Good news and bad: SHOMO Awards and bye bye lodger

We are back in Essex after our wonderful week in Wales. I was really pleased to hear that our hosts, Tom and Liza, had received some emails from readers of this blog expressing an interest in staying there. It is the most peaceful place ever! If you are interested in an eco friendly break in a beautiful location (at a very good price), more information is available here. We hope to return next year.

We packed a lot in, whilst leaving lots of time for reading books and resting. Highlights were walking the coastal path at Aberdovey, The RSPB South Stack reserve at Holyhead, a stopover in Bridgenorth and some fantastic charity shop bargain hunting. What a lovely week we had.

Bad news: the lodger is leaving

As well as many, many courgettes, cucumbers and runner beans, we came back to some sad news. Our lodger has a new job and will be relocating. She has been a great lodger and is now good friends with my daughters, so we shall really miss her.  As they all socialise I expect we will still see her from time to time.

This is not good news for the bank balance as we rely on the income. We hope to get a replacement in as soon as possible. I will be getting the advert back up on spareroom.com this week.

Great news: I am a SHOMO awards finalist!

Whilst I was away I learned that my blog has made the shortlist for the SHOMO Awards best frugal and thrift blog. I am really pleased! The SHOMO Awards celebrate and recognise the best UK money blogs. In my category I am up against such exalted company as Frugal Queen (my heroine), my friend Faith Archer with her beautiful Much More With Less blog, Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family (fab recipes and brilliant money saving ideas), Zoe at Ecothrifty, which I love – right up my street, and the amazing Emma Drew – originally of From Aldi to Harrods fame. I love her You Tube videos.

I can’t wait to meet all of them at the awards ceremony in London at the end of September. In the meantime, there is also a People’s Choice award, where you can vote for any of the 70 blogs nominated from 1st August.  I will remind you when this opens .

All of the categories and nominees can be found here.

Staying chilled

I need to keep my post holiday sense of relaxation going. No yoga on the grass in the Welsh countryside, but I will open the window wide and get my mat out in the lounge.

Still – I have a lot to do! I need to do a little shopping for the week, lots of laundry, list some of my charity shop bargains on eBay and perhaps do a little gardening. Luckily darling daughter has left the house clean and tidy so I don’t need to worry about that.

I hope you are having a relaxing Sunday. Back soon with some post holiday money saving ideas.

 

Need to make extra cash? Great blogs to help you earn more money.

Money making boot camp: Emma Drew Info

I am on the lookout for more ideas to earn more money at the moment. I already sell on eBay, have a lodger and do any little bits of over time that might be available at work. This is all great and keeps the wolf from the door, but I would love a big chunk of cash as there are various things that I am slowly saving for. I want to speed things up!

With this in mind, I have signed up to Emma Drew’s money making boot camp. If you haven’t come across her blog or You Tube channel yet, Emma is a hugely successful blogger. She actually blogs full time, something I would love to do! You can sign up for the course here.

Katy Kicker

Another blog I find a good source of information and inspiration to help you earn more money is Katy Kicker.  She is a mum and full time blogger, and her blog is a lovely mix of family snippets, recipes and hard hitting articles on making money from home. She makes cash from matched betting and doing online surveys, among other ideas.

The Money Shed

Another very authoritative site, which includes a blog and forum, is The Money Shed. This site is another big fan of matched betting. There is also some good information on mystery shopping, online surveys and, something I have never some across before, web search evaluating. I really liked the article Earning Money from Home when you are Housebound, as I think a lot of people will find this so helpful.

The MIni Millionaire

Cora Harrison gave up the corporate world to blog full time at the Mini Millionaire. She writes about freelancing, eBay reselling, selling Lego (yes, really!) and blogging. She is also a competitions geek and has won thousands of pounds worth of prizes. This site is so clean, clear and well-designed.

