How eBay Helped Us Buy Our Home


You know the saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” Well, for me, the saying should go “One family’s junk that is sold on eBay makes for a nice contribution to a house down payment.”

My husband and I have been married for three years. When we got married, we each had a home to sell so we rented a home until both of our homes were gone. Finally, it was time for us to look for a home to buy together.

Since I also have my real estate license, we were able to take our time looking at homes that might fit our blended family. We wanted to stay in the same area so the kids wouldn’t have to change schools. After looking at what seemed like every for sale house in the school district, we finally found THE ONE.

We got the contract written up and signed and were officially under contract. Woot!!

Since we are a blended family, we had pretty much two of everything – one from his house and one from my house. In our current home, we would use one, and the other stayed in the basement.

I started going through things, sorting them out to “things that will move with us”, “things that we don’t need but still have value”, and “things that are trash.”

I’ve always had great success selling items on eBay and Craigslist. One Christmas when I was still a single mom and on an extremely tight Christmas budget, I sold enough of my “junk” on eBay to cover presents for my son and parents, plus enough leftover to make my car payment that month. Score!

I began in the basement. Tables, chairs, sofas, boxes of dishes, lawn equipment…you name it – it was down there. I took pictures of all of the items that were sellable, and determined what would sell best on eBay, and what would work best for Craigslist. Most of the heavy items were listed on Craigslist, because no one is going to buy a sofa on eBay and have it shipped to them in Minnetonka, Minnesota when you’re living in Atlanta, GA. Those items are best put up for sale locally.

I then moved into my closet. What had I not worn for at least a year? Those designer clothes in the back of my closet? Yep – those were going on eBay. My Coach and Dooney & Burke purses that I have not carried in three years? Those went on eBay too.

Those two broken lawn mowers that have been sitting in the basement? Craigslist allowed me to find a gentleman that bought them for $50 so he could rebuild the engines and make three times reselling them. And that stationary bicycle that has unfortunately collected more dust than sweat? Hello Craigslist, and another $100 in the bank.

Dave Ramsey recommends doing this when you’re getting out of debt. Since my husband and I don’t have any credit card debt, we decided that any money we received would go straight to our home down payment. (He also says to sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next! HA! Love that Dave Ramsey, however, no one in their right mind would buy our kids.

By the time it was all said and done, in less than a month I had sold over $2,000 worth of clutter out of our home.

And you know what one of the best parts of this story is? It’s less stuff for the movers to move, which resulted in a smaller quote from the moving company.

My motto in life is “If it’s free, give it to me.”

But when you’re moving and need to get RID of stuff instead of GETTING stuff, our motto is “if it’s sellable, then it’s going on eBay!”

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My Other Thanksgiving List

As Thanksgiving draws closer, I realize how blessed my life is and how many things I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband, great kids, loving parents and a warm house. I’m very thankful my dad’s cancer is in remission. I’m thankful for my 93 year old grandmother who is here visiting for this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of my friends who make me laugh. But I’m also thankful for a lot of other stuff that never receive any recognition.

So here’s my list of “other” things I’m thankful for:

1. I’m thankful that I don’t have another gynecologist appointment for another full year, because those appointments are just not any fun.
2. I’m thankful that I have a zero balance on my credit cards. (Which means I can go hog wild at ANY MOMENT.)
3. I’m thankful for my favorite restaurants that offer take-out when I’m too lazy to cook.
4. Which makes me also thankful for whoever invented microwave ovens because when I’m too lazy to leave the house to grab take-out, I can just nuke a hot dog.
5. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m thankful for hair dye.
6. I’m thankful for plug-in air freshener that makes my house always smell like I’m Betty Crocker and I’ve just taken an apple pie out of the oven.
7. I’m thankful for FaceBook, because it allows me to mass-notify people of things going on in my life.
8. I’m thankful that Girl Scout cookies only come 15 to a box, so when I have a sweet tooth it’s not as damaging to my waistline as eating an entire package of Oreo cookies…unless I have TWO boxes of Girl Scout cookies, which I have done before.
9. I’m thankful that I have not had a cavity in 20 years, because I loathe going to the dentist just as much as I loathe going to the gynecologist.
10. I’m thankful I have not found any wiry chin hairs yet.
11. I’m SUPER thankful to the girl who invented Spanx so I can eat like a Sumo wrestler and still squeeze myself into my clothes without looking like a stuffed sausage.
12. I’m thankful for texting because there are just some people I don’t want to talk to on the phone.
13. I’m thankful that when I forget to take my 6 pound dog out and she accidently poops in the house, there’s not much to clean up.
14. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to eat Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s in my life, because my future grandchildren will never know how wonderful that creamy filling actually is.
15. I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can practice my faith and not worry about whether I’m going to get shot in the head.
16. I’m thankful for Purell. If you’re a germ-o-phobe like me, you will totally get why I’m thankful for this.
17. I’m thankful for MapQuest because otherwise I might end up in Alabama when I want to go to North Carolina.
18. I’m thankful that my step-kids don’t view me as their Step-Monster, even though my husband tells me they are a little afraid of me. Winning!
19. I’m thankful that my husband’s SUV and my car are both paid off, even though the windshield is cracked and the bumper has a dent in it from where my husband backed into my son’s truck.
20. I’m thankful for heated seats in my car so when it’s freezing cold outside, my butt is toasty warm.
21. I’m thankful for Dutch Monkey doughnuts. If you don’t know what that is, look it up and have some shipped to you. You’ll be thankful too.
22. I’m thankful that I made it to 43 years old before I had to get reading glasses.
23. I’m thankful for my high school girl friends who I’ve known for (cough) over 25 years but when we get together, we are taken back to 1986 and giggle like we are 16 years old. But then again, that could be the wine.
24. I’m thankful for the Weather Channel so I know how to accurately dress each day.
25. I’m thankful for e-bay so when I want to buy something but I don’t want my husband to know, I can sell stuff and have cash to go buy what I want.
26. I’m thankful for Clorox wipes to help my Obsessive-Compulsive tendency to easily clean everything.
27. I’m thankful that someone mixed tequila with some frozen lime juice and created the margarita.
28. I’m thankful that I have a dishwasher because I would totally hate to have to hand wash those utensils we used for our take-out dinner.
29. I’m thankful that I don’t have any other body-invasive procedures on the schedule such as a colonoscopy or anything super fun like that.

