An Ode: Habitat ReStore, How We Love Thee

So really. What is a 'Re-store". We had no idea. There were local commercials advertising two locations with large inventories. We even went to one and really we not totally sure what we had found. It looked like a poor excuse for a True Value full of old, used products. We didn't get it. Fortunately, one day we did.

For those of you unfamiliar with Habitat Re-Stores, here is what one is. It's usually located in a 'low-rent' out of the way storefront, in an unassuming building/warehouse, and is totally awesome. It is a home improvement store stocked solely by donations. Donations from contractors with left-over building supplies. Donations from big-box home improvement stores with discontinued items, items with damaged packaging, or whatever they cannot sell and don't want on the books anymore. Donations from home owners doing some remodeling (or remuddling), and not wanting to just toss everything to the trash. For these reasons, you'll find anything and everything on the shelves. Looking for vintage items - doors, light fixtures, sinks, toilets? They've got 'em. Random selections of paints and stains. Old counter tops (makes great work benches). Appliances. Furniture.

Now why do we adore the Habitat Re-Store? The prices. They'll usually advertise something like "50-75% off retail". Which is great. Sometimes it's even much better than that. They usually are not negotiable, but why would they need to be? With the stock donated, they have a zero cost of goods sold. Low overhead, then gives them high profitability. Those profits, go to the local Habitat for Humanity group and help them build houses. What's not to love here?

Now for the goods. Here are just a few of the awesome deals we have scored at Re-Stores:
  • Closet Organizers - Brand name, new - in the box, and perfect for our unorganized closets. Unsold stock from the local Lowes, who started carrying a different brand. 2 at $35 each.
  • Ceiling Fan - The kid's room needed some relief and our daughter was in love with a pink one at Lowes for $99. No way. We sored a perfectly good one at the Re-Store, bought some new globes for it and painted it - together - with paint we already had. $10 for the fan + 9 for the globes.
  • Counter Tops - Needing a new work bench, we turned to the Re-Store. My trip yielded a nice looking and very structural section of laminate counter top. They had some rather ugly Corian, but it was an odd shape. Re-Store price = 8 feet at $3 per linear foot.
  • Even the Kitchen Sink - We were wanting to replace the ancient white cast iron sink we had, but found it difficult to justify spending even $100 for a nice new one. On my way back to the counter tops, I spied this stainless steel beauty on the top shelf. Some quick measurements showed that it would be perfect. It was a KitchenAid that retailed for ~$600. Re-Store priced at $30 + I had a 25% off coupon.
Got an undying love for the ReStore too? Share your finds in the comments.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Rainwater Collection Round-up

We're getting a ton of visits from those of you seeking info on rainwater collection, rain barrel building, systems, inlets, overflows, plans, costs, structures, daisy chains..... People are thirsty for info on this topic and we couldn't be happier.

The one part of our How To: that we were thought was lacking was the links section. Those were links that I still had on file from when we built ours, and it was slim pickings back then. Oh how times have changed. I thought it would be good to post some other links that I'd found to be particularly informative on the topic and a good supplement to our tutorial on rainwater harvesting. Enjoy.

Overviews / General Information
Other How To's
Retailers (for those of you less than handy)

Be sure to share your finished projects with us. We'd love to see them and post them.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Ok, I'm ticked. We've been hearing about it on the news for a week or so. We knew it was coming, but that didn't help. Yesterday, I had to pay $4.089 per gallon for gas. Ug.

There have been reports of people really starting to get radical to avoid using gasoline. Good. It's time America got mad about this. It's time we stop politicizing this issue. It's time we collectively work towards energy independence.

Think about some of these things come November. What is really important and pressing on our country? Which leader has the will to make the biggest change of course for our country? I have no idea, and I've been following this stuff.

What is really important in electing our next leader, and the congressmen/women that their administration will be working with? The case for energy independence is more than here.

What have you done recently to stave off high gas prices? Did you stay home over the Memorial Day weekend? We did.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---

From Salesman to Buyer

You've done it. You've sold your car, and now you can turn the page on that chapter of your life. Maybe you were upside-down on it and now have a much smaller debt to repay. Or maybe you came out ahead. Whatever the case, as you turn the page, be sure to turn it as opposed to ripping it out and throwing it away. Hang on to your documentation. If it's not in writing, it didn't happen.

We owned our vehicle and had the title, which made things so much easier. But what if you don't? What if you still owe money on the vehicle? You'll have to bring money to the closing, just like if you owed more on your house that you were selling it for. If the loan is with a small local bank or credit union, then it's likely you can work out a deal to borrow the difference between the offer and the value. If the loan is not with one of those two, then it is about to be. Take documentation of both to them and explain your situation. I'm not advocating going into debt to sell your car, but rather reducing your overall debt while selling it. $3000 in debt is better than $25000 in debt. Local banks or credit unions are much more likely to work with you on this than any national bank.

When we sold ours, we got full book value - over $10000. The vehicles we were looking to replace it with
were worth less than that. If we wanted, we certainly could have paired that sale money up with more cash and moved up in car a bit. But we didn't need that, so we pocketed the difference. Great irregular income!

Think about what you did as a salesman and how you handled things and get ready to have those tactics used on you. Also, get ready for the seller to not be a prepared as you were.

It's time to go on the attack. It's time to be that buyer you were hoping not to get - the one that knew what he/she was doing. While waiting for inquiries on our car, I was spending time looking for the next one. Doing that streamlined the process a lot. Two days after we sold ours, we were ready to buy - with cash!

Next week, we'll begin the flip side of the coin with our "How To Buy a Used Car" series.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---



We have been featured on six carnivals/festivals this week. Wow! We are pleased to welcome all new readers to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our new NtJS Cafepress shop!

