Tips for Yardsales (Buying and Selling)

Tips for Yardsales (Buying and Selling)

Last year, for one of my columns on CBC Information Morning 106.1 in Moncton, we talked about Yard Sales.
Jonna mentioned a faux pas she made a while back, when she went yardsaling with her family members. She started her experience with a $50 bill. Finding a tea cup for $0.50, she pulled out the $50 and the person selling did not have change. Her Aunt placed two quarters on the table and hauled her off!  I had to laugh, this happens so often, especially with bank machines pumping out $20 bills. Many people come to yard sales with bigger bills, but a $50 would be a surprise to the seller for sure. Read more below for tips for both buyers and sellers, to make your morning treasure hunt a pleasant one.
I hope the experience does not keep Jonna from trying again.

What other mistakes do people make?

  • Paying Sticker Price: Heading into a yard sale and paying the price on the tag, WITHOUT asking for a better price. Most sellers know they will be haggled on price, so they may put a little more on it than they will actually accept.
  • Check to be sure it works: Buying something electronic without checking if it works is a common mistake. We tend to trust that is someone is selling, it must work. Most people will have an outdoor outlet close buy. Plug it in and try it first. Who wants to get home and find out the $2 toaster does not work? It was a great deal, and yes, it's only $2....but it is your $2 and you may have wasted it.
  • Take some batteries: If you are looking for items that usually take batteries, carry some with you to test items! Yes, you can put a few batteries in your car just in case. I would suggest sellers have batteries on hand, but they often do not.
  • You do not need to buy EVERY DEAL: BEFORE you head out to shop, really think about what you are going for. You do not need to buy more "stuff" that you will store and just turn around and put in a yard sale or donate. I completely understand the rush of finding a deal (I am the coupon lady 🙂 ), but remember, it's only a deal if you will actually use it!

How can people get deals without looking really stingy or cheap? 

Don't think about it as being stingy, you are being frugal, you want to  pay the least you have to.
Ask for a deal: Just because you know what someone may have paid originally, it NEVER hurts to ask for a better deal. The worst response they can give you is, "I won't go any lower". You then decide what you are willing to pay. I am not a haggler, but I always ask what they want for something, even if it is marked.
Try to look at everything, gather up what you are looking to buy and then ask what the seller wants for the group of items. Often times they will not look at each item for a price, they will just ballpark it. Or may even drop the price by half or more. You simply never know how bad someone wants the stuff gone!

What tips do you have for people having yard sales? 

BE PREPARED (that applies to so many things in life)
Have your items priced: If you are like me, you may constantly have a Yard Sale Bin on the go. As I put an item in the bin, I put a price on it. Then on sale day, I have no labelling to do.
Set Up Tables: Prep tables or tarps the night before, ready to load up with your items in the morning. Tarps don't need to be put out until the morning of. Tarps or plastic bags are great to spread on the grass and display toys, stuffed animals or clothing. They keep everything off the grass and clean. I would put more expensive items on tables, closer to eye level will make them more appealing to people.
Have lots of change: Depending on your lowest priced items, you will want to have lots of change on hand. Quarters are usually my smallest coin, but if you are selling items at $0.10 or less, then you will want nickels and dimes as well.
Advertise: Make signs with "YARD SALE" , hours you will be set up and arrows directing to your street. At the end of your street put the address on the sign as well, maybe some balloons to draw attention as well. This will make your signs smaller for putting up. Post signs the night before. Remove your signs once you are done packing up your items.
Post your sale online (kijiji, facebook community groups, on your personal social media pages, etc)
You can also check out my post on Hosting a Successful Yard Sale.

9 Tips for a successful yard sale!

9 Tips for a successful yard sale!

This seems to be a yearly ritual in my house. After a full year (or two) of collecting "stuff", and donating much of what we don't need or use anymore, I often get the itch to have a yard sale. The past two summers i have hosted a sale at my house and a few friends also joined in and set up a table.

Last month our sale was extremely busy, and I was pretty much giving stuff away. Trying to clear out space to redo some of our rooms makes me just want to get rid of it all. I am thinking of doing another one in August as well. We have redone both boys rooms and there are boxes of items ready to sell!

Over the years, I have learned from having a yearly sale and will share some of my preparation and set up tips with you.

Here are some Tips for a successful yard sale!


