Are Garage Sales Worth It? Donating, Consigning or Selling Online May Suit You Better, Accountant Says

March 21, 2016
garage sales vs donating


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WACO, Texas (March 22, 2016) — If you’re waffling on whether to devote your time to labeling items and waking up at dawn to hold a weekend garage sale, you may want to consider donating, selling online or selling on consignment, suggests Becky Jones, senior lecturer of accounting and business law in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.
Those options are likely less labor-intensive, may make more financial sense, may give you a tax advantage and perhaps can spare you some emotional turmoil.
Here are some tips:

  • Instead of organizing, pricing and enlisting assistants for a garage sale, make it easy on yourself by taking items to a favorite charity. If you have a large quantity or some very large items, some charitable organizations will pick them up for free or a reasonable fee.
  • Consider taking furniture that’s in reasonably good shape to a furniture consignment or selling online. “I generally only sell items that I know people would want, such as a Dyson vacuum cleaner or outdoor furniture. I have sold nice clothing that I no longer wear at the consignment store as well,” Jones says.
  • Spare yourself some anguish. “It is very difficult for me to sell something for, say, $1 that has some sentimental memory for me and I remember what I paid for it,” Jones says. “Goodwill may also sell it for $1, but I don't know about it. So the emotional consequences are less when I donate.”
  • Get a receipt when you make donations, listing the items if the attendant doesn’t do it for you. “I scan the receipt so I don't have to keep up with it all year long,” Jones says. “At tax time, I go on the Internet and find websites that help value donated items.
  • Remember, you have to pay taxes on any capital gains from items you sell in a garage sale, but that is moot, because the initial cost of the item likely was much more than your sale price, Jones says. However, you get to take a charitable contribution deduction for donated items. “The disadvantage is that you have to wait until tax time to get it and you have to itemize. So if you don't itemize, a garage sale is better,” she says. “If you can itemize, you might get more cash from a garage sale than the value of the tax deduction, but the time and aggravation you save from not having a garage sale tips the scale for me.”

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