Miles, Points, and Reselling are key topics of Tagging Miles (in addition to travel, industry, credit cards, etc.) Maybe Joe and I don’t write as much from as much of a beginner standpoint as we should, but we generally write what is on the forefront of our minds, which sometimes isn’t terribly basic.
So what am I getting at? I’m reading a book at the moment called “What I learned losing a million dollars” by Jim Paul, Brendan Moynihan, and Jack Schwager, which I got from Tim Feriss’ latest Quarterly Box (and its part of his book club). Ok, full disclosure, I just started reading it on my flight from DCA-DFW as part of my trip to Hong Kong (you can see tweets from it by searching #43hoursinHKG). In fact, the forward struck me. Here are three quotes that I think are relative to the concept of reselling, and to a lesser extent to miles and points as a whole.
“No sane person would walk into a bookstore, go to the medical section, find a book on brain surgery, read it over the weekend, and then believe he could walk into an operating room on Monday morning and perform successful brain surgery.”
I think this quote is appropriate to the miles and points game, as well as to reselling.
Miles and Points – more specifically, manufactured spending (MS). It’s awfully surprising to me—still—how people read some of the circles and arrows blogs, and go out and buy $500 gift cards as if they are buying a pack of gum. What sane person does this? Before I got into Manufactured Spending, I spent a ton of time researching, so much that I kick myself for jumping too late and missing out on precious months of Vanilla Reloads at Office Depot. I remember reading about coins from the mint too, but, I wasn’t in a position to leverage them at that time in my life (although I still wish I did). Milenomics has a post or two about some of the negative things that can happen from MSing, and he’s a seasoned pro. Kat at Will Run for Miles reminded me of another blogger (who shall remain nameless) that made a mistake MSing, buying the wrong type of Vanilla cards (back when Vanilla Reloads were available). While Milenomics’ experience was one that anyone can have, the “nameless blogger’s” experience was more likely due to the “brain surgeon” idea.
Reselling – Perhaps a better example of the above quote is reselling. Much like trading, there is risk involved, you either buy or sell, and luck can play a pretty big part. I’ve encouraged a number of folks to get into reselling, and some, I’m very happy to say, have met their personal mileage account goals through reselling. I try to highlight the tools available, the research needed before investing what might be a few hundred, or a few thousand dollars in products. But are there folks out there that see a great deal, or a huge shopping portal bonus and jumps on it, only to encounter issues? Heck, BigHabitat talks about issues he’s run into.
“Trading, as far as I know, is the only endeavor in which the rank amateur has a 50/50 chance of being right…. As a consequence, some portion of clueless beginners will get it right simply by chance—for a while.”
Reselling might be one of those other endeavors that folks have a 50/50 chance of being right. I include this quote primarily because I think it is important to realize: If you’re not putting in the time to research your purchases, the competitive landscape, and the costs involved, you might be getting it right simply by chance. I read stories on Amazon’s Seller Central about folks with issues often enough that I think there are some folks out there (none of our readers mind you), that are in fact “clueless beginners” – I think we saw a handful of them trying to sell iPhone6’s.
“What winning traders share, however, is that they all understand that losing is part of the game, and they have all learned how to lose.”
This is the biggest lesson of all, in the short two page forward. Winners understand that losing is going to happen, and learn how to lose—and I’ll add: and mitigate those losses.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t gotten all my reselling picks right. Of course, each of those products is a learning experience. Most of the time, the shopping portals balance things out, or, at worse, the cost per point is similar to MSing. One time I got it pretty royally wrong. I had bought a bunch (like 40) Kobalt Pliers from Lowes – first I was competing with another seller on price, and it was a quick drive to the bottom, but I was still breaking even, at least for the first 10 or so. For the remaining 30, they sat, and sat, and sat. Finally I decided that enough was enough and put in the removal order to Amazon. $300 worth of pliers just wasn’t selling. I ultimately decided to donate them, hoping that, even if they aren’t top sellers, that they can go to homes that need them.
There is a lot to be said for research, and well thought out actions. It is clearly necessary for stock trading, even though one might try their luck and win (at first). The pursuit of miles and points—whether through MS or reselling—is very similar. Moral of the story: Research, prepare, then execute.