car boot sale tips

All of this for £15.50!!!??!!


I don’t like shopping all that much nowadays. In fact, I’ve never really liked it, but in times of yore I would have conceded that it was the only way to acquire produced goods, and so would occasionally nip into town and buy something, like an item of clothing, a new gadget or some other “essentials”. I was never a social shopper and generally hated just pootling around town looking in shops, and I’ve never really understood why certain people enjoy that sort of thing.

Then internet shopping came along and changed all that 1!

The internet combined with the FI mindset can practically eliminate the boring, time sucking practice of dragging  yourself around the shops on your precious weekends off. I think I can count the number of times I’ve been to town to buy a specific item on one hand over the last three years, and for certain I’ve never gone just to have a look around in that time.

However, not all people are wired like me and do find it exciting to see products in real life before buying them, and for certain items it actually makes sense to do this, so you can at least have a go at judging the quality of the item before purchasing.

The illustrious British tradition of the car boot sale deftly ticks all of these boxes, avoids the soulless environment of the shopping mall, and saves you a freakin’ tonne of money to boot 2


arrr… look at all me booty

(That was supposed to be pirate speak by the way. In case you were wondering, yes there is an international day for that – September 19th so good news, you haven’t missed it this year, phew!)

How brilliant are car boot sales!?! I mean, we have done a few as sellers when decluttering, but it never really occurred to me to actually go to one as a buyer until recently. We decided we “needed” some new picture frames to put some more recent photos around the house so we thought we’d pop out to a local car boot sale to see what was on offer.

We came back with the following booty:

  • 6 picture frames – £6
  • Tripod for camera – £2
  • Car wheel nut tool – £0.50
  • Dinosaur skeleton building game – £2 (bought in advance for nephew’s birthday, he is a budding palaeontologist 🙂 )
  • Deadly 60 kids board game – £1
  • 2 items of clothing – £3

Total spent: £15.50 (including £1 entry fee)

Some extra reasons why is this amazing:

  • Apart from the car tool, all of these either looked brand new or were actually sealed in the plastic cellophane wrappers!
  • One of the items of clothing was going for 50p and still had the tag on. It was £28 new!!!!
  • The picture frames alone would have cost around £30 new. The total new price for all the booty must have been at least £100.
  • That’s the equivalent of high street shops being permanently on an 85% off sale!!!

Yes, car boot sales are not just for picking up used, old junk any more.

It seems people in this country have got so much crap laying around the house, they haven’t even got time to use the damn things before they’re deemed useless. This provides a perfect opportunity for frugal folk like you and I to drop in and grab ourselves a bargain, and save this stuff from ending up in a landfill site.

Judging by the number of people at the car boot sale we attended, clearly this is not a “stop the press” moment, but I think there are many people out there who would turn up their noses at the mere mention of a car boot sale. If this might describe you please reconsider and give it a go, it’s good fun trying to spot the decent stuff through all the crap, and also remember that what is great value to me might be crap to you anyway so there is plenty of bargains to go round, it just depends on what you are looking for!


top car boot tips for buyers

That brings me onto my tips for making the most of a car boot sale when on the buyers side:

  • Don’t go without at least a rough idea of what you want to buy – We wanted picture frames as our main thing and still ended up with a few extra items. You could call it extra crap I suppose but we held back as much as possible, which brings me onto point two…
  • Don’t buy things just because they are cheap! – There were a few things which looked in good nick, that we thought might be nice to buy, and were, by all accounts, “a bargain” if you just based it on the price. However you have to remember that on price pretty much everything there is a bargain. You need to always be thinking “do I really need this?”, “will this ever get used?”, rather than the standard rationale of “It’s only a quid, I’ll get it just in case I ever need a Mexican hat salt and pepper shaker” or whatever. If you cave in and buy items that are unlikely to get used then you are effectively paying money to store someone else’s junk for them. Don’t do it! If there is literally any doubt at all, err on the side of not buying it.
  • Don’t be too proud to haggle – It might seem cheap or tight offering 50p for something that is already only a £1 but having been on the selling side of things, most of this stuff is literally just junk to you so any amount of money is better than just throwing it away and getting nothing for it, so I generally never mind if people “make me an offer I can’t refuse” 🙂 . If people get offended that’s their problem, just move along or if you really want the item buy it at the asking price anyway. It’s the old adage of if you don’t ask you don’t get, and all of those extra savings can add up if you end up with a few items.
  • Don’t bother with the early bird entry – Many car boot sales offer early entry at an increased price, this is done as people think they can swoop in and get the best deals then, i.e. all the good stuff goes early. Unless you are a budding antiques trader or are hawking specific items to sell at a mark up (on eBay, for example) I personally don’t think this is worth it. If you just want general household items, clothes, etc… then there is plenty to go round, there is no need to act like a deranged consumer zombie on black friday


Finally, we’ll go quickly back to the money saving aspect

Imagine if you bought, say even 75% of your non essential stuff (household items, toys if you have kids, clothing, etc) from a car boot, and say you normally spend around £2000 per year on that sort of stuff, you are looking at saving approximately £1,275 per year, which could then get invested into your future freedom.

I know the end goal is to eventually lower your consumption as much as possible but in the meantime while you are still practising that art, the car boot sale is a brilliant stop gap to satisfy your thirst for a little bit of new (to you) stuff every now and again, while avoiding firing money down the drain by frequenting the financial equivalent of a high pressure fire hose (a.k.a. the shopping mall).

If you have any more great tips for either buyers or sellers let us know in the comments section! Thanks!


  1. This probably makes me sound really old, but I’d contest that internet shopping has only really been a viable alternative for say the last 10 years, as opposed to from “when the internet actually came out”. Leaving plenty of my younger years with no viable alternative
  2. See what I did there? Arf 🙂