My husband and I love to go to yard sales. I am very lucky because my husband loves them just as much or more than me. You never know what you will find. I have found vintage Disney items, high end kitchen wares, and rare toys. Unfortunately, you can overspend even on a day of yard sailing. Here are a few tips I use to save money on bargain hunting.
- Make a list. Are you searching for something specific? This doesn’t have to be super specific like getting a blue shirt with Tinkerbell on it. Choosing a few general categories works best.
- Research current market values on things you want to buy. With the economy the way it is, people are trying to get top dollar for the things they are selling, that doesn’t mean you have to pay it. Check Ebay, online yard sale sites, Craigslist, and even big box clearance sales for what items are really going for.
- Map out your yard sales. Try to go to one specific area, so you are not driving all over town and wasting gas. Craigslist has a yard sale section where many people submit their yard sale. My husband and I usually find a couple community yard sales to go to and keep an eye out for random sales along the way. That usually works unless people don’t take down their signs- which is more common than not and then you are chasing rabbit trails.
- Set a limit of how much you are going to spend. With yard sales, it is pretty easy to do this since they only take cash most of the time. Take how much you are willing to spend and put it in your pocket. Discuss this limit with your spouse. Figure out why you want to spend the money as well. * Put larger bills inside, smaller bills out. Make them think you have less than you really do.
- Carefully inspect the items you are thinking of buying. I remember one yard sale where I saw these really cute M&M train parts. My husband collects them so I decided to buy them at 10¢ a piece. I bought maybe 8 of them. Turns out some of the them had been chewed on and weren’t in the greatest condition. I know 20¢ or so isn’t a lot– but every bit adds up.
- Take your time. Part of the fun of going to yard sales is checking out other peoples’ stuff. If you see something you like, continue to browse– you might find something else you like better.
- Pick the correct time to go. The end of the sale is better than the beginning. A lot of people don’t really want to pack up all their stuff and put it back. They want to get rid of it. Prices become lower and sometimes even FREE.
- Think of the value, rather than the condition. Can you restore or upcycle that particular item to match your needs? Can you take that 5¢ t-shirt and remake it into a cute quilt or tank?
- If you have a young child tell them that they can have 1 new toy and stick to that. If you have an older child give them a few dollars and let them spend it the way they want. When it is gone, it is gone. It is important that children learn the value of money and what to do with it at an early age. Teach them how to do the next tip as well. People usually don’t say no to a child when negotiating.
- Negotiate. Now this step is the hardest for me. Sometimes I see stuff I really, really like or think I need and it is priced a little more than I would like to pay. Here are some Dave Ramsey’s rules for negotiating (these steps are not just for yard sales, but for anything you can buy).
- Always tell the absolute truth- Don’t Lie!
- Use the power of Cash
- Understand and use Walk-Away Power
- Learn to Shut Up- don’t talk about how much you want/need it
- Say “That’s not good enough”
Photo Credit: Flickr CC (text added)