Tips for shopping at garage sales

Garage sale season has arrived, and I'm sure you've started seeing the bevy of signs being hung up around the neighbourhoods. Garage sales can be a great place to find awesome things to buy for the home as well as toys, clothing, and more at a fraction of the cost... but it can also be a place where you only end up adding to your junk collections too. So here are the best tips for shopping at garage sales.

Do your research. How will you know whether a particular piece of furniture, for example, is worth what the seller is asking? To avoid being taken advantage of, make sure you do some homework before you start garage sale hopping.

Go with a list in mind. The last thing you want to do is blindly shop at garage sales. You'll find yourself saying, "Oh, I should get one of those," and suddenly your car trunk will be bursting at the seams.

Bring cash. Obviously you won't have the luxury of charging something or paying by debit, so have cash on you. And bring smaller bills/coins - it might help with haggling later ("Sorry, but I only have a toony...").

Start early. When it comes to shopping at garage sales, the expression really is true: The early bird gets the worm. And in this case, the worm is the bargain!

Finish late. Believe it or not, the end of the day can be a good time to score some great deals. People who are packing up their garage sales will likely be willing to take less for certain items just to save them the aggravation of packing everything up and storing it again. Break for lunch after hitting the early morning sales and then go at it one more time in the late afternoon.

Brush up on your negotiating skills. Garage sales are always about getting deals, so go into them armed with lots of confidence.

Bring tools and bags. You'll need to be able to pack up your purchases, so it's handy to have a few reusable shopping bags (the big blue IKEA bags work best). You'll also want other things in your garage sale toolbox, like a measuring tape, bungee cords and/or rope (for securing larger items that you're toting back home), and various tools.