Self-Employed Single Mum | For unstoppable solo mamas
A couple of self-employed single mums who were generous enough to offer me their advice, experience and tips for success. For me, they tipped the balance. If they could do it then I could too. And so can you. So my hope is that the site offers you the same inspiration, information and support. My goal is to build a community and resource to help you find the freedom, creativity and success.
It’s time for the November Single Mum Love In! (Slightly late I’m afraid, sorry about that!)
In this monthly series of posts I link up to the awesome and inspiring posts and articles I come across as I scour the web researching single mum fabulousness!
I also thought it would helpful to share the great resources, tips and advice I come across. Sometimes I think everyone must know about the things I discover already and am always a bit surprised when they don’t!
I see this series as a way to support the amazing community of inspiring single parent bloggers and advocates I’ve come across via this blog. I try and support them all through my social media accounts – mainly on Twitter, so do come and find me there!
It’s not easy answering questions about absent, or in our case non-existent fathers. I’ve always been completely open with E about her donor and how she came into the world. I love the positive angle My Single Mummy Self takes in this posts, The D word: When kids ask about an absent Daddy.
We might all have different stories about how we became solo mamas, but Rainbeaubelle’s article about being widowed, single and dating reminded me that we have far more in common than that which divides us. We all face judgements and putting ourselves out there and dating as single women is often a minefield for a variety of different, but similar, reasons!
first wife was a stay-at-home mum, but also that as women we have a role in not holding up being a SAHM as the ideal. It’s not, and despite societal pressure to conform to this fantasy of the perfect family, it never has been.
This month’s roundup couldn’t be without a nod to the festive season. Single Parents On Holiday have hit the nail on the head with their list of top 10 tips on how to survive Christmas as a single parent. Of course, if you can afford it one of their holidays would be the perfect way to escape Christmas chaos!
Single mums & work
Friday, 10 November was Equal Pay Day, the day on which because of the gender pay gap women effectively stop earning in comparison to men. For every £1 a man earns on average a woman earns just 86p. This gap hasn’t narrowed at all since 2015. This isn’t just about persuading employers to pay women more, it’s about deeper societal issues that push women towards lower paid jobs, and the barriers to equal pay that are put in our way. This Talented Ladies Club article articulates well why women earn less than me and what we can do about it.
10 reasons you have to quit your job according to James Altucher, the author of one of my favourite books, Choose Yourself. Be warned, when I read this article in 2015 I did actually quit my job!
Are you blogger or are you trying tin increase traffice to your business site? I thought I’d learned most of the traffic building tricks – having time to apply them all is another matter! – but I’m always on the look out for new techniques to learn. There’s much to admire about over 40s fashion blogger Catherine Summers from Not Dressed As Lamb and her post about increasing your blog traffic is well worth read! She recently won an award for ‘Most Addictive Blog’ so she’s definitely worth learning a thing or two from!
Single mum money
So yes I’m always harping on about budgeting. But how do you know how much to allocate to each area of your life? How much is too much? And how much should you be saving? It’s hard know if you’re on the right track so discovering this article about the 50-30-20 method was super-helpful. Obviously it’s going to be slightly different for all of us depending on our income and core living expenses. But if you’re new to budgeting this method makes things super-simple! (I like the word super!)
In breaking news you might have noticed that I’m gradually guiding this blog to be less about self-employment and more about ups and downs of single motherhood in general, particularly as a single mother by choice. I’ve just spent some time analysing my stats for 2017 and those topics are by far my most popular content. So this month I’ve blocked out some time for planning lots of new content for 2018.
What would you like me to write about in 2018. Let me know in the comments.
In the meantime December is packed full of Why you need to stop trying to be superwoman, how to start planning your week on a Sunday, how single motherhood saved Christmas (for me at least!), AND my guide to getting to grips with goal setting for 2018.
To any of you who have mentioned, shared or commented on any of my posts over the last month – a BIG BIG thank you. It’s your support that keeps me writing this blog. Every time I get supportive comments and mentions on social media it’s spurs me on to write more.
I share most of the articles and resources I’ve mentioned here on Twitter, so come join me there and you’ll see just how much support and community there is out there for us single mamas.
