For those of us that are not in a position to make money outside of the home, I have compiled a list- by no means comprehensive- to add a little extra income to the budget by working from home. Each Thursday in June, I will cover two of the eight ideas. Today, we will talk about time as a commodity and on-line sales.
1. “Time is money.” Sometimes, making money is an abstract concept. My husband says I am making money for our family when I meal plan, keep track of turning lights off, or take care of things around the house so that he doesn’t have to, thereby freeing him up to work more. “Time is money,” he keeps telling me. For every hour that he is not working because he is doing something that I could do instead, it is an hour’s wages lost. Even if I stand to make $10/hour on a project or potential job opportunity, it is still a fraction of the money he could make in the same time frame. So, by being a keeper of the home, I enable him to make the money, and I work to keep the money in our pockets, rather than putting it in someone else’s. When I meal plan, I keep us from having to shop or eat out spontaneously, which costs more money. When I am attentive to unplugging unused items or turning lights off, I am saving money on our utilities. These are the easy, everyday things I can do to keep money in our account.
2. Selling items on Craigslist, ebay, consignment, or Facebook buy/sell/trade sites. I have had success with the latter three; I am not as familiar with Craigslist, although we do have a few bigger items that I plan to try out there. Ebay is hit or miss for me. Some months, I may sell 80% of what I list; other months, nothing sells. Two important things to consider with ebay are: 1) the processing fees that both ebay and PayPal charge, and 2) the shipping costs. For the 80% I sold, I will be paying ebay $18. This is the equivalent of one of my sales, which means I essentially gave one item away. I still come out $100 ahead, though, with the other items that sold.
However, my greatest downfall has been shipping costs. Yes, I have actually paid others to buy my items because I miscalculated how much it would cost to ship them. There is nothing more upsetting than having to pay to get rid of something that I could have just dropped off at Goodwill for free. I do all of my shipping at the post office, because that works for me, but I think there is a much more efficient and affordable means of shipping; I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out. Overall, I think selling through ebay can be relatively lucrative, depending on what you have to sell. Just remember that “time is money” motto: it takes time to create the listing, take the pictures, package, and ship your items. Does it add up when you sold that shirt for $1.99? Probably not.
As far as consignment goes, the two things I have dropped off at consignment stores (an old painting and a set of silverware) both sold. All I had to do was bring them in, sign a form, and wait for the check in the mail. I didn’t even set up an appointment; the proprietors took my items as a walk-in visitor. I made about $70 total.
Now, clothing consignment is another story. I have brought items in to consign, only to find out that I would make about $10 on a $300 suit and a few extra dollars for the other dress clothes I brought in. Umm, no I think I’ll keep the suit and figure something else out for it. I did finally end up donating the suit to a local thrift shop after it didn’t sell on ebay or the local Facebook site. It pained me to have spent so much for something I never wore, but the peace of mind that came from giving it away (and not experiencing guilt every time I looked in my closet) was worth far more.
Lessons I learned from that experience: don’t by clothes you don’t need, and don’t shop at the boutique who won’t take buyer’s remorse returns within 24 hours. With the exception of a fabulous pair of Fidgi shoes that I wear often, I have sold every other item I bought from that boutique on that fateful day. Nothing really fit me or my lifestyle, and I have only felt deep regret seeing the items hanging in my closet. So, in short, as far as selling clothes on consignment goes, I haven’t had great success. Also, note that you will need to schedule an appointment and that most places require a certain number of pieces to consign with you (10-20). Only one place I asked didn’t have a minimum requirement.
I have had the most success with local Facebook buy/sell/trade sites. I like that there is no shipping involved, and usually meeting up with people is convenient, since we are all in fairly close proximity to each other. I make it a point not to travel to the outlying cities in my county, because the cost of gas sometimes exceeds the value of the item. I generally purchase/sell within a 5-mile radius. Yes, there are the occasional no-shows or latecomers that waste my time. I make up for that by allowing people I trust to stop by and pick up their items at my residence, saving me time and travel. There can be a bit of confusion about who was first to express interest or haggling over the price, but most of my interactions have been positive, and I have met some great people from my town along the way.
My biggest hang-up is the clutter of items in my closet, waiting to be sold (this applies to ebay and Craigslist items, too). After about two weeks, I can’t stand it anymore, and off they’ll go to Goodwill. Again, peace of mind trumps profit, and useless clutter makes me anxious.
Stay tuned next Thursday, when we look at the pros and cons of making money through rummage sales and online survey sites. How have you managed your time to save resources, thereby keeping money in your pocket?
(Featured photo credit: http://www.makemoneyinlife.com/6-ways-to-make-money-at-home.html. Take a look for additional ideas for making money at home.)