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7 Tips to Successfully Navigate Yard Sales

Guest post from Micah of Home Faith Family:

With the warmer weather approaching and neighborhoods coming back to life, there’s no doubt you’ll soon be seeing those bright pink and green signs on the street corners with arrows pointing in hundreds of directions.

Why should you care about other people’s stuff? I asked my husband this same question (I didn’t grow up yard selling and thought only junk was sold). I am so glad my sweetheart proved me wrong.

My family and I have literally saved thousands of dollars from yard sales each week. We were able to purchase the children’s clothes, new kitchen appliances, needed baby supplies that would have otherwise broken the bank, the kid’s Christmas presents, and so much more. And everything we have bought has been in great or new condition.

So, grab your local Friday and Saturday newspaper (online or print) and other social media outlets to map out your route and have fun!

Here are 7 tips to help you successfully navigate and save money at yard sales.

Tip 1: Wake Up Early

Most yard sales start at 8 a.m., however, I’ve known several to start at 7 a.m.! Set an alarm, go to bed early on Friday night, and be committed.

I will admit, I struggle with early morning wake-up time, but I promise that once you get going on your day (have a quick cup of hot chocolate to help wake you up), the money you will save is worth it.

Tip 2: Make it a Family Affair

Would you believe me if I told you we take our three children (all under the age of three) yard selling? Would you believe me if I told you it’s not as crazy, scary, or as inconvenient as it sounds?

By taking our children to the yard sales, we are teaching them basic financial principles and skills at a young age.

There was one home our family went to and our daughter saw something she really wanted. She had a certain dollar amount to spend (which she earned). If she’s able to make a decent argument for purchasing the item then we give her the money.

My husband is starting to work with her on negotiation skills, which brings us to our next tip.

Tip 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Never be afraid to ask or suggest a lower price. My husband and I were at a home where there was an 8.5-quart crock pot (brand new, still in box) for sale. The people wanted $20, and I asked if they would be willing to consider $10.

They said “YES!”

When you ask for a lower price you are saving yourself more money. Plus, if they don’t want to sell the items at a lower price, they will say no.

If they DO say no, your next question should be, “how low are you willing to go?”

Never ask, “are you willing to go any lower?” This is a yes/no question and cuts off all negotiation.

The reason for asking the “how” question is to start a conversation about prices. Finally, you need to ask yourself “are you willing to pay ‘x’ amount of dollars for the item you are wanting?”

Tip 4: Bundle

When you arrive at a home that seems to have everything you’re looking for, be ready to negotiate and work out a lower price with the owner. A great way of doing this is to bundle items together and request a lower price for the whole lot.

For example, if you’re buying a bunch of items and the total is $18.75, you can be comfortable offering between $15-18.

The important thing to remember is the majority of people are willing to work with their customers and generally want their “stuff” gone. They are willing to sell at any decent asking price.

Tip 5: Don’t Offend

When negotiating prices, don’t point out the faults in the item. It’s dirty, it has holes in it, stains, scratches, etc. This will not help you win the seller over, in fact, it’ll usually make them mad.

Tip 6: Look Anyways

There have been so many yard sales that look like they have nothing, but after stopping, we find many wonderful treasures.

This was the case for my husband. We went to a home and all I saw was tables and tables and tables of clothes. He still had us pull over anyway and he found a brand new CB radio (one he’s had his eyes on for months now). The CB radio retails for a little over $100 but the seller was only asking for $20. This hasn’t been the first time something like this has happened to us. Always look!

Tip 7: Have Fun!

It’s important to have fun, otherwise you won’t enjoy going to yard sales.

As you wake up early, invite your family to come along, learn to ask for a lower price, and have fun, you will be saving your family money all while finding great deals.

Please leave a comment and let us know more about your favorite yard sale finds.

Micah Klug, author of “50 Freezer Meals: Easy Dinners for the Busy Family” runs the Home Faith Family blog to help people strengthen their home, faith, and family by living simple without losing quality or sanity.

photo source

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  • Jessica says:

    I don’t always think it’s a good idea to ask for a lower price unless something is obviously highly priced.

