Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Budgets ARE sexy, my side hustle post

Tomorrow my fellow (and far more experienced!) Financial blogger J$ money of is going to post a topic about my personal "side hustle" car cleaning, I wrote the piece for him after emailing him asking a question about "The long game" and he gave me some great advice, because I was really stumped on that one! We got to talking and the subject of side hustling came up, and I explained to him that I valet (or clean cars as it is known in the USA) cars for money. I am SUPER excited that he is going to post something I wrote on his blog (please check his blog out, it is absolutely brilliant!!!!) and I cant wait till tomorrow to see it! I consider it an absolute privilege. Check it out for the full guide on cleaning cars for money written by yours truly over at

Picking up money and coins from the ground, squeeze the pennies till the Queen (or abe lincoln) crys for mercy!

Whew... Ok this is going to be a controversial topic for many of my readers, so I will do my best to rationalise it, though before we go any further I am well aware that this will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I just had to blog about it!

I pick up coins and money from the ground (and vending machine coin slots too) and I save them in a jar. There. I said it. Let the judging commence!

I do have some rules about it though,
1-If I find any paper money I would instantly report it to whichever shop or shopping mall I was in. Or the police If I found it outwith these places.
2- If the money is near a charity collection tin or homeless person I would either ignore it, or give it to them.

The biggest find I have ever had was £10, and it was at my work, I spoke to the main receptionist who said to hang onto it till the end of the day and if she didnt have anyone claim it then it was mine. Which I did :) Mostly though I find pennies and small denomination coins, sometimes even foreign coins :) I have a special tin for my foreign coins so that if I ever visit that place then I have some loose change :)

I sometimes check vending machine coin return slots too, there is one particular vending machine which basically always has money left in the coin return slot, anything between ten pence and thirty pence usually!

Picking up coins from the ground when Im out shopping or walking helps with my budget, in all honesty its a bit of a game to me, I like the idea that I can go out for a walk and potentially return slightly richer! Im sure that some of you reading this may think this is silly, or at worst that I am scum for doing it. But here are my reasons:

1- Its fun to pick up coins, adding them to your coin jar makes you reach your goals a little quicker, and if you are the kind of person who saves small amounts on items you buy using coupons or vouchers, then why not pick up some loose change?

2- It makes an ordinary walk a little more exciting, you get a little thrill when you find a coin

3- On our high streets in Britain there are a lot of coins dropped on the ground and their "Owners" havent bothered to pick them up, this is a RECESSION, losing coins by letting them go down drains is effectively taking money out of circulation, which is bad for the economy. I dont know about you, but I would like to see a return to the days when you could walk out of your job on a friday and start a new one on the monday!

4- This point is sort of adding to my previous point, but I personally see the value in small coins, whereas other people seem to throw them on the street for being small denomination. 100 pennies makes a pound, 50 two pences make a pound, ten ten pences make a pound etc, no wonder this country is in so much debt! Noone appreciates the value of money anymore!

I would be interested to hear your thoughts folks, do you pick up coins? Or if not, why not?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to start again from nothing (financially and otherwise)

Starting again from nothing is something that we all have to do at some point. Sometimes its after a big purchase (such as a house or a car) and sometimes its after a breakup, or emergency in your life which you have to spend money on. It will probably leave you feeling raw, dejected and hurt.

So what can you do? Here are some steps which will help:

1- Assess your situation honestly, if you havent already, do a budget of your incomings and outgoings (more information earlier in the blog on this)

2- Figure out what you DO have, such as family, friends, cars, houses, anything, even the clothes on your back if thats all you have, or nothing! Be thankful for what you do have, you can be virtually guarranteed there are others worse off out there!

3- Dont be too proud to shop for clothes from charity shops, or to eat budget food. Often people who are rich do this! (How do you think they got rich??) Also if someone offers you help then you could do worse than let a friend help you. Just make sure you pay them back when times get better :)

4- Learn to appreciate the simple things in life, finding coins on the ground for example, or taking a nice long walk.

5- Forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be in this position, theres no shame to it, the quicker you stop feeling sorry for yourself the quicker you can be back on the road to financial freedom!

6- Keep your budget in order, and feel good when you are reaching small goals you set yourself, first ten pounds/dollars etc, each small step is 1 more step along the road!

7- Realise that you will get there one day, and learn from the mistakes you made to get into this position in the first place.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A story from my childhood, my earliest memory of saving

My earliest memory of saving was when I was roughly 7 or 8 years old. My parents took me and my sister to a shopping complex in Heathfield in Ayr, this was big news to us! We were from a very small village and didnt go outside of that area very often, so this was exciting to a 7 year old and a 5 year old. Anyway, one of the shops we went to was poundstretcher, a british budget shop. At the time I thought the place was incredible, it seemed to have everything! But whenever we went there, my sister and I always went straight to the toys aisle, and on this particular trip I saw a big box with a toy robot in it, it was about 14 inches tall, and was red and silver, very mechanical looking, with futuristic lights and sounds advertised on the box (it didnt come supplied with batteries) I saw it and I knew I had to have it! I asked my dad if I could have it, but I was told "No, but if you really want it, then you can save your pocket money and buy it for yourself"

To add a bit of backstory here (which I did not know at the time, but found out later) my parents were not all that well off. They were paying a mortgage and had two kids, my dad worked very very hard as a cemetery keeper, and my mum worked a couple of hours a day in a shop. But they never once let me and my sister think that we werent well off, we were provided for excellently with clothes when we needed them, and we were well fed and had toys which we loved, we had an extremely happy childhood, our mum and dad loved us very much (and still do) My mum and dad have long since paid off their mortgage, my dad was promoted about 15 years ago, and my mum works a few more hours, but they have saved hard and done without for themselves to get where they are, and I am extremely proud of them.

So as you can imagine, the price tag of £8.00 was a quite a lot by their standards, Im sure my dad would have liked to buy me the toy, and buy my sister one of roughly the same value too as they always kept us equal, but my dad didn't want to spoil us, or make us think that we should get a toy just because we wanted one, he wanted to give us an idea of how money works, which I am sure is an issue for every parent. I must point out that I didnt complain or beg for it, or make a fuss in the shop, I simply accepted that what my dad said went.

My pocket money was 50pence a week at that time, but I was very determined to get the robot toy, it seemed so cool that I simply had to! So I saved my 50 pence a week, not buying any comics or sweets, I even did odd jobs for my gran and family to earn a little more, and eventually I had the £8.00 together in coins. I waited till the next time we went to poundstretcher, and I took my money, I can remember lifting the robot off the shelf and taking it to the cashier with my dad, I felt so proud of myself! I got it home, put some batteries my dad had in it, and started to play with it when I very quickly realised....

It was a crap toy, im sorry to say that dear readers, but it was. I was very dissapointed (while still being proud that I had saved hard for it by myself) the lights were dull and the sound was crackly, there was virtually no articulation at the joints of the robot, so I couldn't make it fight with my action man or move it in anyway but roll it along the floor on the wheels on the bottom of its feet.

I learned two valuable lessons there, which have served me well since I was 7, and I will pass them onto you.

1- You can save for anything as long as you take enough time, and try your hardest to save for it. This goes for achieving goals too, try your hardest!

2- Be careful what you buy, research every purchase before you make it, and spend wisely!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

grinding in real life

My best friend recently moved country to be with his girlfriend, and also to get employment. He started off as a cleaner in a big supermarket chain, and has worked his way up to staff member in a VERY short space of time due to his work ethic. (Was spotted by the management) He is taking on overtime and doing very well, and also he helps out in his father-in-law's sign-making business (He trained as a graphic designer but has been unable to get work in Scotland even though he finished his course at college with honours and was awarded the student of the year award.) Naturally I am very very proud of him and his achievements, as are his family and his girlfriend. He is extremely hard working and this is starting to pay off for him, these days hard workers are difficult to come by! Hopefully the work experience will enable him to get a job in graphic design, as most places want someone who is experienced working with them.

But to the crux of the matter, my friend plays online games such as World of warcraft and Cabal, (I play cabal too) and to get anywhere in these kind of games one has to grind.

Definition: "to perform a repetitive task in a role playing game in order to increase one's character's stature."
"Informal To devote oneself to study or work"

My best friend and I use this phrase that we use in terms of online gaming, and in terms of real life work. The same principles of dedication, and hard usually repetitive work build ones wealth and character apply. For example my friend works overtime at his job and helps out in a signmaking business (sort of like a freelance graphic designer) to make ends meet and to make his budget work out, and save as much money as he can.

I take a slightly different approach, but use the same principles of dedicating myself completely to the task at hand of making as much money as I possibly can to support my household and family. (Please note that neither my friend or I engage in a "hustlers" definition of grinding which basically involves stealing or other illegal activities.) I have a decent 9-5 job with a permanant contract (Im a clerical officer) which in these days of recession is worth its weight in gold. I also get a decent amount of overtime, which I use to up my wages, its monotonous and time consuming, but pays at "time and a half". On top of this I sell unwanted items on gumtree(which is free to use), sometimes If I spot a classic video game at a car-boot sale, I will buy it cheaply and sell it on at a profit. I also Valet cars at the weekend. This is a hobby of mine which I have turned into an earner when I have time to do it. I also "check in" at shops using a mobile app called "quidco" which pays small amounts (5-25p) for standing in a shop and checking in on your mobile. If you are visiting a city or town it can actually be quite profitable! Its money for using your mobile and walking around, not hard, but monotonous and somewhat time consuming. I also make youtube videos and write this blog, and adsense pays me to allow adverts on my videos and blogs. I budget hard and dont spend money where I dont have to generally, although I allow myself a few small "treats" every month, I like having a takeaway meal which is fairly cheap, because you will only get miserable very quickly if you dont give yourself a couple of treats every month! This is grinding, making ends meet, and trying to save more money and spend less. Often difficult, time consuming and monotonous, but good for character building and making money honestly. If you can turn a hobby such as cleaning cars or an interest in classic video games for example, into money making opportunities then so much the better.