Cha-Ching! Tips for a Successful Day of
Yard Sale Shopping
Yard sale season is now in full swing. For those of you
who truly want to save money on your family's expenses, yard sale
shopping is a great way to find gently-used clothes, toys and
household items for pennies on the dollar. Here are some tips
for making your yard sale shopping trip as fun and profitable
1.. If you don't subscribe to the newspaper, buy or
borrow one the day before your shopping trip. Or, if your local
newspaper lists all garage sale ads online, save yourself a little
money and get the yard sale listings there. Just make sure that
the paper's online listing is complete. Some newspapers charge
advertisers extra to have their ads posted online. A quick call
to the newspaper's advertising department can confirm if the newspaper's
website contains all the yard sale ads or not.
2.. On the day of your shopping trip, you want to
spend the majority of your time actually finding bargains, not
driving all over town. Before you leave home, use the classified
ads and a map to locate areas that have the most sales. To save
time and gas, concentrate on hitting all the sales in those areas.
3.. Once you know the general area to which you are
headed, take some time to map out your exact route. A map-making
computer program such as Rand McNally's StreetFinder comes in
very handy for this. Or simply use a city map or Yahoo Maps online
at http://www.maps.yahoo.com to locate sales and get directions.
4.. Your yard sale shopping experience will be more pleasant
if you-and any family members who go with you-are comfortable.
Make sure everyone wears weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable
shoes. Sunscreen and hats are also helpful if your crew will be
out in the sun for long periods. Don't forget to make sure everyone
hits the bathroom before you leave the house!
5.. To keep you and your young yard sale shoppers' hunger
and thirst at bay, take along a small cooler with easy-to-handle
snacks and drinks. Of course you could stop for fast-food when
stomachs start to growl, but doing so would take time away from
6.. Rather than carrying your purse, you may want
to carry your money and any essentials in a fannypack or small
change purse you can put in your pocket. This leaves your hands
free to inspect the merchandise and also frees you from worrying
that your purse being stolen.
7.. You can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't
judge a yard sale by your first impressions, either. You never
know what kinds of bargains lurk in the seller's garage. Sometimes
you find the best deals at the sales that are least organized
because the sellers just want to get rid of their stuff.
8.. If your kids shop with you, save yourself a lot of
hassles by making sure they each have their own money to spend.
Give them a pre-determined amount to spend before you leave the
house, or have them bring their allowance money. This saves you
from being the bad guy when the kids ask for things you don't
want to buy. Many times they decide they don't want the items
bad enough to spend their own money.
9.. Negotiating is the name of the game. Most sellers
are willing to deal as long as you are fair with them. Asking
the seller to take $2 for an item marked $20 is pushing your luck.
The seller may be more than willing to sell the item for $15 or
even $10, depending how late in the day it is. Remember too that
yard sales provide an excellent opportunity to teach children
about negotiating. For the young or shy shopper, you may have
to help out a bit by saying something like, "My son wondered
if you'd take $1.00 for this game." Eventually your child
will learn to make these requests on his own.
10.. Going to yard sales early in the day (as soon as
the sales open) has the advantage of getting the best selection.
If you are looking for a big-ticket item such as furniture or
electronics, you'll probably have to go early. Going later in
the day has its advantages, too. Sometimes sellers are willing
to practically give their stuff away rather than have to pack
it up and carry it back in their homes.
11.. Be sure to carry lots of change and small bills.
Of course it is the seller's responsibility to have change, but
wiping out the seller's entire change supply with a $20 for a
$1 sale is inconsiderate. Save your change throughout the week
to use for your Saturday yard sale trip.
12.. If your time for shopping is short, you may want
to concentrate only on one-day sales. If a sale runs on both Friday
and Saturday, there is usually little left by the time Saturday
rolls around. To get the biggest return on your time investment,
visit the one-day sales first; then if you have extra time, you
can stop by any sales that have been running for two days.
13.. If you try to negotiate with the seller on a large
item but the seller won't budge, leave your name and phone
number along with the price you are willing to pay. Tell the proprietor
to give you a call if the item doesn't sell and she decides she
accept your offer.
Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, a free
email newsletter about simple and frugal living. Visit Nancy online
at www.countingthecost.com or at her newest site, www.keepitsimplesister.com