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Yard Sale Buying and Selling

By Cyndi Roberts

Yard sales (or garage sales as we call them in my part of Texas) are a wonderful frugal source for almost anything you need. They can also be a wonderful, frugal source of extra money almost any time you need it.

When shopping at yard sales, it's important to remember that most things you buy are not going to be in  "new" condition, although there are times when you will find items that are brand new, in the box.  And at a much lower price than in the store.

Most yard sales have lots of clothes for sale.  But if you are willing to take a closer look, you may find tons of treasures. The other day I found a shiny cookie sheet in a box of  "freebies"! I was thrilled and so was my  son, who didn't have one!

My grandchildren have tons of books, most of which have been bought at yard sales.  And all were in great condition and didn't cost over 50 cents apiece.  I keep a lookout for seasonal items for kids such as coloring books, little stuffed animals, etc.  Then when Valentine's, Halloween or other holidays roll around, we send the grandchildren a package filled with neat stuff  for very little cash.

This summer I am also watching for "new-in-the-box" toys for children of all ages.   In December, I'm going to send them with my son  (who is in the Texas National Guard) to their annual Toy Drive.  But almost every community has some sort of toy drive at Christmas time.  This way, I will already have my contributions and won't need to go out and spend more money during the holiday season.

Yard sales are a  great way to make some extra money, also.  Plus, you can get rid of unwanted items at the same time.   My daughter and I recently held a sale and here are some of the things we learned.

Put up signs.  The newspaper goofed the weekend of our sale and left out all that week's yard sales.  So we had to depend on our signs. Put as many out as you can.  Find out ahead of time what kind of ordinances your town has about placement.

Take the time to make your signs...we bought ours and about halfway through the first morning, we noticed that we weren't getting any customers.  So we checked out our signs--and they were gone! We put out more and the customers started coming again.  But it was costly.

And when you make your signs, be sure to make them sturdy enough to stand up in the wind and also be sure your lettering is large enough to be seen by people driving by in cars.  I think a large arrow pointing in the direction they need to go is helpful.

Be sure to plainly mark your items.  It will save you lots of time during the sale if you don't have to talk to each customer about the price of every item.  If you aren't sure what prices to ask, it might help to go out to some yard sales yourself in the weeks before your sale and check out what others are asking for items. 

If you really want to get rid of something, be willing to negotiate on the price.  By the same token, if you really want to get a certain amount, be willing to say no when someone asks for a price reduction.

When your yard sale is over, if you are lucky, you have space to store the leftovers until next time you need to hold a sale.  However, if you're not one of the "lucky" ones, consider donating your items to the local Goodwill box.  

Helping you live the good life...on a budget! Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly e-newsletter and founder of the website of the same name. Visit to find creative tips, articles, and  a free e-cooking book.  Subscribe to the e-newsletter and receive the free e-course "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".  


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