Slimming on a budget

My weight, which goes up easily, and down with a LOT of effort and willpower, has got out of hand again.

I don’t want to tell you what it’s currently at, but theNHS BMI calculator say I could do with losing 10 pounds, on top of what I’ve lost so far.

Ouch.

And I think my husband would also admit that he’d put on weight over the last year. The two of us have done well losing weight in the past when we compete, and so we are currently back in competition. My cousin gets married in a month, and that is our time frame for weight loss. And there’s money riding on this, by the way.

We each put £40 into a box and started competing. The rules are as follows:

The first person to a stone (I’m not sure why we never went metric when it comes to weight but never mind) wins £20 out of the pot, the overall winner gets the other £60.

Sounds like a lot, you say, and yes it kind of does, but the point is that we had to put in an amount that would be hard to lose and that would be nice to win.

The other thing is, Slimming World would have cost us £30 per person for the same length of time as the contest, and the money is just gone to a business. Our way, at least it stays in our household. And should one person win the stone, but lose overall, they’re only down £20 overall.

I have more weight to lose than him, but men lose weight faster in general, so hopefully it’s a fair fight.

Once a week we write our weights up on a chalk board and compare our losses. Seeing how well your competitor is doing is a spur to keep going.

It’s been a week and a half so far and I’m currently in the lead, having lost over half a stone. I am crazy trying though.

I’m using a couple of apps to help me in my quest to beat the bulge.

First off, is Simple weight tracker (free version). And it really is what it says in the name.

You give it your starting weight, then input your new weights as they drop. The app plots a nice little graph with a (hopefully) downward trajectory, calculating total weight lost.

There’s a free version and a paid-for version of this app with more features. Thus normally means that they bombard you with ads when you use the free version.

So far I find that they haven’t done this, so I’m quite happy about that.

The other app I’m making use of is a pedometer one, which I’m having mixed feelings about.

I’m not sure how accurate the counter is. Sometimes when I count in my head and compare to the app there is a bit of a discrepancy, to my detriment.

On one hand this is a good thing, because it forces me to do more steps, but, as I’m currently doing a pedometer challenge, this sucks.

However, on the positive side is the achievements. The app buzzes and notifies you when you pass each thousand steps, covering the screen with confetti when you log in to see how far you’ve gone.

Then there are badges. They look something like this:

It’s a great incentive to push yourself further. I’m determined to get my 20k one soon- I did 18.5k the other day, and I’m kicking myself for not walking round the block a few times. Next time.

On the downside, the app does eat battery power, so my phone is constantly charging. In addition, there are adds that keep popping up, but they’re not over the top.

So, how’s the weight loss going?

Good so far. 9 lbs (just over 4kg) in 2 weeks. Such a rate of weight loss is probably unsustainable, but so long as it’s a steady drop, I don’t mind.

The other good thing is that on my husband and my walks we pop into the various shops nearby and raid the reduced sections. Losing pounds and saving pounds at the same time.

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eBay Update week 2

Week 2 summary. 5/4/19

This week was the big week. I had 70-odd (some very odd!) items up for sale and 64 of those were auctions finishing on Sunday night.

It was a strange week, constantly hearing the little ker-ching of the eBay app, particularly on Sunday when the auctions were coming close to an end. That’s not a complaint by the way. I also found I was hovering on my phone, instead of just getting on with my day.

So, out of 64 items, only 19 sold through auction on Sunday. But I smashed my sales target, receiving around £120 after fees for my items. I was slightly disappointed as I’d hoped that I’d have a higher hit rate, but considering that quite a queue formed behind me at the post offices (plural: I split my trips in two because I didn’t want to overtax our local post office teller).

Not bad considering I still have another 45 items up for sale and some bids already.

I was very glad I’d collected together all of my packaging materials through the week, including a lot of boxes and a big roll of bubble wrap- all free. This meant that I was already preparing my parcels as the week went on. Most of the bubble wrap went on a single parcel of small espresso cups that had sat in my cupboard for 9 years and had only been used a handful of times. I sincerely hope they all get to their new owner safely.

A couple of boxes had to be cut down at the last minute as they were more than 16cm wide- a serrated bread knife soon fixed that problem.

