In 2012, with a new daughter on the way and a big job promotion in the midst, we decided that we were going to get a bigger car. My wife had a Mazda Tribute that was completely paid for, but the room in the back seat was going to be tight with two car seats.
After nearly three months of us shopping around online and my father shopping auctions in Florida, we purchased a 2010 Ford Expedition. We traded in her Tribute, put down some money and worked out a 1.85% rate through TD Auto for a portion of the car. This worked out to a payment of $344/month. This was all within our budget and very manageable.
Here’s the challenge, that was two years ago. In late 2013, I left that big promotion, cut my salary in more than half and became a missions pastor. I wouldn’t trade that for my old salary or any bonus. I am in love with what I do every day. But, with the new salary come some adjustments. Over the last nine months, we’ve been doing just fine. Health insurance is more expensive, we don’t have dental insurance yet and we’ve picked up some life insurance. Still, we’re getting by just fine. But, I’ve grown to really hate having that car payment. It’s time to do something about it.
I’ve been all over the world this year on mission trips and visited some of my closest friends who sold nearly all their belongings and crammed the rest in a few suitcases. I’ve been in their homes and apartments and they live very simply, but comfortably. I look around my house and I see junk drawers, full shelves and excess.
My attitude is changing. I try to do all my work as paperless as possible. I despise clutter. I’m fascinated by people who can pack a suitcase efficiently and live in 180-square-foot homes (this won’t be me, but still…). I’m ready to eliminate waste, unnecessary keepsakes and stuff I haven’t used in years and put those things to good use.
A few weeks ago, we decided that we were going to finally (after 9 months back in our house) have a big yard sale. The money was initially going to go into savings, but we’ve determined that it will all go to aggressively payoff our car payment. As of this writing, we have $6765.69 left to go.
But, I have an envelope. (Dave Ramsey, eat your heart out!) That envelope, which simply says “car” in blue Sharpie, is slowly growing as we purge things from our house. I truly believe we have $6700 worth of things we do not use in our house. I believe that for the financial security and savings for my family, we can find it and sell it. That will be the topic of some upcoming blog posts on how we find, decide, struggle and sell those items in order to pay off our car.
So far, I’ve taken to eBay and Craigslist to get the ball rolling. One of the first things we listed was my grandmother’s dining room table and six chairs on Craigslist. I sat at that table for countless Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It was one of the few things physical things I held on to after my grandparents passed away. I think I liked the idea of the table more than I liked the table itself. We converted our dining room into a playroom for the kids and had no more use for it. I checked with my family to see if anyone wanted it and they declined. So, we sold it yesterday and pocketed $220.
I’ve used eBay to sell some DVD series and Blu-Rays that we were more likely to get a couple dollars from online rather than a dollar at a yard sale. Additionally, I found that I had a ton of cologne (that I rarely wear) sitting in my bathroom closet. I started selling some barely used bottles and discovered there is quite the hot market for the smelly stuff online. I sold two bottles for over $60 combined and there’s another one that is 2/3 full going for $28 right now with a couple days still left to bid. Crazy stuff.
Years ago, I ordered a DVD from WWE.com. Yes, I’m aware of what I just wrote. I bought the history of the Intercontinental Championship because I’m a geek. I got a set of WWE action figures for free just for ordering. Evidently, those were pretty rare and I ended up turning a free gift into $36. Not too shabby. If you’re interested in buying any of the
junk high quality items from my house, you can click here. I have over $216 sitting in my PayPal account right now with more pending.
Now, this is not going to be easy. We have a lot of things in our garage that we easily recognize as items we no longer want. However, I am a sentimental person by nature. I see some things in my house and I remember where I was when I bought it, or who gave it to me, or why I bought it. I’m going to struggle to get rid of things. I’m not sure how deep we are going to have to cut in order to reach $6700, but I believe we can get there. It’s going to take some time. Sooner than later, some of the research we are doing about pricing is going to get really hard. I know I’m going to struggle with wanting to hold on to items in case they increase in value in the future (like the old-school Nintendo, Gameboy, Sega, tons of G.I. Joe and wrestling figures that are worth a ton today, but I sold long ago.)
