The Nine Lives of a Housewife

Redefining Home Management

Author Archives: jaime

The Nine Lives of a Housewife

Sometimes I find myself having the same conversation with multiple people in a very short period of time.  Even though these people may have no known connection to one another, I see the connection of common struggles and frustrations.   When these reoccurring conversations or topics arise I feel a nudge to share.  So many women seem to feel that their struggles are only their own, and don’t realize that there are many women around them with the same things weighing them down.


Recently, that common conversation has been around feelings of being a failure as a stay-at-home mom.  This topic breaks my heart, because I am passionate about the important role stay-at-home moms play.  Some of the women I talk to are frustrated because they don’t feel they measure up to the women they see around them, others feel that their marriages are being tested because they just can’t meet their spouse’s expectations, and still others are just too overwhelmed to even figure out what part of the whole picture has them overwhelmed and miserable. 


I so wish I could swoop in, organize their homes with them, and provide them with a checklist of tasks that would make that feeling go away – the feeling that they are in a hole they will never dig their way out of.  But I can’t, I don’t have a magical formula for successfully managing your home, feeling fulfilled or exceeding your spouses expectations.   


What I do have is this…  a set of observations from the many women I have worked with.  Women that have shared their whole reality in completely vulnerable conversations, broken down in tears, and sent countless SOS text messages at moments of crisis.  And what I have discovered through these observations is that being a stay-at-home mom is a complex and undefined role that leaves many women and families struggling to navigate a path that fits their priorities and family dynamics.


We no longer have men that provide and women that stay home to cook, clean and raise the children.  Women (and men) chose to stay home while their spouse works to provide financial security for the family for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes the spouse that stays home has identified their vision and purpose in staying home, but many have not.  Even fewer have effectively communicated this vision with their spouse.  The result is that at best, only one partner in the arrangement has any sense of what reasonable expectations look like.  Any time expectations are ill defined and not communicated, the result is unmet expectations, frustration and wounds that are hard to heal. 


We have so many expectations of ourselves, and then our spouse has expectations of us as well.  All of us are trying to be keep the house in order and be the kind of mother we desire to be.  Then we look around and see all the wonderful things other moms are doing and feel like we aren’t doing nearly enough.  One of our friends is an amazing cook with only the healthiest ingredients, another is super fit and always active with her kids, yet another is constantly doing amazing arts and crafts projects with her kids, and all of them seem to be having way more fun.  It leaves us feeling like we are just not enough, not capable of this SAHM thing, and we want to throw in the towel and “go back to work”.   


Then the thing comes that puts us all over the edge… when our husband comes home and questions what we’ve been doing all day, why the house is such a mess, or why we can’t just get a simple meal on the table consistently.  This moves many women from defeated and frustrated to wounded, sad and even depressed.  We pour our whole hearts into our families and homes, our entire life seems to be within those walls and yet we feel like we are failing in every possible way. 


What has gone so wrong with this SAHM model?  A model that is supposed to bring about good things for our family – that is why we are doing it right!?


The problem is this… our world has so many ideas and expectations of all of us, and we allow those ideas and everything we see on Facebook, Instagram, and every other form of media to cloud our vision.  We begin to think that the purpose and mission of EVERY women in American should be our own, and we should be all of those things to our husband and children, all of the time.  That’s IMPOSSIBLE!


The first step is defining for yourself what YOUR purpose is, and why you want to do this incredibly challenging job of being a SAHM. There are a lot of good reasons.  Here is a long but not exhaustive list of the “nine lives of a housewife”, some of the many reasons women choose the role of SAHM…


1.) Do you want to provide your children with cultural and social opportunities that align with your values?

2.) Do you want to assist your children in developing academic and developmental milestones that will help them become successful and confident in their educational endeavors?

3.) Do you want to promote the health and wellness of your family, providing them with home cooked meals using the most nutrient rich foods and natural remedies possible?

4.) Do you have a child with special needs or elderly parents that require extra time or flexibility to respond in urgent situations?

5.) Does your husband have a career that requires him to travel, work odd hours, or involves you participating in social events on a regular basis?

6.) Are you working towards a personal development goal in fitness, wellness, education or a career path?