We are pleased to welcome from across the pond, a Carnival of Green Gardening. Our debut post with this carnival is Mrs. NtJS's Everyday Frugal tips for green gardening. It's a small carnival, but full of so many great posts:
We also welcome first time carnival to NtJS, the Carnival of Money, Growth and Happiness, hosted by Credit Card Lowdown. They've featured our ode to frozen pizza - which has everything to do with money, growth, and happiness. Some other posts of note:
The Carnival of Money Hacks is brought to us this week by Prime Time Money, and features our second installment on selling a used car and being awesome at it. Some other notable hacks (the ideas, not the bloggers):
The 127th Festival of Frugality is presented in a very clean format over at Funny about Money. Our Everyday Frugal: In the Garden article is an Editor's Pick! (Thanks, VH!) Some of our favorites below:
The Carnival of Personal Finance is North of the boarder this week at Canadian Dream: Free at 45. They've included our 14 reasons why credit cards are not evil... but the companies who issue them are. Some other interesting reading:
The Carnival of Money Stories, hosted by PiggyBankBlues features our YTD report on emergencies and capitol expenditures. It happens to be first on the list, likely not the best article, but possibly the first submitted? Somebody has to go first. Here is a smattering of other fine submissions from down the list:
Thanks for reading, and big thanks to everyone for hosting. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


The HDTV Challenge: Update 2

We've been so busy with other things that we really have not made any progress here. BUT! Garage sale season is upon us. In June we'll be hosting our annual garage sale. Last year, our three-family sale pulled in over $1000! About $700 of that was ours. This year we have much less to sell, but even a few hundred would be a welcome boost to the HDTV fund. And maybe, just maybe, if we ask real nice, Mrs. NtJS share some of her garage sale hosting tips.

Would be nice to put a little progress bar for this and other funds on the blog. Anyone know where to get that code? For Blogger?

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Blog Advertising

We've pushed the deadline out on the blog advertisement poll. We want to capture as much feedback as possible as this is something we have been against doing in the past. But maybe we were too hasty? So far, the poll is telling us that most people don't mind, so long as they are relevant to the topic.

Here is what has caused us to reconsider:

"Business and Financial Blog Network: an invitation to join: Forbes.com

You are invited to join the new community of the high quality business and financial bloggers from Forbes.com. Our community, the Business and Financial Blog Network, recently launched. I was just searching the key word “personal finance” and came upon your blog.

Your blog will be promoted to our roster of blue-chip advertisers and we will only run campaigns that are appropriate for your audience. You will receive 40% of all net revenues collected by Forbes.com (after agency commitments, ad serving fees and external network support)

Our Adify advertising technology enables you to:

* Review and approve any advertisement

* Access to on-demand, real-time reports regarding the performance of campaigns and naturally your earnings.

You have a choice of ads positions. Please note that we need your site to run the 728x90 leaderboard PLUS either the 160x600 skyscraper and/or 300x250 rectangle.

* 728x90 leaderboard

* 160x600 skyscraper

* 300x250 rectangle

Other benefits:

Forbes.com will provide you with a Business and Financial Blog Network badge to denote membership. You will also receive semiannual research from us that sheds new light on trends and traction of the Blog Network to help you know more about your readers and other blogs in the network. We will host an annual conference at the Forbes Galleries for members of our Blog Network, presenting new trends, tools and other aspects of technology that affect the blogging community in general and our members' specifically."
Seems like a good way to increase our exposure. We really aren't terribly interested in the ad revenue, but if we have to compromise on our 'no ads' stance, then we should get something out of it.

The poll is open until May 31st. Comments are always welcome as well.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


What Is: A Budget

A popular topic 'round the PF blogs these days is budgeting. Always important, this subject gets even more attention with today's difficult economic times. This should come as no surprise. What is surprising is that this supposedly simple personal finance concept is often misunderstood.

We love creativity, especially when it comes to making and saving money. There are all kinds of creative ways to generate income. At the same time there are lots of creative ways to cut back on spending and saving on what you do spend. People have also gotten very 'creative' with the way that they define a 'budget' these days. This would be a good time to refocus a bit on what exactly is the true definition of a budget:
  • From Princeton: "a sum of money allocated for a particular purpose; summary of intended expenditures along with proposals for how to meet them"
  • From Wikipedia: "Budget (from French bougette) generally refers to a list of all planned expenses and revenues."
  • From Arizona University: "A financial plan for saving and spending money."
  • From the State of Massachusetts: "A plan of financial operation for a given period of time."
  • From The Small Business Dictionary: "A detailed schedule of planned financial activity."
  • From Millionaire Saver: "A detailed plan of income and expenses expected over a certain period of time. A budget can provide guidelines for managing future investments and expenses."
So what are the common threads here?
  • Planned expenses and revenues // a financial plan // plan of operation // schedule of planned financial activity // detailed plan of income and expenses
  • Money allocated // intended expenditures // planned expenses and revenues // saving and spending money // financial operation // financial activity // income and expenses expected // future investments and expenses
Planned money. Plan of income and expenses. Planned financial activity. So it is fair to say, that a budget is: a plan for your finances - both incoming and outgoing. The word "plan", implies that this is being done beforehand - as in not after the fact. Architects draw up plans before they even think about breaking ground. A driver wouldn't set out on a cross-country trip without first plotting the course. You don't set out to accomplish a goal without first making a plan to get there.

"So why do I need a budget? My finances are fine." I'm glad you asked. Just as that architect won't bring in the construction crews before the plans are done, you shouldn't start the month without your plan in place. Even though that architect has been erecting buildings for many years, even the best architects can miss things. It's easy to make a mistake or two with such a large project, and with no plan, even easier for the supporting teams to overlook details or misunderstand instructions. The plans keep everyone in line, keep everything on schedule, and keep everyone honest. The family budget will do the same thing for your incomes and outgoes. You and your spouse will have discussed and agreed upon how the family income will be appropriated - giving, spending, saving - and have it on paper before the month begins. During the month, when questions or expenses come, all one has to do is look at the budget. For singles, a budget is just as important, as there is no spousal accountability to help keep you in line. The end result is a reflection of the initial plan. That architect will tell you that the building is, at best, as good as the plans drawn up.

Great buildings don't happen by accident.

