You Don’t Have to Pay To Play

I had a great win on the ol’ eBay the other night.  I meantioned at one point that I downsized all of my photography gear a few years ago and have been using the Canon G15 for a while now. I really love​ that camera but don’t like that it is missing an external mic port and a real viewfinder. 

I didn’t want to buy another camera with detachable lenses so I did a little research and found that the Nikon P7800 had a usable view finder and a mic port. This was the one to have, so I fired up my thinking mill and planned what it would take to own that camera. 

Step one, find out how much it is new and used to get an idea of what is considered a deal. Done. 

New, it was over $600 and we already know I’m not looking for a new one.  Used price was $400, consistently.  So I wanted to find one for under that. But I couldn’t. 

I went to Amazon and paid the $390 to be done with it. Then, just for the hell of it I went back on eBay and happened to see an auction ending soon near $300. I though that if I could win this one for anything less than $400, I’d be saving, so I threw down $316.90 and was immediately outbid. Like a squirrel trying to get out of a garbage can I tried to flip in another bid. I was too slow and lost the auction, at a final price of like $320. I was pissed that I missed that chance to save $80, but just for the hell of it, I looked to see if there were any other auctions going on. I happened to look at the right time, because a guy had just posted his camera for $200,  buy-it-now style, which man’s no auction, you just get it. I thoufht, it must have been for parts or something? That was half the price of what they had been going for. 

Fast forward three seconds and I bought it.  It is home now and doing just fine. We actually recorded a video on it this morning for mother’s day. 

Now my G15 is listed on eBay and has 10 bids on it and two days left at $158. I’m expecting that one to go for around $200, which would mean that I was able to slip right into the camera I wanted, for nothing but a little time and research. I got lucky on this one though. 

I ended up cancelling the amazon order of course. 

The point is to make sure you shop around thoroughly before making a purchase. 

Selling vs Spending

There are a lot of people who spend money to get that instant hit of gratification. Everyone has done it. We all know what it feels like to get something new. If you’ve ever gambled, you know how exciting it is to win too. So what is it that you are chasing?  

Let’s focus on gambling for a minute. You go in knowing that you might walk away with nothing, or even less than you went in with. But there is that chance that you leave with more than you had that morning.  If you do win, what will you do with that money?  Buy more things for a little more of that rush?  Does the cycle ever end before you realize that you are a rabbit chasing an imaginary carrot?  The funny thing is that for the rabbit, the carrot would at least be something good. 

The house always wins, right?  Everyone knows that too. They are making big bucks on suckers. Unless you rarely ever gamble and happen to get lucky that one time, you are losing. It’s spending money that you really love and winning more just lets you spend more. 

What if there was something that also gave you a little rush, but you always won when you did it?  This exists and it’s called getting rid of your shit. Sort of. It’s selling things you don’t need on eBay or some other market place. 

Imagine this. You EASILY list an item by downloading the app on your phone, taking a few​ pictures, and finishing up by following some simple instructions. Then, someone places a bid on the item. Depending on how you set up the auction, you may have just made money!  Then another bid comes in and you’ve made more!  Who knows howany more bids you’re going to get before the auction time runs out!  You get a few email notifications trickle through in those last few seconds, and you did it. You got rid of your shit and made a few bucks. 

Now package it up and ship it. Win win. 

Two of My Recent Mistakes

Isn’t it nice to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes?

1. I upgraded a part on a friend’s car, which left us with a perfectly fine and functioning original part. He said he didn’t want it and told me I could sell it if I wanted to.

I listed the part on eBay to cast a wide net to prospective buyers and used eBay’s recommended shipping cost to let sellers know how much it would cost to ship it to them. That was the mistake. 

I had received a few bids on the part and it ended up selling for a little over $20, so the buyer sent me $30-something total to cover the shipping. Here is where the first mistake really presents itself…
When I got to the post office, I learned that the box was a little oversized for their standard shipping rates and that when that is the case, they double the shipping weight too. Shipping to FL from NY was $40 using priority shipping, which is what the listing said I would be using. I could have saved a little money using ground but that would have been 6-10 days, with the risk of receiving negative feedback on my eBay account, which has a lot of sales with 100% positive feedback.  I decided to eat this one and learn the lesson.  I will now weigh and measure every box to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

2. This touching story should have never happened. Remember the post where I found all of that scrap metal on a walk and was going to get paid after bringing it to the scrap yard?  Well, it wasn’t aluminum. It was steel, which is nearly worthless. Thankfully, I caught this before making the trip to the junker. I’m not great at identifying metals, but I should have known this wasn’t aluminum tubing while I was loading it into my car. It was too heavy.

The way to avoid this one is to keep a magnet in your car. If the magnet sticks to the metal, don’t pick it up.

