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Friday, March 11, 2011

Reducing Costs, Supplimenting Income

It seems like everyone other than the federal government is tightening their belts.  Figuring out ways to make our dollars go a bit further - or to add a few more dollars to the till - is becoming more and more important.

The latest issue of Backwoods Home Magazine had a featured article on propagating plants.  I checked out their website, and they've included it in the free online content.  As I snooped around the site, I found a number of other links -

Propagating Plants - veggies, trees, even flowers.  Great info.

Home Canned Bacon - This was from the previous issue.  I have purchased a number of cases of canned bacon, and it's absolutely fantastic.  I haven't done this myself, but will definitely give it a try.  From the description, it sounds just like the purchased stuff.

Traditional Trail Foods - this was a timely find for me.  I'm looking to reorganize my Get Home Bag, as well as build some buckets that have full meals in them (as opposed to a single item, like rice or wheat).  Kind of in the spirit of the "One Bucket Per Month Challenge" (read the comments section for the great ideas) we did last August.  I want to try the Hard Tack and Pemmican recipes in particular.

Hardcore Foraging - along the lines of the post on Mustard Greens, locating, identifying and preparing wild foods takes time and skills most of us don't have.

Wilderness Wines - some good information on making your own wines.  I've made a bunch of wines from fruits and honey (meads and melomels) and intend on making more this spring and summer.  My particular city is chock full of fruit orchards - apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and the like.  I've only used them in the past for jams, but this year, fruit wines are on the agenda!

Go to their site and snoop around.  I saw one article on how to make money by buying storage lockers.  This past week, a couple came into our PM store with dental gold.  A lot of it.  I asked them how they came upon this, and they said that they had bought a locker for $150.

They left our store with just under $1,100!  Unreal.

In the same vein, I had a guy come in who works for a local city water department.  His job is to clean out traps that catch the stuff we accidentally flush down the toilets or drop down the drain.

He told me that he and his partner find between 50 and 60 grams of gold each and every week.  Do some math:  There are 31.1 grams in a troy ounce.  Pure gold is north of $1400 an ounce.  The lowest quality gold - 10 karat - is almost 41% pure...

He's been taking it to one of our competitors, and wanted to see what we'd pay him.  I made him an offer that is based on a minimum of 50 grams a week.  He like it, and will (supposedly) start bringing his stuff to our store this week.

We've also got a handful of folks that go to garage sales each weekend.  They buy gold jewelry and sterling silver pieces (jewelry, flatware and serving pieces).  We buy the stuff based upon the purity and weight.

One word of warning, though:  Be careful!  The word from these folks is, if a homeowner sees you using a magnet or jeweler's loup to authenticate the jewelry, the price goes up.  Way up.  So, much of what they purchase ends up being some metal other than gold or silver.

These pieces don't end up being a total loss, though.  We have a number of consignment shops in town, and if the piece has some beauty, they can usually at least get their money back.

Also, be very wary of paying for precious stones.  Even if you can verify that the stone is a diamond, don't get your hopes up.  We don't pay for any stone smaller than a quarter of a carat.  For the smaller stuff, we only get paid $35 per carat!

Rubies, sapphires, emeralds - they all have virtually no value.  Commercial jewelry is a massive scam.  A large stone (3/4 carats or larger) with exquisite qualities will have value, but nowhere near what you paid for it in the mall store or specialty jewelry store.

Buy your jewelry because you think it's beautiful, not as an investment.  I know that I will never again buy any jewelry from a mall store or specialty shop.  I'll find something that is close to what I want at a store such as ours, a pawn shop or some sort of second-hand dealer.  I'll then take the piece to a jeweler and have it appropriately sized.

I'll end up with a piece that is customized and less than half the price of retail.  Probably closer to 1/3 the price.

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Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


suek said...

