Beeminder Review – Kicked in the Butt

We all have goals. It can be weight loss, not wasting parts of your day, or a random eBay listing goal. I’ve been using Beeminder to keep track of my listing goals since the beginning of the year.

Queen Bee eBay Beeminder

I’m that little worker bee in the bottom right corner who’s getting trampled.

I already talked about the “what” behind Beeminder, but never actually discussed what happens when you haven’t planned well and you end up having to shell out some money. Not the physical transition of money, but all of the emotions that I’ve gone through during this time.

1. It stings. You not only have to pay Beeminder – I fell off the road on two goals and had to pay $5 twice, but you also get the feeling of “I did something wrong.”

Beeminder provides awesome tracking, a great amount of support, an awesome community, and new features coming out the wazoo. Even with all of this awesomeness, it comes down to you not hitting your goal.

Most of the time, when you’re not able to stick with a goal or resolution, it’s very easy to let it fall to the wayside and forget about it. You just stop doing X even though you felt great when you were consistently doing X.

Why is this? For me, it’s because life gets in the way. All this other stuff comes up. Travel, family visits, yard work, meeting a bunch of contractors, potty training, etc.

These are all things which are important but not planned for in my “ideal week.”

When it gets hectic like this, it’s hard to look at the bigger picture and continue planning ahead. You’re down in the weeds. Beeminder consistently reminds you saying “HEY, DON’T FORGET THAT GOAL!”

When I saw that I wasn’t going to be able to hit my target without losing some serious amounts of sleep, I was able to say “Is it worth $5 for me to do this?” The answer was definitely no. The next time though, it’ll be $10 if I fall off. That might make me think twice. And if not, then the next amount will.

With all of my little goals, I sometimes feel like a person who is taking psychiatric medication and falls of the wagon. Whether it’s working out, the weight loss goal, or not wasting time on the internet, I’ll say “I’ve been doing so well for a long time now. I feel great! I can let this thing (lounging on the couch, eating bad foods, or wasting time on the internet) back in. I can control it this time!”

In the end, I don’t do that well, and I suffer for it. But that’s the best part with Beeminder. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The system has an awesome feature called “take a break.” I’m not sure why I was so hesitant about using this. If I had just said “I have many weeks of on/off vacation and won’t be able to list like I wanted to” all would have been well. Instead, I blindly went ahead and hit a wall. I didn’t have enough time, energy, willpower, etc. to keep going.

I’ve since, added in a few breaks since I know we will be traveling a bit more, and it still kind of feels like cheating. I know it’s actively planning against the real world, but I definitely feel like I’m not going full-bore towards my goal. This is what I need to be OK with.

So what next? The two goals which I derailed on were eBay listings and 1 weekly blog post. I try to post on Mondays and missed out. I was feeling overwhelmed. I was trying to fit too much into my day, and it wasn’t working.

So, the new plan is to continue posting here weekly but take a break from listing on eBay. I have to do a few items just to get up to my planned break, but have a busy month coming up. Once I get to actually enjoy my summer vacations without having eBay over my head, then I’ll work on listing my back inventory. It can’t all happen at once!

Beeminder Stings but It Hurts So Good

And this is where I’d like to end. I would have originally said that I failed (or maybe I’m just mad about paying someone for me failing), but really, I feel more in control than ever.

Beeminder has taken out a lot of the guilt I normally feel when I don’t hit a goal. Instead, I planned for something and then didn’t execute so I paid a price. I’m not just whining about it to my wife, I’m actually able to regroup and re-evaluate based on the reasons for my not hitting the target.

In this case, I was too busy and didn’t use the options that I had available to me to fix that. Going forward, I’m going to be more realistic about what I can accomplish especially taking into account my vacations.

I liken this to YNAB for budgeting. Plan, execute, and roll with the punches. Only if you don’t do what you said you’d do (and subsequently poorly manage your time/goals/etc.), then you’ll get stung. But it’s totally worth it.

Image Credit: Levi Asay

Vintage Skilcraft Retractable “US Government” Ball Point Pens

Back to a regular flip!

Vintage Collectible US Government Skilcraft Pens eBay

I feel bad, but I imagine whoever bought these wears a pocket protector…

I bought these pens on a chance. They were in one of those little bread tins with some other drawing tools and small toys. It was “half off day” at an estate sale, so I got the whole tin for a quarter! There was even an identical loose pen in the tin at the bottom. Basically a no risk buy.

