How I made over £800 selling everyday items on eBay!

This won’t be a post about the basics of selling on eBay – however if people want some detailed information, please comment and I will happily oblige. However this will be a post about the 58 items I’ve sold in the last 3 months, all but one on eBay! I decided to make a concerted effort to down-size my stuff and I forced myself to open my cupboards and scrutinise the contents. Anything that I hadn’t used or didn’t want, had to go! During this time, I’ve also taken 4 large bags of items to charity. These consisted of items that didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t sell on eBay. For example, items that are too large or heavy to post, electrical cables, or small stationary items, or older books that tend to have no re-sale value and clothes that perhaps weren’t a good enough brand to sell. I will add the caveat that I sometimes purchase items second-hand at a good price, so I can re-sell them for a small profit. 12 of these sales were such items.

Opening my craft cupboard was truly the most shocking for me in the end, not only because some of the items I’d been squirrelling away had actually lain un-used for the past 10 years and I was holding onto them in the mis-guided assumption that I would find them useful some day! I was doubly shocked when the sales finished and I realised effectively how much cash had been in that cupboard! Imagine if I hadn’t spent out for these items in the first place and had kept all that cash in the bank for 10 years gaining interest! Perhaps it’s better if I don’t think about that too hard, right now.

I literally sold everything that wasn’t wanted or being used – from furniture, to craft items like sewing kits and paper punches. I sold loads of clothing, some accessories, several pairs of shoes. I even went through the kitchen and sold a hand blender and a knife block. You know, those knives are just fine in the cutlery drawer and don’t get dusty anymore! I’ve also got that space back on my kitchen counter. Below is my ledger, to keep track of how much everything sold for:

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I set very reasonable prices for my items, based on what similar items had sold for (using the completed listings feature on eBay) or by just covering my costs (like with some of the craft item freebies I sold. I just wanted to make sure they could be used by someone). However, at the end of all that I currently have £809.28 back in my bank account (that figure takes into account my costs). Truly shocking – I could never have estimated that it would all be worth that kind of money. What has really hit me is that I don’t miss a single item, not one. What’s worse is I probably have so much excess that I can repeat this exercise over time and I bet I still won’t miss a thing.

I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier in my journey into Minimalism, but I guess that I just wasn’t ready. These last few months, I have had fresh eyes to look at my belongings again and the motivation to purge again. I never considered myself to be living in excess and when I look back over the past 5 years and see the sheer volume of stuff that I have been hoarding, it really is an eye-opener. I expect that I am the same as a great many people. Wouldn’t the world be a really different place if we used our time and resources differently? I hope that I can learn from this.

Please get in touch, if you care to share your stories about decluttering.

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Self-Branding – The Ultimate Narcissism!

Has anyone else noticed this pervasive trend for self-branding? It makes me sick! People think that they can package up who they are and often try to make this meaningless mash of skills into their career, with the end of marketing themselves as brand. Now, I have no problem with this if you actually have a legitimate career – we all know that, for example; painters and decorators, builders, plumbers and so on often like to use their name as their brand. To me, this makes perfect sense. I do it myself because I am a sole trader and have a state registered profession that is my career. People in these kinds of jobs will also have many years of training behind them, at recognised institutions like colleges and universities.

What irks me is people who have a blog and think that blogging is a legitimate self-promotion path which qualifies them to market themselves as a writer, editor, copy-writer, personal and/or life coach, some kind of entrepreneur and God knows what else! The reality is that they have qualifications for none of these things and often, no paid experience to back it up. Fromm suggested that narcissists objectify partial aspects of their personality they identify themselves with, such as intelligence, reputation and wealth etc.

It just makes me want to vomit. You are not a brand, you are a person – yes, you are unique – yes and you certainly may have some skills. But please don’t use your blog and your social media accounts to promote yourself as something you are not. Actually, the people most likely to be using social media etc are those with narcissistic tendencies. Their pages are all about strategic self-promotion and and self-presentation. Social media presents a large opportunity to show off and users identify themselves with their displayable qualifications.

This kind of self-promotion is at best mis-leading and I bet these people don’t realise that, at worst – it could lead to legal action against them if something goes wrong. Do you know that you need to hold public liability insurance if you are going to act as a life coach? You need professional indemnity cover and you need legal cover, to protect you from libel and slander? Usually a condition of all these types of insurance is that you are working within the scope of your skills, in your field of practice. It would not hold up in a court of law to say that felt you had skills in life coaching because you’d written about how you changed your own life, on your blog.

Ultimately, I want to get across the message to be careful – both if you are looking for something on the web and if you are thinking of promoting yourself as providing some kind of service. If you are contemplating life-coaching, for example; make certain that whoever you are considering has some professional training and qualifications. For goodness sake, don’t just find someone and go with them because they make themselves sound good on their blog. Just because they managed to change their own life and influence some people digitally, it does not mean that they have a single ounce of skill that would allow them to coach someone else to do this! They probably count the number of comments on their blog as valid indicators of change/success.

