It's one of my favourite summer activities: hitting garage sales. (or car-boot sales for my British family members) I have vivid memories from when I was a kid of taking home a $40 kitchen table with chairs that served our family for over a decade. I remember getting things from stuffed animals, to additions to my heart collection, to books, SO MANY books! At a quarter a piece or less my tight-budget family was able to feed my addiction as a kid to books and learning.
As a grown up I'm glad that they only happen one day of the week, because I think that they could become an addiction if I'm not careful. There's an added spark to the addiction fire in that you KNOW you are getting things at a bargain price, and an added excitement stumbling on the one gem in the midst of junk.
The most important piece of yard-sale advice I can give is go with a list. It may not have to be written down, it may not be all that specific, but if you give yourself permission to take home every good deal you find, you'll come home with way more than you need. Week to week I have an idea of the things I am allowed to come home with. If it's not in my head, I don't get to bring it home. I know there are a few kitchen pieces I need (who keeps taking all my platters?!) and a few items of clothing Sam needs (who keeps taking my kid's socks?!) and taking the time before we leave to brainstorm on the few items will keep me focused in my hunt. I know a family that prays with their kids for their family's specific needs before they go.
My favourite find so far this season (a garage sale post is not complete without a brag) is the big ticket toys we have picked up for Sam. I had been looking at play structures for outdoors and indoors, but they are so expensive to buy brand new. We bought an outdoor slide, and an indoor kitchen, and at $30 a piece, they took up a lot of my garage sale budget for a few weeks. This was made up for by the fact we got Sam a water table, and ride on car totally free at the side of the road. He now has an excellent collection of backyard toys, and when it's raining, he can enjoy cooking and creating on our new-to-us play kitchen.