After looking them up on eBay, I lucked out and found a previous seller who ran an auction and sold a box of 11 for $14.95 + 4.95 S/H. We all know how much I love auctions (not), so I figured that I’d be able to list them higher.

The seller did have a nice little note saying “The pens were “were individually tested. With a little coaxing they all produced ink and wrote.”

With this in mind, I ended up testing all 25 pens. 18 of the pens ended up working. I marked the 7 that didn’t work with painter’s tape (doesn’t leave a residue) so I didn’t want to forget which pens had issues.

I was on the fence about whether I should list them all as a set or in two lots.

Vintage Pens – What Category?

Skilcraft U.S. Government Pen eBay

I’m making back some of the tax dollars that my grandparents paid to have this pen made! Ironic?

The other little “tip” I got from the previously sold listing was the category. I would have chosen Collectibles>Other Collectible Ball Point Pens if I had to guess.

The other seller listed them in Collectibles>Militaria>Vietnam (1961-75)>Original Period Items>Personal, Field Gear. I’d never thought of putting a pen in this category. It’s a much smaller niche, but for anyone who has sold military items, it’s a very passionate group!

I ended up splitting the lot into two listings. Both were labeled as “unissued.” The complete/working set was listed new at $44.99 or best offer, and the 2nd was $22.99 or best offer. Both had free shipping, and the 2nd set was listed as 12+1 unissued but I noted the set as used. I explained that they were unissued and how only 6 worked, but figured I’d throw in the extra 7 (marked with painter’s tape) to let the buyer try their luck.

So what offer did I end up taking on my quarter investment?

NONE! They both sold at full price within a week!

  • Purchase price – $0.25
  • End Selling Price – $44.99+22.99 = 67.98
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $9.56

Total Profit:  $58.17

These were some ideal sales. Easy to ship (very light), high ROI, and quick mover.

On top of that, I appreciate clothing because of the ease of listing, the routine shipping sizes (most fit in a poly bag or a padded flat rate mailer), and easy to store, but these types of sales are what I really enjoy. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough, whereas finding a cool The Territory Ahead shirt is just a little “routine.” You know you’ve been doing this for a while when you aren’t excited about a $20 profit!

That’s the other issue with only looking for the “cool” items. You can go to 20 garage sales and only find one or two items like this one. I can find clothes to re-sell at almost any place I go!

I guess this is a bit of a conundrum. I only have so many hours in the day, so I’m going try to stick with my regular model: buy clothes (but only the good ones) and still check out the cool stuff. Additionally, I’ll take a shot almost any time for a quarter!

Best Offer Rocks

I think this flip underscores the importance of listing an item high, but having the best offer option. A set of 11 unused pens sold for $20 at auction. I sold 6 working (plus the 7 that didn’t work) for $2 more than that, and a full box for over double.

Was my set any different? Sure. One of my sets was worse and one was slightly better. But what do you have to lose when you list it high? Worst-case it sits for a bit. Best case, it goes for full price. Normal case is that you get somewhere in between.

In my eyes, it’s still better than what I ever got in an auction! I just feel like the auction is like an slot machine. You end up losing a lot more money than you make.

May 2015 Profits – Almost There!

 Well, it’s the first post of the month. That means a sales update!
May eBay Profit Yardsale Flipping

April floppers bring May shoppers?

To recap, I set a goal at the beginning of the year to hit 10K in profit in 2015. Last year, I made just shy of $5,000 in profit.

I then pulled a number right out of my butt hat and said “I bet I could double that!”

There have been some ups and downs (mostly downs) when it comes to hitting my target profit of $833.33 per month. Check out below to see if I hit my numbers this month!

