Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lessons Learned from My First Attempt at the $20 Challenge (well, $40 Challenge for me...since the first $20 didn't really work...)

Winnie the Pooh Book Set- 10 adorable hardback miniature books for $10! Just one of the items I've listed on Craigslist today.

So I mentioned in my last post that I was venturing to try something kind of like the $20 Challenge, and today I thought I'd tell you little bit more about my goals and my plan.

This summer, we will be going to Florida with my husband's family. They have a timeshare with the Marriott resort in Orlando, and they invited us to come along. They go every year and they always drive; we have gone with them once before and we drove also. It was not fun. Well, the vacation was fun, but the driving was NOT! I felt like it took me two days just to recover from the drive, then I dreaded the drive home, then after we got home I felt like I needed another week just to recouperate from my vacation! Needless to say, it takes something out of the vacation for me.

So this year I suggested to my husband that we fly. He was appalled and aghast at the cost (with the plane tickets plus the cost of the rental car we'd need when we got there it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $800). I can't blame him- it's a lot of money. But I want to ENJOY my vacation! I'm frugal by nature, but there are certain things that I am perfectly fine spending money on because I feel that my sanity is worth more to me than the money. So as far as I'm concerned, $800 is a bargain.

Well, we finally reached a consensus. If I could earn the money to get us there and do it outside of our regular family budget, then he would concede. He still won't like it, but he'll concede. And so my little brain began to work on moneymaking schemes.

To be honest, I haven't gotten especially creative, but this is what I've decided to do: I will utilize the Goodwill Outlet near my house to purchase items in good condition and then resell them for more than I paid, thus turning a tidy profit. This takes some doing, as the Goodwill Outlet is filled with a lot of, shall we say, crap. (sorry, but it really is) However, on my first trip I managed to spend $15 and find several items that I felt were worthy of resale.

I brought them home, took photos, and listed them on Craigslist. Well, I currently have a $3 return on my $15 investment. Surprisingly, the one item that sold was one that I had gotten fairly creative in putting together- I went through the book section and found 5 classic childrens' books to sell together as a set (Goodnight Moon, the Cat in the Hat, etc.). I had several people interested in them, so I know that is something that's in popular demand. What I also learned was that the other items- random toys, mostly aimed toward the toddler set- must be more complete in order to sell. What do I mean by that? Well, I tried to sell two Aquadoodle pads, but without the markers to go with them, no interest. Likewise, I tried to sell several Fisher Price Little People playsets, but without the Little People figurines with them, no luck.

So, with some lessons learned I returned today and I hit the jackpot! I found several good quality items that were still in the brand-new plastic packaging, along with entire complete book sets (books in a series) and more! New sells much better than used, and when things are in sets it gives the illusion that they are more new than if they are just pieces of the original. I came right home and immediately photographed everything and put it on I am just waiting. Watching and waiting. Waiting and watching. Hoping the money will come in.

I spent $17 total today, so right now I am out $29. If all of the items I post today end up selling, I should get a total of $56. Not too bad for a few hours of work, but it's going to take a lot of Goodwill trips to make what I'll need to get us to Florida! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

By the way, I am also going through stuff I already have and looking for items that might bring in some cash, like an old technical pen set from college that I'm selling on ebay. Every little bit helps!!

Have you found success in any moneymaking ventures? Leave a comment and let me know! I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The $20 Challenge? Interesting...

Hello, friends! I was just visiting my favorite thrifty website, MoneySavingMom, and I came upon a post she did about a post on another blog in which the writer and her husband have begun a "$20 Challenge". The goal is for each of them to start the year with $20 and see how they can creatively invest it into various projects to make it grow. By the end of the year, whoever has the most money wins!

Now, I don't know that I would take this on as a challenge with my husband (for any of you who know my husband, you know that I will lose. Pathetically. He's like the guy who started with a paper clip and ended up with a house). But I do like the concept for me personally, mostly because I have actually kind of started something similar to this myself in order to earn money for my family to fly to Florida for our summer vacation rather than drive. I will go into more detail about that later.

Anyway, this might make some good material for future blog posts as I update you on my progress. But for now, what are your thoughts? Anyone think they might give this a try?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

To Blog or Not To Blog?

Happy Spring, everyone! So it's been a little while since my last post, and a LONG while since I've had any meaningful posts, but I just wanted to give you a brief update on what's going on in my Beautiful Thrifty Life.

First, please welcome Little Boo to the family- she was born last September, and I haven't had a chance to formally introduce her yet. She is a ridiculously cute addition to our family, and she is loved to bits by her mommy, her daddy, and especially her big sister and big brother. It's hard to believe she's already 7 months old!

That lovely little picture illustrates the reason why I have not been blogging as of late. I barely have time to do thrifty things, much less blog about them! But writing is definitely a passion of mine, and I would hate to let this blog go, so I will tell you this much- I will do what I can to post whatever I can whenever I can! I still have a head full of ideas, it's just a matter of finding the time to get them out there in cyberspace. But I'll just do my best and what will be will be!

On a positive personal note, I was quite thrilled recently to achieve a long-time goal of mine: I ran an entire 10k race. Let me tell you, I am not a runner. Not by any stretch of the imagination, but 2 years ago my husband decided to run the Monument 10k with a few guys from his office, just for fun, and when I went to cheer him on I got inspired. I decided that I wanted to be able to run the 10k- and not just get through it, but to go into it knowing I could do it and to be able to have it feel okay- not feel like I was going to die. At that point, mind you, I was unable to run a mile. In fact, I couldn't run for longer than a minute without gasping for air! So believe me, running a 6.2 mile race seemed beyond my reach. But something in me seemed to know I could do it.

So I began training. I started using a heart rate monitor and read about training using your heart rate which helped me immensely. Before I knew it, I could run 2 miles! And then I got pregnant. I tried to continue running, but I would be so wiped out when I was through that I would feel sick. So I had to call it quits for awhile, but in October I ramped it up again! The race was at the end of March, so I knew I had to get my act together or I'd never make it. The pressure spurred me on.

About 2 weeks ago I was able to complete the Monument Avenue 10k, running the whole thing, and it felt so good! I didn't set any land speed records (1 hour 19 minutes) but the point was that I accomplished my goal, a goal that was something that a few years ago I never would have dreamed I would have been able to do. The front of my shirt read, "You don't have to go fast. You just have to go."

So I guess I'm taking the same approach to my blog. It's not going to go fast, but it's going to go! I won't be posting every day, or even every other day. But every once in awhile I'll pop up again, and eventually I may even bring it up to a faster pace. Until then, we'll just go slow. :-)

By the way, thanks for the input on the blog color- it is brown. Redesign is imminent...
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