budget talk

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Garage Sales

It’s garage sale season again. You might be the buyer or even the one holding the sale. Either way, here are some tips for successful bargain hunting or selling.

For the Buyer
Scout the Papers
Most people place ads in their local newspapers the week before their actual sale date. This gives you plenty of time to look through the listings and see what’s being offered and if it’s even worth the drive to the neighborhood. If anything does catch your eye, make a note and plan your route starting with the most promising sale first.

Don’t Impulse Buy
I’ve done this myself and it’s tempting…buying items you don’t really need, but they look good and the price is right. I can guarantee these are the items that will end up in your own garage sale a few months later.

Take Measurements, Take a Tape Measure
If I’m looking for items that need to fit into a certain space, I’ll make a note of the measurements and take a tape measure along with me too. Buying something that doesn’t fit in your house and you can never use, no matter what the price, isn’t very budget smart.

Most of us are shy when it comes time to make an offer on items, but at garage sales it’s almost par for the course, so don’t be bashful. I always tell myself the seller can only say no or tell me he or she is willing to split the difference. And you’ve got more room for negotiation if you buy more than one item, or head to the sale on the last day.

For the Seller
Get Organized
Don’t leave everything to the last minute so you have to rush around pricing everything an hour or so before the sale.

Give Perfect Directions
Make sure everyone knows how to get to your sale. And don’t forget to put signs up in the most heavily traveled area in your neighborhood.

Have Some Cash
Make sure you have plenty of cash to give as change, dimes, nickels, quarters, and plenty of dollar bills.

Be Secure
I hate to say it, but not everyone heads to sales to buy things, but rather they look for opportunities to make some money for themselves. Don’t let anyone in your house. I’ve had people ask if they can go inside to try on some piece of clothing or could they go inside and make a phone call because their car won’t start. These might be honest people, but why take a chance? I now take a phone outside with me, another great security move anyway.
Also, decide ahead of time if you want to take checks. I’ve never had any bounce, but I’ve known people who have. If you don’t want to take a check, make sure you write cash only on a sign where everyone can see it.
And keep your money close to you at all times. My favorite was a box with a lock, but if someone calls you away to ask a question about an item, there’s always a risk of it getting stolen. Now I wear an apron with pockets and keep the money with me at all times. Also, if I’ve just sold a lot of items or a large item and have at least $50, I’ll take the money inside the house.
Another tip, make sure you put the money into the bank asap. And if you can, have a helper, you’re less vulnerable if someone’s with you.

Do Some Research
Check out what the product retails for and compare your item. Is it new? Is it still in the box? And price everything clearly.

Give Away a Few Freebies
I always have a box at the end of the driveway and put a sign ‘free items please take’ on it. It’s the first thing that greets your visitors. It could be items you were going to throw away anyway. Flower pots, kid’s toys, paperback books etc. I’ve found people feel almost obligated to buy something if they’ve taken something free from you.

Have a Plan for Leftovers
Don’t drag everything back into the house. Hold the sale close to the day that local charities will be in your area picking up merchandise. And don’t forget to keep receipts for next year’s taxes.

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