Apr-15  May-15 Total YTD
Income
Blog Referral 12.00 10.46 62.17
Sales 903.64 1289.08 4921.02
Shipping Income 61.36 37.70 254.50
Returns -35.99 0.00 -206.97
Expense
eBay Fees 93.22 147.66 539.34
PayPal Fees 28.82 44.55 173.33
Shipping Costs 122.63 169.43 711.67
Cost of Goods Sold 80.48 118.21 454.00
Mileage 8.22 0.00 66.52
Travel Expenses 1.00 0.00 1.00
Utilities 25.35 25.36 126.76
Amazon Fees 35.77 27.88 101.18
Office Supplies 0.00 0.00 79.02
Office Expense 0.00 0.00 374.94
Advertising 0.00 0.00 47.00
Other Expenses 27.00 0.00 50.75
Profit / Loss 518.52 804.15 2,305.21

Close but no cigar.

Things to note:

This was still my highest month of sales and profits all year even if I came up $30 short of my goal.

I’ve consistently listed 15 items per week since instituting a carrot and stick method.

I’ve stopped a lot of the frivolous spending. Like my awesome Microsoft Surface 2 RT. It’s fantastic, I use it every time I’m taking measurements, but looking back, it was not a necessary expense.

Even though it’s garage sale season, I haven’t been going crazy. We held our own sale, made some money, and I’m being more selective in what I buy.

I’m worried about the next few months. I’m traveling a lot – I have a fishing trip this weekend, a work trip to Europe for a week, my wife is graduating, and then there’s a week long trip on the 4th of July.

During those vacations, I’m going to try a little experiment and do the Scavenger Life Method TM. I’m not going to put my store on vacation. I’m just going to update my handling time from 1 day to whatever my vacation length is.

This means that I won’t get the discount on final value fees on anything that sells since my handling time won’t be 1 day (Top Rated Seller benefit), but the positive is that all of my inventory is available, and I don’t have to deal with the messy vacation settings.

May Sale

In my eBay store, I had a 10% off sale for the Memorial Day weekend and the following week. I’m not sure if it was worth it.

Yes, I did hit my highest sales all year. The thing is, I felt like I was selling under value. $35 shirt now at $31.50 after an offer mostly went down to $25. Normally I sell my $35 shirts around $30, so that extra $5 per sale wasn’t coming in. But then again, I sold more and I bought the inventory at the right price. So can I be mad? Absolutely not.

To make myself feel better about this, I’m going to stop offer Best Offer’s on items that I list below some dollar amount. I try to target over $20 profit per item, so I figure that it’s not worth it.

In depth market research (not really) has shown definitively (again, not really) that the lower dollar items is where you get nickeled and dimed. After haggling, back and forth, i’ll say that $25 is my lowest offer I can accept. 2 seconds later, I’ll get an offer back for $24. Of course I have to take it, but that’s the kind of stuff I want to avoid!

Let’s see if I can keep the sales rolling through June!

Image Credit: Sakurai Midori

3 R’s Get a Face Lift with Online Re-Selling!

Reduce, re-use, recycle.

Recycle Reduce Re-Use eBay Re-Sell

This always makes me think of that Rocko’s Modern Life song

The 3 R’s help ease the burden that we’re putting on the environment. I’m all for helping the environment, but I think that these 3 R’s aren’t enough. eBay has given us another option!

Re-Sell

I think that adding re-selling as the 4th R helps in two ways

  1. Removing an item from the waste stream. It gives it a chance to be re-located to someone who really wants it. That’s why I have no qualms about re-selling something that I bought for $1 for $30+. This was an item that would have been donated (if it was lucky) or just thrown out in the trash. I’m giving it a chance to be appreciated and cared for again. It’s one less thing that’s just disposable in a worl
  2. It pads your bank account. Of course we have to think of this as a positive, but we also have to remember that the money alone isn’t the end game. Obviously money can’t buy happiness, but it definitely helps you if you’re using it well. With my financial goals, any little bit helps. Additionally, we’re able to keep saving money while also preparing for house projects.

eBay has added this 4th venue for us to reduce our environmental footprint, but we still incorporate the other 3 R’s into our daily lifestyle.

Reduce

I’m always trying to get things out of our house. Now, the hardest part for me is the eBay piles! When I got started re-selling on eBay (and Amazon), it was mostly things from around my house. Dishes, textbooks, and video games that were just collection dust.

These things not only added to the clutter in our home, but they also added a lot of negative emotions. I felt some sort of resentment that we didn’t have enough time to use these things but still had to store/manage them. Joshua Becker’s description of his epiphany about minimalism really hit home.

So what do we do to reduce?

