Saturday, November 10, 2012


As early as 7:30 am, cars begin to fill the cul-de-sac adjacent to our house two Saturdays ago.  Good thing that during this year's second community sale, my husband's not using the car for work and my church friend's driving us (Because I brought along with me my four kids.  I got excess baggage as always but they're pretty fun to be with that time!).  Time and convenience is on my side then.

Just the idea of community, garage, and estate sales excite me!  If you are a bargain hunter and curious George as I am, these events are the perfect haven for all things old and new.  The thrill is not just about how "cheap" you can get stuff but it is in the haggling skills you develop and the opportunity to discover how to repurpose things.  With the things people dispose or sell, you also get to have a glimpse on what families patronize or consume similar to yours.

Going on community sales takes planning.  You don't just storm through it without knowing what you really need.  Remember, these trips should save you money not make you spend on things that will eventually turn to dust collectors on your shelves and storage areas.

Mom x 4 has learned the following ways to make sure you go home with savings not useless spendings.

1.  Be informed about upcoming community, garage, or estate sales.  You could see a calendar of these from your Sunday ads, city and community websites, and Craigslist.  

2.  Go through your house.  Make a list of the things you need to buy. This would give you the considerable "purchasing perimeter" you need so as not to overspend. 

3.  Set a budget.  Since you know what to buy, an estimation of how much to spend can be drawn from there. 

4.  Make sure you bring cash and enough change to avoid any hassles as you pay.

5.  Though not all listings will guarantee you  specifics on what items are on sale, a number of them do include a list.  Go first to those places where you can buy the things on your list to make more use of your time rather than stopping on each house you pass by.

Duck Bathroom Coordinates (11 pcs)
6.  Early-bird-catches-early-worm principle applies!  Aside from the bargain enthusiasts, there are also those whom I call "wholesalers".  These people have their own thrift stores or join flea markets who can buy a truckload of the seller's items by "bundling".  If you take too much time enjoying window shopping mood, you could end up eating their dust and the only things left for you are their trail marks.  Make a quick scan of things you need and do your purchase promptly.  Of course, this takes practice and skill but you will definitely learn it.

7.  There may be items for sale which are not on your list but are such good deals.  Haggle the prices by "bundling" the items then make your offer.  For example, my son saw this gaming chair while a rubber duck bathroom coordinate priced individually caught my attention.  We bought everything for $17 and saved us $5 when bundled, not priced per item.  
Gaming Chair

Paid a two-drawer steel cabinet and pull up bar for $10 and saved me another $5.  Even a quarter dollar savings is good because it could buy you a nice book for your kid already.  The joy of saving!!!!
Filing Cabinet

8.  Allow and trust "gut feel".  The first house I went to, sold the two-drawer filing cabinet for $25.  Told myself to shop around before purchasing it and true enough I bought mine from another seller for $5. Remember though, time is still the element and don't window shop aimlessly.  Canny "frugalistas" swarm the place.

9.  Haggle down prices but do not throw unreasonable offers. There are lots of elbow room on events like these.

10.   If your community or another holds periodic sales, take note of the type of items a seller (which in case are homeowners) sell.  A family with kids would usually have anything from furnitures, books, toys, and clothing.  While others who are hobbyists or activity oriented people have personal collections, exercise equipments, baking and cooking gadgets, and DVDs.  Retirees or elderly couples can surprise you with their vintage or antique collections from  fine china to cuckoo clocks. 

Take note of these trends and patterns by jotting house numbers so that on the next sale, you know which places to go first.
Pull Up Bars

11.  Community sales have specific time durations and a lot of sellers will give you greater markdowns when a sale is about to end.  

So how was it going with the kids? Though it is a challenge to bring them during these events, a sale can be a priceless learning experience. We do want the best for them and living a life of thoughtful restraint specially with how we use our resources is a kind of life we could impart to them.  

A day before the community sale, the kids and I were in Barnes and Noble to find some books.  We didn't find any good deals like the Buy 2 get 1 free they used to have so I told them it's just a few hours more 'til the sale starts so we could exercise our patience a little.  True enough, I got the early reader books for Marcus and Rheese at $.25 each.  We went home with 13 books but the smile we had on our faces was priceless.
Kids' books

My eldest son Sebastian asked us for a gaming chair for months.  When he found a $10 one during the sale he held on to it like Nicholas Cage when he got the declaration of independence in National Treasure. In Walmart, a similar gaming chair is almost $30.

We are frugal not just because we have 4 kids.  Though that is one motivation, wise spending comes from a realization that there is a future worth preparing for and this future is for the 6 of us. The bible encourages us to be wise in our affairs and be the stewards God calls us to be. If we live otherwise, how can we be entrusted with heavenly wealth? These words hold dear:

"So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"  Luke 16:11

Every opportunity to save is a reward in itself. Enjoy being simple, live with a content heart. If you have an upcoming community sale to go to, tell me...Tell THRIF(T)fany.