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Archive for December, 2007

December Survey Total

December 31st, 2007 at 07:55 pm

For the new folks... I'm a family practice physician. I have the opportunity to do various surveys, both online and in person, on medical topics. These are not available to the general public. I also do Pinecone, Harris Polls and AOL Opinion Place.

My survey income for December set a new personal record (not counting the $1,500 focus group in November). I earned $668.75 for the month.

That brings the total since 6/1 to $3,240 and for the year, just over $5,400! I didn't get serious about doing the surveys until June, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in 2008.

Happy New Year to all.

Just listed 6 items on ebay!

December 27th, 2007 at 01:40 pm

As per my earlier post, one goal for 2008 is to start selling on ebay again, partly to make a few bucks and partly to declutter the house.

I was going to wait until after the first of the year to start, but then I saw on one of the boards that ebay had a 10-cent listing fee sale today, so I figured I should take advantage of that. I listed 6 items. Normally, the listing fee would be $.40. Today it was $.10. So I saved $1.80 by listing those items today.

Now I just have to sit back and watch and hope they sell. Anything that doesn't sell will either go in the yard sale pile or to Goodwill. No matter what, it will be gone soon.

2007 Credit Card Usage Totals

December 26th, 2007 at 03:44 pm

As I start doing the year-end financial stuff, one thing I always do is tally up the credit card charges.

Marriott Visa: $36,068.81
AOL Visa: $3,206.25
Discover: $1,176.39
----------------------
Total: $40,451.45

As far as rewards earned, we got 41,384 Marriott points. That's enough for up to 7 free nights with some points left over. At $80/night, that's about $560. We got $40 cashback from Discover. We haven't redeemed our AOL reward points yet but they're worth a few more dollars, so total rewards are a little over $600 for the year. We also got one free hotel night from Marriott that we get every year on our account anniversary. That saved us over $200. We used that when we went to New York for our anniversary in July. So really, our rewards were over $800.

I was a little surprised to see the total is nearly $9,000 more than last year. Looking back, I can explain most of that. My wife had surgery in 2006 that I didn't pay for until 1/07. That was a couple thousand. She then had surgery again in 07 that cost another $800 and some. We also started planning my daughter's Bat Mitzvah which is in September and gave deposits to the caterer, the DJ and the photographer totalling a few thousand dollars. Add in a couple of costly car repairs on our two 100,000-plus mile cars and that accounts for almost the whole $9,000.

All in all, not so bad. No late payments. Every bill paid in full each month. Zero interest charges. And only the Marriott card has an annual fee ($65) but as you can see, it is well worth paying for what we get in return (over $760 in free stays earned this year).

One year of blogging

December 24th, 2007 at 05:33 am

I realized last night that I started this blog a year ago. I registered it in October but didn't actually post until December.

Thanks to all who have read it (nearly 42,000 site visits) and commented on my postings. I enjoy doing it and it is nice to know folks enjoy reading it.

Happy holidays to all. Have a wonderful, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

One 2008 Goal - Ebay, Ebay, Ebay

December 23rd, 2007 at 03:21 pm

I was one of the early folks to get involved with ebay. I registered and started selling in May 1997, just 20 months after ebay came into existence. It was a natural next step for me as I had been selling collectibles since 1986 through a mail-order catalog and at antique and collectible shows in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.

Ebay was great from day one. It lowered my overhead tremendously and gave me a worldwide audience for my items. At my peak, in early 2000 when I was between jobs, I was running 100 auctions at all times. That year, I grossed nearly $14,000 in sales. My best month I took in over $2,600.

After getting back to work, I gradually drifted away from ebay. I've gone through spurts where I've gotten back into it for a couple of weeks, made some money and then stopped again. Not for any particular reason. Mostly just because I'm busy with other things. My total ebay sales in 2007 were under $1,000 and some of that was things I sold for my mom when she sold her house.

The problem is that I still have a TON of stuff that was bought for resale. Thousands of dollars of merchandise that is dead money sitting in my basement or garage. At this point, I'd be quite happy to regain the space and get whatever I can get for the stuff, even if some things sell for less than I paid for them. I'd rather have some money that I can spend or invest than have a bunch of unwanted stuff sitting around.