  • We try to remove toys that aren’t being played with.
  • We purged last month with a big garage sale. Then at the end, we either donated or threw out everything else.
  • We’re also working on the garage space and getting rid of some of the clutter to give it more of an open feel
  • I’ve re-organized my eBay storage space and Beeminder has really kept me on target for moving the piles. I swear that in a few months, I won’t have anything to list if I keep up this pace! When I get there, we’ll have to re-evaluate our plans for this hobby. Maybe I could have a store with 500 items and I can just try to replenish at that point. Who knows!

Re-Use

Even though we may not only be re-using things that are ours, we are always looking for a deal. We are big on buying things used on craigslist or at garage sales, and not just the things that I can re-sell!

Just this weekend we bought a huge amount of diapers and 3 tubs of kids clothes all for $55.

Toddler Clothes Craigslist Buy

The Game Stop bag was full of diapers! I also had the lady throw in a vintage LL Bean windbreaker! And no, the beer was not from a garage sale. :)

Side note: I made an offer of $40 for the clothes, and she accepted quickly. That’s 1 tub of 3T (126 pieces) and two of 4T (haven’t counted these yet but at least the same amount as the 3T), all seasons! ~300 items for $40 = $0.13 per piece of clothing.

On top of that, we also bought some used weight equipment, and I plan on getting rid of my YMCA membership. With my wife being pregnant, we just don’t make it to the gym as much as we’d like. I’m building a home gym using mostly used equipment, and it will pay for itself by the end of the year.

The hard part is doing the gym on a tight budget and a tight space. Since I’m buying used (but high quality), I know that I can recoup some money in the future if I ever needed to unload the gym equipment.

My daughter’s bed was a Craigslist buy that was sanded and repainted by my wonderful wife. We just threw on some small adjustable handles (they fit the odd sized holes that were in these drawers) and the set looks brand new. I can really appreciate the people who routine re-purpose/restore antiques or solid furniture.

A lot of time and sweat equity went into the bed, but every time my wife and I see it, we get a great sense of accomplishment. We took this thing which could have easily been thrown out and gave it new life!

Recycle

We are avid recyclers. Not as crazy as we could be, but I like to think we have a nice happy medium.

The previous owner did have a composter that we aren’t using. I’ll need to clean it out and figure out how to get rid of any extra compost once it’s all ready (we don’t have a large lot and have a very small garden area).

So there you have it. I’ve added re-selling as the 4th R but also realize that we can’t forget about the other 3.

Side Note 2: I know this post didn’t come out at 6AM Monday, but the Memorial Day weekend was full of family and fun. Need a break sometimes!

Memorial Day sale – After listening to Amazing*Taste’s interview with the people over at Scavenger Life, I decided to try my hands on an eBay sale. In next week’s monthly re-cap, we’ll see if it helped pad my May numbers!

Image Credit: Kevin Dooley

eBay Flops – Crap I shouldn’t have bought

I don’t want this site to turn into a Facebook account that’s missing that authentic vibe so we’re going to bare all today.

Belly Flop eBay

I cannot wait for our community pool to open!

Flop!

Warning: This post is going to be all over the place, but that’s because I have a lot of material that I screw up on! There’s plenty of items that I think will sell for a lot of $$ but end up just being a big fat flop. These mini experiments are great lessons for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to help you avoid my mistakes.

I guess that’s the hard part of this hobby. I want to find the things that are worth a lot of money, but I also want to be safe about it. The key here is to buy low.

I don’t have to like doing it, but it doesn’t kill my profits if I have to re-donate one or two $2 items.

Luckily, we had our community garage sale last weekend and were able to recoup some of the costs but we wary: some of this is leftover crap that people at a garage sale wouldn’t even take for free!

Longaberger

One thing I don’t have a picture of is a butt-load of Longaberger items. For anyone who’s not in the know, these are baskets and little fabric liners and charms that people collect.

They are a multi-level marketing company, and a lot of people have the leftovers in their houses since they don’t sell the stuff anymore.

I have bought a few lots over the years and have done well. The thing is, they don’t sell for much, and they take a good amount of work to identify. They’re super easy to ship but I’ve found that I just don’t enjoy them.

I unloaded about 3 or 4 for $2 a piece at the garage sale and then sold the rest to one guy for $40. This was after picking through and listing the best though, so I’m pretty happy with that money.

