Keep your yard sale money safe
Aside from clearing out your garage of some unwanted junk, the other reason people have a yard sale is to earn a little extra cash. And with that cash flowing in, it’s important for you to keep it safe from unscrupulous customers and your own errors.
Here are a few tips:
- Safety first — Always keep your money in a safe location. Some people use locked tin boxes. Some people use a fannie pack. Occasionally, you’ll even come to a yard sale where they use an actual cash register. The key thing here is to keep your cash in a box, bin or pack that is too heavy or too awkward for a thief to pick up and carry away. Cigar boxes, pencil cases or an envelope are not ideal. It only takes a moment of distraction for a clever visitor to walk off with something like that.
- Frequent pickups — Even though you are using a secure bin to store your cash and change, you should still remove big bills on a frequent basis. We recommend about once an hour. Along with the big bills, you should also remove any excess bills of smaller denominations. Once your yard sale is going strong, you never want to keep more than $15 in ones, $30 in fives and $30 in tens in your till. You should never keep $20 dollar bills in your bin. So where do you store all this cash? Well anyplace is fine — in your silverware drawer, in a smelly old boot just inside your front door, locked in your car — just as long as shoppers don’t have any access to it.
- Cash in hand — A common yard sale scam is this: Buyer pays for an item. You take his $10 bill, put it in your cash box and give him change. Buyer says, “Wait a second, you didn’t give me the right change! I gave you a $20!” You already put the cash in the bin, so you can’t “prove” the claim. Buyer gets upset and threatens to call police. Buyer keeps pressuring you to give him right change by yelling and carrying on. At this point, you can’t remember what happened and you give in and give him back “the right” amount. … The best way to avoid this is to always keep the payment in hand until the transaction is totally complete. While you make change, you should state something like “You’re buying $4.25 worth of items. Out of $10, that’s $5.75 back to you.”
- Splitting the dough – Many yard sales are multiple person or even multiple family events. Everyone submits some items for the sale, and then the family divvies up the proceeds at the end. And, as yard sales often go, things just don’t add up when you go to split up the cash. No one remembers which deals were made or knows how to credit the one particular family member with the sale of your unwanted artificial Christmas tree. We offer two tips: Option one — keep a running log of what items were sold, how much they went for and who they once belonged to. When the sale is done, add everything up and hand out the reward. (And the Christmas tree should be credited to the youngest kid, just to be nice.) Option two — Make the sale proceeds all go to one source, such as a vacation fund or pizza money. No one gets a specific amount, but everyone benefits.
- One moneychanger – Let’s face it, some of us are math-challenged. If you have a helper, figure out which one will be best at making change and have that be their job for the day. Any other workers are in charge of bagging, making deals, sign-makers and helping customers. By having only one person take money, you’ll encounter far fewer mistakes, especially if everyone else is pitching in to make the rest of the sale go smoothly.
- Big money – Sometimes buyers will try to pay for a 1 dollar item with a 50 dollar bill. Making change for that puts you at risk because of the potential that the buyer is passing off a counterfeit bill. unless you have access to one of those markers that detects bad money, taking big bills puts you at risk. Aside from the counterfeit concern, making $49 in change could wipe out your entire stock in change.
- Checks or no checks – If you have some big ticket items, you might get requests to take checks. While it might be tempting, we advise you not to do so. The hassle of cashing a check and the underlying risk of even taking a check ought to be enough to dissuade you from doing so. Instead of taking a check, tell the would-be buyer that you will set the item aside for one hour, which should give them enough time to visit an ATM and bring you back cash.
Looks like a nice one to be outside. Hopefully, you don’t have too much sunburn from last weekend.
Both Friday and Saturday are expected to be mostly sunny with a high just shy of 80 degrees. Ah, we love summer.
GOT A QUESTION?
Post your yard sale questions and comments below. We will try to answer them in a future entry.