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Old 12-28-2009, 06:55 PM   #1
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How'd you do it?

Our goal, over the next 18 - 24 months, is to sell two homes and divest ourselves of all the 'stuff' in them. For almost 30 years we've talked about the time we'd be able to hit the road full time. Like many, our retirement nest egg has taken a big hit, but I'm convinced that if we try to wait until it recovers we may never do it. Once the houses and stuff are gone our meager pensions will cover the majority of our fixed expenses. The investment results will dictate how much travel, and in what.

My question is, how did you get rid of all the 'stuff'? Did you sell it, how? Did you just give it away? I'm wondering about something similar to an estate auction.

35 years of home ownership, 10 years with an additional 'vacation' home. I'm overwhelmed at the thought of getting rid of everything. Of course all of this assumes we can sell the houses (and 'toys').
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:07 PM   #2
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:14 PM   #3
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I started with the "Use it or Loose it" approach. It took several attempts but 4 years ago I got down to the stuff that I just couldn’t part with… but I am happy to say it all fit on a small trailer… a road bike, a mountain bike, small motorbike, camping gear two kayaks… tools… I pull it with a 1974 CJ5 I have had since ’74. Happy… happy… happy… Well, I should add that I have left a lot of “stuff” with family, friends, ex-wife and Goodwill Industries.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JMonroe View Post
Our goal, over the next 18 - 24 months, is to sell two homes and divest ourselves of all the 'stuff' in them. For almost 30 years we've talked about the time we'd be able to hit the road full time. Like many, our retirement nest egg has taken a big hit, but I'm convinced that if we try to wait until it recovers we may never do it. Once the houses and stuff are gone our meager pensions will cover the majority of our fixed expenses. The investment results will dictate how much travel, and in what.

My question is, how did you get rid of all the 'stuff'? Did you sell it, how? Did you just give it away? I'm wondering about something similar to an estate auction.

35 years of home ownership, 10 years with an additional 'vacation' home. I'm overwhelmed at the thought of getting rid of everything. Of course all of this assumes we can sell the houses (and 'toys').

YES
give it someone that can use it, usually not family because they already have all your stuff

we donated tons of household itmes to animal rescue shelters,
food banks
homeless shelters
families that needed a lift etc

you would be surprised at how well your help really does matter.

what you get back is ten fold
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:50 PM   #5
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Powerboatr,

I'm thinking when it gets down to it, we may end up following your lead. If we could afford it, we'd donate one of the homes too, but those depleted retirement funds...
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:51 PM   #6
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Hi Jay & Peggy,

I can only tell you what we did and you can apply this to your situation. First once we decided to do this thing, we took inventory. The idea being that you don't know what you are dealing with until you know what you have. That part took dedication, but was truly invaluable in the process. I used several Excel spreadsheets, but you could use pencil and blue line as well.

The first thing we did was offer to our kids whatever they wanted. They wanted very little actually. We toyed with the idea of an estate sale, but the person to do that was disappointed that we lived too far out in the country to get a good following, plus our antiques were going to friends/family and that is what they are really interested in. So....first I set up some web pages with lots of pictures, descriptions and prices and passed that to friends and family who passed it on to friends & neighbors.

After about 3 weeks the website interest slowed and we put big things (pool table, gun safe, large tools) on eBay with "local pickup only" tags. Sold lots there. Then someone told me about Craigslist.com. Everything else went there. Again lots of pictures and good descriptions. Sometimes a simple thing like terming items "retro" made a big difference in selling immediately. Craigslist does have rules about not relisting things, but I have to say that I fudged a bit on this. You can relist, but your new ad must not resemble your old ad or they will not be happy.

We sold a lot with all methods, but the most went with Craigslist. We started September 1st and by end of October, we were finished with all except the furniture we were showing the house with. Once we had a firm contract, we moved the remaining stuff on Craigslist within 3 weeks. We closed the first of January and all was gone by then. Some things we sold with "pickup January 1st thru 3rd".

Additionally, there were numerous trips to the local Goodwill station and a Salvation Army truck came and emptied our garage full of stuff we hadn't been able to move. Several hundred books and magazines were donated to VA Hospitals and local libraries.

