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Joe Fernandez

Financial Advisor, Mass Mutual

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Time for a Tag Sale?

05/30/2014 09:22AM | 6372 views

Summer vacation is over and the weather is cooling off. School is back in session. After the lazy days of summer, America is getting back down to business. Fall is the traditional time, for example, to clean the house and get organized.

A hundred years ago, fall cleaning might have involved beating the carpets, switching the summer curtains for the winter drapes, and taking the heavy woolens out of mothballs (no wearing white after Labor Day). Today, however, fall cleanup is more likely to mean….tag sales!

Americans today are consumers. Conventional wisdom holds that consumer spending drives the economy. When people stop shopping, we are told, the country's in trouble! While we are privileged to be able to find virtually anything we need, in any season, often the "need" is merely a "want," manufactured by advertising. We buy new before we use up or wear out the old. We end up with more stuff than we could ever deplete or even, in some cases, find room to store.

Fortunately, most of us love to sell and trade as much as we love to buy. That never-worn markdown we thought was such a bargain at 15 dollars? We're excited to net 50 cents for it. The treadmill that was going to save us the price of a gym membership? The juicer and food dehydrator that were going to revolutionize our breakfasts and snacks? Once we're tired of them, we'd really just rather have the closet space back—if only to make room for future purchases.

This fall, why not hold a tag sale? Children can get in the act, too. Most kids are fascinated by money—both getting it and spending it—and tag sales are all about money. A tag sale can be a fun way to teach youngsters about money and get the house in order at the same time.

Start by holding a little planning session. Here are some things you'll have to figure out before you begin collecting and pricing items for your sale: 

  • When will you hold your sale? Check out ads in your local paper to see which days of the week, and which start and end times, are popular. Do you want to hold a one-day sale, or a longer one? Are there holidays or special events you should plan around?
  • Where will you hold your sale? Is your own address suitable, or do you have a friend or relative with a better location? A main road might have good visibility and be easy to find, but safe parking may be more difficult. A quiet side street might afford plenty of room, but be too out-of-the-way to attract lots of people. Joining together with others to hold a street-wide or multi-family tag sale is a good way to boost traffic.
  • How will you advertise? A classified ad in your local newspaper or community paper will probably cost money, but will be seen by many people. Usually your ad will be listed online as well for no extra charge. Craigslist postings and most online garage sale directories are free, too. Signs posted at busy intersections near your address will direct people who have read your ads and serve as ads themselves.
  • Are there local laws? You might need to purchase a tag sale permit from your city or town. Some communities have regulations about signage, or limit the frequency or duration of their sales.
  • If you don't have a good location, only have a few items, or don't have the time to devote to running a sale, consider donating your items to a church, library, school or non-profit for one of their sales.

Now begin collecting your sale items. If children are allowed to keep the profits from the sale of their own possessions, they'll be more willing to recycle them to a good home. Once you're done collecting, gather together the rest of your materials:


  • Colored stickers from the drug store or dollar store for pricing items. Use one color for a quarter, another for 50 cents, another for a dollar, and so on. Price everything in advance. 
  • Tables for displaying items. 
  • Chairs for you to sit on. 
  • A rack for displaying clothes. This could be a shower rod or clothesline suspended between anything tall, such as ladders, trees, fences, or the side of the garage. 
  • A cash box and enough cash to make change. 
  • Tarps or sheltered space if the weather might be bad. 
  • Cold drinks and snacks—for you, and also to sell!


    Taking a Look at a Fresh House and Your Family’s Finances

    As your family cleans out in preparation for the tag sale, consider this a nice time to take a fresh look at your household’s finances. To learn more or access helpful materials, speak with a local financial professional or visit



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