Yard Sale Tips From an Enthusiast

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Yard sales. People have many different views of yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, or whatever you’d like to title them. To some they are a weird event where people put their junk out on their lawn and clog up the neighborhood with cars (I mean, technically it’s true). To others they are fun places to shop for a neat antique or other item for a collection. To me, mom of a toddler on a small income, they are (mostly) amazing places full of awesome stuff that allow me to both pretend like our lifestyle is much more lavish than it is and also save our family a ton of money. For me it’s actually a technique to save money.

But it’s used! Yeah, it is used. If you have a problem with wearing or using second hand items this isn’t the post for you. If you’re feeling iffy about wearing a stranger’s clothes or drinking out of someone else’s freakin’ adorable snowman mug, let me reassure you: I’m still alive. I know, that’s enough to convince you. But really, it’s very safe to use most secondhand items. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend buying a used mattress or shoes (this is debatable, but it’s an ew from me). Most things, however, can be very easily cleaned and sanitized by you at home with products that you trust. Clothing can be washed, dishes and many toys can be thrown right in the dishwasher, and most every thing else can be tackled with these little miracles I call Clorox Wipes. While I trust in the power of cleaners, there are some things that I would not recommend that you buy at yard sales, and these are:

  • Mattresses. Just no. I don’t know who did what or spilled what on it.
  • Carseats. I don’t trust that they haven’t been in an accident or in other traumatic events, no matter what the previous owner says.
  • Shoes. Like I said, it’s debatable. You will probably be fine. But I have a thing about other people’s feet so, I can’t.
  • Underwear. That’s all I need to say.
  • Bathing Suits. Again, debatable. I researched this once (don’t quote me, it was during a 3 am brain needs to question the universe session and I don’t remember where) and it seems that you can wash these in certain products and they are fine. However, sort of like the shoes it’s just an ick factor for me and I won’t do it.
  • Bottles, sippy cups, and other cups/dishes with tiny parts. These get mold very easily and after seeing what can happen to my toddler’s cups I won’t go near these.

So, now that I’ve told you what not to buy I’m sure you’re dying to know why you should even consider spending your Saturday morning driving around random neighborhoods. Going to yard sales has given our family so many awesome things. Things that we really needed, things that we had but could upgrade, and things we totally didn’t need but I probably would have bought at Target anyways for way more money. I can’t stress enough how yard sales have allowed us to have nice stuff. It has allowed me to give my daughter nice things. I’ve been able to get her entire season’s wardrobes for the price of a few full priced outfits and then been set for the year without needing to spend any more money on clothing. My child’s room looks like we spent a fortune on toys and books, but we didn’t, and I owe a good portion of it to taking time to go to yard sales.

Okay, so now that I’ve droned on about how awesome yard sales are I will give you some examples of actual stuff I have gotten at yard sales so that you can get some idea of what you can save by doing this. Also, it’s fun to brag a little, right?

  •  A compact, chair-top high chair – $3.00 (runs about $49). This thing is AMAZING. It is much older than newer brands, like this one, but I actually love it more because it’s more roomy. I plan to save this one for any future kids if we have them, so this three bucks will go a long way.
  • Frozen Bin Organizer – $7.00 (runs anywhere from ($30-$60). My daughter LOVES frozen and we also happened to need a bin organizer to corral her zillion socks, shoes, and the headbands she won’t wear. This one was in perfect condition and it’s darling in her room.
  • OshKosh Jeans – $0.25 each (runs about $15 each). I got four pairs of these from a seller and they were in perfect condition and have the stretchy tabs to shrink the waist for my weird shaped child.
  • Radio Flyer Trike – $3.00 (about $53). Another great steal that was in awesome condition (just had to hose off a bit of dirt).

These are only a couple of detailed examples of the awesome things I’ve found at yard sales. Here’s a list of other items that I usually have great luck finding. I will also include a price range so you can see what I am willing to pay.

  • Books – I will not buy books anywhere else. We do utilize the library a LOT but I also buy lots of books at yard sales. I find AMAZING kids books in great shape from great authors for only $0.25-$0.50 each. I also find lots of adult books for $0.50 – $1.00 each. I am a huge reader so it’s so awesome to be able to afford tons of books this way.
  • Baby/Kids Clothes – I have found tons of Carters, Old Navy, OshKosh, Gymboree and more at yardsales. I have even found some super fancy boutique brands, you know the kind you find on those baby instagram model accounts that cost a house payment? Yep, scored some of those. I pay anywhere from $0.25 – $3.00 a piece, a wide range dependent on type (dresses are more than a tee shirt) and quality.
  • Adult Clothes – I find a lot of super cute clothes for myself at yard sales for $1-$5. I am one who is very hesitant to buy anything for myself so it’s really awesome to be able to buy new (ok, new to me) clothes without the guilt.
  • Home Decor and Holiday Decor – You may be aware that home decor prices are freakin’ insane. Just go to The Quilted Bear, you will see. It’s cute, yes, but I have groceries to buy here. I find lots of cute wall art, knick knacks (is that what you call the cuteness that you set on random tables and shelves?), and other cute decor for varying, yet super low prices. There is also an abundance of adorable holiday decor out there for dirt cheap. I love to decorate the crap out of my house for the holidays and now I can (and do, sorry husband).
  • Office and Organization – I’m always finding super nice, unused notebooks and journals, binders, accordion folders, and other random but needed organization stuff for great prices. I bet it’s because other office supply addicts like myself go and buy this stuff they don’t need and then get rid of it later. Thank you. Again, prices vary.
  • Pet Stuff – As a dog mom of three I am super lucky to have found awesome things like very nice leashes and harnesses and an awesome huge crate for $5.
  • Board Games – our family loves games so it’s exciting to find them at yard sales so often. I spend anywhere from $1-$8 depending on what the game is. Always remember to check the game for all the pieces if it’s opened before buying. However, if it has everything but the instructions don’t let that deter you, they can almost always be found online!

Are you convinced that it’s awesome yet? I sure hope so. I know going to yard sales isn’t for everyone, but I hope that I’ve shined some light on that it really can be a great thing to do on an unfilled weekend that can really save your family some money. For us it’s right up there with couponing, I do it often, in the few warm months, and it benefits us majorly. I hope you and your family can use it to find some awesome stuff!

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