Check out their qualifications, make sure they’ve not been purchased from some phoney online University or cheap correspondence course. Make sure they actually have some qualifications! The same applies if you are thinking of hiring someone to write some content for you, or an on-line article perhaps. For goodness sake, find someone with real experience at an actual newspaper or similar. Make sure they have a degree in journalism or the English language. If you want someone to speak at an event, make sure they have plenty of relevant experience doing so before. A lot of people ‘could’ get up in-front of an audience, but it doesn’t mean that they would be engaging, funny or worthwhile listening to.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I have a very personal catalyst for wanting to minimise some more. It’s spurred me on to addressing the sheer amount of clothing, shoes and bags I have amassed. It’s not until I have started to purge, mostly by selling at this stage that I have understood the truth of the situation and realised the lies I’ve been telling myself. I find it so hard to let go of these things, so I am aiming to get rid of the items least used first. If I think the item has any value, then I am eBaying it. Otherwise it is being donated to a charity shop or given to a friend. If the items don’t sell on eBay after 3 attempts, they are also being donated.

I’ve shared these pictures before, but here they are again. This is not a minimalist wardrobe, I repeat…this is NOT a minimalist wardrobe! It’s not just a wardrobe; there are bags and boxes of unloved items.

Since I posted these pictures in September 2015, things have not really improved one iota! I was and still am a clothes addict and buying clothes cheaply, either in sales or charity shops is an easy way to mask the true cost of what you are spending. In just 2 months of selling, selling, selling on eBay I have sold around £500 worth of items. To date, I have shifted 45 items – by clearing out cupboards, wardrobes, boxes and kitchen cupboards. I’ve even sold several items of furniture! However, a significant proportion of this was clothing, bags and shoes. £500!!!!! I am horrified to realise that is only a part of what I own and I don’t miss a single thing.

I love to get a bargain, or a good deal and it’s easy to kid ourselves that if something is only costing £5 then it doesn’t really matter. But if you times that by say 1 purchase every week of the year and before you know it, you’ve spent £240 in a year. Imagine the compound interest on that over 10 years. A quick calculation at 1% interest shows that I could have £2615.55 if I just stopped buying and saved this money instead.

I’d also fallen into the pitfall of believing that buying a certain, expensive item would make me happy. Let me tell you know that it’s not true and owning an expensive bag or pair of boots has bought me more guilt than anything else. Guilt about the cost, how little I’ve worn or used them, or even because they did not make me happy like I’d thought they would. There’s so much truth in the psychology that we get the thrill from buying an item and that it quickly wears off.

I hope I learn these life lessons finally and I would love to have a capsule wardrobe! I will share some more pictures after I have completed my down-sizing. I am reforming and I’m going to be accountable on here.

Now it’s over to you – how have you managed to successfully down-size your belongings? Did you particularly struggle with an item or area of your home? Did you have an event that was a catalyst to down-sizing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

When Britain was Zero Waste

Having studied Home Economics in the distant past and always being fascinated by social history, I love stumbling over relevant articles on the internet. I’m also a big fan of the BBC series ‘Call the Midwife’. Apparently some have accused the BBC of presenting a sanitised version of poverty in the 1950s. However, if you search for photographs from the era you will see that they are portraying history accurately.

You see in days gone by, people did not produce much rubbish. They did not buy packaged goods, they shopped every day and only bought what they needed for the next day or so. They did not have the means to keep food fresh for longer, there were no refrigerators or freezers in general use. They also used everything up until it disintegrated – if you look at figures from the period, you will notice that they practically never threw textiles away. What a contrast to today!

Consequently, the streets were clean too. Those were the days when there was a sense of local and national pride. People cared about where they lived and everybody knew you, so you would not dare to drop litter for fear of the local bobby catching you or your class teacher!

Let’s think about it for a second….

  • Milk was delivered in churns and poured into jugs, or once milk bottles arrived – these were returned to be washed and used again. The only waste being the foil tops which were recycled.
  • Fruit & vegetable scraps were composted, along with eggshells and tea leaves
  • Soot from the fire was dug into the ground as fertiliser
  • Groceries were bought unpackaged for the large part and paper bags could be burnt on the fire
  • Cooked food leftovers were probably forced upon family members (i.e. you must eat everything on your plate or children will starve in Africa!) Or fed to pets.
  • Clothing was worn until it wore out and even then, useful fabric was cut out for re-use
  • Newspapers were reincarnated as toilet paper or fire starters
  • There were no luxury appliances needing to go to landfill and I’m pretty sure people kept their mattress for a lifetime. They recovered and repaired their chairs.
  • Anything else was sold to the rag and bone man who called at the door
  • Other hawkers were common visitors to the door – people to sharpen knives, repair china, patch pots and pans and more.

As our waste has increased, people have moved from using biscuit tins for waste in the 1900s, to medium sized metal bins in the 1950s and on to the larger plastic bins we use today, in the 1960s. In fact, did you know the name ‘dust bin’ was derived from the fact that these bins contained mostly dust or ash from fireplaces?