The outcome is worth it. Decluttering is nice, but the emotional distance between me and “things” is going to be liberating as well. Knowing that we have one less payment to make will be fantastic. It means that we will be able to save again. We’ll be able to start putting some money away for retirement again. We will be able to plan for something exciting for our 10th anniversary next year. Then, we can figure out how we get rid of a house payment!
<Insert shameless plug to come to our yard sale on August 16th>
Jason. Man, we are right there with you. If you saw our house (garage, basement, couple rooms inside, my workshop, as well as a 10 X 15 RENTED storage building) you would think we belonged on Hoarders. However, I’m pretty creative in organizing and hiding and storing items so Hoarders WON’T approach us. I feel your pain. I am a sentimentalist and I can tell you where I got or was given or “picked up” just about everything in our 3,000+ sq. ft. house. Oh My Gosh. I forgot to mention the attic !!! We are in the “antique” business however antiques have quickly turned to JUNK. I will pick up a broken chair on the side of the road because I can fix it. I can cane it or cut it apart and make something else out of it. I love to repurpose things. But, I don’t move as fast as I used to and my intentions, though are pure, get the best of me. I’m beginning to believe the saying ” the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” I have the first Atari, plus games, that came out. I started collecting Snoopy, M&M’s (items …….. I ate the candy), COKE COKE COKE , and the Nascar items we have is shameful. We have THOUSANDS of collectible cards , cars, haulers, pictures and memorabilia worth THOUSANDS . But, ONLY if you find the person willing to buy it all. When someone asks me what something is “worth”, I tell them “only what you can GET for it” . I have learned the hard way. But, you know, we purchased all these items when money was readily available and we had little else to spend it on. Going back to “antiques” (which I have more vintage than antique) , but you would NOT believe the jewelry I have. SHAMEFUL !!! I have an entire bedroom dedicated to old jewelry, as well as the jewelry I make (from copper ). Then there’s the cubby closet ( I call it ) that’s full of fabric, unused sewing material, that is just taking up space and creating MORE clutter. It’s an addiction. And yes, I DO belong to AA ………………. Antiques Annonymous !!! For the past two months we have been really laboring over what to do. We know what is pulling us down and even our marriage down. Jerry’s health has cut off our extra income. We are both technically “retired”. I have even threatened to sell EVERYTHING ………….. I mean EVERYTHING. Pack my bags and move to Nicaragua. However, I haven’t heard God calling me to do that so we trudge on, trying to figure out the best , and yes most profitable , way to sell and reduce our overhead. I used to laugh at people who talked of being debt free but the older we get the more I see the need for that. On July 4 the Antique Mall was broken into and I lost over $3,000 in items (mostly jewelry). Didn’t phase me one bit; just that much more I won’t have to get rid of. THINGS !!! What makes us “collect” ? Do we NEED those items that I have searched high & low for. We go out of town (rarely) and I MUST go to shops in search of that one item I just HAVE to have. And, where is it now ? Oh, somewhere between the records from the 50’s and the boxes of jewelry I have accumulated. I downsize every year for the youth but it’s like pulling teeth to let it go. But, for the first time in my life, I have someone to relate to …….. YOU !! Your post leaves me determined to do the same. To let it go ! For, if we die tomorrow we will take none of it with us. So, I challenge you to dig in and let it go !! Don’t look back at what is on the curb, at Goodwill or any other charitable donation organization. Sure, sell what you can …………… that’s good money. And pay those bills off !! Jerry has been asking me to “learn to sell on Ebay”. Heck, if YOU can, man, I know ” I ” can !! CAN I GET AN AMEN ?????
[…] car loan balance! In case you haven’t been following along and want the back story, check out Part I and Part 2. The short version of this story is that I spent a year traveling to visit missionary […]