Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Transfer Money Overseas

For several years now, one of the most sought after features on a credit card has been a long 0% balance transfer deal, almost to the exclusion of any other feature except maybe the headline interest rate of the card. More recently though, balance transfers have become less popular, not least because of the introduction of transfer handling fees, and there's now a new feature that more and more customers are considering to be of higher importance, namely cashback.

According to recent research, over a fifth of us now use a card that offers cashback or a rewards scheme, and the number has recently overtaken that of balance transfer users for the first time. So why has a seemingly simple feature such as cashback displaced the once mighty balance transfer deal in our priorities?

Credit cards have always suffered from the perception that they are expensive to use, with high interest charges and penalty fees - a reputation, it has to be said, that isn't altogether undeserved. Cashback cards give us the opportunity to turn that on its head, and actually come out on top financially by using our cards for everyday purchases.

For every purchase you make, a cashback card will effectively give you a refund of a small percentage of the purchase price. In the early days of cashback, this percentage was so small it was hardly worth considering - a 0.25% rebate was virtually worthless to most people with moderate spending habits. These days however, the figures are much more attractive, with a 3% rate not uncommon as an introductory offer. This kind of rebate is definitely worth having, and if you use your cashback card for all of your day to day shopping, the numbers can mount up surprisingly quickly.

What's more, if you use your card purely as a convenient payment method and not as a means of borrowing, and repay your full balance every month, then you'll avoid paying any interest fees or charges. This means that the money you 'earn' through cashback is totally free money - you're being paid simply to buy your usual shopping with a card rather than with cash.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Amazon Selling Revisited

Will all the books sell?

No matter how carefully you pick your books, you will end up with some that just don't sell or are just very slow in selling. This is normal. Chances are good that the book will eventually sell but it could take several months. And if you purchase your used books cheaply enough, the carrying cost of the books that sell will be small. I find that if I list a random selection of 100 books, about 25% of them will sell each month. That means that after 4-5 months, I can pretty much assume that all the books that will sell have actually sold and I may be left with 5-10 books that for whatever reason had no buyers.

At that point, I make one of two choices. I either lower the offering price on amazon to try to attract a buyer or "trade" the book for something more desirable.

The only time to buy bestsellers

There is one time and one specific reason I will buy bestsellers. If I have the opportunity to buy a large number of hardcover (and sometimes paperback) bestsellers in perfect condition for under $1 each (under $0.25 each if softcover), I will usually buy them. However, I will not sell them on amazon.

There are a large number of used bookstores that will buy or trade books with you. They typically give you 20-25% of the books list price if you want cash and up to 50% of the books list price if you want a credit. That means I have a ready outlet for liquidating these books. If it is worthwhile, I can just swap them for immediate cash. Or I can trade them for other books I can sell at amazon. In general, I make out better in a trading situation than in a cash situation but sometimes if I have way too many books, I will just go for the cash option to reduce my inventory. It is a really effective form of inventory management.

Before you jump out and buy 100's of bestsellers, do check with the used bookstores in your area to see what they are offering for these books. Different shops may offer different rates depending on their current inventory. A little shopping around by phone can result in a lot more cash ending up in your pocket.

How much can I realistically make?

The amount you can make in any given month depends entirely on how many books you acquire that month, how well you did at negotiating the cost and how well your books choices were. This is a business where you can easily make several hundred to several thousand dollars a month depending on the above items. Also it is a business that can give you higher returns the longer you do it. The more you sell, the more you get to know what will sell quickly and what will sell slowly. That will let you be a bit more particular about the books you choose in your book hunting. Instead of ending up with lots of unsold books at the end of the month, you will have an inventory that turns over very rapidly.

Bookselling is a really fun and stress free way to earn anywhere from a supplemental part time income to a full time income. And with the tools offered at amazon.com, it is really easy to get started and keep the profits flowing. There aren't many businesses where you can make money by shopping but this is one of them!

Steven Chabotte is the webmaster of http://www.thehistoricalarchive.com and http://www.mycitytravelguide.com and a student of the traits of success. Visit http://www.chabotte.com for a complimentary copy of Think and Grow Rich.