Some sell for ~$20 but most them only go for $6-10. This is way below my price threshold, so I’ve moved away from them.

And yes, I could have lotted them together on eBay too but again, I just can’t stand them!

Side note: These are not for me but part of that is one of the town homes we looked at had a Longaberger themed room. We had put in an offer and were having nightmares about trying to remove the basket themed wallpaper. Yeah, you read the right! Let’s just say that Longaberger is leaving a bad taste in my mouth…

Princess Vera Wang
Princess Vera Wang Cardigan eBay

The leaves/hair on it are from being out at the garage sale all day! Or maybe I used it to wipe the floor of our dining room after our daughter eats.

Apparently this is a girls clothing brand, not women’s (hence the princess – give me a break, this is all new to me!). And the women’s doesn’t sell for that much either!

I bought this cardigan a week prior to our garage sale for $1, realized it wasn’t a good purchase, and then tried to re-sell it back for the same price. No dice.

Ended up just donating it. Let’s just say I will NEVER forget that Princess Vera Wang is not a brand that I want to keep selling.

Fabric Lot
Fabric Lot eBay

I saw this box and thought it was my retirement!

I had really high hopes for this fabric. Then I realized that I had a huge moving box full of tons of different types when I had no clue what I was doing. I definitely had my pair of thrifting goggles on when I was at this garage sale.

I had listened to a Scavenger Life episode about identifying fabric and lo’ and behold, listening isn’t the best way to learn about fabric. I think I need to go to Michaels and start feeling all of the different types.

Regardless, there were a lot of moth holes in the fabric (I realized it when I got home after purchasing them), so it really wasn’t worth a ton anyways. A lady had closed up her Etsy store and was liquidating. In the end, it’s OK because I sold a Filson vest for $100 and have a messenger bag up for $150 from this yard sale, so I’ve already made my money back and will make a nice profit in the end.

On top of this, a nice lady was rummaging through the box when we had given up and put a “free” sign out. She was really stoked but would not take the whole box no matter how hard we pushed it.

Vintage Maternity Compression Stockings
Vintage Maternity Compression Stockings

Who wouldn’t want maternity compression stockings from the 90s that require a garter? Pregnant women love wearing garters!!!

These actually do sell on eBay, but not for the $30 tag price. The issue for me is that there were 2 stickers on each one, and I hate peeling off stickers. This is another reason that I’m not into FBA. It’s a pain in the ass, and the goo gone just stinks.

A nice old lady inquired about them, and my wife told her that she could take as many as she wanted for $1. She only took one! They were $2 a piece from the thrift store so this one hurt more than most.

Weight Lifting Belt

This belt was bought a few weeks before for $2. I sold it again at my garage sale for the same price! I’ll take it.

Weight Lifting Belt eBay

This had no brand name. You want to get the vintage Made in USA ones if you’re going to re-sell it!

Lessons Learned

With all of these flops, I think Mrs. 1500 sums it up best with this comment on my Maniac Monday re-cap

Is there any way you can slow down while shopping and really check out the product before you buy?

 

Of course there is. I can sit here and make a ton of excuses why I try to do this but the reality is taking chances is what makes this hobby fun. I’m going to refine the process as I go, just like any other business.

For example, out shopping for a tie yesterday at Goodwill for an upcoming wedding and I actually I stopped at the space where you put clothes back on the rack after trying them on to look through my entire cart!

Pro Tip: You can find some really good clothes on the rack outside of the changing booths!

I actually put a jacket back (man it was hard) because of some issues with it. I went through each item to really decide if I wanted to spend the money on it. The jacket was a vintage Mani by Giorgio Armani Wool/Cashmere blend trench coat, but it had tons of moth holes and I couldn’t imagine someone wanting to wear one. This was a hard one because the brand is just so rare and high-end.

Would you have bought the jacket for $6?

Feel free to share any of your flops in the comments!

 

 

Woman’s World Magazine – Interview

Well, it’s official. I’ve hit the big time.

documWoman's World Magazine Garage Sale eBay Flipping A Dollar

No, I’m not the garage sale millionaire. That’s Aaron LaPedis.

Maria from Woman’s World Magazine reached out for an interview about buying and re-selling garage sale items on eBay, and of course I said “YES!”

