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Sometimes in life, our relationships can really pay off. If we’re willing to listen to and learn from those around us, doors of opportunity can open in ways that we never imagined. In 2007, Andrew Kaslewicz was still in college and already freaking out how he'd pay off debt that he'd accumulated from student loans. His uncle, an experienced antique dealer, heard about his woes and imparted a simple, yet revolutionary concept on his young nephew.
“Gold and silver are money, too.”
This may seem like an obvious statement, but it started Andrew on an incredible journey to pay off debt. To date, he and his wife, Veronica, have paid off $230,000 in debt including student loans, car notes, their wedding, and a massive part of their mortgage. They’ve done it through flipping precious metals that others are overly ready to part with.
After their initial conversation, Andrew’s uncle taught him how to identify valuable gold and silver pieces at estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. He and Veronica, who aside from being spouses are also besties for life, find pieces like necklaces, platters and rings at a pittance, and are then able to resell them at a huge profit since they are well-versed in the true market value. They use the money to pay off debt and have financial freedom.
Back in their first season of flipping, Veronica and Andrew were still dating. She was tagging along for a while, humoring him, but not truly invested in the process. Then, one day, they hit a big win.
“We went to a local rummage sale on the second day for their ‘bag sale,’ when all of the leftover junk is sold by the bag,” Veronica recalls. “Well, Andrew put his metal-identifying knowledge to good use and found a solid sterling silver platter after two days of everyone else passing it by, which we bought with a lot of junk for $5 in our bag and were able to sell for $500. We made that profit money into our bankroll, which was necessary to buy and flip more items over the years.”
That initial $500 served not only to start their hustle, but to kick off an exciting joint hobby that further cemented their relationship and would allow them to pay off debt.
“[I] soon fell in love with the thrill of the hunt for precious metals,” she explains, “the rush of pride and disbelief when someone hands you a hundred dollar bill disguised as a piece of gold and only asks for 50 cents, the eccentric people you run into and the stories that go along with them, and the immense bonding experience that we shared learning this sometimes secretive and closed-off business together.”
Bringing in a huge return on investment wasn’t the only piece of the pay off debt puzzle, though. You can make all the money in the world, but if you consistently spend it, you aren’t going to be any further ahead financially. Andrew and Veronica had always been somewhat frugal, opting out of big parties and big bar tabs in their college years. This became even truer when they started waking up early on the weekends for garage and estate sales. The crack of dawn comes all too early if you’re hungover.
After college, they buckled down even more. They were both working full-time, and they weren’t in love with the lifestyle. “We are best friends,” explains Veronica, “and we decided that this common lifestyle of working 40 hours a week or more and only seeing your loved ones for a few hours a day and on the hectic weekends was not the future that we wanted. So we asked ourselves a very important question: ‘What do we want, an extravagant lifestyle or our time together?’ We decided that we wanted our time.”
“Everything we did and still do is with the same end goal in mind: spend more time together doing things we enjoy with people we love, and spend less time working separately at jobs that don’t fulfill us. That’s why, when it came time to buy a house, we bought one for less than $150K instead of one for $300-400K like the banks might have told us we could ‘afford.’ We just want to be out of debt so that we’re free to try new things, like part-time or casual employment while trying new life paths. You can’t do that when you’re in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Before they moved into their house, which will be fully paid off in October, they made some huge sacrifices to pay off debt and meet their financial goals. The biggest area where they could save money was in housing, so they moved to a rental that was over 100-years-old in a secluded area with difficult access. This rental came with no heating system in the often cold and bitter winters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“We had to start a fire when we wanted the house above 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. The pipes froze, the neighbors were crazy, the access road began eroding down the steep hillside, and about a thousand other problems arose while we lived there. Not many people could have survived a winter there with their sanity intact, but we survived two because we were driven by a common goal: freedom. The sooner we paid our debts off, the sooner we could leave and buy a house. I guess you could say it was purgatory for debt …or maybe just plain hell.”
Going through hell was well worth it, though. Aside from the looming date of complete and total debt freedom, which is now only months away, the couple has found a pure type of peace in living a simpler lifestyle.
“Self-control is much easier because we’ve deprived ourselves and basically lived like we were poor for the last few years,” Veronica shares. “As a result of that, we’ve both learned to live with less, and are surprisingly more content and happy the less objects we have.”
Flipping gold may be a secretive business, but that doesn’t mean that these two aren’t willing to share the pathway to success. They place a strong emphasis on visual reminders and not letting the naysayers get in the way.
“Find something you’re passionate about and figure out a way to make money doing something related to that passion,” urges Veronica. “Dream it up, write it down, and don’t let other people tell you what you can or can’t do. Break your goals into small, logical steps and keep asking yourself if what you’re currently doing is helping you get to the next step. Write your goals on something that you see multiple times a day. We write ours on a dry erase board on our fridge, and modify them as we go.”
The Kaslewiczs’ journey has allowed them to pay off debt and brought them closer to each other and their goals. Because they were willing to learn from the people in their life, they’re richer not only in money, but in the quality time together that they hold so dear. If their journey proves anything, it’s that love and money can be worked on simultaneously and successfully; they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.