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Showing posts with label Making Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Making Money. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Common Myths About Starting Your Own Business

Owning Your Own Business Can Be Great- Or Terrible!

  Better Drink That Coffee!
Better Drink That Coffee!

Many people dream of starting their own business.  If you own a business, you can be your own boss.  You can decide when to work.  And you get to keep the profits!  This sounds great, and it can be.  I ran a profitable business for 5 years and enjoyed all of these benefits-- and I learned some of the harsh realities of what it really takes to start and run a successful business.

It seems like people who are successful in business are happy to talk about the glamorous aspects of launching a business while downplaying the gritty reality of what it is really like to start with nothing but an idea and build something.

I started my first business as a college student.  I went into business with one of my engineering professors who had previously started a business in Silicon Valley.  What an experience that was!  One of the lessons I learned was that starting a business "for real" is not a hobby.  Let me just say that 100 hour work weeks for entrepreneurs is not a myth!  When you have even a small chance at a huge multi-million dollar payoff, working pretty much every waking hour can seem like something you need to do.

After selling this business, I started my own venture in an unfinished basement and ended up with an office downtown and even a few employees and subcontractors working for me.

Check out my latest article on Wise Bread to learn some of the hard realities I discovered about starting a business:  8 Common Myths About Starting A Small Business


Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Can You Get Rich Selling Used Skis?


Today I made my way to the used sporting goods store to sell some old skis I found in my garage.  In yesterday's post, I ran through my thought process as I decided where to sell the skis.  The big question for today is:  How much would I get?

Can You Get Rich Selling Used Skis?
Can You Get Rich Selling Used Skis?

The skis were made in Austria and seemed to be in good condition, but I had no idea how much they were worth.  I briefly searched on eBay to get some idea of how much they could sell for, but I didn't find anything similar.

So this was going to be somewhat suspenseful.  I realized that the skis were pretty old- but maybe that would be a good thing.  Maybe they were collectible, or maybe even antiques.  Perhaps I would get really lucky and find out that I was the owner of some really valuable skis...

I carried the skis into the Play It Again Sports shop.  The man at the counter had me fill out a standard form with my name and address.  While I filled that out, he measured the skis and checked out the locking mechanism on them.  It was clear he knew how the skis were supposed to work.

I finished filling out the form about the same time he finished examining the skis.

"Okay," he announced.  I knew that the big reveal of the value of the skis was about to happen.  It reminded me of Antiques Roadshow where people take old items in to be appraised and are sometimes pleasantly surprised when the value turns out to be really high.

"I have a lot of skis and there hasn't been much snow, so I'm going to offer you store credit," he began.

This was not very encourgaing, but I was curious to know how much store credit we were talking about.

"Okay," I said.

"I would sell these for $20.  They are an older style with a gravity-operated mechanism, but it still works.  I can give you 40% of the price, $8 in store credit," he said.

This was not the big payday I was hoping for!  I told him I wanted to think about it for a minute.  I walked over to the ski section and did in fact find similar skis priced at $20.

I decided that I didn't want the skis, I would never use them and they were taking up space in my garage.  It seemed that the price he came up with was reasonable based on looking at the other skis for sale.  If I could get $8 that I could use to pay for a birthday present for my kids, or bicycling gear, etc. then I should go ahead and sell them.

I walked out with a $8 store credit certificate in hand.

It pays to sell unneeded items instead of throwing them away.  I got something for the skis, someone else will get to use them, and the store will make a little bit of money and stay in business.  It seems like everyone gets a (small) win.


Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Monday, January 16, 2017

Where To Sell My Old Sporting Goods?

How Can I Get the Most Money for My Used Sporting Goods?

Where Should I Sell My Used Sporting Goods?
Where Should I Sell My Used Sporting Goods?

When cleaning out my garage, I came across an old pair of cross-country skis that came with the house when we moved in.  These skis seem to be in good shape, but appear to require some kind of special shoes to use them.  Since I do not have this kind of shoes and have no plan to get special ski shoes, it is time to sell the skis.

So the question of the day is:  What is the best way to sell my old skis?

Of course, I want to get as much money as possible for the skis.  Also, I would prefer something quick and easy rather than slow and painful.  Here is what I am thinking-

I could list the skis for sale on craigslist, but I have no idea how much to ask for them and I couldn't answer any questions about them.

I could list the skis for sale on an eBay auction.  This would solve the problem of not knowing how much to ask for them.  But if they sell, I would have to deal with shipping a large item.  This seems like a lot of trouble.

I could take the skis to a local auction house to avoid shipping.  But it would probably cost me more to drive there than I would get for the skis.  Most people go to the auction to buy things such as tools, furniture, and antiques.

I could take the skis to my favorite consignment shop.  Again, the problem is that almost no one goes into the consignmet shop looking for skis.  Although there is a small sporting goods section in the store, most people buy housewares, furniture, and clothes at the consignment shop.  I fear my skis would sit on the shelf until summer and then sell for a very low price...

So a good place to sell the skis would be a consignmet shop where people go to buy sporting goods.  Fortunately for me, there is such a place:  Play It Again Sports.  They buy used sporting goods to resell.  And "skis" is on their list of desired items since it is still winter.  According to their website, they will pay cash for used sporting goods, or you can sell items on consignment.

I have the skis loaded up for a trip to the Play It Again Sports store that is not too far out of my way.

The best place to sell used sporting goods depends on the item and how much you know about it.  In this case, I decided to give a used sporting goods store a try.

Stay tuned to see how much I get for my old skis...


Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's Time to Make Some Extra Money Publishing Articles...

