Emily Jade has some advice for the second-hand bargain-hunters.

Once upon a time, a hard rubbish lover was driving down the road and noticed a perfectly good pram sitting on the side of the road. Without skipping a beat the world-class accumulator brought the car to a halt and jumped out to put the pram in the boot. She didn’t need a pram but reckoned one day she would. As she folded it down a panicked voice yelled from the verandah ‘Stop, that’s my pram!’

Embarrassed, the hard rubbish lover apologised for the mistake, and drove off promising herself she would get help for her strange ibis-like addiction of pecking through people’s hard rubbish.

That “friend” of mine now safely sticks to garage sales, and on 25 October the Garage Sale Trail—one big day of simultaneous garage sales all around Australia—will see her waking up like a kid on Christmas.

But before you rush to the garage in preparation of making money out of the stuff you don’t need, check out these tips from professional organiser Helen Butler from Clutter Rescue, who helps households create more functional living spaces.

I’ve heard ‘if you haven’t worn it in a year get rid of it’ or ‘if you haven’t used it in a year throw it’ – what are the rules?

I look at it differently – what is it that you want from your home? Love? Support? A sanctuary or haven? If you’re not getting that, then you have to flip it on its head and figure out what you need to do to get it.

How do you help people get their house under control?

They need to come up with the strategy first and buy the products once they’ve started the organising – that’s what I do, come up with strategies.

What about the one place that drives everyone crazy in their house: the Tupperware drawer! Where do the lids go?

I think there’s a lid monster! Pull everything out, which will make quite a mess, then anything that doesn’t have a lid – be ruthless and throw it away. When you put everything back you can either stack the containers and keep the lids separate or you can put the lids onto the containers.

What about the people who pick up hard rubbish and scour garage sales and end up with things I … sorry, I mean “they”, don’t need?

Set a budget so that you don’t go crazy and buy everything. Hold onto the item while you think because someone else at the garage sale might snatch it up! Then if you really love it, you know you’ll use it and it fits in your budget – feel free to purchase it.

What about people clearing to sell? How can you have a point of difference for your garage sale?

My son had a toy garage sale and we offered a bonus to every kid that came and gave them a balloon – maybe there’s a little incentive you can use to drag people in and make them stay a little longer.

You might also like…
Join the National Garage Sale Trail
Tips for upcycling household items
Snag a vintage bargain at the Lifeline Ipswich sale
Op Shops: How to snag the best bargains
How to declutter your home and preserve your sanity