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We have had a large number of unexpected expenses this month, with multiple costly repairs needing to be made and items needing to be replaced. Some expenses one just doesn't imagine ever having, but yet, there they are. Continuing to find frugality in as many ways as possible is important to keeping everything running smoothly.

Grapes in urn The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested peaches, figs, grapes, tomatoes, Swiss chard, green onions, and rosemary from our garden.

I planted seeds for what I hope will be a good harvest in a few months. I planted seeds for sunflowers, basil, chives, and green onions.

I said yes to some more tomatoes from my friend's garden when she offered.

We had a fun get-together with the children's friends and some of their cousins. We did the same thing the week before with some of their other cousins. Using a large tarp (that my husband got for free off of Craig's List) we created a giant slip and slide. We have done this for a few years now. It's a fun way to cool off and still play outside when it's 114°F/46°C out, which it was at our house.

It's still quite humid here as the summer storms pass overhead (not falling on us--the clouds just go right on by!) and I collected several water gallons of water from the air conditioning drip each day and used it to water potted plants. I also continued to collect shower warm-up water and used it to water potted plants.

I cancelled my free Amazon Prime trial the day before I would be charged.

I watched a free photography class online.

I read two books that I borrowed from my mom.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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How to Host a Successful Garage Sale

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How to Host a Successful Garage Sale

I've had several garage sales over the last decade, and I've made anywhere from $150 to over $1600 at my sales. Here are my tips for having a successful sale:

 

1. Pick a beautiful day (or two) for your sale

People like to go out when the weather is nice--not too hot, not too cold, and definitely not raining or super windy. If the weather has been nice for a few days before the sale, people will be looking forward to getting out.

 

2. Have enough stuff to sell.

No one will stop the car and get out if you don't have enough for sale, nor will you make much money.

Let people know you're having a sale ahead of time. Friends who have just a few items they need to get rid of are often happy to donate them to your garage sale rather than making a special trip to donate them somewhere else. 

Every sale I've had has had enough stuff because I've had items from others, as I'm not someone who buys a lot of things. When my grandmother moved from a house into an assisted living facility (basically a small apartment), we sold her unneeded items. When she died, we sold the rest of her items (this was my biggest sale). At that same sale, we knew a family who was moving the day of our sale. They left a bunch of stuff at their curb the night before that wouldn't fit in their moving van and told us we could have it all for our sale. One of the items was a large piece of furniture that we sold for $100! My parents have also given us whatever they were purging at the time (usually making up over half the items in my sale), and they often gave us a few extra items from friends who no longer needed them.

If you still don't have enough, combine forces with a friend (or two!) and host the sale together. Label items with different colored stickers so that you can keep straight where the money goes. I've stopped at huge sales and found out when I went to pay (and the sellers marked prices down by the color of the labels, or took the labels off and stuck them on a piece of paper) that the sale was hosted by more than one person.

 

3. Display your items on tables.

No one likes to bend over in your driveway and look through piles and boxes of items on the ground. If you don't have enough tables, borrow some for your sale and arrange your items neatly on the tables. Make a beautiful shopping display with like items to make it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for.

I like to have large items on one side of the driveway. On the tables, I'll arrange sections for different items: children's clothing (sorted by sex and size), women's clothing, men's clothing, housewares, (sorted by kitchen items, decorative items, bedding, etc.)  children's books, other books, etc.

As your sale continues throughout the morning, rearrange your items on the tables during slower times to keep the items looking neat. Refold clothing and re-stack items that have become disorganized.

In addition, if you can hang clothing (a pole between two ladders works well) your customers can see your clothing better, and it's more likely to sell than clothing that is folded.

 

4. Price everything ahead of time.

You will sell more items if people don't have to ask you the price. 

When pricing your items, remember: You want to get rid of these things and make some money doing it! Don't price items too high, or no one will buy them. Think about what price you would consider to be a good deal and price it accordingly.

