Friday, 26 August 2011

This is it!!

I'm off on holiday for a few weeks in the eagerly anticipated US of A!!

Been saving up for a long time for this and I've never been so I'm very excited.  Going to be travelling around a lot so I'll get to see all sorts, including the Grand Canyon and the lights of Vegas!  Pretty nervous about flying however.  Only been on a plane once before and I felt a little unwell - nerves getting to me perhaps?  But I'm sure I'll be absolutley fine. :)

Suffice to say, I shalln't be posting anything for a little while.  Never fear - I shall return towards the end of the September (around the 21st at the earliest I would think) as I will be resuming my job hunting with great gusto upon my return!

Talking to myself?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A woman comes into the Shop wanting a ring.  She has arthritis, so her knuckles are huge whilst the place on her finger where a ring would sit is considerably smaller.

I do my best to advise her as she wants a ring with a large stone in it.  I explain, very clearly, that due to the size of her knuckles a ring big enough to go over them is not going to sit still on her finger - the stone will spin around.

I recommend a plain ring or even one where the stones are flatter / set in the band so the spinning isn't obvious or uncomfortable, but she wants the large stone.

I make it very clear that yes we can re-size her chosen ring, but IT WILL SPIN on her finger due to the difference in her knuckles and base of her finger.

Yes, she understands completely.  Yes, that is fine!  I'm not bothered about it spinning.  Please go ahead with re-sizing the ring.

The ring comes back re-sized and the customer returns to collect it.

She puts it on.   Her gaze snaps to mine and she looks bemused.

"Oh!  It spins!  It's too big!"

No, really???  Did we not have a thorough conversation about it before you stated that you fully understood that this was how it would be and to go ahead it?

Seems I talk to myself a lot of the time.

Money Blind

Monday, 22 August 2011

I work in an affluent area.  It's quite posh with nothing but private fee-paying schools and lots of boutiques.  When you're not earning much and are somewhat frugal, like myself, working in these kind of areas can be an endless source of puzzlement and despair.

For example, recently a woman came into the Shop to buy a present for someone she didn't really know that well, wasn't sure what she would like ... she picked out a necklace for £50 - for someone she hardly knows!  As she's chatting away about it to Nora, she looks directly at me and comments: 'Well, it's a mere £50!' with a shrug as if fifty pounds is of no real value.

£50!  It takes me a full day of work to earn that (roughly, after tax).  I wouldn't throw away that much on a gift for someone I didn't know anything about.  Would you??  Perhaps on someone close that I cared a lot about and whatever item it was happened to be the best gift ever ... but on a stranger???  Madness.

Please bear in mind that I don't often work more than 2 or 3 days per week.  £50 is extremely precious when you think that it's either half or a third of my weekly income.

Must be nice to have money to burn ...
I find it hard to fully appreciate why some people think that sort of money means nothing.   I understand that by having lots of money you may be more generous with it, but to talk about it in that manner, especially when you aim that comment at people with limited incomes -seriously, are they so well off that the recession hasn't affected them at all?  And are they so oblivious to the fact that shop workers in general don't earn very much?   I felt it was an insensitive comment to make but she was clearly ignorant of what £50 means to someone like me.

Back in my office job there was an older woman named Myrtle who didn't need to work; her husband was quite a high earner and she just wanted a job for something to do, not wanting to be a housewife.   But because she didn't have to worry about money, Myrtle could not comprehend why Sabrina a young woman renting a flat on her own (after her partner left her) and was just able to afford her bills, was so reluctant to go out to expensive restaurants when there were office get-togethers after work.   Honestly, she'd insist 'It's not that expensive!' when the starters were about £12!   The look of confusion on her face were completely genuine and she'd actually be rather sour about Sabrina not attending, not grasping the fact that the cost of the meals would probably cover her monthly bills and that she simply could not afford it.  For Myrtle, it was an alien concept - her husband paid all the bills - it seemed to be beyond her understanding.

Not all of us can afford fancy food at pricey restaurants!
Sab would often insist that she didn't have the money to spare as she allocated her income to bills and a little would be spent on an evening out or gifts for birthdays, yet there were several individuals who would rudely comment (when she wasn't around of course) that Sab was spending money on things whilst claiming she didn't have any - forgetting that Sab didn't have any left over from allocating it to where it was needed!  She didn't literally mean she had not a penny to her name!  It was simply budgeted already and there wasn't anything available to spend in pricey eateries!

For some of us, every penny counts these days and it irks me that some people who have never had to worry about money are looking down their noses at those that are in tough situations.  Hello?  Recession??  People losing their jobs or not had a pay rise in years?

You'd think the majority of the population would have heard about it ...
Do I have enough to park my car at work today?

What do I cut down on?

Friday, 12 August 2011

It's a pretty obvious thing that people have been pointing out to me regardless - cut back on things to save money.

That's all well and good if you were a big spender in the first place.  But what if you were reasonably frugal with your money to start with?  Where can I cut back?

Let's look at the obvious suggestions for a young woman in her twenties.
Magazines - I don't buy them. I'll read any that are brought into the house but I will not part with my money for them.  Never subscribed to any.
Make-up - don't wear very much and got enough to last me a while if I need it (bar an eyeliner that ran out - boo!)  I've actually given some bits away to friends because I'll never get around to using some of it.
Clothes - stopped buying when I became unemployed, with the exception of two cheap blouses suitable for work.  Even before that I only once had a splurge on clothing when I discovered an online shop that stocked clothing I actually liked, was reasonably priced, free returns, and I had been living in hand-me-downs and second-hand clothing for about a decade.  I was in full time work at the time with a good income - so I could afford it at the time, but I didn't go completely nuts, I simply replaced a lot of old things with a handful of decent fitting new things.   My wardrobe didn't really get any bigger!

Shoes - I did purchase a £40 pair of shoes a few months ago as I didn't have anything suitable for work and I desperately needed something that my feet were going to be comfortable in given that I'm on my feet most of the day.  A necessary purchase and a one-off.   Normally, I detest shoe shopping.  I own 7 pairs (work shoes, trainers, sandal-like shoes, sandals, black knee-high boots, brown knee-high boots, and black ankle boots)  They fit and they'll do until they fall apart.

"Treats and Treatments" - under this heading I include coffee shop purchases, chocolate, manicures, pedicures, all those kind of girly things.   I object to spending several quid on a cup of tea when I can buy a box of 100 teabags for less and make my own darn tea!   I've worked in a coffee shop before for about six months and I was constantly amazed at how much people will happily pay for a cup of coffee.  Best one - a 'dry' cappuccino - slightly less than half the cup is coffee, the rest foam.  Who the hell pays nearly £4 for half a cup of foam???  Sorry, I honestly never understood.  Not being a girly-girl I don't go in for manicures or getting my nails done in any way shape or form.  With the sports I do, I have to keep my nails short - trim them myself, tidy up with a nail file and that suits me fine.

Gym - something I did in the past but gave up my membership a few years ago when I got bored with the same stuff and the amazing Pilate's instructor left to be replaced by an atrocious one.  The other sports I do, I happen to help teach so that gets me free lessons in exchange.  Within walking distance so no petrol costs and if a lift is needed somewhere else 99% of the time I can get a lift.

So those are the 'typical' things that you'd expect someone of my age to cut back on.  But I either don't purchase these or any spending is already at the absolute minimum.

I'll no doubt do another cut-back post soon, see if there's anything else I ought to consider.

Any suggestions?

Is there a Black Hole in my wallet?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Well, my car at least seems to be the cause of the black hole at any rate.

It broke down last week - thankfully, my brother used to work as a mechanic so he picked up the new part required and fixed it right up.  All I needed to pay for was the part.  Had I gone to the garage that would have been three-figures easily!

My car insurance has gone out this month too.

But I totally forgot all about my car tax being due this month.  That's a bill I wasn't prepared for!  Gone up since last year as expected.

In short, my wages from last month have gone on my car and rent.  That's it!  Not a penny left over!  If anything, I'm still digging into what I had before being paid.

It's quite startling.   Yet Nora is still perplexed as why I'm looking for full-time work!  No concept of how little she pays me and that it seriously is not enough, particularly during months like this one.  You can't predict when your car is going to break down or when an expensive dental / health / vet bill needs to be paid.

