October 24, 2016

Side money experiment: mTurk

Background: 2 years ago November, J. Money and I had a quick chat that spawned this post on earning side money and then I started tracking our earnings publicly because it’s always more fun that way. PiC is our resident Craigslister and I’m the resident Try Anything Once-er.

As previously mentioned in the May and June monthly reports, I gave mTurk a little test run.

My time was particularly tight in those months so it wasn’t a smart time to be trying new things but I wanted to dip my toes in and give it a wiggle. I think because it was so time-crunchy, my brain really needed to know that it wouldn’t last and the way to give myself hope for that is to do something new that feels purposeful and makes a bit of money.

After a couple months, spending nibbles of time when I was taking a mental break from work, I haven’t cracked any secret codes. Tasks are most available during business hours, and you do better when you spend time on skill-based tasks, I think. The tasks I’ve been qualified for are things like surveys which don’t earn much.

Total earned: $50.95

Whether it’s bad timing or lack of effort, mTurk isn’t for me right now. I’ll put this experiment on hold until I have a bit more time to play with it.

:: Have you tried mTurk or anything like it? Would you use your spare 5-15 minutes a day on something like this?

August 29, 2016

Side money experiment: selling on Poshmark

Side Money Experiment 1: Selling clothes with PoshmarkBackground: 2 years ago November, J. Money and I had a quick chat that spawned this post on earning side money and then I started tracking our earnings publicly because it’s always more fun that way. PiC is our resident Craigslister and I’m the resident Try Anything Once-er.

One of my challenges in the Great Wardrobe Curation has been getting rid of clothes that need to exit stage left. They normally still have plenty of wear in them, don’t fit quite right but aren’t worth the cost of tailoring, or that I can’t tolerate wearing any longer, like heels. It doesn’t make sense to keep them and getting both space and money back would be double the fun.

With plenty of encouragement from Penny to give it a try, even with my decidedly unfancy wardrobe, and armed with her quick tutorial, I quickly made up an account on Poshmark and listed a handful of shoes. One pair of heels I’ll hold on to, for faking professionalism until I get better flats, but most of them can go.

At first it didn’t seem like it was meant to be. It took 4 hours to download the app. First, I never remember my Apple ID so downloading isn’t the breeze that it was from my Android. I mean, sure, security but sometimes you just want to be able to get your darn free app! Then it wanted 3 hours to think about downloading. Awesome.

Once the app was running, it was pretty simple to start listing things. They encourage you to list 10-12 items to start but in reality there was no requirement to do that so it seemed like the perfect way to tiptoe into selling a few things at a time. I just can’t commit to a huge overhaul in one go.

I created an account (I loathe creating usernames) and started snapping pictures. It only took 20 minutes to list four items, and most of that time was spent looking up the information and coming up with useful descriptions.

It was easiest to start with shoes since I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. There was immediate beginner’s luck with a rash of sales, and three sales and three weeks later, I’m still waiting for more real nibbles.

What I learned

Most people want to negotiate so set your prices a little higher than you’re willing to sell for. That way you can compromise more.

You don’t need to bargain in the comments, your potential buyers have the ability to make an offer which you can ignore (it expires in 24 hours), counteroffer, or decline. If you decline outright, Poshmark will send you an email suggesting that you counteroffer so that there’s dialogue. Declining the offer means that attempt at a sale is over.

USPS ships you free shipping envelopes and boxes, as Penny had pointed out in her very helpful post. They’re really slow, though, and only ship in packages of 10 items each, so if you’re not dropping by the post office to pick up a box or two, it’s a bit of a commitment.

I’m incredibly impatient. I sold three items in the first 4 days of selling using existing packaging and then it’s been all quiet. After the first sales, I ordered a few basic shipping supplies from USPS and now I have STUFF sitting around the house, waiting to be used. I knew I should have waited!

You’re encouraged to package your sold items nicely. This means wrapping things in tissue paper, and adding a note for your buyer. As an inveterate recycler, I dug into my abundant stash of used tissue paper, sealed them up with thank you labels from one of my last labeling projects, and shipped in repurposed Amazon boxes while waiting for the USPS shipping materials. All were accepted by the buyers quickly and happily.

Speaking of acceptance, the buyers have 3 days after the package delivery to officially accept your shipped product or to file a report if they feel it didn’t match the selling description. You should be really specific about your items to make sure that your buyers know what they’re getting. I take pictures of any possible flaws for the item profile to be sure.

As a seller, you’re given a week to ship, but they like you to ship sooner. I didn’t have a problem with shipping within 2 days since I’m selling such low volume.

Total earned: $37

I won’t say this is a flop, it’s only been a few weeks, even if it feels longer. The early success certainly raised my expectations unrealistically – I always knew that I didn’t have a ton of saleable items but it was worth the try. Other than the Poshmark fee which I wouldn’t have paid if I didn’t make money myself, and some time obsessing over pictures and listings, I didn’t lose anything.

