Christmas Money Challenge: Make an Extra $1,000 in Two Weeks

Opps I Forgot To Save For Christmas Presents AgainRisking ridicule for sounding like Britney Spears… Oops, I did it again.

Of course I’m talking about not planning ahead and actually saving up to buy Christmas presents rather than dipping into savings allocated for other purposes.

This means unless I do something (which I will… more on this later) I will be forced to use the savings I have allocated for important things like my next downpayment, a dream vacation, that dreaded mechanical trouble at home or under the hood, or (worst of all) dipping into the emergency fund to cover the cost of showering my friends and family with presents.

To be honest, I don’t have a good excuse as to why I didn’t set up a new savings bucket in my Capital One 360 account (since it couldn’t be easier) when I was in this same position last year.

[Side Note: I did set up a new savings bucket in my Capital One 360 account and I will share the steps on how I set it up including the automatic savings plan so I will have $1,000 in the account by December 10th, 2014 in tomorrow post.]

My Inspiration: James Altucher Challenged His 11 Year Old Daughter

The other day, I was reading a newsletter update by James Altucher who, by the way, might be one of the best writers ever.  The newsletter was all about how his eleven year old daughter wanted a Chromebook for Christmas this year.  Instead of just giving it to her, James challenged her to complete a task before Christmas so she could earn the Chromebook.  James’ challenge to his daughter was the following:

Make a youtube video that would get more than 200 views. Write a piece of fiction that would get more than 100 reads. Get 50 followers on Instagram. Take a course on Codeacademy and become a coder. Take a full course on coursera. Any of these.

Of course, as with most eleven year olds, there was initial push back but the next day his daughter spent an hour learning yoga poses with James’ wife and completed three courses on CodeAcademy.  The following day she even went on to write a 1,900 word piece of fiction that she posted to fanfiction.net.

This challenge that James made to his daughter inspired me to challenge myself to figure out a way to make extra money over the next two weeks to cover the $1,000 I plan to spend on Christmas gifts for friends and family this year.

Thanks for the inspiration James.  Game on.

How To Make Money Fast: Christmas 2013 Edition

I’m going to set up a few parameters around this challenge because one of my biggest goals, other than making $1,000 in two weeks or less, is to inspire you as well to start making extra money on the side as well.

If you’re just getting started it’s very unlikely that you have a list, a product, a business, etc. that you can leverage with a new promotional sale price or campaign to make fast money.

With that in mind, I’m not going to rely on any of my existing businesses or revenue streams to generate this extra $1,000.  Other than that, all’s fair.

Step 1: What To Sell & Where

Since I only have two weeks to make an extra thousand dollars I don’t think there will be enough time to start a stand alone Shopify store, although having your own eCommerce store should always be the long term goal.

I’m going to focus my efforts on eBay since I have a ton of experience selling on eBay over the past decade plus.  It’s also a great marketplace to scale up and sell a lot of stuff very quickly, just like I did in January 2011 to the tune of $24,644 gross revenue which netted about $3,696.60 in profits.

VOSA.com 24k Jan 2011

Since time is really tight I’m also going to look “in house” (literally) for inventory.  If I had more time I would try to source products through wholesalers in volume that I could sell individually, or in smaller bundles for a profit.  I might try to find a drop shipper that will handle the inventory as well as the shipping after I make a sale but I don’t plan to explore this until after I get all of my eBay listings live for the holiday shoppers to see.

I literally walked about my house looking for items I don’t need or I don’t use that I would be happy to part with.  Here is the list that made while walking around my house carrying my trusty moleskin notebook.

Items To Sell

  • FitBit Scale – I have two of these and the one I’m going to try to sell doesn’t measure body fat % due to a glitch that can’t be fixed.  The weight function works fine and someone might want to buy it just for weighing themselves.
  • Seat cushions
  • Lululeamon Top
  • Nintendo Wii & Wii Fit
  • 2 Norwegian Sweaters
  • Swiss Army Wallet x2 – I use the inset to these wallets as my wallet so I figured I might as well sell the actual wallet part
  • Coach Wallet x2
  • Starbucks Mug x2 (see #8)
  • Roots camera case
  • Vintage Singer sewing machine
  • Banana Republic pants
  • HP Pinter cartridge x2
  • Dell docking station
  • Old iPhone 3G
  • Hockey bag (maybe)
  • Moen Faucet
  • Old pedestal sink
  • Vintage Budweiser sign
  • Golf shoes that don’t fit
  • Black & Decker kit
  • Collectible bobble heads
  • Stereo system
  • Canvas art
  • Xmas decorations
  • Big screen TV that the previous owner of the house left in the basement
  • Tennis string
  • 1998 Audi A4 – Currently not running and value is in tires and/or parts or perfect for a handyman

I can already tell you that, although this is a good start, these items will not add up to $1,000.  The “big scores” are going to be the Nintendo Wii, possible the FitBit scale, the Starbucks mugs and the Norwegian sweaters.  The Coach wallets might do okay as well, but there are definitely some things on this list that I’m worry about even selling (Dell docking station).

There is always the wildcards: the vintage Singer sewing machine and the vintage Budweiser sign that I’m going to have to do some work to figure out what they are worth before I sell them.  Not to mention the Audi A4 that doesn’t currently run and has been sitting idle for over a year now.

I have tried to sell it and the tires before (together and separately) with no luck so I’m not counting on this one item bailing me out for this year’s Christmas budget.

I also plan on looking into doing #1, #2 & #9 from my article 15 Things I’ve Sold To Make Money & How You Can Too. I’m hoping that by selling some items I can make sure the Grinch doesn’t steal Christmas at least when it comes to keeping me on track with my savings goals.

I hope that this guide can also help, and inspire, you sell some items you don’t need anymore and possibly make some extra money.

