Saturday, 13 December 2014

I decided to write this after struggling to get into the Christmas spirit as usual.  We are blessed with being financially solvent  thanks to having followed the Your Money Or Your Life programme in the book by Jo Dominguez and Vikki Robbin, but it was not always so easy.

This post is for you, if you are struggling with debt and lack of money this Christmas.   I would rather give the money to charity than buy things no one really wants and this year have made a donation to the local food bank in lieu of Christmas cards and some gifts. So ask for the Your Money or Your Life book for Christmas, or my other bible, The Tightwad Gazette

I get cross that people feel pressure to spend money they don't have just because it's Christmas.  Have a look at the blog entries for previous Christmases about the ways we have found to get around that over the years.

For this year though, I want to focus on money and what to do if you are broke this Christmas.

So here is a question:
What could you do to earn £10 right now?  One of the things about being broke is the blind panic.   If you need a lot of money in order to be solvent, earning £10 can seem like a drop in the ocean.  But break the problem down into managable chunks and you begin to feel resourceful again.  If you can find one way to earn £10 you can find several ways.  Do it ten times and you have £100.  Then think what you could do to earn or save £50...there always seems to be something.

Think about your hourly rate when deciding which things to do first.  Some things will net you £50 an hour and some 5p!  So this morning I have been experimenting and here is what I did:

Put some books up for re-sale on Amazon.  
 Non fiction is best.  I went through the book shelves and pulled out anything that had not been read for a while, or was available from the Council library service (check their website).

As is often the way, I found that one of the books will sell for about £13 although the others will only net me £1 or so each.  A good result, assuming they sell but it didn't take long to do.
books put up for sale on Amazon today

NB It is easy to sell things on Amazon and does not involve Paypal.  There are many things other than books that can be listed and I once sold a tent on Amazon!  You don't need a photo if the item is already listed on Amazon which is a big advantage. 

Switched to a Nationwide Flexdirect account
Look at for up to date information about bank accounts and choose one that suits your needs.  I got an interest free overdraft for a year and a £50 referral fee split with a friend because she recommended me.  I will also get 5% interest for a year so long as I pay £1,000 a month in.  What prompted the change is that Smile started charging a £25 a year just for having an overdraft facility even if it is not used. Some accounts will pay you £150 just to switch to them but might charge more for an overdraft, so do the sums.

Made a large pot of soup
This has gone in the freezer so that when we think 'what can we eat' there is something there and we will not end up with a takeaway.  A packet of broth mix cost £1 in the Pound Shop and will do two pots of soup.  I added carrots, onion and potatoes and some vegetable stock.  (buy Marigold tubs of veggie stock for a lot less than veggie stock cubes.)  I know this isn't big news but every so often I remind myself to do it, as bad habits creep back.

Here are some other things we have been doing, just not today...
Repaired some hiking boot laces
Yes really!  the ones on my hiking boots had got all frayed and I had problems finding new ones that would fit through the holes.  Getting new ones would mean braving the shops and I would undoubtedly come home with lots of things I didn't know I needed until I saw them.  So I got a reel of sewing thread and bound the ends -they look fine and you cannot tell the difference.  Actual saving about £2 but take the inevitable impulse shopping into account AND the fuel to get there and it is a lot more than that.

My daughter made some Christmas decorations
the felt and sequins cost £1 for a large quantity of each and she used the stuffing from an old pillow to pad them with.  Great for giving as a little 'thoughtfulness' if you go to visit someone.  It may not have actually saved much money but is a real morale boost and a handmade gift is so special.  We love the ones she gave us.

felt hearts cost pennies to make

Had a £1 gift challenge with friends
This always seems to result in more fun than 'normal' gift giving and you get extra Brownie points for a second hand or hand made gift, or even a book that you have read yourself and want to pass on.   We have had some hilarious times as a result of it - remember the pink and orange psychedelic long johns Andrew...  We also keep a gift box throughout the year and if we see a likely present for anyone, it goes in the box. 

Bought this year's turkey on Boxing Day last year
A huge turkey cost only £10 and is lurking in the bottom of the freezer.  Our lovely neighbour also presented us with a huge trout after a fishing trip and we are saving it for New Year.  So plan ahead for next year and look out for bargains on boxing day and New Year's day.  We found that 9pm on New Year's Eve is a great time to go to the supermarket.  We bought things for 5p that would usually be £5.  Yeah I know some of you would rather be at a party but call in on the way like we did!

remember - do review your bills...
Over the holidays if you are at a loose end, check your house insurance fuel, phone and car insurance bills.  If you have never done this before you will probably save a lot of money by reviewing them.  Look at for the latest information.


  1. Hi Downshifter, thanks for the advice. I like the £1 gift challenge idea. Can you tell me, regarding reselling on Amazon - does the buyer foot the complete cost of p and p?

  2. the buyer pays a standard charge of £2.80 postage in the UK. That means that for most books the cost of posting it is covered. if it is a very heavy or large book it may not be, but i believe Royal Mail are now allowing quite a large parcel of up to 1kg for £2.80.

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  4. This is interesting! I am always looking for ways to simplify as I embark on my Less is More project. Being mindful really helps. :-)