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Is a Yard Sale Worth the Hassle?

having a yard saleMy neighbor and I had a yard sale last weekend, and I took home $301. Yay! I also feel like it was a royal P.I.T.A. and right now, I never want to have another one. If we break down the time spent for my yard sale and compare it to other ways I could have gotten rid of stuff, maybe there is a formula to see if a yard sale is worth the hassle.

How Much Time Does It Take To Have a Yard Sale?

I think it depends on how much crap you have. I swear I don’t even buy that much anymore, but it seems every couple of years we are bursting at the seams. I blame the child.

For this yard sale, I spent about 2 hours cleaning out all the closets and drawers. Another 2  hours pricing, and about 4 hours setting up, tearing down and hauling the leftovers away. The actual sale was from 7AM-1PM. That’s about 14 hours of my time or $21.50 per hour. Not bad.

Are There Costs To Having a Yard Sale?

I spent about $10 for an add in the yard sale section of the paper, plus some tape and stickers. If you have to take off work, turn down another job, or pay for child care to have a yard sale, make sure to figure in those costs. I would never take a vacation day to have a yard sale, but who am I to choose how you get your kicks?

What Else Could I Do With My Stuff?

You could keep it and become a hoarder. You can give it away, and I sometimes do that if I know of someone who needs and will appreciate it. You can also give your crap to charity and get a tax deduction. Remember,  that is on current value only, not what you paid for it.

If I have something really nice, I’ll often sell it on Ebay. You can get more money sometimes, but it’s a pain to deal with payments or shipping. Consignment is another option. It seems to pay a little less than Ebay. I haven’t used Craig’s List, but that would be another option. A good thing about yard sales is that it over and done pretty quickly, and you get paid right away.

Why Are Yard Sales a Pain?

Yard sales suck for several reasons.

1) Yard Salers Need to Sleep More. No matter what time you say the sale starts, people will come early.

2)People Are Cheap. “Will you take $.50 for this Pottery Barn set of dishes that have never been opened?”

3)Selling Stuff For Pennies Is Depressing.  I don’t spend a lot on my daughter’s clothes, but I know my Mom buys her outfits or dresses that cost $30 or $40 each. It breaks my heart to see them sell for $2. I guess the same can be said for electronics. Selling a $600 TV for $20 makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Thankfully, this isn’t such a problem anymore since we are better about what we purchase, but if it’s your first sale after years of crazy spending, be prepared.

4)Sales Can Be Dangerous. I know there were mice, mosquitoes, and probably tarantulas in my shed while I was digging out old patio furniture. I could have gotten Hanta Virus, West Nile, or the Plague. I also dropped a fold up picnic table on my foot. That could have been an ER trip. Plus, one customer had to borrow a truck to pick up an item, and he didn’t know all the gears. When he finally get it going, he kicked up a huge spray of rocks while peeling out of my neighbor’s driveway. You could surely put an eye out that way!

Why Yard Sales Rock

The reason I just talked myself into having more yard sales is because it’s a great way to get rid of clutter and make some money, even if your return on purchase price is horrid. The $301 I made is $301 more than I had at the beginning of the day.

No, $301 will not allow me to retire. It won’t even pay my grocery bill for this month, but  it could  pay for a zip line trip in Hawaii or dinner and a show in Las Vegas. We used to use money from selling stuff to pay off our credit cards. Now we can use it for frivolous fun. Not having to spend salary money that does pay for groceries or retirement rocks, and that is worth every dust bunny and mouse turd I had to overcome for this yard sale!

Why do you love or hate yard sales? Is it wrong to want to shoot the early birds with a BB gun? Ever had any yard sale injuries?

Image: Wikipedia 

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.

50 comments

  1. That’s quite the hourly rate!! Also, I appreciated the breakdown of your time. I’ve been putting off having a yard sale because we have a newborn and I didn’t think I’d have the time, but this sounds more manageable than I thought!

    • It really wasn’t that bad. I did a little here and there. If you can do one room or closet at a time, I think it’s no so overwhelming. Although, my daughter is 7, and she cleaned her own closet and I gave her money for the stuff she sold. I doubt a newborn would be that helpful!

  2. We had a yard sale a few years ago when my family decided to move to our current house. We sold some of our things that we think that it’s difficult for us to bring to our new home.

