Sunday, March 29, 2009

I am an American, and I am not participating in this recession.

For those of you who don't know, I am a huge, HUGE Dave Ramsey fan. He is a strong Christian man with strong Christian principles. He is hosting an event called Town Hall for Hope, which will be a nationwide live event, and best of all it's FREE! I urge you to find a local host and attend - it's guaranteed to be a great time!

Here's the website:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mapping out my plan of action

As usual, I have been coming up with ideas for moving forward, but no real sense of direction. I mean, yeah, move forward, but doing what? Wholesaling? Bookkeeping? Ebay? Getting my RE license? All of the above?

So I began to really think of our situation to get to the real bottom line of what I am trying to accomplish. And here it is:

Consisent Income and Debt Elimination

Now, my husband does well in his job, and we are able to keep up with basic expenses, of what Dave Ramsey calls "the four walls" - Food, shelter, clothing, transportation. But we are thrown a loop when we have Dr. visits, car repair, etc. We need to be able to put money aside for this so that these expenses don't damage the budget.

We also have about $19k in debt that needs to be killed, so we need to have extra income to slay this and get rid of it once and for all.

The good news is that my husband is eligible for larger bonuses than last year, so that will help, but I need to be able to add to the family income.

So, armed with this bottom line, I then decided to do a bit of cost/benefit analysis for each avenue of revenue (hey, that kinda rhymes! LOL)

Wholesaling - very little cost - postage, envelopes, paper, cell phone - maybe $60 a month. The downside is that the odds of revenue coming from this is slim. Would work well for the consisent part if I am able to really generate a lot of marketing, but then the cost factor goes up.

Ebay - very little cost - about $60 month for listing fees for 500 items. The downside is that it's time consuming, but once the original listings are up, then can be relisted and basically run on auto pilot. Not consisent - but the cost factor is low and more than likely I can at least break even on bad months, and make a good income on good months.

Bookkeeping - medium cost to start - need to get Quickbooks, John Hryre's KISS Guide to Bookkeeping which total cost would be about $600. No real downside - I think that there is a need for this for local investors. Would only have the initial start up cost - ongoing marketing would basically be free - posting to my local REIA Yahoo Group monthly to showcase my business. Consisentency odds would be high, as I could have monthly clients and bill monthly. 

Getting my RE License - I am really leaning towards this, as I would like my own MLS access, and the ability to write my own offers for REOs. Start up costs are a bit high - classes, license fee, E&O ins, MLS Fees, Realtor board Fees - about $1k  to start. Would not add to consistency right now, but could in the future.

So, in looking at all of these I have come up with a plan - first, Ebay offers the quickest and cheapest route to a consisent income for right now, so I am going to make listing a priority. Second, although it won't offer consistency, I am going to allocate some money to marketing to pre-foreclosures for wholesaling. I already have some stamps, so I'm going to use them to target a group of pre-foreclosures. Next in the process will be taking on bookkeeping clients, but I'm going to go small on this - maybe 2-3 for now. And finally, if I decide to go this route, I will put aside money to get my RE license and also the $1k for earnest money for REO properties.

I think I now have a sense of direction. :)

A little off topic - My take on Ebay

I wanted to talk a little about Ebay, as I had a couple of people post in the comment section asking about what I do. So, I thought I would make a blog post about it.

I started back on Ebay back in 2000, when I bought some things for my kids. I then started out selling my late father's model train collection (with Mom's permission). They sold like hotcakes, some traincars going as high as $250. It was nice to make a little extra money, so I ventured to try and make Ebay a consisent income. It has been off and on and I've tried selling different items - children's clothing, vintage postcards, US drugstore goods to the UK and Europe. I acted as a kind of trading assistant for an online friend who wasn't able to have an Ebay account. I also started selling hot toys at Christmas time, although this last season I kind of fizzled out on that venue. I even made a killing selling Today contraceptive sponges last summer. They were discontinued and my local Rite Aid stores still had stock - I bought out all of the Rite Aid stores within a 35 mi. radius of my town. That was a fun and profitable time. 

Through a lot of research, I was able to land two dropshipping accounts with a major toy manufacturer (Kidkraft) and a high end children's retailer (Olive Kids).  Although the competition is tough, I am still able to get some good sales. Both companies have great dropshipping programs. They ship quickly, keep excellent stock records, and my order process is very easy. So I'm pretty happy with where I am with my Ebay store, I just need to get it stocked. The beauty of having a dropship account is that I can list quite a bit, but since I don't keep an inventory, my costs are very low. For me to have about 500 items listed would probably cost about $60 a month for listing fees, which would easily pay for itself with 4-5 sales per month.

If you are considering selling on Ebay I highly recommend reading a newsletter put out by Skip McGrath . He is an Ebay Powerseller, too, and has great information, both in his free newsletter and his information for sale. I bought his Ebook about selling books on Amazon and it was well worth the price. (I sold on Amazon, too.)

