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The New Year is the perfect time to clean house, have a yard sale, and turn your unused stuff into cash. Although no one’s ever regretted decluttering and getting organized, sifting through your stuff can sometimes feel overwhelming.
The more you’re able to take your time and make sense of your stuff, the easier—and more successful—your yard sale will be. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind before, during and after your big sale:
1. Clean it out.
By "it" we mean your garage, basement, attic, closets, cabinets and under all the beds. A good rule of thumb is: If you don’t dust it regularly or you forgot it even existed, it probably needs to go. You’ll be able to take inventory of what you’ve got and maybe even gain some extra space in the process.
2. Organize your items.
As you’re unearthing all of those tennis rackets, clothes, and old board games, sort them into three basic categories: Keep, Sell and Trash. Don’t worry about pricing anything right now, just focus on sorting. Your main goal is to get rid of the junk and find a permanent home for the stuff you’re going to keep. Once your piles are made, pull out all of the items you sorted to sell.
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3. Name your price.
Next, hunker down and start pricing your "Sell" items. Be careful not to attach sentimental value to your stuff and overprice it in the process. If you need an objective opinion, ask a friend to come over and tell you what they would reasonably pay for the item. Do a quick search online to check the current value. Keep it realistic by pricing things a quarter or a third of what they would cost brand new. If you price a sweater you bought for $80 at $50, it’s probably not going to sell.
Make sure your prices are in plain view by putting price tags or stickers on your stuff. If you don’t have time, at least group similarly priced items together with signage that breaks down cost. Or use different colored stickers and hang up a chart that specifies the cost by color. (Green stickers are 50 cents, blue stickers are $1, etc.)
Bigger items call for bigger price tags. Don’t make the buyer search for a tiny sticker on that armoire you’re selling. Make it big, noticeable and attractive to the buyer.
Clothing (especially adult clothing) is a tough sell at yard sales—but if you price it low enough, it should go. Baby and kids’ clothing typically sell well. If you have unworn clothing with the price tags still on, you might be better off selling it to a consignment shop to see if you can pocket a little more cash.
4. Prepare before you set a date.
How many times have you said you’d do a big house project only to have life get in the way? Prepping for a yard sale can be a daunting task, so go ahead and do the work before you set the date by having everything organized ahead of time. When you’re ready to launch, you won’t get so stressed out by trying to meet some self-imposed deadline.
Before you pick a date, check with your neighborhood association to see if a community yard sale is coming up. Or consider scheduling it on the first weekend of the month—a lot of paychecks go out at the end of the month, so people will have cash to spend. And don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you hang up signs around the neighborhood. Rainy days keep the buyers away!
5. Do your marketing.
Don’t overthink your yard sale marketing. It’s a yard sale. But do grab some signs from the dollar store and draw big arrows directing folks to your house. Be sure the path is so simple a first grader could find it! If you want to advertise in the local paper, church bulletin, or neighborhood Facebook group, go ahead. But keep it simple and don’t stress about it.
6. Make it appealing
If you really want your stuff to sell, you’ve got to make it look nice. Before you try to sell those things that have been collecting dust, actually clean them off! Fill bicycle tires and basketballs with air. Scrape the mud out of your kid’s old soccer cleats. If something needs batteries to run, fill it with some half-used batteries so the buyer knows it works. Keep an extension cord handy for buyers to test out appliances that require an outlet.
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7. Position your stuff.
The morning of the sale, get up early and do a little setting up. Make sure whatever you’re selling looks attractive. Put your more interesting items closer to the street so people know you’re selling more than T-shirts and costume jewelry. For everything else, keep it organized, clearly priced, and easy to sort through. Stock your checkout area with plastic grocery bags and newspaper to wrap up fragile items.
8. Expect negotiations.
Everyone wants a deal. That’s why folks wake up early on Saturday mornings to buy your cast-offs. So give them a deal. Let the customer negotiate, but stick to your guns if the price gets too low. You’re not giving stuff away—not yet, anyway.
9. Sell your stuff online.
If you still have some higher-dollar items left over, share it on social media and see who bites. Post something inside your community’s Facebook group. Sell items on Craigslist, eBay or apps like OfferUp and LetGo. Consider selling clothing on places like Poshmark and thredUP.
Just be sure to include pictures of your items. People won’t even consider buying your antique floor lamp if your listing doesn’t have a picture. And research similar items before you price yours so you can get an accurate idea of what to ask.
10. Reserve a truck.
Everyone has stuff left over after a yard sale. You will too. If it’s available in your area, call Goodwill or your local thrift store to request a pickup in the late afternoon on the day of your yard sale. Or ask a friend if you can borrow a truck for the evening to haul the items off yourself.
Once you count up all your cash, do a little victory dance. You did it! But before you go depositing all that cash into your emergency fund, use a small portion to thank your kids, spouse, friends, or whoever helped. Milkshakes for everyone!
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