4 Things I Learned From Twitter.

Been a bit exhausted following leaving work, especially so considering I basically removed a year worth of mess from a friend’s house. People seem quite pleased about this whole “nesting instinct” thing!

But that means I’ve been able to go through my Twitter patterns of the last month or so. And here are 4 lessons to learn from Twitter.

1: Finding data matters. Research matters more.

Twitter is great for grabbing links, facts and stats. But every single one needs to be investigated. With all the fake news hysteria and mass media being as fake as fake news, it’s important to check our information not just against various sources, but against sanity itself. And if it doesn’t matter: then don’t file it as fact or fiction, file it as a random anecdote which does not matter.

2: Writing succinctly is a skill.

I’m finding my writing is clearer and more succinct from using Twitter. Forcing myself to fit long essays into 140 character shouts is expanding the vocabulary I use without making me sound like a massive nerd who uses words nobody understands.

3: Exchanging ideas is great, but you need space.

Twitter is amazing for swapping ideas, provided you can get on the same page and sum up your points. But you will always need to take some time out to process your thoughts. Most of the people I know who blog well and use Twitter have their own form of meditation where they set time aside to think through new ideas and formulate them better. Talking is wonderful, but we have to think too.

4: The wittiest, most liked stuff is also the most useless to you

Seriously, the stuff that gets the most favourites will be stuff that people agree with and are comfortable with. Being snappy and witty makes you more popular and puts you in contact with more interesting people, but don’t confuse that for personal growth, achievement, or important material. Instead, look to the things you talked about more and were recognized for less. That is where your ideas are developing, being challenged, growing solid. That is what you need to work on.

That said, I probably need to quieten my Twitter habit back down a little. Not entirely sure yet where this new activity fits into my old #NoNothingNovember challenges. What do you think?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

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!

6 Jobs To Do From Home.

With how much I go on about traditional roles and their benefit to couples, women and men, some may think I don’t support the idea of women working. However I do think women should work. Firstly because avoiding hard graft isn’t a good indicator of character. Secondly because everyone needs hobbies. Thirdly because in this economy both partners need to make and save money together. Fourthly because it offers you some independence in case your partner loses his job, passes away or, yes it is a possibility, leaves. In short, work is good. But not all work is created equal. I also believe most women are better off and happier in traditional roles, away from the stress and drudgery of office-life, looking after their children and their homes. Someone needs to make sure the food is made, the house is clean and tidy, the laundry is done and the cupboards are stocked. And how do I propose reconciling the two angles? By working from home, of course.

These are six jobs that you can do from home whilst still maintaining a home. They will be rated on time investment, startup cost and space needed. All of them can pay very well if you make good choices, use your time wisely and advertise far and wide. So pick one and stick with it, give them all a go or try them all at once and discontinue the least rewarding.

1.- eBay.

Many people think of eBay as either for people who want to sell old rubbish, people who want to buy something or people who have warehouses full of goods. But the simple reality is that you can start an eBay shop with an empty drawer or cabinet, a few hundred to spare, a local post office and a computer.

Time invested:

Wholly depends on how much you sell and how far you are from the post-office. Expect to make two trips a week to post items if you’re successful. Packing takes five minutes per item at the very most, but put time aside at the end of every day to pack anything you sold.

Money invested:

Depends on what you’re going to sell. However I would suggest that, to make it worthwhile, you will want to be investing at least £300 for your “starter” items. That might mean 300 items you buy at £1 and sell at £3 + P&P or 3 items you buy at £100 and sell at £150 + P&P. Therefore, good research is important.

Space needed:

This will grow as you do, but a drawer, cupboard or even a box is fine for storing your items. Maybe a corner of the room or a chair could be repurposed as a packing centre where everything is kept in easy-reach. If your business grows, you will likely expand into a room.

You will need:

-Something to sell.

-Somewhere to store it.

-Packing materials in the right sizes.

-A computer with a seller eBay account.

Things to be aware of:

-Choose a market you know well and research every item before buying it. Investing too much in a loss can seriously hit you when starting up.

-It will take 10 good reviews before your account is trusted by most buyers. It starts slow and steady and builds up from there, so always provide the best service possible.

-Make sure you get proof of postage or tracking on every item you send, to prevent false claims from would-be thieves.

-Only sell as much as you can handle. If you’re struggling when you have 200 items up at a time, don’t add another 100.

Possible returns:

This is a standard two months of selling on eBay. I have five to ten items up at a time, each worth £10-60. Many will sell within a week of posting, most will sell by the end of the 60 days.

Six jobs you can do from home.

2.- Tutor.

Private tutoring isn’t the scary monster a lot of people think it is. You do need a nice room to tutor from and a tidy, sorted house to welcome people into. Or a car so you can travel to students. You also need to know the subject you’re teaching and know it inside and out. But besides that, it isn’t that hard. I managed as an overworked A-level student without connections, so I’m pretty confident when I say that just about anyone could do it.

Time invested:

One hour minimum per lesson, plus fifteen minutes preparation for the first hour and an additional ten minutes for every subsequent hour, plus fifteen to thirty minutes homework prep where relevant. So if you have one student who has two hours a week, that is 135 to 165 minutes of your time.

Money invested:

Most of the financial investment is startup. You will need to make sure you have a computer you can always access, which may involve buying a new computer, for instance. A couple of hundred pounds to remodel the room a little, get some extra furniture and stock up on “school supplies” would be needed. Then from there you only need to pay for the materials your students use and for renewing advertisements.

Space needed:

If you will tutor from your home, you will need a room that is quiet, inviting and well-equipped. This could be your living room if you don’t have kids and your partner is at work, but you will likely need a second room. If you tutor only as outcalls, then you just need space to store your materials. If you tutor only online, then you need a quiet room and little else.

You will need:

-A computer you can always access.

-Relevant books and resources.

-Accounts on various tutoring sites.

-Advertisements on free websites, paid websites and local newspapers.

-All relevant materials.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services if you plan on working with children.

Things to be aware of:

-Many parents will want to sit-in on the first few lessons.

-You can learn as you go along, but practising on friends and relatives first will help a lot.

-Your students will expect your home to be at a good temperature, pleasant-smelling, dustless and organized.

-You will need to adapt your language for every student and deal with people that you may find frustrating or annoying.

-Don’t take on a student you don’t think you can handle.

Possible returns:

Depends on the hours you work, but £6-25/hour is the usual range. Think £6 for something more people could offer, like knitting lessons, to £25 for something fewer people offer, like Mandarin Chinese lessons. You will have to charge around the same as others in your area and often you will charge less for classes at your home than you will for classes outside it.

3.- Housework.

We don’t tend to think of housework as something we can make money for at home. But many people are prepared to outsource some very simple tasks, so it could be worthwhile trying to do their work for some extra money! You could offer a laundry service, a meal prep service, shopping collection or even a firewood preparing service.

Time invested:

Completely dependent on your workload, but not a lot. The customers will drop off their laundry at your home, for example, or you can get ingredients and logs for your customers when you get your own. If you’re doing your own laundry, then put theirs through too. Do their ironing after yours. Collect their shopping when you’re in town. Cook all the meals in a couple of large pots, ready.

Money invested:

The cost of some extra detergent, electricity or ingredients.

Space needed:

No more than if you were doing the job on your own. Though if you’re looking at cooking you may need to upgrade your kitchen and get certified, depending on where you live!

You will need:

-Advertisements on free advertisement sites and in local newspapers.

-Any certification required by law in your area.

Things to be aware of:

-This will need to be something you already do to make it worth your time.

-Your reputation and reviews will be 100% based on customer satisfaction, there is no room to argue your case if you upset a customer.

-It could interfere with your life if you take on too much work.

Possible returns:

Not much, you’ll probably get £5-8 for every hour of work, but it’s extra money for minimal effort.

4.- Care.

Whether it’s pets, children, elderly or disabled relatives or just houseplants, almost everyone has something they need to care for in their lives. But people go on holidays, get ill and have overtime at work. So the care industries are an excellent place to make a little bit of money on the side.

Time invested:

Travel time and however many hours you’re accepting. You could only accept people within half an hour of your home, for example. Or only accept people who want care that is four times the travel time, for example someone who lives 45 minutes away but wants three hours of care.

Money invested:

Depends on the care. Often with pet-sitting and plant-sitting you will be left with the necessary food and care products. However with daycare you may need to assume you will be feeding the children. You will also need to adapt your house to make sure you can properly care for whoever you will care for. For example, you can’t take over elderly or disabled care for anyone if your spare room is up two flights of stairs.

