As you may have noticed, over the last few years I’ve become a little bit money obsessed. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make and save money.
I’m constantly reading other bloggers’ websites and listening to their podcasts and devouring their newsletters in an attempt to learn something new.
Most of the time, my fellow personal finance bloggers share really inspirational words of wisdom that help me to manage my finances better. But now and then I stumble across tricks that I firmly believe are a massive waste of time. Here are just 4 examples: Continue Reading
There’s been a lot of talk lately about F*ck Off Funds, both on Can’t Swing a Cat and elsewhere on the web. While many people may admit to having parents and even grandparents that have been using this foul-mouthed phrase for years, it’s a huge talking point at the moment thanks to Paulette Perlach’s A Story of a F*ck Off Fund.
If you haven’t heard this term before, it’s essentially an emergency fund designed to empower the owner and enable them to escape from unhealthy – and even dangerous – situations such as a toxic work environment or nasty partner. Think of this as your financial escape plan. Your Plan B. Your parachute that allows you to throw yourself out of a plane at 70,000 feet. Continue Reading
From houses and holidays to marriage and babies, twenty-somethings are expected to save for many of life’s great milestones in a short period of time. So when experts recommend we save 12% of our salaries (are you mad?) for a comfortable retirement, the financial burden of ‘adulting’ can understandably seem a little overwhelming. Continue Reading
There’s no doubt about it, being in-between jobs can be a scary time, particularly if you lost your job with little or no warning. In this post, some of the UK’s best money bloggers share their emergency personal finance tips to help you get through a stint of unemployment.
Money saving tips
Slash unnecessary spending
Whether you’ve found yourself out of work suddenly or you’ve seen it coming for a while, start looking for ways to cut back on your expenditure as soon as possible.
The Shrewd Life‘s Lauren Snell says: “Cut back on living for a while, cancel gym memberships, buy cheaper food and save where you can.”
Lesley Negus, aka Thrifty Lesley, is an expert when it comes to cutting back living on a small budget. She recommends taking a really close look at your outgoings to see where changes can be made. She says: “The first thing I would do is work out what I could live on. So add up all the bills and every single expenditure, then put that against what I now had coming in. Now trim it to see what could go, even if only temporarily. That gives your base point of your minimum income. The gap between the two equals the amount you need to bring in from whatever source.”
Sara Williams from Debt Camel adds: “Put your finances on a “war footing” by cancelling every single bit of expenditure that isn’t essential. Charity contributions and magazine subscriptions should go immediately.”
Sara also explains how important it is to stop credit card spending: “If you can’t make existing debt repayments without borrowing, take some debt advice from StepChange.”
Zoe Morrison, who blogs at Eco Thrifty Living is a firm believer that before you spend any money you should ask yourself “what is the least expensive and most eco-friendly option here?”
She adds: “I found that being eco-friendly goes really well with spending less money.”
Need something essential? There’s probably a coupon for that!
Although cutting back on your spending will help, there’s only so far that can get you. You’ll need to make sure that whenever you do need to spend money, you’re getting the products or services for as cheaply as possible.
Emma Mumford, aka The Coupon Queen says: “I lived on coupons heavily when I was ill and couldn’t work. I would get my £60 food shop for about £5 every week. Writing to manufacturers giving them a positive review of your favourite products always works as it’s free market research. They often send higher value coupons through as a thank you.”
Request a payment holiday
Andy Webb, blogger at Be Clever With Your Cash says: “If you’re worried about bills, get in touch with the company to see if there’s any help they can give. You might be able to reduce your energy Direct Debits for a while, or get a payment holiday.”
Lauren Snell agrees: “When my home flooded in 2014 I had a massive meltdown, stressing about finances as I hadn’t long had my mortgage. I called all of my utility providers and explained I needed some help and they were actually really helpful. I got payment holidays on my mortgage with no adverse effect and my bank stopped the interest on my overdraft and credit card for a few months.”
Money making tips
When you’re out of work, you’re likely to spend most of your time job hunting. However, if your savings account is looking rather unhealthy and your finances are stretched, there are thankfully ways to make a little extra cash here and there to keep you going.
Have a clear out
Lauren recommends having a de-clutter and embracing eBay and carboot sales to “keep the pennies coming in.”
Offer your services
Lesley adds: “I would print some leaflets on the computer and take them round the nearby streets. Basic stuff like babysitting, grass cutting, ironing, house cleaning.
