Last month, over two consecutive Saturdays, I had my final garage sales. That means I had two garage sales in each of the last three years. The final coffer count? Just under $1,500. Basic math says I averaged $250 per sale. It isn’t bad when you take into account the cash was collected a couple dollars at a time.
But then consider the amount of time I spent preparing for the sale days. It was weeks of preparation. I went through the house to gather items. Then clean and price the items. I created flyers to publicize the sale, transported borrowed tables, borrowed a tent in case of rain, went to the bank for $200 in small bills and quarters for change, talked to neighbors about joining me to attract more shoppers and much more.
If you took the number of hours of preparation and divided it by the money I earned, I earned less than minimum wage. No question.
Was it worth the time, effort and general pain-in-the-behind factor?
The answer is a resounding NO.
And yet I held one after the other after the other. And that begs the question: Why?
I’ve given this some thought because I really have asked myself why I kept holding garage sales when they took up so much time and I got so little money. Why, when I could realize the equivalent benefit in the form of a tax writer-off? In some ways I think the answer is really simple. But in another I find the answer to be a complex psychology study.
The easy answer is that cash is cash. No matter how little it is. If I have to go through my house, sort through possessions and get rid of most of them anyway, why not try to make a little cash? Proceeds from a single garage sale could buy food for a month or camp ground fees for a week. That’s what I told myself.
The reason it hasn’t been nearly that simple has to do with the attachment I have to material things. It’s hard to say aloud because I want to think of myself as a better person than that. I want to say I’m not materialistic. I want to be the kind of person who can rid herself of possessions easily.
The good news is over the course of the three years, I have moved the needle. It’s been interesting how my feelings have changed over time. To illustrate this, let me tell you about PartyLite. A high-quality candle company, they sell via home parties. I was hooked from the first time I tried their candles. Since then, never has another brand of candle been burned in my house. That’s how much I love their product.
In addition to their wax products, they also sell a wide array of candle holders. And neither the candles nor the candle holders carry Walmart prices. During my 2015 garage sales, I priced all the holders that I’d paid $50 or more at $20. And I wouldn’t go down. In 2016, I priced them at $10. And this year, they were $4. The ones that didn’t sell, I didn’t think twice about packing them up for charity.
Did I mention that in 2015, when someone asked me if I’d take $10, I’d snort back something about how much I paid for the item (on average about $80), how well I took care of it and how it was still in the original box? And, no, I most certain would not take $10 for it.
How did I go from that to easily driving it to charity? I find it fascinating even if I don’t fully understand it.
Some of it is pure unadulterated necessity. Of course.
In about 12 weeks I’m moving into 200 square feet and after reading a few horror stories about RV fires, I made the decision that no candles will burn in my trailer. In other words, all the PartyLite must go. Holders and candles.
It’s been that way for most things. I had $150 rarely-worn lovely coat that didn’t sell on eBay, didn’t sell in 2015 or 2016. It didn’t even sell for $1 at my most recent sale. Even though I was a bit miffed that it didn’t sell, I didn’t pause before stuffing it into the green lawn bag with other clothing items for charity after the garage sale.
Maybe what it comes down to is that I’m “all in.” And the price for choosing this lifestyle is minimalism. I’ve been committed to doing this since the beginning but it always was so far in the future that I never truly had to deal with the emotions of getting rid of stuff. Not to mention, I got rid of the easy stuff first.
So while there really is no good financial justification for all of those garage sales, from this side of things I now see six garage sales as stepping stones. Each one was a necessary step in the process of saying goodbye to my more traditional life in order to make room. I needed both physical and emotional room to get to a place where I can say hello to my SupersizeLIFE.