Monday, September 15, 2014

Paying down debt - you really can I swear

(day 14 two weeks no drinky)

Like, no shit this is how we are lately
I've been selling stuff on Ebay for years.  I go to thrift stores and painstakingly (ugh) comb the racks of clothes for items worth selling.  It's time consuming, and it can be disgusting and a bit difficult for an introvert (crazy people are all! over! thrift stores!) but sometimes I find an amazing item to sell.

[Remember the movie Flashdance?  (were you alive during the 80's?) Jennifer Beals wore these fancy designer branded jeans - Marithé et François Girbaud was the designer.  I happened to miss that fad (I was wearing Levis at the time, har) but evidently ALL THE GIRLS in Jr Hi wanted those jeans.  I found a dress at a thrift store for $5 by that designer

From my Ebay ad
I have it listed at $95.  There are 3 people 'watching' it right now - I'm hoping it sells soon.]

I just sold an Ann Taylor skirt (bought for $3, sold for $20), a Lilly Pulitzer top (bought for $1, sold for $10) (both boughten at thrift stores) (boughten is TOO a word) and I also sold one of my old Coach purses for $80. (getting rid of my stuff, I continue to be so over having stuff)

On average, on any day in the Am Vets or Goodwill store, I will find 10-15 Ann Taylor pieces in fabulous condition.  I'll maybe buy 3 of those, they need to be either in fashion or sort of timeless, and in pristine condition because I suck at sewing repairs.  I also find stuff like Ralph Lauren men's long sleeve shirts with the polo pony embroidered, I find these by the dozens.  I am taking my time to learn more about men's shirts because I have discovered it is a THING and they will pay big bucks for certain brands.  I take a written list of brands I am looking for with me into the stores.

I concentrate on clothing because it is easy to ship - lightweight and foldable.  (Shipping charges are no joke and you need to research that shit VERY WELL before you decide to start selling stuff using the USPS.)  I only sell the higher end stuff (Ann Taylor and above) because I refuse to store a bunch of used crap I am trying to sell for $5.  (I have maybe a dozen pieces hanging in my spare room closet awaiting selling/shipping right now, and that's about my max for storing stuff.)  Plus thrift stores charge a lot more these days than you maybe remember.  $5 is pretty average for a top or a skirt (which is ROBBERY).  So if I can't triple my money I don't play.  They always have sales too - one day it's the red tags, one day it's the yellow tags...  So I only buy that color tag on that day, unless it's a screaming amazing deal.  Sometimes I leave with nothing (nothing but a raging case of I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER, anyway.)  (I also wash everything when I get it home.  I cannot stand the smell of thrift stores and I refuse to sell something that's been kicked around closets/yard sales/back rooms of thrift stores over and over.  It takes time/detergent/electricity but my broken brain can't take the thought of it otherwise.)

What I'm saying is, if you need some extra money and you have the time, this is one way to go.

The other thing I'm doing?  Like selling that purse, I am getting rid of more of my own crap.  I moved across the country twice and some stuff is still in boxes from the first move.  That shit is going down next to 'The Magical Giving Dumpster of Love' (I'll do a follow-up post on that) or it is going to be taken down to the the concrete picnic benches along the river for the homeless (I give them any clothes I end up not selling on Ebay too, along with shampoo/soaps from hotels and our old shoes when we buy new) OR I am selling it.

Ladies - you know how when you buy cosmetics from a fancy brand, like Lancome or Clinique, you get those 'gift with purchase' items?  I sell all of mine on Ebay also.  They go for at least $5 each, and hey, it was free to me and if I'm not using it, I sell it.  You would be shocked at what people will pay money for!  Jeff brought home a 'One Dinar' bank note from Bahrain the last time he went.  It is worth .86 cents at current exchange rates.  I can sell it for $5 on Ebay.  I KNOW, RIGHT?

