Happy eBaying

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I have never really been much of a fan of eBay, I mean, buying other people’s used stuff…?

However, as some of you will know, my attitude to “pre-loved” stuff changed in recent years, shortly after I discovered the joy of Freecycling.

I didn’t really get into eBay though, I saw a few things but I never felt very happy bidding, it was only when I was pregnant that I became slightly addicted!  There were so many things I wanted but I couldn’t justify buying them, after several unsuccessful attempts I managed to nab a Baby Bjorn in excellent condition and I’ve even been known to send my parents to North Yorkshire to pick up a coat stand (£1 BARGAIN!!!)

Anyway I’m not writing about my shopping…because no one needs to know the true extent of my guilt

I want to talk to you about selling.  The truth is no matter how much you can get from Freecycle, Gumtree, gifts or eBay there are still things that you want or need.  Put buying a house and trying to extend it in two places and rennovate it from scratch whilst on maternity leave and finances become very tight.

I decided to venture into selling on eBay to try and raise a little extra cash.  I have an embarrassing (not) amount of shoes which perhaps I don’t need (especially as post pregnancy I’m really not up to +4″ heels no matter how much I kid myself) and several items of clothing I either have never worn, can no longer fit into, or just don’t actually wear.  Usually when I have an annual clear out I end up with bin liners full of clothes to take to the charity shop so I felt a little bad about trying to raise funds for myself rather than for someone else, but needs must.

Now, given my purchases I was expecting a bidding war when I put my items on.  I decided to start with a pair of brand new shoes bought at Faith years and years ago.  They were black leather and absolutely stunning.  They had cost around £35 in the sale but I had worn them once, they were uncomfortable, a little too big and slippy on my work floors.  I put them on in front of the mirror many times but would never wear them again.  I popped them on with some fab pics and…

…BOOM…

I got my first bid :)

Ok so £2 isn’t great…I waited and waited, but it was my only bid.

I had put on my postage cost correctly but overall by the time I had packaged and sent I was doing it for virtually nothing and wished I’d just Freecycled them or taken them to the numerous charity shops lining my street.

I was rather scared off and just carried on as I was, as I opened up bin liners of clothes that had been wrapped up for a year I just took stuff to the charity shop or kept it under the bed.  That’s when I decided to do a bit more research into eBay and give it another go.  Whilst I’m no expert and don’t make a fortune, it has been a good way of raising a little bit of extra cash whilst clearing out unwanted stuff from our home.

I should feel embarrassed that I have eBayed gifts, second hand things people gave us (family not Freecycle) for our home, baby things and things that I have bought and never used.  But I don’t.

Ultimately if there are things in our home taking up space that we don’t use or wear then they are, to some extent, costing us money in the form of space.  I am a real hoarder so I do find it difficult to get rid of things and have had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always get the money I want for things.  However, I have now instigated a strict one in one out policy for personal purchases, so selling something makes me feel pretty good as I know I can go out and buy something else!

Ok, so that’s not really a good motivation, and certainly doesn’t fit in with the amazing Say No to New campaign…which I do really want to take part in…but ultimately I love to shop and will do it regardless, so if I can get rid of a bit of the tut it makes us all a bit happier!  It also helps me to save (…no seriously…keep reading…) because my PayPal account stores up the money from selling, I pay the postage fees out and then get a pleasant surprise when I have more money to draw out than I think (because I forget I’ve already paid postage…)

As it has been such a positive experience I thought I would share my top tips with you:

  1. Get a great title – the best eBay titles are not necessarily catchy or appealing.  What they are is informative, remember people aren’t going to search “cute little gold shrug” but they might search “evening” “outfit” “bolero” “short cardigan”.  It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense as long as it has all the relevant information.
  2. Describe your item well, it helps prevent questions (although you will still get some stupid ones and some pertinent ones) and protects you if there are any complaints about your item in due course.
  3. Keep your tape measure handy – accurate charges for postage are key.  The Royal Mail Price finder will help (I have it saved as a favourite) and I picked up a leaflet at one point with the sizes of packages so I could check them at home easily.
  4. Get to know your postie – as above be careful with your postage and don’t be afraid to argue if the post office tries to charge you for a small parcel when you know you have packed a large letter (yes I have…no I’m not proud of it).  For example our large Post Office always does this, but our local branch always double checks the size with their measurement thingy (technical Post Office equipment name).  I like to go along with a post it of what I am expecting to be charged on each parcel.  If in doubt make sure you err on the side of caution when setting your postage cost.
  5. Charge realistically – remember your postage isn’t just the cost of sending it, you should package well (see below) and remember you pay commission both to eBay and PayPal on your postage.  If you charge £2.80 and that’s what you will pay to post it, you can expect to lose over 40p of that to commission, leaving you out of pocket.  If you don’t mind taking the hit that’s fine, but if it matters to you set a realistic postage cost.  I like to put a line at the bottom of all my adverts warning buyers that my postage costs may seem high, but they reflect the actual cost of sending.  I don’t aim to make a profit on postage but I also don’t subsidise it, my view is I am up front and if people don’t want to pay it they don’t have to.
  6. Be certain you want to sell – as with my first sale I was drawn into the guidance on eBay to start the sale at 99p.  If you just want rid that’s fine, but if not then set a starting price you won’t be disappointed with.  The majority of my sales go on the first bid (and I’m often known to just close the auction when I get a bid because I set my prices as what I want) so if you would be disappointed selling at that price then either raise it or don’t sell it.  I have a few things I really like and have hung onto or kept relisting when they don’t sell, it doesn’t bother me not to get rid of them.  On the other hand I had a dress that I had little attachment to and had never worn despite paying £30 for it over 10 years ago, it never fit and was never going to, so I kept reducing the price until it went.  I made a loss but it was better than nothing!
  7. Don’t be bogged down with feedback - I had one very unfair poor review and it upset me. It’s not stopped others buying and now I couldn’t care less.  If you do get poor feedback have a think about it and if it’s fair then you need to tackle it, but if not don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not an actual job!
  8. Package well – I am really careful with packing, if it’s a nice item I will wrap in wrapping paper or the thin paper you wrap gifts in…can’t think of the name…then place in a carrier bag and then wrap.  The reason is (a) everyone likes to unwrap something, it adds to the excitement! (b) a carrier offers some (albeit minimal) protection if the packaging gets torn or wet.  I like to use large envelopes if the items will fit, they tend to be more secure, but if it’s too large I buy brown paper from Poundland.  I go through tonnes and tonnes of tape, brown all around the package/envelope and clear over the address.  Maybe I overdo it but no one has complained!
  9. Don’t pay to list – i only ever list on free listing days/weekends.  The more you sell the greater your selling allowances become so be wary of overlisting on those days!  I have paid some fees, if someone messages me and makes an offer I have relisted at a buy it now price so that we can complete straight away instead of waiting until the end of the auction, but otherwise I just won’t pay!
  10. Get excited when something sells!

Seriously, if you are wanting more information check out Money Saving Expert or eBay itself for more top tips!

A sticky situation…

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It’s a bit tiring now the boy is on the move so much.  He is fascinated by cupboards and this has been an issue.  We don’t have any safety things to tie them together (…are you really surprised?) and sadly some of our cupboards aren’t technically attached to anything…

We had an incident at the weekend where a floor cabinet fell on the boy, luckily he wasn’t hurt (it was terrifyingly close) but shocked (chocolate buttons helped…) but it really did demonstrate how complacent we have been about the dangers of our half finished house.

We now have elastic bands round some of the door cupboards, but this won’t work with the single ones so I’m at a bit of a loss.  The doors have only been on a couple of months and I’m loathed to put holes in my new kitchen if I can avoid it.

The point of this story (no, seriously, cabinet falling on child wasn’t the point) is that when I came home from work today I was met by a delighted boy and a red cheeked Turk.  The story was that whilst the Turk was making a salad (dinner was in the oven – see my journey to having it all!) he had his back to the boy who promptly went into the breakfast cupboard (yes – it needs it’s own cupboard – if you haven’t read the post then don’t ask!) and feasted on the honey jar.

I can just imagine the look on the Turk’s face when he found the boy eating his stash!  He was licking it off the silicon stirrer / drizzler thing apparently and there’s honey EVERYWHERE!!! Including all over his sticky sticky face.  What is pretty impressive is that he got my ceramic honeypot out of the cupboard without dropping it – I totally know he can walk he just doesn’t do it when anyone is looking!

 

…if he gets his grubby paws on my nutella there’s going to be a fight…

Positive mental attitude…or just attitude

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I’ve always struggled with a poor opinion of myself, since having a baby it hasn’t taken much to either spin me off into a tantrum or tears…either way it’s not ideal and I would like to have a bit better grip on my emotions.

Admittedly sometimes it’s acceptable, being sad about the following is understandable:

  • watching Oxfam adverts;
  • films;
  • your cat going missing, even if they turn up the next morning (because one day the worst could happen…);
  • hearing about bad things on the news (especially if these involve children).

Sometimes it’s right to get mad, acceptable causes of red mist include:

  • the Turk referring to the need for him to look after our son about one evening a fortnight when I do voluntary work as babysitting;
  • people who waste food;
  • people who try to get into lifts/buses before me and the buggy have left the lift/bus.

