The All-American Yard Sale

Summer is a great time for taking a deep breath and a good look around. If you cast your eyes on the old homestead—the yard, the garage, the closets, and the cupboards—and see way too much stuff, you’re not alone. Americans have more stuff than they can handle.

Think about those self-storage facilities appearing everywhere. Sometimes it’s easier to rent more space than it is to decide what to do with things.

Productivity consultant Laura Stack says, “All too often in the United States, people equate material possessions with wealth, happiness, and, worse yet, self-worth.” Don’t be afraid to clear that clutter.

Hanging on to things you don’t really need can be a symptom of fear. Many survivors of the Depression came out of those lean times with a real fear of getting rid of anything. The truth is that we can only use, store, and take care of so much. Too many things simply weigh us down and take up time and energy we need to move forward in life.

Cleaning up and clearing out can be a good summer project for the entire family. It’s a chance to practice these important decision-making and organizing skills. Plan a yard sale to send that excess stuff back into the world and teach the kids some valuable money lessons.

Decide What Needs to Go

Ask yourself how long it’s been since you used, wore, or even looked at each item. Is the item still around for its emotional value? Is there a friend or relative who might really appreciate having it? The kids can pass along outgrown toys and clothes and earn some extra summer spending money.

Organize the Items for Sale

Let the kids use their energy and creativity to help figure out how to display items for sale. They might decide to sell refreshments to the customers, too. Kids enjoy handling the money for the things they sell and making change. Consider paying them a commission if they help customers with larger-ticket family items for sale.

Donate the Leftover Items to a Charity or Local Thrift Store

Once items have made the “to go” list, don’t let them back into the house, garage, or closet. Bid farewell and enjoy the good feeling of sharing your unsold stuff. Giving to a charity or thrift store makes goods available to people who need them. Encourage the kids to save part of their yard sale earnings, and feast your eyes on a cleaner, tidier dwelling space!

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