Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ten Signs That You're Taking Tightwaddery Too Far

Okay, okay, we've all been hearing the words “credit crunch”, “slowdown” and “recession” a lot lately. No-one's denying that economising is necessary in the current economic climate, and we're all researching, picking up new ways to do just that. Why not? It's a smart move, an evolutionary move: S.M. Soiffer has referred to activities such as garage sales as “survival strategies”1, even. But you know, sometimes tightwadding can be taken just that step too far... Here are a few of the giveaway signs that you're turning from Tightwad Tina to Scrooging Shirley!

Sign Number 1

You don't just sell off unwanted presents. Don't we all do that now anyway? You're assessing gifts as you rip off the wrapping, wondering what they'll bring on an auction site once you've got 'em listed – and you just can't wait! You've got the format, the reserve price and the postage and packing estimate all worked out before you've finished thanking and hugging the poor giver.

Sign Number 2

Nothing is sacred. You haven't sold any deeply cherished personal mementoes... yet. But you keep looking at them, and thinking about it. And it's not as if you're even really flat broke! But if you sell the book your other half wrote a sentimental inscription in after your third date, he's going to seriously consider putting you on Ebay.

Sign Number 3

You know the price of everything and... okay, okay, you just know the price of everything, pretty much. You know where value soap is ten cents cheaper than, well, the other place for value soap. You know which vintage romance novel authors are worth picking up from the thrift store and selling off at a profit to bodice-ripper junkies. You know which airline to try for a budget flight for your honeymoon and you know which stores are tricky about internet coupons. Oh, and you talk about it. A lot.

It's all good. But if the first thing that comes to mind when your eye lands on an object is, 'I wonder how much I could get for that?', well...

Sign Number 4

You go foraging for wild food. Wait, that's not it. Nor is the hunting and fishing thing. Nor is the roadkill thing. That's all cool. Can you save some for the rest of us?

You go foraging in your neighbours' gardens, that's the thing! Stop it already! Or at least ask for permission first!

Sign Number 5

You eat a lot of beans. Beans and oats. Beans and barley. Oats and beans and barley grow... and we eat them, yeah, yeah, join the club. But you're eating so many, you're single-handedly skewing the commodities market. Maybe you should be investing accordingly.

Sign Number 6

Your pets are on notice: no freeloaders! What mice have you caught for me lately?

Maybe the hamster's wheel could be hooked up to generate electricity? They're all on economy rations, at least. Just don't try to feed the cat beans. You'll wind up in the emergency room with claw marks half an inch deep.

Sign Number 7

Ditto for the kids. That finger painting might fly on Etsy. How about a limited print run? They say artistic genius shows up at an early age – look at Picasso.

Sign Number 8

Or if you haven't got kids, it's worth taking your neighbours' awful brats to the cinema to qualify for the family discount. It really is. Almost.

Sign Number 9

You have so many coupons at the checkout – so many. There was that one time late at night with a new girl on the till, when they had to pay you to take your shopping away. In fact they brought in new rules to stop it happening again. There are little notices stuck up at all the checkouts. They have your picture on them. How does it feel to be famous?

Sign Number 10

You're not too proud to wear hand-me-downs from rich friends and relatives. Nor are your kids. But none of you get the chance, because those babies hit the auction site listings quicker than a digital camera can flash.

You examine those cast-offs pretty darn closely, though. Anything not saleable gets dumpstered out the window on the way home. Damn cheapskate friends! They can afford Armani, yet they shop at Walmart?

There, you've read the signs. Now take heed! Beware the warnings, because the next step is becoming the funny lady breathing heavily at yard sales and getting in physical fights when someone else spots the Mickey Mouse vintage phone first. She looks like she's having fun, though... That's some impressive judo knowledge for a lady that age... I guess she must be a WWF enthusiast too... That's one big grin on her face as she holds it aloft in triumph... and...

Can someone call 911?