But sometimes it’s not really acceptable, a few weeks ago a man walked virtually into me (making me shift my buggy and my lazy backside) grumbling that I was going in through the exit at the supermarket (for the record I wasn’t, it’s one big opening…in and out…it made no sense) and I had to bite my tongue to stop me kicking off big stylee in front of (a) my 10 month old and (b) the potentially crazy old man and (c) the 30 dodgy looking yoofs hanging outside Morrisons…so I stayed quiet, then promptly burst into tears when the Turk met us inside the store.

A couple of days ago I got my first negative feedback on eBay (with hindsight I can see some of the points being made but relatively unfair criticism) and I actually had to fight back tears.  Why does it matter?  I will never meet this person, who cares if they don’t buy anything else from me there are thousands of other eBayers and all I sell are old clothes and shoes, it’s just a way to declutter, not my sole income.  But this interaction did make me realise just how close to the surface my emotions are at the moment.

It’s a bit like having permanent PMT, which always leaves me on a knife edge.  I was very emotional during pregnancy but thought that this far on I would have settled back down to “normal”.

So I’m going to attempt to change it, when I was a child my dad used to send me potty by talking about how all issues could be solved with a positive mental attitude (“PMA” he would shout up the stairs as I stormed off…).

Tomorrow I am going to have a positive day, I will not feel rage, I will be the bigger person and rise above anyone who riles me.  I will not shout at my baby when he pulls out my hair or bites me, I will instead calmly distract him with toys or breadsticks.  I will not get annoyed at the Turk when he leaves plates in the sink rather than the dishwasher or turns up late for every meal.  I will not be sad about the news, I will think instead about what I can do to help the situation.  Charity adverts will not disturb me but move me to pick up the phone and donate…giving me warm fuzzy feelings.

Yes, I am turning a corner, I will no longer have attitude (or an ugly crying face)…I will be positive…

Just for one day mind.

Bath avoidance

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It’s no secret that as a child I was not a fan of the bath.  I still avoid washing my hair and have been known to only do it once a week if I can get away with it.

Since Jem was born bathing has largely been an activity for the Turk.  When he was first born it involved a baby bath (from Freecycle naturally) in our kitchen/living room which was filled with water from the kettle and jugs of cold water from the tap.  This might sound awkward but as we had only just got running water (albeit cold) upstairs rather than down 3 floors it seemed pretty sophisticated!

We then advanced onto being able to fill the bath from the shower with WARM water when we had an electric shower temporarily fitted up in the loft (literally the best feeling ever to have a warm shower after over 6 months of having no boiler) and carried the full bath from the shower room into the kitchen/living room…

You can probably imagine that having just had a baby even the preparing of the bath was a bit of a mission, so on days when the Turk wasn’t around I found myself stressed even before I got the boy wet.  He could clearly sense this as bathtime was a fun enjoyable experience when daddy did it…when mummy did it bathtime consisted of screaming and generally kicking up a massive fuss until it was over.

This theme has largely continued, we next moved onto showering him, which he hated but meant that we didn’t need to move a bath of water around.

When Jem was about 11 months old we finally started using a big bath (ok so the shower attachment still can’t be used, but generally it doesn’t leak too much if you just bath a baby in it…) and this seemed to be working well, although he still seems to hate me being anywhere near it.  Generally if I am doing bath it ends up with screams about 3 minutes after entry and is over 2 minutes later with both of us in a bad mood.  Bath time goes something like this:

  • mummy runs bath;
  • mummy undresses baby;
  • mummy puts baby in bath with daddy;
  • daddy and baby play and baby is scrubbed;
  • mummy prepared bedtime clothes, shuts curtains and fetches towel;
  • mummy takes baby out of bath;
  • baby promptly begins screaming and trying to escape;
  • mummy towel dries baby and attempts to dress slippery eel;
  • daddy joins us and brushes baby’s hair whilst complaining that it hasn’t been properly dried…

We don’t bath the baby every day…

I wish it was less…

 

What’s with the white shorts…?

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Do you remember my blog post about pre-holiday clothes shopping?

What do you mean no…?

Ok so here it is, now go away, read it and come back…

done?

Right so, white shorts, super cute!  I did worry about the practicality of these but duly packed them away ready for our trip.  I decided against putting them on in the hotel, because I quickly discovered that Jem’s desire to crawl around constantly meant that pretty much everything got grubby, and as it was his best outfit I wanted to save it.

Consequently when we were going out with the family for our first Sunday at my inlaws I proudly put on his new outfit.  I remember what happens in Turkey when it comes to poo (read here if you don’t!) so I also packed a spare outfit (cue smug grin on my face).  Naturally we enter a shopping centre and just as I am checking out some serious jewellery potential purchases the Turk pulls a face…

We head off to a changing room, despite the shock that a man entering a changing room causes it was a necessary evil.  Jem detests nappy changes and lying on his back, it takes a minimum of 2 people to change a nappy if you want to avoid excrement spreadage…

Of course because of the curse of the poonami this isn’t any old poo…

…oh no…

This is a Turkish shopping centre poonami which has exploded all the way up the front (front!?) of the nappy and all over said white dungarees.

