New Year. New Me? New Books!

Yeah, I know I missed the Christmas rush in pushing these on you poor, unsuspecting readers.

But I HAVE actually finished the two books I wanted to finish for 2015. And I HAVE published them.

So here is my first book.

On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

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Naturally all about money. From the basics to the crazy. For areas where I wasn’t sure (sizing down shirts??? MOT???) I asked friends and relatives. Everything else is me and my insane habit of never wanting to spend.

The second one?

The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide.

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For everyone who likes the idea of my sort of lifestyle, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Or for people who hate the idea of my lifestyle, but are stuck housewifing. Or for people who are single, clueless about cleaning and sick of living in filth. Just the bare-bones basics of keeping a house tidy.

Buy them, advertise them for me, send an email asking for a free copy if you know me, I don’t mind. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Reading!

10 Reasons You’re Told To Avoid Unmonetized Work.

Many people are unhappy to do unmonetized work. And that’s fine. It’s your choice to only do work you’re paid for and to pay others to do your unpaid work. But some people definitely get defensive and even hostile when you mention your own decision to do unmonetized work.

Whether you’re a home-maker or a community gardener, whether you’re making your own bread or building your own furniture, someone always emerges with a critical eye. Often they just feel the need to counter your points with comments about how they couldn’t possibly do unmonetized work. But sometimes when you defend your choices the critics become hostile. It becomes clear that they’re for some reason unhappy with the fact you’re doing something for yourself.

Which, on the surface, isn’t very sensible. After all, if you don’t care when they hire a gardener or buy a pie, why should they care when you trim the hedge or bake a pie?

Well here are ten reasons why various types of person may feel insulted, cheated or ostracized by your choice to be self-sufficient.

1: Greed.

The biggest one is a personal demon.

Some people are simply too greedy to do anything for free. They can’t see why anyone would or should do anything for free.

These people, deep down, see some benefits from self-sufficiency and know they have some time to put into unmonetized work. But they don’t want to.

And when they see someone work for free, it touches on a negative aspect of their own mentality. So they have to make you doubt yourself, make you admit that for them it would be impossible, anything to justify their own greed.

2: Import, value and sales taxes.

Governments have a vested interest in you not making anything on your own. When you start with simple goods the tax you pay on them is minimal. The real tax money is in luxuries.

When you make your own wine from foraged fruits, the government has no tax power over your drinks, they make no money on them. They would much rather you bought a bottle of wine at the store.

3: Power thirst.

Some people have an amount of control over you through the services they offer.

If the person presenting the critique is asking you to hire them, offering their services for cheap or for free, anything to stop you from doing the job yourself… then they enjoy having power over you.

4: Rat race.

For many everyday people, the concept of the rat race is a sort of comfort. The idea that everyone from the bottom to the top of the 99% is trapped. Nobody has a choice. Taxes are inevitable. You have no way out, even past retirement.

It can trigger a sort of envy and anxiety for some when they see that you can do your own work for free and cut costs that way.

5: Neediness and loneliness.

Similar to the power-hungry, the needy and lonely fear losing you. But they aren’t trying to manipulate you or control you. They simply fear that by changing your habits you are adopting a culture that’s too different to theirs.

These people want reassurance that they will be a part of your life even if you stop shopping for clothes and spend your evenings baking pies.

6: Products to sell.

Obviously, anyone with a finished product to sell doesn’t want you to make your own.

If someone is telling you about the dangers of home-canning or gardening, trying to dissuade you from cooking from scratch or ironing at home, then ask yourself whether they are selling the product you were trying to make.

7: Income taxes.

Of course, another way the government benefits from monetized work is income tax. When you earn money, you pay taxes on it. When you use that money to hire someone, they pay taxes on it. But if you do the work yourself then to tax money is paid on it.

8: Retirement.

Some friends and family may have concern for you if you choose to do unmonetized work. Whether it’s your only work or you also have another job, the fact that you’re dedicating hours to work that doesn’t involve money can make some people concerned for your retirement plans.

