Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Highlights

I have had a great sales month - finally! I had a good mix of high and low dollar sales, quick and slow sales, old and new inventory. December kept me on my toes. And we didn't have to put a single penny of our Christmas on a credit card! Hooray!! Thank you, buyers!!

Here are some of my favorite sales from the past couple weeks...

These were my husband's from his grandfather. He has had a huge bag of them in his closet for as long as I have known them. He finally asked me to sell them. I listed them in 12 lots of 3 and one leftover lot of 2. I am surprised at how quickly they have been selling. I only listed them a little under a month ago and am down to just 5 or 6 lots already.
  • Acquired: Years and years ago (inherited)
  • Price Paid: $0
  • Date Listed: 12/4/12
  • Date Sold: various
  • Sale Price: $12.99 free shipping per lot ($2.48 shipping)\

 This sale makes me laugh. This was an incomplete K'Nex set. Complete, this particular set was only selling for about $5. I split them up by color and called it "Miscellaneous Bulk Lot" and sold it for $17.99. Ha!
  • Acquired: A couple years ago at Goodwill for my son who never played with it
  • Price Paid: 50 cents I think?
  • Date Listed: 10/25/12
  • Date Sold: 12/23/12
  • Sale Price: $17.99 - 4.99 shipping
I've been having pretty good luck with Lia Sophia necklaces. The ones I have listed so far have sold in just a week or so after listing them.
  • Acquired: 12/12/12 (Facebook yard sale site)
  • Price Paid: $5
  • Date Listed: 12/13/12
  • Date Sold: 12/22/12
  • Sale Price: $21.59 - $1.64 shipping

I've sold several of these black and white silent film reels for a friend of mine. This one sold the highest. I couldn't find this title anywhere, so I priced it high and hoped for the best, never dreaming it would actually sell for that much.

  • Acquired: n/a - consignment item
  • Price Paid: n/a - consignment item
  • Date Listed: 12/12/12
  • Date Sold: 12/24/12
  • Sale Price: $35.99 + shipping

I've never had luck selling these stupid things. I finally managed to dump a couple earlier this month for $10 each, but I left the uglier ones priced a little higher. This one finally sold last night, AFTER Christmas!
  • Acquired: 1/12/2012 - Goodwill
  • Price Paid: $3.99
  • Date Listed: ?? January 2012, probably
  • Date Sold: 12/28/12
  • Sale Price: $39.99 - $4.99 shipping
This is another consignment item that I'm pretty sure I underpriced. It sold within 10 hours of listing it. But the seller was pleased with the price, so I won't dwell on it.
  • Acquired: n/a - consignment item
  • Price Paid: n/a - consignment item
  • Date Listed: 12/12/12
  • Date Sold: 12/13/12
  • Sale Price: $39.99 + shipping

This Kirsten doll has become the bane of my existence. Good riddance to her, I say! You might recall that I bought a large AG lot for a song at a yard sale this past spring. I fully expected Kirsten to be among the first couple items to sell, yet here she still is, 8 months later, the LAST AG item I have. Ugh. I've had her priced all over the map - even tried auctioning her in early December. I've had her on my FB yard sale group, best offer, no best offer, on sale, full price, high price, low price. I just could NOT figure out why she wouldn't sell. I retook the pictures and changed the title around and relisted her using "Sell Similar" and immediately started getting inquiries, watchers, and offers. So apparently she just got buried so far down in search results that no one was finding her. Within just a couple days, I had gotten 3 or 4 offers, but not for the price I wanted. Originally I had been hoping for $100 + shipping, but I finally realized the higher-selling ones were made in Germany. Mine was made in China :(  So I finally settled for $65 + shipping. Ugh.
  • Acquired: 4/6/12 (yard sale)
  • Price Paid: $10
  • Date Listed: April 2012
  • Date Sold: 12/26/12
  • Sale Price: $65.00 + shipping
So here is my final American Girl tally:
You can probably click on that to view it bigger.
  • Total Paid: $31.00
  • Total Sales: $718.25!
Apparently Furbies are back. I found this one at an indoor flea market in November. This particular color combination seem to be hard to find, so I priced it high. I listed it quickly, hoping it would sell for a Christmas gift, and it did!
  • Acquired: 11/18/12 (indoor flea market)
  • Price Paid: $8.00
  • Date Listed: 11/21/12
  • Date Sold: 12/17/12
  • Sale Price: $69.99 + shipping

