front porch trash

front porch trash

Friday, May 19, 2017

Am I crazy?

The road lately has been filled with super duper potholes. Some of them have no visible bottom. What am I talking about?

I've been away from blogville for over 2 months. Yes, life does get busy with someone sick at home but things have been happening fast and furious over the last few weeks.

We have an additional property that we own other than our house. Our mortgage is paid off--a good feeling--and we purchased this additional property to help out our daughter and her family. They both have had lots of hardships and about 10 years ago they lost their new house. For a couple of years they lived in several places that were somewhat unsafe. (bad neighborhood, bad landlord) Fast forward to now and they are finally back on their feet and hopefully things will be smooth at least for a while. About 8 years ago my SweetiePie (and me too) offered to help their housing situation by purchasing a house with the understanding that after two years they would take over payments and finish paying for the house and it would be theirs. Sounds good doesn't it?

Fast forward to two more kids, still some medical problems and finally things have evened out. They didn't want to live in the home any more and moved into a rental on their own. Now I was proud that they could make that big step. Renting from a stranger is much scarier than renting from Mom.

Now we need to fix the house and get it on the market. We are both on fixed income and ebay sales have not been too good. Some weeks I do good to make $200, other weeks I make $600. But it isn't as good as it was a couple of years ago.(But when sales were good I saved.) Is ebay oversaturated with small sellers? (yes IMHO) Does ebay promote "brick&mortar" stores over their small store sellers? (yes IMHO) I'm trying to make up for my lost salary and not having much success. I need to sell and I have SweetiePie to take care of and now another "thing" to do.

So now the reason I am crazy.

I am doing a total remodel on the "other" house fondly called the "country estate". It does have 2 acres, a pond, a 2 car garage and a 1766 sq ft house. It was a nice place until two large dogs were allowed to play fetch inside on the carpet and scratch all the doors and moldings. I have never seen so much dog hair in my life left behind. Oh and we need a new roof. So that is where I have been. Ripping out bathroom cabinets, cheap fiberglass showers, and carpets. This is all stuff that my daughter and son in law were going to do but never did. Now for the fun stuff. Getting the roof done and learning how to do...everything. I'm trying to do as much of the work as possible to make my funds stretch as far as possible. I do have a budget.

I have followed Shampoo & Booze since the folks over at Scavenger Life started that blog. Not because I wanted to restore a house for a rental. No, it was just interesting. Never did I think that I would use the information on my own house. We have been getting estimates for the roof to be replaced and they have been very broad. From $8K to $4K.

The first roofer also offered to take the house off our hands so "we didn't have to worry with it". His generous offer was $40K. To put it nicely, jerk, the land is appraised at way more than that. His estimate to upgrade was $45K. We had a whole upstairs of our 1.5 story house finished and ready to move in for less than that.

Has this man never heard of Habitat for Humanity Restore or Craigslist for supplies? Get real. I get totally thrilled when I find a undermount bathroom sink at Restore for $8 and a white enamel kitchen sink for$15.

So if I am a little slow on blogging and ebay selling that is why. I am kicking back in the recliner and taking a nap. I deserve it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Are you having a bad day?

Sales on ebay are in the toilet...

I have more to do than a human person should have to do.

I need two three clones, please...
One for housework, one for yard work and one for ebay. The real me needs to take care of my SweetiePie...

SweetiePie wants to go to "that store you really want to go to"

SweetiePie wants to go to Dairy Queen

I just spent 15 minutes trying to convince a 67 year old man that it is a good thing to go poo, that it's something everybody does.

But SweetiePie just thinks I'm mean.

So if you have had or are having a bad day, week, or year I hope you read this and laugh.

I have to laugh because it's the only way to keep my sanity.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Free stuff, again

As I have said before, I go to the post office every day, by choice. We have a very small post office and most days there are only one or two customers and the clerks in the post office are like friends. In fact I worked with the postmaster at a very different job and we lived in the same subdivision many years ago. So a small Southern town. As we say down here "a wide spot in the road".

Not long ago a customer in line asked me if I sold on eBay. She had some things that she was donating and asked if would I like them. As if turned out they weren't very high in value. But they were free and I did pick out a couple of things to sell. They will be very, very long tail. That doesn't bother me. The worst thing is they are dinnerware and breakable and will require careful packing.