Make Extra Money Publishing Articles

It's Time to Make Some Extra Money!
Dr. Penny Pincher on the cover of Time magazine
OK, so this Time magazine cover featuring my picture is obviously fake, but I am excited that I got an article published on Time.com today!  The article is about 21 times you can spend money to save money.  You can read it here on Time.com.

If you read my newsletter, you know that I am planning on making some extra income this year in addition to pinching pennies as usual.

Last summer I decided to move beyond posting articles on my blog and see if I could get paid to publish articles on other sites.

Having my own blog is great.  Here are some things I like about publishing articles myself on my blog or on HubPages:

1) I can write about anything on my blog
Sometimes I write about my dog.  One time I wrote a fictionalized account of an interaction with my editor just for fun.  I started a blog about coffee because I like coffee.  One time, I even thought of an article topic just so I could show a giant picture of my face on a fake Time magazine cover!

There is no adult supervision at all, I can write whatever I want and it gets published immediately.

2) I own the articles and can make passive income forever
I like the idea of owning something that has value.  When I write articles and publish them myself on my blog, I retain all rights to the articles.  I can make money for years from advertising.

3) No schedule constraints or deadlines
Sometimes I post new articles on my blog every day, or sometimes only a couple times per month.  It is up to me, and no one seems to get upset if I don't post for awhile.

4) Easy money
Who doesn't like making some extra money for doing something really easy?  From my family's perspective, it probably doesn't look like I am working very hard.  They see my relaxing in my chair, looking out at the lake and messing around on my computer.  Not a bad way to work if you ask me.

However there are some limitations to publishing on my own blog, and this is why I was open to trying something new and publishing articles on other sites:

1) I don't have enough readers... yet...
Thousands of people read my blog, and that results in some nice income.  But there are sites around that have MILLIONS of readers.  I took some advice from Jon Morrow to go where the audience is gathered instead of waiting for them to find me.

Publishing on an established site can be a quick way to reach a large audience.

2) It is nice to get an instant paycheck
Selling an article gets you money up front, right away instead of waiting for money to come in over a long period of time from advertising revenue.  It is not unusual for a blog to take many months to make the first few cents.  Selling articles can bring in extra money much faster than that.

3) Build name recognition
Being published on popular sites that people know and trust helps build credibility with readers.  You can check out my About Penny Pincher Journal page to see some of the places my articles have been published.  Some of my articles are syndicated, so you can find them on a lot of popular sites around the internet.

4) Become a better writer
I have learned a lot working with editors as they suggest topics and work with me to refine my ideas for articles.  I l review my articles after they are published to see what edits the professionals made to tune them up.

The "Write" Way to Start Publishing Articles to Make Extra Money

You can find lots of advice around the internet on how to start a blog to make money.  Most of this advice comes with links to sign up for web hosting and domain registration and courses, which all cost money.

I ignored most of the advice and have gone with 100% free web hosting from Google on blogspot.com and use a free domain name as well.  I might be able to make more revenue from my blogs if I were willing to spend more, but it sure is nice to have no bills to worry about paying for hosting my content.

Publishing articles at HubPages is also free in the sense that you do not have to pay them, although they take a 40% cut of your advertising earnings.  I think this is fair since there are expenses involved with running servers and promoting the site.  Here's how to get started publishing articles on HubPages for free.

After starting my blog, I have also published a few books.  It is fun to get a check in the mail once in a while, and my free book generates interest in my blog.  Here is an article I wrote on making money by publishing ebooks:  Can You Get Rich Writing eBooks?

Selling articles to other sites to publish is probably the fastest way to make money, but you will likely need to have some published articles as a portfolio in order to get hired to write articles.  This is a catch-22.  You can work around this problem by starting a blog, publishing some interesting articles, and then approaching other sites about writing for them.

If you enjoy writing and have some patience, selling articles is a great way to do something interesting and make some extra money.

Is it time for you to start writing articles and finding paychecks in your mailbox?  Sign up for my newsletter- sometimes I share details about my writing projects and making money with my subscribers.


Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pay This Bill- It Will Make You Rich!

Pay This Bill- And Get Rich! 

Your Most Important Bill
Your Most Important Bill!

Would you be surprised if I told you that by paying one of your bills you will become rich?  The strange thing is that most people are not paying their most important bill.

Let’s start by figuring out which bill could make you rich if you pay it.  Is it your mortgage?  Your electric bill?  Your grocery bill?  Your tax bill?  It’s none of these, and most people will not figure it out without some clues.  Part of the reason this most important bill doesn’t get paid is because people don’t even think about it.

You’ve probably heard the expression “pay yourself first”.  With this clue, do you know which bill is your most important bill to pay?

Image Credit:  Public Domain Image , Source: https://pixabay.com/en/letters-envelopes-letter-stack-post-286541/

What Does It Mean to Pay Yourself First?

You may have heard the common personal finance advice to “pay yourself first”, but what does that mean?  Paying yourself first means to take money for your savings or investment out of your paycheck first, and then pay other bills, such as the ones mentioned above.

Paying yourself first is not what most people do.  Most people spend their paycheck until it is gone and then hang on to make it to the next payday.  If you don’t pay yourself first, you will always be doing this!  The only way to break this cycle is to pay your most important bill first and save or invest money to build your wealth.

But What If There Is No Money Left After Expenses?

I think many people intend to save or invest any money that happens to be left at the end of the month, but there just never happens to be any left.  It is simply too easy to spend money if it is available.

People respond differently to bills than they do to goals.  If you give most people a bill, they manage to pay it somehow.  They understand that there are consequences for not paying a bill.  Not paying yourself first also has big consequences that grow as you pass your peak earning years and your income starts to decline.

