What a productive week it's been! Whilst I have yet to secure a new vocation, I can honestly say I've been using the extra time on my hands to great advantage. The budgeting ladies and I have been scrutinising my budget every week and racking our brains to see how we can reduce the outgoings further. In all honesty there wasn't a huge amount we could do as almost every bill is static BUT I did manage to reduce my mobile bill by $30 a month and our landline/Internet bill by a whopping $75 a month! I was really surprised at this as it was literally only a few months ago that I last rang around to try and get a better deal but the woman told me that we were paying far too much for Internet we were not using. As huge Internet users we had previously been told we needed 150GB to avoid going over a smaller limit and getting a nasty surprise when the bill came, so we duly did as recommended; however the whole time we had never used more than 45GB! Just goes to show that a lot of things can change in a few short months. The budgeting ladies were so impressed with my Telecom savings they were going to ring and check their own too! We also have no television at all now, which the boys funnily enough didn't give a stuff about. Mind you, who needs to pay to watch your favourite TV shows these days when you can watch most of them for free online at your own convenience? We just hook our laptop up to the TV with an HDMI cord and watch our Internet programme of choice on the big screen! It's actually much better, as you only watch what you want, when you want, rather than just mindlessly sitting in front of the regular TV watching whatever rubbish happens to be on.
In an attempt to make a dent in a few more bills, I also finally stopped procrastinating and had a good old sort out of the house and the sheds to see what we could sell on Trade Me and through our local Buy Sell and Swap page on Facebook. It probably took about 4 hours to unearth and list everything but I made $150 on the first day! At the moment I'm up to $230 but I have a lot more auctions which finish tomorrow and a load more to list after that. I had totally forgotten how exciting it is watching all the views and the bidding go up and up! And it always makes me laugh how often the things you don't anticipate anyone is going to want in a million years are the items which generate the most interest. Take my bright pink sneakers for example. These shoes were famous in my Zumba class a few years ago! Eye catching and fun they certainly were, but for a woman of my mature years they were a bit too garish to wear anywhere else! Still, I thought someone might like them so chucked them on Trade Me for $5. More than 340 views later they have reached $32 and still climbing!
I haven't done any 'serious' trading for a good couple of years (in fact I only just got around to listing two boxes of stuff that we didn't get around to selling from the last time!) I told the boys they should sort their stuff out too and see if we can declutter 100 items. At which they spluttered and looked at me like I was mad, but I was amazed to find I had listed 60 items in one sitting just of my own stuff - and I still have a load more to list when the first lot of auctions have finished! I kid you not, this is coming from someone who has lived in three different houses in the past four years and hence has VERY little clutter, yet still I have found this many things which I am able to remove from my home and which mean absolutely nothing to me. I have been pretty ruthless - I can't afford not to be but I think you know in your heart whether you're really going to use or wear something. It has become pretty easy for me to evaluate my possessions. Take my pink sneakers for example. Even though I only listed them for $5 and didn't expect to get more than that; it was more valuable to me to get the $5 and use it to put towards food or paying a bill than have those shoes sitting there for two years unworn. Bit of a no-brainer really and I never dreamed they would become worth so much more to me online! It honestly felt so good to finally list all those items I had been putting off for so long. My sheds are spotless and both they and my home truly are free of clutter - and, because of the super SS'er I now am, I never have to worry about filling it with rubbish again!
After such a lengthy spell away from the trading 'scene' I have noticed a few changes. Things which used to sell like crazy such as books, DVD's and CD's don't really sell much any more, with the exception of cook books. People have found cheaper or more convenient alternatives with the advances in technology. After all, that's why I was able to sell so many of my cook books; with the exception of my own recipe folder I've compiled over the years and tried and true favourites such as the $21 Challenge book I don't use recipe books much any more. If I want to make something more often than not it's something that's caught my eye in the Forum or I'll look up a recipe online on websites such as Yummly to use up the ingredients I have in mind. Out of the 60-odd items I've listed so far, I'm having the most success with clothes and shoes, perhaps beauty items too. This got me thinking, do you think that's because people have less money to treat themselves these days? Has the price of everyday living has gone up so much they don't have enough left for new clothes and shoes so take the 'skint but stylish' route? Whatever the reason, I can't put into words the feeling of relief that someone is buying my stuff. It's so exciting in a strange way because I have so many people I owe money to I don't know what to do with it first. Even $50 feels like the world is my oyster! Do I pay $10 on 5 bills? Or $25 on two bills? Or go the whole hog and put all $50 on one bill? So funny but at least it feels as though I'm making a difference and doing something to gain a little control over the current shambles which is my life.