I have a sapphire ring that was a gift to my mother when she was 16. That means 1922. I had my son - the jeweler - look at it, as I had no idea of its value. He said that due to its lack of imperfections, it was probably synthetic, and not worth a lot. Now he didn't use a loop - this was a fairly casual "what do you think" sort of evaluation, and it doesn't really matter because I have no intention of selling it, but nevertheless, I was shocked! Synthetic??? in 1922??

He said yes it was entirely possible. They _were_ making synthetic sapphires in that time frame. Something new every day, I guess.

And apparently natural or synthetic _does_ affect the value - though I'm not sure why. Seems like real is real. But obviously, I don't operate on the same standard as those who actually count! (and I _do_ mean _count_!!)

Muhammad Hafifi said...

Come here from Malaysia

Anonymous said...

Here is the web site for Andrew Skurka
who could be the world’s greatest two legged traveler. I especially enjoyed reading about his 6,875 mile Great western Loop hike. Not only does it make great reading with his pictures and highlights of his hikes, but you can check out his gear list for what must be a perfect bug out bag (perfect in this case means it works under extremely stressful conditions). Or look at his “diet” pages to see what he eats for trail food. Notice his food and equipment drops every week or so to get an idea what it takes to sustain an extended “bug out”. His site is a wealth of information for a prepper. Sadly I am no longer young enough to take on such a challenge but for some of your younger readers this might provide inspiration for a great hiking trip.

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, I am learning so much about precious stones from this business. Yep, imperfections (called inclusions) generally indicate a legitimate stone! We've got a device that will tell us if a stone is real or not.

Some of the cubic zirconia's are absolutely stunning. There's another material - Moissanite - that was actually faking out the testing machines.

Anon, thanks for that information. My Get Home Bag, in particular, needs a once-over and that sounds like there will be lots of good information.

I really like how his gear lists are categorized by function. I was looking at his latest Alaska-Yukon excursion. I guess that would be the harshest conditions any of us could expect to encounter. Not a bad place to start and work from .

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

When my mother went to college, my grandmother started to work in a bank to pay her tuition. Her job was in the safe deposit boxes... She bought many pieces from people as they were cleaning things out. She had an exquisite eye and bought and sold pieces all the time. The items she kept are very valuable now. Antique pieces in platinum, white gold, perfect sapphires, huge stones, some diamonds, but mostly huge gem stones in beautiful, HEAVY baskets.... Interesting pieces.

I learned a lot from her, like blue topaz comes out of the ground white, but is irradiated to turn it blue... and other odd tid bits.

When we would visit, my favorite part was going through her jewelry box and seeing what was new and playing in the jewels. We really felt like royalty :)

Now, I pick up these pieces and am so thankful, she knew what she was doing and bought such good quality, heavy gold and nothing hollow!

suek said...

Yeah...except, Pearls, you have to sell them for them to be worth anything! It's "better" if you don't have an emotional attachment. No doubt you'd part with them if a real nitty gritty need existed - but till then, they're worthless, in a sense.

So enjoy the beauty and the memories! That's their real value - at least for now.

There was a reason "Diamonds are (were) a Girl's Best Friend"! When there's a break up - there's no emotional attachment.

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

Totally agree about the emotional attachment. It is totally on my end as it never bothered my Grandmother to part with pieces :) And I really wouldnt have a problem parting with any of the pieces except for 1 - it just screams Grandmother to me :)

And they arent worthless.... They are in an investment - just like purchasing or inheriting junk silver or some gold coins.... At least that is how I view most of the pieces - total potential!!

suek said...

Let me restate that...

It isn't that they're "worthless",but they're not worth anything until they're sold. "Worth" is a funny word...but when you think about it, the value of things change depending on the situation, and if you're thinking about exchanging for something else that you value, you have to weigh in the fact that you won't have the "whatever" any more. You can't keep it and still get something for it. If you're unwilling to let go of it, then, it isn't worth anything. So to speak.

Oblio13 said...

I wrote the "Traditional Trail Foods" article for Backwoods Home Magazine. Glad to see somebody actually read it! Did you try any of the recipes? Did you like them?