 Even worse, the longer you wait to start paying yourself, the less time that your money will have to grow.

Think of the money you need to invest to build a retirement fund as a bill and pay that bill first.  If you run out of money, you’ll need to cut something else instead of being late to pay your most important bill!

How Much To Bill Yourself?

If you have a detailed budget, you may be able to analyze your expenses and determine a reasonable amount to save each month.  If you are like most people, you do not have a detailed budget.  In this case, start with a small amount of savings- such as $50 or $100- and take this out of your paycheck before spending on anything else.

Another way to approach deciding how much to pay yourself is to set an investment goal and work backwards to figure out how much you need to save each month.  Using an estimated average return on investment, you can try out different monthly contribution amounts to see how long it would take you to reach your goal using this investment goal calculator.

You may be surprised to see how much even a small regular contribution can grow over time!

How To Pay Yourself First

Pay your most important bill by putting your investment funds from each paycheck in a savings account or investments account away from your other money to help avoid spending it.  If you leave your investment funds in your checking account with your other funds, it is more likely you will spend it rather than investing it.

I automatically take my investment contribution out of each paycheck to fund my 401K retirement plan through my employer.  Contributing to a 401K plan has two major advantages:  1) you contribute funds on a pre-tax basis, and 2) many employers offer matching funds.  I get $1 of “free” money from my employer for every $2 that I contribute.  If your employer offers a 401K program, make sure you are not leaving free money on the table!

Even if you are already contributing to a 401K plan or do not have access to a 401K plan at work, you can benefit from other investment types.  I contribute to a Roth IRA every month using post-tax funds.  The advantage of a Roth IRA is that you will not need to pay taxes when you take money out of a Roth retirement account after it grows.

Regardless of how you invest the funds that you pay yourself, you need to have money available to invest.  Adjust your spending to make room for your new bill by cutting back on your least important spending- such as fast food or buying items you don’t really need.

If you think of the money you need to save or invest each month as a bill and pay it, your spending will naturally adjust just like it does when you take on any other new bill that you have to pay.

Most of your bills increase over time, and your most important bill should increase also over time as your income increases and you find ways to make more money and cut your expenses.  The point of paying yourself first is to treat the money you save and invest as your most important bill and pay that first.

If you are having trouble paying yourself, start by cutting your expenses so you can afford to pay your most important bill.  If you are looking for ideas to save money, check out Penny Pincher Journal to find more than 101 things you can do right now to save money...

Make It Happen!  Next Steps to Pay Yourself First

  • Decide how much to pay yourself every month or every payday
    • Use an Investment Calculator to help set your goals
    • Make sure you are getting the maximum company match 401K contribution
  • Adjust your spending to make room for your most important bill
  • Set up an automatic deposit into an investment account

Dr. Penny Pincher Bio:
Today’s post is by Dr. Penny Pincher at Penny Pincher Journal.  In 2013, Dr. Penny Pincher bought a puppy on impulse that changed his life.  He realized he would have to quickly find ways to spend less money to cover this unplanned expense that put a big dent in his budget.  He started searching for ways to spend less money and sharing penny pinching tips on his blog.  You might wonder if Dr. Penny Pincher is really a doctor... yes he is- with a Ph.D. in engineering.

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Top 3 Ways To Build Wealth With FREE MONEY

Yes, There Really Is Free Money!



The other day I was paying a bill for a visit to the doctor's office.  The bill was unexpected and was for over $100, so this was painful.  I set the bill in front of me as I had my morning coffee.  I wanted to examine the bill to see if there were any extra charges included that I could ask to have removed, but there was almost no information on the bill other than the amount that needed to be paid and the due date.  After thinking about the bill for awhile, I realized that I could use my Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay all of it instead of taking money from my very limited checking account.

I had forgotten about my HSA.  My contribution comes out of my paycheck every time and I don't even see it.  My balance had reached nearly $2,000.  This is a nice cushion for health care expenses.

This got me thinking about free money and how I am using free money to build my wealth.

Health Savings Account- Get 34% Free Money

The Health Savings Account is a program where you can put pre-tax money into a dedicated savings account and use it for health expenses.  The "pre-tax" part is where the free money comes in.  The Federal income tax rate is about 25% and the state income tax here in Iowa is about 9%.  This means that I gain about 34% on money that I put into the Health Savings Account- not bad.  So if I put in $1,000, about $340 of this is free money- it would have gone to taxes otherwise.  My HSA plan even allows you to invest the money in the HSA into investment funds so it can grow until you need it for health expenses.

401k Plan- Get More than 50% Free Money

There are some other sources of free money that I am using to build wealth.  The big one is my 401k program at work.  My employer will match retirement contributions at 50% up to 4% of my salary.  So if I put in $2,000 and my employer will put in $1,000 of free money.  I like free money and always contribute enough to get the maximum employer matching funds.

The other free money aspect of the 401k plan is that you contribute pre-tax money, and the money invested grows without taxes, at least until you take it out.  Unfortunately, you have to pay taxes on the gains when you withdraw from a 401k fund.

I also contribute to a ROTH IRA investment using post-tax money.  This is money that I have already paid taxes on, but I will not need to pay taxes on my ROTH IRA funds when I take them out someday.  I like the idea of not paying taxes on my gains, so I have some ROTH retirement investments in addition to my 401k investments.



529 Plan- Get Free Money For College

Another way I am using free money to build wealth is my 529 plan contributions.  A 529 plan is a way to save for college that provides some significant tax benefits- more free money.  Gains on investments in a 529 plan are not taxed.  In addition, Iowa and many other states offer state income tax offset for contributions.  This is a great way to save money for college and take advantage of free money for college.

