To be or not to be…Self Employed

The thing about taking action, working on your priorities and making plans is that when focusing on positive stuff your mind goes crazy with so many ideas. I’ve been making lots of notes to try and focus a bit and had some really interesting results. I’ve started making sure I do one thing from my list of priorities daily even if like yesterday it was only spending 5 minutes browsing a website. That actually triggered something towards my ‘day job’ plans so was 5 minutes well spent. 

 My biggest focus seems to be what do I want to do when I grow up….I’ve been doing this for years now and got nowhere and I’ve come up with a few reasons why;

1.     In this Someday book I’m reading it talks about Fear and Faith and making a list under both as to why you want something and what is stopping you. I’ve noticed that when friends try and help my inner critic (chimp if you’ve read the Chimp Paradox) throws an absolute strop and starts telling me people are interfering, they should shut up and go away because it’s not going to work anyway. Then I’ve listened to it rather than them and given up before I’ve even tried to do something. I also recall spending a lot of time reading online articles about how hard it would be to be self employed and paid far too much attention to the negatives rather than finding some small business owners and asking for a counterpoint. I’ve definitely let fear rule me on this.

2.     My mum said a few years ago that she had never known me happy in a job. I think she said something along the lines of ‘Does any job make you happy’? I remember getting into a huff about it (truth hurts…) and well…not doing anything much except trying more jobs. Sitting an doing some honest thinking and looking at what my values are and what I would want from work the answer probably is to work for myself. However, the problem this is WHAT to do. Again I think this is why I’ve got nowhere. I’ve looked at a crafting business, a holistic business and the one that comes back all the time – my tea shop. I think that I spend so much time trying to do bits of each of them I ended up doing none of them. And the fear again I think links into this. If you subconsciously mess things up, everything goes wrong and your inner critic gets to be smug for being right. There is the possibility fo a tea shop that sells crafts and does the odd bit of crystal healing upstairs but blimey that sounds exhausting. Instead I need to pick one (I have) and make plans. My first step is to print off a blank business plan and use it as a goal planning exercise. The questions on these really make you dig deep. I’m going to use it on 2 of the ideas just in case one does turn out to be more feasible than the other. The other thing is something I took from the book which is to ‘make your project visible’. Part of that is to tell people but it also discussed a writer that couldn’t get started. She printed out a mock up of what she thought her book cover would be, pinned it up near her writing space and in no time at all had written her book. So step 2 will be a poster or similar of what I want my business to show.

3.     I need to re-evaluate what I want a business to be. I have some very grandiose ideas which really probably won’t happen. So while ‘thinking small’ can be a terrible thing that stifles people this is probably going to be a bit more realistic in this instance. It’s hard to set in motion plans which are just not going to work (to start with anyway) and again we start feeding the inner critic

4.     Yeah that inner critic really needs kicking into touch…..

So, the ideas are there now and I just need to make a few decisions to take everything forward. I wanted this year to be a year of action and so far I’ve got my wish.




The Year of Less – Working Away

No Spend 2019

Another area to research with no-spend is working away from home which is something I need to quite regularly. Next week I will not only be away for my 4 working days but I’m working a full week so I have an extra day of potential spends. In January I spent one night (an afternoon and the next morning) in Glasgow. I set a limit of £5 spends on top of my lunch and evening meal which I reclaim on expenses. I spent £5.50.

The only things I can remember buying were sweets and fizzy pop. So where did the money go?

So I’ve been having a think. As mentioned my lunches and evening meals are refunded so that’s technically a no spend. My breakfasts are included in the hotel deal so no money there. That leaves snacks and drinks. I don’t drink coffee but there’s usually enough teabags and milk per day for 2-3 drinks. If I’m staying 1-2 nights somewhere I’m going to pack an extra bit of milk and some more teabags because I do drink more when I’m stuck in a hotel. If it’s longer I will fill a sports bottle with dilute juice I can add water to. That will top up the hotel drinks. I’m also going to buy a multi pack of crisps or snacks from the Poundshop so I have one snack per evening.

Making sure I bring my kindle or a big book, using the hotel wi-fi and I have enough to occupy myself besides the hotel TV. I can’t think what more I might spend on? I don’t really drink alcohol these days so that isn’t a worry.

