Yard Sales and Swaps

I remember when I was a young newlywed, I bought everything new.  Mother was all about keeping up with the Jones’.  Fortunately and unfortunately for me, my first husband had means. I had my own card and I could buy what I wanted, when I wanted. I traveled everywhere, many times just me and my girls or my girls and I, but occasionally with him. It was great on so many levels because I never worried about money.

I didn’t start out that way though. Although I grew up acquiring mother’s expensive tastes, I was also stigmatized by how she and Dad were always at war over money and her extravagant expenditures. I’ll never forget the first time my husband gave me a wad of cash and told me to go out and buy something. cash A few hours later I’d return and hand it all back to him, not being able to spend it. I would get literally nauseous buying anything. So for the first few times, he’d go with me to shop. It still made me nauseous because in those days (the 70’s) $100 for one skirt was outrageous.  Unfortunately, in time, I did get used to it.

After the divorce all that changed.  I was back to normalcy. Yes, I still liked nice things, always will, but I couldn’t always afford them and it really hurt emotionally to exceed my budget. Then there was that gut wrenching feeling I got worrying about how I was going to pay for the stuff if I overdid, which I did way too often. Truthfully, it was a harder habit to break than to acquire.

What had to happen was, this girl had to change her way of thinking and it took awhile. For one, you know that nauseous feeling I used to get spending? Well, I got it again, only now I was feeling sorry for myself having to settle for other people’s junk.  Yup!  That’s how I was. I had to go through a big attitude change.

So here’s a tip: It’s okay to save money. It’s okay not to go crazy buying things you-can’t- afford! Now I’m used to doing things this way and I love it.

Let me show you how I save money and make my home modestly awesome.

Although I’m focusing on the home here, I do find and buy designer clothes at yard sales and consignment stores as well. When I buy new, I look for the bargains.

I have a retro chic look  in my home and I’m good with that. Most of the time people come over and admire a piece and/or jewelry or accessory to an outfit and will ask.”Where did you get that?” Most of the time they already know, but I smile and say, “Yard sale”.

First of all, let me clarify. I do NOT buy undergarments or pants at yard sales. I do not buy beds or used couches. Anything that has been or could possibly have been in contact with someone else’s hoochy does not meet mine. PERIOD!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is also no buying of electronics. This comes from past experience and not worth the risk. Every once in awhile, I’ll break that rule.  Like when a retired couple planned on moving into a motor home to travel the country. From them we bought a good many things, including approximately 2,000 vintage books and magazines for about $400 give or take. They had owned a book store at one time and had a garage and house full of cool books and mags plus several bookshelves which were included in the purchase. We still have a garage full of books and we’ve already more than doubled our money back on what we spent without even making a dent in the inventory.

With scrupulous shopping, I can often find quality items that were once pricey at retail, for little money.

One of my first awesome buys many years ago were these old vintage poster prints for $10.  I had them framed (three of them) for close to $400. (Don’t tell my husband).  The previous owners were a wealthy family who’d traveled the world, so anything is possible.  I’ve not been able to locate a thing about the artists, so they may be worth nothing or worth thousands.  Who knows?  They are priceless, to me anyway.

We once came across a woman,  who was moving into a small high rise condo in Nashville with a deadline to be out of her recently sold home. She gave us pretty much every valuable item she wasn’t taking with her for $25.00!!! We had to make several trips back and forth filling our van at least three times, to pick them up.  We resold many of the items, but it was a literal steal.

A numbered print of Balboa Park in San Diego

It took me awhile to learn how to shop yard sales, but its so worth it. Just think, the money you save can go for trips and other fun things.

If we aren’t shopping yard sales, we go to swaps and flea markets.  My hubby buys bicycle stuff, jerseys and parts and resells a good many of these on eBay. My yellow bike was a steal at about $20!

I bought my solid oak desk and file cabinet cheap.  Granted, I had to sand and stain them, but where else can you purchase all of that for under $25? (Not counting labor of course). The movie memorabilia fits my screenwriting themed retreat and I even got a larger than life Oscar statuette to boot.

And crystal. I love crystal, but you also need a cabinet for them.  The first cabinet, I inherited from mother, the second my hub found for $15. Within each are crystal, Lladro and china pieces, some of which were mothers and a piece my daughter picked up while traveling with her Badfish dad and various other pieces from estate and yard sales.

Some mid century modern end tables for the living area, (my yoga mat), deco items, like the hand carved bowl under the TV, pottery plates, (I’m a collector of funky candle holders), the fall door wreath, two large glass vases (pictured), and a TV stand plus many other items were all yard sale finds. Many are barely used and some still in their original packaging and never opened. The dog, a Papillon, was found and free. I’m told that if we had papers on him, he’d be a thousand + or so. Too bad lost animals don’t come with papers tied around their necks.

The dresser, we got one day when we were unloading a storage unit in Alabama.


