March 2014 Online Reselling Income Report & Student Loan Update

Welcome to my first online income report and student loan update. This may very well be the first and last time I lay out my earnings as thoroughly as I intend to with this post.

In an attempt to keep myself accountable to paying off my student loans — and hopefully provide a little encouragement to others looking for ways to generate additional income online — I have documented last month’s earnings on both eBay and Amazon FBA.

The earnings shown below are the result of my part-time efforts. My full-time job is my daughter and my home. In my spare time, which amounts to 2-3 days per week for a total of approximately 10-15 hours, I treasure hunt in thrift stores, dabble in a little retail arbitrage, photograph and list items on eBay, and finally list, label, and ship packages to eBay customers and Amazon FBA warehouses.

Income Breakdown

Sales this month were good for the amount of time that I put into it. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like listing as much on eBay so my sales were down from the previous month as a result of not listing new items for almost 2 weeks.

My total sales:

  • eBay: $816.72
  • Amazon FBA: $1160.01

The figures above are gross sales. My net sales paint a completely different picture and I think it is important to go into detail about them so that you can see what really happens after you take expenses, fees, etc into account.

Looking at my eBay sales, I grossed $816.72 from 39 sales but only netted $375.54 in profit (money that is mine after everyone has taken their cut AND after recouping my initial investment for inventory).

Here’s what really happened:

  • eBay fees (listing, final value, store subscription, etc): -$98.12
  • eBay shipping fees: -$161.91
  • Paypal fees: -$37.93
  • Returns: -$5.70
  • Cost of Goods Sold:$158.73

Total expenses: $462.39

Total eBay profit for March: $375.54

My expenses (money I spent thrifting, liquidating, etc) were more than half of my gross sales. In the same vein, my shipping fees were almost half of my net profit. I don’t know what to make of this. I feel as though I may need to start charging for shipping because this figure is more than I am comfortable with when I see how it plays out on paper.

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My figures for Amazon are a little more clearly laid out thanks to their monthly reports. I grossed $1160.01 (the accurate amount versus what you see pictured below) from selling 46 items and netted $480.49 (money that is mine after everyone has taken their cut AND after recouping my initial investment for inventory).

Here is how things played out:

If you can’t tell already, Amazon FBA is much more costly than eBay. The fees are significantly higher for the convenience of Amazon storing and shipping your items to their customers as well as providing customer service.

What you don’t see pictured is the amount of money I spent on that inventory. I spent $148.72 on the 46 items sold (COGS). Those items included a mix of retail arbitrage and thrifted/estate sale items. Here is where things get really interesting:

  • My retail arbitrage inventory cost $124.68 and amounted to $336.38 in gross sales.
  • My thrifting/estate sale inventory cost $24.04 (yes, you read that correctly — $24) and amounted to $729.62 in gross sales.

**I subtracted the returned items from these figures so it may not amount to $1160.01. 

As you can see, there is a huge difference in earnings when it comes to the profits from retail arbitrage vs. thrifted items. Retail arbitrage is definitely more costly than thrifting and putting the numbers down on paper helped to paint that picture very clearly for me. My return on investment (ROI) from thrifting knocks retail arbitrage out of the park, but while a part of me wants to focus solely on thrifting and estate sales for FBA inventory, I know that the potential is there for retail arbitrage if I want to increase my monthly sales.

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In the end, my total net profit from both platforms came to: $856.03.

Assuming I put in a total of 15 hours per week for the entire month, that equals out to $14.26 per hour or $214.00 per week.

To be quite honest, while I know there is room for improvement, I choose to be positive and not complain about what I could change. I am beyond thankful and grateful that I have once again made enough money to meet my goal of contributing an extra $200 per month towards my student loans. Actually, I exceeded that goal and I am confident that I can increase my earnings this month by making a few changes and being a little more organized and diligent.

Student Loan Breakdown

On the student loan front, I have a long way to go before completely paying off my loans. Here is a screenshot of my total balance:

Balance as of April 2014

After doing some research, I have decided to make additional monthly payments instead of putting that money aside in a savings account to make larger quarterly payments. Unfortunately, the money that I sat aside for my extra student loan payment will have to sit in my CapitalOne 360 (formerly ING Direct) account until I can figure out how to make these payments to Sallie Mae without them screwing things up. If you have no experience with Sallie Mae then you are not aware that when you make an extra payment, Sallie Mae will count this as your regular monthly payment instead of an additional payment towards the principle.

For example, last year I made a $600 payment on my loans. Since I pay $180 per month, Sallie Mae extended the due date of my next payment a few months out that equaled that payment. They also didn’t debit my regular monthly payment from my account. I had to call them to adjust their accounting ‘error’. It happened once again when I paid $1300 on another balance. They actually told me that I would not have to make another payment until the next year because of my ‘overpayment’. Once again, this is NOT what I wanted to do. I wanted that money to go towards the principle.

With that said, until I can ensure it does not happen every time I make an additional payment, I will keep that money in my online savings account. Hopefully by the end of this month I can report back on if I found a way to prevent this from happening.

Going Forward…

This month I will be making a few changes when it comes to selling on eBay and through Amazon FBA. I am finding more and more that I get stuck in ruts where I absolutely don’t want to create new listings for eBay. Usually this is followed by days of me looking at the inventory I need to inspect, clean, photograph, and list. To be honest, there are some days when I just get overwhelmed thinking about it and when I begin to feel like that, I know it is time for me to take a break or focus on something else.

Ultimately, I realize that I cannot increase my eBay earnings without increasing my output or switching gears on the types of items I sell.  I don’t have a desire to sell high-end items — and definitely not on eBay — so I am leaning more towards narrowing my focus on what I do sell well on eBay and investing those profits into my student loans and building capital for Amazon FBA inventory.

Over the next few months I want to increase my monthly earnings without increasing the hours I put in weekly. I feel that I can scale things much more quickly and efficiently with Amazon FBA and that may mean that I have to focus a little more on liquidation and retail arbitrage so I increase the quantity of items I buy and resell.

Goals for April

I have several goals for April that I hope to meet. Those include:

  • Increase my monthly student loan contribution by $100
  • Focus more on using estate sales for eBay inventory
  • Max out my total available listings on eBay (currently have a limit of 285 items I can list per month)
  • Organize my eBay store by bundling items to create “lots” instead of selling similar items individually
  • List all of the remaining clothes that I have been dreading to list for over 4 months. Selling clothes on eBay gives me high blood pressure. I need to get rid of my inventory fast!
  • Create systems and videos for my VA to help lighten the duties I have on my plate
  • Increase my Amazon FBA sales by $500

I do not want to put too much on my plate and I feel that these are attainable goals and I look forward to seeing progress in the upcoming month.