Reality Check


We started downsizing in the typical ways you would expect. Garage Sales, e-bay sales, Marketplace on Facebook, Next Door, and the local pawn shop. It was a lot of work, produced a few dollars but more importantly, we were downsizing! (see blog entry we have too much stuff) In our married life, we decorate for every holiday. We have one 5×5 storage unit filled with decorations for Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Red White and Blue plus normal household stuff you don’t know why you are keeping. The other 5×5 storage unit is ALL Christmas decorations. And by all I mean front to back, top to bottom, including a five foot nutcracker, a nine and a half foot Christmas tree, a six foot Christmas tree, a four foot Christmas tree, a collection of nutcrackers, a collection of angels, and even a fake fireplace with “wood stove” insert. We knew selling our precious Christmas decorations would be difficult, but it was time to keep the process moving. As I lifted up the door to this precious collection, it was too much. As Kathryn described it, “I had a meltdown.” The tears flowed freely so I immediately closed the door and offered to defer the sale to sometime in the future, including next year. But she agreed, it was time.

During the weekend of November 17 – 18, our garage looked like Macy’s on Christmas Eve including Christmas music. This weekend was to be THE LAST garage sale ever. Whatever is in the house after it is sold, furniture, dishes, paintings, our remaining stuff, will be sold by and Estate Sale company who will sell everything once we took whatever we are keeping. What a relief to find this backup plan. We can just drive off into the sunset and it all goes away. Don’t tell me what sold for what, just the total dollars generated.

We were about to wrap up the sale when a neighbor four doors down came in and asked, “Are you selling your cars too?” The answer was yes, but what happened next still shocks me. As I walked across the street with him to where it was parked, we were about two feet away, he extended his hand and said, “SOLD!” Wait what? I haven’t even opened the door. You’ve never seen the inside. You didn’t ask me to lower the price. Don’t you want to at least drive it? He said, “I drive by your house every day. I know how you take care of your cars and this is the make and model my wife wants. Promise you will not sell it to anyone else.” Still in shock, I went back to the garage and told Kathryn the news. “Your car is sold.” Yes, the car I bought you as a birthday present.

That night, the reality set in. Selling the small stuff was to raise some money and reduce clutter. Selling her car meant THE PLAN was happening. Literally, we have started down the road toward what comes next.


Before going to the bank to transfer money from a low 1.9% car loan to a higher 6.5% home equity line of credit to make the final payment and get the title, I called the neighbor one last time. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes, I told you I want the car!” was the answer. About an hour later he was at the door with cash, so I knew he was in fact serious.

Getting the letter from the bank stating we were paid in full and getting the title from Motor Vehicles took about two weeks. The Thanksgiving holiday schedule didn’t help. During that time, I called the neighbor at each step to let him know the progress. On December 5th, we had the title in hand so I called him as we left the DMV to arrange the time to complete the transaction. As casual as you would say today is a sunny day, he said, “Never mind, I changed my mind.”

Lessons learned: 1. take a healthy nonrefundable deposit. 2. if someone is holding cash, take it. 3. we now have a new meaning for reality check.


We got a call today to ask if the car was still for sale. A lovely couple came, drove it, and made us a reasonable offer. Remember, this car came into our possession as a birthday gift to Kathryn to replace her aging convertible. Turns out this car is going to be a gift again! This time, the woman purchasing the car is doing so as a gift to herself, from her mother who had just passed. In describing her Mom, I wish I met the lady. She was quite the free spirit right up to her time of passing. We are all delighted that every time the top goes down and the car heads out, Mom will be riding with her everywhere she goes!

Lessons learned: 1. there is such a thing as Karma. 2. if it was meant to be, it will be. 3. it can take time for some things to become reality!




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