Just Between Friends Lessons

I just got back from picking up leftover items that didn’t sell at this weekend’s Just Between Friends sale in Portland. I wrote earlier about signing up to volunteer/consign and the emotional process of tagging sale items…now I want to share my experience and lessons learned.

First, I have to say that I had fun volunteering, and it was amazing to see such a massive resale event. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it, and it was like a green version of Black Friday! The organizers Brooke and Tammy deserve compliments for hosting such a well-organized and friendly event. 🙂

Second, I have to admit that I didn’t make any money In the end I sold only 11 items for $31, and bought 19 items for $67 worth of clothes for Girly.  But that’s not to say that I didn’t get a bargain…I sold things I no longer needed, and bought a whole set of clothes in the next size up. The most expensive item I bought was $6.50 for brand new Gymboree jeans (with originally priced at $30), and cheapest was a Gymboree swim top and shorts for $2.50…hopefully most of them can be resold in another year…

Third, my limited sales is also because I had already gave away a lot of the clothes as hand-me-downs to close friends,  all of our Big Guy’s summer clothes to a friend in Costa Rica, and virtually all of Girly’s clothes were passed on to a close family friend. I don’t regret sharing, but it did mean less to sell.

Yet, here are my mistakes:

  • Waited too long to start tagging…it’s not that it really takes that long, but I just don’t have much spare time…what mom really does?! But my biggest excuse was not having enough hangers, which is critical for clothing. It meant having some items half ready, which really made me feel defeated for the effort I had made…so my lesson is to start tagging now for the next fall sale.
  • Once I did start, I made the mistake of tagging a whole bunch of fall/winters clothes, because that’s what I happened to find first in the basement, so I didn’t include any of it in this sale…good thing I’ve got a jump on the next sale 😉
  • Should have sold my baby gear! Since I had never been to a sale, I was reluctant to haul all my gear to the sale, in case it didn’t sell. I now know that baby gear is the main reason most shoppers love JBF sales.
  • Sell and buy toys! I only brought a few toys, but they all sold. I bought Girly a Sweet Pea  doll for $3 to match a Hunny Bunny  she already has…I looked for another doll because she lost her one true baby doll, but there weren’t any I liked enough…hint, hint, there’s a market for nice used dolls!
  • Price to sell. I probably overpriced a few really cute outfits, partly because due to original cost and partly due to sentimentality. If anything, I think you’d be better off to tag/price with a friend, just so your prices are reasonable. There is a pricing guide online, but there is still a range, and the different between a dollar or two is the difference between it getting sold or not.
  • I volunteered for the first two hours organizing the bedding section, and I have a few tips for selling blankets. Some people bagged blankets in Ziplocks, and it seemed to me that these didn’t sell…people want to feel blankets. It seemed that blankets packaged in ribbon sold better, because you want them tidy too.
  • I just wish that I had heard about JBF sales when I was pregnant, I have no doubt that I could have saved myself a least a grand if I had stocked up at JBF. Beyond the bargain, I do love the resale ethic. When our Big Guy was learning to walk, I remember being torn about buying a brand new push mail cart and a stand-up leap frog music table…if I had known about JBF, I wouldn’t have had all that guilt about buying new plastic gear that will only be used for a few months! 

What lessons do you have from JBF sales?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Just Between Friends Sale Prep

I’ve been really busy this week…tagging items for the Just Between Friends consignment sale in Portland this weekend (Sat/Sun at the Expo).  I’ve been prepping part-time for about a month time, but crunch time is here. 

I feel like quite the novice, but thankfully they’ve made the learning curve easier. JBF has lots of quick videos and tip sheets to explain the do’s and don’t of consigning. It turns out that I won’t be able to purge as much as I was hoping, since they only accept seasonal clothing (so no cute holidays sweaters!) I also realized how much was really stained or ripped, so I’ve got a big donate pile.

