My Guide to Having a Stress Free Garage Sale

Eliminate the stress and last minute hassle with a little planning!

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I LOVE having garage sales. Yes, it is a lot of work for just a little money most of the time. But I’m an organizer. I can’t get enough of decluttering, labeling, organizing, pricing, setting it out, and watching it goooo awaaayyy!

I don’t stress about the sale, either. If I make money, fantastic! If I make $3, it’s more than I had before. And then everything just goes right off to the donation center. No biggie. Nothing really lost.

Every item I take out of my house, because we no longer want or need it, is going to go to a donation center. So why not make a dollar on it instead? Or five dollars?

But again, garage sales can be a lot of work. I never expect to make big bucks at my garage sales, mostly so I’m not disappointed or stressed about having to stick to my guns on prices. I price a little on the high side because most people that shop at garage sales are hagglers. I am a-okay with that.

With the right planning and organizing, your garage sale can seem like a breeze. I don’t recommend having a garage sale if you’re in a hurry to get rid of things, though. It may take you a while to go through your home deciding what to keep and what to let go. I am lucky enough to have a bit of space in our garage to stack things in, so it wasn’t a big deal to keep it piling up for a couple months.

Here are my steps to having a garage sale!

  1. Declutter!

Your first step to setting up your garage sale is sifting through your home to take out everything you want to get rid of. That’s the hard part. I have a tough time parting with things, so that’s the really hard part for me.

I didn’t part with anything until earlier this year when I had finally had enough of all the junk in this house. I was constantly putting things away. Then I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. That was a game changer. More about that another time.

Now, as you go through your home and pile things into the garage sale spot, price them. If you price as you go, you eliminate a lot of work later.

I use painters tape and a black sharpie to price items. I have bad luck with those little round colored stickers. They seem to fall off most things or no one sees them.

I pre-price all my items because it makes things easier for everyone. All my introverts, raise your hand! I’ve got mine up! I have some bouts of social anxiety and I never know when it’s going to hit. But you bet that if it hits at a garage sale, I’ll be so thankful I don’t have to ask a bunch of questions.

  1. Set a date!

If you’re in the middle of decluttering, give yourself about 2 to 3 weeks to finish up. If you give yourself the 2 or 3 weeks, you’ve got time to finish up gathering your items without being so rushed that you miss things or sell things you really don’t want to. But you also have a deadline that will come up quickly, so there’s no room for slacking.

  1. List your sale!

A great way to advertise your garage sale is to list it on the garage sale finder websites. I like to use these;, craigslist, varagesale,,, and

Throw your information onto these sites the Monday before your sale. Some sites let you include your email so that people in search of specific items can ask you questions.

Sometimes I’ll offer incentives in my ads. I’ve offered free cookies with purchase and 25% off purchases of $10 or more and I let my little girl set up a lemonade stand.

Free snacks are enough to get me to a garage sale!

  1. Signs!

In your prep time, you’ll need to make quite a few signs to post around your neighborhood and on the main road leading to you. I always post my signs the evening before my sale. I would rather spend the hour before my sale getting things set out than running around trying to get my signs up in a hurry.

When you make your signs, don’t be afraid to put some humor into them! My last garage sale signs said “let’s put some junk in your trunk!” at the bottom. I even drew a stick girl putting junk into her car trunk on another sign.

I’ve seen other signs that have said, “our trash is your treasure,” and “my husband is making me sell it all!”

I like to use hot pink poster board and black paint or a thick black marker to make my signs. They’re easier to read from farther away, especially when you are driving by and just have a second or 2 to read it.

Don’t be afraid of bright colors! They really draw in attention. Be sure to use the same color for all your signs. This helps people to know they are following a trail right to you!

Use a full sheet of poster board for signs that will go on main roads. The bigger the better to get everyone’s attention! For the smaller streets and corners, I cut the poster board into 4 sheets.

Make sure to put the address of the sale, the date, and at least your start time on the big signs. I generally just put the time and date on the smaller signs since they’re following a trail. If you have room, the street name certainly can’t hurt! Leave drawing any arrows until you begin hanging them (hang your signs the night before your sale). If you put arrows on your signs before going out to hang them, you’ll waste time trying to organize them and make sure you’ve got the arrow going the right way.

Pull out a sign, use your black marker to draw a large arrow pointing in the right direction and slap that baby up! Clear packing tape works great for poles and boxes. I carry a staple gun with me for trees and posts.

A friend gave me a couple great tips for signs. Back your poster board with a piece of cardboard so it doesn’t flop around in the wind. She also said she punches holes in her sings so she can zip tie them to poles and posts. Easier to take down than tape! I’m going to give that one a try next time I decide to sell some stuff!

  1. Cash!

I suggest pulling out cash and coins a few days in advance. If you have large items that are priced high, grab a few 20s and 10s in addition to having 5s, 1s, and quarters.

I like to have $60 in bills and $5 in coins to use as change for garage sales. I don’t like to accept bills over $50 and I politely decline to. Usually, if a person tries to pay with a $50 and I decline, they pull out smaller bills.

There’s nothing wrong with accepting large bills, it’s just personal preference.

Keep your change in a box or container that is not transparent and keep it out of sight but in a convenient (for you) location. Another great suggestion from a friend, keep a small amount of change in a fanny pack that you can wear at all times, while keeping the bulk of your change and earnings in a box out of sight.


I hope you all have successful garage sales! Come back and let me know how it all went and add any helpful tips I missed!