This last one was another consignment item. It was my highest-ever sale and it wasn't even my item :(   This is quite possibly the coolest chess set I've ever seen. The king was 8" tall and weighed 1.5 pounds! Each pawn was 6" tall and weighed 1/2 pound. This set is HUGE! And HEAVY! Most of these sets were only selling for around $40-80, but my friend wasn't in a big hurry, so I priced it high, prepared to wait. I got an offer that wasn't too far below my asking price, so I jumped on it!
  • Acquired: n/a - consignment item
  • Price Paid: n/a - consignment item
  • Date Listed: 12/2/12
  • Date Sold: 12/21/12
  • Sale Price: $225.00 + shipping!
I'm looking forward to getting back into shopping, listing, and blogging. I've gotten a little lazy with all of those things over the last few weeks. It was good to take a break, but now I'm ready!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Catch-Up Edition

Phew! Merry Christmas, everyone!  We had a good day of RACK catch-up the other day, but then the busy-ness of Christmas hit and left no time for blogging.  I have an unpleasant call to make to the USPS, so I'll be brief...

My oldest daughter (12) and I went to get our haircuts on Monday. I told the owner that I wanted to add on to my check for the next person who got a regular haircut. She rang me up, I paid, and then she pulled me into the back room. She said, "This could not have come at a more perfect time! The woman who just walked in the door called me this morning to tell me her husband had been laid off for awhile, and she really needed her hair cut, but she just didn't have the money right now. So that will go straight to her. Thank you so much!" She teared up, I teared up and got goosebumps. Often, I can't choose who these RACKs will go to, nor do I really want to choose who, but it's really nice to know that this one went to someone who would really appreciate it!

Then we headed to Walmart, which is right next to the laundromat. I still had a partial roll of quarters in my purse, so I thought I would go into the laundromat and put 50 cents on some dryers. I took $5 in and planned to hit 10 different dryers. Apparently I haven't been in a laundromat in a really long time. The first machine I came to cost $6.50. The next one cost $4.50. Finally, in the back, I found a row of small dryers that was "only" $2.50. I was just going to leave the quarters on top of 2 machines and leave, but there was a man bent over trying to get all his clothes into 2 dryers, so I figured, "What the heck - I'll just hand them directly to him." I walked over to him and held out the quarters just as he stood up and turned toward me. And it was someone I knew! Rats! I like being anonymous about these things, but I could hardly withdraw my offer. He didn't let on that he recognized me, so maybe he didn't, but he is from a pretty wealthy family, so I am pretty sure he didn't need the $5. But! Maybe he needed the kindness. Maybe he had had a bad morning and just needed a little cheer. Acts of kindness don't always have to be financial. Sometimes people just need to experience some niceness.

Lastly, my daughter dumped the last of the quarters into the claw machines in the Walmart lobby. Nothing special there, but maybe someone was able to score a last-minute stocking stuffer :)


So what have I learned? Well, I've learned that even though the desire and the money are there, sometimes the opportunity isn't. Sometimes it is inconvenient to be kind (making extra stops on the way home to do something, for example). But it is ALWAYS important to find a way to be nice to people when we get the chance. Heading into the new year, I won't be continuing this project on a daily basis, but I have picked up the mentality of watching for opportunities to do nice things. That may just mean holding the door for someone, or taking someone's cart back to the store from the parking lot. It doesn't have to be anything monumental. Although something that isn't monumental to me might be HUGE to someone who needed that smile, or who had been having a bad day, or whose husband had been laid off and they were wondering how they were going to be able to afford their bread and milk. Just remember, things that we take for granted may be cherished by other people. We need to try to find ways to share a little cheer with others all year long.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Days 19 and 20

I'm in the process of playing catch-up. I actually had several opportunities presented to me today and I was able to easily do two of them.

I stopped in at the eye doctor's office to pick up my husband's glasses. While I was waiting for them, I spotted a box on the counter for donations to help provide eye exams and glasses to people in third-world countries. I dropped in all the cash I had in my wallet (not much, but enough to "provide an eye exam and glasses").

Then I went to the grocery store to pick up some last-minute ingredients for Christmas dinner. While I was there, I grabbed a gift card for that grocery store, put $20 on it, and left it with the cashier to give to the next person in line. I'm under-budget on this project, so I wanted to make that one a little more significant. Hopefully it helped someone buy part of a nice Christmas dinner. :)

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - ???

