Just because the world has become so complicated doesn’t mean that our lives have to be. All for the everyone considering simplification in our lives, guest, Deb Colameta of Metabright Media, visits Jen Du Plessis to share with us her book, Best Offer, Best Life—a guide to creating wealth through online yard sales. She talks about her formula for decluttering with the help of online selling and how it has helped her clear not only the space in her homes but also her mental headspace. She also gives some great strategies on selling and shopping online, teaching you how to look for items that you need to sell and, likewise, choose the ones to bring into your home. What is more, Deb then shares how she is changing the lives of real estate professionals and more.
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Decluttering Your Space And Life While Creating Wealth Through Online Yard Sales With Deb Colameta
I am delighted to bring on a colleague that I was introduced to by the name of Deb Colameta. She was introduced by a friend of a friend of ours jointly Jennifer Hammond, who is the host of The Jennifer Hammond Show. She’s also a real estate agent with TTR Sotheby’s in the DMV. For those that don’t know anything about my area, it’s the District of Columbia. The M is Maryland and the V is Virginia. We’re one big metropolitan area. Although I have to tell you, if I have to drive over to Maryland, we call it the Potomac Ocean because the people of Maryland don’t want to come over to Virginia. It’s the most hilarious thing. Deb, I am delighted to have you on the show. Welcome.
Thank you for having me.
It’s funny when you and I were talking on the phone saying, “Okay.” I tend to do that. I chit-chat with people before I booked them. You and I chit-chat and we were like, “Why didn’t we record this chit-chat?” Hopefully, the conversation will lead us down the same path that we had before. If not, that’s what’s great about podcasting. It’s not scripted. At least, I hope people don’t do scripting. I can’t stand that. I am excited to have you on onboard here. Deb is the author of the book called Best Offer, Best Life. She’s going to talk about that book and we’re going to dive in to it. She also is the Founder of Metabright Media. We’re going to talk about those things as well.
I know you have a story that brings us to why you have this book and to how you came to the realization that we all should be considering simplification of our lives. Especially, while we’re in COVID, we need to think about ways to simplify our life. You developed a lot of fun things. Strap everything in guys because she’s going to be sharing with us something that’s simple, but has a significant impact in her family and her life. Tell us where you were when this whole event started and then we’ll bring everybody forward here.
We had a problem in our family that many families face. That is, we felt like our house was too small for the four of us as our family was expanding. We started to think about our next move. Are we going to be moving to a bigger house? Are we going to try to get a different house? That’s what triggered this whole process. We started to clean out our things with the intent of moving and getting our house ready for sale. What happened was, it yielded this huge pile of stuff that I couldn’t donate. Maybe it was fragile or delicate or had many pieces. It wasn’t appropriate for donating, or it felt like I hadn’t used it, but we paid a lot for it or it was a wedding gift. It felt to me, there was a lot of money tied up in this particular pile. I was introduced to the idea of online yard sales as a way to whittle down that pile and help us purge our house and it changed our entire lives. It’s changed the way we do things, the way we buy things, the gifts we give to other people, it’s had such a transformative effect on us.
I love sharing that with the world and helping people to do it for themselves. One of the things that we talk about in the book Best Offer, Best Life is how people can follow my blueprint for success and trying to replicate this in their own lives. Quarantine was the great reset. We’re all thinking more about being intentional. What do we need? We’re not exactly roughing. Many of us are very comfortable in our own homes, but not having those shopping sprees to go on to if you’re bored or whatnot, trying to make the most of what you already have and that’s what it’s all about.Be very intentional about what you bring into your space. Click To Tweet
You and I were talking previously, it’s like the show, Love It or List It. They’re making renovations in their homes and they’re saying, “Maybe we should stay here,” that type of thing. What you’re saying is that you’re making renovations in your lifestyle and decluttering everything. It’s funny because there is a mindset about that. Many years ago, I was introduced to Isagenix and this is a meal shake kind of thing. I was introduced to it in a BNI meeting, which is Business Network International, it’s a weekly networking group.
