Sunday, July 31, 2005

Off To The Flea Market

Previous Total: $36.35

Current Total: $36.35

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 0 minutes

Time Spent Total: 5 hour 46 minutes

It looks like I'll be starting the new month with $36 as a starting point. That means that I'll need to earn about $1000 a month for the next 5 months if I'm going to reach the goal. Seing how the bottles and cups sell will give me a good indication on whether or not I'll be able to continue with the current plan or will have to make some drastic changes. A few of the cups and bottles have risen in price, but I'm still hoping there will be a lot of last minute bidders to raise the prices a bit more.

I'm heading to a flea market tomorrow and will be looking for new possible things to sell. I hope to get some things that I can split the price on with me new wrapping partner as well as some things that will be easy to wrap so I can get the full price for them. My fingers are crossed and I'm looking forward to see what kinds of bargains I can find.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Olympic Pins

Previous Total: $0.14

Current Total: $36.35

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 16 minutes

Time Spent Total: 5 hour 46 minutes

Let's hear it for those Olympic pins! My friend's olympic medals all sold for about what we had thought they would: $3.77. $5.51 and $13.00. The two pins did wonderfully selling for $57.56 (the one pictured here) and $64.51 ( our little kappa friend I featured earlier - guess who is going to be looking for Olympic pins at flea markets from now on?) for a total take of $144.44 - I get 25% of that which adds $36.11 to my total. I spend 16 minutes mailing the people and I'm done - he will send the items out and collect the money.

It seems like I have put a lot of work into this so far with out much return (Only $36 ???), but I still have all those items on auction so hopefully next week it will be a lot more than that. The best part is that I've done my duties for all those items on auction. Other than mail back, I've finished since my partner will do all the wrapping. I have a good feeling going into the next month.

Listed New Items

Previous Total: $4.94

Current Total: $0.14

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 2 hours 13 minutes

Time Spent Total: 5 hour 30 minutes

I took all the photos of the newest batch of cups and bottles I purchased, loaded them up and placed them all on auction this evening. You can see everything we have invested in thus far here. Ebay lising cost came to $9.60 which gets split in half for $4.80 to me leaving me with a grand total of $0.14 and half ownership of all the stuff above. The other cups we plaed on auction earlier this week aren't doing so well at the moment, but most collectors seem to bid last minute on them so I have my fingers crossed.

Wrapping & Changing Sigs

Previous Total: $4.94

Current Total: $4.94

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 53 minutes

Time Spent Total: 3 hour 17 minutes

I spend 15 minutes wrapping the Star Wars cards sets to send out so that transaction is completely done - they will go out in the morning mail.

I also spent 38 minutes going to many of the forums I frequent and changing my signature to the $5000 Challenge blog. Again, I hope this will drive a bit more traffic to the site. I also made a few posts and replies so I'll check the stats tomorrow to see if more people have been visiting.

I'm off to take photos of the items I bought yesterday, load them up and prepare the auction listings for tomorrow.

Reducing Paypal Fees

Previous Total: $4.94

Current Total: $4.94

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 0 minutes

Time Spent Total: 2 hour 24 minutes

While I won't count this as income directly, over the next 5 months it should put more profit into this challenge. If you have payal, their standard merchant rate is 2.9% + $0.30 for receiving money. If you do more than $3,000 in transactions over a 3 month period, then you can get this rate lowered to 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction. If you do over $10,000 in a three month period, the rate can be put down to 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction.

The important factor here is that you have to apply for the rate - paypal won't automatically give it to you. I just passed the 3 month mark (I took some time off and didn't qualify for awhile) and my new rate is 2.2% instead of the 2.9% I had been paying. While .7 % doesn't seem like a whole lot, it's an extra $70 minimum per 3 months into my pocket instead of paypal's pocket.

Since I'm using auctions to invest and grow the money and most people pay by paypal, a portion of this fee reduction will come to my total earnings in this challenge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Little Geen Guy!

