Monday, 17 September 2012

Car Booty

Don’t hate me for saying this but there are only 13 weeks till Christmas. My palms are sweating as I type at the thought of not having enough money to pay for it. Not only that, I also have house maintenance to do ready for the winter. Even when I was still with The Dad we never planned or saved properly for Christmas, ending up spending money we shouldn’t and never really recovering from Christmas until the following June. But as part of a twosome that was nowhere near as scary or serious a prospect.

Now I’m on my own the weight of responsibility bears far more heavily. I’ve started getting organised; making lists of what needs to be done, not just for Christmas but to the house to see it through winter. And along with all the practical preparations, I also need to prepare financially.

I don’t have any spare cash to save so I need to find the money through other means. After totally freaking out at the sight of my loft a couple of weeks ago (a footprint the size of my entire house, waist deep in broken toys, scratched cd’s, reams and reams of paper, baby equipment, computer parts and precious memory boxes) I had to sit down and calm myself with a cup of tea and a fag. I am most definitely not a neat freak but I would like to avoid finding myself on an episode of Hoarders (on one episode they unearthed three dead cats, can you imagine?). It was like I could feel the weight of all that crap bearing down on me, to say nothing of how I will be able to dig out the Christmas decorations by myself (that’s if they have even survived being buried under all the crap). But one mans trash is another mans er… probably crap to put in his loft, so I did an impromptu car boot sale yesterday.

My usual car boot routine goes like this: Plan car boot sale at least two weeks in advance, gathering all manner of crap and assembling pasting tables (and pretty table cloths), clothes rails and the like, while putting wildly inflated price stickers on everything and ironing piles and piles of clothes. Go to Tesco on the way to car boot to spend three pounds on snacks and drinks and to break a twenty to provide a float. Arrive at the car boot sale fully intending to make at least £200 (including a tenner for that pair of brand new jeans still with tags that you never quite fitted into but which are musty smelling from two years in the loft). Spend the next two hours refusing to sell stuff for below your starting price. Panic that you are not going to earn back the cost of your pitch. Start selling things for 10p. Buy a bacon sandwich to put something hot in your stomach and spend two pounds on a pair of neon yellow socks from the stall next door to put over your freezing hands. Panic that you are not going to get rid of anything. Start giving things away (harder than you might think). Realise that everyone else has left and you can’t feel your fingers or toes. Pack up 98% of the stuff you arrived with, dropping it off (including the unsold brand new jeans) at a charity shop on the way home. Go home, count money and discover that you made £2.46 loss for all that prep and five hours shivering in a field. But at least you have a new pair of socks.

So this time I took a completely different approach. No planning whatsoever and zero expectations (except to get rid of as much stuff as possible). Sunday morning I calmly loaded the car with bin bags of baby clothes separated into age groups and bits and pieces which were bought at a car boot in the first place and never used, easily grabbed from the precipice of loft mountain. I dismantled my kitchen table and bunged it in, made myself a flask of coffee, grabbed a couple of cereal bars, rummaged around the house under sofa cushions and in the rubber seal of the washing machine unearthing coins to use as a float and set off.

I laid my bin bags out on the grass and stuck an age label on each one. Random crap went on my kitchen table and I sat down with my book, cereal bars and flask of coffee. People were queuing up to have a rummage in my bin bags, and apart from one snotty lady who muttered “tut tut, bad presentation, the lady up there had the right idea” nodding towards a beautifully laid out baby clothes stall with not a punter in sight, everyone else said that my bin bags were genius. And that coupled with my pricing strategy (a pound each or whatever you want to offer) obviously worked. Some of the bulging bin bags were empty by the time I packed up. Lesson learned; people go to car boot sales looking for a proper bargain, not to spend £4 on a pair of second hand trousers they could get for the same price in Asda. After four hours I packed up maybe 40% of the stuff I went with, went home for a sandwich and worked out I had made £46 profit, a good start to my Christmas savings.

It barely looks like I’ve made a dent in the loft but with a little hard work (OK a lot of hard work, eBay is my next mission), I’ll have saved up for Christmas in no time and might even have a little left over to treat myself. And I’ll be able to put up my Christmas decorations without the fear of discovering a festering dead thing. One nil to me in the me vs Hoarders challenge.

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