It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday summer morning. Off work for the day. No projects needing to be completed, nothing needing attention right away. You could head out to the lake or beach, go for a hike, take the bikes out, maybe brunch or just hang out in your back yard with a beverage while the kids build or play. The possibilities are limitless and there are so many good options. It’s going to be a great day!
But here is what actually happened; you remembered that you had made arrangements to haul all the junk in your house that you didn’t want onto your front lawn and invite people to rummage through it to see if they would like to exchange a few of their dollars for said junk. Junk that you, your kids or your significant other were really excited about getting just a few years or a few months earlier sometimes shelling out hundreds of dollars of your hard-earned money to obtain. Of course, much of this junk was presented to you or your kids as gifts that you really didn’t want anyways. Or your kids really loved it for a short time and then forgot you had as they moved onto the next item. Your kids made some colourful signs that you had the pleasure of wandering the neighbourhood finding the best spots in which to display these signs.
So. There was a garage sale at our place a couple weeks ago. A similar but less dramatic scenario unfolded. Mommy and the kids were in charge of going through all our stuff to see what we needed to get rid of. (Is it just so we can make room for future junk?) Then Mommy needed to coax the boys into letting go of some of this stuff. Much of the stuff they hadn’t looked at or enough thought of in several months. After assembling several boxes and bags during the preceding week, I hauled everything out to the front lawn. Mommy and the boys also created signs the night before, big bright beautiful signs. Of which, I was in charge of riding my bike around the neighbourhood and putting them up in spots where passing motorist would likely see them and be enticed to stop in and open their wallets.
After 5 hours of sitting on the front lawn trying our best to entice others in the neighborhood to accept our stuff at a steep discount we came away with $100.40. I couldn’t even calculate how much was spent on the stuff initially but certainly significantly more. And why the 40 cents? I am told there was a negotiation for a toy and the child didn’t have quite enough. Eventually a bargain was struck and the child went away happy. After it was all over Daddy had the pleasure of carting all the remaining stuff including some heavy furniture back inside the house. The next day we dropped the remaining items at the thrift shop for someone else to sort through. At least some other families will be able to enjoy these items at a reasonable price while helping the charity associated with the thrift shop.
One hundred dollars and forty cents richer and a bunch of stuff that was getting in the way taken care of. But was it worth it? Dr Daddy Dollars would say the easiest way to deal with this stuff is to not obtain it in the in the first place. Not only do you save yourselves the hassle of the garage sale event itself but likely come out significantly better off than $100.40 richer. Although this is the financial utopia for which we all strive most of us aren’t there yet. Certainly measuring this form a purely time and money perspective this is a losing venture. Four people and approximately six hours equals $4.18 each per hour (not including the cost of obtaining the stuff in the first place.) But I think there is something much bigger here for the kids. Learning. Of course, at each age they will take away something different but as a parent I think there is much to teach and as a child much to learn from this experience. It is important to use this as a learning experience. What I mean is the responsibility lies with the parents to help the children understand the lessons that can be learned from this exercise. Below are some of the things myself and my family took as a result of the garage/yard sale event;
- Counting and money management skills
- Bartering and negotiation
- That putting in the work leads to reward(one of our boys went inside while the others stayed outside and was amazed to find that his brother had sold something and therefore had made $$)
- How to manage your stuff(or not obtain it in the first place)
- The cost/value of stuff brand new vs. used
- Attachment/How to let go of physical things
The other benefit is that you get to meet your neighbours if you haven’t already. All in all I would say this is a worthwhile activity to go through with your family. If you are lucky the kids will be better of for it and you may even make a few bucks!