My Biggest Financial Mistake – Opening an eBay Store and Using Credit

Guest contributor, Melissa blogs about learning to live a fulfilling life on less at Mom’s Plans.  She also shares restaurant deals and her family’s attempts to dine out for less than $25 a week at Dining Out Challenge.

In 2005, my first child was one year old, and I wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom.  However, my husband was in the middle of a combined M.A./Ph.D. program, and though he brought in some money as a teaching assistant, it was not enough to live on.  I was stuck at my full-time job that paid fairly but was stressful.  I didn’t enjoy my job that much and I still cannot think of my supervisor at the time without cringing.  (This woman got upset—very upset—with me once because I would not share a tuna fish sandwich.  I am not kidding!)

My cousin was having some luck selling on eBay, so we decided to try our hand at selling some Baby Gap holiday sweaters we had bought the year before.  I learned how to list items and was shocked and delighted when every single item was snatched up.  I somehow found an eBay seller who had over 8,000 items in her store, and I tried to learn from her.  She worked her eBay business full-time and had two young children.   I paid attention to the money she was making, not to the fact that she openly stated that she could not spend much time with her kids because her eBay business was so demanding and that she suggested no one buy their eBay inventory on credit.

I worked hard at my job, and in the evenings and weekends, I worked hard at my second job, eBay.  If I wasn’t at the computer, I was dragging my very patient husband and son to the mall so I could shop for kids’ clothes.  (Never mind that my husband asked me over and over again not to go into this business.)  I missed out on spending time with my son on the weekends so I could grow this business.  The first year, I made no money, but I was okay with that.

Second Thoughts

In 2007 and 2008, I went on wild spending sprees convinced the best way to make money from my store was to invest in inventory and grow it as quickly as possible.   By mid-2008, I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter and seriously starting to reconsider the eBay business which still had not made me any money.

By the time my daughter was born, I realized something had to give, but the damage was already done.  I was thousands of dollars in debt and any money that I made went to debt repayment.

Closing Up Shop

I straggled on for a two more years, filled with guilt and anxiety over my growing debt.  I thought I would just stay in business until the debt was paid off.  However, my third child arrived 17.5 months after my second, and there was no chance to work on the business.

Now, I have been whittling away at the debt, but I realize I will not get it all paid off.  I will have to pay “stupid tax” as Dave Ramsey says.  I hope to close my business in the next few months.  I am trying to sell off my remaining inventory at cost, just to be free of it.  Simply put, I no longer have the time or space for it.

Even now it pains me to think about the resources I put into this business, both in terms of time and money.  Looking back, I realize I was desperate, and like many desperate people, I tried to find a “quick” solution that only compounded my problems.

There is a happy ending though.  My husband is three months away from graduating, and I have finally stepped away from my job to stay home with our three kids.  I have found a new business—blogging and freelance writing, and it has already earned me much more, both in money and satisfaction, than eBay ever did.

Have you ever sold anything on-line? What were your experiences?

image credit; liewcf

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