Sometimes this comes from a selfish place: they do not want to care for you. But often it just comes from confusion and concern.

9: Welfare.

If you’re doing unmonetized work then welfare becomes a hot topic.

On the one hand, if you’re not on welfare some people come to believe you are entitled to it and believe welfare would be a better option than self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, if you receive any welfare at all, other people will insist that you should spend your time working for money instead.

10: Crab bucket.

Ultimately, if you do unmonetized work you can’t be doing anything right.

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to use and consume, to earn and to spend. By stepping out of the money cycle in any aspect of your life you are defying our culture, our society.

And nobody wants their friends, their subordinates, their family or their coworkers to belong to a different society than them. Be it because of their job, their ideology or their personal demons, there are many crabs in the bucket that want to pull you back.

It’s up to you to decide what you will do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

9 Insanely Cheap Online Shops!

Everyone loves a good bargain. And I for one am happy to use charity shops, reduced-price sections of supermarkets, value high-street retailers and farmer’s markets to try and get everything at an awesome price.

But what about the savvy online shopper? And what about items you can’t find in your home town? I’m sure you’ve already got your own go-to websites or stores for certain things but, just in case, I’m sharing nine incredibly cheap online shops with you!

1: Hidden Fashion.

Hidden Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Hidden Fashion is a UK clothes store that sells all sorts of fashionable, current clothing for men, women and children. They do deliver worldwide, but expect to be charged by the kilo, which could add up outside of Europe!

They seem to work with high street surplus, so the quality goes up and down depending on the season and where they got it from, sort of like 99p stores, if you’re familiar with them. There is a lot of variety and the sorting tool makes it easy to find whatever you want.

Their clothes are some of the cheapest I’ve seen around, at £5 or less for everything. I wouldn’t use it for anything fancy as you may not get the best quality, but for one-off items and everyday wear I would definitely recommend it. Delivery costs for the UK start at £2.99, so really you’re paying £4-8 per item, but when you can get leggings or shoes for £1, it’s probably worth it.

2: Nut Site.

NutSite - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing that can get expensive in stores are seeds, nuts and grains. It seems the little packets come with a surcharge that makes them crazily expensive, but at the same time nobody buys them in large enough quantities to drop the price.

Nut Site is a US based wholesaler for nuts, seeds, candy, you name it. Pretty much everything in bulk. Which means that as long as you’re happy to deal with 10kg of peanuts, you can save a good few dollars compared to in-store prices.

As far as I can see, they don’t offer free delivery. But if you try and make a purchase from them, please tell me what delivery options they have and how reasonable the pricing is!

3: Buy Whole Foods Online.

Buy Wholefoods Online - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the UK, definitely try out this site. It’s basically the same deal as Nut Site, except I actually have personal experience shopping there and they’re great.

They have a wide variety of nuts, seeds, legumes and grains, as well as organic foods and specialist products, all at next-to wholesale prices. They offer free delivery on UK orders over £30 and deliver to various European countries, with free deliver on orders over £100.

The delivery service is fast and trackable and the quality of the foods is excellent, especially when you can buy crushed nuts and seeds to cut your costs.

4: A’Gaci.

A'Gaci - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

A’Gaci is a US-based store that sells reasonable quality womens’ clothing. They have some high street stores, but if you’re not near any of them, you may not know about their clothing.

The lines are fashionable and, whilst the prices aren’t exactly dead cheap, you can get top-end quality for mid-range prices. Shopping online with them is apparently very easy and the delivery costs are reasonable even for small purchases. Though, be warned, they only deliver to mainland USA, that is, excluding Hawaii and Alaska.

5: 5.99 Fashion.

5.99 Fashion - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a middle ground, try out 5.99 Fashion. Every item besides the sale is $5.99! They have a good range of surplus clothing that is often trendy and comfortable. And the sale area lowers the prices even further, down to $0.99!

