Ask Me Anything: How to Determine Value of Collectibles and More

By Mary Hunt

January 28, 2019 4 min read

Dear Mary: My dad passed away and left me a storage tub filled with collectable stamps he purchased from the post office over the years. How can I learn the value of this collection so that I can liquidate it? — Lorna

Dear Lorna: The American Stamp Dealers Association has invaluable information on how to get your collection appraised, including an article titled "Things You Need to Find Out ... Before Selling a Stamp Collection."

More than likely, if this collection is found to have value, it will be valuable to another collector. In that case, expect to get wholesale prices for the items, which could be less than their face value. The wholesale market value will be determined by scarcity and how well the stamps have been protected and preserved.

Check out the ASDA website. The information will help you determine what you have ahead of finding a member dealer in your area. Speaking directly with someone who is qualified and trustworthy is the best way to discover the market value of this collection. Perhaps this way you will also find a willing buyer.

Dear Mary: We have an aging car that is a lemon. We are keeping it going until we can afford a different car. When that time comes, besides our temptation to shove the lemon over a cliff, what should we do with it? In good conscience, I cannot donate it to a charity and take the tax write-off. — Sue Ellen

Dear Sue Ellen: If you feel it is not drivable, just about your only option is to sell it for salvage. Check with a local auto dismantling yard. Depending on the make and model, the yard may decide to "part it out" to make the car slightly more valuable. In that case, the yard will probably accept the complete car. Just don't expect to get much money from the deal.

Dear Mary: Two years ago, my mother loaned us $6,000 to help buy a house. She didn't charge us interest on the loan, as she wasn't earning any at the time. We have paid back $5,000 so far and will have the loan paid in full soon. I insist on paying her interest on this loan. What is a fair rate? And how do I figure interest on this loan? Should I give her 10 percent ($600)? Or would I have paid more, if I'd borrowed the money from a bank? — Brian

Dear Brian: A $6,000 loan at 10 percent interest over 36 months would result in a total payback of $6,970. Interest is calculated each month on the outstanding balance. Or, if you were not making payments, it would be $600 per year, $1,800 total interest over three years.

Granted, your mom could not have earned that rate with the money in a savings account over the past three years. But you could not have gotten an unsecured loan for as little as 10 percent either. Ten percent would be a good deal for both of you.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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