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The three keys to a successful yard sale are: promotion, pricing and weather. While we can control the first two, the last is more or less out of our control.

When deciding to have a yard sale, the first thing to consider is the best time of year. Without a doubt, Spring is yard sale season. People are coming out of their winter doldrums and are ready to(1) get outdoors and (2) spruce up their home. As the saying goes, one man's junk is another man's treasure. Therefore, a bright, sunny May Saturday morning is the perfect time to conduct your sale.

Now that you have a date, you better start getting the word out. Put an ad in your local paper. Remember, this is a yard sale, so you don't want to spent a lot of money on advertising, but many people check their local papers for sales in the neighborhood. Next, place posters around the neighborhood and at busy intersections. When placing the ad or putting up your posters, be very specific about the time of the sale, what items will be available and at what price range the articles will sell for. In the ad, give directions; on the posters, make arrows leading to your yard.

At least a week ahead of the sale, start preparing your items. Again, even if it's junk, you want to present it in an appealing manner. Clean everything from clothing to appliances. Shine shoes and polish silver. Make your sale items look so nice that you'll have second thoughts about selling them!

While you may have a great turn-out and a wide variety of items, again remember this is a yard sale, so do not overprice your items. This is the biggest yard sale mistake. When people see that the items are on the pricey side, they won't even bother to negotiate; they'll get in their car and drive on to the next sale. If you don't want to part with Granny's cameo, instead of pricing it too high, don't sell it at all. The purpose of a yard sale is to clean out your unwanted items, so be willing to price them properly. For instance if you have an old Tiffany lamp that's worth $25, but it's been collecting dust for ten years, decide on a bottom line - price it at $15 and take $10. It's also a good idea to group things. Have a "knick-knack table" where everything is $1.00, or a book table where paperbacks are .25ยข or 5 books for a $1.00. Always be prepared with change - lots of one dollar bills, quarters, dimes and nickels are essential.

The final piece of the successful yard sale puzzle is the weather. Now, as stated above, this is something you cannot control; however it might be a good idea when placing your ad and posters to indicate a rain date. Also, ask the paper if you can run a second ad for free if it rains on your scheduled sale date.

Assuming nature cooperates and you've prepared your articles as if your yard were the bargain basement of Neiman Marcus, chances are at the end of the day, all you'll carry back into the house is a cigar box full of money!