How to Get the Best Deals at Yard Sales

So, you are looking for some bargains for yourself, your family or to resell for profit. Yard sales are great places to find some fantastic deals. But how can you be sure you are finding the best bargains? Read on for some tips for getting the most for your dollar!

PLAN YOUR ATTACK: So you are looking through the paper trying to decide where to start. Seems like everyone is having a sale, where should you begin? Sit down before you head out the door. There is an easy way to do this now and not miss any of the sales. Highlight which sales you want to stop at. Make sure to mark any multifamily/community sales and any that focus on something you need. (These would be “Must Stop” sales. If you are expecting a baby, you want to find all of the sales selling baby clothes and gear.) Now take this list and go to They now have a feature that will allow you to put in up to 10 destinations on your trip and sort out the order of the stops. This is a yard sale shoppers dream! Sort your stops carefully. There may be one sale that starts earlier than the rest. Place this as your first stop and go from there. Or you may want to start close to home and work your way down the road. Or start out at the furthest stop and work your way back home. However you want to sort them, MapQuest will work with you. If you have more than 10 stops just start a new search using the last sale address on your list as your starting point for your second search. If you notice one sale seems to take you far out of the way, check and see if it is one you have marked as a “Must Stop”. If not, you may decide to skip it to save some gas. Just delete it from your list. Once you have all of your stops in, print out your directions and voila! Now you have street by street directions to all the sales you want to stop at. Go back and mark all of your “Must Stop” sales on this also. This is helpful if you find you are running a bit short on time and need to decide which sales to skip.

BE PREPARED: Keep a list with you for all members of the family. A 3×5 card for each person works great. On this card list all current measurements and sizes for each person as well as items to be on the lookout for. Your husband will only wear levi’s and wrangler jeans? Mark it on his card. Your daughter needs a purple skirt to go with a new top? Mark it on the card. (You could even staple a small swatch of the fabric to the card for perfect matches.) Your son wants some new video games for his game system. Mark them on the card. You can also do this for different rooms of the house. Be sure to include measurements for any items needed or spaces to fill, then you can’t go wrong. Also, you can print out pics of the room on your computer and attach them to your card to help you out if you need to know if those curtains will match your bedspread.

HAVE YOUR TOOLS HANDY: Keep a small box in the car with the following items: various size batteries, cassette tape, CD, headphones, and a small screwdriver set. When you find small electronic items and toys, you will be able to test them out at a moments notice…just grab your box from the car and pop the batteries in. You will know in an instant if the item is in working order. (Let the seller know you are doing this and label all of your items in the box with your name so someone does not try to claim your screwdrivers as their sale items!) Also keep two measuring tapes in your purse, a fabric one for clothing without tags and a metal one for furniture and other large items. No more wasting money on something that will not fit, or missing out on a great deal because you are not sure. Also keep some extra bags and old newspaper in the box. Then if the seller does not have proper packing materials for the item, you can still get it home in one piece.

MANAGE YOUR MONEY: Before you head out, do not stop at the local ATM and pull out a bunch of twenties for your yard sailing purchases. Keep a variety of bills with you and be sure to mix them up. Keep a bunch of ones in one pocket, fives in a nother, tens in another…people are less willing to cut you a deal when they see you counting out the twenties. I find cargo shorts are great for yard sales. I separate all of my bills to different pockets and keep the twenties and loose change in my purse. I can pull out a single ten if I know that that pocket only has tens in it. Plus the sellers may not have enough change on them, if you can pay them exact change or very close to it, you are doing them a favor.

DRESS FOR THE OCCASION: Those new sandals may be cute, but you are going to be on your feet a lot! Make sure you are dressed for comfort. You will be standing a lot as well as walking through peoples yards and driveways, sneakers are the way to go. Keep a sweater or sweatshirt in the car in case it turns cool. Bring a hat and even an umbrella in case of rain. Some sellers will still sell rain or shine. Be ready for anything!

PACK SOME MUNCHIES: You can’t always count on a McD’s being on the way, or that the next seller will have sodas or water available for sale. Pack a small cooler with some food and drinks to carry you through.

SHOPPING WITH KIDS: It is always easier to go solo. I personally don’t even like taking along other adults, but if the kids must come along, just make sure to plan for them also. Really little ones can be carried along in an infant carrier or sling. Much easier than trying to manuver a stroller through the yards and in between tables that are always too close together. Be sure to bring along enough diapers, wipes, change of clothes, formula, water and baby food. There are bottle warmers that will also warm baby food jars that have auto adapters. For older children, bring along a few toys that are kept just for yard sale days.(Less of a chance they will be bored with them quickly.) Make sure these are marked with your childs name, so there are no problems with a seller thinking your child is adopting an item of theirs. If the child is old enough, give them some money and let them do some shopping too! I saw a lady at one sale who had her daughter with her. I almost laughed out loud when I saw the little one pull out a tape measure to measure a cute jacket for herself! Make sure to have sweatshirts or sweaters for all children as well as extra drinks and snacks.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE: Keep some business cards on you at all times. Sounds like a bit much, but they really come in handy a lot. You can get some for free at Even if you have no other need for business cards, get some of the free ones made up with your name and “Stay at home mom” printed on them. The seller has a large dresser, but wants a bit too much for the item? Leave them your card in case it does not sell, or they reconsider your offer. Find a sale with great girls clothes for your daughter? Leave them a card and let them know you would like to know about their next sale. (They may not have enough for a yard sale, but still want to thin out some clothes and toys for the little ones. So who will they call? You!) Also, when you can, try to get their number in a notebook. You can keep track of the better sales for next time. Also, if you have a truck some sellers will just want to get rid of items after the sale is over instead of packing it all up and dragging it in the house again. Let them know you would be willing to cart the leftovers away to the local thrift store for them after the sale or that you would like to make them an offer after the sale for the remainder of the items. (Don’t offer this service at all sales, but for one with a lot of items that you could use or resell, this could be worth your time.) Then you could donate or freecycle what you do not need.

HAGGLE: Don’t ever be afraid to make a seller an offer on something you want. Some sellers just want to move items out of the house, some want to supplement their income. Never hurts to ask for a deal, especially on larger items or when buying a lot of items from one seller. It does not always work, but you never know till you ask.

EXPECT ANYTHING: I have seen many items being sold at yard sales. You never know what you will run across. I have even heard of people selling enemas at a yard sale! Be careful with food and medical items, some may be outdated or not stored well. But sometimes you can find something you were not expecting at a great price.

Hopefully these tips will help you get the deal of a century! Happy yard saling!

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