Why You Should NOT Have a Garage Sale

Many times when decluttering a home, it’s easy to think “I need to store this in the garage and have a garage sale in a couple of months.”
Sure, it’s a tempting thought.
But let me give you some reasons why you shouldn’t: 

1. Having a garage sale means all the clutter you’ve been working to get rid of, isn’t actually gone. It’s stored. Which means it can still make you feel guilty: guilty for still having it. Guilty for not having a garage sale yet. Guilty for taking up so much space, still.

2. The amount of time and energy put into having a garage sale could be spent accomplishing more: spending quality time with loved ones, or even clearing out more areas of your home.

3. Garage sales take more work than they pay. Take a look at the last time I had a garage sale:

Working on the garage sale:

  1. Declutter ~the only thing I actually needed to do~
  2. Take boxes to garage.
  3. Advertise for the sale.
  4. Make signs.
  5. Get change from bank.
  6. Set up tables/canopies
  7. Organize/set everything up.
  8. Price everything.
  9. Work the sale.
  10. Pack everything up/donate leftovers.

Time spent: 3 full days, approximately 24 hours. (And no, I didn’t count the hours decluttering!)

Money made: $120.00
My income: $5.00/hour

By the end of the day I was so exhausted we ordered pizza.

So, is $5/hour followed by a crappy dinner. Worth it? For the majority of us, no. It’s not.
You’ve already worked through all the emotions of letting things go. Why put yourself through emotionally going through it again when you set the sale up? And again when someone buys the item? Or when no one buys it and you have box it up for donation?
That’s dealing with decluttering stress 3 times more than necessary.
Instead, just let it go. Let it go the first time. Make a practice of taking your decluttered items directly to the car and dropping them off at a donation site next time you are running errands.
Side note:
The only time I recommend having a garage sale is if you are following a debt snowball plan and are working intensely to pay down some debt.
What do you think? Do you feel garage sales are worth the effort? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Photo credit goes to Luke Jones/Accretion Disc


About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Ryan Fontaine on 01/09/2014 at 5:40 am

    All of these reasons seem to only apply to lazy people. No offence. There are plenty of reasons why garage sales are so worth having. I will give you one big one. It is an excellent opporrunitg to network, socialise, and get to lnow your neighbours and members of your community. Stop being lazy and unorganized.

    • Anitra Sweet on 01/09/2014 at 6:12 am

      I agree

    • Rachel on 01/09/2014 at 4:14 pm

      Perhaps Ryan, you haven’t been around people who have a house full of stuff and are paralyzed when they think about the work it will take to get rid of it.
      Most of it does have value, often antiques or vintage items. But because they know it has value, they just set it aside to sell, but are too busy to put time into selling the items.
      Often, too busy trying to organize it so they can live in their space.
      Sadly, all the “valuable” items will be there crowding them out of their home for the rest of their lives and then their children will have to face the immense job of getting rid of it.

      These “valuable” items will have stolen most of their parent’s time away.

      There is no monetary value worth that.

      When someone has that much stuff, having a garage sale will only hinder them getting rid of anything.

      • Carolyn on 09/12/2014 at 10:17 am

        Well said!

      • Susan on 10/07/2022 at 9:01 am

        Exactly Rachel. Thank you for saying what I feel about even joining a neighborhood yard sale. Paralyzing and overwhelmed. Not an easy task.

    • SM on 09/12/2014 at 10:37 am

      Agreed; it would also be wasteful to just throw away items others may need or want simply because it’s “too much effort.” Even donating it would be better. If something is truly trash, however, it should be discarded immediately. But If I could make an extra couple hundred dollars in a single afternoon selling junk I didn’t want, I’d be thrilled. And I agree that it’s a nice way to socialize with your neughbors and teach kids about money.

      • Anonymous on 07/04/2015 at 5:08 pm

        How is it wasteful if you donate the unwanted items to a thrift store? That way, the items still go to people who need them, someone else does the selling for you, and the money goes to whatever cause the thrift store sells for! Where is the “waste” issue with that?

    • Pam Hanes on 07/04/2015 at 10:28 pm

      Stop being judgmental.

    • Kim Gibson on 08/26/2017 at 7:53 pm

      If it is a great way for you to socialize, go for it. Of course you could socialize at he charities to which you donate your unwanted items.