Like I said above, if it wont sell?  I give it away.  I'm not only interested in making money, I want to get rid of my crap.  CDs are not ever going to sell anymore, not worth the time and trouble - especially the ones I listen to.  Plus with internet radio, why have CDs?  I am going to make a pile of the ones I don't listen to anymore (Martina McBride?  Steely Dan?  Squirrel Nut Zippers?  anyone?) and just put them next to the dumpster.  Someone will want them.  I could donate them back to the thrift store too, but I like the instant karma I get from that dumpster.

I also signed up for this survey site, Swagbucks.  (I'm not posting a link because you are smart, you can find it.  I ain't selllin' you nothin'.)  You earn points using that page to do your internet searches, or watching their short commercials or taking surveys and all that crap.  I start one of the commercials, turn the sound off on my computer and open a new window and ignore it - they just play while I do other stuff.  Then you go and click the next one.  I use the search feature until it pisses me off then I open another window and use Google.  I RARELY qualify for their surveys, but anyone with any health problems, or who is in a younger age bracket/different ethnicity/different income bracket will probably fare much better.  You can really score points on those surveys, and all they take is time.  It's BORING and everything, but you rack up points using all those different ways on the site and for 450 Swagbucks points you can get a $5 amazon gift card.  I've gotten 4 of those in the last month or so - $20 for doing nothing essentially.

There are several kinds of survey sites out there, just search for one.  I haven't had a problem with this one, YMMV (your mileage may vary)

I am in FULL ON debt pay off mode.  That is what this post is about.  I am reading personal finance blogs and researching debt snowballs and just working it.  By this time next year I want to be able to save at least 75% of Jeff's paycheck - only using 30% to live on and pay bills.  Then after that I'll work towards 80%.  I wish I had started this 20 years ago.

No more credit cards, no more interest payments, no more loans.  NONE.  I want all of our money working for US.  I have no clue about investments, or 401k vs Roth IRA or any of that crap.  I suppose once I have money to invest I will learn.  I'm not interested in day trading or buying gold coins or swapping money from one credit card to another with zero interest for 90 days - that sounds like rigmarole to me and I HATE RIGMAROLE.

How I'm Helping Us Pay Down Debt:

1.  I created a payment tracker, took over paying bills, and made certain that every dollar is assigned a job.  Mine is a ZERO SUM payment schedule - pay bills, pay envelopes, snowball pay one debt as much extra money as you can, the rest goes to savings.  I leave $40/$50 in the account to float over to next payday, just in case.  But that's all that sits in that account.  I take cash out for each of us, for groceries, for rent, for entertainment, and for a wee tiny emergency fund (currently empty as dogs went to groomer it was a total emergency of the smelly variety.)  We have money in savings now, an unheard of thing really, and are on track to pay off our first loan by early October.  I take this 'job' very seriously these days.  I bought NEW fabric envelopes to keep our cash in because the paper ones disintegrated
Very Serious Cash Envelopes for our budget (not our actual envelopes)
And by 'very seriously' I mean 'damn this is dull how can I have fun with this'?  Those envelopes are awesome, btw - very sturdy.  We will be using this system for another year at least.  They were $20 for 6 of them.  WHATEVER I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA

Having a CASH ONLY system is the bomb, btw.  Both of us have turned into miserly frugal Scrooges. Out to eat?  nah, we have groceries.  Plus the gas.  (Jeff takes each car once a payday to the base where he works to get gas.  Here in San Diego, cheap gas at the base runs us $3.65 A GALLON holy crap.)

2.  I shop for groceries at a discount food store.  It sucks ass, frankly.  I used to be able to get a Starbucks coffee INSIDE the store, to sip on while I perused the deli cheeses and various marinades.  Now?  I have my mp3 player going, I keep track of every cent on my calculator app, I make certain I don't go over my cash allowance, I shop with a list, and I don't dilly-dally.  The discount stores aren't air conditioned very much, they have minimal variety (except of like, sugary breakfast cereal and packaged pasta meal crap), and you have to bag your own groceries.  I pay cash out of my little envelope and walk out with a shit-ton of food for not much money.

