Queen of the car boot sales reveals how to bag the best bargains

From when to arrive to what to buy: car boot guru reveals the five secrets of bargain hunting at a boot sale

Car boot sale guru

Kayleigh Hughes, money saver and blogger, has revealed her secrets of bagging the best bargains at car boot sales. As the car boot season kicks off, she says her tips can help you track down great deals, and stop you accidentally coming home with a car full of other people's junk.

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The 28-year-old from Grantham, who also blogs for PromotionalCodes.org.uk, starts by pointing out that car boot sales aren't for everyone. If you hate the idea of picking over someone else's second-hand items, then don't even think about it. If, however, you love the idea of trawling for hidden gems, then it could be your opportunity to find some fantastic deals.

1. Know what you want
You can't be terribly specific, but if you have a list of things you actually need, and a list of things that are always handy, it's a good start. Kayleigh says: "Have an idea of the types of items that you are looking for. This will make it easier to skim your sights past things you don't need or want. I always keep my eye out for any baby items, anything new in packaging and any games I can find."

Our tips: It's also worth having a rough idea of what you would pay for these things. Before you head out, check for similar items that recently sold on eBay, and how much for, so you don't get carried away.

2. Stick to a budget
Kayleigh says she only ever takes £20: "That way I know exactly what I've spent and don't get carried away buying everything I see. It also allows me to be more selective with the items that I purchase."

Our tips: Your budget should sensibly reflect the things you are hunting for. If you have the willpower, you should also have an emergency fund, which you can dip into if you find something that you have been hunting for that goes over your budget. This is something that should remain untouched on the vast majority of trips, but once in a blue moon there will be a fantastic find, and you'll end up kicking yourself if your budget doesn't stretch to it.

3. Check items over
Kayleigh warns that it's vital to look to see if the items you are buying have any scratches or stains. This may sound a little petty considering items could only be £1, but its worth checking.

Our tips: Checking closely is the key to getting a bargain. It's the only way you'll dig the one nearly new Boden top out of a bag of second hand Primark. It's also worth thinking about the containers items are being sold from. You could snap up some bargain storage, or pretty antique suitcases

4. Haggle
Kayleigh says: "This can come across a bit cheeky at times, but as long as you are polite about it and don't push it too far, then there's nothing wrong with haggling. Usually there is a deal to be had, and as the seller often just wants to get rid of the clutter, they will be willing to negotiate on prices."

Our tips: Before you start haggling, decide your strategy. Do you have a maximum price you're willing to pay for the item? Do you have a plan if they refuse to budge on price? Is there anything else on the stall you can ask them to throw in for free instead?

5. Get there early or at the end
Kayleigh explains: "Getting there early lets you get first pick of the items available, and although you may not bag the best prices, you will be able to get some goodies before the resellers arrive. Arriving at the end of the car boot means you will get the best prices, as sellers will often drop the cost of items so they don't have to take it back home again. Whilst this is great, it also means you may not get a chance to get your hands on the best items. It's up to you what time you decide to get there. In my experience, somewhere around the middle doesn't really help either way, as the best items have gone and it's too early for people to reduce items, so the prices aren't great."

Our tips: Get there early, and take a picnic. Do an early round of the stalls, picking up bargains and noting items to come back to check at the end. Then settle down for a picnic and a good book until the very end, when you can pop back for a final check. Don't forget the picnic though, there's no point waiting around to save a couple of quid and spending a fiver on a nasty burger and a tepid coffee from a van.

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