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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Money, Victory Over STUFFITIS

                                                 A Strategy For Debt Free Living.

      Most people I know can always use a few more dollars. The trick is knowing how to get them without giving up the ones you already have. A good way to really understand that is to spend a day at yard sales. Yard sales can be used as a tactic to get ahead if properly done.  Have you ever gone to yard sales with the strategy of getting stuff for your own yard sale?  Yes going to yard sales, to have a yard sale.  It is not as dumb as it sounds.  In fact it is a lot smarter than most people think.  To make my point I will give you two reasons it is a good thing to do.  You can sometimes buy brand new clothes with the tags still on them for pennies on the dollar.  Recently my daughter and I stopped at a  yard sale with a friend of hers.  She had just been evicted from her home.  She lost everything she owned in the process. Which is another story.  The point is about all the clothes she had, were the ones on her back.  Knowing she also had no money I told her I would lend, translated give, her some money to get some clothes.  That girl deserves a Masters Degree in Retail Therapy.  For about fourteen dollars she had five outfits including shoes.  One dress she bought still had the store tags on it.  A $38 dress for one dollar, with the store tags still on it.  It was nice. So were the shoes which also had the tag on them.  They cost a whopping fifty cents.  Those are the kinds of things you look for when shopping to have your own yard sale. Secondly it is an investment in yourself. Yes this takes a lot of time, but it keeps you from otherwise spending money.  Also it can be made to pay for itself.  

      How do you make it pay for itself?  Well the last time I went to recycle pop cans they were paying sixty cents a pound.  I crunch mine so I can get more in the bag. Then I reuse the bags as many times as I can.  Six big yard waste size bags can hold quite a bit.  The trick is waiting till you get  a good sized amount.  The more you have, the more they pay you.  A nickel a pound more adds up, but you have to have 300 pounds to get that nickel.  Also you can enlist friends and family to help you get more cans quicker.  It helps them as they do not have to haul them off.  I am sixty five and just converted to Social Security.  I had been on Disability for the last eight years after having the "Big One." The powers that be took my Commercial Driver's License because I had  a defibrillator put in me. Overnight I went from self employed, to unemployed.  I had to sell my truck and all my equipment which helped keep us going till we got my first check.  We went six months and never missed a payment by the Grace of God.  I can do most anything I could do before the heart attack just not as fast.  If I keep at it I get it done eventually.  It is just a matter of pacing myself.  How I got into recycling at this late stage in life is in another story on my blog called "From Trash to Treasures"  Recycling is nothing knew to me.  Having been technically dead, and then jump started, I guess even I am recycled.  My Dad got me my first paper route when I was eleven.  My parents grew up during the "Great Depression" and knew how to get every penny out of anything.  Shortly after starting my route I discovered if I asked my customers to keep their papers for me they would.  About once a month I would take my trusty wagon and make many trips around my paper route.  After collecting the papers I would stack them in the front of our garage till there were enough to fill my Dad's pickup truck.  It did not make a lot of money, but it taught me the value of keeping your eyes open for an opportunity to make a buck.  

     I did not grow up in the rich neighborhood, but it was not all bad.  One thing I remember from my youth in northern Indiana is going out to get a bucket of coal from the coal bin. Usually I did it early in the morning. Especially remember the mornings when it was covered with snow. That was one of my first chores that did not get me an allowance.  It was my "duty" to get up before school, haul in enough to heat the house till I got home from school. Water for bathing and doing dishes was heated in a big pot on top of the coal burning stove. We did have inside plumbing though.  I had friends who did not.  So we were not quite at the bottom of the food chain, but very close.  Really primitive is when you have to cut a hole in the ice on the lake. Then haul the water into the house and heat it.  Most Americans do not know how good they have it today.  Of course this is not an uphill, both ways in a blizzard, barefoot, four miles to school story.  Actually it was pretty flat and only 3.5 miles one way to the high school.  Which got interesting in cold weather.  We did not ride the bus to school like kids do now.  For some reason it is hard to keep on track this evening.  Guess my goal is to show I lived what I am preaching here.  It is not just something I am typing up to get attention.  

    Please forgive me the side trip down memory lane.  Will try to stay focused and make some points people will understand.  Hopefully they can get some benefit out of them. When I am shopping for stuff to sell myself, my goal is to get stuff for ten cents on the dollar or cheaper.  If you can get it that cheap you should be able to make some money on it.  However that is not always the case.  When I first started going to auctions I bought five couches for five dollars.  Man I thought I was going to get rich.  Well I got them all stacked in and on my pickup and hauled them to my shop.  About a year later I sold one for $10 and ended up burning the other four.  I doubled my money, but more than that I learned sometimes there is a reason stuff goes so cheap.  Nobody wants it.  In my many adventures at yard sales it is easy to see that people buy stuff they do not really need or want.  One of the biggest wastes of money is exercise equipment.  It is for me anyhow.  If I am going to exercise I want it to do something productive.  Not just waste my time. Mow the  yard, cut weeds, clean ditches, work in the garden or anything that produces some kind of benefit.  Buying exercise equipment is generally a waste of time.  This is an observation from eight years of running a second hand shop.  It has never been a real business, but it has been steady enough and busy enough to learn some things just do not sell.  At least not if you are intending to make money.  You want to keep turning your money over and not tie it up.  Sooner or later somebody may buy it, but my interest is not in warehousing stuff.  It is in making a little bit of money, into more money, so I can live at a little better.  At least at a little better than the standard of living I am able to live at on my disability.  We live comfortably and our retirement pays the bills and feeds us, but there is nothing left to do things we would like to do.  That is how most people learn to overcome STUFFITIS.  They realize making changes is the only way to get what they want in life.  Many people would be a lot better off if they learned to quit buying stuff they do not need.  Especially stuff they can get free like books. I have hundreds of thousands of books.  I just do not keep them at home.  In fact the place I keep them reminds me to put them back on the shelf so they do not clutter.  I even get new books by signing the want list.  Having a few like minded individuals as friends they keep their books in the same place.  They also sign the want list which helps get the book quicker. Time to get back on track.