Use stickers for individual items. You can also use signs in combination with stickers, such as a sign for all books or all clothing. I usually hang signs for books and clothing on the ends of the tables so that potential buyers can see them from the street as well as when they walk up to the sale.

In my area, some prices that I consider to be a good deal are the following:

Paperback books: $0.25 each

Hardcover books $0.50 each

Children's clothing: $0.50 each

Adult clothing: $1 each

Coats and Dresses: $1 to $3 each

If these items are more than that, I will hesitate before purchasing them when I go to a garage sale. I will pay up to $2 for clothing items if it is something I really like, but I am less likely to buy several items from the same seller. The more items you can get your customers to buy, the more you've gotten rid of, and the more they are likely to spend in the end.

 

5. Accept reasonable offers

Everyone loves a bargain. Especially on large items, people will offer you an amount lower than what you have priced. If it's not way lower than what you priced it at, accept the offer, or offer a slightly higher price back that is still lower than your original asking price. Remember, the goal is to sell the items, not have them left at the end of the day, and this person is actually interested in your item, so sell it to the interested party!

 

6. Advertise your sale

The night before the sale, put up a notice in the garage sale section of Craig's List for your city. List the items and prices of those items in your post. If you have clothing, be specific; i.e. "Boy's clothing sizes 5-8 $0.50." If you can take pictures ahead of time, include pictures of as much as possible.

The morning of the sale, I'll take pictures of my items in the driveway and use the same list to post the sale on the local Facebook page.

Another free place to list your sales is garagesales.net. 

 

7. Have good signage

I can't tell you how many customers have thanked me first thing as they come up to my sale for having had good signs! Most of your buyers will come from your signs.

I print my signs on colored paper on the computer and use packaging tape to tape them to boxes. I print in a large, bold print so that potential customers can easily read the signs. I include the date (or dates, if it's a two-day sale), the time of the sale, my street address, and a huge arrow pointing the correct direction. I make signs for both sides of the box so that it can be read from both directions at an intersection.

I use milk jugs filled with water to weigh down the boxes, and I place them on the concrete medians at the nearest intersections. I place another box with signs like this outside my housing tract. 

Once inside the tract, I have boxes with signs that just have large arrows printed on them at every turn.

I use the same colored paper for all of my signs, so that people know it's the same sale. I have used light blue and light green paper in the past, as that is what I had. The signs were colored but still easy enough to read.

 

8. Start early

The serious buyers will be at your house a half hour before you start your sale, hoping to find great deals while you're still setting up everything. They haven't spent their money yet, so they're more likely to spend more with you if you have what they want. Be ready for them by setting up early (I like to bring out tables about an hour and half before the sale starts), and advertise the start of your sale at 7 a.m. Be prepared to make most of your money between 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (Note: Start time vary by location; in some areas, no sales start before 9 a.m. Learn what is normal where you live).

If you have a place to stage tables indoors the night before, you can have non-breakable items already arranged on the tables. Then you simply have to carry your tables outside with the for-sale items on them. 

 

9. Greet your customers

A cheery, "Good morning!" is always helpful! Ask your customers if they're looking for anything in particular; perhaps you have that item and can help them find it amongst your items for sale. Tell them your prices, i.e. : "All paperback books are $0.25 and all hardcovers are $0.50. Clothing on the tables are $0.50 each and hanging clothing is $1 each." Even though your prices are posted, letting them know what they are will prompt them to look through things they might not have been considering. Have a lot of clothing in the same size? Don't be afraid to tell people! Likewise, let people know what other items you have; I have seen lots of potential buyers look through my sale items more closely after we've told them what we have in a cheery manner, and they have bought a lot more that way.

At a busy sale, it's important that customers know who's in charge. If they have any questions about an item, they know who to ask, and when they've found something they want, they know who to pay. Your greeting makes it easy to establish who is in charge of the sale.

