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Empower that Purse!

When each new year begins, we're inundated with media stories on how to trim the fat from our bodies, our budgets and our schedule.  Although it could do me good to listen to the body fat trimming advice, I have to laugh when all the budget trimming stories deal with people whose household budget is much fatter than mine!

Looking for ways to put some money away as well as discovering "found" money in your household can be very empowering!

In reading this article on MSN.com, I saw some ideas that might be helpful to you too.  And, as always, Military.com comes through with important finance resources.  I'm in an interesting position at the moment; a position I have not been in since elementary school. 

I am unemployed.

I have worked since I was old enough to babysit.  It was when I hit my 30's that I actually had only one full-time job.  I grew up in a household with a fluctuating budget...from comfortable, but tight to so-tight-it-squeaks.  Never comfortable if I'm sitting still, I'd take on part-time jobs to fill idle hours.  Now, however, I'm a full-time law student and, by policy, I am not allowed to have income during my first year of school (which, mercifully, ended in December).  Not having a personal income has been different for me and has pushed me to be more conscientious and responsible with our household budget.  After all, I may not be at a 9 to 5 job, but I'm at school most of the day and still need to pay for childcare.

I wanted to share one way in which I was able to add some "mad money" to our family budget without a ton of effort and then encouarge you to put in comments how you have been able to do the same.  Perhaps you're in a position now where you aren't concerned with your finances.  But if you're like most people, you have at one point or another and I'm SURE we'd benefit from your ideas/tips as well as the pros and cons of your approach.

If your house is anything like mine, you may have an overabundance of somethings.  In our house, it's books.  And videos.  And more books.  I decided to reclaim some storage space that old books filled by purging our library.  Rather than simply donating the books as I had in the past, I decided to try and reclaim some cash from them.

I opened a seller's account on half.com and set to work filling my on-line inventory with the books I wished to pass on to interested buyers. 

Benefits of a reselling somewhere like half.com

  • You will make money on items lying around your house that others want.  Even gifts that you spent no money on can turn into cash if an interested buyer purchases your item.
  • Account maintenance is not your problem.  Once your items are included in your inventory, the website takes care of the rest.  They will also directly deposit your commission in the checking account you designate during sign-up.  (I opened a checking account at my bank specifically for my half.com commissions).
  • When you're shipping books, you can ship them via media mail which is less expensive.
  • Half.com reimburses you for your postage fees.  Since the website knows what item you're selling and can estimate the weight and cost of postage, you will be reimbursed quite a bit for your postage costs.
  • You will reclaim space in your house currently devoted to things no one is using or interested in anymore.
  • Even if you think your item has no value and no one would be interested, you will more than likely be pleasantly surprised when someone snaps it up!
  • If you find yourself needing something, you can easily use the site to locate it and buy it at a bargain.

Drawbacks of using a resale site like half.com

  • Until sold, the items stay in your possession.  If you're looking a quick fix to clutter, loading things in a box and dropping them at the charity of your choice may be more attractive.  I have put all my "for sale" books in a box and tucked that in an out of the way location.
  • You need to keep some shipping supplies on hand.
  • You may actually need to go to the post office on a day you wouldn't have gone otherwise.
  • Your price competes with other sellers.  You may not make much on some items, but remember:  Pennies make dollars and it's all good.
  • You're dealing with others so you need to protect yourself.  I always put delivery confirmation on my books so I can provide the buyers with a tracking number and have the benefit of knowing when their books arrive.

Okay, so we have Idea #1 on how to find some money around the house.  I've actually used my earnings from half.com to help purchase my textbooks for school...those are SO expensive (even if you buy them at a resale site) and not easy to come by when you don't have a job!

I'm always ready to learn other ways to save some money and have some breathing room in my budget.  Share your ideas in comments so others can benefit!

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