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Best Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

Looking for some easy ways to make extra money? (Who isn’t?) Maybe you’re trying to speed up your progress toward that Debt-Free Scream. Or maybe you just want to replace that nasty old couch you’ve sprayed down with fabric freshener one too many times.

No matter your reason, one of the tried-and-true ways to turn unwanted clutter into cold hard cash is by having a garage sale. And believe me: There’s nothing better than garage sales—for the seller and the buyer.

I’ve got some garage sale tips to help you get organized, price your stuff fairly, and end the day with profits in hand.

Tips for Getting Garage-Sale Ready
How to Price Garage Sale Items
How to Advertise Your Garage Sale
Garage Sale Tips for the Big Day
Make a Plan for Your Garage Sale Profits

Tips for Getting Garage-Sale Ready

You’ve got a well-loved kitchen table that needs to go? There’s someone in the market for that. You’re finally ready to part with those clothes you don’t wear anymore? Yep—somebody will probably want your bucket hat and acid-wash jeans. (Because for some strange reason, ‘90s fashion is making a comeback.)

It’s time to get rid of your stuff and increase your income. Here’s how you can get ready for your big garage sale day:

1. Check for permit requirements.

Before you prep for your yard sale, check your city or county government website for permit requirements in your area.

If you do need a permit, most places make it super simple: You can easily apply online, and you usually don’t have to pay a fee. It’s definitely in your best interest to find out if you need a permit. Otherwise, you could be looking at a hefty fine, which kind of cancels out what you’re trying to do here!

And if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, make sure they don’t have any rules against garage sales. (You don’t want your neighbors side-eying you at the next block party.)

2. Clean out your closet.

You know that closet in the hallway that you avoid? The one you open very slowly in fear something might fall on you? Yeah . . . it’s about time you clean it out.

And while you’re at it, go through your garage, basement, attic, other closets, cabinets and under all the beds. If you don’t use it or wear it often (or you forgot it even existed—like the Tamagotchi in the back of your sock drawer), it probably needs to go.

You’re about to make some extra cash and gain extra space. Decluttering never felt so good!

3. Start sorting.

As you’re unearthing all of those tennis rackets, clothes and old board games, sort them into three basic categories: keep, sell and trash.

Don’t worry about pricing anything right now—just focus on sorting and getting organized. Your main goal here is to get rid of the junk and find a permanent home for the stuff you’re going to keep.

Once your piles are made, gather all the items you sorted to sell.

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4. Gather your crew.

Get the family in on the process! The kids can sort and help the day of the sale as well.

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Also, if you’re not too thrilled about the idea of strangers stopping by your front yard (or if you want to split some of the workload), team up with another family on your block or check with your neighborhood association to see if a community sale is coming up. If you have more sellers involved, you might bring in more browsers!

5. Set a date.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings are usually the best time to hold your garage sale. Here’s an insider garage sale tip: Consider scheduling your sale on the first weekend of the month—when people have just gotten paid and haven’t spent all their fun money yet.

Also, the earlier in the day you start, the cooler the temperature will be—which makes for a more pleasant shopping experience. And the serious garage sale hunters out there (the ones who hit up multiple sales every weekend) like to get their shopping out of the way early.

Here’s another yard sale tip: Don’t forget to check the forecast before you hang up signs around the neighborhood. Rainy days keep the buyers away!

6. Stock up on supplies.

You can buy simple pricing stickers and blank labels at the dollar store or any office supply store. Or if you want to be really kind to your budget, just pick up a permanent marker and masking tape and get to pricing your items.

You’ll also need a table and chairs so you have a designated area to cash people out (and stay comfortable) on garage sale day.

And you’ll need some space to show off all the one-of-a-kind items you’re selling. You can set out tables, blankets, boxes and storage containers or even lay a board over two sturdy boxes. Whatever you do, make sure breakable items are supported on a stable surface.

7. Get ready to accept digital payments.

Want another hint for having a successful garage sale? Make it easier for shoppers to buy your wares by accepting digital payments.

Download a free app like Venmo, Cash App or PayPal to your smartphone. Or check out services like Square or Stax so you can accept card payments. It’s true, cash is always king, but taking other forms of payment can help with sales.

Garage sale tip: Make sure you’ll have a working hot spot if your Wi-Fi signal is sketchy.

How to Price Garage Sale Items

When it comes to garage sale pricing, you’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. What would you pay for that item at a similar garage sale? What would be too much? What would be so cheap you felt like you stole it?

