CEX- A second-hand/trade-in store

I don’t know if you’ve heard of CEX? I hadn’t until about 3 years ago, I think. CEX stands for Complete Entertainment Exchange. I thought it was about time I wrote about them, since I now mainly use them to trade in old DVDs as there is no minimum amount required and the payment is instant. That is if you trade-in, in-store. Please check out their website for online trade-ins because I’ve not used it.

We tend to treat CEX a bit like a library in our house, as they allow you to buy, sell and exchange technology products. According to their website, they have stores in the UK, Spain, USA, Ireland, India, Australia, Portugal, Netherlands, Mexico and Poland. So there might be one near you? We mainly use them for DVDs, but they will also take CDs in some larger stores. They also deal in computer games for various games consoles, mobile phones, computers and associated peripheries, laptops, iPods, iPads and more! I once traded in my old iPod with them and it was very straight-forward. They check all electrical items like that, so you get a ticket and leave it with them for 30 minutes or so- to protect them and the next person who comes along to buy your old stuff. Everything you buy comes with a 12-month warranty, so you’ve got additional peace of mind. You can choose to either receive cash or a voucher when trading-in. The voucher is worth more and valid for 1000 years! So you have plenty of time to spend it!!! You can even now choose to donate your money to charity- how fab is that.

I love the fact that one of the founding principles of CEX was to save the environment. They really got on board with zero waste about 20 year ago! They saw built-in obsolesce as a business opportunity as they recognised the need to recycle. Happily, they also saw that not everyone has the money (or has enough sense!) not to buy brand new and they thought that there would always be a market for these types of second-hand goods.

So you see, I think CEX is proof that second-hand, minimalism (i.e. don’t hold onto stuff that you no longer need) and zero waste really can change the world. They are also a really friendly place 🙂

P.S. I don’t work for them and they have not paid me to write this blog post!

Get Free Gift Cards for Taking Surveys on Swagbucks

If you’re looking for a way to earn a little extra to add to your budget, taking Surveys on Swagbucks is a great way to go. It is in-fact the main way I make money with them- earning up to £50 per month.

It’s really simple to do: You sign up, confirm your email address, and then use the Gold Survey Dashboard to see what surveys are currently available. For each survey, you’ll see approximately how long it takes to complete, and how many SB points you’ll get when you complete it. You can rack up lots of SB points quickly – typically 70SB per survey, and then redeem those SB for free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, and PayPal!

It’s a really good idea to fill out your survey profile and then answer additional questions that will help Swagbucks deliver surveys that you’re more likely to complete. You get 2 SB for every 10 questions you answer!

For even more SB opportunities, you can click the Peanut Labs surveys tab and choose from any one of these survey options. Peanut Labs are currently paying DOUBLE SB, so it’s a really great time to give them a whirl.

You can also now download the new Swagbucks app for iOS or Android and take surveys right from your phone, no matter where you are.  Swagbucks really works for me! Why not see if it does for you too?

Swagbucks Team Challenge: Eat, Drink, and be Scary!

Well done to everyone who’s been competing Swago: Shopping Edition. You’ve got just under 1 hour to submit your board! It’s so easy to get the full board and that extra 200 SB, so what are you waiting for? If you’re new to it, you’ll also get 50 SB for downloading the Swagbucks toolbar which you’ll need to complete it.

Now who doesn’t love a good challenge? Especially when you can get points to redeem towards free gift cards! So here’s another one!

Swagbucks is hosting a Halloween Team Challenge. It starts on Monday, October 24th at 8am PST and goes through Friday so you have a whole week to contribute points to your assigned team.

How will you contribute? Watching videos, completing surveys, shopping online? These activities and more will help your team get ahead. If you’ve never used Swagbucks before, now is a great time to join, especially if you participate in the Team Challenge because it’s an opportunity to win an extra bonus for trying out the site.

All members who participate and contribute at least 300 SB to their team’s total will receive an SB bonus in the form of a rebate on their next gift card! The challenge lasts until October 28th so log in or make a free account here! Pre-registration is open now!

I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with Swagbucks, so go ahead and let me know in the comments or feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to help! They still currently have a great sale on UK gift cards, so you can get a really, really good deal and start stacking them up for Christmas!

