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Shopping at garage sales is one way to stretch your budget. What your neighbor no longer needs, may be the perfect item for you.

After coming back empty-handed from too many garage sales, I learned how to make the most from these outings.

garage sale tips couple money

Create a Shopping List

Going to sales without any idea of what you’re looking for is a way to end up stocking your next garage sale.  Instead, take the time to figure out what items you need or want and that you don’t mind buying used.

For my family, books and toys are always on the list.  Others move on and off based on need.  I recommend not buying used baby car seats or cribs due to safety concerns.

Plan Route

I research the ads and based on what is listed pick the must-hit sales.  Then the route is planned to be most effective in time and gas.  I try to limit backtracking although sometimes it’s not possible due to the varied start times.

If there’s something you really want than just start at that sale.  You don’t want to miss out because of inflexibility.

Go Early or Late

For best selection, I try to hit each address as soon after the posted start time as possible.  Some early birds show up before opening time, but that just irritates the seller.  I don’t want to start off on a bad foot.

If you don't mind risking not getting an item, you might want to show up at the end of the sale.  The sellers won’t want to drag unsold items back into their home.  For example, you could get whole bags of clothes for one price versus individual pieces.


Some people will always dicker over price while others never do.  I’m in the middle.  If I think the price is very low already, I don’t try to get a better deal.

But I do offer alternate prices when I think they’re too high or based on volume.  For example, if used books are $1 each, I might offer $5 for seven books.

It doesn’t hurt to ask as long as it's said nicely.

Garage Sales ToolsLooking to get the best deals at garage sales? These 5 tips will help you become a bargain hunter!

Make sure you have the tools to make garage sale shopping successful.  Use a GPS device or app to find the garage sales.

There are many streets in my neighborhood I never knew about until navigating to a sale.

Take small bills to give you more flexibility in negotiation.  It’s easier to say yes to a lower price if the seller visually sees those bills.  Plus, some sellers just aren’t that organized and won’t have change until after they’ve made some sales.

Have transportation for your purchases.   It’s not uncommon to see sold signs taped onto big items at garage sales.  T

hose buyers arranged to pick it up later (usually the same day) with a vehicle to carry the item(s).

Following these tips will help making garage sale shopping fun as well as financially rewarding.  What’s your garage sale tip?

About Kay Lynn

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6 comments add your comment

    • My multiple incomes, you definitely have more bargaining power later. Negotiating is something I do great in Mexico; not so good in the U.S. Strange!

  1. I shop for family members like my grown kids and grand kids, so one of my tips is to know sizes.

    I have also been buying up re-modeling supplies for some projects I’ve got going, so I also need to know what materials are needed and how much of them I need.

    Take your biggest vehicle – so you can cart your good finds home.

    Seek out neighborhood sales – they are prolific in the spring and fall.

    If you think you can use something and like the price, buy it now, don’t wait and come back as it will probably be gone. If it turns out you can’t use it, you can donate it and add the value to your tax deductions.

    I love garage sales!

    • Marie, those are great tips. I need to get the sizes of my family members.

      I like going to sales at churches or other non-profit organizations. With more donors, I’m more likely to find something on my list.

  2. I haven’t gone to a garage sale in ages but always enjoyed them. I like the idea of planning a route and using GPS though – that would definitely make it easier!

    • I”m glad you liked the GPS tip. I haven’t been to many garage sales this year either. It seems like there are fewer in my neighborhood. I don’t know what that means!