And it's been a nice little hiatus too, I have to admit. As of next week, as my kids would say, things are 'gonna get cray'. If nothing comes up for me job-wise I'm not too sure what is going to happen. One thing is for sure, we are not going to be able to pay almost all of our bills and I'm not sure what happens when you can't but I'm sure the budgeting ladies will advise me. There isn't too much else we can do now apart from cancel the contents insurance on my house, which isn't huge anyway (and I'm rather reluctant to do that as knowing my luck I'll end up flooding the bath or setting the kitchen on fire or something)! The only other thing we can do is change Ali back to his old school. This will save $320 a month on sending him on the bus - but I think changing schools would be a lot more costly in other ways. Ali is doing so well academically and is so happy at his current school; he left the other one two years ago because he was so miserable. Why should his schooling suffer? It's not like I'm forking out thousands for private education, it's for a blooming mini-bus! We have discussed it and while Ali would much rather stay at his current school, he is willing to make the change if it helps get us to keep our house. But I really don't think I could forgive myself if I had to do that to him. There must be another way, think positive Penny!
It's been an alright-ish week on the job front. I had an interview with Mediaworks; the network which houses three of our local radio stations earlier this week. Oh how I would love that job, it is so me! Unfortunately quite a few other people also seem to feel it's so them as well so all I can do is keep my fingers crossed for a second interview. One thing's for sure, I've never had to do a psychometric test as part of the interview process before! I'm not sure what my ability to unscramble words and pick the odd one out in shape and number sequences has to do with my ability to sell radio advertising but it was quite fun! I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much; after all, I was excited about the rest home position and was told I'd be given a starting date almost two weeks ago but have heard nothing. Still, that seems to be the norm these days, nobody tells you anything any more. And still all is not lost, word of mouth is a wonderful thing. I was in the local chemist last week and asked one of the staff who is a friend of mine if she knew of any jobs going. Immediately the head pharmacist piped up (which was quite ironic seeing as he's Scottish), 'Come in next Monday! The new owner starts then, you can time it to pick up your repeat prescription and introduce yourself! Why thank you Sir, I shall indeed! Not only that, I may have a foot in the door at the supermarket thanks to a friend of mine! While picking up some stuff she had bought off me from the Facebook page, she asked me if I had applied for work at New World. I told her I had rung them a few times but never got to talk to the owner and the other staff all said there were no vacancies. 'Well my friend Liana just got a job there, keep trying!' she said. As it happened I was in there yesterday and saw a new face packing my shopping at the end of the checkout. Sure enough her name was Liana. 'You must be Kylie's friend, I've been hearing all about you and how you managed to get a job here!' I laughed. 'You must have spoken to a different person than I did, as I've never had any luck!' At that moment, the manager came up to our checkout and said 'Did you say Kylie? She's been in here and told me all about you. I've told Matthew as well and said the lady he chased in the car park the other day needs a job. He said to give you this', she smiled and handed me an application form. 'Thank you so much! I don't need to do a psychometric assessment do I? Because I can tell you upfront I'm quite mad', I told her, tongue in cheek. 'Excellent! You'll fit right in here then!' she burst out laughing.
So once again we wait and see. Whatever job I do end up finding, I hope I will be as content as the wonderful young Indian man my mum and I encountered in Bin Inn earlier this week. We were looking for rice noodles (as you do) and as we peered inside the door the pair of us were greeted with 'Yes, yes, come in! We welcome your presence in this store!' This chap must have only been in his 20's but it was clear he loved his job - and if he didn't, well he was certainly making the best of it! Bollywood music blared, he sang and danced behind the counter, making banter with customers all the while and actually gave a veritable Tom Cruise 'Cocktail' style performance as he expertly sent my noodles spinning into the air before catching them one-handed and popping them into their bag. 'Thank you so much! Have a CHARMING day!' he waved us out as we went on our way. Mum thought he was bonkers, which he may well have been but what an absolute gem. If I could do half as good a job of spreading sunshine to the customers in the supermarket as he does in that little store, I would be very, very happy!