So I will set a budget of £10 for the week for any extras I may not have thought of and test it next week. We don’t as a rule tend to visit particularly scenic places so rather than a long scenic walk before the sun goes down isn’t an option but there’s opportunity for a shorter walk around a town centre as long as I stay out of the shops. Good for health and keeps down the hotel boredom. Until you’re doing the same walk for the 4th day! I did a check and my gym doesn’t have a building in any of the places I’m visiting over the next 4 months otherwise that would be an option too.

Another challenge then. I’m not sure how good my resolve will be by mid-week but I’m going to try my best and then evaluate at the end. Let’s see how well that budget lasts.

The Year of Less – Utilities

No Spend 2019

Further to yesterday’s post about starting a no spend in April I’ve still only got to Chapter 2 of the book and am filled with ideas about making positive changes. I spent a fair bit of time yesterday writing out my notes and lists of what is approved spending and what isn’t. At the very least my budget will look a bit better.

I gave some thought to not only cutting out meaningless spends but reducing utilities and bills. I’m quite good at checking for the best deals and I’m not loyal to any company so if there is a better or cheaper deal out there I’ll try it but I am guilty of waste. I’ve definitely had some home truth thoughts this week.

Growing up my mum was very strict about spending. We were only allowed the heating on at certain times, the hot water on for a certain number of minutes per day (if I remember correctly it was about half an hour so the bath water would be warm). We were even monitored on our toilet paper usage. There were various reasons as to why, some of them do not make her a nice person but some can probably be linked to HER mother. My gran had a lot of debt. I did use to think she had a lot of cover for her old age based on the amount of insurance men that stopped at the house. What I didn’t know until I was a teenager was that they were all debt collectors. So one person’s issue with money became a damaging one to someone else became a damaging one for me. I do not know where my gran’s money troubles came from.

I left home at 18 and for the last 28 years I have made sure I have constant hot water, unlimited toilet paper and heating. You always know who’s at home in my house. If my son is on his own just his light is on. If I’m at home then ALL the lights are on. My form of rebellion that I’ve not grown out of.

So thinking about changes. I refuse point blank to limit my loo roll. It’s just not happening. I will probably leave the hot water simply because I’ve no idea how to set the timer anymore and my boiler is so old and rickety that once turned off I’m terrified that it won’t start again. This is the boiler that was part of my debt issues in the first place and last month the insurance man said that there are very few parts available to buy now if it breaks. It’s practically obsolete and the first thing on my to buy list when my debts are cleared.

What I can influence is lights and heating. The weather is warming up a bit so I will allow turning the heat on to warm the house and then it’s get the blankets out a bit. I put lots of hours into making beautiful blankets I should use them but also I can leave the heating on longer if the weather isn’t good enough to dry washing as I don’t have a tumble dryer.

I don’t know if it’s a Northern saying or a whole England saying (think it’s Northern) along the lines of ‘What do you think it is? Blackpool Illuminations?’ regarding too many lights or ‘Were you born in a barn?’ about leaving the doors open and letting the heat out. I am only going to turn on the lights in the room I’m using. This might take some getting used to because I really am that bad.

I’m also guilty of using too much water. I may have mentioned it in previous blogs about having a water meter fitted and my bill trebling! When I discussed this with the water board I was told I was too clean because I shower or bath 6 times a week. The average person apparently only does this 2-3 times a week. Again I’m not limiting this because it makes my skin crawl not having a shower daily. What I can do is limit my water usage. I can happily spend 20 minutes stood in the shower letting the water flow over me. Pretty wasteful. So I’m going to set time limits.

While these things aren’t necessarily no-spends they will by the end of the year have reduced my outgoings

I’m also going to have a look at my mobile phone. What I can’t influence: the length of the contract and the monthly cost of the phone that’s included. What I can influence: the internet data is flexible. I can move it up and down as needed each month and set a buffer for if I go over to as high as I like (or no limit) so that the data continues but at cost. Under my old community job I learnt where all the free wi-fi is. I know which shops to stand outside to get some free internet. So many places use the Cloud for free wi-fi now. My phone is set to auto join these things. I love the local Costa because if you stand outside it I can get 20 minutes free from the Easy Hotel. Same for the Red Hot Buffet restaurant – the free wi-fi works outside.

I’m going to set the data usage to its lowest setting & therefor lowest cost, make sure the buffer is switched off so no extra charges and when it’s gone then it’s making sure I use the places I know it’s free. Also using these through the month should make the data last longer too. Plus turning it off at certain times. This should also have the added benefit of less time on my phone and more time in the real work noticing my surroundings.