I’m sure there are a zillion other things I’m thankful of and should put on this list, but that could take all day to list and seriously, no one is that interested in my life.

But there is one more thing…I am thankful for the people who actually read and enjoy my blogs. It’s fun to write them, but it’s even more fun when people acknowledge that they enjoy them.

So, dear reader….I’m thankful for YOU.

It’s Okay To Play Hooky With Your Kids

There are some days that life just catches up to me and I just want to take a day off. I don’t want to turn on my computer. I don’t want to see what e-mails have come in. I don’t want to check Twitter or Facebook. I just want to veg out.

And then something wonderful happens. My sweet husband will say, “Hey – let’s go out to dinner tonight – just you and me.” And my day doesn’t seem so hard. Something as simple as that can really just make you happy.

I remember when I was in first grade. I was sitting in Miss Lapin’s class when the school secretary called my name over the intercom to come to the office. I was a good girl! I didn’t talk during class! Why was I being called up to the office??

With my heart beating a mile a minute, I rounded the corner to see my mother smiling at me.

“Am I in trouble?” I said.

“Nope! I have a surprise for you”, my mother said, leading me out of the school.

Thirty-eight years later I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. We drove into Downtown Atlanta to the Fox Theater… (If you’ve never seen the Fox Theater, google it!!!)…to WATCH A MOVIE! During school hours! This was awesome! I looked at my mother. She was grinning at me. My heart burst. I was so excited! This was by far one of the most fun days of my young life.

Me, not too thrilled about going to school

Many years later, I showed up at Matthew’s school to do the same thing. He is a hockey player, and the movie with Kurt Russell about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russian team had just come out. He was dying to see it and said so every time the trailer would come on TV.

I went to the front office and told the office staff that I needed to check him out of school for “an appointment”. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me what for.

As we got to the car he finally asked me what we were doing. I told him to wait and see. We drove to the local mall and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Shopping? Please, no.” he said.

But when we got to the line to buy movie tickets, things began to fall into place.

“Are we going to watch ‘Miracle’????” he asked, the pitch in his voice raising with each word.

“Yep!” I said.

The grin on his face is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Recently, my husband did the same with my step-son, Austin. They went to a midnight release for a video game that he had been saving up for. As Austin was getting ready for bed, Dale said “Hey, get dressed – we have to go somewhere.”

Austin looked confused but did as he was told. As they pulled into the BestBuy parking lot, it began to register that they were there for the game release. Dale said that Austin had that look that I had described to him that Matthew had when I took him to the movie.

Playing hooky from work or school isn’t something to make a big habit of. My mom only did it once with me, and I only did it once with Matthew. It was so special that I wouldn’t want to ruin those memories by doing it over and over.

I realized at that moment that we don’t need to buy our kids expensive gifts or take them to exotic places for them to be happy. It’s really just the little things that they will remember the most.

Matthew recently mentioned that day we played hooky from work and school just to spend the day together, doing something that he really wanted to do.

And I hope he does the same thing with his kids one day, and those “hooky day” memories will continue on for the next generation.

Wiring The Technical Generation Gap


Technology isn’t easy. We all know that. But technology is extra difficult for those who didn’t grow up with it. My parents are no different than anyone else in their age group. They don’t like change, and technological change is an even harder pill to swallow.

My parents have never had a passion for technology.

I remember in the 1980’s when my dad purchased a VCR. It was one of the most technological events in the history of the Gunn household. We could actually rent movies and WATCH THEM ANY TIME we wanted. We were late to the party, but at least we were taking baby steps into this new electronics world.

The next step was to get a microwave. Regardless of the fact that it weighed 300 pounds and you could fit a compact car in there, our family finally had one.

In the mid-1990s, my parents got their first computer. It was a 380 with a 5 ¼ inch floppy drive and offered a dial-up modem that connected to AOL. (My parents still have the same AOL account.) They had a dot-matrix printer that you could hear printing from the next house over and felt like a tiny earthquake every time it would print a line. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz.

But they were opening up to change and I was very proud of that.
In the early 2000’s my dad decided he needed a new computer because his floppy drive went out. By this time, mind you, there weren’t any more floppy drives on computers. Everything had moved to CDs. My dad however, had to special order a floppy drive and had it installed on his new computer. In the father/daughter world, this is known as “pick your battles.”

The next step for the Gunn household was to upgrade their internet connectivity. The Bellsouth installer came out but had one little problem: My parents still had permanently installed rotary phones….and this was 2004. I might have the only kid under the age of 30 that has ever even SEEN a rotary phone, much less talked on one. Thank you Bellsouth for helping to guide my parents into the new and high tech world of push button telephones.

Recently, we got a phone call that went like this:

“Hey Dana! Can I talk to Dale? I’m having a computer problem.”

I handed the phone to my husband (the default technical support for our family) who said, “Hey! What’s up?”

“Well, I was opening my e-mail and I got a message from someone I thought I knew, so I opened it and now my computer won’t do anything”.

Nine hours and two trips to their house later, my husband has made sure that their computer is now 100% hardened against a potential criminal attack from China. (And he did the same for my computer too!) I don’t know how families without an in-house technical support person can keep their computers running these days, but God help you all.

Recently my mother was given an iPhone by my sister and brother-in-law. We have the most fun going through her photos seeing how many times she has taken a photo of the inside of her purse, or a picture of herself when the camera lens did the “flip” feature. But I am proud to say that she has mastered texting and is even using LOL and emoticons.

And my sweet daddy is perfectly happy with his featureless flip-phone, but it was extra nice when we finally convinced him that keeping it turned on all day wouldn’t ruin the battery life.

The moral of this story is to be patient with your parents and their resistance to change and technology.

Because OUR children are going to think that WE are technology challenged when we don’t understand how teleporting works.

(These are not my parents, but this video made me laugh so much that I had to include it!)

I’m Not A Hoarder…I Just Collect Lots of Things

My husband and I are probably going to be moving in the next six months. We have been renting a home since we got married because we both had houses to sell, and in this market we knew that was not going to be easy and would probably take some time before we could buy something. Now it’s that time.

To get a jump start on our moving process, I decided to take this past weekend to start figuring out what we would be moving, what we would be donating and what is going to stay boxed up in the basement from our last move.

I put on my raggedy sweatpants and an old t-shirt and just for the look, I tied a pink bandana around my head, kerchief style, just in case that would help motivate me more if I looked the part.

I opened the garage door and looked around. To my left I found all of our camping gear, which takes up a ton of space. To my right is the deep freezer, more shelving with hockey sticks and lacrosse equipment, four sets of golf clubs and eight bicycles. We are a family of five. With eight bicycles.

I turned around and shut the door. I’ll conquer that room later.

I opened the basement door and went down stairs. I looked around. Two more bicycles that the kids have outgrown are by the back door, waiting for the garage sale that I can never seem to put together. Mismatched furniture from before we were married sits against the wall with more stuff from our pre-marriage days. Boxes that have NEVER BEEN OPENED that we both moved from house to house before we got married – my stack is on one side; his is on the other. What the heck is in them? Who knows? Probably my old Halloween costumes from when I was five…that my MOTHER wanted out of her basement.

I turned around and go back up the stairs. Maybe I’ll just start on my closet.

That’s when I realized something.

Oh. My. Gosh. I might be a hoarder.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m clearly a very ORGANIZED and clean hoarder. My house is spotless. Everything has a place and is usually IN it’s place. I don’t have boxes towering up to the ceiling waiting to slide like an avalanche and crush the next person to walk by. Or old rotten food from 1995 in the kitchen. Or so much junk everywhere that there are decaying animals in the dining room that died because they were trapped behind 97 boxes of QVC deliveries. You know what I mean…you can admit you’ve seen the real “Hoarders” on TV.

I just have stuff. Lots of stuff.

I collect antique books, but they are all nicely kept on bookshelves. I have knickknacks, but they are all in a display case.

I think what did it was when my mother passed my old toys (that were in boxes in HER basement) on to me, which for many items, I have proudly displayed: the old metal Peanuts lunchbox, a Mickey Mouse watch, Baby-Beans (the bean bag doll with the pull string that would say “I love you!”), my old Winnie-the-Pooh, Romper Room toys, marionettes, etc. They are all displayed nicely on the bookshelves in my family room.

But it’s still a lot of stuff.

I started having an irregular heartbeat.

Because I realized that moving doesn’t mean just moving the furniture. It’s all of the other stuff that makes a house a home; clothes, toys, dishes, patio furniture, potted plants, pictures…EVERYTHING. And now I’m going to have to pack it all up and move it.

I start to realize that maybe we should have started packing for this move the month after we moved in.

But wait! I sort of already have. Those unopened boxes in the basement from the last move?

They’re all ready to go!!