Garage Sale Psychology

I’ve had 3 garage sales in my life.  Each one was the equivalent of years of hoarding, stacking, and saving items to have for a future garage sale. It’s sick, really.  Mr. Miser hates garage sales and I always try to make him feel guilty for not supporting my heroic effort to make money for the family.  Truth is, we make enough money per hour that the garage sale really doesn’t make much of a dent in our overall finances.  So I would have made more if I had picked up one shift at the hospital rather than collected, stored (sometimes for 2-3 years), priced, arranged and then sat in the hot garage for two days. This year’s garage sale netted $240.  My friend who drove across town to drop off stuff and tables (multiple times) made $100.  Yep, definitely would have made more if I had taken that time and spent it at work instead.  Yet, I still want to have a garage sale every year and I feel actual sadness when I don’t get to.  Why, why the crazy?  

The Psychology to my Madness

  1. When I look at the items in my closet or around my house, I associate those items with hours worked.  Aw, look at that cute summer dress, I never wore, that cost me an hour of work.  (I subtract taxes from my hourly wage and I’m sure to include the sales tax on the item, that way it hurts a little more.)
  2. When looking at an item that cost an hour of your life, it’s easier to get rid of it if you box it up to sell.  My brain is thinking, I’ll make some of this money/time back.
  3. Giving stuff away for free feels like a failure of overconsumption.  When I sell an item, it gives me a positive boost. I feel like not all is lost.  When I see my item leave in someone else’s hands I feel less like someone who is ruining the planet with my poor choices.
  4. I feel like it’s important for my kids to see me selling their old toys.  “See kids, if you treat your things with respect, we can sell it, make some money and it can be used again by someone else.”
  5. There is something incredibly fulfilling when someone puts cash directly into your hands.

If I had included ALL of my endeavors in selling this last batch of crap, I actually made $300-400. Click here to see how I optimize my sales. Again, I should have just worked extra at the hospital because the time to money ratio (time: money) was really poor.  However, if I was trying to pay off a credit card with 16% interest it would be completely worth it!

Now that I’ve made every attempt to make a few dollars off of stuff I spent my precious time earning, it’s important to take a moment to reflect. I spent time at work to make the money, I spent time shopping for the item, and then I spent time trying to recoup my costs after realizing I didn’t need the item. I could have saved a lot of time and money by stopping the endless, painful cycle of consumerism.  So this is the part of the story where I proclaim, “I’m done, done with all this madness.  I’m done with garage sales because I’m done with buying crap and bringing into my home.”

Oh look, it’s September and Christmas sales have already begun…

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