 

Coping with Loss

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for the last week. I lost one of my beautiful cats called Willow and I’ve needed to just take some time out. As I knew it was coming, I chose to spend all my time with her. I’m so grateful for our Minimalist lifestyle which allowed me the time and space to do so and my online earnings, without which I would not have been able to purchase her the treatment she needed. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, as my heart is still in pieces and I am getting choked up, even writing this.

Willow was only 6 and we only discovered recently that she had an inherited genetic condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease. As you can see she was a beautiful, long-haired tortoiseshell. These photos cannot show her personality which was definitely full of ‘tortietude’! I know these are just pictures of a cat to all of you reading this, but I look at every picture and I know my beautiful girl, inside and out. In every single one of these photos, she was at her happiest – even though some were taken near the end.

Her death was quite unexpected in the grand scheme of things, although for the last 2 months we have known she was not well and for the last month, we knew what was to come. It has been one of the hardest times of my life, although I have lost several cats before- I think this one hit hard because she was the first cat that I have been solely responsible for, rather than a family pet.

We chose to bury her our garden which has been lovely because we know she is close and can visit her, or even talk to her from the window. But it’s still been really hard and I was really moved when my husband suggested we purchase one of these Willow Tree ornaments called ‘With Affection’.

It is truly beautiful in its simplicity and says more than words ever can. It’s hand-made and hand-painted, despite being manufactured in China. You do feel that some care has gone into making it. From a Zero Waste point of view, it’s solid wood and metal and comes packaged in a cardboard box. Unfortunately it is padded with polystyrene and wrapped in plastic. However flippant it sounds, in this circumstance I am not bothered.

As a Minimalist, you know I am not one for purchasing random objects but this angel gives me comfort whenever I glance over at it. Grief is a funny thing and when you are in the midst of it, you have to try and cope the best way that you can. I may yet purchase a locket, so that I can keep a photo of Willow close to me at all times. It may sound stupid and unnecessary and I know she is not in these objects, but it doesn’t diminish their importance to me. Finally, we are going to have a photo book printed with all of our memories of her in it. Again, we could just keep our digital photos online but there is something comforting about having a book, a physical object that can be picked up at any time.

Perhaps I have not come so far on my Minimalist journey, as it seems I still attach significance to objects. I would be interested to hear how others have coped after a bereavement.

3 months without a lounge

We’re coming to the end of 3 months without a lounge! No TV, no sofa or armchairs, no dining room table or chairs, no curtains, blinds, lamps- literally nothing! We emptied our lounge to carry out renovations and it’s been an interesting lesson in what we can do without.

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We’ve been sitting on the bed, instead of in arm chairs or in the summer months- we would use picnic chairs in the garden. Whilst the picnic chairs were lovely on hot days- it’s not so much fun now it’s cold. Also after a while, they get really uncomfortable. The thing we both want back most of all is our 3 piece suite! Secondly, the dining room table was also missed greatly- it’s so important for conversations, good digestion and just a more pleasant meal occasion, including entertaining. It also proves useful for any other task you want to complete- like sewing, drawing or just spreading a large book open.

We’ve been using on-demand internet streaming to watch the occasional hour of TV and our laptops to watch the odd DVD. In a lot of ways we haven’t missed the TV, my other half hardly watched it anyway whereas I definitely watched it too much. I often put it on for company when I was in the house on my own all day. I thought I’d missed it quite a bit and then I turned it on again. Within 15 minutes I couldn’t take it’s blaring, loud and flashy programmes. Everything seems so fast-paced and over-the-top and I turned it off. I’ve much preferred the more thoughtful, intellectual and gentle content of Radio 4. It does make you realise how much they’ve dumbed down television and even on the BBC, it’s purely about entertainment no matter what the content. All that said, I think that I will want to watch some carefully chosen programmes on it and the occasional film. Time will tell if this is the case and whether we keep it longer term.

I think we own too many DVDs, given how infrequently we watch them and (thankfully) our cheap DVD tower hasn’t stood up to being stored in the garage and is splitting in the middle. That is not coming back in the room and so the DVD collection will have to be further downsized! (No, I promise I did not take a hammer to it!) A quick scan on the WeBuyBooks app uncovers that we have £200-£300 worth of DVDs sitting around our house! No doubt we will be selling and trading some in very soon.

