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Selling the leftovers

Craigslist and eBay have given homeowners with extra stuff in their garages, basements and attics an opportunity to get the best prices for their junk ñ otherwise known as another person’s treasure. Despite the Internet, the garage sale remains popular, but everyone is enjoys the tax benefits of donating the leftovers.According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term ìrummage saleî has been used since the 19th century. The original spelling ìromageî referred to the ìsale of unclaimed goods at docks, or of odds and ends left in a warehouse.îGarage sales in the United States started after World War II as a way for Americans to get rid of the mass of consumer goods they purchased during the post-war boom. By the 1970s, many families had garage sales around the country, according to a history of the yard sale published by The online garage sale concept was started in 1995, with the creation of eBay and craigslist.Donating items to charities in exchange for a tax break on personal income taxes also has a long history. A report by Marquette University Law School stated that the War Income Tax Revenue Act of 1917 included the original charitable contribution deduction. Legislators had hoped the deduction would motivate philanthropy among the wealthy. Today, organizations such as Goodwill Industries, Arc and Catholic Charities depend on donations to their thrift stores and food banks.Falcon residents are loyal members of the garage sale culture. The ability to turn a large amount of excess items into cash at once is a strong draw. ìQuite frankly, it’s laziness,î said Susan Ballou, a Meridian Ranch resident who hosted a garage sale in June. ìI could make an extra $10 on a coffee maker if I put it online, but then I have to take pictures and do that work.îJennifer Littrell, another Meridian Ranch garage sale host, agreed that having a garage sale requires less time than listing each individual item on eBay. ìI put up the ads and everything goes out this morning, which probably took an hour or so and another hour to put the rest away,î Littrell said.Meeting and chatting with the neighbors is another reason to have a garage sale, Ballou said. ìI enjoy the social aspect of it, too. I could sit here and talk all day to some of the people who come through,î she said.Going to garage sales has become a cultural phenomenon as well, to the point that ìyard salingî has become a slang term, much like ìantiquing.î Some enjoy looking for and negotiating great deals on necessities. ìI’m super cheap,î Ballou said. ìIf I can buy a chair for $20 and then later resell it for $2, I think of it as if I got to rent a nice chair for a couple years for only $18.îìI find really good items at bargain and steal prices,î said Janet McMonigal, who frequents garage sales in Falcon. ìI did my whole front yard from garage sales by buying up peoples’ excess rock, grass dividers and weed fabric that they over-bought.î She said she likes to go ìsalingî with friends. ìA girlfriend and I like to ride our bikes through the whole neighborhood and stop at the sales,î McMonigal said. ìAnything we want to buy we give them the money then, and write down the address to come back with the car in the afternoon.îSome people have made yard ìsalingî a business. Littrell said a few of the early birds to her garage sale were professional yard ìsalers.î ìWe had a lady who was buying to stock her thrift store,î she said. ìAnd we had another guy who was talking about refinishing some of the furniture in order to resell it.îTo beat the professional shopper, McMonigal said people should go early in the day to garage sales or be quick when searching online.Both the Ballou and Littrell families said they were planning on trying craigslist first and then donating the leftovers from their garage sales. Ballou said this was her first time selling higher-ticket items at a garage sale instead of online. ìThis is kind of an experiment this time,î she said. ìI figured if I can save on shipping and save on having it sit in the closet for another year, then that would be good. Plus, I’m flexible on these, so I figured I would get some takers.îPatrick Littrell said several of the tables they were selling were also listed on craigslist. ìUsually, whatever we don’t sell, we’ll donate to Goodwill, Arc or Habitat for Humanity,î Eric Ballou said.When donating to charities, keep accurate records to get the most out of the tax deduction.ìDon’t just write down that you donated four bags of clothes,î said Cary LaVigne of LaVigne Accounting Pros. ìItemize it by quantity and type. You will be able to get a much larger tax deduction.î

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