Lessons from a Yard Sale

Things are finally warming up out there and yard sales are springing up like tulips. I just had my moving sale this past week. Since I’m not only moving house, towns, states, and countries, I really needed everything to go. This was no time to be sentimentally attached. Almost everything did go! In fact, the whole day was gloriously sunny, easy, and fun. I learned some things from this, my fifth or sixth yard sale, so I decided to share:

1. Enlist the kind assistance of a friend.

I had the support of the world’s best friend. I couldn’t have done it without him. There were way too many people, and they, of course, always arrived in pods. Plus, Marty kept reminding me that I wanted stuff gone at the end of the day. It helped me detach when offers were less than what I’d hoped. And that made me overall more successful in the end. Of course, the laughing helped.

2. Do it in one day.

The night before the sale, looking at my living room of “stuff”, I was actually leery of whether or not I’d be able to sell much in only one day, but thankfully, one day was all I needed. I made sure my signs and listings online said “one day only”. Thank God I still has my Sunday to myself!

3. Don’t pay the newspaper to advertise what you can advertise online for free.

My local newspaper quoted me $35 to list an ad. They only offered one package. All I wanted was a couple of lines running the day before the sale. Nope. Not possible. Good. I didn’t need them anyway! Instead, I created an event page on Facebook, shared the event on local yard sale group pages, used a yahoo group list I subscribe to, and posted on several free online sites like Yardsale.net. I had great results. And of course, two days before the sale, I put out a sign at the end of my block off the main road which screamed “One Day Only Moving Sale” with all the details in neon yellow and black. That was sufficient.

4. Don’t bother pricing anything.

Since I’ve been showing my house and having to keep it very clean and neat, I waited until the night before the sale to start pulling everything out of closets (though I knew what I was going to sell weeks ago). I was feeling very overwhelmed that I hadn’t really priced anything, let alone sorted it all out. I started to do what I could, first organizing items into categories and then pricing the bigger items. I just got so tired, I stopped. Something was telling me, not just my exhausted self, not to worry about it. So I didn’t.

Not having prices on stuff was awesome. I didn’t waste my time labeling, and instead of thinking up prices, I had people make offers. Oh, what ease! For me anyway. I did know what I wanted for certain items, but all the little stuff, heck, I just wanted it gone. People were fair in their offers, too. Some shoppers didn’t like that, and yet, no one shied away from doing so. 90% of the time, their offer was accepted, and whoosh went all my stuff.

5. Have a box of free stuff available.

I highly, highly recommend this. I had a small box of things that people could take for free. I kept refilling it with inexpensive items throughout the day. People loved that box, man! And maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed like once they took something from the free box, they were more willing to look around and spend. And if I raised their offer, they didn’t haggle me down. It was also a great way to make sure all those “little” things were gone by the end of the day.

6. Start early on social media and wrap up on social media.

I actually started my sale back in March with a virtual event on Facebook and a page here on this blog, so it wasn’t an overnight success by any means. I’d been putting energy into this for weeks. I took pictures of everything and kept a list with prices for people to peruse. I sold a few items early on, but most of my stuff went at the yard sale.

At the end of my one day sale, I still had a few items left, but now I could manage selling them item by item on Facebook and Craigslist. By the end of following day, Sunday, I only had a loveseat, a desktop computer, and a box of mostly linens and hangers (because I forgot to put out the rest of my hangers the day of the sale) left. Pretty darn good!

What are your best yard sale tips?


Learning French III: More Great Resources

As I continue my language lessons, I have discovered two fantastic Youtube resources to learning the French language. I wanted to share them with you:

The first is a series of French lessons created by Vincent of Imagiers. I find his teaching style delightful, straight-forward, and logical. It’s suitable for beginners to advanced. I’ve been working through the first 4 units, and so many questions I didn’t even know I had are being answered. He’s helping me push myself, and I really needed that in a way that worked for me.

The other channel I have fallen in love with is Comptines et Chansons. This is a site of children’s songs so beautifully done that I’m finding them delightful to my inner child without being insulting to my adult self. The songs are beautifully sung, the instrumentation is not overly absurd, and lyrics are provided. The tunes are so catchy that I find myself singing them throughout the day and even craving them. Of course, I have a natural predilection toward music and singing. A couple of my favorite tunes here include Lundi Matin, Mon Ane, and Il Pleut Il Pleut Bergere. There are tons, though, and I’m just getting started.

