Online Arbitrage or…Just Saving Money When Shopping Online

I had a great tutorial with a friend over the weekend who is an EXPERT at online arbitrage (OA.)  Online arbitrage is a term used by online sellers to indicate buying products at one online site to resell them at another.  Usually these products are resold on Amazon.  OA is utilized by thousands of online sellers and the biggest season (you might have already guessed!) is 4th quarter.

Manufacturers try to guess demand of all their products and make the right amount to sell through the busiest season of the year.  This is difficult, of course, and many times certain products are hard to find.  People using online arbitrage as a strategy will attempt to profit from the shortage of products.  Basically, they are bringing these hard to find products to the public at a premium price.

I have bought and sold online for years and am learning the best way to add OA to my bag of tricks.  A simple step in this process is saving as much money as possible when purchasing product.  I learned some amazing tricks this weekend and share them above in a five minute video.  We used CashBackMonitor.com and RetailMeNot.com to get every discount available.  Watch the video, though, for some extra guidelines.

OA Hack:  Saving Money When Shopping Online

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Ideas to make your “To Do” list valuable.

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Having a “TO DO” list is a long time productivity tool. Keep in mind that WHAT you put on the list is more important than anything else. Spend some quality mental time creating a doable daily list. Don’t forget to delegate or eliminate items that are not important. What you choose to spend your time on daily will define where you go and what you do over the long term.

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I am SO EXCITED for my new project.  I have been selling to thousands of people on eBay and Amazon for about 9 years.  Let’s make them MY audience!  I have a MISSION to bring affordable health care products to people.  I am going to keep a video record of my efforts.  This is video #1 and it discusses some eBay hacks to keep your name in front of your buyers.

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In Pursuit of FREE TRAVEL: Adding plastic to your wallet

credit card points I have to admit, it seems counter-intuitive to add credit cards to my life.  I spent a good deal of the third     decade of my life concentrating on getting out of debt, paying off student loans and credit cards as quickly as I could.  Consumer debt and the high interest rates always charged on credit cards can wreck havoc on your finances.  Once I paid everything off, I promised myself I would never carry a credit card balance again and I have stayed on track.

So, when I learned that part of Ketih’s traveling genius involves “churning” credit cards—taking them out to get the thousands of bonus points offered, I admit I cringed a bit.  Handling lots of cards and dealing with the various payments made me a bit nervous.  I like simplicity!  But, with the picture of my European dream vacation forming and getting clearer in my mind, I decided the small hassle of additional credit cards is more than compensated for by FREE TRAVEL perks.

I have reached a responsible level with my finances and know that changing where I spend my money will not affect keeping myself in line with responsible spending.  Again, this program is only for folks who have a handle on their finances and are not in any danger of carrying credit balances.

Once I saw all the free points that I could get by opening additional cards—I decided to take the plunge!  BRING IT ON!  –But which card to choose?

Part of the “secret sauce” for Keith’s formula is to open cards slowly and carefully over time.  We don’t want to do anything to damage our credit score.  Make sure to find out your score and keep an eye on it as you start to take out credit. Check out his book, Travel Like A Millionaire, and decide for yourself how quickly or how slowly you want to earn points.

Next, select your credit card carefully, and, most likely, begin with Chase bank.  Make sure to open a credit card that has an offer that gives you at least 50,000 points.

Chase offers some great cards with exceptional points.  Chase’s points are termed “Ultimate Reward Points” and they can be used in lots of flexible ways for travel.  Chase has partnered with Marriott, Hyatt and United Airlines so it makes using Ultimate Reward points with those companies extremely easy.

For great tips and ideas, read the book, Travel Like A Millionaire, and learn how to travel in style without using your hard earned cash.

Several of the Chase cards have double points in some categories and some of the cards actually pay FIVE TIMES points in some categories.  The reason to start with Chase is that Chase has a rule termed the 5/24 rule.  Chase will only let you take out five credit cards over 24 months—this includes credit cards from any other bank (excluding American Express.)  Most other companies are less strict, so it makes sense (and travel dollars!) to start with Chase when looking to capitalize on credit cards and points.

There are many choices when it comes to credit cards at Chase Bank, right now they have the Chase Freedom Card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card,  The Chase Ink Card for business, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  Most of these cards offer between 60,000 and 100,000 points just for signing up.  The cash value (again, the lowest way to redeem points) on that is $600 to $1000 dollars.  This cash value is if you were to trade these points in for the “cash back,” again, our goal is to get a much higher return with travel benefits.

So, look into your wallet, look at your credit score and then pick the best Chase Card and start earning FREE TRAVEL now.