I didn’t need it because I’ve always been tiny and everything, but my husband has Type 2 diabetes. I found out that the founder has Type 2 diabetes and that he created this product to be able to beat that and he did. I said, “Let’s do it.” We decided to do it. We did what they call a nine-day cleanse to get started. In nine days, I stopped drinking coffee and I haven’t drunk coffee since. It’s been many years because I lost the taste for it. In nine days, my body change. Now, I’m looking at some food, I don’t like it and I go, “Why would you consume that? Why would you eat that?” It was all these nine days that changed it. It has an ability when you declutter your body, house, or life. What I need to declutter is a basket that has a ton of cute, cool technology that I bought.
When you do, it changes your mindset. There is a mindset shift and an emotional impact that it has on you. You mentioned that it changed the way how you buy gifts for people, how you buy things for yourself. Walk us down that path, because I know a ton of people during the pandemic that are overspending online while they can’t go and do a shopping spree clothes. You said it changed you, tell us how it did? What is different for you given the fact that I shared a couple of stories?
First of all, the shopping online for me has changed because many times when I buy something online, whether it’s clothing or something from a big box store, I have it shipped right to my house. I open it up and realize, “It’s not exactly what I wanted. It’s close but not quite.” It’s maybe smaller than I thought or not exactly the right color. That sometimes leads to more work for me in the long-time long run, because then I feel like I have to sell it or send it back. It creates noise in my life. The easier thing is not to buy it in the first place unless you need it.
One lesson that I’ve learned from this whole purging process is to be very intentional about what you bring into your space. Sometimes when I’m shopping late at night on Amazon or another store, I’ll put it in my cart. In the morning, I’ll check my cart and I’ll ask myself again, “Do I need that?” Many times, the act of putting it in my cart gives me that same little thrill of, “I could buy this stuff I want to, but I’m going to hold off.” I save it for later. I make a note of it so it’s not gone forever, but I’ve not spent the money. I know I can get it anytime I need it. It’s right there. I don’t bring it into my space in the first place.
I did that, not with a cart. I was going to a website for Target or Kohl’s. I popped a bunch of stuff in there and then I said, “I’m going to think about it,” or I don’t even know that I consciously did it, something interrupted me. I woke up the next morning and that on our phones that is still open in my Safari and I went, “No. I don’t need it,” but I didn’t consciously do it. You’re saying to make the conscious effort to do that.
Slow your shopping roll a little bit.
It’s that instant gratification. It’s like, “I’ve got to have it.” How has it changed the way that you gift to people? I’m curious about this. I’m heading to my second cousin’s graduation. I’m driving up to Michigan and I’m thinking, “What do I get him as a gift?” What do you do that makes that different in gift-giving so that you’re not dumping a whole bunch of stuff on other people?
First of all, with gifts, I love shopping small businesses. Maybe a customized or a personalized gift with the side of cash or gift card. Letting people have experience over things. If we go to a kid’s birthday party, I’ll maybe talk with the parent before and I’ll encourage them, “Tell me ideas. I want them to get what they want. Don’t be shy.” If it’s college graduates or wedding gifts, I try hard to either stick to the registry or give them a gift card so they can buy what they want or give an experience or a restaurant gift card. I love consumable gifts. Consumable not only meeting edible but consumable meeting that they evaporate after a while. Give the person the experience that they’ll remember, yet they don’t have the item, the tchotchke hanging around collecting dust.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the book Best Offer, Best Life because it then transformed you into thinking, “Why should I read this book and how should I write the book?” Tell us what happened there, because this is where you went from, “This is successful for me,” in doing online yard sales to sell your high-end items to, “How can I help other people?”
What happened was a lot of my selling happened through social media. Many of my friends were looking at my posts, or if we were in similar online yard sale groups, they would see that I was posting things and having a lot of success. They would ask me for tips. I would start writing these emails with tips on when to post things, what groups to post in, the pricing for certain things and people started writing back and saying, “You should write a book. This would be helpful. I used your tips. I want to forward your email, but you should write a book about it.” It was after the prodding of my family and friends who said, “You should tell the story.” It’s not about how to post something online. It’s very simple to post an item online. That’s the beauty of it.
