It’s Yard Sale Season, Bitch!

That’s what my alarm shouts at me every Saturday morning now to wake my ass up ;) And by “alarm” I mean “my internal bargaineering alarm” since the first rule of The Yard Sale Club is to get out the door early! Followed by the second rule, “Never talk about The Yard Sale club.” Oh wait…

All kidding aside, if you want to be the best yard saler you can possibly be, you have to remember a handful of tips & tricks so you walk away feeling like a king rather than a joker. And there’s nothing worse than being a joker and having to pay for it. Either in money or sleep!

So today I present to you a handful of tips that will give your yard sale experience all the oomph it needs. And I want you to then put them into action with me tomorrow, okay? OKAY???? Good. Glad to see that you agree with me. (<—– My ex-girlfriend in 6th grade used to write that in every single note she passed to me… And I know that because I just found the box of these notes the other night and found them hilarious to read through :) Ahh young love…)

How To Be a Yard Sale King

  1. Make sure your belly is full, and your bladder empty.  This is rule #1 outside of rule #2 (what?). ‘Cuze the last thing you want to do is be all cranky in the middle of a hot run of sales and have to go home early. So you stuff your face full and hit the bathrooms at home before jumping in that car – you feel me?
  2. Wake up and go as early as possible. Somewhere around 6:30-7:00 is the best (you don’t want to go earlier and piss people off, unless they specifically say “early birds are welcome”), but def. be out your house at 7:30 at the latest. Unless you don’t mind other people taking your deals…
  3. Use an app! No one uses newspapers anymore… Okay, well maybe they do, and it’s still smart to check your local one out the night before, but modern technology can still be a lot easier to use. My favorite app personally is Garage Sale Tracker for the iPhone (it’s free). It pulls all the sales off Craigslist and plops them down onto a single map where you can then touch and navigate too one after the other. It saves me TONS of time. And better than aimlessly driving around looking for yard sales signs (although that too is fun to do once the morning rush is over…).
  4. Hit the “community” and “church” yard sales first.  These are the best because it’s like stopping at 10 or 20 yard sales all at the same spot! And if you’re short on time, just one of these alone can cure your soul.
  5. Open up all the boxes, containers, and especially the drawers. All the awesome stuff I find is usually hidden around inside of things that most people don’t take the time to peer into. It only takes a few extra seconds to open up, and you never know what you might find!
  6. NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE! No matter what you’re buying, always ask for less than what the sellers asking for it. Even if just by 10 or 25%. The worst is they say no, but believe me they’re already expecting it so get into the habit!
  7. Be friendly, smile a lot, and make chit-chat with the sellers.  Everyone’s there to have a good time and make a deal, and just like with everything in sales, connecting with people is key. The more the seller likes you, the more odds of getting stuff cheaper.  Sometimes even for free :)
  8. Always carry change and small bills with you! The last thing you wanna do is miss out on something awesome just ‘cuz they can’t break a $20 or swipe a credit card (though some people now use that Square device and WILL take your credit cards! God bless them…). Scour your place for quarters and dollar bills before you leave the house, or even better the night before, and then bring along a small plastic container so it’s not annoying at all. A picture of mine is down below (with $2.00 bills in it, hehe… helps even more with tip #6!)
  9. *NEW* Always buy something from the cute kid selling treats! Even if you’re not hungry or thirsty, throw them a dollar and help encourage them to continue being little entrepreneurs! (Thx for the reminder, commenters!)

yard sale change container

If any of these look familiar, it’s because I shared them with you two years ago :) And you earn a gold star for still reading this blog!! I did add in an extra one or two though, and the tips never expire…

So who’s with me tomorrow? Want to make it fun and see who finds the most interesting, or cheapest, thing? My cousin used to play the “$5.00” game where we’d see who can find the best deal under $5.00 by the end of the day, and I’ll gladly challenge any of you to it :)

If you’re still not convinced, perhaps some of these pics of old finds of mine will do the trick… You can click on any of them to learn just how much I spent on them (or, didn’t spend – woot woot!).

yard sale finds

awesome yard sale stuff

gold plated susan be anthony

cool old sword

Still not convince? Well, then there’s no hope for you…

Instead, sleep in, grab yourself some lukewarm tea, and then check out these awesome articles I’ve been collecting for you… If you’re going to be lazy, you might as well learn something in the process ;)

And as always, you can find a handful more like these every day at my other site, Rockstar Finance. Make sure to bookmark it or sign up to our daily emails!

