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    Money in the Bank: Small Tips To Save Your LEGO Business Money


    It's well known by now, but I started a Lego business a while back in August and have been, like most of you, working to make it the best that it can be. I work in an industry where efficiency is not only the key, but it is expected to grow and thrive with every new iteration of a product or service. Without progress we have nothing, right? Well, I bring this same mindset to my business everyday. Anytime I do something, no matter if I have done it 100 times, I say "how could I have done this better?" and "How could I have spent less time?" or "How could I do this for less?". While I don't want to skimp or do things the wrong way, keeping these questions in mind are the only way to stay afloat in the economic world. Everything is about adaptation: If you aren't ahead, you are behind.

    So looking into that, I wanted to write a blog to do a couple of things. First, I want to give you some of my favorite money saving tips, and then encourage people to post in the comments some of the ways they save money when they buy and work for their business. To make this not 100 pages long, I am really looking at buying materials and merchandise, not necessarily efficiency from a time or bookkeeping standpoint. Here we go!

    Reuse Packaging from your Prior Lego Purchases

    When I see people throw away a good box, it hurts me inside! Boxes are very simple, but some of the most amazing materials you could ever use. Why? It folds up flat!!! I understand sometimes you get a Lego set in and you are so excited to open it, you just toss the box it came in inside the trash can. Believe me, I am seriously lazy too. Instead, cut the seals and flatten that box - you can store it somewhere really easy and re-use it. A lot of people have posted on the forum about where to buy boxes. Unless you are buying in B&M stores or need a special box size, you should never have to buy boxes. I have not bought boxes for a normal Lego set since I started this.

    Some people do have storage issues and that is understandable. One smart thing to do is keep all of your investment sets inside storage boxes. It definitely takes up time, but they are ready to ship later on and you can stack them much easier without hurting the set inside at that point.

    As far as packing materials, if you can, keep these as well. I keep as much packing material from each set I buy as I can. As a business, things are up and down and any time you run out of packing material and have to go buy it, you are losing money. I normally will put packing material that doesn't take up a lot of space, like brown paper, into big bags and flatten it out as much as possible and save it. For all my normal shipments, I will use the big stuff like shipping bubbles in my normal packages. When a fast period hits and I run out, I have an accessible stash of materials I can pull out so I never have to buy any.

    There are a lot of other things that work well as packing material also. When I go to the grocery, I save all my plastic bags. If I open something in the mail with brown paper, or plastic bags around it, I dump it in my packing pile (after removing labels). The people you are sending these sets to don't care what you protect it with - it just needs to get there intact. Get creative with anything that comes to you - if you buy packing material, you are just wasting money!

    Buy in bulk

    When you first get started with a Lego business, or any business really, its hard to think about the future when you buy supplies. Most of us are on a limited budget and we look at rolls of tape and say "I am sending 3 packages day, why should I buy 100 rolls to save 50 cents a roll"? Everyone has to make their own decisions, but if you trust your business will grow, take the plunge on buying in bulk - especially in the first year.

    First off, as you do use them, you will appreciate the money you are saving off those rolls of tape (100 rolls x 50 cents = 50$!). When I first started, I was buying padded envelopes at about 25 cents a piece in 100 counts. After a while, I realized if I bought 1000, I could get them 8 cents each! That makes a big difference to your bottom line, especially if you do that with everything: bubble mailers, tape, paper to print labels, etc.

    Another big reason to do this early: taxes. As I saw my business growing and my amount of materials needed growing, I went ahead and took the plunge on a lot of materials early. Since I need this and capital to allow my business to keep growing, I now can worry about my product and not worry about materials for a while and I can write all of this off my taxes my first year, meaning I get to keep more of my earned profits. Next year my tax bill will be bigger, but in theory I will have increased profit enough to counteract it.

    Obviously you have to make your own decisions about where you want your business to grow, but don't hesitate to buy something in bulk just because it is a lot of money. I never thought I would spend 80 bucks on bubble mailers, but I am so glad I did.

    Buy Supplies on Ebay

    I see a lot of people buy supplies on Amazon quite a bit with two day Prime shipping. While i love Amazon, I think Ebay is the best place to get supplies for a couple of reasons. Ebay bucks and auctions.