So, things that sold well were clothes. The biggest surprise was a maternity dress of mine that sprang from around £8 to around £18 at the very last instant. It was a nice surprise and made up for a beautiful Wallis dress that only went for around £3. Another dress that sold well was a Mantaray summer dress. The pregnancy dress was a size 18, the Mantaray a size 16 and I wonder if that was the pattern. From years of yoyo dieting I have, unfortunately got a wardrobe full of various sizes of clothes, so perhaps I’ll see what else can go.

In addition, a little Mini Boden cardigan sold well. I’d picked it up a while ago in a charity shop for 50p with the plan of holding onto it until it fitted my girls, but eBay day said that it needed to go. It went for around £6.50, so a nice mark up, which helped with some of the losses or depreciation in other items, like my Nintendo DS, which had been expensive to buy and only sold for about £12, including a game and a case. With it, I should perhaps have used the ‘Buy it now’ feature, instead of the auction. Still, it had only been gathering dust, so off it went.

A couple of large books also sold. My problem there is that i don’t have a suitable parcel. I’ll either have to cobble something together or buy something…. I’ll try cobbling first.

Things that didn’t sell were the coins, apart from a nice Russian one from the 80s. Perhaps a bit of patience is needed on that.

The Ebay photo was a bit better than this one

I had automatic repost on most of my items, and went back in to my account to manually repost the rest. 6 items are sitting with bids on them, and I’ve sold 3 PS4 games as ‘buy it now’ this week, so the decluttering is continuing with no additional work from me.

Maybe after another week of trying auctions I’ll swap them back to buy it now and just leave them to sit.

I’ve also, to be honest, collected together a bunch more items to post on Ebay, though I’m not rushing to get them all up.

eBay update week 1

Week 1 summary. 28/4/19

Seven items sold in my first week of auctions, as well as five ‘buy it now’ (BIN) items, so ten sales total.

That’s approximately £30 after fees for the BIN and around £42 after fees for the auctions. £72 in total. Not bad at all for a days’ work. Of course, this is me just recouping money that I’d previously spent, rather than me making profit, but, frankly it’s nice to recover some of the value of things.

I was a bit disappointed in the price I got for my bugle (but, y’know, not everyone needs one), and a nice brand new with tags (BNWT) bodywarmer that was my husbands- both had had a few watchers, but they didn’t translate into high figures. The pair of Crocs though sold for a surprising £10. I’d have been happy with half of that.

 

Three auction parcels are posted and off to their buyers, two more are still awaiting payment and the last two are still here because I need suitable boxes for posting them. Fortunately I should be able to recycle some boxes from work, so it won’t cost me anything. I’ll have to be more organised for next week though as I currently have 64 auctions up for sale and already have bids on 7 items. There’s a big interest in the clothes I have up for sale. There’s also plenty of watchers and views of other items, so I’ll hope for the best. As soon as something gets a bid I’ll package it up so it’s ready to go, rather than panicking and trying to do it all on Sunday evening.

Thanks to a friend I have a big stack of used jiffy envelopes to reuse so anything that’s small enough will go in those. It’s good because it means I can keep my posting costs low, whilst reusing something that might otherwise be bin fodder. Seeing as I detest single use plastic, it’s gratifying to be able to give it another go in the post.

But, even with 12 items away to new buyers and 64 for the incoming week, there’s still more work to be done to put items up for sale on eBay: more clothes, more coins, a couple of books and at least one pair of shoes.

However, I’m not going to rush putting up more things for sale. I’ll take my own advice and do this bit by bit.

EBay update week 3

Week 3 was relatively small. I haven’t posted any new items this week, so it was the same ones from last week riding over again.

I had a few bids throughout the week, but not too many. And none for big money- but still, they were coming.

One of the first things to collect a bid was a DVD box set of Eerie Indiana- remember that show?

I’d had the DVD up for sale for ages as ‘buy it now’ but I bit the bullet, lowered the price and let it go as an auction. Off it went.

I also sold ‘Pushing Daisies’ a great show from about 10 years ago that I loved, but was sadly cancelled after season 2 without any proper conclusion. Anyway… it’s sold.

