Money Smart Monday: 6 Tips for Successful Garage Sale Shopping

garage sale 300x237 Money Smart Monday: 6 Tips for Successful Garage Sale ShoppingI was compelled to follow two garage sale signs on my way home from dropping the kids off at art camp this morning.  I’m so glad I did because I was reminded what a great resource local garage sales can be!  Here’s my list of finds – most expense first:

  • Treadmill (w/ built in CD player) – $75
  • Espresso Desk with hutch – $20
  • Little Tyke’s Wagon – $10
  • Clothes & Shoes for 3 year old – $0.25 each
  • Kids’ books – $0.25 each
  • Assorted lengths of pine trim – $5 for the bundle (will be used for trellis and wall decorations)
  • 4 ft Metal Strips – $1 – for craft room
  • Dragonfly Thermometer – $0.50
  • 12″ Rawlings Baseball Glove – $1 (and already well oiled and broken in)
  • Basketball, soccer ball, 3 softballs and 6 tennis balls – $1 for all
  • Folding chair for sports events – $3
  • Sunglasses – $0.50 each
  • Barbie – Free

Total spent – $175

Less than just the treadmill alone would have been!

My point?  If you have the time, follow those signs every once in a while.  You can get some great stuff at garage sales for a fraction – literally pennies on the dollar – of what you would pay in a store – even a store like Goodwill.

Garage Sale Tips:

  1. Go to garage sales in expensive neighborhoods - they are likely to have high quality items for next to nothing (since they don’t really want the money, just want to empty their house.)
  2. Only buy things that you need.  How can you tell?  You would buy those items at full price if you hadn’t found them at the garage sale – such as clothes and toys for the kids.  You know you would buy those things anyway, so you are saving money rather than wasting it on things you don’t need.
  3. Know the value of items.  For example, if you know a baseball glove is normally $40, then getting it for $1 is a great deal.  If you’ve priced out treadmills and know they are $400 for the basic version brand new, $175 on Craigslist, and $100 at Goodwill – then you know $75 is a great buy.  But what if you pay $20 for a set of dishes that are only $30 brand new?  Yes, it may be ok, but it isn’t a screaming deal and you likely could have negotiated down further.
  4. Start early.  Most of the great deals will be taken pretty quickly, so it behooves you to be an early riser for garage sale shopping.  You want to be the first to see the $100 keyboard they are only asking $5 for, because you know it won’t be there by the afternoon.
  5. Go the last day.  Most people are having a garage sale to clear out room with making a little extra cash being a secondary objective.  They are likely going to take whatever doesn’t sell to Goodwill or some other donation place, so if you show up in the afternoon of the last day, they are almost guaranteed to practically give the items away.  Granted, you are picking through the dregs of what others didn’t want, but some things start off overpriced and so are still available in the afternoon when the sellers get more reasonable.
  6. Check Craigslist for a list of neighborhood sales.  You get the most bang for your buck (gas and time) when you can hit 5 or 6 (or more) garage sales all within a few blocks of each other.

What is your favorite garage sale find?

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