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MyQuo.com » 2006 » September

Archive for September, 2006

How To Make Money Reselling New Console Systems

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

If you know that something is going to happen, you can make money off of it.  This fact is something that many people take advantage of when a new console system is released.  I decided to try out for myself with the release of the XBOX 360.

How can you make money when a new console system is released?  Supply and demand.  If you identify that the new system is going to fly off the shelves and sell out, you know that the price is going to go up. 

People are going to be willing to pay more for the system because their kids really want the system and can’t wait for it.  Other people are going to want it for themselves and can’t wait for more to be produced.

The XBOX 360 sold out pretty quickly creating a sellers market.  If you checked the prices on ebay a couple days after the system was released, you saw that the systems were selling at $100’s over the retail price.

I didn’t buy a system on the release day.  However, I was able to snag one a week or two after at Costco for $517.  It was the premium XBOX 360 bundle with 2 games.  I then listed the system on craigslist and sold it for $650 a week or so later.

It probably took me 2 hours total work to buy, list, sell, and deliver the system.  After taking into account gas money, I made $125.  That works out to be $62.50 per hour, not bad at all.

Here are a few tips if you decide you want to try this yourself with the upcoming PS3 or Wii.

- Buy the console somewhere you know you can return it if the system doesn’t sell.  Costco and Walmart have outstanding return policies.
- Know the rules for selling on ebay if you plan to sell it there.  There are lots of scammers looking for easy targets.  If you’re not careful, you can easily be scammed and lose your system.
- If you plan to sell locally, accept cash only.  There are lots of scammers in your home town also.  Many will try to give you a fake money order or check for your system.
- Meet in a public place if you are delivering the system.  I used a grocery store in a good part of town.  You might want to bring a friend with you.  You never know who might show up to “buy” your system.
- Undercut your competition in price.  There will be many people trying to do the same thing as you.  Sell the system for $25-50 cheaper than the other sellers to make sure you aren’t stuck with the system.

My reselling of a new console experience was fun and interesting.  Make sure your’s also ends well by having a plan and protecting yourself.

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4 Year Anniversary of COV and Summer Sales

Friday, September 15th, 2006

The COV is 4 years old and has done a little write up on 9 of the contributors who are still blogging today.  It’s amazing that these guys are still blogging 4 years later.  I hope to be blogging 4 years later also.

You can find the Carnival of the Vanities #208 here:

http://www.firstcarnival.com/?p=36

There are lots of good articles on the FOF this week.  Be sure to read the one on buying stuff that goes on sale at the end of summer.  If you plan ahead, you can save yourself some money.

You can find the Festival of Frugality #39 here:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/09/12/festival-of-frugality-39/

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Banks Want To Loan You Money

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

I’m getting ready to make an offer on my first house in a couple days.  In preparation for that I’ve been looking into my financing options.  Anyone who is in the mortgage business can tell you, financing more often than not is a tricky process in home purchases.

My case is no different.  I have to do a no documentation loan because I am having documentation issues.  You see, I’m self employed and have been so for less than 2 years, so I don’t have 2 years of tax returns for the lenders to look at.

A no doc is not really an issue for me as I’m not as concerned about the interest rate on the loan as others might be.  Take a look at http://www.myquo.com/my-plan-to-buy-a-house-in-6-years/.  Since I will be aggressively paying off the mortgage, a higher interest rate will not cost me as much money as a 30 year loan would. Plus, I always have the option of refinancing at a lower interest rate in the future.

I was stressing myself out about my ability to get a mortgage however.  I was afraid that lenders would not want to loan out money to me and that I wouldn’t be able to buy the house.  Fortunately, a friend of mine fixed my view on the matter.

It is important for everyone who is seeking a loan to realize that: banks want to loan you money.  In fact, loaning people money is what their whole business model is based on.  Once you get it in your head that the bank wants to sign you to a loan, you will be realize that you are in the drivers seat.

I originally was going to do my mortgage through Navy Federal.  I was looking for a 100% financing, no documentation loan.  The best they could offer me was a 80/10/10 loan.  That means that I would have to come up with a 10% down payment.  This was something that would be very hard for me to do.

The solution was simple, go work with another bank.  You see, just like many sectors of our economy, the banking industry is very competitive.  Just because one bank is not willing to give you a loan, does not mean that another won’t also.  The reality is that most loans can be done.  It all comes down to how much you are willing to pay for it.

