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TMM Extra! It's Garage Sale Time
May 26, 2009


Welcome to a special issue of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

Welcome to a special edition of The Money Messenger focusing on garage (and yard) sales. This mid-month bonus issue looks at how-to tips for having your own sale and buying from others. No matter which end of the yard sale you are on, they can be great tools in managing your family money. Let's get started!

Note from Jennifer

Garage sales are in full swing in our area! It seems like spring cleaning leads to more and more garage or yard sales. This can be good for your family budget whether you are buying or selling.

Garage sales can range from the weekly sale on the side of the road to full-blown upper scale neighborhood events. We have both extremes - and ones all through middle - in our area. You can easily spend all day shopping a neighborhood one and save loads of money in the process. Or you can turn the tables and sell your stuff to others. You clear out stuff you are no longer using and make some money in return.

In the current economy, these options are great ways to stretch your dollars and give kids a hands-on view of business in the process. Garage sales often involve finding inventory, pricing it, haggling with customers and making change. And you can do it all in less than a week! What a great way to teach kids some basic money skills while accomplishing stuff for the family too.

The feature articles in this special issue look at both sides of the garage sale. The first article covers five great tips on having your own successful garage sale. The second article focuses on how to make a garage sale a family activity - and teach kids some basic economics in the process. And finally, the last article looks at how to shop garage sales to find the best bargains without spending all your time on the road.


Feature Article
Five Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

Who wouldn't like to start off the summer season with a successful garage sale? It can clear clutter out of your house that you uncovered in spring cleaning, and it can jumpstart your family vacation fund. Here are five tips for making your garage sale a hit.

  • Get organized. Organization in all aspects of your garage sale will help in so many ways. It applies to grouping all your sale items together (so you are not searching through the house at the last minute) to pricing to advertising. It will make everything run more smoothly, but be careful not to spend so much time organizing that you don't get around to the actual sale.
  • Get help. Get the family to pitch in. There is more on this in the next article, but having help is a big deal. You will (hopefully) have more than one customer at a time, so you need more than one person to help them. Add that to making sure items don't blow away (spring winds can come up in no time!) and taking money and one person will quickly get behind. No one wants a customer to walk away because they can't be helped. If you can't get family help, recruit a friend or neighbor. They might have items they'd like to sell as well.
  • Make your stuff look good. Think about it. Whether you are at the grocery store, a department store or even another garage sale, are you more attracted to well-stocked and displayed merchandise or messy piles of stuff? Customers don't expect fancy displays, but they will be more likely to stay and browse (and buy more!) if they can see what is for sale and can look through it easily.
  • Mark all your items with a price. Most customers want to be able to look on their own without having to constantly ask the price. Retailers have price tags on their merchandise whether through tags or signs. It's a good idea for your garage sale to have that too.
  • Advertise! Advertise! You can do this on the cheap, but you need to get people to your sale or all the other tips will not matter much. Send out emails to people you know and ask them to spread the word. Advertise in a local paper or on a website such as Put up signs on the day of the sale (or even one day before) so people driving by can find your garage sale and stop.

With these garage sale tips as well as the ones you will find on the site, you can be on your way to your own garage sale success. And if you have tips you'd like to share, contribute them here. There are lots of folks who'd love to hear them here!

Feature Article
Making Your Garage Sale a Family Event

Garage sales can be a great way for your family to make money together. Nearly every age can help with some part of the sale, and the money you make can be added to your family fun account or donated to your favorite charity. And, contrary to some people who plan their sales months in advance, you can decide to have a sale on Thursday and open for business on Saturday.

The first part of getting ready for any garage sale is finding stuff to sell. This is a great way to get everyone in the family involved at the beginning. Have everyone go through their stuff and find things that they no longer use. This can be clothing from the bedrooms or games from the family room. If it's easier, you can also assign family members to each room so nothing gets overlooked. Younger kids may need help with this step but it is still a good idea to have them helping.

Once you have collected everything, have a family garage sale pricing party. Pricing garage sale items can be tedious or it can be fun. Make it a game by turning it into the "Price is Right" or "Let's Make a Deal." Or you can have pricing races to see who can correctly price the most items in five minutes.

After the collecting and pricing is done, it's time to sell your stuff. Depending on how you want to advertise, you can have family members help make signs or blow up balloons. You can also have the kids put signs up in the neighborhood or deliver flyers to your neighbors.

When sale day comes, have everyone pitch in to organize and display the garage sale items. Have the kids set up their stuff such as toys and leave the larger items and clothing to the adults. You can also have the kids selling drinks or snacks to customers.

Once your garage sale is over, you can donate items that didn't sell to a local charity or keep them for your next sale. Then it's time to figure out how much you made as a family. No matter how much you made, focus on how working together as a family helped you all earn the money.

If you hadn't decided what you were going to do with the money you made, now is a good time to discuss that as a family too. It might be best to offer some options that benefit everyone in the family such as the vacation fund or a favorite charity instead of letting everyone come up with their own ideas.

Whatever you decide, the best part is knowing that you accomplished the money goal by working together!

Feature Article
Shopping Garage Sales

Even with the advent of, and, local garage sales can provide great values for your shopping dollar. They can also be highly frustrating and end up costing your more time than you bargained for with little to show for it. Here are some ways to make the most of your garage sale shopping trips.

  • Look for multi-family or neighborhood garage sales. Not every family will have that bike you need or kids who have outgrown just the right size of clothes. To increase your chances of success but not the time you spend, try to find sales that are close together such as multi-family or neighborhood sales. You can usually park your car and then walk around from house to house. It's just like the idea of going to a mall with many retailers.
  • Know what you are looking for. If you are just out looking to browse, that's fine. But if you are really looking for specific items, then have a list and don't be shy about asking if the items you want are for sale. If you are looking for size 5T boys' clothes and don't want to go searching through the clothing table, ask the owner if they have that size. It saves you time and frustration.
  • Scout out the sales early if you can. Many sales have a preview night or advertise somehow - especially larger neighborhood sales. Go as early as you can. Even if there is no preview, some owners open up the day before the big sale to try to get as much stuff sold as possible. The best stuff goes first. Period.
  • Have plenty of cash and be willing to haggle. Very few people who have garage sales expect to get full price for everything. Consider asking for a discount or package price if you are buying several items. For instance, if you are buying a $10 lamp, 2 kids' outfits for $5 each and a $3 DVD, you could bargain to get all 4 items for $20 (which is like getting the DVD free). Most people who are selling items want the money buy they also want to get rid of the stuff. You have more leverage with them when you buy multiple items.

These ideas aren't really much different than smart shopping tips you use everyday. But garage sales can have a strange effect on people, so be sure to keep these in mind while you are bargain hunting!

What's New?

This special issue focused on garage sales, and there are three new pages on the site that focus on key aspects of garage sales too. Check them out here:

Final Note

I hope you have enjoyed this special edition of the Money Messenger. See you in a couple of weeks for the June regular issue which will focus on summer chores, allowances and motivation for keeping it all going when the regular routine melts in the summer sun.

Talk to you soon!

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