Is a Yard Sale Worth the Hassle?

having a yard saleMy neighbor and I had a yard sale last weekend, and I took home $301. Yay! I also feel like it was a royal P.I.T.A. and right now, I never want to have another one. If we break down the time spent for my yard sale and compare it to other ways I could have gotten rid of stuff, maybe there is a formula to see if a yard sale is worth the hassle.

How Much Time Does It Take To Have a Yard Sale?

I think it depends on how much crap you have. I swear I don’t even buy that much anymore, but it seems every couple of years we are bursting at the seams. I blame the child.

For this yard sale, I spent about 2 hours cleaning out all the closets and drawers. Another 2  hours pricing, and about 4 hours setting up, tearing down and hauling the leftovers away. The actual sale was from 7AM-1PM. That’s about 14 hours of my time or $21.50 per hour. Not bad.

Are There Costs To Having a Yard Sale?

I spent about $10 for an add in the yard sale section of the paper, plus some tape and stickers. If you have to take off work, turn down another job, or pay for child care to have a yard sale, make sure to figure in those costs. I would never take a vacation day to have a yard sale, but who am I to choose how you get your kicks?

What Else Could I Do With My Stuff?

You could keep it and become a hoarder. You can give it away, and I sometimes do that if I know of someone who needs and will appreciate it. You can also give your crap to charity and get a tax deduction. Remember,  that is on current value only, not what you paid for it.

If I have something really nice, I’ll often sell it on Ebay. You can get more money sometimes, but it’s a pain to deal with payments or shipping. Consignment is another option. It seems to pay a little less than Ebay. I haven’t used Craig’s List, but that would be another option. A good thing about yard sales is that it over and done pretty quickly, and you get paid right away.

Why Are Yard Sales a Pain?

Yard sales suck for several reasons.

1) Yard Salers Need to Sleep More. No matter what time you say the sale starts, people will come early.

2)People Are Cheap. “Will you take $.50 for this Pottery Barn set of dishes that have never been opened?”

3)Selling Stuff For Pennies Is Depressing.  I don’t spend a lot on my daughter’s clothes, but I know my Mom buys her outfits or dresses that cost $30 or $40 each. It breaks my heart to see them sell for $2. I guess the same can be said for electronics. Selling a $600 TV for $20 makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Thankfully, this isn’t such a problem anymore since we are better about what we purchase, but if it’s your first sale after years of crazy spending, be prepared.

4)Sales Can Be Dangerous. I know there were mice, mosquitoes, and probably tarantulas in my shed while I was digging out old patio furniture. I could have gotten Hanta Virus, West Nile, or the Plague. I also dropped a fold up picnic table on my foot. That could have been an ER trip. Plus, one customer had to borrow a truck to pick up an item, and he didn’t know all the gears. When he finally get it going, he kicked up a huge spray of rocks while peeling out of my neighbor’s driveway. You could surely put an eye out that way!

Why Yard Sales Rock

The reason I just talked myself into having more yard sales is because it’s a great way to get rid of clutter and make some money, even if your return on purchase price is horrid. The $301 I made is $301 more than I had at the beginning of the day.

No, $301 will not allow me to retire. It won’t even pay my grocery bill for this month, but  it could  pay for a zip line trip in Hawaii or dinner and a show in Las Vegas. We used to use money from selling stuff to pay off our credit cards. Now we can use it for frivolous fun. Not having to spend salary money that does pay for groceries or retirement rocks, and that is worth every dust bunny and mouse turd I had to overcome for this yard sale!

Why do you love or hate yard sales? Is it wrong to want to shoot the early birds with a BB gun? Ever had any yard sale injuries?

Image: Wikipedia 

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. We live an area with retired folks only. No one buys baby and kid stuff even though its in great condition. Plus it was 2 weeks of going through ten years of stuff. Ugh!

  2. I agree, I hate yard sales too, at least I used to. Gathering all of that crap and watching all those folks poking through it all day long, is not my cup od tea. I have a friend that absolutely loves yard sales, so I made a deal. Pick up my stuff and keep half of what is sold, no questions asked. Now I make a few bucks and aren’t involved. It also makes my friend happy that he has a lot of stuff to sell.

  3. I think it is always difficult to tell if a yard sale will be a bust until after everything is put away and the money is counted. I do think it is essential to declutter though.

  4. I’m afraid I lack the patience and energy for a yard sale. I typically give all my unwanted stuff to Goodwill and keep a detailed spreadsheet of everything I give away for tax purposes. Lately, I’ve been doing clothes swaps with a friend, so sometimes I score new (to me) stuff in exchange for what I don’t want anymore. And it’s totally okay to have evil thoughts about early birds – 7am means 7AM! Don’t talk to me before coffee!!

  5. I think you should take a two-pronged approach when it comes to yard sales. Anything small and worth >$8-10 bucks you should probably be selling on Ebay for a higher price.

    Everything else, you can throw a yardsale and let stuff go at more reasonable prices to just get rid of it if you do not want it anymore.

    This way you get rid of your stuff and get top dollar for the higher cost items that will be worth the extra time it will take you to list them on Ebay.

  6. Jacob and I talk about this all the time. Is it worth it? Depends on how much money you make, and unfortunately you don’t get to know that until the sale is over. So, in that aspect it’s kinda risky. If I ever have a yard sale, I will put “if you get here before the starting time, prices are tripled.” That should keep people away for a while.

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