So with that in mind, my goal is to start listing on ebay again after the first of the year. I don't want to go nuts because I know that ebay can be time consuming. I figure if I can list a minimum of 5 items/week, that would be good. Anything that doesn't sell, goes either in the yard sale pile or the give-away pile. I'd like to have a yard sale in the spring, maybe late April or May. Then if it doesn't sell, it goes to Goodwill and I take the tax deduction for the stuff. At least we'll be rid of it in the house.

Once I get started, I'll be sure and post about how things are going and what kind of progress I'm making.

Assorted ramblings

December 14th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

I haven't posted this month (except the survey income) so thought I'd try and come up with something to report.

I bought a new microwave (see prior report). I spoke to my friend who fixes appliances and he said don't bother. It is 16 years old and not worth repairing. We'll probably save more in electricity conservation than it would cost to repair. So I went to Wal-Mart and got a GE unit for $55. The first one was damaged when I got it home, but I exchanged it yesterday and the new one works fine. I used it to cook grits this morning. We lost a chunk of counter space, but we'll manage.

I took my wife's van in for service last week. With a coupon, that came to less than $200 which wasn't too bad at all. It recently turned 100,000 miles and is doing fine.

Some guys at my synagogue play in a weekly poker game and have been inviting me to join them for years. I finally did 2 nights ago. Everybody buys in for $20 - it is more about having fun and socializing than making big bucks. We played for close to 4 hours (way past my bedtime) and I lost a total of $7.00 which was just fine by me as I had a fun time. I can't see myself playing weekly, but I will join them from time to time.

My wife's birthday is on Monday. I'll give her her gift on Sunday, probably, since I work late on Monday. I know she doesn't read my blog, so I can share what I got her. We tend to buy each other practical gifts, but good quality/luxury versions. She is always complaining about her bed pillow but doesn't want to spend the money to get a better one and isn't sure which to get. Anytime we travel and stay at a Marriott, she always loves the pillow, so I ordered one from Marriott's website. It was $65 which is extravagant for us, but if she likes it as much at home as she does at the hotels, it will be well worth it.

My wife has been stressed out this week because they have been doing a special project at work and she has had to work lots of extra hours. She normally works part-time, a few hours a week, but this week has worked every day and a few days were 9am to 6pm which she hated, but at least we know it was just for this week. After today, it is back to the usual. The only good thing, which I appreciate more than her, is the extra money those hours will bring in. 50% of her pay goes to her 401K, so this week will give that account a nice boost.

Nothing else comes to mind right now, so I'll stop here. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

November Survey Total

December 4th, 2007 at 06:47 pm

My online survey income for November was off a bit because I was out of town from the 2nd to the 12th and didn't do any surveys during that time. There is some lag time between when I do the survey and when the payment comes in, so I still collected plenty from surveys done in October and some done in November came in before the end of the month.

Anyway, total for the month was $472. Certainly nothing to complain about. That brings the total since 6/1/07 to $2,571.25.

Also, my Chicago trip was in November and that was basically an extended in-person survey/focus group. I was paid $1,500 for that.

I killed our microwave today

December 1st, 2007 at 07:19 am

I was making breakfast this morning and nuking some veggie bacon strips when there was a quick zzzt sound and the microwave went dark. Never a good sign. I immediately stopped what I was doing and headed downstairs because the last time our microwave blew out, it was because there was a short circuit in our circuit box and when I went downstairs to check, smoke was pouring out of the box.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case this time. The box was fine. The circuit was still on. Just the microwave was dead. I came back up and checked the oven, which is an all-in-one unit with the microwave, and it was still working. So we have one dead built-in microwave. I'm quite sure it isn't worth repairing as it is about 15 years old.

So I think we will be cleaning and rearranging our kitchen counters today to make a space for a countertop microwave. At least those aren't terribly expensive, but we've been hit with several unexpected bills lately that are starting to add up to a few thousand dollars. So be sure you keep that emergency fund fully funded.