Previous Total: $4.94

Current Total: $4.94

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 0 minutes

Time Spent Total: 2 hour 9 minutes

Let's hear it for the little green guy - in other words the "kappa" (mythical Japanese lake creature - okay, he's white in the pin, but usually he's green) that has jumped in price to $30 on auction. Those friend's Olympic pins are doing a lot better than either of us had dreamed and the five together are already above $80. That means at least another $20 will go into the fund. I hope the next batch does as well.

More Purchases

Previous Total: 32.44

Current Total: $4.94

Inventory: 3 bottles (half ownership), 27 sake cups (half ownership), 3 mini plates (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 15 minutes

Time Spent Total: 2 hour 9 minutes

Went on a bit of a buying spree and picked up 3 bottles, 10 cups and 3 mini plates at the antique/rececly shop near our local grocery store. Since the trip to the grocery store was already planned, the time spent was only about 15 minutes in the store itself. The total came to $55 which gets split in half to $27.50 each. They are a bit more expensive than the last box we bought, but there are some nice ones inside that could sell really well. Will prepare those and list them on Thursday.

I also picked up the 10 sets of cards that I sold. The store still has sets left, so I will list them again too since the form is already done.

The Coca Cola set failed to sell again. A lot of people had it on their watch list, but nobody purchased it. Will give up on that for now and take my losses. Maybe when the world cup is in full swing again. At least I didn't buy the set and have it as excess inventory. That would have been a costly mistake att he beginning.

There were a lot of other interesting little things at the antique/recycle shop that I was temped to pick up (some old bike parts, some advertisement banners, etc), but the funds just weren't there at the moment. I will certainly be making another trip there if the cups sell.

Now it's just a wait and see game...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back into the Black!

Previous Total: - $2.74

Current Total: $32.44

Inventory: 17 sake cups (half ownership)

Time Spent Since Last Post: 0 minutes

Time Spent Total: 1 hour 54 minutes

I'm back in the black! The star wars 10 set sale came through and he made payment today. After deduction paypal fee and the cost of the sets, I come away with a $35.18 profit which puts me back into the black and means that we can now purchase those other cups that I had been wanting. I will go and purchase them today since the shop is next to our local grocery store and I will make a shopping run today.

One of the cups

I thought I'd add a little color to the blog by showing one of the cups that is currently on auction. They are actually quite nice and make for nice display items.

Will the gamble pay off?

Previous Total: $2.56

Current Total: -$2.74

Inventory: 17 sake cups (half ownership)

Time Spent: 1 hour 54 minutes

Time Spent Total: 1 hour 54 minutes

Techincally I'm bankrupt at this moment due to the $10.60 (split in half = $5.30 to me) in fees for listing the 17 sake cups today - but since I don't have to pay the ebay fees at this moment (not until the bill comes) I'm still solvent with a bit of money in my envelope here.

If the cups don't sell, then I'll be in real trouble and my challenge may be over, but it should (fingers crossed) work out okay in the end since I'll have a bit of money coming in when the medal auctions I listed for my friend end.

The SW card guy said he was going to purchase 10 sets, but I haven't heard anything back from him after send ing a few emails so I'm not sure that will pan out. It kind of hurts as I already knew what I was going to buy with the money when it came in (some more cups I came across), but I may have to pass on them since I don't have any funds at the moment.

I started recording the time it takes to do this challenge (good thing I found my stop watch). I spend just under 2 hours taking photos, loading them onto my computer and setting up the auctions. The time is a bit off on the total since I just started today, but over the next five months it shouldn't amount to much of a difference.

Here are the auctions I listed for anyone that is interested:

17 Sake Cup Auctions

Since I don't have any more money at this point, I will spend some time listing a few more items for my friend since that doesn't cost me any money to do. Again, it's finding the time.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Previous Total: $2.56

Current Total: $2.56

Inventory: 17 sake cups (half ownership)

An interesting comment in the main section of the challenge:

"I think the only way (unless you're really lucky) to turn $20 into $5000 is by also investing a lot of time. I suppose with my job, I am continually trying to turn $20 into $5000 many times over. I buy a domain, get some hosting, and then try earn money through advertising. It doesn't just happen, though... it also requires a lot of work and time."

