Active Investing Blog

A challenge of starting with nothing and turning it into $1,000,000 in my spare time.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Time To Move On

Previous Total: $55.59

Current Total: $55.50

Inventory: 1 book, 10 photos

Hmmmm, I really don't understand why the other Coca Cola sets haven't been selling. It's one of those things that you can never tell with eBay. I thought they would do well, but for a second time they ended without any bids. This despite the fact that there were a number of people who had placed them on their watch lists. I think I'll take a break for now and see if I can find better timing to put them up.

I did relist them in my store which only cost $0.09. Maybe I'll get luck and someone will pick one up from there.

The good thing is that I didn't buy any of these. It's never fun having stock around your house that you can't sell.

It was an extremely busy week with the site and I assume next week will be similar so I'm not sure how much time I will be able to devote to this, but will try to make at least a little.

My First Inventory

Previous Total: $75.59

Current Total: $55.59

Inventory: 1 book, 10 photos

I found a book and some photos the other day that put me back $20, but I'm hoping will sell well. I still need to take photos and write up a description for them. It's a matter of finding the time. I'll update again once they are on auction.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Failure - But Trying Again

Previous Total: $78.44

Current Total: $75.59

Inventory: none

None of the other Coca Cola sets (partial world cup pin set, key chain set and bottle cap set)I placed on auction sold although all had people watching the items. I decided to give each of them one more try this time as an auction instead of as a set price. We'll see how they do. The listing price for all of them was $2.85 which I have deducted from my total.

I will also be going to some stores today where I may be able to find some things to sell. I'd rather stay with stuff I'm somewhat familiar with as it just takes a lot less time to list - and I'd also like to go for multiples so that I can sell the same thing over and over again without having to write a new description each time. Those are tough to come by, but can be quite valuable and save time all at once. Fingers crossed on that. Finding a few things would be good as it would help jump start the earnings a bit more.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last Coca Cola Complete Pin Set Sold

Previous Total: $52.41

Current Total: $78.44

Inventory: none

Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that another of the complete Coca Cola pin sets sold today. The bad news is that when I went to the hobby store to pick it up and was planning to by the fourth set they had, the last set had already been sold (so a loss of an easy $25).

The cost of the Coca Cola pin set, Paypal fees and ebay end of auction fees minus the $49.95 it sold for leave me with a profit of $26.03. Sad that these have all been sold as it was a good money maker and I assume they would continue in popularity through the world cup. I do have partial sets, but I haven't sold one of those yet and the profit margin isn't as good.

I do have a bit in the fund now so it's time to find some items to invest in. I'm hoping to have a little time to do that this weekend and I'll continue to hope everything continues to sell as well as it has thus far.

Creative Thinking

Previous Total: $52.41

Current Total: $52.41

Inventory: none

While this post isn't really directly related to the challenge, I thought is was a great example of the way you can take something and turn it into a nice business by thinking a bit outside the box.

I was watching TV last night and they has a special on a town in the Japanese countryside where most of the residents are elderly - over 65 years old. The town was dying as all the younger people moved to the cities to find jobs and there was no income coming in for most of the residents. It was going to be another town that simply died until one of the residents came up with an idea. The idea? Selling leaves.

You read that correctly. The town sells leaves - as those things that hang on trees. One of the residents figured out that high end restaurants in Japan use a variety of different seasonal leaves to display with the food to make it more attractive. The towns people (many in their 80s) walk out the door and pick the leaves off the trees to sell. So how much can the earn doing this? The average monthly salary is $2,000 while in peak season in the late fall and before New Year they can ear as much as $20,000 a month.

This isn't one or two families, but the entire town. The entire business brings in over $10 million a year. It's a brilliant idea. The cost of the product is $0 - it has always been right there under their noses. It just needs to be packaged and sent.

Now if I can just come up with something as brilliant for this challenge...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another Coca Cola Pin Set Sold

Previous Total: $27.73

Current Total: $52.41

Inventory: none

I sold another of the Coca Cola pin sets today. As mentioned before, the cost of the Coca Cola pin set to me is $20.00. Paypal fees and ebay end of auction fees came to $3.92 and the set sold for $49.95. That puts me up $26.03 after deducting all expenses. Since the store still has 2 sets available, I decided to list one more and see how quickly it sells. if it goes quickly, then I may just purchase the last set to make sure I have it on hand.

I did list another of the sets which cost $1.35 and means I can add a grand total of $24.68 to earnings.

I'm a little surprised that none of the other sets I put up have sold. I guess I need to be a bit more patient and hopefully a few will.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Finding Money

10 yen coin found

Previous Total: $27.63

Current Total: $27.73

Inventory: none

I was walking to the post office yesterday and found 10 yen on the ground. I will add this to my totals. I haven't kept track of the money I find for a few years now, but it's probably about $50 to $100 a year. Let's just say it's kind of a hobby that I don't get to practice as often since I don't commute to work any longer. I actually wrote an article about this for a magazine in Japan quite awhile ago (the easiest way to convert is the 100 yen = $1.00). For those interested, here is a copy of it:


A colleague's daughter was given New Year's money known as otoshidama from her grandfather. After receiving the money, she quizzically looked at her grandfather and asked, "Did you find the money on the ground?" Her question perplexed everyone in the room until they realized that otosu means "to drop." She had assumed otoshidama had meant the money had been dropped and found on the ground.

Although it wasn't the case in that particular situation, the girl could have easily been correct. In my first full year of keeping track of the money I found in Japan, I made myself 14,129 yen (94 one-yen coins, five 5-yen coins, 121 ten-yen coins, 10 fifty-yen coins, 38 one hendred-yen coins, three 500 yen coins, two 1000 yen bills and one 5000 yen bill) richer. That may not seem like an overwhelming amount, but consider you'd have to keep close to 3 million yen in your local bank account for an entire year to earn the same amount in interest (a good reason to find another place other than your local bank to invest your money). Add an additional 7920 yen found in unused prepaid cards, and it's well worth the effort to keep a lookout wherever you go.

