A Guide to Garage Saling

Our city holds city-wide garage sales twice a year, and my husband and I get so excited.

I am by no means above pre-owned anything. If I can get something in good condition for a great deal, I don’t care if I’m the tenth owner of the item, so garage saling is totally my thing!

This year I got something amazing!!!

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Scouty already loves the papasan 🙂

I have wanted a papasan chair since high school. I know they aren’t everyone’s style, but they are so comfy, and it was only $20. My husband found it and remembered that I had wanted one. He loves me 🙂

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I also got these Keens for $2!!! I don’t know why the picture makes them look like toddler shoes…

We got a few other good things, but overall, we came home with much less than in previous years. I was pretty proud of us.

We have learned a lot about what is a good deal and how to avoid buyer’s remorse. I know that buyer’s remorse is just a fact of life; everyone will experience it at some point. I am just thankful that the things we’ve purchased, only to realize later they weren’t what we wanted or were junk, didn’t cost us $100. Since we get most of the things we own second hand, our remorse is usually only $15-20. I hate wasting money, but a $20 lesson is better than a $100 lesson!

I think we come up with new rules every year for garage saling, but, for now, these are the rules we try to follow:

  1.  Consult the husband/wife before making a purchase, unless it is specifically for yourself, and even then, it doesn’t hurt. Communication is so important when you’re married. Consulting your spouse doesn’t mean they control you, it means you respect them. I have done it, too, but a lot of our remorseful purchases have been by my husband. They could have been great, but we usually get rid of it for some reason (it’s broken, not good quality, we don’t have space, etc). Example: the shop vac that weighed a million pounds and only had three of the four wheels. It’s no fault of his. We just have different personalities; I tend to pay more attention to detail, but, like I said before, I’m guilty of making bad purchases, too!!
  2. Always, always, ALWAYS look in the box. Don’t judge a book by its cover and item by its pretty box. It doesn’t matter if it’s a board game, tool set, or video game. Always check to make sure it isn’t broken, has all the parts, and it’s actually what they say it is. Example: we bought a Wii for super cheap, but the casing is cracked. We haven’t checked to see if it works, yet. I’m hoping it does…
  3. Examine everything closely. Don’t treat the things you see at a garage sale like you would something you see in a store. Stores usually guarantee their products, so they are more trustworthy than people running garage sales, even if you know them personally. Most people won’t try to take advantage of you or get you to buy their broken things for a high price, but always look things over. Example: we bought a glider rocker with a broken glider joint.
  4. Don’t be afraid to bargain. If you don’t like a price, decide what it’s worth and don’t go a penny more.
  5. Wear your walking shoes. The key to making a bargain is being willing to walk away. More often than not, you’ll be buying something you don’t need, and no matter how badly you want it, you need to be able to walk away if the seller isn’t willing to come down to your price. It isn’t mean to walk away, it’s responsible. You’ve set a dollar limit, and you’re sticking to it. Good job! And chances are, seeing your back may be the motivation the seller needs to make your deal. Example: we bought some gaming accessories. They wanted us to name a price, so we said $20. They asked for $30, but we said we can’t do more than $20. They asked if we could do $25, we said no, put the things back, and started walking away. They said they would take $20.
  6. Bundle bargain. Sometimes people don’t want to lower the price on one item, but if you come to them with two or three things, they just might give you a better deal.
  7. Get rid of the things you replace. If you’re shopping to replace an item that’s been worn out or is broken, throw out the old item right when you get home!!!!! Don’t wait. (and this goes for all buying, not just garage sales). And if you come home only to find that you already have what you just bought, don’t keep it as a spare. It’s just not necessary.
  8. Know before you go. I don’t really like to spend money if I don’t have to, but, whether you’re like me or not, making a plan is wise. If you don’t want to come home with more random trinkets than your grandma’s house, make a list of what you plan to buy that day.
  9. Use the internet! With technology right in our pockets, there is really no excuse to be ripped off. If you are looking at buying a big ticket item, take out your phone and look up what the going rates are for used items in similar condition. Don’t just assume you’re getting a good deal because it’s a garage sale, and don’t be afraid to let the seller know if their price is unreasonable.

The bottom line is this: we try to do all we can to avoid buyer’s remorse. Yes, we will make mistakes. Yes, we will spend less money on these mistakes than if we bought the thing new and hated it, but we want to be good stewards of the money God has given us, and throwing it away all willy nilly doesn’t honor anyone. Whether I’m spending $1 or $1,000, I want to do so wisely because it’s a gift.

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