Each weekend you can find me standing in a line of strangers waiting to hunt through someone's home. Estate sales are a great escape and a fantastic way to decorate your home on a budget. Sometimes I even make money!

These days, bargain hunters can turn up more than grandma's tchotchkes. Estate sale inventories include new items, furniture, kitchen items, tools, art, collectibles, books, electronics and sometimes even cars. Choose sales that cater to your own taste for vintage items or modern furnishings.

Find a Local Sale:

  • Check Craigslist. Many estate sale companies and private sellers advertise under the "garage sale" section.
  • Check estatesales.net. Enter your zip code and find sales within a certain distance from your home. Register to receive advance notice of upcoming sales.

Know the Day: Many estate sales begin on either Thursday or Friday and last through the weekend. The first day is usually a full price day – great to go preview the items. Don't purchase on the first day unless you absolutely fall in love with an item.

Know the Discount: Estate sale companies usually discount items by the day. The first day is full price, the second day is usually 25 percent off, and the last day is usually 50 to 75 percent off. Still, "full price" is discounted from retail.

Know the Time: Estate sale veterans will line up for a promising sale. Organizers only allow a certain number of people in a house at one time. Be early and be at the front of the line to score the best items.

Know the Tools: Many companies do not have a holding place for the items you find, and you'll need to carry them with you as you hunt through the house. Bring a reusable bag to make browsing a bit easier. Also, leave newspapers and a few boxes in your car to safety get breakables home.

Know the Technique: When you enter a home, do a quick "sweep" through and grab anything you think you might want. You can always put it back later.

Know your Goods: Before you pay, look over your selections for damage or imperfections. Estate sales are final and no returns are allowed.

Know your Business: When purchasing a large number of items, don't hesitate to ask for a deal. The worst that sale organizers will say is “no.” Many are bound by contract to certain prices.

Know your Budget: Search eBay to check prices on any unique items you may pick up at sales. You might be able to sell some items for a profit!

Estate sales are a fun way to find old and new treasures. Grab a cup of coffee and get in line. You never know what you might find!

This has been a guest post by Kristen from Arlington, VA.
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