It Takes Money to Make Money...

All of these ways to get free money require investing your own money to get the free money.  For the Health Savings Account, you need pre-tax funds to contribute.  For the 401k plan, you also need pre-tax funds to contribute, and for the ROTH IRA you need post-tax funds to contribute.  And for the 529 education program you need post-tax funds to contribute.

Where can you get money to contribute to take advantage of the free money?  You may need to pinch pennies in your budget to free up funds to contribute to these programs.  One of the reasons that these programs provide free money is to encourage people to save and build wealth.

Find ways to save money on things you don't really need and put this toward saving and investing- and get your free money.  You can start small, with only a few dollars each month.  The important step is to get started and watch your account balances grow over time.

If you need some ideas on how to get money to invest, here is my free book: 101 Ways to Spend Less Money Now.


Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Can You Get Rich Writing eBooks?

How to Publish an eBook

My eBook For Sale on Amazon
My eBook For Sale on Amazon
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
It is quite easy to publish an eBook.  Anyone can publish an eBook for free in a few hours.  The hard part is writing the material which can take months depending on the length of your book and how familiar you are with the subject.  You need to format the book correctly for publication as an eBook.  Here is an article that takes you through the details of how to publish an eBook.  


How Much Can You Make Publishing eBooks?

I have published two eBooks so far.  I see a lot of very short eBooks for sale, but my books are full length books at around 140 pages.  They provide a lot of information and value.

Both of my books are well-written (I say so anyway) and both are published on Amazon Kindle, Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.  I have used several free websites to announce my eBooks to promote them.  Both have received 5-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.

So, am I rich yet?

After I published my first eBook priced at $3.99, I was disappointed with the sales that it generated.  It has sold some copies, but not as many as I was expecting.  This is not really surprising- there are lots of eBooks out there, and Dr. Penny Pincher is still emerging as a leading author in the field of saving money.

Anyway, I decided to find out how much of a factor price is for eBook sales.  I decided to offer my second eBook for free.

How to Publish an eBook Listed as Free on Amazon

Let's Try Publishing a FREE eBook!

It actually took some work to get my book listed for free on Amazon.  I set it up to sell for free on Barnes and Noble, Free eBooks.net, and some other sites first.  Then I used the form on the book page at Amazon to report a lower price.  After a few months, Amazon changed the price to free.

Price made a huge difference in sales- in fact, I "sold" over 1,000 copies of my free eBook on Amazon in a single day!  My free eBook climbed the sales rank and was close to breaking into the top 100 best sellers on Amazon at one point.  Considering how many free eBooks are for sale, I though it was pretty good to rank so well- I think my best sales rank was around #120 or so.

My book priced at $3.99 has not sold nearly that well.  However, even if my free book were selling for $3.99, I wouldn't be rich from book sales.  My experience is that it is tough to sell eBooks.  There is so much competition and people are pretty selective about what they will buy.

I have seen videos on YouTube claiming that you can make $10,000 or $20,000 per month selling eBooks on Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.  Based on my experience, I don't believe it.  Unless you are a famous author or get really lucky, I don't see how you could make that kind of income selling eBooks.

Some of the advice is to choose a niche and publish lots and lots of eBooks in that area.  I don't see that working out.  I found that even though lots of people "bought" my free eBook, that did not really translate into many extra sales of my $3.99 eBook.  I think publishing lots of eBooks that don't make much still adds up to not much...

There are some benefits to publishing an eBook, even if it doesn't sell very well.  It adds some credibility for the author- you can say you have published a book in your field which carries some weight with most people.  It can also generate interest in your blog or website.  If people see your book for sale and don't want to pay to buy it, they might check out your blog or website to see what they can read there for free.

One downside of publishing a free eBook is, of course, that it resulted in pretty much no revenue.  When I launched my free eBook, I was thinking that readers of the free book would buy the $3.99 eBook and/or visit my blog after reading the book.  Either of these actions would generate revenue for me, but I have not seen a big bump even though lots of people are "buying" the free eBook.

Is Writing an eBook Worth It?

Overall, I would say that writing eBooks took a lot more time than writing material for my blogs and has resulted in less revenue.  But I enjoy being a book author and am glad I took the time to write in the longer format of a book.  When someone reads your eBook, they spend quite a bit of time with you- a lot more than a minute or two looking at a blog post- and you have a much better chance to make a lasting impression.

I am still deciding about whether to publish a third eBook.  I do think that publishing multiple eBooks would increase sales.  Having several books out there makes it easier to get discovered by readers who are searching for books.

There is a big potential to make money from eBooks if you can get enough sales.  I think it will be hard for me to resist trying again.  If I can make about $3 per book and I could sell thousands, that adds up to real money pretty fast.

Improving Sales for My Next eBook

For my next book, I may spend some time looking at the competition before I choose a topic and write the book.  I think there are a lot of books out there on "ways to save money" and this topic is pretty well covered on the Internet too.  For my next book, I will try to find a topic with less competition.

Also, I may try a shorter eBook- I see that the some eBooks that seem to have a lot of sales based on their sales rank are pretty short.  I think there are a lot of readers that don't want to spend more than an hour or so reading an eBook.  Also, it will be easier to write a shorter book, so that sounds good to me.

Finally, I may actually spend a few dollars to get a book cover design.  I made the book covers for my first two books myself, and they are not very professional looking.  People do judge a book by its cover, so this is an easy thing to improve.

So my next experiment in eBook publishing will likely be a shorter book with a nice book cover in a topic that has less competition.  Check back to see how this works out...


Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Spending less adds up to real money!
Work as a Professional Penny Pincher- the Money is Real!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Surfing around on the Internet, I see all kinds of offers for programs to work at home and make some extra money. Most of the concepts I see seem difficult and may or may not work. For example, not everyone is cut out to sell things, make phone calls, or write marketing copy. I suspect many of the work-at-home schemes make money for the people selling the scheme, but not for the people who pay for the program and try to make money.

Here’s an easy work at home plan: make your second job focusing few hours a week on spending less money. Now that I think about it, I am a professional penny pincher! If getting paid to do something makes you a “professional”, then I am a professional penny pincher since I save money every day.

This article describes my daily routine that adds up to over $17,000 of savings per year. That works out to nearly $1,500 per month. You may be able to save this much or even more if you are willing to work at saving money for a few hours per week- think of penny pinching as a part-time job. This sounds like a good opportunity to me!

I’ll go ahead and put out an advertisement for professional penny pinchers, I think this would be a better way for people to end up with extra money each month than most of the work-at-home schemes out there. Of course, I’ll need to describe this work at home plan in flashy marketing language to compete with the fancy advertising for other work-at-home plans out there. Here goes:

Now Hiring: Professional Penny Pincher

Work at home, set your own hours, and make hundreds- or even thousands- of dollars per month. No experience required. No need to purchase any program or start-up materials. Become a Professional Penny Pincher- start today for free!



Always carry your coupons when shopping
Find Ways To Spend Less Money as a Professional Penny Pincher!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


Is Professional Penny Pincher the Right Job for You?


So let’s review. You are interested in working at home a few hours a week to make extra money. You want something easy to do that doesn’t require spending money to get started. The opportunities out there seem to require purchasing a program or doing work that you would rather not do. Plus it seems questionable how much money you could make at the work-at-home jobs.


Now you have come across an ideal work at home job: Professional Penny Pincher. You don’t need to buy any program or start-up materials to get going. You don’t need any particular skills or experience. You can choose how much time to spend working as a penny pincher. Your time spent working as a penny pincher can make a lot of money for you with only a few hours of work each week. I think we have found the ideal work at home job for you!

Save money on clothes at consignment shops
Your Time Spent Saving Money Pays Well as a Penny Pincher
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

How to get started as a Professional Penny Pincher

Here is a list of some expenses that many people can cut to get a jump-start on saving money immediately. Many people could cut thousands of dollars of expenses per year without much effort.

So you are ready to sign up- great! How do you get started? As with most things, getting started is the hard part. What should you do on your first day of work as a penny pincher? Since you are working at home, we can skip the tour of the building and showing you where the coffee maker and bathrooms are located...

The place to start is by thinking about your spending and attempting to separate spending into “needs” and “wants”. This task is difficult because there is often not a clear line between needs and wants, and also because you may view some of your “wants” as “needs”. You may be able to think of some expenses you could cut to spend less money with only a few minutes of thinking.

Since you are a “professional” penny pincher, you may want to go further and make a list of your expenses for the month. Some of the bigger expenses will be easy to list and you may even know the amounts already.

The quickest opportunity to save money right off the bat is often in the smaller expenses and unnecessary purchase you make out of habit. Since you have spending habits that are set, it may be difficult to see which purchases are unnecessary. Check out Penny Pincher Journal for specific ideas on ways to spend less money every day.

Some ways to spend less money do require effort, such as packing your own lunch or keeping track of coupons and shopping lists- but the payoff is high considering the amount of work required.

Over time, you can work at reducing your larger expenses. I have been able to move to a smaller house to save money on mortgage payments. You may also be able to get your car paid off and eliminate car payments as well.

Here's Where You Make Your Money as a Penny Pincher...

Next, bring income into the picture. As you find ways to spend less money, you will have more of this income left at the end of each month to save or invest. This is your payment for working as a professional penny pincher. If you calculate your hourly rate by dividing how much money you save by the number of hours you spend working at pinching pennies, being a penny pincher may be one of the highest paying work-at-home jobs around.

Working as a professional penny pincher has benefits that go beyond making money. You may find that you are eating healthier, have reduced stress, and have less clutter in your house. Good luck on your new part-time job as a professional penny pincher!

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Is Remodeling A Good Investment?

Should I Remodel my Kitchen and Bathroom?


Dear Dr. Penny Pincher,

Our house was built in 1912. The kitchen and bathrooms are dated and probably need updating.  For example the kitchen countertops are circa 1980. The bathrooms were updated about the same time.  Both areas are acceptable functionally and aesthetically. Due to our age we will probably sell the house and move to and apartment or condo in the future. Should we consider doing updates to enhance the value and selling potential of the house or leave both areas as they are?  What are other considerations in this decision?

Sincerely,

A Penny Pincher Follower



Dear Follower,

It is always painful to spend money, but it is less painful when you know you can get some or all of your money back.  Real estate is generally a good investment, but a real estate investment comes with expenses such as paying property taxes and upkeep on the property.

The good news about kitchen and bath remodeling projects is that you typically get about 50 to 70% of the money you spend on remodeling back in the form of increased property value.  For example, if you spend $10,000 on kitchen and bath upgrades you may be able to sell your home for $5,000 to $7,000 more.  As you can see, you do not typically get all of the money you spend on remodeling back.

Kitchen and bath remodeling are among the highest payback projects that you can do.  If you have the money, remodeling projects can be rewarding and can help you stay in your current house longer.  When you sell your house, you'll likely pay around 6% commission to a real estate agent.  It may be worth spending some money to avoid that expense.  This article has some estimates of how much different remodeling projects add to the value of your home.  I think some of these numbers seem a bit high, but this provides an idea of what type of projects add the most value.

