What’s the best way to deal with an estate?

When I was getting started in the auction business I occasionally worked for an auctioneer in the area. A family contacted him to sell the estate of a deceased family member who lived near our community. None of the other family lived here. As he began working on preparing the estate for sale he soon discovered the magnitude of the job. The individual’s home literally had a path¬† to walk through with items stacked from floor to ceiling. The garage was the same way, and the family later found a storage unit that was packed as well. What was even more amazing was that most of the collection consisted of valuable items that brought very good prices. It took 17 auctions to sell off that man’s estate!

A neighbor passed away and his son soon contacted me. Again, he did not live in the area and was uncertain what to do with the estate. At the time I was not yet licensed as an auctioneer, but I walked him through his options: have an auction, come each week to hold yard sales until the stuff was done, get a dumpster and throw everything away, try to sell everything online, or just sell the estate to a single buyer who would be responsible for taking everything. The auction made the most sense to the family member so I suggested some auctioneers in the area, and the estate was settled.

Some people fear if they have an auction their items will sell for pennies on the dollar. While that is always a possibility, it seldom happens. I’ve actually seen items sell for more than they could have been purchased new. Usually, quality items bring quality prices, and junk brings junk prices. I tell sellers to not look at what one item may have brought but look at the total sale. While an individual item may bring less than you thought it was worth, chances are the total sale will please the seller. More than once I’ve had executors of estates tell me they never dreamed the estate would bring that much money.

Yard sales take a lot of time to set up, and except for very small estates, will require more than one time to sell off everything. Especially, if you do not live near where the estate is located that can require a lot of travel time. The same is true of selling items online. In either case, you will still have a lot of items left over that will need to be hauled off. Also, don’t make the mistake of selling all the good things yourself and trying to find an auctioneer to sell your junk. Most won’t touch it. We’ll sell your less desirable items only if we can sell the better items as well. I’ve walked away from many potential auctions because that was what the seller had done.

It is possible to sell your estate to an individual buyer, but you must take into account that they will have the expense of moving the estate and storing it until they can sell it. That adds up to a lot of money in labor, fuel, time and storage, and they have to take that into consideration in their offer. Plus, they will be absorbing all the risk. They will also not factor in the sentimental value you may have in certain items. That dresser that belonged to your great-grandmother didn’t belong to anyone else’s great-grandmother. The sentimental value you have for that item is likely far more than what anyone will pay for it. To possible buyers, it’s a dresser period.

An auction is a quick and efficient way of disposing of an estate. It helps the family to have closure at the loss of a loved one. It also helps mitigate some of the grief as you are not having to personally dispose of the items. Someone else is doing that for you.

If you have an estate that you need to sell, I encourage you to contact an auctioneer in your area to see how he or she might be able to assist you. If you live in southern Indiana or northern Kentucky, feel free to contact me. I would love to talk to you about how our company might be able to help you.


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Dreams without action are useless

Whose name comes to mind when I say “Dreamer?” Chances are you know people who spend much of their time dreaming about things they want to do or things that need to be changed, but they never take any action to do either. I have worked with a number of churches to help them identify a new vision for ministry, but many of them never did anything after they developed their vision statement. It went into a folder on someone’s computer and was never heard from again. What a waste of energy and effort!

Visions and dreams are important. They help give an organization or individual focus. It keeps them future-oriented, but only if they actually take action on the dream. Navel-gazers seldom accomplish much. At some point, action has to be taken or the dreaming is just an exercise in futility.

The first step in seeing your dreams become reality is to identify the steps you have to take to achieve them. For instance, let’s say your dream is become the top salesperson in your company. What are the steps you have to take to achieve that dream?

First, you need to know how much in sales the current top salesperson does annually. If you are going to be the top salesperson you need to know the figure you have to meet to achieve that.

Second, you need to know the ratio between sales calls and actual sales and the average sales per customer. For instance, if your company averages a sale for every five sales calls and the average sale is $1,000.00 then you know that you need to make five calls to sell $1,000.00 of your product or service. How many of those $1K sales do you need to be the top salesperson? Take that number and multiply it times 5, and that’s how many sales calls you need to make.

