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When I take my boys to their baseball lessons which are $80 an hour, it really costs me $105 an hour because of the additional labor on the schedule to cover me in my absence. If I'm really quick, maybe I only need an extra hour between taking them to practice, back home and then getting back to work. So now we are at $130. Now consider I really can't be bringing people in for just two hour shifts -- who wants to do that? So for a four hour shift we are up to $180 for an hour baseball lesson.
Of course, I could choose to not value my time and just look at it as an $80 lesson. That certainly sounds better anyway :P
I dealt with it by removing myself from the schedule completely. I could be there as the manager, but then I'm tied to the office. So I choose to just make the business work without me there unless I wish to be or need to be.
But my time still has value. Part of the value of my time on these forums is that I have a decent amount of capital tied up in LEGO, and thus need to make sure I see a return on that. Packing and shipping is work that I can farm out, but I can't hire someone to do this part. :)
But to put it more simply, think about the elaborate baseball lesson example that @LegoFanTexas talked about. He said the lesson cost $80, but really it cost him $180 by his calculations. The problem is, why is he spending money on a baseball lesson at all? He's not going to be making profit playing baseball (I assume) so why bother? Obviously he gets something out of the baseball lesson that to him is worth $180 or more in costs. That something is utility. The proper unit of measure of utility is called a util. It's abstract, because we can't measure utility directly. But the concept is good at helping understand economic transactions.
Think about buying fruit. You can buy and apple or a pear for the same price. You get the same amount of fruit. Which do you buy? This depends on how much utility you get from each. If you like the apple more than the pear, you'll buy that. This is why utility is a representation of preferences.
Finally, one interesting thing is the utility of money. It is not linear. So if you only have $100, $10 is worth more to you than if you had $100000. This is because of diminishing marginal utility. The interesting implication of the non-linearity of the utility of money is that the optimal choice for a given decision depends on the possible outcomes of all other decisions in the same time-period.
I have found that I kind of enjoy the "thrill of the hunt" and the selling part of all this. So, all this is "fun" to me. Granted, I don't do near as much as most here but that's OK. That's why this is a great thread... everyone can do as much or as little as they want. They can take the "speculation" as absolute or they can "branch out" as they see fit. Then we all can compare notes.
You make money, which is nice. You get utility from the money you make. But if you're an AFOL, you probably also enjoy the process. In that case, you get utility from the very act of reselling LEGO. You enjoy the chase of a good deal, the research on sets, or perhaps the logistics. The act gives you enjoyment, which adds to the utility of the activity.
Now weigh that against everything else you could do with your time. Perhaps you could be working. You'd make more money, which means more utility, but perhaps the marginal gain is not worth that much. And perhaps work stresses you out, so it would detract from your total utility. In that case, it is possible that for that hour you invest in reselling you gain more utility than you would doing anything else. But it really depends on your individual preferences and your situation in life.
I have kids that will be going to college in the not too distant future. I have purchased an array of sets that will (in most cases) be EOL'd by the time they get ready to go (Indiana Jones, IF, etc.). I figure I can let them learn about the headaches of running a small business while reselling the sets. Plus I will let them use the proceeds to fund their college. I expect it to be financially profitable, but more importantly I know it will provide good experience for them.
Something about time, utilities, money proxy's and work ;)
Funnily enough one of my favourite sets is a Crystal Skull set, 7628 Peril in Peru. I really love the old plane in it, which is great for other Indy MOCs. I am actually unsure if the scene appeared in the film, so it's a strange set. Can be picked up for below rrp if used, but sealed tends to be x2 rrp.
I paid retail or above ( just out of my dark age) for them. I sold all of them about 1.5 years ago for a net profit of 50% or above. Not sure how they're holding up.
What does everyone think of Ninjago this time around? Most of the red box sets did better than everyone expected, so I figure everyone and their brother will be buying the green box sets, except the gold box sets are coming in Jan, along with the end of the line.
If the cartoon is done in Jan and goes off the air, will demand for the sets go with it? This strikes me as a very cartoon driven demand line, that will be forgotten once gone. Even more so since it is getting replaced by Legends...
I have nothing to base this on other than personal preference, but other than the obvious dragon sets, I would think the Tread Assault might be a good bet - it's a decent mid-price point and a very attractive batmobile-esque vehicle.