Monday, September 1, 2008

Weekend Update

We had a Big Garage Sale this weekend - we decided to part with all our baby paraphenalia plus a few other large items so we could make room in the basement for the kids to actually play in. I'm happy to say it was a success and we made a little over $500! Which is going straight into the Property Tax fund since the second half of the bill is due tomorrow. Oh well, at least we have more room in the garage and the basement.

The goal of the sale was two-fold; get rid of stuff and make some extra money too. We tried to mark stuff to sell, but not ridiculously low. I knew that whatever I had leftover would be going to charity (and would be a tax deduction) or I would eBay or Craig's List it and sell it that way.

Hand in hand with maximizing our "profit" was minimizing our expenses. We put an ad in the paper but also asked some neighbors to go in on it with us so after we divided it by five it ended up costing each family about $7. We also put a free ad on Craig's List as well as had the neighbor girls get their markers out and draw some colorful signs we posted on a few key streets in the neighborhood. We had only one folding table, so we borrowed a second table and Hubby got creative with a few leftover sheets of drywall, two sawhorses and some folding chairs to create two more large surfaces to put stuff on. For the most part Hubby watched the kids, but we took turns too and also juggled them between customers - not hugely convenient, but we made it work. I was really pleased that we were able to keep our costs down to less than $10 to put the sale on.

A friend of mine had a large garage sale last month and she thinks so differently, it's sometimes painful to watch... kind of like a train wreck, but you can't turn away. I try to wave my arms and warn the conductor, but he just goes full speed ahead! Cutting costs just isn't an issue for her; she bought the most expensive ad for the newspaper ($60) and rented (it would never, in a million years, occur to me to rent tables for a garage sale) several tables at $14 a pop. She also prices stuff ridiculously low - like a full set of 6-month old Calphalon (purging this because of a new-found concern about the non-stick surfaces) for under $50. She bought it for $500. Of course it flew out of her sale, why wouldn't it? But I'm pretty darn sure someone would have paid more for such a nice set of almost-new Calphalon. But her goal was just to get rid of everything, who cares about pricing, just move it. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you are living paycheck to paycheck that doesn't seem to be the smartest choice. She told me that after her expenses (including hiring a babysitter for her son so her husband could go and play tennis) she hardly broke even. It would have probably been a better option for her to just donate everything and get the tax deduction instead of sitting out in the blistering heat for two days.

A few weeks ago she mentioned they bought a new mini van, which surprised me because their old mini van was not even 3 years old. She said it needed new tires, was out of warranty and they had paid it off. So instead of buying the new tires, they bought a new mini van. My mind is still trying to comprehend the reasoning behind that purchase. To add insult to injury it was a Toyota; I've been a lifelong Toyota owner because of their dependability and longevity. My first car, a Celica, was 10 years old when I bought my current Toyota in 1999, which I still have, and plan to have for as long as I can. Would I like a newer, snazzier car? Sure, but my practical self can't justify getting rid of my current car which runs great and hasn't given me a stitch of trouble other than routine maintenance.

She is definitely someone that falls victim to Retail Therapy and has an excuse for why she needs everything she buys. It makes me sad, and we've talked about it but I think it's like losing weight. Once you hit a certain point it feels like you will never get to your goal weight, so why not just keep eating. Being deeply in debt probably feels like that; like you are never going to pay it all off, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Sometimes I'm a little jealous of her reckless spending - I wonder what would it be like for just a day or a week to be in her body and spend that freely. 401K contributions? What are those? Kid's college fund? Oh, I'll worry about that when the time comes. Property taxes coming due? We'll just refinance the house and squeeze out a little more equity to cover it. Shop sales or clip coupons? Too much trouble and Whole Foods is right at the corner - very convenient to buy everything there.

Sigh... I've predicted to Hubby that they will be in bankruptcy within 5 years - I really hope I'm wrong, but the writing seems so clearly on the wall.


The Queen said...

I indulge in retail therapy, too, from time to time...but I'm talking about a $20 pair of silver earrings or $10 yarn or some cutesy $5 item off Etsy. And you know what? My little purchases probably make me just as happy, if not happier, than your friend.

Money really can't buy happiness and it's a good thing, since I can't rely on it to make me happy!

Noelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noelle said...

I have been know to go the RT route myself - nothing wrong with that but 'cha gotta know your budget! I usually soothe myself with 1)yarn or 2)children's clothing. Shopping for my own clothes aren't nearly as much fun as shopping for them (and their stuff is a whole lot cheaper)

AshAsh said...

This was such a well written post! And it really spoke to a great problem with a lot of people in this country. And I think you're right, your friend probably WILL be bankrupt within the next five years and THEN she'll wish that she had listened to you.

P.S. I live right by a VW dealership. VW cars are my FAVORITE kind of car and I WISH I could buy one. Everytime I'm tempted to trade in and go for that car payment, I remind myself that I'd rather have a house than a new car.

Anonymous said...

OUCH! I hope your friend doesn't read your blog!!

I know what that's like though. Being frugally tight and watching someone you know squander money left and right when you see the righting so clearly on the wall what will happen...

Noelle said...

Hi Gin, Hi Ashley!

Thanks for your comments - it's comforting to hear that others feel the same way... it helps ease the pain of trying to do the "right thing" all the time with our $$. I do indulge too, I think we need that sometimes. I just try to stay within reason (said as I'm sipping my $3.35 Starbucks mocha)

No, she doesn't know about my blog - only a few friends know about it. That's a hard line to walk - you want to be able to speak your mind in your blog, but you don't want to hurt any feelings either. So I've cherry-picked the people who know about it. Hopefully that won't bite me in the butt someday...