“If you have any DIY skills at all, there are a great many elderly people who need help merely because they have grown old and can no longer do the things they used to do i.e putting up shelves, changing a tap washer, heaving bark and top dressing about in the garden to lay it down.
“My husband, who has an open backed truck, is often asked by elderly neighbours to take stuff to our recycling centre half a mile down the road. They usually give him a bottle of wine or something, but you could ask for a small payment instead. Letting agents always have work for handymen.”
Consider temporary work
Lauren says: “Temp for a bit, try out some new job roles without long term commitment. I temped in the past and gained some great work experience without having to do Monday-Friday 9-5.”
Lesley is also a fan of embracing temporary work. She explains: “I was temporarily between jobs aeons ago, I went temping. Not the most exciting job in the world, but it provided a much needed income until I sorted out a job more to my liking.”
Find out which benefits you’re entitled to
Sara says: “You paid your taxes when you were working, now you aren’t. Don’t run your savings down to nothing whilst you are hoping to get a job “in the next few weeks.”
You can learn more about which benefits you’re entitled to through gov.uk.
Finding a new role
Try to make your time off work as productive as possible. As well as looking for a new job, consider learning a new skill or taking up an affordable hobby. Start learning a new language, ask a friend to teach your how to code, or volunteer with a local charity – do anything to keep yourself busy, meet new people and make the most of your time off.
By filling your time off with meaningful activities, you may well impress prospective employers with your ability to be proactive.
Consider getting a helping hand
Whether you turn to a career advisor, your local job centre, or a recruitment consultant, there are plenty of people out there that can help you get back into work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Remember: Everything happens for a reason
Ashleigh Swan from Ashleigh Money Saver says: “I was made redundant from my job in a pharmacy because business was slow. I started my blog Ashleigh Money Saver to keep myself busy (and out of trouble haha). I then found another job but because Ashleigh Money Saver was doing so well, I gave up my job and now work full time on my blog. You may be worrying now but a year from now you may look back and realise these things happen for a reason.”
A few months ago I was in the paper talking about the benefits of fantastic voucher code websites. But, since I created this blog to help my readers save money, I decided to write a post about the importance of maintaining a sense of self control when using such websites and looking for a great deal.
Voucher codes, coupons, and deals are great tools for anyone on a money-saving mission. If you use them wisely they can save you tons of money. However, something that I think far too many people overlook is the fact that if you’re going to use a coupon or voucher code to purchase something that you don’t need, don’t actually want, or weren’t really thinking of buying anyway, you have not saved money. Instead, you have spent money and the brand has made money. Continue Reading
Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, make your income go further or save towards something special, sometimes you need that little bit of encouragement to reach your goals. Following other bloggers and keeping an eye on various money saving websites has really helped to keep me motivated on my money saving journey. Lucky for you, I’m about to share just a few of my favourites…
The Money Shed
I really think that talking to like-minded individuals about your money saving ventures is the best way to learn new things and remind yourself that you’re not alone. For this reason, The Money Shed forum is a fantastic resource for money savers everywhere. As the UK’s largest community website dedicated to earning money from home, if you’re looking to boost your income without having to go much further than your sofa (or shed, I suppose) this is the place for you! It’s a great place to have a chat with other money makers and learn about everything from matched betting to multi-level marketing.
The Money Shed runs a monthly challenge to see how much its members can earn from home. To give you an idea just how motivational this site is, the members that took part in the challenge topped £12,000 in August.
When I informed my mum recently that I’d been nominated for an award that Skint Dad (Ricky Willis) had been nominated for too, rather than congratulating me, her response was “Oh I love Skint Dad!” To be fair, it’s easy to see why. Although I’ve thankfully never had to battle debt before, I imagine Skint Dad’s blog is a great place to turn if you’re struggling financially. Here’s a snippet of one of Ricky’s posts: “It’s the 17 September, still a week away from pay day and all you have left is £6.20 to your name. In the cupboard there is only enough food to feed your family for three days and on top of this your one year old only has four nappies left.”
Luckily, after lots of hard work, Ricky and his family are no longer having to live payslip to payslip and are looking to the future. They’re certainly inspirational, to say the least.
