BY DOUG MAYBERRY
Secrets of Estate Sales
Q: I occasionally stop at weekend estate sales when I see a sign, but I rarely find anything I really want. And friends have shown me some of the treasures of a lifetime they have found that they couldn’t have bought for retail price. Do these kinds of bargains really exist at estate sales? Are they worth a visit?
A: My experience has been that it depends on the estate sale. Before going, you need to ask yourself many questions. Do you really need a certain item? Do you have space for the item? Do you see a great gift for a friend? Bargains do exist. Usually, Friday is the opening day for sales, and prices are slashed on the second day. Prices are based on many factors. And the estate sale itself can be held for many reasons. The sellers may need to move for health or monetary factors. They might simply want to downsize. Prices are often negotiable, especially if the weather is unpleasant. Remember that cash is king!
Whoever marks the prices may be uninformed about what items are worth. People don’t always correctly judge the items’ condition or what the customer is willing to pay. They rarely take moving charges into consideration. You should account for these factors.
Early birds get the first choice of items. As you walk through, if you aren’t certain whether you like something, pick it up anyway before it disappears and ends up in someone else’s hands. You can always put it back. — Doug
Q: I’ve never been in the habit of making resolutions for Lent, but I’m seeing that people in my senior community just started their goals. I’m now being reminded of my New Year’s resolutions and how I haven’t followed through. I wanted to save money this year.
How can I get back on track?
A: To start, ask yourself about your goal and why you chose it. Less than half of people in the U.S. make resolutions, as it can be difficult to examine what we want to change in our lives. Remind yourself that you’ve already done that soul-searching. It’s now time to move forward.
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about your expectations. If you have an unrealistic or nebulous goal, you are likely to give up altogether. If you think that you will cut your expenses in half, you will probably experience immediate disappointment.
Instead, work backward. Choose a target amount of money to save by Dec. 31, and then divide it by the number of months remaining in the year. Look at your monthly expenditures and break them up into weeks.
Some expenses, such as rent and insurance, are fixed and would require major change. Focus on your dispensable income for now. What do you spend money on? What are you willing to give up?
Check your progress every week. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed during one week. Just adjust your goal the following week. — Emma, Doug’s granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emma, Doug’s granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com
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