     Many yard sales would be better off to take the stuff to Good Will or the Salvation Army and donate it.  Quite a few of the yard sales I go to are not worth the time it takes to get out of the car.  You can look at the stuff from the car and tell it belongs in the trash.  Many sales are nothing but clothes.  Those yard sales do not get much business from me.  I am a junk buyer.  You can make money on clothes, but like anything you have to know what people actually want.  At least what they will get up off their wallet for.  My goal is to get everything for ten cents on the dollar.  I would like to sell it for fifty cents on the dollar of its value.  However, even if I only get twenty cents on the dollar I have doubled my money.  Do that consistently and you should make some money.  When you are doing yard sales to make money you approach them with a whole different mindset than if you are buying for yourself.  Is it something people actually want?  Is it something people will actually buy? Also is it cheap enough that when I resell it I can actually hope to make some money on it?  Buying it and then finally getting rid of most of it as trash is not a wise investment.  This is something you need to treat as a serious business.  Done properly it may become a business and make you money. If nothing else it may get you a TV show.  There has been an explosion of shows on how to buy stuff and make money.  American Pickers, Junk Gypsies, Auction Hunters and Storage Wars are just a few.  Storage wars is based on real events.  I used to do it myself.  It is fun, but very competitive. It was never my intention to start a second hand business, but my four daughters probably saved my life by giving me a direction and some purpose. 

     It literally got dumped on me.  When my truck driving career was over the barn I used to park my truck in was sitting empty.  It is a very old 96 foot long barn.  Unless I find somebody with a need for a 112 year old horse stable with a loft that is 17 X 70 I am probably stuck with it.  It was originally the Monroe City Livery Stable. It still has the horse stalls along each side downstairs. That has proven to not be all bad.  My daughters asked if they could set up in my barn for the annual city wide yard sale.  As I was no longer using it for my truck I said okay.  Well a few weeks later I asked them when they were going to get "their stuff" out of "my barn."  It was then that they informed me it was now "my stuff."  Well I had a wood shop in the back and I pursued my hobby of making unique one of a kind bird houses and feeders. Which I sold on Ebay.  So I started a habit of setting a couple tables outside with stuff on them. People would stop and buy "stuff".  It still was not my goal to make it a business, but I could always use the few extra dollars.  With all the family having a place to get rid of used furniture, beds and whatever it did okay.  The barn is on the main highway through town which gets a lot of drive by traffic.  It is also zoned commercial which helps.

  About six months into "my business" my wife's cousin gave my youngest daughter a square hay baler.  She had a brain tumor, which she fought it for seven years.  People were donating things as part of a fund raiser for her. She went home to be with the Lord in August 2010.  Well I got tagged with the responsibility of selling it for her. A friend of ours told me to take it to the Amish auction near where we live.  They have one every Friday night. .  I had to have the baler there by noon he warned me if I wanted to get good money for it.  Then I had to set around till 8 PM to get my money after the auction was over.  Well I did and that was how I became to the proud owner of five couches.  From then on it was where I spent every Friday night for a long time.  Later I discovered Flea Markets, Farmers Markets and started going to yard sales as a business.  One thing led to another and my crafts became a full time business.  Or a better way to say it.  A full time social program.  To me it is not about making money.  It could be if someone was geared that way.  I buy broken furniture at the auctions usually for a $1 a piece, and then I fix it.  My goal is to simply give it to those who need it or sell it cheap enough to make a few dollars.  Then I can buy some more stuff to fix and sell.  It is nice to be able to help people that need help.  

      The nice thing about doing this is it does not take a ton of money to get started.  It is something you can do with the kids and family.  So you do not even need a baby sitter.  A car or pickup comes in handy, but if you have a gift of the gab you can even get around that obstacle.  Some cities control the amount or how often you can have a yard sale.  That is not a problem in most cases.   You can find a few friends to network with and to help each other. Having a buying partner is good also.  You can keep each other from buying on impulse.  The town I grew up in limits people to four yard sales a year.  That is okay because you want to get good stuff which means you need time for going to sales.  You want to become known for having good clean stuff an you will not have to advertise.  People will be looking for you and your bargains.  It is a business that will feed on itself and grow.  You may end up turning it into a an actual business.  Think long an  hard before you do.  Once you have a store.  You have to have set hours and getting out and doing yard sales may cut into your personal time. My sign says if the doors are open, I am open.  If they are closed I am closed.  That is the way it is.  Family comes first and it is a hobby not a business, at least for me.  It can become a very time consuming thing.  As you get braver and better you may build up some capital. Then you can get into doing something bigger like mowers, or cars and boats.  Or start doing specialty items like tools.  Eventually maybe even real estate.  Just staying with small items you can use the internet to pump your sales.  You can use Craigslist which is mostly free.  Then there is Etsy.com which is a nice site.  Finally if you find some serious collectibles you can try Ebay.  Check for local online outlets.  We have a county wide online yard sale where I live.  If they do not have one where you live, maybe that means you may have an opportunity to set one up.  Some of the ideas for doing these things are discussed in some of my other blogs.  Generally just type the word Money on my search bar. It will take you to other blogs of mine that deal with money issues.  Hope you enjoyed it and it helped in some way. 

1 comment:

  1. The tags are must in the cloth business to find the proper type of cloths easily.

    Why people avoid using the plastic key tags for car keys?

    ReplyDelete