Things that have gone this week – 9

This week has ended up being a bit of a blur and I turned another year older. But, I am still getting rid of things!

Things I sold:

  1. A black 1950s style, net petticoat which never actually suited any of my dresses as it was too short and too full.
  2. Two vintage floral tea dresses (1 pictured), but they were the same style – too tight on me.
  3. Another pair of shoes! (Hangs head in shame!) This time a pair of vintage style Clarks T-Bar shoes.

This week I sold 4 items on eBay and I took a small bag to charity, containing a book, a dress and a board game. All of the items sold were purchased second hand for a few pounds and I ended up turning a nice little profit on these. But must try harder not to buy more! The petticoat was picked up for £4, brand new with tags and sold for £20 – still with tags on. The dresses cost £6 each and sold for £20 together. The shoes were picked up for £3, barely worn and sold for £10.

Stay tuned for hopefully another post next week!

Stop Paying For Data You Don’t Need!

iPhone

One of the ways I keep my mobile phone bill as small as possible is by physically turning off my data. Thanks to GiffGaff I’m already paying a minimal amount, but by physically turning my data off unless I specifically need to use it, I can stick to a £5 Goodybag each and every month. It only takes seconds and it saves me between £2.50 to £5 every, single month. That’s £30-£60 a year kept in my pocket. This is the perfect example of minimalism in practice – only using what you need and keeping things really, really simple.

On an iPhone, like mine – you simply need to go into settings and turn mobile data off. This stops your phone eating your data allowance if you’ve gone out of WiFi range. How many times has that happened to you when you’ve been watching a video or something else data heavy? Do you have any easy money-saving, minimalist tips like this?

I got rid of 15 pairs of shoes!

I don’t feel proud about that title, let me tell you. But I have continued my serious declutter. I am certain that I still own more than 15 further pairs of shoes and that number also needs to decrease. However, this is a MASSIVE step forwards for me and it’s truly been enlightening – look at all these shoes I had and there was absolutely no way I could use them all. Let’s just say that these 15 pairs that have gone are the ones that have had the least use, or even that I no longer wore at all. I don’t have pictures of them all, as I only started saving my images recently. Here is just a fraction:

I calculate that I have put £157.45 (gross figure) back in my pocket. Considering that only 2 of the pairs I had owned from brand new (and both of those were bought at around 70% off), I calculate that I am in profit despite my careless ownership. None of the other pairs cost more than £10 second-hand and most a lot less! However, that is not an excuse for me to go and buy more!

It might be optimistic, but I hope that I can one day get down to around 6 pairs of shoes. I’m envisaging:

  1. Knee high boots
  2. Ankle boots
  3. Trainers
  4. Sandals
  5. Work shoes
  6. Smart shoes

And really that would be more than enough! But I will admit that I have a slight weakness for shoes, probably more than anything else. Still, I can try.

Things that have gone this week – 8

Wow, just when I think I’m going to slow down with the declutter, it picks up again! As usual, I got carried away and forgot to photograph everything that went. Never-mind, that’s not important- it’s more important that these things are no longer part of my life and space. I sold 5 items of clothing on eBay and then I gave away lots of things (see list below). I have now almost hit £1,500 of items sold (totalling 109 items to date!)

Rather than sending our used carpet to landfill, we were lucky enough to find someone who wanted it via the Freecycle network. I would also have tried allotment owners and pet shelters, before landfilling it. We acquired horrible terracotta orange carpets in all our bedrooms when we moved in. It was a vile colour (in my opinion) and stained in places. However for someone, it proved better than having no flooring at all and I’m glad that it could be re-used. In turn, we re-used the beige carpet we removed from our lounge diner to carpet 2 of the 3 bedrooms, with a bit left over incase we ever want to do the porch or small toilet.