    Ebay bucks is a program Ebay has that gives you 2% back on every ebay purchase you make. They add up until the end of each quarter when Ebay basically gives you a gift card for the amount of money you have in Ebay bucks to spend on the website. Now most people are going to say "I get 3% on my Amazon card!". When you go to pay for your Ebay purchases, assuming you don't have a balance, you can select to pay from one of your credit cards rather than your bank account, reaping the rewards they provide also. Most credit cards provide between 1-2% on everyday purchases so this stacks. If you have a paypal mastercard, paypal gives you 2% cash back meaning you will be earning 4% for those Ebay purchases.

    Combined with this, I check out auctions for packing materials constantly. A lot of the vendors on Ebay will put their packing materials on 99 cent auctions (not sure why) with free shipping. If you watch these, you can sometimes score great deals on the big bulk lots. Smaller lots seem to go for the same or more than the Buy It Now prices, but larger bulk auctions usually have less people watching them meaning a better chance you will score. Though it requires a bit more effort, you only have to do it a few times a year if you are buying in big bulk.

    A side effect of using Ebay for this stuff:  I am on it more and more. I notice deals while going to watch my packaging materials and end up scoring Lego sets too. Win-win!

    Cardpool.com

    This is a really awesome website that allows users to sell their giftcards to cardpool for a percentage of the value on the card. Cardpool then sells the giftcards at a preset discount based on the vendor to people like us who want them. My favorite vendor at this site is Toys R Us. You can buy online giftcards for 4% off. If I am about to spend $100 at Toys R Us, I buy a giftcard for $100 at Cardpool for $96 using a credit card that gives me 1% cash back. I then buy the 100$ worth of stuff on TRU's website using the giftcard, and getting 2% in rewards from Toys R Us.

    The website does not have Amazon or Ebay, but does have Target (although Redcard makes more sense), Barnes and Noble, and Walmart as well as many other retailers.

    This leads me to the last one

    Plan your purchases around Credit Card rewards:

    I already wrote a blog about making money off of rewards programs from credit cards and membership cards.

    Expanding on this, Credit Cards are getting more and more aggressive about giving their customers rewards. I have 13 credit cards (how that affects credit is a discussion for another time - please don't just go get 13 credit cards) which I know by heart what percentage I get where with them. For example, for online Walmart purchases, Discover gives me 5%. Discover and Chase give 1% cash back on everything - Citi is 1.5%, etc. Using this info, as I am about to make a purchase, I immediately know which card to use in every situation.

    Most credit cards do quarterly and monthly promotions; Make sure you sign up for these and the emailing lists to be notified about them and take the time to know them inside and out. You can get a serious amount of money back each month (My Amazon card was $125.50 this month!!!).

    Use Brickpicker.com Affiliate Links

    What's an affiliate link? Well, over in the Daily Deals Forum (you must be a BP member) we post deals all day we find online. These links are embedded with a special tag that tells the online retailers that Brickpicker directed the purchaser to the site to buy something. When you make a purchase through this, the retailer gives Brickpicker a percentage kickback for the referral. This is extremely important to Brickpicker as it is free and this money goes to keep this site running and updated with new features.

    How does this save you money?

    Without Brickpicker, I and probably 90% of the people on here would be investing in Construct-a-Zurgs and Prince of Persia and wouldn't have made much money at all, found many good Lego deals, or learned as much about Lego as we do everyday here. This is by far the best way we can give back to Brickpicker and save ourselves money in the future by helping Brickpicker be the best it can be so it can continue benefiting us the most possible.

    Anyone got any other good money saving tips?

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    Great read as always. One thing I would like to point a flaw in that I see posted over and over on this site and one thing I'd like to add. 1. I will NEVER box my sets up so they are ready to ship. One reason as to why...Many, many times I sell more than one set to a person. I also offer a small discount to buyers when more than one set is purchased as this saves me on shipping. Putting 2 sets in a box vs 1 and selling to same person only raises shipping cost minimally as opposed to selling to another person. 2. To elaborate on DNIIM never buying boxes I couldn't agree more. There is just no reason to. Here is a tip. Say you want to buy 3 VW campers from amazon. Make 3 orders a few hours apart. Why in the world would anyone buy 3 in an order? By buying 3 separately you get 3 perfect sized boxes. The only time that I don't use this technique is when it's cyber Monday and I'm just buying as much as I an before it's gone and time is of the essence.

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    May I ask where you find your envelopes? I was checking amazon (been buying the 100ct, but open to buying bulk) and can only find ones that are about .17/each...but maybe that's because I'm looking at the bigger ones?