While a good remodeling project can increase the value of a home, a poorly done project or unfinished project can decrease the value of a home.  A lot of potential home buyers will not even consider buying a house that needs work done.  

I would suggest setting a budget for your remodeling project and trying to get the most improvement you can for your budget.  It is a good idea to get estimates from several contractors and pick one with good references.

Good Luck!
DPP



Copyright © 2014 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Friday, November 1, 2013

Things to Sell to Make Money


How to Get Money Selling Household Items


Things to Sell to Make Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Selling unneeded items from around your house is a great way to get cash quickly.  If you have items you have accumulated but are no longer using, why waste space storing them?  There are several easy ways to sell things quickly to get cash.  Here are my favorites:

eBay

Some items are best sold on eBay.  You can potentially reach millions of people, so eBay works well to sell items that may not have many local buyers.  Using the auction format of eBay can also help prevent you from pricing your item too low- the market will decide the price in an auction.  You will get the most money for your item that anyone is willing to pay.  The typical fee for selling an item on eBay about 15% of the selling price.  A typical auction lasts one week.  A seven day auction covers one weekend, giving

How to Ship Sold eBay Items

Craigslist

One nice thing about selling on craigslist is that it is free.  Another nice thing is that you don't need to deal with shipping your items.  You can find local buyers who will pick up your item at your house, or you can meet at a mutually convenient location to complete the transaction.  One downside of selling on craigslist is that you will be dealing directly with strangers yourself, and you may need to deal with someone who is unreasonable or unpleasant.  You will need to take time to meet with potential buyers to show them your craigslist items for sale.

How to Sell on Craigslist

Thrift Shops and Consignment Stores

Thrift stores and consignment stores will sell your items for you.  The downsides are 1) they charge a fee, typically 60% of the item's sale price and 2) it may take a few weeks or more to sell your item.  The advantage is that the thrift shop or consignment store does all the work- you just drop your items off and pick up cash later.

How to Sell Used Items at a Consignment Shop and Get Cash

Garage Sales

Garage sales are another free way to get money for your items.  However, it takes a bit of work to organize a successful garage sale.  A garage sale works best if you have a lot of items to sell.  Garage sales are more successful at certain times of year, especially spring.  If you have things to sell in January, a garage sale may not be very successful.  You may be better off selling some of the items on craigslist individually and other items at consignment stores.

Garage Sale Tips- Buying Bargains and Selling Secrets


Things to Sell to Make Money


Here are the best things to sell to make money:

Sell Old Cell Phones and Electronics

Sell old Cell Phones and Electronics for Quick Cash
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I recently took my old cell phone to Best Buy to sell it.  They said it wasn't worth anything, but they offered to recycle it for me.  I said no thanks to that offer and investigated further.  I ended up selling the phone on eBay for $100!  I have sold other cell phones for $35 each at Best Buy for store credit.  You can also sell cell phones to buy back services and at ecoATM kiosks for cash.  You can also sell old tablets and laptops to get quick cash.

How to Sell your Old Cell Phone and Get Cash


Sell Old Clothes

Every once in a while, my wife goes through the closet and thins out clothes that are no longer worn.  I take these to a consignment shop to sell.  The consignment shop sorts through the clothes and keeps the ones that they think they can sell.  I take the rest to Goodwill and come back in a couple months to pick up cash for the old clothes.  If you want to get money for old clothes faster, you can try selling them at a garage sale.  You may be able to sell some of your clothes at a garage sale, and you can take any that do not sell to a consignment shop.

Sell Old Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments Sell For A Lot of Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I have sold several old musical instruments, and I am always surprised how much these sell for!  Older instruments seem to be generally high quality and people are willing to fix them up and play them again.  New instruments cost several thousand dollars, so you might be able to get hundreds of dollars for an old instrument.  I have sold a violin, french horn, and soprano saxophone on eBay for quick cash.

Sell Lawn and Garden Equipment

Spring is a great time to sell extra or unneeded lawn or garden equipment.  People are looking for rototillers and lawn mowers of all kinds.  I once sold an old rototiller on craigslist for hundreds of dollars, and I had two buyers that were competing to buy it.  Check craigslist and eBay to see what similar items are selling for so you know where to set your price.  Lawn and garden equipment can also sell at a garage sale if you have other things to sell as well.

Sell Furniture


Sell Furniture on craigslist for Quick Cash
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I have had good success selling old furniture on craigslist at any time of year.  Take lots of pictures and post them with your ad.  New furniture is so expensive in furniture stores that your old furniture may be worth quite a bit more than you think.

Sell Textbooks

Most used books are not worth very much, but used textbooks can sell for $50 or even $100 if they are still in use.  If you have recent textbooks sitting around that you do not intend to look at again, you might have a lot of potential quick cash.  Years ago, I sold textbooks on amazon and made a lot of money.  There are other places online now that pay cash for textbooks.  Here are the details on how to sell textbooks online and get the most money.

Sell Sporting Goods and Exercise Equipment

Some local stores buy and resell used sporting goods and exercise equipment, but I have found the prices offered to be too low most of the time.  I would recommend using craigslist to sell your old gear and get cash.  Things like treadmills and weight machines that are sitting unused can be turned into cash.  Smaller gear like roller-blades, golf clubs, and baseball gloves can also sell well.

Sell Extra Bikes

If you have bicycles that you don't use, you have a source of cash.  Used bikes sell well in the spring, especially name brand bikes in good condition.  Craigslist is a popular place to list bikes for sale.  You might consider eBay if you have an exotic bike to sell.

