Yard sales – Why?

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On Saturdays, my wife disappears for several hours and then returns with various inexplicable bargains.

For example, today, she brought back a dog crate in perfect condition.  We looked at new ones the other day and they were $60.  She paid $10 for this one.  And then, she brought back a child’s coat that would cost maybe $25.  She paid $0.50.

I have to wonder why people do yard sales if they plan on giving stuff away.  If you are going to give stuff away, why not just donate it to Goodwill?  Ironically, you will make more money and not have to sit outside in the heat.

Here is how it works:

  1. Make a list of what you are giving away.
  2. Drop it off (or have the charity pick it up) and get a receipt.
  3. Claim fair market value on your taxes.  If you use software like TurboTax, it is now incredibly easy to come up with fair market value.  If you use their numbers, you should be safe from the IRS and you would be amazed at how generous their numbers are.  For example, TurboTax values that coat my wife paid $0.50 for at $7-$10.

You have to know what your highest income tax bracket is to know how much money you will save.  Let’s say it is 15% and let’s say your state income tax rate is 5%.  If you value the coat at $8, your tax saving is $1.60.

Speaking for me, I would take the $1.60 with no work than sit in 90 degree heat for $0.50 (assuming the item even sells).  I am trying hard to figure out where my logic is wrong.  Can someone enlighten me?

But please don’t stop doing yard sales.  My wife loves them and I want her to be happy.

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Latest Comments

  • Jim

    Two reasons. First, people think it is fun to sell things. Second, some people unfortunately cannot wait until tax refunds to get cash. Sad but true.

  • Victoria

    The good part for you is that yard sales are normally cheaper than Goodwill so your wife is saving money by shopping at garage sales – even if the sellers are losing out!

  • James

    I read this out loud to my wife. We both laughed out loud. My wife has actually had your thoughts, and can’t really understand her uncontrollable urge to always have a yard sale, given the numbers. Go figure.

  • Helen

    People love yard sales because its the thrill of the hunt!!!!

    The tax advantage to just donating it is greater than what you would make having a yard sale, but for a yard sale all you have to do is put your stuff out, put a sign up and people come.

    I like going to yard sales, I hate having them myself.

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