The Art of the Non-Yard Sale

The time-saving art of the non-yard sale. - Mommy Standard Time
How to get your kids to happily declutter their toys - Mommy Standard Time
A fun way to get your kids to declutter their toys with no drama - Mommy Standard Time
The Time-Saving Art of the Non-Yard Sale - Mommy Standard Time

Are you looking for a way to get your kids to declutter their toys? I think I’ve stumbled on the perfect way to get your kids to let go of their excess toys, not only willingly but HAPPILY: The non-yard sale.

Say whhaaaaat??!”

Let’s start with the backstory…

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Money has been tight for The Professor these days.  Since we don’t do a regular allowance during the summer (read about our allowance philosophy here…) it has been a couple of months since the kids have had regular income.

And they’re feeling it!

The Professor has been eyeing a couple of toys we found online and recently asked me how he could earn some extra money.  As I inwardly groaned at the idea of having more toys lying around, I thought for a brief moment that it would be nice if we could have a yard sale to get rid of some toys and help the kids earn some money.

But then I groaned inwardly at the idea of a yard sale.

Don’t get me wrong, I host a yard sale almost every year.  But that doesn’t mean I love the process.  Yard sales are SO MUCH WORK!  Then you have strangers milling about your house, touching your stuff, haggling over a nickel {shudder}.  PLUS we really don’t have enough belongings outside of our storage unit to justify a yard sale.

So on this particular day, as I thought of the kids’ cluttered bedroom and their desire for MORE toys, I hatched a plan.  I found an empty box, plopped it on the ground in front of me, grabbed my pouch of allowance cash and told the kids they were going to have a yard sale.  But it wasn’t going to be a normal yard sale…

I would be the only customer.

allowance cash in zipper pouch

I sent them down to their room to find toys they would want to sell at a yard sale and bring them to me, then made them an offer for the toys they brought to me (yard sale prices) and they could decide if it was worth it to them or not.  If they took my offer, the toys went in a box for charity and they kept the cash.

Here’s what I loved about this process:

  • MINUTES VS. DAYS – The kids had their opportunity to unload their toys for cash without the multiple-day commitment of preparing for a full yard sale.  After ten minutes I had a box full of toys ready for charity.
  • KID BUY-IN – I can guarantee you that if I had made a different choice (like saying they had to get rid of some toys before they could buy any new ones), we would have spent a LOT more time on decluttering their room.  There would have been whining and complaining.  With this process, the kids brought toy after toy to me, with smiles of anticipation as they waited for an offer.
  • RETURN ON INVESTMENT – This is probably not how everyone would feel, but my ten dollars was well worth the box full of toys that my kids willingly and happilyremoved from their room.  Worth. Every. Penny.
discarded toys

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes at my little strategy, so I’ll pause to address some issues that might come to your mind:

Dude, Stephanie.  How many toys do your kids HAVE?  Actually, they don’t have a whole lot right now.  If you remember, we are living with my parents for the time being and the kids share a small room.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of toys to create a very cluttered feel.

So are you setting yourself up for having to pay your kids every time you need them to declutter their rooms?  Definitely not.  The kids often have to choose toys to send to charity in order to control clutter.  I think being able to let go of rarely-used belongings is an important life skill (one I still struggle with as an adult…hence my current reading choice). I just thought this would be an easy way to help the kids earn some extra cash without having to host a yard sale.

How much did you pay per toy?  I told the kids that I was offering the amount of money that I would have put on the price tag for an actual yard sale.  As a general rule of thumb, I price yard sale items at 10 percent of what I paid retail.  So that’s what I offered the kids, for the most part.  There were a few exceptions.

Did you have a cap on the number of toys they could get rid of?  Not really.  Since the kids don’t have a ton of toys right now, there was a natural end to the process.  If we do this in the future, after our belongings are out of storage, I would probably just have a set amount of cash and we would go until the cash ran out.

Did you have any say in what they got rid of?  If the kids could genuinely tell me that they didn’t play with a certain toy anymore, I was fine with their choice and made them an offer.  There were a couple of dolls that I asked Mini-Me to save for her sister, but other than that I let them drive the decision-making.

{ There’s a children’s book for everything!  If the non-yard sale isn’t for you, here is a book you can read with your little one before an actual yard sale.  My kids are pretty used to the process by now, but this could be helpful if you are involving your children in a yard sale for the first time.}

I thought our little non-yard sale was a success, but now I want to know: Have you ever done something like this with your kids? Am I just crazy?  Most importantly, do you want to jump on the crazy train with me and try this at YOUR house? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “The Art of the Non-Yard Sale”

  1. Such a great idea. Totally worth the money to get rid of some clutter without the whining!! Plus, I like finding good reasons to give the kids money without it taking tons of work for me. 🙂

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