You also want to consider how you might improve that $1,000.00 average sale. What if you could increase your average to $1,500.00? If so, fewer calls will accomplish your goal, or if you keep the same number of sales calls but increase the average sale, you will really be the top salesperson. What added benefits or upsales will help you increase your average? Identify those and you are well on your way to achieving your dream.

This same format works regardless of what your dream might be. It’s a matter of breaking your dream down into bite-size pieces that become more manageable. Doing this doesn’t make it seem as scary or impossible to achieve.

But, none of this matters if you are not willing to do the hard work required of achieving those bite-sized pieces. You have to get boots on the ground, work the phones, make the cold calls, study the assignments, sacrifice and be committed to doing just a little bit more than the next person. After all, the next person is average, and you don’t want to be average. You want to be the top producer. Achieving your dream may require you to make just one more call before you go home each day. Sometimes just a little extra effort enables you to see your dreams fulfilled.

Like everything else in life, the choice is yours. Do you want to see your dream fulfilled badly enough that you will take the action required to accomplish it?

I am in the process of moving this blog to https://thewinningchoice.blogspot.com/. I invite you to join me there for future posts. Please click on the blue FOLLOW button on the right side of the page to get all the articles I will put there. Thank you!
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What are your priorities today?

One of the most important choices we make is what we will do each day of our lives. You may think that decision has already been made for you. You will get up, go to work, do whatever until you go to bed, and then you’ll get up and repeat. That is what too many lives look like. However, even accounting for the hours you are working, you still have a lot of time each day to do with as you please.

Time is like money. You can either spend it or invest it. Spending time is just that. We do things, but at the end of the day we have little show for it. We’ve been busy, but we haven’t accomplished much. The other alternative is that we invest time. By investing time I mean that we do things that truly matter. Those are the things that reflect the priorities we have established for our lives.

So many of us really don’t have any real priorities for our lives. There’s nothing we really want to accomplish so we spend each day going through the motions looking forward to Friday and the weekend we’ll be away from work. That’s not much of a way to live 50-60 years of our lives.

Before I retired I set certain goals each year that I wanted to achieve over the next few months to the next few years, and I determined that each day I would work on at least one of those goals. Some were rather aggressive that required a lot of focus and commitment on my part. Others were less aggressive and were things that could be accomplished fairly quickly and easily. But, they all kept me focused and gave me purpose. I could not afford to waste time if I wanted to accomplish the goals I had set. Those goals formed my priorities for living each day of my life.

Those goals gave me the focus I needed to earn two graduate degrees and publish eight books. They enabled me to get out of debt and save towards retirement. Those goals reminded me of the important of spending more time with my family setting aside date nights each week with my wife and taking vacations together. In short, that goal-setting is what allowed me to accomplish much of what I’ve done in my life.

There are a number of things you have to do to live out the priorities you have set for you life. Perhaps the most important one is that you have to control your calendar. If you don’t own your calendar, someone else will, and their priorities for your life won’t be the same you have. I made sure my priorities found their way into my daily calendar before opening it up to anyone else. That meant our weekly date night was written into the calendar weeks in advance so I could tell anyone who wanted to meet with me at that time that I already had a previous appointment. When working on my educational goals I set aside time in my calendar for reading as a great deal of reading was required for every class. Every goal was programmed into the calendar, and each of them were tracked on a daily basis to ensure that I was not falling into a bad habit of spending time instead of investing it.

So, what are your priorities today? Are they priorities you have set for yourself or are you trying to fit your life into everyone else’s demands and priorities? Is it your priority to work on your goals for the day, or are you going to help everyone achieve their goals? You get to choose that every day, but, like all choices, there will be consequences.

This blog is being moved to https://thewinningchoice.blogspot.com/. That is why I have published very little on this site in recent weeks. Please go to the new site and click on the blue FOLLOW button on the right side of the page to continue to receive helpful articles like this one. Thank you!

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How do you deal with the challenges in your life?

Check out my latest post here.

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How can you stay employable?

You will find this article at my new blog. Go to https://thewinningchoice.blogspot.com/2020/05/how-can-you-stay-employable.html to check it out. Be sure to click on the blue FOLLOW button on the right to see every blog. Thank you.