Happy Friday!

PS: Seriously – who’s going to challenge me? ;)

[Gnomes up top by Randy Heinitz, all other pics by yours truly]

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  1. Sara April 11, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    Always purchase lemon aid from the kid that is side hustling off his parents garage sale. You are teaching America’s future about money. It makes them feel good and you too.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 7:45 AM

      Agreed! Even if I’m not hungry/thirsty I’ll always buy a few of whatever it is those young hustlers are hawking to keep ’em going. I wasn’t 1/2 has smart as them at that age and I always admire them!

      (Also – this is one of those areas you *do not* negotiate with at yard sales ;))

    2. Jerri Lyn April 24, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      If I have any cash on me, I will ALWAYS pull over for a kid selling something from a card table, not matter what they’re selling. I’ve had some NASTY lemonade in my time!

      1. J. Money April 24, 2014 at 8:32 PM

        I love hearing that! We need more people like you out there :)

  2. Mysti April 11, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    I have a question for ya….

    About 2 years ago, we had a huge yard sale (which was way more work than what we actual netted). But my daughter, who was 9 at the time, wanted to have a “lemonade” stand. We bought her a case of water, and she made all sorts of signs and sat outside with us all day. We were selling the bottles of water for $1….nice and cold…..and it was probably in the upper 80’s the day of our sale.

    Would you have bought a bottle of water? I ask, because not ONE person did. This kid sat outside for probably a total of 7-8 hrs, and no one said “oh, cute kid….I will throw her a bone”. The only one who was interested was a postal worker…and we just gave it to him.

    Just curious. We didn’t think she would become a millionaire or anything….but a cute kid, with bottled water on a warm day…..we thought she would sell out!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      Ouch!! Yes, I would have totally bought one for her! That’s so crazy that not a single person did? Maybe $1.00 was too much for the hagglers? I have no idea how much those little entrepreneurs usually sell at an average yard sale, but I at least would guess 10-15 items? I’m so sorry to hear :( I hope it didn’t discourage her from wanting to try more business ideas in the future! She already got the hardest one out of the why – failing! :)

      1. Aimee April 12, 2014 at 8:32 PM

        That happened to me and my brother when we were kids. We sold koolaid at my parents’ yard sale and only 1 woman bought a cup! She told us how thirsty she was and how glad she was that we were selling koolaid. We totally believed her!

        1. J. Money April 24, 2014 at 8:34 PM

          Awww, haha… she could have really enjoyed it! :)

  3. Brian @ Debt Discipline April 11, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    We have hosted a few sales over the years and I can confirm a number of people do come out early. Typically looking for specific items. Happy hunting!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 7:59 AM

      Bonus points to the sellers who set up shop early too! Or at least who don’t scold eager beavers for showing up too early :)

  4. Catina Mount April 11, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    There is a yard sale app? I must be living under a rock!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Oh yeah! And I’m sure there’s like 100 since that’s come out since I first found that up listed above… I haven’t researched in over 3 years! :)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      Oh yeah?? Looking forward to seeing what you bring home, good sir! :)

  5. Brit April 11, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Last year, the kids made more money than us. This year yard sale, make sure the kids’ stand don’t run out of food and drinks. ;)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Nice! (For the kids! ;)). Maybe you can have them share a few tips with Mysti above since hers didn’t have much luck for some reason?

  6. EL @ MoneyWatch101 April 11, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    Great finds J. I will stop by a few yard sales this summer, to see what cool things I can find.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Let me know if you find anything cool :) (Or if you find coins to send me, hehe…)

  7. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer April 11, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    I need to be better about hitting yard sales. One time at a yard sale one of my BFFs found a digital video camera for 5 bucks – newer version and it worked perfectly. We’re not sure to this day if the husband (the wife said, it’s my husband’s and he marked it, so, whatever) meant to write $500 or if they just had so much money they didn’t care, but BFF scored a doozy of a deal on that one.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Oh wow, haha… that’s awesome!

