yard sale kid economics money

Yard Sale Economics

Yard Sale Economics

                Yard sale season is upon us!  Whether you enjoy them or not, it’s difficult to avoid noticing the variety of signs that invite strangers to come and rummage through no longer needed belongings.  The signs hang on telephone poles, show up on street corners and lead everyone interested to the sale.

                Personally, I’m not a huge fan of going to yard sales, even though I’ve found a few bargains in the past.  I feel I have enough of my own belongings that need to be purged. 

However, my kids have found an economic playground.  They have found a world where their cherished monies can buy something, often many somethings.

                Watching and listening as my children navigate the neighborhood sales has made it apparent that there is a wealth of learning experiences present in yard saling.


  First, money must be acquired.

                Creating funds for use as they rummage through the sales, requires creativity and elbow grease.  The kids ask for extra jobs to earn money.  My daughter sells painted shells, as well, and not just to her family anymore!  The point is that they’re developing a work ethic and an understanding that one must work for what is wanted.  They’re learning the value of dollars and cents as they work and save.


    Second, you must be a discerning shopper.

                Those hard-earned dollars will only last so long.  Items for sale are evaluated in many ways.

  1. Is the item wanted or needed?
  2. Is the item worth the asked price?
  3. What is the condition of the item?  Is it broken or chipped?  Are all of the pieces included? Are mold or stains present?

Next comes the concept of cost versus value. 

It’s time to haggle.  My daughter is very good at this.

                They evaluate whether the price being asked matches the value of the item.  How much do they want the item?  How much are they willing to spend?  Do they have that much?

Finally, the item is theirs…or not.

                They live with the feeling of satisfaction for useful or interesting items.  Sometimes they are disappointed, whether from the item being broken or not what they had hoped for.  They may walk away in search of better items, or even save some of that money for another day. These are lessons well learned from spending a few dollars, rather than later in life when more money is at stake for larger purchases.

                And as an added bonus, should we discuss how much socialization occurs during yard sales?  Talking with neighbors, discussing and haggling over purchases, comparing finds with other shoppers and discussing other sales and previous finds. 

                Yard sales may not be for everyone, but they are certainly a prime example of learning from life experiences.


                How do you feel about yard sales?  Do you let your children shop and make their own purchases?

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