This is triple witching time — money wise, at any rate. Holiday bills are still not paid, RRSP contributions still not made and tax season looms. This is when I get a rising crescendo of pleas for help. Most of them along the lines of neighbours Julia and Jason: “We just can’t find any more money. What are we going to do!”
Answer: The Audit Squad — actually, just moi. I offered to do what I call an excess asset inventory and sift through their possessions to discover superfluous, selleable items. The only rules were: Don’t hide anything and no whining when we’re finished.
I started in the garage, so overstuffed they couldn’t fit the car in as well. I found a working freezer and a dorm-sized fridge. Sold! $150. A weight set. Sold! $35. Beer and wine bottles. Returned! $22. A ’50s chrome dinette set. Sold! $100. A perfectly good 27” TV. Sold! $50. A box of 1960s mint condition vinyl albums. Sold! $225.
Getting the picture? They had almost $1,500 of malingering assets in the garage, all purchased with credit cards, which have big balances. In effect they are still paying 19 per cent interest, or almost $25 a month for this stuff.
I was licking my lips as I headed into the house. Hello Kegerator! There was much resistance from Jason about the pool table (unracked for three years) and an exercise bike sporting a cobweb hairdo.
Julia enjoyed Jason’s dismay until I turned to her bureau. She had gobs of no longer worn costume jewelry plus a drawer filled with gold items either broken or missing a mate. The gold went for $400 at a gold party.
After the audit, Julia and Jason sold almost $3,000 worth of stuff which made a big dent in their credit card debt and freed up some money for RRSP contributions. The bonus? They can now get their car in the garage.
– Alison Griffiths is a financial journalist, author and host of Maxed Out on the W Network. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.