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the biggest obstacles I'm finding with my challenge is finding the time. Obviously, working the ebay route means that I do put time into making this happen - I think from now on I'll also list the time it takes me to earn the extra money (time to go through the drawers and see if I can find my old stopwatch)

My goal is not to spend more than a couple of hours a day at the most, because that is all I really have and that is probably pushing it a bit. We'll see how the time factor works out as things progress.

Sake Cups & Partnership

Previous Total: $22.56

Current Total: $2.56

Stock: 17 sake cups (half ownership)

My wife and I went to a get together last night and I was talking to some of them about my $20 to $5,000 challenge and told them that one of my biggest problems with this task is finding the time to do it. As much time as I spend on savingadvice in addition to my other commitments, I have limited time to try and make the money.

I sell a lot of Japanese medals in my spare time because there is a decent profit margin and by doing so, it allows me to spend more time on the website (instead of going out and finding a part-time job to earn some extra cash). I know that there is quite a bit of potential profit in Japanses sake cups, but I don't sell them very often because of the time it takes to wrap them so they don't break while being shipped overseas. For the limited time I have, medals make more sense because they are easy to wrap and send meaning I can list more of them each week.

While talking, one of them suggested a split of duties: if I list the items, she will wrap, address and send them - we split the profits 50/50. If all I have to do is take the photos and list the items, then I should have time to do this and it could turn out to be quite profitable. I also have complete confidence with her wrapping the items as she is a perfectionist in such things.

Today I went to a local flea market and picked up a few nice boxes of cups. One box in particular I'm excited to list as I think they will sell quite well. I purchased 17 cups total for $40 ($20 mine, and $20 hers) which puts me down to only $2.56, but it's a chance worth taking. This will most likely be the make or break purchase of my challenge. if this works out, I should have a money cushion even if I make some mistakes later on. If not, I am counting that the promised sale of the Star Wars card sets comes through since I will need that money if this fails.

The cup price of about $2.35 a cup was a great find - usually these cups sell for $5 - $10 each when sold individually, so the bulk buy was the way to go). Not all of them are in perfect condition, but that is part of the risk in buying in bulk. Luckily, most are in good condition. A few have rim chips and acouple have hairline cracks, but even with the imperfections, the patterns are good and I still think they will sell. I will be listing them tomorrow and will keep my fingers crossed.

There hasn't been a whole lot of movement on the Olympic pins and medals I listed for my friend since the burst of bidding when they were first listed. Ebay tends to be this way - most bidding takes place on the first and last day of the auctions. I have some more items from him to list to, so tomorrow is going to be a busy listing day.

Time to start taking photos and preparing the listing for tomorrow...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Good News

Previous Total: $22.56

Current Total: $22.56

Inventory: Nothing

Some good news. The person says he wants to buy another 10 sets of the Star wars cards. I checked with the local shop and they still have plenty of the set so there isn't a problem there. Payment hasn't come yet, but that should add about $30 to the total after all the expenses and will give me a little more room to buy some items that have the potential to earn a bit more money.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pleasant Surprise

Previous Total: $22.56

Current Total: $22.56

The auctions that I put up for my friend have done much better than I expeced thus far. Since I have no experience with olympic collectibles, I wasn't sure what to expect and figured if they all sold for about $5 or so, we would have done well. All the auctions have at least one bid with one of the pins already having been bid up to $39 which is a pleasant surprise for both of us. My take is 25% of the final price so that should add a few more dollars to the total when they end next week. I guess I should keep my eyes open for Olympic pins from now on when I visit flea markets and such.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Auctions Listed At No Risk

Previous Total: $22.56

Current Total: $22.56

Still no word on the other card sets. If I don't hear anything in the next 24 hours, I will list another set.

