Sunday, April 25, 2010

To the Garage Sales!

I managed to haul myself out of bed yesterday morning and went biking around to the garage sales. Surprisingly, there were not many - I guess it is still a bit early in the year. It was nice to get outside and chat with the different people.

Here are the items I found that I considered - remember I don't want to spend more than 20% of my stake to reduce the risk of busting:

1) Computer speakers for $3 - Although these were below my budget of $4, I hesitated to buy these as computer speakers are quite common. I don't like buying computer things in general as they get out of date so quickly. Not sure that speakers fall into that category since speakers are speakers. They definitely looked old and it was the first garage sale so I passed.

2) A vintage star wars millenium falcon - This was intriguing. Some people say you can make a lot of money on vintage toys, but you have to know your stuff. For this one I went back and did some research and found the item on Ebay for $50, but this was a new unopened one. If collectors can buy new ones, they probably don't want an old used one so I let it pass.

3) Garage sale 2 was a dud. Nothing there that caught my eye.

4) Garage sale 3 was more promising - she had a lot of antique looking stuff, but most of this was on its way out. There was an old night table for only $5, which I might have sold for more, but it was scratched up and I thought I might have to fix it up before I could sell it - also people usually want 2 night tables not 1 so I let it pass.

5) She also had two doll high chairs for $1 each, which I thought someone might buy for their little girl. They were wooden and seemed to be in good shape. I went on line to check and found one for sale for $20, which means I might be able to make a hefty profit. Looking closer, I could see that only one person per day looked at the ad, which told me that the market for these was pretty small. I wasn't sure anyone would really drive out to someone's house just for a little doll high chair - the market seemed pretty small for it so I passed again.

6) The last place had a toaster oven for $8. I thought about it and decided that people don't usually like to buy old stuff for their kitchen, and plus I didn't know how well it worked, etc. so I passed again

7) There was a crazy pirate ship kite for $10. The price didn't seem low enough and I think the market would be small again so I passed.

At the end of the day I didn't buy anything, but I am ok with that. I really don't want to get stuck with someone else's junk, although I hope I'm not being too picky.

On my way home I saw a beer bottle and I couldn't help picking it up. Since finding beer bottles are tax free, I am up 10 cents. At least the day wasn't a total dud.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strategy for Level 13

Strategy for Level 13

Now that I have reached $20, looking for bottles isn't as profitable. Last level each bottle I found brought me 1% closer to the goal. Now that I need to gain $20, each bottle will only bring me 0.5% closer to my goal. Since it took me 22 days to double this past level, it should take me 44 days to double. This is ok, but I should be able to double much faster if I concentrate on buying and selling items instead. I have done flipping in the past on my old blogs so I am already experienced. If I can land the right item it is possible to double up with one or two flips.

What am I looking for? I need something that fits all or most of the below list:

- I must believe it is significantly underpriced - you make your money when you buy, not when you sell.
- It must be something that many people are looking for - it helps when you double your investment, but now when it takes you a year to make the sale.
- It should hopefully be somewhat small in case I need to resort to Ebay to sell it to keep shipping costs down. This isn't critical if it is a hot item and I expect it to sell fast.
- It should hopefully be an item I am familiar with or have sold before. In the past I have ran home to do some quick research before buying an item.
- I'd rather miss out on 5 good deals and make a bunch on the 6th one than end up with a product I can't sell. The key is NOT tying up your money on unsellable junk.
- Don't feel pressured to buy SOMETHING. If no deals are there that is ok.
- Having said that - try not to be so conservative that you never buy anything. You can't double up if you never buy anything.

I'll mostly be biking in my area to try and save gas money - 10c/km as usual. I might change my mind on this though if I find I am always running home to check the internet for prices. It might be worth a $1 investment in gas to make sure I buy that $5 item I sell for $20. You never know.

As far as a due date goes, I think three months is a nice non-stressful choice again. I may be on vacation for 2 weeks so I will give myself 3 months and 2 weeks so I don't stress over things throughout my vacation. That makes my due date August 7th, 2010.

The other thing I now have to start thinking about is taxes. You aren't taxed for finding beer bottles or coins on the ground, but you are taxed for buying something and selling it for profit. I need to review how to correctly present this on my taxes - not sure if I can claim expenses for driving around, etc. or if I need to declare myself as a sole proprietor - or if I can just say this is a hobby and what the implications of that would be. I will give myself the same due date - Aug 7, 2010 to learn how this all works. In the mean time I will withhold 45% for taxes and not include that in the next doubling step. Very painful, but at the end of the year this will stop me from dropping a level due to the tax man - and I might end up with a refund for the project!