  3. We don’t have yard sales because to this point it has never seemed like we have enough crap for one. Now that we are going to be adopting a child, however, that may change (we’ve already bought a ton of baby stuff!). When I lived at home and my mother had yard sales I never understood why people showed up so early. Our stuff was never really that great that I thought it was worth showing up early for!

    • The first guy to our yard sale bought deodorant. Jim had 4 tubes that my Mom or someone gave him that he never used and I put $1 on each of them, and our first customer scooped them all up. A good deal? Yes, but not worth getting up at 5AM in my opinion.

  4. We had a yard sale last year and while we made a decent chunk of change it was really a hassle getting it all set up and then taking it all down. If it rains you can also miss out on a ton of sales since people just stay home. My wife has sold 100-300 things on eBay (I lost count) and that has it’s pros and cons as well.

  5. Three hundred bucks actually sounds worth it to me, we usually only take home $100 or so. I would MUCH rather my wife take our stuff to Goodwill than have a yard sale. You get almost as much in a tax deduction and there’s zero hassle!

    • It’s really hard to give some stuff away randomly. If I know someone who needs it, I am OK, but sometimes it’s painful to just put in in the donation bin.

  6. Garage sales are currently in the hate column because my sister keeps wanting to have one (at her house, with mostly her stuff) but she wants me to do at least half the work. Not Happening Sis!
    However, I do think they can be worth it if you have the right stuff to sell, like baby clothes or bigger ticket items. $301 sounds like a good deal to me!

  7. “I blame the child.” Lol, we do as well. We really don’t buy nearly as much stuff anymore and it just seems like it exponentially increases with each kid. Anyway, we’ve never done a garage sale though we probably should. There is a local consignment sale here twice a year that we get rid of a bunch of our stuff at and we get about $200-300 each time. It’s not too bad and it saves us the hassle of organizing the actual sale.

    • I love consignment and it’s so easy, but we only have one store and they only take in season, pretty decent quality. Most of my yard sale items did not make the grade!

  8. I’ve been wanting to have a garage sale this year but I just can’t get the gumption to commit to doing it. I’ve done them before and the bickering people do to get something for 50 cents is not worthwhile. It always seems people are trying to get a screaming deal then resell it for more themselves. A lot of items I sell are usually in like new condition so it gets me angry when people see that yet try to negotiate down to pay next to nothing.

    • Yes, you can tell the seasoned ones because they will try to negotiate on a quarter prices item. If it’s a family looking for kid’s clothes, I’m all good with that, but if you have a trailer full of other buys, I don’t really want to deal.

  9. We had a yard sale before we moved out of our house and it was good. It took some time to price, but we were already moving, so I didn’t have to account that time as “merchandising.” I don’t think they are bad, but I don’t like yard sales much. I also would like to pop a few early birds with my BB gun. As we setup an hour earlier than we wanted to start, people starting coming in droves. We sold more items before we actually began the sale.

  10. Online yard sales are definitely the way to go! You can post your stuff at your convenience, don’t have to have a cash box for change, don’t have to label stuff with prices, and you can negotiate on your own time too!

    • I think that way would be lots less work, but doing the yard sale gets a huge amount of stuff gone at once, which was what I was looking for this time.

  11. We need to have a yard sale badly. We have so much junk, and we are even storing a whole ROOMs full of stuff (it is packed to the ceiling) for someone else. They haven’t touched it in years and we really just want to unload it all.

  12. We had a yard sale a few years ago when we moved from Florida and I was convinced that it was going to be a royal waste of our time and energy. We ended up making over $1,000 which completely shocked me. All we did was put an ad in the paper, but a friend of mine warned me about this sub culture of yard salers and she said that was all we needed. It is amazing what a crowd they are and yes, how early they wake up. I definitely couldn’t yard sale all the time, but for the energy and hassle, it was worth it to us.

  13. That’s what I love about yard sales….not the prices I get (which you’re right….those suck), but the fact that I DON’T HAVE THE JUNK ANYMORE! When I was recently helping my parents move I couldn’t believe how much they’d accumulated. It made me realize just how many things we all own that we really never use…..

    • I am determined to never have clutter like my parents or in-laws. If it means yard sales, I guess that’s what I’ll do.

