Do Yard Sales Really Save You Money?
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As I’ve worked to whittle down my need for more things in order to become more frugal and minimalist, I’ve had to take into consideration my consumption habits wherever I go, even when I’m shopping frugally.
One thing that’s always been deemed acceptable with a frugal lifestyle is shopping at yard sales (and estate sales, thrift shops, and flea markets.) Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance a desire to have a minimalist lifestyle with my love of junking and shopping at yard and estate sales.
How Can Yard Sales Not Save You Money?
Since going to yard sales is about shopping for used goods at rock bottom prices, how can it go against frugality? Is that even possible?
Case in Point
I love going to estate sales. My heart starts pounding when I pull up to one, and I feel like I need to get out of the car while it’s still rolling in order to beat everyone else to the goods. I’ve never been to the opening of an estate sale that didn’t have a line outside the door of people waiting to get in. Once you get in, it’s all elbows and squeezing through hallways so you can get to everything before everyone else. I’ve often had more stuff than I could even carry in my two arms, stuff that I didn’t even know I needed until I saw it at the sale.
When Bargain Hunting Becomes Over-Consumption
For me, estate sales started to become entertainment and “just for fun” shopping, which isn’t much better than “just for fun” mall shopping, especially when you already own everything you need (which I do.) If I only go to estate sales just for fun rather than out of need for a certain item, it’s not only going against frugality, but minimalism as well.
I found that many times when I was out shopping at yard sales, I was never going for anything in particular other than the thrill of the hunt. And once I realized what I was doing, I decided I didn’t like it. At that point I realized that I wasn’t necessarily saving money and that estate sales were becoming a type of money saving tricks that ultimately didn’t work.
I’m not spending tons of money when I’m going, but all I’m really doing is continually buying junk that I don’t actually need. I don’t need to spend any more money, and I really don’t need anymore stuff cluttering up my home, especially someone else’s junk. I thought I was alone in this until my sister confessed that she too hates yard sales for that very reason.
One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure… Or Is It Still Just Junk?
There are plenty of times that shopping yard sales makes perfect frugal sense, such as furnishing your first apartment or shopping for baby items when you are pregnant. (It’s what I did.) But how often do you go to a yard sale looking for something in particular? If you do go for something specific, the odds of finding that one particular item are probably slim.
People have yard sales to get rid of junk and clutter. We then peruse the junk and decide which pieces of it we want to take home with us to clutter up our own homes, at least until we have a yard sale of our own. It’s a junk cycle.
So does it really save us money? Or are we just buying more stuff that we don’t need, albeit at a fraction of the cost?
Buying Used Is Always Better, But Be Mindful
While buying used is always better for the environment and your wallet, it’s still important to be mindful of what you actually need so that you don’t promote over-consumption in your life, even if it’s only when you’re buying secondhand goods at yard sales.
But honestly, if yard sale and thrift store shopping is what it takes to keep you out of the mall and the credit cards in your pocket, then keep on thrifting, my friends.
Do you love yard sales or hate them? If you love them, how often do you go and how much do you buy? Do you have one type of shopping you love to do?