eBay May 2016 Flower Stargazer Lily

May 2016 Profits – The Purge

Dollar Flipper Profits 9 Comments

For any new readers, I (mostly) post my numbers every month. This is an effort to stay grounded. If you’re interested in my older monthly update posts, check them out here.

Well, 5/12 of the year has come and gone. I feel like as I get older, I’m more prone to saying “I can’t believe it’s already May!” or “June!” or whatever the next month is. Is it because my life is more packed with things or my memory’s starting to go? Who can say? Where did I put my keys?

Am I trying to distract you with poor jokes? If I am, it’s because I’m on the same downward trend as the rest of 2016. But we’re a positive group around here, so I’m going to rephrase that. I’m still making money even though I’m not listing at all.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I haven’t listed for the last 3 months, yet I’m still making money! This entails me shipping out items that I’ve had listed for about 6 months+. How sweet is that deal? I’m reaping what I sowed last year. I feel like a farmer who doesn’t have to worry about the winter. On top of that, May will forever be purge month. No, not those dumb Purge movies that I didn’t even know were a thing.

eBay May 2016 Flower Stargazer Lily Purge

If you don’t like this picture, that’s OK. My wife chose it. I’m not good at the whole flower thing, but I figured I needed one for May.

May 2015 vs. May 2016

May-15 May-16 2015 YTD 2016 YTD
Blog Referral 10.46 0.00 62.17 217.87
Sales 1289.08 491.38 4,921.02 2,854.39
Shipping Income 37.70 12.97 254.50 63.88
Sales Tax Collected 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.00
Returns 0.00 0.00 -206.97 -128.98
eBay Fees 147.66 91.94 539.34 457.49
PayPal Fees 44.55 16.45 173.33 102.04
Shipping Costs 169.43 61.73 711.67 404.27
Cost of Goods Sold 118.21 175.86 454.00 273.86
Mileage 0.00 4.64 66.52 83.63
Travel Expenses 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
Utilities 25.36 17.42 126.76 83.23
Amazon Fees 27.88 16.82 101.18 49.14
Office Supplies 0.00 5.47 79.02 5.47
Office Expense 0.00 0.00 374.94 0.00
Advertising 0.00 0.00 47.00 52.12
Other Expenses 0.00 0.00 50.75 95.00
Taxes and Licenses 0.00 0.00 0.00 34.98
Profit / Loss 804.15 114.02 2,305.21 1,368.93

So yeah, I’m almost 1k down from 2015. I can tell you that I’ve definitely done less than 50% of the work compared to 2015, so I think I’m ahead now! This is part rationalization, but it’s also part truth.

As of writing this, I’m at exactly 300 items in my store. At my peak, I was at about 360 items. I’ve only sold 60 items in the past 4 months.

You’ll notice that I spent $175 on new items this month. It was a big month. A military base near my parents had a bi-annual yard sale during a rainy morning. This didn’t impact the size of the sale. I bought a lot of stuff. This was the first significant haul of the year. I spent 65% of my total inventory purchases for 2016 in May. Wow!

This explains why May was abysmal. I don’t remember the last month I had such low profits! As a comparison, I’m $30 away from the same profits in June and as of writing this, I’ve had 2 sales in June.

Do not become a hoarder. Purge!

With all the poor sales, am I down in the dumps? Hell no!

I bought a lot of great stuff. On top of that, May was organization month! After bringing all this stuff home, I started getting some nasty feelings. My garage was a wreck. Not good.

When you have trouble dealing with such a big job, it helps to have some outsiders give a hand. They don’t have the emotional attachments that you do. My parents and brother visited for the day, and my wife and I got to go through everything on my garage floor. I still have a whole shelf of unlisted material that I didn’t go through, but we made a lot of progress.

To choose whether to keep something, I used a systematic approach.

For every item, I picked it up and asked, “Do I want to spend time on this?

That’s it. You don’t need to get into any more details.

