As you all know, our house needed de-cluttering before Christmas, so you can imagine the state it is in since then! Being the youngest of two pretty big and generous families, Little Lady and Little Man are spoilt!
I think it was William Morris who said that what you had in your house needed to be either useful or beautiful, otherwise it had no place being there! (Do let me know if I am wrong in this). Item by item throughout the house, I am easily able to identify what we use and what is beautiful to look at. Everything else needs to go!
But here is the rub… it is really hard to let go of things when you know how much they cost you. Surely you should be putting them up for sale on EBay! Yet for me, the faff involved in taking a picture, writing up the listing, paying for the listing, working out the packaging price, hoping it will sell for something that makes it all worth my while and then packaging said product and traipsing to the post office to send it is all too much. And that’s just for ONE item!
The lesser amount of stress involved in putting said items into a bag and dropping them off at a charity shop, job done, is a win-win situation all round. So why the reluctance to do it?
Yes we could do with the money, but what would we spend it on? More items probably. The money would never be worth all the hassle as we would never get anything close to what we paid for the items. They lose their value the second you take them out of the shop! Besides, shopping for them was a pleasure, the EBay process mentioned above, for me, is anything but!
So no, we are not getting back the worth of the goods and the money we would get involves time and trouble that I don’t have to give. More importantly, there are other people and charities who could benefit from what I hand over.
And there is the key. Make a gift of what you have. Whether it be to an individual you know who could benefit, a advertisement on freecycle to anyone in need of it, or to a charity of your choice. My Big Sister just takes her stuff to the charity shop where she is able to park! Fair enough. I wanted more. So I have chosen Save The Children and later today will deposit many bags of items at my not so local shop. No angst, no stress, less clutter and ultimately money to those far more in need of it that I am. As I said, a win-win situation all over!
I have saved a small fortune recently. Note that I didn’t say that I had won the lottery, just that I had managed to SAVE some money.
Unusual doesn’t begin to describe this event, unheard of would be more like it. You know what though, it really hasn’t been hard but it has been 100% effective! What’s my secret? I don’t take out my purse anymore unless I have a planned spend!
I always used to take my handbag with me everywhere, which meant anything I suddenly fancied was readily available to me. Chocolate, croissants, bagels, magazines, sweets, lunches and so on. Not one to usually have any cash, that stopped being a problem the day the Tesco Express moved in. Cards were now a good as money!
But if I carry neither cards, nor money, short of offering some other service (think of washing up rather than the second oldest profession – does anyone actually know what the oldest profession is, please advise if you do) then I can’t spend. End of!
Now I just need to be super good and transfer all of the saved money into a savings account rather than using it for one of those even bigger shopping mall purchases!
You have to read this post. Why? Where to start… In my case I came across it from a Mumsnet referral when the writer won an award for her blog. It broke my heart. It made me feel. It made me want to cry and it made me want to give. Where was the paypal button that would have meant I could send money which would make life just a little easier for the writer and her son?
Looking around the blog a little more, time has thankfully made things better for Jack and her boy. She now has steady employment, a book deal, awards to her name and I presume more disposable income. For the place that she has left though there will be so many others just like her. Just not as passionate, vocal or gifted in writing perhaps.
I needed to see this blog to get in touch with some of my emotions again. Working 3 jobs, plus preparation time, my life right now feels chaotic and unbalanced and I am only getting through by switching feelings off and battling on. As heart-breaking as the piece of writing was, it reminds me how much I have to be grateful for, but more importantly it turns my heart back to the plight of others and making things better for them, rather than just making life wonderful for me.
I dream of living in a clutter free household with everything within it being beautiful or useful. Perhaps very occasionally even sentimental, but certainly all surfaces would be clear and as I surveyed any room it’s appearance would make me feel tranquil.
Right now of course, I could not be further from such a state of affairs. As I look around the room I see shoes, the contents of a changing bag, sheets of paper and various bags strewn across the floor. That is before we get to what is on the furniture, or so help me, what lies within our cupboards! Especially my pet hate, clothes, shoes and toys that the children have grown out of!
What to do? Give them away to charity or sell them because I need the money? Have I really got the time to list them on Ebay though and will it be financially worthwhile for me to do, assuming that said items sell at all?
This was the gist of a conversation with a school run Gran as I walked to work the other day, as she had highlighted a pile of clothes that her grandchildren had grown out of to their mother. What had she done with all of the clothes that her children grew out of when they were younger, I asked, to which she had the following very interesting reply:
- When her children were little there were few high street shops to buy children’s clothes and shoes from, such as Ladybird and Clarks and said items were not cheap so you bought fewer of them.
- People didn’t have access to computers like we do today so their was no selling of items on Ebay, you just passed quality items onto a friend with a younger child of the same sex as yours. In the same way, other friends passed things on to you.