I listed 5 auction for my friend with Olympic related themes. The deal is I get 25% of the final price and he pays all fees, so no risk on my part in this.

Japanese 1964 Tokyo Olympics Medal Olympic Japan Fuji
Japanese 1964 Tokyo Olympics Medal Olympic Japan Bronze
Japanese 1972 Sapporo Olympics Medal Olympic Japan XI
Japan 1964 Tokyo Olympics Kappa Flag Pin Olympic Japan
Japan 1964 Tokyo Olympic Ring Pin Olympics Japanese NR

Hopefully all those will sell for a few dollars at a minimum - I don't know much about Olympic collectibles so not sure what to expect there. I still have some more items to list for him when I find the time.

Another Small Sale

Previous Total: $18.93

Current Total: $22.56

Ah, for the little joys in life. Another of the Star Wars card sets sold which means $3.63 profit after all expenses which actually puts me a couple dollars ahead of the initial $20 starting point finally. The better news (fingers crossed) is that he may be interested in multiple sets, so I will wait putting another set on ebay until I hear from him on that....time for bed since it's closing in on 1:00AM out here in Japan

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Auctions Ended - Not as good as I hoped

Previous Total: $17.55

Current Total: $18.93

Things have certainlt started out slow - I need to come up with some more ideas soon if I'm going to make it to the goal. Onlt one of the two auctions sold at the reduced prices I listed - the card set for $5.95 + $3.00 shipping. The final value fee was $0.26 and the paypal fee was $0.56. As mentioned before, the cost of the set to me was $2.50. Shipping came to $2.00 - I had placed an extra $1.00 onto shipping to help lessen the impact of the listing, final and paypal fees. That means the profit was $3.63 - not a lot, but since I can do this again and again, not much more work for me to list the auction. So, I placed another auction for the set up on ebay which cost another $0.70.

Even thought he coca cola set didn't sell, I placed it up again (another $1.55 listing fee) because there were 7 people that had put it on their watch list. I'm not sure why it didn't sell. If it doesn't sell this week at $39.95, I will give up on that.

So after totalling up my small gain and the expenses of listing again, overall I'm still under $20.

The good news is I received about 15 items from a friend that wants me to list them for him - since he'll be paying all the expenses for listing and final value, I don't have to worry about that. I will get 25% of the final price.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Not As I Had Planned - Making Adjustments

Current Total: $17.55

Things haven't turned out exactly the way I had hoped, but then that is part of this experiment. Neither of the two auctions has sold. I was hoping that they would sell rather quickly and I could list multiples of them to get a better base, but things have not worked out that way. The good thing is that I didn't actually buy either of the sets so I'm not stuck with inventory. I've decided to lower the price on both of them to see if I can sell them before the auctions end.

I did receive some items from my friends to list on auction and we agreed on the 25% of selling price for them. Most of them don't look like they will sell for a whole lot of money, but again, it's a 100% risk free listing for me so I'll see how those turn out. my plan is to list those auctions on Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

New Stream of Income?

I had a conversation with a few friends last night that may turn into a new stream of income. They have items that they want to sell, but not the time to do it. I offered to sell the items for them - either for a flat $10 fee or 25% of the final price, whichever they prefer. The nice think is that there is absolutely no risk for me - they pay for all the listing fees and final fees. They are supposed to bring some items over next week and I'll see how this works out.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Created This Blog

I don't expect that this blog will generate a ton of money, but it should add a few dollars to the overall goal by the time six months are up with the google ads that are on it. The key to making it a success will be to trade links and try and get a following - the first step to doing that is getting the word out about the blog. I'll need to trade links, so anyone out there with a personal financial or money related blog or site that would like to trade links, feel free to email me at any time.

Listed Items

I listed 2 auctions with the inatial $20 - one cost $0.70 and the other $1.55 bringing my current total to $17.55. Both items are available at a local hobby shop so I didn't have to actually purchase them before hand - I just went and took photos. That means if they don't sell, I'm only out the listing fee and not the cost of the items. While a little risky, the shop has plenty of both sets. I decided to list them at a set price to hopefully increase the $20 a little quicker.

