Monday, July 26, 2010


Long time no chat. We were on the road solid for a month and I have a few campground reviews to eventually add, but mainly we were at campgrounds we have previously visited.

We had several visits from Murphy over the last few months that managed to drain our emergency fund below the safe to travel amount, way below. Including having to purchase four new tires while on the road. Those adventures are to be reported on another time.

Right now we are home and probably will be for some while until we get the emergency fund built back up and where we are comfortable with the bills again. So time for a little bit of what we are doing to live frugally around here while working hard to make some money so we can get back on the road.

As all of you from the Dave Ramsey and other yahoogroups I’m on already know I’m becoming a selling machine. Over the years we have “acquired” a lot of things from one source or another. We are scroungers by nature and therefore have a unique collection of items. Our home, out buildings and even the land hold treasures of all sorts for someone. Some would call it junk.

Our days are currently kept busy with working with the produce from the garden, mainly tomatoes, finding items about the place to sell and listing them for sale. We are realistic in our prices and are willing to accept reasonable offers. We are finding that what is one man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure. The items we thought would surely sell fast are not moving at all and those we considered just giving away tend to sell, albeit at low prices, but it’s selling.

So that brings us to the theme of this post. Selling your excess to become gazelle intense, as Dave Ramsey calls it. For those of you not familiar with the Dave Ramsey method of becoming debt free the premise is simple. You pay the minimums on all your bills except the one with the lowest balance. This one you put every penny you can spare on and become “gazelle intense” to pay that bill off in record time. Then you roll the normal minimum for that bill in with any gazelle funds into the second lowest bill in a snowball fashion on up the chain until you have paid off your largest bill, not including your house.

By gazelle intense he means you should imagine a gazelle grazing along and moving slowly, much like the lowering of the principle on your bills are if you only pay the minimums on them. The gazelle moves slowly at that point, and so does your debt. However, when a gazelle looks up and sees a CHEETAH they sprint as fast as they can away because only a cheetah is as fast or faster than they are.

Bill collectors, Murphy and other such varmints are cheetahs in the financial world. To sprint away from them you need extra income. For some it’s delivering pizzas at night, for others it’s selling off all excess. As you all know we are already working weird hours, but it simply isn’t gazelle enough for us. So we are now selling off excess. In fact we are so gazelle intense we are selling off just about everything that isn’t nailed down because the thought of one slow month of mystery shopping putting us behind on bills really upsets us. So the bills need to come down, and come down now with gazelle intensity.

On some groups I’m on I am surprised to learn many people have no idea where or how to list things for sale. So here is a small tutorial in Question and Answer format:

Q: How do you determine what you want to sell?

A: There are several criteria I use when determining whether or not to sell/donate/trash something… as usual here’s a list:

1. Do I love it? Seriously, is it something you absolutely love and can’t imagine not having it in your life. Not, well that’s sort of cool to have, do I truly love it? Am I willing to insure it, pay to keep it warm, clean it etc.

2. Have I used it in the last year? No then you aren’t likely to use it again.

3. If I didn’t have one would I go into to debt to buy one? In other words is it worth staying in debt to keep it.

4. Do I have a duplicate of it? If so do I need two?

5. Do I remember where I got it or why I got it?

6. Why am I considering keeping it? If it’s because great Aunt Hettie gave it to me and I truly hate the item then Aunt Hettie will never know it’s gone. Another thing that falls under this category are cookbooks and craft books. Anyone looking at my listings on the various places I have things for sale will see I am selling 99.99% of our vast library because I realized most of those books we were keeping were for just one or two recipes, craft patterns etc. Well duh, I have a scanner and as long as I do nothing that breaks copyright laws I can keep that ONE pattern or recipe for my personal use. Thus hundreds of books and magazines are now being listed for sale from our home library. I can live with clean uncluttered bookshelves, in fact I’m looking forward to it.

7. Could I get by without it without putting a lot of extra work or strain in my life, in other words does it have a true purpose? Preferably more than one use.

8. If I find I need it later is there someone I could borrow or rent one from?

8. If I sold it what would I use the money for I’d rather have? The answer for me on this is simple, a debt free existence.

Q: Where would I sell it?