The real trick is how to position it in a way where it’s going to sell. You’re not going to get stood up. You’re going to get the right amount of money for it. It’s going to be a quick process. You don’t want to turn this into a chore that’s going to take time away from other things in your life. This is an activity you can do to bring money into your space, get the junk out of your space. It can be done in the in-between time. If you’re waiting during soccer practice, if you’re in a doctor’s waiting room, if you’re waiting in line somewhere, you can literally post things in under a minute. The tips that I give in the book help people to achieve this and get some traction so that they feel like they can continue with it. You mentioned something too about selling the high-end items. A lot of people get overwhelmed because they focus on the items that are too small or too common. Nobody wants to take in other people’s junk.Money is a great motivator, and you don't know until you try to sell. Click To Tweet
Shirts, puzzles and stuff like that. I see online, I’m like, “I’m not driving all the way over for a $2 puzzle.”
You spend the same amount of time posting and arranging the pickup for that $2 puzzle as you do for the $100. What I’m trying to teach people is, “Look at your best items and that’s what you put your energy towards selling those items.” Before you know it, a couple of hundred dollars adds up, then it’s a couple of thousand and then the puzzles and the other things, you can offer on a freecycling or in everything is free website and you get those done without any appointments. You leave them somewhere on your property. If you know the person you can arrange a pickup time, offer it to your circle of friends. A lot of people, especially in quarantine, passing things around within their friends, besides going to a store, they’d rather pick it up from a friend or somebody with younger children. There are other ways to get rid of your things that are maybe less in value. I tell people to focus on that higher-end items, aim high.
One of the things that Jennifer does with you is she sees this as a great opportunity for people to clear out their house so that it’s presented in a better way. I think that’s part of it is like Better Offer, Better Life. Tell us how you’ve been impacting realtors, sellers, homeowners and things like that.
One of the things that I do, especially with my real estate clients is to help them prepare for the sale. I don’t mean, you saw the house you want to buy and now’s the time to cleanout. I want to take what you said, which is getting the right mindset and thinking, “I know the house of my dreams is either out there or being built right now, I’m going to prepare myself and literally clear a path so that that can come into my space, that can come into my life.” You don’t want to be in a position where the house of your dreams happens to go on sale and it’s the right price for you, you want to jump on it and then now you’ve got to sell your own house. You want to prepare. Pretend like it’s going to happen and prepare ahead of time.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Because trying to do it all at the last minute, you going to end up hiring a dumpster, which can be very expensive and throw away things. It’s not only the cost of the dumpster that you pay for, the junk removal service, but you also have that lost value. I’ve talked to people who when they start early enough in the process, they get a good chunk of change to put towards a down payment. We’re talking several thousand dollars at least, if you do it and start now and focus on those higher-end items that you don’t need, you don’t have any attachment to and get those items with the bigger footprint out of your space. It’s going to be so much easier to stage your home and have success selling it. Someone else is going to fall in love with your space.
You and I were talking about this last time. We shared with you that we’ve lived in our home for sixteen years. It’s a big house. We’re on 21 acres waiting patiently for my daughter to finally get married and to allow us to have the reception here on the house. We were going to put the house on the market in October 2019 when she got married. We said, “We’re going to put it on the house,” and we might even put it on the house before she gets married and then do rent backs and all this stuff. The problem was we had so many things stored at the house for the reception. We had all the gifts were coming in and things like that. I was overwhelmed with, “There’s no way I can get the house on the market because there are too many things going on.”
We said, “Let’s wait.” Afterwards, we got busy and all of a sudden, there’s a pandemic. We’ve been sitting in our house and virtually, every room has been renovated or cleaned out, every drawer and thankfully, I’m a German. All the drawers are always clean anyway, but the closets have been cleaned out. Things have been done. I’ve been piling things up to get ready. You and I were talking about this and I said, “Living here for sixteen years is one thing. That doesn’t sound like a lot. Being married for 37 means I’ve got another layer of things.” We have a ten-car garage. It’s all kinds of crap that’s in there. I started saying, “Brian, this is important. We need to start purging things.”
I hate that word purging because it implies throw away, but we need to be looking at everything that we’re looking that we have in asking the kids if they want it. They’re adults and everything. “Do you guys want this for your house? Do you want that?” Giving away those things to them, but then getting things online and starting to sell things to make it simple, because when it comes time, both of the kids have said to me, “When you guys sell, I’m going on vacation, because I don’t want to be there with all that stuff.” I said, “I get it.”