Step #2: Set Up an eBay Account & List My Items

eBay Feedback ProfileI have been selling on eBay for more than a decade now and I have some very healthy feedback profiles including the one shown here that was setup in May, 2004 and has 840 positive feedbacks with a 100% positive feedback rating.

If you’re just getting started with eBay, you’re going to have a brand new account without any feedback.  Since I’m not relying on any of my existing businesses (eBay sales being one of them) I’m going to set up a brand new eBay account so I, like you might be, will be starting from the ground floor.

Here are the steps to open up a new eBay account:

Open an Ebay Account and How To Sell on eBay

Enter your details and click “submit”

New ebay Account

If eBay gives you a name like “cumbus4″ like they did for me (seriously?!?) you will want to change it. It’s also good to have a unique name that is easy for you and your buyers to remember so they can buy from you again.

My ebay

Click on “My ebay” to start the name change process

How to Change ebay Personal Info

Hover over “account” then click “personal information

How To Change eBay Name

Click edit next to your current eBay name

Change eBay Name

Check to see if the eBay name you want is available and click “save”

eBay Name Changed

Your eBay name should now be changed

Now that your account is all set up and your eBay name is not something a outrageous as cumbus4 (honestly, this is the name eBay assigned to me!) it’s time to list your first item.

Here are the steps to list and sell an item on eBay:

The first thing you will want to do is some market research to see what your item is worth. For this example I’m going to list an old iPhone 3G that I have laying around.  It has a pretty good crack on the back, is only an 8GB model and I don’t even know if it’s unlocked or not but I’m thinking it will still sell for something.

Advanced eBay Search

In order to see what an item is worth click on the advanced search button just to the right of the search bar

ebay completed listings

Enter the items you are going to sell and make sure the “completed listings” box is checked.

Value Your item ebay

The green numbers are the actual values that items have sold for recently

After figuring out what the estimated value of you items is you can move on to listing your item for sale.

Sell on ebay

Start by clicking “sell” at the very top of the page

Enter item

Next, tell eBay what you want to sell

New Title Sell similar

Then add a new, more descriptive and unique title and click on the item that is most like the one you are selling.

ebay Listing

Make sure to add good quality pictures, a good descriptive title, choose your starting price, buy it now price (if you want one), schedule your listing for around 9 PM EST and then click “list it”.

For items like iPhone, iPods, MacBooks and other very popular items, it has been my personal experience, that starting the listings off at $0.01 tends to net you the highest sale price.  Of course, individual results may vary, but this is just what I have seen on my personal listings.  I like to also included a buy it now price just below what I think it’s worth which gives someone an opportunity to buy the item right away.

Next, you will likely have to verify your phone number, link your PayPal account and agree to some terms and services.  Once you’re done with this, voila:

First ebay item listed

Just like that you have your first item listed on eBay!

This might look like a lot of work and, honestly, it is.  Now it’s not as hard as buildling a railway or curing polio but it will take time and effort on your part to list items on eBay.  I’m reminded by one of my favorite quote:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison

The Official Video Tutorial

eBay makes this all look very simple in their short video on what you should sell on eBay.  The more items you list the easier it will get especially once you can leverage the descriptions and shipping prices from past items you sold on new listings.  A lot of my listings are literally copied and pasted from past items I’ve sold.

Am I Crazy Trying To Make An Extra $1,000 in Two Weeks?

I very well could have decided to just dip into another one of my savings buckets and set that savings goal back $1,000.  But if James Altucher’s eleven year old daughter can learn yoga, complete some courses on CodeAcademy and write 1,900 words and get my reviews then her father I sure better give this self-imposed challenge an honest try.

Will I succeed in raising $1,000 in two weeks or less?  I’m not sure… I know that it’s possible and I know that I’m going to try my hardest to meet, and hopefully exceed, this goal by December 23rd.  I am looking forward to spending Christmas Eve at the mall with all of the other men who have left their shopping to the last minute.  Hopefully I’ll have fresh $1,000 in my pocket as well.

What about you?  Are you finding that you’re a little short on your Christmas / holiday budget this year?  Are you going to get started with eBay so you can sell some items and possible make some extra money as well?  Do you have any other ideas on how to make money fast?  Leave a comment below and by all means, if you list an item on eBay, please drop a link to your auction in the comments below!  

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Comments

  1. Marie says

    Great idea! I’ve never sold on eBay before but I could use a little extra cash right now so when I get home I’ll be doing the walk around my house to figure out what I can sell!

  2. says

    I don’t think you are crazy, and I think that number is completely doable. I almost want to play along! I hate Ebay and shipping from Canada tends to cost more than the item sells for usually. I’ve been trying to sell my DVDs (who watches them anymore?) but it’s a slow process because they tend to sell one-by-one. I think I’ll have to drop them off at a pawn shop..

    • says

      I’m actually in Canada right now and yes, the shipping does post a bit of a hurdle. I know a guy who does very well selling DVDs (still) and another friend of mine sold his 300+ DVD collection in one sale on Craigslist (Kijiji.ca up here is similar to CL in the states).

      I’d love to see you play along! What item(s) are you going to list?

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. says

    I really enjoy reading James’ blog and the challenge to his daughter is brilliant. Good luck on earning $1000 in 2 weeks. Hope to hear how it goes. I’ve sold a few things and should probably look into doing more. I’ve used Amazon and haven’t tried eBay…you think one is better than the other?

    • says

      I’ve never sold on eBay. Maybe we need a quick Skype session to discuss the pros/cons of selling on eBay and Amazon. No real reason as to why I never ventured onto Amazon to sell. I started with eBay in the late 1990s and have just stuck with it ever since. Thanks for the good luck and the comment!

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