Updated on 04.19.10

Reader Mailbag: Project Ideas

Trent Hamm

I have more great ideas for projects than I ever possibly have time to complete.

I have a 2004 Santa Fe which is getting to be too small for my family. We have three kids now and plan to make it 4 and 5 in the coming years. (Though not within a year or so for the next one.)

It has some minor body damage (scrapes, small dents, etc.) but still runs well. And it’s paid off.

We are thinking about getting a mini-van and trying to decide when to make the move.

Should we drive this one into the ground and then make the switch or go ahead and get a new minivan now while interest rates are still low?

We have excellent credit — probably mid- to high-700s.
– John

Drive it into the ground, then make the switch.

Of course, while you’re doing that, make payments as though you had purchased a new van. Set up an automatic transfer of $300 a month into a savings account to simulate a car payment.

If you make the current vehicle last three more years, then you have $10,000 in that savings account with which to buy your next vehicle. If you’re buying a late model used vehicle, then you’re probably paying for most of it right out of pocket – no payments, no interest rates, no anything.

We did virtually the same thing recently, and I’ll talk about that in a post in the next few days.

I am interested in using a site like Mint.com to help me keep track of where my money is going and to help me save. My boyfriend thinks that I would be potentially putting myself in a position for easy identity theft with something like that. What are your thoughts?
– Lauren

Mint, Wesabe, and such sites have absolutely stellar security practices. My concern would have nothing to do with their actual security practices at all.

My security concern would be with the fact that no point of security is perfect and the more points of security you open your information up to, the more likely there is to eventually be a failure. Assuming all security points are equal, the person with one security point open is more secure than the person with five open.

Is Mint worth opening up your personal information to another security point? For you, it might be; for me, it’s not. I strive to minimize the amount of information availability, even with reliable places. At some point, every security system fails because human beings are fallible. Mint does not offer enough value to me in order to add that additional risk.

I’m struggling with clutter, too. But in my case, it’s just me (I live by myself at the moment) – so there’s no conflict with another human about what stays/goes. I do have some pack-rat tendencies and where I don’t keep things for sentimental reasons, I seem to keep things because I always have “I may have another use for that” thoughts. I am a big arts-crafts person, and so a lot of the things I hold on to are because I can envision using them in a project – but of course there are a million more projects than I’ll ever have time for.

The second reason I’m holding on to stuff is because I think of the money that was spent and I think about how best to recoup *any* money in getting rid of stuff. This has become a BIG problem over the last 2 years because 2 years ago, I closed my retail store and everything I didn’t liquidate then came home with me. I’ve gotten rid of a lot since then, but I still have piles… and the problem is, if I’m going to do anything other than donate stuff, it’s a lot of work.

Part of me wants to just donate all of it… and be done with the clutter… but I worry that 1) the donation place won’t really find a use for it (I have doubts that it’s useful to donate anything except for clothes, good furniture and appliances) and 2) I think about the money I could have recouped – but taking photos and putting things up on craigslist and/or ebay takes a lot of time (and ebay costs money). More about #1 – I am also fairly environmentally conscious and that’s part of what fuels my thoughts where I think I could re-purpose my own stuff.

– Adeena

The best way to think about clutter is to view the stuff you buy as a complete loss the second you buy it. It’s a sunk cost – it’s water under the bridge.

The fact that you paid $20 for a DVD three years ago does not mean it’s worth even a cent right now. It’s only worth a cent if someone’s willing to buy it. That $20 is lost.

As for donating stuff, Goodwill only takes things that they think they can sell. On top of that, you can get a receipt for all donated stuff and use it as a tax deduction in 2011, which will save you some money.

A few years ago, I begna aggressively paying down debt. I paid it all off- except one credit line (unsecured) for $17,500 Cdn. I decided it was fine to leave it unpaid as I had no savings and started putting excess cash into a retirement account.

One thing that was of crucial importance to me was buying a home. In Canada you can borrow your downpayment from you retirement plan, with a 15 yr repayment schedule. So i did that, now I have a small condo (tres small) that I bought at the bottom of the housing market slump and a mortgage for $250,000 at 3.8% (rate is fixed until June 2014, then it renews at market rates- renewal is standard for Cdn mortgages). I did $10,000 worth of renos on credit and had to pay $4000 towards new elevators for the building which I borrowed from the credit line.

