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Have a Killer Fall Yard Sale

If your yard looks like this, it’s time for a sale

Fall is the perfect time of year. If you live in an area that has seasons, there is a certain crispness in the air, leaves are starting to change, and everyone needs an end of the season yard sale. Spring can also be a great time for sales, but in Colorado, you might encounter snow, making late summer or early fall a better option. EBay or Craig’s List are good ways to sell if you have a high quality items, but sometimes it’s easier to put everything out at once and have a mass exodus. Anyone can have a yard sale, but there are a few tips that can make a great one.

Be Involved With a Charity

If you don’t care about taking home money for yourself, charity yard sales are an easy way to get rid of stuff.   The local humane society that I work with has a yard sale every spring and fall. It is in a church annex, so the weather is not a consideration. It spans three days, we take donations for about a month beforehand, and usually pocket around $5000. These events take lots of volunteers, but one person doesn’t have to do everything. Charity yard sales are a great way to get rid of clutter, especially if you don’t have enough for a full yard sale of your own, and you get to help out a great cause. You can even get a tax deduction. Ask  the charity for a receipt of you donation. Remember that you have to list the donated item’s current value, not the original purchase price.

 Have Lots of Stuff

If you have tons of stuff and need some cash, you should consider your own sale. Better yet, gather your friends or co-workers to bring their stash as well. Everyone I know wants to have a yard sale, but no one wants to go through the trouble of organizing one. Many would love to let you do it for them, and having more items makes a better sale. In my experience. furniture is the best mover. People love any used piece that is in good shape and will take almost any crappy piece if it is cheap enough. Other items that do well are collectibles, dishes and pans, camping and sports equipment, luggage, baby and children’s items, and children’s clothes. Don’t plan on making much from clothes at a yard sale. People won’t pay much over a dollar for any clothing item, so if you are selling designer jeans, eBay or consignment might be less painful.

Location, Location, Location

If you live out of town or on an unfamiliar street, you won’t get as much drop by traffic as you would in a prime location. If a friend or relative is on a busy street, you might consider doing the sale there. It would mean transporting your goods, but if you made more profit, it might be worth it.

Advertise

Yard sales may be the one item that needs to go in the classified section of the newspaper. Hard core yard salers in our area use this as their bible. The Thursday paper actually has a map with all the yard sales listed. People plan their weekends around them. Signs work great as well, but if you have a good location, people will find you.

Have Change and Be Ready to Haggle

Always keep a supply of small bills and quarters available, as peope will be paying in cash. I wouldn’t recommend taking checks unless you know the person.  Haggling is a yard sale culture, and seasoned veterans would never pay sticker price. If you need tips on how to score bargains, check out Michelle’s weekly posts at IHeartBudgets. At a sale, you will have shoppers who come very early, scope out the goods and come back right at closing time to haggle further over remaining items. At the end of the sale, I take just about any offer so I don’t have to haul things back inside.

Plan for Leftovers

Although, you can make money at a yard sale, the real reason for having one, in my opinion, is to de-clutter. Make sure you have arrangements with a thrift store or charity to take your leftovers at the end of the sale. If you feel the need to rent a storage locker to store yard sale surplus, you might need a visit from Dr. Phil. Just get rid of the excess, and you can start over with a clean slate.

We are having a sale this Saturday at my office building. I am going in with two other people, and we have quite a bit of furniture and office supplies. The office basement is bursting at the seams, so hopefully we will do well. Any money we make will be going to replenish the coffers after our rental house purchase. The Humane Society Yard Sale is next weekend, and the leftovers are going straight to them. It will be lots of work in a month where I have no time, but it needs to be done, and I’m a little excited. I always love a good haggle!

How do you get rid of clutter? Can you believe I wrote over 800 words about yard sales?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

33 comments

  1. Nice post, it did not seem like it was 800 words at all.

    In my house hold, we have reached the point where we buy hardly anything. We declutter the closet 1-2 times a year and all that goes straight to Good Will. The random things I have leftover from doing home improvement projects get posted on freecycle.org.

