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>