Money


TelevisionI don’t watch much television as it is (the Catalyst marathon last Thursday was equivalent to roughly a week’s viewing), so I’m fairly choosy about the shows I watch. Although most of them are documentary or informative in some way, the occasional drama does manage to sneak in (I’m a fan of NCIS at the moment).

As cable TV isn’t set up to be financially beneficial for someone like me (you really need to watch a lot of television before it’s worth the trouble), I download shows whenever possible. The MacBook doubles as a portable television.

My constant dilemma is this :

For shows that are not screened here at all (or several years later, such as Top Gear), if they aren’t available for sale or legal download, is it reasonable to turn to other sources?

By ‘other sources’ I mean purchased DVDs from friends overseas, recordings of the shows that have aired on their local networks, and even the many torrent sites aimed at this type of material. It’s a battle that wouldn’t even occur in many other fields – can you imagine walking into a shop-filled street and shouting ‘will anyone take my money’?

eBayeBay is a wonderful site, and I was a regular (some would say obsessive) user of it for several years. Unsurprisingly, the main items I bought and sold on there were cameras and books.

This all ended rather abruptly when I packed everything up and shipped it all – myself included – back to Australia (actually I travelled via aeroplane, but you get the idea). There was simply no room to sort through everything and dispose of it accordingly.

The other night my dad mentioned that he had a few items to sell as my parents are doing a little home renovation. I suggested that I could use my account as everything was already set up, and my interest was re-discovered.

This morning’s routine was quite simple : open each box (I still have a number of things in storage, ready for their new home), and take out anything I didn’t really want to keep. These items formed a large pile; the sorting phase is next (rubbish, saleable, charity). Then the fun really begins.

If you’re thinking of embarking upon a similar journey, here are a few things to keep in mind :

  • Decide whether you want to keep something or not; sort the pile later. If you try sorting as you go you’ll end up putting a lot of things back in the cupboard / on the shelf, telling yourself ‘nobody would buy that’.
  • Once you have the items you wish to sell, begin with the cheapest ones first. If something goes wrong, you’re less likely to lose sleep over a damaged book than a damaged car. This also gives you a chance to establish some credibility (via positive feedback – assuming you sell goods as advertised, pack them well and ship them on time) before you get around to selling the larger items.
  • If you have thousands of books in the house but really can’t bring yourself to get rid of them (I can definitely relate to that), start by putting all of the duplicates in a pile. Once you see all of these together, everything else becomes a little easier.
  • When you’re sorting your ‘unwanted items’ pile into rubbish/saleable/charity (I’m including recycling in the rubbish category here), consider the approximate cost of postage. For small, heavy, inexpensive items you may be better off simply giving them to a friend, donating them to charity or holding a garage sale.
  • Don’t feel too bad if you’re tempted to buy something occasionally. After all, that’s what the site is all about. My personal rationalisation – if I buy one book for every 10 that I sell, I’m still a long way in front; and will have a smaller, better book collection to show for it.

Tomorrow the auctions begin. Looking forward to it.

WritingCompetitions are always great; especially when then involve both writing and prizes. Copyblogger currently has one that does just that. Very interesting.

Incidentally, the starting point for the landing page is this one for Straight to the Bar. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Simple SavingsMy recent list of 5 ways to reduce your car’s fuel consumption (and save you money) – part of this month’s Problogger Group Writing Project – brought to mind another great money-saving site, Simple Savings.

I’ve been receiving the Simple Savings newsletters for a while now, and they always have a great idea or two (the latest piece talks about saving money on your energy bills – definitely a subject near the top of the list here). The regular podcasts are similarly packed with great money-saving ideas.

If you haven’t already checked out the site, head over there now. Make your life a little easier.

DrivingDriving can be one of life’s great pleasures, but it needn’t break the bank. If your car’s beginning to put a strain on your wallet, consider these :

Lighten the load

Reduce the weight of your car by taking out everything that you don’t really need (other than safety equipment). This might include :

  • large items such as roof or bicycle racks (especially if they’re only used occasionally, just put them on when you need them)
  • items of clothing such as jackets carried ‘just in case’
  • rubbish such as food and drink containers (everything helps)

Another aspect of this idea – keeping your car as light as reasonably possible – is to only partially fill up with fuel each time. This doesn’t mean you’re running on fumes; half-full will usually do (unless you’re planning a long trip).

Use the highest gear possible

Think for a second of how great it feels to be cruising along at 100kph or so (around 60mph), in top gear with no other cars on the road. That type of situation is also one your car enjoys, and the sound of the engine backs that up.

If you’re in a situation that allows you to change up a gear, do so. On a related note, try to avoid any unnecessary idling. Your wallet will thank you.

Keep the engine tuned

A regular tune-up will not only keep your engine sounding the way it should, it’ll perform the way it should. A benefit of this is keeping the car’s fuel consumption as low as possible.

There’s no need to pay for anything fancy here; in fact, cleaning or replacing the air filter can make a big difference by itself.

Don’t use cash on toll roads

If you use toll roads and have the option of paying with cash or electronically, go with the electronic option. Aside from the fact that it’s just easier, it’s the difference between stopping to pay the toll and simply slowing down.

Keep your car clean

Yes, I’m telling you to go and wash the car. Aside from ending up with a nice clean car, it does actually reduce drag somewhat. Not a lot, but enough to notice over the course of a year.

For bonus points : get out the wax. Do it properly.

Now that you’ve got a nice clean, lightened, tuned car; go out and enjoy it. Saving money doesn’t need to be a chore.

Tim FerrissTim Ferriss has some truly inspirational ideas. His book – the 4 hour work week – is definitely high on my current shopping list (otherwise known as ‘things to buy when I get paid’).

For a taste of his approach to things (and as the title suggests, it’s far from typical), have a listen to this podcast – one of his presentations at the last SXSW Festival. Enjoy.

Do My StuffThis is an interesting concept Рoutsourcing the smaller tasks in your life (mowing lawns, washing dishes and so on). Actually, some of the jobs sound quite interesting Рcreating artwork for a war game perhaps?

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