Wednesday, 31 October 2007

How to get out of debt

A couple of years ago I was a student fresh out of university with a degree and a £11,000 student loan to repay.

In less than two years, I cleared my debt and started saving for the future and in today's blog I will show you how.

1) Change your mindset - many students have accepted debt as a way of life but if you change your way of thinking, you will get out of debt faster.

2) Decide how much you want to save - By living at home after university I was able to save between £500-£1,000 every month.

3) What are you prepared to sacrifice? - If you are serious about beating debt you will have to cut back on some hobbies like music cd's or going to concerts.

4) Where else can you cut back? - I took packed lunches to work, car shared in to work and went socialising in London only once a week.

5) Are you paying too much? - Every year prices go up on everyday item like food, so think about switching supermarkets and use price comparison websites to find cheaper deals.

6) Develop hobbies that don't cost much - Now that you've made cut backs, develop cheaper hobbies, so say you are into reading or writing, why not join a local writers circle or start your own book club.

7) Understand why you spend - Most people impulse buy, so consider why you are forking out money in the first place - is it because you are stressed or bored, these can be powerful triggers, so once you understand why you're doing this you can change the way you spend.

8) Never underestmate the power of your CV - After leaving university, I was told as a new graduate I wouldn't earn much, but trusting my own abilities led me to walk into a good paying local government job paying £7k more than the student average.

9) What are your hidden talents? - Good at cooking or D.I.Y? Let your hobby make money for you - Family friends have turned their love for cooking food into a weekend cooking service or making custom made cakes.

10) Make a contract with yourself - Sign a contract with yourself that you will be debt free in a set amount of time but make your goal realistic - this will be your motivation and driving force, but if you slip up along the way, don't worry, just pick yourself up and keep going!

It was a challenge, but one of the best achievments I have ever made and if I can do it, so can you!

If you have your own suggestions for beating debt, please post a comment as I would like to hear your ideas.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

How to organise a car boot sale

Following on from yesterday's blog entry, I thought I would give some tips on how to plan a car boot sale.

Preparations

Car boot sales are usually held in church halls or school playgrounds, so pick up your local newspaper and visit the nearest one.

While walking around, see what the going rate is for books, dvds and what items are currently popular.

Book a pitch in advance and use a table if you have less stuff to sell, but if you have more, use a large sheet of cloth as your pitch area as this way you get to display more items.

Keep a box aside and start putting things in there that you haven't used in over a year, and be ruthless, being sentimental about objects isn't going to help.

On the day

Bring a cash float, hot drinks, a packed lunch, foldaway chairs, umbrella and lots of small coins and carrier bags.

If you have lots of books and dvd's, be flexible, offer a 3 for 2 to encourage buyers, remember anything you don't sell, you will bring back home, so the idea is to get rid of your junk.

Be chatty with customers, suggest books, if they like one film, maybe they would like another one too, you've seen your own movies, so why not be a film expert for the day!

In the last half an hour, reduce everything to 50p, to encourage any last minute buyers to grab your loot.

After the car boot sale

Anything you didn't sell, keep in a box in your garage, you don't want to clutter your home after you've just made more space.

Keep adding things when you see them so that you will be ready for the next sale.

Resist the temptation to spend the money immediately and try to put the money you do make into a bank account for the future.

I did a car boot sale before I went back to university and made £80.

If I can do it, so can you!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Ways to start saving for Christmas

On the internet, many people are saying it's too late too start saving for Christmas, but I don't think so, so here are a few ways to start saving.

Most people have a lot of junk around the house that you could either sell at a local car boot sale or at an online auction site.

Remenber there will be people on the look out for cheap presents, so check out your local paper now and start organising your clutter.

Any money you do raise, stick it in a savings account and make sure that your account is still competitive- you work hard for your money, so make sure your money works hard for you!

If you have any loose change in your pocket, stick it in a home made money box as this is an easy way to start saving if you haven't saved for a long time.

Dreaming of a holiday in the Carribean? or a family Christmas?

Whatever your goal, cut out a picture from a magazine and stick it on your container to remind you what you're saving for.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

How to live on a budget

First off, decide how much money you need for the week ahead and withdraw that money on a Sunday.

The idea is to spend that money only and not stick it on a credit card.

For a week, keep a diary of everything you buy as this will tell you where your money is going.

After the week, review what you can cut out and put this money in a money box.

Take a packed lunch for work and skip that trip to the coffee shop in the morning.

It may not seem like much but people tend to spend more money on these small items than the bigger one's.

It's hard to live off £40 a week, when that £45 top in Topshop, is screaming, "Buy Me!"

But how many tops do you already have at home?

Er..10?

Be honest...

Okay, maybe 20.

We only wear a small percentage of the clothes we buy, the rest just hangs there in the wardrobe.

If this is you, it's time to have a car boot sale.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Shopping for a winter coat

An unusual topic for a blog, but anyone who lives in a cold climate will now the many challenges that this may pose.

So far on the high street there are many thin coats which are suitable for light weather but wont do any good when the chills finally hit London come December or early January.

I've been reading Death Note recently, so whilst out shopping I stumbled across a very detective looking coat, which made me wonder about the strange link between manga and clothes.

When I was really into Furuba, I couldn't walk into a single shop without thinking, that's Momiji's trousers, or that's something Yuki or Hatsuharu would wear.

So, if I accidently turn into Light or L, you know why...

