Garage sale yard sale


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It's been a lot of years since I plopped down my old, unloved stuff at a yard sale — and it's not something I plan to do twice. While some people in my neighborhood like nothing better than to drag out the dusty contents of their home on a sunny weekend, I have lots of (I think) very good reasons for doing almost anything else. 

If Time Is Money, the Pay Sucks

You've accumulated a bunch of stuff you don't need and don't want to store. So, how are you spending most of your weekend? Pricing this stuff, then dragging it outside, then displaying it, then getting change, then getting some plastic bags, then babysitting the sale for several hours, and finally maybe selling a grand total of... $50? Maybe $100 or more, but seriously, how much do you usually get paid an hour? If you make more than $5 an hour taking the yard sale route once all is said and done, that's impressive but so, so unlikely. 

After I squabbled over prices (one guy insisted he be given a large, framed print for $2 and, when the yard sale was over, came back waving his money while screaming "TWO DOLLARS! TWO DOLLARS!" Yeah, I dropped that print at Goodwill and felt OK about it, really), seeing people try to walk off with my old towels (and seeming quite put out when they were caught), and generally feeling my blood pressure go up, I made $40. Adding up all the time I spent at the sale and before the sale, it was less than $4 an hour. Not. Worth. It. 

It Doesn't Always Cure Your Clutter

When the sale is over, what do you do with all the stuff that didn't sell (and there is always stuff that didn't sell)? You drag it back into your house and (probably) stuff it back where it was, of course! Or you call a non-profit like the Vietnam Veterans of America to pick it up or drive it to Goodwill or The Salvation Army to donate the stuff. All of which you could have done before you wasted a weekend sweating in your front yard when you could have been hiking, running errands, hanging out with friends ... you name it. And I'm betting your house looks just as cluttered as it did before. 

You Will Feel Rotten About Wasting Your Money

Yes, you got a dollar for that new-with-tags dress you bought for $50, but that doesn't feel like much of a win, does it? Instead of stuffing your mistakes in a bag and giving them away without another thought, you now remember vividly your stupid, waste-of-money purchases that, once sold, won't result in enough cash to buy a pack of gum. It also doesn't help if the person who bought your dress turns around and sells it again at a tidy profit — and if you think that doesn't happen, think again. 

If You Want to Make Money, Sell Online (or Elsewhere)

If you're OK wasting a weekend on a yard sale, you're more likely to see a return on your investment (and your time) selling on eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, Craigslist, or any of the other resale websites. Go ahead, take some pictures and hit your computer. It's sure to be more comfortable than sitting in a crappy chair in your front yard. 

GalleryEasy Money: Tips for Selling Stuff on Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook

People Steal Stuff

You may have marked everything at low, low prices, but people are people and that means some of them prefer a five-fingered discount. Could they afford to give you a quarter or fifty cents? Sure, but it's more fun to wait until your back is turned and run off with cheap jewelry or an old toy. I didn't say it makes sense, but it happens. 

And Speaking of Crappy People...

If you have any doubts about the people who live around you (or at least within driving distance), test them with a garage sale. Just kidding. Kind of. If you've listed your sale in a local publication (or on a website catering to your neighborhood) or even if you've just put up a few signs, anyone who sees these postings can drop by your house. Some of these people might be lovely. And some of these people will have no problem walking on your flower beds, breaking the glasses you carefully displayed on a table, flicking a quarter at your head and ignoring your assertion that the pillow they're leaving with is priced at $1.50 (yes, that really happened), or worse. If you want to have a really bad feeling about your neighbors, go for it. Have a yard sale. I won't say I didn't warn you. 

Give It to Those That Need It (or Will Love It)

If you follow the financial advice of money guru Suze Orman, she recommends you gather your stuff and then holler to your friends to come see if there's anything they want (serve up some food and drinks and it's a party, too). If anything is left over, donate it. Why doesn't she suggest yard sales? While she isn't against them, she sees a bigger emotional payoff in simply giving things away. 

While it's been years since I had a yard sale, the bitter taste the process left in my mouth hasn't faded. I leave stuff out for donation and sometimes (judicially) sell stuff online. But I'm done with scrapping for small change for items I mistakenly bought in the past. My time is more valuable. Isn't yours?

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