Create a wish list
The Fire Finance team maintains a list of items needed around their home.
"We keep a simple notebook and pen on our kitchen counter," they said in an online interview. "When we need something, we write it in this notebook."
Not every item on their wish list falls into the must-have/must-buy category. After a one-week cooling-off period, they evaluate each item based on need vs. want.
"We wait and see if we can really do without it," they said.
Get out the maps
After sorting through the weekly list of yard sales, the husband-and-wife team spends time mapping out the shortest route, with the help of Google, Yahoo! and AAA.com. This step saves time and gas, they say. They use the mileage estimate provided by the online trip-planning services to eliminate sales that are too far. (They will, however, travel 50 to 75 miles if a garage sale advertises a big-ticket item from their wish list.)
Pack your bags
The duo packs power tools, a rope, paper towels and a measuring tape. These items are used for disassembling, cleaning up, carting away or measuring purchases.
And you might want to pack food: Well-fed shoppers make smarter decisions.
All garage sale hunters should certainly go hunting with a limit in mind. This is just good practice with any purchases however what happens when you find an item at a garage sale that you'd would love to take home but just don't have the budget for it? Ultimately, there is little you can do but whats stopping you from leaving your contact information for the seller to contact you if the item does not sell and they are willing to lower their price? Nothing.
It is not uncommon to see prices from a garage sale drop dramatically as the day goes on. The seller wants these items gone and if their price was too high throughout the day or simply was not an item that buyers were looking for, the seller is going to have to drag it back into their home or to their curb. Sellers are going to want to make as much money as they can but when it comes down to making nothing, they are likely willing to take a low offer.
This is where leaving your contact information comes into play. Simply giving the seller your name and phone number may result in you getting that item you wanted at a drastically lower price. Now the item may sell as normal and you may be out of luck, but it cant hurt to try this easy task. Try it on your next hunting and report back if you were successful.
It is not uncommon to see garage sales with their items out on display and no prices to be found. The average person will look for an item of interest and turn to the seller and ask, "How much for this?". This is the wrong question though.
When a seller does not spend the time to price their items, it is now your chance to name your price. It is pretty much standard for a seller to start their price high but in this type of situation, you get the chance to start the price low. If you find an item that you would like to purchase, ask the seller if he will take a price that you have chosen. This is the time to start low, there is no reason not too. If the seller refuses the initial price, simply raise it until to reach a limit that you set before hand.
The general rule of thumb is that garage sales open between 8:00am and 9:00am. This rule normally applies to Friday, Saturday and Sunday sales. One of the strongest tips that anyone can give for a successful garage sale trip is simply to beat the competition. You must get to the good stuff before the next guy. If that means losing an hours worth of sleep on the weekend, so be it. To be a garage sale professional, you must sometimes sacrifice some things. Never in my past experiences have I ever been told to leave a garage sale when the people were still setting up the displays. "The early bird catches the worm" has never been so dead on when it comes to garage sale hunting.
There are deals to be found in any neighborhood but to optimize the chances of scoring a big find, you need to be aware on where to look. The easiest way to explain the difference between communities is simply by their financial status. Lower class, middle class and upper class each have garage sales but they many differences as well.
This group of people is the most likely to have garage sales often. In my experience they tend to resell a lot of their items, meaning they too go garage sale hunting and turn around and sell it soon after. I have seen many times a house that may have multiple bikes, highchairs and even strollers. Unless you are looking for a specific item that you believe would predominately be purchased by a lower class citizen, then I would recommend driving passed these houses. They are normally a waste of your time and don't have things that you want
This is by far the best class you want to target. They commonly have clean items that sell for a good price. They tend to be having a garage sale to help clear out room in their house rather than to pay the bills. They can often be bartered quite well and you can find some great finds in general.
I would say that the upper class simply has the fewest garage sales. This may be for the good since they often try to sell their items for way too much. It is often that you will see one of these houses selling a used item for near the same price as new. Business savvy people tend to live in these neighborhoods which will bleed over to their garage sale where they will attempt to make the sale benefit them more than the customer. You may find a good deal every once in a while but commonly, these should be passed by and viewed quickly.