I am looking for a table for my entryway but I don't want to pay store prices for it. I figure the best way to get a nice table for a cheap price is to go to a garage sale. I'd seen numerous signs around my area advertising garage sales today and figured this may be a good way to get a cheap table. I got up early this morning armed with $50 and a cup of coffee. I went to one of the nicer subdivisions close to my house and started my search for a table. I didn't find the table I was looking for but I did find an interesting financial story.

I stopped at this one house because they had one monster of a garage sale. They had so much stuff (no table though), I thought it was a multi-family garage sale. The owner seemed nice so I started making small talk by making a comment on how much stuff they had for sale. She said that they had to get rid of everything quickly. Pushing a little further, I asked if they were about to make a big move. She said that times were pretty hard since her husband lost his job about a year ago. I took that to mean that they had blown through all of their savings and probably had to find cash quickly.

What I didn't understand is why they still had all this "stuff". They had 2 nice fairly new SUV's (aka: gas guzzlers) parked in the yard; complete with nice fancy rims. I also saw 4 jet ski's and a nice boat all of which had a "for sale" sign on them. If her husband lost his job over a year ago, I didn't really understand why they had not sold the "toys" a year ago.The prices on the boat and jet ski were VERY cheap and had I been in the market for a boat or jet ski, I probably would have bought them myself. I think they probably tried to hold onto them as long as they could thinking things might change.

There were so many questions I wanted to ask but it wasn't my place to do so. I didn't know anything about these people so I probably wouldn't have gotten many answers anyway. I also didn't want to risk getting kicked off their property for being so nosey. Maybe if I had the full story, it may have explained their situation a little better.

Let me hear your thoughts? What would you have done?

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  1. Debt Dieter // June 14, 2008 at 6:06 PM  

    Wow, I'm still trying to get my head around owning 4 jetskis at once - bizarre!

  2. Anonymous // June 14, 2008 at 11:21 PM  

    I wonder if it's part of that phenomena of "things will get better soon" mind set? Especially if you're upside down in something, or it represents a lifestyle.....
    Life's rough.

  3. Mrs. Micah // June 15, 2008 at 8:38 AM  

    I think it makes some sense to wait. For instance, when my dad was laid off from a job (back in 1997), it took him about 3 months to find something new. He wouldn't have been surprised if it took longer. If they had some kind of financial cushion or their own or from the job (his laying off job gave him 1 year's salary, which was quite generous) then it probably wouldn't seem like a crisis until something like a year went by.

    Hence no need to sell the stuff if you're only going to get another good job and want to buy it back. I guess.

  4. "Future Millionaire" // June 15, 2008 at 3:39 PM  

    Maybe it was a situation like Mrs. Micah's dad.

    If it wasn't then I don't understand why they hung onto all the toys - they would have been the first things to go if something like that happened to me. Although I probably wouldn't have bought those toys to begin with.

  5. Paul // June 16, 2008 at 9:18 AM  

    You probably would have been surprised at how forthcoming the answers would have been. I went on a similar fortune finding mission about two months ago, and ended up buying a classic street rod for about 20% of what it cost to build because the guy needed money to pay his mortgage the next day, and I had the available cash.

    In a crisis, people don't think rationally. As you saw, I bet the things on the tables wouldn't have made them much more than a couple thousand.

  6. SavingDiva // June 16, 2008 at 3:56 PM  

    I hope that I wouldn't need all of those things in the first place...