Garage sales have a double benefit – cleaning out your junk and making some money. You should want to do both. And there are few casual endeavors you can participate in in life that will provide two such advantages. For this reason, you should start thinking of having periodic garage sales as a regular part of your annual activities.
Making Extra Money
When it comes to having garage sales, making money is probably the primary motivation. And when you think about it, it’s easy money – you’re collecting cash from strangers in exchange for stuff that you already have but no longer want. There’s no inventory to buy, no employees to manage, and you hardly have to leave your home.
But the income potential of garage sales can make them worth doing, even two or three times each year. We average about $150 per garage sale – at least that’s been the result over the past few years. The last one fetched us over $200. Even using the $150 figure, two garage sales would bring in $300 per year, three would bring in about $450.
Cleaning Out Your Junk
There is a secondary benefit to garage sales that’s almost as important, and that’s cleaning out your junk. Most of us have more stuff around the house than we even realize. If we’re not using it, then it’s just taking up space for no purpose.
But collections of junk also have financial costs. Consider some of the following:
- Junk takes up space in your home, giving you the impression that you “need” a larger home than you really do. That larger home costs more across the board.
- Money sitting in stuff is money that is not in your pocket, not being applied to pay down debt, and not being put into productive investments.
- Money sitting in stuff is just collecting dust – just like the stuff itself.
- Too much stuff creates clutter, and that interferes with clear thinking. An absence of clear thinking can cause you to make bad decisions – financial and otherwise. It can also interfere with your ability to earn a living (clutter is the enemy of creativity and organization).
- Too much stuff can create a fire hazard in your home, which could cause you to lose everything. Sure, you may have home insurance, but not everything can be replaced by money. It can’t replace family photos, treasured home videos, heir looms, and business databases.
Junk isn’t just junk – it can end up costing you money. Are you motivated to make garage sales an annual event in your life?
Making Your Garage Sale Work
Though garage sales seem simple on the surface, there’s actually a series of techniques that can improve your results.
Make your stuff look presentable. Nothing turns off garage sale shopper’s more than unorganized piles of stuff in your garage or driveway. In the week before your sale, organize your merchandise, clean it up, make sure it works (if it doesn’t, just throw it away), and make sure everything is properly and clearly priced.
Advertise the sale on Craigslist. About a week before your sale, place an add on Craigslist under “garage sales“ – it‘s free. Give as much detail as possible, and include photos of any significant items – people love photos! Include the dates, times, your address, and a contact phone number or email address. People may want to contact you in advance of the sale to make offers on specific items. You may get more for those items if they do.
Place plenty of signs out the night before. You should prepare simple, clean garage sale signs. They should include nothing more than your address, and the dates and times of the sale. Don’t clutter up your signs otherwise no one will be able to read them. Remember, you’re aiming them at people in passing cars – small print and too much detail will be ignored.
Place the signs up to half a mile away from your home on busy roads and intersections. The number of signs should increase closer to home, and include one in front of your house- with balloons if necessary.
Have family and friends at your sale – crowds attract crowds. Two things that will draw people to a garage sale are the amount of stuff for sale, and the number of people at the sale. If either is too low, people generally just drive by and assume it’s not worth checking out. Ask some friends and family members to come and hang out if they have nothing else to do.
Potential shoppers won’t know that these are family and friends – they’ll just assume that you have a popular garage sale, one they’ll want to check out.
Have plenty of cash on hand, especially singles. Garage sales are cash-and-carry affairs, so you need to have plenty on hand. You should have at least $100 in cash, with at least half of it in singles, since you will need to make change. And stay with cash only – the passing of fraudulent checks is not unusual at garage sales.
And never, ever accept a check that someone writes in excess of the sale price of an item, wanting cash back. That kind of payment arrangement is almost certainly fraudulent (the issuer will get the item and the cash, and you will get a bad check and a bank charge – with little legal recourse. Be forewarned!)
Everything should be negotiable. When people come to garage sales, they expect to find bargains. Understand that nothing that you have is worth any more than what someone else is willing to pay for it. Never fall in love with your prices – always be prepared to negotiate.
If you don’t, you’ll just find yourself loading all of your stuff back in the house after the sale is over.
Watch the weather! Like baseball and backyard barbecues, garage sales are strictly fair weather events. A little bit of rain, or too much cold or wind, will keep shoppers away. Even if you have scheduled your sale, cancel it if it looks like the weather will be threatening.
Garage sales are pretty easy, especially once you know how to make them work. Once you do, you can make extra money and get rid of your junk. That’s a double win if ever there was one.