I was really nervous about the whole thing. I’d heard of famous people having their words twisted by reports. Well, it turns out that this is overblown – probably trying to add more drama to their lives. We all know that famous people need more drama.

I don’t know why I was worried. The interview went really smooth, and Maria got some great tips for beginner eBay re-sellers.

She combined some of my tips and some from Aaron LaPedis – author of The Garage Sale Millionaire to have pretty helpful article.

If you have $1.79 to spare, check out the Woman’s World Magazine that’s out now (cover date 18May2015), or at least read it while you’re in the checkout lane.

Don’t worry. I won’t let all this fame and fortune go to my head!

Happy Mother’s Day

We’ll take a break today to thank all of the the mothers out there. They have a job that doesn’t come with a lot of thanks and have to take the brunt of the pain in life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers-day-48957_640

That one day in May where you hope that someone makes sure to remind you that it’s coming!

On top of Mother’s day, we’re also announcin that my wife and I are expecting a 2nd daughter!

Another little flipper. We’re really excited and are happy that we don’t have to buy (or store) a second set of clothes!

To My Wife

My rock, my best friend, and someone I couldn’t (and wouldn’t ever want to) imagine living without. You keep me grounded when I need it, encourage me even if I’m out in left field, listen when I need to vent, and love me even when you’re not having a good day.

I’ve never met someone who makes it so easy to say “I’m sorry” to when I’ve been a jerk.

You put up with me and all of my quirks (like my eBay hobby and this blog!).

You seem to have a well of never ending love for our daughter even when she’s being a jerk.

The amazing thing about this woman is that she’s done the above while completing graduate school over a 7 year period (she’s going to be a Doctor Flippette Esquire). For anyone taking notes, that’s a marriage, one birth, and another one on the way all while completing grad school!

And then there’s me who complains when I have to list a few eBay items or throw some words on a website. It’s pretty ridiculous when you look at her accomplishments.

I love you with all of my heart and know that meeting you on the first day of high school was the best possible thing to happen to me. You are just fantastic.

To My Mom

The other important woman in my life is my mom.

She put up with me during my teenage years. I can only hope that I have 1/10th of the understanding that she had. Teenagers can be kind of annoying (putting it lightly).

Thank you for dealing with my picky eating. For anyone wondering, I didn’t eat vegetables until I was early 20’s. How the hell did she deal with that?

You’ve shown me what it’s like to be kind to people even when it’s not easy and that I need to have fun and enjoy life!

You’ve been there during my ups and downs and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without you!

I love you!

About Me

With all of this personal stuff, I also wanted to let my readers know that I’ve finally put in place my About Me page.

As a quick overview, I’m a Millenial who’s debt free minus the mortgage and have plans of “early” retirement – the goal is 40.

I have 10 years to hit this goal, but I’m not in a big rush.

In the end though, I realize that I wouldn’t be where I am today without both of these wonderful women, and really, early retirement is a goal but family is what makes the world go round.

So please make sure to wish your mother/wife/grandmother/partner/important family friend a Happy Mother’s day!

Image Credit: Pixabay

April 2015 Profits – Love Re-Stocking Fees


Another month in the books! Spring has been a little weird around here in Maryland.

It’s gone from winter, to spring for 2 days, then right to summer. Then back to winter (it actually snowed on Saturday last weekend), a week of spring, and now we’re going to have a high of 86 today.

Basically, I’ve gone from wearing my winter jacket to shorts within a span of a week!

But hey, all of this means that it’s garage sale season, and I’m already enjoying the deals out there! I just need to keep my purchases to a minimum and really be buying with purpose.

April Profits by the Numbers

Yard_Sale_Northern_CA_April_2005

Anyone see something they’d like to buy from here? Those snow boards look pretty fantastic (this picture is circa 2005).

