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5 Tips to Take Advantage of Garage Sales

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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.

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 Tools

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?

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