My buyer’s agent has recommended a couple of lenders to me.  Both of which are willing to offer me a 80/15/5 loan.  Although I was hoping to get a loan with 0% down, I have no problems with a 5% down loan.  I’ll probably end up with a better interest rate with a 5% down loan anyhow, so I should be better off in the long run.

Realizing that I was in the driver’s seat in the loan application process has helped me greatly.  Once you realize you are in the driver’s seat also, you will find that the process is a little less stressful.

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Borders Book Store Coupons And More

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

My wife and I are avid readers and one of our favorite things to do is go browse in a book store.  Buying a new hardcover book is something that we both enjoy.  The problem is that these books are very expensive.  Luckily for us, we found out that we can often get these books for 25-30% off using coupons.

I didn’t even know that a major book store chain like Borders would offer coupons, but they do.  In fact, they regularly offer a 25-30% off coupon on 1 book.  Considering that many hardcover books cost $20, a 30% savings equates to a $6 savings.  Saving $6 for a few minutes of searching is well worth the effort.

So where do I find my Borders coupons?  I do a search for them at fatwallet.  They pop up frequently so keep checking.  There are many coupon sites out there, so you may have some luck searching there also.  Here is a link to a post on fatwallet on 9/7/06 for a 30% off coupon:

http://www.fatwallet.com/t/18/650701

Do you spend more than $200 at Borders every year?  If you do you should really consider getting a borders rewards card.  With the rewards card 5% of purchases go into a holiday account.  When your account reaches $10 you can use that towards your next purchase.  It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a free $10 if you are going to buy the books anyway.

Believe it or not there is actually a Borders Visa rewards credit card.  If you do a lot of shopping at Borders you may want to consider getting the card.  This is because this card is a 3/2/1% cash back credit card.  The 3% cash back applies to purchases made at Borders.  Just so you know, 3% is a very good percentage for cash back.

The credit card is not a bad card to have at all.  This is especially true if you purchase a lot of books.  There is no annual fee and they are running a promotion right now that gives you a $20 Borders gift card and 1000 bonus points on you first purchase if you sign up.

If you really do spend a significant amount of money on books every year you should consider the coupons, rewards cards, and credit cards that Borders offers.  If you don’t take advantage of these programs, you are leaving money on the table when you leave the store.

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Home Sellers Only Show You What They Want You To See

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

When house shopping it is important to realize that home owners only show you what they want you to see of their homes in their ads.  That is, they make sure to show you the houses pluses, but fail to show you any detractors the home may have.

My wife and I used the Internet to look at dozens of houses, if not hundreds, over the last 6 months.  During this time there have been numerous occasions where the owner of the home intentionally left out critical information on a home.  Information that if disclosed would surely have turn us off as house buyers.

Here are some examples of things that were hidden or lied about:

- Unfinished basements were included in the square footage of the house.  Giving the impression that the house was larger that it really was.
- A mobile home graveyard was across the street from one property.
- A wet weather creek ran right behind one home, which put it in danger of flooding every time in rained.
- Wide angle lenses were used for the pictures taken of the houses.  This gave the appearance of larger rooms.
- A roof was described as a “Newer Roof” when it had been re-shingled 3 times.  A roof can be re-shingled a maximum of 3 times before it has to be totally redone.
- Poor patch jobs of “fist size” holes in the walls was not disclosed in the ad.  The house was described as being well taken care of.
- Pictures were carefully taken to give the appearance that a kitchen had an attached dining area.  When in fact the dining area was squeezed into the kitchen.

The list goes on and on.  It is essential that you think about what you see in the pictures of the property ad that you are looking at.  Looking for items that are in multiple pictures can help you gauge the true size of rooms.  Taking a tape measure and looking at the room dimensions in your home will also give you an idea of how large the rooms actually are.

Being skeptical of what you are being told in the ads will help you make a more informed choice about what properties you choose to look into further.  If you don’t, you will waste valuable time pursing properties that you could have eliminated from your search by digging into them a little.

Don’t just take what you are told as the truth.  The owners will be putting their home in the best possible light.  You need to be looking out for what the property really is like.

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How To Pay Off Student Loans

Monday, September 11th, 2006

I get a lot of traffic to MyQuo.com from people looking how to pay off their student loans.  It is as if people think that there is some magical trick that will pay all of your education loans off for you.

There is no trick, no magic pill.  The only way to pay off your student loans is to pay them off.  The real question should be, “How do I find the money to pay off my student loans?”  Now that is a good question and if you are asking it, then you are on the right path.  After all, asking the right question is the first step to finding a solution to the problem.