3.  I am working on bringing in any income at all - I started taking our recycling in for cash.  It is not fun, not one bit.  I tend to wait until the trunk and the back seat of my car (poor car, poor poor pretty car) are full of kitchen trash bags filled with cans/plastic drink containers.  I also will gank any recycling from the dumpster as I walk past - beer bottles, cans, plastic water bottles, anything with the CRV logo on it.  At 0.5 cents per, I absolutely will take it.  I know, I know - it sounds scroungy, but it's free money.  I also will pick up every single coin I find while walking, heads up, tails up, whatever it's free money.

All change goes into the change jar.  Our bank has a change counter machine - it deposits the total directly into your account with no charges, how cool is that?  I used to use CoinStar - and I still would if my bank didn't offer this.  Yeah, they charge a fee but far better than me counting and rolling all those coins.  (Yes, I'll dig cans out of the dumpster and shop in thrift stores but I wont count my own coins.  I am bat crap crazy, we have established that.)

3.  I sell stuff on Ebay:  I have about $180 in my paypal account right now.  Scheduled purchases include ink for the printer, and part of a birthday present for my grandson.  I plan on listing another purse (it's an illness, I tell you, I need to STOP WITH THE PURSES) and I have updated my other listings so that they refresh in the search engine on the site.  This is a fun side business for me but it runs feast/famine so there is no guarantee of any amount of money.  PayPal will deposit any amount of your funds directly into your bank account, so you can use it as cash to pay bills.

4.:  I use that survey search engine site:  I now have about $35 in amazon gift cards (they never expire.) Amazon has everything, and offers free shipping.  No option for cash but with birthdays and xmas shopping you can't lose here.  Free money, hellz yeah.

I guess this ties into my woo-woo tin foil hat stuff - I think debt is a created way for TPTB (the powers that be) to keep us tied into the system.  Keep us working at jobs so that we can buy a new car, a new tablecloth or outfit for fall, a new phone, all with contracts or interest payments.  Even buying a house ties you to an area, keeps you in a stranglehold so that if you DO have an opportunity to switch jobs to a higher paying one you cannot go without a big pile of rigmarole.  I have been half in/half out of this merry go round for years.  I wear thrift store used clothes but buy fancy purses.  It makes no sense, I was letting my greed and vanity tell me I needed a certain bag to compete.  I now understand the whole 'hipster' thing very well - I can't afford what you're selling me so I'm going the OTHER direction and buying a used 1974 volkswagon/carrying a canvas bag/staying in Motel 6.

I mean SERIOUSLY what is up with the 'December to Remember' Lexus commercials, does any normal person get a brand new $40,000 car as a gift?  If jeff went out and bought a new $300 tv without telling me I would whoop his ass.  Much less a car with a loan that ties up our income for 10 years!!  Or the diamond commercials at valentine's day.  (and PS those chocolate diamonds?  they are the crap of the diamond world.  Remember such terms as CLARITY and COLOR?  historically only the white diamonds (Elizabeth Taylor!) are worth anything.  The diamond companies CREATED a market for their trash and people are buying it!)

Take a look at your next credit card bill.  There was a new law passed that says they have to disclose info about interest you pay - there is a box on there somewhere that will tell you how long you will be paying if you pay the minimum payment.  LOOK AT IT.  You will never, ever, pay that bitch off.  Not without upping the payments.

Anywhozle - if you are thinking of paying down your debt/paying up your savings, IT IS POSSIBLE.  Maybe only a dollar at a time, but it is possible.

TL:DR - do what you have to do to get out of debt.  The end.


  1. These days I am so broke I can't pay attention.

    1. I used to have a bumper sticker that said 'I'm so broke I can't even change my mind' har dee har.

      Money sucks. Being a grown up sucks.