  1. Plan ahead: this not only includes the weeks leading up to your sale. You should have a few boxes in a storage room ready for items. Throughout the year you can put items in the boxes for the summer yardsale. This way you will see how much is accumulating, and determine when you have enough for a sale. If you have a spare closet, that would be a great place to store items as well.
  2. Labeling: Price as you sort or put items in boxes. I keep price stickers and a marker in my storage room with the boxes. If there are clothing or other items that you want the same price on, put them in a box with the price written on the box (ie. $1 per piece of clothing, or $2 per book)
  3. Pricing:  mark your prices clearly! Remember, people are more apt to buy if they know how much you want for the item. If you have larger (higher priced) items, be prepared to negotiate. People who yardsale all the time will want to pay less than what you have ready to bundle and offer freebies or discounted prices. Remember, you do not NEED these items anymore. Don't hold out for the next person to pay full sticker price (this applies to reasonable offers of course).
  4. Gather your friends! Ask your friends if they have anything to sell. Maybe your neighbours want to have a sale. Let people know a few weeks ahead, so they can seel some items too.  If they only have a few items, let them join your yardsale!
  5. Advertise: There are many ways to promote your yardsale these days. Post on social media and ask your local friends to share. Post it online through Kijiji or other community events listings. Posters are usually needed on the day of the sale (directing people to your house).

Set Up

  1. Tables: if you do not have shelves or tables to put smaller items on, try to borrow some. You will sell more, faster, if items are easier for buyers to look at and touch.
    If you have no tables, try to display items on top of boxes (flipped over boxes can raise items up a bit off the gound)
  2. Bags: have plastic bags ready for buyers to put items in.
  3. Money/Change: be sure to have lots of change available. Coins to make change for the lowest priced items you have.
  4. Set Up Early: if you advertise your sale to start at 8am, aim to be set up and ready by 7:30. Early birds WILL show up, and you don't want to be flustered trying to set up and sell at the same time.

Organize: Create A Snack Station

Organize: Create A Snack Station

When I go to my pantry and find half empty boxes, where I thought there were full boxes, it makes me so frustrated. When you have children who are independent, they will often leave a mess of empty or unsealed bags in their wake.

By creating a location in a pantry for single serving snacks, it helps to eliminate the frustration of the empty boxes. Create a cupboard or basket in your fridge that is the "Snack Station". Tell household members, including adults, that this is where you find your snacks. Only take from these location unless you ask for something else.

The Snack Station will also help with packing lunches, either making it easier for you to grab or for your children to pack up their lunches.

Set some guidelines for how to use the snack station.

Depending on your children's ages, you may require them to ask before going into the cupboard, or simply allow them a certain number of snacks after school or after supper, on the weekends, etc...
You can go as far as having bins labeled with "Healthy" and "Junk" options.

Consider creating a rule similar to:" you can have 2 healthy snacks and before you pick a junk snack".

Cookies, Chips & Crackers

With cookies, chips and crackers, I purchase in bulk sizes and portion them out in plastic baggies or containers. Then when they grab a snack, I know they are eating a serving and not the whole package.

Carrots, Celery, and other fruit or veggie options

Prep healthy snack ahead as well. If they need to be peeled (orange or clementine) or cut up (Carrots, cauliflower, etc) then have them ready to grab an go. It may surprise you how often a child, or even an adult, will select a healthy snack option if it is ready to eat.

Pudding, Fruit Cups & Yogurt

Remove outside packaging and break apart so individual servings are easy to select quickly.

I find that by taking the time to portion out our snacks, we are more aware of what we are eating and there are no partially empty boxes in my cupboards.

Once portioned in bags or containers,  use a basket our larger container to hold each type of snack. Label the bins with healthy or junk.

With a younger child,  labeling with numbers works best, (1,2&3). Then put the junkier snacks in bin 3.

Do you have a cupboard of half empty boxes? Please share your ideas and tips for organizing your snacks.

DIY Shower Cleaner

DIY Shower Cleaner


One of my least favourite chores is cleaning the shower. It often get's overlooked until it is bad enough to need a good scrub. I have tried the daily sprays and just cannot seem to get everyone in the house to use it, plus we end up inhaling the chemicals as we spray, and there are just too many chemicals around us these days. Many commercial cleaners are harsh or over scented. This recipe is my solution to help cut down on the chemicals floating in the air, and it is super simple and frugal!

In the past I have tried all kinds of soap scum removers, homemade solutions and store bought cleaners. This is my version of a cleaner that you often see using Dawn Dish Soap. I substituted Avon Bubble Bath in this version(I use it for so many other things too). It not only works fabulous, it smells amazing! If you are looking for a rep, you can purchase AVON Bubble Bath from me! Visit my Facebook Page for current brochures and to place an order.

Here's how to make and apply the cleaner.


