Sunday, May 17, 2009

Donations down, Garage Sales up - my personal observation

I advertised on Craigs List and we sold about $500 worth of stuff - a refrigerator, a weight machine and a couch - before we had our garage sale.

The garage sale went very well and we sold another $500 worth of stuff - about half our household items - dining room table and chairs, china hutch, dresser, clothes, tools, etc.

A couple things we learned: people found our garage sale by their routine driving through the area each weekend looking for garage sale signs. I paid $12 to our local newspaper for 2 days - a ripoff - and about $7 to the local Pennysaver. I asked people who came to our garage sale how they found us and everyone said they saw the one sign we placed at the corner.

The other thing I learned is that there are more than a couple people who make their living by buying furniture and other household items at garage sales and then load them onto semis and truck them down to Mexico - Cabo San Lucas to be exact. They then resell them at a higher profit. Its business, nothing wrong with that. But some of our buyers were a little irked because they said they see the same truck each weekend just buying up all the goood stuff from people who need the cash. I think they're irked because they have a competitor on the weekends. These buyers think of garage sales as a hobby, something to do at their leisure on the weekends. Now they must compete with people who make buying at garage sales into a business.

Reflection of the state of our economy: I talked to the guy from Mexico and asked him about his business. He said the reason why he goes to garage sales more now than in the past is because he used to buy his stuff from the Goodwill and other charity stores but there's not much available these days because people have cut back on their donated items. So now he finds his stuff - furniture, bicycles, tools, mostly hard stuff (no clothing) - at garage sales. Because people are trying to get money for things they would have otherwise donated in a good economy - like me.

Well, we're up over a $1000 bucks so I'm happy.

Daughter's boyfriend caught stealing

One of the reasons why we want to get our 20 year old daughter out of the area we live in is because she needs to be around more serious college students and people her own age who have goals.

She just broke up with her boyfriend because he was caught stealing money at his place of employment. She doesn't want that kind of boyfriend and neither do we want her with someone like that.

She really wants to get out of the community college system, get into a 4-year university environment - in the next county - and be around more serious college students than she's found at the local junior college. We're planning to help her move out by the end of June or July. Her friend said she also wants to move out with our daughter and be her roommate but they both need to find jobs in the next county - an hour away - before they can move.

The nearest university to where we live is a little over an hour's drive away in the next county. If you're not out of this area - going to school somewhere or in the military - by the time you're out of high school here then you're not left with many options. The kids my wife and I see here who are in the 18-20 age group dont really have any direction and are not receiving much guidance from their step-parents.

My kids noticed that a lot of their friends have step parents or only one parent. The friends of my kids are basically told that they're an adult at age 18 and must take care of their own medical, dental, cell phone, living expenses, car insurance, etc.

We know a 19 year old kid who had to pay for his own wisdom teeth removal - at least that
s what he told us. There's another 19-20 year old kid who is driving around with no car insurance and no drivers license because he cant get his drivers license because he cant show proof of insurance because he doesn't have the money to pay for car insurance.

The kids who dont go into the military or go off to college after high school are the ones who end up costing our society in many ways.

My 21 year old son moved out

I don't think I mentioned that my son moved out of the house last April. He got himself a one bedroom apartment. He's supporting himself through odd jobs. But he's still taking classes at the local community college. I told him that he has to stay on track and take at least a couple classes each semester so that he can get a degree. We expect him to transfer to a four year university a year from now. We'll see.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stop renting the McMansion - save more money

I'm really excited and just wanted to tell someone.

My wife and I are going to move out of our $2000/mo McMansion (3200+ sq.ft, 3-car garage house with pool and spa) and into a $1300/mo 1300 sq.ft. condo - 1400 sq.ft. if you add in the stairs :) - at the end of the month. After you add up the savings in rent, utilities and maintenance we're going to be saving almost $1100/mo. YEA!!!

And my part-time job employer just agreed to pay me another $120/mo for more work. I'm excited!!!

I'll finally be able to realize one of my personal goals and help my kids with their college expenses. Of course they are both working and are helping pay for their college expenses too. I know a lot of parents out there dont agree with helping their kids attend a University and get a four year degree. But I believe it is my responsibility to help my kids make it into adulthood and to help them pursue their own dreams. And if their dreams entail a four-year University education then that is what I will help them to attain. Of course, they have to do the work.

We should have sacrificed earlier in our marriage. Doing so now makes me feel good knowing in my heart that I am doing the right thing. Funny thing is, it doesnt even feel like I'm sacrificing anything.

We're looking forward to living a simpler, less expensive and much lower maintenance lifestyle. We'll keep you all posted.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wage deflation or lose my part time job

The company I've been doing part time blogging for has told me they want me to write more technical blogs and lengthier blogs. The problem is they want to pay only 11% more for 40 to 100% more work. They want me to write 700-1000 word blogs - technical how-to's - for only $5 more than what I was writing before: 300-500 word blogs.

The math doesn't scale.

I've asked them to increase the pay linearly or to let me continue to post the shorter blogs at the old pay scale. Waiting to hear back from them. We'll see.

I dont think I want to do 40 to 100% more work for only an 11% increase in pay.

This is what happens in today's economy: wage deflation.

Expense reimbursement being cut

My company also informed us that we'll no longer be able to submit expense reports for remote Internet access.

The company is trying to save money. As long as I still have a job I'm okay with cutting back on commissions and expense reimbursements.

No Commissions first six months of 2009

My company informed us that we will get $0 in commissions during the first half of 2009. Last year my commissions for the first half of 2008 were about $15,000.

I'm dissapointed but I can survive since I've cut a lot of expenses out of the budget and my debt load has gone down. My overall CC debt stands at about $89,000 right now. We're still renting and will be for most likely another couple years. My debt repayment schedule has me paying off all my CC debt by April, 2012 - another three years.