Back to the post office. One clerk asked if I wanted some things that she was donating. She had also taken some items a friend that was moving didn't want and wanted to get rid of them. Fast forward...   I picked them up from her house. Thank goodness there wasn't a lot of glass. But there were a lot of cookbooks. The Sunset, BH&G, Southern Living kind. I checked them and the most expensive was hovering at $4...and that was the top of the ladder!! There were some Spanish natural medicine books that look promising. One was listed for $160 and then marked down to $150. That was the only listing so I'm sure that is an unrealistic price. The other books were in the 25-30 neighborhood. Not a bad neighborhood.
 The stack of cookbooks, damaged silver edged glass bowls, a weird wooden shelf, one brown cup, a glass tree candy jar, vacuum bags with one bag and a piggy bank.
  The two paintings,(there was a framed magazine cut out at the bottom of the picture)a very dirty tackle box, 2 full packs of vacuum bags, an electric grill, scuba shoes, a resin wolf lamp, the Spanish books are in the bottom, a very weak milkshake machine, a painted brass leaf, a Mr Coffee, a handful of (yuck I hate "silk" flowers) silk flowers, an old sink faucet in the new box, a metal wall candle sconce and some funnels.

The most interesting things were two paintings, very different styles. One is a very formal watercolor. In a gold leaf, maybe, frame and very well matted.

  I can't read the name Coponeey?? from 1993, or is that 19,931 copies?

The other an amateur acrylic on canvas. No frame

Is this trash or treasure?

There were also some other things that I am going to keep for future use. A folding, collapsible walker with a carry case and a stable cane, with four feet at the base. Don't need these yet but good to have on hand.

Well time to box up the stuff for donation and get them out of my house

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Savings for Weeks 3 & 4

Week 3
Welcome to the wonderful world of old age, especially dementia. You never know what the week will be until it comes around. But, we hung in there and made it the entire week.

Having lunch out every day seems like just what the doctor ordered. No choking for a long time but we have to work on speed eating. You would think SweetiePie was in the Army and only had 2 minutes to eat a meal.

That means that most of our savings was from senior citizens discounts for food and beverages. Only one trip to a thrift store for a half price day bargain and I only spent $13.00. Didn't get a bag of clothing because of other things to do. We had a birthday to celebrate. SweetiePie had a birthday on the 20th!!!

Food savings this week were $11.84. We still went to lunch but we didn't get a discount every day. Of course on the big birthday SweetiePie got his choice of eating establishments(same as every day). And we didn't fill up with gas this week. But we did get to spend $400 for a catalytic converter for the truck. Lucky us. Thank goodness for paypal.

Thrift Savings were $13.00 because the entire store was 50% off for one day and that just happened to be SweetiePie's birthday, and President's Day. So we spent most of the time looking for long sleeved t shirts and athletic pants with elastic. Belts, buttons and zippers are too difficult so we are slowly acquiring pants with elastic and since SweetiePie is always cold we have to have long sleeved shirts.

Total savings for the week were $24.84. Since SweetiePie wanted a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for his birthday the total savings for the week were about enough to pay for the cake, complete with a senior discount.

Week 4
This week started out kinda slow but picked up some towards the end of the week. We still had lunch out every day. Got to see the grandson who is back from overseas for the rest of his enlistment. Haven't seen him for a year but the Army has really filled him out. That PT every morning has added the muscle. Of course he will really miss all the "fun" when his enlistment is up. He is headed for the midwest for hopefully the rest of his time. We all met at a Mexican restaurant that we have been going to for years for a couple of hours of eating and talking. Will get to see him later in the week.

And this week food was not the biggest source of savings. Three days we didn't get a discount and 4 days we got a senior discount. Food savings for the final week of  February were $9.46.

We did get to go to the bag sale this week. I only purchased one bag this week and it wasn't even stuffed. We were tired and pickings were slim. Only 27 pieces for a cost of $0.28 each. The tag price of the items was $131. Again, some of the items I would have never picked up if they hadn't been so cheap cute and/or practical.

I picked up five items from the store for half price. A Sandra Boynton mug $.25, a Kate Spade Absolut rain poncho $1, a large white Irish linen tablecloth $1.5, 2 McCoy stoneware mixing bowls, #10, #12 for $2 each. I love it when the staff marks items for sale and hasn't a clue what they have. The mixing bowls should bring $35 each if I am patient. The other items are just bread & butter filling. Also picked up some folding totes for the store. I love those folding totes to stash in the car for sorting yard sale stuff or in the truck to keep things from sliding around. Two for $2 each and two for $1 each.

