Garage/Storage: Part 2 – Selling Your Treasures at a Garage Sale
Last week we talked about recycling and disposal tips when cleaning out a garage, but what about the stuff that has monetary value? As a Professional Organizer and Move Manager, we often get asked by people how to make money on their possessions. Of course, there are many answers to this question depending on the situation, the value, timing, and a host of other factors. In this post, my focus is on garage or yard sales as a possible way to make some money on things you no longer need or want.
Before assuming that a garage sale is the best way to make some bucks, consider that it may actually be more profitable to your bottom line – not to mention a lot less work – to donate your stuff and take the tax write-off. Here are some things to keep in mind as you weigh the pros and cons of taking a tax deduction versus doing a garage sale:
- You must contribute to a qualified tax-exempt organization. Any legitimate organization will be able to give you a tax receipt.
- You must be able to itemize your deductions to take advantage of this tax-saving strategy.
- You need to make an assessment of the fair market value of your non-cash contributions. I’ve personally used ItsDeductible online for many years and highly recommend it. It’s a free, user-friendly tool to accurately value your donated items and can easily be imported into Turbo Tax.
- Keep in mind that you must attach IRS Form 8283 if your non-cash contributions exceed $500.
- Generally, you can deduct non-cash contributions in full up to 30% of your adjusted gross income.
If you decide that you’d like to do a garage sale and get the cash in hand, just go into it with your eyes wide open. It can be a lot of work sorting, cleaning, pricing, organizing, advertising and manning an onsite sale. Here are some tips to keep in mind so your sale is more likely to be profitable and worth the effort.
Location is key. You need to be near well-traveled roads, but not be on a road so busy that people can’t find places to park. Put up easy to read signs on busy roads nearby and at the front of the house. Colorful balloons on the mailbox can make the house easier for people to find.
Having lots of stuff is vital. If weather permits, don’t leave it in the garage – spread it down the driveway. You want to entice people to get out of their cars and not just drive by.
A single day is enough. You’ll likely make 75% or more of the total sales on the first day. It’s really not worth holding a 2 or 3 day sale for what’s left over – just donate it instead.
Pricing is important. Try to price things somewhat below what the thrift stores in the area charge. Try not to go below what you could get for a tax write-off (if you itemize). For example, if a pair of man’s pants in good condition sells for $6 at Goodwill, don’t go any lower than $2, but take it to Goodwill after the sale instead.
Don’t cut prices the morning of the sale, unless they’re buying a ton of stuff. Tell them you will cut prices at 2 p.m., and if they’re willing to take the chance they can come back later. They’re more likely to buy it now or it’s sold to someone else a few minutes later. As for bargaining, don’t haggle over a low-priced item or two, but if they buy several things cut them a deal.
By following these tips from your Atlanta Professional Organizer and Move Manager, your garage sale is more likely to be a worthwhile and profitable endeavor!