I know that in the personal finance blogosphere we are always telling you to save your money, be frugal, increase your income, cut your expenses and avoid impulse shopping when you can. But being frugal and exercising intentional spending is all about being resourceful and taking advantage of deals when they come your way.
With garage sale season among us, it’s the perfect time to stock up and replenish with items that you need for your household for a fraction of the price you’d be asked to pay at a store. There are definitely quite a few hidden gems that could be found. Last summer I purchased several good quality shirts for my son for 25 cents each along with end tables for my living room at a rock bottom price.
If you don’t see anything wrong with buying gently used items, you’ll definitely be able to find success at garage and yard sales. Here are 5 ways to help you spend less and save big while scoring some great items at garage sales in your neighborhood this summer.
Make a List of What You Need
Most people go to garage sales to browse and don’t really have a clear plan of what they would like to purchase. The only way this technique will get you what you want and need is if you happen to luck upon some interesting items. If you want to get more bang for your buck when you visit yard sales, you’ll need to create a strategy and shop more intentionally.
You can start by creating a list of your wants and needs for the summer. Whether you’re looking for items for kids, a bike, clothes, lamps, furniture, etc. put everything on your garage sale summer bucket list. That way, when you randomly stop by a sale, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and you won’t have to waste time or money on useless knick-knacks.
Search For Upcoming Garage Sales Online
Sites like Craigslist, Yard Sale Search, and Garage Sale Hunter are great resources to use to locate upcoming garage sales so you can plan ahead. The best thing about tracking garage sales online is that most listings will include a summary of items that the sale will include so you can determine whether you will find anything interesting before you leave your home. It’s best to stay local with garage sales and avoid traveling too far especially if you didn’t place an item on hold.
Considering how much time you have you should try to stop by several sales to increase your chances of finding the perfect items. Even if you’re going to a few sales that are local, it’s important to bring a neighborhood map or figure out directions so you won’t lose time wandering around or just get lost completely.
Bring Cash and Be Prepared to Barter
Bringing cash to a garage sale should be obvious because 99.9% of the time, people will only accept cash payments. However, determining how much cash to bring can be a little tricky. It’s important to set a budget for your garage sale spending this summer to avoid going overboard because small purchases can still add up quite a bit.
Also don’t be afraid to barter. With some people, bartering might not work so you’ll have to make a judgement based on the vibe you get from the garage sale host. The last thing you want to do is offend them or create an issue so I’d say barter sparingly when the time is right, and don’t just do it if you’re trying to be cheap. If you’re interested in an item that you honestly believe is overpriced, try to talk the owner down.
Depending on the circumstances like the size of the item, condition, means of transportation needed for you to get it home and so on, most times they will be willing to reason with you for the sake of ridding themselves of the object. It’s certainly worth a try.
Look For Free Items
Most yard sales have free items whether it’s a box of toys or clothes to look through, golf clubs, fishing poles or even larger items like a radio or a television. It’s easy to assume that the person hosting a garage sale would want to sell all their items for profit but some people just want to get rid of their possessions once and for all. That’s where frugal deal seekers like us come in.
Go Early or Late
If you want to score big at garage sales without spending a ton of money, the time you choose to go may become a factor. If you go first thing in the morning, you’ll get first dibs on the best items and owners will most likely be in the best mood and more hopeful which will increase your chances of being able to barter successfully.
If you choose to go late when people are scheduled to close up shop soon, you may not be able to snag the best items but you will probably get the best deal. If there are still a lot of items left toward the end of a garage sale, owners may start to offer things at half price of free just to get rid of them.
Do you enjoy stopping by garage sales during the summer in search of deals? Do you use any of these techniques? What is the best deal you found at a garage sale?