I'm doing all I can to be careful with my money and still pay for my upcoming holiday, yet I'm genuinely concerned I'll have to actually take money out of my savings account - the account I've been putting money into since before I even had a job (saving my pocket money even way back then) which I've always intended for BIG purchases, like a deposit on a home or a new car (second-hand most likely but 'new' to me), possibly a wedding fund - those kind of purchases.

I don't want to have to touch that money just to keep my head above water.  I know it's there if I need it, but I fear that if I dip into it once, I'll keep doing it.  'I just need a little', or 'I'll be able to put the money back when I'm working full time!' - it's taken a long time to build it up, but it could easily disappear if I'm not more careful than I am now.

Not heard of this before!

Monday, 8 August 2011

I've finally discovered the blog of Miss Thrifty. :)

Frugal outlook and money-saving tips - yes please!  I've not read much so far; I have a habit of going through a blogs archives and reading everything in order so I've not got further than August 2008.

She gave a curious suggestion of how to clean silver jewellery.  Silver is my personal preference and as I work in a jewellery shop I tend to get asked about how to clean it.  Naturally, when the boss is around I recommend the pricey products of wipes and dips - when the boss is not around however I've always shared my tip of using bicarbonate of soda - warm water, a dash of soda and a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush to get in the nooks and voila!

But Miss Thrifty has suggested something rather unusual.  Bowl of hot water, generous dash of salt ... and a strip of aluminum foil.

I don't understand how that works (any science-minded types able to explain?) but the before and after photos look promising.

I fully intend to try that out next time I'm giving my things a clean.  I'd never pay for expensive cleaners, I don't believe they're ever worth the money.

Some days are just a waste of effort

Saturday, 6 August 2011

I'm no fan of working weekends, but work means money so I take any days that I'm offered.  (I have my holiday to pay for after all.)

But I've had one of those days where it felt like I was never in the right place at the right time and everything I did was a waste of effort.

Turn up to work, open the Shop, re-stock and clean - sell £200 worth of amber jewellery in the first half hour.  I'm mistaken in thinking that this is the sign of a good day.

Boss turns up (after 10am), seems less than impressed about the £200 sale (Nora's never happy, I don't understand why) and I set about putting stock on our website.  The website is a bit thin on the ground product wise; it has essentially fallen to me to sort the entire thing out and put a few hundred items on it.

This takes place at a desk away from the shop floor.  There is CCTV cameras of the shop floor and I regularly turn to look at it, checking for people coming into the shop.  If Nora is serving someone and another person comes in, I stop what I'm doing and go out onto the shop floor.

Works in theory.  However, it seemed to Nora that in spite of my repeated glances at the screen, I just was not responding quick enough, i.e. instantly.   Sorry, but I am not whipping my head around every two seconds - I wouldn't be able to get anything uploaded to the website and I need to prepare each image, write a description, put the price in and make sure it's displayed in the right category.  I kinda need to look at the computer screen for more than a few seconds at a time.  And let's face it - the website is something that Nora desperately wants up and running, envisioning multiple orders every single day, so she's been going on and on about getting more products up.

But the moment a new customer steps over the threshold, Nora is calling for me.  A few times, mere seconds after I'd looked up at the screen.   She doesn't allow me even a few moments to realise and to come out - no, I am summoned by her wailing my name (or rather a short form that I don't care for) repeatedly throughout the day.  I traipse up and down the stairs, serving, selling, re-stocking, web administering, rinse and repeat.

In spite of this, I'm making excellent headway with the website.  Lots of products go up and I'm hopeful that we'll get orders from it once we've got a good variety available.   Am I at any point thanked or praised for this work?  No, of course not.   Nora is simply annoyed at 'having to keep calling' for me and that we 'lost' customers ... they walked in, I came up and they were walking out the door - if they don't hang around for more than five seconds then I would assume they didn't see anything they wanted; we probably didn't 'lose' them, they simply wanted something we didn't have.  But no, this is huge deal for Nora - she believes that every single person who comes in is there to buy something.   Apparently people don't go into shops just for a look!

Once as I came onto the floor to serve a customer, Nora shoved a load of stuff at me and told me to put it all back where it came from.  Um, hello?  Customers who need serving?  No, change of priority apparently.  And that still wasn't the right thing to do!

