My Real Life

February 3, 2012

Frugal Friday

Filed under: Frugal Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,
My apologies in advance for the clumpy format.  WordPress is testing my patience today, and, much like Charlie Sheen, is winning.
In the month of February, I thought I’d try something new with our Friday time together.  And so, Frugal Friday is born!
On Frugal Fridays, I’ll talk about ways that I save money around here, but also ways to make some extra money.
I decided to start, today, with making some money, so that we’d have some money to save in the weeks ahead.
One of the ways that I make a little extra cash is by selling things on eBay.  Old electronics, old clothes, books, movies.
I’m not making enough to send anyone to college, but I do have the money put directly in our PayPal account, which then is used to order birthday and Christmas gifts online.
It works out nicely.
For a long time, however, I wasn’t very good at eBay.  My stuff didn’t sell, and I was annoyed.
So, I went to the one person I know who is an eBay expert.
My friend, Jen.
Among her many talents (one of which is writing a very funny blog called Who Died and Made You Boss? ) is being a bit of an eBay guru.
With Jen’s help, I started making some real money with eBay, so I decided to ask Jen to be the first person to write for me on Frugal Friday.
Read on to see our Q&A session to get some of Jen’s best advice for becoming a successful eBayer!
1.  How did you get started with eBay?
   I started in 1999 just buying things.  I eventually worked the nerve up to try to sell something. I honestly can’t remember the first thing I sold, but I know I was pretty much hooked from there. I remember one of the first few things I sold was a VHS tape that was still in the plastic. I was selling it because it was never watched and it was given to my husband at the time by an ex girlfriend.  That was an easy choice. I figured I would get a few bucks for it. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong! That stupid video tape sold for $75!!!! No kidding. If I wasn’t hooked already, I was now!!!
2.  What types of items do you find sell the best?
   Anything and everything. You would be surprised at the things people would buy. If you own it, 99% chance someone else is looking for it.
3.  Where do you get your items to sell?
   Hmmmmmm, I don’t know if I should give away all my secrets, but I will tell you some of the most common places. Obviously I start in my own house. I make piles of things I will sell, donate or throw away. It only makes the sell pile if I feel it will make it worth my while. If not, it’s getting donated so someone else who really needs it can get it cheap.
   I hit garage sales every weekend. I am picky about garage sales. But when I find a good one, I clean house. For instance, last summer I had to waste time before my daughter’s softball game. So I went driving around and that day I made a killing. I found Coach purses for $8, resold them for $40 or more. I found brand new, still with the tags, Vera Bradley bags for $10.  I resold those for $45 or more. I stopped at a rummage sale and bought designer clothes for $1 a piece. I resold these starting at $20.
   Whenever I am driving, I always look at the curbs when people have piles. I won’t stop unless I see something I know is collectible or expensive. I found a Lionel train set still in the box from the 1970’s. The man was cleaning out his basement, getting rid of all his grown kids toys. I can’t remember what I resold that for, but even if it sold for $10, it was pure profit!
   I also sell on consignment. People give me their items to sell on eBay and I agree to sell it for a percentage of the selling price. That way the person makes money on their item and I make money for doing all the work.
   Finally, I hit sales at department stores. You can make a fortune off a clearance rack. Remember that! If you want to at least double your money, shop the clearance racks at department stores.  Love their change of season sales! They sell off the summer stuff when it’s still summer!! It’s all profit for you!
4.  About how much do you make per month selling items on eBay?
   This is a tricky one. It all depends on what I sell and how much I sell. I can have a great month and make $800 (in profit) or a crappy month and only make $200.  No matter what, though, I never make less than $200 a month. This is after I subtract the eBay and PayPal fees and the cost of the item if I bought it to resell. If you make eBay into a full time job, you could make anything you want. There are people who live off their eBay profits. I’m not one of them, but there are a lot more out there than you think.
5.  What would be your top 3 tips for selling on eBay?
My top 3 tips…….I hope I can narrow it down!
Tip #1: Take great pictures! Not good pictures, GREAT pictures. The better the picture, the better the profit. You have to make sure you have good lighting. Who wants to buy a purse from you when it’s hard to see the purse in the dark picture? Not me! Also, take a picture of every angle of your item. Let them see you aren’t trying to hide anything. If there is a hole, take a picture of it. If there is a stain, take a picture. If there are special embellishments, take close ups. Think like a buyer.  And please, no blurry shots. Really…who wants to get sick from trying to look at a blurry picture? That’s annoying and I won’t buy from you. I want to know you aren’t trying to pass off junk as new in a blurry shot!
Tip #2: Write detailed descriptions. You write the heck out of that shirt.  You talk that thing up like its the best shirt that was ever made. BUT, you also be honest. Again, always let the buyer know about flaws, holes, tears, stains, etc.  Because  if you don’t, when they get it, they will file a complaint with eBay. You can either choose to refund them on your own or eBay will refund them for you whether you want to or not. So always be honest and very detailed.
Tip #3: Ship right away! If you sold it on Monday night, have it at the post office Tuesday. Buyers do not want to wait for their purchase. Don’t be lazy. Just package it up, print your shipping label using eBay and drop it in a mailbox.  How easy is that?!?!
Here’s an extra tip, I won’t charge you for it either……..
Use USPS Priority Mail boxes. They are FREE! You order them online and your freakin’ mailman delivers them right to your door. This way you aren’t spending all your profits on shipping materials. If you are selling just a few items, and do not need 10 or more boxes, go to the post office and grab some there. Also flat rate shipping is great. If it fits, it ships. I ship all my jeans in flat rate envelopes. This way buyers are paying for fast shipping at a cheap rate. Buyers hate over inflated shipping charges. So be fair, don’t try to make a profit off of shipping. It will only bite you in the ass and screw with your feedback rating.
So, there you have it!  Jen’s best advice.
Give it a try, make some cash!  Then, next week we’ll talk about how to make the most of that money!
Jen is a stay at home mom of 4 kids ranging in age from 13 to 2.   She has to stay sane somehow by having a hobby, and her hobby of choice is eBay. Her kids are scared to leave things out, because they think she will sell it!  She tells them all the time, “take care of your crap or it’s going on eBay.”   Nothing scares a kid into cleaning up their toys more than threatening to sell them. And the great thing is, they know she’s not full of empty threats; she’ll do it!  😉

