Today I’m thrilled to have Leah Ingram, author of “Toss, Keep, Sell!” as a guest blogger. Leah, one of my cyber-writer-friends, saw my post on timers a couple weeks ago and knew right away that this excerpt from her book would be perfect for my blog. Congratulations to Leah on her new project!

Your Timer and You, from “Toss, Keep, Sell!”

By Leah Ingram

I’m a huge fan of timers. When my kids were little, I used timers to “prepare” them for any change in activity that they faced in the near future. For example, I would set the timer for 10 minutes because in 10 minutes it would be time to get dressed, get in the bath, or go to bed, for example. I often used the timer on our kitchen stove, which gave a final “beep” at the one-minute mark. And whenever that final “beep” occurred, I’d hear my girls yelling from wherever they were, “One minute!” Hey, at least they were paying attention.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and now my daughters understand how using a timer can help them stay focused on getting their homework done or cleaning their room. I, too, use my timer all the time, especially when it comes to tackling my home’s clutter.

That’s why in each chapter of my new book “Toss, Keep, Sell! The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In” (Adams Media, 2010), I’ve created something I’m calling a “Quick Clutter Challenge.” Here’s how it works.

You set your timer for 15 minutes, and I challenge you to collect a certain kind of clutter.

Considering that we’ve all got kids in common, today’s guest blog post focuses on a “Quick Clutter Challenge” involving kids things.

I’m talking toys, games and books.

Chances are your kids’ playroom is cluttered with things they have grown out of. Well, guess what? Instead of collecting dust, you could be collecting some cold, hard cash for them–or at least trading them in for other stuff you need and can get for free.

So set your timer for 15 minutes and head into the playroom or your kids’ bedrooms. Find things that you know they’re just too old for, are still in good condition, and don’t hold any strong sentimental value. Again, focus on books, toys, and games only so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Now that you’ve identified what you can get rid of, you have to decide: do I want to sell this? Do I want to swap this? Or, do I want to donate this?

Here are two places that can help you in this respect:

You can try your hand at kid-oriented consignment shops that give you cash on the spot, such as Plato’s Closet (Note: Plato’s Closet is geared more towards tweens and teens, even their books and DVDs.) (

You can swap their old books and movies at a site like PaperBackSwap, where you send away the books and DVDs you don’t want anymore, then bank your “points” so you can get books and movies in the future that you want for free. (

Or you can donate them to a good cause of your choice and get a receipt you can use on your tax return.

Overall, you will end up with a neater playroom and maybe some extra cash in your wallet.

Copyright 2010 Leah Ingram, Reprinted with permission from Toss, Keep, Sell! The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In (Adams Media, 2010)

One Response to “Guest Blogger: Leah Ingram, author of “Toss, Keep, Sell””

  1. Rosey says:

    All excellent suggestions, and great use of the timer for us grown ones! Glad to see you guest writing on one of my favorite blogs!

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