April 20, 2009

Money Smarts: Garage Sales v. eBaying

Money Smarts is a new weekly feature here at The New Frugal Mom, one that will focus on how to monetize your blog, wahm opportunities, budgeting, and just generally saving more money while earning (legitimately) a few bucks as well.

For more details about the origins of Money Smarts, click

Our neighborhood association is hosting a community garage sale next weekend. I won't be participating - our weekend is already jammed with sports and with plans for our daughter's First Communion.

But...I probably wouldn't participate in the garage sale even if I had the time.


Well, while I like going to garage sales and treasure-hunting, putting on a successful garage sale is a big, big investment of time for one day of selling. Bad weather can lead to low turnout. I'm always worried that my time investment will be wasted, and time, my friends, is one thing I hate to waste.

In the past, rather than sell gently used kids clothes and toys at a garage sale (kids toys and clothes being the items that I'm always trying to move out of my house), I've sold the best of the items on eBay to make extra cash. The items that were worse for wear, I donated (and still do) to Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul.

Why I like selling on eBay? I can pace myself and list items when I'm ready to sell them, a few items a week. I can match my items to seasonal demand (summer clothes, Halloween costumes, etc). And when I need to take a break from it, I do; it's been over a year since I sold items on eBay. It will be easy for me to step right back into selling once again.

Selling on eBay can seem daunting, but rest assured if I can do it, you can, too. There are many tutorials on eBay that will walk you through the process; if you're looking for a good ebook to teach you about eBaying, Suzanne Powers, the eBay Selling Coach is offering her ebook free.

Click here for her free ebook; Suzanne, thanks for offering this useful guide for free to the world. I'm sure it will help someone get started.

Now, you tell me - which do you prefer? Holding a big old garage sale and getting it all done in a day or two? Or selling on eBay...or even Craigslist? Or do you simply donate and take the tax deduction?

Share in a comment!

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  1. I haven't had the gumption to sell e-bay yet, and I agree on the garage sale -- too much work and time. I have taken clothes to a re-sale shop, but they end up with so much stuff they buy little and don't pay well. I usually end up donating or passing along to friends.

    A new idea I will trying this Fall: A group has started a new garage sale event for kids items only. If you put in a minimum number of items to be sold you make a percentage off of your sales and you also are allowed to shop a day before the sale opens to the public. Even I don't make much money -- I will have first dibs on the stuff I need.


  2. I gave up on ebay about 18 months ago. Prior to that, I sold quite a bit on ebay and was very happy with the results.

    I usually participate in our neighborhood yard sale (although they changed the date this year and I have to work this weekend). I think it's a great way to get my kids involved - they help price, set-up and sell. it usually motivates them to clean out their rooms if they can put price tags on the items they no longer want!

    Yes, it's a lot of prep and not always a lot of money. But, I have learned to do some of the work ahead of time. I keep rubbermaid containers in my basement fulled with yard sale items. I price them as they go in, and try to organize them by type of item. This means that all I really have to do is carry the boxes to the garage and set them up the day of the sale.

    I also love that yard sales get me to get all my stuff out of the house! Once it's in the garage, I have a hard and fast rule that only 1 box can come back in! Everything else is donated - and I believe we actually make a little more on the donation deductions than the yard sale itself!

    Of course, I regularly shop at yard sales, so I bring more in the house than I get rid of!

  3. I thought I would save time by doing a garage sale last year.

    Did not work. First time was at our house and we live off the beaten path. Advertised and all that. THEN we had the biggest storm of the spring and rained, etc. WE had maybe 2 customers.

    Next time did it at my parents who live on a major highway and the only person who sold anything was MY DAD who just threw things out on the table at the last minute! :)

    I've been consigning my nicer kids clothes and that works out well for me for now!

  4. Love your blog... I stumbled upon it one day :0)...

    I have had garage sales & always sell TONS of things... downside is that I sell stuff so dirt cheap, little $$ is made. Ask DH who left a pile of his unpriced "stuff" for me to sell... Him: "What did you sell my (fill in the blank) for?"
    Me: "Uhm 25 cents"
    Him: A thud sound from him hitting the floor.... LOL

    He priced his own stuff at our last garage sale!! LOL

    BUT, on the upside we use it as a homeschool project & I feel that by selling cheap, we may be a blessing to other families who also must shop garage sales, Salvation Army, & Goodwill just to keep shoes, clothes, etc. on our kiddos. Since we almost never buy anything new, even selling on the cheap we don't lose because we bought used to begin with. It is a ton of work though, but again, we use it to teach our kids manners, money, organizing, pricing, etc. & that is all priceless! LOL

    I tell people I like to run my garage sales like I like to shop them... CHEAP & no haggling over cost. I did have one guy ask for a better price on 8 of my DD's Barbies... they were priced 10 cents each!!! LOL

    Whatever is left we donate... I refuse to bring anything back in once I have decided to part with it.

    eBay used to be GREAT for selling, but now that the fees are so high (PayPal too!), I dont find it worth the risk of losing money to "sell" something.

    Last year I swapped clothing, etc. w/some mamas on DiaperSwappers... it worked out great!

  5. The Googeg's: If you can luck into one of those big group sales, that's a great way to go. The ones up here are PACKED - people line up before they open.

    AprilFoolWed: I like your idea of packing stuff away with prices so it's ready to go; what a smart time saver.

    And when we have had garage sales, we do the same thing - whatever doesn't sell gets sent to Goodwill the next day.

    Bargain Briana: True - if you're in the country or not in a big neighborhood sale, you can advertise all you want and still not get good traffic.

    Consigning is a great way to go if you have a trendy-type consignment store near you. ;-)

    WiseChixMama: That's a great idea - using the sale as a project for the kids to learn (math skills, money skills, public speaking skills).

    LOL - your story about your husband cracked me up!

    All: Thanks for sharing!


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