So You Think You Want to Have a Yard Sale?

If you’re doing it for fun, and to meet your neighbors, then go for it!

But if you expect to make some decent money, think again. Yard sales are very rarely lucrative, in terms of measuring the time invested against the profits gained.

You’d need to go through your stuff and select things to sell, write and post ads online and in newspapers, buy labels, poster board, and markers, go to the bank for change, make and post signs, price items, drag your folding tables out from the basement, arrange everything appealingly, and then staff the thing. When it’s all over, you’d still need to make a trip to Goodwill with everything that’s left.

If you’re a freelancer, the math makes this very quickly a losing proposition. Let’s say all of the above equals about 15 hours of work. If your hourly wage is $15 per hour, then you would have to make $200 at the sale in order for it to be a good use of your time. In my experience, $200 is a very profitable yard sale. Remember, yard sale shoppers expect (and haggle for) extremely low prices, like 25 to 50 cents per book.

Even if you have a job with set hours, is this the way you want to be spending your precious free time?

From my experience, and from what I’ve heard from others, it is almost always a better use of your time to donate the less valuable items. Many charities can come to you to pick them up, and you can even get a tax deduction for their value. If you have anything that’s worth the trouble of selling it, try Ebay, Craigslist, or use an Ebay reseller or antique shop. But try selecting a dollar amount below which you won’t bother. (Mine is $20.)

So I hope now you’re thinking twice about hosting a yard sale. Maybe next time I’ll talk about attending them…

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