I make a whack of dough in my job, and my living expenses leave a lot of excess cash. I did some careful calculations though- if I lost my job (and I work for a stock brokerage firm (not in sales), it is a high risk), I probably could only make 70% of what I am currently paid getting hired elsewhere, as I lack academic credentials that other major financial employers screen for. It turned out that for $17,000 I could get a graduate school diploma in business (the first half of an MBA).

So I went into and had my credit line approved for additional student loan funds. When school ends (next March) in a year it willconvert to a term loan with up to 10 yrs to pay it back.

I have $10,000 in a retirement account, a $250,000 mortgage and $48,000 in debt. I can pay $1200 a month to the debt with no change in expenditures. I can cut another $500 a month out if I walk to work ($80 a mo), stop buying take out (it is way too high), stop driving (I belong to a car co-op $135/mo average usage cost) and get work to pay for my cell phone. ($100/mo)

But I wonder if I should maybe try to get a second job as well. I am scared I have no savings, just credit. Would you do that if you were me? Here’s the kicker- I am trained as financial planner – as if I had anything to invest.
– Danny

If I understand this right, you’re taking night classes to get your degree while working at a well-paying job during the day. I’m not entirely sure how a second job would fit into that equation.

Your focus should be on nailing solid grades and getting that diploma so you can eventually work forward towards an MBA. It sounds like you’re happy in your career and want the degree so that you can move forward. I don’t know the specifics of your field, but I would guess that if you’re working towards this diploma, you’ll eventually work towards the MBA.

So, no, I wouldn’t get a second job. I’d nail that diploma. I’d also live cheap while I was doing this and set up some automatic transfers from your checking account so that you can get an emergency fund built up.

My younger sister is finally graduating from college (5 years, 4 schools, 3 majors). Her degree will be in Business and she likes event planning and currently works for Lowe’s with some hopes to move up to Manager. I remembered reading a book review that you said you recommended for young woman entering the business world after school but can’t seem to find it on the website.

What book or books would you recommend that I get her as a graduation present? She is already pretty frugal, babysits and cleans my Grandma’s house for some extra cash. She is a typical blond who sometimes lacks common sense.
– Ryan

I would get her two books.

First of all, I’d pick up Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. It’s simply the best money book I’ve ever read because it’s, in the end, not really about money at all. It’s about life.

Second, I’d give her Michael Masterson’s Automatic Wealth for Grads. This book does a great idea explaining the things a self-motivated person should do straight out of college to build a strong financial position for life. It’s not easy right out of the chute, but it’s well worthwhile.

I have been at my current job as a event floral designer/event planner for a year and a half and I love it–I truly enjoy what I do. The only problem is that I bring home about $23000 per year working 40 hours a week (the maximum hours allowed by my employer). This is below my income potential (I brought home about $36000 at my last job in a different industry) and I know with my skill set and experience I could earn more. However, in my industry I would have to spend a much greater percentage of my time doing the parts of my job I dislike and find exhausting in order to increase my income, and I would have to find a different company to work for, as there are no opportunities for increased pay at my current job (advancement, yes, just not more money). It is also very difficult to find jobs in this specialized industry and many colleagues are currently out of work. So, do I leave my job and find one that pays more, even though I would be giving up a job I currently love? Or do I stay with the job I love and just learn to live on very little?
– Becky

This is the eternal problem. Quite often, the parts of our job that are the most fun are the parts that don’t bring home the bacon.

Take writing. If I just sat here and wrote all day, doing nothing but creating, I wouldn’t make a dime. It’s the other activities – talking to advertisers, negotiating book deals, dealing with comment approval, and so on – that puts the food on the table. I don’t like that other stuff at all, but it’s part of the equation. I have to do it in order to be able to spend swaths of my life doing the other things I enjoy.

At some point, you have to decide what your own balance is. Usually, the more “not fun” stuff you take on, the better you get paid. The more you reject it, the less you make, but the more time you get to spend doing the things you want. There is no “answer” per se – it’s about what each individual person wants in their life.