The Coca Cola Coke Bottle Japanese Korea World Cup Pin Set is a set that I sold when the world cup was going on and it usually sold for between $25 and $50 so I have it listed at the high end. My cost is $25 - if it doesn't sell in the next few days, I may lower the price a little.

The Star Wars 7-11 AOTC 16 + 3 Insert Card Set is also a set that I have sold in the past - it is a bit oversold, but still should get between $5 and $10 since it includes the insert cards. My cost is $2.50. Hopefully I can sell a few of each to build up the money and move onto items with potentially greater profit margins.

I've set the shipping price at slightly higher than the actual shipping costs - this will help defray the paypal fees and final value fees (although it won't eliminate them). My fingers are crossed. The nice thing about these two sets are that if they do sell, I can relist them again as long as the hobby shop has them in stock.

More Possible Money Making Thoughts

Due to some unexpected issues, I wasn't able to list my items on Friday. I find that my items don't sell as well on weekends as during the week, so I'm going to wait until Monday to list them.

I also rediscovered another way I can add some money at little cost. When I first started on ebay, I used to collect used phone cards left in phone booths in Japan. I haven't done that in a long time just because the profit margin wasn't as high as it was for other items I can buy and resell. With the $20 start, these will be a good base to start with again since I find them for free. Once I get a bit more of a cushion, I'll probably stop selling them and move to more profitable items, but it is a good way to start with minimal costs. If the auctions go well but I decide not to sell them any more, maybe I'll bulk sell the cards to other to sell - then I can make a little money without much time spend and someone else can also make some extra money. Something to think about.

More Research

I spent about another 30 minutes yesterday taking photos and have decided on two items that he stocks. One is a set of Star Wars trading cards and the other is a set of Coke bottle caps - he has multiples of both these greatly reducing the risk that they will be sold to someone else if I sell them on eBay. I'm writing up the listing at the moment and will list them tomorrow to make sure they are placed on auction at a better ending time.

That also got me thinking about some other things I can do. pepsi is currently running a campaign out here for bottle caps for Star Wars that are exclusive to Japan. I can sell these as long as the campaign is running without purchasing the bottle caps unless I sell them. This works out well because I also get free drinks in the process. Kelloggs is also running a Japan campaign which again could lead to both some extra money and free breakfast cereal. I'll think a bit more on those this weekend.

Looking For Product To Sell

I spent about 30 minutes looking for things to sell yesterday (no cost - all were within walking distance of my home) and found a number of possibilities, but most didn't fit the $20 starting budget. The problem is that eBay listing fees will eat up the $20 rather quickly. Technically, I won't have to pay them until the next credit card payment arrives, but to be conservative, I will count the money as being gone when I list the products.

So I had a dilemma of how to get started on the tight budget - and then it came to me. There was a hobby shop I visited that is selling a number of items I think I can resell for a profit. Most are over my $20 budget. To lessen the risk, I talked to the owner and asked if I could come back and take photos of certain items he has (I explained a friend in the US was looking for things and I wanted to make sure they were the right ones before buying them) and he agreed. So I will take pictures today and list the items tomorrow.

This means that on the money side, I have greatly reduced my risk (if I'm wrong and the item doesn't sell, then I don't have any dead stock and am only out the listing fee). Where I will increase my risk is on the supply side - I will be in real trouble if I sell something on eBay and then go back to the store and find the item has been sold. I will therefore ask what type of supply he has for each of the items to lessen the risk that they are all sold out.

Turning $20 into $5000

One of the best ways to save money is to earn extra money on the side. I was discussing this with a good friend of mine and he said that doing a side business is a lot easier said than done, especially if you don't have a lot of money to start. I told him that I could turn $20 into $5000 by the end of the year and thus this challenge was born. I have $20 and over the next 6 months I will try and turn that $20 into $5000 in savings. This blog will follow my attempts to do this.