We have been pecking at this with the intent to get the house on the market. It’s ready. We Airbnb our house. It’s clean. It’s all of that. It’s just, “Don’t go look in the closets. Don’t go look in the basement. Don’t go look in the garage.” These are things I don’t want to sell, but these are things that I want to get rid of but don’t want to get rid of now. One of the things I think is cool about what you said is that people could save their down payment. Unfortunately for my area, when we downsize, we’re going to be downsizing to a million-dollar home on the lake. For us, we’ll never get our down payment, but what I was thinking is, there’s some furniture in my house that I don’t want to take to a new house. For me, it’s selling that furniture to accumulate cash to buy new furniture for my house.
That’s what you want to do and I think that’s a great way to look at it because you’re making it an achievable goal. Don’t think about, “Deb talks about creating wealth. I’m going to make enough money to buy my next house.” It’s more like, you may not be able to buy your next house with your online yard sales earnings, but you won’t have to paint it yourself, or you can think about, “This house needs a new kitchen. I think I can pay for the appliances with my online yard sales money.” That’s the key to make it measurable, but we’ve paid for a lot more than that. We’ve got a beautiful sports car in the driveway and something else that we were talking about. We have saved a lot of equity in our home because we didn’t move.
We repurposed many things in our home and it feels a lot bigger and we are still waiting for our dream house to find us. When it does, we will be ready to jump all over it. I’m happy about that. We were able to build up a little bit more equity in our home, and that’s another way to create wealth and comfort. Knowing that when we see that dream house, we can go for it. That’s the freedom that this mindset and lifestyle give to you. I think too, with your furniture from what I can see, it’s beautiful. What shame it would be to get rid of it in a rush. Snap some pictures, put it on a local furniture Facebook group and see what happens. You may think, “I don’t know if I want to get rid of it now,” but if somebody offers you $500 or $600 for it, you might say, “I’ll sell it.” Money is a great motivator and you don’t know until you try to sell it. I would say pick some things that you have no emotional attachment to, to start things that you wouldn’t even think twice about having to leave your space and see how easy it is and you’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.There's nothing like the feeling of cash in your hands. Click To Tweet
It’s funny you said that because my house already looks staged for a sale. If you are going to see my office, this is nice, but I probably won’t use it in my new house because my color schemes have changed. The problem for me is selling too many things and then having the house to bear because we’ve already done so much of it for the Airbnb. I’m definitely going to have to wait on it, but I want to make a point that you said and I’m thinking me, I’m looking for my dream house on the lake and it has to be on the water and I want it to be perfect.
If I’m taking a lump sum of cash with me and I’m looking at a kitchen that needs to be renovated, I may say no to that property if I don’t have that cash to renovate it. Instead of saying yes, because you can never change the location. You can change the house but you can’t change the location of it. Being able to say, “I might be able to find a cheaper house instead of a bigger house. I may be able to find a less expensive house because I have a lump sum of cash, bringing it with me that’s dedicated to doing renovations.” You have more equity in your house immediately.
You’re doing things in a way where you’re changing it. You’re disrupting what people usually do when they buy a second home or even a first home. You’re looking at it differently. Rather than trying to outstretch yourself so thin, you’re looking at it where the most important thing to me is the location. I’m not going to budge on that and then you can go from there being very clear about your vision of what you want and doing what you can to make that happen. I think that’s fantastic.
Let’s talk about Dave Ramsey for a moment. That example I gave you of Isagenix and the nine days is the same thing that happened with me with Dave Ramsey. I went through the course and my kids had to go through the course. As soon as they were old enough, they went through the course, their spouses went through the course. I have sent clients through the course because there’s a mind shift there. When I’m shopping, I’m thinking, “What’s the cash in my pocket?” Because statistics have found that it’s less painful to use a credit card then more painful to use a debit card and even more painful to use cash. This is why people walk around with plastic because it’s less pain. They’re throwing their credit card around. We used to call it charge when we went shopping because it’s less painful to use plastic. I know that that’s changed my mindset too. What are your thoughts and what do you have in the book relative to the mindset of money as a general concept?