Now some of the noise we've seen/heard surrounding budgets:
  • "they are difficult and tedious to maintain" - Only if you are doing it wrong. Unless money is disappearing and you have no idea where it is going, then you have no need to track every purchase and document it. If that is the case, then you need to switch to cash envelopes. Once you make the budget and agree to it, there is nothing more to do to it unless something changes. Only then do you need to adjust the budget, which is nothing more than consciously taking money from one category to fund a more important one.
  • "they are too rigid" - A budget is only as rigid as you are. Like I said, you don't need to keep track of every purchase. The point of a budget is not to set it in stone and then beat your spouse with it. The point is to spend your money on purpose, on previously agreed upon expenditures. Maybe you're spending $600 per month on clothing, and $160 per month on dining out. Fine. Just be honest about it, and know where your money is going, instead of wondering where it went.
  • "nobody sticks to them" / "they don't work" - Here is a Dr. Phil response to that: They won't work if you don't do it. As we were taught about budgeting in FPU, it won't work the first time out. An likely not the second or third. But if you genuinely try it each and every month, you'll get better and better. By that third or fourth month, you'll start to get the hang of it. It's just like in basketball: You'll miss 100% of the shots that you don't take.
  • "my credit card automatically makes my budget for me" - It's nice how credit card companies find these extra, free services that they so graciously give to their members because they love them so much. Problem is - most of them are worthless. A big one a while back was this "service" of categorizing your monthly purchases to see where you are spending your money. As if all those charges labeled "Starbucks" was some great mystery. "Was that food gas or clothing?" The worst part is that some folks mistake this for a budget. "I can see where I am over spending and make adjustments for next month." That's great to know that you overspent, after the fact! This is not a budget, this is what's called an account statement. They just happened to categorize it for you.
Probably the best and the last word we have for you on budgets is from Financial Guru, Dave Ramsey. He says, if you were hired as an accountant for a company called Me and You, and you kept books for Me and You the way you do now - Would you fire you?

  • Do you budget?
  • What do you use for budgeting (pen and paper, Excel, Quicken, online)?
  • How does budgeting make you feel about your money?

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Cloth Diapering Update

It's been nearly 6 weeks since we talked about cloth diapering. We thought we'd give you a little update on how we are tracking.

Baby NtJS is growing like a weed and has this adorable layer of baby fat.... everywhere. Anyways, with her rapid growth, she has already been in the Medium size for 45 days and is taking a hard look at the Large ones. The big news from the Small to Medium changeover, is that the Small diapers and covers sold so well that we nearly broke even! With a net cost of $2.20, we effectively diapered the baby for 5.5 cents per day for 40 days.

So far, the grand totals look like this:
  • 133 days in cloth diapers, at a total cost of $205 or $1.55 per day (cost of disposables estimated at $4.19 per day)
  • Total savings for cloth over disposables is $351
  • Estimated disposable diapers NOT added to the landfill is 1512 - they add up fast!
All goes well, we might just come out in the black on the Mediums! Our spreadsheet, which will run all of these numbers for you, is available on the right for 99cents.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


How To: Sell A Used Car: Episode 2

In Episode 1, we walked you through some of the prep work needed to sell a car, as well as some pointers for crafting a good ad. By this point, people should know that your vehicle is for sale, and it should be in 'show' condition. The trick will be to keep it in 'show' condition - no eating in the car, trash comes out when you get out, and park it inside if possible.

You've gotten a bite, now it's time to put on that salesman hat, and go to work. This is now your part-time job. Plan on dedicating at least a few hours per week to this. If you've ever worked in sales or retail, then you know what to do. Otherwise, here are a few tips:

  • Be clean and presentable. You can leave the short-sleeve white dress shirt and tie in the closet, but don't approach a buyer looking like you just changed the oil and rotated the tires.
  • Smile. Not a tough concept, but can be difficult after a long, difficult day at your real job. Don't make that their problem. Smile, and the buyers might too. That is a huge thing.
  • Separate your emotions from the task. If they don't like it, then so be it. Never take offense to a comment, and don't be negative. Instead, always look for a positive spin.
Where to meet? We prefer to have first-time showings at neutral locations. You don't know who they are, and they don't need to know where you live. Gas stations, retail centers, church parking lot. Things like Google Maps are still lost on some folks, so choose a location that's easy to find. A good landmark, like "the Shell station at the corner of Fifth and Main", is tough to beat. There's nothing worse then getting prepped for a showing, spending an hour waiting, just to find our your buyer got lost. Also - be early. Don't leave them waiting either.

Besides our general salesman advice above, here are a few more specific tips:
  • Be honest. Don't misrepresent your product. If the transmission is slipping, then it's slipping. Don't dodge the question when they ask.
  • Tell your story. First, see the previous item. Now, people like a good story, so tell yours. We sold our car because we needed more space. It was a fabulous car. Got great mileage. Had low miles. And was in great shape. It just no longer fit our needs. Some folks will automatically assume that you are selling your car to pass off your problems onto them. Give then something else to consider.
  • Don't let it our of your sight. No matter how nice the buyers are, go with them on the test drive. They'll have plenty of time to discuss their thoughts in private later. If they want to take it to their mechanic, then go along. So long as everything is on the up and up, then they should have no problem with this.
  • Know your car. If they ask about the fog lamps - know if it has fog lamps, and how to turn them on. If they want to look under the hood, know how to open it. Be ready to answer any questions within reason.
  • Point out what they can't see. If your vehicle has some extra storage compartments in unusual places, then point them out, as they may not see them. Stealthy security features, aftermarket components, and special technologies are not always noticeable, so point them out.
  • Low pressure. Ask them what they think. Especially if they have been quiet. Give yourself the opportunity to address their unspoken concerns. Don't hound them. But keep them talking while they are there. If they want to think about it, then let them. Make sure that you have contact info for them, and follow up if you don't hear back. If they aren't interested, then ask for feedback. Do they not like the color? Is it not as advertised? Was it too small for them? Priced too high, or just too much for them? This information can only help you going forward.

Always remember - we're trying to get top dollar for your automobile, so tailor your actions to suit that. Be a problem solver. Have info for them to take with them, as you would find when selling a house.

Now here is a great opportunity to drop the ball after all of this hard work. There are a TON of scams out there so, above all else, protect yourself. Many scams involve variations on fake cashiers checks or personal check fraud. Never, ever take a check of any kind without some kind of verification from a bank that the check is real and the funds are there. A common scam is to buy a car on a Friday evening with a bad check. The seller won't figure out that he's been had until Monday afternoon at the earliest. They'll be long gone with the car, and you'll be held accountable for their bad check. Cash is safest, but even there you have some risk of counterfeit, though less likely than checks.

