Mary Beth Writes

The nuts and bolts paragraph of this whole article:

“This is my formula, which is not at all precise. EBay notifies you that your item sold. Soon that selling amount PLUS the amount the buyer has to pay for shipping – comes to your PayPal account. Take that total amount; subtract 10% (a good estimate) of that total price, which eBay will keep for their fee. Subtract the postage. Subtract the original amount you paid. There’s your profit.”

70 year old puzzles

Someone asked me if I was worth it to do eBay, after fees and postage et al. This is a VERY good question.

My detailed answer is –I’m not precisely sure how much money I make selling via eBay, especially if one considers how much time it takes to list, maintain the listing, pack and then mail the stuff that sells

My general answer – sure eBay is worth it! 

There are many websites and YouTube videos that explain how eBay works. Peruse them. I am neither an expert nor a detail-driven kind of person. If you want to know exactly how it works, google the internet and read the info. It’s there.

This is what I do know.

It took about two hours to sign up on eBay.  Make sure to write down user names and passwords as you go along. You will also need to connect eBay to PayPal which will be more details.

I started this after our last child went away to college. I was working fulltime, but I had evenings and weekends to fill with activities that seemed valuable to me. Clearing out stuff I no longer needed was high on that list.

The first thing I sold was my cowboy boots! My family had given them to me when I was pregnant with that third child and could not bend over to put on shoes! They were red and I only wore them a few dozen times; after that they sat in the back of my closet.  Originally they cost close to a hundred dollars; I sold them for $80.

I owned several more pairs of nice shoes that didn’t fit comfortably. It was satisfying to sell them for about half what I had paid in the first place.

I looked harder at my clothes, pulled out things I was sure I would never wear again, and once again sold nice, new things for about half what I had paid for them.  I didn’t make a fortune, but I was also not just dropping off to charities things I’d bought at full price in the previous few years. It would have been more economical to not buy them in the first place, but these were items I bought for various jobs, interviews, and weddings.

I started to look at my thrift shop shopping as more of an adventure than it had been in the past. I made a LOT of mistakes and I still do, but if I am at a thrift store, I happily look to see if there are things I might want to resell on eBay.  

I seldom pay more than $10 for any item and I only buy stuff I wouldn’t mind keeping if it doesn’t sell. Some of the things that sold in the past year are vintage puzzles (sold 4 out of the 7 that I bought for $1/each), antique vase (didn’t sell when I tried two years ago, relisted a few weeks ago and it sold), two purses (kept the 3rd one after it didn’t sell). A man’s Harley Davidson shirt that I bought for $7 and sold for $28. A Dansk bowl I bought for $4 and sold for $8 and probably lost money on.

Yes, there are fees. Fifty cents just to list. Then, depending on what the item is one pays 9-12% of the final total cost of the item PLUS shipping - as a fee on the sale. They get you. They are not clear about what you are paying to them.

(You will now read this for the second time) This is my formula, which is not at all precise. EBay notifies you that your item sold. Soon that selling amount PLUS the amount the buyer has to pay for shipping – comes to your PayPal account. Take that total amount; subtract 10% (a good estimate) of that total price, which eBay will keep for their fee. Subtract the postage. Subtract the original amount you paid. There’s your profit.

Here is my bottom line. Every month or so I transfer funds from my PayPal account to our checking account, leaving about $10 for postage on whatever I sell next.  Sometimes I sell nothing for months.  A couple times a year I will transfer around a hundred dollars – money earned on things I no longer want or thrifted items I bought.

1916 Shelley vase

As is true of garage sales, if one is making a fortune selling no longer wanted items from your household – you probably bought too much and too foolishly in the first place.  I don’t get ahead buying a dress for $60 and selling it a year later for $30. But that $30 is better than nothing at all.

There are strategies other frugal people do that I don’t have the patience for. Doing on-line reviews and surveys for companies that pay a person a pittance to see what your opinions are. I have tried them, and it is not relaxing to me. 

I like second-hand stores a lot and am almost always in a good mental place when I am in one. I will shop for an hour and may leave having spent just a few dollars (my all-time high was $45 and that included furniture that is in my living room now!).  For me, eBaying thrifted stuff is a reasonable and relatively profitable hobby.

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