It's garage sale season, the best time of year to pick up bargains for the house, the garden, the kids and of course yourself!
I love garage sales and over the years I've picked up some amazing bargains - a Baby Born cot and bedding for $5! A Thomas the Tank Engine railway set for $7! Levis for $2 (and Wayne is still wearing them), Tupperware for no more than $2 (that's my limit for Tupperware), tapestry canvases for $3 (and they retail for anything from $30 up - my best buy was a canvas that was still selling in Spotlight for $89, I paid $6!).
I've bought pots for the garden, furniture for the house, curtains, clothes for the kids when they were small, clothes for Wayne and I, a video camera ($5!), books, puzzles, plants, toys, lamps, garden tools, camping gear - all sorts of things. The most expensive thing I've ever bought at a garage sale was a $12 leadlight light fitting that I just loved and it was brand new, never used, still in the packaging.
If you want great bargains, garage sales will provide them for you. But you need to be organised and have a plan - you won't get everything on your list the first time you go out.
It is well worth taking a few minutes to plan your garage sale shopping spree.
Plan your garage sale shopping trip. Start by mapping out the sales you plan to visit. I usually start with the sale furthest away from home, and work my way back. It just means that by the end of the morning or day, when I'm exhausted from all that bargain hunting, I don't have to travel a long way home.
Don't forget to set the alarm! You don't want to sleep in and miss the best bargains.
Have a shopping list. This rule applies to garage sales just as it does to regular shopping. I have a little list that I add to regularly as I find things we need or want. I also keep a list of gifts I'm looking for - garage sales are great for finding unwanted, brand new gifts at rock bottom prices.
Set a budget and stick to it. The easiest way to do that is to take just that money with you.
Get your money together. The day before go to the bank and get your spending money in change. It really helps the seller and you if you have the right money when you pay for your brilliant bargains.
Make sure the car is ready to go. Check you have enough petrol. Empty the boot so you have room for your shopping.
Pack drinks and snacks. The night before put some water in the fridge and pack some snacks. You'll need to stay hydrated and energised. I usually have three bottles of water and crackers and cheese and some fruit in a small insulated lunchbox for when the munchies hit.
Check the weather forecast. Make sure you have a hat and sunscreen if it is going to be hot, or a rain jacket with a hood if it's going to be wet (umbrellas are too cumbersome to handle).
Dress comfortably. Remember to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. It will be a long day and you'll be on your feet for a lot of it.
Leave the kids at home. If it is at all possible shop by yourself. Kids just slow you down - it takes time to get them in and out of the car. You need to keep track of them while you're digging through the things on display. They'll distract you by pointing out things not on your list. They need regular drinks and food, and that means toilet breaks. If you can leave them at home, you'll have a definite advantage over the shoppers with children in tow! Perhaps you can arrange to swap playdates with another family - you watch their children while they shop and they'll watch your while you shop.
And remember to have fun! You're hunting for bargains so enjoy the hunt and finding them.