  14. Why do the shoppers always arrive at your house SO early? One time I opened the garage and they were all standing there like dogs salivating over a steak! I’ll never understand it.

    We’ve completely given up on having garage sales. Everything just gets donated or thrown out now.

    • I have no idea why anyone would go out at 6AM to buy used socks, but maybe it’s the rush of being the first one to look for hidden treasure.

  15. I am currently having this debate with myself. I have lots of children’s clothing and toys to get rid of, but no large item. In my opinion you need a couple of high dollar items, like furniture or an appliance, to make a garage sale worthwhile by bringing in customers and bringing in a large amount of money. Clothing in this area sells for $1 – $2 an item at a garage sale and I don’t see the value in all the work to receive so little.

    We are currently in a situation where we don’t itemize our taxes, otherwise I would not think twice about making a huge donation and having everything gone!

  16. Nice job! I had to laugh at the injury part. I pinched my finger on the damn folding tables. I agree that it’s a royal PITA. I think that’s why I put it off for so long. But now that I’m done I’m happy I did it.

    • Right. Kind of like a long run. Sucks when you start but awesome when you’re done with potential for injury!

  17. I think there is value in yard sales only if you have a handful of BIG ticket items. At the end of the day, it is the big ticket items that bring in the most money which help to bring you the most return for your time / per hour spent.

    If all I have are clothes and a few small household items, I won’t even bother. These items bring in more money donate. Best part, you don’t even have to spend much time or effort to do it. Many non-profits these days will pick up the items directly from your doorstep.

    Cheers to BIG ticket items! AFFJ

    • Unfortunately, we live in such a small town that no one does pick up. At least having the sale let us get rid of stuff before we took it to the thrift store. I don’t know if I would have had enough on my own, but with my neighbor’s stuff, we had a pretty good spread.

  18. They are worth it! Get rid of your junk and make money? Sounds like a win/win to me!

  19. I’ve never had a yard sale. I look at my stuff and think that it is either too good to sell that way, or it is so crappy I can’t imagine anyone wanting it. My hubby has a lot of tools that he wouldn’t mind getting rid of but I figure most yard sale buyers are women who aren’t interested in tools. Quite a few years ago when my son was little, I did put some of his baby clothes on a friends sale and got some cash from them but as you say, it broke my heart to see things go for a quarter or a dime.

  20. I hate having yard sales, but I usually have one anyway. I want money. What can I say? But yes, they are a huge PITA.

  21. Jacob and I talk about this all the time. Is it worth it? Depends on how much money you make, and unfortunately you don’t get to know that until the sale is over. So, in that aspect it’s kinda risky. If I ever have a yard sale, I will put “if you get here before the starting time, prices are tripled.” That should keep people away for a while.

  22. I think you should take a two-pronged approach when it comes to yard sales. Anything small and worth >$8-10 bucks you should probably be selling on Ebay for a higher price.

    Everything else, you can throw a yardsale and let stuff go at more reasonable prices to just get rid of it if you do not want it anymore.

    This way you get rid of your stuff and get top dollar for the higher cost items that will be worth the extra time it will take you to list them on Ebay.

  23. I’m afraid I lack the patience and energy for a yard sale. I typically give all my unwanted stuff to Goodwill and keep a detailed spreadsheet of everything I give away for tax purposes. Lately, I’ve been doing clothes swaps with a friend, so sometimes I score new (to me) stuff in exchange for what I don’t want anymore. And it’s totally okay to have evil thoughts about early birds – 7am means 7AM! Don’t talk to me before coffee!!

  24. I think it is always difficult to tell if a yard sale will be a bust until after everything is put away and the money is counted. I do think it is essential to declutter though.

  25. I absolutely hate the hassle of yard sales! But I can’t help but love the extra cash. I guess you could say I have a typical love/hate relationship with them.

  26. I agree, I hate yard sales too, at least I used to. Gathering all of that crap and watching all those folks poking through it all day long, is not my cup od tea. I have a friend that absolutely loves yard sales, so I made a deal. Pick up my stuff and keep half of what is sold, no questions asked. Now I make a few bucks and aren’t involved. It also makes my friend happy that he has a lot of stuff to sell.

  27. We live an area with retired folks only. No one buys baby and kid stuff even though its in great condition. Plus it was 2 weeks of going through ten years of stuff. Ugh!

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