Make money selling on eBay

As well as telling you ways to save money on various things I also want to start sharing ways in which you can make a little bit of extra money too! This first post is the obvious one – sell stuff on eBay! New Year for me is very much about fresh starts and having a clearout is always top of my agenda. Despite basically living in a shoebox of a bedroom in London I own way too much stuff.

On the first of the year I had a massive sort through of all of my belongings – threw out a bunch of stuff, replaced some things that badly need replaced, filled two boxes full of things for charity AND still managed to fill a large suitcase of things I want to try sell on eBay! Last weekend I spent some time photographing everything and writing short descriptions as well as a rough guide to starting prices then yesterday I spent a LOT of time getting the listings actually up on eBay which are all due to end next Sunday. I don’t know why but apparently Sunday evening is the best time for auctions to end!

I won’t lie, selling stuff on eBay isn’t easy and it isn’t fun but it sure can be profitable. People will buy literally anything (seriously check out these weird things that have sold on eBay). Each month you get 20 free listings which means you won’t pay a single penny to actually list your items for sale, make the most of this by putting up your more expensive items first if you have more than this to list (or consider spreading them out over a couple of months like I plan on doing!) you’ll still have to pay final value and PayPal fees though so bear this in mind when deciding on your starting price. eBay sometimes run free listing days or weekends too so keep an eye out for these.

The two main factors you should really pay attention to when listing on eBay are describing the item well including brand, size, measurements, fabric, colour etc and taking good pictures. Make sure to point out any issues with the item so that you’re not hit with a “not as described” case being opened against you after it arrives. eBay lets you include up to 12 pictures for free with each listing so there’s no excuse for not showing off the item from all sides.

Don’t list your starting price for less than you’re willing to let the item go for. It can be tempting just to whack everything on at 99p start price but if it actually goes for 99p how much of a profit will you truly be making once postage and fees are taken off the total? Speaking of postage, make sure you know the true cost of the items you are sending. Getting this wrong can be catastrophic as my mum once discovered after actually ending up paying for someone to buy something of hers! You can also offer postage discounts the same member buys multiple items from you, encourage this by listing similar or complimentary items and linking to them in description. Oh and always make sure that you get a proof of posting! Whenever I get back from the post office I like to write the eBay listing number at the top of the receipt and file it away into a folder for safe keeping.

If you want some more indepth tips check out these videos from Wiser Wealthier or Emma Drew also has 17 Tried and Tested Tips for you.

Camden street art tour with MonoPrixx

I’ve done a couple of street art tours in Shoreditch but never really thought about doing one in Camden as I always associate it with positively heaving markets and hundreds upon hundreds of tourists but when Nelly of MonoPrixx offered a complimentary tour of course I said yes. Especially since I needed to stockpile some pictures for my new Instagram account!

Nelly met us just outside Camden Town station at 11am on a Saturday morning and I could tell by her paint flecked coat that this wasn’t just a job for her but a passion. I was absolutely right and over the next two hours she not only showed us some incredible works of art right there on the streets of Camden but also enlightened us to some of the unwritten rules of street art.

1. If you want you work to last go high

2. You can only paint over an existing art piece if you are confident you can replace it with something better

3. Anyone can paint in a legal space but those with more developed skills tend to get bigger spaces to work with

Camden has a large number of legal wall spaces many of whom are managed by Nelly. These are spaces where people or companies allow work to be displayed with their permission. The only downside of this is that it sometimes restricts what the artist can paint on these especially political messages as no one wants people to be offended by it.

One of my favourite pieces of the tour was this one by Vanessalongchamp called free. Most art doesn’t have a publicly known meaning behind it but Vanessa has said that the birds in this one represent her fears. As you can see there is a solitary bird still left locked away that she cannot yet bring herself to face.

If you want to know more cool stories like this then I thoroughly recommend you book on a tour. The Camden art scene is forever changing so you will have a different experience from me and anyone else who’s done it previously!

*Disclaimer: My tour was complimentary but I was not expected to post about it! I only did cos it was cool
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Things to do in Marylebone

So you have a few hours to kill in Marylebone or you want to check out something in the area and aren’t too sure what else there is to do nearby. Maybe you’ve set aside a whole day for your visit – what should you do? Where should you go? My things to do series is here to help with a full days itinerary all mapped out for you. Follow it religiously or pick and choose the things that suit your schedule – it’s up to you! Just be sure to have fun exploring.