Here are some garage sale pricing tips for all that good stuff you just cleaned out of your house.

1. Have a goal.

Maybe you’re selling your stuff to make extra cash for a big purchase, to save for that vacation, or to boost your goal to pay off debt.

Whatever the purpose for your garage sale, keep that big-picture reason—and an amount—in mind. It’ll help you stay motivated when you’re feeling worn down by a relentless garage sale haggler.

2. Name your price.

Want to know one of the top garage sale tips for pricing? Don’t be sentimental about your stuff and end up overpricing it. Your Pogs collection might be worth a lot to you, but to a stranger, it’s worth only a couple bucks (if that).

The general rule is to price items no more than 5–10% of their retail price. If you price a sweater you bought for $80 at $50, it’s probably not going to sell. But an $80 sweater (in perfect condition) for $15? Now you’ve got yourself a deal.

If you need an objective opinion, ask a friend what they’d pay, or do a quick online search to check the current value. You might be able to charge more for certain brands or items that are currently in demand.

If you’re not sure about garage sale pricing, here are some suggestions to get you started:

Baby Clothes

  • Suggested price: $1 to $3 for items that are gently used or in good condition, and less than $1 for well-worn items

Adult Clothes

  • Suggested price: $3 to $5 (more if the item still has tags on it)


  • Suggested price: $3 to $7


  • Suggested price: $5 to $15


  • Suggested price: 50 cents to $2 (but if you think the jewelry is valuable, have it appraised first)


  • Suggested price: $1 to $2 for hardcover and 25 to 50 cents for paperback

Blu-Ray Discs, DVDs or CDs

  • Suggested price: $3 to $5

Toys and Games

  • Suggested price: $1 to $3

Home Décor

  • Suggested price: $3 to $5


  • Suggested price: $1 to $3 for kitchen gadgets and no more than one-third of the retail price for small kitchen appliances

Power Tools

  • Suggested price: $10 to $50


  • Suggested price: $10 to $50 for low-quality pieces (a dream for people looking for cheap furniture to fix and flip) and no more than one-third of the retail price for high-quality items  

3. Make prices visible.

Make sure your prices are in plain view. To save time, you can also group similarly priced items together with a sign that breaks down the cost.

Another option: Use colored stickers and hang up a chart that specifies the cost by color. For instance, green stickers are $1 dollar, blue stickers are $5, and red stickers are $10.

Bigger items call for bigger price tags. Don’t make the buyer search for a tiny sticker on that armoire you’re selling. Make it big, noticeable and attractive to the buyer.

4. Bundle items.

It’s easy to pass up DVDs or books at $5 a pop. But if you offer them at four for $10, you’re sure to catch someone’s attention.

Look around for ways to make a deal. If it’s the end of the day and you really want to move your items, let customers fill up a bag with items at a $5 or $10 flat rate. Remember those grab bags at the store when you were little? That same concept still works for adults at a yard sale!

5. Don’t hike up your prices and expect to haggle.

Remember: You’re trying to make extra money here. Price your items so they’ll sell. Period. Don’t set the starting price high and expect your customers to haggle you down. Many potential buyers will walk away from big prices and never even bother to haggle—and you just lost a potential sale.

Don’t overthink your garage sale marketing too much. Grab some blank posters and balloons from the dollar store and use them to mark a clear path to your house. Draw big arrows to point the way. Post signs at both ends of your street and at nearby busy intersections where a driver can easily read them.

If you want to advertise in the local paper or church bulletin, do it at least a week in advance. Or post about your event online on Yard Sale Search, Garage Sale Finder, Facebook neighborhood groups, or Facebook Marketplace. (Who knew Facebook could still be useful?)

But remember: Keep it simple and don’t stress. If you build it, they will come.

Garage Sale Tips for the Big Day

Now that you’ve set a date and priced your stuff, it’s time to sell! Here are some garage sale tips for the day of the sale:

1. Have some change on hand.

You don’t want to lose a sale just because you don’t have some spare George Washingtons floating around (that’s dollar bills, folks). Have enough small bills and coins on hand to make change for your cash-paying customers. Use an old toolbox or a crafting caddy as your official cashbox.

2. Know how to negotiate or haggle.

Everyone wants a deal (who doesn’t?). That’s why people wake up early on Saturday mornings to buy your castoffs.

If the customer wants to negotiate, then let them negotiate, but stick to your guns if the price gets too low. You’re not giving your stuff away! Well . . . not yet anyway.

