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Selling on eBay isn't all it's cracked up to be

Like most people, I am always looking for ways to make some extra money. As a stay-at-home mom, my options were severely limited. I could baby-sit in my home, but with two kids of my own under the age of 3 that would be somewhat of a headache. I could work at night when my husband came home from his job, but that didn't appeal to me either.

After talking with some people, I found my answer to my problem in eBay, the online marketplace where a person can buy or sell just about anything in deals with people from all over the world.

From the stories I heard, it seemed too good to be true. It seemed like anything people sold turned to gold, and as a self-proclaimed bargain hunter, I thought I could find some good deals in the stores and sell them for a profit on eBay. So with nothing more than a credit card and my two kids strapped in their double stroller, I began my summer scouring stores for discounted children's clothing.

I went to every department store, specialty clothing store and discount clothing store in Western New York. Every day, I would frequent a few stores and buy more clothes. The checkout clerks, I am sure, thought I was absolutely crazy, as did the customers behind me who would silently groan when they saw the gigantic mound of clothes I was purchasing or possibly returning.

Due to the huge amount of clothes I would buy, it was inevitable that I would have to return some of it. I quickly discovered which stores had lightning fast returns and which ones were slow. To minimize wait time for other customers at these latter stores, I would return only one small batch of clothes at a time. I also tried to be as friendly as possible with the clerks because many of them began to recognize me as a frequent shopper in their store.

It also didn't help that one of my daughters began to recognize these stores as soon as I pulled into the parking lot and would start yelling that she didn't want to go in. Or that I would have to hold my other daughter in my arms the entire time I was shopping, which could be hours on end.

In the end, my eBay experience was nothing to brag about. I learned an encyclopedia's worth about selling on eBay, but mostly through trial and error, which cost me a lot of money in the end. Not to mention the huge debt I racked up on my credit cards from buying all those clothes.

To be fair, I did make some decent money on some of the clothes I sold. But there were also a good many auctions that I actually lost money on because of all the fees I had to pay eBay. I also learned fairly quickly that most bidders are bargain hunters and only want to buy things if they are dirt cheap.

In addition to the financial drain, my house started looking like a messy department store and my health took a nose-dive due to stress and lack of sleep.

Eventually I realized I could make more money working a minimum-wage job than I could selling on eBay. So I found a buyer in Australia who wanted to buy the rest of my "inventory." I packaged everything up into two huge boxes, paid more than $200 to ship it overseas, and said goodbye forever to eBay.

I did eventually find a job where I could bring my kids with me to work. Though it will never make me rich, at least I know I won't go into debt because of it.

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