  • Baking Soda
  • Avon Bubble Bath *(or blue Dawn Dish soap)
  • Vinegar

Some recipes call for this to be mixed in a bottle or bucket, I am too lazy for that!

Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda on the bottom of your tub or shower. Next add a squirt (about 3-4 cap fulls) of bubble bath.

Next comes the fun part. Add enough vinegar to wet baking soda and make a foamy coating on the bottom of your shower.

Using a sponge, spread the paste-like, foamy mixture up the walls in a circular motion. You simply need to coat it all, no heavy scrubbing.  If you don't have enough, add more and mix.

I letit sit for an hour then using a wet cloth (old towel cut up) wipe down the walls. If you have a movable shower head, you can rinse it off by spraying down the shower.

You can use this cleaner and method as needed. This is a deep clean method.


*Avon Bubble Bath Tip: Always select a scent that is clear, not opaque. The opaque varieties contain oils that will leave smears. The clear ones leave a streak free finish!

Meal Planning Board and Preparation


Meal Planning Board and Preparation

Having a menu plan set up for your family will help you save time and money. In this article, I will give you tips on how I plan my menu and keep my grocery budget at a minimum.

  1. Create a Menu Board: this can be done using things you already have around your house. I used an empty cereal box, unfolding it and cutting off the edges to make one flat sheet. Decorate your sheet as desired, with the days of the week listed down the left side. Use cardboard pieces to make your meal labels (ex. Monday: Sheppard's Pie)...this makes your meals easy to switch week by week. Write the name of your meal on these labels (pot roast, casserole, shake n' bake chicken, etc.) Pinterest has a lot of examples and ideas for menu plans also.

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  1. Shopping for your Meal Plan: in Moncton, our weekly flyers become available between Wednesday and Friday. Scan these flyers for sales of items needed for your meals. Base that weeks meals on the sales to make your dollar stretch farther. If possible, match those sales with a coupon to lower the price even more. Keep an eye out for sales on items that we don't normally get coupons for, like fresh meats and produce, for example. Be sure to scan the “reduced for quick sale” shelves in the produce and bakery departments, as many times items are placed there due to close expiry or only a few of the product is bad (example: tomato package or grapes, only a few going bad or soft, but the rest are fine!) Remember, if it is a really good deal, $2/lb ground beef, grab a few, as it can be frozen for future use. 

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  1. Planning your meals: Plan your meals so you have something different everyday of the week, you don't want to get bored or tired of the same thing. Make sure your weekly menu is realistic. We all know that its just not feasible to have roast beef, whole chicken, or turkey everyday of the week. Also keep your schedule in mind when planning your meals. If you have hockey on Wednesday, don't plan to have a turkey dinner on Wednesday. Remember: it is okay to have chicken nuggets and fries every once in a while!

  2. Preparing your Meals: this is where all the real work begins. Dedicate a day of the week where you are available to prepare all your weekly meals. Cut, chop, and dice all your vegetables (if there are leftovers, they can be frozen for future use) Prepare all your meals as if you are making them for that evening, or in a way that they can be thrown together quickly. Fry your ground beef, add your sauces to your chicken, make your spaghetti sauce, etc., and freeze in freezer bags, or containers. Remember to label your freezer bags/containers with the date it was prepared, and the contents.

  3. Cook larger meals and eat leftovers: when preparing a large, hearty meal, like whole chicken, make 2 at a time. This will ensure you have enough, and will give you another meal for that week. Hot chicken sandwiches, chicken sandwiches for lunches, chicken stew or soup, the possibilities are endless!

  4. Crock Pot meals: many crock pot recipes can be prepared in advance and placed in Ziploc bags for your freezer. Put all the ingredients into a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Lay flat on cookie sheets to freeze. Once they are frozen, the will stand up in your freezer.

  5. Pancakes, waffles and french toast: this is one of my favorite tips. When making pancakes, waffles or french toast for your breakfast, make the whole package. For pancakes or waffles, make the whole box, lay pancakes/waffles on a cookie sheet to freeze, then store in serving size freezer bags in your freezer. For french toast, use the whole loaf of bread and lay flat to freeze, transfer into freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Check out Ruth Ann's easy Menu Planning strategy, here. Download a printable version here.

