Look Richer Than You Are... With Garage Sales
Garage sales are my secret weapon when it comes to home decorating, clothing, and amusing myself WITHOUT a budget! I just keep all of my petty cash from odd jobs in a little coin purse, and then buy whatever I want until the money is gone. But garage sale stuff is so cheap that my purse keeps getting fatter! I only wish that everyone could realize what a great deal this is.
Many "experts" advise budgeting 4-5% of your income on clothing. For someone making a conservative $30,000 household income, 5% would be $125 per month on clothing. To be fair, let's say that this 30k household has four kids to clothe. Divide $125 between six people, and that gives each person a little over $20 to spend per month. If this family went to Walmart, they wouldn't be able to buy a much- maybe one or two items per person every month. And those items wouldn't be brand name or top quality... they'd just be run-of-the-mill Walmart clothes.
Now let's say that this family starts shopping at garage sales. All of a sudden each piece of clothing is $1-2 at the MOST. In addition to a better variety, you can also find better quality name brand clothes. If you keep buying only 10 items of clothing per month (like you have been at Walmart), the 5% budget can be cut down to 1%.
OR, perhaps you would like to keep that clothing budget at 5%, but instead of spending it all on outfits, you take the extra 4% and allocate that toward expensive shoes or something else that you really like. An extra $1200 per year could buy each family member a $100 pair of shoes and $100 coat or other purchase. And remember folks- this is a LOW income household with FOUR kids.
I can't speak for having kids because I don't have any, but there is no reason an adult (who is done growing) should have to spend more than $100 per year on clothes. Each year buy one bag of socks/underwear, and ONE quality item- shoes, coat, etc. All the rest can be free or $0.50 at a garage sale. I am no fashionista, but there are plenty of ladies out there who have great fashion blogs and Youtube channels, and I'm sure they would be happy to help you make some great outfits from someone else's cast-offs.
What Can You Find?
You can find pretty much anything at a garage sale, if you wait long enough. I've found all manner of household items, clothing, jewelry, books, movies, and even consumable items like paper products. Yesterday I found a roll of Christmas toilet paper for $0.50. I just couldn't pass it up. Who wouldn't want to wipe their butt with boughs of holly?!
Things that I have found (new and used):
Clothing, jewelry, accessories
Cookware, mason jars, wash clothes, dishes & silverware
Home decor, candles, baskets, Christmas decorations
Books, movies, CD's
Gift wrap, tissue paper, party streamers
Educational games, curriculum, kids' toys
Musical instruments, craft supplies, electronics
These are things you will never have to buy at Walmart again, with some creativity and planning. I've also found antiques and things to resell on Ebay. Ebay sales will help pay for the gas and re-fund the "garage sale money".
Even though garage sale season is over, there are some things you can plan to do for next year.
1. Be aware of "stuff" that you are buying. Ask yourself, could I get this at a garage sale? If so, put it on your garage sale list. It can be tedious, but try to make note of every single thing you buy. At the end of the year, you can look at everything you bought- and I mean every little thing- and ask yourself if that is something you can buy during garage sale season. If so, put it on your garage sale list.
2. Keep your Thursday and Friday mornings open. It's easy at the end of winter to fill up your schedule with activities and forget about garage sales. If you want to get any good deals, you'll have to go on a weekday morning. By noon or the second day, all the good stuff is gone.
3. Make a plan of what you will buy; especially kids clothing. If you want to buy all of your kid clothes at garage sales, you'll have to do a whole year's shopping in a matter of months. This is not as easy as walking into Walmart whenever little Jonny needs a new pair of pants. Note what sizes, colors and styles you will be needing in the next year. When we were little, my mom kept a boxes of clothing for several sizes larger than we were. When we grew into a new size, she would just pull out the next box. It is some work, but the savings from garage sales (even compared to thrift stores) is enormous. Do this same kind of planning for other things you might need. You could even clean out the closet and make space for it ahead of time!
4. Make a list of community-wide garage sales. In our area, every town has an annual garage sale event sometime in the spring or during their town festival. I can make a list of five to ten different towns, and then in the spring I'll keep an eye out for dates and times (unfortunately I haven't had much luck finding this information more than a few weeks ahead of time). Some city wide garage sales will be duds, but some neighborhoods will have great stuff. Shopping in a variety of towns will give you a better chance of finding what you need.
Happy garage sale planning!