Garage sales are inexpensive, so you can never spend too much money at one...right? Wrong! Spending in small amounts is actually one of the fastest ways to dole out way more of your funds than you intended to; this applies to everyday expenses as well as garage sales. If the main reason you go to garage sales is to be frugal, it's wise to sit down before you head out and determine how much money you're willing to spend.
It's handy to come up with a general ballpark figure that you're willing to let yourself (or your spouse, or your kids) spend. This will guide the rest of your conversation or thoughts about budgeting for your yard saling. Try to match it to a bonus or surplus you may have been given in the recent past. Did you earn an extra $50 this month? Did you get some birthday money unexpectedly from an aunt this year? Some people may have a line in their budget specifically for garage saling, but most don't, so you'll want to find a way to fit your thrifty shopping in.
Budget out the ballpark figure into categories, if you know what you're out looking for. You may be casually browsing, and perhaps that's even more reason to give yourself a ballpark figure. But if you know you're on the hunt for back-to-school clothes, a new board game, and some gently used kitchen utensils, write down how much you're willing to spend to get them used. (When it comes down to it, you may be better off buying some things new at a discount store, so do your research!) It will give you a clearer idea of what price you want to get to when you enter a bartering conversation.
Ask yourself why you are willing to spend as much or as little as you've determined. Do you like the second-hand nature of items? Is it your way of protecting the environment? Are you galvanized by the thrill of the hunt? Or are you just saving money and prefer not to pay top dollar for your household goods? Whatever the answer, knowing how you feel about the yard saling process helps you stick to your budget.
If your household uses a budget for everyday expenses, figure out where garage sale purchases fit in. Do you consider them gifts, extra expenses, clothing, or under a totally different category? It might be best to take out cash on your debit card and write it up as a cash withdrawal on the budget. You may be tempted to consider garage sales exempt from being budget entries, but if you spend any significant amount of money, you may find yourself wondering where it went when the end of the month rolls around.
When making your budget, don't forget to account for refreshments and attractions you might pay for. Yes, that glass of lemonade does count! And just because you can't take that dog show home doesn't mean it won't count as a cost. Another tip: budget for your kids, if you take them along, and let them in on the process. It's a great learning tool for handling money.
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