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Posts Tagged ‘Selling’

Money Crunch

I decided to buy as many books as possible from fellow students this year.

  1. I like supporting student sales, largely because I sell my own books this way. There are 40,000ish students, so there’s quite a market.
  2. It’s cost conscious. I get a better deal than through the bookstore — and so do they.
  3. Earth friendly — reuse, reuse, reuse, plus no major transportation required.

Major con: kids don’t take Visa. I did not plan ahead for this when coming back — I have exactly $46 in cash and $4 in dimes/nickles/quarters on me right now.  I’ve been going through all of my purses, book bags, piggy banks, anything to try to get two denominations of $35. (I also left my debit card at home due to a string of armed assaults on campus.)

It’s a really funny feeling not having access to the money, an emergency back up plan, or the easy credit of a credit card in this case. Well, hopefully Walgreens does cash back from my credit card tomorrow!

Edit: They don’t.

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… for AT.

If he reads my list, it won’t come as a surprise — finance student that I am, most of my ideas for him to improve his money management are mentioned on a semi-daily basis. Don’t get me wrong — AT is a very smart and hardworking guy. His  school pays for the bulk of his educational expenses, and he makes a solid income working when not in school, at a job that will be very beneficial to his career.

The fact that he is a smart cookie makes it even more ridiculous that he lacks financial common sense; if anything drives me crazy, though, it’s his attitude towards money. For example,

Me: You’re ordering a third pair of speakers?

AT: Yep. Can I have them shipped to your house?

Me: Why on earth would you need a third pair? Now you have three!

AT: You’ll see when they come how much better they are!

In all fairness, he let me have pair #1 when buying the second set, which was a huge improvement over using the speakers built into my slowly-dying laptop. But then again, we have this conversation with a lot of purchases, especially things including “xbox” in the title and miscellaneous unnecessary purchases.

My suggestions for him in 2010:

  1. Make a maximum contribution to a Roth IRA. AT makes plenty of money to take care of living costs as a student and has enough left over to invest, yet is still in a very low tax bracket. There is no better time to start investing in a Roth IRA, since earnings can be withdrawn tax-free starting when he is 59.5 years old.
  2. Read. Go to the library and pick a financial advice and planning book. While he certainly isn’t planning to go into financial services, being a well educated consumer is wise. (I wonder if he’d appreciate a subscription to Money magazine for Valentines’ Day?)  AT would probably make better financial decisions if he learned about inflation, the big bite taxes take out of his income, and how much hidden costs like car insurance cost. AT always consults his dad before making financial decisions — good policy, but I’m afraid that it’s often to avoid making his own move and seeing reality.
  3. Save. I’m not too picky about how this is done as long as it does indeed get done. One of his current accounts  is at a credit union with a fairly high rate of interest, but hasn’t grown much since the initial deposit. Transferring money out of a checking account is smart — if you don’t see it, you don’t find ways to spend it. For his chosen field, he’ll spend 7 years in a grad program where he receives a stipend, then have a fairly low income for a few more years — making good decisions now could make his budget during those years go a lot more smoothly.
  4. Open a credit card. Credit cards are not inherently evil when used properly — amassing debt is the actual problem, at which point credit card companies wring money out of the users. AT’s a man who should be able to understand how much money he has — or doesn’t have — to spend, and he should probably start building a credit history. Earning reward points for purchases is an added bonus. One idea might be that he gets a card like my Citi Forward (5x points on books and entertainment), but only uses it for items like textbooks that he really needs.
  5. Keep track of the cost of entertainment. I think he’d be amazed to see how quickly each video game, meal out, and iTunes download adds up. Ideally, some conservative changes would be made — selling the used video games on eBay, putting CDs on hold at the library, trying to make more meals himself — but I’m not holding my breathe on this one.
  6. Take advantage of good deals. I’m always encouraging AT to shop through Ebates, get an opening bonus on an account, etc., but he rarely follows through. I’ve made a surprisingly large amount of money when small actions are taken into consideration, and he can do the same.

I’m not trying to create radical change, but instead try to promote a more realistic attitude towards AT’s (and my, by proxy!) financial future. Do you think I am being reasonable?

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Selling Stuff

I just listed another book from the past semester on Half.com. I think it took about 5 minutes this time, as opposed to about an hour the first time while figuring everything out.

I’ve gotten a lot of textbooks from sites like eBay — this is coming from someone who’s pretty picky about smells/looks/whatnot. I like a good price, but even spending a dollar on something unsatisfactory is wasteful.

Things that I mention in the listing (based on what I normally ask a seller if I’m buying)–

  • No smoking, food stains, or mold
  • Pages are not dog-eared, cover is not torn
  • No scribbling, in ink, pencil, highlighter, or otherwise.
  • Are there notes in the book? (Usually a no for me, although I did have a few sociology books crying out for annotations last semester.)
  • How well I am going to pack the book to ensure that USPS doesn’t trample it (free USPS flat rate shipping supplies?)

Honesty is the best policy of course. I’d also recommend delivery confirmation to prevent funny business, just in case. ;)

I try to schedule listings to end on an evening between Sunday – Thursday, on the assumption that people are more likely to go out on Friday or Saturday.

Keeping seasonality in mind is a good idea, too. I sold a video game at the beginning of December since it was more likely to fetch a high price as a Christmas present (greater demand, higher price — law of supply and demand.)

Similarly, my mom got a great deal on a Christmas crystal ornament the day after Christmas. She really loves the collectible line and will continue to enjoy the purchase for years to come, but less enthusiastic people would probably forget about the listing, being busy with the holidays and no longer being able to give the item as a gift.

Working on a new header, folks. This overly-introspective misty-bridge business has already gotten old.  As soon as I get up and build a new light box, Penny Couture will have it’s first unique theme!

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