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Frugal Living: Saving Money at Garage Sales

Posted: 05/27/11 9:00 AM (Modified: 05/27/11 9:00 AM)

We posted this last year and I wanted to bring it back because we're just getting started with garage sale season around here. Also, I'm knee deep in toys that I'm trying to get ready for a garage sale next week. Here's what Melanie has to say, hands down the best Garage Sale Queen I know:

I love saving money.  I always have.  I want to feel like I’m getting a good deal and great value for the money I am spending, which is why I really look forward to Saturday mornings!  I am a mom of 3 young girls and Saturday morning is “my time”.  No, you won’t find me at the spa or getting my nails done.  I’m out engaging in my favorite sport …Garage Saling (yes, it’s a verb).  There is nothing you can’t find at a yard sale. 

Her husband's favorite, an antique radio for only $40!


I have purchased everything from an antique buffet to swim diapers, from a like-new Coach purse to a face-lift in a bottle.  You name it and it’s out there, at pennies on the dollar.  My rule of thumb is to not pay more than 10% of the retail price if an item is in GREAT condition (and usually you can get things for MUCH LESS).  If I took you on a tour of my house, you would see that the majority of things that we own (furniture, toys, clothes and home décor), have been purchased second hand.

A thing I often hear from people in regards to garage sales is, “I stopped at a couple of garage sales and everything was junk”, and the reality is, that may be true.  So, here is the truth about garage sales:

Michael Kors & Coach purses. Normally $300-$400 each but found for only $20 at garage sales!

  • It’s a numbers game. The more you go to, the more likely you are to find what you are looking for. You can’t show up at one sale and expect them to have everything you want. The best way to deal with this is to hit neighborhood or citywide garage sales.
  • Pinpoint your area. Based on what you are looking for, you will have greater success in certain parts of town or certain neighborhoods. For example, if you are looking for kid items, go to a neighborhood or part of town that has young families. If you are looking for antiques, hit the “old money” area. If you garage sale regularly, you will be able to determine your favorite neighborhoods and even favorite houses to go to.
  • Check your local paper or Craigslist to see where you want to go. If you don’t get a newspaper, a lot of papers list their classifieds section online. Check specifically for neighborhood sales or sales in the part of town you want to go to.
  • Garage sales are seasonal. During April to early-June and late-August to early-October it is garage sale season. You can find sales anytime of the year, but these are the times you will find the greatest concentration (large neighborhood sales) to maximize your time.
  • Go early. Most garage sales start between 7am-8am and some are open both Friday and Saturday. Don’t wait until noon and think you are going to find the best stuff. You can still find plenty of items later in the morning and people are often willing to negotiate more as the day goes on, but you are probably not going to get the deal of the century at closing time.
  • Negotiate. It never hurts to ask, “what’s your best price”or make an offer, especially if you are buying a large item, or several small items. Always be polite and friendly when negotiating. People are much more likely to make you a deal if they like you.

Have fun!  It’s a treasure hunt, you never know if you are going to spend a quarter on a piece of Tupperware, or come home with a front load washing machine or side by side fridge (all of which I’ve done before).  Happy garage saling!

An antique buffet only $75 at a garage sale and decorated with more garage sale finds!

Thanks, Melanie!

What are some of your garage sale finds?

Old to new | New to old
Jun 1, 2010 04:56 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I am there with you! I found a Louis Vuitton purse for $8. The zipper was broken but Saks mailed it in and had it fixed. I have a $600 purse for less than $50. It is the thrill of the hunt.

Jun 1, 2010 07:01 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I love it too!! I found a Pottery Barn Teen quilt and 2 Euro shams for $5. Online all 3 pieces would have been $187 plus shipping!! Woo hoo!!

Jun 1, 2010 09:14 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Beautiful finds! Ok, so I have to know - what is the name of your paint color, Melanie??? It's just beautiful and since I do have 2 more Glidden samples to order... :-)

Jun 1, 2010 11:01 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I have found some wonderful furniture at garage sales too. It also helps when you have friends who are moving too. I will acquire, in a few days, some very in great shape shelves and bedroom furniture when my neighbor moves. She doesn't want to cart them around so she gave them to me. I plan on making the bedroom drawer into a front entrance table, and the other things for my craft room.

Jun 1, 2010 02:00 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

With a family of 6, I like to shop for kids' clothes at garage sales. I can clothe my kids for dollars instead of hundreds of dollars. I look for name brands and usually spend a dollar for shirts, shorts, and jeans.

May 27, 2011 09:23 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

My home is also filled with yard/tag/estate sale items. We are such junkies that about 12 years ago, it got to the point where we just ran out of room. Went to a flea market one day with the intent of just making more room, and now we actually sell vintage and antique items. I get to keep what I like, or use it for a while, and then I sell it...Win/Win for me!

It also helps that my husband is more of a fanatic then me.

Here is a site that takes all the advertised sales from different ads (newspaper, Craigslist, etc.) and puts it all in one place. You just pop in your zip code and the date you want to go. Please note, that sometimes it is not always accurate and you might find a sale that was last week still showing.


Happy Saling!


May 28, 2011 02:48 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

thanks lauri....what a great app!!!!

I need to have a garage sale and get rid of all my skinny clothes but i'm being lazy. Wish i would of known about this app yesterday. There was a sale in my neighborhood them selling everything to go overseas. Missed out today but there's allways next weekend.

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