Sell Antiques and Collectibles

You can sell antiques and collectibles on eBay for quick cash.  I think the auction format is useful to make sure you don't set your price too low.  Descriptive information is valuable to include in your listing- describe any printing, dates, markings, etc. on the item.  Background of where the item came from can also be valuable to buyers.

Sell Weird Stuff!



Sometimes you find odd things in your garage or attic that you that you don't really need.  You could easily throw these things away without realizing that you can get quick cash by selling them.

A few months ago, I discovered a set of new floor mats for a car I had already sold.  The floor mats had never been used and were still in the original package.  They were too nice to throw away, so I did some research and found out that the set of floormats sells for around $120 new.  I listed them on eBay with a starting price of $30 and they ended up selling for nearly $100!

Once, I replaced the original tires and inner tubes on a 40 year old vintage bike that I ride.  I thought the tires looked too good to throw away.  The tires had some nice labels on the tires that were still readable.  I tried listing them on craigslist so I wouldn't have to deal with shipping them, but no one was interested.  I ended up listing them on eBay and they sold!  I made money selling something that most people would just throw away.


Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Easy Ways To Make Money

Easy Ways To Make Money


How to Save Money Fast
Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What are easy ways to make money?  I would define easy ways to make money as things you can do and get paid for that require little time or effort.  Even better are fun things that you enjoy doing anyway that you can make money doing.  In fact, this is how many successful businesses get started.  A hobby sometimes grows into something that produces income.  For me, making a bit of money makes a hobby more interesting.  Here are some easy ways to make money:

Make Money Blogging

Blogging meets my criteria for an easy way to make money.  You can write about anything that interests you, and you can make money from advertising and you can get commission from selling products from links on your blog.  You can spend as much or as little time as you would like working on your blog.  Blogging is a good example of a hobby that you can do for fun, or you can monetize your blog and start making money.  One great thing about blogging is that you can write a blog post once and continue making money from it for a long time with no further action on your part.  This concept is called passive income and is an easy way to make money.

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

You can get paid working for Amazon as a Mechanical Turk (MTurk) worker for doing simple tasks online such as taking surveys or completing simple writing assignments.  Other types of Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) available include entering  information from business cards and evaluating images for their content and the emotion that they convey.  Getting paid as an MTurk worker definitely requires some effort and the tasks are not the sort of thing you would do for fun.  But you have complete flexibility to work when and where you wish.  As you complete MTurk tasks and gain qualifications, you are allowed to work on tasks that pay more, increasing your ability to make money.

Find Garage Sale Bargains and Sell on eBay or craigslist

Another easy way to make money is... buy low and sell high.  Find bargains at garage sales or auctions and sell them at a profit on eBay or craigslist.  This plan works best if you specialize in a certain type of item so you can easily identify things that you could buy and sell at a profit.  You can also hunt for bargains at thrift shops and Goodwill stores.  With the popularity of eBay, it is getting harder to be the first to find that great bargain.  As with other easy ways to make money, there is no time commitment or obligation- you can pursue this as a hobby and make money when you want.

Buy Cheap Bikes, Repair, and Resell at a Profit

It is not hard to find cheap bikes or even get bikes for free.  Retro bikes are in demand.  If you are willing to spend some time and effort finding good used bikes that are valuable brands or styles that are popular, you can make some easy money without working too hard.  If you are mechanically inclined, you can even fix up old bikes and sell them.  Many older bikes need only simple repairs such as new tires, brakes, and lubrication.  If you handle only one or two bikes at a time, you don't need much space to work on the bikes and store them while you are selling them.  For a large item like a bike, it may be easier to find local buyers on craigslist since shipping is not required.  If you have a rare bike, you can find a larger group of potential buyers on eBay.

Sell Digital Photos Online

If you enjoy taking digital photos, you can turn your hobby into easy money.  There are several sites on the internet that purchase digital photos for stock photo collections.  Advertisers and publishers can view your photos and may decide to purchase them or pay licensing rights to use them.  If you are taking high quality pictures anyway, you might consider offering them for sale.

Sell Garden Produce or Baked Goods at a Farmer's Market

Farmer's markets are getting really popular as a place to buy vegetables and other food.  If you enjoy gardening or baking, why not sell some items at a farmer's market?  Most people who have a garden end up with more vegetables than they can eat themselves.  There is probably a farmer's market not far from home, so selling items there could be an easy way to make money.

Sell Used Books

You can buy used textbooks cheap and sell textbooks online for a profit.  Textbooks have a lot of potential for profit. You can find used textbooks for sale on eBay or amazon and sell them to a textbook buy-back service for a profit.  I would say this method of making money is not as easy as some of the others mentioned- it takes a lot of work and is not necessarily fun to search through book listings trying to find titles that can earn you some profit.  Plus you'll need to receive the books and ship them to the buy-back service unless there is a local textbook buy-back service in your community.

Sell Handmade Items and Crafts on Etsy

Etsy is an e-commerce site for selling crafts and homemade items.  If you like to make craft items, you may be able to make a casual business out of it by selling crafts on Etsy.  You will need to photograph and describe your items and ship them to buyers.  If there are craft items you enjoy making, this could be a fun and easy way to make some money.


Recommended Reading:
How to Become a Millionaire- The Millionaire Calculator

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Sell your Old Cell Phone and Get Cash


How to Get Cash for your Used Cell Phone

If you have an old cell phone that you are not using, you can quickly and easily get cash for it.  It is easier than ever to sell a used cell phone, with more businesses buying used cell phones to sell in secondary markets.  Prices offered by phone buyback companies are competitive since they want to buy your cell phone and resell it for a profit.

