Can Your Collection Get You Out of Debt?

toy-938248_640Imagine if something you’ve been collecting could get you out of debt. The following 10 collector’s items are valuable, and certain items can sometimes be sold for incredible profits. If you have some old coinage lying around or you’ve been holding onto a historical document, now may be the time to sell it and use the funds to pay down your debts.

If you’re not in debt, the best thing to do is hold onto your collection and periodically check to see if its valuation has changed. Don’t sell until it’s reached its peak of demand, and you may have to “piece out” your collection to get the most money, which means to sell one item at a time.

Vintage Cars

A rare classic car can be purchased for cheap and then sold for a fortune, but only if you fix up the right one. If you’re lucky enough to find an Alfa Romeo Alfasud (there are less than 100 active in Great Britain), fixing it up can net a huge profit. Old BMWs and Fiats are reasonably priced and can be fixed up and sold too.

Historical Documents

According to Raab Collection, an internationally recognized name in historical autographs, “Historical documents of famous people are family heirlooms, which decedents of the writers and recipients, as well as collectors, often choose to sell.” If you have a historical document, you can have it appraised and then auctioned or sold to a buyer. Your document is especially valuable if it was signed by someone famous.

Vintage Furniture

Period-piece furniture can be very valuable, and it fetches a pretty penny at auctions. When picking through rummage sales, have Google open and ready to determine the values of the furniture you come across. Who knows? You could end up like the French engineer who bought a famed 17th Century Japanese lacquer box for $160, and then used it as a television stand for 16 years before his family sold it for 7.3 million euros.

Sports Memorabilia

Have something signed by a legendary or infamous player? If so, it could be worth some money. Baseball card collections have also been known to sell for a lot of money. NuWire Investor has some advice on “Getting your hands on some treasures.” The best piece of advice is to ask the world’s current top athletes to sign memorabilia, and then hold onto it until it’s valuable.

Postage Stamps

Have a rare stamp or an old stamp collection? Not all stamps are valuable, but some are incredibly rare and valuable and are found in older collections. Inherited stamp collections are almost certainly worth something, but determining the value will take research. The rarest stamps are worth the most.


Have you held onto your childhood toys? Although the most valuable toys are still in their packages, non-packaged toys may also have value if they’re rare enough. Mandatory has put together a list of the “Childhood Toys You Should’ve Kept.” If you’ve got a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Scratch the Cat Figure or a rare Beanie Baby, you could end up with over a grand in a sale.

Other Valuable Collections

The above named collections are great to sell, but really any collection could potentially have value. If you’ve collected comic books, vintage books and classic novels, maps, old record albums, and old coins and paper money, you could be sitting on a fortune. The best thing to do is ask an appraiser for help, and don’t sell if you’re collection isn’t at the peak of its value.

Photo courtesy of: oceanverde

Our 2015 Annual Debt Repayment Checkup (Hint: We killed it!)

This time last year I wrote a post (one of my most popular still, today), titled Can We Pay Off $70,000 in 36 Months?. I mention in the post that in the previous 24 months (from when the post was written, in October 2014) we managed to pay off $29,000, which we were happy with but wanted to greatly up the ante. We were looking to kill our remaining debt at a rate almost double what we were. I came up with the 36 month plan and I’m happy to say we’re still on target, actually beating our goal by two weeks.

This past weekend we paid off the remaining $360.00 on a loan which means, since October 2014 we have paid off over $27,000 worth of non-mortgage debt. An average of $2,250 per month.

There were months I didn’t think it would happen. I can think of two months we made the minimum only payments but somehow we managed to pull it off and get the debt paid down. The loan we just paid off was the most naggy, and we’re so glad it’s done. Until we get the letter in the mail stating we’re all clear, I won’t exhale my sign of relief though.

A look at our remaining debt

Since I’m writing this on the weekend, and can’t access two of our remaining loans via online banking, I have to estimate two of the remaining four loans for an updated total. I’m pretty confident in my estimation though (and think I am actually overestimating remaining vehicle balance). As of today, we owe approximately $59,000. Down from an original total of about $139,000. We’ve paid off over 57% of our debt. Super happy about this!