They also stand out as a clothing store that not only offers womens’, mens’ and kids’ clothes, but also plus-sized clothing (up to 4XL and 18 tops and size 24 bottoms, as of writing this) which is all at the same reasonable price, often present in the sale area and just as cute, fashionable and suitable as the regular sizes. They also offer free returns and exchanges, to make any less flattering purchases that little bit less embarrassing and expensive.

6: Everything £5.

Everything 5 Pounds - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

For a similar, UK-based store, check out Everything £5, where, you guessed it, everything besides sale items will be exactly £5! Again, there are some delivery costs, so it all depends on the weight, but even a few pairs of boots, which would be quite heavy, come up at flat delivery, so you’d probably have to be buying a crate to make delivery expensive.

And it’s another site with reasonable plus sized clothing at the same price as regular sizes, in fashionable cuts and up to 4XL, or UK size 44. So if you’re a British plus sized woman, this store will offer you the same benefits as 5.99. The only difference is that their policy on refunds doesn’t seem quite so kind!

7: Tesco clearance.

Tesco Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

Another thing worth checking out is the clearance sections of supermarkets and general stores. Not the reduced aisles, the clearance on their online stores! You can snap up some straight-out-the-warehouse bargains alongside your grocery shop by checking out Tesco’s online clearance section!

8: Walmart clearance.

Walmart Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And if you’re from the USA, have no fear: Walmart also has its own online clearance section for you to peruse a couple of times a week.

9: Argos clearance.

Argos Clearance - 9 Insanely Cheap Online Stores

And for all sorts of random things, have a look at Argos’ clearance sections. After all, if you’re shopping at Argos anyway, it’s no trouble to sneak a peek at the clearance!

And those are nine online stores where you can get all sorts of awesome stuff cheaply and save your family money on clothes, household goods and expensive groceries.

Where do you like to shop online? Have any hidden bargain stores you’re just dying to share? Please mention any! And feel free to share your experience shopping at any of the above stores. All input appreciated. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… overcome impulse buying.

Everyone impulse buys to a degree. When we have some spare money (or sometimes when we don’t!) and we see something on the shelf, in the window or on Pinterest that we want, a few times we will buy it. And every time we will feel the pull. But what if you could enjoy window shopping without coming home with anything? Or browse the supermarket and get only what you need? Or go charity shopping without buyer’s remorse? Or leaf through a magazine and not feel jealous? It is possible, but it involves some careful retraining.

1: Make lists.

The first trick is to make lists. We will look at a couple of sorts of lists but, as with organization and memory, writing any suitable lists can help you avoid distractions.

You will firstly write lists of what you need. The most common list in this category is the shopping list: what you set out to get. Another list is a general list, where you note what sort of things you need (vegetables, protein, soap), allowing you to go with cheaper or better options when available. And another of my favourites is a permissions list, where you note what things you can buy if you spot them, allowing you to buy things you can stock up on, like freezables, canned goods and soaps when they are cheap.

And next you will write lists of what you want. This list is composed over the course of a week. Do not use it to write down everything you see that you fancy, because this interferes with step 3 and can make you miserable. Instead, when you see something you want, forget about it and wait two or three days. If after that it’s still on your mind, write it down. At the end of every week, have a look online to see what is the best way of buying one of these and whether it’s worth it. Often you will forget about most things before the day is out and become disinterested in other things when you consider their impracticalities with a cool head.

2: D.I.Y.

The next stage is to look at your list of impractical wants and ask yourself what you can make. These are the best things to start with. Often newbie diyers throw themselves in the deep end, not by making something too complicated, but by making something they need, or making something from their want list that wouldn’t be terrible to buy. When you try and start with things you need, you feel too much urgency and may mess it up or lose hope. When you try and start with things you would have bought anyway you are setting a standard you are bound to fall below, as it was already cheap, practical and suitable enough.

