Best Tips for Getting the Best Deals at Garage Sales – Everything you want to know before you shop at a garage sale so that you can get the best deals and save money.
I love garage sales! They combine my two favorite things: shopping and saving money! They’re also a really great way to find high-end merchandise for pennies on the dollar.
“But I’ve never been to a garage sale! How does it work!?”
To put it very bluntly, garage sales are usually what happens when people get sick of looking at something that they’ll never use and decide that, instead of throwing it away, they’ll try to make some money off of it.
Most of the time, you’ll see garage sales when someone is getting ready to move, needs to clean out some space, needs to downsize, or are just trying to make some extra money for something (I like to do this for paying off credit cards). I’ve known people that have garage sales to fund Disney vacations, help raise money for charities, empty out the garage for a new car, and even because of bankruptcy.
(Side note: my friends Rob and Melissa have made selling other people’s stuff from flea markets and garage sales into a full-time income! They teach you how to do that in their free training HERE.)
The bottom line with garage sales is people need to get rid of stuff, and they’re willing to sell it for a deeply discounted price to whoever got there first. Everyone wins – they clear out their old stuff and you get a screamin’ deal!
“So how do I survive a garage sale?!”
First off, it’s not as scary as you think! It really isn’t. Just know what you’re looking for or you’ll wind up selling a bunch of your crap at a garage sale, too!
Some more awesome ways to save:
- 11 Expenses to Stop Spending Money On
- 7 Things Never to Buy Used
- 8 Ways to Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have
- How I Stopped My Husband’s Spending
- 6 Steps to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
Here are the best things to do to get the most out of your garage sales experience
Scope out high-end neighborhoods
Yes, I mean it. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to garage sales. Chances are, the nicer the house and the nicer the neighborhood, the higher-quality the items will be. You wouldn’t go to a torn up row of houses in the middle of the ghetto and expect to find exquisite, brand name, high-end products. You will want to go to expensive neighborhoods to find the best deals on good quality products. That’s just the reality of it: the nicer the house, the nicer the stuff will be as well (there are exceptions to every rule, but this one is usually right).
Look for “COMMUNITY” or “MULTI-FAMILY” garage sales
These are my favorite! A community garage sale or a neighborhood garage sale means that there are houses in a development, on a street, or in the same general area that are all having garage sales at the same time. This means that there are a lot of houses for you to choose from. More importantly, it means less time searching for what you’re looking for.
Check on Craigslist for the garage sales near you before you leave the house
Craigslist has a place for you can list your garage sale and explain what you have to sell. This is a really great way to find out what is going to be at a garage sale before you even have to get there.
It’s also a great way to plan out your garage-sale-ing-day. If you know that there are a few different garage sales that you want to go to that are close to each other you can go there and plan what you need to get.
I’ve even printed out maps before and mapped out my trips to maximize time! Slightly neurotic? Maybe. But I hit more than 20 different garage sales in one day thanks to my little map!
Related post: 13 Apps That Will Help You Save Money Easily
Get there RIGHT when they open
The earlier you’re able to get to a garage sale, the better the deals will be once you’re there. If you are the first person there once the sales start, you will have the pick of the lot. You won’t have to go scouring for the best deals because they’re all right there at the top.
Make sure that you know the rules of the garage sale, though! If a seller says “no early birds” that means don’t get there before it opens. If the start time is at 8 it means 8, not 7:30. And they mean it. Don’t be that creeper standing around someone’s house before they’re ready.
Bring cash and your UGLIEST, OLDEST, WALMART/TARGET wallet
Leave the Coach wallet at home and bring your nastiest looking, least expensive wallet with you. Here’s why: you are going to want to get a really great price for the things you buy. It’s really hard for a seller to be sympathetic to a buyer who is saying “come on I only have $10; can’t you cut that extra $2 off?” When the buyer has a $400 wallet. No credit cards or checks will be accepted at garage sales so the cash is the way to go. And on that note…
Bring your HAGGLE game!
You are going to need to at least try to haggle at a garage sale. If you have never haggled before, a garage sale is a great place to try for the first time. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on the price. I ask for a “buy some get some free” deal when i buy clothes from a garage sale. Chances are they’ll give it to you. A lot of times, they’re just happy to get rid of all of their stuff.
It’s okay to ask, just like it’s okay for them to say “no.” Don’t be afraid, don’t be upset, it is what it is. You asked for something and they said “no.” It’s not a big deal. Plus, you’re still getting a great deal.
Related post: Money Saving Hacks from an Extreme Cheapskate
The most important thing for garage sales is… planning
Just like you will need to plan where you’re going, you’ll need to plan out your garage sale budget. You will absolutely need to have a plan for every penny. I always like to leave wiggle room (because you don’t know what you’re going to find), but for the most part, make sure that you have a plan. Why are you there? What do you need? What do you want? What is your budget? You will need to have answers to these questions before you even leave to go to a garage sale.
Garage sales force you to use cash and to plan with it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You will need to know what you’re looking for and what you are willing to spend on it. If you are going to be looking for high dollar items, you should know what brands to look for, what a good price point to stay under will be, and how much the items go for retail.
Garage sales are an absolutely fantastic way to get really great deals on really great items. Everything from clothes, to books, to bikes, to exercise equipment, to home decor… you can get it all at a garage sale. You might need to do some shopping around and go on different days and on different weekends, but if you look hard enough you can find almost everything that you would need at a garage sale. Happy shopping!