  2. Congrats on your efforts! You sound so enthusiastic, and clearly you're making progress, and that's AWESOME! I think I started out ahead--by being homeless right out of college and not being able to qualify for credit cards, I just got used to living off cash. That makes me relieved now that every time you turn around, you hear about credit card information being stolen by hackers. The good thing about cash is, once it leaves your hand, it can no longer be associated with you. Spend $40 at the grocery store, pay cash, and you don't have to worry about the credit card machine skimming your information. The rare times we do go out to eat, we pay cash (including tip) so the server actually gets the tip, not the restaurant.

    1. ooops, sorry; forget my name doesn't post. --LuLoo

  3. TWO WEEKS sober is awesome! One BIG thrill I remember was my 1st VISA bill with NO booze on it!

    This money stuff is like a game for me. A new addiction that doesn't hurt me, it helps me. Love finding out that I'm not the only one that plays.

    Right now, I'm obsessed with auctioning via FB groups because there's no Ebay or Paypal fees and no need to pack and ship. Buyer does a porch pick up and leaves the cash in my mailbox. Of course, living in a town where we don't even lock our doors helps!

    In the past when I Ebayed, my big scores came from books I found at thrift stores. Once bought a book about Princess Di and it had a copy of the original service at St. Paul's tucked inside as a book mark. $5 for the book, which didn't sell and sold the "bookmark" for $90!

    I'm also obsessed with not wasting food. If fruits and veggies are looking a little sad, bam, in the freezer. Leftovers...who wants to eat the same stuff three days in a row? They get frozen for when my daughter is too rushed to make a lunch.

    Love reading your strategies, Gladys! I may steal a few.

  4. (two weeks is awesome and hard and I feel better (again) and I'm proud of my baby sobriety. thank you.)

    I am absolutely obsessed, it's true for me too! I may try the book thing - thrift stores are a goldmine for books.

    If anyone out there is interested in thrifting - try to find an Am Vets or a Ladies Auxiliary or whatever rather than Goodwill or Salvation Army - those last two charge really high prices unless you find a sale day. I have seen blouses and skirts for $10.00 and i'm sorry, I'm not paying that much for something with someone else's DNA all over it *shudder*

    I love the game of saving money right now. There are so many ways to cut costs and whittle debt down. I also like using the 'snowflake' method where you chuck every extra $10 or $5 at a debt, whenever you find it. It helps pay the principal and lower the interest and it's fun to throw a big FU*K YOU! at the loan company every time.

    My tire that i fixed with Fix A Flat a week or so ago is still going strong, still fine. It has a pretty big screw in it but *meh* it's holding air, the tread is still really good, and I'm not prepared to dump $500 into tires (because you can't buy just ONE, bad for your car *eye roll*) and if it's working, don't fix it.

    I feel about this budgeting/cash envelope thing the way I did when I first started the 'no grain' thing and I was feeling and looking so much better - like I'm some kind of evangelist and want to convert EVERYONE! lol - but I figure my results may spark someone else to get started.

    My blog is all over the damned place lately. I'm SO GLAD anyone is still reading. I'm also so glad I went NC with my mother. That's why I have so much room to think/write about other stuff.

    Mulder, I wish you would start a blog about the houses you deal with, and the ghosts therein. And pictures of the vintage house interiors! THAT would be so interesting!!

  5. The guys I research for have just published a book (Meeting Place of the Dead: A True Haunting, available on Amazon) the most complex investigation they've ever done. I was instrumental in saving the place from demolition and gave them an intro to the owners. First time I entered I felt someone watching me. Hair on the back of my neck stood up.

    We have to be careful about keeping locations a secret so that crazies don't show up wanting to spend the night or vandalizing the place. I'm not involved in the investigations. I just research the history of places and names of those who either owned or were associated with it. Helps them Identify the spirits they're dealing with.

    This time ended badly, as one of the nastier spirits followed one of the researchers to his home!