The Post-Grad Survival Guide

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How I Am Growing $0 to $80,000 and How You Can Too

A side hustle that anyone can do

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Photo: Alexander Mils/Pexels

Money is laying all around us, and with some time and effort, you can turn $0 into a surprising amount of money. On August 7th, I started a 0–1k challenge where my goal was to turn $0 to $1,000.

To take it one step further, I then opened a Roth IRA account, and assuming I do not add anything, my $1,050 will grow to over $80,000 in 40 years assuming an 11.5% return.

I accomplished my 0–1k challenge goal in less than two months and netted $1,050 in 51 days. This is an article about how I did that.

Flipping

I accomplished this goal by flipping thrift items. What is flipping? Flipping is when you buy something for $X and sell it for $X + $Y, and make a profit.

There is a similar concept called retail arbitrage. The main difference is that with retail arbitrage, the items that you flip are new. I mainly flipped thrift items, though some sold items were new.

The Journey in Numbers

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Total percentages
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Statistics by day

Important Rules

I used three rules during this process. The first rule was to only buy inventory with the profit from this challenge. For example, my first sale yielded $15, so I had a $15 sourcing budget. I did not purchase anything with my own income-earned money. All net profit was on the table for sourcing. The second rule was that I would describe the item accurately. When listing products, I made sure to take pictures that made it easy to see the condition of the item. The third rule was to be safe and precautious when meeting up with people. I limited the number of people that picked up from my place, and if my boyfriend didn’t accompany me when meeting up at a public place with people, I shared my location with him.

The Starting Point

I chose to start the 0–1k challenge with an item that I paid $0 for. It was a gift that I knew the gift giver wouldn’t mind if I got rid of it. An alternative could have also been to go on www.freecycle.org to source $0.00 inventory.

The first item I sold was a wooden wine holder logic puzzle. The one that you have to solve in order to drink wine. I sold it for $15.00 on Facebook Marketplace.

Sourcing Places

With my $15 profit, I purchased more inventory from my local Goodwill Outlet. I chose the Goodwill Outlet because the profit margin potential is high. Everything is sold by the pound there. It cost $1.49/lb, $0.50/lb for books, and furniture is priced far below market rate (though I did not buy any furniture). Having low-cost inventory, allowed for me to sell my items for a fair price, which helped with moving inventory quickly.

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Sourcing statistics

I continued this pattern, where I would buy inventory with the profit I made, sold the inventory, bought more inventory, sold the inventory until I reached $1,000 in profit.

I bought/acquired items from a few sources, where my primary location was the Goodwill Outlet. Other places I did not expect to pick up items were from the curb. You know when you see something on the side of the road that says “free.” That is a pretty normal thing for my neighborhood to do, and to my surprise, I found a few high-quality items by chance. Here is a breakdown of all the places that I sourced from.

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When I made inventory purchases, I kept in mind what platform I wanted to sell it on, because I generally had two buckets of items I would source for. One bucket was eBay the other was local marketplace apps (like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and the like).

Sourcing Items

Before the 0–1k was a thing, I already was flipping, but only on eBay. I had a hypothesis, which was that if I could price everyday items like kitchen appliances, pet items, children's items, etc. for $5-$20, they would go fast on local selling apps like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.

I had this hypothesis and tested it for a few days a had made quick sales, so I decided to track my progress. My boyfriend then suggested that he and I race to 1k. He has purchased an item for less than a $1.00 and sold it for $90 on eBay, so he did a 1–1k challenge. So back to the items I chose.

For Facebook Marketplace and similar local selling apps, I focused on low-cost everyday items. Something you can do if you decide to sell on Facebook Marketplace is researching popular categories in your town (or the towns you plan on selling in). Don’t get analysis paralysis at this stage. Make an educated guess on what the demographic in your town would buy, buy it, list it, and see how it performs on various platforms. If the item is low cost or free, you really have nothing to lose. Below are the stats. for the categories that I sold.

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Sales by Category
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Statistics by category

Selling items on eBay is a little different. I focused on selling collectibles, or items that sell well on eBay. To find out whether or not items sell well on eBay, you can search for an item and use the “completed listing” filter which shows you what items sold, when they sold, and for how much. This gave me an idea for demand and potential profit. If the estimated profit was worth listing, packing, and, shipping, then I bought it.

Calculating profit varies between platforms too. Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp change no fees for meeting up in person, so the only expense to subtract from the money a customer gives you is the cost of the item.

The fees on platforms like eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari all vary. Mercari charges a 10% fee, Poshmark a 25%, and eBay charges 10% for most categories, but there are a few categories that are more. On top of that, PayPal also charges a fee on eBay. On sites like this, you also have to pay for shipping costs like packaging unless you have the payer pay for it, and you have to make time go to go to the post office.

You can see below that most items during this challenge sold on Facebook Marketplace. Although the most amount of sales sold on Facebook, the average cost was highest on eBay. It’s also important to note an anomaly in the Facebook Marketplace numbers. The last item I sold was $200 and it sold on Facebook Marketplace.

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Statistics by Platform

You can see that my volume approach on Facebook worked. I had to see more items on Facebook to get similar profit to items that sold on eBay.

Tracking Method

I used a simple profit tracker. I used two sections – Inventory & Flips. Under the inventory section, I listed the expense for each inventory trip that I made. I did not list each item that I sourced. On some trips, I had over 10 items, so I just listed it as a lot. Under the flips section, I listed the profit per item sold. For each item sold, I calculated the profit. For the purposes of tracking the profit on the “Flips” section, I used this formula:

Profit = Money earned – shipping costs – fees.

For items sold locally, this was easy because there were no fees or shipping! After I purchased inventory, I would subtract it from the total running profit, which gave me a new running total.

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Profit tracker

Taking it to the Next Level

So what’s next for me? I opened up a Roth IRA account on Vanguard and put the money in there. Assuming I don’t add any more money to this account, my $1,050 will turn to over $80,000 in 40 years (with an assumed 11.5% rate).

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Lessons Learned

  • For items that sold quickly and I got a lot of inquiries for, I bought more of. For example, I noticed that large pet foam items sold well, so I kept my eye out when I went sourcing.
  • Listing items for a fair price on Facebook Marketplace helped them move quickly.
  • eBay items take a lot of effort to sell. You have to package the item & ship the item, so I made a threshold profit to reach for eBay items. To make it worth my time, I decided not to list on eBay unless I would make a $30+ profit.
  • Cross-listing took a while, and if I could do it differently, I would wait 2 days after the items had been posted on the primary platform (wherever I thought it would sell fastest).
  • Low-cost inventory is definitely the way to go!
  • Having sourcing day goals was very helpful : ) I wrote in my calendar when sourcing was my focus. Since I’m a busy person, I took advantage of the weeks that I didn’t have much going on.
  • I only had one return, and because I forgot to double-check that all the items were in the box, I gave them a full return. The customer was super easy to work with and I gave them a full refund even though they offered to pay for shipping because they still had some usable parts. This was personally unacceptable to me, so I went in the red on it.

You can follow me on Instagram to see all of the flips in a highlight “0–1k” Follow @the.retired.millennial on Instagram.

If you’re interested in the tracker with the stats graphs, you can purchase it here. If you want a free version (tracker but no graphs), you can see it linked in my IG bio link.

Have you ever flipped? How many flips does it take you to get to a $1,000 profit? What do you (or would you do) with your profit?

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A millennial en route to financial independence and early retirement.

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