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Turning Trash Into Treasures

Believe it or not, there’s an art to yard sale shopping.

Coupon clipping and bargain hunting at stores are great ways to save some cash, but some of the best deals to be had are at yard sales—if you shop smart.

Sale Hunting

The first step in your yard sale strategy is mapping out your route. Figure out where the sales will be held and how many you want to visit. The local newspaper and Craigslist are some great places to look for listings.

Once you determine which ones you want to go to and where they are, take factors like what time they start into consideration. Since the great deals go quick, look for staggered start times to see if you can be one of the first shoppers at more than one sale. If it’s not possible, head to the one that looks like it’s going to have the best stuff first.

Of course, if you’re feeling more spontaneous about the whole thing, you can always get up and drive around neighborhoods early Saturday morning and follow the signs. You’ll probably see a few when you’re out and about on Sunday afternoon, too.

A Little Pre-Planning Goes a Long Way

Make a shopping plan before you hit the town on a Saturday morning. That way, you’ll only buy what you really intend to instead of getting caught up in a good deal. Just keep this in mind: If it’s something you don’t need or can’t use, then it’s not a good deal.

Financial Peace University grad Stephani says she used to buy a bunch of clothes at yard sales just because they were cheap. “I would never end up wearing them because I really didn’t like them that much,” she said. “But there are shirts I paid a little bit more for, maybe $15 at the mall, that I wear all the time. I definitely get my money’s worth on those.”

Moral of the story? Don’t waste your hard-earned money on things you don’t need or on stuff that you might not even like once you get it home! Only you know what those things are. Stephani learned only to buy items at garage sales that she was confident she’d make use of, especially when it came to clothes. Sure, it’s only a couple of dollars here and there, but it can add up quickly!

When you hit the town for a garage sale, take a list with you that includes:

  • Things you definitely want to buy.
  • Things you might want to buy.
  • How much you’re willing to pay for each item. (Visiting sites like Craigslist and eBay can help you determine what really is and isn’t a good deal on each item.)

That’s not to say that you won’t ever stumble upon a killer deal on something you weren’t planning on buying. Just think twice before handing over cash—make sure the item won’t be cluttering your closet or sitting in a garbage bag in your attic.

Tips From Pros

  • Be an early bird at garage sales—but not too early. If it starts at 7 a.m., don’t show up at 6 a.m. But if it looks like a good sale, don’t be afraid to show up at 6:30 a.m. Believe me, you won’t be the only one there.
  • If there are still things sitting at a sale after 8:30 (mainly furniture), it’s probably not a good deal. Good deals are gone within an hour of the sale starting. This is not always true for the smaller stuff like clothes and dishes.
  • Don’t be afraid to bargain, even more so if it’s close to noon on a Saturday. They don’t want to haul all that stuff back inside. I always bargain on anything over $5.

Now that you have some great advice from experienced yard sale shoppers, go out with confidence to find some amazing deals!

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Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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