Sunday, May 20, 2007

Garage Sales: Expensive Hobby

'Tis the season... for garage sales! What frugalite in her right mind would pass up a good garage sale? Well... I know a few. Me, anyway. Ok, so the "right mind" is debatable, but let's not get technical.

To put your mind at ease, I do shop at garage sales, when I need something that could be found there, and when I have time to go without watching the clock.

Garage sale prices need to be pretty good to be worthwhile. It's easy to blow $20 or $30 or more and come home with no more than what we could have bought at the Dollar Store for $5.

Add up the cost of gas, the items bought that didn't fit, weren't the right color, didn't work. Add in the soft drink you treated yourself to because the day was hot.
Multiply that by how many helpers you had. Possibly you can add in the cost of a fast food meal, a newspaper, something you bought that you didn't know you needed until you saw it.

It can get expensive, can't it? Here are a few thoughts that could lower those costs:

Many newspapers are online now, with classified sections and all, so check yours. You can save the cost of a newspaper if you'd have to buy it otherwise.

To help keep the cost of gas under control, make a map of garage sales that seem likely to have what you're looking for and try to stick to the route.

Be prepared before you go by planning lunch or dinner ahead of time. Make it simple and quick.

Take ice water or tea from home. If you don't have an insulated mug, make a nest from newspaper and set it in there.

Making a list of exactly what you need to keep yourself from buying the wrong color or size or style in the excitement of the find.

Garage sales are for saving money, remember?


  1. I have usually done well at garage sales, but there are still items that I probably should not have purchased! It takes a lot of gas and time traveling from location to location. I finally made the decision to only go to town-wide garage/yard sales. I usually find it to be much more effective.

    I prepare for the event. I dress for the weather, bring my trusty water bottle(s) and push my (trolley)shopping cart. I limit myself to a couple of hours.

  2. Limiting yourself to larger sales is a good idea. Block sales are popular here, where you can park and walk to several sales in the same area. Anything to keep from driving so much! :)

  3. Gas prices have really limited my garage-sale range. Surprisingly, I'm still finding just as many great items as before! My favorite are church sales--so many donated items, there's a little of everything, all in one spot.

  4. I've found the same thing... I don't have to go so far from home to find good deals. Maybe we're learning something here! :)

  5. I only do garage sales in my neighborhood. But they are plentiful here. I have had to limit myself by saying, "will it end up in my garage sale?", but have gotten some good clothes.

    I lost 20 pounds last year, so the inexpensive clothes are a real help to me.


  6. That's a good way to question a purchase. My neighborhood doesn't have many garage sales, I wish it did.

  7. I too have done well at garage sales, but for the most part now I have enough. Once or twice a year I'll stop at a sale when I go to town and I happen to see one as I pass. Saves on a lot of impulse buying, and gas. I have found the past couple of years I do as well checking the local thrift shops when I'm in town. I only go when I'm looking for something in particular, but I have kept a little book with book titles, and things I would like (note not needs!), so if I happen to see an item on that list I'll get it. Our Thrift store sells books 25 cents soft covers, and 50 cents hard covers. I check them each time I pop in. I have seen other second hand/antique shops around here selling the same books for $5.00 to $10.00, and they probably got them from the thrift shop. So I check in when the store is open and I happen to be in town.
    Have you seen the tv show "Find and Design"? Well, I am following that show's idea to re-do my bedroom. I was given a beautiful quilt, and the colours match my floor colours. So now I'm going to paint walls, and furniture, and watch at the Thrift shop for some fabric that will go with the rest of the room and make a wall hanging, and pin my broach collection on it ( yes, most are from thrift shops, or the dollar store, and of course garage sales). I also wear broaches all the time.

    Pat in Kitchener

  8. I don't shop nearly as often as I used to, either, because I don't need much. I don't watch TV, so I've never seen the show you reference, but I posted my bedroom makeover here: Frugal Sheets

  9. Nice twist to the frugal idea of yard sales. I love them!
    Oh, by the way. Tag, you're it!

  10. My main yard sale shopping is neighborhood sales. I'm usually shopping with four kids so being able to park and walk to lots of sales is very appealing. I do have a list of things I'm looking for, but yes I've been guilty of the eating out issue! :)