A: The outlets for this are endless, you can either go the pay for an ad or the free ad route.

First the paid for ad. Everyone who is on the internet has heard of ebay and know it has both auctions and buy it now features. Did you also know they have a sister site for books, dvds, computer and video games, vhs, blue ray and all other types of media. It’s called Listing there is fast and easy, you set the price and they lead people to your ad. Then you pay them a fee ONLY when the item sells.It is not an auction site.

You can also list on sites similar to at, Barnes Nobles’ website, and numerous other sites. If you have ever purchased a used book on the net chances are that company also has it where you can list your used books at that site.

There are also various other auction sites besides ebay, they are just lesser known. The important thing to know is with any site, be it free or be it fee is to READ the rules and regulations. Calculate your fees and determine if you will truly make anything using these fee sites.

You can also always run an ad in your local paper or Thrifty Nickel as well.

FREE sites are also in abundance they range from the well know to but did you also know there are free sites on yahoogroups? They are usually in conjunction with the freecycle lists and are commonly known as cheapcycle. What is freecycle? It is where you can give away anything LEGAL you want and all the person has to do is come pick it up. It’s a great way to recycle useable items when you don’t want to mess with selling them.

Cheapcycle is simply you are selling the items at a cheap price. To find the proper freecycle or cheapcycle for your area on do a search for your city, state, area or whatever on yahoogroups with the words freecycle , cheapcycle, selling, buy, sell, trade, barter or similar words and they will pop up for you. Then you follow the steps to join the group and list away.

Your ad on the yahoogroups is unlimited in size and you can upload photos to the photo section is an “album” for everything you have for sale on the group website OR you can upload the photo to something like photobucket once and put a link to those photos on all the ads at once.

The drawback to these lists is only the people who subscribe to them see your ad. If you want a bigger audience for free then you should consider listing on or both are free and you can upload photos for your ad for free as well.

There are a few drawbacks to this type of ad as well. The main one is your ad is only top dog for that section as long as no one else lists another similar ad. Then you move down the chain and soon your ad is out of sight. You cannot cross post your ads either. For example I want to list numerous lots of homesteading type magazines. This is a niche market item so ideally you would want to list them not only in books and magazines, but also in farm and equipment because they are more geared toward the farmers. But you must choose one or the other. Again read the rules.

Then there is the tried and true putting a sign up at the laundermat, grocery store or wherever. You know the ins and outs of that.

Q: How do you figure out the price for your item?

A: This is the tough one. There are several variables to consider and I’m certain I won’t cover them all here, but here goes.

1. When listing on a website that has similar items look for what the items are going for there. Not necessarily what they are being listed for but what they are going for. An example is ebay. To find out what an item went for there do an advanced search for the item. In that advanced search narrow to the search to completed auctions. You will quickly be able to see what the item sold for. Be sure and look at what type of handling fees were added in for the item as well. Something may have sold at a higher price because it was ran as a “free shipping” sale. We all know the seller didn’t completely absorb the price of shipping, so their original price was probably adjusted higher to accommodate the shipping. So just because their item sold higher than XYZ’s (who charged shipping) item doesn’t necessarily mean your item will sell that high.

On sites like they conveniently show you who else has a similar item in a similar condition and how much they have listed it for and then you can adjust your price up or down accordingly. Being cheapest is not always the best thing.

2. How much did you originally pay for it? Things depreciate quickly the minute you walk away from the cash register with them. At least until they become antiques then they MAY go up in price. The general rule of thumb is ask ½ of what you paid for it if it’s still in great condition.

3. Judge that great condition honestly and adjust your price down accordingly from the ½ price of new. Is it clean? Has it gotten scratched? Does it have an odor? All these things count. Don’t list an item in “like new” condition if it can’t meet this criteria. New things are not dirty, scratched up or stinky.

I personally will not knowingly purchase something from a smoker. Let me say right now if you smoke that is YOUR choice. We happen to have allergies to smoke in our home and can’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke. So it makes no sense for me to purchase something that I can’t use. And yes, even if you Febreeze the heck out of it we allergic non-smokers will still be able to smell it.

