benefit #20 – never have to organize a garage sale


garage sale, thrift sale, rummage sale, or tag sale… no matter what you call it, the process always looks the same…

  1. spend monday-friday hauling boxes of old clothing, decorations, and toys out of the basement.
  2. price each item. debate between putting a $1 sticker or a $2 sticker on the old picture frame.
  3. spend friday evening arranging the garage, setting up tables, putting garage sale signs at strategic intersections in your neighborhood. get to bed around 1:00 or 1:30am.
  4. wake up at 7am on saturday for your 9am garage sale. look out your window to find scavengers already peering into your garage.
  5. spend all day saturday sitting on lawnchairs allowing strangers to haggle you down 50 cents on a 1 dollar item.
  6. wonder about your taste in home furnishings when some of your items don’t sell despite being marked down to 25 cents.
  7. box up all your remaining items and drive to goodwill.
  8. count up your earnings… $135.
  9. go out for dinner… spend $65.
  10. ask yourself, “why did we ever think this was a good idea?”

this past weekend, we held our second annual garage sale. we love getting rid of old items and creating new space in our home. and we especially love trading clutter for money. but the energy that it takes to pull off a well-organized garage sale is rarely worth the financial return. after this year’s garage sale, we packed up everything that was left and took it to the goodwill (5 large boxes full of old clothes and home decorations)… if i couldn’t sell it for 25 cents, why would i keep it in┬ámy house?

may the day come soon when i have no need to organize another garage sale…

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Christine says

    I completely understand where you’re coming from with the “time wasting” aspect of garage sales. However, I always enjoyed hanging out with the neighbors while they had their sales, chatting with everyone, enjoying being outside.

    As far as it being a money-maker? I’d much rather just donate the items to Goodwill!

  2. says

    @christine – i admit that my wife enjoys organizing the garage sales much more than i. it could be a personality thing… i’m still looking forward to the day when we won’t have enough stuff in the basement to pull off a garage sale even if we wanted to.

  3. says

    My husband does not like holding garage sales either. I usually will set something up if I see that my neighbors are having one. Because my Goodwill items usually sit in my basement for a while, it makes it easy to get things together quick. I rarely make a lot of cash except the one year I unloaded all the baby furniture. For me it’s just the thought of getting the stuff out of my house. It just amazes me how I end up with so much stuff when I do not shop a lot to begin with. Maybe what I thought was useful and necessary one year became clutter and unused the next. I am not a big shopper to begin with and try to keep things minimal, but holidays and birthdays tend to wreck my home!

  4. says

    My time spent organizing and having the yard sale is usually worth more than what I would make! No more for me thanks! A couple times a year, I take stuff to Good Will or Salvation Army or a mission thrift store. Ask for a tax deduction receipt. It usually benefits you more than the yard sale.

  5. mikeymad says

    I agree with Marci… Never held a garage sell. never really want to. Have sold a couple of big items on Craigslist… but all regular household items and clothes I pack up and right to goodwill.. get my Tax receipt and get my money back from Uncle Sam….

    Example – If you claim a shirt is worth $10 – how much would you get back at a garage sell? ( I don’t really know – $1?, $.50?) I calculate that I get about 25% back on my deductions from taxes… = $2.50…

  6. says

    When I decided to begin purging all my excess junk a few months ago, we had a yard sale and the details sound eerily similar. Except we got up at 6 am and there was already someone outside!

    But for me this wasn’t just an exercise in getting rid of my clutter, it was studying the human collecting and acquiring attributes we all have let run rampant in our lives at some point. 90% of the people at our yard sale searched desperately through our items, glassy-eyed and dazed, attempting to get as much as they could for as little as they could. I felt sorry for them, but also guilty that I was unloading my clutter to someone else. But I don’t think yard sale shoppers have an open ear to the benefits of minimalist living :)

    • di says

      We look through yard sales, but only buy certain items, such as tools, sewing notions, etc. Everything needs to be practical and useful

  7. Ann Marie says

    I love everything about garage sales….having them, going to them. For me, it’s about connecting with people.

  8. MimiR says

    I’ve never had a garage sale. I’ve sold furniture on Craigslist and eBay, I’ve given things away on Freecycle, and I’ve donated plenty. But I’ve never had a garage sale because I almost never allowed enough stuff to accumulate to justify one–even before cutting back.

    So far this year, we’ve donated more than $2000 in various items due to the massive cull that I’ve done (I’m not actually interested in true minimalism–any philosophy that encourages living without a mixer or a food processor is RIGHT out, for me!–but I am embracing much more simplicity), with my family’s reasonably enthusiastic cooperation. I gave away enough that people on FreeCycle asked if we were moving in addition to that! But usually, I have about $150-200 of donations a year in goods, across the entire family. That’s usually three boxes of stuff, taken at various times of the year. I do get a bit embarrassed by the times that we’ve been asked to participate in garage sale fundraisers for various charities and have to decline to have a table because one half-filled box of miscellaneous outgrown shoes (I don’t usually save shoes for the next kid) and various other random things isn’t really enough to justify even a table.

    I do save baby clothes in excellent shape for the next kid down the line, though, and there will be a lot of “no more kids” stuff when we decide we’re done with that phase of life. So we may still have just one garage sale, after all! We do have the whole shebang for babies because ours are high-maintenance–I’d give up half my living room to a plastic toy jungle if it would be guaranteed to buy me an extra half hour a day. :)

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