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Top 4 tips for successful yard sales

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Gary Cosby Jr/AP/The Decatur Daily/File

(Read caption) In this file photo, Larry and Alice Nace hunt for goodies as they scour a yard sale in Decatur, Alabama. Hamm offers tips for organizing a successful yard sale.

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You’ve gone through your clutter. You’ve sold off a lot of valuable individual items that you don’t want any more. You’ve also eliminated some of your collections by selling them off in bulk.

But you’re still left with a giant pile of stuff. What do you do with the remaining miscellany?

Have a yard sale, of course.

Putting together a yard sale really isn’t that hard. It just takes some time and some planning in advance. Here are some of the steps you can take to recoup some cash from the things you’ve bought and no longer wish to use.

First, pick a date well in advance. I suggest using an entire weekend for it, including at least Saturday and Sunday and possibly Friday evening. This will give you time to promote it a bit, because the more promotion you do, the more people you’ll have browsing your stuff and the more sales you’ll make.

So, how do you promote it? In the past, I’ve hung up signs in the neighborhood, put a notice out on Craigslist, and also put a notice in two different local newspapers. My total cost was less than $10, but the turnout was tremendous. I’m quite confident I made far more than my $10 back.

Second, price items to sell, but price them clearly. I suggest getting a bunch of colored stickers in various colors (red, yellow, blue, green, brown, etc.). Have a sign listing various prices – $1 for yellow, $2 for brown, $0.50 for red, and so on – and then put an appropriate sticker on each item you’re interested in selling.

Don’t price items too high. Remember, this is a yard sale. People are coming to look for bargains and if they don’t find them, they’ll walk. These are items you couldn’t sell any other way, so don’t be greedy with them or you’ll just close your garage door and still have a bunch of things you don’t know what to do with.

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One great tactic is to have three or four different versions of the price sheets. Have one that says something like:

Red – $0.25
 Blue – $0.50
 Green – $1.00
 Yellow – $2.00
 Brown – $5.00

Prices will lower on Saturday at 2 PM, so come back then for bigger discounts (or buy now to make sure you get the item you want)!

At 2 PM on Saturday, replace that sign with one that says:

Red – $0.15
 Blue – $0.35
 Green – $0.75
 Yellow – $1.50
 Brown – $3.00

Prices will lower on Sunday morning, so come back then for bigger discounts (or buy now to make sure you get the item you want)!

Then, on Sunday morning, hang up a sign with even lower prices.

When we tried this in the past, we didn’t see much of a slowdown in sales throughout the first day, but we did see people coming back on Sunday to look for more items that they might not have otherwise bought. People understood that the Sunday items would be picked over, so they wanted to lock in things that they wanted, but big bargain hunters were happy to come back the next day.

A final tactic: cooperate with your neighbors. Allow them to put items into your yard sale and you’ll handle the rest for a 50% commission on the sale. All they have to do is come up with the items and (if they care) what they want to sell them for. This will earn you more money for little additional effort. You can also plan the yard sale with neighbors, so you can take turns manning the tables and split the proceeds.

Yard sales are a great way to turn excess clutter into extra cash, and that’s a win for everyone involved.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.  


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