It's nice to get out of the ditches and to the garage sales - and just in time for garage sale season.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Completed Level 12!

I found 4 pennies over the past two days so all I needed was 28 cents to complete Level 12. I went for a walk at work during my lunch hour and managed to find a beer bottle and a wine bottle in the ditch. Luckily there is a Beer Store near my work so I decided to walk straight there and complete the step. As I was walking, I happened to end up walking along side a recycling truck who was going about the same speed as me (on average since they had to keep stopping). He kept looking at me with a weird look and eventually he asked if I wanted to put my bottles in the recycling truck. It was quite hilarious trying to explain to the guy that instead of giving him the bottles, I was going to walk all the way to the beer store for a measly 30 cents. Further along my way I found two more beer cans in some big flower pot. I felt silly carrying the 20c large wine bottle, so I switched it for a 20c beer can. I would have loved to take them all, but I was already afraid someone from work would see me digging in the ditches so the beer can was less conspicuous and I didn't want to get my work clothes dirty by trying to carry too much. When I got to the beer store, the guy told me that the can was only worth 10 cents, not 20! So instead of completing the level, that left me 8 cents short. BUT the two cans in my garage were worth 10 cents less each so I was 28 cents short. DOH! I guess that explains why I thought I was short changed last time I went to the Beer store.

As I walked back to my desk deflated, I tried to think of what I could do to try and still complete my double step today. Then I thought about the bottle of wine in our fridge that should be thrown out. I never knew you could return wine bottles and have ALWAYS just recycled them. If it wasn't for this project, I very likely would have just recycled this bottle, so I figure it is fair game. In fact, all of our wine bottles in the future should also be fair game. So that put me back to 8 cents short. I made up my mind then that I would run over to the flower pot during my last break and get the can. I was too embarrassed to bring it to the Beer Store again, so I just put it in a plastic bag and brought it home.

So I ended up with $20.02, which means I get to spend one penny on myself and donate one penny to charity. Sounds bad, but half of the $20 belongs to charity. I did very well with completing my doubling step in only 22 days (from when I made my declaration) out of the 3 months I gave myself. Can't wait to start thinking of new strategies for Level 13. I will consider the new due date tonight.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It was still there!

The can I had my eyes on days ago was still there. 20 cents closer - only 32 cents to go! I really like those tall cans. They're much lighter than beer cans and worth twice as much!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Found a 20 cent can

This step started with a bang and is slowly coming to a close. I found another can on the side of the road. Had to pull over the car for that one LOL. There's another one I had my eye on, but I havn't been back that way due to being sick. I hope it's still there tomorrow. 52 cents from completing this doubling step and I can't wait!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

I just finished "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba, an African boy who managed (just after a famine) to build a working windmill out of junk from a scrap heap so that his family would have light at night, and a few extra bucks charging peoples cell phones, not to mention eventually irrigation for their crops via a windmill run pump so they could get a second harvest throughout the year (see famine above). This might be the most inspiring story I have ever read. Talk about making lemon aid out of lemons. This guy gets dealt a bad hand in life and turns everything around all by himself, despite ridicule from his fellow villagers. I do get ridiculed sometimes about my project - it seems that no one in my real life is as excited about it as me - so this story really resonated with me. If this guy can build a windmill out of a pile of junk when survival itself was in question, then surely our doubling community can come together and turn a penny into a million dollars. Congratulations Mr. Kamkwamba. Well done.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Added Due Date to Current Double Step

I created a thread in the Doubler's Den a few days ago, where doublers can go and declare their due dates for their current doubling step. It seems to be catching on as I see that Xinfinitum at the Double to a Million Plan and Edo at My Doubling Adventure have made their declarations on their blogs. I really find that setting a goal is essential to completing any project, especially the size of this one. As stated previously, my current deadline is July 1st, 2010. I have put this in small text under the current level info on the right hand side bar. This way I won't forget as it will be staring me in the face every time I blog. Not to mention I will know that all my fans expect me to complete my steps on time. Xininitum has also come up with a Doubler's Creed and I stand fully behind it. It goes as follows:

"We are Doublers and Penny Pickers. And Adventurers and Wannabe Millionaires. Who day and night go step by step with duty, honor and pride. And neither sickness, nor disease, nor ridicule, nor bad night vision, nor lack of finding change, nor ever finding the national treasure, will stay us from the swift completion of our sporadic rounds. Ever."

