Now that the sun has finally come out of hiding, so has all the winter dust and clutter.
In different cultures spring cleaning was when you shook your house by cleaning, scouring and dusting the floors, ceilings, bedding, and knickknacks. It gives you a feeling of a fresh start to the new year. When you start cleaning what do you do with all the stuff that you don't need anymore? There are many options available, most of which eliminate the option of throwing your stuff into the trash.
Many of us have outgrown, never-used items that are in great shape but we don't want or need them anymore. The rule of thumb is if you haven't worn or used the item in the past year, get rid of it. Nowadays the options can be monetarily or inspirationally rewarding. But remember that when you donate items to a local thrift shop or consignment store, your goal is to get rid of things. Do not be tempted to buy anything.
■ Wal-Mart is now accepting used video games for store credit. Just bring your working video game, in the original packaging, to the electronics department. The associate will scan the UPC code on the case and evaluate the game for obvious damage. You will then be provided with a trade-in value for each game accepted. The credit can immediately be used at any Wal-Mart or Sam's Club.
■ Half Price Book Stores will pay you cash for your books, music, movies, games, game consoles and e-readers. Just bring your merchandise to sell to your local store to get a fair cash value for your items.
■ There are many local consignment stores that sell top quality in-season items for you in exchange for a portion of the sale. Ladybug Landing accepts children's and maternity clothing on consignment; for upscale clothing check out Stephen Lawrence LTD or Sassy Fox. Just bring items to the store and ask what percentage they take of the sale and what happens when items do not sell. If you want cash in hand when you bring your clothes in, take it to shops that pay you upfront like Plato's Closet or Clothes Mentor.
■ If you have larger items like furniture and outdoor equipment check out Internet classifieds like Craigslist.org and eBayclassifieds.com. You can find local buyers that are responsible for hauling the items away. Remember when selling locally, don't give out your home address or phone number. Ask potential buyers for their contact information.
I recommend calling nonprofits before dropping off your donations. That way you'll know what they accept and what hours they are open.
There are many worthy organizations that accept clothes, furniture and other household items. Goodwill, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity are some of the larger ones. If you are looking for that smaller organization that could use your help, check out the following places:
■ Military Missions at 3650 Boston Road sends care packages to the soldiers for major holidays plus throughout the year. They accept movies, magazines, travel games, puzzles and toiletries, etc. Call: (859) 221-9477.
■ What should you do with all those books you've read but don't want to throw away? Friends of the Library accepts donations of books, DVDs, CDs or videos. Just drop them off at any Lexington Public Library or at the Friends Book Cellar located at Central Library Main Street — bottom floor. Call: (859) 231-5505.
■ Dress for Success, 1301 Winchester Road, in the Eastland Shopping Center, helps women get back into the workforce by providing them with appropriate attire for a job interview. Donations can consist of clean business suits, skirts, blouses, accessories and shoes. Call: (859) 231-7848.
■ If you can't find any place for your items, check out Freecycle.org before trashing them. This a web-based local recycling network.
■ When cleaning your house, don't forget about all your paperwork, bills, mail and other junk. A perfect time to tackle this task is right after you file your taxes. Office Depot is offering a coupon for five pounds of free shredding. http://bit.ly/1bL86Pm
■ Home Depot and Lowe's will accept compact fluorescent light bulbs. Do not throw them in the trash.
■ Drop off old car batteries or used oil at Advance Auto Parts stores.
■ Kids eat free at Olive Garden with purchase of adult entrée until April 5 with coupon. http://bit.ly/NVUvjJ
■ Get a free GNC gold card and free shaker cup when you show a valid college ID at GNC stores. Offer expires March 31. http://on.fb.me/1jyGlUx
■ Mrs. Dash Seasoning Mix is giving away samples every week until May 26. Like Mrs. Dash on its Facebook page and check out the giveaways starting on Monday.
■ People Magazine is offering 10 free county music downloads by top artists. http://bit.ly/1j8TSiI
■ Print out a coupon for a buy one get one free 4.5 pound bag of Rocky Mountain Plains Stampede formula dog food. http://bit.ly/1h0bsAj
■ With purchase of kids meal at Subway receive a free Muppets Most Wanted backpack.
Deborah Morris' weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get through these economic hard times a little more easily. If you know of a way to save some money, feel free to share it on The Fru-Gal blog on BluegrassMoms.com and visit her Web site, Fru-gal-friends.com.