Kevin Song, Serving Your Real Estate Needs in Waltham, Watertown, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville


Stopping by local garage sales in search of bargains and treasures is a lot like panning for gold. Some days you'll be sifting through a lot of rubble before you discover the hidden gems. Other days, you'll hit the mother lode, right away! Whether you're looking for cheap books, antique furniture, unique jewelry, retro clothing, statues, gardening tools, or gently used toys, you can expect to stumble upon some very interesting and worthwhile items -- usually at extremely low prices. Keys to Bargain Hunting Success Many people who attend garage sales on a regular basis seem to have developed a system to ferret out what they're looking for, spot bargains, and negotiate the lowest possible prices. They often don't even get out of their cars if the items displayed fail to catch their interest. Yard sales attract a wide variety of people, but the ones who find the best stuff at the lowest prices know the value of persistence, getting an early start, and advance planning. Many are quite adept at surfing the Web, clippings ads, and using social media to find promising yard sales to check out. The Seasoned Garage Sale Hunter In addition to a natural curiosity about the unexpected treasures they might find in their travels, they recognize the following underlying truths about garage sales.
  • There are two main reasons that people hold garage sales: to make extra money and to get rid of things they no longer need or want. In most cases, they're highly motivated to make sales and do not expect to rake in boatloads of money. If they happen to be in the process of selling their house and getting ready to move, they should be especially motivated to clear out all their garage sale inventory. The last thing they want to see is an interested customer with a wad of cash in their hands walk away because the price wasn't right. If you make a reasonable offer, chances are they'll either accept it or make a counteroffer. By cultivating some basic negotiating skills and learning to have fun with it, you can pick up some amazing deals in your neighborhood.
  • At first, going to garage sales may seem like a hit-or-miss proposition. However, persistence pays off. Good timing, a little bit of luck, and being in the right place at the right time will eventually work in your favor. It's sort of a "numbers game," so if you plan to visit a few different yard sales in one morning, you're bound to find all kinds of worthwhile treasures and bargains.
  • If you know what you're looking for and have a pretty good idea of what its worth, you'll be in a good position to make reasonable offers and walk away with exceptional deals.
Whether you're looking for a used guitar, an inexpensive desk for a college student, or some hard-to-find first-edition books, you never know what you're going to discover when you dedicate a Saturday or Sunday morning to some serious garage sale shopping!

There are more cleaning supplies on the market than ever before. If you walk down the cleaning section of Target you'll find an array of brooms, scrubbers, and solutions that are all variations on the same simple ideas. Furthermore, these products have begun capitalizing on single-use components like a sweeper with throwaway pads or disposable dusters. All of these expenses add up and before you know it you're spending up to $70 each month just on cleaning supplies. Fortunately, many frugal consumers have noticed this trend and have come up with creative ways to save money on cleaning. In this article, we'll cover some frugal cleaning products and solutions that will save you a ton of money at the checkout line.

Sweeping, dusting, and mopping

Let's face it, the Swiffer is a great invention. It mops, sweeps, and dusts without the mess of a bucket of water. Plus it's lightweight and versatile making it useful for many surfaces around the home. The down side? Having to buy all of those expensive replacement pads. If you're like me, you feel a twinge of guilt whenever you throw out at item that seems wasteful. For me, cleaning supplies are the epitome of wastefulness. So, instead of using the throwaway pads you could do a a few things. First, you could buy a reusable pad online. Some are designed to fit various sweepers. Alternatively, there are some cloths that you can buy at your local dollar store that will fit onto your sweeper just fine. Once one gets dirty, put the next one on and sink wash them all when you're done. The other option is to knit or crochet your own sweeper cover. There are lots of patterns online that will help you get started, plus a hand-made cloth adds more meaning to the mundane work of sweeping the house. For those spots you don't dust with your sweeper-duster (like a TV, or the tops of picture frames), you could always dust with your used dryer sheets that you'd otherwise just toss in the trash. Keep them in a bag in your cabinet so you remember to use them.