We also sent our used stamps to help a charity. It really is amazing what can be re-used. I found some leaf grabbers in the garage, that I’d picked up at a car boot for £1 a few years ago. Now we live in a house without trees, so it was time for someone else to use them. I was finally ready to admit that I was not going to teach myself anymore guitar than I had done 5 years ago and I let it go to someone else wanting to learn, via Freecycle. I freecycled  2 pairs of tights that were huge on me, to someone wanting to make a fancy dress outfit! I found an old picture that hadn’t been up on the walls for about 5 years which I freecycled. Finally, I also sent a free gift that came with my watch to someone who could use and enjoy it, after it had been stuffed down the side of a cupboard for a couple of years.

  1. Bustier
  2. Coast Party Dress
  3. Laura Ashley Gypsy Skirt
  4. Frock & Frill Beaded Top
  5. White Stuff Reversible Skirt
  6. Roll of carpet taken up from office
  7. Roll of carpet taken up from bedroom (Both rolls of carpet went to someone in need of carpet, via Freecycle)
  8. Leaf grabbers (Given away on Freecycle)
  9. A5 envelope of used stamps (Given away via Freecycle to help a charity)
  10. Free gift of 4 nail varnishes that came with a watch I bought a couple of years ago (given away on Freecycle)
  11. 2 pairs of black tights that were meant to be one size, but came up to my armpits!!! (Went to a man for a fancy dress costume!)
  12. Guitar & music book (Freecycled)
  13. Puffin picture (Freecycled)

Who knows what next week will hold? Why don’t you join me for Week 9 of my decluttering adventures.

Swag Wars Team Challenge – Swagbucks

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Swagbucks had a fun team challenge to help you earn SB from Swagbucks!

For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! Their latest, the “Swag Wars” Team Challenge, begins today Monday, 1 May!

Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team. Pre-registration is going on right now! If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up on this page as well.

2. Starting 5th May at 3pm GMT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.   All members who participate and contribute at least 400 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card! Not only that, but if you earn 300 SB before 1st June, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus (as long as you’ve signed up under me)!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 35 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 20 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 4th place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate, and members of the 5th place team will receive a 5 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, 5th May and will expire on Wednesday, 31st May at 7:59am GMT.

May the Force be with you!

Things That Have Gone This Week – 6

Here we are, week 6 and the clear out continues! I took 2 of those massive charity plastic sacks to a charity shop this week- they contained yet more clothing, from both me and my OH. Plus board games, footwear and a whole stack of books. These were all things I hadn’t been able to sell, so I hope the charity shop will have more luck than me! I also took another big plastic sack of clothing that was too worn to a textile recycling bank. I had been planning to hold onto it for rags etc, but at the end of the day there was more than I was ever going to re-use and we don’t have the space to keep it all for years. I understand that it can be recycled into padding for car seats and the like.

Add to all this the 8 items I sold on eBay this week and I’d say it’s been a pretty good week 🙂 I got £92.45 for this little lot which I am pleased enough with, for stuff I don’t want the responsibility for anymore. This is the net figure, not minus postage etc but it’s still pretty good. I didn’t buy any of these items new and I ended up in profit on most of them.

  1. 2 sacks to charity
  2. 1 sack to textile recycling
  3. Turquoise Monsoon Skirt
  4. Vintage Laura Ashley Velvet Ballgown
  5. Vintage Laura Ashley maxi skirt
  6. Laura Ashley shirt dress
  7. Clarks Silver Ballet Flats
  8. Tu Pink Dress
  9. Juicy Couture Jeans
  10. Ice Skates

Another 2 items have bids on them too, so they’ll be included next week. But this was probably my best week so far for getting rid of stuff! Are you decluttering? If so, how’s it going?

The Truth about Frugalwoods and other US ‘Financial Independence’ Blogs

If you are like me, you read a number of financial independence blogs for inspiration. I admit to reading the occasional bit of Frugalwoods or Mr Money Mustache. However, the more I have read the more I have pondered whether these US blogs can bear any relevance to UK readers hoping to achieve financial independence? Today, I hope to uncover more of the truth about this for my UK readers. This is as much to put my mind at rest, as yours.

