Scavenger Life Episode 255: Jim Collins talks about How Scavengers Can Achieve Financial Independence

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Hi from Bellingham, Washington! We're about to head to Bend, Oregon where we'll have a week to enjoy life before our next job. Are we scavenging? Of course we are.

In lieu of posting our usual weekly update on our scavenging and selling, we're sharing an interview we did we Jim Collins of jlcollinsnh.com.  He's one of the strong voices in the Early Retirement or FI (financial independence) community. This is where people save enough money where they no longer need to work to pay their bills because they can live on their investments. This is called the 4% rule. The point is to stop working, but have the ability to do your best work.

Jim interviewed us several months ago. When I originally tried to interview him several months ago, I felt I did a poor job. His experience and knowledge is so rich that I initially had trouble finding a clear path through his story. But Jim was kind enough to let me interview him a second time which turned out much better.

Jim's readers will probably be familiar with his story and philosophy. He started saving and living frugal as a young man, which gave him freedom of choice is his work life. As his career progressed, he consistently saved and invested his money, which has given him the ability to comfortably retire. Unlike today, he didn't have the benefit of online communities that are discussing and sharing different strategies to gain financial independence. This is the story of how Jim found his own way.

For Scavengers here, we wanted to share what we are striving for by finding junk and selling it online. The first goal is to simply work hard for ourselves, instead of working hard for someone else. No more going into the office and dealing with the unhealthy dynamics of the workplace. Instead we own our time and have reached a level of daily satisfaction in our life we never thought we could have.

But our ultimate goal isn't to just sell things online for the rest of our lives.  By being super thrifty and saving our eBay earnings, we hope to continue to pay off our debts, aggressively build our rental business, and then follow the 4% rule to be able to more fully focus on the projects we enjoy doing.

This is what Financial Independence is all about. We're a long way from early retirement, but as Jim makes clear in his story, it's about committing to the vision and doing it a day at a time.

Here are some of the links Jim mentions in our conversation:
--His famous stock series
--What are index funds? and How do they work?
--What is a safe withdrawal rate on retirement funds?
--The 4% rule
--Why Debt is a burden
--A case study when everything goes wrong in your financial planning.
--Jim's awesome video channeling John Goodman
--How Jim lost money in real estate
--How Jim's "short attention span" pushed him to keep finding new jobs/challenges

Scavenger Life Episode 254: This is the Slowest Week We've Ever Had

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

We had our worst week on eBay that we can remember. Why? Difficult to say but there are probably several contributing factors. Since we've been starting our Amazon FBA business, we simply haven't listed much on eBay over the past two months. Since we're about to leave on  four week trip, this listing situation won't get any better!

Some sellers have said that the April 18 tax deadline has slowed slows down for them as well. Who knows. Some weeks are slow. Keep filling the pipeline.

Some listeners asked us why we aren't angry at eBay for raising their subscription prices in the Spring Seller Update. Instead of just being angry at any kind of change, we encourage everyone to do their numbers. Let's be specific.

In our Anchor subscription, I did the calculations and realized that though we'll pay a little more per month, we can now list 6,000 more items (!!!!) as part of the price. So it's up to us to keep filling the pipeline. That's a bargain.

In our second eBay store at the Premium subscription, we ran the numbers and turns out we'll be paying less per month because we were paying extra for items over the Premium limit. So $60/month for 1000 items saves us money.

It's justified to be angry when change affects your business, but it'll help us all if we base the anger in facts. Please feel free to share your numbers in the comments.

Hope you had a good week. Did anyone go buy a bunch of Marimekko at Target this weekend to resell?

Our Store Week April 10-16, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3719
  • Items Sold: 15
  • Cost of Items Sold: $107
  • Total Sales: $500.26
  • Highest Price Sold: $140 (vintage books)
  • Average Price Sold: $33.35
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $60
  • Number of items listed this week: 47

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store Sales: ? Amazon total sales: $?? Amazon FBA Fees: $??? COGS (shipment to FBA included): $?? Net profit after COGS: $??? 
  • Bonanza: Sold 4 items for $180 
  •  ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 884
  • Items Sold: 8
  • Cost of Items Sold: $15
  • Total Sales: $408.94
  • Highest Price Sold: $97 (vintage Lotus software)
  • Average Price Sold: $51.12
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 25

Scavenger Life Episode 253: Which is more fun- eBay or Amazon?

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

This week we ponder some deep philosophical questions that haunts all humans (who sell online): Which is more fun- eBay or Amazon? Is eBay your friend or your enemy? Are plush toys actually little seeds of evil that have been dipped in cuteness camouflage so you'll take them into your home? Is it still okay to sell them even if they are?