    Bring singles. Map your route so you don’t drive in circles and waste your gas. Bring batteries to test stuff. Bring a measuring tape. Bring your own snacks and water. Bring hand sanitizer to clean your hands off after touching things.

    I prefer to leave the kids at home. Then I have more space (I can fold the seats down in my minivan then) and less junk comes home. Also, it’s hard to keep track of my kids when I’m also trying to shop. And nobody wants you to use their bathroom, which is going to be an issue if you bring your kids.

    • Micah says:

      Thank you for your extra tips, Jessica!
      I definitely agree to map out your route before going to save on gas and mileage.
      As convenient as leaving the children home would be, it’s always worked out well for our little family. We are able to have them use the restroom before leaving our home, we usually gone for 2-3 hours (not terribly long), and we are able to teach them about basic finances as we go from house to house.
      We don’t let them run wild. They know our family rules of staying together and having a “traveling buddy.” It’s definitely more work but the lessons they’re learning from these experiences far outweigh any timeframe, cost, or amazing deal we might be missing. =)

    • Melony Smith says:

      I use Garage Salr app gives directions and pictures of locations with map

  • Sonja says:

    Nice tips! Thanks, Micah!

  • Karen says:

    When I have a garage sale, I price things higher than what I really want for the item. That leaves room for negotiations and I usually get what I want for the item and the buyer is happy because “they talked me down”. I had a brand new pool I’d bought on end of season clearance. We decided the next spring to not put it up so I put it in a garage sale. I wanted 100 for it so I priced it at 150 and let a woman “talk me down” to 100. I don’t mind people trying to talk me down in price.

    • Micah says:

      My husband would always tell me (when I first started going to yard sales and was nervous to ask for a lower price) that the worst the seller can say is, “No.”
      Congrats on your sale too. If both parties are happy with the price and item then they both win!

  • Miranda says:

    I must admit that doing yard sales with kids is a struggle for me. With my three kids ages four and under, it takes me a minimum of 4.5 minutes to fasten them all in their car seats. Add another 4 minutes to unbuckle and get them all out. So each quick stop up to a yard sale turns from a 3 minute scouting trip (just me) to a 15 minute stop with the kids. And that’s just to find out if the stop has anything worth looking at.

    I often wish we were back in my childhood days where the kids could stay in the van for three minutes while I ran up to check, but with today’s vigilantes, that technique risks CPS investigations in my area.

    • Micah says:

      Miranda, my heart goes out to you. I have 3 under 4 as well and I know the struggle is real. When I first started shopping at yard sales a great deal of my anxiety came because I was worried about missing an amazing deal or not getting to all the sales on our family’s list.
      And unfortunately my frustration would be directed towards my children and husband. My sweetheart finally called me out on what I was doing (so grateful when he did). We realized that we wouldn’t get to every sale every Saturday, but if we prioritized the sales by their description in the paper or online then we knew the few we would go to.
      If your sweetheart is able to go with you, or a friend, I know having those second pair of hands to help make such a difference.

  • Rachel says:

    I love going garage selling with my whole family, and we do try to do that at least once a year, but if I’m hitting a city-wide sale kind of event, I prefer going by myself or with another mom friend. (We live in a rural area, so just getting to the sales is a trip, and that does change the picture somewhat!)

  • April says:

    I love yard sales. And they will often sell things to my children cheaper than they will to me. My fave find was 2 benches for my porch. $10 a piece!

  • Thanks for sharring these tips on yard sales, I love shopping in yard sell and we go as a family and we really enjoy.

    We are very careful of what we get there as we practice the One In One Out policy in.

    These helps us to only buy things we love and not to clutter our house with clutter.

  • Melony Smith says:, both maps lets you map out route

  • ELLEN says:

    I keep a written list of things I’m keeping an eye out for (camping gear, crafting supplies, for example) and this keeps me from impulse buying things.

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