There are lots of great deals to be had at yard sales and garage sales. They can be a Frugal Monster's dream, or nightmare. They can be a dream come true when you find that perfect score that you've been waiting for. They can also turn into the world's worst nightmare when you don't know how to pass up that great deal. Here are some tips that I've learned from my many years of scouring yard sales:
- Its not a great deal if you don't need it (or love it). Only buy things you will use or that you need. Now, the one exception is if you resell things on ebay. But you have to know your prices in order for this to work. If you buy something at a yard sale for $3, but it will only sell on ebay for $3.50, is it really worth the time and effort?
- If you collect things (I collect fabric and vintage pyrex) you must know when enough is enough. I'm struggling with this right now with my fabric stash. If I find a great deal its really, really hard for me to pass it up. But I am drowning in my fabric now so I must work through some of it before I can add any more.
- Make a list of things you need. At the beginning of every yard sale season I make a list (either a mental list or an actual pen/paper list) of things I want to keep an eye out for that year. This year I'm looking for a few more crockpots in various sizes (easy to find at yard sales) and some supplies to get started in soap making. I'm also looking for a sturdy book case and dresser that I can refinish. My husband usually works on weekends and he will often arm me with a list of tools or other various "manly" items to look for.
- Check craigslist on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings and list out the sales you'd like to check out. List them in the order you'd like to go. I try to do a circle hitting ones close to my house, going further out into town and then circling back towards home from the other direction. I also keep an eye out for signs on the way, as a lot of people don't post on craigslist, but rely solely on signs.
- Take cash. Decide your budget for the day and only take that much cash. This will help keep your spending in check.
- Don't be afraid to barter. Most people expect it. I'll admit that its outside of my comfort zone and I tend to do it more often if I'm purchasing multiple items. If I have 3 or 4 things in my hand that total $5.00, I'll usually ask them if they'd accept $4 for the lot. I only rarely have people come back and ask for more. Usually they just say "sure" and they're glad to get rid of the stuff.
- I am in love with vintage, mid century stuff. So I have found that church rummage sales, estate sales and other networking groups (Eagles, Lion's Club, etc....) sales tend to be jack pots for me.
- If you plan to make a day of it, pack a snack and some water. You can't focus and you lose interest if you start to get hungry. Most yard sales will sell bottles of water for $1.00. I can get several yards of fabric for that!!!!
- If you are yard saleing with children (and they are old enough) give them a budget for the day also. I give my kids plastic baggie's and they throw some change from their piggy banks in them. In the past they have found treasures that they "had to have" but neither had enough money. They pooled their change together and both were happy. It teaches them valuable budgeting skills.
That's my basic list of things to keep in mind while yard saleing. Come back and let me know if you find any great scores this season ~ I'd love to hear about them!
~The Frugal Monster