We are approaching what I believe to be the peak time to find some of the best things that people are getting rid of! The summer is prime moving time for people who are selling homes or switching apartments. Many leases end at the end of May, June, or July, particularly in college areas. The summer is also the time when the weather is best to sell things outside!
First of all, I absolutely believe that buying things is a huge part of personal finance – knowing when and how to be frugal is a huge asset when you’re trying to put away money. Collectively, consumers in the US owe about $733 billion in credit card debt, which indicates two things – consumers are spending more than they have to on items because they are (most likely) accumulating interest over time, and consumers are using credit cards to live outside of their means. While sometimes people encounter expenses where it is necessary to take on debt, household goods should never be one of them – especially when there are so many ways to get those goods for less.
If you are in need of things over the next few months, why not save a few bucks on a perfectly nice used version of the same item instead of paying full price for something brand new? Here are a few suggestions for seeking out used items this summer:
Finding and going to yard sales is one of my favorite summer hobbies – you get to spend some time outside in the sunshine, and find some great deals in the process.
Yard sales are a great way to find home decor, appliances, and kids’ stuff at a reasonable price. If you want to maximize your time out at the sales, flag sales that are multi-family or billed as moving sales, as those will typically have the greatest variety.
Make sure to get there early, especially if there is something specifically being advertised in the listing that you want. People get to yard sales very early – there is definitely a weirdly competitive culture to it, but even a few hours after the start time most of the stuff will be thoroughly picked through.
The best place to find yard sales is on Craigslist – my favorite tool for yard saling is the Yard Sale Mapper app, which pulls all of the listings from Craigslist and places them on a map, so you can see which sales you’re close to once you’re out and about.
FOR SALE GROUPS
Facebook has a special setting for groups based on sales – similar to Craigslist listings where you can put a price and location alongside a photo post or description.
Chances are, there is at least one selling group in your area – trying searching for any of the following terms to find one (don’t forget to try your town name as well as neighboring towns):
[Town Name] Tag Sale Group
[Town Name] Free and For Sale
[Town Name] Garage Sale
You also may have the option to search for all sale groups under “Favorites” on the lefthand menu – for me, the bottom one is a green dollar sign symbol that says “Sale Groups,” and it displays all of the sale groups in my geographic area.
If you live in a college area, also try searching for [College Name] Free and For Sale.
If you find something in one of these groups that you want to move forward with purchasing (and the rules of the group don’t state otherwise!), you should both message the person and comment on their post – they will likely get a notification from the comment but not from your message, since Facebook settings on messages seem to be constantly changing.
Now I don’t like things that are particularly yucky so I have never been inside of a dumpster.
However, I have found some great stuff on the side of the road or outside of trash areas that have not entailed me touching actual garbage at all – hence why dumpster diving is in quotes.
Take a drive through some apartment-heavy areas to see what people are throwing out, especially at the end of the month when many leases end. If there are complexes in your area, look for one or more dumpsters, often in the back of the complex, where people will often leave furniture items they don’t want. If an item is a little worn out but has good bones, you can always paint it or stain it to give it a new look.
In addition to furniture, packaging supplies are also plentiful in dumpster areas at the end of the month – so if you are in need of bubble wrap or boxes, look no further.
I personally stray away from clothes or upholstered furniture but if you are cool with it, they can always be cleaned!
College campuses are also full of items that are easier to throw away than to take home at the end of the academic year – you can look up the residence hall closing date and graduation date on your local university’s website, and time a drive around campus to see what is being left behind. I have gotten shelves, lamps, unopened food, and even a North Face jacket that was new with tags!
The end of the month is also a great time to check out furniture and household goods, as people use a move as a major opportunity to purge some of their belongings. I regularly swing through Goodwill and Salvation Army when I’m near them just to see what is available and the selection is definitely the best at the end of May and the beginning of June.
Keep in mind that most things can be cleaned up, painted, and otherwise spruced up, so try to see the “bones” of the item rather than taking it at face value – there is a Pinterest solution for just about any aesthetic irregularity. (And spoiler: in future blogs I’ll share some of my updates on some thrift store and even dumpster finds!)
If you’re a big online shopper there are a number of great places to find secondhand items online! While eBay is often a go-to, the shipping costs can sometimes negate the cost savings, and sellers frequently overcharge for shipping (since it doesn’t add to the fees they need to pay once an item is sold). I reserve eBay more for collectibles or books, but there are other options for household goods and clothes:
- Amazon has secondhand options on a huge number of their products – on any listing, you can find options from additional sellers that say “used from [price].” Several of these items are Prime shipping eligible (and even though Amazon Prime is an expense, it more than pays for itself once you take advantage of free shipping the first couple of times).
- ThredUp is a great resource for stylish secondhand women’s clothing in a variety of sizes. You can also send in your clothes for cash if you are trying to get rid of stuff – I have used it several times and will do a review in a future post! And, if you use my link to sign up (available above and also on the right), you get a free $10 to spend.
- Craigslist is an oldie but a classic – particularly if you want larger items that can be picked up locally. It saves on shipping and usually allows you to communicate with the seller before you commit to a purchase.
What are your tips for shopping secondhand? What have been your best finds?