Local & Worldwide Thrifting Resources

  Local and worldwide thrifting resources:

Freecycle is a grassroots world wide organization that helps people exchange used items at no cost. You can locate a group in your community and join, then participate by offering items or find items you can use. Freecyclers help each other by exchanging goods and they help the planet by keeping stuff out of landfills.  I am part of the local San Diego Freecycle Network and they definitely have a lot to offer.  Tonite I received emails “advertising” free TV’s, baby clothes and gift wrap.
Charity Shops managed by Goodwill, the Salvation Army and schools, churches or synagogues offer bargains on clothing, books, housewares and furniture plus your purchase helps fund humanitarian programs sponsored by the organization running the shop. Goodwill Industries also has an online auction service similar to E-bay called www.shopgoodwill.com.
Flea Markets are everywhere!  You can find them in small towns, in city parking lots, in large arenas and inside warehouse buildings.
Resale Shops offer used goods for sale like a regular store. Some shops take items on consignment from the owner; others buy and sell used merchandise of all sorts from consumers or other resellers.
Auctions offer all sorts of opportunities for buying and selling used goods. You can find local auction listings in any community newspaper or merchandising flyer. Most auction advertisements list the type of items to be offered at the sale.  Some flea markets also have an on site auction house or area for auction sales.

Online Auctions (E-bay plus many more) offer a huge range of items in a database. You can search through categories by keyword or simply browse until you find what you like, then you can bid on and pay for your winning bid selection using your computer. You can also sell what you don’t need. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions of each service prior to signing up or making a purchase. Shipping terms should be evaluated if you live far from the seller.
Tag Sales ( yard sales) are one of the most interesting places to find junk-tiques. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Efficiency Rules: Quick Holiday Shopping Tips

Okay, so you’ve had 11 months to plan for it– but doesn’t Christmas just seem to sneak up on everyone?  Who is ever ready? Here are a few quick tips to be ready for any gift-giving event!

Makes Lists & Plan Ahead
Planning ahead allows you to avoid last-minute desperation. Buy online early to take advantage of free shipping offers too. No one likes having to pay the extra cost for overnight delivery.  Check with merchants as some sites offer pre-orders.
Know Your Shipping Deadlines
December 17th is usually the cut off for standard shipping, to be safe, try to get gifts ordered by December 10th.
Secure Shopping Online
Always take extra care to know you are shopping on a secure site that encrypts transaction information. When asked to enter credit card information, look for “https://” at the beginning of the website URL. The “s” indicates that the information being transmitted is encrypted for privacy. Some browsers such as Internet Explorer will have a lock icon or symbol to indicate that the website is secure.
Be careful when answering emails asking for personal information. Most merchants have a policy of never asking for personal or credit card information in an email as this is a method of fraud known as phishing.   Always email or call the merchant directly if you think an email that you received is an attempt at phishing.
Emailable Gifts
Many merchants now offer an emailable gift option that sends a redemption code directly to the recipients inbox. The recipient can then use the code to shop at the merchant’s online store. The benefit of emailable gifts–  they are delivered instantly!  They have become a perfect last-minute gift option in recent years.
Buy Extra Gifts
Don’t be caught empty-handed. Keep gifts ready for that unexpected visitor or guest who brings you something.  And for that party you didn’t plan to attend, have a few hostess gifts wrapped and ready in a pinch.

Battling Zombie Debt… Tips & Warnings

Another post on collections… but I really feel these zombie collection practices deserve one more short post.  Here are a couple of tips and final warnings to help deal with these agencies trying to collect on super-old debts.

  • Understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is prohibited for collection agencies to harass you, to call you early in the morning or late at night, or to continue contacting you once you have expressed in writing that you do not wish them to contact you (except to indicate an intention to seek legal remedies or that they will cease contact with you).
  • NEVER give a collection agency your banking information. If they have that information, they can withdraw the amount you owe from your bank account and you will have no recourse.

Cherish your integrity and do not allow yourself to be “manipulated” into a strategic mistake. The junk-debt business (and the financial system at large) is built around profit and gives no thought to morality. In fact, paying off the debt renews the bad marks on your credit reports! This is an unintended flaw in the credit reporting system. The collectors know this, don’t care, and aim to wreck your FICO score for a few dollars. You are better off paying the money to a charity and hang up on the collector.

  • Do not ignore a court summons, even if you think the statute of limitations has expired. Get an attorney. If you don’t show up in court the judge is likely to accept all of the allegations against you as facts and give your creditors or the collection agency whatever they ask for. It’s called default judgment and may be enforceable.
  • Making a payment, even a small “good faith” payment can restart the statute of limitations on your debt, or restart the collections process if the statute has already expired.
  • Always consult an attorney if you have any questions or are uncertain about the laws regarding your debt.
  • Settling for less than the full amount is not much of a deal. The part forgiven is reported to the IRS, on a Form 1099. You will owe income tax on this amount, unless you can show (under IRS rules) you were insolvent.

The Art of Battling Zombie Debt

Collecting legacy debts – even debt you may not be legally responsible for – is becoming a highly profitable venture. Companies purchase these “junk debts” for pennies on the dollar and then go after the people they think are most likely to pony up.  A phone call can turn into badgering, harassment, threats to sue, and other inappropriate and sometimes illegal actions. If you find yourself talking to a collector about a debt that’s “come back to life”, here’s how to make sure your rights aren’t violated.

Do not acknowledge the debt. If you’re not sure whether you owe the debt, don’t say anything that could indicate that the debt is yours, and do NOT agree to make any kind of payment. Doing this can give the company the legal right to collect.

Don’t fall for any traps.

  • illegally “re-aging” debts (reporting the old debt to the credit bureaus as if it’s new)
  • promising to wipe off a red check mark on a credit report
  • bait-and-switch credit card offers (they tack on the balance of the zombie debt)

Get it in writing. Ask for proof that you owe the debt, like the credit card agreement you originally signed, along with an account history. If they don’t have that proof then they don’t have the right to take action against you. Keep repeating: “I want to see evidence of this debt in writing. I do not acknowledge this debt.”

Check the statute of limitations to make sure you’re not responsible for the debt anymore. The statute of limitations essentially defines how much time you can go without paying a debt before a collector’s right to collect through the court system expires. Every state in the US has different rules and exceptions regarding when the time period officially begins, how long it lasts, and what can “revive” the statutory period, so you really do need to check the laws or consult an attorney in your own state.

Write a letter explaining that you are not responsible for the debt, you do NOT acknowledge it, and you demand they stop harassing you or you will take legal action. If you’ve done your homework and you know that you are not responsible for the debt (such as if your statute of limitations expired and you don’t meet the criteria in your state for extending it, or you declared bankruptcy), send them a letter through certified mail and get a return receipt.

Watch your credit report carefully. Collectors might try to report the debt or taint your credit history. As mentioned earlier, collectors could post an old debt as if it’s new, or lie about the date of delinquency (in an attempt to start a new statutory period). Dispute any questionable entries with the credit bureau and the agency.