  2. When we moved into our current house, my partner and I moved EVERYTHING into the living room (we had lived in small quarters before) with limited exceptions, e.g. the bed, which went straight to the bedroom. Then we went through all our stuff. During the summer we got rid of a ton of clothes and other junk. We’ve still got two bins of stuff and I really wish there was a local charity garage sale to attend, just to get rid of it while feeling like a decent human being.

    • It’s amazing how you can seem to buy less and less, but still find junk and clutter you dont’ need. Here’s to feeling like a decent human being too!

  3. As our house is on the market, we had a “declutter” sale when we were getting it staged. It’s amazing how much junk you accumulate…and we don’t have kids and we rarely buy things are we’re extremely cheap.

    I don’t think we’ll be having a garage sale again, but once we eventually move and unpack boxes, I can see us having another one!

  4. Boy, we need to declutter big time! For some reason, when you start to have kids, the crap in your house just grows exponentially. We’ve sold some things on Craigslist in the past, but I do know that our house would benefit from a purging of stuff…a garage sale looks like it might just be the way to go.

    • It is funny how kids add so much stuff. I don’t even feel like we buy a whole lot, but I guess just the fact that they grow like weeds leaves plenty of clothes and shoes.

  5. We don’t have a ton of stuff, but we should declutter. Not enough for a yard sale, but definitely enough to donate!

    • I tend to donate every few months. I just have lots of stuff from the office this time. I only do a sale every few years. It takes me that long to forget how much work it was!

  6. I wish we could have yard sales more often, but many of the buildings that I’ve lived in have not allowed yard sales. Once, we ended up buddying up with a neighbour one street over who was having a yard sale in front of his townhouse.

    When we have had sales, I usually just leave a box of freebies out at the end of the sale. Then the next day, anything left over gets dropped off at a donation bin.

    • People will almost carry away anything. We have left piles out by our dumpster at work and they are always gone the next day. Makes you wonder if some people just drive around scouring for free junk.

  7. Now, I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but here in the Northwest, there is one rule you want to follow if you want to have a successful garage sale: START ON FRIDAY! Seriously, we had heard about this for years, but did not understand it until a few years ago when we had our first garage sale at our home. The craziest people you have ever met showed up at 7:45am, swarms of them! They are also the most HARDCORE negotiators you have ever met.

    They pretty much cleared us out in about 2 hours, and we made some decent money too.

    • That’s certainly true. Since this one is at my office and it is open until 5 on Friday, we can only do the one day Saturday sale, but we have already had people show up asking what was going to be for sale. We almost need to keep the furniture that is staying nailed down!

  8. I really need to show this article to my in-laws. They are one step shy of being hoarders. They hosted a baby shower for my wife and I and it took them all summer to clean the house. They had mail that dated back to 2004 🙂

    I used to love when my parents had garage sales when I was a kid. It allowed me to get ride of toys I didn’t play with anymore and they let me keep the proceeds for my things

    • When you keep old mail and newspapers, you might have some hoarder traits. My mom is getting really bad about not throwing things out and just tells me that my sister and I can deal with it when she’s gone!

  9. Sounds like you have a couple of really busy weekends coming up! Hope you make lots of money!

    I sold stuff we didn’t need this past spring on eBay. What a hassle. We have a garage full of tools that we don’t use since we are in a house that we rent so we are thinking of ways to sell those.

  10. Kim, this is great advice. I really need to get a yard sale going. I have so much junk, I can easily fill up my yard with stuff to sell.

  11. I think the two things you mentioned that are most important are “have a lot of stuff” and “prepare for leftovers” because these are SO true! People are more likely to stop if there is more stuff, and no one ever sells more than 50% of what they put out for sale. We have been putting stuff aside for a garage sale for a couple years now, and plan on having one in the Spring.

  12. My wife and I have a simple 0 day rule — donate stuff that we haven’t used for over 90 days. It’s not only great way to help charities, but also to know our needs and control desire to splurge.

  13. We had a great yard sale in June – we made about $600, but still had a TON of leftover stuff. We donated it to Goodwill for a tax write-off – there was NO WAY it was coming back in our house!

  14. Great information about having a killer yard sale. I would like to have one but I think the buyers would want to get my items for dirt cheap. I prefer to sell my old stuff on eBay for a better price (mostly). I agree with the idea of donating it to a thrift store if you want to declutter.

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