Our remaining debt is broken down into our student lines of credit, my nationally issued student loan and our vehicle. When I wrote the post last year, I also mentioned I was not including my national student loan in the 70k payoff since it is the least of our worries. Any interest paid on this loan is an amount I can claim on my income tax as a deduction so will be the last thing we pay off.

Taking this loan out of the equation, leave us with $47,500 which we’d like gone in the next 24 months to reach our 70k goal. If we’re able to keep the rate which we have been in last 24 months though, this debt could theoretically be gone in 21 months and including my national student loan, we could be 100% non-mortgage debt free in 26 months. This is a super lofty goal and though I would love to aim for it, I don’t think we will.

Our Future

We’re still going to focus on the original goal, if we beat it- great, but we have other life choices going on at the same time which are important to us. I’ve already mentioned we plan on buying a second vehicle next year, in cash which we will need to take from somewhere.

Mike and I need to sit down in the next few days and figure out our next plan of attack. I keep flipping between getting the vehicle paid off before the summer (18 months before original payoff) OR saving for a second used car first, then pay vehicle off. We need to decide how much more we can live with the inconvenience of one vehicle I guess, since paying our current vehicle off first delays buying a second one by a minimum of six months.

Either way we’ll be moving in the direction we want our life to go, and for now we’ll have a moment of silence for the $27,000 worth of debt we just slayed.

3 Fun Ways to Challenge Yourself to Save Money

coins-912718_1280Saving money isn’t something that is usually thought of as being fun. But saving money is definitely a necessary part of getting your finances in order. It doesn’t matter if you are saving money for an emergency fund, saving money for an upcoming expense or purchase, or saving money for some other reason. Saving money is one of the most basic personal finance concepts.

But what if you could turn saving money into a game of sorts? It could end up being fun after all! Here are 3 fun ways you can challenge yourself to save money.

Beat the Clock

Have you ever gone on a trip with your GPS device programmed to show your destination? Usually it shows an estimated time of arrival. Whenever I go on a trip and use my GPS I always try to beat the device’s estimated time of arrival feature. (Of course I never risk my safety or the safety of others.) This little game keeps me focused on my trip and striving to make extra progress.

Saving money can be treated the same way. Set up a realistic timeline for when you need to have your money saved up. Then once you have that recorded somewhere, try to beat it. Throw any extra money you come across from side hustling, selling things you own, and doing other odd jobs toward your savings account. It’s always fun when you reach your goal early!

Bet Against Yourself

Betting against yourself can help you financially and in other ways too. Maybe you have a “curse jar”, a “weight loss jar”, or some other jar for a bad habit you want to break. The idea is that whenever you curse, or whatever your vice is, you put a pre-determined amount of money in the jar. This could be $1, $5, or more depending on how motivated you want to make yourself on quitting your bad habit.

After your habit is broken, or more often it it’s going to take while to reach your goal, deposit that money into your savings account, or put it toward a debt you want to pay off.

Find a Competitor

If someone else you know is also trying to save money, or pay off debt, perhaps you could ask them to engage in a little competition with you. Having someone to compete with, no matter the contest, always makes me work a little harder to accomplish my goals.

If you find that you are too competitive, or if you’re not competitive at all, perhaps you can just use your friend to help you stay accountable to your goals instead of competing with them.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a drag. With these ideas you can turn saving money, or paying off debt, into a game that keeps you motivated to work hard on your financial goals.

Have you ever played a game with yourself, or others, to help you reach your financial goals?

How to Stop Stressing Over Money

There was a time in my life when I was majorly stressed out. I was pregnant and freaking out about how we were going to manage our finances. I knew we had debt, I just didn’t know how much. I also knew we had no savings and if something happened we’d be in trouble. To add to it all my OB wanted me off work early. I was due June 21 and she was talking about putting me off in March. I was suffering from debilitating pregnancy related carpal tunnel syndrome (I couldn’t even hold a pen to write my name, so doing my job as a dental hygienist was impossible and pain-ridden every day).

I wanted to go off work, the pain was unbearable and I was restricted to the off Tylenol- which, by the way does nothing for inflammatory related issues- but I couldn’t. We weren’t in a position financially to allow me to go off work that early. Even though I was entitled to government issued sick leave benefits I couldn’t take the pay-cut any earlier than we had to (I was already preparing for a 60% pay cut when on mat leave). It sucked.