We change baby, he’s still cute, it’s fine.  As it happens I didn’t realise that my mother in law bleaches her laundry so white dungarees are returned to me stain free.

A few days later we are visiting distant family, it’s a big occasion so I decide to attempt the white shorts again.  The Turk and I negotiate a successful stinky nappy removal (no sign of poonami, well to be fair it wouldn’t be that inconvenient would it so why would it be a poonami) and feel particularly proud…

However, before we can renappy the boy something happens which hasn’t happened since Jem was tiny, he wees…

It misses the carpet…

It misses the walls…

But it doesn’t miss his white dungarees…

*sigh* cue outfit change once again.

 

I might steer clear of white dungarees in future…

 

Post-script:

I would love to show you a pic of him in the dungarees…but we don’t have one…

10 tips for being a Londoner

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I love London, I’ve lived here since I went to university and now I am a grown up lawyer with a job and a reason to commute, it’s very exciting. I thought I would share with you the benefit of my 15 years as a Londoner just so you can make sure you understand the rules, whether you live here or just visit:

1. Don’t dawdle, dither or hesitate – this applies particularly if you are stood at the top of an escalator; getting into a lift or entering the platform of a tube station. If you stop I will walk into you. I won’t apologise because it was your fault (just so you know).

2. Everyone is important – if you are in London, particularly if you live there, you clearly have important business to attend to. It is important, if you find yourself in London without important business to attend to, that you behave in a manner which indicates that in fact you do have important business to attend to. We are in London, we are not here to enjoy ourselves, we are busy, act like it.

3. Hand accessories are essential – please don’t allow yourself to be seen empty handed, it isn’t a good look. If you really can’t bring yourself to be engrossed in a paper, your phone/tablet/kindle or a book then please buy a coffee. It is essential that your hands are occupied at all times (please don’t slow down your pace – you are in London, you should be able to multitask). If you do resort to coffee kindly make sure that the brand adequately reflects your personality – if we see you with Starbucks in hand we will understand that you are a ruthless tax avoidance approving business shark, if you have a cup with an advert for ethically sourced organic beans we know you are likely to stop for Chuggers and can use early avoidance strategies for the moment that you start to hesitate towards them for a chat.

4. If you need a taxi please only use black cabs. These should be flagged down in as dramatic a fashion as you can muster. If you don’t flag with a flourish then the cab driver will know you are not a true Londoner and probably won’t stop. Please ensure that you remortgage your property in good time to pay for the aforementioned cab rides.

5. People standing on the street should be avoided at all costs – Chuggers, people handing out samples/religious literature/free papers or big issue sellers. It really doesn’t matter, you are busy, you are a Londoner, please avoid eye contact and take early evasive action.

6. Your food should be branded – please don’t bring along food from the supermarket, you won’t be allowed to mix with real Londoners. All lunchtime food should be extortionate and from a reputable and accepted luncheon supplier. Don’t bring lunch to your desk, you saved sufficient time from avoiding Chuggers and Big Issue sellers to ensure that you can take an adequate lunch break.

7. Pay no attention to other road users – this applies whatever your method of travel. Cyclists and pedestrians should pay no heed to traffic lights, they aren’t for you, cross whenever you see fit. Pedestrians should particularly aim for the ‘halfway run’ [the process by which a pedestrian runs into the middle of the road to demonstrate that they do understand the rules of the road - but then walks the remainder of the distance to the pavement to indicate that they don't care]

8. Children don’t belong in London – London is for grown ups and should remain that way. If you do fall pregnant please do not expect other Londoners to treat you any differently, the stairs at tube stations are there for a reason – to make it more difficult for preggies to carry wheely bags onto trains. Similarly they serve to dissuade buggies from entering the public transport system. If you feel you must waddle walk slower than normal please don’t leave the house.

9. Work friends are not real friends – whilst it may be fun to laugh and joke with your colleagues, please don’t try and take this further by discussing meeting up at the weekend and please remove all former colleagues from your Facebook page when you leave a job, you will need the space for your new work friends.

10. Customer service is generally unnecessary – for those of you who work in the service industry please remember that in London we don’t value customer service.  Please reflect this in your approach and ensure that you delay serving Londoners for as long as possible – if you are able to arrange it so that you are engaging in a conversation with a co-worker instead of serving us in a timely manner that would be appreciated.  Don’t worry we will still leave a tip on top of the added service charge, we are Londoners, that’s just what we do.