Top 10 Garage Sale Tips to Steal Bargains!

Mar 04, 2014: We were wondering how we could help you save money on furniture or other big ticket purchases. Reflecting on our experiences and looking around our house, we found that we had saved hundreds of dollars by buying most of our stuff, second hand, at various garage sales. Even our Rubbermaid laundry baskets were purchased at some sale :). Bingo! That gave us an idea, to share with you, about how we purchase stuff at garage sales.

GARAGE SALEThe basic concept of saving by buying second hand is that someone's trash is another's treasure. You can use these tips at garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, church sales or a "whatever you call it" sales. To us, these sales always present a means to save our hard-earned money.

To make the most of a garage sale, it is very important to know what you need and then make a plan to get it. Else you might get into an addictive habit of aimlessly wandering around the town and buying stuff you don't need. Here are ten essential tips for shopping successfully at a garage sale:

1. Make a Shopping List

SHOPPING LISTWe create a list of things we need to buy and then prioritize them. We usually restrict our selves to what we need and don't buy stuff that we don't need, even if they are offered at throw away prices. The list serves as a compass. It has oft saved time and energy by helping us stay focused. Our priorities are divided into categories like:

» A: "must have" - else difficult to get by in life

» B: "useful" - but can do without it for a certain period of time

» C: "wishful haves" - luxuries

2. Have a List of garage sales

We often scan the local newspaper for garage sales. Another interesting online resource is Then we prepare a list of garage sales that we are want to visit. Usually we visit garage sales in nice and safe neighborhoods since they have better items.

3. Plan your Driving Route

The next step is to look up the addresses on Google Maps. Then we create an ordered (sorted by the distance from our home) list of sales and plan an optimal driving route. Our GPS definitely helps us :).

4. Ration your Time

TIMEWe allocate a chunk of time for the entire garage sale expedition. Then we allocate slots of time to different sales on our list. This aids us from whiling away time aimlessly.

5. List Measurements & Sizes

Depending on what we are going to buy, we also prepare a list of measurements. If we are looking for home furniture, we jot down the sizes of the probable spaces where the furniture needs to fit in. On the other hand, if we are shopping for shoes or clothings, we note down the sizes, and so on.

6. Some Handy Tools

When we are planning to buy furniture we carry a measuring tape with us. This serves as a useful tool for measuring furniture to see if it would fit our needs. Also, we keep a handy strong rope in our car, in case we need to tie stuff and fit them in the trunk of our car. Some other useful things are a roll of paper towel and a powerful electronic screw driver (for the extreme cases where we need to dismantle some parts of the furniture for transit).

7. Feed yourselves & Carry some Food

FOODOn our expedition days, we get up early and have a good breakfast before setting out. In addition we carry some snacks, drinks and our lunches in brown bags. This helps us to cut down the temptation to eat at a fast food restaurant when we feel tired.

8. Check for Gas & Withdraw Cash

We also make sure that we have plenty of gas in our car before we set out.

As we set out of our driveway, we check our wallets for our ATM cards and some change, especially quarters. Then we usually stop at an ATM to withdraw cash which is necessary for our purchases. Most garage sales do not accept credit cards or personal checks.

9. Have a Fanny Pack

During our garage sale expeditions we usually put our cash in our fanny packs. This frees our hands and makes moving around easier and faster. There is no headache of carrying a purse and digging for stuff in it while trying to decide on something.

10. Carry a Small Pad and Pen

NOTEPADWe always keep a small notepad and pen in case we need to jot down some phone numbers, names or addresses. Sometimes if we had to leave a sale early, we use the notepad to take down the sale's contact information. Later we call back to check if anything was left at the end of a sale. If there was something that we needed, we go back on another day to get it. Often we get a price reduction on such deals :).

When we arrive at a sale, we usually walk around quickly to get an overview of what is up for sale. This helps us decide early on if there is anything worthwhile on which we should spend our time and energy. It is important not to lose focus. And our efforts have paid off. Often we have found useful items for a fraction of their original cost :).

Well, those were our secrets for stealing bargains at a garage sale.

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto