Cleaning Out

We have been whirl-winding through our​ house, getting rid of stuff we don’t need. Recently there has been a focus in the garage, which is mostly my stuff. I fix cars out there a lot and it is a source of income, so I do have a lot of equipment. It’s really hard for me to let go of tools knowing that at some point I was stuck and needed to buy a tool to finish the job. 

I was able to let go of a lot recently though and consolidated several tool boxes into one big one.  There are times when we will spend money in order to consolidate. Clutter is the enemy. It results in wasted time cleaning and reorganizing with a result of trying to make it look like you don’t have the stuff, so why have it?  

Many times you can get rid of a few items that serve the same purpose and replace them with one that you do really like. You can probably sell the old items and get some money for that new one. 

Do not fool yourself into trying to justify why you don’t want to sell something because of how much you paid for it originally. If it was a piece of electronics like a computer, you certainly paid a lot more than it’s worth now if you bought it new. If you aren’t doing anything with whatever the item is, don’t worry about how much you bought it for or how much you will lose on the sale, just get rid of it. It’s just adding to the clutter and stress that you don’t need. 

Remember that your health is priority one. When you die, your euligy isn’t going to include any kind words about your AMG Mercedes or your MK purse. Nobody really cares about that shit. 

So try to focus on what will improve the quality of your life, not what will make you more lazy. This is all about weighing your needs and wants, and if you do want to downsize in some areas, you’ll have to decide whether spending some money will actually make you feel better outside of that original purchase buzz. 

Two of My Recent Mistakes

Isn’t it nice to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes?

1. I upgraded a part on a friend’s car, which left us with a perfectly fine and functioning original part. He said he didn’t want it and told me I could sell it if I wanted to.

I listed the part on eBay to cast a wide net to prospective buyers and used eBay’s recommended shipping cost to let sellers know how much it would cost to ship it to them. That was the mistake. 

I had received a few bids on the part and it ended up selling for a little over $20, so the buyer sent me $30-something total to cover the shipping. Here is where the first mistake really presents itself…
When I got to the post office, I learned that the box was a little oversized for their standard shipping rates and that when that is the case, they double the shipping weight too. Shipping to FL from NY was $40 using priority shipping, which is what the listing said I would be using. I could have saved a little money using ground but that would have been 6-10 days, with the risk of receiving negative feedback on my eBay account, which has a lot of sales with 100% positive feedback.  I decided to eat this one and learn the lesson.  I will now weigh and measure every box to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

2. This touching story should have never happened. Remember the post where I found all of that scrap metal on a walk and was going to get paid after bringing it to the scrap yard?  Well, it wasn’t aluminum. It was steel, which is nearly worthless. Thankfully, I caught this before making the trip to the junker. I’m not great at identifying metals, but I should have known this wasn’t aluminum tubing while I was loading it into my car. It was too heavy.

The way to avoid this one is to keep a magnet in your car. If the magnet sticks to the metal, don’t pick it up.

Lessons learned. Do you have any that you’d like to share that might help someone out?

Your Clothes

I’m going to get fired up while writing this one, I know it, because I know me. 

I rarely buy clothes. I am wearing a belt right now that I got in 1999. I wore pants to work yesterday that I got in the mid 2000s. Why?  Because there is nothing wrong with them. I’m not trying to impress anyone with fancy duds. If my wife is ok with it, then so am I. She happens to be ok with it. 

I own less than 50 articles of clothing right now. That sounds like a lot, but it’s not. I have undies, socks, a few solid color t-shirts, a Beatles t-shirt, a Fender t-shirt, an MS bike tour t-shirt, a pasta sauce t-shirt, two jeans, three sweatpants, a hoodie, five dressy shirts, three dress pants, some undershirts, a couple of sweaters, and three flannel shirts. Even that seems excessive. I think I am going to get rid of all of my socks and just get one color because you can’t really see them, I don’t care, and sorting them sucks. I have a pair of boots, brown and black dress pants (I can probably downgrade here too if I ditch brown related dress outfits), and a couple of coats. 

I got rid of a ton of clothes recently. A ton. People who I work with know I wear the same stuff all the time. Having less makes decisions easier when getting ready for the day. Wash loads are more frequent, but smaller and easier to manage. 

When I do buy clothes, which I don’t, they are from second hand stores or bargain basket sale deals from Walmart or Kohl’s.  I’m not a kid jumping around on my knees worrying about wearing them out. I sit at a freaking desk at work most of the time, so quality means very little to me. You aren’t going to sell me on the “feel” of a $1000 suit. Comfort is super important to me, but so is price. I would wear sweatpants and t-shirts or hoodies every day if I could. And why can’t I?  A few months ago while browsing a Goodwill, I found about ten fleeces in excellent condition by brands such as L.L. Bean, Landsend, and Columbia, all for less than $5. My wife even got a Mountain Hardware jacket for $5 a few years ago!

Rant time – dress to impress, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. BS. Dress me up, I do less work. I’m unconformable. It does nothing to my mind to improve my performance. Stop it. 

I went to a Louis Vuitton store in Phoenix years ago and it turned my stomach. I curiously asked the guy working there how much for the golf bag and he said, “eight.” I laughed and said, “eight hundred dollars for a golf bag?” He did not laugh, but replied, “eight thousand dollars.” I don’t know if it should or not, but that just pissed me off.  I feel like I wouldn’t have much in common with the kind of person who would buy something like that, but who knows?  Wrong. I know, I wouldn’t. Bath towels were $200 and they weren’t spun from unicorns tails. They felt like the ones I’ve been using, since, I don’t know if I’ve ever bought new ones?  I have not personally ever purchased a towel. I think I stole a few from my parents when I first moved out and my wife might have bought some, but they work great!  I can even dry myself off with them after a shower. I wonder if anyone has checked the tags to see if they were designer while they were hanging on the backs of the door?  Probably not. 

I mean, what are you really paying for here?  It’s like you just want to pay the people at the top of a particular company when you overspend on things like this. We KNOW that the cotton in them isn’t magical. So why is it so expensive?  We KNOW that the people who actually made them are not earning great wages or even using some special skill to make them. Where the hell do you think your money is going?  Designer fashion easily makes it to my top lists of useless industries. 

Using your cost-value knowledge, how much “better” are Versace socks at covering your feet than the Berkley-Jensens I got from BJs?  Hmm. You think about that one. 

Summary, get rid of clothes you rarely wear and spend less on the ones you do buy.  

Get Rid of It!

Here is a screenshot of what cleaning out some junk got me on eBay in the last two months. 


This is some stuff that was doing nothing for me. It added nothing to my life. 

Here is a shot of some recent Craigslist action. 

You are sitting on a gold mine, I’m tellin’ ya!  There is currently $250 worth of stuff sitting on there right now waiting for someone to snatch up. What would have done with these things?  What do you do with things you don’t use anymore?

I love these win-wins, when you get rid of junk and make money doing it. 

The apps make it so easy to list items too. You just take a picture of what you are selling and it walks you through the posting process. Setting up an account is easy too. 

Craigslist buyers can be easy to deal with or awful. There are a lot of scams out there and they list some of the signs in their site. 

Start to price your items by searching to see what other people are trying to get for theirs. I have a rule where I won’t meet up with anyone for under $20. It’s just not worth the hassle. I usually bring the sub-$20 items to work and give them away. 

Just meet up with the buyers or sellers somewhere public and only deal with cash. Don’t feel pressured to sell something just because they are offering you “$100 cash.” I hate when people say that as a part of their low ball offers. What the hell did they think you would accept other than cash?  It doesn’t sweeten the deal in any way. Also be prepared to be peppered with these lowball offers by throngs of idiots. 

eBay on the other hand is much easier to deal with when it comes to the buyers and sellers.  The only downside is that you have to package and ship the items when they sell and you have a feedback rating. If you sell busted stuff, you’ll get negative feedback and you’ll have a hard time selling anything else. Timeliness and service are important as well. It’s sort of like your own little business, and it actually is for many people. I’m proud to have 102 eBay sales with 100% positive reviews. Oh, you’ll also want to set up a PayPal account if you’re going to be using eBay. That’s easy to do too when you get to their site. 

