Mary Hunt: Turning cast-off clothing into cash
DEAR MARY: I always have donated our unwanted clothing, but with 2-year-old twin daughters who are outgrowing their clothes faster than I can change their diapers, money is tight. I'd like to bring their old things to a consignment shop to earn a little extra cash. Can you give me some tips on how to make the most money? — DEBBIE, MICHIGAN
DEAR DEBBIE: Make a list of the children's consignment shops in your area, then do some research. Each will have its own unique policies on what clothes and condition of items they accept. Find out the terms:
• Once an items sells, how will they split the proceeds with you?
• Do they accept only pristine condition items or gently worn?
• Must clothes arrive in dry cleaner bags or freshly laundered?
Once you have all the facts, decide which shop you will try first. Make sure your items fit the store's criteria, and make your first delivery.
Keep careful records. Many shops have a policy that what doesn't sell is given to charity unless you pick up the item in a timely manner.
Consignment shopping and selling is a great way to turn good items back into cash. Another way is through online consignment shops or an online auction like eBay.com. Or, you may find that selling your kids things at your own yard sale nets you more money for less trouble. You just have to experiment. If all else fails, remember when you donate to a qualified charitable organization, you are allowed to deduct the fair market value of each item from your taxable income. When you itemize your tax return, that can add up to a considerable amount and benefit you with a larger tax refund or smaller tax bill.
Dear Mary: Since I turned 18, my father has warned me over and over about store credit cards: He says they try to reel you in with that initial 10 percent savings on a purchase, then slam you with high interest rates for a few chintzy perks. But lately I've seen store-brand Visa and Mastercards. Are those better? — Britney, Georgia
Dear Britney: Not really. Most co-branded cards, unlike store cards, have an annual fee.
And if it has no fee, watch out because the interest rate will more than make up for it.
Remember, stores are looking out for themselves, not you. Co-branded cards save them a lot of money over issuing their own credit card. Co-branded credit cards serve to strengthen customer loyalty by offering a variety of value-added incentives, and that encourages you to spend more because it feels like you're getting something for nothing. The only way to make a co-branded credit card, or any card for that matter, work in your favor is to make sure it has no annual fee and that you pay the balance in full every month.
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