The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the days are longer and warmer. Yes, spring has finally arrived. Yet there is another telltale sign that a new season has begun – neighborhood yard sales. Early spring marks the beginning of yard sale season. It’s a good time for families to clean out closets, attics, basements, and garages. For bargain hunters, it’s the perfect opportunity to find some hidden treasures. Rekindle some “trash to treasure” memories with your group this month. Here are some activities to get the fun started.

  • DISCUSSION: Show a vintage photo of shoppers in a grocery store. Ask: Do you like to go shopping? Where did you shop for groceries when you had a young family? Did you prefer a supermarket (like A & P) or a mom-and-pop grocery store? Would you describe yourself as a thrifty shopper? How did you save money on groceries (ex: food sales in newspapers, clip coupons, S & H green stamps)?
  • DISCUSSION: Define bargain and list synonyms for the word (ex: barter, haggle, negotiate).  Name some of the best places to hunt for bargains (ex: consignment stores, flea markets, yard sales, outlet stores).  Ask: How is bargain hunting different than shopping? Where do you like to hunt for bargain prices? What items do you especially dislike paying full price for (ex: clothes)? What types of money-saving deals might you find during the months of January, March, and August? Have you ever bought stuff (that you really didn’t need) just because it was on sale?
  • DISCUSSION: Talk about the meaning of the “joy of the hunt” for bargains.  Explain why some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt more than the “find.” Tell a personal story about finding a great bargain.
  • ACTIVITY: Debate the following questions: Who shops more overall– men or women? Who is better at finding a bargain – men or women? Who does more impulse shopping – men or women?
  • ACTIVITY: Explain the meaning of the following saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Read excerpts from Lara Spencer’s book I Brake for Yard Sales: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster. The book is full of secrets for bargain hunting and how-to tips on refurbishing “treasures” to decorate a home. Invite a professional to show how to use items from a secondhand store to tastefully decorate a room.
  • ACTIVITY: Invite a speaker to demonstrate how to use eBay for bargain hunting. Talk about how to look for bargains online – for example, on
  • ACTIVITY: Learn about “the world’s longest yard sale” (the Highway 127 Corridor Sale, which began in 1987) Make some funny yard sale signs. Price some items for a local neighborhood yard sale.
  • ACTIVITY: Invite a collector of Depression glassware to show some pieces to your group and to talk about where to find the glass at bargain prices today. Share childhood memories of finding the inexpensive glass at dime stores, movie theaters, carnivals, and gas stations. (Note: Other collections to consider: baseball cards, comics, stamps, dolls)
  • ACTIVITY: Invite an auctioneer to visit and talk about how to conduct an auction. Place some prizes in plain paper bags. Print up some fake money and pass it out to group members. Auction off the bags.
  • REMINISCING: Ask participants to share ways that their mother saved money on clothing when they were growing up (ex: wearing last year’s clothing or hand-me-downs from relatives,  sewing homemade clothes on an old Singer sewing machine, buying from thrift or consignment stores). Talk about ways to get the best deal on clothing today – even designer clothing.
  • REMINISCING: Introduce the following topic: “Stretching a Dollar, Pinching a Penny: Tips from Grandma. Ask: What kinds of money-saving advice did your grandparents give you? When times were hard, like during the Depression or World War II, how did your family buy what you needed – bartering, paying a little at a time? What have you learned about earning, spending, and saving money over the years?
  • WORD GAME: Discuss the meaning of the following idioms: drive a hard bargain, bang for your buck, bargaining chip, strike a deal, dime a dozen, hold your end of the bargain up, more than you bargained for, cost an arm and a leg, make ends meet, bet your bottom dollar, money doesn’t grow on trees, bring home the bacon, tighten your belt, highway robbery, in the red.
  • MUSIC: Listen to some songs related to money: “If I Were a Rich Man,” “We’re in the Money,” “That’s Where My Money Goes,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Challenge your group to a trivia quiz on money (see the quiz in this month’s newsletter).
  • DRAMA: Scenario – It’s the last day of an antique show and an interested buyer wants to purchase an antique pendulum wall clock, but he has limited funds for the purchase. Ask for volunteers to play the roles of antique dealer and buyer. Demonstrate how to “haggle” for the price you want to pay for the clock. Begin the exchange with the phrase, “Is that price firm?”
  • MOVIE: Watch the 1986 comedy The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. The movie focuses on the perils of finding a dream home at a bargain price.
  • TV: Watch some episodes of TV shows for collectors and bargain hunters: Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, Auction Kings, or Pawn Stars.


  1. What is a rainy day fund? Savings for emergencies
  2. Whose face is on the five-dollar bill? Abraham Lincoln
  3. What does it mean to be flowing in red ink? To be in debt
  4. Finish this song title: “Brother, Can You Spare a…?” Dime
  5. What are the two sides of a coin called? Heads and tails
  6. What do the slang words bread, cabbage, dough, and moola refer to? Money
  7. Finish this money phrase: “He’s penny wise and….” Pound foolish
  8. Where do some people hide money in their home? Under a mattress
  9. Which 20th century comedian was known for being stingy with money? Jack Benny
  10. What does it mean to buy a pig in a poke? To buy something without looking at it carefully


“Necessity never made a good bargain.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“BARGAIN HUNTING” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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