We made the decision to go full time in January 2006 and by January 2007 we were there. It was a rough year and VERY stressful. However, we wouldn't trade our life today for anything, so very "worth it". Lots of luck in your endeavor.
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:53 PM   #7
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Garage sale, eBay, Craig's List and then charitable donations, which are tax deductible (get receipts).
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:58 PM   #8
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If you were close by, I'd say make a list of the tools and I might come and buy some of them
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:06 AM   #9
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We had been planning to full-time for about 3 years, so we had been slowly getting rid of some things we didn't need. However, when our timetable got moved up by 15 months by an early retirement incentive, we had to kick into high gear.

We gave our daughter most of our wood furniture. It was pretty good quality, and we're glad she wanted to take it. We still get to see our furniture every time we visit our daughter.

We had 2 garage sales for the rest of the stuff. We sold things we didn't think we would be using at the first sale, and sold as much of the rest as we could at a second sale right before closing. Then we moved into our motorhome in the driveway.

The stuff that didn't sell went to charities. Am Vets and Viet Nam Vets will take most furniture (although I don't think they take upholstered furniture) if not too big. They also take clothing, tools, etc., and they will pick up which makes things easier.

For the leftovers, we called 1-800-Got-Junk. They sent a truck the next morning and took everything that didn't sell and that we couldn't give away. They do all the carrying, so it was worth the cost to get it done.

Best wishes on your adventure.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:13 AM   #10
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JMonroe: Hi from our winter hideout in Tampa!

How you sequence your steps is important, particularly if you haven't signed for the purchase of a rig as yet. The reason is that how and, most importantly, when you proceed to "divest" yourself of the real estate and the "stuff" you've accumulated can go alot smoother if you give it a little thought.

For example, if you need to buy a rig (ie., travel trailer, 5th wheel, or motorhome), ya might want to consider which state you'll be setting up your "residency" in. You can save thousands of bucks in sales taxes by, for example, getting getting your drivers licenses, doing voter registration, setting up mail forwarding service in a state favorable to RV'rs (ie., South Dakota, Texas, etc.). Then, JUST BEFORE, signing for purchase of your new/used RV, go to that state, do all of the above so you are legally taking possession of your RV as bona-fide residents of this new state. Doing this FIRST, will save alot of grief and ALOT of dollars for you.

Now, coordinating the sale of your two houses and getting rid of all the stuff that either.. a.)the kids/relatives don't want, or the stuff that.. b.) you've decided you want to take with you in your RV, is what we were ALL concerned with. Would suggest ya go through both properties, have kids/relatives take away (important) stuff they want, rent an enclosed trailer (since you'll likely be doing all this before signing purchase on your RV) in which to store stuff you'll be deciding to take with you. Trailer is a great help cause you can move it between your two properties AND once ya bring your RV home or to nearby campground, ya simply bring the stuff you'll be loading into the RV, to the rig, loading it in, and then return the rented trailer.

Now, once the home(s) are thinned out, and you've isolated into the trailer those things you're taking w. you on the road, THEN, call and interview a couple reputable (ask around), Estate Sale Companies to obtain their proposals for proceeding with an Estate Sale to include clearing out (selling) the rest of your things, moving any unsold stuff to their auction site where they can sell it later, and...cleaning the house(s) and grounds up after the sale cause remember, your properties either ARE on the market or will be right after the sale and ya want it decent for showings. Let them do the work and don't you interfere. You've got the stuff you want to keep, the kids/reletives have what they wanted, now....the house(s) are ready to show and be sold!! And...where are you?? Spending time in a local RV park, taking your leisurely time packing keepable stuff from rented trailer into your new home, getting to know your new rig (how things work), and waiting for your house(s) to sell. (Tough market, may take time!!)....but, your OUT, ready to go if winter forces you South, while Realtor sells your property.