Visit Sherlock

Baker Street is of course home to the world’s most famous detective and while 221B Baker Street isn’t actually a real address just a little further down the road is a museum dedicated to him and his mysteries. The first floor study has even been faithfully maintained as it was kept in Victorian Times. Even if you don’t want to check out the museum itself it’s worth stopping by to get your picture taken out front in a traditional deerstalker hat! Museum is open every day from 9:30am til 6pm although I recommend getting there early as due to Benedict Cumberbatch’s stint as the detective it can get pretty busy. Admission costs £15 per adult and £10 for a child.

Hang out with the stars

If Sherlock isn’t your thing how about rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Zoella and Alfie Deyes or even the Queen? OK so they aren’t the real deal but the Madam Tussaud’s waxworks are so close to real life you can totally pretend that you’re BFFs with Barack Obama. Madam Tussdaud’s is however one of the most popular tourist attractions in London so I thoroughly recommend booking timed entry ticket from their website otherwise you’ll waste hours of precious time just queuing to get in.

Enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea

Just a short ten minute walk away is the magnificent Wallace Collection. I’ve been before to see their Joshua Reynolds exhibit but the permanent collection is just as magnificent ranging from paintings to suits of armour, sculptures and jewellery – the best part is everything including their rotating exhibitions are completely free of charge leaving you cash to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in the beautiful courtyard restaurant. For £18.50 per person you’ll be treated to a selection of sandwiches, homemade scone, clotted cream, Peyton and Byrne preserves and a selection of cakes. For an extra £7.50 you can even indulge in a glass of champagne to go with it.

Harley Street

You’ll need to walk off that afternoon tea so why not take a stroll down the world famous Harley Street and take in the very best in medical practitioners the country has to offer. You can find practitioners offering almost any kind of cosmetic enhancements from teeth whitening, laser eye surgery or even hair transplants in London here. Who knows you might even bump into a celebrity after they’ve had some work done!

Take a Stroll through Regents Park

London has a surprising number of green spaces and Regent’s park is one of the biggest housing stunning memorials, fountains and statues galore, Primrose Hill with some incredible views of central London and even the ZSL London Zoo. Sadly the zoo closes between 4pm and 6pm depending on the season but if you’re visiting during the summer you may be lucky enough to visit during one of their late night evenings.

In an ideal world I’d end the day with a swim and a spa treatment at Third Space before taking in some incredible views from the terrace of one of The Marylebone hotels sumptuous suites but for a more budget friendly option in the area check out the MStay 146 Suites or the Z Hotel at Gloucester Place for some terrific value for money rooms. A sneaky tip for you if you book into Z; they offer free cheese and wine between 5 and 8pm at no extra cost! My kind of deal for sure.

*Disclaimer: This post written in collaboration with the Harley Street Hair Clinic.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

House of MinaLima

So one of my favourite places in London is due to close shortly and I realised I hadn’t event blogged about it. It’s my favourite for two reasons:

  1. it’s Harry Potter related and
  2. it’s completely free!

Let me introduce you to the House of MinaLima.

This fantastically wonderful old building just minutes from the palace theatre where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently being staged is home to a truly magical exhibition by some of the graphic designers who worked on the Harry Potter film series.

Inside you’ll find three floors jam packed with those tiny details from the movies that you always wished you could take a closer look at along with some other stunning pieces that you probably didn’t even realise were there!

My absolutely favourite section was the area dedicated to the Weasley twins joke shop; Weasley’s wizard wheezes. These designs are just so colourful and fun they really grab your attention.

They recently added some graphic art from the latest film in the Harry Potter franchise: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and although I haven’t got around to it yet I’m looking forward to checking it out before they close.

The ground floor even houses a shop where you can buy limited edition prints of some of the artwork on display as well as posters, stationary and, of course, books! If you’re a fan of the series you really should check it out and even if you’re not, hey it’s free!

