The Disorganised Mummy Blogger

I’m a disorganised mummy blogger – there I said it. Working from home is both a blessing and a curse, especially when you have children. The flexibility that comes with working from home is great, but it can also result in unnecessarily taking time off, such as cancelling childcare because she is a little under the weather, or because she was sick once twelve hours ago. Whilst it is great that I can take a day off work to clean the house when a potential buyer wants to come and view it, the five viewings last week have resulted in me falling extremely behind.

I’m behind on everything. I’m behind on day to day admin, all the background stuff that goes into running and boosting your site in the rankings and just general housekeeping, I dread to think what kind of state it is all in as I haven’t looked at any of it for such a long time.

I’m behind on reviews. The problem is that I don’t like to just ‘bash’ reviews out, I like to thoroughly trial any item before recommended it for my readers sake, I strive to take the perfect photos for both the sake of my blog and the PR companies.

I’m behind on replying to emails. I like to try and reply to emails straight away, I worry that if I don’t I may well miss that perfect op. My problem is that I mentally respond, and then Aria interrupts me, then a week later I realise that I still haven’t actually responded. I also have this same problem with messages from friends.

Don’t even get me started on my accounts. I assumed that when I started blogging for a living I would have plenty of time to devote to all the boring jobs as well as the fun parts of blogging. My accounts haven’t been touched for a very long time. I like to get my accounts in as soon after the tax year ends as possible, purely because I know that I will forget about them if I don’t. This means that I need to get my accounts into some kind of reasonable order very soon. While there isn’t much that I can do about any of the other issues, (well, I could hire a VA but I’m not actually busy enough to justify that, I just need to organise my time more efficiently), there is something that I can do about my accounting and general organisation issues.

I’m looking into starting a free trail of Xero to solve my accounting woes. Xero, Britain’s leading online accounting software, allows you to run your business on the go, easily send and track invoices (even down to letting you know when they are opened) and reconcile your accounts in seconds. The great news is that they offer a 30 day free trial which means that I can find out if it really does work for me before committing to it.

With a business performance dashboard, contacts and smart lists I really am hoping that Xero could give me the organisational help that I need for a super low fee.

If, like me, you are looking to get organised this coming financial year sign up for a 30 day free trial of Xero.

The Disorganised Mother’s Guide To Money Saving

Two months have passed since I pledged that this year would be the year that I took control of my finances, the year that I made changes and spent less, the year that I organised my home and my life. I’m disorganised, I like to wing it and I have a tendency to leave things until the very last minute, but now that I no longer have a guaranteed monthly income Spencer and I really do need to be sensible and save ourselves some money. We like the finer things in life and so we want to spend less money without compromising on style, taste or our lifestyle.

It hasn’t been easy but we have implemented a few simple changes which I believe have saved us money. Now don’t get me wrong, we aren’t saints, we’ve had quite a few major cock ups where frivolous Leanne has reared her head and come out to play. Like yesterday, when I bought Aria a pair of £25 Vans because they were cute (wait until you see them, they’re adorable!). I justified it because her feet have only grown by half a size in a year so they will last her ages. Things like this aren’t sensible and aren’t how to save money.

Moments like the above are exactly why I need to save money on the everyday, mundane things. Things like food shopping and home essentials.

My main goal was to start food planning, this would result in less food waste, money saved and a healthier diet. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that since publishing that post I have done a complete total of two meal plans. Shocking I know. BUT we have still managed to get a little more organised in that department and save money. Instead of just having no food in and ordering a takeaway I will now go for a walk up to the local co-op to pick something up for tea, granted, their prices are a little higher than the supermarket but it is still cheaper and healthier than ordering a takeaway. Another thing that we have started doing on the rare occasion that we actually make it to the supermarket is buying several seasoning sachets and then following the shopping lists on these, completely winging it but we have delicious home cooked meals without spending a fortune. On the occasions that I manage to meal plan I tend to do an on-line shop. I compose a meal plan on the notes on my iPhone, make a list of the ingredients, check off what we already have in the cupboards and then place an order on-line. I order it to be delivered on a day that I am working from home so that I can opt for flexi delivery and save a little more money.