 

10. Be helpful

Have plastic grocery shopping bags handy for your customers to put their items in. Ask your customers who are buying several items if they'd like you to start them a pile while they look around some more. This leaves their hands free to pick up more items that they might just buy. I've had customers hand me enough items for 2 to 3 piles while they look around.

 

11. Have change

I like to start out with at least $60 to $80 in change. Many people only have $20 bills. I go to the bank ahead of time and get ones, fives, and a roll of quarters. Just remember how much you started with when you count your profit at the end of the day.

I prefer to wear an apron with two pockets while I'm having the sale. In one pocket I keep bills, and in the other, I keep coins. This way I can walk around the sale and help customers without worrying about the money.

If I've made a lot of money, I take a second during a time of no customers to run inside and put some large bills/stacks of twenties in the house.

 

12. Have help

If you can sell with someone, you can both answer questions about items together, rearrange items during times of no customers, and give each other a chance to use the restroom. One of you can also watch your sale while you set up signs early in the morning and help you take signs down when the sale is done.

 

13. Consider a two-day sale

If you live in an area that has sales for two days, the real serious buyers come on the first day. You'll need to have lots of items in order to do this, but if you have enough, it's totally worth it. My highest profit garage sale (where I made over $1600) was held over two days. In our area, the big days are Fridays and Saturdays. Fridays are especially busy early in the morning, as people stop on their way to work. Find out what days are the most common sale days in your area. In some places, it's Thursday! You'll have the most success by selling on the days that people are normally out looking for sales.

 

14. Have a free box

While not absolutely necessary, a free box will often prompt people to stop. They may then end up deciding to look around the rest of your sale, since they have already gotten out of the car. I use a free box for items I think won't sell but that I still want to get rid of. Some things you may want to include in your free box are VHS tapes, clothing items that are really worn and/or outdated, promotional t-shirts and other promotional materials, stuffed animals, and items that may be missing pieces.

I set up the free box a little distance from the rest of my items. 

 

15. Donate what's left

At the end of your sale, (after you've taken down your signs) load up your vehicle and drive straight to the thrift store to donate any unsold items. In the U.S., you can receive a receipt for donated items and use it as a tax write-off. This nets you a bit more money on your sale in the form of lower income taxes next year.

 

 

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I spent many, many hours up late each night this week canning. I am grateful to my mother-in-law for teaching me the basics of canning. I had a newborn at the time (my second baby) and she came to my house and taught me to can peaches. 

With lots going on during the day (and another newborn!), I always find it easiest to can at night, when no meals are being prepared in the kitchen and no one needs anything from me.

Using cucumbers picked from my friend's garden, I canned a batch of sweet pickle relish, a batch of bread and butter pickles, and a batch of giardiniera.

Concord Grapes The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut concords and another seeded grape from my garden and canned several quarts of grape juice. I also canned the grape pulp; instructions in the canning book say to strain and discard the solids so that you have clear juice. I don't mind having unfiltered juice with a little pulp. Some of my jars were just juice, some were pulp and juice, and some were more just the thick pulp (like blended grapes) which are perfect to use in smoothies and in popsicles.

Green and Red Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested figs, seedless grapes, green onions, Swiss chard, miniature bell peppers, a couple of peaches from the white garden, and red noodle beans. 

We collected eggs from my friend's hens and picked tomatoes and green beans from her garden.

I used YouTube to show the children about many things mentioned in their schoolbooks. We saw videos about giant grouper, Niagara Falls, and Amsterdam.

My husband cleaned the dryer vent lines and removed the front lower panel of our front-loading washing machine and cleaned out the drain. These two things will help our clothes to dry in a timely manner. I had noticed them coming out of the washer wetter than normal and also taking longer to dry even after I did an extra spin cycle, so they will now be able to dry in one cycle, rather than taking twice as long as they had started to do.

I collected water from the air conditioner drip all week long and used it to water potted plants. I also used shower warm-up water to water potted plants.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Grapes in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I collected eggs from my friend's chickens and picked cucumbers, a few green beans, and tomatoes from her garden.