From Pennies to Pounds

If you want to earn more money, check out Francesca Mason. Although she is a relatively new blogger, the lovely Francesca has already worked out how to make money from sponsored posts and affiliate advertising income. She is also into matched betting and makes extra cash from dog boarding and taking in lodgers.  From Pennies to Pounds is such a pretty site too!

There are so many others! I will have to come back to them. In the meantime, maybe some of the above will inspire you if you need to make a little extra. Which blogs do you recommend?

 

Watching the wheels of democracy in action  as a polling clerk

Tomorrow I am looking forward to being a polling clerk at my local polling station for the General Election. I have never done this before. I think it will be interesting and and I am quite excited!

As you know, I rarely refuse an opportunity to make some extra cash and this will go towards our week in Wales next month. It is a looooong day though: 6 am until 10 pm, so don’t expect a blog post! When I arrive I have to help set up the room and voting booths, get the signs out, then check voters in and give them a voting slip. Enough food is required to last me the day, so I popped into Asda last night as I pass it on the way back from work and bought a large salad, chicken drumsticks, some sausage rolls, juice and fruit. I also need to provide my own mug, milk and teabags. They do this stuff on the cheap!!

It’s another side hustle but, of course, this kind of opportunity doesn’t arise too often 😀.

Politically disengaged

I try to avoid being too political on this blog. Apart from working at the polls, I am finding the process quite depressing. I feel pretty disengaged for the first time ever and  have been avoiding the news and most of the debate. I have heard it all before! Truth be told, I’m not really happy with any of the potential candidates.

I will vote though. I think we have a duty. There are many places in the world where people don’t get a say. Democracy may not be perfect but it is the best option. So, if you can vote, make sure you do!

How to present clothes on eBay

A picture is worth a thousand words

Often I look at items for sale on eBay and they are so poorly presented I know they are unlikely to sell – or not for a good price. They are screwed up and unironed, in poor light or out of focus. Occasionally they are upside down! So, how to present clothes on eBay to make attract the attention of customers?

There are thousands of potential customers for the items you are selling, but there is also plenty of competition from sellers. However, with a little effort and common sense it is possible to make yours stand out.

Invest in a mannequin

The first thing you should do is invest in some kind of mannequin. The one in the photos cost me just £9 from eBay and is similar to this one.

Take the photos below. Which would draw your gaze and make you believe in the trustworthiness of the seller? The first is screwed up on the floor and the lighting makes the dress look fairy princess pink rather than the salmon pink it actually is. The second is better; on a hanger against a plain background. But the third is the best shot as you can see what it might look on.


Present your clothes for eBay as if it was your shop front

How often do you see dresses in shop windows in a screwed up heap on the floor? Never! Owners of chic boutiques know that to draw in potential customers they need to present their clothes to their best advantage. Dresses will be pinned tightly to a mannequin and accessorised.

Which of these looks the best? A sideways floor shot is never a great decision. Presenting on a hanger works better, but in this instance the photo has been taken from above, making the top look shorter than it actually is.  Again, the mannequin against a plain background is the best way of presenting this item.

Don’t forget the details

Queen of the eBay photo is Mr S’s sister. She sells high end designer stuff and accessorises with beautiful scarves and jewellery to grab the customer’s attention. If you are looking for something special you are drawn to her clothes.

how to present clothes on ebay

Focus on the detail

She is good at focussing on the detail, showing pix of fancy buttons, the back of a dress, a lacey hem, etc., so that the customer can see exactly what is on offer. I have learned from her to include as many photos as possible.

Be honest when you present clothes on eBay

Use your pictures to show any flaws such as small stains or pulls to the fabric. Believe it or not, this often doesn’t put people off buying. If they know they are getting an honest description it gives them confidence in you as a seller.

I don’t claim to be the world’s best photographer and don’t own a fancy camera. The one on my phone does the job. The camera on your phone will enable you to crop any unnecessary background, sharpen the image and rotate it so that it is the right way up.

Get out the iron!

Most households own an iron so there is really no excuse to post photos of creased clothing on eBay. If you can’t be bothered to iron, how do I know that shirt you are selling is in clean, used condition, as you claim?