The House of MinaLima is open daily from 12 noon til 7pm until the 4th February 2017.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

A number of great theatre shows closed in the West End this weekend. The Railway Children is no more, Beverly Knight is no longer falling in love with The Bodyguard and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory closed its doors. I hadn’t seen the latter yet despite meaning to check it out ever since it opened back in 2013 so I treated myself to the cheapest ticket I could find for last Friday night.

I snagged the last seat in the balcony for the princely sum of £27.03 – a random price but the cheapest I could find at such short notice. Unsurprisingly with it being so close to the end the show was a complete sold out. I actually quite liked this as while it meant there was very little room to get comfortable (the seats in this theatre are very close together and the balcony very steep – I wouldn’t really recommend sitting up there to be honest but you get what you pay for!) it did mean that the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement.

Despite being so high up I had a fairly clear view of the stage except from on a couple of occasions when the characters were required to be right at the front of the stage. The staging was fantastic and they made great use of the space that was available to them.

I have to admit though that I didn’t find the first half of the show particularly engaging. The songs while OK weren’t particularly memorable and they didn’t seem to get through much of the story by the time the safety curtain was lowered on act one (they were only just entering the factory itself at this point) and I was worried that the rest of the show would feel somewhat rushed. Which luckily it didn’t.

The second half is where this show truly comes alive with every new set bursting with colour and possibility. Just as it would were the factory real. Jonathan Slinger was fantastic as Willy Wonka and, I thought, echoed Gene Wilder’s version beautifully while still making the character his own. Charlie was played by Ptolemy Gidney and had a wonderful rapport with Grandpa Joe played by Barry James.

While I thought that the child actors were actually very good I did struggle to actual hear what most of them were saying/singing which was a shame. I also wasn’t a fan of the changes they had made to the characters of Violet and Mike Teavee with the latters solo song quite jarring when compared to the rest of the performance.

The most spectacular thing about the show though is the special effects. The technical team behind this show have outdone themselves with seemingly impossible feats coming to life in front of your eyes. The great glass elevator towards the end of the show was my personal highlight.

I’m glad that I went to see the show in the end but if it was still around I wouldn’t be rushing to see it again. The show is moving to Broadway later this year and 42nd Street will be replacing it here in London from March which if you plan on seeing I’d recommend bringing a jumper, it was really cold and drafty in there!

BitBS Rating – £££

Ways to save money on… Gym Memberships

It’s a New Year and with that comes New Years resolutions. Some of the most common? Lose weight, eat healthier and exercise more. Now all of these things you can of course do without it costing you a single penny extra by working out at home, taking up running or free outdoor exercise classes like those run by ParkLives or OurLives. But if you’re more of a gym buddy, just love to hit the pool or enjoy the buzz and variety of group workout classes then I have some tips on ways you can save money on a gym membership.

Take advantage of free trials

I haven’t had a gym membership at all in the three (almost four) years I’ve lived in London  because I’ve been using this trick on and off for a while. You see most gyms will allow you to come in for a free trial so that you can check out their facilities before you commit to a membership. These can range from a single day pass to a whole week’s worth of visits but of course the main reason they offer this facility is to encourage you to sign up so be prepared for a bit of coercing from the staff at the end of your session. If you’re not interested just be firm with them and say no thank you.

Tesco Clubcard Points

If you already shop at Tesco you may have accrued some Clubcard points that you’re not quite sure what to do with. It’s always more cost-effective to use your vouchers towards rewards on their site rather than on groceries in the store and they often have deals where you can exchange them for gym memberships. At the moment they’re currently offering a four-week membership at Nuffield Health gyms for just £18.50 in Clubcard vouchers.

Check out gyms closest to your house and work

Most people will want to work out either first thing in the morning before they head to work or just after so be sure to look at gyms close to both your home and your workplace. The price difference can be astounding especially in London for example there’s a Fitness4Less where I live in Canning Town where membership costs just £17.99 per month, compared to the gyms in Central London near where I work this is super cheap!

So you’ve found the gym of your dreams.
How can you save money on the actual cost?

Off peak membership

Don’t have a normal nine-to-five job? Find out if your gym of choice offers an off-peak membership package. You’ll be more restricted in the hours that you can attend but the bonus is that you’ll find the gym to be a whole lot quieter and more likely to be able to use the equipment that you want without having to wait for hours.