But by starting with things you wouldn’t otherwise have, you can ease your way into D.I.Y. and make it more worth your while. This means that your confidence grows and you end up relegating more and more of your wants to the D.I.Y. list, leading to fewer impulse buys. (Though your impulse crafting may skyrocket!)

3: Abundance mentality.

This term is often associated with the PUA community’s idea of viewing sex as plentiful, to stop young men thirsting for it and letting that thirst blind them. But whatever angle you take on that definition, it also applies to other facets of life, especially buying. You most resent not getting something when you think you can’t. You most dwell on something when you’re scared you may never be able to get one again. You most want to buy the less you are allowed to buy. This is a perfectly logical pattern for humans. When we deprive ourselves of things, our primitive selves assume they are scarce and, therefore, conclude it is more vital to grab them when we can.

What you need to realize is that you can afford that cupcake maker, those shoes or that ham hock. The money is there. You just don’t need it or really want it. Even if you don’t have the money in the bank, remind yourself that it isn’t because you have no money, it’s almost certainly because you prioritized another luxury, like smoked salmon, a new bag or some yarn for knitting.

Even if you can’t actually afford that thing at the present moment, it is better to train yourself to assume you can afford it, but don’t really need or want it. That way you are less likely to impulse buy when it is on offer, or when you find a similar item!

4: The second trip.

This is something that can very quickly annoy people you shop with, so it’s best applied when you are out on your own. Every shop requires two trips.

When we are shopping because we need something, we often pick up things we may not need. Start at the tills and browse your way around the supermarket. Put the things you came in for at one side of the basket or trolley and the things you picked up at the other side. Then, make your way back the same way you came. Put back anything you have changed your mind about in this time. I have no idea why this works so much better than just not picking it up in the first place, but it does!

When we are browsing, we often find ourselves shopping. Sometimes this isn’t so bad for a bit of fun and when we find things we like, but shopping sprees are rightfully seen as binge activities by many. Again, start at the end of town where your car is or where you will exit. Work your way through the shops in order. Don’t buy anything, just enjoy  browsing, take mental note of the items you like and their prices and carry on. On your way back, don’t go into any shop where you didn’t find anything you still want. If anything is really pulling you, just pop into the shop and, looking at it in your hands, ask yourself if it’s worth the price.

Your double trips may seem excessive, but the amount of money, stress and confusion they spare is helpful beyond belief.

5: Allowance.

Another trick is to give yourself a random expenses allowance. The allowance isn’t the random part, the expenses are! When you tell yourself you are only allowed one frivolous item or spontaneous purchase a week, it makes it a lot easier to control pointless clutter and lots of tiny buys. When you tell yourself that you have £X to spend on unplanned purchases, you spend less on each item. Whatever your impulse problem is, place a restriction on it. Preferably at half or below half your current levels. Ideally down to £5-10 or one single item.

This on its own can be hard to keep up, but combined with double trips, shopping lists and a well-cultivated abundance mentality, it is fairly easy to stick to even a ridiculous restriction.

The one caution is not to restrict it to nothing. The reason for this is the “diet effect”. The same way that someone on a low-carb diet will eat an apple and throw the diet out of the window for a day, someone who is not allowed to spend spontaneously will pick up one unplanned item and find their basket full of twelve more unplanned items. Rather than do this, having a little leeway will help you focus and allow for human error.

6: Practical shopping.

One sort of impulse buy that we can let go a little and go crazy on is practical purchases. When you find things on your permissions list, don’t stop yourself getting them. If you find something you will genuinely make good use of within seven days, contemplate a little, but you’re likely better off getting it.

Sometimes, going on a shopping spree with “anything for the house” or “ten new shirts” in mind can be very similar to going on one where anything goes. Of course, minus the guilt trip afterwards!

And those are my six steps to defeating impulse buying!

What are your tricks for avoiding spontaneous spending? What things do you find harder and easier to resist? Do share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting.