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Reevaluation

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Amazon Pay

 

So here’s the thing, I really think that I need to reevaluate my thinking on my Amazon Business.  After posting on the blog about what I was planning to do I got hit with lots of skepticism.  That really got me doubting myself, which doesn’t happen too often.  I was planning on waiting till I got out of debt to consider this venture, but after analyzing all the great data that Amazon has to offer, I realized that if I waited it would be foolish.

When I gave an update on this, I had already made my money back plus $14.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but it proved to me that this was a viable option to make money.  Since that time I have sold six more of this product!  Which grossed me $100.  This is not including the three products that are in the screen shot!  So the total is now up to $140.

I am now realizing the power of Amazon, and I know I have to take this opportunity by its horns.  I know if I had more good selling products, I can move more.  And thus make me more money.  I feel this is the best move for my family, I feel it down to bones.  I have been very active in Amazon FBA groups and am learning tons.  But in order to fully grasp everything, I am going to be buying some books and courses on this.  Now don’t worry this won’t be out of my income but out of my business savings, so I will still be par with my debt.

Hoping you all will support me!

Jim


7 Tips on How to Host A Yard Sale & Make More Money

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Two years ago I hosted a yard sale that after all expenses netted me about $120. I did some research on how to make it great that I want to share with everyone today.  Since that time we  have acquired loads of stuff, something I am a little ashamed of. It totally feels as if we are outgrowing our home, but if I really try to nail down the reason, I think it is because we have too much clutter.

So it is now time to declutter once again, but at the same time add to the get out of debt fund, totally seems like a win-win situation in my eyes.. Here are some tips that I have found to make sure your yard sell is a success.

1. Choose The Right Date

Try avoiding holiday weekends, and make sure it’s approved by your homeowner’s association or local government. Some cities designate a specific weekend or two each year and don’t allow yards sales at any other time. I didn’t do this step two years ago, since I decided to do the yard sale, after seeing a town wide yard sale sign. Having it on this day will ensure me greatest potential for foot traffic.

The question is though, is this a good idea? I am considering having it on another day, simply because yes there were hundreds of people out that day, but I was the only house on my block that was having one. If I was reading the town map of yard sales and only saw one house in the area, I would either save it for last or not even go.

I also want to really plan this out for a month or two, prepping things and deciding if a yard sale would be the most profitable for the item.

2. Get The Word Out

Use signs and local advertising, and be descriptive about some key items you have. Make sure all the signs look alike and are BIG with THICK black letters. Try to be different and use something that stands out, like the fluorescent color poster boards that you can find in the arts and crafts sections.

Post a notice in your local newspaper’s classified ads. State your key items and how to find your place. Also place what color poster boards to be looking for. Use websites like Craigslist and Yard Sale Search. There are even apps for such things now.

3. Price Everything and Be Reasonable

At a yard sale, no one is expecting to pay retail. After reading tips, it seems the norm to sale an item for 25% of their retail value. Bundling like items for one price may help things move faster. Remember to price everything, because you don’t want to take the time to answer how much for this particular item a hundred times, it could ruin your sale. Regardless how you decide to price thing, there will be shoppers who will want to negotiate with you.

4. Be Prepared for Haggling

Yes, you spent all that time pricing everything, but sure enough someone will come up to you and try to haggle their way down to a cheaper price. Give it some thought ahead of time about which items you are firm on and which items have some lee-way.

Personally the only things I am pretty set on the price are my bigger ticket items. Because you know someone will try to haggle with you over the thing, price the item a little more so you have the room to negotiate the price.

Just remember if they bargaining with you, it’s because they are interested in the item, don’t be completely rigid, but don’t give your stuff away.

5. Display Items To Their Advantage

The more you can spread your items out, the better. Hang clothes up on a portable clothes rack, along a fence, or make your own makeshift clothesline. People are more inclined to stop if you set up shop in your yard or driveway. Make your yard sale inviting and easy to browse. Set up tables and lay out smaller items so people don’t have to bend over to look through everything.

This might hurt my yard sale, for I have a small yard and you have to walk between my house and the mother in law’s house to get to the yard. But I decided to lure some people in by placing the highly desirable items near the road.

6. Profit From The Weather

During early morning sell coffee and tea. While during the afternoon, have a cooler with can sodas and bottled water. This will be pretty easy for us, since we have a huge stockpile of beverages. I actually plan to do one better and have food to sell. Probably like sausage, egg, and cheese wraps for breakfast. And hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbeque for lunch. Being a chef and knowing how to make all this in large portions for a great cost ratio comes pretty naturally to me.

7. Have Enough Change

It seems like a good starting point is have $30 in ones, $30 in gives, $10 in quarters, and $5 in dimes and nickels. I plan to have a little more quarters, since I probably will be selling lots of things for a quarter.