Space needed:

A spare room for whoever you’re caring for. Be it a few dogs, some hens, some potted plants or a teenager, you will need a place for them to sleep, eat and get some privacy.

You will need:

-The time to travel to other people’s homes for care.

-The space to put-up however many people, pets or plants you will care for.

-Experience in a relevant field of care.

-A Disclosure of Barred Services for caring for children or other vulnerable people.

Things to be aware of:

-You may need certification for looking after certain pets or even endangered plants.

-Always investigate anything you’re not sure of and feel free to ask questions. If you’ve kept snakes for years, nobody will worry much if you’re not sure about a certain species.

-Your house will have to be safe, accommodating and roomy enough.

-What people care for may seem odd for you. Someone may love a potted plant more than you love your pets. Someone may want their terrapin to be pampered. If you must turn someone down, do so politely by explaining you’re not sure you could provide their loved one with the care he/she/it deserves.

Possible returns:

The minimum care salary for your area up to £25/h.

5.- Food.

Producing your own food may seem like a smart option, even if you’re space-restricted. But many people don’t realize how easily you can grow a little excess and sell it on. Everything from potatoes, to berries, to eggs, to jams, to cake can be produced in bulk and sold, provided you abide by local restrictions and regulations.

Time invested:

Even if you’re just growing and not processing anything, some time will need to be set aside. For example, if you have fifty rehoused hens that are largely still laying, it may not be enough to collect and box the surplus eggs. You will need to make sure the sizes are either separated (a box of smalls, a box of mediums and a box of larges, for example) or very well mixed (so no box is entirely smalls, for example). You will need to put your signs up. You will need to be hospitable to anyone who shows up asking about eggs and maybe show people the hens. In short, from the moment the sign goes out, you could be busy.

Money invested:

Not much. The cost of extra seeds or a bit of extra feed for some more hens isn’t that high. Just keep growing or producing whatever your land is good for.

Space needed:

Depends how large you want to go. On a medium garden you could probably make space for many vegetable and fruit plants. You could grow herbs and keep rabbits on a tiny patio. You could turn your whole garden over to laying hens. Look at what you have and see what you can do.

You will need:

-A sign to place somewhere fairly busy, with clear directions to your house.

-A sign for outside your house.

-Enough spare food to sell.

Things to be aware of:

-In some places you can only sell fresh produce, in others you need a license to sell certain items. Always check.

-Recommend use-by dates to your customers.

-Keep hygiene spot-on.

Possible returns:

Expect to sell a few baskets of items a day, so keep them priced moderately and it will be easy to get rid of surplus food and start making a profit on your own groceries!

6.- Writing.

This is one people don’t know how to get started on. The easiest way to just start writing immediately and make money is to use a freelance website like fiverr.com. That way you can learn what you’re good at and get ready for more challenging things, like writing ebooks, blogs or novels for publishers.

Time invested:

It takes around half an hour to set up the basics to look right, maybe fifteen minutes to set up each Gig. Advertising isn’t really needed for writing work.

Besides that, however much you want to work. You can expect many people to order many types of text, so consider making a Gig for each of them and then temporarily suspending some when you’re more overworked.

Money invested:

None at all. However bear in mind that all freelance websites will charge a fee and take it out of your earnings.

Space needed:

Somewhere quiet to sit and focus.

You will need:

-A working computer with a good writing program on it.

-A backup hard-drive in case anything happens to your computer.

-A quiet space to work from.

Things to be aware of:

-It’s better to cancel an order than to get overbooked.

-Encourage customers to contact you before ordering.

-Sometimes people will be annoying. If they start acting out, check their page for reviews from sellers. Chances are they’re a first time customer.

Potential earnings:

This is a month of fiverr earnings on the side of my main work, probably an hour a day at the most.

Six jobs you can do from home.And those are six jobs you can do from home with minimal investment in terms of time, money, energy and space. With all of them you largely work your own hours, can cancel and have a few weeks off when you need to or even increase the prices if demand is high. You could do a little of all of them or make one your full-time job.

Got any questions about getting started with any of these? Just ask and I’ll help you out!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

On A Budget: Easy Holidays.

From the book in progress, “On A Budget: The good housekeeper’s guide to economizing.”

The previous excerpts were on supermarket grocery shopping, time management, mending clothing, cooking and vouchers and coupons. This one is from the chapter “Holidays”.

