Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making money on ebay

I've been dabbling with ebay for years. It's a good way to unload some stuff that you don't need anymore or make some extra money on the side when you're strapped for cash. It really is easy money. I've bought things from yard sales and resold them for a huge profit. I've done the same with things from thrift stores. Years ago when I was playing an online video game I even sold a bunch of stuff in the game for real life cash. As long as you're not selling something that's alive, perishable or related to firearms then you'll probably be good to go. There are only a few things that you need to know when you're selling on ebay.

Sell what you know. If you don't know anything about what you're selling then you won't be able to accurately describe the item to people who know exactly what they're looking for. Those are the people who will pay the most. Get on google and do some research before you post your item up for sale. Describe it as accurately as possible and make people confident that they know exactly what they're getting.

Use other online resources to advertise. It doesn't take much. If you're selling parts from an old Honda motorcycle then find a Honda message board that will let you advertise your auction link. If you're selling a book about how to brew beer then get on a homebrew forum and post the link to your auction. Just set up an email address that you use only for registering on forums and post away. Who's more likely to buy what you're selling than someone who posts about it all the time?

Know what your stuff is worth. If you're selling something that's worth a certain amount if someone actually wants it while you're selling it then put it up for that amount and hope that someone bids. This rule only applies to low demand items that are worth quite a bit but probably won't generate much interest. If you're selling something hot that a lot of people are selling and bidding on all the time then just start the auction at $.99 and let the free market take over. I start most of my auctions at $.99. If it's a big ticket item then a lot of people are bound to watch it. In the last 30 seconds or so I always get at least close to what I expected to get. Sometimes I get more.

Part of working ebay is being able to find the stuff that you're selling for a lot less than you're selling it for. Craigslist has been a great resource for me. I also check out thrift stores and yard sales regularly. Once again, stick with what you know. Sure you could find a box of old books for $1 a box and toss them on ebay. If no one has ever heard of any of them and you don't encourage anyone to bid on them then you'll probably pay more in listing fees than you make in the auctions.

What I don't like about Ebay is that you practically have to have a Paypal account. The reason that I stopped selling stuff from my little video game is because I got burned for $150 because of Paypal's policy. Fortunately, if you're dealing in tangibles and you use tools like delivery confirmation then the chances of you getting burned are pretty low. Unfortunately, Paypal is all electronic so "they" can trace it. If you're not making "quit your job" money then I don't think that you have anything to worry about. You could always write off related expenses for the first three years until it becomes a hobby.

Overall, Ebay is a great resource for the regular joe to make a few extra bucks on the side. The trick is to find something that you know a lot about that you can conceivably sell and ship at a reasonable cost. If you're shipping small things then it's easy to make an extra buck or two off of the shipping cost. If you're shipping big things then people just expect to pay more for shipping. If you're going to go cheap on the shipping price then be sure to build it into your starting bid. I do this a lot and sometimes it really pays off. There's something about a "free shipping" icon next to the auction that make people want to bid more.

I buy a lot of stuff on ebay for resale. For every guy who's selling one little thing for $5 there's 5 guys who are selling 20 of the same thing for $20. Buy the bunch of things for $20 and resell them all for $5 a piece. If you know what you're doing it works pretty well. You just have to know what the stuff is worth and have the cash on hand to make it work. If you start playing with ebay a lot then it's pretty likely that you'll have a pretty fat paypal account most of the time. Before long you'll be sending big chunks of cash to your bank account.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The evolution of my garden

Growing up I spent a few summers working on my grandparents farm. I also helped my dad out with a small plot that we had in the back yard and the 5ish acre plot that a farmer friend of his let him plant on for several summers. I've read a lot of books so I think I have a pretty good handle on how to raise an average garden. I'm no expert but if growing food was the difference between life or death I think that I could squeak by.

Last year was my first solo attempt at a garden. I raised just about everything from seed. On one side of the yard I built 4 4x4 planters. On the other side of the yard I dug out a 20x20ish plot. I could expand that plot quite a bit if necessary. For now, that's where I stick my tomatoes. Last year I was pulling off at least 1 or 2 a day by this time. This year they're still green and it seems to me like there are nowhere near as many on the vine. The plants themselves are twice as large as they were last year. They're just not producing as much. Last year I started most of them from scratch. This year I bought all of my plants. Maybe next year I'll just try starting my plants again.

My peppers are doing pretty well despite the fact that my new shi-tzu LOVES to eat pepper plants. Out of the 16 that I started with I only have hope for 8 of them. Every time I go to skin him for it he looks up at me with that cute little ewok face and I can't help but forgive him. The ones that have survived are producing exceptionally well except for my cayenne plant. I'm a little dissapointed because I'm still using dried cayennes from the plant that I grew last year. This year's cayenne plant has yet to produce a usuable pepper. It still look OK and it has a lot of flowers, though, so maybe it'll pop late in the season. Meanwhile, my bell peppers are twice the size that they were last year and my jalapenos are so weighed down with fruit that they're almost dragging on the ground.

