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Here's How To Get Your Kids To Give Up Their Old Toys

When you dig into that cupboard and pull out a barely used toy, it's like a radar signal goes off in your kids' bedrooms, no matter how far away.

You're all set to go. You've got boxes for sorting "keep" or "release" items, because the kids have outgrown so many things in the past few years and you're feeling swamped from all of the clutter. It's spring cleaning time, after all. But as you dig into that cupboard and pull out a barely used toy, it's like a radar signal goes off in their bedrooms, no matter how far away.

"Mom! I still use that," they cry.

"You haven't looked at it for two years," you say.

"But I might," they insist.

They'll clutch it to their chest as if their life depended on saving that toy. I'd blame movies for giving toys "human qualities," but it's been going on long before Toy Story anthropomorphized them. They'll stomp off, take it back to their room, put it on their bed and then ignore it completely, until you try to throw it out again.

The fact is, having unused items lying around the house is annoying because of the mess and room that it takes up. You could also be making some serious cash by selling them through the second-hand economy; garage sales, community sales, person to person or Kijiji.The average annual earnings for Canadians participating in the second-hand economy, according to the Second Hand Economy Index, was $1,134.

Selling is the relatively easy part, but parting with kids' items can be hard. And it's not just the kids: sometimes we don't want to sell old baby clothing or toys because they mean something to us. Just ask my husband about his Sentimental Shirt Collection.

Try these tips to help escape your 10-year old's (or 40-year-old's) mighty clutches.

1) Start a donations box in each of the kid's rooms. Encourage them to donate to this box every time they get a new toy, or outgrow clothing. It's sort of like a middle step to seeing it out the door. They can go back to the box and dig something out if they feel like it (they never will,) but having that control can make a difference when the box is moved from their closet out the front door.

2) Talk to them about how much money you, as a family, or they, can make by selling gently used items. It's up to you whether they get the money or you do, but I would suggest that toys or clothes that have been gifts really do belong to them, so they should at least get a percentage of what the item is sold for, if not the whole amount. You could start a separate bank account for the money earned.

3) Do the research with them. Go online and see what their treasures are really worth. To you, $10 may not be a lot of money, but for a kid this could represent their weekly allowance.

While you're searching online to see what you could sell items for, look at how much wanted items cost. Kids don't often have a good sense of how much margin is charged simply because you buy an item new, in a store or online, versus one in the second-hand economy. You'll probably learn something yourself.

This will set up the cycle of selling and buying online as a way of life, and could lead to you putting hundreds in your bank account in combined earnings and savings by year end.

4) Offer the kids the option to sell the items themselves. This could be through a garage sale, friends or online with your help, but let them set the price, take the pictures and write the description. The strategy here is to not ask them whether they want to sell an item or not, rather how they would like to handle the selling, or donating, of the item.

5) Simply take the items they no longer can use or want when they aren't at home. As a parent, you have this right, since you probably purchased most of the items in question. Chances are the kids will not remember a hardly used toy or favourite shirt that got too small, but if they do, be honest and let them know you donated it or sold it, in order to buy them a new toy they do use, or new clothes that fit their new size. Don't be defensive; it's practical and it is a great lesson on how to manage your resources.

Spring cleaning season can turn into money-making season for your family; cleaning out the cupboards and filling up the bank account is a win/win situation for everyone.

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