Trying to pay off debt.....

plantmavenAugust 14, 2011

My husband was in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. I used the lion's share of his retirement plan to pay for his care. Which I would do again in a heart beat.

I bought a less costly home and then put my former house on the market. Thinking I would have $$ from the sale to use for my debt. Two months later was when the housing market fell.

My first mistake was to buy the "new" (older) house using a home equity loan on the house I was going to sell. Then it took 11 months for that house to sell and at a $28,000 loss. I had to accept that offer because I then owed taxes on the two houses I owned. I soon realized that I should have gotten a mtg on the "new"

I paid off the equity loan as soon has I sold my former home.

I now have no retirement plan and live on SS. I have $16,000 in debt. Part of that was a purchase of a new air conditioning/heating unit. That is a 12 month no interest plan. I am paying that. That means I can pay a few dollars above the minimum on the two credit cards.

I want to sell what I can to pay off that debt.

Being a widow I am hesitant to list on craigslist. I am willing to sell all my furniture, except my bed and a chair to sit in....while I twiddle my thumbs. LOL

How do I go about selling what jewelry I have. It's not a huge about, but every dollar will help.

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I forgot to mention that my pickup is a 2003 and I need it to go to doctors etc.
I do not eat out at all.
I have never been in a position like this and have no clue how to handle this.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 11:30AM
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Plantmaven, my heart goes out to you. I am sorry for the loss of your husband. If you live in an urban area, you can take photos of your furniture and show the photos to the managers of local used/antique furniture stores. That was how we got rid of two 50s lamps.

If you don't have any luck there, find a friend who will come over to be with you when someone comes in response to your CraigsList ad. Sell for cash only, and only to someone who can come in person to pick up the item. Post a good photo and describe the dimensions, etc. of the item.
Sorry, I can't help with selling jewelry, but I do know gold is at a high price these days.

If you are into gardening, you might be able to earn $$ by helping people design their landscaping or select their plants. You can also grow and sell plants at neighborhood yard sales.

There are other ways to earn a bit of money. My step mother works several days a week, staying with a man who needs to be reminded when to take his many medications. His wife still works, hence the need for someone to be with him during the day. Some people tutor students in the evening and on weekends. Just some ideas.

Best wishes to you.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 3:33PM
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If you have stuff you don't want and don't use, by all means try to sell it.

I'm sure it is overwhelming right now, but your debt really isn't that large. A relatively small change will get those credit cards paid off and then you can start using the monthly excess to build up an emergency fund for the next house repair etc.

If I were you, I'd be looking for something you can do to bring in a little extra money. It could be an official "job", but it doesn't have to be. I know that personally, I would love to find a caring, mature adult to look after my daughter one night a week. There are lots people out there who need help with an older relative or even their pet. It doesn't have to be big, but a semi-consistent stream of money is going to do a lot more long term good than selling off a few possessions.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Thank you for your kind words and ideas.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 9:48AM
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I recently became curious about how much I could get for a couple of gold chains that I haven't worn in more than 20 years and that have no sentimental value. The first place I went was a local jeweler that had a sign in the window that said they bought gold. They weighed the chains and took them to the back of the store where a manager presumably told the clerk to offer me $700. The next place I went was a "We Buy Gold/We Help You Sell on EBAY" kind of place - sort of a hole in the wall. They offered me $1028. The next place was a large fancier jeweler and they offered me around $800 or $1030 if I applied it to a purchase. Then I went to a pawn shop that also bought gold and was offered around $900. After all that I had a prety good idea of what that gold was worth. I suggest that anyone interested in selling jewelry do the same - go to several places and after they make you an offer just tell them that you have to think about it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 11:20AM
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I truly feel for you!

Have you looked at everything you can do to reduce your utility bills? My phone company doesn't advertise it, or even show it on their rates and plans page, but most have a rate plan for people who don't make a lot of calls, also for those who qualify for "lifeline" service. I have a bare-bones, minimal service plan (30 calls/month) which is only $17/month after all taxes & fees. I buy a phone card ($0.03/min) to use for long distance. If I didn't need or want the landline, I would just have a prepaid cell phone ($15/month).