Go paperless

Paper towels and napkins are always expensive and seldom on sale. Plus, all that paper usage does a number on the environment. Instead of reaching for a paper towel at dinner, keep a stack of microfiber cloths, handkerchiefs, or hand towels. When this isn't possible, like in the case of a big cookout, use choose-a-size paper towels to get more usage out of a roll. And speaking of choosing a size, the next time you buy sponges or "magic erasers," cut them in half to double the length of time you can use them.

Cleaning solutions

Making your own cleaning solutions has many benefits. First, you get to save money because the supplies tend to be cheap, household items. Second, you get to avoid all of the harsh chemicals that are often added to commercial cleaners, helping your health and the environment. Third, you can make them in bulk and not have to worry about them running out. Recipes for homemade cleaning solutions and air fresheners are abundant online. In general, however, they rely on a few simple ingredients: water, vinegar, baking soda, and some type of citrus like lemons, limes, or oranges.

Miniature house with money on tax papersIn today's economic climate protecting your financial health is more important than ever. From health insurance to your plans for retirement, there’s a lot to consider. Here are some tips from to help protect your assets and financial future. It is never too early to plan In order to plan, you need to know what you have. Review your pension plan, 401 (k), IRAs, Social Security benefits and other savings plans to assess whether they meet your long-term retirement goals and will generate an income stream to meet your projected expenses. Curb spending Time to take an inventory on how much you spend. Keep a log on trips to the market, afternoon lattes, dry cleaning and all of your miscellaneous spending. Try to eliminate a portion of these expenses. Once you track them you will realize you are spending more than you thought. Re-define your financial goals Ask yourself where you see yourself in five, 10 or 15 years. See if it is possible to redefine your goals. You may be able to retire earlier or pay for college. Set goals to achieve the things you want. Get help Professional advice about investment losses, financial products, insurance coverage and other important issues will help you make the right choices for your current financial situation.

Who wouldn't like to pay off the mortgage early? Getting rid of mortgage debt will allow you the security and the psychological benefit of owning your home free and clear. There are lots of ways to accomplish these goals. Here are some suggestions on ways to get rid of your mortgage debt. Compare the options and do what works best for you. 1. Add more money to your monthly payment. This will help pay down the principal balance shortening the length of your loan. When you pay more on your principal is gets lower, and the lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense. 2. Refinance. Refinance your mortgage to 10, 15 or 20 years. Your payments will be higher on a 15-year loan, but often the rate is lower and the loan is paid off much quicker. If you are afraid to take out a 15- year loan take out a 30-year loan, but make payments as if you had a 15-year loan. 3. Make biweekly payments. Most banks have a biweekly payment plan. Since there are 52 weeks in the year if you pay half your regular mortgage payment every other week, you'll have made 26 half-payments, or 13 payments. There are options when it comes to owning your home free and clear. Just decide which one works for you and be on your way to being mortgage free.

Who doesn't love a bargain? Some of the best shopping deals these days can be found online. Savvy shoppers even know that some days are even better than others to find the biggest savings. ShopItToMe.com, a website that looks at online retailers, ran a survey to see what days of the week online websites offer the biggest discounts. Here is what they found: Mondays: If you are looking for men's and women's dress pants try Mondays. ShopItToMe found the average sale price is about 48 percent off. The site also found Mondays are great for purchasing sunglasses with an average discount of around 55 percent. Tuesdays: If you are shopping for men's clothes, it may be pants on Mondays but all other men's apparel is typically on sale on Tuesday with a discount around 42 percent. Wednesdays: You can save an average of 38 percent on shoes. Also look for great deals on kids' clothing with an average discount around 40 percent. Thursdays: Handbags lover's Thursdays typically offer a 36 percent savings. Fridays: Once you have purchased a new handbag you will need accessories to match. Look for an average of 42 percent off jewelry, belts and scarves. Saturdays: Underwear and outwear are on deep discount on Saturdays. Shoppers can save an average of 37 percent on intimates and a whopping 51 percent on jackets and outerwear. Sundays: Swimsuit prices are reduced approximately 52 percent on Sundays. What are your best online shopping tips?



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