In total 10 items sold this week. This time there was a different pattern to the bids. There were a lot more last minute bids of items that I didn’t think would sell, like a random camera case for example. All for very small amounts. If I’d only been posting one item, I might not have bothered.

The odd thing was that my Chinese chess set which had no bids last week suddenly had a small bidding war, pushing the price up above the asking price. A couple of extra pounds in my bank. I tweaked the title a little between last week and this and I guess that maybe made it easier to find.

Strange that after 2 weeks these things suddenly sell, but I suppose it entirely depends on when someone searches for something.

I don’t mind. It’s more space in my cupboards, and it’s passive income, which is even better.

And someone posted this to a facebook group I’m in, which I think is helping me a lot.

Now it’s just a case of trying to convert it back.

Next, to sell a couple of big items in the garage 🙂

Want Cheaper cinema tickets? Join the club!

We’re currently sitting in the Dundonald omniplex, waiting for the movie to start. It’s Avengers: Endgame, for your information, but I’m not giving any spoilers, so don’t worry about that.

We got our tickets for 10% off the price of our tickets, by simply signing up to their online membership and buying your tickets online.

If you’re an avid cinema goer, that could save you a lot of money over the years.

And, if you’re not near Dundonald, never fear, a lot of cinemas offer similar schemes. Why not have a look before you go?

I would say it we could have saved us some money towards our popcorn. But then, we don’t buy popcorn at the cinema (the markup is insane).

I won’t suggest you bring your own snacks. Because… munch… I’d never do that myself.

EBay update

Hello folks, I’ll keep updating this page to let you know how the effort of eBay day pans out.

The whole thing, has taken a looong time; photographing, compiling, writing, photo editing etc. And I still have a bundle of clothes to put up for sale- they needs an iron to look at their best, so I’ll hold off on that for now.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d ever do this again as it’s been such an effort, but, hopefully after this I won’t ever have so much clutter again. It would have been better to do like 2 items a day, over a long time, but then, if not for eBay day I probably wouldn’t have bothered bringing all my items together and working my way through them. Swings and roundabouts.

So, so far I’ve sold 5 items, and I have bids on another 5 items. I also have 23 watchers on a pair of Crocs, which I think might be a record. Watchers don’t necessarily turn into buyers, so I won’t count my chickens. So far that equates to roughly £20 after fees. Like I said, it won’t make me a millionaire, but that’s not the aim.

I’ve already got some of them wrapped up and ready to go. Hopefully no one wants extra photos…

I was only able to get a few items up in time this week- auctions perform best when they’re 7 days long, and finish on a Sunday evening, so I only got a few up before I ran out of Sunday. I’ve used the scheduling tool for another 55 (!) lots to start next Sunday. Even if I only get the asking price that would be over £100, but I’m really hoping to double that. I’ve kept the starting price low to try and attract buyers, so we’ll see.

To see how the eBay adventure went, please click on the links below:

Week 1 Summary. 28/4/19

Week 2 Summary 5/5/19

Week 3 Summary 12/5/19

Happy eBay day!

Just a quick post tonight.

According to a survey by eBay we have around £4000 of unwanted goods in our houses.

I didn’t believe that to be true for myself. Or at least, not anymore.

But then, today was eBay day.

I cleared the dining table and I gathered up everything I didn’t want that I figure would be saleable on eBay. Small, tacky or very heavy things will be sold locally, or donated.

And I was blown away by how much stuff I had. And this was before I went through my clothes.

It’s been a day of photographing everything, and hopefully getting it all up for sale this week.

One thing I stumbled upon was my old coin collection. There’s nothing in there that will make me a millionaire, but a few things that should be worth a fiver or so. I reckon about £50-£60 if I break it all up into sensible batches.

Keep scrolling if you want to see some of my eBay fodder.

A small selection of my coin collection
A shogi board that’s sat in my attic for years
I love this, but hopefully it’ll go to a new home soon
And some geekery, of course

And… A military bugle, because every house needs one (except mine)

I’ll keep you posted.

Finger on the pulse

Aim two for Easter is to have a proper cupboard clear out. Again.