Y'all. This is hard! I am a stay-at-home mom. It is getting harder and harder to come up with RACKs to do from home. Any suggestions?? I have some catching up to do. I think I've missed 4 days total, and I'd like to make them up. I won't be in town today.

My husband and I decided to forego getting each other Christmas gifts this year and will be donating the money we'd have spent on each other. We haven't decided on a recipient yet, but we are thinking probably the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief through our church's denomination. That will probably be done through our church, so that will be Sunday. We'll be out tomorrow, so we can probably swing through somewhere and do something. And I'll be out on Monday. I need to brainstorm.....

Will post back later today once I've come up with something :D

Monday, December 17, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 17

My 9 year old and I found ourselves in town today with 30 minutes to kill while my 12 year old was at her eye doctor appointment. We ran over to the grocery store to buy some groceries for the local food pantry. We made it a game to find as many good healthy foods that were under $1 each so we could get the most bang for our bucks. Then we ran over to the bank and put it in the food pantry donation box.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 16

I'm still not entirely convinced that any tots will ever see the toy that we think we maybe-might-have donated to Toys 4 Tots the other day.

I'm also a fan of DrawSomething. One of the ads that came across my screen the other day was how to text a donation to Toys 4 Tots. I went to the website provided and I feel pretty comfortable donating via text. I will be the guinea pig :)  I just sent a few dollars. If there are any problems, I'll post back here right away.

**EDIT 2 minutes later: I just got a text back asking me to confirm my donation by replying "YES". I think that amount will be added to my phone bill ...

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 15

I confess, I did this one a day late. I was directed to this news story about an 87-year-old woman who has saved every card she's ever received in the mail throughout her lifetime. She has been saving them to read when she is on her deathbed. She had over 1,000 cards saved up, and she lost them all during Hurricane Sandy.

Her son-in-law is on a mission to replace those cards as soon as possible. Of course, they won't be the same as the ones she has treasured all of these years, but I think it's an amazing gesture. We are sending her a Christmas card in tomorrow's mail.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Random Act of Christmas Kindness - Day 14

I had grocery shopping to do today. I thought I saw food pantry donation boxes at the front of the store the last time I was in there, so I was planning on grabbing a few extra groceries for that, but I must have dreamed that. There was no box. I am told there is a box at my bank, though, so next time I get groceries, I'll buy a few extras and take them to the bank.

That means I had to come up with a plan B on the fly. I'm having a hard enough time coming up with plan A's. I ordered 55 $1 off coupons from my coupon clipper service. They are for Hormel microwave meals, which my husband likes to take to work. I have been stocking up over the last few weeks, because even though he is laid off right now, he will use them when he goes back to work in the spring. Our store has those meals regularly $1 and $1.50, depending on the variety. Obviously, with the $1 off coupon, some of them are free. I had 10 of those coupons with me today so I just stuck them on the shelf with the Hormel meals.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 13

I'm honestly not sure what happened to days 11 and 12. I think they just sort of slipped by unnoticed :(

My sister kept our 4 kids overnight last night and all day today so my husband and I could go Christmas shopping. While we were in Toys 'R Us, I saw a whole row of boxes lined up across the front of the store. They were labelled BABY, TODDLER, BOY, GIRL, etc... Silly me, I assumed they were Toys 4 Tots boxes, even though they weren't marked as such. We decided to buy a small toy for that as our RACK for today. We chose a Rock 'n' Stack.
We added it to our purchases and headed for the check-out. After the cashier scanned it, she put it in our bag. I said, "Oh, that's for those boxes over there."  She looked at the boxes, then at the toy, then back to me and said, "What?" I said, "We bought that to donate to Toys 4 Tots, so it goes in those boxes over there." Again, she looked at me very puzzled. I said, "Aren't those boxes for Toys 4 Tots donations?" She said, "No, those are for customer returns." HA! So she asked the manager if there was a Toys 4 Tots donation box. He said they did have one, but they don't have it anymore, but that "I can take it back to the office for you if you'd like."  Well, we have no use for this particular toy, and we did buy it to donate it, so yes, we would like. We handed it to him, he made a strange face at us, and we said, "um, thanks" and walked away. It was very bizarre.

And I'm not completely convinced that he didn't just go put it back on the shelf to sell again.....