- Often furniture e.g. cots, prams and other higher ticket items were passed through families, bought as gifts or could be picked up cheaply from an advert in the local shop window or newspaper.
I am never one to think that those of the past had it better or easier, after all, I wasn’t there, but that is not to say that there isn’t still an awful lot we can take as lessons from the past to make our own lives simpler and easier. I may still Ebay a couple of high end items, but the clothes purchased will be fewer in number and, when finished with, will be passed on to friends!
This week seems to consist of various blogs about money. Unintentionally, but here comes another one!
We have saved ourselves a small fortune recently by borrowing things from people rather than buying them. Items include: A blender ((saving £20), a digital camera ((saving £200), a rucksack (from Other Half) , a drinks bottle (from little lady) and 3 DVDs (roughly £30). There were other items, but I am sure by now you have the picture. Yes, Other Half will need a digital SLR at some point, but he didn’t need to own one for the one off birthday present of a photography tour at night. Again, I made soup, which as it was such a disaster I am loathe to make again anytime soon. Should I make it again and fair any better I shall then purchase a blender of our own. Until then we have very kind neighbours who are more than happy to lend us theirs. That is long before going into how neither Other Half, nor Little Lady were using the said items that I borrowed when I did, so their loans were of no loss to them.
And maybe that is the whole point, it didn’t cost anybody anything to lend their items to us, because we return said items in one piece, often with a small gift to say thank you. The family, friends and neighbours that kindly loan to us, save us no end of money, space and convenience (sugar, carrots, onions, milk etc borrowed rather than walk to the bottom of the road when you have already started dinner) though.
By borrowing, everyone is a winner and that includes the environment!
My first, full-time permanent job was as a customer service assistant for a bank and involved wearing a uniform. I remember it well, 5 blouses, 3 skirts and 1 blazer for which I would have to pay £100 pounds if I returned the uniform (read left the job) within a year. Hence I stuck that job out for a whole year!
I almost wish that this job that I am doing came with a uniform too, as my finances are no better now, marriage, children and mortgage down the line, than they were all those years ago when starting out with student debt and the remnants of my last social security cheque! Everything needs replacing, updating or repairing and having been at home for as a stay at home Mum for 3 years I barely even have work wear! The replacing etc. I spoke of were my casual clothes!
What I take comfort from though, besides the knowledge that with each paycheque I can start to purchase appropriate attire, is that Nelson Mandela went to work in the one, same suit he had for FIVE YEARS! Enough said really. I am not down to one outfit and I shall not need to wear it for 5 years before I am able to purchase another one.
Like Mandela, sometimes rather than feeling beaten down by what you lack, you have to know you are strong for getting out there and doing what needs to be done, using whatever resources you have, no matter how few they may be.
At least once a week I go through our accounts as a family. Ideally to check what has been paid and what remains outstanding. For the last few years though it has been to check that we are not overdrawn! How can it be that we only in the middle of the month and already I am borrowing from the children?
As sad as I felt doing the accounts, it was doing the weekly shop – having borrowed said money from the children – that almost reduced me to tears. A not insignificant budget was overspent by 17 pounds. I realise that 17 pounds doesn’t seem much, but if you were to see what the shopping budget that I had was and the state that our accounts are in, you would be on the verge of tears too.
I came home and told the Other Half that that things were going to have to change. In future we needed to bake bread and biscuits, make soup and popcorn and cut down things like orange juice to once a day. I also said that we would all be on the same cereal, bought in the family size, rather than the 4 different varieties we all eat at the moment.
Brave words, but my heart started to sink even as the words left my mouth. To be honest food is one of the few joys that we still have – a social life together seeming to have gone out the window once we had children!
Yes I am going to start trying to make certain things, starting with tomato soup and scaling down the volume of what I buy, bearing in mind that each purchase now is around 1 pound. Primarily though I am shopping online next week. Not only will I not espy all the items I would usually throw into the trolley without further thought, but hopefully I won’t miss them either. And as my total bill amounts to a few pounds under budget I shall smile and reward myself with a well deserved chocolate bar, thereby hitting my limit!
Just please don’t let there be any substitutions!
On the way back from school run chatted with a friend who starts a new job next week. She was saying how she needs new make-up, shoes and outfits before starting, especially having been out of the workplace for so long.
Here’s the rub though – with what money? First, she hasn’t been paid yet, no surprise really as she hasn’t started work! Secondly THE MONEY IS NEEDED FOR OTHER THINGS! Note the word need. House repairs, children’s needs, furnishings etc. All the things that the family had to do without so that Mum could be there when the children were home from school.
The fact is though that the needs will still be there. Always! At the end of your life you will still have needs. So go out, buy the make-up, nice lunch, trip to the theatre or whatever it is that floats your boat. Don’t go into debt over it (or at least have a workable plan for repaying it!) but keep a sense of proportion. Salary ain’t just for the bills! Enjoy.