Embrace the Flip, Master the Trade
Hobbies are expensive. Or at least they can be. What do you think the average gamer spends on their hobbies a month? $50? $100? What if I told you that I have spent nothing out of pocket this year on gaming? This has been a goal I have been pursuing, and I’m willing to share my simple strategy with you. The premise is this: I think any person should embrace the practice of flipping. There’s also great value in making the right trades. So, if you’re patient and willing to use a little strategy, you can self-fund your own hobbies from selling and trading, and in turn cut down on the amount of cash that comes from your own pockets. Perhaps this can lead you down a path where you break even – or find yourself with extra cash in your pockets – at the end of the year. This guide is meant to share some tricks with this in mind.
A brief overview first. Flipping is the act of purchasing something, then selling it to turn a profit from your original investment. There is money to be made on items in demand. This can be as simple as flipping games you find, as they say, “in the wild,” or locally. Within this approach I include trading games into my local mom & pop game store, always for store credit. There is also value in flipping something you purchased cheap or on sale that might be a treasure in the rough. I think there’s often a resentful attitude towards flipping. The term “filthy reseller” gets freely tossed around by many. Suspending my own judgment; some people make their living from reselling electronics, places in line, and/or the latest must-have craze. Their livelihoods may rely on flipping and reselling — I acknowledge that. With that said, it’s not in my or others’ best interest to gouge people. But, there’s a fair way to go about it. I’ll use a few examples.
Simple Strategy: Buy Low, Sell…Reasonably
Throughout 2013 & 2014, I went on a bit of a spending spree. I had stepped up my playing and collecting for the Sega Dreamcast, looking to fill out my collection and playing a ton of games I never played when I got the console in high school. On eBay at the time, you could get some cheaply priced lots consisting of games + consoles for under $100. After receiving the lot, I could pull out any of the games that I was really after, then usually recoup most of my costs from individually selling the remaining games back on eBay. Net result on average: anywhere from $5-$10 out of pocket; sometimes $10-$20 profit. With the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 on the mainstage, the Wii U, PS3, and Xbox 360 have made their way into the last generation of consoles. There are plenty of rare games for these systems that collectors are trying to get their hands on now that they’re harder to find. Some of these are priced at GameStop below what their actual market value is. It’s time to take advantage of those Power Up Rewards Pro memberships, help people fill in their collections, and make some cash in the process.
Take it a step further. Expand your flipping horizons!
In the past two years, I’ve refined this strategy a bit more. You can usually find some decent deals at local antique malls or the occasional yard or moving sale. I’ve picked up games for a buck or two, and done one of two things: sell them online, or take them to a local game shop. My wife bought around 50 PS3 games for $50 from a colleague who was moving out of town. I hung onto a few, played them, and traded the rest to my local store. The end result: $50 spent amounted to $120 in store credit. We helped a friend lighten their load for a cross-country move. I played some games and made some trades. Lovely!
Also, occasionally scout around for a deal. Seriously. The best deal I had from this year — I found an old antique oak flower seed box in a booth at a local antique mall. It looked old, but the wood and metal clasp looked to be in great shape. Additionally, that booth’s vendor had a sale going on: 25% off the booth. This little box was on sale for $5.75. I bought it, not knowing if it was worth anything. I found later this specific item is particularly sought after by collectors, made in the late 1800’s and into the 1920’s. They regularly sell anywhere from $40 to $75. The one I found didn’t appear in completed/sold auctions, so I listed it for $40. The auction ended at $135.49. Unbelievable. The point from these two anecdotes: always keep your eyes peeled for a deal. If you’re patient, you’ll find a great treasure that can net you some cash!
Keep it reasonable. Keep your dignity.
Don’t rip off the folks hosting the yard sale. If someone’s got something particularly valuable and it’s priced pretty low, let them know what they have. Be honest about it. Buy the whole lot (if there is one). Offer a few extra dollars if they don’t change their price. Finally, don’t just cherry-pick what you’re personally after. Make it so that everyone feels they get their fair share of the bargain. Also, don’t dwell on it. Buying things at yard sales and moving sales helps clear space in someone’s house, so be polite, fair, and move along. I draw the line if someone is grieving over the loss of a loved one. If someone approaches me and says they just want someone to appreciate the hobby, I’ll take a look at what they have and offer them a fair price. Bottom line, be respectful about it all.
Manage your time well. If you’re always on the hunt, there’s more likelihood you’ll burn out or feel compelled to make an impulsive, costly purchase. Watch out for decision fatigue. Now, when I run errands, I relax, suspend my expectations and enjoy the visit to my local thrift store. I’ve been more surprised and grateful over what pops up along the way. I think you will be, too.
If I had to share a final thought, stick to your budget. I’ve felt the urge to splurge after netting some deals, but fight that impulse.