I only found a tiny piece of what's really out there. Consider that in 1997, people turned in over 2.5 billion yen in lost currency to the Japanese Metropolitan Police Department's lost and found. Of course, I've done my share of returning too. Not counted in my findings was 2153 yen in dropped coins returned to their rightful owners (ears become attuned to the cling of coins on hard surfaces) and 32,000 yen found in a lost wallet (which would have become mine if the money hadn't been claimed after one year).

In addition to the cash, I've never had to purchase a pre-paid telephone card since arriving in Japan. That's because I always find telephone cards which still have value on them. Usually it's only ten to thirty yen, but sometimes the cards are almost new. You can find the cards by looking on top of, and the area surrounding, pay telephone you pass. Even if you find a card that's completely used, it's still worth keeping it. You can donate it to any one of a number of charities which collect used phone cards as part of their fund raising activities.

I never went out of my way to search for the money I found. All the coins I found were while carrying out my normal everyday activities. I also followed certain rules. The money I found had to be in a public place where anyone else could have found it had they been looking. Money found in places where the general public didn't have access were not counted. Thus coins discovered at my friends' houses, my work and all those forgotten coins in my own apartment didn't count. Coins which were purposely placed on the ground were also not eligible; coins at shrines, near graves and in the water around fountains were strictly off limits. Basically, any coin which had been accidentally dropped or left could be counted.

Since the money is there, it's simply a matter of knowing the best places to find it. For example, if someone informed you that you could find 1 yen in every vending machine you passed, would you bother picking it up? With the vast number of vending machines in Japan, it would make most people think twice every time they passed one. I averaged 1.16 yen for every vending machine I checked (3120 yen from 2690 vending machines checked). For those who are too embarrassed, it's also possible to check most vending machines at normal walking pace by simply looking into their coin return slot (a method I was forced to master at threat of divorce by my wife).

For those who think they may be interested in searching for lost coins, it's important to remember that it's not purely about the money. The friends who hear about the amount I've found often decide to try finding money themselves. This usually lasts only a couple of days when they end up quitting in frustration because they haven't found anything. This is to be expected since most days I didn't find a single yen (273 days) and a total of three days accounted for over half of all the money I did find the entire year. Had I not been looking those days, however, I would have never spotted that money, just like the many others who passed by it before me.

One prime location where I've never checked is under vending machines. When I told a Japanese friend my new hobby, he informed me that there are actually special devices made and sold in Japan to search for coins lost under vending machines. This immediately piqued my interest, but thus far I've managed to resist. I'm sure I would find even more coins than I did this past year, but there's also the distinct possibility that I'd end up single again.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Setting Up Free Sites

Previous Total: $27.63

Current Total: $27.63

Inventory: none

I talked about doing this as part of last year's challenge, but never quite got around to doing it as fully as I wanted to. That was to set up free sites that feature some of the antique items I sell to make ends meet as I try to make my sites my full time job. I actually have a few reasons for doing this. One is to educate people a bit more about these items since there isn't a whole lot of information out there on them. Second is possible begin selling the items through those sites rather than through ebay where I have all the fees. Lastly, they give me an opportunity to earn a few dollars a month through adsense. I'm hoping that I can make a bit of extra time to get these sites going this year.

This are pretty niche sites that will probably only be of interest to a handful of collectors and therefore at this time I don't see a benefit of setting up a completely separate site for them. if they become popular, however, I can always go in that direction - especially if sales take off.

While I won't count the items sold on these sites (unless they are part of my inventory), I will place the amount of the fees I save if I do eventually sell anything. I just created one to document Japanese Flags and hopefully more will follow.

More Items To Sell

Previous Total: $30.23

Current Total: $27.63

Inventory: none

I had a good day today finding items I could sell without laying out any money ahead of time. In a sense, it's like drop shipping except I have to pick up and send the items myself. When I went to the hobby shop to pick up the Coca Cola world cup pin set and asked how many he has remaining (2 more) he said that he also had about 10 partial sets. The sets are missing 2 of the pins and the special pin (14/17) and he said he would sell me these partial sets for $5. I took a photo and have placed that up on ebay already.

In addition I found a set of 6 winter Coca Cola key chains that I can get for $2.50 each

Then I also found a Coca Cola bottle cap set which would be $10. All these seem like reasonable prices and I have placed them on auction and we'll see of any of them sell. The listing fees for the three comes to $2.60 which I've subtracted from my total.

Now that I have a bit of money, I will begin to look for some investments. It's winter here so there aren't many flea markets so I'll have to look elsewhere to get some stock. I also don't have near as much time to search for items, so hopefully I'll come across some nice stashes somewhere.

It is now January first here in Japan (Happy New year to one and all) so I guess this challenge is officially started for me (even though I began a few days early) - onto $1,000,000 :)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Another Sale

Previous Total: $24.68

Current Total: $30.23

Inventory: none

Just about ready to go to bed (12.30 AM here in Japan) and checked my email to see that the Star Wars card set sold for $9.95. That means another trip to the hobby shop tomorrow (it's a short walk from my house). The good news is that they have a lot of these sets, so I should be able to continue to sell them without having to put out any money as long as people want to buy them.

The set cost me $2.50 plus $1.20 in fees. Take that away from the $9.95 and it is a $6.25 profit. I listed the set again which takes away $0.70 so I end up being able to add $5.55 to my total. Time for bed...