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  • Sell your stuff at Amazon.com Marketplace: Part One – An overview

    Make Money Selling at Amazon - chieffamilyofficer.com

    I wrote about Amazon.com Marketplace when I first started selling our used books there, but I thought it was time to revisit the topic since I’ve been selling there for three years now.

    What is Amazon.com Marketplace? If you shop at Amazon, you’ve probably noticed the “Used & New” price option on most pages. If you click on that option, you’re taken to a page with a list of sellers who are selling that particular item. The list includes each seller’s price, the condition of the item, the seller’s feedback rating, and hopefully a description of the item. This list is the Marketplace page for the item. And the sellers are usually a mix of businesses, who find customers at Amazon, and individuals, many of whom are like me and simply having their garage sale online.

    My favorite thing about Marketplace is that you set your own price and wait for someone to decide to pay it. Unlike eBay, there’s no listing fee, no auction, and no calculation of shipping costs. Amazon sets the shipping charges and gives you a shipping credit. The fees you pay to Amazon are higher than what you would pay to eBay, but with Amazon, you only pay a fee if your item sells.

    You can also ensure your profit by pricing your item accordingly. Amazon makes this easy by telling you what you will receive if the item sells during the listing process. The amount you receive from Amazon includes the shipping credit but not the actual shipping cost. More than once, I have gotten to the “confirm your listing” page and realized that after paying for shipping, my net profit would be so small, it would be a better use of my time to simply donate it.

    My least favorite thing about selling on Amazon is that a sold item must be shipped within two business days. Shipping for me means a trip to the post office, since I sell only books, CDs, DVDs, and video games, and U.S. mail is the cheapest way of shipping these items. (If you’re selling these types of items, you should definitely learn about Medial Mail rates.) Items over 13 ounces must be delivered to a post office employee, and can’t simply be dropped in a mailbox or even left at the counter with adequate postage already affixed (unless your post office is different from mine).

    Since heavier books require waiting in line, something that’s not always convenient, I usually do a cost-benefit analysis when my net profit after shipping charges would be low. If the item does not require a wait in line, I’ll usually complete the listing. But if I have to wait in line, my profit must be at least $5.

    Another thing I like is that I can list an item whenever I want, put it aside, and wait for someone to buy it. Listings expire after 90 days, but Amazon will send you an email to let you know that a listing has expired and include a link to relist the item with just a couple of clicks. I believe listings no longer expire.

    When I first started listing books on Amazon, my husband and I went through our bookshelves and sold about half of our books. One corner of our office was just filled with stacks of books, but over a period of about six months, the stacks gradually disappeared and I had a few hundred dollars in the bank from the online equivalent of a garage sale. Ever since then, I’ve had a grocery bag under my desk containing the items that are currently listed for sale, and every once in a while, I’ll get a “Sold, ship now” email from Amazon.

    In Part Two of this series, I’ll share some listing and shipping tips that I’ve acquired in the last three years, so stay tuned!

    Update: Part Two: Listing Your Item and Part Three: Shipping.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles.

    Can you think your way to more money?

    My dad has always been a big believer in positive thinking, so I was probably only 13 or 14 when I read Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking. But maybe because positive thinking has always been a part of my life, I’ve never really paid much attention to it. I accept the basic premise, that we have the ability to shape our life with our thoughts. But can positive thinking increase your income or net worth?

    Millionaire Mommy Next Door thinks so. She’s in the middle of an “abundance experiment” in which she is “open[ing her] mind to receive increasingly more money.” Her idea is to imagine how she’d spend increasing amounts of money and how she could bring in that money. She’s a little worried that the experiment will make her focus on what she doesn’t have and make her discontented, so she’s also expressing gratitude for the good things in her life.

    It’s an interesting idea. MMND says the experiment is working and that she’s started bringing in some money by selling things on Craigslist.

    I think that the key here is, as MMND put it, opening your mind to new possibilities and considering things you haven’t thought about before. In a way, MMND is just brainstorming over an extended period of time. But I think what’s interesting is that, as she gets into the high dollar ranges, she’ll have to consider more radical ideas. (She’s currently at $51,200, and since she’s doubling the amount each day, her next spending spree will be $102,400.)

    So can radical ideas turn into more money? Of course they can! That’s how many successful businesses get started. I’m going to start contemplating some radical ideas of my own.

    How can you think your way to more money?

    Image credit: Amazon.com – The Power of Positive Thinking(affiliate link).

