These Yard Sale Tips Will Help You Become a Yard Sale Ninja!

May 22, 2021 | Finances, How To Save Money, Lifestyle, Shopping Tips

Aside from Christmas, yard sale season is pretty much our favorite! We can't resist a good bargain, and scouting out those deals is a fun adventure. Today, we're sharing our top tips so that you, too, can become a yard sale ninja!

shopping at a yard sale, from Fun Cheap or Free

In our humble opinion, yard sale shopping is like sport! There's strategy, adrenaline, luck, and sheer skill involved. We're getting goosebumps just thinking about it, you guys!

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Give us an hour and a few bucks, and we can come home with a HAUL of amazing treasures. Wanna know our secrets? Since yard sale season is kicking into high gear, we thought we'd share all our best tips and tricks for finding, navigating, shopping, and even haggling at yard sales! By the end of this post, YOU will be a certified yard sale ninja!


Okay, it's time to put your game face on! Any true yard sale ninja knows that the magic happens even before the shopping begins! Consider these tips for your pre-game training:

  • Check Your Budget – We love a good bargain as much as the next gal, but we don't condone shopping just to shop. Make sure bargain hunting doesn't interfere with your budget! Learn how to budget for shopping before you set out on your first haul.
  • Make a Mental List of Items You Need – This is very important! Shopping just to shop is dangerous. Figure out what you need, and then stay laser-focused on those items. If you're looking for kids' clothes and toys, then stay away from the furniture! Looking for lawn equipment or home decor? Stay away from the kids' table.
  • Take Measurements – If you need furniture or decor, measure the space and make a note on your phone. Take a measuring tape with you, so you know what will work in your home. And make sure it will fit in your car, too!
  • Check the “Classifieds” – Take a peek at Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace, or your local newspaper. Many local news sites have a digital classifieds section, too. And don't sleep on Nextdoor! That's a great spot to find local sales. You can include your zip code in search criteria, so you don't end up spending your day driving all over town.

Pro Tip: As you're scanning ads for yard sales, look for words like “multi-family,” “fundraiser,” “moving sale,” “community or neighborhood yard sale.” Nine times out of ten, those sales have more items and are the best use of your time!


woman using laptop, from Fun Cheap or Free

Okay, when it comes to yard sale shopping, we approach it one of two ways. There's the simple, casual shopping mode, and then there's the hardcore way. If you only have an hour or so to shop, then keep it simple. Commit to going to one or two sales, and if you happen to see a sign for another, follow it! You'll be surprised how many yard sales you can stop by in a short time. Have more time to spare? Up for an adventure? Here are our tips for navigating a morning full of hardcore yard sale shopping:

  • Email All the Ads to Yourself – It's so handy to have the directions, address, and other details all in one place. So, when you see a yard sale ad that interests you, either save it in a document or email it yourself. It's nice to be able to pull up all the details on your phone while you're shopping!
  • Add the Address to Google Maps – Use your home address as the starting point (point A) and click “add destination,” then add the address of each yard sale. Each time you add an address, it assigns it a letter. Point A is home; your next destination is B, then C, and so on.
  • Order the Addresses – After you add all the addresses in a random order, click and drag the addresses, so they are in order from closest to farthest from you. Now you're ready to hit the road!

This may sound confusing, or complicated, or like a lot of work, but trust us. It's easy and SO helpful! Give it a try and see how it works.


Okay, you guys! When it comes to yard sales, timing is everything. Even a 15-minute window can make the difference between a yard sale bust and a yard sale haul. If you want to increase your odds of walking away with some good loot, follow these tips:

  • Start Early…But Not Too Early – Based on our non-scientific research, 8:00 am -10:00 am seems to be the sweet spot for yard sales. These days, most yard sales don't start before 8:00, and the ones that claim to start earlier never seem to get set up in time. So, don't waste your time rushing to get there at 7:30.
  • Don't Even Bother Going Late – That being said, don't even bother going much past 10:00 am! By 10:30 am, pretty much all the good stuff is gone, so it's probably not worth your time.

To sum it up, yard sale ninjas approach the sport like Goldilocks. Not too early, not too late! Got it? Okay, cool. Moving right along! We always learn best from mistakes, so we're going to clue you in on a few of our biggest yard sale blunders.