:: Are any of you successful Poshers? What am I (likely) doing wrong? How long would you list items for before giving up and donating?

June 14, 2013

First forays into homebuying

“We have to get this guy a house.”

Back from our various vacationtimes, we immediately saw that, while Doggle was thrilled to see us, he was also happier, peppier and more engaged than ever before. He’d been hanging his shingle in a house with a yard, kids and other pets for a week and amid the shameless spoiling, it was clear that he’d been taking dog lessons from someone.

Apparently the quiet life in a small apartment with DINKs doesn’t quite inspire the still-reticent Zendog to come out from his shell and do a doggy dance, or dash around happily pouncing on his toys four times a day nearly so much as the chaos of a full house does.  It’s probably too much to hope that he’d picked up the notion of catch, but we actually have hope now that he might try.

So are we serious about getting a house for the dog?

Well, we’d been kicking around the idea of buying a house for some time now, and we designed our budget this year with a specific goal to save for a new down payment.  It does feel like providing a yard is the next best thing we can do for our beloved Doggle.  And yes, we want it for ourselves too, but let’s be honest, we’re doting parents and the dog is our happy excuse for a lot of things.

But  … real estate around here is absurd.

Early explorations of Zillow and Trulia revealed real estate listings that are literally jawdropping.

We’re planning to stay outside the city.  Many 20 and 30-somethings may find it appalling that people would actually prefer suburbs to the bustling city, but it’s true of us. We love visiting the city but it doesn’t feel like home to either of us. Between the traffic, the lack of (free) parking, the tight quarters, we’re just not city people.  And with the tech industry out here, and the salaries they pay, we couldn’t afford the city if we wanted!  So, y’know…

We’d like to be within fifteen or twenty miles of the city for reasonable commutes, which also suits my need for a warmer microclimate, so that was our first search parameter. We’d definitely be paying more for the luxury of better weather and saving time on a daily basis. If we were willing to be in say, Hayward, where I know the weather is as hot as even I would like, prices would be far closer to reasonable. But the compromise is better weather for me, not great for me and utterly crappy weather for him. For this, we shall pay.

We’re looking for at least two bedrooms, we’d really like two bathrooms and a two car garage, and a decently large kitchen is important to me. If there was a room I could start converting into my own private library (The Dream), that’d be the best but I will settle for a good amount of wall space and storage. We have no storage where we are now.

Last, PiC is reminding me to keep searching in specific areas where the schools are better. Which is sensible, this may be where we stay for a really long time. It needs to be a pretty safe neighborhood with some staying power. Which also means we probably should look at more than 2 bedrooms if we’re going to have any spawn. I grew up in a small 2 bedroom apartment but as an adult, I don’t really want to do that again, albeit from the other side, if I don’t have to. It might be character building but I’ll find another way to impart that.

Search results: moderately horrifying

We’re finding one and two bedroom, one bathroom, one car garage single family homes in moderately close/decent neighborhoods are starting at A. Million. Dollars. Seriously.

This shouldn’t be any surprise when in some neighborhoods, $800k hardly gets you more than a two bedroom, x bathroom(s) condo or apartment.

And three bedroom, two bathroom with garage SFHs run more like 700K-3M.

*gulp*

The estimated monthly payments on those homes that are 3k-7k (in more extreme cases) are almost beside the point.  I’d only feel comfortable to committing to a new loan if we had 200K in cash with a healthy uncommitted cash flow. We do not have 200K in cash.

We could make a pretty good run at it but it’s not going to happen overnight and as much as I fantasize about taking another job, that’s not going to happen either. Freelancing, maybe. A whole other job would be crazy and crazy-making.

Making it happen

We still hold hope this can work and maybe even in the next year or so. Not that I expect the market to get much friendlier over the next year, but we have steps to take to increase our buying power, and reduce our stress.

1. Reduce our current fixed expenses, including the current mortgage to make a significant dent in the down payment goal. We’re refinancing and going over all the other expenses to trim back.

2. Keep those fixed expenses low – I don’t want to commit ourselves to either too much house (payment) or too strict a budget. After nine+ years of living on a shoestring income to debt ratio, I refuse to find ourselves coming up empty on cash for the sake of a house.

3. When we get a decent cash cushion in place, I’ll focus on foreclosures to see if we can’t stretch our buying power.

4. Hope hope hope that mortgage rates aren’t abominable twelve to twenty four months from now.

It’s time to dig deep and turn on the saving engines again. It’s not worth cutting off our allowances, I don’t think, since it’s not much per month anyway, but I’d love to pull back a little bit everywhere.

::What else should we be doing? 

October 14, 2010

All or nothing: my windfall philosophy

I was just contemplating my windfall philosophy and the fact that I don’t think I can do the “do 1 nice thing for yourself and save the rest” that so many people recommend as a compromise.  While I have incredible self control in most anything else, if I start spending a little chunk of money from a larger chunk, that always primes the mental spending pump and gets me thinking about e-ve-r-y-thing else that I want.