Savings for this week were:
Food  $9.46
Gas  $0.46
Thrift $6.50

So that winds up the shortest month of the year. Overall not a huge amount of savings but every little bit counts. It was fun keeping track of savings but a huge pain. I have a special place I drop receipts after every shopping trip but I had to keep track of the senior savings also. I have enough to do without keeping track of the senior savings so I won't be doing this again. On an average I save about $12 a week on food and a minuscule amount on gas. The best savings are on thrifting for the store. As it should be.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week 2 Savings Update

Well, here I am just a bit late as usual. But I can never predict how my week will be so I just have to go with the flow.

I got a big surprise when I went to the store to fill up my bag. Prices have gone up to $7.50 per bag. That's a 50% increase in price. I guess they were getting too many bag stuffers like me who can really fill a bag. I see some shoppers who just toss what they want into the bag. I find if you fold items flat that you can really fill up the bag. I have a scientific approach to filling up the bag. Flat fold most items like blouses, shirts, skirts, pants and roll and squeeze the puffy coats. Make a big stack in the center of the bag and then fill in the sides (squish firmly) all around for maximum fill. I can consistently get 30-40 normal items in a large garbage bag. I think the bags this store uses are the large, clear leaf bags. If I get even 30 items in a $7.50 bag that is 25 cents per item and if you can get 40 items per bag that brings your price down to 19 cents per bag. I can't wait until they put their spring and summer stuff out on the racks because I can get way more items in the bag because of the thinner material. I have stuffed 50 items in a bag before, but that was just a one time thing. That averaged 10 cents per item because bags were cheaper then. But at $7.50 now that would only be 15 cents per item. Not a bad buy.

Ok, now for the savings.

I filled up on gas one time and saved $0.03 per gallon, $0.44.

Food savings were $16.48. Even though one time I forgot to ask for the senior discount. Most of the discount is for beverages and free Wendy's Frosty's. A few places we go give a flat 10% senior discount. Pennies add up.

I purchased two bags at the thrift store for $15.00 total. One bag had long all weather coats and leather coats so I couldn't get quite as many in the bag. The other bag was a mixture of items. So 48 items total for an average of $0.31 per item. A bit higher than usual but the cost of the bag did go up 50% so I think I did fine. I try to average about 25 cents per item. But when you are buying leather coats, sweaters, jackets for 31 cents per item, you can't beat the price. Again I added up the asking price of all of the items before they went to the bag sale and my savings were fantastic. If I had purchased all of my bag items at the stores full price I would have spent $288. A bag price savings of $217. Again, I would probably have never purchased all the items in the bag at full price.

There was also an estate sale within spitting distance of my house so I felt that it was my duty to go and check out what they had. I went on Saturday about 11am after they opened at 8am. Most of the draw items that they had photos of in the listing were gone. I was still able to find a few things at full price. Spent $21 and got 6 vintage feed sacks for $1 each, IBM selectric balls 10 for $3, vtg WW2 spats and some linen dish towels. One feed sack will pay for everything. I was able to go back on Sunday when everything was half price. I don't like to leave SweetiePie at home by himself so I parked close to the house, in the yard, and he stayed in the car while I made a quick dash inside. I picked up some things I passed up on Saturday at full price. A USPS woven pith helmet, 2 merino wool sweaters made in Ireland, some Chilton repair books and a cool Successful Farming magazine from 1923. My total savings at half price Sunday were $21 because all of the items I picked up were $42. One sweater will earn me double my purchase price.

So not a bad week savings wise. I'll try to do better next week. In fact I will have to do better next week because sales have been so slow. I have just hit $1000 in sales for the month with just over a week to go, and my average sale price is down slightly. Not a good February. But considering I haven't been able to list consistently I think I have done pretty good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 1 Savings Update

Well, I'm just a little late with my update. SweetiePie was giving Oscar the Grouch a run for his money this week so things have been a little slooooow in getting done. No schedule is sometimes a good thing, sometimes not.

I only filled up with gas one time so my savings were only $0.47 because I used a customer loyalty card.

Eating out was pretty good since we didn't eat out every day. But when we did we always asked for a senior discount. It may seem like a small amount but by the end of the week we had saved enough to pay for almost 2 meals at Wendy's. And if we were careful we could get 2 full meals for both of us at Wendy's for what we saved. Savings were $12.06 for the week

The biggest savings from the first week of February was in ebay purchases. We picked a bright, sunny and warm day to go to the bag sale. The racks of clothing are on the outside of the store under a wide sheltered area. The store leaves their original sale tag on the items and just marks the tag. So I can look at the tag and see what I would have paid had I shopped inside the store and then figure what I paid per item for it in a bag. The savings were over the top.

