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We are big believers in buying things 2nd hand for the kids.  Not only does it help the environment, but it also keeps our budget in check and I’m sharing 10 tips for shopping garage sales for kids!

Tips for shopping Garage sales for kids
 Everything in this picture was purchased at a garage or rummage sale making it total $30.50 the table too!
Of course I have my tips for having a yard sale, but shopping if a little different. 

Garage Sale Shopping tips

1.  Get there early!  
It’s true the early bird gets the worm, and if you’re going to a rummage sale it’s even better.  I usually arrive 10 minutes prior to the sale so I’m ready to go and have a list of what I’m looking for or where I want to go first.  A plan of action is always best!

2.  Know what size clothes you’re looking for.
For me I try to buy for the future.  So I’m usually looking for the upcoming fall/winter and spring/summer.  Having an idea can help in a few ways.  You’re able to ask the seller directly if they have the sizes you’re looking for, and they will usually help you sort through saving you time. It also keeps me in check, knowing that I need pants or jackets and not get too distracted by the adorable holiday dresses or costumes, but come one that snowman was adorable for the $2 we’ve gotten our use out of it and some pretty cute pics.

3.  Check for Games & Puzzles
I have found the best buys I make are usually games for kids.  I’ve learned that if I see a Cranium game I’m going to snatch it up, especially if it’s priced for $2 or less, same goes for Melissa and Doug puzzles.  There are so many games and puzzles out there that I even put some away for Christmas and birthday gifts.  Especially if I can get new.

Garage sale games
 I spent $4.50 for these 3 things and Cariboo has been the best impulse buy to date

4.  Don’t be afraid to dig around
Often times people have boxes or bins of clothes and toys, so don’t be afraid to get in and dig around.  Remember they don’t want to take anything back into the house so take some time to look.

5.  Impulse buys are okay
I often find that I’ll buy something because it was $1 and that’s okay.  Sometimes those things become the most loved items and I say “I’m so glad I picked it up”

6.  If shopping with kids teach them to manage their money
I usually give Eleanor $1 to shop with, she’s only 4.  She can get anything she wants with this or she can save it for another week.  At this point she spends it every week, but she’s careful about her selection, and I love that she’s learning the responsibility.

7.  Baby Items
This one is tough but a good one.  You should know there are rules about car seats and cribs, and I don’t recommend buying them from someone you don’t know, unless they are new in the box.  I do think you can get some great items for your bundle of joy.  High chairs, jumperoos, booster seats, bumbos (make sure they have a seat-belt), baby toys, baths, slings, carriers and just about everything you need for an excepting family or grandparents.  I would be sure to inspect everything and look for loose seams, or stains, and give everything a good “bath” once it gets home, but you’re really doing a favor to the environment on this one, and your bank account!

8.  Outside Toys
We have purchased all our outside toys via garage/yard sales, and we’re able to give the kids so much more than if we bought new.  Water table, cars, bikes, and I’ve seen play houses, sandboxes, pools and all kinds of fun things for the outdoors.  Again give it a good look and make sure there aren’t any holes, are sharp areas.

Garage sale outdoor toys
 I spent a total of $11 for all 4 of these items

9.  Money
Remember to bring singles and change and while negotiating is good, the seller probably has kids too and we don’t want to cheat them.  If the price seems reasonable to you it probably is.   If you’re buying a lot then I would definitely negotiate a little, but remember they are doing this sale for a reason, maybe it’s for summer camp or dance lessons or a charity fundraiser so keep this in mind.

10.  One in One Out Rule
We want to keep the kids balanced so we have the rule that when they get a new toy an old toy needs to be donated or put in the yard or rummage sale bin.  This does 2 things for us.  The 1st is teaching the kids about giving and donating and the 2nd is keeping our house a little less cluttered.

Bonus:  Shop with Someone
I love going to garage and rummage sales with my Mom, Mike, Aunts or friends.  There’s a fun aspect that you’re looking for a hidden treasure together and the more eyes searching the more jems you may uncover.  Plus who will help you carry the huge bookshelf you just bought and figure out how to get it into the car?

Do you have any tips on shopping garage sales for kids you want to share?  I would love to hear them.

Make sure you check out my other related posted:

10 Tips for hosting a yard saleTips for Hosting a yard sale

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