I am not sure if you have covered this yet before, but what is your feeling about Certified Pre-Owned cars. We are looking at buying a used car and it will be our (me, wife and 2 kids) only car. I commute to work every day on bike and the car is mostly for around town and road trips. I just want to know whether you think it is worth the extra money. Thanks!
– Jim

In my book, “certified pre-owned” is basically a substitute for a trusted mechanic. If you have a mechanic that you trust, you can take a car you’re considering driving to them and they’ll effectively “certify” it for you.

What you’re buying is a seal of approval saying that the automobile appears to be in good working order. Dealerships are quite happy to sell this seal of approval because it means they make more money for not that much more work.

Most used cars on a reputable car lot aren’t going to break down the second you drive them off of the lot or else the dealer’s reputation would be in the toilet. That doesn’t mean that “certified pre-owned” isn’t worthless – it’s often a guarantee against something they missed. But you can often get an effectively similar guarantee from a trusted mechanic.

Is it worth paying a thousand or two more for? If you don’t have a good mechanic in your corner, sure.

Would you replace a 15 year old dishwasher that still works but has a lot of rust on the racks (which I’ve heard can be painted over) because you could get a great deal on it now (that won’t be available in the future) rather than waiting for it to completely breakdown?
– Suzi

I’d probably replace (or at least fix) the racks, but not the dishwasher itself. I wouldn’t want to eat off of dishes that sat and dried on a rust-covered rack.

My solution would be to run down to the local hardware or RV store, pick up some liquid electrical tape and a good wire brush, stop by the grocery store and pick up some unsweetened Kool-Aid, then go home and brush as much of the rust off of the racks as I could. I would then pour six packets of the unsweetened Kool-Aid into the soap holder in the dishwasher, run the dishwasher with nothing in it, then brush the racks again (the citric acid in the Kool-Aid will help with the rust). Then I’d coat the racks in the liquid electrical tape to give them a cleaner, dishwasher safe coating.

Of course, I’m assuming there’s been no other problems with the dishwasher than the rusty racks.

I am entering a very transitional phase in my life and I am a little lost about how to go forward. I am getting divorced, I am graduating from college next May, I’m looking into getting a Master’s degree, my car will need replacing in the next 2-3 years. I just recently completed baby step 1 of Dave Ramsey’s plan. I have a small (about $1800) credit card debt, other than that I have a HUGE pile of student loan debt. Graduate school applications and the GREs will cost almost $1000, not to mention the cost of moving across the country or even overseas next year. Should I just keep making the minimum payments on the credit card and stockpile cash? How should I handle saving for a new car? I don’t mind driving an old car as long as it is reliable, I just don’t want to ever have car payments again. A stipend for a graduate student is barely above poverty level, so is it wise for me to consider going to graduate school when I have so many financial responsibilities? I’m just feeling like there are n things to spend money on, and only n-1 amount of money coming in!
– Ellen

For one, if you go to graduate school, you’ll most likely have forbearance on the student loans. You won’t have to pay them until several months after you actually graduate. Keep that in mind.

If you’re going to graduate school, do you really need a car? I was close with several graduate students who lived in the graduate student housing at Iowa State University back in the day and virtually none of them owned a car. The ones who did rarely used it for anything at all. Is it possible for you to go carless for a few years? There would be no payments, no insurance, and no registration costs, either.

If I were you and I were passionate about the field I was in, I would focus on getting into graduate school. If I accomplished that, then I would go absolutely minimal. I’d sell everything that wouldn’t fit into a bag or two, travel to that school by plane or bus, and live in the graduate student housing that existed there. I’d just forget about the car entirely until I actually needed it.

In a couple of months I’m moving from one side of Australia to the other, to an area with a lower cost of living and I hope, a better lifestyle for myself and my daughter. Estimated relocation costs have ranged from $2,100 – $2,900, and I want to spend the next month or so selling/giving away any items that I don’t really need to minimise the amount of furniture & belongings that have to be transported.