Never use a cash box, always keep your money on hand. These days you can never be too careful.

Running a yard sale isn’t that hard, but with a little effort into making it an pleasant environment, you can make a lot more money. Anyone have any other tips?


Side Hustles April 2014 Version

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Coin Faucet

A lot of people expressed that one of the ways they were able to eliminate their debt quickly is by finding ways of saving money and/or making money.  I really took it to heart (even though it appeared as if I didn’t), and started thinking of ways I could do more “side hustles.”  This month has been pretty good on this aspect.  And even though it isn’t much, every little bit helps right?

Before beginning the list on how I made some extra money, I wanted to give an update on the three possible contracts.  Out of the two contracts that looked like they could be winners, I heard back from one of them, and everything seems pretty good… Until the lady said I had to do a “HireVue.”  Anyone ever hear of this?  This isn’t uncommon for my line of work, since many of the clients are across a few states.  It basically is where I would be interviewed online.  Now usually this means a Skype call with every person in the process which I can usually nail really good,   But the company that I was doing this contract with decided a little bit ago to basically do a video recording where they ask you questions and you speak right to your webcam, with nobody on the other end.  I didn’t know what the questions they were going to ask me and had three minutes to answer them.  

Now they did give some practice questions, which I could retake as much as I wanted.  So when I went to the real questions I thought this would be the same way.  Nope!  Had three minutes and no retakes.  Well I think I tanked the HireVue, but I still have some leverage as I worked with this company many times before, so hopefully that will be enough. 

I also had the Skype Interview with the well known marketer that I really want.  I didn’t bring much to the table with this one, but as he pointed out that he was only looking for entry level.  So we will see how that goes, he told me by next week he will make a decision.

Anyway here are some of the ways we made extra money this month, not including things that I do regularly for my business.  From here on out, I am considering the Amazon venture part of my business, as it has been proven to me that this is a viable way to make money.

  • $225 Gas Money from my Buddy.  At the moment I am not sure if I broke even on the gas situation or if I made/lost money.  I will know for certain in a few days when I do my budget analysis.  I am thinking/hoping I came out ahead.  But if I didn’t, this was for my best friend, I know he would have done the same for me.
  • $25 Gas Card from Client.  A little bit ago I got a phone call from a distraught newspaper client.  For the past few years, since I have been delivering their paper I been throwing their paper in their yard.  They trained their dog to get their paper.  Well it turns out their dog died.  I really felt bad and sent them a card, stating I was sorry for their loss.  Now I didn’t do this for any type of benefit, just knew that losing a dog is like losing a child.  Well the card meant a lot to them, and I was left a $25 gift card to my local gas station.
  • $70 Tips (plus a box of chocolate) from Clients.  I get many cards and tips throughout the year from different clients, stating that I am the best carrier.  And even though this is just me delivering things to people on a very regular basis, I do it to the best of my ability.  This money will be put in my emergency fund.
  • $86.85 Total Amount of Commissions my wife made from her Younique Business.  If you read my Author Box, it states that I am trying to get her direct sales business off the ground.  It is a little hard when we have so little money to get her the stuff she needs to do a vendor show.  Another drawback is that the makeup she sells is a little expensive for our neighborhood, so she mostly is trying to gain traction in a cold market.  It is starting to see some success, and she was promoted to the next level in her business.  This money will stay on the card that we got for the business and it will be reinvested back into the business.
  • $65 Affiliate Sales from People.  At the beginning of the month I offered up a service to my wife’s teammates, where I would set up a domain and blog for them for free.  I informed them that the hosting companies they chose paid me a commission for sending them a client, so that was how I was getting paid.  There was an up sell to this that I would design the blog for cheap as well.  Now this $65 I won’t receive till I break $100 threshold, which is just one more client, plus they pay the next month.  So if I get another client in the next few days, I would get paid middle of next month, if not the amount rolls over and I get it the following month.
  • $50 Doll Selling to a Friend.  I mentioned in a previous post that my daughter really doesn’t play with anything.  Well one thing she loves is Monster High (she has had two birthday parties of this theme.)  Well she wants everything Monster High, and with that we started collecting all the dolls.  She has almost every doll opened.  And just like Barbies there is many different versions of the same doll.  We have about a dozen or two unopened.  I sold five dolls!  This money will also go into funding the emergency fund.

Well that’s about it.  Later today I will go over my debt payoff, be on the lookout!


I got a raise!!!

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Can I get a “woohooo!!!!”

But before we get too excited, let’s have a little #truth.

I don’ know if you can really consider it a “raise” because what happened is I took on additional work. So, yeah, my income is going to raise (and not by just chump change…a pretty decent upward improvement), but it is in exchange for additional work.

