Based on the advice of my old friend Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, I created a list of ways I could make money to pay for my Arvon course:
A garage sale
Unfortunately, we don’t get enough foot traffic down our street to make prostituting myself in front of the neighbours a workable option. An alternative would be to get up very early on a Sunday morning to go and car-boot-sell all the junk I’ve been storing for years for this purpose. Very, very early indeed. So that’s a no-no, then.
Ebay and Amazon all the junk I’ve been storing for years for this very purpose
I tried this last year and after initial excitement at an early flurry of sales, soon realised it’s more aggro than it’s worth. It creates more trips to the post office than I have time for and even with a stack of second hand envelopes donated by friends, a £1.50 sale costing £3.50 postage is never going to make me a millionaire.
A very disappointing feeling I can tell you, not dissimilar to the time I was given tuppence ha’penny for two large carrier bags of rare and high quality books. If I hadn’t been so heavily pregnant and such a long way from the car, I’d have told the Antiquarian Bookseller where to stick his money and used them to fuel the gas fire instead.
Mobile phones have become the new returnable pop bottles but again, though I’ve had some success with selling them (having a husband who succumbs to every deal the phone companies wave at him and, thus, a house full of unused mobiles), I’ve been pushed out of the market by my children. They’ve caught on to the fact that it’s a fantastic way to supplement their pocket money. Hence my brother-in-law dropping by at 7 am the other morning with a box of phones for Child 2 to sell online on his behalf. For 50% commission.
Not going shopping again until every tin, packet of food and frozen meal in our cupboards have been used up.
The kids aren’t too happy about this one, partly because the slowly emptying cupboards make them anxious they’ll starve to death, partly because building a delicious and satisfying meal from a random pile of ingredients isn’t actually as easy as it looks on Ready Steady Cook. And Child 1 say’s she’ll never forgive the humiliation of her domestic science teacher holding up her out-of-date-four-years-ago packet of dried yeast for everyone in class to marvel at. However, standing at the tills in Sainsbury’s screaming ‘As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!’ is a tad over dramatic, I feel.
And that sister idea…
Never doing a Big Shop ever again, thus saving myself from buying things I don’t need and will eventually throw away.
Like the woman in the Co-op Ad, I want to use the time I would spend shopping having a lie-in with the husband on Saturdays, playing board games with the children or taking the dog for a walk on a windswept beach. Then, whenever I needed something for tea or we’d run out of toilet rolls or the mother-in-law had dropped round unexpectedly for a cuppa, I could simply walk round the corner to our local, friendly food store and buy four slices of the finest steak (ethically sourced) and an incredibly well-made Battenberg cake.
Unfortunately, we live miles from the town’s only Co-op Store and Bargain Booze two streets down is anything but ethical. For a start the food’s way too expensive and frankly, anyone who’s prepared to diddle customers out of small but regular amounts of change doesn’t deserve my business. And I don’t actually own a dog or live near a beach. And the old man works most Saturday mornings and, in fact, generally drives round to fetch his mother when she visits us.
Use cheaper cuts of meat
Last week the family refused to eat the stew I made with cheaper cuts of meat. Was it the meat, was it the way I incinerated it? Who knows. Whatever the reason, I threw it away when the mould on the surface began to lift the lid off the pan.
Sell a kidney
I’m a coward, I can’t do it, and besides, at the rate I’m quaffing down medicinal red wine, no-one is likely to want it.
Sell one of the children
An attractive proposition, this one, but one that’s likely to prompt child protection agency involvement, thus scuppering potential credibility as a children’s author.
Raid the copper jar
This is by far the best money earner at present and with the thirty pence I found down the back of the sofa this morning, has netted me £37.20.
It looks like money-making has to come down entirely to writing, then.
So I contacted The Team for advice. The Team are fellow MA creative writing students, three full-timers from last year who have moved on to fresh fields (gone back home, more specifically) and two others who, like me, are taking the course at a more leisurely pace. ‘I need to earn a heap of money from writing,’ I told them and asked for suggestions on how to do that.
And they came up with the Writers and Artists Yearbook Short Story Competition 2011.
But I haven’t got long before the closing date, so I’d better get my finger out.