Many people think that the problem is not having enough money.  The reality is that most people have enough money to pay off their bills.  The real problem is that they are spending too much money.  How much money are these people spending on clothes, Starbucks, eating out, clubbing, drinking, etc every month?  I’ll bet you that it is a significant portion of their budgets.

The #1 reason why people have a hard time paying off their bills is because they don’t live below their means.  They are so busy spending all of their money that they don’t have anything left to invest or to pay down their debts.  No amount of money is going to fix this problem.  The more money that comes in, more that goes out.

The solution to “how to pay off student loans” is just as easy as the problem.  People must learn to live below their means.  The first thing you need to do is create a budget.  You need to know where all of you hard earned dollars are going.  This is an essential step, so don’t skip it.

Once you have a budget, you should be able to identify areas that you can cut back on.  There will likely be a few areas when trimmed that will save you a couple hundred dollars a month.

Have you ever noticed that when a corporation begins to struggle they cut costs?  That is exactly what you need to do.  You need to cut costs.  If you start treating your finances like a business, you will be in good shape.

Make no mistake, the only way to pay off your student loans is to actually pay them off.  Trimming the fat in your budget is the quickest and easiest way to find the money to pay the debt off.  And after making your budget, you should find that the trimming didn’t hurt too much after all.

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TamsPalm and Aridni

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Looks like I made the cut for this weeks Carnival of the Vanities.  Only 14 posts made the cut.  Which makes me very happy to say I was one of them.

There is a good post by Aparna on there about napping.  Be sure to check it out.  I’ve found that short naps can be very helpful with getting me through some days.  Try it out and you may be amazed at how refreshing a short nap can be.

http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/09/06/carnival-of-the-vanities-207/

There are 50 posts on the personal finance carnival this week.  Make sure you read the submittion by HJL on dividends.  It is well worth the read.

http://aridni.com/2006/09/carnival-of-personal-finance/

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Don’t Let Inflation Bite You In The Rear

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

A few days ago I had my neighbor complain to me about the recent rent increase in our apartment complex.  The rent was increased from $1100 a month to $1125.  That $25 increase was preceded by a $25 increase 6 months ago.  From what I’ve seen, the rent has been systematically increased twice a year for $25 each time.

As he complained about how he cannot afford the increases in his budget, I couldn’t help but to think that this is his fault.  How is it his fault you ask?  Well, it’s his fault because he hasn’t planned for these increases in his budget.

Let’s face it, inflation is not going away any more than death and taxes.  In this case, the owner of the apartment complex has expenses just like everyone else.  The owner has bills, taxes, and employees to pay.  These expenses are going up for him, which means your rent to him has to go up to cover the increases.

As such, you must account for inflation in your budgets and retirement planning.  In America, the inflation rate is about 3%.  That means everything will get 3% more expensive every year.  Remember that nothing is safe from inflation.  Every single thing that you buy is going to cost more in the future.

What this should tell you is that you need to be making 3% more money every year to cover these increases.  Because if you don’t, you will find that you cannot keep up with your current standard of living.

There is a very important point here and you should be sure to grasp it.  You must always be growing your income streams to keep up with inflation.  I cannot stress this enough.  There are millions of Americans out there living on fixed budgets.  These fixed budgets are like having a bag with holes in the bottom.  They will only continue to shrink unless you refill them.

I constantly hear people complain about how their bills are going up.  I just accept it and know that I can pay for the increases because my income streams are increasing.  People would be much better off finding ways to make the money to pay the bills than by complaining about how high they are.

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Push Your Limits

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Many people get in a rut in life.  They go to work, play a little, and go back to work.  It is the same thing day in and day out.  For these people, they are in a comfort zone and in my opinion, not growing as a person.

Personally, I try to find new things to learn and experience that will push my limits.  Here is one good example from a few years back.

Back in 2002, I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and started taking classes at a local community college.  I decided that I wanted to try something new and take an acting class.  I knew that this class would push my boundaries, as it was something that I had never done before.

The class totally pushed me.  I had to improvise, adapt, and overcome in ways that I had never done before.  Actors view the world in a totally different way than other people.   For example, they are much more in-tune to their body and soul than most people.  The insight I gained from the experience has been invaluable to me even today.

I decided to take it one step further and join the college play production that was going on.  Wow, did that even push me even more.  We were rehearsing for 40 hours a week and still had our studies to keep up with.  I had no idea that being in a play was so much work.