It was a bit unexpected, but I’m very grateful for it. Even though I’m not an “employee” (I work on a contract-basis), I still somehow feel like a very valuable “team member” at this particular university, we’ll call it University A (remember – I work for multiple universities, but I don’t feel comfortable divulging where). I feel well compensated for my work and have established a great working relationship with the faculty, administrative staff, and other contract-employees as well (all done through distance & technology – pretty amazing!)

So I’ve given it a great deal of thought and, although this may disappoint some, I think this new development has rendered this conversation moot. I hope you will not be angry with me! I had been thinking about reducing daycare to save money for a LONG time….it was not something I was just spouting off randomly and have taken back just as suddenly. Instead, I’ve made the calculated decision to leave our situation as-is for now (care 3 days a week instead of reducing to 2). The additional work I have picked up more than makes up for the $200 in savings per month, many times over. And with additional work, I really believe I’ll need the extra day of childcare per week. Also, as an aside, last week the girls were only in daycare 2 days instead of 3 (the provider had a pre-planned trip that left us out-of-care for a day). OF COURSE, this is when the WORST ALLERGIES OF MY LIFE hit! I felt like I was dying from the sinus pressure, migraine, non-stop sneezing, etc. I looked like I had pink eye because my eyes were so puffy, swollen, red, and watery (I took a picture, but I’ll spare you the gory image). Let’s just say….very little work got done. And now I’m way behind (and I don’t get paid until my work is done, so that’s a problem!) And it just made me recognize how valuable our current childcare situation is. $50 WELL SPENT, if you ask me!

That was a long side-note – let’s get back to the employment situation…

Of course with contract situations there is no guarantee of ongoing work. But, so far, I have been made to feel very safe and secure in our current situation at University A. I will say that this situation is with online teaching, so I get a new contract every semester. I don’t see the current situation changing anytime soon.

With my other “employer” (said in quotations because, again, I’m not technically an employee since its a contract-based job…we’ll call this University B), there is not as much job security. This job is mostly research-based, so whenever the current project is completed I could be out of a job. At this point I’ve been working with University B for 6 months and have worked through completion of 4 separate projects (being asked back after the completion of each previous project). But this “raise” makes me feel much more comfortable because previously I earned my pay approximately 50% from each (research job and teaching job, respectively). This additional work (and associated pay) tips the scale to where I am now earning my full “old” salary solely at the teaching job. Any money from the research job is just gravy. So, as long as the research job continues, I’m coming out ahead. If the research job were to cease today, I’d still be making the same salary I’ve been accustomed to.

Doing contract-based work certainly requires some flexibility. You never know what the future holds and there’s no guarantees about anything.

But, with that said, a little birdie told me I could potentially be expecting another “raise” come the Fall semester at University A. *fingers crossed*  We’ll see!!!


Striking Out on Your Own

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Several years ago, I wrote an article on my personal blog about Striking Out on Your Own. I was forced to start my own business because of my priority in staying home with my children.  I have absolutely no regrets about that decision. BUT…

My natural tendency is not be the #1 when it comes to business, I am much more comfortable as a #2.  I tried explaining this to my twins as they start feeling out what they may want to do with their lives.  It came out a little bit like this…typically, the head of a company is the visionary, has great ideas, is great with networking and people and can influence people.  That’s not how I see myself.  I see myself at the support staff…you give me the idea and I can make it happen.  I am smart, determined and know how to find good resources. I am really not good at social situations and my visionary abilities stop at planning a great vacation.

So with that being said, as I am Exploring Making more Money, I have been looking for ways to streamline what I do so that I can do more.  My business is just me, no subcontractors, no staff, just me.  I do all the work: the marketing, the management, the sales, the customer service, the administration and the actual technical work.  I have been focusing on tracking my work and free time to see if there is anywhere that would be the most economical items to contract out to free me up some.

I know I then have to weigh the benefits and cost of subcontracting versus doing it myself, but this is where my mind is heading right now.  So my question is for you entrepreneurs out there, what tasks have you found to be most effective and efficient to contract out versus doing it yourself?


Making More Money

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For 8 years now, I’ve been self employed. When I lost my corporate job after I refused to travel any more after my second child was born, I knew I had to find something that would allow me to stay home. After six months of stay at home mom unemployment, I knew I needed a job. During late night browsing sessions, I discovered virtual assistants, and knew that was the route for me. EPOH was born.

I’ve definitely had my ups and downs, taking pay cuts with economy crash, having clients fail to pay, gaining and losing clients along the way. But I’ve been able to support us, that is until last fall, I took a pretty big hit when my very first client had to let me go as their business just couldn’t support my cost anymore, and I couldn’t afford to work for a significantly lower rate.

