Room for Improvement

When a lovely gent working on behalf of Moneysupermarket waved £50 in front of me and asked if I fancied taking part in the Room for Improvement campaign I was unlikely to say no. You can find more details about this fab idea here however in a nutshell a select few were asked to titivate an area, redo a room or perhaps renovate a piece of furniture with just £50. The focus of the project was to show what you can actually achieve on a budget.

With £50 at my disposal my first thought was to do something for the boys, or Roy or the kitchen perhaps however it was my the long suffering husband who put his foot down and said I was to use it for something just for me for a change. With this in mind I decided to breathe some new life into my office.

I work as a freelance writer from home and seem to spend a ridiculous amount of time at my desk which as it happens is the one area of the house that has never been paid a lot of attention, until now.


 Workspace before

And after….

desk after

Small changes have made a heck of a difference!

My first purchase was for £20 and is this fabulous solid (and actually very comfortable) desk chair:

£20 chair

I adore the idea of having an older piece of furniture with a bit of history to it in my home.

Next up was Rymans where I found this faux leather desk tidy. It is bigger than it looks and has helped to clear up space on the desk.

Desk tidy

Off to Wilkinsons where I found these fabulous frames which I’ve filled with writer-related and motivational quotes, all of which make me smile!

[slideshow id=26]

To the right of the desk you’ll see my water glass and carafe (Jamie Oliver) which is made from recycled jam jars. These cost me £0 as I used some Kenco coffee reward points to treat myself.

Kenco reward

Flowers are a must and this jar used to have rice in it but has now been repurposed. The lovely flowers were given to me by a lovely friend.

After all of this I had £6.01 left so bought a memo block, hardback notebook and this extremely used “Things to do” pad from Wilkinsons once again.

 Wilko stationery


This left me with 3p which I have put into my shrapnel jar; pennies make pounds you know! Am I pleased with the transformation? Thrilled would be a better description and I’m glad Roy convinced me that I wanted to do something just for me. With a bit of shopping around and re-using I think I’ve created a much more practical, motivating and quite frankly gorgeous work space for myself.
What do you think?

Whenever I take on a project like this I always set a strict budget because firstly it keeps the spending under control and secondly, I feel it gets the imagination going!

[slideshow id=27]


*I was provided with £50 to take part in this challenge – thanks Moneysupermarket!

The Importance of Teaching Children About Savings

As parents the amount of personal debt that seems to be the “norm” nowadays scares us silly. Our aim is to make sure that the boys not only understand the value of money but also recognise that saving up for something rather than relying on credit is the best way forward.

I work for myself on a freelance basis so while I have regular clients I also have numerous ones that come and go. With one-off projects and invoices that get paid at various points throughout the month (or the next month!) I understand oh so well that having a safety net in the form of savings and spending some time on our financial planning is a must.

Our top tip for teaching kids about about savings is to start early and give them responsibility!

Kieran (my 6yr old) gets £5 a week for his pocket money. While some might gasp at this amount (many on the school yard have), let me explain. Kieran gets £5 a week and this pays for any sweets, magazines, small treats, toys etc that he wishes to buy. We don’t routinely buy him these things, he gets them himself with money that he earns. To earn this £5 he has to have good behaviour etc but also has household chores that he needs to complete. He understands the need to work for his money, and that if he doesn’t he doesn’t get any.

Both boys have a CTF which assorted monies are paid into however they each have a passbook account that they can use to save up with and have easy access to. Kieran has now got into the habit of taking his £5 down with his book and giving it to the person at the building society so that he can save up for larger toys such as the latest Lego set. He loves drawing it out when he has saved enough and taking his money in his own wallet and paying for items himself (he will tell whoever is on the checkout that he has done this every time without fail). He enjoys the sense of achievement that comes with saving up for his own treats!

Kieran has a hamster (called Yoda). This is Kieran’s hamster and he saved up for the cage etc when we got him. As the hamster is essentially “his” pet he helps to clean the cage and makes sure that Yoda is well taken care of. He also gives us £1 out of his pocket money when we need to stock up on bedding, feed etc as this is a financial responsibility that he has chosen to taken on (although we all enjoy the hamster who is not only very cute but clearly possess super Jedi powers).

We hope that by giving Kieran control of his own money in this way, encouraging him to save and taking responsibility for things that we are instilling the notion that saving up is important, rather than have him blindly fall into the trap of instant gratification and using credit when he is older. So far, so good, and he seems to have a real grasp on the value of things that is rare apparently in a boy of his age. We’ll do the same for Taylor as he gets older and hopefully our children can enjoy a life free of debt and the stress and worry that goes with it when they are adults themselves. There is some fantastic debt management advice available nowadays for those that need it however we’d obviously prefer to educate the boys in advance so that they don’t.

We truly believe that educating your kids and giving them responsibility for their own money when younger is a great way to teach them about savings,