Your best bet is to handle the transaction at the bank / credit union - theirs or yours. If they are getting a loan, then this will be no problem, as the lender will likely want to hand you the check. Otherwise, you'll want to contact your bank manager ahead of time and talk to them about your situation. Tell them that you would like them to verify the validity of the buyer's check before closing the transaction. This shouldn't be a problem. Do not assume that they will just do this without asking. Banks today are little more than a clearinghouse in terms of checks, and will process nearly anything, holding you accountable for even their stupidity. You will want to specifically ask them to do this. If they are handing you a stack of $100 bills (which is pretty cool), then it doesn't hurt to have the bank teller verify the amount and check their validity. Once again, a legit buyer shouldn't have a problem with any of this. Just don't insult them and insinuate that they have something sinister planned. Bank personnel may also be willing to witness the transaction for you as well and sing the bill of sale. Discuss this with them ahead of time.

There is a lot of risk management here, but this is also a very valuable object, and there are a lot of people out there looking to lift your vehicle and chop it for parts. If you've covered all of your bases, then you'll have a smooth transaction and everyone will drive away happy.

Don't forget your stuff! Jumper cables, registration and proof of ins, garage door opener, kids' car seats, that emergency cash you keep hidden for when you need a tow, whatever. And don't forget their stuff. Spare sets of keys, extra keyfob remotes, a copy of the bill of sale.

Now, with your cash in hand, you are ready to buy.
Coming soon: How To: Buy A Used Car

Have some experience to share on selling a used car? Hit the comments below.


--- Continue Reading This Post ---



We have been featured on four carnivals/festivals this week. We are pleased to welcome all new readers to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our new NtJS Cafepress shop!

The Carnival of Money Hacks has posted over at Moolanomy with Mrs. NtJS's garage sale hacks. Pinyo is also launching a new and interesting project called PF Buzz, so be sure to check that out. Some other hacks that caught our eyes:

The 126th Festival of Frugality is up at The Financial Blogger as the 'If I Had A Car' edition. If I had known, I'd have submitted a different article. Oh, well, you'll just have to enjoy our guide to garage sale shopping like a pro.
The 153rd Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Money and Values in a question and answer format. It helps to put the articles in perspective, but I'm really looking forward to a Jeopardy/answer-and-question format. A: Selling your car outright. Q: How do you get top dollar for your used car?
The Carnival of Money Stories, hosted by College of Cash, features Mrs. NtJS's garage sale adventures using only the money we had left over at the end of the month. Some other great stories:
  • Financial Zip shares a story about finding $100 in someones budget. What a great discovery! Some additional tips for the rest of us as well.
  • Funny About Money tells a tale of lies and deception, errr or at least a salesman and handyman who didn't know that you can in fact successfully drill plastic and tread a screw into it. How do they think all these plastic products are held together!?

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---

The Outlaw, Henry Paulson?

According to a federal appeals court, the US Treasury Department has been found in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Not familiar with that one? Us either. The act "was originally designed to extend civil rights to disabled individuals and provide them a full opportunity to participate in American society." So what does that mean for the likes of treasure secretary, Henry Paulson?

Judge Judith Rogers wrote in the ruling that Paulson has not met his burden of proving that changing the paper bills would impose an undue burden on the Treasure Dept. "A large majority of other currency systems have accommodated the visually impaired, and the Secretary does not explain why U.S. currency should be any different."

Apparently other currencies, including the Euro, use various means to distinguish one denomination from another, including raised marks (embossing), hot-stamp foils (so hot!), distinguishing colors, and different sized bills. If infomercials have taught us anything, it is that Americans should always adopt the European way of doing anything, especially if the product has the word 'Euro' in the name. In this case, Euro is the name. How could we go wrong?

In all seriousness, this is an interesting topic that is apparently long overdue. Many of us (who are not visually impaired), never think twice about our currency as we sort though various, nearly identical bills. And to think, the Treasury just got done redesigning and reissuing paper currency. Why were these considerations not a part of that roll-out? Why, Henry, why? (Via CNN Money)

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


The Greenest Cars Are Also The Frugal-est

Yes, you read that awkward title right. And you should also check out this post on Wired's Autopia blog about going green. It's not the typical 'God drives a Prius' green vehicle article. Quite the contrary.

In keeping with our selling/buying used cars series, Autopia implores you to go green and buy used. In the post, Chuck Squatriglia writes:

As Matt Power notes in this month's issue of Wired, hybrids get great gas
mileage but it takes 113
million BTUs of energy to make a Toyota Prius
. Because there are about
113,000 BTUs of energy in a gallon of gasoline, the Prius has consumed the
equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline before it reaches the showroom. Think of
it as a carbon debt -- one you won't pay off until the Prius has turned over
46,000 miles or so.
There's an easy way to avoid that debt -- buy a used
car. The debt has already been paid. But not just any used car will do.

Chuck goes on to list several vehicles on the used market that get milage comprable to today's fuel-misers - only the ones in his list are 10-20 years old and can likely be had for very little. Kinda makes you want to puke. Sure, the vehicles on the list will do very little for your street cred, let alone your eco cred, but do you really care about what other people think about your car?

We're really big on being debt-free, and this is another debt we'd rather be free from. Some great thoughts to think about when you go to replace your current vehicle.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


What Do You Think?

You may or may not have noticed the poll on the right. Please take a moment to share your thoughts on this subject both in the poll and in the comments. We value your opinion.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---

Credit Cards Aren't Evil

How could they be? This sheet of plastic? Die-cut into such a friendly shape, printed with pretty graphics, embossed with your personal information, and - just for convenience - laminated with a magnetic strip containing the same information. It's inanimate - devoid of thoughts or feelings, incapable of morals or emotion. Credit cards are not evil. Yet the debate rages on - pro-credit-card vs. anti - declaring them a useful financial tool to those who use them responsibly, denouncing them as a financial trap, preying on those less informed and yet still managing to harm those who are. Credit cards are not evil!

... But the companies who issue them are.

Now we are take-charge kind of people and constantly advocate financial literacy as well as personal responsibility. But this industry is so wrought with misinformation, myths, scams, scandals, security breaches, immoral behavior, idiocracy, ineptitude, and underhanded business practices, that even the most informed, well-behaved consumer can (and does) get bitten.