I’ve already decided that anything that is quite bulky (other than large furniture) and hard to pack, but not overly expensive to replace, I will get rid of and buy new/secondhand after the move. For this sort of thing I’m targeting bikes, pedestal fans, very cheap bookcases etc. Then there’s items that may be due for replacement anyway, for example I’ve been having some problems with my fridge and it’s way too small for us, so I’m going to give it away and buy a secondhand one in the new city.

I’m hoping that this approach is good common sense, but I’m wary of either going overboard and ending up having to replace a lot of items that I could have moved, or of paying to move things that I might have been able to do without or replace cheaply. Do you have any ideas on how I can assess my belongings for their ‘move-worthiness’?
– Jay

Have you already purchased a place to live there? If I were you, I’d go very small when I moved. Find a very small house that has just the bare minimum amount of space.

Then, I’d sell almost everything before I left. Get rid of all of it that doesn’t have personal value. Then, when you arrive, decorate with minimal cost using Goodwill and so forth and upgrade piece by piece from there if you see a need to do so.

This will drastically reduce the cost of moving, increase the amount of money you have before you leave (because of all of the stuff you sold off), and allows you sto start from scratch and re-do your house in a realistic fashion that matches the new life you’re trying to create.

Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag. However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. momof4 says:

    re the dishwasher, how about just straight citric acid, in the canning and preserving section rather than koolaid, which sounds a bit too colorful to me.

  2. Ellen says:

    Adeena – re clutter: How about a good old fashioned yard sale? You can simplify pricing (everything in one area/table is $1, etc.). Another possibility is to contact local antiques dealers or resale shops – many of them will come and haul off stuff if you have a lot (they don’t pay you much, but it’s more than you’d get hauling it yourself & donating). You’d be surprised what people will buy – especially if it’s new (as in your shop inventory). Or, you might be able to sell some of the better stuff at a consignment shop – you take it to them & they do all the work; you can decide whether to let them dispose of it if it doesn’t sell.

  3. Lauren says:

    Adeena — if you have a lot of arts/crafts supplies that you want to donate, you may want to look into donating them to a local school, daycare, nursing home, or church. My parent’s church has a large knit/crochet ministry, and they love when people drop off extra yarn and needles. I know they had some much extra that they gave some to a local nursing home for the residents to use.

  4. Courtney says:

    Ellen will have a deferment, not a forbearance. Deferments are indefinite suspensions while you’re still in school; forbearance is a temporary suspension when you can’t afford to make payments. Also, if any of her loans were subsidized, the interest will not accrue on those loans during a deferment (not so during a forbearance).

  5. margaret says:

    Adeena, I’m with you! I have so much clutter and stuff I should get rid of, but I’m torn between keeping it until I can have a yard sale (I could probably make a couple/few hundred bucks), and just getting rid of it. We have so much debt that I think I should be trying to sell it, but then again, we have so much clutter and mess that I just want it all gone. Plus, I live way out in the country, so a yard sale for me involves either renting a table at a community sale or attaching myself to someone elses garage sale and either way, transporting everything, plus there is the time sitting there AND I have little kids who would have to come with me. Of course, donating also involves transporting everything to town. I’ve tried the give away for free groups before, but the people who respond always say, sure, I’ll take it, when can you bring it to my place, and it’s always between 30 and 90 minutes away. ARGH!

  6. Nicole says:

    Ellen– Re: graduate school– whether or not you should take on debt or delay is going to depend a lot on what kind of graduate school you’re talking about. Be sure to get a very realistic idea of what your employment options and opportunities are once you graduate before making the committment to go. As I’ve said before, I cannot tell you know many humanities PhDs I know who are miserable and unemployed or exhausted and marginally employed at 2-3K/class as adjuncts.

    I’m all for following your passion, but 5-8 years of graduate school followed by debt and no job is not always the best way to follow it. Sometimes a hobby or a terminal masters degree is a better way to indulge in the passion. It isn’t all or nothing. Whatever you decide, go into it with your eyes open.

  7. Kara says:

    I’ve been debating on having a yard sale, or donating it to Goodwill for the tax deduction.. Is one “better” then the other?

  8. Sergio says:

    Hi Trent,

    Have you ever think of making new reviews from books you’ve already reviewed and blog about? I have been reading older book reviews you made and they’re kind of different than the later books (part of your writting skills development and other habilities you have now are related, of course).