Mark Forster’s is a productivity guru, and he has a ‘perfected’ method for dealing with a large to-do list. You start at the top, and go through the whole list while answering the question “What do I want to do more than x?” As you go down the list, you find the one thing which encompasses all the strings pulling at you. For a work to-do list, this simple question helps you prioritize based on many criteria:

  • urgency (upcoming due date)
  • guilt (I haven’t done this for too long)
  • importance (could help you get a promotion)
  • energy output (simple, quick task might be more palatable).

My question of “Do I want to spend time on this?” does the same thing. Do I want to go through my whole eBay process on this item? I’ve already purchased it, but that’s the easy part. Do I want to clean it? Do I want to research it? Do I want to photograph, store, and ship it? That last one has become more important to me lately. The bigger, complex items just don’t seem appealing. I’d rather deal with 3 t-shirts to make $100 instead of having to do the same thing for a bulky, likely to break item.

I had already missed the development’s yard sale, so instead I made a huge donation to a local drop-off. Did I leave money on the table? Sure, but mentally, I feel a lot better. The whole process was a little overwhelming. I saw all the things I still need to list and knew that these little trinkets weren’t worth it. The mental clarity gained from the extra few feet of space in my garage was worth missed profits.

eBay Fees – My store went up $10 this month, but I get more items to list for ‘free’. I also get a coupon for eBay shipping supplies (see the next note). Out of my hands, so I’m not going to complain about the price increase.

Office Supplies – If you have an eBay store, you should have gotten a coupon for eBay branded supplies. Orders from Zullily, Target, and Amazon have come in branded boxes or tape for years. Finally, eBay is getting on the ball with this. They offer a huge variety of eBay branded shipping supplies, from mailers to boxes and tape!

You get a different sized coupon depending on the size of your store. eBay also has a handy How-To. You can use the coupons quarterly although I can’t imagine that will be continuing for too long. If I had to guess, I think eBay overestimated how much material smaller sellers use.

I spent $5.47 (after my $50 coupon) and ended up getting a lot of materials. The tape is definitely the coolest. The poly-mailers are neat because they can be re-used. They have a perforation and two seals, but I couldn’t figure out a good way to seal it so someone else could actually re-use it.

Looking to June

After a low May, what am I going to do for June? I’m actually going to list something. I swear! I have been slowly going through and researching some items. The hardest part for me is that my time for listing has been eaten up by a cute little meatball baby. She is an early riser so I don’t get the 30-60 minutes in the morning to work on eBay. I’ll get to it. Or maybe I’ll end up giving up on some of them when May comes around next year, and I’ll purge them too. My “flop” yard sale would be better with some items that people actually want!

P.S. I try to respond to comments the day that they come in, but my e-mail hasn’t been receiving notifications about them. I’ll try to get it figured out.

How was your May? Are you keeping up with new yard sale inventory? Do you need to purge?

Image Credit: soozums

Comments 9

  1. I too am purging. I have been at this for about 6 months (selling clothes mostly), and I have learned that I do not want to sell jeans or pants. So I have slashed my prices on these to move them out of my store. I’m also getting away from hoodies and sweatshirts, which take up a lot of storage space and don’t bring in all that much money for me. It’s a constant learning game to fine tune things! I never get behind on my listing because I don’t shop until it’s all listed. That’s a big motivator. Also, I am only keeping my store at about 220-250 items and really won’t go above that because of limited storage.

    1. Post

      That’s awesome! I have too much space right now. Definitely an issue. I feel like I can fill that space. I’d love to be at an equilibrium where I was bringing in the same amount as I listed. Clothes aren’t HUGE profit points, but they are just so easy to ship and store. I don’t mind the Jeans since they fit in a padded flat rate mailer. 🙂 The only thing I don’t like about jeans is that they all look so similar when they’re folded up. That’s a good number of items where you’ll sell a few each week. I think I was averaging about 1 item a day when I was at that number and listing consistently. It’s also enough where you can take a bit of a break and not worry about running out of inventory!

