Are yard sales worth the work? Photo of yard sale wooden letterpress

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It's not about making money but earning a little something while getting rid of junk.

As I write this I am looking across my living room at a floor full of toys. These are the things my kids regularly play with. There are also toys in my older kid’s bedroom and my younger kid’s bedroom. Toys on the floor, toys in bins, toys in the closet, under the bed and even lost behind the dresser.  

Some of these toys have never been played with, not in almost five years. Things like stuffed animals that look cute but have none of the smash value that my kids require in their playthings. I’ve been slowly purging the house of toys that have never been opened, or toys that are particularly annoying to me because of the sounds they make or the overall junk factor the toy has. Now, by purging, I don’t mean actually getting rid of — at least not yet. I’ve been piling them up in the garage with the intention to sell them or donate them to the local family shelter.  

Make a little money while getting rid of junk

But here’s the thing. Recently our neighbor invited us to participate in a multi-family yard sale. It sounded like a good idea: take this stuff I haven’t had a chance to donate or sell online, and sell it at a huge discount to families who also might need these things. Then it would jumpstart me to bring the unsold items to the shelter and truly get things out of my possession.  

I looked at what I had and sighed. There was no way I was going to get organized enough to participate in the garage sale on time. That’s the thing about garage sales, they seem like a great idea, until you realize all the time and effort you need to put into it before you can actually sell them. You have to sort everything, fold or hang it nicely, put price tags on everything (although some articles say don’t put price tags on everything and instead make a table with one price?).  

Are yard sales worth the work?

Then there’s the whole idea of haggling, which is fine in some cases, but I don’t want someone haggling over something silly like a nickel. It’s a waste of both of our time.  

Our neighbor said she would probably have another one in September, so I figured starting slowly now will give me enough time to be ready by then. I started reading all the articles on yard sales, including some of the ones found right here. I also looked up pricing for garage sale items, because really, I have no true idea what most of this stuff could go for. That’s another thing I had to wrap my head around though, a garage sale isn’t really a method to making good money, it’s more about making some money while getting rid of all the stuff you don’t want in your house anymore.  

So I’ve now begun slowly sorting and deciding what things to sell at a yard sale in September. It’s now bringing about another dilemma, which is now that I’ve sorted it, should I just sell it online on a local mom’s site or even Craigslist? But again, that means more work — taking pictures, writing the perfect post, etc.  

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Meet the Author

Jessica Patel

Jessica Patel


Jessica Patel is an award-winning editor and writer living in Los Angeles. She previously served as deputy editorial director of T Brand Studio at The New York Times and as Senior Editor and Analyst of


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