I didn’t know how to stop stressing because, truthfully I didn’t fully know what was causing the stress. It took a few days but eventually I realized it was my utter lack of control over everything that made me uneasy. I was so used to just dealing with something when the time came that I hadn’t learned to live in a start of preparedness.

If you want to stop stressing about money it is possible but it won’t happen over night. I feel like some financial advice given leads one to believe that if they just stop doing what they’re doing and listen to them it will all fix itself magically, when the truth is that it takes time.

To start, you have to sit down and figure out where your finances are. Calculate your debts (if any- not everyone has debt!), your income, bills, everything. One you have a good idea where you stand you need to come up with some sort of system to monitor your money, a budget is ideal but doesn’t work for everyone. As long as you have a way to monitor your money in such a way you can reach your goals that’s what counts. Sitting down and looking at the numbers will have a strange sense of relief associated with it. Even if you don’t like what you see, there is no more unknown and a burden will be lifted.

You absolutely must have an emergency fund. I don’t care if you’re 18 and single or 118 and married with 267 grandchildren. You need to have one but it doesn’t mean it will be the same for everyone. After all, emergency funds aren’t a one size fits all. If you don’t already have one you must start saving for one. You will be amazed at how much even a few hundred dollars in the bank account will make you feel. You will sleep SO much better at night knowing you could cover a minor day-to-day emergency. You’ll eventually get to a point of building a larger (job-loss sized) emergency fund but start with small steps and feel the stress diminish.

Create a goal and go for it. For us, its debt payoff. Once we came up with a plan we felt so much better. Simply having a direction gives us purpose. We suddenly had a reason for all of our hard work. For us ‘paying off debt’ isn’t enough. It’s the reasons why behind debt payoff. We want to have a better life. We want to travel, we want to move, we eventually want more kids…all of these things will be much more possible when our debt is gone. Having a goal to reach for suddenly makes working that extra shift more appealing too.

Money stress is an awful feeling. I know because I’ve been there. It is possible to let go though and it starts with facing what is bothering you, it won’t be easy but it will so be worth it, I promise.

What was/is your biggest money stress and how do you deal with it?

A Look at Our Best Debt Repayment Month EVER.

ID-10098169I mentioned a few months ago that I was going to be stopping the monthly debt repayment updates because they felt a little monotonous. We were just trucking along and much was the same month to month, but I did promise to update when there was news that was update worthy.

If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen that yesterday we dumped a bunch of cash on our debt this month. We managed to put $2,535 on a single loan this month for a September total of $3,510 in non-mortgage debt payments. This is 2.5 times the minimum required payments! It’s also a lot of cash. Though it actually killed a small piece of my soul to see that much money leave our accounts it was also so satisfying to see the debt go down. If all goes according to plan, within the next two weeks we’ll have one of our loans paid off and I. can’t. wait.

Being able to throw that much cash towards our debt was possible because we budget most of our bills monthly (some bi-weekly) but we both had a three-pay month in September. For us, two extra pays coming in is about $3,000 extra dollars. We used $1,300 of it for extra debt payments, $700 for my annual licensing fees + CPR (work) and the rest will be saved for Christmas. We’ve always had one of our ‘extra’ pays fall near the end of the year and this is always how it gets broken down, licensing fee, debt and Christmas. It works for us.

Though I’m super excited about having this loan paid off soon I’m still a little undecided at the direction I (we) want to move. I guess as long as the overall debt number is going down that’s all that matters until I figure out a more concrete plan. I definitely need to replenish the ‘ol ER fund so that will take priority, we’re living life on the edge right now :)

I’m hoping the next few months go well for us in terms of income/side income and sticking to budgets. We actually tend to do a really good job at making and staying within our Christmas budget and this is now something we need to establish and start thinking about (umm, didn’t we just do this? where did 2015 go?!).

Though I like the news reported in this post I’ll like it even more when I’m finally able to tell you we killed a $25,000 loan in less than 3 years while paying off our other debts at the same time!

How did everyone else do in September?

Changing Your Financial Vocabulary

Last week I went for a rare lunch out with co-workers. Rarely do I even get time to sit down and eat, let alone actually leave the office for an extended period of time. The two women I was having lunch with were in very different financial situations. One had just moved in with her boyfriend and was trying to find a budgeting groove that worked for both of them while earning drastically different incomes, while the other was married with a few kids she was admittedly unhappy with how they manged money.

