Being thrifty is more than just doing without, it is making the most of what you have. So if you have a significant collection of items that you no longer use -- books you'll never read again, toys and clothes your children have outgrown, household items that are just creating clutter, and well intentioned gifts that just weren't right for you -- it is time to hold a yard sale. And since summer is the prime yard sale season, here are some tips to make sure that yours is a great success and earns you cash for the things you really want:
160. Be strategic in planning your sale: if your community has a "homecoming weekend" or similar event that draws people from nearby towns, that is a good time to hold your sale. Similarly, find out if your neighbors or friends are interested in joining you in your sale -- a larger sale attracts more business. And if you live in an isolated area, see if you can hold your sale at a friend's place that attracts more traffic.
161. Make sure you place an ad in the classified section your
local paper and on Craigslist and other
sites like weekendtreasure.com, garagesalehunter.com, yardsalesearch.com -- you want to
attract buyers far beyond the number of people who are casually passing by. Be
sure to include the date and hours of the sale, your address (and directions if
you are not on a main street), and a brief description of the kind of goods you
will be selling. You also might want to list big ticket items separate from your
"yard sale" ad to draw people who are looking to buy these specific items.
162. Create one-page flyers with the same info as your online ads to post at your
supermarket, your local coffee shop, and anywhere else in your community where
there are bulletin boards for sharing this type of information,
163. Create good signage throughout your neighborhood (as with
your other advertisements, your signs should include the date and hours of your
sale, as well as the address, and the words "Yard Sale" in big, bold
letters). We like to use cardboard or poster board in bright colors with black
lettering to attract the most attention. If you are especially creative, you
can create "Burma shave" type ads for the streets leading up to yours. Or if
there is lots of foot traffic, create footprints on the sidewalk using chalk or
water-based tempura that lead to your driveway. We also recommend a bouquet of
balloons attached to the sign you place out in front of your sale – they will
help grab people's attention. Remember to take down your signs after the
164. Promote your yard sale to your local network via your personal blog, Facebook or Twitter account.
165. To make sure you price your items appropriately (low enough so they will sell; high enough that you'll make some money), go to http://priceonomics.com/ and type in the name of the item you want to sell to get an idea what it is worth.
166. Write your prices on painters' tape. It is an easy and
inexpensive way to price items and it won't leave any marks.
167. Alternatively, you can use brightly colored dot stickers
that are color-coded to match the price (all blue stickers are $1, all green are
$2 etc.). Make sure you have signs explaining your pricing throughout the
168. Before the sale, go to the bank and get plenty of change
($1, $5, $10, $20 plus some quarters) - you don't want to lose a sale because you
can't change a $20 bill. We have found that at least at the beginning of the same, it is easiest to keep prices rounded to a
dollar - anything less than that can be grouped with similar items and sold as a
169. Guard your money-box at all times.
170. Lock all the doors to your house (and be firm about not allowing anyone in -- even if they beg to use the bathroom or get a drink of water).
171. Decide on an “early bird” policy prior to the sale. On the
one hand, antique dealers and others who show up before the official opening of
your sale are likely to be buyers, not lookers. On the other hand, it can be
hard to finish setting up your sale if you have to content with sales at the
same time. And shoppers who wait until the official start may be annoyed if
everything is already picked over.
172. Be careful about selling recalled items - there are
consumer product laws that prevent you from doing so. Wonder if that old crib
has been recalled? Just to be sure, check http://www.recall.gov/.
173. Make sure all of your items are clean and displayed
attractively - a jumble of dusty old stuff is enticing to almost no
one. Put like items together (e.g. all the children's toys in one place, all
housewares in another). Arrange taller items behind shorter items. Hang
clothing on hangers on a rack, or if that isn't possible, on a rope hung from
two trees. Put big ticket items like furniture closer to the street to attract
passersby. Think like a department store and put all "manly items" -- like
grills, golf clubs and power tools -- towards the front of your sale. And don't
underestimate the effect that making the extra effort -- like putting a
tablecloth on the table with dishes and filling a pretty vase with fresh flowers
-- will have on your sales.
174. If something is cracked or broken, note the damage on the price tag, clearly
indicating that you are selling it "as is."
175. Create an ambiance that will encourage shoppers to linger
with music, free ice water on a hot day (we've been to sales with kids selling
lemonade and baked goods, which helped bring in shoppers), and plenty of room
between tables for browsing.
176. Two to three hours into the sale, begin to mark down your prices and
be more open to haggling: perhaps you've overestimated the value of some of your
177. If your objective is to get rid of all your stuff, develop a “buck a
bag” policy towards the end of the sale.