Then I was surprised with a small bonus from my organization to thank me for my hard work and key participation in a major project these past months.  Now, I had absolutely no expectation of any such thing because I work for an organization that’s not known for paying market rates or year-end bonuses, much less merit bonuses. 

But it’s too late. I’ve started to think about the things I want like the delightful OMG Books t-shirt:

Comic books 
Secret Six, Volume 3: Danse Macabre
Usagi Yojimbo,Volumes everything after 2
Lone Wolf and Cub, Volumes everything after 13

Furniture
New bed
Bookshelves
Desk

Travel
A big 2-week trip to some combination of Greece/Italy/Cambodia/India/Vietnam/Laos/Singapore/somewhere else next year
An unlimited SDCC with RUTH this year!!

*ahem*  Didn’t I tell you, “if you give a mouse a cookie”?  Anyway, clearly I ran out of bonus money way up the list.  And so this is why I’m stashing the whole of the check away and not getting myself one single solitary thing.  I’m a lot happier when I just hoard the money and have it when I decide there’s something I really truly want. Life’s a lot more organized that way. 

September 27, 2009

Idle curiousity about Google Adsense

Has anyone reached the $100 payout level and actually received a payment? Ever?

VH discussed her troubles with this over at Funny About Money, and Krystal at Give Me My Five Bucks is approaching the $100 marker (via Twitter). I know they’re not the only ones, either, but what I don’t know is whether or not anyone out there has actually made and been paid money from the Adsense program.

I never really expected to make money from this blog, but I installed the widgets anyway way back in the day. Contrary to my dire predictions of January 2008, it’s only taken me another 21 months to earn all of $90 in total, so perhaps 13 years was a pessimistic projection. Then again, maybe not! As I inch towards the goal line, though, I wonder if it matters. Even if I reach $100, will Google actually pay up?

September 25, 2009

Birthday Money

For the first time in years, I got birthday money! Yay! My cousin claims it’s from my aunt, but I suspect they colluded because cousin is younger than I and there’s an unspoken rule that money only flows down the age stream. Also my unemployment status probably has something to do with it.

This happy circumstance was marred by the discovery that my dad has been hiding over $500 in traffic fines from me.

Injured pride is one thing. Making foolish short term decisions that have negative long term consequences to protect that pride is another entirely and I can’t tolerate it anymore. I’m not one to talk back to my parents, I believe in maintaining a respectful, adult relationship, but darned if I let him get away with this lightly. I resent the fact that I have to lecture him for lying to me. If he’d just been honest with me in the first place, we’d be a team, not this unnatural reversal of parent-child roles.

It’s less that I’m now out another unbudgeted $500, and more that I was raised never to lie and yet here I am, 27 years old and unable to trust my own father. I have to weigh the likelihood that he’s just covering up another wrong. Is this what having bad kids is like??? What would you do if you could no longer trust your parent(s)? Or your entire family? Never in my life have I wanted to run away more.

*aggravated*

But you know. Birthday money. It’d cover the careless forgetting to pack funeral clothes thing, if I’d remembered to bring the gift card with me. As it is, I’m going to have to make an emergency trip to H&M for some suitable pants or a skirt because I was in a hurry to return with the family to the hospital. Also, I had no idea we’d be having the service within two days of his passing. So if I spend about $20, it’ll be cheaper than driving 4 hours round trip to pick up what I have at home. To make up for it, I’ll use the GC to pay the electric bill.

Forgot my pants, forgot my gift card, next thing you know, I’ll be forgetting my own head!

August 7, 2009

ING Direct: $50 Bonus with Electric Orange Checking


Even if ING hasn’t been the highest savings rate leader it once was, I still keep some money with them. Paltry though the interest rates are, that’s pretty much the case across the board at all of my banks. Since I’ve been going minimalist, one step at a time, I’ve refrained from opening more accounts at new banks in the name of rate chasing. If any bank offers the whole package, and allows me to access my own accounts using an aggregator, though, I’m switching! [Watch yourself, ING!]

In the meantime, their interface remains easy to navigate, and the bright orange motif attractive. No, the latter means nothing to me as a customer, it’s just true.

Their Electric Orange checking account has been at least a little intriguing because I’m going to run out of paper checks soon, and it’d be nice to have an alternative to buying another 300 checks to last a lifetime.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

People I’m grateful for:

1. Massage therapist friend. I paid her $48 for a Swedish massage and for the first time since Sunday, I can (carefully) raise my arm above elbow height!!! Oh, the freedom. My shoulder’s only sensitive/tender, and not throbbing with pain today, and I have half use of most of my fingers again. Sweet sweet recovery. If I can sleep the night through, it’ll be the first time in a week.

2. Bestie. Despite toting a 3-month-old with her, she was unquestioningly generous in chaffeuring me during our get-togethers this week. She’s not been in town for months, but she was great about making it possible for us to spend time together during a seriously painful week. We kept it very low-key, running one errand a day and hanging out at her parents’ place afterwards, but I’m grateful nonetheless.

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