7.) Are you passionate about bringing together your neighborhood and community and often host casual or formal gatherings to foster relationships?

8.) Are you actively involved in a volunteer leadership role in your church, child’s school, or another charitable organization that requires a significant amount of time?

9.) Do you desire to be an “old-school” SAHM that takes care of meals, laundry, errands, schedules, and all of the other little tasks that life requires so evenings and weekends can be spent enjoying life as a family?


I can’t find anything wrong with any of the reasons I listed above.  They are all admirable pursuits, and in fact our world needs people that are passionate about every single one of these things.  I’m guessing you know where I am going with this… the problem is that no single woman can possibly be all of these things!  But, have you ever considered that no one woman can really be more than one of these things?  Sure, you can be one of these things and dabble in another, but no one can really BE more than one of these women as a SAHM. 


YOU have to decide why you are called to stay home and pour your heart and soul into your family all the time.  Is it because you want to create opportunities for your kids, maybe you want to serve your community, maybe you have a special needs child or parent that depends on you, or maybe you just want to simplify your family’s life to create more time for “family time”. 


The next questions is this…  Why does YOUR SPOUSE want you to stay home or why does he support your decision to stay home?   Do you know?  Have you ever really talked about it?


Here is where a massive divide occurs in many marriages that breaks my heart on a regular basis.  It is a breakdown in communication and defined expectations. 


If you are staying home because you desire to pour into your kids in their early years before they head off to school and the big world without you, you DO NOT have time to be the mom that keeps the house in order, laundry clean and healthy meals on the table all of the time.  If you take your children to “Mommy and Me” music classes, engage in play and activities that helps them develop fine motor  and early language skills and create social interactions that will prepare them for the social challenges of beginning school… you will be busy ALL DAY LONG!  You will have a busy calendar!  Mix that with the basic everyday tasks we have to do, (like feed our kids lunch, return permission slips, drive the carpool, change diapers, maybe take a shower on occasion…) and time for cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, and meal planning/shopping/cooking does not exist! 


However, what if your husband always wanted a stay-at-home wife because he wants “the simple life”.  What if he envisions a family where you eat dinner together, have time for long walks in the evening, a glass of wine after the kids are in bed…  Or what if he envisions children that are way ahead of their peers academically and developmentally, with a head start on life when they enter the world, and you just want “the simple life”.  What if you both want the simple life, but regular uncontrollable situations arise with an elderly parent or special needs child that constantly derails your efforts?


Again, no woman can fully do more than ONE of the things in that long list of all the good reasons we choose to stay at home.  We can’t grow incredibly gifted and cultured children all day and magically have a home that is ordered, clean and always smells of home cooked meals by evening.   We just don’t have enough hours in the day.  Add to that equation a special needs child, elderly parents, service opportunities, personal growth… and we really fall short of “the simple life”.


Yet, I would argue that our society is being damaged by the declining existence of the SAHM.  So what do we do?  How do we preserve this way of life? 


Define YOUR purpose.  Not your friends purpose or your mom’s purpose, YOUR purpose.  Define for yourself why YOU want to stay at home.  Which of the “nine lives of a housewife” are your calling?  Then, TALK to your husband.  Ask him why HE supports this arrangement.  If your ideas don’t match up, or he thinks you can live two or three of the “nine lives of a housewife”, talk through the realities of that. 


If you both value your children engaging in educational and cultural activities, then something at home has to give.  If he supports your calling to serve or your pursuit of personal goals, then your ability to manage the home and pour into your kids will be affected.  There is no right answer here!  You are only seeking to define your family dynamic and set reasonable expectations.


If you are going to pour into the kids all day, talk about how he can support you in managing, cleaning and ordering the home when he is there.  Do you need him to give you a break from the kids so you can take care of the house, laundry, and errands.  Does taking care of the kids completely stress him out and he would rather come home and do dishes and laundry.  Or maybe you can afford to hire help with the house while you engage in growing your children or serving your community. 


Or maybe you want to pour into your kids, and your husband isn’t on board with that being your purpose.  That is HARD, a tough conversation that requires compromise and the adjustment of expectations.  Sometimes this feels like an impossible balance that leaves our marriages in jeopardy. 


