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Garage Sales - an Opportunity to Teach Children About Money

Updated on May 21, 2007

Teaching children about money should be an ongoing process. Opportunities to teach kids about money abound and can happen naturally in many instances. Garage sales are great ways to teach children about money. Money, frugality, and recycling all can be taught through garage sales. Not just having one, but going to garage sales and purchasing items at garage sales.

Having a garage sale is a good way to teach kids about money. Especially if they are allowed the opportunity to sell some of their things. If they can sell something that they saved the money for and bought themselves, even better. Having a child work with money, handling it, making change, etc is wonderful. Teaching them to make the connection between how much something costs full price and how much you can sell it for at a garage sale is a must.

Generally speaking a child's interest in a particular toy doesn't last very long. So something he bought with his Christmas money might be in the for sale pile at your summer garage sale. If he spent $20 on it new, and sold it for $1 what lesson is he going to learn? It isn't worth paying full price for many items or spend your money more wisely to begin with. I would most likely see it as a waste of money if the above scenario were to happen to me. Because of this I spend my money carefully, trying to purchase second hand when possible or definitely on sale.

Taking your child along with you to shop at garage sales is a great way to teach your child about money. Showing them how much items cost in the store sets the ground work. When you are out at garage sales and see the same or similar items for much cheaper, point them out to your child. Many times items show hardly any wear, yet can be bought for significantly less. So a toy they longed for at the store but they didn't have enough money saved, is now within their reach for a very reasonable price. And when they get tired of it in a few months, they can resell it at their garage sale for about the same price as what they paid.

Purchasing things at garage sales teaches your children that second-hand or used is OK. When purchasing items for ourselves at garage sales we are showing our kids how to spend their money wisely, that used items are good and still can be used, and that we can get more for our money.

I was in need of several items recently. A drying rack to dry clothing, books for the kids to read while on our vacation, and activities that would be good for the car. A drying rack alone cost almost $20 at the store. Our neighborhood had a garage sale and for $6 I was able to get a brand new magnadoodle, a bingo game for the car, 14 chapter books, four picture books, two coloring books and a drying rack. I was able to show my kids how shopping at garage sales can really save us money. Not only does it save us money, but by reusing items it helps the environment by saving precious resources needed for me to buy those items new.

Fourteen chapter books alone (kids books) would have cost around $70 purchased new. I paid $.10 each used. They were probably only read once before. Talking to kids about what better things I could use that $68.60 for helps them to get this lesson. How about more money to do fun activities on our vacation this summer? That is a pretty tangible concept for them.

How about spending wisely? This is hard for kids, because when they see something they want, they just want it. They don't care that it will take all of their money right now, leaving nothing for your vacation next week. They don't care if what they want is so cheaply made that it will fall apart the first time they play with it. They also tend to forget that they *were* saving for something else and just get consumed with the item in front of them. Allowing children to make money mistakes, and learn from them, is difficult to do when the stakes are high. However when it is just coins or a few dollars at a garage sale it is worth letting them make mistakes. Talking (not lecturing) to them after they have made a purchasing mistake can help them learn from their mistakes. Even fessing up to some of our own money mistakes will help the lesson to sink in.

Tangible ways the kids can see how to spend and not spend their money is one of the biggest things you can do to teach your children about money. They need to see you spending, not spending and saving your money. And children need to have the opportunity to spend, not spend and save their money. Garage sales are one of the best ways to help them learn about money.


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    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California

      This is the first hub in a while that I actually read all the way through! I agree with this totally; my mom taught me a lot by taking me to garage sales :)

    • Inspirepub profile image

      Inspirepub 9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This one's a great Hub, too, Jennifer.

      It made the review ...


    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 10 years ago

      Thank you SuthenMomma!

    • SuthenMomma profile image

      SuthenMomma 10 years ago

      A very common sense approach to something that need not be complicated!!! You are a good momma (or mom :-)