Reselling Attempt No. 2

Ok, so I finally got around to taking another crack at reselling.  Hopefully this works out better than my first attempt.  I’m feeling pretty confident in this one.  Here is the deal breakdown.

On Saturday I was kicking myself in the pants for having not caught the Black Friday in July sale that Best Buy had over the weekend. They were selling iPad Air 2s with a $125 discount . When you combine that with an Amex offer of $25 off $250 at best buy it is a winner.  Well by time I noticed they were sold out.

Today, when I got an email about a Cyber Monday in July sale, I jumped on it.  iPad Air 2s were not on sale but iPad Air’s were.  They were $100 off.  I was also able to take advantage of the same Amex offer and I had a 10% off coupon.  The deal broke down as follows.

  • Purchase Price = $244.99
  • Best Buy Rewards = 269
  • Alaska Air Miles (I used shopping portal) = 538
  • Amex “Old” Blue Cash points (.5%) = 134

About the Blue Cash points.  This month we got the Amex “Old” Blue Cash card. This card will earn 5% cashback on gas and groceries after spending $6500. Ordinarily I would not have used that card for this purchase.  However, this purchase put us over the $6500 mark.  So moving forward we will get 5% cashback on all gas and grocery purchases.

 

How much do I hope to earn in profit?  Currently this iPad is selling on Amazon for $365. After Amazon takes their commision I hope to earn $338.  That is a profit of $93, plus 538 Alaska miles, $2.69 in Best Buy Rewards, and triggering my 5% cashback bonus on the Blue Cash card.  Not too shabby for about 30 minutes work this morning.

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Oregon Brewers Festival Starts Today

Image from oregonbrewfest.com

Portland has lots of fairs, festivals, and celebrations.  Pretty much year round there is a good chance something is taking place.  But without a doubt, my favorite is the Oregon Brewers Festival.  It is the largest outdoor craft beer festival in the country and I find it to always be a good time.

The festival starts today at noon.  There is also an opening day parade which will start at 11:30 from Metalcraft Fabrication at 723 N. Tillamook Street.  The parade usually involves a few hundred people and this year the grand Marshal will be Kurt and Rob Widmer.  They along with a couple other of local brewers started the OBF 28 years ago.  The parade goers will also be accompanied by the Transcendental Brass Band (who by the way are awesome),  The parade is a goofy fun time and I encourage you to take part if you can.

Admission to the festival is free.  However, to taste beer you will need to buy a mug and tokens.  A piece of advice, and I have no scientific validity to what I am about to say and may also be attributed to beer goggles, however…  A full mug is four tokens, a partial mug is one token.  I’m convinced that two partials equals a nearly full mug, close enough that it is not worth paying the extra two tokens to make the difference.  So, if you are going to be there for multiple days.  Considering buy two mugs, get a partial pour in each for 1 token, and then combine the two.  I would only advise this if you are planning on going for multiple days because it takes a few beers to make up the difference and even come out ahead due to the cost of the extra mug.  Have fun and be safe.

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Why I moved to the ‘Burbs

It was not too long ago, where I would have scoffed at the idea of moving out of the city and off to the suburbs.  The following commercial pretty much sums up my life trajectory in the last 10 years.

There are many things that I will miss about Portland, and some things that I won’t.

THINGS I WILL MISS ABOUT LIVING IN PORTLAND

  1. Restaurants
  2. Trimet
  3. Easy Entertainment Options
  4. Parks Galore
  5. My Favorite Neighborhoods

THINGS I WILL NOT MISS ABOUT PORTLAND

  1. Tweakers
  2. Tent Cities in Downtown Portland and Central Eastside
  3. Terrible Public Schools
  4. Hipsters

The bottom line for us that pushed the move out of the city was two things.  One, was space.  We needed a bigger house.  We were living in your classic Portland craftsman bungalow.  We had about 1200 square feet of actual livable space in our house.  When it was just my wife and I it was not a problem.  When we added our oldest son it was doable.  When our youngest arrived it was manageable until the last year when we were living with a toddler and a pre-k in 1200 square feet.