178. Have stuff you really want to get rid of? Have a box or table of freebies and encourage all of your customers to go through it and take what they want. Keep these items toward the front of the sale -- and make sure they are well-marked as free -- to draw in curious passersby.
179. Give everyone working at the yard sale a specific job.
Examples: cashier, negotiator (it's often good to have one person in charge of
the haggling), worker to help to load stuff into cars, plus someone to answer
questions, reload tables and box items that have been purchased.
180. Hold firm to the policy of cash only - even if you know the
buyer won't bounce a check, cash makes the sale process easier.
181. Have plenty of boxes, bags and newspapers for packing
182. Block off your driveway - better to have customers park on
the street than all over your lawn. Plus this will assure space for the
vehicles of buyers who have purchased a big item that can't be carried far.
183. Consolidate the items on your tables as the sale goes on,
keeping all displays tidy and attractive….if it looks like your sale has not
been picked over, people are more likely to stop and shop.
184. Toward the end of sale group small ticket items together.
(i.e. everything on this table for $2)
185. Have a plan for the items that don't sell -- for example,
choose a charity and arrange to have them pick everything up the day after the
sale. Click here for a useful list of charities that take furniture,
clothes and more.
186. When negotiating, try to throw in extra items instead of reducing
price. For example, instead of reducing the price of the couch, let
them have a free coffee table - that way you get rid of two items and the
customer gets a deal.
187. Have plenty of extension cords, power strips, and batteries
on hand to show that things work; plus you'll need sharpies, tape, sign making
material, labels and tags on hand.
Of course yard sales aren't for everyone, so here are some other ways to sell stuff:
188. Trade your laptops, cell phones, cameras, MP3 players, Blu-Ray discs,
games, and more for a Costco Cash Card: Costco's Trade-In Program will pay you for recycling these items.
189. SecureTradeIn.com and YouRenew will
also pay you for your old cell phone.
190. You can even make money when you recycle ink and toner cartridges: the Staples
Rewards program will give you a $2 Staples certificate for each one you take to a Staples store.
191. Send your old books, electronics, dvds and video games to Amazon: just sign in to their trade-in section and
indicate the ones you no longer want, they'll send you a postage-paid envelope,
and once they receive the goods, you'll get an Amazon credit you can use to shop
allows you directly sell books and dvds you no longer want, and although selling
through their site is sometimes more lucrative, you must wait for a buyer and
pay for shipping and a commission to Amazon out of the proceeds.
192. Receive a Best
Buy gift card when you trade in old video games, musical instruments, select
electronics, and CDs and movies. You can ship items to a trade-in center (print
out a prepaid shipping label at bestbuy.com/recycling) or bring them to
your local store.
193. GameStop is another good place to
trade in used video games. You'll receive a Gamestop gift card good for
purchasing anything at their stores or website.
194. Trade in used sports equipment at PlayItAgainSports and receive cash or new sports equipment from the store.
195. Half.com (an ebay.com company) offers an "instant sale" option
for books, music and movies, that allows you to list your old goods via ISBN or
UPC, sell them without the lengthy auction process, ship for free, and then get
paid via paypal or Half.com coupons.
is another retailer with a useful program for trading-in old electronics. The service is available
in their stores and online. As with many other programs, you'll receive a Radio
Shack gift card.
197. MyBoneyard is a
website devoted to recycling used electronics. You can estimate the value of your
items online, and then choose to receive a prepaid shipping label for mailing
items in. Assuming your items have a cash value, you can elect to receive the
money yourself or donate it to charity.
198. Raiding your jewelry box for single earrings, old brooches, and
broken chain necklaces and sell them for the value of the gold. The Wall
Street Journal had an article about how selling gold jewelry has become
extraordinarily popular in these times of high gold prices and eroding incomes.
If you're interested, check out these companies, all of which were mentioned in
the WSJ article:
a. Gold Mine Party LLC
b. Party of Gold
c. My Gold
199. In addition to selling physical items that you already own, you might consider easy ways that you can generate cash from hobbies or interests in your spare time. This isn't a second job by any means, but just a quick way to monetize things that you might find interesting or enjoyable. See the post on Pin Money for a list of ideas.
Sometimes the easiest way to get some extra income is to find some money you didn't even know you had.
200. It is worth checking every year to see if you are owed any of the $32.8 billion in unclaimed funds being held by state governments. You might be owed money from a forgotten checking account or a mislaid security deposit. Go to IRS.gov (for tax refunds) and to MissingMoney.org and Unclaimed.org (for everything else), and type in your name and all the states where you have lived or worked. For best results, just type in your last name to see what variations come up -- I discovered funds listed in both my mother- and father-in-law's names - both of whom are long deceased.
Want to see more of our 365 ways to save? Check out the list of tightwad tips
from January, February, March, April, May and June.