    • Maureen on 02/09/2018 at 7:17 pm

      I have to disagree I don’t think it is being lazy for me and others in my community it is a safety issue- I never see yard sales here in Chicago anymore as it was a way criminals used to case peoples homes and evaluate the level/price point of goods inside the home (ie- I am selling some Burberry scarfs probably have lots of high end items). Many people were burglarized after these sales. I am not sure what the situation in the suburbs or other communities is like as I live in downtown Chicago but that is my two cents and why I never have one and haven’t seen any here in over a decade.
      I take my high end items to consignment or eBay and donate everything else.

    • Jen on 11/01/2018 at 2:05 pm

      If all my days were spent twiddling my thumbs and binge-watching TV with nothing else to do, I might agree with the laziness view especially when I am physically capable of doing the work. But with a VERY busy schedule of family and volunteer activities almost every weekend, I truly don’t have the spare time to plan and organize a garage sale. I had 2 sales several years ago and they were fun, but I remember thinking “never again!” when they ended. For the past few months I had 2 full bags of my clothes and purses sitting on the dining room floor while I pondered having a garage sale. Yesterday, I finally came to my senses and took them to Goodwill while running other errands. I was tempted to peek in the bags to see if there might be something to keep, but I resisted. After donating them I feel free with no regrets. There comes a time!

    • Vicki M. Palmer on 10/03/2021 at 10:38 am

      Gimme a break. I am neither lazy or unorganized. I simply want to live a simpler life in my golden years. And, by the way, your post WAS offensive. And….learn to spell.

      • Carol on 07/22/2023 at 2:06 pm

        I agree

  2. Anonymous on 01/09/2014 at 6:04 am

    I agree with this article. Not because I’m lazy. I’m the kind of person who would actually enjoy the work and organization that comes with a garage sale. But I’m also a minimalist and when something stops being wanted in my home, it’s gone. So much less stressful that way.

  3. Anonymous on 01/09/2014 at 6:06 am

    all of the above and if you don’t end up selling everything, you still have crap left over to get rid of anyways.

  4. Lori on 01/09/2014 at 2:25 pm

    Yes, when you have a lot of stuff. Like when you are moving. Lots of kids clothes will pull in a lot of money too. I price mine to sell. The last thing I want to do is move it. If you dont have enough stuff then no, I dont think it is worth it.

  5. Cheryl on 01/10/2014 at 1:52 pm

    I used to save stuff for garage sales and then never ended up having garage sales. We ended up doing something even weirder: a local church would rent parking spaces once a month for a big community garage sale for $5 a piece. We did that for 4 months, hauling stuff back and forth with very little to show for it. I finally decided that I’ll take some plum pieces and put them on ebay or craigslist and the rest gets donated or thrown out. It makes more money and more sense.

  6. Anonymous on 02/04/2014 at 5:11 pm

    While the idea of a garage sale is nice, I agree that it usually isn’t worth the effort – and I DON’T agree about having one to help with a debt snowball; unless you are getting rid of really nice stuff and live in a nice area, you won’t make enough to be worth it.
    I agree with other posters: put nice stuff on Craigslist, eBay, etc and toss/ donate the rest. While donating is a nice idea, often it isn’t worth the hassle of separating which items can be donated to which place and getting them there while the places are open – to me, its usually easier to toss it once I’ve decided to get rid of it.

    • Anne on 04/26/2021 at 4:47 pm

      Although I agree with you on most of your points, I don’t agree with tossing things in the trash. Many of times the people who work at the donation places are recovering addicts, and they find it therapeutic to go through items and decide what to keep and what to toss. Also, it helps create a job too! Unless it is obvious trash, I usually drop it off at a donation center. Just my two bits.

  7. Marla on 02/20/2014 at 8:22 pm

    I mostly agree…unless you have children. We had our first garage sale last summer, and our kids loved it. It was a great way to get them to purge stuff while learning about sales/marketing/finances. It also provided a way to interact with a diversity of people, as well as meet others in our neighborhood. We ended up giving stuff away to some very low income families who came, so it was a good opportunity to practice compassion and giving. We had a refreshment stand, so that brought in a cooking and serving angle – baking cookies, making Italian sodas (which required taking customers’ orders).