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Check out my latest post on my new blog

As I mentioned yesterday, I started a new blog, and the posts you would read here on WordPress is now at the new one. I invite my WordPress followers to join me on the new site. Be sure to click on the blue FOLLOW button so you can catch each new post. Thank you so much for your support!

You can check out today’s post at https://thewinningchoice.blogspot.com/2020/05/what-do-you-want-most.html.

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New blog

I am gong to move a lot of the content from this blog to a new one I started this morning. The new blog will be called “Choices.” This blog started to promote an auction business I began, but it has transformed over the past few months to something different. I’ve been writing much more about the choices we make that impact so many of the important areas of our lives. Most of the people liking these posts and following this page have done so as a result of these more recent articles. It just made sense to me to have a blog that was intentional about focusing on these choices.

I encourage you to check out the page and follow it by clicking on the blue FOLLOW button on the right side. If you think it will help people you know who are struggling with some of their choices, invite them to check out the articles as well.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be transferring some of the articles from this page to the new one. I will probably be tweaking the page as well.

You can read the first article at https://thewinningchoice.blogspot.com/2020/05/welcome.html.

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Patience pays dividends

A lot of states are starting to reopen some of their businesses and other activities. This reopening will be done in stages to see how it impacts the number of coronavirus cases. Most people are anxious for this to happen sooner rather than later. I’m one of them, but we also need to be cautious and move slowly.

My wife and I are in our 70s, and, like most people our age, we have some underlying health issues. That puts us in the high risk category for this disease. We’ve stayed close to home during this pandemic. I go to the store for groceries and occasionally run out for some take-out, but that’s been about it. We take a drive once a week just to get out of the house. We’ve spent a lot of time reading and sitting on our back deck since this has all started.

Now that things are starting to reopen, we don’t plan to just run out and start doing things again. We want to take it slowly. We’ve avoided the coronavirus so far and don’t want to do something stupid now and have problems.

Being patient pays off in many ways. How many times does someone get “new car fever” and buy a car they can’t afford with payments for the next seven years? How often do people take out a home equity loan to do some remodeling and then struggle to keep their home in the next recession? How many people do you know who wanted a relationship so badly they settled for the first person who took an interest in them only to regret it later? How many people pulled their investments out when the stock market started to go down only to now realize that as it goes back up they have to buy back in at higher prices? This list could go on and on to cover just about every aspect of modern day life.

I should tell you that by nature I am not a patient person. I often say that I am a type AAA+ personality. I want things done yesterday, and this has got me in a lot of trouble in the past. I’ve had to force myself over the years to slow down and not rush into things. I am still learning patience and have a far way to go before graduating.

But, part of the lessons I’ve learned is that being patient pays big dividends. It keeps you out of debt because you’re not buying things you can’t afford. If you want something bad enough you save the money and pay cash for it. This alone frees up so many thing that keep most people tied down. Being patient helps you in your relationships. You enter into relationships with those people you’ve learned to trust, and you maintain those relationships despite minor glitches along the way. My wife and I have been married 53 years because we’ve learned to be patient with each other. Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Be patient with them.

Being patient means you don’t pull out your investments every time there is a blip in the market. If your investment has a good 10-year track record, chances are it will be good over the next years as well. If it doesn’t have a good 10-year track record you probably shouldn’t own it anyway.

I spent seven years earning my college degree. At the time, I was married, working full-time in a factory and pastoring a small church. Obviously, I was a part-time student. It might have taken me longer to finish school, but when I graduated I had zero student loan debt. I didn’t have to spend the next 20 years of my life paying back student loans. I did the same thing with two graduate degrees. Some people leave school with $100,000+ in student loan debt. For me, it was three degrees and zero debt because I paid for it as I went. My patience paid off big time.

I could tell you of many times when I wasn’t patient and just jumped in with both eyes closed. Those times ended in disasters that sometimes took years to recover from. As I said, I’ve had to learn patience. I wish I had learned it sooner.