Employer discounts

Lots of bigger companies have employee benefit schemes which quite often include gyms in the surrounding area. The company essentially negotiates a group discount for their employees with the gym in advance and as long as you sign up via the scheme you’ll get your membership at the discounted rate. The downside of this is if you leave the company you’ll likely lose the discounted rate at the same time.

Referred by a friend

Similarly some gyms offer refer a friend schemes so if someone you know raves about their gym and it’s convenient for you why not ask them to see if theirs does? You might even save your friend some money off their membership too and it means you’ll have a gym buddy to help you stay motivated!

Haggle

If you’re more confident than I am there’s always the age-old method of haggling. Every gym branch will have a certain quota of gym memberships they need to sell in a given month so it’s always worth simply just asking for a discount. If you’re not happy with the price they’re offering don’t feel embarrassed about walking away and looking elsewhere. It’s more than likely they’ll drop you an email of give you a call just a few days later with a better offer.

Pay as You Go

My biggest tip to you would be to make sure that you’re willing to commit to a gym for the long run before signing on the dotted line. If you’re unsure it might be worth while asking if you can simply pay each time you want to go. The daily rate will seem a bit expensive at first but it will work out cheaper for you in the long run in you ultimately quit after the first few weeks. There’s a great site called PayasUgym which allows you to buy day passes for various gyms and pools at discounted rates from what you’d pay just walking straight in.

The View from The Shard

Everyone knows what the shard is but The View at the Shard specifically is an attraction taking up the top few floors of London’s tallest building allowing visitors to take in some breathtaking views of London and it’s surroundings.

At the start of last year I won a competition on the lovely Angie Silverspoon’s blog for two tickets to take a trip up and so with the expiry date of the experience looming I finally went with my friend Jen at the tail end of last year. (She’d been before but didn’t know about the incredible view you can get from the loo – more on this in a bit.)

It’s location in London Bridge means that you have pretty fantastic views of the Tower of London, HMS Belfast and the city as well as most of South London. If you’re more interested in views over Westminster and Buckingham Palace however I’d recommend taking a trip around the London Eye instead.

There are two floors to The View, the first is totally enclosed so you’re protected from the elements and the second is right at the tip of the Shard which doesn’t have a fully covered roof. It gets mighty cold up there so be sure to wrap up well. I believe you can take part in yoga very early on a Saturday morning – that’s certainly a unique way to wake yourself up for the weekend ahead!

Then there are the loos. These are definitely the star attraction at The View with their floor to ceiling windows allowing for some epic views while you do your business! There are even electronic blinds you can put down just in case you’re worried about someone across the river whipping their binoculars out.

You get an interactive audio guide included in the price of ticket which has some interesting facts and there are a few interactive telescopes dotted about the place too but to be honest I was very underwhelmed by the experience. Maybe it’s just because I’ve lived in the city so long though as it’s a very similar experience to Top of the Rock in NYC and I adored that!

We timed our visit for sunset so we could take advantage of both the daylight and the dawn(?) for our photographs. It’s always a pleasure watching London light up at night. Of course almost everyone else had the same idea so it became pretty busy – luckily we managed to stake out a spot at a window overlooking the London Eye and Westminster.

I’m glad that I’ve visited though, I’ve wanted to take a trip up for years but the cost always put me off. At £xx per adult and £xx for a child’s ticket it’s one of the pricier tourist attractions in London and to be honest, probably not worth it for that price. There are several bars and restaurants located just a few floors lower than The View itself and, while I haven’t yet been to any of these, I’ve been told that the views are just as incredible. Yes the drinks are expensive but so is The View and at least you can get a delicious cocktail thrown in for your money!

Of course if you’ve got the money to shell out you could always stay at the Shangri-La and wake up to those glorious views every morning of your visit!

Three cheap (and delicious) pizza spots in London

Pizza is my all-time favourite food. No seriously is there anything better than a good doughy base, crisp crust and an almost unlimited number of topping combinations? Good pizza doesn’t have to cost the earth and it’s one of the easiest things to grab on the go when you’re out and about checking out the city. But don’t bother with overpriced chains like Pizza Hut or Pizza Express cos I’ve got three of the best pizza joints that the capital has to offer right here for you.