It’s important that you brought that up. I love Dave Ramsey’s theories about debt snowball. Many of his ideas are great. I love his books and his podcast. In the book, I talk about the importance of using cash to be solvent. Some of the richest people that I know personally use a cash envelope system. How basic is that? We all have envelopes in our homes and you can see the money that you have and when you pay a contractor or somebody who’s doing work for you and you use cash because many times they might require that, it’s this new feeling of it is paid for free and clear, “I can truly afford this. I can truly enjoy it,” rather than trying to take out a second mortgage to pay for something or putting it on the credit card.
This is a natural barrier for us. That’s something that I talked about in the book where if you use your credit card, there’s no shut off. We have a credit limit that you have to be mindful of, but it doesn’t stop you from over buying at the food store or over buying at Target. If you have a set amount of cash in your wallet, that’s what you’re going to be able to spend that particular day. That’s important for changing your spending habits. One of the things that I love about online yard sales is that a lot of the transactions are cash. The quarantine has changed that a little bit. I’ve done a lot more Venmo or PayPal payment basically because of being germ conscious.
It’s cash out of your bank account.
There’s nothing like the feeling of cash in your hands. Many times, I’ll sell something for $25 and then I’ll take that cash with me to my nail salon and go get a manicure or pedicure. That’s like mad money and you never get too old for that. It’s like getting my new birthday card. It’s free money that was dropped in your lap. I know that Dave Ramsey would want me to put that in a savings account first.
Your emergency basket or whatever. That’s your decision. That’s why budgeting is so important.
It’s a great feeling. I’d rather have that experience of pampering than that baby gear item that I don’t need anymore. It’s trading that out and treating myself and doing self-care and having the online yard sales pay for it. It’s a great system and a lot of good positive reinforcement for the whole effort.
It will help your mindset as well. I want to ask you, if someone’s reading this and the whole purpose of this is for people to be able to share with other people something that they heard. We have people in these difficult times that are doing fantastic and we have people that are not. The timing is good to help people find more money in their house, find more cash in their house so they can make their mortgage payments and they can pay for food or whatever it is because maybe they’re not making ends meet. It is Dave Ramsey says that the month runs longer than your money or you run out of money and your month is shorter. If someone’s reading this and they’ve never done online anything.
I go to marketplace all the time to find used things. I’m definitely a reuser. It’s a Dave Ramsey thing, but I think it has been ingrained for years about that. I’ve had one brand new car in my entire life. Everything was used. Almost new, but beautiful, but never new. If someone has never done this, never gone on Facebook Marketplace or into the Facebook groups themselves into different groups where you post these things, what are 1 or 2 tips that you could share with them about getting started so they don’t feel like, “This is a weird world. I heard these nasty things about Craigslist and people getting hurt.” What are some things that people could do to get this started, to get some cash in their pocket to help them through this period or any other period?
One little small step to take would be to join some of the groups on Facebook. You might be surprised that you’ll be in good company. I have found a lot of times when I joined a new Facebook online yard sale group, I’ll see maybe 30 mutual friends in that group. I think, “Why didn’t they tell me they were doing this? This is such a great idea. What a great group.” Find some groups that you can join and poke around and you’ll say, “I have one of those. I could sell that for $50.” Try to look in Facebook as if you were looking for a new friend. You type in the name of your town or city, plus the words garage sale or online yard sale or tag sale and a couple of listings will come up. Request to join it for free and then once you’re in it, start looking around and get inspired. One media person that I had an interview with said that one of the reasons why she wanted to talk to me about online yard sales is because she found that it was absolutely a way to sustain herself through unemployment.
He was between jobs a few years ago and she supported herself for a full year because of what she sold on eBay. From that or if you flip items, there’s so much cash that’s tied up in the things that are in our house. We all have things that we can get rid of without thinking twice about. That’s where you should start. If that piece a couple of bills for you or that gives you a free trip to the grocery store, it’s a big boost for you. It’s good encouragement. It’s within your power. You can do it. You can take control of your stuff. That’s something that I’d love to leave with people who are facing a little bit of financial hardship here. The community is out there to help you.It's important for our kids as a lesson to learn not to be so attached to their things. Click To Tweet
It’s not only for financial hardship. This is for fun money. This is for cleaning out your house and feeling an opportunity to breathe because maybe you shouldn’t buy another house. Maybe you have enough room. You have to find the room, it’s for people that are looking to move and want to be prepared in advance, and maybe use that money for down payment or use it to do some renovations, maybe find a house that needs some TLC. What else is it for? It feels like there’s a fifth thing that is for, but it seems like this is a great way. I think this is also good for kids. I was thinking about this for my grandkids. I don’t know why grandkids always have an accumulation of stuffed animals. They carry them around.
