Lea Marston Shooting Club, Sutton Coldfield

There’s a world of things out there that I’ve fancied trying out, but never got around to doing. This weekend, I went Clay Pigeon shooting at Lea Marston Shooting Club, a National Lottery Funded club on the outskirts of the West Midlands. Set on 100 acres, there’s a range of activities to try here including quad-biking, archery and ar rifle. The winner of the “2019 best Bangladeshi Restaurant in Birmingham” , The Pavaillion, is also set on the grounds, along with a club house serving more traditional fare (& alcoholic beverages, but only available after you’ve done your thing).

I booked the clay pigeon shooting as part of a Groupon deal, which I’d originally got for a friend’s birthday back in September. We left it until the very last day of its validity due to life getting in the way, but despite below zero temperatures and the early mornng start, we made it to the club in time. A very brief briefing, we hit the range (and some clay pigeons).

We’d been going to our local shooting club for air rifle shooting since the autumn, but I found clay pigeon way more fun. I think a combination of being outdoors with the friendly atmosphere of the club, plus a moving target, made it all the more interesting for me. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and I recommend anyone who can check it out.

That’s one New Year’s Goal down – now back to work again!

A year of Hollyoaks in two weeks

I’ve just successfully completed a year catch up of Hollyoaks in a two week period – all of 2019 in a giantic binge. It’s become a lot more circular lately, storylines last long past their sell-by date, and the villagers are just diving into and out of relationships with each other.

Here’s a 2019 recap of those we lost along the way.

Mac dies after being poisoned by Breda. As this is the second time we’ve taken Mac for dead, it’s no surprise that James looks into the bodybag this time to make he really was dead. James being one of my favourite characters, it’s been a joy seeing Romeo take after his father. Tom turning into a worrywart killjoy – not so much.

Louis Loveday got killed by Breda. Harry got killed by Breda. That was just a strange storyline. I didn’t feel any great sympathy for either death, despite having had the guys in my life for a very long time. Tony got attacked by Breda after he realises she’s the serial killer and she keeps him held hostage at her pigfarm – the same way she did with Louis.

Lily’s death shook me, and I cried s. The love triangle between her, Romeo and Price was immature but it was enthralling. One of the most tragic and worthless deaths, which echoed a friend I lost after GCSEs before going on to A’Levels. Perry gets accepted into university and Tom uses his money to set up a summer camp called “Tom’s Turtles”.

Ste goes far right, except it’s the most stereotypical and ill-researched portrayal of the far right ever. Peri, Tom and Harley have a thruple relationship that lasts for about a month and ends with Harley leaving the town.

After harrassing Sienna, Laurie rapes Sinead and attempts to rape Diane. He escapes jail after Finn attacks him in a prison van causing it to crash, finds Sinead at a festival, but dies from head injuries sustained in the crash whilst attacking her.

My favourite romance has been Brook & Ollie. Not a lot of interest in Transvestite Scott / Loveday Ever-Exapnding Family / McQueen & Black Family Feuds / Maalik drama drudgery. A completely underwhelming terrorist bombing – Dave going to jail for it was comedy gold. Maxine’s Munchausen’s (or Munchkin disease as Goldy put it) was quite fun. Cindy & Darren & Nancy & Sienna as integral as ever. James & Liam’s relationship, just about perfect – why can’t the bad guys live forever?

With Warren Fox making (yet another return) along with John Paul & Finn, things could get interesting again. The final episode of the year, on New Years Eve, contained flashfowards that seem to suggest the kids get involved in drug dealing – even Ollie’s considering it. He’s sobbing in a toilet about how much he misses an unidentified “he”… and whilst rumours abound about it being Luke that dies (Luke is dying after all), or him losing the baby, I reckon he may be cut up about Imran

Let’s take our bets on who’ll kick the bucket in 2020, now!

Website week | Building an affiliate website

This week I am going to step back from Amazon FBA and focus on building an affiliate website. It’s one that’s been up my sleeves for a long time, but I’ve never dedicated the time or resources to it. This will be my second income stream throughout the 2020s.

I’ve not even decided which operating system to use yet, or how to program it, or where to host it. Amazon AWS is tempting, but that in itself is a minefield of new technology to learn. Realistically, this will take me a month to build well, but I’m giving myself a week to prototype it.

My second income stream

Once this website is created, it will provide a second income stream for me. I may need to do some marketing activities to get Google to recognise it, but that will come in later weeks once the content is fully developed and ready to go. Ideally I will be in a position to do that by the end of February, and may dedicate a week to marketing at that point.

