Friday, November 13, 2009

If I needed cash desperately (for food and gas kind of desperate)

Suze Orman had a little segment on where to get cash if you are out of money.

It's more than 6 minutes long, but her list is basically Credit Cards, Roth IRA, Regular IRA.

That's not where I'd go at all.  If I needed cash this desperately (Suze is talking food and gas money here) I'd:

(1) Sell Little Stuff.  There's an amazing amount of stuff lying around just about everyone's house that's worth a little something.  You're not going to get rich selling your old jeans at $4.99 a pop on ebay, and every ebay auction takes a ton of time to set up, but if you're this broke, you're probably not working.  Make it your job to go around the house and sell every little piece of junk you can get your hands on.  Clothing you never wear, gifts that you don't have a use for and were planning to re-gift, kitchen gadgets that you never use - it adds up.  In September, I netted $366.00 on ebay and half, and I am pretty sure that the most I grossed on any one item was $56. And don't forget plasma - my experience was that it took forever, but if what you have is time, it's a guaranteed income every week if you qualify to donate.

(2) Make Major Lifestyle Changes.  Look around at your lifestyle and cut something big.  Have two unemployed drivers?  Sell a car.  Hopefully you can at least cover the cost of the note, and then you've got one fewer payment to worry about.  Even if you still have your note, your insurance will go down.  If you have a newer, nicer (probably upside down) car, your lender is making you carry collision, so your payments should go down quite a bit.  Have a computer?  Sell it for gas money and use the library.  Once the computer is gone, you can cancel your internet subscription and cut another payment as well.  If you have an expensive collection (designer purses, stamps, guns, etc.) start selling them from least to most favorite.  My gun collection, for instance, would feed me (with cheap but nutritious foods) and pay basic bills (bye, bye internet)for four or five months before I had to sell my very favorites.  I'd be sad - I have good memories with them all, and those are not replaceable.  But I can buy new ones and make new memories when I'm back on my feet, rather than trying to dig myself out of the yawning hole of credit card debt.

(3) Hit Up Friends and Family.  That's what networks are for - to assure the survival of their members.  I'm not suggesting that you take food out of your mom's mouth, but you probably know someone you can ask for a loan, even if it will be uncomfortable.  They can get a rate way better than 2% (what SmartyPig is paying me now) and you can get one way better than 14% (or whatever your credit card loan rate is).  Let me just say that we went this route last time we were in trouble, and I am not anxious to do it ever again.  There might be a tipping point here, in fact, between credit cards and family, once you get to a couple of months worth of living expenses.  It's gonna take a while to pay that back, even at 0% interest, and I don't like owing my family at all - I feel guilty about it.  But I'd definitely borrow the first $500 from them.

Why not start with credit cards?  Because they make it too easy to pretend that you can live like you always did.  That cup of coffee at 7-11 is more than you can afford if you have no income, but it's easy to forget that if you've got 20K credit on your cards.  That roast recipe you've been meaning to try - you need to be buying beans.  It's not nice, but it's the hard truth.  The sooner you realize it and live it, the less money you pay back when you get back on your feet.  I managed to accumulate 30K worth of credit card debt before I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle in 2005, and we are still paying it off.  Don't be like me - sell it before you charge it.


  1. Hey, I rec'd $37 for a sale and recycling. Then there was $64 left over in our checking for the week. So, I just sent an extra $100 to our CC company. Yeah!

    I would like to sell my car now that I am taking the train. But I am upside down. Plus I would still need to buy a used car. So, I guess I am stuck with my car. LOL. I only have 1 1/2 til PIF'd. Then my son wants to steal it from me too. ha. Year of the driving teenager. Scary!

  2. I like your ideas much better!

  3. Yeah, don't sell a car if you need to replace it immediately:) I'm just suggesting that if only one person at a time needs a car, you can get by with only one car. We've only got one car here Chez Goat, but it works because his job is 99% telecommute and my job is 1/2 mile down the road.

    I totally forgot about recycling - it's a cliche, but those cans lying along the side of the road are free money.

    Also, at this time of the year in my area, there are plenty of people looking for someone to pick pecans for halves. Then you either eat your half or sell it for a bit of cash. Just another idea I thought of when my neighbor put a sign out asking for someone today.