DIY Dishwasher Tabs

Vera is back with another DIY for you! Thanks again for sharing all your great DIY Projects Vera. image Hi all being creative again this time making dish washer tabs.  This was not hard or long process.   The drying took longer than the actual making.  I mixed and pressed down the tabs in under 10 kind of creativity.  Again went out and bought these ingredients just to make this to get a true cost(except for epson salts i had a huge container) ☆ UPDATELeave out the Epson salts it leaves a film on dishes. Use kosher salt if you have hard water. Otherwise you don't need salt at all.  I'm experimenting with powder this week. What you need: 1 cup borax powder 1 cup washing soda(not baking soda) 1/4 cup Epson salt Kosher salt (if hard water) 1/4 cup lemon juice Two ice cube trays. image Mix together dry ingredients.  Mix well since this will be separated into cubes.  Then add the lemon juice this will fizz up.  Put into your ice cube trays and evenly distribute over two trays.  Press down and voila let sit and dry for 24 hours. Here is the cost break down for me. I lucked out and Borax was on sale. 4.99 for borax 2kg which is 8.45 cups equals .59 per cup(regular price is .83/cup) 5.79 for washing soda 3kg which is 12.68 cups equals .46 per cup 1.99 for lemon juice 945 ml which is 3.99 cups which equals .12 for 1/4 cups 19.99 for 5 kg of Epson salt which is 23.25 cups equals .22 per 1/4 cup(bought last year) Now add that all up is 1.39 for 32 cubes equalling .04 per cube.  Regular price would've been .05 per tab. This is before taxes. I have never bought dishwasher tabs for under .10 per tab before taxes ever....that is using coupons on a clearance item.

DIY Laundry Detergent Liquid

While experimenting with Laundry soap, cost, ingredients, etc. I came to realize that although the Powdered version is very fast to mix up, and more compact to store, THIS recipe is much more Frugal.

This recipe is very Easy and the most Frugal so far!

The previous post for Powdered Laundry Detergent was much faster, but this one is worth the time, AND SAVES YOU EVEN MORE $$

What you will need:
  • 2 ltr boiling water
  • 1/2 bar Sunlight Soap Grated
  • 1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
  • 1/2 Cup Borax
  • 6 ltr warm water
  • Grater
  • Large Pot to hold 2 ltr water
  • large spoon to mix
  • Measuring cups/jug
  • Container/bucket for mixing to hold 8 ltrs +
  • containers to put liquid detergent in (old, washed containers from your current brands)

1. Grate the bar of soap (or use food processor). Place in pot with 2 ltr boiling water. Stir until soap dissolves, reduce heat with bubbles get foamy. It should not bubble much more than the picture below.

2. ADD Washing Soda, Borax and stir to dissolve.
3. Mix well and pour into container large bucket and add 6 ltrs warm water, stirring to mix.
4. Pour into jugs to store. Let cool then put lids on.

**Shake well before each use.

Use 1/2 cup per load. This recipe will yield approx. 64 loads of laundry.

I searched many online recipes and this is the one I like the most so far. You will find this to be the pretty standard recipe. Some add 2 ltr solution to jugs and top up with water, I prefer to mix all together then put in jugs. You have to have buckets large enough to do it this way though.
NOTE: You may need to add a little water if it becomes too solid. It will gel up a bit. SHAKE WELL before each use, then add water if needed.
Sunlight soap 2pk $1.99 (used 1/2 bar) = $0.50
A&H Washing Soda $3.99 (used only 1/2 cup) = $0.13
Borax $5.58 (used only 1/2 cup) = $0.23
TOTAL COST 64 loads: $0.86

Works out to just $0.013 per load! JUST OVER A PENNY A LOAD!!!

Let's put this into perspective:
If you are doing 5 loads of laundry a week = 260 loads per year.
At $0.013 per load = ONLY $3.49 per year!!!
Let's DOUBLE the loads to 10/week = $6.98 per year
Let's say using coupons and salesyou can get your favourite laundry detergent for
$2 / 32 loads = $0.06 per load
260 lds = $15.60
520 lds = $31.20
If you do not use coupons you could be paying much more.
Regular Retail (Walmart's current price)
  • Arm & Hammer 140 load = $13.97 = $0.10/ld ($26 for 260 ld/ per year)
  • Tide 96 loads = $19.94 =$0.21/ld  ($54 for 260 ld/ per year)