3. Make it appealing.

If you really want your stuff to sell, you’ve got to make it look nice. And don’t forget to make sure it still works!

  • Clean the dust off older items.
  • Wash clothing and fold it nicely or hang it up.
  • Display clothing as complete outfits if possible.
  • Place a mirror near the clothing and accessories.
  • Fill bicycle tires and basketballs with air.
  • Scrape the mud off your kid’s old soccer cleats.
  • If something needs batteries to run, fill it with some half-used batteries (or even new batteries if you want to be a hero) so the buyer knows it works.
  • Keep an extension cord handy for buyers to test out appliances or other electronics that need an outlet.

It might seem silly, but going the extra mile can really be the difference in making a sale or losing one.

4. Position your stuff.

The morning of the sale, get up early and do a little setting up. Make sure whatever you’re selling looks enticing (or as enticing as a vintage band T-shirt can look).

Put bigger and more popular items closer to the street so people know you’re selling more than just T-shirts, costume jewelry and old coffee mugs.

Also, group items on separate tables. For example, put all your kitchen items on one table and kids’ toys on another table.

For everything else, keep it organized, clearly priced and easy to sort through. And don’t forget to stock your checkout area with grocery bags and newspaper to wrap up fragile items.

Those small touches will go a long way!

5. Get your family involved.

If you have a teenager, you know it’s hard to get them excited about most things that happen early on a Saturday morning—let alone a garage sale. So, why not cut them in on the profits?

Make a deal with your teen: If they gather up their unwanted items to sell, you’ll let them keep whatever cash they make. Is this just a secret plan to get your teen to clean their room? Absolutely. Shh. I won’t tell.

If you have younger kids, get them involved by letting them set up a little side hustle like a lemonade stand or bake-sale booth. Who can resist a pint-sized entrepreneur?

6. Be safe.

Most shoppers are well-meaning people just out looking for a good deal. But the reality is, you’re still letting strangers shop on your front lawn.

It’s a good idea to keep the doors of your house locked during the sale. Don’t let anyone into your house to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Just keep a pitcher of complementary water outside and point them in the direction of the nearest gas station if they need a bathroom.

Be on guard when it comes to all that cash too. Keep the smaller bills in a cashbox or on your body with an apron (or fanny pack if you’re real cool). If someone makes a purchase with a large bill, it’s best to give it to a family member to take inside for safekeeping.

7. Sell unsold items online.

If you still have some higher-dollar items left at the end of the day, sell your stuff online!

Post something inside your community’s Facebook group, list items on Craigslist or eBay, or share them on apps like Swap, OfferUp and VarageSale. Consider selling clothing on places like Poshmark, thredUP or Kidizen (for baby clothes and kids’ accessories).

Just be sure to always include pictures. And research similar items before you price yours so you can get an accurate idea of what to ask for.

8. Donate or trash the rest of the unsold items.

Everyone has leftover stuff after a garage sale. You will too. If you’re sick of looking at it and don’t want to haul it all back inside, it’s time to donate.

Ask a friend with a truck to help you haul the items to a local thrift store or charity. If you don’t have a friend with a truck, schedule a donation pickup.

And if an item is too “used” to donate, put it in that big bin at the end of your driveway, aka your trash can. Don’t feel bad—those things served their purpose, and you don’t need the clutter.

Make a Plan for Your Garage Sale Profits

If you use these garage sale tips, you should have a successful yard sale from start to finish.

But remember: The more time you take on the front end to prepare, market and organize your stuff, the easier (and more successful) your garage sale will be.

And once the hard part’s over, you can count up your profits and put that money to good use—with a budget!

That’s right. You don’t want to accidentally spend all that money you worked so hard to earn. Go ahead and create your budget for free with EveryDollar. Then, add that extra cash into your budget and put it toward your current goal.

You’ll have a plan for your money and less clutter. I’ll call that a win. Happy garage sale-ing, my friend!

Save more. Spend better. Budget confidently.

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George Kamel

About the author

George Kamel

George Kamel is a personal finance expert, certified financial coach through Ramsey Financial Coach Master Training, and nationally syndicated columnist. George has served at Ramsey Solutions since 2013, where he speaks, writes and teaches on personal finance, investing, budgeting, insurance and how to avoid consumer traps. He co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation. He also hosts The EntreLeadership Podcast and The Fine Print podcast, which has over one million downloads. You can find George’s financial expertise featured in the U.S. Sun, Daily Mail and NewsNation. Learn More.

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