She demands that I move upstairs and use the computer / till.   (Yes, it has been fixed and we have the till machine up and running again - took ages, but it's all sorted.)   Nora points out that we really ought to have two people on the shop floor on a Saturday ... she buggers off about half an hour after that, leaving me alone.

But before going, right after I set everything up on the computer that I need to work on, she kicks me off it to place an order, shuts everything down, and then leaves me to deal with several customers.

Throw in some awkward customers who don't answer my questions as to what they want with Nora giving me unhelpful and patronising 'advice' - show them this, get this out, put it on them (while the customer can manage just fine), and shoving the trays we use for showing off the products right under my arm when I don't need it ... well, I was glad when she left early.

To top things off, we took over £900 but fell £35 short of target.  Something else for Nora to get screwed up about.

I shall attempt to unwind this evening with a cup of tea and a DVD, and be thankful that I'm not working next Saturday.

Just Making Sure?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I fully appreciate that not everybody wants the leaflets I deliver on a weekly basis.  It's to be expected - not everybody shops at that particular supermarket.

Whenever I encounter someone entering or leaving their home, I always make a point of asking if they would like a leaflet.  Most of the time I get one of two responses; 1# - a thank you, a smile and they happily accept the offered leaflet.  2# - no thank you, I don't shop there / I'll only put it in the recycle bin!    If it's 2# then I don't put one through their door anymore.  It's that simple.

I came across an elderly lady today who saw me working my way up her street (after I'd passed by her home) and she came up to me and said "You won't put one in #22, will you!"  

No, I did not forget to use a question mark there - it was not stated as a question.  She practically barked this at me.  Not a 'please don't deliver to #22, I'd rather not receive one' - just a blunt don't-you-dare with a withering look.

I'm somewhat taken aback by her lack of manners, but I just nod and tell her that's OK, I won't.

Off she stomps.

As I finish that street and double-back, I notice that #22 has a sign by the door.  'No non-addressed post'.

I've seen that sign ever since I've started this delivery round and not once have I put a leaflet through #22's door.   I can read.   She has not had this leaflet delivered to her for over six months.  I'd already passed her house by when she came out of it - it was quite obvious I hadn't given her one.

Why she felt it was even necessary to growl at me like that, I have no idea.

And to top off my round, it's been stupidly hot today.  (I don't do hot weather; it makes me irritable - roll on winter!)   Houses that face the rising sun have a tendency to develop very hot letterboxes - typically, I push the flap open with my hand in order to push the leaflet through since they're kinda flimsy and not sturdy enough to be shoved through without help.

Those letterbox flaps were hot enough to actually burn the tips of my fingers.   The hidden dangers of leaflet delivery!

Like Pulling Teeth

Monday, 1 August 2011

Here's a tip for making the lives of sales assistants easier - and surprisingly enough, it'll work in your favour too!

Tip - if you are looking for something specific, then please inform the sales assistant of what that item is.  Details are good. 

Don't be like the woman who came in asking vaguely if we did anything for children.

We don't do jewellery specifically for children, but we do have some smaller items that would be suitable.

No, she doesn't want jewellery - she helpfully scrunches her face up and retorts, 'It's for a baby!'

Is it for a Christening, perhaps?   Turns out it is.  After all, I am psychic.

Well, we do have a few Christening appropriate gifts - if jewellery (for now or for when the child is older) is not what you're looking for we have things such as little silver spoons (though I've never understood why that's appropriate), or trinket boxes.

The woman seizes on the trinket box suggestion.  Are they for baby teeth?

Again, not specifically but there's no reason why they couldn't be used for that - they can be engraved with the child's name or date of first tooth etc - just throwing out ideas as she and her companion are eyeing up everything in the place without so much as a glance at me during the conversation.

But no - that's not good enough.

Do none of them have 'tooth fairy box' or 'first tooth' on them already?  Again, I must clarify that no, they do not.  They are blank (bar the individual decoration or pattern) for you to personalise.

"Well, I really wanted a tooth fairy box with that written on it."

Well, why on earth did you not ask for that when you walked in the door??  Your opening question was whether we did anything for children.   One statement is pretty darn vague, the other would have saved us both time and hassle.  Care to guess which one?

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