bud vases with a single long-stemmed flower for a surprisingly sophisticated look.

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to buy wedding flowers that look great without costing a fortune. There’s really no reason to overpay for oversized floral arrangements that will be discarded within days of the event. Why not save the money for a rainy day or apply it to your honeymoon? Just as nobody will be able to guess how much you spent on your wedding dress, your guests will never know that you opted for inexpensive wedding flowers- but you’ll be happy with all that extra money!

And, We Have a Winner!

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Congratulations to Ariella Sonnenblick from Long Island on winning a free 8gb iPod…who will be the big winner next week?  Become my fan on Facebook and it could be you!

The results are in!

The results are in!

8 Ways to Save on Heating Costs

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

save-on-heatingMany days, it feels like this winter has been one of the coldest winters in recent history.  With low temperatures and a wind chill that makes it feel even colder, even I’ve been forced to cover up my dress shirt for something a bit warmer (like, say, my trusty fleece sweatshirt and my new, super-cheap Old Navy fleece hat).  And, while warm clothing is always nice, heating is perhaps even more important.  But is there such a thing as affordable heating?  And is there a way to save on heating so that staying warm doesn’t have a high price tag or induce feelings of guilt?  I’d like to propose 8 ways to save on heating expenses so that you can enjoy the winter guilt-free.

  1. Seal drafty windows and doors which may let in cold air. Sealing the cracks or replacing windows with those that aren’t drafty can save money on heating by requiring less heat to keep the house warm.
  2. Lower the heat when it’s not being used. Running the heat on full power when nobody is entirely unnecessary and is a significant waste of money. You can instantly save on heating by lowering the temperature during the day or other times when nobody is home.
  3. Reduce the temperature during the night. When you’re snuggled under your covers at night, you don’t need the heat on high. Program your thermostat to reduce the temperature at night so that you won’t pay more for heat you don’t really need.
  4. Keep your heating system up to date. It may expensive to have your heat maintained regularly, but keeping it in tip-top shape is a way to make sure that you don’t overpay on heating expenses.
  5. Turn off the heat in rooms that aren’t used. Don’t use your guest room? Don’t be afraid to keep the heat off.
  6. Ask for help. Most often, local utility companies are happy to offer advice to consumers about how to implement an affordable heating plan. Utility companies may even send a representative over to help make specific suggestions about how to improve your heating system’s efficiency.
  7. Dust or vacuum radiators regularly. Believe it or not, dusty radiators hinder the circulation of warm air- clean them off for optimal heat.
  8. Keep closet doors closed when not in use. Why spend money heating your walk-in closet? Keep the door closed and you’ll save on heating just by not heating unnecessary spaces.