One of the most valuable things that I learned from my play experience was the leadership skills from the play’s director, Bree.  She drove us very hard and much of the play’s success was because of her.

Here are some of the skills that Bree demonstrated that I learned from:

- dealing with people from all walks of life
- taking care of medical emergencies
- taking input from the people under her
- practice makes perfect
- injecting humor to lighten up the mood
- being professional

In the end I improved many skills that apply to the business world.  Some of these include: understanding how people work, improvisation, and knowing myself.  Although I have no further interest in pursing an acting career, the experience itself was very fulfilling.  I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone.

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Choosing A House To Buy Is All About Tradeoffs

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

House hunting has turned out to be quite the experience for my fiancée and I.  It can be hard enough for one person to decide on a house, but getting a couple to agree on a house can be a trying experience.  Fortunately for us, we are looking for basically the same thing, so this won’t be much of an issue.

Deciding on the right house is an issue however.  To make things easier for us we made 2 lists.  The first list was the criteria for our dream home.  The second was a list of the least amount of home we were willing to buy.  It is important to note that these lists should not be set in stone.  Because you may very well find that they are unrealistic.

Here is our dream house list:

4 bed
2 bath
.5 + acre lot
2000 + sq ft
open kitchen
basement (can be unfinished)
cul-de-sac
2 car garage
1960 or newer
No homeowners association
Here is our minimum home list:

3 bed
1.5 bath
.20 acre lot
1500 sq ft
1980 or newer
As you can see there is a good gap there, but not too much gap.  If we cannot find a house that finds in this gap, we’ll have to lower the minimum home list a little.

We also make a top 5 list of housing criteria that is the most important to us.  This is important because he helps you compare home by comparing them to the lists that you made.

Here is out top 5 criteria list:

1. price
2. sq ft
3. lot size
4. nice open kitchen
5. basement

As you look for houses to buy you will find that you will be comparing homes that have different things that you like.  One home will have a huge lot and an ok house, another will be at the end of a cul-de-sac and a tiny house, and yet another will be on a busy street with a awesome house and a small lot.

Having criteria established and written down will help you compare which house best fits you, if any fit at all.  Remember that a little preparation up front can save you a lot of time and headache later on in the house hunting process.

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The $20 Trick

Friday, September 1st, 2006

I recently learned of the $20 trick a week before my honeymoon trip to Las Vegas.  Basically the trick involves tipping the check in clerk $20 and asking for a room upgrade.  This is common practice and has worked for many people.  Below is my experience with it:

I arrived at the Tropicana with my wife at 2pm and saw that they were checking people into their rooms a little early.  Having been thinking about the $20 trick for a week, I was more than ready to try it out on our 3 night stay.  I took out my credit card, drivers license, and $20 bill, placing the 20 between the two.

Informing the clerk that I was checking into the hotel, I handed her the 3 items.  I made my move and asked, “are there are complimentary upgrades available?”  As she started to answer, I looked down and noticed that the $20 was sandwiched between the credit card and driver’s license.  So I very smoothly reached over the counter and moved the credit card so that the $20 was showing.

The clerk smiled at me and informed me that’s not necessary, but she left the tip where it lay.  I told her that I was on my honeymoon and wanted to do something special for my wife.  She then proceeded to offer me a free $20 per night upgrade.  From my research I knew that a suite upgrade was possible.  Especially since this was mid-week.  So I told her I was hoping to get a room with a Jacuzzi in the room.

The clerk left to speak with the manager for 3 minutes.  I got the feeling that she was trying really hard to get me the suite.  She came back and said that the best she could do was get me a discount on a suite upgrade of $75 per night.  This was down from $150 per night.  I politely told her that I’d pass on the suit and thanked her for trying.

The clerk ended up booking us on the 20th of 21 floors in a corner room overlooking the strip.  It was an awesome room, well worth the $20 tip.

Here are some observations:

- I was a little nervous as I walked up to the counter, but once I got the ball rolling, I was fine.
- The clerk acted like she had seen the $20 trick before.
- I was friendly, polite, and smiled a lot.

I can fully recommend trying the $20 trick out.  Although I did not get a suite upgrade like I was hoping, I saw that it was possible.  It just didn’t work out for me that time.  Maybe my clerk wasn’t shady enough or maybe the manager was in a bad mood.  Who knows?

For $20 I received $60 worth of room upgrade, a high floor and a corner room overlooking the strip.  Well worth the money, time, and effort.  It doesn’t hurt to try and you never know, maybe you’ll get really lucky and get a suite.

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