Yard Sales Can Help Bridge the Financial GapWednesday, June 16, 2010

For families that could use a little extra money to help cover expenses this summer, a yard sale may be just the ticket to getting rid of no longer used or needed items and bringing in some quick cash.

“A well planned yard sale can generate hundreds of dollars,” said Mechel Glass, director of education for CredAbility. “The extra money raised can help cover extra or unplanned expenses, or can even be used to fund a family vacation, down payment on a car, or to jumpstart an emergency or college fund.”

CredAbility offers tips to help families get the most out of hosting or shopping at yard sales.

Hosting a Yard Sale
A yard sale not only offers a great opportunity to earn extra money, it is also a great way to reduce clutter in your home and get rid of unused items.

  • Choose a date. Many yard sales are held for just one day, others may be held over a weekend. Avoid holiday weekends. Once you have selected a date, be sure to get it approved by your homeowners’ association or local government. Some neighborhoods designate a specific weekend or two each year and do not allow yard sales at any other time.
  • Recruit your neighbors. There are several advantages to a multi-family yard sale, including shared advertising costs and increased traffic.
  • Get the word out. Use signs and local advertising to let shoppers know about your sale. Most local newspapers have inexpensive yard sale rates, and many shoppers use these ads to plan their day. List for free online at www.garagesalesource.com. This site also has great FREE sign templates. Be sure to be descriptive about some of the key items you have—if you have lots of children’s items or furniture, say so in your ad. If there are many families, use terms like “multi-family” or “neighborhood sale” to help let buyers know.
  • Price accordingly. Most shoppers are looking for deals at yard sales, so don’t expect to get retail prices for your items. A good rule of thumb is to price items that are in good condition at 25 to 30 percent of their retail value. A quick Google Search of “garage sale pricing” will produce several pricing guides to help get you started. Pricing every item takes extra time before the sale, but will make things easier during the sale—for you and your shoppers. If you want pre-printed price tags, you can find them at www.yardsalesupplies.com. Bundling like items for one price may help things move more quickly. Regardless of your pricing strategy, shoppers will want to negotiate with you, so be prepared.
  • To Sell or Not to Sell. Not every item is right for a yard sale. Consider consigning high-end items such as antique furniture or specialty items, where they will likely generate more money for you.
  • Make Plans for what is Left. If you intend to donate items left at the end of the sale, make arrangements for a charity to pick the stuff up the same day so that you don’t have to move it again.

There is a great yard sale checklist at www.onlineorganizing.com under Organizing Advice.

Tips for Yard Sale Shoppers
For the careful shopper, yard sales offer a great way to get things you need at a fraction of the cost.

  • Plan your shopping strategy. Using the newspaper or online resource, plan your shopping strategy. You might do this based on location of the sale, or based on who seems to have items you are looking for. While you might want to arrive a little early, many sellers stick to a “no early bird” policy.
  • Be prepared. If you are looking for furniture, bring a truck, or have access to one quickly. Sellers are not interested in holding items for you for days while you figure out how to move it. Have cash, and carry smaller bills so you are prepared to make offers and conduct transactions quickly.
  • Know what you are looking for. While you might stumble across an item that you just have to have, it is a good financial strategy to know what you are shopping for before you leave your house. If you need clothes for your children, yard sales can offer a great bargain—clothes are typically harder to sell and there may be opportunities to bundle many items. Resist the urge to buy things you don’t need just because it is a bargain. You won’t use it and it will end up in your next yard sale.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most prices are negotiable, so if you see an item you like but think the price is too high, negotiate. On the other hand, if you know you are getting a bargain, don’t haggle on price over every item. Sellers may be more willing to lower prices late in the day or on the last day of a sale. If you see something that is priced out of your range, consider giving them your number and asking them to call you if the item hasn’t sold.