But what I didn’t completely expect were the emotions involved in sorting through all the baby/little kid clothes. I should have known, since a good friend recruited me to help her with the task of sorting her baby items (and generously donated her used items for my service of helping her!) Together we managed to be pretty efficient and didn’t get too bogged down in the emotions of purging

Yet, when my turn came, it was harder to detach myself from the memories and personal meaning of each cute outfit…like the Easter sweater here. I had managed OK, but then our Big Guy started asking me why we weren’t having another baby…again. He’s been asking us for a baby for months now, and it always tugs at my heart. We’ve made the decision to stay a family of four last summer, but it’s not the easiest thing to explain to a child, especially one who is so eager to help out (even claiming he’ll change diapers!) The kicker was this time he asked if I was selling the birthing tub I used for Girly, I actually already sold it on Craigslist…but the question once again made me second guess our choice…maybe getting some new/secondhand clothes will give me more to look forward to…plus I tried to tell myself that I’m sharing the joy!  

Have you shopped/consigned at a Just Between Friends sale?
Here’s a great review from a fellow mom blogger.

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Plastic Into Oil

I had this post in draft form right before the earthquake/tsunami hit Japan, but it didn’t seem right to share this story just yet… 

Have you ever wished that you could turn plastic into something useful, like oil? 
One Japanese inventor is making this idea a reality. 

The man in the video  below is very sweet and sincere about his hope to turn something good out of the pollution we can plastic and  inspire hope.  

This plastic-to-oil converting machine is very interesting. It averages about 3 hours for processing time and uses about 1Kw per hour (equivalent to 24.3 cents in cost), and it processes on average about 90% of the plastic product. So if it had 1000 grams of plastic, it would convert into about 900 grams of fuel. It would cost a little less than $1 to make a gallon of fuel. And if this is done on-site or locally it could be competitive in emissions to current recycling of plastic since the majority of our plastics are shipped long distances to China

Here’s the math of it (done by a friend of mine): it will take 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of plastic to make 1 liter of oil (not gasoline) using about 1 kW of electricity. We pay about $0.06 to $0.10/ kW, which is cheap compared to other places like Japan, at $0.20 per kW.  A barrel of oil today costs $110 (rising daily) and is 42 gallons or 159 liters. 

With his $9500 machine, you can make a barrel of oil for about $30, with Japan ‘s electricity prices –  or less than $15 with Portland electricity prices. It may be a while until this is a common technology, but o ne plant in  Tigard, Oregon is converting plastic to crude oil .

Here’s the quick video:

What inventions do you think could help save the Earth?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Student Loan Forgiveness

My   higher education cost me $66k (plus interest) .

I was happily under the impression that I was eligible for the public service loan forgiveness program passed in 2007 (forgiving loans after 10 years of consistent payments). The program provides loan forgiveness to public/non-profit/educators/health workers, knowing that these public service sectors pay far less than the private sector and yet society needs good teachers, etc.

Since I’ve only ever worked in the non-profit/public sectors, I was excited when I first learned that I may someday vanquish the financial burden of being educated. But now that I’ve been looking over requirements closer, I think  I’m ineligible because my loans are through the Federal Family Education Loans program, not the Federal Direct Loan program. Moreover, you can only consolidate once (without adding more student loans), and I only wish that I had read this fine print a few years ago when I learned of the program.

Here are my basic loan details. I finished graduate school in June 2005, and consolidated my undergraduate and grad school loans shortly thereafter. The total loan amount was $61k (down from the grand total of $66k), since I had been diligently making monthly payments since 2000. My payments for the first three years averaged $500, but after I went back to school I dropped down to the minimum $288 monthly installment.

The loan has a 3.25% fixed interest, which sounds reasonable but really adds up. In the past 25 months, I’ve paid $7,500 on my student loans. Only $2,603.55 was paid on principle, and $4896.45 on interest! So, today after over ten years, I still have a total of $44k in student loans.  This is obviously a financial bummer, because I was looking forward to  getting rid of my monthly student loan payment of $288  by 2017 (still an additional $20k in repayment).

On a side note, I found a site that proposes forgiving student loans to stimulate the economy. I couldn’t agree more.

Do you have student loans?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.