What To Do When You Can’t Have a Garage Sale

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One of the best ways to purge the clutter from your home is to have a yard sale or garage sale. Unfortunately, you can’t always have one when you want to. Imagine trying to hold a yard sale in the middle of a winter snowstorm – it’s not happening! You may also find that your…

One of the best ways to purge the clutter from your home is to have a yard sale or garage sale. Unfortunately, you can’t always have one when you want to. Imagine trying to hold a yard sale in the middle of a winter snowstorm – it’s not happening! You may also find that your homeowner’s association or lease agreement prohibits having a garage sale in your neighborhood or apartment complex.  My wife and I fell into the latter category prior to moving a few years ago.

We put our home on the market and wanted to clear out some clutter before moving, but our homeowner’s association prohibited individual yard sales (they held community yard sales in the past, but they were not common).

So we had to resort to other means to clear some clutter and make some cash! All of the below methods are great ways to earn some money when you can’t have a yard sale.

What To Do When You Can’t Have a Garage Sale

If you find yourself needing to clear out some space, but you can’t have a yard sale, then try some of the following tips. Most will help you clear some space, and some will even put some money back in your pocket.

Sell Online

One method of downsizing when you can’t have a garage sale is to list your items for sale online.  You can take advantage of traffic to popular auction websites and classified listing sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay.com, and Craigslist.org. For the best results, list each item individually and include a written description as well as a photograph that clearly shows what the item is and it’s condition.

Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are generally best for items you want to sell quickly or that are too large to ship easily or inexpensively. Ebay, on the other hand, is great for selling higher-priced items that are relatively easily shipped.

Facebook and Craigslist don’t take any cut of your sale, whereas Ebay takes a commission. But it can be worth giving up some of your revenue to Ebay to help facilitate a deal that you otherwise may not have been able to get.

There are other great places to sell online, such as Decluttr (great for selling electronics), Amazon, online book stores, and other stores that take in electronics, movies, books, and more.

Here are some additional tips for selling items on Craigslist and more tips for selling your car on Craigslist; many of these tips apply to other items.

Donate

Most everything you might sell in a garage sale or online could also be donated to a variety of charity organizations.  Ask your local churches and shelters if they have a need for the items you no longer need.  The Salvation Army and Goodwill both take a variety of items, including clothing, furniture, and household items. The Salvation Army and some other organizations will also pick up large pieces of furniture or other items if you schedule in advance.

You can also check with your local schools, youth organizations, and other groups to see if they accept donations of lightly used goods.

Quick note: it’s a good idea to do a background check on charitable organizations before making donations.

Give Gifts

Many items you would consider selling in a garage sale, online, or donating to a charity would also make good gifts.  Do you have slightly worn furniture?  Hang a notice at your local college and see if anyone needs it – give it to whoever can come and take it off your hands.  Ask around if your friends or family need anything that you’re looking to get rid of, you could be doing someone a huge favor by giving them the item(s) that you no longer need.

Purge

Sometimes people try to sell things in garage sales or through auction sites that are simply in no condition to sell.  The same goes for giving things away to friends or charities – if the items are in poor condition, you may just need to throw it away to get rid of it.  Check with your own garbage pick up service to see if the items you have can be tossed in the trash; and if not, you may need to take it to the dump and pay a fee to get rid of it.

Temporary Storage

Sometimes you have items that are too nice to throw away but are not easy to sell online (anything that would cost too much to ship, for example). If you can’t find someone to give them to or charitable organizations aren’t interested, then you can consider renting temporary storage until you are able to have a garage sale.  You can keep items in a storage facility or in your basement or attic space until the weather is warm enough for a garage sale.

We used a temporary storage unit prior to selling our home. This allowed us to better stage our home for selling, but didn’t require us to get rid of the things we were going to use in our new home. Just remember – short term storage should be a temporary solution. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a year to store things indefinitely. It’s not uncommon for some people to spend more money on storage than their items are worth!

Sell items on Consignment

When most people think about selling items on consignment, they think of clothing, and maybe furniture. But there are many other items that can be sold on consignment, including tools, musical instruments, machinery, vehicles, and some other items. Check your local phone book and call ahead to see which items they might be interested in (many stores only carry seasonal items, especially for items such as clothing).

Get creative and combine these

My wife and I have sold a few items on Craigslist, donated some to church and Goodwill, and have made gifts of quite a few items. We also got a temporary storage unit to clear some of the clutter for staging our home.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. K.C. says

    Great post. I prefer garage sales for getting rid of a lot of stuff fast and getting at least a token amount for each item.

    We have just finished posting dozens of items for sale on eBay. Photos and writing listings takes a huge amount of time. We sold only 15% of the items we listed and did not get much for the stuff we did sell. Unless the item is in great demand and in next-to-new condition, it is difficult to sell it at all or to get much for it if it is sold. Packing and shipping the items also consumes a great deal of time.

    I’ve had better luck using Craig’s List, but again, the items have to be in demand. The disadvantage of Craig’s List is people stopping by the house. That takes time. However, there is no cost for listing or selling on Craig’s List.

    The main lesson I’ve learned from selling my used stuff is that I need to be extra careful when I buy something and make sure I get full use out of it, because it will not bring much, if anything, when resold!

    • Ryan says

      K.C. your comments are spot on! I’ve had a little luck with Ebay, but I prefer not to use it if possible because it is time consuming and more expensive than other options. It’s best for high demand or more expensive items. With Craigslist, I prefer meeting in a public location if possible, rather than have someone come to my home. Of course, that isn’t always possible! Yard sales are probably the most effective method of clearing clutter quickly!

    • Ryan says

      I’ve never tried it. I could see it being worth it in some instances. It just depends on what you are selling, how many items you have, etc.

  2. Aloise Darmanger says

    1. Clutter happens in no time in an apartment dwelling. *Think: No garage!
    2. Selling can’t happen there, which leaves online. As pointed out, most of those options are time consuming and offer narrow profits.
    3. CraigsList terrifies me as I’ve watched enough true crime shows related to the use of CL.
    4. I had some successful sales in local FaceBook groups, but FaceBook’s “Terminator” system auto-blocked me from Marketplace, alleging I violated their unspecified terms. This was about two years ago, and after thoroughly researching their terms of service, I’ve never determined an actual violation. This arbitrary blocking by an algorithm has adversely affected many FB users.
    I suspect it’s more likely that some people who were interested in buying my items, but weren’t first in line to respond, flagged me out of vengeance, which does happen.
    5. All of the above leaves me with no options other than donating, which sometimes saddens me because I fear the next person won’t appreciate and care for the items as much as I did.

  3. Laura Urrutia says

    I lived in an apartment without garage sale (not allows). I do not have a car and never drive, but my son or friend can help me move things. I do not have a phone. I was on disability living and I’m hearing impaired. I prefer very close to my apartment in South San Francisco, CA. I lived next to the West Orange Avenue and next to the dog park. However, it means a lot to me if I need a garage sale 1-2 days, depends the price to rent an empty a lot of garage sale. I have a lot of good stuff: new and old. Books, clothes, shoes, and other small good stuff. Let me know and contact me email address. No rush. Thank you so much.

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