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Use Your Savings, Don’t Spend Them

Posted on
Financial Independence

Borrowing From Yourself

I've never had a job that promised any type of pension or help with my retirement. Basically, once I quit working, the clock starts ticking and I am left hoping that I expire before my savings do. Fortunately, I've managed to save some of each paycheck over the years. Over time, these little contributions have added up to a decent sum of money. Furthermore, part of my retirement funds are in cash and not in any type of tax-sheltered retirement plan. The money is just savings, for a rainy day, or retirement, whichever comes first. As my savings grew, so did the temptation to pad my current lifestyle rather than save for my future lifestyle. However, the idea of surviving on Social Security isn't attractive to me, so I got to thinking, if the government can borrow my Social Security funds to cover current expenses, why can't I borrow from my retirement savings? Well, one reason is that I don't have the power to tax the next generation when I need the funds. But what if I really did just use my savings, and not actually spend it?

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Since that revelation, I have motorcycled all over the USA with my family of four, (each on a separate bike), sailed down the Intracoastal on our own sailboat, and toured most of the USA in a luxury Class A motorhome. I've also had a different motorcycle for each of the last ten seasons, had an almost new Jeep Rubicon,  and purchased a 700+ hp Corvette. After all of this fun, my retirement savings have not been dented in the least. How is this possible? Let me show you.

Four people on motorcycles

They say the second best day of a boat-owners life is the day he buys his boat. What an exciting time! Finally, a dream turned reality. What could possibly beat that day? The correct answer is the day he SELLS his boat. The same holds true for most recreational toys. As long as they are being used and loved, they are an asset to their owner, and you will have to SPEND rather than USE your money to buy from these people. But, life happens. People get older, and worry their legs aren't strong enough for such a heavy motorcycle, or they lose their job, and the motorhome that hasn't been used since last summer is taking up room in their driveway and leaving a hole in the checking account. The list goes on.

The sailboat I bought came from an estate. The bluewater boat was completely outfitted for cruising, and unfortunately, the owner passed away before realizing his dream. His intention was to transport it from his home in WI to the big water it was designed for. After sitting in storage for two years in a boat yard, the family was almost willing to give it away. The point is, the "asset" had become a liability.  That is when opportunity presents itself to anyone willing to learn a few tricks.

Sail Boat

One of the first things is to not get emotionally involved in whatever you are buying. I try to stay in a state of mind where I am always willing to walk away from a deal. I constantly remind myself that there are other deals out there so I don't buy from the wrong type of seller. Emotions cost money. Remember we want a seller that is emotionally desperate to be rid of what we want to buy. It is impossible to get a really good deal if you allow your emotions to participate in the bargaining process.

Once we find the toy we are looking for, we send out a feeler to see what kind of seller we are dealing with. I'll usually send a message to the seller that I am out of the area, saw the item online, and am interested but was looking for something less expensive. My message will go something like this:

Hello! I saw your boat on Boattrader.com. I don't live near you, so before I make a trip I thought I'd first touch bases and see where you are on the price. I am sure the boat is worth what you are asking for it. It is a beautiful boat. The problem is my budget. I can only afford X, and I am looking to find the best boat I can for that amount. Is there any way you could work with me on the price? If you could, then I could make the trip there and pay you and take care of the shipping details.

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Before I send an offer, I first do my homework to see what similar items are selling for. If someone is asking $100,000 and I offer $20,000, I'm not likely to even get a response.  But if I show a few other ads of similar items for less, and make an offer of $60,000 while blaming my budget, I'll almost always get a response. If they accept my offer immediately, it means my offer was too high. On the other hand, no answer at all means you were probably too low. Usually, no answer is the end of it, but it's not always.

Last month, I was interested in a bike that was advertised for $3900. I did my usual and offered $2500 but it was a no go. I followed up with a text a week later, and the COVID virus had changed everything. Not only was he willing to sell it for $2500, he even agreed to deliver it for that price! The point is, you never really know what the thoughts are that go through a seller's mind. Catching the seller at the right moment can make all the difference.

Motorcycle

When using your retirement funds it is important to remember a couple of key points. One, that money is not intended for you to spend right now. You can borrow it from yourself, but spending it on toys is not the responsible thing to do. Therefore, be careful. Only pay for what you know you can recover when you sell. Two, the deal is made on the purchase, not the sale. You can only sell something for what the market will bear, so to make money, or at least not spend money, you need to be able to buy your toys for less than market value. Only then will you be able to sell it for at least as much as you paid for it.

If you are patient and get to know the market for whatever you are shopping for, you will find a good deal. When you do, you will be confident because you already looked at so many that you know what a good deal is when you see one. Then make a lowball offer and see what happens. I can tell you that I NEVER pay the market price for a toy. If I can't get it below market, I don't get it at all.

So hop onto craigslist, boattrader, or Facebook marketplace and make an offer!

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Photo by Oli Woodman on Unsplash