When I was focused on eliminating my graduate school student loans of $40,000, I entered into hustle mode. Hustle mode is when you focus on finding ways to increase your income through sales and entrepreneurship instead of through decreasing your expenditure, getting a second job, or hard-core savings.
Don’t get me wrong; both strategies (increasing income and decreasing expenditure) are paramount if you want to get rid of debt. However, there is a cap to how much you can save. There is no cap, however, to how much money you can make when you think about making money through sales and entrepreneurship.
One of the easiest ways to enter into the world of sales is through selling what you already own on your own property. And you can do that with a yard sale. Here are fifteen tips to making sure your next yard sale makes you some serious money.
Before the Yard Sale
1. Give yourself at least four weeks to plan the yard sale. With this amount of time, you get to really go through your closets, garages, basements, and attics in order to locate items that you can use for the sale. As you go through your house, make sure you are taking advantage of this opportunity to reflect on how much stuff you have, but never use.
2. Create a marketing plan. The only way that you will make money with your yard sale is if you have paying customers. Start with the free marketing: let everyone know on social media (Facebook and Instragram) and in your personal email list about your event. You can also create an Eventbrite to get the word out about your event. There are also community newspapers that allow you to post advertising for free. You can also let people in yard sale Facebook communities know about the sale.
Outside of digital promotion, I’ve seen success in calling neighbors, putting flyers in neighbors’ doors, and making bold signs at high-traffic intersections that alert people to the address of your yard sale.
3. Be strategic about your date and time. Try to avoid holiday weekends or days with extreme or unfavorable weather. While you want a date that works for you, you REALLY want a date where most people will be available. Also, aim for having it spread across two days. As for times, I suggest that your window of time allows for early risers and late comers. From personal experience, my yard sale times where from 7am-6pm. I got a lot of business from the beginners and the end-of-sale hagglers.
4. Come to your yard sale prepared with singles. There is nothing worse that making your first sale, a big sale, or a closing a hard sale and prolonging the process because you don’t have change. Be smart and have at least $50 in singles ready for those that want to bundle, negotiate, or who want to use the excuse that they have a “big” bill for not buying.
5. Organize your tables by category. This is important for keeping track of your inventory as well as monitoring what sells and what doesn’t sell. During one of my yard sales, I noticed that sheets and curtains were more popular than clothes. So, I found more sheets and curtains to sell, increased their prices, and reduced the prices on clothes.
6. Figure out how much money to want to make. This will help you figure out your pricing and what times you will want to push. It is also very helpful to think about which debt or bill this money will go to (student loan, credit card, car, back taxes)
During the Yard Sale
7. Remember your goal. I promise you that you will encounter the person that wants everything for a $1. (You have a new pair of Nine West heels set at $10, they want it for a $1. A nice dress from Banana Republic, never worn priced at $8, they want it for $0.50 You get my point). At the beginning of the yard sale, I would recommend that you consider being flexible, but not stupid. Be open to coming down on prices if they have a lot of items to buy or the offer isn’t insulting. At the end of the yard sale, your feelings about price may change when a difference of $5 may mean getting rid of the stuff or schelping it back through the house and into the attic.
On the flip side, don’t get too caught up on the sentimental value of the items that you are purchasing once you see them in someone else’s hands. (You haven’t use that incense holder in 5 years. You have no intention of making fresh bread. It’s been eight years already.) In other words, let it go. You want the money to get rid of your debt.
8. Keep an eye out for sticky fingers. I lost a few dollars at a yard sale because some of my items were stolen. Get your friends to volunteer to play security on the days of your yard sale.
9. Don’t promise to hold an item for too long. People that attend yard sale are a special breed. They can be fickle bargain-hunters. They say that they want an item, get you to lower the price, say they will be right back with the money, and never return. I’ve been burned a few times like this trying to be nice. Enforce a 30-minute rule policy: If in 30-minutes you don’t return and someone else shows interest in the item, you will sell it to the other person.
10. Continue your marketing efforts. If you can, take pictures of you slaying it at your yard sale. But this time, let them know that time is running out and that they’re only a few more ideas. That sense of urgency and social proof will get people to move to your sale.
11. Create a sensual experience. Consider having water or playing music at your yard sale. Those little niceties will help people to linger and hopefully buy more.
After the Yard Sale
12. Go online to sell what’s left. Once you’ve sold all that you could, you can post pictures of your remaining quality items on sites like OfferUp, Poshmark, or even those area specific Facebook groups so you can keep the sale going.
13. Call specific people and tell them about what have left. This worked well for me. Call Friend X or Acquaintance Y and say, “Hey Girl, I know you were looking for an _______________, I have it here at my yard sale. If you have (insert the price), it’s yours. You can even sweeten the pot by offering to drop it off to them (if it’s possible).
14. Try not to buy more stuff. One of my biggest realizations when I had my first yard sales was that I had a lot of stuff that I didn’t need. It also dawned on me that no matter how much money I made during my yard sale, it was only a FRACTION, of the original cost of all of those things. So, while it might have been great to sell your Michael Kors bag for $100, you paid over $300 for it, so you only made a third of your money back.
15. Immediately deposit the money into an account and schedule payment for a bill immediately. Remember, your goal for the yard sale was to make money to pay off some debt. It totally and utterly defeats the purpose of having a yard sale and making money if you are going to go to the mall or online to waste it. Do yourself a favor and get the money out of your hands as soon as possible so you can move serious money moves toward financial freedom, not disaster.
Getting out of debt is a worthwhile goal. Using the yard sale strategy with its online and offline components can have you raking in the dough to put toward your debt without you putting out any real money to do so.