Financial Literacy for Everyone

Garage Sales: Clean Up and Cash In

Garage sales are an American ritual you should consider joining in on as a buyer or seller. With the school year upon us and fall around the corner, it's not too late to take advantage of this great opportunity to buy and sell. Not only are garage sales a terrific source for low-cost clothing, sporting equipment, electronics, furniture, books and toys; they are an excellent way to turn those unused items cluttering up your space into cash. In a slow economy and facing an unemployment rate of 9.2%, we're all looking for ways to cut back where we can. Here are a few tips for planning your own sale.

1. Get together. A group sale is likely to mean more items for sale–and more customers. Getting together with neighbors and friends means you can share the work, too. Host the sale in the highest-traffic location possible.

2. Advertise. Let people know about your sale via ads on Craigslist.org or your local paper. The more customers you attract, the more likely you are to make sales. Clearly marked signs with arrows to your sale are also a necessity.

3. Plan ahead. To make for an easier and more successful sale, organize the items you want to sell and label them with prices beforehand. That way, you can set them up and start selling first thing in the morning.

4. Be ready to bargain. Negotiating prices is the standard at garage sales. Know the value of your items, but remember that the goal is to offload them. Price your items reasonably but on the high side, as customers are likely to haggle with you and you can always reduce prices later in the day.

5. Get smart about setup. Have change on hand, keep cash on you instead of in a cash box for safety, and arrange the most appealing items at the entrance of your sale to attract passersby.

6. Clearing out. So your garage sale is over, and you have a big bunch of cash to show for it. Before hauling everything back into your garage or home, consider which items can be donated to charity.

Just as planning a garage sale can help financially in the form of extra cash, shopping garage sales can be a great way to get necessities for the fraction of the cost of buying them at a store. With back-to-school season upon us, it's an excellent opportunity to save on books, art supplies and clothes for the year. While shopping sales in your areas, remember to:

1. Check ads. While watching for signs is one to good way to locate sales, it's also smart to watch ads for larger sales.

2. Get there early. Arriving there first gives you first dibs on the most wanted items. If you see an item you like that is too expensive, you can always check stop by to bargain for it later in the day.

3. Go for quality. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it's a necessity or a smart purchase. Arrive at sales knowing just what you need and be sure to look for high-quality items that are gently used.

4. Let the seller start. When bargaining, the best strategy is to let the seller begin with a price. Counter with a lower offer, and the price is likely to land somewhere in the middle.

5. Be ready to haul it. If you are shopping for large items, make sure you have the transportation and help lined up to get it home. That incredible bargain you just found could cost you extra if you have to rent a truck to haul it away.

In an era of online and discount shopping, the old-fashioned garage sale still has its place. So clean out your garage or hit the sales this weekend while the weather is still warm and reap the financial rewards.

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