Now, if ya need to sell your house(s) in order buy an RV, THEN...do everything, (stuff to kids, sort stuff you taking into trailer, make plans for Estate Sale, etc.) then stay living in house with minimal furnishings until you get a final Purchase Agreement on the house (good practice for time you begin living in your RV), then, buy your rig (as residents of the state you've selected), drive it to where you're (now sold house(s) ) are located, load stuff from trailer into new rig, return rented trailer, and head on SOUTH before winter comes again!!!!!

Steve & Lynette
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:03 AM   #11
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We went full time in '05, we lived in central Ohio at the time and the house market was good. We sold our house in less than a week at our asking price. As for the 40 years of "stuff", we had an auction house come in and sell everything. We made $3000.00 more than the original estimate and was very pleased with the sale.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:33 PM   #12
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... but those depleted retirement funds...
Not to change the subject, but retirement funds CAN be recovered. When I got laid off a year ago my 401K had taken a huge hit in the previous year- it was down over 30% in one year. The company I worked for used Fidelity as their 401K administrator, and we had a choice of about 10 or so options for our investments. When I got my final paycheck last January I converted my 401K funds to a rollover IRA, still with Fidelity, and opted to use Fidelity's Fund Manager program. I now have a choice of hundreds of options for my money - needless to say it's impossible for the average person to follow all these options. In the past year I have regained everything I lost in the previous year, and then some, thanks to the expertise of my account manager.

If you want to see your funds increase I would recommend that you find out if your investment company has a similar program - with Fidelity they are constantly watching all the markets and move my funds around based on my goals. The fee is reasonable, and I don't have to worry about having to know a lot about investing, market trends, etc. - I just let them handle everything and so far it's working.
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:52 PM   #13
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Thank you all so much for your interest and suggestions. In reading through them I suspect we'll be utilizing a combination. The Craig's list thing had been suggested by a co-worker. I'd never been on the site and was surprised at the wide diversity of items for sale there! Sitting here right now, it still seems like a daunting and overwhelming task.

We already share ownership of a nice Tiffin Allegro with the bank. Once both homes are sold we'll pay it off, leaving us with no debt (until we find that perfect 'retirement' rig). We also bought an RV property in South Carolina that will assure that we always will have a 'home', until we decide on something more permanent. We got in early and assumed it would be a good investment. A great and unique site at a beautiful 'resort', on a beautiful lake. Money's so tight though, while there's been a lot of interest in lots at the resort, most can't swing a purchase. Local banks won't loan to out of state residents and your home bank won't loan on an out of state property. Seems only those that can come up with the cash have been able to purchase so far. We're confident that it will, eventually, show all of the investment potential we thought it would. In the meantime, it's a beautiful spot to park the rig and the people are great, both the developers and the other owners we've met. (Cane Creek RV Resort & Marina | Class A Motorcoach RV Resort | Cross Hill, SC) At least for establishing legal residency, as was mentioned in one of the responses, some thought and research is needed. I do know South Carolina will not be a good long term answer to that. They'll tax the motor home just like a home. Can't see paying the state $1k plus for the privaledge of showing off the South Carolina DMV's tag design. Even here, in heavily taxed Wisconsin, the tags are only around $100 per year (but you pay 5.5% sales tax on initial purchase).

If able, I'll be retireing too young to roll my 401k over. To do so would block access for a couple years (to 59 1/2). We hope not to need it, but should we... I work for State Farm insurance and they don't do too bad a job of managing the money anyway. That is, after all, where they make their profits. Our frustration is, we're sitting on a nest egg roughly equal to what it was 8 or 9 years ago. Sure it's grown well this year, but the DOW, as example, is still 4k below it's high. At that point I was calculating that with even a modest 5 or 6% return we'd be able to retire at 55 (two years ago) with 20% more in our savings than we'd always planned/budgeted for retirement. At this minute we sit 30% below that original budget or roughly 1/2 of what I'd expected, back 8 -9 years ago. We'd have been better off if, somewhere around '01, we'd just stuffed it all in a mattress! I'm sure I'm not stating anything all of you that have responded don't already know.

Thanks again for all of your comments and suggestions. I'm confident we'll get through it, but HOLY cr@p!
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:28 PM   #14
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