  8. Ashley on 04/08/2014 at 10:09 pm

    I disagree. Last year I made $1300 in about a week and a half selling clothes, home decor and small appliances between garage sale and resale places. I did this all by being a bit strategic after spring cleaning. We have been minimizing for about two years.. So we had stuff that needed to go. After we put the junk on the burm for city recycling/pick up – I used the rest of my evening collecting and organizing everything I would sell furniture/appliance wise in a few hours. I have two growing kids so every few months as I wash clothes, I sort stained to small clothes out of the non stained clothes and donate the stained, keep the non- stained to small. They are clean, folded, sorted. I do the same with my husband/my clothes. After spring cleaning (usually May) I wait for the first forecasted nice weekend to schedule my sale. In the week leading up I drop the kids clothes off at a resale place, our clothes off at another resale place. They sort, fold and buy what they need. This is where I made a good portion of my money. They call when it’s ready, I picked it up right from them on the day of my sale and put it right out on tables. I priced as I went. Really simple either 50 cents or a dollar on most things. Priced accordingly on small appliances/furniture. No 75 cents, no quarters. Keep the math simple. I sold a lot of appliances/furniture and made another large portion of my money in those sales. We sold for all Saturday and Sunday morning. After the church crowds (my house is within a block of two churches) and lunch – we wrapped up and anything unsold went right to Easter Seals Good Will. Now this type of income is not to be expected but the year before when I only sold baby/kids clothes I made $300 – and I used only the same effort I would for spring cleaning/laundry folding and sorting up till the week of. This year I will do it again. I have substantially less to sell do to our process of minimizing but I still have plenty of kids clothes from my kids that don’t stop growing. Having a good plan and keeping it simple – makes it doable. And I agree I loved chatting w my neighbors and the little old ladies. Maybe as years pass it won’t seem worth the effort – but while we still have things to get rid of, I’ll continue on.

  9. Holly on 09/12/2014 at 10:53 am

    I enjoy having garage sales. I live in a great area and always gets lots of traffic. I also invite friends to bring their things over, making a better sale and getting to spend time with them, too. However, I usually make about 3x the amount you quoted and we are working on our debt snowball 🙂

  10. Janelle on 09/12/2014 at 11:50 am

    I find that it is not worth the time and effort to have a yard sale – but I have not had big ticketed items either. I rarely brought in $100, and rarely did I really meet and connect with people. Our neighborhood would have a community yard sale, so all of the neighbors were either selling their stuff or not interested in going to one. I don’t think that it is lazy to pack up your things and donate it to those in need. It takes less time and blesses those that cannot afford the items that you might have. Donating frees up my time so that I can continue to declutter and I can take a tax credit which usually gave me more back then I would make at my yard sale.

  11. Deborah on 09/12/2014 at 11:57 pm

    I have been reading your blog, getting motivated to clean out my garage. I asked a friend over last Saturday and was ruthless. We had so much stuff to get rid of in the drive-way that instead of moving it, I decided very last minute to do a garage sale. The only advertising I did was on craigslist, an email to the local mom’s group and to my neighbors at 10PM the night before. I decided to throw a tarp over everything in the drive way and not to price anything (too much work). I simply woke up, staged the items a bit (on tables) and was open for business. I went in with the mind set that if someone is looking at it to give them a price they couldn’t refuse. I gave a lot of stuff for well under what I could have gotten just because I wanted it gone. I didn’t want to move it back into the garage or lug it to the donation center. I sold 80% of what I put out (because of that mentality) in 6 hours, with no prep and made $997. I made $166 an hour. I can’t think of many jobs were I could make that- not any clean ones anyway. So yes, if done with minimal effort with the intention to get rid of stuff and not trying to get the most for everything you sale, I say it is well worth it! My husband can now park the car in the garage. I thank you for the motivation!!!!

    • Rachel on 09/13/2014 at 10:06 am

      Wow Deborah- that worked out great! I’m sure your outlook helped tremendously!