Financial journalist, author, TV presenter and workshop host, Jasmine Birtles is an expert when it comes to all things personal finance related. Whether she’s sharing tips on making money from lost luggage or providing readers with an A to Z of saving money, her website MoneyMagpie is a brilliant resource for anyone looking to pay close attention to their bank balance. Check out the fantastic video below designed to help people in debt:
From Aldi to Harrods
If there’s a way for money to be made, you can almost guarantee that From Aldi To Harrods will have covered it before. This is a particularly good resource if you’ve exhausted traditional ways of money making and you’re looking for new quirky ideas. You’ll have to go in open minded though, as some tips include selling your ‘well worn’ shoes on eBay (the smellier the better) to talking on adult chat lines (I’d be so rubbish at this: “I will …erm…erm…”) Pretty sure I’d nail the smelly shoes trick though.
Whether she’s imparting her words of wisdom to help you save money on beauty products or sharing some tips for treating the kids without breaking the bank, Savvy Annie is well worth following. In 2012 she won the UK’s Smartest Shopper award by Savoo, and since then she’s spent so much time crafting this amazing blog. Here’s Annie talking about the perks of a capsule wardrobe:
She’s tight, she’s funny, she saves you lots of money…Frugal Queen! I can’t take credit for that little jingle as I’ve pinched it straight from Frugal Queen’s blog. When it comes to saving money I’m a big believer in cooking from scratch. I hear a lot of people talking about how eating unhealthily is cheaper than eating well, but this is simply not the case as Frugal Queen proves. By buying healthy ingredients and cooking great meals from scratch and in bulk, you can save TONS of cash while improving your health. If you want to learn more about this, give Frugal Queen a follow. She’s also an advocate for making the most of leftovers. You’ll love her.
Trash is for Tossers
If you’re still not convinced that eating well can save money, give Lauren Singer at Trash is for Tossers a follow. Saving money isn’t Lauren’s primary focus, she’s more concerned about reducing her carbon footprint and keeping waste to an absolute minimum. In fact, she managed to fit two years’ worth of rubbish into one jar! ONE. JAR! But although she doesn’t really talk about saving money, nobody is that eco-friendly without having a fat purse as a result. Besides, we know for a fact she isn’t wasting her income on morning coffee shop runs, lunchtime Subways and a Tesco microwave meal for tea at the end of the day!
You Could Save
Whether you want to slash your energy bills or reduce the amount you spend running your car, You Could Save is a really versatile resource with hundreds of useful articles. In January 2009 the website was listed in Times Online’s Top 20 Best British Personal Finance Blogs.
Doesn’t Grow On Trees
Created by financial expert, Richard Fenton, Doesn’t Grow On Trees is a great website for everyone from first-time buyers to families. Richard really does know his stuff and in 2012 he co-hosted a BBC 3 programme, Property Virgins, where he helped prospective home owners to save the money they required to get on the ladder.
Money Saving Expert
Okay, you probably will already know all about Martin Lewis and his amazing website Money Saving Expert, but I couldn’t compile this list without including this great resource. It really has become a one-stop-shop for everything money-related and I love how great the MSE team are at explaining things. Whether you’re trying to get your head around ISAs or the reason why you should open multiple bank accounts to maximise your savings interest, this is the place for you. The forum is also fantastic too!
I’m always keen to find new blogs and websites to follow, so let me know your favourites in the comment section below.
If your wardrobe is overflowing with things you never wear and you’re keen to have a good clear out, there are plenty of ways to get rid of your old clothes and make a bit of extra cash. Here are just five options to consider:
I’ve made a decent amount selling mine and my brother’s old clothes on eBay, but I had to put a lot of time and effort into photographing, listing and posting each items. Also, just as you think you’ve made a decent profit from your old threads, you’ll be hit by eBay and Paypal fees. It can be a bit frustrating.
Most of the items I sold went for less than we’d hoped for, which was annoying to say the least. However, if you have several brand new or high-value items that you no longer want, I’d recommend giving it a go. After all, you’re likely to get more for high quality stuff on eBay than you’d get on Facebook or on a car boot sale.
2. Facebook groups
Whether you’ve got high or low value items to sell, Buy, Sell and Swap sites on Facebook can be a great way of making money with minimum effort. You won’t have to leave the comfort of your own sofa (except to open the door) as the buyer will come to you.
However, adult clothing doesn’t usually do as well on Facebook as toys, furniture, and electrical items. Baby and children’s clothes often see a better result as long as you’re willing to sell them at a good price!