The second reason for moving is public schools.  Portland, along with many other public school districts in Oregon, has been in a downward spiral since Measure 5 passed in the early ’90s.  West Linn some how has managed to avoid that trajectory and is one of the best public school systems in the state.  We went from sending our children to a failing school to one that is a spanish immersion school and in the top 10% of statewide performance standards. While I realize that urban flight of highly educated professionals to suburbs does not help urban schools, it can hardly be blamed for the failure of Portland’s schools.  If anything it is just a symptom of a larger problem.

I miss already the easy access to fantastic restaurants and neighborhood pubs.  Thank goodness it is summer and I love barbecuing.  Today on the menu are smoked spare ribs! So time to go mow the lawn, turn on the barbie, go to home depot, and maybe bed bath and beyond if we have time.

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Rental Car Upgrades After Winning a Bid on Priceline

Reader, htownzsos, left the following question on my using Priceline for rental cars page. The question brings up some good points so I thought I would answer the questions here on the main page.

Awesome article Scott really appreciate your post on the matter, never tried it this method but got a trip to the DC area and nyc week long in the works so have hit the internet for planning.

 

I was wondering if the method above works in this situation if I win the bid for a compact, midsize or even full size, at my comfortable price, would I be able to get to the rental counter and ask for an upgrade for a full SUV such as a chevy suburban and pay $10 – $20 extra per day?

 

My ultimate intent is to get the chevy suburban or similar for 8 people we actually have 12 people so might be getting two rentals, or do you think it’s better to get a 15 pass van, not much room for price discounts if we get a 15 pass van since limited places would have them in my opinion but would like your thoughts on it.

 

I’m aware how the rental sales men work on commission and that things like upgrades and the damage waiver are what they try to target to sell anyway. So I assume it would work anyways but just wanted your thoughts on it?

 

I know this would work under normal conditions had i just made a reservation then ask for the upgrade because my buddies do it when they go to vegas by booking a minivan then at the counter ask for the suburban for extra $10 per day, and works just fine, and they don’t use priceline bidding just normal travel sites.

When it comes to upgrading a rental car you got through bidding on Priceline, I would say that 80% of the time I get an upgrade from lot attendant and I have never paid for the upgrade.  In December when we went to Hawaii, I got a full size car and ended up being upgraded into our choice of a minivan or SUV (we went with the SUV).

Although, I would never plan on an upgrade because I am not willing to pay for it, your situation is different given your willingness to pay.  However, I think the cost of upgrading from a compact or full size to a suburban would be prohibitive, assuming they even offer you such an upgrade.  Your friend’s situation is a little different given that they are not bumping up as far category wise.

My advice, since Priceline does not allow bidding on 15 person passenger vans, would be to go get the smallest car you can live with, in this case probably a mid-size SUV, and work the upgrade at the counter from there.

Bottom line is that more often than not you will get an upgrade for free, either at the counter, or from the lot attendant.  But to make your vacation more enjoyable plan around your minimum needs.  The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a car that won’t work.

Good luck and when bidding on Priceline, don’t forget to use my link, it helps support this blog.  Your support is appreciated.

 

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July is Craft Beer Month

If you have not heard by now, Portland is a beer city.  Portland’s craft beer tradition got started 30 years ago with breweries like Bridgeport and Widmer.  Today, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world.  You can hardly turn a corner in this city without running into a brewery, take a look here.

July is our designated craft beer month.  All month long there is some sort of event, special tasting, or gathering nearly everyday.  OregonCraftBeer.org has the full list here.  In this post however, I want to highlight the festivals, starting with the Portland Craft Beer Fest which starts today.

PORTLAND CRAFT BEER FEST JULY 3 – 5.

The Portland Craft Beer Festival takes place in the Pearl at Fields Park.  The PCBF is a celebration of Portland beer and features only beer brewed within Portland city limits. Given that there are 50+ breweries in town, there will be no shortage of beer.  The PCBF starts today at 4 (although may open early) and admission is $20.

