Yard Sales & Flea Markets

When people have a yard sale (aka tag sale or garage sale) they frequently sell things that are in next to new condition because they redecorated and "it doesn't match anymore" (haven't these folks heard of slipcovers?). We were able to get a $900 sofa for $75 for this reason. Usually they don't want to tote everything back up to the attic or down to the basement so they will accept almost any reasonable offer. You have to be willing to spend your Saturday mornings driving around with a street map picking through a lot of junk in order to find the occasional treasure. Among our treasures are a brass bed ($35), stove ($40), stereo system ($30), kitchen table ($5), tons of good books (under $1 apiece) and most of our pots and pans, wine glasses and other kitchenware.

In addition to a street map it's a good idea to carry a measuring tape and the dimensions of your windows, etc. so if you find something you'll be sure it'll fit your house. Those gorgeous drapes for $1 a pair aren't much good if they're too short for your windows.

Flea Markets are not quite as good as tag sales on prices...the people are professional vendors and return with their wares every week so they're not as willing to "cut a deal". The good thing about Flea Markets is the amount and variety of stuff all in one place. If you're into crafts and your husband loves electronic gadgets you'll both have a good time!

From Joyce: My best money saver has been buying well made old furniture at garage sales--if the finish is ruined, so much the better (cheaper!)--because you are going to paint it all white to blend it all and cover the bad finishes. I furnished our daughter's bedroom this way for $38 for a chest, dresser w/mirror, bedside table (all bought at different sales). I spent another $65 on primer and paint. Buy the good primer called Zissner BIN --worth the $25/gallon because it really seals any stains or marks off before painting. This furniture is sooo much sturdier than any I could have afforded new. Remember the secret is to look at how sturdy the furniture is, and the shape--and ignore the ugly finish. The uglier, the cheaper-as long as the shape is nice! Here is a pic of daughter's room-we were lucky to have the bed (from a garage sale when I was 7!), but any wooden bed with pretty shape would also look nice painted white.