Anyway, I hope you didn't mind the detour from REI. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Still rolling along

Some interesting things have happened since I last posted.  First, my Ebay listing goal fell flat on it's face when I had to deal with sickness in the family and some yearly doctor visits. So that didn't help. I lost all my momentum, and didn't really get it back. So I think I'm going to break up my Ebay listing goal into smaller bites. Instead of doing a 2 hour listing marathon, I'm going to aim at 8 15-minute increments sprinkled throughout the day. I also took a big leap of faith and listed a Kidkraft item that just today went back in stock. I upgraded the listing, so I spent about $32 to list it, but I am listing over 50 of them, I have highlighted it, put it in bold, and used the Featured First option, which combined with my raised search standing, should get me to the top of the page if someone searches "Kidkraft train". This was a popular item that sold well for others over Christmas. I'm hoping I got a head start on getting the traffic for folks shopping for this, since it's been out of stock for so long. Before I forget, here is a link to my listing:

On the REI front, I attended the Women's Focus Group for my local REIA club.  It was a good meeting. The ladies seemed receptive to my idea for bookkeeping for investors. I do think that I won't be starting to take on clients until after tax season, as I just don't want to deal with the last minute people who haven't filed yet. Plus, I need to get a copy of Quickbooks, and get my pricing set up.

Also on the REI front, I got my first real lead from my Craigslist ad. I don't think it will pan out, as it looks like my offer will be less that the mortgage balance, but at least it gets me some practice in making offers.

Before I forget, I know I haven't answered the questions that were posted in the last few blog entry comment sections, so I'm going to answer them tomorrow. Just didn't want anyone to think I was ignoring them. :)

Till later!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rolling, rolling, rolling....

After having some mental stagnation for a few days, I finally got my brain in gear on the REI front and the other income front.

First, I decided that my Ebay goal is going to be 500 store listings. I currently have 41, which includes the 8 listings I put up this evening. I want to have the 500 listings within 30 days, so that's about 16 listings a day. That should probably take only 2 hours to get 16 listings done, so I've decided that I'm going to get the listings done in the AM after I take the kids to school, as I have about a 2 hour window between taking the kids to school and picking up my youngest from preschool (she has a half day). Any listings I don't get done during this time period, I can get done after I pick up everyone else from school. On the weekends, I'll probably get the listings done in the AM as well, as we usually just bum around in the mornings on Saturday. Sunday is a bit more hectic, as that is church day, so I'll probably get the listings done in the afternoon or evening.

I really enjoy working my Ebay store. I made Powerseller last year, and need to keep my sales up in order not to lose it this coming month. Having 500 listings should help.

On the REI front, the goal is to get my $1k in earnest money set up for working REOs.  We had some auto issues to deal with, so the money I had set aside from our tax refund for REI went to the auto repairs (sigh). The good news is that DH (dear husband) looks to be getting some decent bonuses in the coming months, so I am hoping to set aside some of that money in the savings for the EM (earnest money). Plus, whatever I make from Ebay will be going to that, as well as debt reduction. I am also going to email the real estate agent who sold us our house and discuss with him my ideas for working with an agent to submit my REO offers.

I'm also contemplating setting up to do what I would call "REI Support Services". I have an accounting degree, but really never did anything with it, except for bookkeeping and tax preparation. I am a dork - I absolutely love bookkeeping! I am acutally having Quickbooks withdrawal. ROFL So my goal is to get a copy of John Hyre's KISS Bookkeeping System and Quickbooks and work with them to get some REI bookkeeping clients. I'm going to work very part time on this, maybe 2-3 clients for starters, as I still want to do my own REI. 

The other part of my support services angle is possibly working on helping people get their properties listed on Vflyer and Postlets. I'm thinking about investing in a small camcorder to take videos of people's properties. I'm not sure how tech savvy the members of my REIA are, so this may or may not be a viable source of income. But I figure that I want to get into doing this myself for my own use, so if I get good at it, I would enjoy helping others, and it would be worth the initial investment in the equipment.

So that's the update for now. Lots to do!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Small step is done

Well, the tax assessor's website was back up and running so I was able to get the address I needed. The owner lives in town, so they should get the letter pretty quickly. From what I can tell by looking online at the Register of Deeds records online, this property may have been an inheritance, so the owner might be interesting in selling. I guess we shall see.

I got a response to my Craigslist ad, but it looks like it was spam, so....oh, well! LOL!

I think I'm going to work on foreclosure mailings this upcoming week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A small step

Well, I'm feeling almost back to normal, so I decided to get moving again on the REI front. It's a very small step, but at least it's a step. I placed a We Buy Houses ad on Craigslist using a template that I found. It's nothing special, but at least it's there, so if I get a call, that's at least one more call than I would have otherwise received. Actually, it won't be a call, but a website feedback form reply. 

I'm also going to compose a letter to an owner of a distressed property in town. It's been boarded up for quite some time, and would probably make a good rental property. Of course, as luck would have it, the county tax assessor's website is down, so I can't get the address to send the letter. Hopefully it will be back up by the end of the day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exhausted and wiped out

Well,  it has been the weekend from hell. Thursday, I had to have my mother in law help me pick up the kids, as my husband had to take my van to a meeting. I'm glad she was there because I became deathly ill with the flu that morning. It was all down hill from there. I stayed in bed from Thursday night through most of Saturday. I probably lost 10 pounds because I didn't eat anything. Then my 4 year old got sick with a stomach virus on Sunday. We also got 6 inches of snow Sunday night, so school was closed for yesterday and today. I am just now getting a bit better on my feet. I really haven't slept well since Thursday, even though I was in bed most of those days. Thankfully my husband was able to help out quite a bit, but now he has a sore throat, so I hope it's not strep. And to top it all off, he has a 15 in. crack in his windshield. Lovely.

Needless to say, nothing has happened on the REI front, and nothing probably will until I can get some rest and get to feeling better....sigh....