Another major change that we are implementing is switching to LED lighting. The #LEDeasy campaign from the lighting superstore has really opened my eyes to the benefits of switching, not just for financial reasons but also for environmental reasons. LED lights last an average of 11,000 hours, they are energy efficient and (the photographer in me loves this) you can choose the level of warmth, bye bye tungsten induced yellow tinted indoor photos!

We’re never going to be a frugal family, but we’re getting there.

*Collaborative Post*

Money Saving Plans for 2017

Now that I have left my job for my blog I am aiming to seriously cut down on costs in 2017. Self-employment comes with a great deal of uncertainty, not knowing where or when you next pay will come from is quite scary, especially when your mortgage payment is due! As a result I’ll be putting some tried and tested money saving tips into place.

Discounts 
Before making any purchase online try and find a discount code, you will be amazed by how many are out there. You may not always come across one but it doesn’t take long to run a quick google search and check sites such as Voucherism, When using Google I usually just search ‘*retailer name* discount code’. You will likely come across expired discounts which can be frustrating but when you find one that works, even if it’s just for free P&P, it’s a great feeling and often a great saving.

Discounted Vouchers
As well as searching for a discount code whenever I make a purchase I also search for a discounted voucher. I use Zeek, I have the app on my iPhone and quickly search for the retailer to see if there are any vouchers available to purchase. If you purchase an online voucher you will receive the code instantly, if you purchase a physical voucher it usually arrives within a few days by Recorded Delivery.

We are using Zeek for pretty much every purchase that we make nowadays, even our grocery shopping. We tend to buy a Tesco voucher on payday and then use this to shop throughout the month, this means that the majority of our shopping is paid for in advance and we have saved money on it. The savings aren’t huge but they add up, for example there is currently a £100 Tesco voucher available for £97.

What’s great about Zeek is that as you are paying with a voucher rather than a discount code, any discount codes that you find can be used along with the voucher, so you could technically get double the discount. If that isn’t enough they occasionally send offers out, such as £5 credit which is fantastic and would mean that the example £100 Tesco voucher above could be purchased for just £92 – saving you £8.

If you like the idea of Zeek sign up with my link and receive £5 free credit to get you started, alternatively you can use promo code 2LBI8B for the £5 credit.

Cahsback
I’ve been making use of cashback sites for quite a while now, but I do tend to forget about them when making purchases on my phone. I’ve set my computer to pop up and alert me when there is cashback available on a site, I don’t think there is a way to do this on my phone so my aim for 2017 is to remember to utilise these sites more.

My cashback sites of choice are Quidco, where so far I have earned £130 in cashback, and Kidstart. Kidstart works in a slightly different way to most as all cashback goes into a savings account for your child rather than to you. While you aren’t saving money I thought it was worth mentioning as it is a lovely idea and Kidstart is one of the only cashback sites that I have come across who pay cashback on Amazon and eBay purchases.

Food Savings
We waste a lot of money on takeaways. After a long day the last thing that I want to do is cook a meal, and very often we just don’t have any food to create a meal from. We need to be more organised with meal planning and shopping lists. Now that I’m working from home I have more time to plan, prepare and cook. I intend to utilise my slow cooker more often and cook larger meals for tea so that I can have the leftovers for lunch the following day. Spencer has also started taking sandwiches to work instead of spending £2+ each day on takeaway lunches.

Always visit the reduced section when visiting the supermarket, but be careful, sometimes you can get a real bargain, other times it’s actually cheaper to buy the product in a 2 for £3 type of offer than to pay the £1.80 that it has been reduced to! I often pick up things like mince when I see them cheap and pop them in the freezer.