You could also get my tips, advice, ramblings and (sometimes) wisdom straight to your inbox by entering your details in the box below – plus I’ll send you my free self-employment guide!
ps. got an article or blog post you’d like me to feature here? Tweet me!
How do some people manage to have a debt-free Christmas? Is that even a thing? After all, it’s the time when traditionally your credit card gets a battering and any money-saving intentions go out of the window in a flurry of festive spirit.
Last year British consumers put £11bn on plastic to pay for Christmas. Half of us fear that we’ll still be paying off this year’s Christmas when we put up the tree in 2018!
Up until a couple of years ago, that was my tale of festive financial woe as well. A stocking of presents for my daughter, gifts for all the family, Christmas parties, a trip to Santa, not to mention the turkey and all the trimmings. It all costs a bomb. A bomb I’d never budgeted for and would wack on my credit card. “It’s Christmas!” I’d think.
But when the festive spirit is nothing but a distant memory all that over-spending comes back to haunt us! In the form of crippling credit card payments and never being able to save because we have to pay our debts first.
However a couple of years ago I discovered the secret to a debt-free Christmas. It’s really quite simple, and as an intelligent, fairly financially astute person, it’s rather embarrassing I’d never done it before.
Put aside money for Christmas every month!
To be honest, when I was younger I was very much a ‘live for the moment’ type person. I rarely thought about what I was going to spend next week let alone in a year’s time, so the idea of saving for Christmas was laughable.
How times change. I’m not a fan of over-indulging kids at Christmas but as a single mum it’s down to me to buy my daughter’s gifts, get a tree, take her to see Santa and all the rest of it. My mum helps out and treats my daughter to festive outings and indulgences grandparents do best, but the rest of it’s up to me.
So, with money on the tight-side, I decided to set myself a budget and save for it throughout the year. It’s no coincidence that this new ultra-financially responsible version of me came into being when I started using YNAB.
YNAB is my budgeting tool of choice and one of its main tenets is to ’embrace your true expenses’. When most of us write down our monthly budget we list our mortgage or rent, utilities, phone and internet connection. But we don’t think about the larger, but less frequent, expenses like annual insurance payments, summer activities for the kids, birthdays and yes, Christmas!
The fact they need to teach this fairly basic financial message means I can’t be the only one who’s spent most of their life spending all their income every month and then acting like it’s a big surprise when Christmas comes along!
‘Embrace your true expenses’ means including these potential debt-builders in your monthly budget so that you never have to dread the arrival of a big bill.
So put away the plastic, go debt-free this Christmas:
In January take a look at what you’ve spent this Christmas and consider whether you can expect to spend a similar amount next year.
If you need to cut back figure out how you can save money – see my tips below.
Take your final amount and divide it by 12.
The figure you’re left with is the amount you need to save every month. Either put it into a separate savings account, or use a tool like YNAB so you know exactly what you’ve allocated to your Yuletide budget.
For example, if you decide your budget for Christmas 2018 is £350 (that was my budget last year) then you need to start saving £29 a month from January. Not too painful right?
This year my budget is £500 and because I’ve been saving it every month when I started my Christmas shopping (still a huge amount to do!) it was there waiting to be spent. Yay! In fact, I’m not sure I’ll spend that much this year which means I’ll be able to shift what’s left into the pot of money I’m saving for our summer holiday.
Seriously, this is the secret to a debt-free Christmas. That and STICKING to your budget. If your budget is tight or you’re paying off debt I know can be difficult to put aside the extra money. But do your best, save what you can, even if it’s only £10 a month as it will stop you getting into more debt next year.
Money-saving tips for your debt-free Christmas budget!
Agree on a spending limit of £5 or £10 for presents with your family, even the kids. Here’s a list of cheap gift ideas.
Do you have a self-employed single mum on your gift list this Christmas? Or perhaps you don’t know what to asked your loved ones for? Maybe you’d even like to treat yourself, I know I’m going to!
Either way, I’ve got THE gift guide for you!
Oh, and as it’s Black Friday today I’ve highlighted in BLUE where there’s currently a Black Friday special offer running, so move quickly to bag a bargain!
Full Focus Planner
>> Full Focus Planner – my planner of choice created by productivity guru, Michael Hyatt. I was one of the first people to get my hands on this awesome planner. It’s is way more than a planner, it’s a whole system for setting goals and following through on achieving them, quarter by quarter.