SOUR BEER FESTIVAL JULY 14 – 20

The Sour Beer Festival is hosted by the best bottle shop in Portland, Belmont Station.  If you have yet to try sour beer I highly recommend giving the sour beer festival a try.  Sour beer is actually pretty good and it is fun to try something from brewers who are not trying to out hop each other.

OREGON BREWERS FESTIVAL JULY 22 – 26

The Oregon Brewers Festival is the granddaddy of all Oregon beer festivals.  What started out as a couple of brewers tapping some kegs on the waterfront has turned into a premier beer event attracting people from all over the world.  This year’s event will feature 90 craft beers from across the country and 15 international beers.  Admission is free, however, to taste beer you will need to purchase a $7 mug and $1 tasting tokens.  As all always the event will be on the Waterfront.

 

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I’m back!

Sorry for the dry spell folks.  The last few months have been crazy.  We sold our house back in March.  We closed in April and moved out without having found a new home.  I had incorrectly assumed that the craziness of the Portland housing market was contained to areas close in to downtown.  Turned out I was half right.  We were focussing our search in the Murray Hill and Bethany areas in Beaverton.  Two months and 8 offers later!!! I was about ready to call it quits and get a rental.  It had not occurred to me that thanks to Nike and Intel expansions those housing markets were almost as crazy as Portland proper.

Before giving up a colleague convinced me to look at homes in West Linn.  A small city about 20 minutes south of downtown Portland.  That turned out to be a wonderful bit of advice and we purchased the first house we made an offer on.  We are very happy with the situation and in hindsight glad it did not work out on the west side of town.  For those who are unfamiliar with West Linn here is UFC fighter Chael Sonnen describing his home town.

So now we have moved to the mean streets of West Linn, Oregon and hopefully I won’t see any littering.  Soon I will post about why I left Portland (although is 20 minutes south really leaving Portland??)

In other Portland news:

  • Portland’s annual world naked bike ride is tonight and it is of course not without some controversy.
  • The temperatures are going to be nasty this week. If you want to stay cool head for the coast or go hang out in Oneonta Gorge.
  • I will have a separate post on this soon but July is the beginning of the best beer month in Portland and things are kicking off early with the International Beer Festival which started yesterday.

On the mile and points front:

  • I have not earned any serious frequent flyer miles in the last 18 months.  I put all that stuff on hold in preparation for buying a new home.  I am jonesing to get back in the fold.  I have some trips coming up and my miles balances are low.
  • Although I have been quiet in my own miles earning and blogging, I have still been active with my miles and points consulting.  In fact just had a client return from a trip to South Africa flying Cathay business class that I had helped him book.  He said the trip and flights were amazing.
  • During this hiatus I have also not done any reselling which is something I wanted to get into for meeting spends.  I am going to start doing that and will be writing about my experiences here.
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Update on Reselling Attempt and Lack of Blog Posts

First, sorry for the lack of posts lately.  This has been a very busy couple of months.  After selling our house our weekends were filled with searching for a new home and making offers.  I say making offers because it took 8 offers on 8 different houses before we finally had an offer accepted on a new home.  The market out there is completely crazy.  I also may need to change the name of the blog to West Linn Travel Tips since I am officially hanging up my Portland card and moving to a suburb.

As for the reselling, I will chalk up my first attempt at reselling as a good educational experience.  Ultimately, I ended up returning the headphones to Best Buy.  I unsuccessfully tried to sell the headphones on craigslist.  When that did not work I turned to fulfilled by amazon to see if I could sell it on there.  Which I could have, but the one problem there was I could not list the item as brand new.  After running into that road block I decided to return the item to Best Buy.  The bright side is I will now double check if I can sell something as new before actually buying.