    Maybe not something complex, like the book club you started in 2007 with “Your money or your life”.

    I would like to know how your point of view has changed since the first time you read it and now that you have read a lot more of books relating the topic.

    In my personal point of view, I have read a lot of books, and some of that really have an impact just after I read those. In some cases, the initial impact dissapeared because I didn’t find it practical, or because experience teach me something complete different I become angry for being innocent and believe every word written, and of course, also they’re cases that severeal books and experience are aligned and you became like a super fan.

    I believe that books are alive, and they change when we change. Do you agree with me?

  9. J says:

    Suzi, as the saying goes, “rust never sleeps”. You can waste a bunch of time trying to repair and paint over the rusting racks, but I’m betting it’s going to buy you a few months and you’ll basically just be chasing the rust, since it’s already under the paint and it will just continue to corrode. You’ll pretty much play a game of whack-a-mole.

    If they are in really rough shape, replacing the racks is likely a better use of your time. There are a number of places on the Internet where you make and model number and they will locate the replacement parts for you, complete with diagrams and instructions for install, which can be completed with basic tools in probably under an hour.

    We personally used appliancepartspros, but there are many places out there and you can comparison shop pretty easily. We replaced both racks in our dishwasher two years ago and it’s still going strong. Whenever the machine dies, we will replace it with a newer, quieter, more energy-efficient model, but for now this has been good enough.

  10. Erin says:

    @Danny – if you make so much money at your job and have room to cut back your lifestyle, why don’t you pay cash as you go for all or most of your degree instead of taking on student loan debt?

  11. Beth says:

    @ Adeena — I know how you feel because I have a lot of hobbies too. I started to feel really guilty about having so much “stuff” that I wasn’t using when there were people out there (like churches, charities and schools) who could use it. When I look at the clutter, I ask myself “could someone else get more enjoyment/use out of this?” If no, then I set it aside and ask myself the same question in a few months. If yes, I donate it somewhere when it can be used. (When in doubt, check Freecyle.com).

    I’d recommend forgetting about the cost you’ve already put in. As most crafters know, you always need more stuff to finish a project anyways. Consider it a buying mistake and leave it at that.

  12. Leah says:

    Jim: I would absolutely pay for a pre-owned car that’s certified. In fact, forevermore, I will only purchase certified pre-owned vehicles. I bought my 2002 Honda Accord in 2005. It was certified. In late 2006, we discovered that the transmission had been faulty from the beginning; it started acting up at around 50,000 miles. For the extra, oh, $1,000, I got (1) a free transmission, (2) free labor, and (3) a free rental car for three days.

    Essentially, you should think of this as an extended warranty on your car. On certified pre-owned Hondas, you’re paying $1,000 or $2,000 for a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty (interior dings, scratches, breakages included) and a four- to five-year drive train warranty.

    Is it cheaper than third-party warranties? I don’t know. And you might be comfortable not having a warranty. But in my experience, it’s DEFINITELY WORTH IT.

  13. J says:

    “She is a typical blond who sometimes lacks common sense.”

    Classy way to talk about your sister, Ryan.

  14. craig says:

    re: the dishwasher
    get a new one. 15 years is a lot of good use out of a dishwasher. A new one will use less energy and less water. you are eating off of the dishes this thing “cleans” every day. dishwashers are relativly cheap ($300-400) and easy enough to install yourself…

  15. craig says:

    re santa fe
    Sounds like when #4 comes in a year or so you will be forced to buy something. start saving now like trent suggests. also, because you have lots of time, figure out what you want and keep your eyes open for a good deal. You might even be able to get a good year end deal on a new one (this fall when the 2011’s are out and they are clearing out the 2010’s…

  16. J says:

    The response about certified pre-owned is not really complete. These programs do vary by manufacturer, but some of them are considerably more than a once-over by a mechanic. They can include an extension of the factory warranty for a certain amount of time, included maintenance, loaner cars, etc. Of course, these items aren’t “free” and are usually reflected in the cost of the CPO vehicle being higher than the equivalent non-CPO vehicle.