I canned a batch of dill pickles from the cucumbers.

July Harvest The Prudent Homemaker 

I harvested grapes, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and figs from my garden.

In the garden, I sowed seeds for red noodle beans, red zinnias, white zinnias, Genovese basil, Thai basil, Dark Siam basil, carrots, Chinese lanterns (hoping that this time they grow!), and parsley. It's much later than I normally sow seeds in the garden for these things, but many of my seeds did not come up earlier, or came up only to be eaten by bugs, so I am trying again. 

While weeding, I found a few carrots that had grown in one spot from seed dropping from carrots in my garden. I carefully dug them and replanted them where they could grow larger.

Grapes in Basket 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I took cuttings from two sweet potato vines to root in water to make new plants. These are a decorative vine; they do not make sweet potatoes. I took short cuttings from the tips of the plants (about 4-5 inches long) and took off the bottom leaves. Where the leaves were, the plants began to root in water after 4 days. Later in the week, I took additional cuttings from the other type of sweet potato vine to root as well. I plan to transplant these to pots in my white garden. These are an annual that does better in  more mild and humid climates than here (I saw them growing quite large and beautiful in the sun in Missouri a couple of years ago) but here they need a bit of protection from the sun to keep the leaves from burning to a crisp.

We had a very humid week. This is "monsoon season" here, but I think it would be more appropriately named, "cloudy season" as there is not much rain. We got a tiny bit of rain on Monday night, but it was enough that I was able to leave the drip irrigation and sprinklers off on Tuesday. The clouds bring lots of humidity, and they brought the temperature down below 100° for several days. I took advantage of the cloudy, cooler (only 96°F/35°C and humid!) days and worked in the garden doing lots of weeding. I put an ice cream bucket under the drip from the air conditioning; when it is humid like it has been this past week, I can collect several gallons of water from it each day, which I used to water pots on my patio along with water I collected in a bucket while waiting for the shower to warm.

I purchased some dahlia tubers online on 50% off clearance with free shipping.

I purchased some children's clothes online that were on sale and clearance that were not much more than local thrift-store prices.

I gave my two older sons a haircut. My husband and I cut his hair.

I went to purchase chicken on sale earlier this week and the store was out of it, so I got a raincheck.

Tomato Salad The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

This month from my garden we'll harvest grapes, grape leaves, figs, Swiss chard, herbs, green onions, a few tomatoes, and a few peaches (from the tree in my white garden). 

I'm taking care of a friend's garden and chickens for two weeks this month, during which time we'll harvest cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few possible other items. We'll also 11-14 small eggs to bring home every day. 

I'm able to increase my budget for the month to $400, so I will stock up on some items.

I'm trying out Sprouts for the first time. They're a bit further than I normally drive to go shopping, as I usually stay within 1 to 2 miles of home to do my grocery shopping (except for one trip to Sam's Club, a whole 5 miles away).  They have cherries for the unbelievable price of $0.95 a pound; I've never seen cherries priced this low in my life, so I am definitely planning a trip.

Here are my planned sale purchases from the current ads, all of which are incredibly low prices right now:

 

Sprouts:

Cherries $0.95 a pound

Corn 6 for $1

 

Albertson's:

Whole chickens and chicken thighs $0.77 a pound

Boneless pork sirloin chops $1.47 a pound (I have never seen them this low)

Sour cream $1 a pound

Whipping cream $1 a half-pint

 

Target:

Diapers. There is a spend $100 on diapers get a $30 gift card deal this week. I buy the store brand in the bulk boxes. These will last me a few months.