Forget #GamerGate – What Girls Played in the 1990s.

I’ve been playing board games a lot more than video games lately. However, someone started discussing their “top games of all time” – and I could only really think of ten. These were games that took up hours of my life back in the day (and by “back in the day” I mean in the 1990s or early 2000s, although Guitar Hero may have clocked in later).

The ten video games I wasted my life on

1. Micro Machines
2. Final Fantasy Tactics
3. Heroes of Might & Magic
4. Bubble Bobble
5. Mario Kart
6. Lemmings
7. Guitar Hero
8. MechCommander
9. Command & Conquer
10. Duke Nuke ‘Em

I also really enjoyed the Theme Hospital and Theme Park series of games when they were released. I’ve played demos of other games recently but never really got into them. I’ve retired to board games in my old age, and that’s mainly what I’ll be talking about further in the section – but never doubt that the mothers out there spent their own countless hours on a console before you were born.

Intermittent Fasting – My Trials and Tribulations

intermittent fasting

I qute enjoy using intermittent fasting as a method of weight loss. I get super focused and have a huge energy boost after 24 hours, but always start to feel hungry around the 40 hour mark. I’ve tried IF a few times, along with alternate day fasting. It’s not the most successful diet plan I’ve ever followed, but it does get results.

Today, I find myself in the middle of an unintentional fast after an upset stomach. I’m on 36 hours now, and there’s no real shift in weight. Historically my weight has been:

20165th December10st9
201713th February10st5
20179th April10st2
201721st May10st
20179th October10st2
201710th December10st9
201819th January10st4
20192nd January10st6
201913th December11st
202011th January10st11

Quite the rollercoaster. Indeed, the only plan that’s ever really worked for me in the Amelia Freer plan, but without hours to spend in the kitchen, it simply isn’t doable.

This year, my aim is to drop 20lbs, but whilst I’m surviving off takeaways, I’m not sure how it will work. I love pasta, I love cheese, and I generally love any food that isn’t good for me. I’ll start to exercise a bit more again, but not until February – starting in January is setting yourself up to fail.

I have a couple of companies who are supplying me with their products to try out. I’m a willing guinea pig – if you have the miracle weight loss product or supplement, hit me up, I’ll write about it! For now, though, I’m ordering pizza.

Here’s to good health in 2020…

Habit stacking 2020

One big discipline I’m trying to adhere to in 2020 is habit stacking.

  • If I sit at the computer – I go straight to Twitter & Gmail. I add Amazon Seller Central onto the habit.
  • When I go and see Mom, I stop off at the supermarket on the way home & pick up end of day bargains.
  • If I take my last sleeping pill, I turn off my computer.
  • If I get an appointment, I schedule a verbal reminder with Alexa.

It’s one acton that follows another action, and you stack them together until a pattern emerges.

There’ll be more habit stacks built throughout the year,but these are the ones I’m starting with, and so far, so good.

Kombucha for Red Bull

Kombucha from Kevita and No.1 Living

I’ve been a Red Bull addict for over 25 years. I regularly consume 8 cans a day, without too many ill effects, apart from the fact that I rarely sleep. I can’t see me ever completely giving up the Red Bull, it’s my only source of caffiene, but doctors, nurses and friends alike have asked me to cut down – and so this year I am swapping out some of my regular Red Bull Sugar Free for Kombucha.

I hate tea. I detest the smell and the taste more than anything else in the world, it turns my stomach like nothing else can. Therefore, I was reluctant to try Kombucha. However, upon seeing a tumeric and ginger infused version by No.1 Living, I was intrigued. And what do you know, I quite like the drink.

My favourite so far is Kevita Master Brew (sadly made by the Pepsi Company as oppopsed to any small organic farm). Ginger and Wild Cherry are amazing. I also like No.1 Living’s flavouts but it lacks the carbonated kick I need from a drink. What worries me is that there is so much sugar in all the versions – maybe Red Bull Sugar Free is the better option? But my doctor tells me it doesn’t hydrate me properly, so I’ll try swapping out for a while.

I’ve already learned that I can’t treat Kombucha like I treat my Red Bull and cane down numerous bottles a day. However, it makes a nice alternative and I’m hoping to slowly introduce more drinks into the range – or maybe make Kombucha of my own.