We think that we are going to return our bookcase to the lounge, as I feel that there have been occasions when I have wanted a book and have been disappointed that it’s been packed away in a box (boxes!) However, we both think the bookcase is ugly and so I think we’d both secretly like it to go. My other half thinks I have too many unread books (it’s true!) and so, I am doubtful that most of these will be returning to our space either.

My one indulgence has been a china cabinet, as my other half points out – it serves only to display china – not minimalist at all! However, it is a piece of Art Deco beauty and I can’t believe I found it in a charity shop. I will use it to display some of our everyday crockery which is Portmierion Crazy Daisy and very beautiful. I will never tire of looking at it and I have never regretted putting a high quality dinner service on our wedding list. It is something that will last a lifetime and always look good.

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We had inherited a dining table from family and it had a wonky leg, we both hated it because it was ridiculously large (seated 8 which we rarely need). It had these 2 additional leaves, but because they didn’t fold under they had these great big pieces of wood sticking out and were a nightmare to store. So we ended up having to have the whole thing out all the time. We took the opportunity to get rid of that and bought a much more sensibly sized drop-leaf table from eBay. It’s a really minimalist piece of design by Ercol known as the plank table (although ours has dropped leaves at each end). I think it’s an utter design classic and will never date due to its simplicity. Alongside this, an extended family member died and we were offered the opportunity to purchase any furniture we would like. We were fortunate to find that they had 2 blonde wood Ercol Goldsmith Carver chairs (like these) to go with our table and I had also picked up another Ercol Hoop-Backed blonde wood chair for £2 at a jumble sale! Here it is after rubbing it down, it was splattered with paint but it’s looking fine now. I just need to finish it with something to protect the beautiful wood.

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Ideally, we’d like to find a 4th Ercol chair to complete our mismatched set. They are as solid as the day they were made in the 1950s (you can date them by their labels) and should last forever. Again, I don’t think they will ever date and this mid-century design is becoming the modern antique (hugely sought after).

Finally, we opted to get rid of the carpet which with cats was constantly getting ruined in various ways! After much thought, we decided to install real Oak parquet flooring. We could have spent half as much on a ‘plastic’ carpet which was not something we wanted to do. We could have spent the same amount on a wool carpet but in 10-15 years, it would probably have needed replacing. Instead, we opted for this beautiful hardwood flooring which is an art form in itself. It will certainly outlive us – the estimated lifespan is 150 years. We did look at installing second-hand parquet but there are many reasons (just search the net) why we felt this was not the answer for us. It is so lovely to look at and it looks different at different times of day, as the light changes which is much more interesting the flat, matte carpet. Now we have endured the disruption of renovating and putting this room back together, we will never have to worry about flooring again except for re-finishing in about 30 years time. The only other thing that will need refreshing every 10-15 years is the paintwork.

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I will be posting some before and after pictures soon, just as soon as we are able to return all the furniture to the room. I don’t want to give it all away just yet! Have you ever had the opportunity to ‘lose’ a room like this? Did it spur you into minimising? Do share your stories in the comments.

Swago: Rake Up The Bonuses!

Autumn is in full swing, and Swagbucks is getting into the autumn spirit with Swago: Rake up the Bonuses!

 

What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, the website I’m always mentioning that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. When you complete a task, watch that square change colors like the autumn leaves. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. Yes, FREE! If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site.

Here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus:

  • Swago  will begin on Monday October 10th, at 7pm. Make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.The game ends Monday October 17th, at 7pm. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

I hope you have fun participating in Swago! It should give you balance a nice boost 🙂

Swagbucks ‘Swagenger Haunt’

Swagbucks (yes I know I keep mentioning them!) is hosting a ‘Swagenger Haunt’ starting today! It’s essentially on online scavenger hunt where you follow clues via their search engine, just with a Halloween theme.

These earn you points called SB which you can redeem for free gift cards! I’m so pleased so many of you are taking the opportunity to try out this site. This is a great opportunity to try out Swagbucks if you haven’t done so already. To date I have made £1500 from this site.

As a bonus for this event – each day, for 5 days, 10 winners of 500 SB will be chosen. Check back each day for new clues because you can win more than once.

Have fun participating in this spooky Swagenger Haunt and let me know how you’re getting on!