 

 

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Credit Card Rewards: The First Three Steps

 

Travel concept, airliner, with push pins in european destinations and a map of the world

I believe in setting LARGE GOALS!  That’s why, as soon as I started realizing what credit card points could do for me and my family, I decided to try to take my family of six to Europe entirely on credit card points.  Most of us have never crossed the big pond before and being able to provide a European Vacation for my family is certainly a dream come true.  Online sellers like me spend a lot of money (and can accumulate a lot of credit card points,) so I am fortunate that my “spend” is quite high.  I started out by following the three steps outlined here.  Many thanks to Keith Crowe for inspiring me every step of the way. He is the MASTER of Credit Card “hacking” and learning to Travel Like a Millionaire!

HERE WE GO!  Let’s start at the basics and get familiar with what our current credit cards are doing for us.   This program is ONLY for folks who are currently in a position to pay off their credit cards each month—if you are carrying any type of balance, the interest you are paying more than negates the rewards you can get.  So, please, if you carry credit card balances, getting your credit card debt down to zero is your very first priority.  Get it to zero, know you can keep it there, and then come back and pursue your free travel points.

1.)  What is in your wallet?    The first step you need to take is to look at your current credit cards and see which benefits and rewards these cards have.  Ideally, your credit card should have 1% (or better) given back in rewards and no annual fee (there are exceptions to this—only pay an annual fee if it is more than offset by benefits.)

Take out your credit card, go to your bank, go online, and figure out exactly what benefits your current card is offering.  This will give you a starting point.  Also, notice, your card may give you double or better points in certain categories.  Learn what those categories are.  If you have certain cards with certain generous category rewards and other cards with different category rewards, take a Dymo sticker and write down the best categories for that card and attach it right to the card.  This will help you use the right card for the right occasion.

Do not cancel any credit cards, however.  Even if you discover one that has no benefits to you, just leave the balance at zero and leave it open. The reason for this is that your credit score is partially dependent on the length of time you have held credit cards. Closing a long-term credit card can negatively affect your credit score.

2.)  What is your credit score?  Next, take a look at your credit score.   There are lots of places where you can get this information for free—I used Discover.com and learned that my credit score is currently 749.   Our goal is to take out credit slowly over time and not negatively affect our credit score. My mentor has a couple of dozen credit cards and a credit score close to 850, so I know this can be done.  We want to know what our credit score is before we start the program so we can monitor it as we add credit cards to our wallet.  Again, if we approach this correctly our credit score will stay the same (or even rise) as we take out more credit.

3.)  Quit taking “sucker bets” with the points you accumulate on your current credit cards.   The LEAST value you can get from your points is in cash back, gift cards or magazine subscriptions.  For now, let your points accumulate.  We will show you MUCH BETTER options on how to spend your points in future posts (as I learn this along with you.)  For now, let your points rack up and know you will be using them for great travel benefits soon.

When I started this program, I had the Chase Ink for Business and the Chase Freedom card.  I learned that the Ink for business gives me double points when used at Staples, Office Depot or Home Depot.  I learned that the Chase Freedom card gives me 5 times points when used at restaurants (this category changes every quarter.)  I started using the Freedom when I was eating out and the Ink when I was buying supplies for my business.

To learn to Travel Like A Millionaire, your really need to get the book by Keith Crowe.

So spend some quality time reviewing your current credit cards and learning how you are currently getting point, look into your credit score and stop cashing in your points—you are on your way.

 

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How To Travel The World For FREE

travel hackingA First Class overseas vacation plus accommodations in a five star resort each year for an entire family!

I love to travel!  Exploring new places resonates with me.  I love leaving my life (just for a while) and exploring the surrounding cities, states and countries.  Beaches—yes!  Mountains—sign me up!  Cities, towns, campgrounds, I get excited about it all.

I also like to “get a good deal.”  I usually shop for inexpensive flights and explore a variety of accommodations before choosing.  Since I have a large family and many preferences to consider, we don’t always buy on price alone, but we are always conscious of where we are spending our vacation funds.

I tried, at one point, to keep track of miles on certain airlines through their mileage programs.  I learned it is hard to transfer miles from child to parent and even harder to get a decent flight using miles.  I have “earned” a couple of flights this way though and that was nice.

I never considered credit card points as a way to travel.  I always just took the cash back option, figuring I would put it toward travel or whatever I wanted.

So, I was probably an average consumer.  Doing exactly what the credit card companies and airlines expect.

I didn’t give it much thought until I met Keith Crowe. His book, Travel Like a Millionaire, has taught me how to, well, to travel like a millionaire.