I’ve been inspired by Jack Monroe recently (A girl called Jack), after seeing her ‘9p’ lentil burger recipe. In fact, I spent quite some time browsing her website and bookmarking some more things to try.But Jack’s recipe reminded me of how much I like lentils.

Cheap- they come in large bags of dried red, green and yellow. Get them in the whole foods or world food section. The world foods section is generally cheaper. Easy- unlike dried beans or peas they don’t require much cooking and they don’t need to be soaked. Though equally, it doesn’t seem to do them much harm.

Versatile- whilst not having much flavour themselves, they are good at taking on other flavours. A staple of Indian and Eastern cooking, they work especially well with curries.

Bulk- here’s the main reason I like these bad boys. They are AMAZING for bulking out other foods, and in particular, minced beef. On Monday, I made an awesome, if slightly saltier-than-intended spaghetti Bolognese (don’t you try and tell me there’s no such thing!). It would have done myself and my husband for one meal each with a little left over (it was intended for the kids too, until the salt misshap), but by adding in two large handles of lentils it has been stretched to four meals, with one left over for lunch tomorrow. Not bad for about 10p of lentils.

Because the lentils take a little while to cook, they go in before the meat with some water to allow them to soak. Bulking out a meaty meal means that the lentils take on much of the meaty flavour, and they reduce the amount of meat you need.

Can’t complain about that 🙂

A financially frustrating week

It’s been a week of bad financial fortunes, one of those weeks when it feels like money won’t stop trickling through your fingers.

First off, my car is going for its MOT, and it’s service revealed that it would need two new tyres. I always put decent tyres on my car because I’m strong believer in the Sam Vimes Boot theory.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

Terry Pratchett Men at Arms

The only problem with that theory is that it means that you have to spend a whack of money right now. Roundabout tyres in East Belfast is reasonable enough, but it still stings a bit. £120 down.

Well, actually I found 3p in the car park, so we’ll call it £119.97.

As well as this, thanks to a mistake with my phone provider, I was out another £19.

Then followed a barage of small losses: like, I had to throw out 4 avocados that had gone off, I accidently wrecked a footstool I had up for sale on Gumtree, a pram I’d been saving “just in case we have a third baby” was discovered to be covered in mould and a pair of kid’s jeans I’d sold on eBay went as a parcel, rather than the large letter price I’d costed for. There went another £1.50. Debt by a thousand cuts.

Oh yes, and the massive rates bill arrived. I can’t remember how much it is exactly, but it’s definitely over £1000. We save each year so we can pay it off in one go. It only saves us about £40 by doing so, but that’s something, and it means we don’t have it coming out of our bank accounts each month.

To top all that off, I had a very poor week of eBay and Gumtree sales. I even had someone offer to trade me a haircut for an item up for sale on Gumtree. I didn’t reply.

I put some more things up on eBay to sell as well, including a brand new boardgame I’d debated back and forward about keeping. I decided to give it a try and if it didn’t sell I’d take it down again after a week. I posted it for sale at about 8pm, by 9pm it was sold.

That made me feel a bit better.

I’ve sold 2 other board games on eBay with decent returns. An Anhk Morpork game sold for £75, and a Game of Thrones one for around £40, so it’s clear there is a market for them. I’ll have to dig through the games cupboard and see if there are any more we don’t need.

I posted this one today using a Frankenbox, because the box I had was 3cm too large to be a small parcel. And yes, I know it looks messy (there was more tape to follow) it was secure, I recycled, and I saved £2.25- which made up for when it went against me earlier in the week.

I’ve also listed a raincoat and a nice equestrian jacket on eBay and have relisted the Silver Cross pram on Gumtree. There are a few more things that I’ll post online this week or next during the Easter holidays.

I’ve put a box of books in the garage as part of the car boot pile for during the summer. I find doing car boot sales a bit stressful, but I’ve done pretty well at them almost every time I’ve run one. To be fair, I charge very little, as I’m mostly just clearing space, rather than recouping money, but hey, it all adds up.

My plans for the Easter holidays then is to go through the house and identify everything I want to put up for sale. I’m going to make more use of the auction, rather than the ‘buy it now’ feature just to get things moving.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Wish me some good financial luck for the rest of the month 🙂

Ooh, hey. I just got a bid on something!