Zero Waste, Recycled and Free Storage

We have recently reorganised our lounge and I needed somewhere to store my sheet music. I was going to go and buy some of those magazine storage files, since we rarely eat cereal we don’t have boxes that I could cut down. Besides, when I’ve tried that in the past – they were not heavyweight enough to cope. I was in a large supermarket recently looking for said storage options and they didn’t have any. Then I noticed that all of their products were being displayed in the ideal cardboard storage options. Exactly what I was looking to buy, except these were mine to take for free! I located a product of a similar size to my sheet music – A4 notebooks in this case and re-arranged their shelves for them a little 😉 There is no question that these would have gone straight into recycling and so I have saved that waste from occurring because I could use these in their current state.

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I’d like to say that I’ll be covering them – I could do something really clever with some old sheet music. But I know that it’s unlikely I’ll bother – they’re doing exactly what I need right now and for free!

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Swago Shopping Edition

It’s time for another round of SWAGO, and this board is all about shopping! No purchases are required, it’s all about clicking through to the sites and those points mean free gift cards. But if you need to buy gifts, you might as well get an extra SB bonus for yourself, right?  Personally I’m saving up John Lewis vouchers at the moment, to buy a rug for our lounge. As I aim to avoid plastic, I want to buy a proper wool rug that will last for a very long time.

You may ask what SWAGO is, if you’re new here. It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site. I use Swagbucks every single day and meet my daily goal. This enables me to make hundreds, sometimes thousands of £ every year from the comfort of my sofa! It makes an enormous difference to our household and I’d love you to experience it too.

Here’s what you need to know to get your 200 SB Bonus:

  • Shop Swago will begin on Tuesday, November 29th 5pm GMT, 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 colour 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 Friday 2nd December at 8pm GMT. 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.

So, what are you waiting for- extra free points are all yours for the taking!

Cyber Monday Deals

Looking for the best deals on holiday shopping this Cyber Monday? Swagbucks is offering increased cash back from stores like Amazon, Argos, Marriott, or Thompson and get (Paypal) cash back or gift cards to your favourite stores! Swagbucks will also offer amazing one-day deals to try out new products and services, earning you even more free gift cards.  This page has everything you need to take advantage of some great “shopportunities” for Cyber Monday!

I must confess that I have purchased a photo book from Truprint over the weekend. It was something I was intending to do anyway, as a memento of my beautiful cat Willow. You can read more about her here. They are offering 50% off everything site wide with the code MEGASALE16. My top tip is to always read the small print when looking at cash back sites – some sites will not let you combine offers and some cash back sites state that if you use a code not posted or approved by them, you will invalidate your cash back. You want to get the best deal you can and not be disappointed if your cash back doesn’t show up. It’s also a good idea to always clear your cache, before clicking through. This ensures that the website can properly track your purchases and you have a higher chance of receiving your payout.

If you’re new here and you haven’t heard of them, Swagbucks.com is an easy, quick way to earn cash back and gift cards by shopping online or doing other everyday activities like taking surveys or watching videos. When you do those things, you earn points (called SB) that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to places like Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, Starbucks, and more!  Just for signing up through me, you can earn a 300 SB bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least £25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another 200 SB bonus!  Take advantage of these great deals – sign up now.

Now is a great time to sell on eBay!

It’s a great time of year to get busy selling items you don’t need on eBay. You will help yourself by clearing clutter, making space for (select as many as apply):

  1. Christmas gifts
  2. Christmas guests
  3. Christmas decorations
  4. You!

I don’t know if my recent rash of sales has been due to the Black Friday effect, the fact that Christmas is coming or payday is nearing. I’ve often been heard lamenting at how slow eBay is lately, sales seem to sometimes take weeks and months to come, which isn’t helpful if you’re hoping to shift clutter! I made a concerted effort to list a whole bunch of items in one go – I had about 65 items for sale when I started. I went through all the cupboards in the house and anything that hadn’t been used in the last year had to go. In fact I found items lurking that hadn’t been used in years, some in at least 10 years! Those items were mainly lurking in amongst my craft supplies. So I had clearly been too lenient on my previous decluttering attempts.

I was also ruthless with my wardrobe! I had to get most of my clothes out in one go, to shift between my summer and winter wardrobes. I was slightly taken aback at just how many clothes I actually had. It’s so easy to by one thing here, another there and you soon don’t realise just how much is squirrelled away. The vast proportion of what was listing was clothing items. I really can’t say if having that volume of items listed is what made them shift faster, but I can’t think of any other variables from my end. I didn’t set them at silly, low prices, I always calculate my costs and include shipping in my item price as I don’t think buyers want to be adding that on.