Pro Tip: As you buy new-to-you things, go through your old stuff and clear it out. Donate it or hold a yard sale of your own. No need for clutter!


a yard sale sign, from Fun Cheap or Free

This last weekend was a bit of a bummer; we didn't get much of what we were looking for because we made some rookie mistakes. Don't do what we did! Yard sales ninjas never do these things:

  • Wake Up Too Late – If you're going to go, then get up and GO, and do it RIGHT! Yard sale day is not the day to sleep in. You know what they say. The early bird gets the worm, so get up and get going.
  • Start at the Farthest Point First- If you can, try to find multiple appealing sales that are all in the same area, a “cluster,” if you will. And if you're going to hit up a sale outside of that cluster, save that stop for last. If the spot far away ends up being a bust, you don't want to waste all that time and miss out on great items at the yard sale that's closer to you. We *may* have spent 45 minutes on a Google maps-gone-wrong incident and learned this the hard way.
  • Believe the Ads – Buyer beware! And yard sale shoppers, too. If a sale claims to be a “big, multi-family yard sale,” do a little research. Look on a map. If they live in a cul de sac or a structured community, they very well could have multiple families on board. If it's just a street of normal houses, spaced kinda far apart, the chances are more unlikely.
  • Get Emotionally Invested Before a Sale – Piggybacking off our last tip, keep in mind that ads almost always sound better than the real thing. Remember this, and don't get emotionally invested in a sale before you go.

The biggest piece of advice we can offer? Go into any sale with low expectations. Just like in sports, you win some, you lose some! Yard sale shopping is a lot like treasure hunting. Don't let it get you down if it doesn't go as planned!


Alright, ready for more tips that will help you shop those summer yard sales like a pro? A few of these are unconventional, but they WORK:

  • Use Google Maps Street View – Pull up the addresses and zoom in to street view to look at the house you are going to. If the yard looks junky, dirty, or messy, the stuff will probably be in a similar condition. It's nice to see what you're getting into before making the drive.
  • Make a List – Earlier, we told you to make a mental list. Take it one step further and write it down! If you don't have a plan, you'll walk away with a bunch of random things you don't need!
  • Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate – Every dollar counts, especially at yard sales. $1 could buy you an entire children's picnic table, so value your dollar! Aim to pay about 40% less than the sticker price. If it says $10, offer $6. If it says $20, offer $12. Even if they don't accept your offer, they will almost ALWAYS come back with a counteroffer that is less than their original price.
  • Ignore Outliers. If there is an awesome-sounding ad that is way far away or is in an area with no other good sales, just ignore it. Trust us. Pretend you never even saw the ad. Learn from our mistakes!
  • Look for Potential – Try not to be too critical. If you find a solid item with good “bones,” then take it home! Sand it, make a slipcover for it, paint it, wash it, wipe it down, polish it, refinish it, fix it, get creative. Do whatever you need to do to make that furniture shine again!
  • Think About the Future – If you see new-looking, great-priced 12-month baby clothes and your baby is only 4 months old, for heaven's sake…buy the clothes! Buying off-season or buying for the future is a great way to save your family money!

Pro Tip: Just because it's used doesn't always mean it's a good deal. Learn your prices! As you're shopping, check Amazon to compare.


You did it! You made it to the end of the post, which means you are now a yard sale ninja! Hopefully, these yard sale tips help you score the haul of your dreams.

By the way, if saving money is your jam, we think you'll LOVE budget bootcamp. It's a super fun, interactive, and self-paced virtual course that will help you whip your wallet into shape!

Do you have any yard sale shopping advice to add to the mix? Drop your best tips in the comments below!

how to shop yard sales and save money, from Fun Cheap or Free

Looking for more of our best shopping tips?

Happy bargain hunting!


  1. Jen

    I love your tips! One thing that I do if I am looking for something specific (say a baseball mitt), I go directly to the person holding the sale and ask if they have any “baseball mitts” for sale. This saves me time rummaging through everything. If they don’t, I can move on to the next sale. Another plus to this tactic is that the seller may be willing to part with the item you are looking for, even if they hadn’t included it in the sale originally.

  2. Jeanine

    A strategy I have when prices are not marked on the item is to offer what I am willing to pay. I never ask, “how much do you want for this” because their price will almost always be higher. They almost always take what I offer, especially if I have pulled out the money and they see it in my hand.

  3. Werner Darveau

    Trying to sell that old tent? Set it up on the lawn. Otherwise, it’s just a mystery, folded up in a vinyl bag, sitting there covered in dust. There might be a deeper meaning to the idea of the mystery, but for your purposes, it’s best to set up the tent so that shoppers can see how cool it really is.

  4. Kamryn Carlson

    I love yard sales so this is great! Now I just need to get on it and do it!

  5. graliontorile

    After research a number of of the weblog posts on your web site now, and I truly like your approach of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and shall be checking again soon. Pls check out my site as properly and let me know what you think.


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