So people will (and have) refuted this claim, but now we are laying down the evidence. We present our case of fourteen reasons for why credit card companies are evil, and thus why you should avoid them like the plague. Our exhibits:

  1. Mandatory Binding Arbitration. It can be argued (effectively) that this policy in itself is pure evil. I would not disagree. Many corporations, not just credit issuers, have been burdening their employees, vendors and customers with MBA clauses. These allow the corporation to circumvent the judicial system in disputes and take away your constitutional rights in doing so. Arbitrators have been well documented as being biased to the party that retains them (guess who, the corporation), and rule in their favor more than 90% of the time. New evidence suggests that even those time when they rule in favor of the individual, around half are overturned on appeal. Some even suggest collusion by the credit card companies to ensure that all card on the market had MBA clauses, thus giving cardholders no choice. How about 'none of the above'? Contractually obligated arbitration circumvents your 6th amendment rights by denying access to the judicial system. It's use in credit cardholders' agreements is currently under scrutiny in a class-action lawsuit.
  2. Universal Default. Here is a policy that only Satan himself could love. This policy, also likely to be found in your cardholder agreements, gives your creditor the ability to review your credit - at any time - and adjust your interest rate - for any reason. Taking on too much debt, having too much available credit, a drop in your credit score (oh my!), being late on one payment to somebody else, exceeding your credit limit with any of your creditors, too many inquiries on your credit, new types of credit issued (a new mortgage or car loan), a slight change in the wind.... all legit reasons for a cardholder to be placed in universal default and see their terms be jacked across the board by others participating in UD. That's right. So you were late paying the phone bill due to an error on their part? If it hits your credit report, then you can see the rates go through the roof on all of your lines of credit, despite the late payment having nothing to do with those creditors. And once the phone company corrects their error and puts your account back in good standing, your creditors are under no obligation to change your terms back to their previous state. Think that terms like "too much" and "too many" are broad and subjective? They are.
  3. Double-Cycle Billing. This one is a lot of fun too. It allows for your creditor to calculate your average daily balance from the past two months, instead of just the single previous month. What's the big deal? Well, the average daily balance is how they are calculating the interest that you owe. Using double-cycle billing allows them to charge you interest on debts that you may have already payed off. Yeah, that seems totally legit. Both double-cycle billing and universal default have recently drawn the ire of Congress and have caused both Congress and the Federal Reserve Board to propose legislation and amendments to Regulation Z, respectively, that would ban these practices and regulate many others.
  4. "Late" Payments. One of the more covert methods of screwing the customer is to post their payment after the due date - despite having received it on-time. When employees are rewarded for levying more fees, it's not hard to see how advantageous it is to these folks to just sit on your check for a few hours, or overnight. Another way to accomplish the same result is to make it impossible to pay on time by issuing statements shortly before the due date, or making the due date on Sunday - when no-one is working. Yet another slice of this pie is the practice of moving your due date without notice or reason. Perhaps you have set up your bills to align with your paychecks, and just have you some sanity around paying your bills. But your card issuer decided that they were giving you 9 days too many to get your payment to them. Now why would they notify you of such a change? They don't have to, and their switch to fee income (since there is so much competition on interest rates), has opened a Pandora's box of rogue payment processors. And don't think that electronic payments make you immune to this treatment - they'll sit on those too.
  5. Fees, Fees, and More Fees. Consumers Union - those fine people who produce Consumer Reports - estimates that the credit card companies take in 8 billion annually in fee income alone. The Americans For Fairness In Lending site estimates it was as high as 24 billion in 2004. Someone is paying those fees and it's not us! With employee productivity based on the amount of fees collected, it's no wonder that this revenue stream is growing. CU's creditcardreform.org site has a form you can fill out to express your comments to the Fed in regards to their recent proposed regulatory changes.
  6. Opaque Agreements. Carholder agreements are written in such a way that even lawyers have trouble navigating them. If there were more transparency, people wouldn't sign on for such a lopsided deal. As Curtis Arnold of CardRatings.com says, "You have to be incredibly diligent to avoid the tripwire." As of 2003, it was estimated that only 44% of cardholders had read the entire cardholder agreement. Sounds a tad high, but that's self-reporting for you. Even still, they asked if they read it, not read and understood it. Take a look at yours and see if you can find items 1, 2 or 3 in it. Even if you don't find them, you're likely to find the provision that allows for item 14 - 'terms subject to change at any time, for any reason, without prior notification'.
  7. Targeting Young Kids. Years ago, it was 'Cool Shopping Barbie' - a Barbie doll complete with her own mini MasterCard (plus a larger one for the child), and a cash register to always approve her credit. MC and Mattel took a beating on that one from consumer advocates, and eventually pulled the product - after Christmas. A couple of years ago, Parker Bros. got on the credit gravy train by issuing new versions of Monopoly with Visa credit cards, instead of the famous 'Monopoly Money'. There was some backlash on that, but not nearly enough, as credit is more socially acceptable today. Both of these cases were thinly vailed attempts to get a branded credit card into a minor's hand and get them to associate money, fun, and purchasing power with their company and product at a very early age. Make no mistake, these are not innocent product partnerships. But it doesn't stop with toys. It seems that card issuers are clamoring for ways to get to this untapped market. Untapped because kids under 18 can't legally be issued credit cards. Their solution is pre-paid debit cards for kids as young as 13. Just another way to get in the parents' pocket but now with a tween at the helm. The game is of course to have the parents step in to bail out the kids. Kids and credit cards. As Janet Bodnar of Kiplinger's said, "That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard."
  8. Targeting College Kids. A long-time favorite target of scumbag lenders are America's college students. Universities have sold out to the banks to not only allow debt paddlers to pimp their product on campus, but they've also sold their students personal info to all willing to pay. As a result, you have uniformed young adults swayed into card contracts by unqualified pushers, and an incessant torrent of card offers flooding every student's mailboxes. Yes, these 'kids' are technically 'adults' by law, and are liable for their own actions. Parents, in preparation for college, should be teaching their children about these vultures. That assumes that the parents have a clue. Still, these companies prey on these victims at one of the most vulnerable times of their young lives - on their own, alone, and with limited financial means of their own.
  9. Targeting Bankruptcy Filers. If you are still on the fence at this point, then maybe we have the knock-out blow here. As shown in the movie Maxed Out, one of the credit card companies' favorite new targets is people who have recently filed bankruptcy. Doesn't make sense? When asked about this, the interviewee, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, said this, "As one of the vice presidents of MasterCard once explained to me, ... 'we know two things about them - one, is that they can't file for bankruptcy again, and the second is they have taste for credit.' And I said, 'What does that mean?' And he said, 'well, they're willing to make minimum monthly payments, forever. And that's where we make our money.'" What a valuable financial tool.
  10. Advocating Irresponsible Use. This should go without saying after numbers 7, 8, and 9, but there is more to this than just working feverishly to get their product in the hands of those who cannot handle it, nor have the ability to repay. Take one look at their advertising to see this. Walk down the sidewalk and break the heel of your shoe? Don't worry! You can go 'downtown' and not only buy a new pair of shoes, but also a dress to match and a full makeover while you're at it. Nice how that overcast sky cleared up as well. What is the underlying message here? Plastic heals all wounds? Shopping is the best medicine? Life requires takes Visa? Shop, shop, shop, shop, shop. Spend, spend, spend, spend, spend. You can't advertise alcoholic beverages without talking about 'using responsibly'. You can't sell cigarettes without a warning from the Surgeon General - Canada has the best warnings, btw. But these guys can say whatever they want in their advertising.
  11. Trampling on the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Collections companies break these laws daily. Harassing people, threatening them with action they can't take - "We're going to come take your house", "you'll wake up and your car will be gone", "We're going to call you neighbors and tell them that you are behind on your bills". Most debt collectors are so dumb that they are breaking federal law and they don't even know it. One of the favorite tactics of late is to try and pin an outstanding debt on somebody else. The reason why they keep doing things like this is because, as shown in the MSN money link, sometimes people will actually pay someone else's debt.
  12. You Need to Establish Your Credit Early in Life.... and all of the other credit myths out there. "Employers check your credit score." "You can't get an apartment with bad credit." "That may be fine for you, but I'm planning to buy a house one day." The industry has long fostered an environment where myths like this and secretive companies like Fair Isaac (home of the FICO score) thrive. No, maybe they didn't start the myths (but maybe they did!), but they also have not denounced them. They've made no attempt to clear the air or set the story straight. See, they don't benefit from informed consumers. There are so many of these myths and half-truths out there that it's no wonder our country is in such a mess financially. "But he said this!", and "I thought that if I did this then...". They don't profit from the truth. The truth is that you don't need a credit card. You don't need to fear/manage your credit score. The truth is that you can buy a house, rent an apartment, buy a car, rent a car, reserve a hotel room, shop online, and get insurance despite never having had a credit card. Never a cardholder. Never an authorized user. Never a revenue stream for the credit card companies.
  13. Loophole City, USA. A lovely place to visit in the fall, flanked by picturesque mountains of debt and a rushing river of ill-gotten gains.... Didn't you ever wonder why banks, credit card companies and even many corporations relocate to places like South Dakota or Delaware? It's not for the scenery. While states like California have passed laws that make life hell for the automotive industry, other states - through actions or in-actions - have created legal heavens for corporate misbehavior. Guess who has taken full advantage? Debt-mongers of all types. For instance, eight of the ten largest credit card companies are located in states that have no cap on the interest rates they can charge. The other two are in Arizona, where the cap is 36%. When do you suppose they are moving?
  14. Whatever Is Next. This list is only their 'greatest hits' to date. Looking forward to Volume No. 2? Congress is eying the industry and calling them out on things like Universal Default and Double-Cycle Billing, and that's great. They need some attention. So what if they are struck down? What's next? These companies have teams of lawyers, lobbyists, and accountants who will work tirelessly to find another sneaky way of sticking it to you, the consumer. Its what they do.
Bees sting. Snakes bite. Credit card companies find ways to take your money. We've been on both sides of this coin. Mrs. NtJS has had a few cards in her life and was a very responsible consumer. Despite never carrying a balance, she still put each and every one through the shredder 4 years ago. We've never regretted that decision, and vastly prefer our current debt-free, credit-card-free life. We think that you will too.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