    As a consumer, you need to decide if the benefits of a CPO car are worth the increased cost. For many people who want to save money buying used, but just want to be able to drop the car off at the dealer and have it serviced, no questions asked, then it may be worth it. But if you prefer to use your own mechanic or do it yourself, or assume the risk for paying for a repair, then skipping CPO is likely a better idea.

  17. Jackie says:

    A new dishwasher will use much less water and also less electricity than one that it 15 year old. And any but the highest-end washers have an expected life of 8-10 years. So be on the lookout for leaky hoses and motors. You’re likely to have to replace it in the next few years anyway, it’s just a question of if you’re going to wait for a potentially messy break-down or replace it before that happens.

  18. J says:

    I guess a more full reply to the dishwasher question is know what you are getting. Know your water/sewer rates and your electric rates. If you can dig up how much water and power your current dishwasher consumes, that’s great.

    Then gather the info about the options you have: rack replacement, or entirely new machine.

    For the new machine, also include the cost of labor, delivery, permits and disposal of the old one in the cost, as well as considering the energy savings, as well. Plus there may be significant rebates available now, I just heard on the news there might be a Federal appliance trade-in program available soon, or you might qualify for existing energy credits.

  19. Jane says:

    For the dishwasher question – are you happy with the way your current dishwasher cleans? If so, I would look into replacing the rusty racks. I have known several people who have gotten new dishwashers only to be disappointed with their performance. We have an ugly, old dishwasher, but it cleans the heck out of our dishes without having to pre-rinse. I would always try to repair or prolong a good, existing appliance if you can.

  20. Amanda says:

    Santa Fe- Why don’t you save up a little and then sell the Santa Fe for a nice, used minivan payed with cash. Then, you aren’t captive to the state of the economy and it doesn’t matter if interest rates are 1 percent or 10 percent!

  21. Shannon says:

    Trent – why don’t you share with readers these projects you have? I have kept on hearing references to lots of projects over the past couple of years by you but rarely have I seen any projects in action…

  22. Debbie M says:

    @Becky – Another option is to get a second job or start a side business, since you work only 40 hours per week. In your shoes, I’d learn to live more cheaply and keep my eyes open for a) additional duties that are also fun that will look good on your resume and b) new opportunities that may arise in the future as the economy recovers.

    @Adeena, I agree that money you have spent is a sunk cost. That money is gone. And the money you could get for selling your things doesn’t seem to be motivating you to get rid of them, either.

    You could look for more places to donate your stuff. For example, women’s shelters like to have shampoo and toothpaste. Animal shelters like to have old towels. Police like to have old cell phones. Schools like to have art supplies. When in doubt, ask for a wishlist. My library prefers new books but will take just about anything other than National Geographic, encyclopedia sets, and moldy books—even if they don’t keep it, they can sell it at their annual sale and use the money to buy something more in demand. For ideas, Google your city and “wish list” and Google what you have and “recycle.”

    You could also try a pros-and-cons list for keeping each type of clutter. For example, here’s a list I should have for some of my art supplies:
    Advantages to keeping –
    * I might use them one day.
    * They are pretty.
    * There is a place for them.

    Advantages of losing –
    * I can use that space for other things, clearing up floor space.
    * I won’t trip over things so often.
    * I can invite people over.
    * I can do exercise videos more easily.
    * My house will be prettier.
    * The floor will be easier to vacuum.

    Many people find that when they get rid of a lot of things, they actually do find a use for one or two of them later and have to re-buy them. They are still happy they did it.

    For your arts and crafts stuff, maybe write down your five favorite possible projects and get rid of all other supplies. Or pick one project to work on and tell yourself that any time you go a month without working on that project, it’s a sign that it’s not as great as you had thought it was after all. Get rid of the supplies for that project and pick out another one.

  23. KC says:

    Concerning the diswasher – get a new one. Newer ones are far more efficient (and much, much quieter) than old ones. You can probably get a partial rebate from the federal/state taxes or your power company.

  24. Crystal says:

    Adeena, my mother hates the process of selling clutter too. I’m helping to make it a little easier by Craigslisting it for her one or two items per week. You might want to try spreading it out like that as well…just try 3-5 items every week or two and Freecycle or Goodwill whatever doesn’t sell. That may help you get your space back in 6 months or less and make a few hundred dollars and get a tax deduction to boot.

