Saturday, January 5, 2013


You’d think with all the lovely sunshine we’ve had this week that there would be all kinds of sales this weekend…but nooooo. Just because it was 23 degrees out yesterday morning, you’d think it was winter or something! But no worries, I can bide my time. I know that good things will show up on driveways in this new year. And I know this because they always have!

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep track of all my garaging on a spreadsheet. Over the course of a year you just cannot remember all you brought home. Heck, not even over the course of a morning. I don’t know how many times someone has asked me what I found on driveways that day and I couldn’t bring to mind a single item. (As a child I was always terrible at those games where you had to remember a bunch of items and tell which one was removed.) With a spreadsheet you not only can track your purchases, you can include other information as well. I have columns for price paid, estimated retail value, notes and categories. Can’t help it, I always get a thrill when I see the difference between what I paid and what I probably would have spent shopping in stores. In 2012, I went to sales on 38 weekends (the other 14 weeks were rained out or otherwise busy) and spent a total of $417.15. Kind of hard to believe it added up that much, since I usually shell out so little at a time. But that $400+ brought me approximately $5800 worth of goods!

Brought home 282 items. Sheesh, 282??! But 42 were free! As you can imagine, fifty cents is my favorite price point, and that accounted for 65 items. I even got bold and bought two items for twenty bucks each – a compost bin and a storm door – and my one $25 dollar item, a vintage bed, didn’t work at all with the other bed in that guest room, so I resold it…for $50! In fact, if you subtract what I made reselling 15 things I bought this year, my outlay goes down to a little over $130. I had a lot of fun for $130. Show me another hobby as frugal as this one!

One of the things I like to calculate is how much bang for my buck I get in my various categories. I enjoy magazines and actually subscribe to a couple, but getting them on driveways is the real bargain: for every dollar I spent, I got about $80 worth of magazines.

IMG_4807 IMG_5254

Found some nice clothes for both of us this year, and would have had to spend about 47 times more in a store.

IMG_5557 IMG_5838IMG_5255

I’ve been trying to lean more toward the practical in my buying, but still bought 9 items that were purely decorative. Since I spent a total of $8.50 for fun stuff worth over $100, I smile really big when I look at these things.

Little Wooden Guy   vintage dog letter holder Early Paint by Number - Poppies

The one category we will pull a veil of silence over is the one I call donations…yes, my buying mistakes. Things I changed my mind about or that fell apart (yup, had a couple of those!) or didn’t fit. One or two things have me smacking my forehead and saying, what in the world was I thinking?! But hey, they totaled about twenty bucks, and most were donated to the kitty rescue thrift store. So I only have to kick myself about halfway around the block instead of all the way!

Once you bring your garaging finds home, they become part of your everyday life and it’s hard to remember which you bought this year. The spreadsheet lets me look back and pick out favorites. This year that includes several kitchen items – a free-box cookie sheet we use all the time; the MCM-ish mug that holds my tea every day;


two Yorkshire pudding tins I’ve been using to make tarts (a favorite has been open-faced apple tarts drizzled with sweetened condensed milk before baking…yum!);


and the wool kitchen rug that Zoe likes as much as I do.

Zoe's favorite rug

And the wok, that even as we speak is cooking our dinner! (Yes, it’s my husband’s week to cook.)


In the category of “item it took longest to put to use” the winner is the full length mirror I bought back in July. Only took 5 months and 5 days to hang it up on the back of the bathroom door!


The winner of the “I couldn’t believe the price” category? That would be the $5 market umbrella. I’d been looking for one for years. Still can’t believe I got so lucky.


How about the best ratio of price paid to retail value? Did very well with the pair of Nikes I’ve been wearing to the dog park most mornings. Paid a buck, and you know what Nikes can cost.


And that fifty cent Lenox wine glass goes for over fifty bucks at Replacements. Of course it’s hard to beat the price on all that free stuff; probably the most valuable item I paid nothing for was a curved shower curtain rod.


The item that’s made my husband happiest? Probably the Electrolux Silverado vacuum. He was using it the other day and told me how glad he was to have one again. Of course, what makes me happy is him using it!


If you’re a fellow bargain hunter, I highly recommend keeping some kind of record of your finds. Perhaps a spreadsheet sounds terribly AR, but I’ve found that it really only takes a few minutes when I get home with my loot to record everything. Any number of times I’ve wanted to know how long I’ve had something, or want to find the picture I took and would have no idea what folder to look in if I couldn’t look up the purchase date. But it’s mostly about the thrill of those numbers. I got how much for how little?? Wow!


  1. GREAT idea about the spreadsheet!! You did really well for so little, and the BEST part was all of the fun you had! :)

  2. wow! You have an eagle eye when it comes to garage and yard sales!
    the idea of spread sheet is intriguing....i could do that, but don't know if I could keep up with the photo log.

    1. I mainly do photos to put in this blog. Probably wouldn't bother otherwise! But the spreadsheet really doesn't take much time, and I love looking back over prior years.

  3. Wonderful advice...I must start a spreadsheet. In all my years I have been buying from Garage sales and never once have I bothered to keep track of it. I have been buying less and being more conscious of what I purchase, I still have those moments of buyers remorse. Hoping this year will be better in curbing those impulse buys.

    1. Keeping a list keeps you accountable. I'm pretty sure I do better at resisting impulses every year because it's too embarrassing to look back at my 'mistakes.' But it also lets me see how small those mistakes actually are - whew!

  4. I should start doing this with baby clothes. I find a lot of really good brands at Goodwill. Also scored at a $1 sale at a second hand kids store- lots of Children's Place and other good brands. Congrats!!

    1. I'm convinced that kids can be outfitted almost entirely from yard sales from birth on! What a great way to teach frugality. And hey, if you put the difference between what you spent and what you would have spent retail into a savings account... there's your college fund!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

Pin It button on image hover