Mar-15  Apr-15 Total YTD
Income
Blog Referral 33.71  12.00  51.71
Sales 836.42  903.64*  3,631.94
Shipping Income 92.59  61.36  216.80
Returns -84.99  -35.99**  -206.97
Expense
eBay Fees 92.93 93.22  391.68
PayPal Fees 30.92 28.82  128.78
Shipping Costs 147.36 122.63  542.24
Cost of Goods Sold 70.69 80.48  335.79
Mileage 35.08 8.22  66.52
Travel Expenses 0.00 1.00  1.00
Utilities 25.35 25.35  101.40
Amazon Fees 13.69 35.77  73.30
Office Supplies 58.37 0.00  79.02
Office Expense 0.00 0.00  374.94
Advertising 10.00 0.00  47.00
Other Expenses 0.00 27.00  50.75
Profit / Loss 387.34 518.52  1,501.06

Things to note:

* I seem to be right around that $900 in sales per month. This proves to me that eBay growth definitely isn’t linear. I’ve gone from ~200 items up to 300 and have only increased my income incrementally.

To illustrate, the people over at Scavenger Life like to net $1500+ per week, so that’s ~6k a month. This is on ~4,000 items in their store though! They have 6x as much sales as me but have 13x as many items in their store.

**I’ve put in a 20% re-stocking fee for all of my items. This helps recoup some of my costs from offering Free Shipping.

I sold a Pendleton shirt that I shipped to NY for $5.35 (padded flat rate mailer). It was returned due to not fitting. So here’s the math on it (ignoring original purchase price and eBay/Paypal fees since I either got them back or it will come out again the next sale)

  • Sale Price – $44.99
  • Shipping – $5.35
  • Return (minus 20% re-stocking fee of $9.00) – $35.99

Total Profit – $3.65

As a seller, I’m a huge fan of re-stocking fees! I had the shirt listed for a few months, so that’s probably ~$0.60 in re-listing fees. Then there’s the costs of bags, stickers, and labels I use. All of this ignores the time I spent packing, shipping, and re-listing the item.

In the end, I feel zero guilt making a buyer pay for this. I had the size in the listing, and I had the measurements.

This also taught me a nice lesson on buying on eBay – check the measurements against something that you own and fits you well and be comfortable with a seller’s return policy. You can’t leave negative feedback for a return policy that you agreed to prior to purchase.

Most sellers give you some return window and re-stocking fees are slowly becoming more popular.

All in all, April was a solid month. I still haven’t had a good enough month to make up for the lousy January and March, but I’m also just sticking with my Beeminder goal of listing 15 items per week.

I understand that this won’t get me to my goal of 10,000 in profits for the year, but it is something that fits into my life schedule while still remaining a hobby. I’m not doing this full time (yet?) even though working from home may be a long term option.

Stay tuned for next week where I’m not going to do one of my usual flip posts. It’s going to be all about “flops!”

This co-insides with our community garage sale so I have everything nicely organized into depressing piles of sub-par profits. If I sell it for $1 at a garage sale, it’s better than me donating it back to a thrift store.

Hopefully I’ll be able to help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made while also making a little cash back!

Image: ICMA

Vintage 90s Nickelodeon Merchandise – Rugrats Hat

Since I only post once a week on Monday mornings, I can’t really do a throw back Thursday. So here we are with a mini #TBT on a Monday. And regardless of the day, vintage stuff sells well on eBay!

Vintage is where I got my start. My inaugural flipping post was some vintage Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I’ve flipped vintage Marlboro gear, mugs, the Mille Borne card game, and even Christmas ornaments and sewing kits!

The thing about the word “vintage” is that its definition is a moving target. Vintage to me isn’t the same as someone who’s twice my age. That whole generation who was born in the 80s is in the work force now and ready to spend on their nostalgia!

Rugrats Youth Hat

Rugrats eBay Youth Hat

If only my head wasn’t the size of a watermelon… I’m totally jealous of whoever gets this hat!

  • Purchase price – $1.06
  • End Selling Price – $15.00
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $4.83

Total Profit:  $9.11

My flip is nothing earth shattering in the profits area (I took an offer, there was a small tear along a seam which lowered the value by ~half, and I’d had it listed for a while). It’s even below my profit target.

This sale still gets me excited though! It’s a great hat and would have been a real score if it didn’t have the flaw.

Rugrats was a show that was on Nickelodeon starting in 1991. It had 9 seasons, a couple Passover specials, a few movies (they weren’t that good), and we won’t ever talk about when there was the remake and the kids were older. It was a fun show and was very popular hitting on some very heavy subjects. There were others too like Doug, Ren and Stimpy, and Rocko’s Modern Life just to name a very small number of the popular 90s Nick TV shows.