I hope this post will help you to present clothes on eBay so that you can sell them quickly and for as much as possible. More advice on selling on eBay can be found here.

 

Today’s Boot Sale Haul

It was a beautiful morning for a boot sale. I got up early to beat the crowds and headed off to the nearest one in Colchester.

Look for labels

I always set myself a limit of £25 when I go to boot sales. I look for items of clothing that I either want for myself or I can sell on. I hope to pay around £2-3 an item. I will pay more for designer labels and new clothing though; today I bought an almost new Karen Millen top for £4 and a new with tags Boohoo prom dress for the same amount. I will try to get that listed today as proms are still going on!

Other good finds at the boot sale  included a gorgeous purple Oasis dress in perfect condition, a Coast skirt, a brand new Quiz dress and a lovely Alex & Co summer skirt with labels attached. The lady selling this told me she paid £60 but never got around to wearing it. Another of the more-money-than-sense brigade!

The hard work begins

I have a busy couple of nights ahead of me getting these washed, ironed and listed. It does all take a bit of time but it is worth it. I actually enjoy a rummage around a boot sale! Clearly I am not alone as by the time I left the place was heaving. I could easily have stayed longer but I need to stick to my budget.

I also had a lot of work to do in the garden today, which I will tell you about tomorrow. Love a bank holiday weekend. Whatever you are up to, be it at a boot sale or elsewhere, have fun!

SHOMO Awards: who will you nominate?

SHOMO Awards 2017

I mentioned recently that I had joined the UK Money Bloggers group and was featured on their site, here. The group runs annual awards for bloggers, the SHOMO Awards, each September. I have booked my ticket to attend and I’m so excited to go. This will be a great opportunity to meet other bloggers and attend helpful talks and workshops. If anybody wants to nominate me I would be very grateful.  I am hoping to get nominations in the Best Money Saving Blog and the Best Frugal & Thrift Blog categories. You can find out more and make your nominations for all of your favourite money blogs here.

Much More With Less

SHOMO Awards UK Money BloggersToday I went to meet one of the group to compare notes and swap hints and tips. Faith Archer lives just up the road in Hadleigh. She has a lovely blog, Much More With Less, documenting her move from London to the countryside, with frugal ideas and lots of beautiful photographs of her garden. We had lunch and a long chat about blogging, exchanging thoughts and tips. Hadleigh is a lovely Suffolk town with lots of charity shops, which Faith very kindly guided me round. I hope to see her again at the SHOMO Awards.

Making extra money as a polling clerk

With the general election just around the corner, I have been recruited as a polling clerk! I am quite excited to see the wheels of democracy at close hand. It is a very long day: 6 am to 10 pm. It’s not the best paid hourly rate but will nevertheless provide a nice chunk of cash for my savings. I am always on the look out for ways to make extra money and it should be interesting.

Has anybody else helped at an election?

Small victories 😀

Time to sort out the patio pots


I had a great eBay day on Thursday. I made three sales but one of them was for £120! If only I could do one of those a week I would be sorted. I hope to sell some more as it’s a double bank holiday weekend and the weather is a bit rubbish. I intend to hit the boot sale on bank holiday Monday to see what other treasures I can search out to resell. You can read about my eBay experiences here and here.

We also managed to book a holiday to celebrate Mr S’s big 5-0 this year (don’t tell him I told you!). We have been searching for a good deal for ages and we finally found one. It pays to shop around. Oddly, the all inclusive price was cheaper than the bed and breakfast option so we went for that. Majorca, here we come!

I have never done an all inclusive resort type vacation before. It will be an experience, I’m sure. Mr S loves a bit of sunshine. We used Teletext Holidays, which was weird as I didn’t know they existed. They seem to have some good offers.

Campanula for the old sink complete with sticks and logs to keep the cats off


We have been cracking on with the gardening, spending at least 3 or 4 hours out there each weekend to keep on top of it all. I have said it before – too much garden, too little time! I love it though. I get so absorbed in what I am doing that I forget about anything else. It is so good for a person’s mental and physical health.