 

And what I'm planning from Winco, Walmart, and Sam's Club:

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

Ground Almonds (a small amount for a dessert)

Onions

Bell Peppers

Spreadable margarine (3-pound tub for $2.27)

Milk

Lettuce

Carrots

Great Northern Beans

 

Walmart:

Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix

Spray oil (I use my refillable sprayer for most cooking, but I found it doesn't work well in the waffle iron)

BBQ sauce

 

Sam's Club:

Tomato sauce in a #10 can

Popcorn 50-pound bag

All-purpose flour 25-pound bag (I will buy 100 pounds)

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound block

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound grated

Goat Cheese

Feta Cheese

Toilet paper

Pinto beans 50-pound bag

 

I'll also look for a sale at Smith's on ice cream in the gallon-sized buckets.

 

Pickles in Process The Prudent Homemaker

I plan to make dill pickles and sweet pickle relish with the cucumbers we're picking from my friend's garden.

I'll make pasta salads, Caprese salad, corn and tomato salad, grape juice, smoothies, popsicles, rice and beans, tomato pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, pork chops with fig sauce, stuffed grape leaves, tomato and cucumber salads with Italian dressing, grits with fried eggs, fried potatoes with fried eggs, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, cherry clafoutis, Pavlova with cherries, brownies, and more this month.

 

What sales are you looking for this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden? Do you have any favorite frugal summer meals?

 

 

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July Garden Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

It was really wonderful to hear from so many readers this past week in the comments! So many of you have been reading for years and I didn't know who you were. I loved reading your frugal accomplishments and was very, very touched to hear how much my site has helped so many of you over many years. I hope that you will consider commenting again in the future. I learned several things this past week in your comments. The most surprising idea I learned in the comments was one I had definitely never thought to do before: it was a reader's idea to sell four pieces of her vacuum cleaner on ebay since the motor on her vacuum had died. She said she sold two pieces within 48 hours! 

One of the most meaningful commenters from a first-time commenter was the following comment: "I have been reading here for a year and love the gentle joys found here! I love the fact that everyone is so supportive of each other in the pursuit of making do with little. In real life, if I talk about my frugality, the response is pity and offers to help! What I want to be met with congratulations for hard work and ingenuity is met, instead, with sympathy. Here, I love that we can celebrate each others' efforts. . . "

I love the excitement that comes from learning a new frugal living skill, saving money on something I need and/or want, finding a great deal or a new low-priced recipe, and making what I have work. I agree that when we share that excitement, people often respond with pity. I enjoy reading everyone's comments here, celebrating with you and learning from all of you. Having more people comment certainly makes frugal living feel less lonely, and I came away from reading your comments feeling more encouraged and having learned new ideas to save money.

Here are my own frugal accomplishments for this past week:

 

I hemmed two pairs of pants for a friend of ours who is leaving soon to serve a mission.

I checked out an e-book from the library.

The children watched several shows on our free trial of Amazon Prime.

I tried a couple of new recipes. No one loved them and I won't make them again, but we went ahead and ate the dishes anyway.

I took advantage of a Fourth of July sale to purchase some replacement plates to replace some of our broken plates. The company has started making the same pattern in melamine. I bought a few of the salad plates (which is what we use for the children) in porcelain and a few in melamine. The melamine ones can't go in the microwave, but they may be a solution for most of the time to keep so many from being broken. I got 20% off the plates on sale, plus free shipping--and my items arrived in a day and a half!

I harvested New Zealand spinach, chives, and green onions from my garden.

My second son and I will be taking care of a friend's chickens and gardens while they are out of town. We'll get to collect eggs and pick tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans while they are gone (and anything else that is ripe). This is the friend who has the cooled greenhouse who shared produce with us last week. Several of you asked if she would share photos of her greenhouse. She agreed to let me share, so I will take some photos of it to share in a post! The photo above is taken in her greenhouse.

Before she left, she gave us two plastic grocery bags of tomatoes and two of cucumbers. 

We then picked more tomatoes, cucumbers, and some lettuce from her garden after she left (lettuce in July--the wonder of a cooled greenhouse!) and collected two dozen eggs.

What did you do to save money last week? Please share in the comments!  Keep encouraging one another in your celebrations of frugal living; I love the support you give to one another!

 

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