Homework: Get eBay, PayPal, and Craigslist accounts then find one $20 item you can sell. It’ll be like the first time you smoked crack all over again. Cripes, I hope you weren’t able to make a strong connection there. 

Go!

Do I have to Go Without?

No!  You just want to take the big picture into consideration. 

If you are passionate about playing the piano and want to keep taking lessons to get better, then do it. Consider if what you are putting your money toward brings you some happiness. Not brief gratification, but something lasting that your really enjoy. 

Maybe you collect trinkets and this is also tied to your social life, keep doing it. You’ll be allocating funds from other areas you’ve saved to apply here and this should also be part of your budget so that the spending doesn’t get out of control. 

Something I’ve had to do a few times is scale back on my hobbies and what I’ve bought for them. I meantioned before that I used to have four guitars and a lot of photography equipment, but realized I could sell most of that stuff since I didn’t really need it. My basic needs in the hobbies were still satisfied with the basic gear I held on to. 

Just keep the end goal in mind and ask yourself if this spending will get in the way of what you want your future to look like. Ask yourself what is more important to you?

Renting vs Buying

Understanding the concept of depreciation and resale value can help you decide whether you should buy, rent, or borrow something. 

Let’s use a tile saw for example. The big box stores rent them for about $40/day. A quick search shows that you can buy one for between $50 and $300 from various easy to access stores. You want to ask yourself how often you are going to use one of these things and​ do you want to store it?

Some of you may already be thinking that buying one would be the way to go here because you could sell it after and still beat the rental cost. This is a good thought, but there might be a better option, or two. 

Clearly, if you know someone with one, you could ask them to borrow it and give them some beers, wine, whatever. If that’s not an option, then looking used is probably your best bet. 

Knowing that the second you use that new saw, it’s value will plummet, you will still be losing out on max value here. Fast depreciation is a problem with new purchases.  I wouldn’t imagine it would be hard to sell, but who knows. 

Now, searching on Craigslist shows that there are a bunch of used units ranging from $30-300. Some appear to be industrial units but keep in mind, these are the depreciated values here. After a one time use, you will likely be able to sell it for damn bear what you paid or possibly even more because someone else took​ the depreciation hit, just like with cars. 

I’d go for that cheap $30 one and try to sell it for $40. 

Likely Results? -$10 to +$10 (buying used and selling) vs -$40 (rent) vs -$60 to -$300 (new) vs -$20 to -$100 (buying new and selling). 

Ok, so i made up those numbers, but the point is that you have more options than buying or renting. Always remember that you can sell something after you’re done with it to recoup some, or more than all of your money. 

Don’t underestimate the value in selling things that you have no use for anymore. 

Mo’ Money Less Problems

Knowing that a lot of life’s stress revolves around your bills and your job, only an idiot would think that having more money would create more problems.

Cripes, the fact that the vast majority of the country has to work forty hours a week to SURVIVE should be an indication that money is the problem.

People who complain that the lottery winnings get taxed like crazy and you actually “only” walk away with half of that 100 million, just don’t get it. Get me a million bucks and I’m done with the race forever.

Getting a hold on you finances is the key to less “problems” and I believe that financial independence and having no debt is the pillar of happiness, allowing you to do whatever the hell you want with your time.

Someone actually told me that they weren’t interested in retiring early because they liked working…

Here are some other phrases that make me cringe:

– If you make more, you just spend more

– I’ll be paying that off for the rest of my life anyway

– It was on sale, so I couldn’t pass it up

– This might be my only chance to buy a new car

– I’m not going to go without in order to save money

There are flaws in all of those statements if you are trying to live more simply and save more money, or are even interested in freeing up your life to di what you want.

Being a regular follower of this site, you can identify what those issues are, can’t you?

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