Thursday, 25 October 2007

When Kino's Journey came to life

Flicking through an old copy of Colors I stumbled across an intereting article about a man who is traveling around the world on a moped in a mission to visit every single country on the globe.

He comments that after seeing so much of the world, he no longer thinks we live in a beautiful world.

This article was written before I watched Kino's Journey, an anime about a girl who travels the world on a talking motorcycle staying in each country for only three days before moving on.

Kino in comparison believes in the world despits it's flaws, believing it's these very flaws that make the people she meets and the world she see's even more beautiful.

I must admit, I like this idea of flawed beauty.

Both the anime and the book which inspired the series, Kino no Tabi, pose interesting questions about the world we live in and how we choose to live our lives.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Death Note

So far, I have resisted buying the Death Note manga, but yesterday I finally caved and bought the suspense thriller famously banned in China for inspiring wicked hearts.

In a recent news story, even teachers in Taiwan have been asked to watch their students for any signs of 'adverse reactions.'

The art style is unique, it feels like I'm watching film noir, but the most fascinating thing about this series is how they depict the eternal battle between good and evil.

The bounderies of morality are often blurred and I sometimes feel that the villian may actually be the hero of the story.

History of the internet

I read a very interesting article about the 16 most defining moments of the internet today and it was a very interesting read.

How reputations are made (and broken) by the click of a mouse and how the internet all started.

What I found most interesting was how stories can be broken on the net first ahead of the print media and the way in which the internet has turned into a portal for eye witness accounts.

It was the final point that really hit home, the fact that people are choosing to read articles online that most interested me.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Fan communities

It's post-expo season and I was thinking about how fast fan communities are growing online.

I recently joined Deviant Art, thinking I was the only Shojo Beat fan there, only to find a big club already there.

Just goes to show, when you think you're the only one, you suddenly realise you are not.

Especially the anime fandom where everyone is wired, news moves so quickly.

By the time the magazines catch up, it's already old news, that's how fast this on-line world is.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Interviewing Laura Bailey and Colleen Clinkenbeard about Fruits Basket, Full Metal Alchemist and playing boys!

I interviewed two voice actresses, Laura Bailey and Colleen Clinkenbeard today at the second day of the anime expo.

Laura was the voice of Tohru Honda in the amazingly popular Fruits Basket anime and I asked her about what it was like being a part of such a big success!

Many people think that people like Tohru don't exist in this world and Laura gave a very interesting answer saying that she hopes that if there are people like Tohru in this world, that they have friends who will support them.

I even put Laura on the spot and asked her who does she like more- Yuki or Kyo?...

Colleen also talked about her experience of directing the Full Metal Alchemist anime and I asked both ladies to decide which Fruits Basket character the other was most like, which gave some amusing results!

Both ladies are extremely good fun and I must confess I had a really good time interviewing them.

The interview will be going up on the website soon, so watch this space for more details...

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Interviewing Ichigo from Bleach!

You kind of expect madness when you go to an anime expo but even I wasn't prepared for what happened today.

Cosplay rave, tween stars from Nickelodeon and eating too many japanese sweets.

I also interviewed Johnny Yong Bosch about Bleach and dying his hair strange colours and he gave a very interesting answer to what it means to be an outsider today, especially for teenagers.

Johnny is currently the voice of Ichigo from the anime series Bleach but he was also a Power Ranger a very long time ago.

I asked him why actors use alias's and what motivates him to do his own stunts despites the injuries he recieves.

It was my very first podcast and when it goes live on the website I write for, I will post the link here.

After the interview, Johnny asked for the website address as he'd like to swing by the site and say hello to his fans.

Which was a nice surprise!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Manga explosion hits the UK

Japanese comics will soon be invading more bookshops thanks to new english licences for popular series including Death Note and titles from the American Viz collection including Hot Gimmick and Absolute Boyfriend.

In a recent interview, Paul Gravett has highlighted that home-grown talent is being recognised oversees pointing out that manga doesn't have to only come from Japan.

As Comica, the London International Comic festival kicks of, there is the opportunity for any budding graphic artists to take part in their 24 hours comics day where artist all over the world will be challenged to create a comic in only one day.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Focus on Japan - The rise of urban Tokyo Tribes

Ever since Gwen Stefani's 'Harajuku Girls' hit the international charts, Harajuku fashion, culture and way of life has once again become in vogue.

Described as the happening place for young Tokyo urbanites, Harajuku has become the Mecca for the alternative kids who hang outside Yoyogi Park every sunday and Gothic Lolita central, otherwise known as LaForet.

Regular school kids every other day of the week, on sunday, transform themselves in cosplay costumes and j-rock fashions, combining youthful innocence with a more cutting edge twist.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

How to stretch your wage to the next pay day

Tempted to spend all your pay in Topshop?

Here are a few of my tips and tricks to help you get throught to your next pay day.

As tempting as it may be to spend your money immediately, transfer some of it to your savings as a 'rainy day' fund.

No, not at the end of the month, but the start, otherwise you really wont have anything left. Even better, set up a standing order the day after payday.

You know you're a shopoholic when you have more beauty products on your table than you would find in Pout, but never underestimate the power of free samples and don't feel cheeky for asking for more.

For the times when you do impulse buy - do think about why you forked out the money in the first place, and by this, I mean, understanding your emotions.

Were you bored, stressed? - emotions can make you do funny things.

If you're feeling down, keep a list in your purse or wallet with 'Things that cheer me up!' and instead of buying more stuff do a fun activity instead.