I thought I could make it, I thought it would be fine. But then I fell behind. Then in November, after putting in a small time of marketing things started to look up again. And since then it’s been a bit of a stressful roller coaster ride of finding work. I’ve got a steady client list still, but I’m playing catch up, and trying to get ahead all at the same time. I MUST make more money, that’s all there is to it!

i love work

So this past week, with that goal in mind, I have been haunting my typical marketing methods:
1. Guru
2. Craigslist
3. Church Community Board
4. Local papers classifieds

But more importantly, I am starting to consider alternative revenue streams, which until now I’ve been very resistant to:
1. Etsy
2. Finding a local part time brick and mortar job (now that the kids are old enough and responsible enough to be left alone for short amounts of time)
3. Going back into the corporate world (really don’t want to, but more than I don’t want to, I want to be out of debt!)
4. Starting a business with my kids that has been burning a hole in my head since this time last year
5. Building my personal blog with writing and affiliate links
6. Product sales – I thought momentarily about selling some product like so many do and like Claire started doing, but I am so much of an introvert and do not do well with ‘house parties’ that have concluded that this is definitely not the route for me.

I can’t remember who said recently that in this debt pay off race you normally have more time than money which is definitely the case with me. So in my time, I am working hard to find the best way to increase my income while maintaining a healthy family life balance. I know I’ve got the skills, I just need to find the right way to go about it. Suggestions?


PACT

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Have any of you heard of the app called PACT? If not, it’s really cool and can help some of you to earn some $$$ (well, maybe not $$$, but at least a little bit of $) : )

Here’s the basic idea. You download the free app and use it to set up PACTS for yourself. There are three PACT options (you can select 1, 2, or all 3):

  1. GymPACT
  2. VeggiePACT
  3. FoodPACT

With GymPACT, you make a “pact” to work out “X” number of days per week; with VeggiePACT, your “pact” is to eat “X” number of veggie-heavy meals per week; and FoodPACT is to use a food diary to track your eats. There are some rules (a minimum of 3 days per week, 30 minute-minimum for workouts), but if you meet your goals, you get PAID for doing them! If you workout regularly anyway, you could get paid money to just do what you’re already doing for free!!!

Here’s the catch…..

If you DON’T meet your “pact”, then you OWE money!!! That’s how it works. The people who don’t meet their pacts end up paying the benefits to the members who DO meet their pacts. It’s also easy to add/remove/modify pacts (but not for the current week – must be future weeks only), so if you’re planning to go out of town, for example, you can put a “hold” on your pacts for whatever period of time you like.

So how does the app “know” if you’ve completed your pacts?

With GymPACT, your smart phone can “check in” to your gym. I don’t have a gym membership, but guess what!!! It also uses GPS/satellites to track your movements. I’ve been able to take it on runs around my neighborhood and meet my GymPACT that way (caution:  I’ve noticed the phone must track not only mileage but also movement. I’ve tried to put it in my stroller console, for example, and it doesn’t “count” my movement because the phone is stationary and I guess the ride is too smooth. If I hold it in my hand, it works fine).

With VeggiePACT, you take pictures of a veggie-heavy meal and post it to the online community for members to vote on! They can “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” your meal. You get credit if you get thumbs ups and you don’t if you get thumbs down (for example, I’ve seen someone post an apple pie…..uhhhh, totally doesn’t count!?!)

And with FoodPACT, you can diary your food either in the app or in MyFitnessPal (another free app), which PACT is set to “sync” with on a daily basis. I was already using MyFitnessPal prior to downloading PACT, so this was a no-brainer for me!

A couple caveats….

I believe you do need a smart phone in order to use PACT. I know that’s kind of a touchy subject because smart phones are NOT a necessity and many of you may not condone having them (preferring a more frugal option instead – which is great!). But, if you do happen to have a smart phone and you do any of these things regularly anyway, why not get paid to do them???

Also, the money thing… At a minimum, you have to wager $5 per pact per week. That means if you have all 3 PACTS set up and for some reason you don’t do any of them, you’re out $15 for the week. On the flip side, you don’t make anywhere near $15 (or even $5) per week if you DO keep your PACTS. My average has been about $2.00/week, and I only do the Food and GymPACT (I would never remember to photograph my meals!)

I’ve been a PACT member since January and have earned a total of $22. There was one week where I failed to keep my GymPACT and lost $5, so my net positive is $17.

Obviously you’re not going to get “rich” using this app, but I wanted to give it a blog-plug for any of you who may benefit from it. If you’d like to get started, go here and enter the promo code, GymPact$5 – you will get $5 for free just for joining (just FYI – I get NO BENEFIT from this whatsoever, this is not an affiliate link and I get no money if you do decide to join. I just want to share because I didn’t have this promo code when I joined and its like getting 2-3 weeks of PACT money free up front!)

What are some good (Free!) apps you use to make money and/or get free goods??

One of my friends swears by ShopKick, but for some reason it has never worked for me (it gives you points  you can redeem for merchandise by going to stores you already shop at anyway – like Target – but my phone never registered when I was in the store so I stopped using it).