Tips to Turn Any Yard Sale Into a Money Making Success

How to make money on a yard sale

For the past year I’ve become really focused on paying down my debt, and I’ve started using every extra bit of money towards becoming completely debt free. I recently decided to have a yard sale, because it’s a quick way to make cash while cleaning out my home of unwanted stuff. I found out that while I enjoy letting other people find some treasure in my “trash,” this method wasn’t as simple as I thought. And it definitely brings out the crazies! Below, find my advice about how to do a yard sale and make money from it.

I spent many late nights pricing items, organizing them into sections and waking up early on Saturdays, only to make about $50. Unless you have a huge amount of stuff to sell or the items are really good quality, you won’t make much money versus the time spent trying to prepare for it. However, I’ve put together some tips I learned to help make your yard sale a money making success.

Tip 1. Start with the right tools

Depending on the amount of stuff you own, it could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to get ready. You need to make sure you have the right tools for this “job”. Yes, I say job because you want to make the most amount of money and get a jump start on paying down your debt as quickly as possible.

Here’s a small checklist:
1. tables for small items
2. rope and hangers for nicer clothes
3. bins, containers or bags
4. a notepad and calculator to keep a running total
5. markers and signs for advertising
6. small bills and coins for making change
7. pricing stickers and clothes pins
8. a small “checkout” table with chairs
9. Bonus: Get the free Square credit card reader to turn your non-cash carrying visitors into customers.

Tip 2. Advertise for free

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Your local newspaper probably has a cheap package to run an ad and you can make a few nice signs to hang around the neighborhood. Other places to advertise are on Craigslist, eBayClassifieds or all of which l give maximum exposure for free. You could even offer a discount incentive for people that mention the ad, like $5 off the entire purchase.

Tip 3. Set up the night before

When it comes to yard sales, even if you want to open at 7am, there will be “relentless deal hunters” at your driveway at 6:30am. Try to set up everything on tables or in bins (like inside the garage or under a tarp) the night before, so you can be prepared for the morning rush.

Tip 4. Find a friend to help

Like I said, you will spend countless hours going through stuff, organizing it, and pricing it. But if you work with a friend and do the yard sale together it will be a MASSIVE help. Plus when you advertise, you can mention it’s a multiple family sale which will draw more customers.

Tip 5. Serve drinks or snacks

Nothing makes people want to visit your sale than having baked goods or coffee available for purchase. My mom used to have a garage sale every spring and fall, and sometimes the weather would be really cold. She let my sisters and I sell coffee and hot cocoa for $0.25 a cup and everyone loved it. It made them want to stick around longer, instead of the cold driving them away.

Tip 6. Supply shopping bags

Studies show that buyers who have small shopping bags or carts to use, end up buying more items than those with limited space. It’s easier for them to carry everything once they are done shopping as well, which promotes the convenience factor.

Tip 7: Turn browsers into buyers

Take advantage of browsers or non-cash customers, by turning them into buyers with a nifty little product called Square. It’s a small checkout device that works with an iPhone, Android or iPad that accepts debit and credit cards. While I haven’t come across many non-cash carrying deal seekers, in the future Square will become a very useful tool.

Tip 8: Get lots of sleep

A few days before you plan to have the yard sale you should get as much rest as possible. The day before and the day of the sale will be crazy hectic, so it’s a good idea to get a little head start on the sleep. Trust me, you will need it! In the end, you’re trying to maximize your time, make some extra cash and use the money to pay down your debt even faster. Every little bit helps!

This article is part of our Budgeting Tips Resource Center.  If you’re looking for additional information about budgeting tips, be sure to pay a visit!

Image credit: John Beagle

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  • Great ideas. You’ll have to repost this when it gets warm enough for us to have one!

    I think that the shopping bag idea is a great tip. It seems like it’d be most effective if you handed people the bag as they walked up so they know you have them available (almost like shopping carts are presented at the door of the store….).

    • Exactly, that’s what I did. I caught people on the way in so they could load up their bags with lots of stuff 🙂

      Spring and Fall are the best seasons to have yard sales, at least that’s what I’ve noticed. It’s like spring cleaning time and then right before school. Any warm weather really is good too.

    • nNark

      Was the obnoxiously-large ad necessary?

  • Kris T

    Many thanks for this idea– I’d never heard of Square, but I think that will be a huge benefit for our spring sale.  Plenty of time to prepare, no excuses this year!

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  • Kim

    This was really helpful, thank you! I just signed up for Square as well, they are sending me my free card reader now 🙂