Monday, June 6, 2011

Saving the Moola: Garage Sale Edition, Part 1

No matter where you live in the country, we are in garage sale season, the official fifth season of the year. Depending on where you live, this may overlap with all four seasons. In Michigan, garage sale season can start as early as March and continue as late as October. I imagine the more south you live, the more months of the year you get to enjoy this wonderful season!

Jason and I went garage saling this past weekend and here are some of our finds (please tune in to Part 2 of Garage Sale Edition coming Monday, June 20 for more of our finds):

We had been looking for a bench for our entrance area in which our shoe tray would fit underneath. I had been very casually looking for this in retail stores but was unwilling to pay a penny more than $20, but I was really looking for a bench around $15, a price I felt comfortable paying. We went to a yard sale we found posted on craigslist that was actually in a (very nice!) mobile  home park about 2 miles from our house. I wasn't even going to get out of the car since it was our last stop and I had found everything I really really really wanted off my list. This bench caught my eye, though! I paid $5 for it, and as you can maybe see, it needs refinishing (at least I think so - my husband disagrees). So I've got myself a little project on my hands and I will share the finished project with you in a future post.... (aka when I actually get around to refinishing it).

Jason had one item on his list and one item only: computer speakers. STN (the company I work for) gave us a desktop computer for free when the company moved offices and he desperately wanted computer speakers for it. He wasn't willing to pay more than $5, and he found these at the mobile home park yard sale for $4. Score!

We're always looking for 1,000-piece puzzles and found this really cute one for $2. It's a collage of sorts of Michigan - so cute! I suck at puzzles but like hanging out at the dining room table reading while Jason works on it - he loves puzzles :) We're geeks. Get over it.

Our extended family is huge - we have 11 nieces and nephews between us and one more on the way. We're always looking for items for the tots at garage sales for birthday presents, Christmas presents or just-because presents. We found 5 Christian books at a garage sale and paid $1.50 for the lot of them.

The church near our house was hosting a flea market that day so on our way home, we quickly stopped there. You never know what you might find! The flea market was very, very small, but we found 12 jelly jars (many without rings or lids) for $2. I will buy lids and rings at Meijer for about $3 for 12 and save myself a little more than $3 if I had bought a lot of 12 new with lids and rings (despite the fact that I still have to buy another 12 with lids and rings to make what I'm planning, but at least I found some used!).

Garage saling is a serious business. Here's my tips and tricks to garage saling effectively:

-Dress in layers. This is Michigan, people, and the weather changes every five minutes. On Saturday, predicted a 40% chance of rain all day. We didn't know if it would rain or when. We dressed in layers, and thankfully so - it was blazing hot! is the best place to find garage sales in your area. The search function is incredibly useful - I searched for garage sales in Fenton, garage sales with baby boy items and garage sales with computer speakers. I checked the website throughout the day on Friday and Saturday morning when we were getting ready to leave - I added a couple more to my list and one that I had added, I bought what I was really looking for and the majority of what we bought that day.

-Use a GPS or mapquest or some other map device the night before/morning of to track your route. Your craigslist research should have the following things: the address of the garage sale and the times of the garage sale. Most people who host a garage sale aren't open to selling early so don't show up early! It's just rude. Find the best route to go.

-Be prepared for anything - bring sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrella, a book, the GPS (a must-have), water, iced tea or coffee, snacks, cell phone, extra keys, extra money, etc. You never know what might happen weather-wise, if you get stranded somewhere, if you find something you didn't know you wanted/needed but just have to have, etc.

-Have a budget and try to keep to it. I had allotted $25 for our garage saling this past weekend and spent $28. Know what your own comfortable limit is for certain items and don't pay more than that if you're comfortable with it. This seems simple, right? Maybe not so much. I'm really not a fan of haggling unless a sign is posted that indicates the prices are negotiable. I don't like people haggling with me if I'm selling something so I doubt if other people really like this. You've put a price on your item - I assume that's the minimum you think it's worth or are willing to part with it. I'm not going to place a lower value on something you cared about having in your life. However, if I'm not comfortable paying more than $2 for a puzzle (which I'm not), I'm also not going to pay more than $2. I may tell you I'm not comfortable with that and let you take the lead from there, but at the end of the day, I need to be happy with myself. So have a budget for the day/weekend and for each item. It'll cause less headache and less regret later.

-Be flexible. You don't have to go to every garage sale you found. On your list from craigslist, you may also want to note what was listed in the ad that caught your eye. Does 3228 Swan's Cove have computer speakers that your husband wants listed? Then, you probably don't want to pass that one up. Does 4167 Sunset Cove have household items and clothes listed? That's pretty vague and while there's always a chance you'll miss out on something you may have wanted, there's also a really good chance you would have drove to it and found absolutely nothing. And if you're already tired, cranky, hot, thirsty (did you not hear me say bring water and another beverage?!?!), skip it. It's not worth it.

-Have a list. Whenever you think of an item you'd like to have, like a blender when you're craving a smoothie or a book you really like, write it down. Take this list with you to garage sales to be able to sift through the contents more easily.

My last thought on tips and tricks: garage saling should be fun. If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

Share with us: What are your tips for garage saling effectively? What's the best item you've ever found at a garage sale?

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