How to Make Spring Cleaning Work for You

Spring is in the air – and therefore so is “Spring Cleaning”. The only other time each year, besides new years, where people try to get rid of the old and embrace the new. This got me thinking, where did the concept of spring cleaning come from?

History of Spring Cleaning

The tradition of spring cleaning dates back to the 1800s. Back then homes used to be lit with whale oil or kerosene and heated with wood or coal. After the winter months, there would be a thick layer of soot and grime in every room. When it was spring and the climate was warm again, families could open windows and doors to give the house a proper cleaning. Although this is not the case anymore, it is a tradition that continues to this day. During spring is also where we start to see garage sales popping up everywhere.  

Garage Sales

So why are there so many garage sales during this time? Part of getting rid of the old and embracing the new can literally mean getting rid of the old stuff you don’t need any more. This could be to make room for something new, or just to make room in general by decluttering. When you start cleaning, you tend to come across things you haven’t seen in years. Maybe even some things you didn’t even realize you still had. You could donate them or throw them in the garbage – but many people take these things and try to sell them at a garage sale. But – is it really worth the hassle?

Benefits of Garage Sales

According to an article from the New York Times, the average American can make between $500 and $1000 at a garage sale. That’s crazy! Who couldn’t use an extra $500 – $1000 dollars!?! I certainly wouldn’t turn that down! I’m sure there is plenty of stuff in my house that I am not using and can get rid of. I know sitting in your driveway all day trying to sell your stuff doesn’t seem like the most exciting way to spend your weekend. However, if I’m honest with myself there are many weekends where I just sit at home doing nothing anyways. I might as well use that time to be productive and try to make a few extra bucks. So what do I need to do to have an effective garage sale? 

1. Don’t List Prices

My first thought when it comes to a garage sale is label everything! However, many people recommend NOT doing this. Why? I might think my old toaster is only worth $5, but someone else might be willing to pay $10 for it! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Also, when someone sees a price listed they assume that you listed it for more than you actually want to see it for. This causes people to try and haggle more. If you ask them to make you an offer and you are comfortable with that price, they are also more likely to think they got a better deal.

2. Have Proper Signage

Having proper signage is key to any garage sale! The way to make more money is to get more customers! Be sure to put out signs by major roads and intersections directing traffic where to go. The signs should be large enough for drivers to see from the road. They should also be on bright colored poster board so that it is easily visible. Don’t forget to also post the information about the garage sale on various social media outlets. Social media can be powerful tool for getting more people to your garage sale.

3. Set-up Like a Store

Treat your garage sale like a business for the day. When you go shopping, what do you look for? Usually you want it to be neat and orderly and some-what organized. Nothing stresses me out more than going to a store that is messy. It makes it impossible to find what you’re looking for. Some people go to garage sales looking for specific things. That’s why it’s important to make it easy for them to find things by grouping your items together. For example, put all your old kitchen appliances together, your clothes together, and your electronics together. Don’t forget to dust off those olds things too! No one wants to buy a dirty and dusty old kitchen appliance.

Tips in Practice

I recently had my own garage sale to put these tips into practice and see how we would do. We started planning weeks in advance and created event pages on Facebook and Nextdoor for the garage sale. I bought a few bright red garage sale signs for $1 each at the DollarTree (I LOVE THAT PLACE!). I put them out early in the morning on the day of the garage sale. We made sure not to list prices on anything, and organized our items by type of product (kitchen items, paper products, bags, etc.).

Now I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t look like a lot of stuff for a garage sale and YOU’RE RIGHT. We thought we had a ton of junk around the house that we could sell but when we actually sat down and started going through everything, we really didn’t have that much. However, we had already committed to doing a garage sale and had started advertising for it so we did one anyway. So, unfortunately our garage sale looked pretty lame and we had many cars slow down and look at our garage sale and then keep driving (how embarrassing!). Nonetheless, we managed to make $378 from the garage sale!

I know that $378 is a lot less than the average that I mentioned earlier in this post. But, considering how small our garage sale was I would say we did AWESOME! If you have a family of four and a whole lot more stuff to sell, I can definitely see how you can easily make between $500 and $1000. I feel that the garage sale was worth my time and is a great and easy way to make some extra cash. I highly recommend you do one as well.


Mrs. Frugal

Just your average millennial trying to navigate life and get rid of debt by being frugal.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Amber

    Thanks for your post! Great tips here on how to make money with a garage sale. I LOVE garage sale season. & I admit I am totally one of those people who drives by really slow to see if there’s anything worth getting out of the car for- but I do live in AZ and if it doesn’t look worthwhile I’m not getting out of the A/C in 110 degree heat to check!
    I’ll have to put your tips into practice this fall when it cools off!

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      I totally get the driving by slowly thing. I’m from Florida so it gets pretty hot and humid here too. I wasn’t offended at all by it. LOL. Best of luck at your next garage sale and hopefully these tips help you!

  2. Adrienne f

    Interesting info about where spring cleaning came from!

    Also thank you for the super helpful tips on garage sales and planning. I have been going back and forth on wether or not to have one.

    I have donated a ridiculous amount of items over the past 2 years but still have a ton left.

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      I donate a lot too because it’s a quick and easy way to get stuff out of the house. That’s probably why I didn’t have as much stuff as I thought I did when I had the garage sale. But all those little items can add out to a nice little pay day, so it’s definitely worth holding on to it in order to do a great garage sale.

  3. Lindsay

    This is such a great idea! I have only had one huge yard sale, but when I did, I labeled everything with prices! This is inspiring me to have another yard sale!

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      Glad to hear it! When you do, let me know how it goes 🙂

  4. Jennifer

    I have only hosted one personal yard sale and it was not worth my time! These are great tips, though, which are making me reconsider my attitude toward hosting another one. I love the tip to not label anything. This saves a TON of time and mental energy and makes sense. Thank you for this post!

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      I’ve had so many people tell me they have had bad luck with yard sales too! However, I think following those tips will really help make it a success! Little things can make all the difference.

  5. Angie

    We just had a garage sale during our neighborhood sale a few weeks ago and made $482.75. 🙂 We are preparing to move overseas so we’ll be having another sale this coming weekend. We have so much stuff!
    I wonder if the idea of pricing vs not pricing depends on where you live. For instance, my Mom lives in Missouri and most people there price everything. I live in Texas and people are happy to dig through boxes and ask for prices. So different!

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      Hi Angie. That’s a good point. Where you live could make a big difference. You always want to tailor your garage sale to your audience. I’m in Florida and I think here, not having pricing really helped make it more of a conversation instead of having hard-lined prices on everything.

  6. Susan Carey

    One of these days I WILL hold a yard sale as they are mostly called up here. (anyway, I don’t have a garage, lol) but as a yard sale shopper-I hate when items are not priced. I will usually walk away.

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      Everyone is different. I did have one person that came to the garage sale ask why things weren’t priced and I just explained that I knew the pricing of everything and could tell her the price of something if she was interested. My husband and I talked about pricing for everything in advance so that we would have an idea and be ready when people asked. There will definitely be some people that don’t like that – but I think it worked out well for us and we ended up making a good amount of money.

    1. Mrs. Frugal

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Please let me know if there are any topics you want to learn more about.

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