Lady #2 (married mom) went into great detail about how they ”couldn’t” make a budget, or make one work when they did attempt. ”We don’t have time”, ” It’s easier to swipe the card and deal with it later” were some of the things she told us.

After myself and lady #1 (unmarried lady) went into detail about how much we love our respective budgets I asked Married Mom if having a budget was something she considered to be important. Her response? Yes, but again, it wasn’t something she had time to do as she was busy enough with work and two kids. Budgets, according to her were for people who had the time to establish them and see them through day-to-day. It didn’t take me long to debunk that myth.

How we talk and think about money, our repertoire of financial vocabulary if you will, can make you or break you.

If she would simply believe that should could in fact live by a budget, that a budget wasn’t a burden, or for people who live exclusively on cash, than she’d do it. It’s just that simple. Once I explained how our budget gives me a complete sense of control she became interested.

Sure I could think about ”only having X amount of money” to spend on whatever expense or I could choose to think about it as ”I only want to spend X amount of money” or ”spending X in this expense means I have more for another expense or goal”. You want to think about your money working for you, not your money running your life. If it is, regain control through changing the tone in how you think and talk about money.

It’s a lot like talking to a toddler. I’ve said it before but if you engage in an argument with a toddler, you’ve already lost so don’t let it get to that point. Same with money. By using a certain vocabulary to think and talk about it, you far reduce the amount of arguments or frustrations.

Managing money can be a big mental game for some, which is why your choice of vocabulary makes a big difference. If it’s filled with negative connotations you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure. Stop and think about how you view money, if its negative, try changing your thought process and see it makes a difference in your eagerness to reach your goals.

What words did you need to eliminate from your financial vocabulary to reach goals?

5 Things We’ve Done to Pay Our Debt Off Faster

We are officially entering the countdown to paying off one of our big(ger) loans. Of our total debt, this consolidated loan started in December 2012 at just shy of $25,000. Our agreement was to have it paid off by December 2017 and here we are six weeks away from payoff, more than two years early.

It hasn’t been easy. There has been a lot of things that we’ve put off or totally eliminated from our lives to make it happen. The fact is if we want to get this debt paid off in a reasonable time frame, changes needed to be made.

Make More Money

This was, for us, the easiest thing to do to yield the biggest change. The first thing Mike did was go to his boss and ask for a raise. Since then we haven’t stopped. I’ve also received raises and we’ve both earned income though other avenues. We both blog and in Mike’s job he has the ability to earn overtime and travel expenses

Cut. Cut. Cut.

We started this journey, really started I mean, while i was still on maternity leave. We had limited options for earning additional money but I had time to look for areas to cut. Starting this journey while on maternity leave was a bit of a blessing because we were already living on a tight budget but that doesn’t mean we were doing everything right. With a few days worth of research we found substantial savings every month (approximately $200/month).

Meal Plan

This was something we previously didn’t do and it has made such a massive difference in how far our money goes. Before kiddo was born we’d mindlessly shop for whatever we wanted, then we were forced into a reduced income situation (maternity leave) and suddenly we had to make a conscious decision when shopping. This was one of the best thing that ever happened to us, debt or not. I estimate we were spending an easy $800 per month for the two of us for no reason other that we’d just buy what we wanted, when we wanted with no goal (meal) in mind. Now, the three of us spend about $550 per month with all (healthy) meals planned a week at a time.

Maintained a One Vehicle Household

I can’t tell you how badly we want a second vehicle. With Mike’s travel schedule it is majorly inconvenient to be a single vehicle family with a kid and I can honestly say, without the support of our family we wouldn’t have been able to make it work as long as we have. Now that we almost have this loan paid off the time has come that we will soon start saving for a second car but only having one car expense until this point has been a major help in helping us expedite our debt repayment.

Give up Travel (kinda..)

We love to travel, short day trips or long international flights, we love to explore. Our last big trip before starting this journey was a week in NYC with friends and it was great but we also quickly realized that there was over $3,000 we could have put towards debt. Other than family reunion trips (short, road trips for us), we have basically eliminated all travel. While it is hard watching our cohorts explore the world we know it’s not our time and saving big travel for when debt is gone will be much more satisfying.