The Ethan Allen came from some guy who asked us if we’d be interested in buying his storage unit. We said, we’d take a look and I about had a cow because it was more like a barn full of furniture and then when my hub made him a ridiculous offer and the guy said yes, I about fell over.   There were several Ethan Allen items, headboards, dining sets and cabinets plus many, many antiques.  A few were not in good shape because the dampness had warped the drawers, but many more were redeemable. I kept the Ethan Allen dresser and a few other things then sold off the rest. Unfortunately, I have a kitty who thinks she can open drawers to climb in and has left her marks in her effort, but… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shower curtain was brand new in its original package. The rest was purchased here and there but all are quality items. The jade good luck frog and potpourri, I bought brand new.

The best thing is my style cycles in and out. Since little is invested in any given piece or pieces, if I tire of them, out they go and something else takes its place. Nothing comes in without something going out.

From the bathroom to all my other spaces, there you have it.

Living on a dime and proud of it.

37 thoughts on “Yard Sales and Swaps

  1. I like to go to yard and estate sales every once in awhile myself. I may have scored a beanie baby worth some money, I haven’t tried to seek it yet, point is, you never know what you might find! One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I used to go to garage sales on weekends. It was so much fun, and yes, you can find some wonderful treasures. I’m glad you shared the photos with us. I especially like the prints you bought. I remember Balboa Park with it’s museums. Such a pretty place too.

    I would say the best thing I have bought at a garage sale was a Bible that was in bad shape. None of us at the sale knew what language it was written in. It was published in 1851. Anyway, it turned out to be the Native American Cree language. It is worth around $600. It would be worth $1,000 if it was restored. I like it the way it is. My girls loved garage sales. They could get so many toys I couldn’t afford. Good memories.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know huh? We started going when my husband lost his job, it actually provided a nice income. Once he found a Morris Code key he paid $5 for. He figured he could get $25-30 for it but it sold for several thousand dollars. It turns out it was one of six known in the world. Very rare. Lol

      Liked by 4 people

    1. That could be, but I still can’t find pants that fit as well as trying them on, same with personal items, so I guess I’ll be doing retail still. As for tops and jackets, I love what I find especially in the designer series.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a terrific post. I can totally relate because as a young mom I also wanted things “new.” Now I would way rather not only save the money but also enjoy recycling stuff…”one persons’ garbage is anothers treasure”, right? But I appreciate the reduction in consumption overall.

    While we lived in the US recently for, 1.5 years ~ every item of clothing I bought was from a second hand store ( with the exception of underwear!.) You are too funny!…. and most housrhold products were from second hand or “thrift stores”. Great finds great prices and less wasteful.

    Fun read. Thanks for the “house tour.”


    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love your post, I am doing the same!!!When I was in college I did some part time job on a store where we bargain old stuff and stock (mostly clothes) that filed up. From that store where I am a part time sales lady I would buy children’s clothes and sold it for a little profit on an installment basis on my neighbors who cannot afford to buy in cash. That experience had been my inspiration on buying real estates for a little money and sold it on an installment basis over a period of time. Many stuff in our home is also bought on garage sales and those had always been my best buy!!
    Your post gives me a big smile, I can relate so much :))

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha, we once purchased every pair of panties and bras we could find one Saturday at yard sales, and then with zip ties late that night we attached them all to the trees of these boys that smashed my best friend’s Jack O Lanterns. The mission was series and covert, we left out of the mini in motion, lights out, and quickly, quietly, swiftly, donned the limbs with every pair of disgusting undergarment. The next morning was Sunday, and these boys lived next door to the church in west Texas, where everyone talks. It was the perfect revenge. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You got some great deals there! I also wouldn’t buy bedding or most types of clothing from someone else, but books, CDs and that kind of thing I’ve often bought. I’ve got a lot of nice stuff that way over the years. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, ya gotta be choosy for sure. I’ve found great big names like North Face in outer wear and stuff, mostly like new or for kids. If I think they’ll fit the grands, I send them off. We get a lot of sales rep stuff out here, so that stuff is brand new and often very cheap.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, this post was wonderful! Me too, me too!! And your area is great for garage sales and swap meets!!

    This also explains so much of what you write in Badfish comments. The used thongs, etc.

    Oh and I could almost swear I saw that Spain poster on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Don’t remember it’s value though. Maybe they have something online about their “finds”??

    Uh oh, now I feel like a trip to Goodwill…and not for Christmas shopping! I live in a city with a reputation for money so our garage sales AND Goodwill are pretty upscale. I may do a post myself with photos of great purchases!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you still in San Diego? Badfish and I were sweethearts once and we have a child together. So, yeah we have a lot in common and will always be connected. I think he and I will always be bonded even though we went our separate ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes. She was 34 when we finally reconnected. I found him on Classmates .com, believe it or not and actually connected with his best friend and sister first. He was teaching in Dubai (I think) at the time. He was ecstatic and I was so glad for the both of them. She is so like him. Smart and witty and… incorrigible.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. My brother found his daughter through a DNA test on Ancestry.com. He wasn’t looking for her. My sister got her DNA done and this girl contacts her asking her if she was related to my brother and from there they found each other.


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