New adventures?

Just before this band started to play, there were a group of women walking up and down the blocks, carrying posters with the faces of their children, presumed dead. Some have been gone over a decade--all are Kurds, caught up in the crack down of this minority by the most recent administration. Most of the children were teenagers who participated in a peaceful protest. Police dragged many of them from their homes in the middle of the night, never to be seen again.
Just before this band started to play, there were a group of women walking up and down the blocks, carrying posters with the faces of their children, presumed dead. Some have been gone over a decade–all are Kurds, caught up in the crack down of this minority by the most recent administration. Most of the children were teenagers who participated in a peaceful protest. Police dragged many of them from their homes in the middle of the night, never to be seen again.

10/26/2015
I’m developing a new way to choose which countries to live in. It’s the language. Not “can I figure it out” or “will this language be helpful for me in the future.” No, it’s the sound of things. When you live in a country where your home language isn’t spoken, you must listen to countless hours of the native language without knowing what is being said. You’ll be in line at the grocery, post office, airport and overhear conversations. You will be following some chatty old women in the market square or bragging young men on the metro. You will not know for a very long time what is being said. If you are lucky, you can catch a few words, newly acquired. Even when you are studying as hard as your mind will let you, it takes a while to tune your ear to the music of the language. And here’s the catch: It needs to sound like music to you. If it just sounds like clashing, guttural emissions, you are in for a horrible stay. The sound of people talking should not grate on your nerves. Life is difficult enough in a foreign country. You will be lost most of the time. When you think you understand you will often find later that you were totally clueless. You learn the true mending of “ignorance is bliss.” To live in another culture is to live in the dark. I can only liken it to losing one of your senses, but by choice. And if only twice a week you question your sanity, I’d say you’re doing well. Just don’t make it worse by choosing a language you hate the sound of.

Oh, and bacon. I’m not living in another country that doesn’t serve pork. While in Belgrade (honest, I’ll post pictures very soon) last week, I ate pork every meal and my dear friend Kathy brought me three boxes of shelf stable bacon. I’m having a couple pieces every day. Heaven!

This is a traditional band playing on the pedestrian mall of Avcilar. My students wanted me to hear them and they were very good. This is just outside the school branch in Avcilar, which I teach at on weekends.
This is a traditional band playing on the pedestrian mall of Avcilar. My students wanted me to hear them and they were very good. This is just outside the school branch in Avcilar, which I teach at on weekends.

Seriously, I’m looking at what to do with my time once my teaching contract is up in February. I don’t want to take another job right away because I plan to hike The Camino in April. Basically, I need a place to stay and I’m willing to work for it. If food is also provided, that’d be a bonus. I’m more likely to go to a country I can’t teach in, such as an EU country and I don’t want to get too far from the start of the Camino in Spain, just because of costs. Possibilities I’m investigating include: house/animal sitting (I’ve signed up with Trusted House Sitters and checking out availability); WWOOFing—world wide opportunities on organic farms (I’d really love to learn to make cheese or work with fruit trees) and Volunteer positions (there’s a potential farm in Bulgaria I’ve contacted). And while I expect I’ll take another teaching job when I get off the Camino, I have applied for a cruise ship job as staff. You never know what I’ll do!

Selling boiled corn on the square in Sirinevler. These are often roasted, too. Misir is the Turkish word for "corn" but also Egypt.
Selling boiled corn on the square in Sirinevler. These are often roasted, too. Misir is the Turkish word for “corn” but also “Egypt.”
These are just 1TL a piece, about 35 Cents. You can see that it is beginning to get cool here in Istanbul.
These are just 1TL a piece, about 35 Cents. You can see that it is beginning to get cool here in Istanbul.

Selling your excess stuff: Play it Again Sports, a cautionary tale

Earlier I posted about selling stuff on eBay, which was a positive (and profitable) experience. This story is not like that.

I’m reducing the possessions I own, trying to remove from my house the stuff I don’t use. My goal is a more frugal lifestyle with fewer possessions and more experiences. I actually love to give things away, but I would like to make at least a small percentage of cash back on the items, where I can. And all that stuff sitting in closets cost me money and still has some use in them. I’m targeting only items that are in good condition that I believe someone would like to have.

I wanted to run away and join the circus when I was a child

DSC_0398I have learned to juggle and seriously considered circus camp one summer. I admit it: I am not well. I had three items that were frankly …. a bit odd.

  • Unicycle: Oh how I wanted this when I bought it 5+ years ago from Schwinn for about $150. I worked very, very hard to learn to ride it. I failed miserably. I’m lucky I didn’t break a hip. The last time I tried to ride the unicycle I took such a bad spill that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to walk the next day. And I missed hitting my head by inches. I put the bike away out of fear. I’ve not used it since. I swear it’s taunting me.
  • Stilts: I had really good luck with these! I learned to walk on them. But now I’m bored with it. And these are beginner stilts. If I was going to move forward with this, I’d need another kind of stilt.
  • Trikke: Have you seen these three wheeled thingies? They are fun, but hard work. I’m only able to use one in a perfectly flat parking lot or slight downhill. Not practical for me. I paid $300 for this and used it one summer. Time to go.

I also have a treadmill and bicycle (which I’m still using) and will eventually need to sell these as well, so my investigation now should help me in the future.

Stilts
Stilts

Or so I hoped.

Play It Again Sports

I called the Play it Again Sports at North DeKalb Mall and talked to “Roland.” He was very positive. Yes, they sold items like this all the time. He claimed to be the day manager and would be there until 6pm. He said he thought the last unicycle had sold for about $100 and I could probably get $150 for the Trikke. No problem, we will take them. Bring ‘em in.

