Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Living on the cheap 1

 Side hustles and cash neutral are popular phrases now, I don't remember them being used when I was bringing up my family but maybe they were. I certainly did both things even though I didn't call them that.

 I have had a sewing machine for many years and I made a lot of my children's clothes. I used to buy clothes from jumble sales and use the fabric to make clothes. Voluminous polycotton nightdresses could provide a few summer dresses. Men's red shirts can be cut down to smaller ones and even to pyjamas.

Whilst helping at the local playgroup jumble sale I noticed two dresses used for ballroom dancing, one was white, the other lemon. They contained metres and metres of fabric and provided the basis for Christmas presents for my daughters, I made them both a tutu with layers of net and a top layer of bejewelled lycra, I showed them to other playgroup mums and sold every tutu I was able to make from the fabric. I paid 50p for the two dresses and made about 20 tutus, the money I made paid for Christmas that year.

I also made tutus as birthday presents when my daughters were invited to parties, for boys I made superhero capes, I realise this sounds sexist but I was equally happy to make superhero capes for girls though they usually requested a Wonderwoman outfit. I'm sure my kids sometimes got invited to parties because of the capes and tutus.

I earned extra money by doing alterations, sometimes as simple as sewing buttons on.

I tried to choose something every year that  could make as gifts and also sell, nappy hangers, lavender bags, crayon rolls and many other items. When eyelash wool was popular a few years ago I knitted scarves and sold them, I paid for Christmas three years running selling them.

Other side hustles included making jams and mincemeat, coconut ice, biscuits amongst other things.

Taking in foreign students, having a lodger, there is a rent a room scheme where you can let out a room for £400 pcm without paying tax, it may be more now. When I worked for a school I had OTT's staying. Overseas trained teachers, some were lovely, some were difficult and then there was Katy, not her real name, her exploits were on previous incarnations of my blog.

I've taken dogs in whilst their owners are on holiday and looked after cats and other pets in their own homes.

I've also done evening and early morning cleaning before and after work and temped during the school holidays. Restaurant work both in the kitchen and front of house.


JanF said...

You amaze me! You are so hard working and resilient- and darned clever to think of those money making ideas. I salute you this morning.

justjill said...


Ellen D. said...

You certainly are an industrious woman. I remember, when I was in my teens, babysitting for 50 cents an hour! I was in great demand back then! Seemed like a lot of money to me (of course, gas was just 30 cents a gallon)!
I did some cross stitch to sell when my kids were babies but it wasn't worth it really - I might stitch for hours and hours but get $2 for an item! What was I thinking? Just filling my little bit of free time, I think.
Thanks for your post!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I was always happy to help at Jumble sales! I don't think I ever bought any fabric from a shop! (still don't come to think of it)
Your resilience is a rare quality nowadays

mamasmercantile said...

I used to love a good jumble sale, I haven't been to one in years. They don't seem to have them here on the Isle of Lewis.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Incredible - I would never have thought of doing anything like this.

Chris said...

A very interesting post, Hester. I feel so lazy in comparison to you! But I did work full time until I was 65 so that's my excuse - plus I don't have a sewing machine or any creative bone in my body.

Marilyn Bennett said...

You certainly deserve your retirement. Women from our era just did these things. It was the only way to survive and provide our families with those little extras. Best wishes Hester.

Siebrie said...

I've done small jobs when I was a student, but never as an employed adult. As a student I had to, because the scholarship (Dutch, fixed amount for every student back then) was not enough to cover everything, and my parents couldn't afford to pay much more. I worked enough to cover 'the rest', which was still pretty basic.

My husband is from a very poor country in Africa, and he always has several sidegigs going. He is well-employed in a very secure job, and gets headhunted every week at least, and still has sidegigs. He was trained from childhood to never put all his eggs in one basket. He sells international streaming services, fixes computers, exports cars and trucks (first one leaving today - it's been a steep learning curve....), etc. It gives him money for the hobbies I won't let him spend from the main budget, keeps him busy (otherwise he just lies on the sofa watching films).

I support him best by making sure the household runs smoothly. I don't take over everything, he still has his large share to do.

Debby said...

I would be afraid to take people into my home without knowing them well first. We have tried to help out people before, and it has never worked out. But I understand 'side hustles'. When my husband and I married, we had five children between us. We each had second jobs to keep things going. I remember the first time that I was able to work just one job. It felt luxurious. And now look at me. I'm retired! Busy people always find something to keep themselves busy though.

Frugal in Essex said...

Well done Hester that's incredible. I did similar with making clothes for me and the children. Curtains for the house etc. I worked nights so I was always home during the day.

Icey said...

I work part time in my main job and have an Etsy shop which allows me to enjoy my hobby and pays for extras such as Christmas and towards spending money if we ever get to go on holiday again.
My husband works shifts so I run the house and our family lives while he drops in/out when he is home.

Unknown said...

Oh I remember you writing about Katy and her exploits - was hilarious to read but you were a saint for putting up with her!!


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