  12. Anne on 07/04/2015 at 3:31 pm

    I recently had a garage sale and teamed up with a friend as I knew I didn’t have a lot of stuff to attract big crowds (I normally purge as I go)
    I made a whooping $68. The reason? When someone said, how much? I said, $2! Just to get it out. The higher ticket items were priced and didn’t sell. I donated the crap then put the stuff I thought I could make a bigger buck off of, back in the garage so I could sell it online. Yep, still sitting there and the garage sale was six weeks ago. Not worth it. No one wants my crap either!

  13. Sarah Mueller on 07/04/2015 at 4:16 pm

    I totally agree – most people either plan to have a garage sale but never get around to it, or only make pennies when they do. As I’m decluttering or organizing around the house, if I find something that needs to go, it immediately goes into a bag in my trunk so I can drop it off at the thrift store the next time I’m in the area. Or it goes into the trash – thrift stores don’t want junk any more than anyone else does
    Thinking you’ll have a garage sale (and then not following up) can build up tremendous guilt – guilt over how much you paid for something or that you never use the ugly sweater that your aunt gave you. It’s much more freeing to get rid of it quickly and let go of those guilty feelings.
    Thanks for a nice perspective on decluttering!

  14. Michele on 07/04/2015 at 5:10 pm

    If you enjoy the sport of a garage sale, it can help and energize you to get rid of stuff. If I think I can make a little money from my clutter, I get rid of it quicker. It is hard work, but the reward of the $$ made has pretty much always been worth it. I donate plenty and I give away a lot, so I don’t feel bad selling a little bit of it.

  15. Debby Haines on 07/04/2015 at 11:38 pm

    I would rather give it to our thrift store that supports our local homeless shelter. They sell it for less than Salvation Army which gives low income people dignity that they can afford to bbuy from this store. The work involved for having a yard sale was fine when I had kds home to help, but now I just hurt my back hauling it around. I would rather just haul it once to the car! If you really want to make some money…post it on FB groups. Our church has one.

  16. Ramey on 07/05/2015 at 11:28 am

    I agree with the article. My mom has been saving ‘stuff’ for a yard sale that she’s been planning since I was 10. I’m 36. She sees value/money to be made in EVERYTHING. As a result, her house is full of junk. She gets frustrated and overwhelmed, wanting a clean house, but she’s unwilling to part with her crap. Having to live in that (for the 8 years I did), and even visiting now when I have to turn sideways to get through the front door or move clusters of junk to have a spot on the buried sofa, makes me very willing to donate or throw away anything that doesn’t yield utter happiness when I see or use it. Now instead of a yard sale, my mother needs a dumpster… And an intervention.

    • maureen on 07/05/2015 at 1:18 pm

      When my uncle passed, it took 13 dumpsters to empty the clutter!

      • Alden on 09/21/2019 at 4:05 pm

        I’ve promised myself that I won’t do that to my daughter when I go. I live so bare and it’s liberating. That line of thinking came from helping my mother clean up two acres of stuff my father colleted,then a six bedroom house when my sister passed away suddenly. I vowed afterwards not to saddle my daughter with that much work

  17. Cindy on 07/05/2015 at 5:55 pm

    I would never have a garage sale if I only expected to make a couple of hundred dollars. Yes, for a “profit” (not really) of $120.00 a garage sale makes no sense. But for a large amount of items with the anticipation of making $1,000.00 or more it is totally worth it. Good advertising coupled with good weather and decent stuff and one can make very big $$$.

  18. Anne on 07/06/2015 at 6:20 pm

    Well the $1,000 I made at my last garage sale was definitely worth it….

  19. Virginia Mercer on 02/25/2016 at 12:26 pm

    There are some very good reasons why not to have this sale. I’m definitely showing your post to my sister, who wants to organize my garage sale. I’m moving in a month and I just want to donate everything I don’t need and to finish with all that. I think it’s much better than trying to sell my items to some people who’ll come to look at them, make a face and pass by. It’ much better to give everything to people who will really need it. Thank you for sharing your experience. Greets!

  20. Sonya on 09/08/2016 at 11:06 am

    I always donate items to the local thrift store. I cleaned out a closet – to the thrift store it goes. I purged the entire basement – to the thrift store it goes. That way it is done no matter how small or large the donation.