Frugalwoods say that they own a large detached homestead with land in excess of 20 acres The only equivalent I could see here in the UK is buying a VERY large country property or ex-farm, with a lot of land. I’ll plump for the farm option, as they state they have outbuildings (from their photos it is a very large barn, the size of 2-3 massive houses here in the UK), as well as woods and more. From their photos, I would estimate the main residence to be twice the size of a large UK house, although that is not unusual by US-standards. Actually here is their run down:

Frugalwoods Homestead Specs:

  • 66 acres of primarily wooded land in central Vermont, 35 minutes from Hanover, New Hampshire (where Dartmouth College and every attribute of the ‘big city’ are located)
  • A 4 bed, 2.5 bath, 2,300 square foot house, built in 1991, with two woodstoves
  • An 1,800 square foot barn/shop with a woodstove
  • One pond
  • Many streams
  • Countless apple trees, several plum trees, and a forest of sugar maples
  • Two acres of cleared “yard” with extensive garden beds

They paid $389,000 for their homestead which equates to £300,000. So now you start to see how these US financial independence blogs are laughable here in the UK. I mean, no-one but a multi-millionaire would own a piece of property that large over here! And you’d be lucky to get a normal 3-bedroom, semi-detached house where I live, on a tiny plot of land. I doubt that would even buy you a studio flat in London. They would have put around £97,000 down as a deposit.

They also have a rental property in a US City, which they paid $466,500 for and that equates to approx £360,000. They only put a £50,000 deposit down on it. So, now we’re looking at that owning around £660,000 of property but none of it is full paid for. They have 30-year mortgages (the norm is 25 years here in the UK). They are in their mid-thirties, so they’re looking at carrying that debt until they are 75. I wouldn’t want that noose around my neck until well into retirement!

You can read the reality is then that they worked solidly from University to their mid-thirties to be able to put £147,000 cash on houses. I’m not knocking that, but I expect most people in the UK would be able to sock that away as a deposit too, if they had the luxury of a well-paid job. 20 years of  2 people working full-time and saving 65% of their income, means they were only saving £7,350 a year. That’s as little as £3,675 per person. Undoubtedly achievable here, if not more- it’s just that you would never be able to buy a home or retire on that here!

The truth is that both of these properties still belong to the bank and they’re only a few years into the mortgages on each. If anything happened to prevent them from keeping up payments, they could lose both in a very short period. For example, if they couldn’t get tenants for their city house – one wonders if they would be able to cover the mortgage? They also only keep around 6 months worth of liquid cash which is a very small amount. The rest of their ‘net worth’ they have ploughed into stocks and shares. Whilst it is all very nice to base your ‘net worth’ on what the current selling price of the shares is, it’s all pie in the sky really. In 10 years the value of what they have put away could halve or worse. They are basing their ‘net worth’ on a projected rate of return of 7%, but the reality again is that if anything happened to the stock market (which I think is very likely given the volatility of world markets lately) they could lose a significant proportion of their money or the whole lot! They won’t even have the properties they live in to sell because they don’t own them. I bet you would then find they have stopped blogging and had to go back to work. Probably renting somewhere and lamenting their former choices, except they wouldn’t blog about that!

In actual fact, I think they are quite dangerous examples of how to live. Unless you like an extreme level of risk. I wrote this because I don’t want UK people to compare themselves to some unrealistic ideal. Unless you are planning to move to America, then you’d better expect to be working the rest of your life to pay off a small piece of modest UK property. I don’t think anyone lives under the illusion of early retirement here anymore! The best you used to hope for was retiring at 50, but certainly not 35!!!! You are better to pay off your mortgage before making too many other investments so that at least you have something solid that you own. I think it’s safer to pay into a pension, than invest all your money into stocks and shares.