Anyway, I’ve sold around £200 of items in just 10 days. It’s made a fantastic difference to the amount of space around the house and also boosted our Christmas coffers. So this post is just to encourage you to get sorting through those cupboards and set your stuff free! eBay is a really great place to start, as there is such a huge marketplace of buyers out there. There’s usually someone out there to buy the things you no longer want or need. Now when I think about it, I visualise £200 worth of bank notes being stuffed into the cupboards around our house. The reality is that’s the truth of the situation! I think it was Joshua Becker who said that spending money on things you don’t need now, is robbing from your future self. Well, thinking of it like that will surely give you a new perspective on things!

Black Friday is finally here!

So, Black Friday is finally here and will put an end to all the hype. Did you make any purchases? I heard on the radio that most shoppers are choosing to make their purchases online this year, rather than in-store. I made none this year, I honestly couldn’t see a genuinely good deal out there for me and besides, there was nothing I needed to buy.

 

Quidco suffered a massive fail, as there site went down (presumably couldn’t cope with the volume of traffic! However, if you need to make a purchase then you may like to go through Swagbucks to get cashback. I can see that Holland and Barrett is offering 10% cashback today. And Thornton’s (which might be good for Christmas gifts) is offering 8% There are also some good deals with holiday sites like Thomson, if you fancy planning to get away from it all! Did you make any purchases? Why don’t you share some of the great deals you have found? Let me know.

Just for signing up through me, you can earn a 300 SB bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least £25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another 200 SB bonus!

Are you paying too much for your energy?

I think we all know that these days, we’ve got to make the effort to shop around to get the best deal. Often, there’s no point staying loyal to a provider – be it for insurance, energy, phone, broadband or anything else! I don’t know how many of you watched The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV, but it should be on your must watch list. You can catch up via that link. I can personally credit Martin Lewis and his site MoneySavingExpert (MSE) with everything I’ve learned about saving money and making money since 2012. Again, I highly recommend you make some time to read all his advice. There is a lot of go through and I try to condense some of it onto my blog, but everyone is different and what works for me, may not work for you. However, everyone can benefit from checking whether or not they are overpaying for their household energy.

As MSE is impartial and a major consumer champion, they are not trying to sell your anything. Unlike going through a regular comparison site, who will take a cut – I believe MSE does not. So you should join and check out their Cheap Energy Club to see if you would benefit from switching. Most people on the TV programme were saving around £250 a year!

I have just done it and I am glad to say that my household is on the cheapest deal for us – a 1-year fix with The Cooperative Energy. We’ve actually been with them for 4 years now and they’ve consistently offered us good value and good service. They never try to sell us things we don’t need, they are very clear about how much we are spending and even contacted us to tell us we could get a better deal! I love being with a more ethical company and they are pioneering some great green initiatives too. I believe that a lot of the smaller companies are much better for their customer service. So why don’t you get checking and post back with how much you’ve managed to save?

Aiming for Financial Independence

A huge part of being minimalist is that you are spending less. As I see it, there are 3 options as to what you can do with your money.

  1. Spend it
  2. Save it
  3. Give it

Obviously, minimalists are doing a whole lot less spending it! Whether you wish to give some money away is a really personal decision and there are a huge array of possibilities which I won’t go into now. Although if you are spending less, it may mean you can work less and give your valuable time away also. In order to reach this sort of position, you will want to be aiming for financial independence.

I am not a financial expert, but I do try to apply common sense to life. It’s been 4 years since I  discovered minimalism, started reading about alternative lifestyle choices and earnestly started trying to boost my income in any (legal) way possible (using lots of methods, including those I have already described on my blog). Since November 2012, I have added over £30,000 to our household income. I would absolutely not have believed this myself, had it not been for the fact that I have kept spreadsheets detailing every single penny that I’ve made (and lost) along the way. £30,000 may not have got us to our goal of financial independence yet, but it certainly has pushed us a lot further towards it! I imagine for a lot of people reading this blog, £30,000 would go a long way to a deposit on a house, paying off a mortgage or clearing personal debt.

The thing is, when you stop spending money on things that mean very little – you realise that you possibly don’t need to be working so hard or so long. You can start saving and if you get serious about this, you could aim for financial independence at a younger age than most people (that is if you are still young! But if you’re not, there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t be good to be financially independent too). The working until you’re 65 thing (or even older now) is so ingrained in our culture, that many people don’t even question it. Your goal doesn’t even need to be that you never work again, but minimalism might allow you to pursue a job that you’ll love, volunteer your time or money or do something even more amazing. Aiming for financial independence is about acquiring freedom  – to choose when, where, what and how much work you do, along with freedom from cultural norms and expectations. The truth is you can buy freedom through frugality (and investments).

That’s not to say that you won’t need to work hard at it, but I wanted to write this post to say – a little bit of effort every day goes a long way. Just filling out a few surveys, meeting your Swagbucks target, selling items you don’t need on eBay and using some shopping apps to get free food – it doesn’t take many minutes out of your day. In 4 years time, why don’t you write and tell me how much you’ve made! 🙂