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?

Renting vs Buying

Understanding the concept of depreciation and resale value can help you decide whether you should buy, rent, or borrow something. 

Let’s use a tile saw for example. The big box stores rent them for about $40/day. A quick search shows that you can buy one for between $50 and $300 from various easy to access stores. You want to ask yourself how often you are going to use one of these things and​ do you want to store it?

Some of you may already be thinking that buying one would be the way to go here because you could sell it after and still beat the rental cost. This is a good thought, but there might be a better option, or two. 

Clearly, if you know someone with one, you could ask them to borrow it and give them some beers, wine, whatever. If that’s not an option, then looking used is probably your best bet. 

Knowing that the second you use that new saw, it’s value will plummet, you will still be losing out on max value here. Fast depreciation is a problem with new purchases.  I wouldn’t imagine it would be hard to sell, but who knows. 

Now, searching on Craigslist shows that there are a bunch of used units ranging from $30-300. Some appear to be industrial units but keep in mind, these are the depreciated values here. After a one time use, you will likely be able to sell it for damn bear what you paid or possibly even more because someone else took​ the depreciation hit, just like with cars. 

I’d go for that cheap $30 one and try to sell it for $40. 

Likely Results? -$10 to +$10 (buying used and selling) vs -$40 (rent) vs -$60 to -$300 (new) vs -$20 to -$100 (buying new and selling). 

Ok, so i made up those numbers, but the point is that you have more options than buying or renting. Always remember that you can sell something after you’re done with it to recoup some, or more than all of your money. 

Don’t underestimate the value in selling things that you have no use for anymore.