When we went inside to check out there was a small line, 2 people ahead of me. The assistant manager came up and started checking out the overflow. When she got to my cart she saw the $5 bag and a few other items I had picked up in the store. Now I knew I had $25 total for the regularly priced items in addition to the $5 bag. She said, "how about $15 for everything in the cart and you take it without a bag?" Duh....let me think...$30 valued items for $15....I think I can live with that. So I got my bag for $2.50 this week.

35 bagged items for $2.50 averages $0.07 per item. Total tagged value was $151 if I had purchased them inside the store. Brands included LL Bean, Banana Republic, Orvis, Flax, Coldwater Creek, Northern Isles, Chicos, Fresh Produce, Nike, Tommy Bahama, London Fog and Red Oxx. Now these brand names may not be the top dog items but they are pretty much the brands I find regularly at this bag sale I mean $0.07 for a London Fog all weather coat is a good price no matter what it sells for.
And the regularly priced items were $12.50. The regularly priced items I picked up were:
Philips hand blender w/chopper $3.50
Corcoran black leather military boots $2.50
Propet diabetic shoes $2.00
Keen Newport H2 boys shoes $2.00
VTG Sunbeam travel iron $1.00
Revere Ware Stainless Copper Clad 8cup percolator $1.50
The percolator alone will probably bring 3 times what I paid for everything on this trip.

So not a bad week for me. Sales have been almost nothing this week. One day my top sale was $8.99(a Boggle game) and yesterday the top sale was $6.99(a cross stitch chart). Both of these were items I shouldn't have purchased. But since I did and they were very cheap, I just listed them instead of donating. Something is better than nothing.

Total savings for the week: $27.06
Gas     $0.47
Food $12.06
Resale Purchases $15.00

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Free Stuff From Strangers?

Did your mother teach you to not accept gifts from strangers?
Yeah, mine too. But I threw caution to the wind and said yes.
Let me back up and give you a few facts.

Most days I make my trek to the post office. Yes, I can schedule a pick up or just leave one or two packages in my new giant mail box. But SweetiePie likes to go to the post office, so off we go. Of course if we get to go to Dairy Queen he is EXTREMELY happy.

Yesterday I was waiting in line and this nice lady asked me if I sell on ebay. Well I had boxes labeled with the ebay logo, ebay tape, so I said yes. When confronted it is best to come clean!! She said she had some kitchen item in her truck that she was going to donate and if I wanted them I was welcome to them. Well....yes of course I'll take take them off your hands. If I can't sell them I will donate them so its a win win for her, me and the GW. So I took them sight unseen and brought them home. Two paper bags with a few things inside wrapped in newspaper.

First thing out...a white pedestal  with gold cherubs. Candle stand? trinket stand? Whatever? Unmarked with no value for resale. Next thing out...a covered vegetable dish, Crown Victoria Lovelace from the 70's. Valued at $5. Wait a minute! I just rechecked the sold listings and one sold in January for $15. Where was that one when I checked my phone yesterday? I run across that sometimes with things I look up on my phone and then go to my laptop and look them up again. Why the difference?

Next thing out...a covered vegetable dish, Impressions by Danielle, Country Day, stoneware with a gold band from the 70's also ( I know because I had a similar set with the blue bands). Valued at $5. Wait a minute! I just rechecked this one also on my laptop. Now I see one sold for $24 in Dec. Same problem with the phone check yesterday and the laptop check today. WTHeck?

Next thing out...a hand made pottery bowl with a leaf bough, frog and bird. Unmarked with a very non-professional look, but cute in its own way. I like the bowl and may list it high as a OOAK with best offer. It is in good shape with no chips. Just that the glaze is very muddy in color

Last thing out...a boxed Liberty Falls Dearly's Grocery complete with the pewter figures. Looks new and unused. Valued, at the most, $5 but more like $2. This one checked the same on phone and laptop. There must be millions of them out there.

So while I appreciated the gesture of something free I say it gently...underwhelmed with what I found. After rechecking the two veggie bowls I may list the the stoneware one and the pottery bowl. But after looking at the stack of jackets I just purchased and the flannel sheets that I just purchased and the two totes of spring stuff, the overflowing tote of purses, the tote of bras, the tote of swimsuits and the two overflowing totes of toys that have been sitting patiently waiting for their turn I may just put them back in their bags and send them to live at the thrift store.

BUT...the next time someone wants to give me something to list I will say yes and skim the cream and donate the rest. I can't see putting a $20 bill in the donation box at GW.

I mean come on I need to make ends meet also.