  8. John @ Sprout Wealth April 11, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I had no idea there was an app for yard sales, but it makes perfect sense. We actually found out that our neighborhood is doing a combined yard sale this summer and we’re debating whether or not to take part. Our garage is overflowing with crap, so it could only help us and if we can make a little bit of money out of it then why not. :)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Heck yeah man. In that case have one person man the fort while the other shops for the goodies! Just don’t let them bring home too much and defeat the purpose of having a yard sale to get rid of stuff, haha…

  9. Holly@ClubThrifty April 11, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Oh, I can’t freaking wait. First, I am having a huge garage sale of my own. I bet I have $500 worth of stuff to sell. Second, I need some new clothes. I love buying clothes at garage sales!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      You can find some good ones! That are brand new too, not just old and worn which a lot of people assume. (Esp with kids clothes!)

  10. Dee @ Color Me Frugal April 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I’ve got to check out that garage sale app. Thanks for the tip!!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      No problem :)

  11. Becky @ RunFunDone April 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    It’s so funny, because I’m a really good shopper (e.g. I’m good at finding good deals) when it comes to new clothes and new household goods, but I STINK when you get me to a garage sale or thrift store! I don’t particularly like going to garage sales, and I do a quick 3 minute walk-through and I’m ready to go! I don’t have the patience.

    1. OJ. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Fair enough :) Maybe you can compromise by going to places like TJ Maxx or Ross? :) Or even Salvation Army/Goodwill?

  12. AndrewsDad April 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Go to the nicest neighborhoods possible. Same with shopping at used anything stores. Go to the ones by the nicest neighborhoods. I cant tell you how much I have saved by doing this.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      *EXCELLENT* Tip!

    2. mistersquirrel April 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      @AndrewsDad – very true. I was up in Islington and the Oxfam shop was rammed! A lot of high quality stuff get’s handed down to charity just because it doesn’t ‘quite fit’ or it’s a bit ‘last season’. The savvy shoppers were all over it, I’ve never seen quite so many skinny well dressed women fingering clothes in a charity shop.

  13. Anneli @thefrugalweds April 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    I never knew about the yard sale app!! LOVE IT! We’re gonna have to step up our yard sale game. We’re actually in the process of having a massive yard sale for our parents. It’s time to get out all of the crazy stuff they have in their house. It’s gonna be a pretty huge undertaking and I fully intend to fund a semester’s worth of college expenses for my little sister with our haul :-) Great idea on getting the Square app for it! LOL!
    Good luck with your haul this weekend – we’re competing in the Grilled Cheese Invitational this weekend or else, we’re right there with you. PS thanks for including our post in your roundup!! You ROCK our socks!!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      How fun! Never heard of a grilled cheese event, but it’s right up my taste bud’s alley :) good luck!!

  14. Jacob April 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    I have baked $50 into the budget each month for my wife’s spending. I’m assuming AT LEAST $49 of those dollars will go to garage sales for the next few months. :)

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Hahhhahhaa… smart man.

  15. Kristin W April 11, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    LOL @ the title/photo combo. But yes! Now I’m pumped to score some yard sale booty.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      (you said booty)

        1. J. Money April 24, 2014 at 8:35 PM

          Hahaha… nice find! I wonder how long booty’s had a double meaning for too?

  16. Angella April 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I’m in! Already made plans with a friend to hit up the yard sales tomorrow morning. Too bad I have to work Thursdays and Fridays, because those are the best yard sale days around here. We’re looking to find items to resell to help fund a family vacation. I’m bringing $15, can’t wait to see what I can turn that into.

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Really?? Thursdays and Fridays??? Where do you live, Awesomeville? :) I’d be in so much trouble if sales expanded into the week – I’d never get any work done! Haha…

  17. R. Anthony @moneygraffiti April 11, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    You are always in the avant-garde, J$, or maybe the avant-yarde, with your discovery of that yard sale app. I don’t go to yard sales anymore because I have accumulated way too much “stuff” but I sure could have used that app back in the day. BTW, one exception: if you come across any old marbles in your yard-sailing and they’re low-priced–say, 10 for a quarter, or a Mason jar full for a buck or two, snag ’em for me!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM

      No way Mr! I recently ran into an antiques dealer who said he sells old marbles for $50-$1,000 a pop! He said there’s some huge underground following for those things, and people have no idea – especially at yard sales. So now I’m supposed to be on the look out for them, haha… Perhaps you’re a member of this secret marble society? ;)

      1. Richard Anthony April 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        You betcha! Only it’s not so secret. Check out some of the prices these babies are fetching on ebay under the “toys” category. I figured that you’ve got enough going on with your coins, etc. to start collecting in yet another area so I didn’t suggest snagging them for yourself, haha. Wouldn’t want to get you hooked!