DIY Laundry Soap: Powder

Do you realize the cost of doing your laundry these days? I have been using coupons and paying less for commercial laundry detergent for years, but it was still alot of money going down the drain, literally.
I started looking and checking out recipes over a year ago and have found a few to try. This one I am currently using and love it.
This recipe is so Easy, FAST and Frugal! My 3 favourite words.
I searched many online recipes and this is the one I like the most so far.
What you will need:
  • 1 bar Sunlight Soap (more if desired, 1 is good for HE machines)
  • 2 Cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
  • 2 Cups Borax
  • 1 container of OxiClean
  • Container with lid to hold 8 cups +
  • Grater
  • large bowl or bucket
  • large spoon to mix
1. Grate the bar of soap (or use food processor). Place in bowl or bucket. 2. ADD Washing Soda, Borax and OxiClean. 3. Mix well and pour into container to store.
Use 1 Tbsp per load. This recipe will yield approx. 125 loads of laundry.
Sunlight soap 2pk $1.99 (used 1 bar) = $1
A&H Washing Soda $3.99 (used approx. 1/8 of box) = $0.50
Borax $5.58 (used approx. 1/6 of box) = $0.93
Oxi Clean $4.99 - $2 coupon = $2.99 TOTAL COST 125 loads: $5.42
Works out to $0.04 per load!
Let's put this into perspective:
If you are doing 5 loads of laundry a week = 260 loads per year.
At $0.04 per load = ONLY $10.40 per year!!!
Let's DOUBLE the loads to 10/week = $20.80 per year
Let's say using coupons and sales, you can get your favourite laundry detergent for
$2 / 32 loads = $0.06 per load
260 lds = $15.60
520 lds = $31.20
If you do not use coupons you could be paying much more.
Regular Retail (Walmart's current price)
  • Arm & Hammer 140 load = $13.97 = $0.10/ld ($26 for 260 ld/ per year)
  • Tide 96 loads = $19.94 =$0.21/ld  ($54 for 260 ld/ per year)
If you choose make this without the OxiClean, it works out to only $0.02 per load. I prefer the OxiClean as I usually add it to my laundry anyway. Some recipes also include Downy UNstopables or other scent boosters. This is completely up to you. ** TIP: Add Vinegar to your rinse cycle for softer laundry. If you give this a try, be sure to share your thoughts. I am also making a batch of liquid detergent and will let you know how that works out too. Enjoy and Happy Saving! ~ Ruth Ann

Uses for Baby Wipes…not just for baby bums!

Baby Wipes are one of the many things we can purchase for next to nothing most of the time. Why not think outside the box and use them for more than just cleaning up those baby messes? Here are some additional uses for baby wipes.
  1. Remove Deodorant Marks: You know those dreaded marks on your put your deodorant on, then carefully try to get your top on without getting deodorant on it. Well, worry no more, Baby Wipes work very well to remove those marks and let you move on with your day, wearing the top you planned to wear, and not adding to your laundry pile.
  2. Shine your shoes (leather or rubber). Place a package of Baby Wipes by your shoes and wipe them down when they start to get dull, or have a stain on them.
  3. Remove stains from clothing: Baby Wipes work wonders on makeup stains. Ever put on a favourite shirt after you applied lipstick, then by mistake is rubs across your lips and you have a stain? Use a baby wipe to remove that stain!
  4. To Clean Toys: Clean Dolls and other toys with a quick wipe.
  5. Crayon Marks on Walls, Floors, Furniture: Use wipes to remove crayon marks!
  6. Eye Makeup Remover: Baby Wipes are gentle and remove makeup very well. Plus, they are much cheaper than buying special eye makeup remover wipes in the cosmetic section.
  7. Quick Floor Clean Up: Attach a Baby Wipe to your "Swiffer" mop and it will pick up more dust and dirt.
  8. Wipe down Leather Furniture: I use them on our leather ottoman, it cleans off water stains, dust & pet hair and leaves a lovely shine!
  9. Remove Finger Prints: Use them to remove finger prints on photo frames, electronics (tablet, phone and laptop screens) and any other fingerprint covered surface.
  10. Clean Door Handles: I like to wipe my door handles off with a wipe. It removes dirt and grim that builds up. Also great for light switches.
  11. Cleaning in your Car: Keep a pack of Baby Wipes in your car! Wipes clean your dash and windshield (random bird poo or bugs). Also great when filling the gas tank to remove any spills or drips.
  12. Use on your pets: I use Baby Wipes on my dog. You can wipe them down with a wipe (or 4, my dog is big!). The wipes remove dirt, dander and hair. Leaving a nice soft coat. They are also safe for paws (cats and dogs). Quick clean up when the pets come in from outside.
These are just a few tips and ideas for you. Baby Wipes are one of many household items that have many, many uses!
☆☆ Bonus Tip: My "baby" is now a preschooler and likes to help mommy clean. I give him a baby wipe for tables, cupboards, floors, anything he wants to clean. Safe and they clean pretty well anything.