Holding a garage sale is a great way to get rid of things you no longer use and to make some money. However, it’s also important to have some cash on hand so that you can give customers change for their transactions. You might be wondering, “exactly how much change do I need for a garage sale?” This post will answer that question!
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What is a Good Amount of Change for a Garage Sale?
There are lots of factors you will need to take into consideration in order to have a successful (and profitable!) day. One of these is calculating how much change you need to have.
Ultimately, the answer varies. If you are hosting a yard sale, carrying around $100 in change is generally a good amount. This is a clean, even number that will make it easy for you to calculate your profits at the end of the day.
If you start your yard sale with $100 and end the day with $800, that means you made $700 in profit. This is much easier to calculate than, say, if you started with $65 in change.
How Do You Figure Out the Individual Amounts of Change You Need?
You’ll figure out exactly what kind (and how much) change you need for your garage sale as you become more experienced and host more garage sales over the years.
Really, the specific breakdown will vary for everyone.
However, if you go with the $100 amount as described above, it’s a good idea to have 20 $1 bills, 5 $5 bills, 4 $10 bills, one roll of quarters, and one roll of dimes.
You can keep smaller denominations, too, like nickels and pennies, but it’s usually just going to be easier to round than to deal with such small amounts of change. Similarly, you can also have large bills on hand, but the likelihood of someone paying with a $100 bill and needing a $50 bill back is slim.
Where to Get Change for a Garage Sale
Now that you know how much change you need for your garage sale, the next question is – where do I get it?
As the day goes on, you’ll naturally bring in change from your sales to other customers.
However, you can also go to the bank to withdraw the amount of change you need. Just be specific when they ask how you want it back.
If your bank is closed, you can always visit the ATM. Then, go to the store and buy a pack of gum with one of your $20s and ask for all the change in $1s or $5s. You can do the same thing for the smaller coin denominations, too, but this can be tricky as some places around the country are experiencing a coin shortage. Some cashiers may be reluctant to give you the limited change they do have.
Consider saving all of your loose change during the year so that you have it on hand when it’s time to host your yard sale. If it’s dollar bills that you end up having a hard time getting, you can dump the change at our local Coinstar and turn that loose change into dollar bills instead.
Then, you might not even have to visit the bank!
Whatever you do, just make sure you write down a total of all the changes you’re starting your sale with so you can accurately keep track of how much money you’ve made at the end of the day.
Where to Store Change During a Garage Sale?
It’s much easier to make change if you have coins separated from dollar bills – and if you can easily access your change at a moment’s notice.
A cash box is an option, since this will separate out individual coin sections and dollar bill trays. That said, you will want to carry it around with you at all times – or make sure you have someone to babysit it all day – to prevent theft.
You can also use a fanny pack. This might make it harder to separate out the denominations, but the plus side is that you’ll have it on your body at all times.
A creative solution is to store your bills and coins in a tool apron. You can buy a tool apron at your local hardware store and this will let you keep bills and coins separate in the different compartments.
Individual money bags work, too. These could be official bank bags or even just heavy-duty zippered bags. There aren’t any locks or security features on them, though, so you’ll need a way to keep them on your person at all times.
Keeping Track of Sales at a Garage Sale
Keeping track of your sales is important, not only so you can learn how much money you’ve made but also so you know how much to “pay yourself” back for the change you’ve already contributed to the sale.
You can keep a paper ledger in a notebook. Using an app like the Cash Register Garage Sale app is another easy way to keep track of sales, and it’s especially helpful if you’re tracking profits at multi-family sales where the profits need to be split at the end of the day.
The TallySheet App is another helpful planning and reporting tool, but you need to make sure everyone who is involved in the multi-family sale downloads the app separately.
One more tip for hosting your garage sale – and making your tallying up easier at the end of the day? Only accept one type of payment.
Put up a sign that says “cash only” if you want to avoid the issue of customers who attempt to pay with checks or debit/credit cards. You can accept Venmo or PayPal if you want – these act much like cash and are contactless, another benefit – but make sure you have the funds in your account before the customer leaves the yard sale.
The Garage Sale Checkout App is another one you can use. There’s a bit of a learning curve to this program but it can be a great alternative to consider, especially if you host garage sales frequently and want a more streamlined approach to accepting and processing payments.
Here’s a quick video that explains it a bit more:
How Much Cash Should You Have For a Garage Sale?
As you likely know, the goal of a garage sale is to make some cash (and likely to purge some clutter, too, but that’s another story). However, that doesn’t mean you should go into the garage sale empty-handed.
Make sure you have some cash on hand to deal with transactions and make sure you have bills to produce change for your customers.
Start by sorting through everything to make some decisions about what you want to sell. Once you have a plan, you can organize and arrange your items so that you can see exactly what you have. This will give you an idea of how much your items are worth so you know how much change to have on hand.
The exact amount of change you should keep for the garage sale will vary depending on the quantity and overall value of your items. No matter how much you choose to keep, make sure you have bills in small denominations – $5 or less – to reduce the hassle for your potential buyers.