When trying to save money, you need to think outside of the box and keep things fun! Check out how I take my kids to McDonald's for a free lunch and indoor playground time. First, I'll cost it out and then explain my crazy self. :)
$3.99 Chicken Nugget Happy Meal (price varies per market and Happy Meal type/size)
$0.50 PayPal fee
$0.09 eBay Listing fee ($.03/mo for a 3 mo. average)
$0.60 eBay Final Value fee
Total "cost" = $6.93
$4.97 Amount collect for a (new in package) McDonald's Happy Meal Toy on eBay
$2.00 Shipping & Handling fees collected
Gross profit = $6.97
Net profit = $.04 (woot woot, haha!!)
So what I do is, I head to McDonald's now and then and "treat" the kids to lunch. Depending on how cool the kids think the current Happy Meal campaign is, I might let them keep one toy per campaign and I sell the rest. For example, Star Wars, Matchbox cars, Barbi and My Little Pony are keepers. Any trips after that, I keep the toys to sell. Who needs that many tiny toys anyway?
I keep them new in the plastic and sell them on eBay. Who buys these McDonald's toys? I've seen adult collectors purchase them and moms who had a little one lose their favorite one. As far as eBay is concerned, you just never know what people sre searching for! I also recently sold 19 Happy Meal toys to someone in Japan, that was about $95 in cash deposit into my PayPal. Not to mention he bought a few outfits from my store as as well. I could, think of them as profit making ($.04) advertising. :)
My point is, find little things you can do but keep it fun. I'd say it takes me about 10 minutes to sell each toy. That's from start (taking pictures & listing) to finish (pulling from storage & shipping). I don't list them until I have 5 or 6 to list, and use "list similar" to make listing faster. So 10 minutes of my time in invested for each $4 Happy Meal I buy. That's $24 an hour, but when I add in my Wylie Mom math, I'd need to earn $32 an hour outside of the home to have the same lunch experience. I personally find that reading a book while the kids play at McDonald's for a treat, and then spending a few minutes on the computer is a great use of my time.
McDonald's indoor playgrounds are a great idea for running off energy on rainy days or on days when you're running lots of errands. Please be sure to wash up or sanitize before and after play time!!
Figure what your time is worth and combine it with what you enjoy doing, to save or make money. Obviously, I can't make a living or survive with this plan, but it combined with all the other little things I do make a huge impact. You've just got to think outside of the box!
I'd love to hear some of your ideas!