My prayer is that every marriage is comprised of two people that love and support one another and are willing to compromise their own ideas and expectations for the good of the other.  However, I know that is not always our reality.  But, I do know this… not having that conversation, not defining what our roles look like, not having expressed and understood expectations… that always sets us up for disappointment, frustration, arguments and heartache.




Dessert Plates, Salad Plates, Dinner Plates & Platters

It’s funny how God works sometimes.  At the beginning of 2017 I started to feel like God wanted me to reprioritize my life, and refocus on myself a little.  I was loving my work, my clients and employees; but my joy tank was feeling a little low.  You see I’m an introvert, I love time in solitude.  But, I also NEED real, deep and meaningful relationships with women in my life that challenge me to think, act and live the way God has called me to.  So, I committed to a women’s Bible study at our church, and began to carve some time out of OH! to care for myself in the ways that I know make me feel joyful, purposeful and connected.


I was actually a little scared to carve out some time for myself during the day.  I worried that I’d realize I wasn’t balancing my life the way I should and that God would call me to work less and be home more.  I always knew my gifts and passions were around being a housewife and mother, and I was beginning to wonder if either of those roles were key factors in my identity anymore. Funny how God works, as I am realizing that God wasn’t nudging me away from OH! at all!  He was reminding me of my passion and the priorities He has for me.  God wanted to remind me that my joy is not in my circumstances, but in my confidence in Him and His purpose for my life.  I know that I am doing what he has called me to, and even when it feels like nothing about my life is organized, I still have joy and contentment because I know that I am following His calling for me!


In recent months several opportunities have arisen for me to have this conversation with other women, and I am realizing the common struggle among us to find joy and purpose in a world that has so many expectations!


I recently went to a luncheon with an excellent speaker that talked about being busy.  You may have been there, as it wasn’t a small affair!  It was a very interesting topic – this notion that we have all become too busy and preoccupied.  I recently did a study on the book “Present Over Perfect” as well.  “Being too busy” seems to be one of the most common complaints and points of discussion among women today. 


I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, is my busy bad? Everyone keeps talking about not being so busy.  When people ask “how are you?” we don’t reply with “great” or “not good” – we say “I’m just so busy!”  Well it’s true for many of us, but is that good or bad?  Doing nothing is probably worse than being busy, but being busy with things we don’t care about is actually probably the worst thing of all. 


I think it isn’t so much about how much we are doing.  I think it is more about how much what we are doing is what we feel called to and passionate about.  How focused and present are we for the things in our life that are our priorities? 


We’ve all heard the analogy, you only have so much room on your plate.  Well that is so true!  But I’m realizing that it isn’t just about recognizing we have limits.  You see, I’m a bit of a platter.  I was born that way.  My husband, well he’s more of a dessert plate.  I think there are salad plates and dinner plates in the world too.  I like a lot on my plate, multiple things whirling around in my head at all times.  I said this to a friend and she said she would call me more of a smorgasbord.  But I’m a happy smorgasbord! 


Here lies the problem… when I compare my plate to the size of another person’s plate.  Isn’t that so often our downfall… comparison.  It is easy to think as a dessert plate that you are missing your purpose in life, failing to show up and be an active participant in your own life with the ability to impact the world around you.  As a platter we hear that our culture is too busy, that we aren’t present as we rush about just being doers, that we need to stop doing so much and just be.   No wonder so many of us have lost our joy.  We are constantly looking at what others are doing that we aren’t.  We feel like we should be doing more to volunteer, serve and mother.  Or, we feel like we should be doing more to be present, still and available.  No matter what, we feel like we should be doing more of something.


I also think it is worth noting that for some, attempting to not be too busy becomes another item on a never-ending “to do” list of all the things we think we should be doing and we’re not.  Instead of finding peace and contentment in the life we were created to live we attempt to define our priorities by the standards of the world around us.  Standards that change and are ill defined. 