But it's the thought that counts, right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 10

Every Christmas, my husband takes each of the kids (one at a time) for a day of Christmas shopping. They get to choose where they eat and shop. They use their own money to buy Christmas gifts for the rest of the family. On Monday, it was our 9-year-old's turn. I sent a roll of quarters with them and he pumped them into a bunch of kids' vending machines. I thought he would be more excited about that than he was. He did it, but didn't really seem to care. That's the spirit! lol

No picture, because I wasn't there....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 9

We recently started sponsoring a little boy from Armenia. This is brand new to me. I have never been involved in sponsoring a child. When we got our welcome packet and I saw his picture, my heart absolutely melted. I've seen plenty of pictures of impoverished kids in third world countries, and of course I feel for them, but something about this particular little boy really moves me.

Tonight, the kids and I say down and wrote him a letter introducing ourselves. We are so excited to hear back from him!

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 8

I went to bed last night feeling bummed that we didn't get a chance to do a RACK yesterday. I thought back through the day, wondering if there had been an opportunity that we missed. And then I remembered that my sister and her family stopped in for a visit and we sent them home with a container of leftover lasagna and a plate of Christmas cookies. She loves sugar cookies soft and fluffy the way I make them. He prefers them thin and crispy. So while they were here visiting, I made sugar cookies and I made a cookie sheet of thin and crispy ones just for him. He was so pleased he ate almost all of them right there. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 7

Every year, we drive 45 minutes to the town we go to church in. There is an amusement park there that goes all out decorating. And I mean ALL out. They have all sorts of fun things, and usually a game for the kids. A few years ago, the game was to look for and count the hidden lot-up Rudolph's. this year, the game was to find and list all the different lot-up Grinches and list what he was stealing and putting in his sack. Then you fill out an entry form with your answer and contact info and drop it in a box for a drawing.

But that's not the point. I got side tracked. They charge by the carload, so when we paid to get in, we also paid for the car behind us.

It didn't occur to us that, because this is a drive-through event, we wouldn't really be able to get away with doing this anonymously. When we got to the end, we went over to the gift shop and ginormous toy train display and the car behind us followed us to thank us. That is not at all why we did it - we weren't looking for thanks, but we just wished them Merry Christmas and went inside.

Always a fun tradition that the kids look forward to each year :)

Bonus for me - look what I found in the clearance bin in the gift shop! How could I NOT buy it??

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 6

Apparently we aren't allowed to include any inserts in Christmas cards to soldiers, so we are just sending a Christmas card to our soldier.

Our neighbor (my husband's great aunt) is in her 80s and was recently taken to the hospital with bronchitis. She is currently staying with her son until she recovers enough to come back home. We have been gathering her mail each day. Her son just stopped in to pick her mail up, and I sent the kids' colored pictures with him to give to her. She will love them. She is itching to come back home.

This RACK almost feels like we cheated, but coloring pictures for her was on our list anyway, so that still counts, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 5

Today the kids colored Christmas pictures that we will include in a Christmas card addressed to "A Wounded Soldier."

Two days before our first anniversary, my husband was deployed to Kosovo 2 for a year. Fortunately, we didn't miss any Christmases together, but we missed our first anniversary. He missed the birth of our first son. We know all too well the pain of separation caused by a deployment.

Even worse is being back in the States but having to spend the holidays in a hospital recovering from war injuries. Hopefully, these simple colored pages will make a wounded soldier smile.

We will be sending them to:

A Wounded Soldier
Walter Reed Medical Center
Medical Family Assistance Center
6900 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

(Thank you, Anonymous, for pointing out that the Walter Reed address is no longer a good one - current info can be found here)

If you are able, please take a moment and send a card to one of these soldiers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness - Day 4

Yesterday, my husband suggested that I do a RACK for the kids - something they wouldn't expect but that would be a nice surprise. I actually did that today. Tuesdays are very hectic around here, but I swung through McDonald's after gymnastics and surprised them all with McFlurries. We almost NEVER do that, and they were delighted! Yes, it's fun to surprise strangers with RACK's, but it's also fun to surprise those that are closest to us :)

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 3

Yesterday, we kept my sister's baby all day so she and her boyfriend could have a day out Christmas shopping together. My first thought was that that could be our RACK for the day, but they will be doing the same for us next week. It doesn't seem like it should count if the favor is going to be returned.

So while the baby was here, we made a footprint Christmas keepsake for his parents. My sister loved it :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pez Dispensers!

I collected PEZ dispensers through my early adult years. I had a box of nearly 100 of them sitting in my closet for several years. Finally, I decided to sell them. It made me sad selling so many memories, but they were just sitting in my closet, so I decided I would rather have a collector enjoy them and display them. They sold for somewhere around $80, which is less than I had been hoping for, but good enough.