I am useless at coming up with meal plans so am hoping to take inspiration from blogs who regularly publish them, such as the below :

http://savings4savvymums.co.uk/tag/meal-plan/
http://www.mrsshilts.co.uk/category/meal-planning-monday/
http://www.milkandnappies.co.uk/search/label/Weekly%20Meal%20Plan?max-results=12
http://gymbunnymummy.com/tag/meal-planning/
http://www.nellyscupcakes.co.uk/search/label/meal%20planning%20like%20a%20boss?&max-results=10
http://mummysknee.com/category/meal-planning-monday/
http://www.theygrowsoquick.com/search/label/weekly%20meal%20plan

You never know, maybe when I get into the swing of things I’ll start publishing my own meal plan!

I hope that you found my money saving tips useful. Do you have any that I haven’t mentioned? Would you like to see regular weekly meal plans posted here? Warning – they will likely contain delicacies such as fish fingers & chips on a regular basis! 

*Sponsored Post*

Six Ways to Fill Up Your Penny Jar This Christmas
*Disclosure : This is a collaborative guest post*

I know we say it every year, but it’s barely believable that Christmas is less than three weeks away. It’s unfathomable as to where the time goes, and this year feels like it’s just motored along. Yet we’re firmly within the grips of the month of advent now, and it’s a pretty exciting time. Exciting, and expensive, I suppose.

six ways to fill your penny jar this christmas - tips to save money at christmas

Things like money certainly aren’t the be all and end all, and don’t diminish the warm, fuzzy glow we all get with the excitement in the air, lights everywhere and the sense of holidays, and fun and mirth that will be had with friends and family. But there’s no getting away from the fact that with all the festivities, social fun and, of course, present shopping, December can be a month where finances are tight.

Luckily, there are easy ways to give yourself a boost in this regard. Here are a few things you can do to give the coffers a helping hand…

1. Save a bucket load on energy

It’s a bit farcical really. The oil price plummeted last year, but electricity and gas prices barely dropped a penny. Now that oil has moved upwards again, companies are more than happy to push up their prices, with those on standard variable tariffs most likely to get stung. The time to switch is now if that applies to you, and it could mean you save as much as £300 a year. And, to make it more enticing, there’s barely any hassle involved for you – it’s all down to the companies themselves to facilitate the change for you.

2. Cashback credit cards

With so many credit card platforms out there gunning for your business, it’s no wonder they have such generous cashback offers at the moment. Some offer cashback of up to 5 per cent on all credit card spend (albeit for a limited period of time). You can find a list of the best deals here. Just make sure to get this right: pay off your balance in full each month! Otherwise the high rates of interest will eat into your rewards.

3. Switch banks and get paid!

As with energy providers, switching current accounts is as easy as 1, 2, 3. But in this case, you actually get paid for doing it. And handsomely, too. It’s competitive out there, with M&S, TSB, First Direct and Halifax all offering £100 for signing up with them, albeit with a few Ts & Cs relating to minimum monthly deposits, and a couple of other basic footnotes. Perhaps the most appealing of the bunch is the Halifax Reward Current Account, which offers an additional £5 a month as a bolt-on bonus (although this drops to £3 a month from February).

4. Don’t let your money sit idle

When considering which bank to switch to, don’t only think about the initial perks. Look at what rate of interest you’ll be earning as well. Accounts like the Santander 123 account offer decent returns of 1.5 per cent, or if you’re willing to take on slightly more risk, peer-to-peer lending can earn you returns of up to 5 per cent, and the launch of a new ISA will make it even more attractive. The bottom line is that the effort is in working for your money. So when you actually have some money to set aside, you want to make sure that it works for you.

5. Flog old goods

What better time to do an inventory of all your possessions than Christmas? Be ruthless: decide what you realistically need, and identify the things you don’t which may have some re-sale value. Whether it’s DVD players, books, or even jewellery, there are plenty of sites where you can flog such items and earn decent amounts of cash.

6. Sell on your wedding dress

This one will not appeal to everyone, and obviously a wedding dress carries sentimental value. But if your practical mind outweighs such sentimentality, then this could fetch you north of £500. Second-hand dresses are becoming more and more popular as the costs of weddings continue to spiral. This puts you in the box seat, and if you’re up for giving it a good clean and boxing it up, you can make a good little bung by selling it off sites like Preloved, while The Dressmarket is a niche site whereby you can put up an ad for free.