I hope you find these inspirational and helpful as I do.

Helpful Quick Bits: To File Jointly or Not?

Ah, the joys of a new international marriage and figuring out what to do about our taxes. It’s complicated! Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • As a nonresident alien, Stuart does not have to report any income to the IRS. That’s good.
  • Because Stuart and I were married this year, I’ll have to file “married filing separately”, and that means higher taxes. In fact, I’ll lose what would have been a very nice refund. That’s bad.
  • However, we have the option to elect to have Stuart treated as a resident alien for tax purposes and file jointly. That’s good.
  • But if we do that, Stuart will be taxed on his worldwide income until such time as we rescind “the choice” as it is called. And that choice can only be made once in a lifetime. Now might now be the time. That’s bad.
  • That’s because, right now, we’ve decided to settle in France, meaning there’s really no reason to drag Stuart into the US tax system. That’s good.
  • But apparently, I’ll still need to file US Income Tax as well as the infamous FBAR on all bank accounts, even those I share with Stuart. That sucks.
  • And once I establish myself and my microentreprise in France, I’ll have to file taxes in France and the US. That really sucks.
  • Fortunately, there are things like tax treaties, foreign earned income credit, and foreign tax credit. That’s good.
  • And thank God there are financial planners and accountants who specialize in the confusing, complicated web of expat taxation. That’s even better!

(Well…I am TRYING to end on a positive note.)

Helpful Quick Bits: International Mail Forwarding

“Welcome those big, sticky, complicated problems. In them are your most powerful opportunities.”
Ralph Marston

Moving overseas is a very powerful opportunity! It’s full of complicated logistics, one of these being mail. A change of address can be complicated enough when it is in one’s own nation. While the post office makes it simple to fill out a change of address form, one must follow up by notifying all the businesses, governments, professionals, family and friends of one’s new address. It can take time, and it is easy to forget some of the people who ought to be notified.

The challenge in moving overseas is that the post office only forwards in the US. Enter the independent enterprise of international mail forwarding, the expat’s friend.

There are several intermediary companies out there that will provide a person with a US address to which all her mail can be forwarded via US mail. They then ship that mail to the recipient overseas. Brilliant! The companies I’ve looked into have very cool features where you can see what’s in your mailbox online when it arrives; some will also open and scan your mail so you can read it right away. They even have discard services for junk mail. And, it seems, I can shop for my favorite US items, have them shipped by, say Amazon, to my mail forwarding service, who would then combine all my packages together and send them overseas, saving me extra postage costs (that is, assuming the company I was buying from even would have shipped internationally to begin with). So, I can still get all my favorite products I can’t live without in France! It will also be an awesome service to have until Stuart and I know where, exactly, we will be staying long-term because all I need do is change my forwarding address with one company!

Here’s another beautiful thing. Some of the companies I’ve looked at offer Florida addresses. Now, for those of you who remember my post about driving overseas and my need to establish residency in Florida, this is very good news.  All I need is a subscription to one of the services I’ve been investigating, and I can have any mail I want to receive through them sent to my new Florida address right away. So when it is time to get my Florida driver’s license, I’ll have the two pieces of “official” mail required to prove residency even before I arrive. (There are other requirements, should this pertain to you).

Smooth move!

Right now, though, I’m looking at MyUS.com in Sarasota, MyRVmail.com in Crestview, and St. Brendan’s Isle, all in Flordia, and learning a few things about what to look for. Do readers have experiences with either of these or other companies they would like to share?

Helpful Quick Bits: Early Passport Renewal

My US passport isn’t expiring for a couple of years, but I’ve decided to renew it anyway. Here’s why:

As a non-EU spouse of a UK citizen living in France, I will be applying for an EU Family Permit and residency card in the UK to not only be able to visit the UK, but perhaps if we decide to settle there at a later time. This permit may take the form of a sticker or “vignette” in my passport. Were my passport to expire soon, I would then have to reapply and get my sticker restored in my new passport. So, why not start with a new passport that will outlive my need my permits?

…besides which, several countries require a passport be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry in that country. Better safe than scrambling!