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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, it's Day to Day. And some tips about how you can squeeze some money into your budget for holiday shopping, and you don't even have to get another job. No, with a cool unsentimental eye, think about what you could live without, and start digging in your closet, in your garage, and hold a yard sale, sell online, or go to a consignment shop. Day to Day's personal finance contributor, Michelle Singletary, is here to tell you how to do it. Michelle.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Yes. Hi.

BRAND: What's the first step?

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, I think one of the most effective ways, the tried and true way, is to have a garage sale. I always tease people who have garages, where's your car parked? And nine out of 10 times, it's parked in the driveway because you have so much stuff in your garage. And then go through your house, go through your closets, your kid's closets. I mean, there a lot of women out there who have clothes in their closet with price tags still on it. And so, this is one of the best ways to get rid of things in your house, declutter your house, and make some extra money.

BRAND: How much can you make?

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, it was interesting. According to the home business center, the average household can make about $600 profit from a one-weekend garage sale. Now, that's a pretty good amount of money. I mean, it certainly would take care of some holiday shopping this year.

BRAND: OK. So, people should just do that. Just open up their garage, put out their stuff that they don't want, and you know, hope people buy it? Is that...

SINGLETARY: Well, I hope you do a little bit of work before you have the garage sale. It does take a little bit of work. You want - basically, research your items. See what you have in your house. See what they're going for at other garage sales. Like visit the competition before you decide to have a garage sale. Go around the neighborhood and see how people are doing and what they're selling.

You also want to check with the local officials to see what local laws and regulations you need to adhere to, if there are any. You know, and here's a really good trick. Price the items for more than you want because anybody who goes to garage sale or a flea market wants to bargain. So, if you want a dollar for those pair of pants, you know, put it on for two dollars, so that people feel like they're getting a deal. The retailers do it all the time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: As we are seeing now, right?

SINGLETARY: That's right. And listen, talk to your neighbors. You could maybe have - like, I live on a cul-de-sac. And if you talk to all your neighbors, you could all have tables out and do sort of a community garage sale. You get more people in, and, you know, you could all pool the funds and the split it among all of you or each take your own part. But, that's a good way to generate more business for your garage sale.

BRAND: OK. So what about other methods, selling online or going to a consignment shop?

SINGLETARY: You know, it's interesting. Consignment selling is up. Even as we see a lot of retail businesses going out of business and closing stores - like one of my favorite stores, Linens 'n Things, is going out of business - but the one area that's showing growth is consignment stores. ..TEXT: There are a growth of consignment stores. And more people are taking their things to consignment shops. And you know, there are two ways to make money. They either pay you outright for the things, or you give it to them on consignment, and then they sell it, and they give you a percentage of what they make, typically, anywhere from 25, probably more on the 50 percent range. You also have to watch out for administrative fees because they'll charge you because they are taking on the sales effort to sell your stuff.

BRANDS: And then you can also go on Craigslist?

SINGLETARY: That's right, Craigslist, eBay. You know, do a lot of research before you do those because there's a whole procedure involve, and you want to set up a payment system so that you can get your funds. And be very, very careful about scams. You want to do a little research before you try to sell some of your items online. But that is an effective way to raise money, and lots of people are doing that. They have set up all of those, you know, side businesses by selling their things online.

BRAND: Michelle Singletary is the person finance columnist for the Washington Post, where she writes the Color of Money column. Thanks, Michelle.

SINGLETARY: You're welcome.

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