How to Save Money » Frugal Living

How to save money at yard sales

What’s one of your favourite things about summer?

For me – it’s yard sales. I love waking up super early and heading out to search for some bargains all over the city.

Yard sales are a great way to find items that you need for an extremely low price.

I can always find children’s clothing, toys and books at yard sales, but that’s not all that’s available. You can often find furniture, dishes – even pet items and sports equipment.

Because items are so cheap at yard sales, it can be easy to get a bit carried away and buy things that you may not need just because the price is so low.

To avoid spending excess money at yard sales, follow the tips below.

Shop with a list

Just like I recommend for grocery shopping, you should also create a shopping list for yard sales.

I keep a list in my purse that has all of the items we are currently looking for. I bring this list with me everytime I shop (at yard sales or at the stores) so that if I see a good deal on something I can look at my list to see if we need it. If not, then it doesn’t come home with me.

If you are looking for certain clothing items, write down what you need (including sizes and quantity). If you are looking for certain furniture pieces, take measurements and add those to your list as well.

Shop with a budget

It’s just as important to have a budget as it is to have a list when you shop at yard sales.

Bring a pre-determined amount of cash with you and when it’s gone – it’s gone. You’re not allowed to run to the bank and take out more money.

The point of shopping at yard sales is to save money. Don’t blow through your budget and buy things just because they are cheap. Think long and hard about whether or not you actually need the item you are looking at buying. If not, put it back.

Shop early or late

Depending on what you are looking for, the best times to shop at yard sales is either right when they start or right when they end.

The phrase “the early bird gets the worm” is especially true when it comes to yard sales. The best merchandise goes right away, so if you are looking for something specific, it might be a good idea to hit up yard sales first thing in the morning, as opposed to a few hours after they start.

You can also try going to yard sales right when they are ending. Sellers are more willing to give you an extremely good deal because they don’t want to load everything back into their house.

I know someone that always goes to yard sales right before they are over and buys a bunch of stuff in “lots” and then re-sells it online. They make some great extra cash this way!

Ask for what you want

If you are looking for something specific, ask the seller if they have it for sale. They may have what you are looking for, but simply forgot or didn’t have time to put it out.

Last year I was looking for a little plastic swimming pool for Elliott and I went to a bunch of sales looking for one, with no luck. Finally, at one sale I asked the seller if they had one and sure enough – they did! They had just forgotten to put it out with the other items.

Bring snacks & drinks

Bargain hunting is hard work. Reward yourself with an ice cold drink and some snacks.

You have to keep your energy level up if you want to continue to search for treasures, so be sure to always have something to snack on.

It would be such a shame to save a bunch of money by shopping at yard sales, only to have to swing by a drive-thru to buy food/drinks because you are starving or thirsty.

Map your route

Check out Craigslist and Kijiji to find out where all of the yard sales will be and map your route accordingly.

Shop at sales in an expensive area for the best deals!

You don’t want to be driving all over the city searching for those lovely “Yard Sale!” signs. Write down the addresses of the sales you’d like to visit and plan to shop at the farthest sale first – moving back toward your home.

Shop at multi-sales

Yard sales that include more than one home are always your best bet. You will see twice as much (or more) stuff and only have to visit one location.

This saves you time and money, and we all know that yard sales are all about saving money!

Search for street sales, multi-family sales, church sales, school sales and more, to see the most amount of stuff in one location.


It’s okay to try to get an even better deal at a yard sale by asking the seller if they can lower the price.

Sellers expect people to haggle at yard sales and often price their items accordingly.

If you see something that you would like to purchase with a price tag of $8, but you would prefer to only spend $5 – ask the seller if they would take $5 for the item. Most of the time you will get what you ask for.

Of course, be fair with your prices. Don’t expect someone to sell you something that retails for $30 in store for only $2. That’s just not fair. Offer what you think is a fair price and more often than not, the seller will agree to it. They do want to get rid of the stuff!

Drive a clunker

I don’t suggest showing up to a yard sale in a fancy vehicle if you plan to haggle on prices.

Sellers will think that you have money and won’t be willing to lower prices if they see you arrive to their sale in a BMW or Ferrari.

If that’s the only vehicle you have available, park down the street and walk to the sale. Otherwise, drive a different car.

Yard sales are a fantastic way to save money on things that you need, but it’s important to remember to only buy things that you are looking for.

Don’t buy items just because they are cheap and “such a good deal” – they will just sit around your home serving no purpose.

How do you save money at yard sales?


  1. Taffy

    Thanks for the info! We’re heading out tomorrow, I’m so excited considering last week I spent almost $60! but that included a nice filing cabinet =)

  2. kt_9333

    try and do packae deals , if you like something for $5 try and find something else for a few bucks and see if they will take $5 for both…

    garage sale-ing is my favorite past time but i really dont need anymore item so its mysummer part time job, i buy and re sell garage sale finds and make GREAT money doing it…

  3. Cassie Howard

    kt – I do that all the time (package deals) and also buy/resell things too. 🙂

  4. Caroline


    I went yard saling for the first time in ages on Saturday. I got up early to hit the sales starting at 8 am. I only spent $16 and bought lots of things to thrill my kids. Here’s what I got:
    1) Wonder Pets “This is Serious” Ming-Ming plush (its sings and skates around, like new) – $5 (retails for $41)
    2) 2 x Seapals Virtual Aquarium finger puppets (brand new in packages) – $1 each
    3) 2 x Tupperware keychains (new) – $0.50
    4) Halloween bat lights – $2
    5) Halloween pumpkin lights – $2
    6) Kitty Valentine book – Free
    7) Dinosaurs book – Free
    8) Perler Beads Pet Parade kit – $0.25 (retails for $14.99)
    9) 2010 Olympics Sumi plush (new with tags) – $0.25 (retail $15)
    10) Small air hockey table (brand new in box) – $3
    11) Pokemon cards (like new) – 10 for $1

  5. Cassie Howard

    Awesome deals, Caroline! Especially the Olympics plush and air hockey table.

  6. Mary Lou

    A great hint for everyone that tends to over buy (I am included), park at the opposite end of the block and walk down to the sale. You know you don’t want to carry to much back to the car, and it makes you get those extra steps in the day.

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