Thursday, January 29, 2015

Squeezing a Home Business Center into a Small Living Space

We live in a tiny, two bedroom one bath condo.  And with two small kids, while our home is economically beneficial, it certainly presents challenges when it comes to space…or lack thereof.

 This means that as someone who works from home, while also playing the at-home parenting role, it’s often difficult finding space to call my own when it comes to my work, a portion of which includes online selling.  This online sales role requires a variety of materials to make it successful, and setting up a home business center in a small living space has proved a challenge.  I’ve found certain ways to make our small space work for my business needs though.

With space at a premium, I try to keep the things I sell online small.  By reducing the size of my products to envelopes or small box-size, I minimize the amount of space I need to keep a decent stock of inventory on hand.  Items like books, CDs, DVDs, coins, and similar sized things are easier to keep in our small space than items like larger electronics, dishware, lamps, artwork, and other larger, bulkier items.  In this way, I can lay everything out in my small business center sales space so that I can see what I have listed to sell, what’s waiting to be listed, and what I have in reserve inventory.

Devoting an area
Speaking of my sales and business center area, I have a specific space designated for this work.  With two small children in our home, I have chosen a large dresser, which allows me a flat surface upon which to spread out my shipping supplies, printer, scale, and sale items.  This also means that the dresser’s top is high enough to be out of reach of little hands, which keeps kid messes to a minimum.

This space is specifically for my business purposes and is not to be cluttered up with anything that is not business related (i.e. toys, clothes, homework, etc.).

Staying organized
Keeping my small workspace organized may be one of the most difficult aspects of having a home business center.  I’ve learned that by designating specific spots on this worktop for certain items, it makes it easier to give each item a home and keep everything in its place.  It also makes it quicker and easier to find things when I’m busy since I know exactly where to look for them.  Envelopes are in one spot.  Tape, the stapler, scissors, and paper clips are in another.  Bubble wrap and other packing materials are found in another space.  Ink refills are in another, and inventory in another.  By reducing clutter, it also helps me know when I’m getting low on supplies.

In this way, while space is limited, I maximize what’s available to me and make it work by getting organized and staying that way.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Collectibles for the Rest of Us

An MSN Money article on the subject of collectibles noted that, “According to the KFLII (Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index), collectibles in some of the categories sold for record amounts last year. For example, a thimble-sized, 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl made during the Northern Song Dynasty that was bought at a garage sale for $3 in 2013 was subsequently sold at a Sotheby's (BID) auction for $2.2 million in March 2013, a record price for the time. Last year, the "Pink Star" diamond was auctioned for $83 million.”

Not all of us have $83 Million to drop on a diamond though. Many of us don’t even have $83 for buying extras at the end of the month.  But collecting doesn’t only have to be for the rich.  In fact, it’s often available in various forms to a huge portion of the population if they know what to look for and how to handle it.  Setting just a little money aside each month could have you forming a nice collection that you can not only enjoy but that could build value for the future.

Here are a few collecting ideas for those of us without substantial incomes and that my own family has partaken in over the years.

People may dismiss art as a collectible for the common person simple because they associate it with art auctions in which paintings sell for millions or even tens of millions of dollars.  However, art is available in many forms and prices ranges.  Not every piece has to be a Van Gogh or a Picasso to eventually grow in value.

Woven rugs or handcrafted pottery, comic books or pieces of jewelry, a picture that a family member created or oddity purchased at a garage sale for a buck could all be affordable options when it comes to starting or growing your own art collection.  Remember, art is often in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the odder it is, the more valuable it becomes.

I’ve had an interest in coin collecting since I was a kid.  There was just something about the history of a coin – where it’s been, who has held it, why it’s designed the way it is – that intrigued me, but I’ve never had the financial capacity to invest in really high value collectible coins.  Still, this hasn’t put my off my interest in coins.

You’d be surprised just how many rare coins and bills are still out in circulation, free for the picking if you know your stuff and take a few seconds to check your pocket change or wallet.  I just sold a flawed bill I got from the bank the other day on eBay for a $15 profit.  It’s not a huge amount, but the initial investment cost me nothing more than the time involved in checking the bills in my wallet. 

Home furnishings
You might be surprised at how furniture and other home furnishings can appreciate over time.  And such items may be available for purchase for far less than you’d expect or find in a retail setting.  From garage sales and resale stores to consignment shops and even just set out on the curb as trash, hutches, tables, chairs, mirrors, vases, cabinets, rugs, and more may all be items that we can not only utilize in our homes but that may be or eventually become collectibles.

With a little cleaning or refinishing, value may be added to such common household wares, and over time, with the proper care, these items may appreciate in price significantly, especially if the initial purchase price was next to nothing.

So just because you’re not a millionaire, it doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in collectibles.  Often, the buy-in for these items is far less than you might think, and with a little knowledge and given some time, you could find yourself with a nice investment for the future.

The author is not a licensed financial professional or antiques or collectibles dealer.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.