4. When it comes to antiques, collectibles and similar items I recommend getting a price guide from the library to figure out where to list these items and for what price.

5. Another thing to consider is will you make any money from it? If you are using a fee type listing place you need to consider what your fees will be and adjust your price accordingly. After all it’s too much work to do to go in the hole because your fees were so high. Consider all the fees from start to finish. I’ll use ebay for an example.

Ebay has a listing fee, an additional photo fee, a final sale fee. Then if you use paypal and the person uses a charge card there is a fee for the credit card usage. Again, read the rules!

At this point I might add don’t consider your time in calculating profit. This is a hard concept for some people. I know one couple in particular who are in deep financial distress and have literally thousands of items they could sell to rectify the matter and have yet to list a thing for sale because “I won’t get anything for my time.”

It’s all I can do to not scream at them “So you would rather be homeless?” Whether you are gazelle intense because the bill collectors are pounding at your soon to be foreclosed on door or to take that dream vacation the concept is the same. You can make very little per hour and add at least some money to your family coffers or you can sit down and give up. The choice is yours.. Me I’m standing up and digging out everything I can to sell.

Q: What do you put in your ad?

A: Anything about the item you know about it. Stress the positives, but do not lie about the condition of the item. My ads include if they have a stain or other damage, that they are from a smoke free home and similar information. If your items are coming from a pet free home, include that. A lot of people are allergic to cats and dogs and would prefer to purchase items that are dander free.

Also list any stipulations you have about payment, shipping or similar things. Any discounts you will give for multiple purchases or similar purchase requirements. Discounts encourage sales. I take cash and non-credit card paypal payments only.

If you are willing to sell out of the US then be sure and stress you want your payments in US currency only or you may find yourself paying to have the money converted from a foreign currency and that can eat away at your profit as well.  Be sure and read the rules about this on fee sites closely.  I am told that ebay now forbids you to make that stipulation, if this is so then I'd recommend not selling outside the US.  I once sold a high dollar item that if I'd had to pay the fees for the currency exchange I would have gone in the hole on the sale.

Q: I’ve sold the item now what?

A: Deliver or ship immediately upon receipt of payment, happy buyers are repeat buyers. The sooner they get what they paid for the happier they are. Sometimes it pays to go the extra step. Example: Media shipping for books and similar materials is sometimes actually higher or nearly the same as First Class shipping. Media rate takes 5 business days to most locations, First Class takes 2 business days. If the customer has paid for Media and I see that for only a few cents more it could go First Class I generally ship it first class. A happy customer is a repeat customer.

Package the item up well. Package it the way you would like to receive it. I tend to line all my boxes with a plastic bag just in case the mail carrier leaves the package out it the rain on delivery day. DO NOT use food boxes for anything going overseas. We once had a shipment get delayed for weeks due to the fact we use clean grocery store boxes to ship the item in. Health laws required the postal service open such packages and inspect them. Unfortunately during that inspection the collectible item we sold got broken and all sorts of hassle happened--a long ugly story and yes it was insured.

Insurance is another subject, always offer to let the customer purchase shipping insurance when applicable, get in writing (email) if they turn it down so if something does happen to the shipment you at least tried to get them to insure it.  In all the years we've been selling things here and there and shipping we've only had two items get lost/broken and luckily both were insured.

If it’s a website that has feedback options, leave feedback for the customer.

Q: Now that it’s all said and done what now?

A: Enjoy the fruits of your labors. Any money we make goes directly on bills. We have a goal we want to be debt free by spring 2015 or before. The sooner I put even $10 on a bill the less interest we will have to pay which in the long run will mean far less money needed to pay off the debt.

I will confess that small amounts each month go toward paying cash for our celebration trip to Walt Disney World once we are debt free. We plan on living large on that trip, so a lot of cash needs to be put back for it. But just a little at a time, I’d rather get debt free as fast as possible so 99.99% of our money is going on our debt..

If you have any further questions please fill free to leave a comment. If you are interested in what we have for sale please contact me directly at and I’ll send you links to my items for sale. You might just be surprised as to what all we have on this 90 acres with all its numerous outbuildings for sale.

Jan who is looking forward to a clean, well organized and paid for home in OK

No comments:

Post a Comment