Garage sales teaches econ, good fun

What did you do with Grandma Dee this week? “We went garage sailing!” the cousins replied. “We sail from one Garage Sale to another.” This fun time full of memories also teaches valuable economic lessons.

On Thursday night, the one cousin searches through newspapers, cuts out, and highlights garage sale times and addresses.

On Friday, Grandma Dee and cousins and choose some close to the neighborhood during their time allotment.

Children prepare for the “sailing” by doing “special” chores like picking up sticks and pulling little maples trees out of the garden.

Their parents help record their money on, an on-line money education program that teaches wise spending, saving, and charitable giving.

The young cousins may spend a total of two dollars if they find bargains.

What’s a bargain?

A bargain is in the eyes of the beholder, but there are guiding rules. It must be within or almost within the purchase budget. If it costs more than you have, you may choose a different item or share the item cost with someone.

High on the purchase lists are books, small cars, figures, board games, puzzles, stuffed animals, baby items for the new baby, sandbox toys, kitchen items like colander, LEGOS, other blocks, and sports equipment.

Buying strategies

The children make a general walk -through to see if any desired items are a good value for a good price. Is the item under consideration clean? Are all the pieces there and in working condition? Is it something I want or need? Will I use it one time or many times. Do I think I might find something better at another sale? Once they leave a site they cannot go back.

Anther rule is always using your best manners. At one site a cousin found a stuffed daschund dog. At the check the owner stated that was his favorite dog. “Take good care of him.” The new owner kissed the dog’s nose and promised to give Biscuit the best new home ever. New friends are made garage sailing, too.

Not every purchase is for them. They are also encouraged to think of others. Who could use a piggy bank or rattle?

Next are lunch, conversation, and another time to make lasting memories. Grandma and the young boys discuss each purchase. Of all the items displayed, why did they purchase that particular one rather than another? What are some things they decided against? What made the purchases bargains? Did they purchase anything for someone else? Do they have want or need -type purchases?

What money is left? One cousin proudly holds up a nickel, and all look forward to next Friday, especially Grandma.

For more economics and memory ideas with young children see or “Learning Through the Seasons.”

Editor’s note: Grandparents Teach ,Too is a non profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. Writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers.Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan (PAM), Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children (UPAEYC), Northern Michigan School of Education, U.P. Children’s Museum, and NMU Center for Economic Education.