Monday, December 17, 2007

Countdown to Christmas and a Packing Metruschka

I thought it would be fun to post the latest issue of my Yard Salers newsletter here. For those of you who read my blog and have not yet had the full experience that is my newsletter, you can now taste it below. (It's at, by the way).

Yard Salers: Countdown to Christmas and a Packing Metruschka - Dec. 17, 2007

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We are knee-deep in the holiday season. A lot of you are probably scrambling to ship out packages and trying to keep some semblance of order in your packing supplies area as well.

At the same time, a lot of us have a lot of incoming packages, so we have boxes coming our way that we can save and use later.

I wanted to pass on to you my new favorite and space-saving way of storing these boxes. It's based on the Russian nesting doll known as the "metruschka."

Simply place the largest of the boxes on the bottom, then the second-largest,  then the third, and so on. Sometimes you can fit 2 or 3 little boxes on the top.

Other packing and shipping tips:

- save torn wrapping paper for colorful cushioning packing paper to use inside fragile packages. 

- another great, lightweight (and free) packing material is the slim plastic bags that your newspaper is delivered in. 

- If you are shipping something internationally, first check to see if it can fit in a flat-rate envelope.

The postal service lets you use the flat-rate domestic envelope for this purpose (yes, they say "domestic use only" on them, go figure, but I was told by a worker at a post office that you can use these until they come out with the new envelopes, whatever those may be). The international postage for these is $11, as long as the thing fits in there taped up.

A side note about international mailing. I had been avoiding offering shipping internationally in the last few weeks, because I was trying to avoid long holiday lines at the post office. But then I saw a piece in the Wall Street Journal about how the weak dollar has foreign shoppers going on sprees in the U.S. It convinced me to open up my bigger-ticket auctions worldwide. Something to think about for your higher-dollar auctions. In fact, I have a nice collection of art prints up now. Who's watching it? Someone in Great Britain.

- Finally, don't forget the media mail rate. For heavy books and magazines, I have been using media mail a lot lately, and people want it because Priority rates seem to be so high lately.

An interesting side note: do you know who we have to thank for "book rate"? (Another way "media mail" is referred to?

Yes, it's our good buddy Benjamin Franklin. There was a letter about this in the Washington Post the other day. Here's an excerpt:

A man said he sought to mail a book to his sister in Lynchburg, Va., and the postal clerk quoted him a rate of $14.

"I asked for something cheaper, and he said $9."

"Wait a minute," I said. "This is a book. I know there's a cheaper rate for books. That dates back to Benjamin Franklin. Books and periodicals go cheaper to encourage an informed voting public."

"You want the book rate?" he said.

"That's why I've written 'book' on the package."

"Well that doesn't mean you want the book rate. You have to ask for that. We don't offer that unless you ask."

"You mean that's a postal policy?"

"Yep. We're not supposed to offer that or even tell you about it unless you ask. I know it seems deceptive, and I've said so. But it falls on deaf ears."

"The book rate was $2.40, about one-fourth the cheapest rate otherwise. This is a small but really outrageous crime being committed by a major public institution. People mailing books for Christmas should know about it."

So there you have it. If you use, as I do, it will offer you the media mail option. Otherwise, ask for it. :)

Other quick notes: don't forget to enter my contest to win a free copy of my paperback books! All you have to do is email me at and let me know what you would like to see more of in the newsletter in 2008.

So far I'd say  you have an excellent chance of winning.

And, I'm about to close up my holiday promotion for the catalogs ebook. The price will be going back up to $8.95 by the end of the holiday season. For  now, you can get your copy (what better way to know which of those holiday catalogs to save?) for the limited time price of only $4.95 by going to the following link: ...or cut and paste:
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Finally, I've found a new, free, cash-back referral program you all may be interested in. This one, BigCrumbs, lets you earn money back not only on what you and your referrals spend on eBay, but over 200 retailers such as Target, Best Buy, and Peapod by Giant. (I don't know about you but I spend a lot on groceries!). If you're interested and want to sign up via my affiliate link, go here:

My article about BigCrumbs will be appearing in AuctionBytes in early January. I'll send a reminder out closer to the date.

Meantime, may you make lots of money during the rest of the holidays, but don't forget to take time to relax and enjoy the season as well.

Best wishes,


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Make Money Shopping: BigCrumbs and KickItBack

I just signed up for BigCrumbs, a site that lets you earn money back for shopping on sites like eBay, Target, the GAP, etc etc. But the really neat part is you can earn referral money for up to 5 generations of folks -- you tell a friend and get a cut, then they tell a friend and you get a cut of their friend's friend's shopping, etc., etc., and so forth, as Yul Brynner said in "The King and I."

I went ahead and signed up, and am experimenting with it -- so what the heck, here's my link:">Make Money Shopping with Big Crumbs

Obviously, the more people you refer, the more you can make.  The people on their testimonials page certainly seem to be happy campers.  " "[I've earned] $540 in 3 months most from eBay..." says "rdworski" of Maryland.  Not too shabby. Others seem to be earning @ $50, $100, $200. I think these programs are the kinds of things that take time and patience to build up to really healthy levels. And, of course, people need to remember to shop the retailers' sites via the BigCrumbs or KickItBack they their sites, a desktop tool, toolbar, etc. But heck, it's free money, so why not?

KickItBack is a similar program, but focuses only on eBay. I wrote an article about them for the AuctionBytes Update which you can find here:

If you want to sign up for KickItBack (and I'm sure you want to use my referral link if you do), it's at:

Shop on, people! And earn.