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Clutter Bucks Holding a yard sale is a great way to turn your unwanted stuff into cash. ?Here are tips for getting the most from your sale.

It's that glorious time of year again, folks: garage sale season!

Here's your opportunity to make some extra cash, clear the house of stuff you don't need and have fun with your family in the process.

We've put together a MoneySmart guide to help assure your sale goes off without a hitch:

> Advertising

A winning yard sale starts with effective advertising. It doesn't matter if you've got the best goods on the block if people don't know your sale is happening, if they can't find you, or if your ad doesn't catch their eye.

Post newspaper and online classified ads. Most papers and websites have sections devoted to advertising yard sales, and people who make a day of going to sales use them to plan out their day. Start advertising the week before the sale and be sure to run ads the morning of the sale, too.

Make the headline something clear, concise and catchy. Be sure to check your spelling. Consider including the days of your sale in the headline for patrons who are scanning quickly to plan for a particular day, as many people do. If your sale includes an abundance of a particular type of items, such as fishing tackle, antiques or baby items, let people know.

Be sure the ad includes the dates of the sale, its starting and ending times, the address and any special directions that might be helpful for folks who aren't familiar with your neighborhood.

Try to list as many specific items as possible, with prices. People are often looking for something in particular and if you've got it, they'll come knocking. On the other hand, just as folks tend to make impulse purchases when they're out shopping, they may come across a thing or two in your list that they didn't realize they wanted.

Give as much detail as possible. If you have a lot of clothing, indicate sizes. If you have antiques, describe everything you know about them and their history. If you have baby gear, be specific about its condition and age.

List as many prices as you can and make them as reasonable as possible. See what similar used items are going for and price accordingly.

Pictures, pictures, pictures! If you're placing a digital ad, adding pictures is a breeze and goes a long way in drawing in potential customers. Some yard sale buyers won't even click on posts without pictures when they're browsing ads. You can take individual pictures of really special items, but group shots of a bunch of different merchandise together on tables and racks will also suffice. Use well-lit photos that you took yourself, not pictures of similar items pulled from the Internet, suggests Craigslist.org.

Make up fliers to post at church and on community message boards with a more condensed version of what you might include in a digital ad.

The night before or the morning of your sale, post signs that will lead passers-by to where you are. Take a hint from the Realtors' "open house" signs you've seen and keep it simple. Make signs large and durable with the words "Yard Sale" written in large type and a giant arrow pointing the way to your house. Post signs on the nearest main roads and add others at key turns leading toward your street.

> Getting ready

Make sure everything is as clean and appealing as possible. Wash clothing and use fabric softener so it will smell nice. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get scuff marks off toys and shine up appliances.

Make sure prices are visible. Some people are too shy or rushed to ask about pricing and will simply pass an item over if its price isn't obvious.

To save time, consider grouping items by price instead of putting stickers on each individual item. You can make a $1 table, a $2 table, a $3 rack and so on.

See if you can get your neighbors to hold yard sales at the same time as yours. Block sales attract far more people than single-home sales scattered around town.

Organization goes a long way. Hang clothes on hangers on a rack or clothesline or fold them neatly on tables. Display things in an attractive way.

If you're holding the sale in the garage, make sure it's well lit.

Have light bulbs, electrical outlets and batteries handy, as well as anything else folks might need to try things out and make sure they are in good working order.

If you can repair something quickly and easily, it's worth the extra effort.

> Pricing

A good rule of thumb is to price things at 10 to 15 percent of their retail value. Yes, you paid $30 for that blouse, but that doesn't mean someone else is going to pay $15 for it, even though that's half price. They can buy a new blouse on sale for $15. Be reasonable.

Ask any yard sale expert and you'll get the same answer: Nothing is more annoying than someone who overprices their unwanted junk. In most cases, trying to squeeze out a higher price will backfire. You won't sell much, you'll have invested a lot of time and energy with nothing to show for it, and you'll end up donating everything to charity anyway.

If your aim is to get rid of everything, make your prices low. Offer "buy two get one free deals" on similar items or items with similar prices. Encourage bulk purchases with pricing structures such as "25 cents each or five for $1." Post individual item prices and lot prices, such as "books $1 each, or $20 for the whole box."

Bring the price down according to condition. Something that has visible wear and tear is going to sell for much less than something new in the box or with tags still attached.

Ask yourself, "What would I be willing to pay for this?"

Be aware that a lot of people expect to haggle over prices at garage sales. Decide going in whether you will tell people your prices are firm or if you'll be willing to negotiate. If you decide on the latter, you can consider pricing items up to 20 percent higher than what you'll realistically be willing to let it go for.

What else do you have lying around? Go through the house, clear out your cupboards and throw everything into the sale, even if you think no one would buy it in a million years. If it's priced low enough, someone is likely to grab it. Got old magazines destined for the recycling bin? Sell them for a nickel apiece. Got an overabundance of washed-out margarine containers that can be used like Tupperware? Bundle them together and sell them for 10 cents.

> The big day

Make sure you have plenty of small bills and coins to make change. Three customers in a row with $20 bills can wipe you out in minutes, leaving you unable to make another sale until you can replenish.

Have bags and boxes available and keep an eye out so you can help folks who are getting loaded down carrying purchases. If folks have too much to carry, they'll cut their shopping short. It's the same reason a worker hands customers a mesh bag at Claire's Boutique or Bath and Body Shop.

Don't hover. Let folks know you are there to help them, but then give them their space. Feeling pressured can send them running.

Let the kids have a lemonade stand or sell homemade cookies and bottled water. Folks will likely be hot, thirsty, hungry and tired when out during a long day of bargain hunting, and selling food and beverages is a nice way to bring in a little extra money. It will also give the kids something to do instead of pawing through the toys you're trying to sell.

Have friends and family with you for safety purposes and keep the doors to your home locked. Consider displaying your items on the lawn in plain sight rather than in the garage where you'll be obstructed from view should anything go awry. Don't take checks, which could bounce or be forged. Keep the money on you instead of in a cash box, suggests Craigslist.org.

Arrange a time after the sale is over for a charity to pick up any items that don't sell. It will make clean-up easier, you'll get a receipt for taxes, you'll be doing a good deed and it'll keep you from squirreling stuff away again.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com?