Friday, March 28, 2008

Sell the Coach Bag? What I'm Willing To Give Up for Financial Security

Why doesn't she sell her coach bag or expensive bracelet? That was one reader's comment about the CNN story featuring $70K-a-year woman, who lost her job and is tapping into food banks and other forms of assistance. I featured the report in this post. Here's the comment, one reader left:

Anonymous said...

Instead of just reading the article, I decided to watched the video. And in the video, she talked about how she took off her Tiffany bracelet and left her Coach handbag in her car before hitting the food bank.

Her house is 1000% better than the place I rent. Hardwood floors everywhere. Flat screen plasma in the living room (although CNN tried to angle the camera to not capture it). Black galaxy granite kitchen counters with a giant center island. Stainless steel refrigerator. Custom ceramic appliances. Blue lighting flashing against the teapot.

Ahem ... how about selling the bracelet, selling the coach handbag, selling some of the immaculate possessions they have in their house ... before letting somebody perhaps even harder off at a food bank to pay your utility bill. Incredible.

The reader's suggestion about selling personal assets and perks prompted me to remember a past episode of Ugly Betty (season 1), in which Betty trades her expensive designer bag for high-priced medicine for her dad. The pharmacist really loves the fancy purse and Betty makes the trade. It's her practical solution to a medical care cash crunch.

Since then, I've periodically thought about what I would and would not give up when faced with a financial crisis:

Here's what I would sell:

1. Almost all of my jewelry. I actually know people who have sold trinkets and gems to raise cash. I know of one blogger, who sold a car to pay debt.
2. My violin: It was a high school graduation present from my parents. I love it, but I rarely have time to fiddle anymore. What's more, if my kids needed something very badly, I would sell the violin in a heart beat.
3. Books: With the exception of a few favorites, I would liquidate everything.

4. Clothes: Due to a few wealthy friends, I have an enviable wardrobe of high-end clothes, including a few designer pieces. Those hand-me-downs would fetch handsome prices at an upscale consignment store.

Here's where I've already cut back:

1. Yoga trainer: I share a trainer ($70 an hour) with a group of women. This arrangement cuts costs. We each pay only $10 for a session in a small class setting. However, I had also arranged for my family to have a private class with the yoga trainer. It was great for my kids: improved self-esteem, flexibility and concentration in school. But the extra $70 a week was a budget buster. We cut back to every-other week and then to once a month. And now the private family sessions have completely halted. The funds were needed elsewhere, including the emergency fund.

We still get lots of exercise and I invite the kids to work out with me by using a Yoga tape. We walk and enjoy other frugal forms of exercise.

2.Elaborate Orlando vacations: My folks live in Central Florida and we often do the Disney/Orlando theme park tour when we visit them. But we now spend fewer days in the theme parks, where tickets are now almost $56-$66, and higher per ticket. We spend more time looking for free or low-cost activities.

3. New clothes: For almost every holiday or major event, I would shop for new clothes. Now I try to avoid buying anything new, with very few exceptions.



9 comments: said...

I don't think selling off personal effects (at probably 1/10 to 1/3 their initial cost) is the answer to this sort of problem. This woman ran through her "savings" a few weeks after losing her $70K job. At that pay rate she should have had a MUCH larger emergency fund, or else have build up substantial financial assets. She obviously bought more house than she could really afford, and then proceeded to purchase lifestyle accessories to suit.

Don't buy the expensive bracelets and bags in the first place!

Bill Steele said...

Wow marvelous!!! This shows that the woman living a luxurious life. Because of the loss of job she had to take credit from the bank. It would be better if she would have sold some of her house hold articles. This would relieve a bit of her crises.

Ryan said...

I hate to say it, but one of the things I'd have to give up is my monthly Sharebuilder investment, which is a little over $300. I'd also have to figure out ways to drive less, which will be pretty tough.

Anonymous said...

The only thing we have of value is the gold jewelry my wife got as presents for our wedding. With gold at $1000/oz, we could probably clear $15K-$20K from it. Certainly would pay a lot of bills.

Anonymous said...

BTW, various sources on the net say this house was bought in 2002 for $202K from her husband's parents and continually refinanced until the balance hit $650K in 2006.

Anonymous said...

from experience, pawn shops generally offer only 1/3 what
gold jewelry is worth, not nearly what you pay for it.

Mo said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. I am not against selling things to make money to get by while unemployed, however, the resale value on a used purse, even a $300 purse isn't that much. Probably $50-$75 at the most. That is not going to buy much in the way of groceries. The big screen on the other hand... should bring enough to make it worth selling.

In the interest of full disclosure, I own a coach bag. It is 4 years old, I use it everyday and I am hard on purses. Its a brick house. There is frugal and there is cheap. It may be a $300 purse but I am going to get a minimum 10 years use out of this purse.

On the other hand, she could sell her purse, get $50 bucks for it and have to buy a $10 Kmart special that that might last a week or six months at the most. There is frugal, and there is cheap, and there are other ways to make money.

I was unemployed for 9 months and I did just about anything, temped, did taxes for friends, sold quite a bit on Ebay, and it was enough to get by till I found a job. It comes down to doing whatever it takes to get by.

The person in the article is going to have to scale back, learn to live within her means and that is a hard lesson to learn. She may have to hit rock bottom, and even then some people never learn.

pamela said...

It's always reassuring to remember that your jewelry/wardrobe and collectibles, etc. can be turned into $ if needed - if you only PAWN them! I have paened some of my instruments (I have many) for a quick loan & then bought them back. I have also sold pieces of art I collected - one originally was $40 and I sold it for $1500 - not a bad return.

wenhaver said...

Sometimes selling off things is something you need to do. I've sold 99% of my books and media when times got rough. Just last weekend, I sold the ONE physical possession that meant the most to me (my Macbook Pro) and downgraded to a lesser model - used the extra cash to pay off a short term loan that I had to take out or risk losing my car after a bought of unemployment. I've got a good job now, but that 500% interest wasn't going to help me get ahead. Now I can start saving slowing for a new MBP, without worrying about coming up with money for gas or groceries for the next few months.