Also if you are using a cable service and tell them that you are dropping it because you can't afford it, they will usually offer you a lower price. I can do without TV cable but wouldn't want to give up internet at home because of my job. If I weren't working, I could do without.

Since you have access to the internet, it is worth it also to check www. (yourtown or state) to get the least expensive gas in your area, if it is available where you live. I have figured that for my car, it is worth it to drive 10 extra miles for a full fill-up if I can save over 12 cents/gallon. Prices around here routinely range 30-40 cents from cheapest to highest.

There are companies that buy households of furniture as well -- usually they also will run tag sales. But, I don't think you would get as much from them as if you sold it for yourself.

Don't forget your local newspaper classifieds. Also you can sell furniture on ebay. That is where I got my china cabinet and buffet. I drove about 75 miles to get them.

If you go for listing on craigslist--go to gmail and set up an email that you will use just for that, and set it up so that it doesn't show your real name when you reply.

You will get some obvious spam responses to your ads (don't even open those), as well as people who are not really interested but "just want to look". You can usually weed them out with a few questions before you set an appointment and give them directions. If you post good pictures (most people post horrible pictures that show no details; they need to be close-ups), and offer to send more if requested, you will get some who are sure that they want to buy the item; deal with those folks.

Get some trusted help to move the item out to the porch or driveway for the buyer to see and pick up if at all possible. Avoid letting people into your house. Don't let people know that you live there alone -- mention your son whether he exists or not.

I have had good luck selling excess plants and starts on craigslist; I just price at about half of the local nurseries. $1-$4 depending on the type and size of plant. I will usually make $200 before I get tired of the "just want to look"ers and no-shows and quit for the year.

Hope some of that was helpful. Best wishes.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 4:24PM
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When my husband was diagnosed with AZ, I saw an attorney right away. He said I would only have my small social security check to live on. My friends said "not true", so I went to an estate lawyer and he told me to make an appt with the SRS the day my husband went into a care home and do a division of assets. I know you can't do that now, but the others reading this needs to know about the division of assets. I got to keep my home which was new, the car of my choice and half of the money.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:20PM
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I am so sorry to hear all of this. It seems as if the older generation, who have worked hard all of their lives end up with nothing now a day. I am in my late 50's and it is a daily struggle to live and keep a dollar in your pocket. If you have gold jewelry to sell, try locating a licensed buyer through "golden girls". One of the ladies I work with in VABeach is a buyer and the small amount of jewelry I gave her came out to over $300.00! Broken or just don't wear it anymore, it is all good. Just a suggestion and best of luck to you.......and all of us.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 7:00PM
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Plantmaven, have you looked into a possible reverse mortgage? Apparently with some large banks pulling out, it's been recommended in a recent WSJournal/SmartMoney article to get it done before October 2011.

Doesn't hurt to ask, at least, and it might help you pay those bills off.

Best of luck to you going forward. You're in a rough spot, and our hearts go out to you.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:06PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

If your jewelry is attractive, another good place to sell it is e-bay. I sold several items there at a very good price.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:21PM
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Quite a few figure that the price of gold may go higher before it goes lower, should delaying some be an option.

As for a reverse mortgage, there are quirte a few restrictions and limitations.

It might be a good idea to get a Home Equity Line of Credit, to allow you to draw on as needed, but you'd need to make payments as you go along, not required with the reverse mortgage.

Do you have someone who is quite well versed in various financial issues, whom you can trust ... and who isn't trying to sell you something?

How about family ... close friends ... associates at church/religious, social/seniors' agency, etc?

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 12:16AM
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I know a man who makes and cans chunky spicy salsa from vegetables he grows and sells them at a flea market for $4 a jar. His stuff sells like "hotcakes" because it's really good. He's a good friend of my cousin and gave me a jar as a free sample. Lets see, he grows the vegetables, he cooks it himself and cans it. He has to buy canning jars and printed labels. Never thought what would happen if the salsa made someone sick. Could he be sued? I'm sure he never got any legal advice. This guy is pleasant but a little "slow". The flea market doesn't "police" it's dealers. Some people set up a table at the Flea when they're moving to sell off furniture and collectibles. Might be safer than Craigslist. Just an idea for you.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:37AM
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