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@msleannefraser) on

Pizza Buzz, Moorgate

Bit fussy when it comes to toppings? Not a fan of tomato based sauces? No worries, Pizza Buzz have got you covered. Basically the Subway of pizza’s – pick your base, cheeses (yes plural!) and other toppings to create the perfect pizza made just for you right in front of your face.

These guys also serve an INCREDIBLE burrata and offer a ridiculous bottomless booze option after 2pm or all day at the weekend. For just £29.95 per person each of you gets your own pizza customised with up to 3 toppings and as much beer, wine (house red or white) and bubbles as you can drink for 90 minutes!

Franco Manca, multiple locations

This is a new discovery for me since starting my new job as there’s one literally a couple of minutes’ walk away but they have stores in almost all parts of the city (and in a few other places outwith London too) so you’re sure to be near to one.

Franco Manca do delicious sourdough pizzas and source as many of their ingredients as possible from within the UK. The menu is small yet well-formed with both meat and veg specials available on a daily basis and prices ranging from £4.50 to about £8 per pizza.

Pizza Union, Kings Cross/Spitalfields

I saved the best til last (IMO) the most expensive pizza at Pizza Union is only £6.50 but you can get a standard 12” margherita for less than four quid and they’re sure to keep you going. Their bases are thin and doughy which is my favourite kind but this also means that they serve them up to your super-fast, great when you’re in a hurry!

They’re always really popular especially at lunchtime but I promise the queue moves faster than you think it will and it’s worth the wait. If you want to sit in either get there early or be happy to share a table with some of the other patrons.

Do you know of any other pizza places in London I should be checking out? What’s your favourite topping?

Ch… ch… ch… changes…

Happy new year!

I hope you all had the best time hanging out with your loved ones over the festive period and are excited for what’s to come in 2017. Let’s be honest 2016 wasn’t the best – very few people I’ve spoken to feel that it was a good year for them personally and I include myself in that. While the date or a new page on a calendar doesn’t actually change anything there is a definite air of a new start going about.

I’m awful at new years resolutions. I always make them and then when I’ve failed just a few weeks in to the year quit altogether and go back to my old habits. So this year I’m not making any. Instead I’m going to try making small changes throughout the year that will hopefully become new habits and therefore second nature to me. This year, for me, is all about living in the moment and enjoying the things that I do whether that’s eating good food at a new restaurant, checking out an overpriced London attraction or just hanging out at home in my pyjamas watching Netflix.

I’ve been brewing all these big ideas in my head about what I want this space on the Internet to be and I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to take the same approach to it too. Small changes rather than going in guns blazing and getting burned out from trying to do too much too soon.

The first change already happened – I doubt many of you even noticed but at the start of December I changed my blog logo. I have to admit that changing it was a small act of defiance on my part. I’ve been working on a new look for the whole site for so long now that I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. Getting it exactly how I want it is just taking longer than I thought it would but I’m ok with that.

Similarly while I’ve resisted it so far I have come to the conclusion that I need to streamline my blog content to fit a niche. To take Broke in the Big Smoke to where I want it I need to sacrifice some of the more personal parts I’ve put into the blog so far – don’t worry you’ll still be getting my opinions on the latest restaurants I’ve checked out and all the fun things to explore in London just with a little less grumbling about my health and constant apologies for not blogging every day. I’m taking the pressure off and keeping things here more casual yet focused: living and exploring London on a budget.

Which brings me to my final change (for now) I have a new Instagram account! I’m still keeping my personal one but I decided to start a second so that I could showcase more of what London has to offer through the many, many pictures I take of this beautiful city and tell you about what I get up to in a more timely fashion. If that sounds like your kind of thing then I’d love it if you’d consider giving me a follow!

What are your thoughts on New Years resolutions? Do you love them or hate them?

December 2016 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £218.06
PayPal – £19.13
Santander – £1,826.07
Halifax C/A – £4,590.20
TSB – £797.19
Tesco –£1,401.66

Credit total – £9,431.44

Debts
Capital One C/C – £906.08
MBNA C/C – £5,162.50
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £2,247.64
Loan from Mum – £4,000.00
Loan from Dad – £2,000.00

Debt total – (£14,316.22)

Net worth
£9,431.44 – £14,316.22 = –£4,923.04

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