Turning a Depreciating Asset into an Appreciating Asset … the Hard Way

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Goodbye Old Friend!

About a week ago, a drunk driver attempted to remodel my much beloved Jeep Grand Cherokee with his 2003 Mercedes, by inserting it into the back end of my Jeep, which was parked in front of my house. It didn’t work and, in medical terms, both patients succumbed to their injuries. Thus began an insurance odyssey that culminated in a brand new business project.

I’m grateful that no-one was injured, and I’m even more grateful that the driver didn’t make it out into the main roads, where someone else could easily been hurt. But the payout on the Jeep was small. Really small.

I don’t know how many of you have had an older vehicle destroyed, but if you have, you know exactly what happens. The insurance agent shows up, makes all kinds of sympathetic noises, and then tells you that according to N.A.D.A. (the National Association of Automotive Dealers) your vehicle is worth, well, nada. $1500 worth of maintenance in the past 6 months? Good for you, but it doesn’t count – maintenance is expected. A ½ inch rust spot caused when someone shot your vehicle with a pellet gun? That’s a $200 deduction off the settlement price. Don’t like the offer? Too bad – there’s not a lot you can do (at least to the best of my knowledge. If you’ve got info, please comment on this blog to get it out there!).

Now what? I didn’t want to replace the Jeep. I have another vehicle, and anyone who’s read any of Diane’s books or is working on their wealth-building skills knows that vehicles look like assets but aren’t. No matter how you finance them, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be upside down the minute you take the vehicle off the dealership lot and drive it home.

I wanted to use the money to create an appreciating asset, that will go up in value. Real estate is an obvious choice … but the market in Reno is still in free-fall. Our foreclosure rate is one of the highest into the country, and house prices are forecast to continue falling until the end of next year. Besides, it was a really little pay-out!

I was talking (okay, kind of crabbing) to Diane about the situation when a new Internet business idea was born. It grew quickly, as people offered up suggestions and enhancements. The feedback has been positive from everyone I’ve discussed the idea with – and the settlement will more than pay for the cost of building the site.

This is one of those stories that doesn’t have an ending. I’m excited about the new business’s potential, and about the idea of taking a lemon and making lemonade. I’ll follow up from time to time and let you all know how things are going.

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