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Yesterday I had the crazy idea to go look for hidden treasures at yard sales. And by hidden treasures, I mean those things I can find for $1 or less that can be resold. I have to admit that I have not been so successful at this, but I have certainly learned what to buy and what to stay away from. This got me thinking about the time that I have done yard sales and mostly I thought about what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about them.
What I Don’t Enjoy About Having a Yard Sale
There is a lot of work that goes into having a successful yard sale. Doing the pre-work is really important and this includes laying everything out, pricing it, getting change from the local store, and of course, putting signs up everywhere. Next, there is the investment of time, oh yeah… And getting up WAY TOO EARLY. Then there is the praying that every car passing by will stop and ultimately, you hope it is all worth it (i.e. you make money!). Lastly, you’ve got to pack up what does not sell, pick up all of the signs, and if you are like me, drive over to Goodwill or somewhere similar to donate all of the stuff that does not sell.
I realized that there is a way to get help with several of the things I don’t like about yard sales and that is what led to this post.
The 5 Ways to Have the Best Yard Sale
Join a Community Yard Sale. The reason this is high on the list is that it removes or minimizes the need to put out – and take down – all of the signs AND it usually results in more traffic which means more sales. It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbors, just don’t end up buying stuff from them. 🙂
Have a Yard Sale Before You Move. This one sounds like it is a no brainer, but I am embarrassed to say that my wife and I moved so many boxes of books and other junk that we realized we didn’t need. The thing is, we did not realize it until we had moved it all (and paid for someone to help with moving it all.) It did make for a profitable first yard sale after we moved.
If you are downsizing, you will certainly have the opportunity to get rid of more stuff.
Have a Yard Sale After You Move. As I mentioned above, we found that we had moved so much junk as we were unpacking, so we decided to have a yard sale. I don’t think I miss any of that stuff. I will say that the first yard sales after moving will probably be the best because you will hopefully find lots of stuff that you just don’t want. Our subsequent yard sales were not nearly as profitable and at this point, if I wanted to make my wife mad, all I need to say is “I really think we need to have a yard sale”. 🙂
Have a Yard Sale As You Start Your FIRE Journey. If you read the book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez, you will be familiar with the concept of assessing how much life energy you have exchanged for “stuff.” It’s a reality check for sure. After reading this book, I was inspired to declutter my life and a great way to do that is to sell the stuff you don’t need or use. If you have not read it, I encourage you to, and if you want to learn more about the FIRE Movement, here is an article I wrote on the topic.
Get Rid of Your Storage Unit. After my mother passed away, I, unfortunately, had to spend lots of time cleaning out her storage unit. She lived in another state, so I was unable to sell any of the stuff she left behind. Even worse, we had to pay a company to haul lots of “junk” away. According to Curbed, self-storage has become a $38 Billion industry with one in eleven Americans paying an average of $91.14 per month to store stuff they typically don’t use and many times don’t see again.
If you have a self-storage unit, ask yourself if the stuff in there is worth the money you are paying to hold on to it, or if you could replace it with something newer for the same cost or less. This might give you some things to sell at your next yard sale. If storage is a space in your home, maybe you need to declutter your home to make room for your stuff in storage.
Is a Yard Sale a Good Side Hustle?
Some people talk about yard sales as a side hustle, but for me, it doesn’t really qualify. It’s a great way to make some money if you are in a position to take advantage of it, but it’s not something you can do with consistency.
Alternatives to Yard Sales
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of a yard sale there are some alternatives.
Decluttr – If you have electronics, you might be able to get some money for them from Decluttr. I have used them to sell an ipad and it was a smooth process.
Donate – There are many non profits that will send someone to come take stuff you don’t want. At least you can get a tax-deductible receipt which can help come tax time.
Offer Up / Facebook Marketplace – With these, I say be very cautious who you invite to your home. In fact, many local police departments have areas where people can safely meet to make these exchanges. If someone won’t meet you at the police station, move on. Your safety is never worth the potential of a few dollars.
Hopefully, your friends see your offers before a stranger does, so you can help someone you know get a good deal and you can get rid of stuff.
Used Book Stores – Some used book stores such as Half Price Books will buy books, music, games, and movies that can be resold.
Freecycle – This is a local network of people who simply give stuff away. The rules state that people should only take stuff they will use and not resell, so you can feel good about helping someone out.
I hope I have encouraged you to convert your stuff back into money and recover some of your life energy by having a successful yard sale!