  25. Crystal says:

    Ryan, I loved the Automatic Millionaire by David Bach when I was 23…if she starts off her adult life by automatically contributing to her future and paying her current bills, she’ll be really happy when retirement rolls around.

  26. Crystal says:

    Becky, I’m currently working in a job that I’m great at and like, but it only pays $35,000 a year and I could easily use my degree to make $50k plus. My solution was to start a side job. That way you can increase your earnings and continue working in a couple of jobs you enjoy.

    I used to babysit, petsit, and work in a book store on the weekends while working 40 hours during the week.

    Now I have my blog…it’s only brought in a tiny bit so far in 2 months ($3 with $220 on the way this month), so I wouldn’t suggest a blog as a get-money-fast option.

  27. KC says:

    Concerning certified pre-owned cars and poster #12. I bought a certified pre-owned 01 Acura TL in 2005. In 2006 I also had a transmission problem (and then immediately another transmission problem with the new one). Anyway, in this case the certified pre-owned meant nothing. Honda had extended the powertrain warranty on several Acura and Honda models because they lost a settlement. So the transmissions were replaced on any qualified Acura/Honda with 10.7 years or 109k miles or less regardless of whether the car was purchased new, used certified or used non-certified.

    I still think what Trent says is true – a good mechanic is probably a better bet. However, when I buy used cars I go to a dealership or a reputable place like Carmax as opposed to an independent use car salesman. I think you are much safer with a dealer rather than a fly-by-night operation and most likely, those dealership used cars are certified pre-owned anyway.

    When I buy my next car (and it won’t be a Honda/Acura) I’ll probably buy certified pre-owned and I will also take it to my mechanic.

  28. Vikki says:


    look into the Creative Reuse Center. Here in Oakland, CA, it’s a Arty-Crafty persons dream/nightmare. They’ll take almost anything (ie 1000 empty yogurt cups, 39 labels, a package of cd’s, etc). It’s basically a place to give all your old unfinished project new homes with arty-crafty people that have the time/inclination to do what you aren’t going to. There are similar ones in Chicago and New York: I would guess that you’ll find something of the kind within a few miles of any art decent art school/large urban area.

  29. BonzoGal says:

    @Ryan: “She is a typical blond who sometimes lacks common sense.”

    I agree with J- classy thing to say about your sister- or ANYONE. This blond finds the stereotype offensive. I’m fed up with that sort of remark. It’s not funny or cute- it’s insulting and crass.

  30. Kerry D. says:

    For Adeena–I’m in the same position of wanting to keep all potential crafting/sewing items… so, I’m figuring out that I can 1) limit the number of craft hobbies I do, and get rid of items outside of that, and 2) limit and define the amount of space I will have for those supplies–then, if I want to add something, I need to choose something to get rid of in order to make room.

    Clearing clutter is really time consuming for us too, even when we have a plan. But, the resulting burst of energy we feel is well worth it.

  31. kristine says:

    Yes, Jay, the typical blonde comment is offensive. Imagine inserting skin color instead of hair color…the comments would be full of outrage!

    But “typical blonde” is typically used for women, not men, so I guess subtle sexist comments are acceptable? Trent, your overlook reads as acquiescence. I am brunette, but was very attractive as a younger woman, and had to prove left and right that I was not an idiot. Comments like the above were career hurdles to women.

    I wish you had not let that one pass through.

  32. Brittany says:

    Yes, Adeena–freecycle it! I can’t believe Trent didn’t mention this, especially since he’s always quick to mention it as a place to GET things. We all need to remember it’s a place to GIVE as well. Put it in a few big categories boxes and tell people they must take all or nothing. (e.g. — “Big box of craft supplies. Take all and freecycle the rest.”)

    This reduces your time cost considerably, especially if you leave things for porch pick up. Plus, it’s not going to waste!

