You step outside your house, water bottle and sack lunch in tow, ready to take on your neighborhood on garage saling weekend. Because you're essentially browsing museums of other people who are very different from you, it can be overwhelming to walk up to a sale and peruse through the items for sale without getting caught up in what might be useful around your house. Maintaining your shopping identity is important for keeping your spending in check and your unnecessary item count low.
Shop inside your style. When you are browsing someone's secondhand clothing, you'll know when something strikes your fancy. If you genuinely wouldn't wear it, and you know it would end up in the back of your closet awaiting hungry moths, then don't even consider it! The same goes with décor, books, art supplies -- anything that doesn't suit your personal style should go back in the pile (unless it's going to be a gift).
Don't shop the trends just because they're trends. It may be in style to wear a certain type of top or pants, or to collect a specific type of antique plate, but if you don't like the current trends, don't shop them. You might see a popular book that's outside of the genres you enjoy and think, "Oh, well, it's popular, I should probably have a copy." But are you ever going to read it? If the answer is no, let someone else have a chance at it. (The exception, of course, is if you're intentionally shopping to resell, but that's a different matter.)
If your shopping identity is based on how much you spend and/or save, don't splurge just to get an item you like. Barring unique and handmade items, there will be another chance at purchasing something you find. If the price isn't right, don't pay it! Your shopping identity may be tied up in how much you end up spending (or not spending) on your weekly forays into the world of secondhand merchandise. If that's something you're proud of and want to maintain, then don't shell out extra dollars just because you spotted something you like.
You'll know when an item is right! You may walk away from most garage sales feeling like the ten minutes you spent there was a waste of time. That's all right! There will be times when nothing jumps out at you, because the host's style is just too different from yours. You'll also be able to tell when an item is absolutely something you want in your home. In that case, jump on the deal and haggle your heart out!
Where can you find local garage sale listings, all gathered in one place, for free? GarageSaleCow.com, of course!