Keith is an Amazon seller who uses credit card points to secure first class travel and resort stays.  The way he manipulates credit cards, points and first class travel is remarkable.

He takes his family on a complete first class vacation every year, usually overseas, using credit card points alone.  

He actually started his Amazon business planning to “break even” so he could earn points on his credit cards. He has learned how to optimize all the various credit card points and travel deals and put them together into a system that earns his family at least one fully paid vacation a year.  He is an expert on “hacking” through the fine print and deals the credit cards offer and using his points in the most cost effective way to secure free travel.

I heard Mr. Crowe give a talk back in April and was amazed at all the ways credit cards can be used to get free travel. I made a note to myself to figure this out.

When I went to look at all the different reward programs on my own, however, I got a bit overwhelmed.  I had a lot of questions and wasn’t sure if I understood the fine print of the credit card deals.  So, I took the couple of things I could recall from his talk and applied those.

1.)  Save your credit card points for travel—preferably overseas and preferable first class.  This is where you get the largest value.  Don’t cash out or get gift cards—these are “sucker choices.”

2.) Chase Freedom and Chase Ink are both good cards (I already had these, so it was easy.)

3.) Put everything on credit cards.  I always pay off my balance, so interest is not a concern.  I switched my utilities, trash and every recurring payment I possibly could to credit.

I caught up with Keith a couple of weeks ago at an internet conference.  He was surrounded by entrepreneurs asking him about cards and points.  I waited my turn and learned a few new ideas.  I also suggested he write a book so all the advice he doles out could be in one place!  He agreed to teach me how to earn a first class vacation for the Carriers (!!) and he is starting his book. (update—his book is published—check it out-Travel Like A Millionaire.

I am lucky enough to be a case study for his book!  As he teaches me, I will share here.  Make sure to sign up below to get the inside scoop on free travel—I will keep you up to date.

I will share here as I learn.  SIGN UP at the top of this website to get FREE alerts and tips as Keith teaches me which credit cards to use and how to use them.

Please email or comment with any advice or ideas you know about to earn free travel.

This is fun!

 

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New(ish) FBA Seller sells over 1100 books in one month!

Jessica listed all these books one weekend!

Jessica listed all these books one weekend!

 

YEAH!  We had a FANTASTIC month selling used books on Amazon FBA!

We have been building our book inventory on Amazon for a little over a year and learning as it grew.  Books brought in some money from the beginning, but using the model  we are using, we knew we wouldn’t really start to bring in book money until our inventory grew.  We hired a few “book scouts” to go out and bring us books and tried to make it to as many sales and shops as we could in our town.

We had some early success and spent some time mastering our processes, but life happened and books seriously took the back burner while we dealt with many other issues, professional and personal.

Then August came along—our book numbers jumped, our profits soared and all of a sudden books became very interesting!

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67

 

Why though?  Books had been relatively flat in sales and income for seven months.

We guessed at first that part of the reason was the season—books sell best August through January.  That could account for some of the jump.  Then we guessed we sent in a much higher number of books in June and July and our inventory was higher.  So, we went looking for data.

What we found out at first was that yes, August is one of the top months of the year (if not the top) for selling used books.  This didn’t quite explain the huge jump though.  And when we pulled up my inventory numbers from the past year there wasn’t the large jump in book inventory we expected.

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price   Inventory Turn
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55 46 39.13%
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02 178 30.34%
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62 297 39.39%
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42 666 19.22%
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21 1345 18.81%
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91 1708 16.63%
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98 1665 23.36%
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20 2726 14.82%
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68 3849 9.82%
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33 3844 5.10%
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41 3585 8.01%
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40 4832 6.48%
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13 5560 5.99%
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67 6019 18.38%

 

Okay, this was even more of a mystery!  Why was our inventory turn SO MUCH better during the beginning and end of the measured months?  I love a good mystery and knew there had to be a logical reason….then it hit me!

We started out using a repricer and used it for several months.   A repricer is a program you can buy that automatically reprices  your Amazon inventory based on the parameters you set and the prices of other sellers.  Most large sellers on Amazon use repricers.  Repricers are a bit tricky within the used book category due to the number of offers on each particular book  and the amount of data they consider when repricing.  However, if you are selling books in bulk (I would say anything over 1500 books,) it is almost impossible to keep your books priced competitively without a repricer.

We use RepriceIt and I will write about my experience with that software very soon.   We turned it off when we thought it was underpricing some of our books, our Virtual Assistant oversaw a limited version for a couple of months and then we turned it back on full force in August.  Hmmm.