  2. I am glad you are still getting sales, even without much listing. I know whenever I stop listing my sales take a direct hit so I try to list something every day, even if its only one item. I have been doing a similar approach to my stuff, taking a good hard look at an item and deciding if its really something I want to spend time on. If the profit is not great, I am deciding to donate more and more items, and honestly its feels great to free up some space; both literally and in my mind ( I can stop thinking about an item once its gone baby gone!) Its so easy to get weighed down by “stuff”.
    I got my eBay tape and love it, I was kind of surprised how much they send you, its a lot of rolls! I will wait till next quarter and my next coupon to try the boxes. I don’t see myself ever actually spending my own money on eBay supplies but the free stuff is great!

    1. Post

      I think we get the same feeling dumping the eBay stuff vs. the home stuff. It’s a big mental relief!

  3. Thanks for this posting! I actually just found your site today, and I love it. I am in the process of building my inventory. I spend most of my time looking for high end items. EX : A Book/Golf Club etc that I can buy for $3 and sell for $50-100. I have a hard time purchasing items when the profit margin isn’t very high. I know that is terrible. I often am afraid of getting too much inventory….and holding on to stuff for so long that might only sell for a $10 profit. What items have you noticed sell sooner than others? (Specifically Items that have a lower resale value). Thanks for your help!

    1. Post

      Austin, thanks for stopping by and commenting! The age old question – what sells for a lot and quickly. 🙂 I wish I knew. It’s really hard since the things that sell for a lot and quickly are usually well known, so you have to pay a lot for them. Struggling with inventory and profit margins is something that every seller has to deal with. It’s a lot easier to find items that sell for $20, but then you’re going to have to do more work to get them up online, and they’ll take up more room. I really don’t have a great answer for this.

      I think the best thing you can do is stick to your guns. Set up rules like “I want to spend under $5 and sell for $50+” This will definitely limit what you can find, but will keep your inventory under control.

      The other wrinkle is that I find that items which sell for more tend to take longer, so you need a bigger pool to keep things consistent. This is mostly anecdotal, but still something to think about.

      Personally, I try to sell things for $30 on eBay. I make about $20 on that sale, which I feel is worth my time. Amazon is a different story. I’ll take a $5 profit there since it’s so easy to list. Hope this helps!

      1. I should take your advice, and stick to the “Spend $5, make $50 method”. I live in a small apartment that is already filled with Golf Clubs (My Primary side hustle). So I like to keep my inventory small. It is rare though to find my items. EX : Last week while thrifting, I found 2 Demarini Composite Softball Bats. They are not legal in play anymore, but the market is still huge. These were $4 each… They are about to sell on Ebay for $80 and $50. This may be my biggest profit to date per sale. I see that you have had success with Vintage Clothing/Electronics. How in the world do you gauge the value on Vintage items? Just using Ebay Sold History? I have really had a struggle selling anything Vintage Online. Then again…it takes a long time to sell. So I may have given up. lol.. Thanks again.


        1. Post

          For clothes, it’s part style and part information. I know that made in USA clothes are going o be older and the 90s and 80s have very unique patterns that pop out. eBay app and searching completed listings is a great method to find he value of older items!

  4. That’s the one thing I struggle with. I have tons of bins of really old inventory that isn’t listed (probably 4 years old). But I don’t think that I can bring myself to get rid of it. Once I embark on that project, I may change my mind. But I feel i can’t throw out something if I can make money on it. LOL

    I haven’t been listing much at all either in the last several months. I don’t work full time any more (I’ve actually worked very little) and have been focusing on the home…cleaning, organizing, purging. And I love it. But I’ve still been averaging about $1600/mo..for very little work. That’s the great thing about building up that inventory. Now the kids are home for the summer and I’m not sure how much time I will devote to work. But I’d like to focus at least maybe 1 day a week to it. We’ll see. The flexibility of ebay is amazing!

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