1: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 12, No. 4, 397-421 (1984)

Friday, 19 September 2008

my credit card is so hot it may melt

There it is, the shameful story - the story of my stash. (All right, not all of it. Most of it. Half of it. As much as I could grab when I took the photo okay?). I hadn't realised how much I'd bought over time, not at all. I was only inspired to find out and take this picture when I was adding up the figures for my upcoming first ever tax return. Month by month, page by page, I took away the provisional figures for my expenses away from the provisional figures for my turnover. And the result kept coming up red...

If I hadn't bought, oh, two thirds of this little lot, then the figure might have at least scraped into the black. And the thing is, I could still have made most of my inventory, while cutting my expenses that far.

Well, I think that's more than one lesson learned!

  • Lesson 1: KEEP A ROUGH RUNNING BALANCE FOR YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSES and PROFIT. Don't just start plugging all the figures in at the end of the year!

I don't have to tell you, right? You've never been as dumb as that? Unfortunately, it appears I do have to tell ME! And not only that, but to act on it as well. From now on: I must know where my business finances stand. All the time, every time.

  • Lesson 2: I CAN'T AFFORD TO BUY MORE STUFF: not till I'm back in the black, anyhow. Therefore: until that point, all craftiness must result from my EXISTING stash. Now there's a little jabbing demon, sticking a pitchfork into my calves to prod me into prodigious creativity. Yes! I am inspired!

Now: to not only learn these lessons, but to hold fast to them. I challenge myself, here and now.

Friday, 5 September 2008

It's a PROMO FRENZY all over the land!

So I've committed to contributing to two Etsy.com promo bag extravaganzas... what was I thinking of!!!

I want to make at least 25, preferably 50 items for each bag... but where do all the hours in the day go? So far I've made pitiful progress, and time is slipping away...

I think I just need to set myself a deadline. Whatever I've come up with by that date is what I'm sending off. That should light a fire under me... hopefully.

Today, instead of crafting, I:

i) made headway with my accounts
ii) attended an interview (arrrgggh)
iii) ate fast food (naughty)
iv) drank coffee (v. naughty)
v) drank wine, ate sweeties and had an online social networking blitz (hello Facebookywooky and Flickr)

Friday, 22 August 2008

functional depression

It's important to be productive, to produce. And especially when you're unemployed... Despite the name of this blog, it wouldn't be good to wind up curled on the sofa, cuddling a cuppa and staring slackly at Cash In The Attic on the box.

But it's hard. I always seem to find that, after the first few happy, relaxed days of underemployment, depression starts making little nibbles at my psyche, followed by big chomping gulps. I guess it's partly just because you have time to think about things, time you don't have when sucked into the 9 to 5. Bad things, often.

And partly the awareness that, fuck, you're unemployed. 1st bad thing: you're either claiming benefits and getting continuous hassle from the state about it, or you're running down your financial resources with no fairy godmother in sight. 2nd bad thing: this state will eventually end - when you get a goddamn J-O-B!

So, unemployment is synonymous with depression for me. Just as employment is synonymous with anxiety. Aah, I run the gamut of psychological malaise from.... well, A to B, I suppose, much like Katharine Hepburn and acting. Mania, schizophrenia, all those exotic and enticing variants... not so much.

I find the way to manage this state is bite-size functionality. Not an original idea, but put it into practice and it's a wonderful thing. However glum, slack-jawed and negative I might be, I find I can knock off one thing on my to-do list for at least 5-15 minutes. As long as I can then put the kettle on and collapse on the sofa for another 10 mins. Rinse, wash, repeat...

This way... maybe I'm half as productive as if I was working flat out. But ask yourself... is that really going to ever happen? Or am I in fact 1000% as effective as I would be if I wasn't employing this technique, and instead allowing stress and depression and the demand for continuous activity and immediate results to freeze me into stasis?

Things are getting done. Bit by bit, they're getting done.

Monday, 18 August 2008

I pay my rent with Ebay

...so what's next?

After tax, anyhow, that's pretty much all my Ebay income is going to cover at the moment. It's not a lot, but it's a start, I suppose. Better than not covering the rent. Progress requires pushing on to the next level: e.g. covering my half of the monthly diesel costs for our crappy little motor, as well.