2008 Emergencies and Expenditures: YTD

Emergency 1
With the run up to the birth of our second daughter, we were doing everything we could to pile up cash in the emergency fund. We did pretty well too. We knew that insurance would pick up a lot of the bill, but that we would have ~$2,400 in out-of-pocket expenses and that those would come due within a month or so of the birth - assuming baby and momma came out healthy, and they did. Thanks to our foresight, we weathered that storm and had plenty to spare.

Emergency 2
It wasn't long after, that our newborn needed a few rounds of tests and specialist visits. It was found that she had a tumor of unknown type. It was benign but needed to come out. She's doing great and got an excellent diagnosis. Out of the some $11,000 in medical bills, we came away with about $1,400 that was our responsibility. It took another hit, but the emergency fund still came out standing.

In between and since these two emergencies, we've been working to rebuild our emergency fund. With it in constant flux, I've not been updating it under the 'Full Disclosure' tab on the right. My apologies, but it just hasn't been worth the effort. We'll be better about that going forward. Our target is roughly $9,000. Not insurmountable, but it's been really tough to get traction in the first five months of 2008.

We should be done with our doctor bills this month, as the last few are getting sorted out now. We should also be done with doctor bills for the year, as we have exceeded our 'member responsibility' amounts for the year, and have entered the 100% coverage zone. But now that we are done with these emergencies, we have moved on to a capital expenditure.

Capital Expenditure 1
Since we bought our house, we have been living with an unserviceable, underperforming well. Our two options, of equal initial cost, are:

  1. Drill a new well
  2. Hook up to the city water
Since we're not big fans of the local chlorine-water, this is not a tough choice. Our 'House Repair Fund' has enough to cover some of the ~$3,400 bill. Since this is also 'emergency-avoidance', the balance will come out of our already stressed emergency fund. I say emergency -avoidance, since our current well has the potential to stop working at any time. If it quits during the winter months, then options 1 and 2 are out until spring. I don't even know what option 3 would be. So we're drilling a well!

The emergency fund concept has by far been one of the most valuable lessons that we learned in FPU. As we refocus on replenishing it, we'll have to see if we need to do more than we have been to get it back into shape.

Ok, so after going through the budget, we been able to bump our monthly amount to the emergency fund from $570 to $775. After the well is done, we should have just shy of $4,000 in the emergency fund. If we can kick in $775 each month, it will take about 7 months to replenish - assuming no more big emergencies.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Show Your Colors

Like our style? Check out our original designs over at Cafepress. Stationary, clothing, bumper stickers and much more. Minimum logo, maximum message. Rainwater collection, cloth diapering and general eco-friendliness. They look sweet too!