I sowed some pumpkin seeds yesterday. The courgettes and tomatoes are coming up in the greenhouse, as well as hundreds of little seedlings in what we hope will be our new wildflower area. I sorted out some of the pots on the patio and Mr S did loads of cutting back and weeding.  We are planning to do a bit more as it’s a long weekend. 

So, small victories! What about you?

Such a perfect day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies out there! It was a gorgeous spring day here today and I was desperate to get out and do some tidying up and to plant some little shrubs we picked up in B&M last weekend. They are quite good for plants. They don’t have a huge range but what they do have is very reasonably priced. We decided on a hebe and an azalea. At £4 each they were a massive bargain.

Whilst we were out fighting with the weeds, cutting stuff back and mowing the lawn, my daughters were making a delicious roast beef lunch. We were so ready for this after a few hours in the garden. We had it with a £5 bottle of cava from Lidl and strawberries for pudding. They even cleaned it all up. Fantastic! What a lovely bunch of girls.


Mr S found a very pretty Portmerion tea set in the charity shop on Friday for £25. We looked on eBay and found the teapot alone going for £75! This lot has to be sold on as we could make a handy profit. I should start getting up early and perusing the bootsales soon to see what else I can find to sell on. This could be a useful bit of extra income. 

We went to visit Mum and dad yesterday. He is quite frail and tired still but this isn’t surprising as he has undergone a serious bit of surgery. It’s hard to keep him out of his garden on a sunny day but we need to for now. I will try to get round to help in the week.

What could be better than sunshine, fresh air, exercise, home cooked food and family? It was a perfect day to set me up for a busy week. Mother’s Day or not, I hope you had a super Sunday.

Keeping up with the cost of living

I heard on the news today that the cost of living in the uk has risen by 2.3% in the past year. Food itself has gone up by 1%. This is ok if your salary keeps up with it, but I have had a paltry 1% increase this year. Heaven knows how larger families manage.

So, what can you do? How about a side hustle? There are some ideas for making extra money here.

You can save money on your grocery bill with a bit of careful planning and savvy shopping.

Then we have your energy bills. Some ideas that I have tried can be found here. You can also haggle down the cost of your utilities.

Running a car can be a huge expense but it is possible to be frugal here too. This is how I save money on motoring.

Do you spend too much on clothes? You can slash costs if you embrace the idea of buying second hand. I am a happy second-hand Rose.

Days out also don’t have to cost the earth. My tips are here.

This is just a quick compilation of ideas. I hope they help! And don’t forget to check out my frugal recipes.

Back tomorrow hopefully if I have time between work and hospital visits!

Making money and saving it too

I spent the whole evening listing clothes for eBay last night. Quite a boring task but hopefully my efforts will prove fruitful. I currently have 40 odd items for sale 😀.

Dinner was chicken wings marinated in a bottle of Nando’s sauce that appeared from nowhere – I think my darling daughter must have bought it and it was forgotten about in the back of the cupboard. In my opinion chicken wings are very under-rated. There may not be lots of meat on them but what’s there is very flavoursome. Great value too. We had them with a baked sweet potato and some salad for a thrifty dinner. The marinade was nice but it would obviously be cheaper to make it yourself.

It was a gorgeous day here in Essex yesterday. I wish I had known it would be then I would have got the laundry outside before I left for work. I love to see it hanging out there, and it’s so much better than having airers all over the house. Today doesn’t look promising so it is indoors. Roll on spring! 

I refuse to waste money buying and running a dryer. People  are forever asking me why I don’t get one. Firstly, there is no space in the kitchen, secondly even the AAA rated ones cost a lot to run and thirdly not having one is better for the environment. I managed to raise three kids without a dryer so I think I can carry on without one now they are grown up. I swear I am considered rather eccentric to take this stance! 

What about you? Are you a line dryer or do you rely on the tumble dryer?