  18. Crystal April 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    7am on a Saturday is too dang early to be awake. Guess I will leave the yard sales to all of you early risers!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      It’s not if you don’t ever go to bed ;) Can’t you guys put down your Magic cards or whatever you’re into now for a hot hour or two and then get back to it? ;)

  19. Kevin Vesga April 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    I’ve read that to obtain deeper discounts you should wait til Sunday (or whatever the last day is) when buying from yard sales. The rationale being that sellers would be much more willing to give discounts just to sell whatever crap is left. Of course it’s not much help to obtain discounts on stuff you don’t want either. Your thoughts?

    1. J. Money April 11, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Yup! I agree with all of that actually :) Bigger discounts at the end of the sales, but less stuff to choose from. Since they’re not all *that* expensive to begin with, I say it’s best to hit them up early to find the goodies than wait to try and save a little… but you never know.

  20. Sean Cooper, Financial Freelance Writer and Blogger April 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    You can snag some great deals at yard sales… or come home with a bunch of junk! Before you buy anything, you should ask yourself, do you really need it? I find yard sales are great for selling large items like furniture and clothing – it can be difficult to sell that stuff on eBay.

  21. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green April 11, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Haven’t tried my hand at yard sales yet…perhaps it is time to start! Haha…on a weekend I don’t already have a ton of things to do. This weekend I have stuff planned from morning to night already!

  22. Marie @ My Personal Finance Journey April 11, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    I went to a yard sale last week, I bought plenty of clothes with a very low price! I was so thankful that I had my biscuits and candies with me because I was so hungry at that time. :)

  23. Andy@artofbeingcheap April 12, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    I think going to the individual garage sales is to much work for to little return unless I need something specific. I love the church garage sales though.

    1. J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Yeah, you have to enjoy the adventure of the whole thing as the investment back on your time isn’t always that fruitful :)

  24. Aimee April 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Sorry for the late tip for this Saturday’s yard sales, but one great way to get a lower price or free is a sob story. Nothing too outrageous though! My dad used to go to yard sales and talk about how he has 5 kids and people would give him things. He got one of those big cube little tykes play sets and a little tykes tree house slide for free one time just for telling the seller he had 5 kids. They could have easily got $40 minimum for the 2 pieces!!

    1. J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      Oh man, I suck at doing that cuz I just end up feeling bad :( Unless it randomly comes out or something… Do you really have 4 brothers & sisters? That’s pretty cool if so! I love large families :)

  25. mistersquirrel April 13, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    ah, makes me so nostalgic. when I was younger, my school chum and I used to go to “jumble sales”, generally in a school/church/scout hall and there one could find everything! I bought a pram, a manual inky printer, a typewriter, books by the yard, a suitcase, cigarette cases, the lot. We used to come away with a great haul and then we’d go home and our parents told us to get rid of it :)

    Most of it was actually junk of course but there was such a great feeling of exploration. And then came TV.
    “Bargain in the Attic”, “Fortune Hunters”, “Yard Sale Millionaire”, “Homes under the Hammer”, “Salvage Hunters”, “Those places where they store stuff but they’ve died so we can go in and hoover up”, et al.

    Everyone’s so damn cynical these days!

    1. J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Haha, you know it… I love cigarette cases too – perfect for biz cards or even wallets! The older ornate ones are the best.

  26. Brent @ Vosa April 14, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Thanks for including my post in your wrap up! That was a really fun post to write as it was a trip down entrepreneurial lane.

    You won’t believe what I picked up at a rummage sale… I’ll put a post together to share it with you after I (hopefully) resell it for a big profit!

    1. J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Awesome, please do! I enjoy reading stories on yard sale flips :)