When you get to the point that you really want your debt paid off you may be surprised what you’ll accomplish. I used to love getting my hair cut and colored but it didn’t take long to realized $120 every six to eight weeks wasn’t justifiable while we carry so much debt. Though individual small steps don’t seem like much, over time they add up and before you know it you’ve managed to cut off two years of debt repayment.

What did you do to make debt repayment successful?

Using YouTube to Review a Companies Reputation

Whenever you start subscribing to a particular company to provide a service to your home, it is always a good idea to check them out completely. You want to know exactly who you are doing business with. This is basic common sense. If you assume a company is going to give you a certain standard or service, you could be in for a rude awakening down the road. Therefore, the time it takes to research a company will be well worth it in the long run. It is important to research energy providers. Here are a few of the main reasons why.

1. What is their reputation?

If you are going to be depending on a company for your electricity needs, you need to know what their reputation is among current and former customers. Fortunately, this sort of information is relatively easy to uncover online. If you see complaint after complaint regarding how a specific energy provider does business with their customers, it would be a good idea to pass them over. You can save yourself a lot of frustration and headaches by reviewing a company’s reputation. ACN is an example of an energy provider with an outstanding reputation. You can learn more about them by visiting

2. How much do they charge?

You will obviously need to be completely aware of how much you will be paying for your monthly service before you agree to use any company. This will require you to contact all of the energy providers in your area and get all the information you can regarding the various rates that these companies charge for their services. After you have compiled all of this information, you will be able to make an educated decision regarding which company will be the least expensive for your particular energy needs.

3. How is their repair service?

During the course of your service, something may go wrong. It might be a problem at your house. It might also be a problem nearby that is impacting the service of many other customers in your area. In either case, you need to be sure that your energy provider is going to always stay on top of such matters. If your service is interrupted, waiting two or three days for repair technicians to come to your home is completely unacceptable. Your energy provider needs to dispatch repair technicians to your home within no more than 12 hours.

We’ve Outgrown Our Current Budget System

picYou know how some memories are so vivid when recalled you feel like you could relive them perfectly.

That’s how I feel about the first time Mike and I sat down to do our budget, together. I can remember everything down to what PJ’s I had on. I had been doing my best until that point to keep on top of things but was quickly losing control. Then he, and his amazing project managerial skills, came in and saved the day. He created the current budgeting system we use still today, three years later.  It works and I literally can’t live without it!

Though how we have been using our DIY Excel spreadsheet has worked well for us until this point, the time has come to change it up I think.

Budgets aren’t meant to be static, they’re meant to be put in place to accommodate the ebbs and flows that come with life and ours has been static too long.

I have to clarify first, we don’t have a ”true” budget, but rather a money monitoring system. We figure out how to get all required bills paid and what is leftover is what we buy food, gas, clothes etc with. The problem is that we don’t have enough definition with the ”leftover” money. We always make sure we buy groceries and gas but how the rest gets divided is more complicated. Sometimes there are things Mike wants, or I want, or Maria needs and because there is no clear use for this money we don’t have a system to decide who gets what, when… and this needs to change.

We’ve never really given each other an allowance of any kind and I think it’s high time we do. I don’t want to think about how I may want to spend a few dollars, nor should Mike. If I want to go out and buy new sneakers (something I currently need) I don’t want to think or figure out how that may affect the rest of my families finances, same goes for Mike if there’s something he’s eyeing he should have more access to an allowance he can draw on.

We currently plan everything based on predicted two week increments (we’re paid on the same day) for upwards of six months at a time. Every two weeks we usually end up with approximately the same amount of ”leftover” money which we play with. Sometimes it lasts the two weeks no problem and other times things get tight and I think if we moved to a better monthly budget we’d have more breathing room.

Now that we’re at a point where we’ve nearly paid off our next big loan, once this is done (within the next month), I think it’s a good time to rearrange how and when things are budgeted and paid, including money for us. We’d be using the same amount of money just rearranged differently (since our debt repayment is being rolled into next goal). We now just need to sit down together and decide how much we each get, including Maria’s needs to.

How much do you budget for personal wants and needs (clothes/personal care/occasional wants etc)? How often do you totally change your budget?

Infographic: A Fresh Face on Branding

A Fresh Face