DATE Ordered $ Sold Avg. Price   Inventory Turn Reprice
July, 2015 18 $424.00 $23.55 46 39.13% YES
Aug, 2015 54 $1,081.00 $20.02 178 30.34% YES
Sep, 2015 117 $1,827.00 $15.62 297 39.39% YES
Oct, 2015 128 $1,974.17 $15.42 666 19.22% NO
Nov, 2015 253 $3,849.00 $15.21 1345 18.81% YES
Dec, 2015 284 $4,234.00 $14.91 1708 16.63% YES
Jan, 2016 389 $6,215.00 $15.98 1665 23.36% YES
Feb, 2016 404 $6,142.00 $15.20 2726 14.82% NO
Mar, 2016 378 $5,550.00 $14.68 3849 9.82% NO
Apr, 2016 196 $2,809.00 $14.33 3844 5.10% NO
May, 2016 287 $4,134.00 $14.41 3585 8.01% YES-outsourced
June, 2016 313 $4,821.00 $15.40 4832 6.48% YES-outsourced
July, 2016 333 $5,703.00 $17.13 5560 5.99% YES-outsourced
Aug, 2016 1106 $16,220.00 $14.67 6019 18.38% YES-not outsourced

LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE WITH A REPRICER!  Look at the difference with just letting the repricer run (without outsourcing the oversight of the repricer.)

We thought, during May, June and July, that we had the best of both worlds.  A repricer that was overseen by a human, my VA.  In hindsight, we spent only about one hour training her and rarely reviewed her work.  I imagine, if I were to go back to her work, I would find her to be extremely conservative with pricing.   This is not her fault, at all, but the fault of an over-extended entrepreneur not watching numbers or the work of her assistants.

Right now, we are running the repricer daily and not worrying about an occasional undersold book.  Inventory turn is very important and we are going to focus on acquiring books that we can sell for a profit and turning the inventory relatively quickly.

I LOVE selling books on Amazon and I love talking about book selling.  Please email me if you have any questions or wish to discuss the crazy world of Amazon.

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Your opportunity is NOW!

do-something-today-that-your-future-self-will-thank-you-for

In case you haven’t noticed, our world is changing at lightening speed. You hold more computing power and more data in the palm of your hand (even if your phone is years old) than the President of the United States had in the Oval Office just 15 years ago.

There is no reason, no excuse in the world, for you not to be earning extra money online!

The fact that you are reading this means you are online right now.  Almost everyone in our country has access to the internet in 2015.  Furthermore, the internet is getting more globally accessible every single day. 250 million additional people will get online this year.   You read that right, 250 MILLION people!  Can you imagine the impact? The additional markets? The additional ideas and potential customers?

With all these newcomers, and with us Americans getting very used to buying online, internet shopping has increased steadily every single year for the last decade.Online Sales Increase

When will you join the thousands of entrepreneurs who make money online?

It isn’t expensive to start. If you are reading this on your own computer, you already own everything you need.

If you are intimidated by the mechanics of how to get online and figure out Amazon or eBay, the information is right on that computer and it is FREE.  Just google “how to sell on eBay” or “how to start an Amazon business,” and you will find a lifetime of information.  It won’t take you a lifetime, though, to learn.  A few hours of reading or watching videos and you are out the door running.

What to sell?  Well, believe it or not, that part is easy.  Sell what people are looking for.  And, guess what, people are looking for, and buying, just about EVERYTHING online.  If you want to hit the ground running AND have decent margins, sell what they are looking for that is a bit harder to find.  I don’t mean crazy hard to find, just think about things you can dig up that are a bit rare or more unusual than typical stuff.  Go hunting for used books, sell your locally made food, sell unique items from regional or local stores.  Anything you can find that you have to search out a bit will work.

If you don’t want to sell physical products, make a digital book about something you know how to do.  It could be knitting, or sewing, or repairing toilets, or writing a resume.  Anything that you have “how to” experience with.  Are you completely lacking in a hobby or skill (and I doubt that you are), then do an interview with your brother-in-law or your neighbor and write a digital “How-To” book on how to do what they do.  These books sell like mad!  People looking to acquire a new skill want to learn from everyday people who have that skill.

This is it folks, the time is RIGHT NOW!  With all the computing power and information that you possess right at your fingertips, there are absolutely NO EXCUSES that you aren’t pulling in some extra dollars online.

If you still have an excuse, I’d love to hear it (and try to diffuse it!) because I cannot imagine an excuse that holds up.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Start today and change your life.  Your future is calling….

 

 

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