When I am still, and present and available I find myself doing things with and for others – those that I love.  Things like puzzles, bike rides, longs walks and cooking special meals.  When I am busy doing things that are tied to my priorities in life, I find myself doing things with and for others – those that I love. Things like leading my daughter’s Bible study, coaching my kids in soccer, enjoying date nights with my husband, or bonding with my core family and my church family on a mission’s trip. 


Do you see what I see?  I keep finding myself doing things with and for others – those that I love.  That my friends brings me joy, much joy!


I think the key is not so much in being busy or less busy.  We all have a different sized plate, and we need to define what kind of plate we are.  Once we know what kind of plate we are we can determine what to fill that plate with.  This is where I think defining our priorities is so important.  If we have room for 3 things on our salad plate or 10 things on our platter, we will only find joy if they are the right things.  Defining our gifts, passions and priorities allows us to fill our platter or plate with the things that bring us joy. 


As we learn to be content with the size of our own plate, and fill it only with the things that God has called us to in our own lives, I believe we will find the peace and joy we are looking for!  




A New Chapter

It has been a looooong time since I’ve written a blog post.  I guess you could say I fell off the wagon.  I lost my passion for it.  It just didn’t seem to make it to the top of the priority list.  I have been thinking about that a lot lately, and have had numerous conversations with friends and clients about what role our passions and priorities play in determining how we spend our time.


You see, when I first started this blog it was all about organization and DIY projects.  As Organized Housewife has grown, it has become more about organization and maintaining peace and order in our homes than DIY.  I realized that there are a million talented bloggers out there doing super cool and creative DIY projects that make their homes beautiful, organized and the envy of every blog reading momma out there. 


We see the amazing blog posts and Pinterest boards and get inspired – actually I call it envious, but it’s really quite closely related isn’t it!  The realization hit me that I was contributing to the epidemic of everyone wanting their house to be as fabulous as the latest staged photo on a bloggers website that committed countless hours to such endeavors.  I love looking at those blogs, getting inspiration (yes, being envious) and even taking a few ideas here and there. 


However, that isn’t where my passion lies.  My passion lies in helping women see their worth, knowing who they are and what God created them to be and do.  I want women to see themselves as God does. I want women to know that we are all created to serve our families, our friends and our communities in vastly different roles and capacities.  We can find joy in the calling God has for us when we… find our purpose, put behind us the guilt we feel for not being who we thought we should be, and when we end the comparison of ourselves against what we see others around us being and achieving.


So, here goes a new chapter of the OH! blog.  You won’t see many posts about organization or DIY projects – that’s my day job these days – that I love by the way!  This blog will be a place to share what I’m learning from God, fellowship and clients along this journey.  If you want to come join me I would love to have you!  Like Organized Housewife on Facebook to see when new posts are added, or check back periodically to read my ramblings!   

I Am A Child of God

I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been enjoying summer with my kids!  You will begin to see some changes around here over the coming months, and I’ll share more on that soon.  But today I have a post that really isn’t meant to help you get more organized.  It is something on my heart, as a result of several things from this week.  I hope this encourages you, or at least makes you think…


If you have spent much time in church, I’m guessing you’ve heard that “You are a Child of God”.  I have heard that phrase many times in my life, and I always found it comforting.  But yesterday during worship we sang a song, and I had a new picture of what this really means, especially to us as mothers and wives.


You know how you love your child beyond measure, no matter what they do that frustrates, angers or saddens you?  You know how your child can have you fire mad one minute and in awe and adoration the next?  You know how you believe in your child and their talents, regardless of whom else does or doesn’t see them?  You know how you just can’t see other people’s kids like you see your own, no matter how cute or talented they are?


That is how God sees us.  We are HIS children.  Not just children, HIS children.  I regularly meet with moms and wives that share their frustrations and feelings of not measuring up, not knowing how to do this wife and mom thing.


Most women of our generation were not raised by mothers that stayed home teaching us to cook homemade meals, wash and iron clothes efficiently, or clean and maintain our homes.  We have this idea in our head of how it should all go, what our homes should look like and all the things we should be able to do.  I see our generation feeling inadequate, lost and frustrated, unable to enjoy the fruits of their labor as they care for homes, kids and husbands.