We also discuss our take on the 2016 Spring Seller Update. eBay is always changing so get used to it. We break it down to see how exactly the changes will affect us. That's all we can ever do. Look at the numbers.

Other than this, we actually had another solid week even though we still haven't listed much on eBay the past two months. The pipeline hasn't clogged up yet.


Our Store Week April 3-9, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3687
  • Items Sold: 42
  • Cost of Items Sold: $193
  • Total Sales: $1,667.00
  • Highest Price Sold: $200 (wool rug)
  • Average Price Sold: $39.69
  • Returns: 1
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $65
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store 
  • Number of items sold: $?? 
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $??? 
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): ??
  • Net profit: $275.45
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 866
  • Items Sold: 12
  • Cost of Items Sold: $25
  • Total Sales: $401.89
  • Highest Price Sold: $65 (gravity boots)
  • Average Price Sold: $33.49
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Scavenger Life Episode 252: Always Being Surprised

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

So this weekend we were surprised by Ryanne getting sick again. Looks like it's just a regular cold (not the flu again), but we're keeping this week's podcast short. We have less than three weeks before we head to the West Coast for a month,  so we need conserve energy to get stuff done.

BUT we did record an extra long episode of Shampoo and Booze yesterday before the sickness came on. It has nothing to do with selling on eBay/Amazon, but we discuss many of the same techniques running our Airbnb rental: doing the work ourselves, being patient, learning to be smart, and treating people right.

Here are the links we talked about in this short episode:
  • The new eBay Seller Hub has some interesting ways to show what items in your store are being looked at. Just click on the Traffic Tab. If you're logged into eBay, the Traffic page should pop up.
  • Larry asked how he can automatically give his eBay customers the shipping discount that he gets. This page explains how.
Next week should be back to normal. We'll answer all the questions that have come in in a long episode.  

Our Store Week March 27-April 2, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3729
  • Items Sold: 28
  • Cost of Items Sold: $280
  • Total Sales: $1,527.46
  • Highest Price Sold: $175 (tiki pole)
  • Average Price Sold: $54.55
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $425
  • Number of items listed this week: 44

  • ----------
  • Amazon Store
  • Total Items in Store: 660
  • Items Sold: 21
  • Total Gross Profit: $785.64
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 881
  • Items Sold: 13
  • Cost of Items Sold: $20
  • Total Sales: $408.40
  • Highest Price Sold: $80 (original painting)
  • Average Price Sold: $31.41
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Scavenger Life Episode 251: Good eBay Sales While We Continue Our Amazon FBA Experiment

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

We had a great week on eBay EVEN THOUGH we have barely listed in the last six weeks. I'll always encourage the theory that listing sparks sales, but sometimes people are just in a buying mood. And we have a large inventory just waiting for people to purchase.

Our Amazon FBA experiment continues. Until we have over 1000 items in the Amazon warehouses, we're not going to do any final judgement. So far sales have been decent, but profit is super low. Selling an item on Amazon for $25 to make a profit of $15? Versus selling an item on eBay for $150 for a profit of $120?

Obviously, we need to find better inventory to send in to Amazon. It's the eternal challenge of finding cheap inventory that other scavengers miss that will sell for a high profit. We've (pretty much) solved this problem on eBay but are still struggling with Amazon.

Griff responded to our question about why eBay invoices no longer have calculated shipping. It is indeed a bug that is being fixed. He says:
"The issue with shipping not showing on seller sent invoices has been reported and a ticket has been opened. No updates as of now but when I have one, I will post it on the Weekly Chat with eBay Staff discussion board."
Cayta sent us this Reddit thread about how to tell if a vintage shoe is "welted". Here's a video that shows how the shoes are made. Buyers will pay more if you have dress shoes produced in this style.

Read about how Amazon is using lobbyists to push the government to help improve their delivery systems. This includes writing clear rules for commercial drone use, more investment in road infrastructure, and strengthening the US Postal Service. Watch this video of how the Amazon drone program would look like.What a weird world we live in.

Hope you guys had a good week.

Our Store Week March 20-26, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3714
  • Items Sold: 32
  • Cost of Items Sold: $110
  • Total Sales: $1,275.18
  • Highest Price Sold: $150 (Leather briefcase)
  • Average Price Sold: $39.84
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $260
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

  • ----------
  • Amazon Store
  • Total Items in Store: 693 (I think more are en route?)
  • Items Sold: 19
  • Total Gross Profit: $474.05
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 893
  • Items Sold: 9
  • Cost of Items Sold: $23
  • Total Sales: $774.95
  • Highest Price Sold: $500 (large wool rug)
  • Average Price Sold: $86.10
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0