So I did. But when I got there, there was no Roland. No one had ever heard of him. I smelled a ruse. The man in his early 20’s who claimed to be the manager said he would take the stilts for free if I didn’t really want them, could give me $12 for the unicycle and he’d only take the Trikke on consignment. He expected to sell the Trikke at no more than $80. If it sold I’d get half the price but it would take 30-60 days from the sales date for me to get my money. And he hadn’t even looked at two of the three items yet, which were still in my car! I explained about Roland again. Stupidly. He explained that they were doing me a “favor” agreeing to take these (useless) items.

I thanked him for his trouble and said I didn’t want any favors.

Sure. That's me on the Trikke. Right? You believe me, don't you?
Sure. That’s me on the Trikke. Right? You believe me, don’t you?

He actually walked me out of the store saying that maybe they could do “a little better” on the price but that the items simply “weren’t that good.” I just kept walking. Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut. I fear some very unladylike phrases would have come from it otherwise.

I have no proof, but this sounds like a set up. I think they tell you what you want to hear on the phone (and give a false name) and then figure that since you’ve already brought the items in, you’ll agree to take next to nothing for them. Not me. I don’t do business with folks I can’t trust.

As I’ve said before….I’d rather give things away

And so I did. Goodwill has some odd items to sell now. I hope it’s a good deal for everyone. I’ve donated way too much to Goodwill this year and probably won’t take even half of the value of what I’ve donated come tax time because I’d hate to be audited over charity.

Future?

So, I made no money and lost some time and gas. But I don’t know what to say about Play It Again Sports. I felt duped and set up. I don’t believe this was an honest mistake. At best, if I choose to sell future items through them, I’ll avoid the North DeKalb Mall store. At worst, I’ll sell items another way or just donate them.

Selling your excess stuff: eBay

I’ve commented before on my journey toward a more frugal lifestyle, one with more experiences than stuff. Getting rid of things you don’t use/need is one step in the process.

Honestly, I enjoy giving things away much more than selling them. But money is a handy thing to have. And besides, I spent my hard earned cash for many of items I no longer use and they are still useful for someone. If your goal is to live a simple, frugal life and/or get rid of your excess stuff you may be in the same boat.

So I targeted a few items to sell off. They money will go straight into my “future adventures” fund. In the past I’ve written about other possibilities. Here’s my first foray into eBay.

eBayeBay

I started with 4 items I wanted to sell on eBay, a service I’ve never used before. My criteria for selecting things to sell:

  • Excellent condition
  • I wouldn’t use them again
  • Easy to package and ship

Three of the items I selected are used backpacking gear that is still in great shape, but I won’t be taking on my AT Hike next year. I did my best to focus on what the item was worth now, not what I paid for it when I bought it new. That way lies madness. And it will break your heart.

Signing up for eBay as a seller is ridiculously easy. I already had a Paypal account, so I chose to link it to eBay to make and receive payments. After that I found or took photos of each item and wrote a description. The more info and photos the better in every case. The one item that I couldn’t write much about (a perfectly good sleeping bag that was more than a decade old) was the item that I priced the lowest and had the hardest time selling. Make your descriptions really good. Spend some time working through the shipping concerns. I chose for the buyer to pay shipping but used a set shipping price (not a range). That worked for me. An alternative would be to set your minimum bid higher and pay for shipping yourself. In every case I set the items at a 7 day auction with a minimum bid and a “Buy it Now” price. Only the older model sleeping bag was rolled over for a second auction and eventually purchased at the minimum bid. All of the items were posted for sale on 6/26/13.

Don’t want to do the work yourself? You can use the eBay Selling Assistant, but they take a deep cut.

Kelty IllusionWhat I sold

Kelty backpack, Illusion 3500: Starting price: $25.00 Buy It Now price:

$45.00. Sold for Buy it Now price in 7 days, plus $16.85 shipping.

Mountainsmith down sleeping bag Vision 15FMountainsmith down sleeping bag Vision 15F:  Starting price: $60.00. Buy It Now price: $100.00. Sold the same day it was posted, for the Buy It Now Price plus $10 for shipping.

Garmin Nuvi 1300 GPS: Brand new, original packaging, never used. Starting price Garmin nuvi 1300 Automotive Mountable GPS Receiver$32.99. Buy it Now option, $55. Sold in 2 days for Buy it Now price, plus $8.75 shipping.

Caribou Mountaineering, synthetic fill sleeping bag: Used, over a decade old, but in very good condition. Starting price: $25.00 Buy It Now price: $40.00. Sold after 2 weeks for minimum bid with $12 shipping.

So all total on four items I brought in $271.60. Not bad, right?

Well…..we aren’t done.

Additional costs and considerations

You have fees to pay. Paypal charges about 3%. So far I’ve paid them $7.79. And eBay takes their share too, about 10%. So far I’ve paid them $17.37 (my July bill added an additional $10.08 to eBay for a total of $27.40) . I still have to settle up with both of them for the last item, which will probably be about $3.70.

That final sleeping bag. Now if the buyer will just pay for the item....
That final sleeping bag. Now if the buyer will just pay for the item….

I had the seller pay for shipping, but you still have to print the label and packing invoice, package the item, and take it to the post office. If your item is over 13 ounces, you have to deliver it to the post office desk. I was lucky that my day job is in an office with lots of boxes and packaging that would otherwise be thrown out. Packaging cost me nothing. I got very close on guessing shipping costs, but it’s easy to lose your shirt, so be very, very careful. I’ve paid out $43.75 in shipping so far.

You won’t get your money right away

Paypal put a hold on my payments for about a week. Not an unreasonable time period, but it could have been a hardship if I needed the money desperately. And they can hold it for up to 20 days.

Final

All in all, a fairly good experience and profitable. I’ve made $188.96 (give or take). That’s OK by me for items I would have given away otherwise.  I call this a win!