It is not unusual on any given weekend to find droves of people driving about looking for yard sales (or garage sales). For many of these individuals, visiting yard and garage sales is more than just a way to pass the time and get a great deal, it's a sport. And there are reality television shows to prove it. Part of our obsession with yard sales goes beyond simple money-saving and environmental concerns, part of it is rooted in the thought that we might be able to find something really valuable - that the seller doesn't know is valuable - for cheap. Then, we'll be able to resell it and make a small fortune.
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If that goal sounds like a far-fetched dream to you, then you might want to take a look at some real-life examples of this happening. (Do you have a garage or basement full of clutter? Hold a yard sale - your unused stash can turn into cold, hard cash. Check out In A Cash Crunch? Hold A Yard Sale.)
Real Gold and Diamonds
An amateur boxer in Ohio went to a yard sale and found a pendant that she just had to have. She paid $5 for the piece of jewelry in the shape and design of LeBron James' jersey. She (and the person selling the pendant) assumed that it was just a fun costume piece with fake diamonds. What they didn't know was that it was 14-karat white gold and had over two carats worth of real, glass cutting diamonds. It's real value is $10,000 according to a gemologist at The International Gemological Institute.
A man visiting a yard sale in Kentucky thought he got a good deal when he paid $5 for a perfectly good bicycle that simply needed new tires and pedals. He even bought it thinking that if he fixed it up, he might make a small profit if he then resold it. Little did he know that the bike had once belonged to professional cyclist Floyd Landis and had been ridden by Landis in a 2007 race. The custom-designed bike had a retail value of $8,000 - not bad for a fixer-upper.
Music to His Wallet
In 2006, record collector Warren Hill knew he had something special when he picked up a seemingly innocuous Velvet Underground record at a New York street sale. For just $0.75, Hill walked away with what turned out to be a valuable acetate copy, which are the disks record companies cut before creating an album's master copy. Possibly one of the most valuable street sale finds ever, the album later sold in an auction for $25,200. (Use coupons strategically to score big savings on everyday purchases. See Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings.)
Some Pictures are Worth More than a Thousand Words
Can you imagine what it would be like to buy some old negatives at a yard sale and then find out that they aren't just any old negatives - but negatives of a deceased star before he or she was famous? Well that's what happened to a New Jersey yard saler when he bought an envelope full of photo negatives of mystery people for just $2 back in 1980. It wasn't until later that the man looked at the negatives and realized they contained pictures of a young Marilyn Monroe. Right now, the buyer of the negatives is still trying to figure out whether or not the photographer could have any claim on the copyright of the photos, so we don't know how much they might be worth once resold.
The Bottom Line
While scoring an amazing deals with a possible resale profit in the thousands of dollars would be the dream outcome of any yard sale excursion, the low likelihood of this happening doesn't make yard sales any less valuable. Saving money in any increment is a valuable tool toward creating the financial future you want and meeting your future financial goals. The added excitement of possibly unearthing an amazing deal is just a side benefit. (Shopping from the comfort of your couch has major benefits - and some unpleasant side effects. To learn more, read Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)