That'll be another £60 a month required, then.

How to do it, that's the question. Storing enough stock to start to multiply my Ebay earnings would entail renting out a little storage unit.

Cost: £80 a month, minimum. Not currently an option, then.

Other options? I think I'm looking at the Etsy route: develop a crafty little product that's quick to make and easy to store. Stackable, preferably...

Either that or scouring Craigslist or gumtree.com, looking for cheaper storage in someone's boxroom or garage or shed... till they do a flit / their teenage son leans his leaky motorbike on my boxes / the shed gets flooded.

Positive thinking is a wonderful thing!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Is it just a numbers game?

Paying my rent by selling books online, I mean.

Up to now, Ebay has led me to think so. Perhaps I have become spoilt that way. The income I have thus far received per 500 books/other items listed is not over-generous, perhaps - maybe £80-£120 a month. But it is reliable, and my landlord is a strange man who likes a reliable income, especially in his tenants.

Amazon income I have also found reliable - reliably underwhelming. With around 700-800 items listed, I regularly sell maybe 3 items a month, for perhaps £5-£20 quid. Whoop-de-doo who needs the lottery...

Now I have joined Ebid, and am up to nearly 100 items listed. Sales so far this month - 0. Zero.

Maybe I'm being unfair. I've been on there about two minutes. Still, that's a lot of listings for no sales at all. But for zero listings fees (minus the seller+ joinup fee), I'm willing to stick with it and give 'em a fair shot. I'm not crying uncle, not for a good 18 months yet. I will build it, and they will come - they damn well will come to www.ebid.net, and their wallets too.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

what I'm up to

Ooooh... so anyway, this is what I've got up to so far to bring in the spondoolicks...

Ebay - selling the books, the bric-a-brac, any old whatsit to bring in da moolah.

Ebid.net - finally! I have signed up, after meaning to just forever and ever! And now I must actually list.

Cafepress - well, I've been signed up for weeks and done nothing. Must download Gimp and hone my graphic design skillz so I can throw some T-shirts down.

Slicethepie - again, signed up for weeks and done bugger all. Must check it out.

Etsy - crafted a lot of items, sold a few. I have a lot of items in a half-finished state, need to get 'em finished and listed. I think partly the trouble is I've lost interest in making jewellery, at least to my present standard. I need to learn proper wire-wrapping and get myself a blowtorch. But all of that is very time-consuming, and I need ready money. Also what I'm really feeling is drawing and painting - but again that takes a lot of time before you see any money. Although once I've finished a few pics to a standard acceptable to me I can get prints made, an income stream beyond the initial investment of time.

Friday, 8 August 2008

And yet they are fed

'For consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin...' and nor do the duckies or the birdies. But these buggers look pretty well fed.

I won't worry just yet. Does not the Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster love me much better than they? I will take no thought for the morrow, but instead whack a Buffy tape in the player. And nod off in front of the telly. Ah, for the telly is the life.

MISSION: make SAH money online...

Well, we can all dream can't we? I'm setting out on a semi-planned journey: I always meant to eventually reach the point of making enough money online/from my hobbies and interests to give up work. However when I gave up my last temp job in order to concentrate on getting through a book-keeping course/exam, it was not well-timed. Or very well-timed, if I had wanted it to co-incide exactly with the c/c (shh, credit crunch to you) and simultaneous summer influx of eager young students hogging all the temp jobs.

Where have all the temp jobs gone?

Thusly, my hand is forced. My meagre income from Ebay, and a host of the usual suspects, is my only income currently. And, being as it is that I am already all legit and registered with Her Majesty etc., everything in place, and probably wouldn't get tuppence if I registered for JSA, I might as well go all out. Have a go at the passive income streams/Ebay biz/blogging for dollars nonsense that pf aficionados know so well.

Oh, the SAH thing? Well, I'm not a mum. I'm sure you can work it out...