Be wary of time wasters. Some people will message you and offer to buy an item, only to never turn up. Since you’re selling clothes, there’s also a risk that someone will come round, try the item on and change their mind. Consider selling clothes in bulk to buyers to make more money and have a good clear out.
Shopping app, Depop makes it really easy for people to sell unwanted clothes. All you have to do is take a photo of the item on your phone, list it on Depop, and share it on social media before waiting for someone to purchase it.
It’s growing in popularity too, making it easier for sellers to see the back of their items. The app was downloaded 1.8m times in 2014 and more than one million new products are listed each month.
It’s free to download and listing is also free. However, Depop will add a 10% fee on the total price of each sale. I’d say that’s still a pretty good deal. Don’t forget though, Paypal will also add charges once payments have been made.
If your wardrobe is overflowing with expensive and designer items, BuyMyWardrobe might be your best bet. It started in 2008 as a fashion event for recycling designer clothes, but due to growing demand from both buyers and sellers, a website was introduced with over 95,000 users.
I personally think it’s a great idea as as you’d certainly struggle to get a good price for designer items on a car boot sale or on Facebook.
Since I don’t really own any designer clothes, I haven’t used this website before myself. If you have, I’d love to update this post with your thoughts. Get in touch!
5. Car boot sales
If you have a lot of old clothes and very little time to spare, I’d definitely recommend having a car boot sale. Park up at around 6am and you could have a few hundred pounds by lunch time. However, car boot sales are also a bit of a gamble. You could end up walking away having sold very little. It really is a case of you win some you lose some. Nevertheless, if you just want to see the back of things and don’t have loads of spare hours to devote to eBay, I’d give a car boot a go. Driving home with very little in the boot of your car, but a hell of a lot in your wallet is a great feeling.
Have I missed anything? If you’ve got any other suggestions for ways to sell old clothes please get in touch in the comments or send me a tweet @CantSwingACat.
Doing a car boot can be a bit of a gamble. Sometimes you can drive away with an empty ride and a few hundred quid in cash, other times you find yourself struggling to fit everything back in your car despite having driven it to the venue with no problems at all.
Last Sunday, my dad and I did a car boot that was a bit of a flop. We didn’t walk away completely empty handed; I made £75 toward my house deposit, but I did have to sell a lot of stuff for far less than I’d originally hoped. I also had to get up at 5am. That was pretty rubbish.
The day before the car boot we had everything priced up. Some of my brother’s shirts were £4 each, I had dresses for £3 and my mum had a selection of tops for £2 to £3 too. My dad, who has somewhat of a minimalist wardrobe, contributed CDs, DVDs and books instead.
But despite having everything clearly labelled, nearly every person who showed an interest in the things we were selling offered us a ridiculous amount of money that was FAR less than what we’d asked for. “Will you take 50p for this t-shirt?” What? That barely worn one from Superdry. No pal.
After a few hours went by, with very few sales, we decided to reduce our prices. But then another hour went by and we had to reduce them even more. It got to a stage where I put a huge “EVERYTHING £1!” sign on the clothes rails. I figured that if everything went for a quid, I’d walk away happy and we’d have little to take home. Problem is…more of the potentially eBay worthy stuff (not pictured) got snapped up and tons of other bits remained.
It was then, in a moment of pure madness that I reduced it all to 50p each. I don’t really know what I was thinking to be honest. I still actually like the crazy green dress in the picture below. I’d only put it on the car boot because I wanted to exchange it for a bit of money that would buy a tiny piece of my future house.
If I hadn’t reduced things so drastically, I would have made a lot less than I did, but in hindsight I probably should have saved them for another day. Luckily, I did remove a few of my brother’s more valuable items of clothing in the last hour or so after deciding to give them a go on eBay, so there’s still more money to be made. It just takes so much time though!
If you want to have a big clear out and get rid of lots of stuff cheaply, car boots can be ideal but there’s always a risk that you won’t do as well as you planned. If you’re concerned about getting the best price for individual items you may be best trying eBay…though it does require a considerable amount more time and effort.
For many A Level and GCSE students, the last few weeks have been filled with stress and worry. With young people under such a huge amount of pressure to succeed in life, for many, not getting the results they want can be a huge disappointment. But it’s important to remember that even if you’re unable to get into university, there are plenty of options available. Whether you start an apprenticeship, get a full time job, or take some time out to travel and decide what to do next, with a bit of hard work and determination, you can still have a bright future ahead of you.