Am I dissuaded from making another attempt at reselling?  Absolutely not.  With the predicted demise of other avenues for creating miles I am more determined than ever to make reselling work.  My latest line of thinking is to double dip on staples gift cards to get discounts on iPads and sell those on Amazon.  I checked and I can sell those new!

I hope to return to a normal blogging schedule soon.  We should be closing on the new house in two weeks.  I also recently found a food cart worth talking about which was nice because I had a string of bad luck there.

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Where to Watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Fight

If you want to watch the fight here in Portland and do not want to spend $100 for the fight on Pay Per View your options, unfortunately, are limited. Yesterday I called around to the major sports bars and some of my favorite small ones to see if any would be showing the fight.  Thus far it would appear that only 4 sports bars are showing the fight and all will have a decent cover charge.

Buffalo Wild Wings js showing the fight at their Downtown Portland, Beaverton, and Wood Village locations.  The cover will be $20 and a reservation is required.  As of yesterday the only place that still had tables that could be reserved was Wood Village. Beaverton and Downtown were down to standing room only.

On Deck Sports Bar at their Broadway location will also be showing the fight.  They are charging a cover of $30 and seating will be on a first come first serve basis.

The cover at these places is high enough that if you can get five or six of your friends together it may become more economical to order it on PPV.  I will update this post as I learn of more places showing the fight.  If you are aware of others please add them in the comments.

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Uber Returns to Portland

Yesterday at 2:00 PM Uber began operations in Portland with the official blessing of city government.  This ends what had been a somewhat contentious battle between Uber and city council.  This all started back in December when Uber tried to force their way into Portland against existing city codes.  At the time, Portland’s city code was very protective over the traditional taxi system.  That system made it nearly impossible for new cab companies to get up and running let alone a ridesharing company such as Uber.  City leaders did not take kindly to Uber operating in Portland and began fining drivers.  Uber and the City called a truce whereby Uber would suspend operations and give Portland time to revamp their taxi rules to permit ridesharing companies to operate legally in Portland.  Those rules were finally put in place this week.  Technically, the resolution passed by city council only allows operations for a 120 day trial period.  However, I have a hard time seeing this going away in 4 months.  So stay tuned.

For those who have not used Uber see this post for an explanation on how to use Uber. If you use my referral code, your first ride is free up to a value of $20.

 

 

 

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Adventures in Reselling: Taking My First Steps

I want to get into the reselling business because I think it will be a great way to earn frequent flier miles and pocket a little cash on the side.  For the uninitiated, the gist of how you earn miles and points by reselling is that you buy a product using your miles earning credit card.  You buy low and sell high. After you sell the product you pay off your card and pocket the profit.  When you couple this strategy with meeting minimum spend requirements on a new card it can be a great way to earn miles and some cash.

Once I decided to take a crack at reselling I did a lot of research online.  I found a pretty helpful reselling guide that does a good job of spelling out the basics over at frugalhack.me.  The guide does a pretty good job of explaining the basics as far as looking for deals, where to buy, and how to resell.

As I am a rookie reseller, my strategy will continue to evolve. However, thus far my strategy is to watch slick deals and look for a good deal I think I can take advantage of. Finally yesterday, a deal came up that I thought was a good one to get started with.  It looks like Best Buy has a pricing mistake on their Sony Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones.  A price mistake sounds like a good resell opportunity to me. I also combined the purchase with 3 different cashback mechanisms.  The first was that I bought the headphones through a shopping portal.  I used Upromise which was 1% cashback.  Next, I signed up for Best Buy Rewards which gave me 2% cashback.  Finally, I used my arrival card to earn another 2% cashback.

The final tally looked like this:

My First Purchase:  Sony Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones

  • Purchase Price: $149.99
  • My Best Buy Rewards Points: 149 ($3)
  • Upromise Cashback Portal: $1.50
  • Arrival Points: 300 ($3)
  • I also got $5 for making my first purchase through Upromise

I hope to sell on Craigslist for a $50 profit.

I thought this was such a good deal that I wanted to buy two, but I opted to take it slow.  I will report back on results.

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