It’s so interesting looking at these things. I feel so much lighter just doing the research. The hard part will be not folding when my anxiety rises but I feel ready for the challenge

The Year of Less

I’ve just picked up a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders as I want to try a year (or so) of spending less and saving more. I have a tendency to read the reviews on Goodreads when starting new books and I was really surprised by the level of hate for this book. It seems that people are angry because it’s not a book that gives you all the answers on how to stop spending. It’s a book about one woman’s personal journey.

For me that makes it more readable. I’m an emotional spender and an emotional eater. I’ve even been known to combine the two. That’s about 50% of the reasons why I ended up in debt. So I’m interested in how she managed to deal with some life trauma’s and stick to her principles.

My friend has been writing lately about how people are wanting everything now and not happy to have to wait. Everything must be instant access and I think the same has happened with this book. People want a quick fix and all the answers on a plate but a no spend period is personal so you can’t give all the answers.

I’m only at the introduction but there is plenty to inspire. She has listed the rules she created. I’m using this as a starting point but as I said everyone’s journey will be unique to them. So she has noted in the ‘what I’m not allowed to shop for’ list take out coffee. I thought long and hard about this and have put it on my Approved list. I actually don’t drink coffee, I have tea so that’s a good bit cheaper to start with but I also find them good for my mental health. For me then, as long as it’s factored into my budget and I don’t go over it I’m keeping that in. What I do overspend on is junk food so I’m going to work that into my ‘not approved’ list.

Another on her list is no clothes, shoes or accessories. Seeing as I’m exercises and losing weight through a diet change I will within the 12 months need smaller clothes. With this then I will agree with myself a capsule amount of what I can buy but only when it’s needed.

Her approved list includes buying 1 outfit to cover all special occasions. I’ve got 3 party dresses in the wardrobe that are hardly worn so for me that will go on a ‘not approved’ list.

I’ve seen people on frugal minimalist FB sites who make their own cleaning products. I’m toying with the idea of this however when my depression is high I can barely clean using shop bought items let alone put the effort in to make my own products.

I’m not in a place to try and start this. I’ve still some thinking to do on what I do and don’t want and to set my budgets but I’m aiming for April 1st. The other big difference is that she had previously spent 2 years clearing her debts while I have 12 months to go so whilst she could put away a certain percentage of her wage for savings I will have to choose a smaller budget for that and look at what is realistic. I was thinking about putting all saved monies into clearing the debt quicker but not having any savings when a big household item (boiler) was another reason why I ended up in debt so it makes sense to try and do a little of both.

I’d like to say I’ve no willpower however last year when I put my mind to it I started a no sugar/fizzy pop diet and stuck to it for 10 months (ruined by starting Christmas eating 6 weeks early!) so this is something that I can try and do and if I at least set my boundaries right, it will be a do-able and interesting journey. I want to try and be accountable in the blog (like she did) so I will post on her but probably not every week. Maybe a monthly update.

If you could give up certain spends for a year what would they be?

Weekly Gratitude

This week I’m grateful for Time. Time off work. Time for myself. Time to think. Time to regroup. Time to heal.

It’s fair to say this year so far did not get off to the best start. I saw the new year in with flu, then the shoulder issues that saw me spend the majority of January and February on painkillers, then last week another bad cold. I’m almost at the end of 10 days annual leave and I think it’s done me the world of good as I thought it would. I’ve done a lot that doesn’t feel like doing much. I’ve met friends for coffee and lunch, I’ve caught up on missed course work and I finished a few crafts. Nothing strenuous and possibly quite boring to some but my body needed to heal and I’ve made sure to rest and let it do so despite my natural inclination to be constantly doing something. The result being I haven’t had to have any painkillers for a week and I’ve got a lot more movement in my arm. I’m back at work next week but have 2 days in training and all day meetings which while I’ll be busy in a fashion means another two days of rest.

It’s also nearly time to be debt free (see what I did there!). My countdown app has 346 days. I’ve set it to get a little notification daily now because I am so close. This is normally a horrid time of year because from the end of January to the end of April there are so many death anniversaries. It’s also this time 4 years ago that everything came to a head and I had the breakdown over money that led to having a debt repayment plan in the first place. I can’t believe how fast the 4 years have gone when I look back on it. It’s been a struggle but the time has just gone by. Facebook memories is currently telling me about the boiler issues that played a part in that horrid time 4 years ago and this is the first year I’ve been able to re-read those posts objectively without feeling depressed or anxious. Time heals. I’m moving on and there’s less than a year to go before it all ends.

