The Similarities Between FIRE and Full-Time Flipping

In this journey to become a millionaire, I’ve opted to use eBay as a way to boost my income.

At first, I thought I was going to use eBay as a way to make a few extra thousand a year. After doing a deep dive into the eBay seller community, I realized there are a lot of people out there selling on eBay full-time. This idea has become really intriguing to me and now I’m on a pursuit to see if I can sell enough items to support our expenses each month. I figure the worst that can happen is I don’t make enough and just stick with flipping items on the side of my day job.

After getting more serious about eBay, I’ve thought about the fact that there are a lot of things in common with flipping full-time and being financially independent (FI). If you can become a full-time flipper, it’s almost like a cheat to becoming FI before you’re investments are earning enough to cover your expenses.

You own your time (mostly)

Find someone who sells on eBay full-time and you’ll find someone who sets their own schedule. Yes, you still have to work A LOT, but you get to decide when you work. There are aspects of flipping that don’t feel like work to me. I enjoy going out to the various places I source items from and seeing what I can find. You’re going to put 40 hours a week into running an eBay business full-time, but you don’t have to wake up at a certain time or be somewhere in particular every day.

You can also take breaks/vacations whenever you want. Your sales might slow down a little, but I still sold 7 items when we were on our trip in Costa Rica and we were gone for 7 days. I’ve heard of people taking entire months off from selling on eBay and still making enough money to support themselves! The key is to set your handling time to however long you’re going to be gone and then message the buyers when they make a purchase. Most of the time, the buyers will still want the item even if they have to wait. You’ll inevitably get some order cancellations, but it’s the price you pay for traveling the world when you want.

Don’t get me wrong, flipping items full-time isn’t the same as being completely FI. You still need to put in work when you can and the whole flipping process can be very time consuming.

You don’t have to answer to a boss

Since you work for yourself, you have the luxury of never having to listen to anyone (except for eBay’s rules and grumpy customers). This can be highly attractive if you don’t like your boss. Not only do you not have a boss when you’re a full-time flipper, you don’t have any co-workers. I like people, but I am an introvert, so I can happily say bye bye to bosses and co-workers if I ever become a full-time flipper.

I don’t hate my current boss or co-workers; I work from home though so I don’t have to be face to face with them more than a few times a year. I met my wife at work so I realize there are some benefits to socializing with coworkers. You can find plenty of ways to stay social as a full-time flipper so I don’t think you’d miss much if you decided leave the corporate world and pursue the flipper life.

You can design your life

When you become FI, you have to find out how you want to spend your time when you quit your job. Being a full-time flipper is similar in this regard because you will have to design your weeks on your own. You won’t have as much time as someone completely FI, but you will have almost as much freedom.

When you’re FI or a full-time flipper, you can pursue things most 9-5ers can’t. You have the option to do things during the day and schedule your time around the things you love doing. I think I’ll still be flipping things on a smaller scale when I become FI since it’s a nice income stream and gives me something to work on.

You’re relying on an investment to pay your bills

Much like the stock market, you are investing when you buy items to flip. You could view your eBay inventory as shares in your own company. Each item you buy to flip is a small investment that could bring a great return. Most of the time, I’m buying things for less than $5 and hoping they’ll sell for more than $20. That’s a great ROI and better than the stock market in most cases. I have bought things that weren’t worth anything so sometimes you will waste money.

It isn’t a good idea to only put your money into your eBay inventory. The only money I use to invest in my eBay business is money I’ve made from eBay. That’s what I love about flipping items. You can go buy a hat at a thrift store for $.25 and flip it for $20 then use the profits to buy more items and continue to grow your cash pool.

I’ve been making several hundred dollars profit each month lately, so that’s been plenty of money to buy things to flip. If you’re a full time flipper, I would highly encourage you to invest some money in index funds. Putting your money into index funds means you’re investing in all of the publicly traded companies in the country. Index investing is a long-term strategy and I plan on keeping my money in index funds for the rest of my life.

Frugality is almost a necessity

If you’ve got $10 million in the bank then you might not have to be frugal when you’re FI. Most people in the FIRE community don’t retire on that much money though so frugality plays a big part in their ability to quit their jobs. Unless you’re making way more than the average income, you aren’t going to be able to retire early and not be frugal. A high savings rate is a crucial part of the path to FI.

Just about every full-time flipper I’ve come across has been a frugal person. When you’re relying on making sales to pay the bills, you’ve got a great incentive to keep your expenses low. A nice perk of being a full-time flipper is we know how to scavenge and get most of our things for free or cheap. When you’ve been flipping for a while, you find all of the resources in your area that help keep your lifestyle inexpensive.

You will have to cover your health insurance

You don’t get the benefit of having employer provided health insurance when you’re a full-time flipper or FI. I’m not sure what my wife and I are going to do if I decide to flip full time or when we become FI. I still have a lot of research to do on the topic. Currently, we’re still on my wife’s insurance plan from when she was working in the movie industry and that’s going to cover us for the next couple of years.

If there’s anyone out there that could point us to a good resource for learning about health insurance after FIRE, that’d be great!

Does the full-time flipper life sound intriguing to you? Are there any more similarities I didn’t think of? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  

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Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.