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: save up to 37% on the annual subscription = 4 planners a year for $99 or a single planner for $27.50 until midnight PST Saturday 26 November.
>>Passion Planner – another great planner that will help you set goals and the plan to create the life you’ve always wanted.
BLACK FRIDAY/CYBER MONDAY DEAL:
24/11 50% off sitewide (excluding 2018 planner) on 24/11 + free shipping if you’re in the US.
27/11 $10 off ALL 2018 planners for 3 hours only! $5 off 1pm to 11.59pm PST
Stay in your lane notebook
>> Kemi Telford luxury notebooks – I love these recycled leather-bound notebooks with a range of sassy slogans on the cover. The ‘Stay In Your Lane’ notebook is on my Christmas list! Created by the very talented Yvonne Telford who I’m proud to say is local to me here in Surrey. If you don’t follow her on Instagram you should, her posts are inspiring and her stories put a smile every day.
>> XOSarah’s courses – when it comes to Sarah Morgan I’m a total fan girl. She’s a great teacher and I’ve learned so much from her. Any of her courses are the perfect gift for the budding solopreneur!
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Get 30% off all her courses (Dare to Email, Grow Your Gram, The Productive Solopreneur, Pinterest Powerhouse, Guide to Photoshop) using the code PUMPKINPIE before midnight Monday.
Social media scheduling
>> Smarterqueue– seriously this is the social media scheduler that will FINALLY take the hard work out of keeping your social media channels populated with new, relevant and varied content. You can categorise content and create multiple evergreen queues. I started using it this year and I haven’t looked back. Subscription start from £13.99 a month (paid annually) and I’d certainly be very happy if someone gifted this to me! A year of social media taken care of! Cheers!
Other online business tools
>> Nosegraze WordPress themes – if you want to get your website looking fabulous I can recommend the Tweak Me theme by Nosegraze. I created this site with it! It’s a whole lot simpler to use than many themes out there and very flexible. Ashleigh, the brains behind Nosegraze, has a whole range of themes and plugins available. So go check them out.
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: get 50% off all themes and plugins by entering discount code BFCM2017 at checkout before 11.59pm GMT, 27 November 2017.
>>Canva – I use this every week to create the images you see here on this blog and on my social media channels. Use the free version or treat yourself to the premium version so you can save your brand’s fonts and colours and resize images for every platform in just a couple of clicks!
>> Todoist – after trying out MANY different online project planning tools this year I finally found the one that works for me. Todoist is super simple with a minimalist design I love. I found other tools too onerous to keep up-to-date but Todoist makes life easier instead of more complicated! At only £27.99 a year it’s an both a practical and affordable gift!
>>YNAB – not the sexist of gifts but one that will keep on giving! Read my review and you’ll understand why this budgeting tool is essential for any single mama trying to keep all the financial balls in the air!
Health & self-care
>> SAD light – suffering from the winter blues? I suffer from season affective disorder and this light has made a world of difference for me this year. In the dark days of winter when you’re stuck indoors all day this light will help lift your mood.
>> Headspace – THE meditation app loved the world over that will help you get in the habit of meditating daily. Learn all the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and get some headspace.
>> I Quit Sugar – I’m four weeks into this eight-week programme and loving having the meal planning and shopping list writing taken off my hands. Plus I’ve dropped at list a kilo simply by eating their nutrient dense, sugar-free meals. If you’re keen to quit sugar, this is the way to go.
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Get 15% off the next programme – starting 7 December – if you sign-up before midnight Sunday, 26 November and use the code BLACK15.
>> Teasmade – OK bear with me on this one. A couple of years ago one of my best-friends gave me one of these and promised me I’d come to depend on it. And she wasn’t wrong! We called it my ‘husband replacement’. Although I’m not sure many husbands actually do make their other halves a nice cup of tea every morning, it was something I missed from sharing my life with someone. But now I have a teasmade so who needs a husband!?
Do you have an evening routine? I bet you have. We all have certain rituals we perform before tucking ourselves in for the night. Even if it’s just washing our face and brushing our teeth.
But have you thought about how to use your evening routine to help you get more out of every day?