There’s a lot of possibilities on items you can flip since the 90s toys and merchandise are oozing with potential!

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ooze eBay Completed Listings

Yeah, this movie wasn’t that good. But the ooze sells well one eBay!

It ain’t just Rugrats!

I focused on the Rugrats and Nickelodeon items because that’s what I had, but there’s a whole category (similar to the Disneyana eBay category) that can fit in here. I’m talking 90’s video games, clothing, and toys.

Now that I think about it, I’ve already sold another great 90s toy and talked about it here!

Vintage 90s Toys eBay Completed Listings

Sealed Lego boxes are gold, Lisa Frank is silver, but there’s a ton of other 90s toys and merchandise that are really profitable!

Even though it wouldn’t work on me (I’m too cheap and am on a “slow your home” kick), there are a lot of kids who want to re-live some of their 90s memories. And I’m OK re-locating an item and taking a finders fee. :)

Life is so hard, Tommy. Sometimes I think it’s the hardest thing there is. -Chuckie Finster (Rugrats Character)

eBay Java Drama – Pitney Bowes PDF Woes

I know I got a winner of a blog post title when I get a smirk, sigh, and eye roll from my wife! The trifecta!

But to the point, eBay missed a memo or I’m just really dumb.

For years now, eBay has had the most AWESOME Java Applet ever!

eBay Java Applet Error

The eBay gods laugh and Ode to Joy plays every time this damn warning comes up!

You’d have to hit OK about 7 times, ignore any errors, click some check boxes that allow some apparent security risks because Pitney Bowes (the label creation software company) wasn’t up to snuff, and then uninstall Java, reinstall Java, curse a few times, do a dance, and then magically your labels would print.

Even though I’m complaining a bit (borderline violation of the no whining policy!), the system did mostly work.

When I was starting out re-selling on eBay, I’d print labels on regular paper (would drive to Staples since we didn’t even own a printer!). I then upgraded to the Dymo printer featured in my Tools of the Trade.

Ignore the Java – Appreciate the positives

For any new eBay sellers, you should really buy your labels through their system. There are 3 really good reasons for this.

1. Links right with PayPal account

You click “buy shipping” and it buys it using PayPal dollars. When I started out, I was adamant about not putting any of my personal money into the business side. When I sold something and the person paid, I would buy a box and the shipping all using PayPal money (transferred out some cash to cover the packaging costs).

2. All addresses stored within the system

You don’t have to fill in any information at all. Just press “pay for shipping” and eBay has both your and the buyer’s addresses stored. No chance for you to make a mistake.

This streamlines your seller protection through eBay and PayPal. Tracking is uploaded automatically so there’s no chance that you’ll forget!

3. It’s cheaper!

Probably the most important, eBay gives you an awesome discount for purchasing the labels through their system. 9+% (depends on the type of shipping) for regular users and 13.8%+ for power sellers. This is just another awesome feature of the fantastic USPS. It’s one government entity that you can’t complain about (with any merit at least).

OK, karma is back to neutral. It was a flawed system that had some really good benefits.

Well, something last weekend changed. I tried to print my labels as usual. No java applet opened. It just opened a PDF. I had a lot of trouble trying to print labels throughout the week too. I ended up using the snipping tool and pasting the picture into the Dymo Software. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Finally, I figured out what I was doing wrong yesterday!

eBay used to automatically use one size label for each printer (It’s 4″x6″ for Zebra and 7.5″ x 2-5/16″ for Dymo). The bug was that when I went to print, it would shrink the label to the top left and only be about 2″ long by 1″ wide!

After a lot of fiddling and confirmation from the dreaded eBay forums that this was not a Java issue, I realized that I had an incorrect setting for the printer. I was having Firefox select the wrong sized label. Once I selected the correct size (99019 for Dymo), it printed perfectly.

I only had to press 1 button instead of the 7 I was used to.

In the end, this is a great change from eBay. The Java/eBay/Paypal love-triangle was riddled with bugs and this is a lot easier.

I just wish I had realized my issue a little sooner or that eBay had given me some notice! I even went back to check the spring seller update and couldn’t find a word about this.

Has anyone else seen similar issues and had to fiddle with them to get the printers working?

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