Yet, I talk with those same women and hear their amazing hearts for their families.  Their heart to care for their homes, bless their husbands and raise up children that are a blessing to all of us.  Most importantly, women that demonstrate their love for their families on a daily basis.


I am an organized housewife.  I was raised in a home with a mother that was trained and talented at all her tasks.  She taught me to cook homemade meals… bake bread, make homemade mac n’ cheese, fried chicken, biscuits, enchiladas, lasagna… we ate good!  I learned to launder clothes with care and iron a dress shirt the right way.  She knew how to work hard to care for her home, and demonstrated that to me on a regular basis.  Yet, I regularly feel like I’ll never get it all done.  I mop my floor to have it sticky an hour later (unless I make the kids eat outside like I did this weekend!).  I get frustrated that I can’t keep our home in order, coach soccer, play on the floor with my kids, volunteer at school, help them with their homework and have energy for my marriage in the evening.  But, I am confident in who I am in in Christ and that I am a child of God.  I do not let Satan wrap my mind in self-doubt, crippling me to get up and do what God has called me to.


So many women want me to help them organize their homes, believing it will transform their lives.  Many organizational professionals sell their services on the basis of the life transformation it will bring.  Yes, organization can change the way you and your family live in and enjoy your home.  But the thing that truly transforms your life is this…


Knowing and believing in your heart that YOU are a Child of God!  Knowing that he loves you in that way you love your children.  That no matter how many things we do to frustrate, anger or sadden Him, God forgives us and looks down on us with complete love and adoration.  God sees us like no one else, He knows our heart for our family and desire to love and serve them.  He does not see our failures and mess-ups, he sees our talents and abilities and believes in us.  He wants to help and guide us to be our best.


We are His children.  Stop wasting efforts and time worrying about what friend or family member, teacher or church member knows your intentions, your heart for your family – God does.  Be confident in how you love and serve your family, knowing that God is not counting the things you did not do, He sees all you have done and is looking down with love and adoration.

Garage Sales and Other Options

A regular debate this time of year is, “should I have a garage sale, or will it be a waste of my time?”.  I have had that debate with myself, and others, many times!  I can’t give you an easy “yes”, or an easy “no”.  However, I can give you some insight into a variety of ways to purge the clutter of unwanted kid stuff.   I will be focusing on kids clothes and baby gear, but many of the concepts apply to household items and adult clothing as well.


Start by considering all your options.  There are a lot of places to sell or take unwanted items.  It is also helpful to consider your financial goals.  If two days of sitting in your garage is worth a few hundred dollars to you, then garage sales are great.  If you’ll be missing lots of family activities over those two days or haven’t had two days at home to do anything in the last year, a few hundred dollars probably isn’t worth it!


There are some products that sell really well at garage sales – like baby gear.  And other things that don’t do so well – like adult clothes.  Personally, I found that a year or two of garage sales after our last child was out of the infant and toddler stages was very profitable.  However, our stuff was clean, in good condition, and I still had almost all of my manuals.  I combined the larger baby gear items with baby and child sized clothes, miscellaneous housewares, toys… and we made plenty of money to have made it worth my time.  Over the next couple of years I did garage sales, and made less and less money each year.  I finally decided I wouldn’t be having any more garage sales!


You can find a million posts online about setting up for a garage sale, so I’ll keep my suggestions here brief.  I recommend making your sale organized. I know you were all shocked by that suggestion!  Seriously though, having like items grouped together, clothes folded nicely or hung, and everything clearly marked will attracted garage sale goers that will pay you what your stuff is worth.  Now that is a tough question, what is it worth?  I’ll get to that later in this post.



Another option we have all heard about is Craigslist.  Despite all of the crazy stories you hear, I still use Craigslist and have very good experiences with it.  Here are some guidelines I go by to make Craigslist successful…


-Don’t bother with Craigslist for something worth less than $20  (the only exception to this is large items that would cost money or just be a pain to get rid of)

-If you want to sell kid clothes, create bags of clothes divided by size and season.  It is much more efficient to wait for one buyer to give you $100 for an entire wardrobe of 3T clothes, than sell 20 outfits for $5 each to 20 different people!