If you’re fancying more money saving tips, check out today’s Vlogmas, tips to save money at Christmas.

Our decision to take our house off the market and why

Regular readers may remember that, a little while ago, we put our house up for sale. Those of you who don’t follow me on social media may be wondering whether or not we sold our house as I’ve written absolutely no updates since that initial post. The reason being is that we have taken our house off the market.

our decision to take our house off the market and why - blog header photo with flowers in background and text over

We couldn’t believe our luck when our house first went onto Rightmove, the first day of it going live we booked in two viewings, both of whom made an offer. We don’t know how much the second people offered because we had already accepted the first offer by the time they made theirs. We were more than happy with the first offer, it was £4,000 under the asking price but £1,000 more than what we paid for the house. Yes we have spent a lot of money on the house since we bought it but we bought it literally just before the credit crunch and paid top whack for it.

pastel decor living room white fireplace and decoupaged upcycled mirror

After accepting the offer everything started to go wrong. I called to make an offer on the house that we wanted, but an offer had been accepted on the house just five minutes before I called. We couldn’t find any other houses that we liked within our price range. We were really starting to panic and viewed countless houses but they all had something wrong that we couldn’t afford to fix. We panicked and put an offer in on an absolutely horrible house that needed a ridiculous amount of work and wasn’t liveable. Common sense prevailed and we called back up a few hours later to withdraw the offer.

pastel theme decor with built in shelves and white copper light

A little while after accepting the offer I received a voicemail to arrange for the buyers surveyors to come out to our house. I made the phone call a day or two later and was told that the buyers had un-instructed the surveyor and to call our Estate Agent. I called and they were as shocked as I was. They would call the buyers and get back to me. It turns out that the buyers had decided not to proceed, they had instructed their mortgage company but no one else. We were very relieved as, even though we didn’t want to lose the sale because they were paying a decent price, we had no where to go.

nautical themed bathroom accessories

The house stayed on the market for a few months, Christmas had passed and houses were coming back up onto the market. We had a few more viewings but none of them came to anything. I was then offered an exciting new job in a photography studio, photography is something that I love and while the job wasn’t doing photography I just knew I would love working in that environment. The job was self employed which made a massive impact on how much we could afford to borrow. I accepted the job and we decided to stay put in our house for a while longer and take it off the market.

shabby chic style bedroom white dressing table with pink roses over and Cath Kidston accessories

Where does that leave us now? Our house is a two bedroom terraced house with an attic conversion, it is big enough for the three of us, we have a lot of stuff so could do with more space but we don’t necessarily need it. We have an office, a fitted kitchen and a big garden, it is more than enough.

There are a lot of things that I don’t like about our house, for example the textured ceilings downstairs, the stained flooring in the bathroom, the yellow walls in the attic, I could go on. We have done quite a lot of work since taking the house off the market, we have painted all of the internal doors white, we have bought new furniture for the attic (ignore Spencer’s desk, it is a mess and I don’t touch it!) but we want to do more and have run out of money.

We’re not really sure what to do now, do we take out a guarantor loan? There are companies who offer loans for as little as 12 months and as small as £1,000, this would be just right to tide us over and tidy the house up.

Or, do we just leave the house as it is and hope that my job leads to something more sooner rather than later? Do we really want to spend money on the house if I’m potentially going to get taken on as an employee in a couple of months time meaning that we will once again be in a position to move?

converted attic used as office for two people him and her husband and wife

Realistically we could move now, there are currently two houses on the market that we like the look of and could afford. But that is it, two. If those two are gone when we come to sell our house we may not be able to afford anything else and will be back in that horrible position again.

baby girl's bedroom nursery pink and grey theme with tepee, tutu and bunting


What would you do in this position? Stay put and do work, stay put and leave it as it is or risk it and re-market it?

*Sponsored Post*
 
Since drafting this post last week I am now in talks about training as a photographer and being taken on as an employee in my current work place. Our house may be going back on the market sooner than we thought. I spent ages drafting this post so wanted to publish it despite it now not being 100% accurate!