Looking for some easy ways to make extra money? (Who isn’t?) Maybe you’re trying to ramp up your speed toward that Debt-Free Scream. Or maybe you just want to replace that old nasty couch that’s been Febreezed one too many times.
No matter your reason, one of the tried and true ways to make some quick cash is by having a garage sale. And believe us: There’s nothing better than a garage sale—for the seller and the buyer. 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’ve never worn? Yep—somebody will probably want those too.
If you’re a newbie to the yard sale game, don’t worry. We’ve got all the garage sale tips to help you get organized, price your stuff fairly, and end the day with a handful of cash.
5 Tips for Getting Garage-Sale Ready
If your house looks like it’s been on an episode of Hoarders, it’s well past time to have a garage sale. And now that you’ve made the decision, it’s time to get ready for the big day:
1. Clean out your closet.
Sounds simple, but it has to be said. You know that closet in the hallway that you avoid? Yup—the one that you open very slowly in fear that something might fall on you? Yeah . . . it’s time to clean it out. And we mean deep clean. What’s even in there? Decorations from your wedding? Old gifts that you never used or regifted? Clothing that doesn’t fit anymore? Clean it out. And while you’re at it, dig through your garage, basement, attic, other closets, cabinets and under all the beds.
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If you don’t use it or wear it often (or you forgot it even existed), it probably needs to go. And if you need some extra motivation, remember Marie Kondo’s sage advice: If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it! Not only will you be able to take inventory of what you have, you’ll gain extra space in the process. Decluttering never felt so good!
2. Start sorting.
Having a garage sale can be a daunting task, so go ahead and do the major work ahead of time. 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, pull out all of the items you sorted to sell.
3. Get used to the idea.
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.
4. 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 it on the first weekend of the month—a lot of paychecks go out at the end of the month, so people will have cash to spend.
The earlier the start, the cooler the temperature will be. You might even have more people show up because they’ll get their shopping out of the way early! And don’t forget to check the forecast before you hang up signs around the neighborhood. Rainy days keep the buyers away!
5. 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’re wanting to be really budget friendly, just pick up a permanent marker and masking tape and get to pricing your items. You’ll need to have a table and chairs so you can have a designated area to cash people out (and stay comfortable) on garage sale day.
And you’re going to 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.
How to Set Garage Sale Prices
When it comes to 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 tips for pricing all that good stuff you just cleaned out of your house:
1. Name your price.
Want to know one of the top garage sale tips to remember when pricing? Don’t be sentimental about your stuff and overprice it in the process. If you need an objective opinion, ask a friend to come over and tell you what they would reasonably pay for the item. And if they wouldn’t pay a dime for it . . . maybe go ahead and chuck that in the donation bin.
But for everything else, you’ll want to do a quick online search to check the current value. Keep it realistic by pricing things a quarter or a third of what they would cost brand new. 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 $25? Now you’ve got yourself a deal.
If you’re not sure how to price a garage sale item, here are some pricing suggestions to get you started:
- Suggested price: $1 to $3 for gently used/good condition, or less than $1 for well-worn items
- 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 each
- Suggested price: $3 to $5
- Suggested price: $10 to $30 for low-quality furniture but no more than one-third of the price for high-quality pieces
2. Make prices visible.
Make sure your prices are in plain view by using price tags or stickers. If you don’t have time, at least group similarly priced items together with a sign that breaks down the cost. Or use colored stickers and hang up a chart that specifies the cost by color. For instance, green stickers are 50 cents, blue stickers are $1, and red stickers are $2.
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.
3. Bundle items.
It’s easy to pass up DVDs at $1 a pop. But if you offer them at four for $2, 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 for a $5 or $10 flat rate. Remember those grab bags at the store when you were little? That same concept still works as an adult!
4. Don’t hike up your prices and expect to haggle.
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.
How to Advertise Your Garage Sale
Don’t overthink your garage sale marketing too much. (It’s a garage sale after all.) Grab some signs and balloons from the dollar store and draw big arrows letting folks know how to get to your house. Be sure the path is so simple that a first-grader could find it!
If you want to advertise in the local paper, church bulletin or neighborhood Facebook group, go for it. But remember: Keep it simple and don’t stress. If you build it, they will come.
8 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 that will make sure you have the best sale you possibly can:
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 on hand to make change for your customers.
2. Know how to negotiate/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. Before you try to sell those things that have been collecting dust, actually clean them off! Fill bicycle tires and basketballs with air. Scrape the mud out of 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 nice) so the buyer knows it works. Keep an extension cord handy for buyers to test out appliances that need an outlet. And place a mirror near the clothing and accessories. It might seem silly, but going the extra mile can really be the difference in making a sale and 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 attractive. Put your more interesting items closer to the street so people know you’re selling more than just T-shirts, costume jewelry and old coffee mugs.
For everything else, keep it organized, clearly priced and easy to sort through. Stock your checkout area with plastic 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. But they’ll never know.
If you have younger kids, get them involved by letting them man a lemonade stand or bake-sale booth. Who can resist a pint-sized entrepreneur?
6. Be safe.
Okay, this might seem like a strange garage sale tip, but stay with us. 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.
Be on guard when it comes to all that cash too. Keep the smaller bills in a cash box or on your body with an apron or fanny pack. 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. Figure out what to do with unsold items.
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 and thredUP.
Just be sure to always include pictures of your items. People won’t even consider buying your antique floor lamp if your listing doesn’t have a picture. And research similar items before you price yours so you can get an accurate idea of what to ask for.
8. Find a truck.
Everyone has leftover stuff after having 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, you might even be able to request a pickup on the day of your big sale.
Enjoy Your Garage Sale Profits!
Thanks to these garage sale tips, you’ve now had a successful yard sale from start to finish. And if not . . . you’ve got time to start setting up another garage sale! And remember: The more you’re able to take your time and make sense of your stuff, the easier (and more successful) your garage sale will be.
Now that the hard part’s over, count up your cash, do a victory dance, and put that money where it needs to go. And if you’re not quite sure where to spend it, try out a zero-based budget. Your budget will give each of these dollars a job to do. So, whether you’re working on paying off debt, investing for retirement, or even just saving up for next Christmas, your EveryDollar budget can help you stay organized. Want to try it out? Download the app (free) right here and get to work.