-Don’t list your exact location

-Don’t allow people into your home, sell items from your garage during a busy time of the day or meet at a public place

-Don’t give out your address via email – email is VERY anonymous, only text your address to a cell phone, or give it out over the phone.  A phone is easier to track and removes some of the anonymity


I provide as much information in a Craigslist ad as I can, and always include a photo or two.  I make sure that I provide accurate information about the condition of the item and how it functions.  I want people to be interested, but I don’t want to oversell my item and end up meeting buyers that aren’t interested when they actually come pick it up and see its flaws.  I also make sure to include brand names – people often search by brand, and not just item description.


Community Facebook sites are also popular these days.  I will just say that I tried them a couple of times and found the rules and procedures to not be worth my time.  However, I do know others that are huge fans!


Consignment Stores

Consignment stores are another option that yield a cash profit, but require much less time commitment.  There are several consignment stores just in the Des Moines area, and almost every town has one these days.  However, all consignment stores are not created equal!  You have to again decide what format works best for you.  Here is a brief summary of the consignment stores I know of for kid & baby gear in Des Moines.


Once Upon a Child

This consignment store is my favorite, but I have a personal bias.  I have a great working relationship with the owner, that allows me to assist my clients.  However, I approached Once Upon A Child about working with them on behalf of my clients because it was my favorite option and where I had been taking my stuff for years.  I like Once Upon A Child because you take in your clothes, they sort them while you wait, they offer you a dollar amount that you can accept or reject and then they return any items they are not buying from you.  You can then take your remaining items to Goodwill for a tax deduction.  One thing to note is that they ask that you only bring in 2 bins of clothes at a time, but you can bring as many other toys and baby items as you would like.


Mommy & Me to Be

This store has a very different procedure, and give you two options of how to sell clothes.  They will go through your clothes and give you cash for the items they want to buy from you, or you can bring them a bin of clothes to sell on their floor as a “vendor”.  They put your items on the floor and pay you a percentage of money for each item that sells.  After a specified period of time you return to the store to pick up your items that did not sell, and you only get paid for what actually sells.  You will make more money per item on the second option, but only get paid for what they sell so I’m not sure it is ultimately more profitable.


Kidding Around

Kidding Around buys your bins of clothes outright, much like Once Upon a Child.  However, a major difference with this store is that they ask you to leave your items for a day or so, and then they offer you a dollar amount for everything.  If you accept their offer, they pay you outright and keep everything you brought them.  They then take everything they chose not to sell in their store to a charitable organization, and you do not get a tax deduction for the donation.


Growing Again

This store is located in Waukee and is the newest to the scene in the Des Moines area.  I have only utilized this store a couple of times, but have heard really good things through friends and Facebook.  This store buys your items outright and returns what they don’t buy, just like Once Upon a Child. The main difference with this store is that they will typically ask you to leave items for a day or two and return to pick them up.  They will pay you for what they want and return everything else.  Again, you can then donate the rest for a tax deduction.


Consignment 411

There are a few things that all consignment stores have in common.  They will not take clothing items that have holes or stains.  They are very particular about infant clothes, because they get SO much of it.  They will accept seasonal items at all times of the year.  Yes, even Halloween costumes!  And, clothing for boys is in highest demand.  Last, know that most consignment stores will not take clothes more than 5 years old, and you will get more money for newer items.


Charitable Organizations

Your last option for what to do with you kids clothes and baby gear, is to just take it to a charitable organization and get the tax deduction.  I know some people are very overwhelmed by the tax deduction portion of a donation because they have to calculate how much to deduct.  Don’t skip this step! Or be intimidated by it!  You will be shocked by how quickly donations add up, and how it affects your tax return in a real way!  We’ll talk about assigning a dollar value in a minute.  But first, there are a lot of charitable organizations and here is my take on a few…



I take most of my donations to Goodwill, and I know a lot of people will really be bothered by that.  Many argue that Goodwill is not truly a charitable organization, but that it is a for-profit company that preys off of the disadvantaged and takes advantage of their status as a charitable organization.  I can’t say I have a strong opinion on all of this, but I do know they create jobs in our community which I think is great.  But, ultimately I don’t view my donations to Goodwill as an act of charity, I view it as a business that allows me to get a tax write-off for my junk that no one else would want.  I don’t donate to Goodwill because my donations may help others in need, thus I don’t mind if someone that makes $200,000 a year also buys that junk.