My eldest granddaughter decided to going to go through it and she was going to gift them to her sister, which still didn’t take them out of the house, but it did move them down to gift them to the sister. This is a good thing for them to learn, even if they had their little garage sale to get rid of all the extra toys and stuff that they have because that accumulation is something that they get tied to and their house is a crazy disaster and it’s nothing against my kids. They get gifts and they get more gifts. They don’t buy them anything. My kids don’t buy them a single thing because they have so much family that everybody’s buying them all this stuff that would be a good exercise for them to do to help them learn how to release and not consume.
It’s important for our kids as a lesson to learn not to be so attached to their things. Yes, there are those favorite toys and dolls, but this is a good lesson for them. In the book, I talked about when I was cleaning out my son’s room with him, he found a collection of things he didn’t use anymore. Each item of the collection was $10 to $15 and there was probably $50 to $100 worth of things tied up in that one little tiny bin. He said, “I’d rather have that money back.” That helps me when we go toy shopping. I remind him of that example. These are all teachable moments for the kids and they should be involved in the process because you want to make this a lifestyle change.
For them, when they get older because we’re such a world of consumers.
I say to my kids, “If you want to sell this, I’ll give you the money and you can take you to do something fun that you want to do.” I might’ve already paid for the item that they were going to do if we were going to go out for ice cream or whatever, but they don’t have to know that. They feel like they’re using their own money. They like to use their own money. They feel good about it. You’re giving that as a gift to your kids so they can learn how to manage their own stuff and learn how to manage their finances. It’s a very important and age-appropriate lesson for kids.
I want to say thank you for joining me and sharing all these great ideas. It’s the simplistic nature of it that changes our mindset so that we can move forward either emotionally or physically, because we’re in the confines of our house or we can move forward financially and that’s important. Even if it’s a little drip of extra cash, it helps. I wish you all the best in your book. If people want to come in and have you talk on their show or at their company or with their clients, that’s good. I think you have some type of a quick start thing, don’t you have an offer that you’re doing?
We’ll get that up there as well so that people can go to that. Is that an evergreen where people can go on their own pace?
You can fly through it, do it as many times as you like and that’s the beauty of it.
You don’t have to do all this on your own. You’re going to have Deb there helping you. I want to ask you one last question. Do you have a quote that you live by or love that you’d like to share that with everyone?
That’s a tough one because I love self-improvement books and everything. I think that I love the quote by Mark Twain, where he says something like, “I’m worrying about things that are in the future that never even happened. Anxiety is worrying about things that could happen that most of the time don’t even happen.” That’s something that I like to think about. Just go for it. Don’t worry about the things that could be bad that might happen. What if it’s even better than you imagined? Don’t let your fear stop you.
What if they could be this, could be better than you could have ever imagined, it could change your entire life because it changed your mindset, your emotional state about the monetization of things. Realizing what’s important in your heart, which we’re all experiencing during COVID is that we’re coming closer and closer to our families. I hope. I know there’s some people that aren’t, but I know we’re getting closer because we’re there for each other and we’re leaning on each other. Deb, thank you for joining us. I appreciate your insight and wisdom. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for having me, Jen. I loved talking with you about this.
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- Deb Colameta
- The Jennifer Hammond Show
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About Deb Colameta
Deb Colameta found a formula for decluttering and financial success by leveraging the power of online yard sales.
Her #1 best-selling book Best Offer, Best Life! uses entertaining stories to motivate people to sell household excess through social media.
She hosts the popular podcast Upcycling with Deb.
She runs live workshops and webinars (DEBinars) that help people learn how to achieve selling success online.
Deb also has her own communication consulting business and teaches at a university in Boston, where she lives with her husband and two kids.
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