  33. deRuiter says:

    #1. Adeena, Have a yard sale, blow it all out, pocket the money, and enjoy the space. Sit down after the sale and examine your motives in keeping so much stuff you will never use TO KEEP YOU FROM REPEATING THIS CYCLE. The inability to clean out and dispose of things which will never be used, things which are of no value, the constant saving of useless or superfluous items is an emotional problem. Hoarding is a serious problem, rationalizing that you will use the things (often valueless) but that others will dump them (possible what is required for useless material!) is a indicative of a problem. There’s a great TV series on hoarders. For someone who has the ability to know they’re in trouble, a few episodes of the show might be the catalist for self help. It’s fascinating to watch the hoarders on TV rationalize about keeping junk, garbage, recyclables (which they don’t recycle.) #2. Dishwasher people. Rust is oxidized iron. If there aren’t rust deposits on your dishes after washing them, you are quite safe, the minute traces of iron in the dish water may save you from having to buy iron supplement pills. I’m not so keen on having liquid electrical tape being dispersed in my dish water and precipitated out on the dishes. One is an element we need for health, the other is a toxic sounding chemical. If you’re picky, buy some new racks, it generally does’t pay economically to replace a fully functional appliance with a new energy saver until the original dies. 3. Ellen, you’ve got a pile of debt. Will you make any appreciable money from the new degree and immense pile of more debt? What’s the point of piling education upon education (like Humanities, basket weaving or English) if you aren’t going to make a pile of money after getting another degree? There’s a flock of people around who have ruined their finacial future with huge student loan debts and jobs (if they can get them) with paltry salaries. This “chasing your passion” sounds great, but will your passion give you a comfortable finacial future while allowing for rapid repayment of student loan debt? Maybe a hobby instead of a new degree will make you more financially secure.

  34. Dawn says:

    @Ryan –
    Could have done without the blonde comment. It was not very kind to your sister, or to the rest of us.

  35. Steffie says:

    Adeena, you did not accumulate all that stuff in one day/week/month/year. You will not be able to get rid of it in one day/week/month/year. I speak from 50 years of experience and 35 years of stuff. I started to ‘declutter’ using 15 minutes at a time. It may be easier to just sort at the beginning. Put all the yarn in one spot, the fabric in one spot etc. Soon you will be able to see progress because you are removing half full boxes from the area as you sort items. Play music that you enjoy and can sing along to, it energizes you without you realizing it. Soon you will be able to do 30 minutes and more. And you will feel better about your space and yourself. You will be able to choose your projects and complete them because you’ll have the tools at hand and the space to move around. Don’t let Guilt talk loudly, the music drowns it out !! After you are done sorting you can decide what you can give away etc. Yes, it is a new mindset to not keep everything. It is a new habit that will take time.

  36. Steffie says:

    For Adeena, I forgot to include this in my previous post. Find a friend to help you..not the one who comes in all gangbusters with the dumpster but someone who understands that this is stuff that you think/thought was important. Having them pick up the item to show you helps you look more objectively at the item. I read that there are studies that show when you touch an object you become more attached to the item. Also you will be talking to your friend and you won’t be able to hear GUILT talking. And they can take the stuff with them when they leave to donate/recycle etc so you won’t have the chance to reconsider. Plus you will see progress in the empty spaces which will encourage you to go on. These are only suggestions, they worked for me.

  37. Leah says:

    @ #27, KC:

    My vehicle was not covered by this settlement. I was pretty sure it wasn’t because I never received any type of notice (which is required by the rules of civil procedure!), but to be sure, I checked my VIN at hondatransmissionsettlementcom. Result: My vehicle was not one covered by this settlement.

    So…in my case, buying a certified pre-owned Honda definitely saved me from having to pay for a new transmission on my own. I’m sure paying for the “certified” label isn’t a good buy ALL of the time, but in my case, it certainly was.

  38. SLCCOM says:

    Adeena,you may also find stores that will sell your stuff on e-bay for a commission. You might come out ahead with your remaining retail stock.

  39. anne says:

    about that rust in the dishwasher-

    there’s a product they sell in the laundry aisle called “rust out.”

    on the label there are directions for using it in your dishwasher.

    i’ve never done it for the dishwasher, but i’ve used rust out to get rust stains off of laundry.

  40. mary says:

    The website Flylady.com is very helpful for dealing with clutter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *