The Great Purge of 2017

“OMG, we still have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!”

A week ago, I really wanted to take one more trip to Zion. The drive is a little over five hours which just pushes my tolerance for a single-day trip. So I thought to myself, “We’ve gotten rid of a lot over the last few weeks, but I bet I still have enough supplies for camping.” I went through the list in my head: tent (check), sleeping bags (check), flashlights (check) .. cooking supplies (check) … camp chairs (check) …. “OMG, we still have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!”

The Purge started two months ago with the entertainment items. Books and movies were the first to go. I separated them all into groups:

    • Donate – Entertainment items worth less than $0.50
    • Low Sales – Entertainment items worth $0.50 to $3.00 received_10159520086060293
      • sellbackyourbook.com – A convenient way to sell all of my low priced books. I scanned the UPC on my phone, was usually offered between $0.60 and $1.50, then packed everything up using their free shipping label.
      • Amazon Trade-In – The down side is that they only pay in gift cards, but let’s be honest, I will 100% use those gift cards. The search setting isn’t particularly convenient. I had to type in each individual item, confirm that the product details match, and verify the quality. Amazon offered me between $0.69 and $13.00 for most of my dvds and blu-rays along with the free shipping label.
      • High Sales – Entertainment items worth more than $3.00
        • Facebook Marketplace – In Oregon, I had far more luck selling locally on apps like LetGo, but not so much in Utah. People here were using the marketplace. It had the usual problem of people texting me at 2:00AM with “I’m interested” then never responding again. It was one of my best resources for selling furniture, but not so much for the books and movies. On average, I made between $1.00 to $6.00 per movie.
        • EBay – Besides for the furniture sales, we made more money selling books and movies on EBay then anything else. USPS Media Mail ships for an average of $2.50 per envelope. I had to spend some time researching the value of each item, but the time was well rewarded. Each item was put up for auction with a Buy Now option and free shipping. The Buy Now price was the full value of the item parked at slightly less than the average of similar items for sale that day. The auction price was set a little less than half of the Buy Now Price, but always greater than $3.50 (to make sure I got at least $1.00 in profit after shipping). My best selling entertainment item was an original copy of Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King for $19.50!

      Everything else (non-entertainment) was separated into Keep, Sell, and Donate. The majority of our things were donated in six carloads full. The Sell pile was put individually on Facebook Marketplace and posted on the Facebook wall of my apartment complex. Neither were particularly large successes… until Thursday night.

      Thursday night, I posted a small flyer on the community board and on the apartment Facebook wall that we would be have an Open Door Sale. Josh and I placed our bets as to how many people would show up. I bet two total and Josh bet zero. We had two hours planned for the sale that day; we spent the first hour and a half watching TV, because no one showed up.

      And then, a miracle.

      12 Chinese people walked in and immediately started buying EVERYTHING. They purchased all of the furniture and 75% of everything else that was on sale. In one hour, we sold all of the big ticket items (minus the bikes and computer) and were left with only one more car load full of donation items. We were left without a mattress, dishes, and chairs for the last three days before moving, but backaches and awkward eating seemed like a small price to pay for such a lucky visit.

      Our goal was to pack as light as possible. We ended up stuffing the car to the brim and were forced to donate two boxes worth of stuff at the last minute, but we managed to fit it all in. The five hour drive to Boise was tight and slow, but we set off into the sunset with a car packed with everything we owned and our hearts were free.

Travel Hacking: Phone Plan

I need a phone. I could chose to live a more “untethered life,” but I don’t really want to, so I’m not going to.

I need a phone. I could chose to live a more “untethered life,” but I don’t really want to, so I’m not going to. I need a phone. I need a service that is cheap and doesn’t require my family to download or learn anything new.

I have done a lot of research on the subject and, I’ll be honest, I still don’t really get it. I will continue to update this post as I learn more, but I wanted to start early in case you have any better ideas for me.


Stage One: Port phone number to Google Voice

For $20, I ported (transferred) my phone number to Google Voice and cancelled my AT&T phone plan. So far, this has been a great move. It took a few days, but now I have access to all of my text messages and voice mails without anyone even knowing that I cancelled my phone plan.

Every text sent to my usual phone number goes to the Google Voice app both on my phone and computer, as long as they’re connected to wifi. This solves two problems: I still have the same phone number and I still get texts. Unfortunately, I can’t make or receive calls (Google Voice requires a phone with a service plan, but I can make calls from the computer, similar to Skype), and it’s all dependent on an internet connection. Time for Stage Two.

Stage Two: Forward calls to a USA phone number

For $50, I got a Skype USA phone number for one year. I then forwarded all of my Google Voice calls to my Skype phone number. Now I get all my texts from Google Voice and all of my phone calls on Skype. All of this happens without my friends and family needing to change any of their habits. They can continue to contact me the same way they always have.

This solves one more problem: I can receive calls from the USA without any long distance fees. Unfortunately, I still can’t make calls and I still need the internet.

Stage Three: Profit?

Stage three is where I’m a bit stuck. I am pretty sure the answer is to get a local SIM card with a data plan. I will then be able to use all of the apps on my phone without needing to be in wifi. This would allow me to make calls using Google Voice via Google Hangouts on my phone. The down-side is that I would need to pay long distance fees ($0.01/minute) when I make calls. The up-side is that I don’t think anyone has to pay fees to call me and texts are always free. This solves the remaining problems.

So, in theory (I still haven’t tried Stage Three), I have put together a plan that would allow my family to text, call, and leave voice mails to the same phone number I have had for over 10 years without any long-distance fees. I will be able to use a combination of one or two apps on my current phone to get a fully functioning phone plan without roaming and a discounted long-distance plan of only $0.01 per minute.

If you have done this before, please let me know your thoughts.