2.- Staying at home, revisiting old favourites and exploring.

These are the options we first consider when we want to holiday on a budget. They’re often considered boring or difficult and can sometimes work out more expensive than a holiday abroad if they aren’t done right. So first we’ll address the issue of entertainment and then we will cover the costs.

To make the most of a staycation, as they’re sometimes called, we need to first consider what it is that we get out of a holiday abroad. If you go abroad for the entertainment of a big city, then think of the big cities in your own country that you have access to. If you go for a country retreat, then consider the countryside in your own country. Next we consider what we like doing. If we enjoy clubs and restaurants, then we need somewhere with vibrant nightlife. If we enjoy hikes and trails, then we need somewhere with mountains or at least hills. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re likely to find an equivalent that is nearer and cheaper. Make a list of places you’d like to go.

The next thing to ask ourselves is whether there is any way to make the accommodation easier. You may have a friend or a relative living in the sort of place you want to visit. Or you may have found a voucher for a hotel chain online. Anything to help you narrow down your list to something specific for this holiday.

Now you’ve found a few places where you can do what you intend to do and can stay cheaply, the final stage is to fill in the days. You may go to Cardiff for the nightlife, but what will you do during the day? Where do you want to eat or spend your afternoons? You may go to Cairngorm’s National Park to enjoy a country getaway, but what exactly do you plan on doing when you’re there? By filling-in the holiday you make it more complete, you add things for any other people you’re going on holiday with and you can start to already make plans to have fun without spending an arm and a leg.

Of course, you can work off your same list for several years if needs be, as you will likely uncover many new places to explore in your own country. This way we can make the most of our research, rather than returning to our usual holiday habits next year. It also makes for a more interesting holiday than going to the same place abroad every year, so the excitement of novelty should be enough to motivate you to carry on exploring your list.

The other option for years to come is to revisit some of your favourites. Say you spent a week in London, or a weekend visiting National Trust buildings. If you enjoyed that exact stay, you could repeat it again. Go to the same places, find ways of making them cheaper or easier and explore them some more. This is something people often do when going abroad but rarely get the most out of, as it’s hard to solidly explore a place when you’re relying on tour-guides, anglophone areas and maps to introduce you to new things. For example, I know many people who always go to the same place in France or Spain or Italy for their holidays. Same hotel, same restaurants, same activities. They’ve made it into a habit and don’t seem to enjoy it as much any more. And to boot it costs them a small fortune to go there! Meanwhile, Jon and I sometimes revisit places we’ve been before, but make sure that there’s something new to see, something we missed or that we haven’t been there for long enough so we can find it exciting again.

But the most important aspect is the exploring. Without exploring, anything can become dull, especially if it’s a repeat visit. Think of the difference between staying at a B&B for a few days, seeing a museum and going for a walk twice, and going to the same village twice, but staying at the B&B, seeing the museum and going for a walk the first time and eating at a local restaurant, going fishing and seeing an art exhibition the second time. Even if that isn’t exactly your cup of tea, I’m sure you can see how the double-visit that’s exactly the same would get boring, whereas the two different visits help you make the most of a place.

Likewise, whilst visiting major monuments and going to well-known events the first time you go somewhere is always good, doing it repeatedly gets expensive and boring. When visiting Cardiff, seeing the Christmas market, a rugby match, eating in some of the Asian restaurants and participating in the night life may be a good way to go for your first visit. After all, to visit a place and not experience what it’s known for could be a regrettable experience, especially if some of those things are things you usually enjoy anyway. However, the cost of Christmas shopping, stadium tickets, well-known restaurant food and clubbing every night will burn a hole in your wallet. Once you’ve experienced all of them, exploring can help you make the most of a place.

The easiest way to get to know a place in greater depth and explore is to think of it as a home from home. Go shopping for fruits and vegetables to snack on, visit local pubs and inns, check out museums and art galleries of all classes, go to shows and events, join a course for a few days. Treat it as though you lived there part time. This opens up many more possibilities that you may not have even considered in your home town. For example, if you rarely have time to go to a music event, why not go during your visit to a different town? Or if you’ve always been interested in taking an art course or going hiking, then, again, do it whilst you’re on holiday. There is more to everywhere than the tourist attractions and by enjoying every aspect of a place you can make the most of it.