Affluent Lifestyle: The Garage Sale Lady


Recently I gained an insight into the affluent lifestyle. Having had a baby recently, we’re still on the prowl for a rocker. I guess some people call them gliders. We want to go all out and get one that swivels, reclines, and – of course – glides. With the car having 3,420 miles since its last oil change, and the fact that it was a nice Saturday morning, I set out to buy myself some oil, ramps, and an oil pan. The ramps were $19.99, the oil pan $3.50. The filter cost $3.50 and six quarts of oil about $8. To get the oil changed at Jiffy Lube it would cost me $27. So the ramps and oil pan are a one time purchase – from here on out I save myself about $15 every 3,000 miles. I don’t make enough per hour to justify not doing the oil change myself.

At any rate, on my way home I saw a few garage sale signs, so I took a detour to one in particular in hopes of striking gold and getting my wife a rocker/glider.

It was typical garage sale stuff: dusty, stained, a few nice things here and there, and a couch that looked almost as worn as ours. There was a lady there, browsing around. Lots of people were there still setting up the displays, so it was just she and I, parousing the merchandise. She picked up old clothes, looked them over, folded them back up nicely and laid them down again. I wouldn’t have noticed her except for the fact that she didn’t look like your typical garage sale lady. Allow me to elaborate:

I was wearing my oldest pair of jeans (at least 6 years old), a shirt I won when I was 15 at an ice skating arena, a Hard Rock Cafe baseball cap, and shoes that squeak when I walk. I fit the garage sale mold. This lady, on the other hand, looked nice. Her hair was done, she had on nice-looking clothes, and looked very well kempt. She looked as if she might live the affluent lifestyle. Yet she was at a garage sale. I didn’t find what I wanted, so I headed back to the car. As I pulled away she also got into her car – a Lexus.

My suspicions were confirmed. She was affluent, well-to-do. Now, just because someone appears to be living the affluent lifestyle doesn’t mean they’re necessary affluent. For all I know Joe BigCar is up to his eyeballs in debt and is one paycheck away from bankruptcy. I feel confident, however, that she is indeed affluent. Why? Because she shops at garage sales. She recognizes the value of a dollar. She is frugal. And a Mentality of Frugality leads to financial security. I’d be willing to bet that her very nice Lexus was purchased slightly used and with cash. Welcome to the true lifestyle of the affluent. Not quite as glamorous as you thought eh?

One more thing. I love garage sales for two reasons. (1) I find bargains. (2) I practice my negotiating skills. When you’re haggling over an old sewing table (yes – I did) with an asking price of $5. It’s just great practice to go up to the guy and offer $2. (I got it for $2). So the next time I go to buy a car, I won’t be without practice when I have to go head to head against somebody who’s negotiated hundreds of times. Sure $3 at a garage sale is nothing. But $3,000 off a slightly used car? Now that’s something.

The “well-to-do” recognize that garage sales are not just gathering places for junk. They’re negotiation training grounds. Hone your skills there – then save big when you’re up to bat against the big dogs.