I tried my hands at potatoes this year. I filled an old tire with compost and planted a few potato pieces that were sprouting huge eyes. I was utterly dissapointed. I'm not sure what the problem was but next year I plan to rectify it. It was my understanding that potatoes are cheap and stupid easy to grow. I must have done something wrong.

The rest of the garden has done exceptionally well. I ended up with twice as many green beans as last year and they're still producing. I didn't harvest a single carrot last year because the plants all died. This year they're doing great. I'm on my second harvest of radishes and turnips and I'm about to plant some more. My broccoli died last year. This year I have 3 plants that are doing phenomenally. I tried zucchini for the first time and it's out of control. If I keep planting that I'll never go hungry. Last year's peas didn't do so well. This year I ended up with a bunch of them. I still can't get bibb lettuce to grow right. Instead of growing into a head it grows into a tall stalk. The russian red kale that I planted last year has all but taken over the planter that I had it in. It came back with a vengeance this year and I didn't even have to replant. Now it's almost taken over the planter that it's in. Most of the other stuff that I planted in the same planter is still doing very well.

Plant a garden. Learn some of the nuances now before it becomes life or death. Even if all you have is a small balcony you'd be surprised at how much food you can actually produce if you have to. You don't have to become a master gardener. Just learn the basics and go from there. Know what takes months to grow. Know what grows fast. Know what takes up a lot of space. Know what you can plant in a "guerilla plot" and still get produce from. Just because you don't own the land doesn't meant that you can't get some food out of it that no one else will notice. Obviously, the best option is to have a big plot in the middle of nowhere but we don't all have that option. Just learn what you can grow and do what you have to do. The "year's supply" of non perishable that you have on hand is important no matter where you live but that will only last you so long. The goal is to last longer than everyone else and still have the means to continue to produce more food. Whether you're in the middle of nowhere or you live in the middle of the city being able to garden is a skill to be valued.

Quote of the day..or month..or something

I don't post many quotes but this one applies now more than ever.

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What do YOU do for extra cash?

Recently I've been looking for ways to make some extra cash on the side. I make more than enough to cover my expenses with my 9 to 5 but I still feel like I'm barely treading water sometimes. It's nice to have a backup source of income when you need an unexpected few hundred bucks to fix something. I've got a kid on the way and a furnace that probably needs replaced. That'll cost $3-4k for a bottom of the barrel unit or $6k for a top of the line, super efficient unit that will net me a $1500 tax credit. It's true...I'm not above taking government handouts when they literally shove them in my face and say TAKE THEM!!1 If social security is still around when I retire then you can be damn sure that I'll be taking it. Let's just say that I'm not counting on it in my retirement plan, though.

Anyway, stupid little expenses come up. Maybe you're just not making enough to pay the bills. Maybe you want to pay off some bills more quickly. Maybe you just find yourself sitting around with nothing to do and you'd like to make use of that time to shore up your savings.

In the recent months I've had some wonderful luck with ebay. I buy stuff on craigslist or at garage sales that I know is worth more than it's selling for and I throw it on ebay to make a profit. If you can view this blog then you can take advantage of ebay. If you live within a reasonable distance from a post office then you can take advantage of ebay.

If someone needs help then help them out if they're willing to pay you. A couple of nights a week I've been helping my dad out at his restaurant. I work for a few hours and I make a few extra bucks. It's a win/win situation. If you're good at what you're doing then the people that you're associated with will be begging you to help them out when you have time if you're not able to do it full time.

Always come through with your promises. If you can find someone who wants you to build a deck for a certain amount of money then build them a deck, build it for what you say you can build it for and reap the profits. If you can fix their plumbing problems for a certain amount and still make some money then do it for what you say you can do it for. Once you fix their problem for what you said it was going to cost then you can count on them telling their friends about what a great experience they had. Just do what you say you're going to do and make sure that you can do what you say you're going to do. People hate unexpected costs. Especially, now, in such economic hard times. Find your niche. Do what you like to do. You will make money.

Anyone who's trying to find work will always be able to find work. If you know what your work is worth and you do a quality job then you'll always be in demand. References are gold. Just make sure that your as valuable as you think you are. At the same time you don't want to be less valuable than you think you are.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yet another "travel trailer living" article

Found this on Google News. A family in Florida couldn't find work so they bought an RV, camped their way to CO and are starting to get back on their feet. Meanwhile they're trying their best to avoid government assistance. Too bad more people aren't like that these days.