BTW - I have no idea why my html table is forcing that giant gap in the post. Ug.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---


Everyday Frugal: In The Garden

Think a beautiful garden and landscaping has to be expensive? Think again! These simple environmentally friendly ideas are also easy on the wallet. This list consists of not just good theories but all things that we personally have done! If we can do them I'm sure you can too.

Most people who have looked into compost think that it is complicated with all the layering and expensive because of buying the compost bins and all the other accessories that you NEED. Composting is actually really easy and can be free or extremely close to free. Layering is over rated since you are going to be stirring the pile anyways. Just through in your leaves, grass clippings, raw fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc into the pile. It is important to keep any animal attracting items covered. Then just turn the pile every so often and make sure to keep it moist but not too wet. You can use about anything for your bin. We have used everything from a nice plastic one made for that purpose to wire fencing to wooden pallets. There are lots of great ideas out there if you do a google search.

Leaf mulch
Have some leaves in the fall? Why toss them when you could reuse them in your landscaping? Simply mow your leaves as they fall and then move them to your flower beds or garden and apply as mulch. You can always throw a few leaves in your compost pile too.

Newspaper weed block
This is an awesome idea that I learned about at a green living festival a few years back. It has to be one of my favorite free tricks. If you have a flower bed that has problems with weeds or want to add walking paths in your garden you can scrap back any current mulch and lay down 4+ layers of flattened sheets of newspaper making them overlap in no gaping/seam way. Then just cover it with your mulch. It works every time for me! And don't worry about the ink - most newspapers are using soy-based ink these days, even for color pages.

Local farmers cow/chicken fertilizer
With the growing popularity of using manure for fertilizer this can sometimes cost you a little money instead of getting it for free. Although it never hurts to try getting it for free first! The one thing you do have to be careful about is making sure that it is aged manure not fresh.

Free plants and seed
No the local nursery will not give you plants for free but there are lots of other ways to get plants for free. Most areas of the country have freecycle and/or plantcycle groups. Obviously they would be great places to look. Some towns have spring and fall plant swaps where local people bring in plants or seeds to trade. Or the old fashion way is to take clippings, collect seeds, and divide bulbs of your friends and neighbors plants that you would like to have. At our previous house I wanted as little grass as possible in our yard. As we ripped out sod to make flower beds I would fill them right away with native plants that cost me nothing. In the end half our front yard and 1/3 of our backyard was grass free. It was so nice looking and was only make sweeter by knowing that none of the plants cost me any money.

Grass clippings
Grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen for your lawn if you leave it in your yard. So don't bag and toss that free fertilizer! Use the mulching function on your mower, or just discharge the clippings. When our grass gets too long to leave in the yard we will bag it and put it in the compost piles. In the fall I use our grass clippings for extra winter bedding for my garden - great for asparagus.

Rain water
We have already covered this one in great detail so I will just leave it at "it will pay for it's self in one summer". Check out the two previous posts for more details.

Local garden club sales
Most gardening clubs have annual plant sales to raise funds. Some of these, if not most, sell everything from bulbs, ferns, veggie plants, water lilies, you name it. The great thing about these sales is that the plants are usually super cheap and you have an expert right there to answer any questions you might have about the plants.

Grow natives and wildflowers
Natives and wildflowers are great for a lot of reasons. These types of plants are already adapted to your soil and climate type! What does that mean? Less fussing, less money. After they get established you don't have to give them any extra water or fertilizer. In fact doing that might hurt them! Natives and wildflowers will also spread and fill in a larger area so you have less plants to plant. They will also attract wildlife to your yard without you having to add a lot of expensive squirrel proof feeders (unless you are like me and will still feed the birds). Oh, and did I mention that these are the easiest to find for free?

Less grass
Less grass= less mowing= less gas. If you have less sod you will also have less to edge and fertilize. Once you put a bed in and plant your natives and wildflowers you have very little work to do.

Planters and Fountains
You can make planters and fountains out of anything! Take a look around your house and keep in eye out on those freecycle posts.

Not only can you get plants from freecycle but you can also get mulch, stones, river rock, edging, bricks, leftover bags of concrete mix... You get the idea. I just listed off several of the things that we have either posted as offers or have received from other's offers.

Give some of these a try and see your garden grow frugally green this summer! Have some more ideas? Post them for all to see.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---



We have been featured on two carnivals/festivals this week. We are pleased to welcome all new readers to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by.

The 125th Festival of Frugality is up at the Quest For Four Pillars which features our frugal ode to the frozen pizza. So many great posts this week. Here are just a few of our favorites:

The 152nd Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Money Under 30. David has it quite nicely formatted, which makes for a nice read, and also gives a nod to Mothers Day and some posts dedicated to mothers. Speaking of which, this edition features Mrs. NtJS's fabulous article on becoming a better garage sale shopper. Some other posts of interest:

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---

How To: Sell A Used Car: Episode 1

You've decided to take the plunge. You're going to do it. You're going to sell your car outright. No haggling over trade-in value with some slime-ball dealer. It's time to get the real value out of your car. This is the first part of our series on buying and selling used cars. We're starting with selling as we are going to assume that you already have a car, and will need to get rid of it before buying another. Because you are going to buy someone else's used car, right? And pay for it in cash, right? (this is where you nod your head in agreement)

Many financial pundits as well as PF bloggers will tell you that you can save a ton of money (and headache) by buying used cars and selling yours outright. And they are right. Dealers know the value of your car, despite offering you 10-20% less than that. It's called 'retail'. They have to buy your car below value, in hope of reselling it at or close to value. They make their money on the buy, not the sale. There is also a huge hit in value that you avoid when buying used instead of new. This is not a trivial amount of money either - thousands of dollars. Some PF bloggers will post articles on how smart they were for buying new, and how all that crap about 'buying used is smart' is just a myth. They'll talk about what a great deal they got, how much more reliable their new car is, that they bought it below 'dealer invoice' (as if the dealer lost money on the deal), that their loan was at such a good rate and thus qualifies as 'good debt' (as if there is such a thing), and try to weasel their way into showing how none of the good sense of buying used applies to their situation. Give me a break. I've read these posts (too many of them), and they amount to little more than justification for making a deal that they knew was bad to get a car that they wanted, simply to satisfy their inner child. This isn't one of those posts.

