Garage Sale Cash, Change & Money Issues: How To Stay Organized & Deal With Loose Change

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When you’re having a yard sale, you need to have a way to make change whenever someone gives you a $1 dollar bill for a 25-cent item. (Or, a $20 dollar bill for a $1 item!)

Following is a summary of what I usually do to make sure I’m covered cash-wise during my yard sale…

How Much Money Should You Start With?

The day before the sale, I withdraw $40 from the bank. Ideally, I want four $5 dollar bills, fifteen $1 dollar bills, and $5 in loose change.

If the bank is closed and I visit the ATM instead, then I just buy a pack of gum somewhere using one of the $20’s and ask for the change in all $1’s. Then, either at the same store or wherever I go to buy a soda, I ask the clerk for four $5’s in exchange for my $20 dollar bill.

Prior to every yard sale, I also head to the nearest Coinstar to turn all of my loose change (mostly pennies, nickels & dimes) into dollar bills. Depending on how much I have, I may not even have to visit the bank at all!

When you cash out after using Coinstar (at my local Kroger store, I just hand the Coinstar receipt to the checkout clerk), you can ask the clerk for any combination of dollars and coins that you want.

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TIP: Be sure to write down the total of all the change you’re starting your sale with, so you can accurately calculate how much money you’ve made at the end of the day.

Pssst!… Here’s a smart invention:

The Cash Register Garage Sale App is a simple way to keep track of multi-family sales, have multiple cashiers at your yard sale, and track your yard sale totals.


How To Keep Your Money Safe & Organized

Your most important issue with money during a yard sale is: How to make change quickly!

Without a doubt, it’s much easier to make change if you have your coins separated from your dollar bills.

And it’s even easier yet, if you have your individual coins separated by denomination.

So it’s wise to have some system to at least keep the bills separated from the loose change. Best of all is a way to keep all denominations of your garage sale cash separated.


4 Money Organizers That Work Great At Yard Sales

#1 – A cash box with individual coin sections and/or dollar bill trays. There’s no better way to stay on top of your earnings and make change in an instant than to use a cash box with separated sections!

#2 – A tool apron with at least 2 separate “sections” — one for bills and one for coins. I got a couple of tool aprons from Home Depot. (A standard fanny pack would suffice in a pinch. Or, maybe even a smart apron would be fun!)

#3 – Individual money bags. You need 2 money bags — one for the dollar bills only, and one for all your loose coins. These could be official bank bags, but I just use heavy-duty zippered dark colored bags. They’re called money bags, but there’s no lock or security features to them. I got mine at Wal-Mart.

#4 – Zipper/slider plastic food storage bags. They’re not ideal, but they’ll work. Zippered food storage bags are clunky, and sometimes awkward to open & close. Plus, unless you hide them, everyone can see your stash of cash. One good thing is that you can see exactly what’s inside, so you’re sure to grab the right one each time!

I’ve used each of the above methods in previous yard sales:

  • My all-time favorite is the garage sale cash box. It’s quick and easy, and keeps you 100% organized all throughout your sale.
  • My second favorite is the money apron. It’s very convenient to always have change right at your fingertips, but it’s harder to “see” which denomination of coin or bill you’re grabbing.
  • Third favorite is the heavy-duty money bags.
  • Fourth favorite is the zipper/slider food storage bags.

Continue reading my 14-part series:

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I like to help people find unique ways to do things that will save time & money -- so I write about "outside the box" Household Tips and Life Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I'm super-organized. And I LOVE to clean! I even enjoy doing laundry (but not ironing). I’m also a lifelong dog owner -- so I often share my favorite tips for living with dogs inside your home (like smart home design choices and dog-friendly cleaning & decorating ideas). Career-wise, I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started... and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). Prior to that, I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I'm truly passionate about instead. For example, I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. When I’m not cleaning, organizing, decorating, or fixing something… you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've personally written over 200 articles about cleaning, organization, DIY repairs, and household hacks on this site! A few have over 2M shares; many others have over 100K shares.

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