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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices.
With yard sale season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the fantastic deals you can get if you know what you’re looking for. Sure, everything at a yard sale is cheaper than it would be in-store, but these are some of what I believe to be the biggest savings items you’ll find out there.
Don’t buy used couches from people. There are too many horror stories of what’s living inside those things. But, if you can find high-quality wardrobes, kitchen tables, nightstands, changing tables, and dining room chairs, you can actually make yourself quite a bit of money.
The main thing I look for here is to ensure that I’m not buying particleboard. I want solid wood furniture. I don’t care how beat up it is – I can always fix it, paint it, or re-stain it if need be. I know plenty of people who have paid plenty of bills by refinishing used furniture they’ve picked up at yard sales and later sold online at a profit.
This is a lot of fun and relatively easy to do. And, of course, you can always keep that refinished furniture for your own house. A good portion of the furniture in my house is used, and furnishing my house in this manner has literally saved me thousands of dollars.
I do recommend picking up a copy of Understanding Wood Finishing for $5.00. Don’t waste $35 on the new edition. This will teach you everything you need to know about making old furniture pretty again.
Dumbbells generally cost just over $1.00/pound. If you’ve been looking at setting up your own home gym, the odds are that you’re going to need some of these. Nobody wants to spend $50 on two 25-pound dumbbells, though.
This is where yard sales come in. Dumbbells at yard sales are practically given away. Nobody wants to waste the sweat refilling their car with heavy pieces of metal after hours in the July sun. A little rust on the meat of the dumbbell doesn’t bother me – I can sand that off.
The main thing to look for here is that the welds between the handle and the weight is solid and safe. If you can find this and are buying a fairly comprehensive set (15s, 25s, 35s, etc.), you’ve likely just saved yourself around $200 setting up your home gym.
Gently-used fitness equipment
Hand-in-hand with dumbbells is gently-used fitness equipment. I’m talking treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, and the like here. Odds are this is going to be a terrific year to find this stuff for a fraction of what it costs brand new.
Sales of at-home fitness equipment absolutely exploded in 2020. Only a minority of people ever actually use at-home fitness equipment, though. Two years of sitting in the corner collecting dust is plenty of time for people to start to realize that elliptical in the house just doesn’t make sense anymore.
Even if you end up spending $100-200 here, you can still save hundreds of dollars on about as gently used exercise equipment as is possible.
Farm/garden hand tools
If I need a new pitchfork, post driver, or shovel during the summer months, the first place I look is the local yard sales. New equipment generally costs $30+/hand tool. At yard sales, I can typically find these for $5 each, and they’re just as functional as the brand-new stuff.
I’m less picky with power tools than I am with gasoline-powered tools (such as chainsaws). If the tool is sitting on the table and still works if I plug it in, I can virtually always walk away with a steal of a deal, provided it’s not a piece of Harbor Freight equipment (it would behoove you to know what brands Harbor Freight carries before you go shopping for power tools).
If you can find Milwaukee, DeWalt, or some other name-brand power tool at a yard sale, you can likely walk away with a good tool for $100 less than what you would have paid at the store.
Particularly if somebody is moving, you can often find construction materials much cheaper than you would ever be able to hope they would be priced in-store. For example, I know several people who have boxes of brand-new locks stored in their basements that they never used after a bulk purchase (I worked as a locksmith, so perhaps I ran across a greater number of these people than is typical).
Come yard sale time, all of this stuff goes out on the lawn for $5/lock. When locks typically cost $30+, that’s a substantial saving. You can often find the same kind of deals with chandeliers, hardwood boards, tile, and a host of other materials you just might need for your next home reno project on a budget.
Kids outdoor toys
Parents like to keep their kids happy and entertained. Outside playground/plastic fort structures help parents to do just that. Toy companies know this is what parents want, and they charge a premium for it. If you’ve ever priced out those outside play structures, you’ve seen that they sell for hundreds of dollars.
The same goes for Power Wheels toys – those miniature Jeeps and Hummers that little boys chase their sisters around the yard in. You can often pick these up at yard sales at incredible savings. (And if you’re looking at setting up your own yard sale for incredible earnings, make sure you read THIS post.) You may have to buy a new battery or a charger online if you pick one of these up, but you’ll still end up having saved a considerable amount of money.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
I know guys who make their living reselling yard sale-bought jewelry. Other people I know are constantly on the hunt for sterling silver candlesticks sold for a dollar. There is a lot of potential value that is going to be sitting out in peoples’ yards this coming summer – perhaps more than what we’re typically used to.
So keep at the ready! There could be some substantial savings for items you need just around the corner. What are your thoughts, though? Are there other items you believe are the biggest bang for your buck pieces at yard sales? Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
4 thoughts on “The Items You’ll Save the Most on at Yard Sales”
There are some other resources worth mentioning in this era of skyrocketing vehicle fuel prices. Your nearest craigslist.org website has a free category in their for sale section. freecycle.org can also help track down goodies close to you. Also see if there is a garage/yard/estate sale finding website for your area. Some of them may list the kinds of items available. Anytime you can find worthwhile items with an online search instead of drive-searching from sale to sale … it is a win.
Be careful of wording of ‘yard sale’. At least in my area an ‘estate sale’ is nothing more than a yard sale with higher prices. I also check the neighborhood – those in areas with more rentals often have more items at better prices – guess it has to do with moving out quickly with less.
On the other hand, sales in high-priced neighborhoods frequently think their stuff is worth 90% of purchase price and so I avoid them.
Good advice about not buying used upholstered furniture. Years ago, we got used sofas a few times and everything was okay. However, I know 2 different families that got used ones lately and both had bedbugs. These ladies are very clean housekeepers but were beside themselves trying to get the bugs out of their houses. It’s not worth it.
Our best buy at a yard sale was a 1980s blow dryer for hair. ( I could tell it was 80s by the color.) It was well made and has lasted for years.
I love a good community-wide yard sale/tag sale, estate sale and even an Estate Auction. My moto had been that if they have it OUT for sale, they do not want to drag it back in. It’s ok to haggle a bit on the prices. Just be reasonable. Taking along a good rolling wire shopping cart will save plenty of time. No running back and forth to the car! I once purchased an apartment-sized dish washer for $25. That lasted 5+ years!! Bargains, bargains, bargains!!