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Garage Sale Shopping Tips


It’s that time of year… the time of year you start to see those handmade fluorescent signs staked to every corner that read an assortment of phrases like: “RUMMAGE SALE”, “GARAGE SALE”, “YARD SALE”, “HUGE SALE”, etc.

For some people, there is nothing more exciting than driving around the neighborhood and catching sight of those fluorescent signs and a lawn full of multicolored clothing, furniture, and trinkets.

Though most garage sales are full of great deals on items that cost a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere, there are still multiple ways to save even more.

Here are 7 garage sale shopping tips to help you save

Make a list

The worst thing you can do as a bargain shopper is to spend more money than you initially wanted to on things you’re never going to use. All too often, the adrenaline of great deals gets the best of us and soon you find your arms full of items you never knew you needed. Therefore, avoid overspending with a list, buying only the items you truly want and will use. Of course, there are always some exceptions but having a list can help you avoid overspending on extra items.

Determine a budget

You can lose a lot of money shopping at garage sales if you aren’t careful. Knowing how much you can afford to spend (as well as what you want to buy) can make your garage sale shopping experience a positive one, rather than a regrettable one. You will undoubtedly see a lot of interesting and unique items, but to avoid going broke, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” And by all means, don’t buy things just because they are cheap or a good deal. That money can be better spent going toward items that you truly need.

Research the sales

Before wasting your time and money on gas driving around in search of that fluorescent sale sign, take note and research. Often you will see neighborhood sales posted in a local coffee shop or around town. When you see these signs, take note, and mark it on your calendar. Technology makes it even easier to research garage sales online as well as helps you plot your treasure map.  Craigslist and Facebook are great resources to find out when, where and what type of items will be at a sale. There are also several garage sale apps to help you research sales and plot your sale agenda.

Go at the right time

Either the early bird gets the worm, or the owl cleans up at night.
One of the best times to visit a garage sale is early morning, just as the sale starts. Big ticket items will likely be sold within the first couple of hours and fewer items will be picked through, so get there early. The good stuff goes fast!

Going later in the day also has its benefits. Sellers are more likely to reduce their price or be more willing to bargain as the day wears on, as it’s never pleasant to have to pack up and put a bunch of unsold items back into storage.

Take cash

Always take plenty of cash, especially small bills, and change. A seller may be more willing to bargain if they see you only have small bills vs. larger bills. Or sometimes sellers don’t have change and it could be the difference between spending $18 versus $20 on a must have item. The worst way to bargain is to haggle a price down from $1.00 to $.50 and pay with a $20 bill, so always bring small bills to bargain.

Negotiate prices

Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices especially if your offer is within reason. Most sellers price their items high knowing that they will be talked down, so never pay sticker price. As mentioned earlier, timing is everything and going to a garage sale later in the day, can open the door for negotiation and better deals.

Bundle your purchases

Sellers want to get rid of stuff just as much as they want to make a buck, so they’re probably more likely to give you a great deal on four items then just one. Therefore, bundle your purchases and offer one price for all items. Bundling your purchases is a great way to bargain.

Garage sales are filled with enticing items and deals but ask yourself “Do I really need this?” before making a purchase. The best way to save money at a garage sale is to know what you need and to be aware of what you don’t need.

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.” -Will Rogers

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