Clearout Week | Boxing, Labelling & Bubble Wrap

boxes

This week’s focus will be on selling as much stuff as possible from around the house. It’s a general clear out of things that are no longer needed, things that are no longer used and things that are past their sell-by date. There’ll be lots of visits to the tip, and lots of visits from UPS to send things to the Amazon warehouse. I’m even aiming to clear the garage which will be a bit of a nightmare.

At the end of the day though, everything that is junk to me remains sellable to others. Most of it is boxed and new, and now the listings on FBA have been completed, I can send them to Amazon for fulfilment.

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address, 2005

However, unlike Steve’s vision, once everything is gone, it’s time to get everything back again from storage. Whether that will be accomplished this week, I’m uncertain, but I’m hoping to be a lot closer at the end.

Week 1 Progress Report: Dropship Week, Amazon FBA and Excel

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

It took me 4 iterations of the final spreadsheet to get everything correct. FIrst: Amazon was adding in stray columns at the end (check this if you get the duplicate column error). Then, I’d put some dimensions in with the unit of measurement. Then there were various issues pulling the images in, but I’m finally at the point where I have all the products from one particular supplier up on Amazon.

Selling on Amazon will be my second income stream this year in my quest for $100K. I’ve also managed to watch all the Hollyoaks episodes from start of January to end of June 2019… so it’s been quite a productive week in all!

Transferwise, Payoneer and PayPal – handling international freelance earnings

usd currency

Most of the money I’ll make this year wll be in USD. The system I freelance under currently only pays out via Paypal or Payoneer. Both of these carry fees for receiving cash.

With an international Paypal account, the transaction fee is 2% with a maximum of $20.00 USD per payment, or the foreign currency equivalent of $20.00 USD.

With a Payoneer account, the transaction fee is $3 fixed per transfer.

However, a US PayPal account just has a fixed transaction fee of 2%, which is capped at $1 per payment.

Therefore the desirable option was to set up a US PayPal account. This wasn’t without its struggles: luckily I had an ITIN, which allowed me to do this pretty seamlessly. For those without an ITIN, it is still possible to set up a basic US PayPal account to receive funds and direct them straight to your bank account upon receipt.

If you want to open a Transferwise Account, please do me a favour and let them know I refered you by using this link. Thank you!

Sarah Eaglesfield

Then from PayPal, I transfer the payments without any fees to my Wells Fargo account in the USA.

Then the question is, what is the most cost effective way to move USD money from Wells Fargo to GBP money in my bank account in the UK?

Transferwise

Transferwise fees on a $1K USD transfer to GBP

The fees for using Transferwise work out at slightly over $9 to transfer my USD balance to my GBP balance. They have good rates, and I particularly like their currency card management features, but they are not the best on the market for ongoing money management.

Payoneer

Payoneer’s fees depend on how you move the money around their accounts internally before doing a transfer. The fees for withdrawing a USD balance straight to a GBP bank account are 2% – so on a $1,000 balance, that’s $20.

Payoneer fees to withdraw direct from USD balance to GBP Balance

However, if I conver the money from USD to GBP in Payoneer, the fee is 0.5% of the total amount.

Then, if I withdraw GBP to my GBP account, the fee is a flat £1.50.

Therefore the cost of withdrawing $1K fron Payoneer is around $7. Or, it would be – but Payoneer don’t allow you to transfer to your home currency, whch ruins the process.

On the plus side, Payoneer’s currency conversion rate is 2% over the mid-market exchange rate. Obviously exchange rates constantly change, but it turns out that Transferwise has a very handy page to see what you will get from various currency exchange services.

Comparing them all

This was the exchange rate on the 2nd January 2020 and is not accurate as of this date

Transferwise haven’t included the Payoneer comparison here. However, as we know that the transfer fee is 2% and they exchange at 2% above the Mid-market exchange rate, (0.77598948 as of 2nd January) the amount you would receive with a Payoneer transfer would be £760.46 – putting them slightly ahead of the competitors. However, my Freelance company would need to pay me directly into Payoneer, as they do not accept payments from individuals.

I will keep investigating the best way to move money from USD to GBP. It may be that there are some trading platforms or similar where you could vastly reduce the fee. For now, I want to get the money out as quickly and simply as I can, so I’ll stick to Transferwise – but my choice may change in the future. It takes WellsFargo forever to send money, it’s not the instant transfers we’re used to in the UK. Scheduling to keep on top of cashflow is very important, and not something I want to spend too much time worrying about in the future.