Fast forward to this past October. A girl on my local Facebook yard sale group had her collection for sale. I paid $50 for almost 200 of them. I separated out the Star Trek set and sold it for $14.99. I also separate out the keychains, which I still have listed.  I have gotten several $50 offers for the larger collection of 173 of them. Those offers were obviously from buyers who intended to break it down into smaller lots (or even individual dispensers) and resell them for more. I had NO interest in selling them to a reseller, so I held out for more. Just a few minutes ago, I got an offer from a buyer in Texas for $145! I didn't even hesitate before clicking the "Accept Offer" button. She paid immediately, upgrading to Priority shipping (another $20). I assume they are for a Christmas gift, which makes me smile.

Today has been a really awesome sales day!

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 2

Day 2 - Sunday. I asked the kids if there was anything nice they would like to do for their Sunday School teacher or Sunday School class. The two younger kids (4 and 5) have the same teacher, and the two older kids (9 and 12) have the same teacher.

The younger two chose to make Christmas cards for their teachers. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of them making them. They were plastered with stickers and hearts and smiley faces. And I showed them both how to write the letters in the messages they wanted to write. They were both VERY proud.

The older two chose to take a dozen doughnuts to share with their Sunday school. I suspect this might have been at least partially self-serving, but hey - it's a start. This did mean we had to leave the house 10 minutes early to swing through the grocery store for their fresh bakery doughnuts, but I needed to grab a loaf of bread for lunch anyway, so it was no big deal.

All 4 kids were very excited to delivery their goodies today. I'm excited to see them so excited about sharing!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Goes Around ....

Well. It's only Day 1 and we're already RECEIVING surprise blessings from this project. After buying our Christmas tree and leaving an envelope of money for another family to use toward their tree, we went out to dinner with my parents, my sister, and her family. Much to our surprise, my sister's boyfriend picked up the tab for all of us!

Looks like we aren't the only ones performing random acts of kindness....

Thank you, Don!

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness - Day 1

Every Christmas, my husband helps a friend at his Christmas tree farm. We are going today to get ours. My 9-year-old suggested that we buy someone else's Christmas tree. We are kind of limited to about $10/day for this project, so I don't want to go way over that on day 1. Instead, we will be putting $10 into an envelope with a note and giving it to the tree farm owner to give to a family that he thinks could use it.

Taking a Break For a Christmas Series

The night before last, I opened this month's bill for my daughter's private school. I have been feeling bummed that all of my income lately has been going straight to the school, and I wasn't sure if we would be able to pull of Christmas this year without using credit cards. Imagine my surprise when, instead of owing nearly $300, we actually had a $20 credit for this month!! I examined the invoice and discovered a $210 grant and a $100 anonymous payment. That random act of kindness brought me to tears. It drives me crazy that I can't thank whoever it was, but I was so touched by it and I felt moved to do the same.

A quick Google search of "Random Acts of Kindness" will bring up roughly a gazillion ideas. There is apparently an actual thing called 25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. I have decided to use that $100 anonymous payment and combine it with a check I received in the mail today for some data entry work I did last week. That will be our RACK fund for this project.

I am not blogging about this to toot my own horn or to seek praise. I am blogging about this to spread the excitement of being on the receiving end of such blessings, and to spread the excitement (I hope!) of being on the giving end of such blessings.

I sat the kids down this morning and explained to them what we are doing and why, and I was very surprised by their instant reaction and list of suggestions. We talked about different scenarios and I asked them if they could think of anything kind we could do for people in each of the scenarios. It took the 4 year old a couple minutes to catch on. For example, I told them we would be going out for dinner tonight and asked if they could think of anything kind we could do while we were there, and he said, "We could eat supper!" But he's 4. Once he sees these things starting to happen, he will catch on.

They are very excited to start this, and have been brainstorming ideas. I will post every day with our RACK of the day. Hopefully I'll be able to snap quick photos each day, but I'm sure it won't be possible for some of them.

I found a blank "Random Act of Christmas Kindness" card online that we are going to print a bunch of and write a quick note on to explain to the receiver what we are doing. I don't want anyone throwing away a perfectly good gift card just because they assume it is empty! lol.

So how about you? We are all blessed to have the ability to earn a little extra income on eBay. Can you set aside just a little bit of your sales over the next couple weeks and find a way to bless someone else? Let's see how many RACK's we can perform this month as a group. Please comment here if you perform a RACK, so we have lots of ideas over the next couple weeks.