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    I do the same. Doing so keeps shelf wear to zero, keeps dust to near zero, and if using the same size box (USPS Priority boxes, which are free and 95% of the time used for domestic), it makes for easy stacking on shelving units. Jotting down the LEGO product number and set name on the end of the box facing out allows instant recognition of the boxes content, as well as makes doing inventory checks a snap. Great article; I'll definitely look into that cardpool.com as my volume increases.

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    As I am new to all of this, just want to say thanks to all the great ideas from the much more experienced "Investors". Great article DNIIM! Another way to save on box cost is to reuse actual LEGO set boxes from our personal collections. Flip them inside out, a bead of glue, perhaps some extra tape and PRESTO....a shipping box. They come in a variety of sizes, so they should work. Although I personally would deface the box, so that a "not-so-honest" customer, (I'm sure no one here has ran into that yet.) can't come back and say that you just sent an empty box with no merchandise. I know some of you may sell your set boxes, but just thinking for newbies, such as myself, who want to start off as cheap as possible.

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    When shopping for groceries I would suggest packing them in carboard boxes if they are available. Usually in the UK the major supermarkets will have spare boxes near the checkouts (most commonly wine boxes, but often other stuff too) for packing instead of carrier bags. In addition to this most retailers over here I find will gladly give away larger boxes if you ask them as you are saving them storage space that would be filled with empty cardboard until collection, and also reducing their costs of disposal. In the past when moving house I used to pop into the supermarkets on the way back from work and pick up boxes (tip for storage is to get Banana boxes as they are really strong and can be stacked 7 or 8 high even when pretty full with heavy things... too bulky to ship in tho). Other comment I'd have is around possible diversification... if buying any packing materials in bulk I'd suggest considering selling an element of the total volume at a price higer than the bulk unit price, but undercutting the small volume price (obviously requires a reasonable difference to make it worthwhile). My ex did this in the past when she was selling baby gifts, bought the bulk volume of boxes, sold half off in 100 volume lots on ebay, and re-couped almost the total volume cost so her packing cost was almost nil.

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    For packing material, I meant to add this note, although not as timely now. Discounted Christmas wrapping paper makes great packing material. Usually, you can get a large roll of paper for $1-2 USD, and it's just as useful as the brown paper you normally see. Additionally, your buyer will get a little bit of holiday mirth/cheer in the middle of summer!

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    I'm new to this site and bought my first LEGO set a couple of months ago so if I may be sharing something that is common knowledge, so I apologize in advance. I have been able to save money using ebates.com. During the holidays, I was able to obtain 4% cash back to my Paypal account when buying from lego.com through ebates. I use to buy/sell baseball cards many years ago and buying in bulk is a great strategy. Also saving any and all boxes is a smart move and a big saver in time and money. Thanks for sharing your tips.

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    Get an ebates account!! You simply log into your ebates account then it has links to almost all major online sites, and many smaller ones too, and you get various rates of % off, plus you can still pay with your credit card and get your percentages there too. I know for sure it utilizes Ebay, Target, Amazon, and Walmart. Not sure about ToysRUs, but probably! So, check out ebates.com, it's free, easy and a no-brainer! :) Brick on!

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    Just FYI - we don't mention Ebates on this site. If you use the Daily Deal Thread and click on those links to buy stuff, this site gets extremely important money that goes to help pay for all the features and everything else. Generally we encourage people to use those so this site gets invested in.

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    I am in the reselling business for over 7 years now. In the beginning I did also use used boxes for shipping because it is the cheapest way… Well, after a year or two my business had developed very nicely and I had to ship about 10-20 packages a day. I had a complete storage room filled up with used boxes and it took me about 2-5 Minutes to find a suitable box for a shipment. So altogether it took me about 1.5 hours a day just searching boxes that fit. At that point I switched to only use new boxes – I figured out about 10 sizes of boxes which cover all of my needs. Ordering them from a wholesaler a single box costs me between 10 to 50 Cents. So today I am paying about 2-10 Euros but I save about 1.5 hours of work a day. But I agree in the beginning using used boxes can save you money.

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    If using priority mail, get all your boxes for free at usps.com. When using their flat rate boxes, use plenty of old paper for packing materials. It weighs more than styrofoam or bubble wrap, but the shipping is weight independent. Save your lightweight packing materials for the non-flat rate boxes. If you need packing peanuts, I've found good deals through Office Depot online. You can get 7 cubic feet for a decent price. Depending on where you live, it might be fun seeing the looks when a huge clear bag of styrofoam peanuts with a shipping label slapped to it shows up at your door. They surely can't be paying by volume to ship it :)

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