Lessons learned. Do you have any that you’d like to share that might help someone out?

Get Rid of It!

Here is a screenshot of what cleaning out some junk got me on eBay in the last two months. 


This is some stuff that was doing nothing for me. It added nothing to my life. 

Here is a shot of some recent Craigslist action. 

You are sitting on a gold mine, I’m tellin’ ya!  There is currently $250 worth of stuff sitting on there right now waiting for someone to snatch up. What would have done with these things?  What do you do with things you don’t use anymore?

I love these win-wins, when you get rid of junk and make money doing it. 

The apps make it so easy to list items too. You just take a picture of what you are selling and it walks you through the posting process. Setting up an account is easy too. 

Craigslist buyers can be easy to deal with or awful. There are a lot of scams out there and they list some of the signs in their site. 

Start to price your items by searching to see what other people are trying to get for theirs. I have a rule where I won’t meet up with anyone for under $20. It’s just not worth the hassle. I usually bring the sub-$20 items to work and give them away. 

Just meet up with the buyers or sellers somewhere public and only deal with cash. Don’t feel pressured to sell something just because they are offering you “$100 cash.” I hate when people say that as a part of their low ball offers. What the hell did they think you would accept other than cash?  It doesn’t sweeten the deal in any way. Also be prepared to be peppered with these lowball offers by throngs of idiots. 

eBay on the other hand is much easier to deal with when it comes to the buyers and sellers.  The only downside is that you have to package and ship the items when they sell and you have a feedback rating. If you sell busted stuff, you’ll get negative feedback and you’ll have a hard time selling anything else. Timeliness and service are important as well. It’s sort of like your own little business, and it actually is for many people. I’m proud to have 102 eBay sales with 100% positive reviews. Oh, you’ll also want to set up a PayPal account if you’re going to be using eBay. That’s easy to do too when you get to their site. 

Homework: Get eBay, PayPal, and Craigslist accounts then find one $20 item you can sell. It’ll be like the first time you smoked crack all over again. Cripes, I hope you weren’t able to make a strong connection there. 

Go!

The Easiest Way to Earn More Money

Really, the easiest way is to give yourself a raise by saving instead of spending.  Again, you knew this, but you might not be taking advantage of it.  I’ll get to actual ways to increase earnings shortly, but look at how much you could gain by reading the posts on Your Cell Phone, Shaving, Your Cable/Satellite Service, and if you do the simple math, it’s potentially hundreds per month on your basic human needs spending.  That’s one way to give yourself a raise.

The other is to actually make more money.  You can try asking for more from your employer, but that’s only worked for me once, and it was like 15 years ago.  You could always get another job that pays more too, but that’s not the focus here.  Something that I guarantee will make you extra money right now is to take a look around at your junk and sell what you don’t need.  You’re going to have to go back and read about Your Needs to help you determine what you really need to have.  The Minimalists have a fantastic movie and podcast that addresses this topic perfectly.  They even have games you can play to help you get rid of your clutter. This is a win-win because you clean house and make money.

Craiglist is free and is where I put most items.  I don’t try to get top dollar on my sales since I don’t want to wait long to get rid of it.  I’ll price it lower than most others for that quick sale and move on to the next one.  If you have a smart phone, the app lets you take pictures and post the ad right from your phone.

eBay does the same thing but has a larger audience.  I’m not going to get into the details of how to sell your crap; the take away here is that you are sitting on a gold mine, you just have to start listing things to start earning.

Do not underestimate the power of this technique.  It is crippling to debt.  Debt is defenseless against it!  Throw that extra cash right down on the principle of your payments.

Consider downgrading on bigger ticket items too.  Maybe you made a large purchase a few years ago and it turns out you don’t really use that thing as much as you thought.  Either sell it and don’t replace it, or replace it with a cheaper model and pocket the difference.  I did this when I was into photography, a few times actually.  I went from having a few thousand dollars worth of gear down to a couple hundred and I don’t regret it at all.  I did the same thing with some guitars I had.  I had four of them, but why did I need four?

Parting with your belongings can be tough.  Just remember that they aren’t what makes you happy and they are replaceable.  One thing The Minimalists say, that I love, is if you can replace it for less than $20, in less than 20 minutes, and you haven’t used it in a while, get rid of it.  They call it the 20/20 rule.  Don’t hang on to things because you might use it someday.  This is how you become a packrat and waste your hard earned money.  “Oh, this would be nice to have when we have a party.”  That is the WRONG mentality if you are trying to escape the grips of consumerism.  Wait until you have the party, then decide if you need it.  I’m sure the party would have been just as fun without that gizmo anyway.

Remind yourself that you care about your freedom more than your things and you’d rather have the luxury of doing whatever the hell you want in life than the luxury items.