We’ve all heard a tonne of advice about morning routines. Every man and his dog has heard about the miracle morning (click here if you haven’t). And we’re constantly being told how super-successful people are up 5.30am and have done an hour of yoga and meditation before you or I have even reached out for the snooze button.
But evening routines and rituals are just as important. They’re key to setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep and a productive morning the following day.
Top athletes and sports people often have a preparation ritual they go through to get themselves ready for a big shot, kick or game. They have a prescribed set of actions to get themselves in the zone.
Do you remember how the legendary England rugby player and World Cup winner, Jonny Wilkinson, used to hold his hands together and do a little dance on the spot before taking penalty kicks?
That was part of the routine he used to get himself in the right mental and physical space to take those winning kicks under extreme pressure.
We might not be under the same pressure as sports people but we can use the power of rituals in everyday life.
An evening routine is a set of steps you take to bring one day to a close and get ready for the next. We are creatures of habit so no matter how free-flowing you like to be I’m sure there are certain actions you take every evening out of habit, without thinking about them.
However, sometimes our habits hinder rather than help us. Does any of this sound familiar?
No matter how hard you try you usually stay up too late and end up feeling knackered the next day.
You struggle to get to sleep because you’ve got into the habit of scrolling through you phone right before bed.
You’re always rushing about in the morning because you never remember to get your child’s school water, fruit and school books ready the night before. (Ahem! Guilty!)
The great news is that we can change our habits, to set ourselves up for success. Just like Jonny Wilkinson. (And if you don’t know who Jonny Wilkinson is, you’re clearly not English so it probably doesn’t matter!).
The benefits of enhancing your evening routine
As I mentioned above, we all fall into habits that make up our daily rituals. So why not take a look at what you do and try to optimise it.
Here’s why it’s worth tweaking your routine to make it work better for you:
so you can get to bed early and sleep better;
to help you stop worrying about your day by drawing a mental line under it;
to mentally prepare for the next day;
so you can get organised for the next morning.
And listen, it doesn’t have to be anything rigid or complicated. Just a simple set of actions you take to draw one day to a close and get ready for the next.
For me, putting some thought into my evening routine has helped me get the mornings off to a much happier, calmer start. There’s been far less yelling required to get us out of the door to school, and I can get to my desk knowing exactly what I need to achieve that day.
Now I have Michael Hyatt’s planner, the Full Focus Planner, and in it there’s a double page spread dedicated to creating ‘rituals’. There are four – morning, evening, workday startup and workday shutdown. Here’s my evening ritual:
Notice how each activity has a length of time next next to it. This means I can work out how long my evening routine should take, and can start it in time to get to bed when I want to.
I aim to be asleep by 10.30pm on weeknights so if I want to achieve that I need to kick off my routine by 9.30pm.
I created this routine in early September and it’s not written in stone. Tweak your routine as you go. For instance, I’ve added in getting my daughter’s fruit and water ready for school to avoid the morning rush. And it’ll continue to change as life inevitably does!
The beauty of the Full Focus Planner is that you get the opportunity to totally revise your rituals every quarter.
How to improve your own evening routine
So here’s what to do.
Get a sheet of paper and write down your current routine.
Now thing about your aims. What would you like an evening routine to make possible? Whether it’s going to bed earlier, sleeping better or being better prepared for those busy weekday mornings.
Write down the activities you could do to make those aims possible and how long they’ll take. Writing a journal might help take a load off your mind so you can get to sleep. Going over your to-do list for tomorrow might help you start the next day with a clear plan. Maybe you could pack lunches the night before or get breakfast things ready?
Add up the time you need to allow for your routine. Then put a reminder in your phone when it’s time to start your evening routine.
Remember to tweak it as you go. You’ll naturally find that some things don’t pan out. For instance cleaning out our rabbit’s cage used to be part of my evening routine, but it takes too long so now it’s part of my morning routine
And like I said, it’s not rigid. My priority is to get to bed by 10.30pm so if I’ve stayed at later than normal watching something unmissable – like the George Michael documentary that was on last week for instance – sometimes I drop parts of the routine to achieve that.
So do you think an evening routine would work for you? Do you already have an evening routine or have you tried to improve yours? What worked, and what didn’t?