There are plenty of posts telling you to buy and sell used, and showing all of the financial justification in favor of this method. This isn't one of those posts either.

This is an 'in the trenches' view of how to make this actually happen. Hopefully you are already aware of the what and why, otherwise you would have stopped reading already.

You have a lot of this to do. Not only do you need to know what your car is worth, but also what they are actually selling for in your area. You also need to get some documentation in order.
  • Do you have the title (is it payed for or do you still owe on it)? If you still owe money on the vehicle, then you will need to discuss your situation with the lien holder and either work out an arrangement for the difference if you are upside down, or release the title if you have an offer equal to or more than the value.
  • Do you have the repair history documented Oil change receipts? Scheduled maintenance log?
  • Do you have the original window sticker? This great for showing exactly what features it does have going for it.
  • Do you have the owner's manual?
  • Get the 'Private Party' value of your vehicle. Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds are great places to do this. Steer clear of NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) as they tend to overvalue cars just a tad, possibly to the dealer's advantage (in our opinion).
  • Does your vehicle have a valid warranty? This is a great selling point, but you'll need to look into transferring that after the sale. It's usually just a matter of a form to fill out and fax back.
  • Pull the Carfax report on your car. It is worth it to get a 30-day subscription if you are planning to buy another used car in the near future. If you don't have this, then it is just another hurdle for the buyer.
Do whatever you can to be upfront and honest about what you are selling. If it has a ding, then it has a ding. If the rubber is getting thin, then it will likely need new tires soon. It is what it is. the more you try to hide, the less comfortable buyers will be.

From a legal standpoint, you need to understand your state's and/or county's requirements for selling a vehicle.
  • Be sure to look up your area's sales tax laws. Do you pay it, or the buyer? How is it calculated? Who do you pay it to?
  • You'll need a bill of sale specific to your state. These are usually free, and well worth the little effort. Sometimes unnecessary, but I'd rather have it than not.
  • Does the odometer mileage need to be verified?
  • How is the title transferred? How long does it take, and how much will it cost?
  • Do you keep the plates or do they stay with the vehicle?
  • Can you stop the insurance after the sale with just a phone call, or will they need documentation? This is very important to do immediately after the sale, by the way. That Bill of Sale may come in quite handy for actually verifying the time and day of the sale in a dispute.
You're state and/or county's web site should have most of this stuff readily available. Some focused googling should yield results. Otherwise, go straight to your state or county website and search there. It helps to be knowledgeable about both buying and selling as your buyers will likely be less informed than you. Assume that they have never done this before, and haven't got a clue. The more questions that you have answers to, the better. Even if you answer is, "I would recommend you contact in the county so-and-so's office."

Posting the ad
You're just itching to post this thing for sale. Wait. Lets get this done right - the first time. First, what is the best method for your area? We've bought and sold vehicles on Craigslist, but in some areas of the country, that forum sees little activity. Round up all the methods you can find. Sign in the window, ebay, local newspaper, local used car publications (Deals on Wheels, Auto trader...), online forums.... Now it's time to take some pictures.
  • Clean your car. Wash AND wax it, thoroughly. No wax left behind, no streaks on the windows. Don't forget the wheels, tires, and wheel wells. Vac out the inside. Attempt to remove any stains on the carpet or upholstery. Dust the dash and clean up any random globs of ketchup or Coka-Cola on the interior. Don't give the buyer a reason to discount your vehicle. Clean out all of the trash. Get all of the crap out of the cupholders. Clean out the trunk. Be sure to get all of the grime off of the steering wheel, shifter and arm rests - there's more on there than you think. You want that same halo-effect that the dealers get when someone looks at a new vehicle.
  • Contain clutter. There are some things that are good to keep in the car - tire pressure gage, jumper cables, rain poncho. Don't feel like you must go without these things, just keep them in a small container. Car registration and proof of insurance should also be kept together (if they aren't already) and ready to go. It will look clean and organized, plus if you sell the car, then you just need to grab it and go. Anything that is staying with the car should also be organized - proof of maintenance log, receipts, warranty info for replaced tires, brakes or mufflers.
  • Pick a nice day and take you car to an open area. Don't photograph it in front of your house. There is too much noise in the background. Not to be paranoid, but it's best to maintain an arms length between you (as well as your family) and whoever is looking at your car. Schools are a good place to do this. Maybe a quiet country road? Give it some visual interest. If you are selling a truck, photograph it out at a farm. Photograph your Jeep Wrangler in an open lot of green grass.
  • You don't need a fancy camera to take some nice pics. Use your resources - if you have a friend or relative who has a flair for photography, then ask them to give you a hand. Otherwise, charge up you point-and-shoot. Ambient light is best so that you don't have one side in shadow. Get down low and take some dramatic shots. Somebody, somewhere, at some-point in time designed the heck out of this thing. Pick some angles that show off the form and features. Photograph it like you have a clue. Get all of the angles, interior too. If you are up-charging for something like chrome wheels, be sure to get some good shots of them. Take lots and lots of pictures. you might end up with a few good ones.
  • Cover up your license plate. Either before with paper or afterwards in photoshop. But don't doctor-up the images. This is not your chance to fix that scratch or ding.
Once you have this done, you are ready to start crafting your ads. Gather up all of your info and start thinking about what you want to say. If you are struggling here, then go ahead and go car shopping on Craigslist. Find some ads that resonate well with you and your target consumer. Like their wording, their way of listing features, the way they bait you to respond and come see the car? Then use it as your guide. Besides the standard email response option, also list a phone number. It's OK to say the area or town you live in, but I wouldn't give out an address until you have a serious buyer.

We started with the free or low cost methods - Craigslist and a couple 'For Sale' signs in the windows. Those signs may seem tacky, but we've had friends find buyers while they were at work or grocery shopping. Where ever you are, park it prominently so that people driving by will see the signs.

After a week of no sale, but some traffic, we stepped up to some some local ads. Our local newspaper had printed ads and online ads. The printed ads allow very little verbiage unless you are willing to shell out big bucks, but yet allow you to reach the non-internet-savvy crowd. The paper's online ads, on the other hand were quite nice. In the end we had several people come to look at the car. And a few test drove it.

Coming up...
Now you should have your clean and beautiful car posted for sale and ready for buyers. In Episode 2, we'll talk about showing the car, and closing the deal.

--- Continue Reading This Post ---
Blog Widget by LinkWithin