We’ve all heard “Slow and steady wins the race,” but we often don’t live that motto. Learn to be patient. Take your time. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, at least right this moment. Study your options and move when it’s right for you. You will probably find your patience will pay you great dividends.

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Failure comes before success

No one likes to fail, but maybe we should. No, I don’t mean we should intentionally look for ways to fail in life. I’m suggesting we need a different perspective on failure. Failure is the price we pay for success. Few people become successful on their first try. Often, it requires a number of failures before we find the key to our success. John Maxwell, in his great book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success reports that the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally find success.

Management expert, Peter Drucker, once said that “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote to a top-level job a man who was not making mistakes . . . otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.” Drucker understood that the only people who never fail are those who never do anything, and those people will never be able to lead others or enjoy good success.

As a young man I was fearful of failure. There would be things I wanted to do but would not even try because I was afraid I would fail. Guess what? I did fail. I failed to do the things I wanted to do because of my fears. That is how a lot of dreams are lost. We dream big dreams but never attempt them due to our fear of failing.

Anyone in a position of leadership will be required to make tough decisions. Some people are so afraid of making the wrong decision they suffer from “analysis paralysis.” They try to make sure they have all the facts before they make a decision. Until they have sufficient information to guarantee a good decision, they won’t make one. The problem is that we will never have all the information we might want, and some of the information we do have will be wrong. In the meantime, the decision doesn’t get made.

Failure is seldom final unless we decide to make it so. Most of the people who failed didn’t really fail; they simply gave up. They quit, sometimes right at the edge of achieving success. A few years ago I was going through a rough time. I was involved in a project that was failing. It seemed like nothing I did made it any better. One of the things I kept reminding myself was “It’s always too early to give up.” Whether it was determination or stupidity on my part, I stayed with the project until I found a way to make it work.

The way we fail forward is to learn something in the process of failing that can be applied later. We can choose whether to learn something from our failures and grow in that process, or we can choose to let failure defeat us. When a small business we owned a few years ago failed I learned a lot of lessons! I now apply those lessons to my current auction business. I even wrote a book describing the lessons I learned hoping that it would help others avoid the mistakes I made that closed the business. That book is Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business. This eBook is only $4.99. To avoid even one of the mistakes mentioned in the book will save you far more than the cost of the book.

Life is made up of many choices. One choice each of us have to make is how to handle the failures that come into our lives. If you’re wise, you will embrace those failures and learn from them. It’s the only way to achieve the level of success you want.

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Our worldview and the choices we make

A worldview can be simply described as the way we understand the world in which we live. Each of us has a worldview. Some of us have given careful thought about our worldview while others have formed a worldview through our life’s experiences without really thinking too much about it. Some of us have changed our worldview over time, and we now look at the world differently than we did previously. Certainly, our worldviews change as we go through various transition times in our lives.

The worldview of a small child is much different than that of a mature adult, or at least we hope it is. Our worldview can change with marriage or the birth of our children or a religious conversion.

My worldview is shaped by being a conservative, evangelical Christian. I hold to certain core values of my faith that influences how I understand the world in which I live. Perhaps your worldview draws from a belief that there is no God, and that will give you a much different perspective on the world.

Today’s post isn’t designed to determine which worldview, of which there are many,¬† is the right one, but how our worldviews influence the choices we make. Virtually every choice we make will be determined by our worldview. For instance, in business we make certain ethical choices about how we will conduct business based on our worldview. We will determine who we marry, the type of career we will pursue, our financial goals, and many other choices by the worldview we hold at the time. These are important choices that not only have a life-long impact on our lives but also affect the lives of other people.

This is why it is so important that we spend time thinking about our worldview. How do you see the world around you? Who has the ultimate authority over your life? What is your basis for knowing truth, and how does the truth you hold to impact your life? Are you happy with the person you see every morning in the mirror? Is your worldview producing the kind of life you always hoped to live?

These are not merely philosophical questions. They go the very core of who we are as human beings, and their answers will shape our lives for years to come.

I have been emphasizing that we are free to make the choices we want to make, but we need to realize that behind those choices lie our worldview. Perhaps it would be more honest to say that we are free to develop the worldview we prefer knowing that it will then determine many of the choices we will later make.

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