6 Garage Sale Tips to Net Unique Finds on a Budget

If you’re on the hunt for one-of-a-kind items for your home but don’t want to pay full price, estate and garage sales are the way to go. Here are a handful of savvy garage sale tips to get the most for your money when shopping for items that speak to your style and taste.

Shop With a List
To avoid buying stuff you don’t need, prepare a list of what items you’re looking for. Rank the items on your wish list in order of priority. For each item, add a price range indicating how much you’re willing to spend. This will help keep you on budget.

Besides a list of must-haves, also include items that you’ll want to steer clear of buying. These may be things you’ve been notoriously prone to picking up at past garage sales that turned out to be regrettable purchases — items you were planning to upcycle but ended up leaving untouched for months, for instance, or knickknacks that just add clutter.

Map Your Route
Time is of the essence when you’re on the hunt for rare, one-of-a-kind finds at garage and estate sales. Strategically map out which sales you want to hit and in what order. The order of stops can be determined by the start times of each sale and which items you hope to check off first. If you really want to find side tables or gently used kitchenware, for example, then you might want to tackle estate sales first.

You can also figure out your route by location. For instance, if there’s a cluster of sales close together, you might skip others lying on the outskirts of that range. To map your route, use a free app like Road Warrior or Route4Me.

Figure Out the Dimensions
Before leaving your home, figure out how much space you have for new pieces by measuring whatever empty space you have available. You can also take reference photos of the rooms in your home to see how a piece of furniture will complement your existing pieces. Bring along some measuring tape to determine the dimensions of furniture. And make sure the vehicle you’re cavorting around town in is large enough to fit your bigger buys.

Think of Alternative Uses
Get creative and come up with ideas for how a new-to-you item can be used in ways beyond its original purpose. A few small boxes, for instance, could serve as a modular coffee table or a minimalist bookcase. A rustic ladder hung on a wall could function as shelves. You may be able to find furniture that can be converted for multiple purposes, which saves both money and space.

Know Your Limits on Upcycling
You may be great at sprucing up your abode with DIY updates. But while you don’t want to overlook items that are in fair condition but need touching up, know your limits. For instance, if a find is a rare antique made of decent material, it may be worth putting time and money into upcycling it. But if it’s a run-of-the-mill piece of furniture you can find elsewhere and requires a lot of work, it might be better to pass.

Haggle Like There’s No Tomorrow
Hosts of these sales are eager to get rid of as much as possible. It’s not worth it to them to have to pack all the items back up at the end of the day. So see if they’d be willing to lower prices. If a seller isn’t so keen on negotiating, come back later in the day. If the item you want is still there, they may be more amenable to giving you a deal.

Keeping these garage sale tips in mind will help you score great deals on unique items that cater to your tastes while staying within your budget.

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