I’ve been thinking about what I’d want to do once I have my wage back to myself. The house needs a lot of work and it’s actually nice to save a few fliers that come through the letterbox knowing I can research them for the coming years and start to make my house how I want it. I’d also like a holiday. I’ve had the odd weekend away but haven’t been on a plane or anything longer than a few days since 2010 so the summer sun is beckoning me. I did once tell a friend the first thing I would do would be to buy some designer shoes that I’d probably never wear just to have them but the more I think about it the more that I take from lessons learned, take from the frugality and minimalism I’ve embraced over the last few years and I have a feeling I will actually just continue to have a peep through the shop window (Kurt Geiger) at the over priced shoes and then go buy something reasonably priced and wearable from Dorothy Perkins like I normally do. Time teaches us what really matters.

So this week I’m grateful for time, time to think about the past without upset, to heal, to reflect and time to plan for the future that is rapidly heading my way 🙂


Weekly Gratitude – #Viking Edition #York #Jorvik

By Friday I was struggling to think what I could put in the blog for this week. I seemed to have had a week of terrible customer service, I’ve already thanked my bosses for being kind while I’m ill and my friends know I love them but then yesterday we had a day out in York.

My friend unfortunately is ill but part of being ill means she gets a disability bus pass and with that comes a free companion pass so the trip up to York was free so there’s my first bit of gratitude.

I’ve debated a few times about going up to the Viking festival run by the Jorvik centre mistakenly thinking it would cost me a fortune but doing some actual research this year year I could see that there were a lot of events taking place outside with no cost. It’s not that I wouldn’t pay good money to see things but if you’ve read enough of my posts you’ll know that there are still 11 months on my debt plan so I have to be sensible.

Anyway… the sun was shining all day, we had free transport and a list of events we wanted to see. In the end we missed the best beard competition but caught a battle re-enactment that wasn’t on the list.

The Strongest Viking competition was so much fun. Taking place outside the viking teams squared off in several competitions to find a winner. Much amusement, tests of strength and a fair bit of cheating took place before we had our winners. It was a packed out event and the kids in the front seemed to be having a great time heckling the cheaters. I love it when children can immerse themselves in a fun event that doesn’t revolve around mobile phones. On top of that we had a genuine strongman attempting to break his own personal bests in dead lifts and bench presses. Sadly he didn’t but seeing as he was trying to lift over 3 times the size of me (and I’m not small) I think he did pretty well considering. Again people’s children seemed to love it especially being able to cheer him on.

We stopped for some overpriced (but ok) sausage inna bun (for the Pratchett fans…) and and to watch a band play some period music. So much energy and with something that was apparent in everything we saw, so much enjoyment of what they did.

We then enjoyed the viking parade as they marched down to the big green outside the castle museum for the re-enactment. Again so many people, so much involvement from spectators. Possibly my favourite bit was the too cool for school couple who abandoned their posing and selfies to really get into what they were watching with the lad begging a wandering viking to let him know his favourite side would win.

By then we were tired out so back to Leeds, a stop off for food and putting the world to rights and finally home.

So my gratitude this week is for free bus passes, quality bus connections, the sunshine and the hundreds of people who volunteer their time doing something they love and sharing that with other people. They inspire me to want to do so much more. Life is about experiences and building memories and I definitely got to do that yesterday.

January Hustle review

I’ve ended my first month of side hustles and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed the little bits and pieces I’ve dipped into which have earned me £135. Of that there are some sites where I still need to earn more to reach a download limit so I haven’t accessed all of it. Then being January and a long month I’ve had to dip into the rest to pay for the dentists and some other unexpected costs but in the end today I paid off £40 towards a high interest loan I have bringing me that little bit closer to clearing it. This is the priority in my debt clearance as everything else at least has a definite end date or a lower interest rate.

I’m really pleased with what I’ve managed to do. It’s been simple and for the most part hasn’t taken up much time. I’ve listed the websites below for anyone that wants to try some of these and also the 101 side hustles blog page that I found my inspiration. (Referral code: BTVSEXDV) (Referral code: (Referral: d2x5r)