You know those free couple of minutes you have? Somehow you find yourself using this time to scroll through your Facebook newsfeed yet again. Instead of creepin' on your neighbors, old classmates and friends, you could be finding bargains and earning money. Welcome to the world of Facebook garage sales!

With some helpful tips and tricks, you can maximize your earnings, get the most bang for your buck, and most importantly, stay safe while doing it.

1. Create a sellers/buyers only Facebook account

Don’t use your main Facebook profile with all your personal information. Instead, create an anonymous Facebook account using a name like "Susie Sells" or "GarageSales Lover." Also, avoid giving out your email and cell phone number. If you have a smart phone, you can use Facebook messaging for communication with others. The less information you give out about yourself, the better.

2. Join garage sales groups and pages

Join pages in your immediate geographical area and pay attention to the rules so you know where the meeting locations are. Each page has its own rules for how they do things, so be aware of them.

  • Join a Buyer Beware group: The main point of these groups is to warn buyers and sellers of transactions, encounters and people that may not have been good. On the upside, people often post about good buys with sellers so you know who to do business with and who to avoid.

3. Photograph your items (sellers only)

Proper lighting and good angles are key. Photograph any imperfections such as discoloration, chips, nicks, etc.

4. Describe, price and list your items (sellers only)

Key terms for condition are new, new with tags, excellent used condition (EUC), good, used, etc.. Be advised that your opinion of the condition can vary from the next person's. If there are any imperfections, make sure the buyer is aware prior to them purchasing your item. Price your items depending on the market. Pay attention to how much similar items are going for, but also be aware that buyers like to negotiate prices down, so price accordingly as well. If you plan on listing your item on more than one garage sale page, make sure to put, "listed on multiple sites." This allows buyers to know that they may not be the first in line when monitoring the sale. Also, put your general geographical location for meeting purposes.

5. Verify condition, ask questions prior to meeting (buyers only)

If the picture has poor lighting, verify the color and condition. Ask any questions you have prior to meeting, so it saves you and the seller time and money. Ask as many questions as you like especially in situations where it’s too good to be true! When you find an item you want, comment, "Interested!"

6. Choose a neutral, safe meeting spot

Avoid meetings at your home. Instead, meet at a grocery store, gas station, fast food restaurant, etc..Try to go in the daytime when there will be heavy traffic. Bring a friend along and leave the kids at home. Park in a well lit and easily visible area. Try to find a location with cameras. If you don’t have a partner to go with you, make sure you text someone before and after for safety purposes.

7. Look at the item prior to handing any money over

ALWAYS—and I mean, every single time—ALWAYS look the items over before you hand any money over. If you’re buying more than one item, look EVERY item over. This is one of the most important parts of preventing a headache later on. I can’t warn you enough about the scams that have been done because people don’t look at items before buying. If you’re happy with the items, pay for them. If not, you can try to negotiate the price down to one you’re comfortable with. If that can’t happen, then simply apologize and go your separate ways. Remain cordial and friendly. If you are buying items in bulk, open all bags or boxes!

8. If your transaction was bad, let the admin of the site know

You can find the site’s admin by looking at the members tab, then select the option to look for an admin representative. You can message them with the details of what happened. Most of the time, they will ban the person. Unfortunately, you’ll probably not recover your money or items. This is why Buyer Beware pages exist.

9. Know your garage sale lingo

  • Int=Interested: This means you’re interested in an item and are holding your place in line. If you’re first, you’re the one considered purchasing the item.
  • Pos. Int.=Possibly Interested: This means you’re possibly interested in an item depending on a specific factor. Make the seller aware of the reason, if possible. Each page has rules whether or not this will hold your place in line.
  • Next: This means you’re next in line (very similar to interested). It signifies interest.
  • Pass: This shows that you no longer have interest in the item and you’re passing on it. Thus, the seller can go to the next buyer.
  • OBO=Or Best Offer: If the item is listed at $50 OBO, it means you can pay $50 or put in an offer. The best offer should get it. You can basically negotiate with the seller.
  • EUC=Excellent Used Condition: Verify with each seller what this means to them as beauty is in the eye of the seller.
  • PPU=Pending Pick-Up: This means that pick-up is pending on the item. You can still signify interest in the item in the event the buyer doesn’t show up.
  • Sold: This means the item is sold, but the buyer never took the listing down.

10. Other helpful hints

  • Sellers, make sure to indicate when an item is PPU or Sold!
  • Buyers, make sure to indicate “pass” when you’re no longer interested. If you can’t meet, tell the sellers.
  • Common courtesy and manners go a long way!

This is a guest post by Katie from Grand Rapids, MI