August 24, 2009

Real Buzz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 7:35 am
Tags: , , , ,

To save money, I do all the male haircuts around here. I cut Real Man’s hair, Baby Monkey’s Hair and Monkey in the Middle’s Hair. I also cut my father’s hair. My grandma (Dad’s Mom) was a librarian, but she was also a beautician. She had a beauty shop in her basement. When I was a kid, I spent a month each summer out at her house in Ohio. I would sit on the basement steps and watch her cut and foil and color and trim and style and I loved every second of it. There is definitely a latent beautician in me. There’s something about the tidiness of it all. Split ends getting cut off, falling to the floor, being swept away. It gives me quite a thrill.

About 15 years ago, when Real Man and I started dating, I asked for an Osto Clipper Set for Christmas, so I could start cutting his hair. It took awhile for him to trust me with the clippers and his fine head of hair. So, it sat unused. Finally, he got up the courage to let me at it, and apparently I did a good job, because I’ve been his main barber ever since. Poor Elio lost a good client in Real Man. Ah well…his loss, my gain.

Anyway, I cut the all the boys hair around here. It’s a different experience with each body that sits in my chair. When I cut the adult’s hair, we chat. About work, the kids, sports, life, etc. When I cut the boys hair, it’s a different story.

With Monkey in the Middle, I always have to approach the subject of a haircut carefully, because he never remembers from time to time that it wasn’t scary or loud. Then, we ask him to be a big boy and set a good example for Baby Monkey and don’t cry or make a fuss. So, he sits in the chair, covers his ears, gets the bottom lip quiver going and asks me to take off my wedding and engagement rings. One time, one time, the clipper needed oil and so in the middle of shaving his head, the clippers made a godawful sound and he was terrified. I couldn’t tell him it was the clippers themselves, so I said it was my rings, hitting the side of the clippers. Now, the ritual is that the rings have to come off with a big flourish and be set within his eyesight. Then, we turn on the clippers and he covers his ears, and then we ask him to take the hands off the ears and hear that it’s not too loud. Eventually, we get to the point where he giggles and says I’m tickling him and that it’s not loud at all. Eventually, we get to this:

haircut 001

 Then, while Monkey in the Middle is finishing up, Real Man gets Baby Monkey so he can see a smiling, giggling, perfectly content Monkey in the Middle in the chair. He never buys it. As soon as he walks in the kitchen, the tears begin. No amount of example setting by his big brother or reasoning, cajoling or bribing by his parents can calm the storm. I do his head as quickly as possible, which is why his daycare is probably always wondering at the strange, stray hairs that remain and the patches down near the base of his neck that I can’t work around because he refuses to bend his head. Oh, and around the ears is always tricky too.

See if you can guess why.

haircut 002

However, in the end, the boys look sharp and neat and they are rewarded with an extra long bath with every bath toy in the house. Gotta get all the stray hairs off, and these are boys who love their baths, so an extra long one is actually quite a treat. So, I cut their hair because I love it and I’m frugal. But, let’s be honest… I also want to spare any poor, unsuspecting hairdresser from the drama. 

Still, look at the outcome.  Love those kids.


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