Let the new era of doubling begin. I declare this the era of Doubling 2.0, where we have purpose; we have deadlines and we meet them.

Go forth and prosper one double at a time.


Found a dime

I was at the grocery store getting money out of the bank machine (this is past the cashiers) and I decided to walk back to the checkout stations that I missed. Good thing I did because I saw a shiny new dime. Almost there. Feels good after the dud beer run.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beer Run Dud

I went on a 8.75K beer run today and didn't find a single can or bottle. Granted, there was only about 3K worth of good bottle hunting area, but alas, no dice. The question is why were there none. I ran to work, which takes me between very populated areas with 3K of forest in between. Other more successful beer runs have been more on the outskirts of town where the next populated area is hundreds of kilometers away. My theory is that people throw out their beer bottles as they approach town, but once they're already in town they're less likely to keep their bottles in their car. I hope I am wrong because that would say something about how many drunk drivers are in my area. Maybe it is the farmers who just throw their bottles in the ditch. Either way, my next beer run is going to be back out on the country roads.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

What makes people quit?

I was surfing around and found an old doubling blog. This girl, Rachel, managed to double her way from a penny to $1500 in less than a year. That's more than all the doubling I have been doing for three and a half years. She was WAY in front of any other doubler and then all of the sudden - out of the blue she disappeared. Her blog has been silent for two and a half years. Now I'm not judging - I've certainly had my share of extended leaves, and I don't know her life - maybe life got busy or maybe something really bad happened. I'm not trying to focus on Rachel, specifically, but rather explore why people get excited about a project for as long as a year and then it just fizzels out. Previously I had decided to make achievable due dates for the doubling, which seem to be working out (at least at this level). But what makes someone so passionate and then BAM, it just dies? Perhaps the reward seems to small for the effort, or perhaps life gets in the way. Maybe personal interests change? I'd really like to know because I really want to succeed at this - I've been doubling so long, I can't imagine ever stopping. Maybe it's just a case that slow and steady wins the race and I just have to keep plodding along and not worry so much about others dropping out of the race.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Returned the Beer Bottles

Ahhh... It's so nice to finally enjoy the fruits of my labour. I returned the beer bottles and they accepted every one. I didn't even have to clean them. Some were pretty disgusting and I thought they might complain, but not a word was spoken and I received all my money. I still have to find a few more, but I will be glad when this level is complete and I can hit some garage sales. Found 2 cents too.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Went back to bottles

Ok - I couldn't resist looking for more bottles today. There's a patch of gas behind the esso that is on a highway and I thought it would be a great place for irresponsible people to throw away their beer bottles. I found FOUR bottles over there. It still blows me away at how many I am finding. I really hope this is from people walking and not driving. Certainly makes me feel a little less safe on the roads. Later I found a 20cent beer can on the road near my work and a penny to boot, so 61 cents earned for the project today. Not too shabby for 5 minutes work - about minimum wage. Awesome!

My Charity (or at least one of them)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about who to donate the final amount of charity money to. This is somewhat of a journey, and as such I think I may discover some charities I would like to donate to along the way so I am hesitant to declare it right now. Having said that, there is someone very close to me that has MS, so I would like to donate something there. Since it is motivating to know where the money is going, I have decided to split it up into percentages. So I've decided that 10% of the doubling money will go to the MS Society, with 90% still to be declared. Hopefully this will give me more focus to keep the doubling going.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

A penny

Found a penny. This message will self destruct in 1500 years.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cashed in the Liquor bottle

I went to the Liquor Store to return the bottle I found, and I was told to go to the Beer Store. Seems wierd to me. Imagine Wallmart asking you to go to Zellers to return the latest widget you bought. Oh well, it was across the street and they gave me 20 cents for it so I was happy. I've been thinking a bit about the uncleanliness factor of picking up other people's old discarded beer bottles and have decided not to pick them up any more. I have over 2 and a half months to make a buck fifty, so I don't think it will hurt me too much. It was fun, but it's time to find another way to make some money for a bit. Oh and I found another 2 cents today.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Mirage Beer Can

On my way home I saw a beer can on the street from the car, but didn't have time to pick it up. My run ended up being late at night so I figured I would run to pick up the beer bottle as it was approximately the right distance away. I was so excited to pick up another 20c worth for the project. As I approached the anticipation was almost too much to bear, but soon I had my prize in my hand. Imagine my disappointment after running 2K to find that it was an energy drink instead of a beer can. I ran away almost in tears (please don't tell me you believe this story.), but imagine my excitement when I found a liquor bottle. It's a fairly large one and I recently heard that I can take it to the liquor store. We'll see when I drop it by there tomorrow. Oh, and I found a penny!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Phone Surprise!