  21. Amy on 09/22/2016 at 2:52 pm

    this is only letting me type in all caps. I apologize if it posts that way . . .
    For those of us who have a hard time parting with things, this hit the nail on the head about garage sales:
    “You’ve already worked through all the emotions of letting things go. Why put yourself through emotionally going through it again when you set the sale up? And again when someone buys the item?”
    As to Ryan’s comments, that’s not laziness. That’s understanding your limits. And I get to know my neighbors/community by hanging out with them when the kids are out playing, going to coffee, organizing bar-b-ques and other get togethers on our block, attending/serving in my local church, volunteering at my kid’s school. There are myriad ways to do that. Garage sales are but one.

    • Rachel on 09/23/2016 at 7:20 am

      Excellent! Thanks Amy!

  22. Emma on 01/28/2018 at 7:02 pm

    I loved your post. I really found myself in it. I just want to donate and be done with it. My husband on the other side, wants to put stuff online for sale, and it takes months for it to be sold. Yes, we make little money out of it, but the satisfaction when we give it for free is priceless. I’m not rich, but I feel happy when I give a good used item to a needed home. Sometimes though, after I give it away to families who claim they need an item, they post it “for sale” and ask for money. That breaks my heart.

  23. Jordan on 05/26/2018 at 5:23 pm

    Well, I just hosted my first garage sale. We sold one item, beach umbrella, for $5. Talked to 4 people. One woman was interested in a necklace from a bag of jewelry. When she asked how much, I told her I’d give her the entire bag for $5 and she didn’t take it. No counter or anything!
    Eventually, we got tired of roasting outside (I’m pregnant and my husband was sick) and just donated everything.
    I wouldn’t bother doing it again. I marketed the heck out of it, too :/

  24. Franke on 01/12/2019 at 11:21 am

    I never had a garage sale BUT have been collecting items in the garage for the big sale slowly booting my cars to the drive way. Honestly, I don’t like them it’s just that I had a period of buying things good things (well to me) then would buy the next best thing for example I bought a Ninja the high end one then saw the vitamix got that … bye Ninja… bought a soda stream then bought a fridge with a built in soda stream… bye soda stream … carpet cleaner for the better cleaner… list goes on. So now I’m sitting here with a bunch of crap piled in my garage for the infamous garage sale for the past 6 yrs. I waited so long that I finally went out to garage and rodents got into the garage and some of these “prized possession” are now pooped on even found two dead rats (oh my bejeezus)z. This all ended my so called early spring cleaning and visions of “The Big Sale”. So I’m really like to heck with the garage sale and donating I never seen a rodent that close to my living quarters but if I would have just had the same when I decided mAny moons ago I would have had clutter free garage instead of envying my neighbors who have immaculate garages. I think my lesson learned is if the energy and time really out weight what you can bring in trash it or donate. I was thinking I could have made at least 2k but I had stop kidding myself especially when you see something you were going to sell at the thrift store going for $19 and you were thinking maaaybe $35 but paid $145+. I have since stopped buying items like that and just purge.

  25. Mindy on 07/02/2019 at 5:43 pm

    I have had many garage sales. I have made money with some, but not with others. The last one I had gave me severe anxiety because of how many hours of pricing and organizing the stuff in the garage that I had to put in. If you find garage sales fun, and you don’t mind putting in all of the hours, then have a garage sale. However, time is more valuable to me than money. I already have a full time job, so I donate my things to local thrift stores.

  26. A more peaceful me on 10/13/2021 at 5:08 pm

    I NEEDED THIS 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME REGAIN MY PEACE! Very well said. I am so ready to move on!

  27. Linda Gardner on 04/29/2022 at 3:12 pm

    Dear People, who seem to be angered by the line. It’s a tag line meant to get your attention not an attack on your personhood. It’s a story for those struggling with deciding what is the best way to accomplish within time and value’s what we can do. Replaying with our own stories on how we made our choices and the outcome is providing insight and support. Retorting may bring personal satisfaction. However is it really helpful?

  28. Ladybird on 02/26/2024 at 8:04 am

    Whether it is worth it depends on how much stuff you have to sell and where you are located. When I lived in a more upscale neighborhood I would periodically have a garage sale with quality items and on average made $600 in a weekend. Once for a combined youth camp fundraiser sale we made $1200 which paid for the camp bus. However, now that I live in a city with questionable safety issues I would never try to have one and also likely would not have customers willing to pay more than a dollar an item.

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