Lutheran Church of Hope Ministries

If I have household items in good condition, or other nice clothing that I want to donate I like the LCOH ministries.  They have donation bins outside every other Thursday to collect clothes.  You can also call the front office if you would like to donate to the housing ministry.  (They will take furniture, bedding, pots & pans, and any other necessities for a home)  This ministry will give you a receipt for your donation and they are using your donation for an awesome purpose, to love others and help them have a glimpse of what Christ has done for us and how he loves us.


There are a ton of other great ministries that accept donations for the good of serving others.  I have taken items to Child and Family Services in Valley Junction, there is the Salvation Army and so many more.  I hope to get up a page of donation opportunities on my website but there is no shortage of places, or those in need.


Money Talk

Now for the economic aspect of the equation.  For some it isn’t so much about the time, the charity, the hassle… it’s about the money!  Which one will get you the most money?  Well, an important first thing to understand is how much your used items are worth.  Start by understanding the resale value for your items.  This is the value that they are worth now that you have owned and used them. (Or not used them in the case of many baby items, right!)   The general rule of thumb is that clothing items are worth about 20% of retail, and larger items are worth more like 35-50% depending on the item and brand.  Here is a great comprehensive list of resale prices for baby and kid items.  I find this list very helpful regardless of the decision to garage sale, consign or donate.


Notice that on this chart brand names make a big difference in how much things are worth.


If you chose to donate your items, then the value you can assign to them is similar to the value on this chart.  Goodwill also has a resource on their website that helps you set a value for goods.


I don’t add up each individual item, but I think about what is going into a bag as I gather things up and then estimate a value.  This has become very easy for me to do, and it honestly depends on how much of a rule-follower you are!  Some people can throw out a number and not worry about how precise it is, others need to have a per item list to justify that they aren’t breaking the rules or cheating the system!  I say, let it go a little and try to be as honest as you can without cheating yourself either!  For the first few times you pack up a bag count the number of items you put in the bag, then estimate how many items were pants, shirts, dresses, etc.  With that knowledge (and considering brand and condition of items) estimate the value of the bag as a whole.  After a few times doing this, you will get a sense of how much an average bag of items from your house is worth.


If you decide to do a garage sale, this chart is a great place to start as well.  Many people don’t want to price things too high for a garage sale, because everyone knows garage sale goers are looking for a deal.  However, this is my theory…  if I give everything away for really cheap at my garage sale, I don’t make any more money than selling less for a higher dollar value and I have nothing left to donate.  I’d rather sell what I can for a fair price, and then take the rest to consignment or Goodwill for extra cash or a tax deduction.


Last, what will you get at consignment?  I can’t say I have the inside scoop on this, but there are some important points to consider.  Remember that chart above, well that it is what you can expect them to sell your items for in their store.  So, they have to give you a much smaller amount so they can cover their expenses and still make a profit for their business.  You will notice a significant difference between what they give you and what you would make selling it yourself, but remember they are doing all the work and have to make a profit too.


The money summary is this…  Donating items (especially if you just unload your car at Goodwill) is the most efficient way of getting rid of things and still yields a good profit on your tax return.  (for most, there is some dependence here on your financial situation)  Garage sales and consignment stores are great because you walk away with cash you can spend right away – especially if you have plans for a new patio set, some landscaping, a porch swing, or other fun seasonal purchases!  Garage sales will yield the largest profit, but also require the most work and time commitment.  I would expect to make about 20-30% of retail on average for the items you sell, knowing not everything will sell.  Consignment will yield closer to 10% of retail value for items in good condition, but is a really easy way of getting cash in your hand.


I know all of this information may have your head spinning!  However, the most important thing is to think through your priorities (clearing clutter, saving time, making money, helping others) and then make a decision that best fits your priorities.  Also, know that if you do a garage sale and it is a flop, you can still take things to consignment and donation sites.  If you try a consignment store and don’t love it, try a different one next time!  I hope this post at least helps you sort through why you would chose each option!