I was walking out of the grocery store today and absent mindedly stuck my finger in the change slot. Cha-ching. A beautiful quarter was waiting for me inside it. You never know when you might find a coin and a quarter is one of the best to find. Up to $18.30 now. Getting close to completing this level and I am only 6 days into the 3 months. Hopefully I can keep up this pace.


Monday, April 5, 2010

You can return Beer Cans!

Who knew - Apparently you can return beer cans to the beer store. I had some cans from when my friends came over (I only drink from beer bottles). On the can it said you could get a 20 cent refund in Quebec. Since I don't live in Quebec, I would just put them in the recycling. Then I thought I might as well ask if they'd take it since I am quite close to Quebec. It turns out they DO take them and you get 20 cents a can for them! Who knew? Probably everyone, but not me. Since I was going to recycle them as always (they were already in the recycling box) and have never returned this type before and probably never would have, I am going to allow it for this project. They gave me a dollar for the cans. I'm pretty sure there were more than five though, so I think they must have miscounted. At first I was annoyed, but I guess I got a nice cheap lesson for only 20 or 40 cents. Always make sure you know how much you are supposed to get in an exchange BEFORE you conduct it. That way if you're shortchanged, you can catch it easily. I also went for a beer run this morning. I drove 4.8km to get me to a new place, which cost me 48 cents for the driving. I managed to find 10 beer bottles (I'll be looking for cans in the future) so that puts me another 52 cents up. To top it off, when I was leaving work, there was another 20 cent beer can lying on the ground. So that is a whopping $1.72 for the day, 17.2% toward my goal. Not bad on a work day. I'm now at $18.05, so only $1.95 to go on this level and I'm only 5 days into the 3 months!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

There's Gold in 'Dem 'Dere Ditches

I did another beer run today. This time it was 7K. I ran 3.5K down a country road and 3.5K back the other side. It was freakin' hot. I figured out that instead of hauling beer bottles all the way down the road and back, on the first leg I can just run across the road and leave them on the other side to pick up on my way back. I also learned that you must place them on the ground because on a hot day, beer bottles will easily break if you try to roll them from a short height of 1 foot off the ground. 10 cents down the drain on that one. I also had one break in my hand when I went to pick it up and one broke in the bag when the bag hit my leg. This is apparently dangerous stuff. I managed to fill both bags and actually left them on the side of the road to pick up later with the car as they were getting a bit heavy to run with. I ended up driving 4 kilometers to get there and back and pick up the bags, so I will be deducting 40 cents for the car (you'll note I previously said I would charge myself 10c per km for gas and wear and tear.) In the end I picked up 19 beer bottles, which I can get $1.90 for. Subtract the $0.40 for the car and I made a cool $1.50 for the project today AND ran 7K, which is further than I have ever run in my life. It has been a good day.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Focus Plan

I have been thinking about how I often seem to forget about doubling for 3-5 months or so before I come back to it. I think one of the reasons is that I have not set a goal as to when to complete the current doubling step. My previous project was going for about 4 years and I managed to get to about $850, which is approximately 4.3 doubles per year and that included many breaks where I lost interest. So if I set my goal to double every 3 months (4 doubles per year) I think that should be very do-able. The good news is that at that pace, I should have my million in just 4 years and 3 months (that would be insane!). It's all about focus people! I also have to remember that this isn't just about me. People have donated to this with the understanding that I will be ultimately giving half of it to charity and I intend on keeping to that promise; but to leave it to stagnate for almost half a year is unacceptable. Perhaps now is a good time to decide what to donate the $500,000 to in the end. It needs to be something important to me to keep me focused. I should have lots of time to ponder since it's Easter and I have Good Friday off. Stay tuned...


Another Beer bottle and a penny

I found another beer bottle in my travels. People must think I am crazy pulling over to pick up a beer bottle. At least I wasn't running with bags of them this time. Getting there!