There are four ways to get cash for your old cell phone.  The best method for selling your cell phone will depend on how quickly you want to get your cash .  Also, the condition of your phone and the local demand for your phone are factors to consider.  If your phone is in excellent condition, you may get more selling it yourself to an individual buyer through craigslist or eBay.  If your cell phone is in average or worse condition, you may be better off selling it to a buying company rather than an individual.  If your phone is a few years old, you may have trouble finding a local buyer unless it is a very popular model such as an iPhone.


Pantech cell phone
Sell your used cell phone and get cash!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Piincher

How to Sell A Cell Phone

Get Money for your Cell Phone from ecoATM

This is an interesting way to get money for your cell phone.  ecoATM machines are artificial intelligence kiosks that use automatic image analysis to examine the condition of your cell phone.  ecoATM uses electrical diagnostics to make determine whether it is in good working order- you are offered a connector so you can plug your phone into the ecoATM for evaluation.  ecoATM will offer you a price for your phone and you can decide whether or not to sell it.  As you might expect from the ATM part of the name, you can get instant cash for your cell phone.

ecoATM does use a remote human operator to compare the photo on your ID with the video feed from the ecoATM.  The identity of sellers is tracked carefully to allow investigation if stolen cell phones are cashed in at ecoATM.
  

a machine that evaluates your cell phone and dispenses cash
ecoATM: an intelligent kiosk that buys cell phones
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Sell your Phone at an Electronics Store

Electronics stores such as Best Buy and GameStop will buy your used cell phone at the store.  Best Buy calls their program a trade in, but you don’t need to buy a new phone in order to sell your old phone.  At the service counter, they will look up your phone in a database by make, model, and condition and offer you a price.  They will also power up your phone and check that it is good working order.  You can get instant cash for your phone by selling it at an electronics store.


Best Buy store sign at night
Electronics stores such as Best Buy will buy used cell phones for cash
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher


Ship your Cell Phone to a Buyback Service

There are a number of buyback services that will buy your used cell phone by mail.  Here’s how it works:
  1. On the website, enter the make, model, and condition of you phone to get an estimate.
  2. If you are satisfied with the estimated price for your phone, ship your phone to the buyback service
  3. The buyback service receives your phone and evaluates it
  4. You payment is issued


Many cell phone buyback services offer free shipping if your phone value is over a certain amount.

Some popular cell phone buyback services to consider:
Best Buy mail service: http://www.bestbuytradein.com
buymytronics (part of GameStop network): http://www.buymytronics.com/Sell-Cell-Phone

An advantage of using buyback services is that you can quickly check offers for your phone on websites and pick the best offer.  However, it may take a couple weeks to ship your phone, have it evaluated, and receive your payment.  If you are looking for fast cash, you'll want to consider another method.

I checked out the value of my 2 year old BlackBerry Torch 9800 (AT&T).  I expected the value to be around $100.  The phone is in good working condition and has no water damage.  Here are the offers I received to buy my used cell phone:
  • Gazelle: $40
  • Best buy trade-in: $70
  • uSell: $27
  • recellular: $61
  • buymytronics: $50
  • casholdphone: $85

As you can see, there is a big difference in the value of a used cell phone depending on which buyback service you get an offer from- it pays to look at multiple offers and pick one of the best offers.  

I took my phone to the ecoATM at the local shopping mall.  ecoATM examined the BlackBerry and gave me a generous offer of.... $36.  I declined the offer from ecoATM since I should be able to get $70 at the Best Buy store if the offer at the store is the same as from the Best Buy on-line service.  However, I learned that the offer from Best Buy is for store credit at Best Buy- not cash.

I checked out the highest cash offer from casholdphone again.  I found that Casholdphone received an F rating from BBB and has complaints listed.  Maybe a $70 gift card at Best Buy is the best of these deals after all... 

After considering my offers, I decided to sell my BlackBerry myself on eBay.  This brings us to another way to get cash for your phone.

Sell you old cell phone yourself on craigslist, eBay, etc. and get cash

You might be able to get the most money for your cell phone if you’re willing to sell it yourself.  However, selling your phone yourself is a lot more work than selling it to a buyback service.  You'll want to check the market price for your cell phone on a couple of the buyback service websites above.  For it to be worth the effort, you'll want to set the asking price higher that the offers from buyback services.

One drawback of selling the phone yourself is that there is no way to predict how long it will take to sell.  It could sell in a day, or it may take one week, or it may take longer.  

If you sell on a eBay auction, you will know when the auction ends, but you will not know if you will get any bids.  If you offer a Buy It Now option, your phone could sell at any time.  Check some listings for phones of the same model and condition that you are selling to get an idea of the market price.  You will be able to see how high the bidding has gone on auctions that are near the ending time.

I ended up listing my BlackBerry with wall charger and USB cable on eBay with a starting price of $51 and Buy It Now price of $100.  The phone sold within 2 hours for $100.  eBay turned out to be a good way to sell the phone myself.  The payment was received through PayPal and was very easy- the money just showed up in my account.  I printed my own shipping labels through eBay and dropped the package off at the post office.


Penny Pinching Tips:
  • Get at least a couple offers for your used cell phone to consider.  Check offers from mail-in buyback services on their websites so you can compare offers.
  • The convenience of getting instant payment makes selling your cell phone at a local store or ecoATM kiosk appealing.
  • If you have a relatively new phone, or a popular model, you may be able to sell it yourself on craigslist or eBay and get the most money for your phone.  But it will take some work to advertise your phone.  With craigslist you'll need to meet with buyers to close the deal.  With eBay, you'll need to pack and ship your phone.
  • My pick if you're getting a new phone: get a Droid RAZR M free





Recommended reading:




Penny Pincher Journal
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