    Surprising things that sell on eBay

    As I mentioned previously, A Full Cup is one of my new resources in The Drugstore Game. While reading posts there, I happened upon this thread, which reports that the following items that people normally throw out actually sell on eBay:

    Who knew?

    A free alternative to lottery tickets

    Make money entering free sweeps - chieffamilyofficer.com

    I think it’s safe to say that most personal finance experts and bloggers would advise against buying lottery tickets (CleverDude being the one exception that comes to mind). But it’s equally safe to say that everyone at some point or other dreams about winning the lottery or coming into some sort of windfall. I’m certainly no exception.

    Rather than wasting money on lottery tickets, however, I’ve come up with an alternative that’s equally satisfying. And it’s free!

    Instead of buying lottery tickets, enter contests and sweepstakes instead.

    In about the same amount of time it would take you to drive to a store, stand in line, purchase a ticket, fill in the bubbles, and do whatever else you have to do (I’m not sure because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life), you could easily enter a few contests or sweepstakes online. And let me say again, it’s free!

    I acknowledge that you give up some privacy when entering contests or sweepstakes, because you have to provide an email address at the very minimum. But you can set up a free email address that you use only for contests and sweepstakes.

    Larger contests and sweepstakes will often ask for additional information, such as your name, age, address and phone number. In such cases, you can also usually provide just a first initial instead of your whole name and a post office box if you have one. Also, don’t forget to check the opt out box if you’d rather not receive marketing communications. For additional tips on entering sweepstakes, check out some tips from The Baglady. Don’t forget to read the fine print and keep in mind that prizes are generally taxable (just like lottery winnings).

    My favorite contests to enter are the smaller ones, particularly blog giveaways. They usually require just an email address unless you win. And the odds are considerably better since the number of entries is smaller. Of course, the prizes are smaller, but you still get the thrill of winning. And it’s really not so different from buying scratch-off lottery tickets where the most frequent prize is a few dollars.

    So where can you find contests and sweepstakes to enter? You can always check out my other blog, CFO Reviews, for starters. There are also sites that aggregate giveaways and contests. Some of my favorites are PRIZEY, An Island Review, and Freebies4Mom (which posts links to free samples as well as sweepstakes).

    I know there are lots of other sources out there, so please share your favorites in the comments!

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by graur razvan ionut.

    Why I Decided Not To Join Revolution MoneyExchange

    In the last few weeks, many (if not most) personal finance bloggers have been encouraging people to join Revolution MoneyExchange (a service akin to PayPal) through referral links. The referrer gets $10 and the person creating the new account gets $25, so it seems like a good deal. If you like the blogger who referred you, presumably you’re happy to help them earn $10 for something that also makes you money.

    I was all set to sign up, but being an attorney, I always feel obligated to read the fine print that I’m required to say I’ve read before signing up. I hit a roadblock when I read the privacy policy. The part that concerned me says (emphasis added):

    INFORMATION WE COLLECT
    We collect information about you from the following sources:
    • Information we receive from you, including information on applications or other forms, such as your name, address, social security number, assets and income;
    • Information about your transactions with us, our affiliates, or others, such as your account balance, transaction and payment history, parties to transactions, and credit card usage; and
    • Information we receive from a consumer reporting agency, such as your creditworthiness and credit history.

    INFORMATION WE DISCLOSE
    We may disclose all of the information that we collect, as described above. You may opt out of the disclosure of such information, other than as permitted by law.

    Maybe it’s because I’m recovering from a rough bout of the flu (the kind that makes your joints and back ache, and has given me a killer sore throat for the last three days), but I just didn’t find the opt out to be enough reassurance that they wouldn’t disclose my social security number and other information to just anyone. For obvious reasons, I find it much more reassuring to deal with a company who starts from the customer-centric position of, “We will protect your personal identification and never disclose it without permission or as required by law.” (See, e.g., Mint.com’s privacy policy.)

    I’ve had a PayPal account for years, but I had no recollection of what their privacy policy says. So I checked it out. What I found is too long to quote here, but it includes this reassurance:

    PayPal will not sell or rent any of your personal information to third parties in the normal course of doing business and only shares your personal information with third parties as described in this policy.

    Basically, it’s the opposite of what Revolution MoneyExchange says.

    I realize that it’s most likely Revolution MoneyExchange doesn’t intend to do anything different from PayPal and will protect its customers’ personal information in much the same way, using it for marketing purposes only (and of course, to perform the services it’s designed to perform). I just don’t like it when a company gives itself more wiggle room in certain areas than it really needs. The risk to my privacy and personal information isn’t worth $25.

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