Every now and again I like to do a positive review of the story of Shoestring Cottage in recent months. It’s always good to look at what has gone well and appreciate the small things that keep life chugging along nicely.
Here are some things to be grateful for as we head into the second part of the year.
Going self employed
My big news story for 2019 has been the decision to go self employed. A couple of months in, and I am loving it! You don’t realise how draining the 9-5 can be until you stop doing it. Not that I am working fewer hours; in fact I am working far more to get my business off the ground. The difference is that it is on my terms. If I want to go and meet a friend for morning coffee I can. Maybe I have appointments – no begging for time off to take them.
If I am tired and want to sleep in then I can. In truth, I rarely do it, but sometimes I want to. I certainly don’t have to set my alarm for 6 am, scrape the ice off my car in the dark in winter, fight my way through traffic and not see daylight all day because it’s dark again by the time I leave. Idiotic managers making inexplicable decisions are a thing of the past. If I make mistakes I only have myself to blame, but prefer to think of them as part of the learning curve!
Of course, I don’t have a regular income and I am currently propped up by my redundancy money. I also no longer pay into a pension. Instead, I am looking into some type of regular investment. I will let you know how I proceed with this. As I am in my mid fifties and can actually start to draw my main pension in 4 years, this is not as scary for me as it might be if I was 40.
Blogger awards – the SHOMOs
I am really pleased that Shoestring Cottage has been nominated for three awards in this year’s SHOMOs (Show Me the Money Awards for finance bloggers). I am in the last six for the Best Money Saving Blog, the Best Frugal and Thrift Blog and the Best Frugal Food Blog. You can also vote for me in the People’s Choice Awards. I have made it through to the last six for the past two years so I would love it if I manage to get through again. You can’t do this until August, but don’t worry I will soon be pestering you all for votes again!
The UK Money Bloggers are such a friendly and supportive group and have taught me loads. If you or anyone you know writes a blog related in some way to money or finance, get them to find and join the Facebook group.
A beautiful Shoestring Cottage garden
Every day I can work at my desk in my little office and look out onto our back garden. Mr S has done most of the work, but I planted quite a lot of flowers this year too. Between us, we have achieved a lot and both think it looks the best it ever has.
We started in the spring and got quite organised for once. I was working part time hours at the beginning of the year to help me to recover from disc problems in my neck. I couldn’t do any of the heavy stuff, but I did sow a lot of flower and vegetable seeds. Another benefit of working for myself is that if I feel like popping out to do a bit of weeding, or need to go and give the greenhouse a good soaking, I can do it. It’s the little things….
I feel grateful to have such a lovely and tranquil space here at Shoestring Cottage. The cats love it too!
Being able to organise my own time means I can spend more of it with family. We had a clan gathering at Shoestring Cottage on Sunday with Mr S’s side of the family, which was nice. I went to London last week and met my daughter and her partner. All three of the girls and their partners are coming for Sunday lunch this week too, so that will be good.
My oldest daughter has been dragged around the boot sales and charity shops a lot with me since I stopped work. She doesn’t do a 9-5 type job either, so I have seen a lot more of her. We have been able to pop over to see my elderly parents too in the day rather than having to go after work.
I am lucky to have my family and I love having a bit more time to spend with them.
The new saying at Shoestring Cottage is ‘Never take your good health for granted’! Having spent the best part of ten months at the end of last year and into this one in terrible pain with a trapped nerve in my neck caused by two bulging discs, and also being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had to take stock.
I truly believe that being constantly on the go, incessant low level stress from a job I really wasn’t enjoying and sitting at a desk all day were the cause of both of these ailments. Added to that, I had stopped doing really regular exercise. I did a little bit of yoga, but had let a regular practice go. We have always enjoyed walking but life got in the way of doing it often enough to make a difference to my fitness levels.
I had also put on a stone and a half over the past three years or so. This was partly due to being less active and partly down to my incessant snacking! I mentioned that in this post.
So now I no longer take my good health for granted. I joined Slimming World, which is a brilliant eating plan, and have lost 3/4 of a stone (I have put a few lbs on and lost them again when we have been away, but I am getting there). Also, I now make sure I practice yoga every morning for around half an hour. This makes a huge difference to how I am feeling both physically and mentally.
As soon as I started to exercise regularly I got control over my pain levels. I still take paracetamol as I need it, maybe a couple of times a day, and a small dose of Gabapentin. However, I saw the spinal consultant the other week and he has agreed that we don’t need to rush into an operation after all (rush!! – it took 18 months to even get to see him) and he will review my case in 6 months. I am hoping that I don’t have to have an op at all – they go in through your throat and build a cage around the damaged discs. Not really something I want to do if it can be avoided!
I don’t know if I have fibromyalgia at all. It’s possible that I may just have been exhausted by life. That’s how I felt! I do still get achy joints and don’t have the stamina I once had, but my regime of exercise and healthy eating keeps all that at bay. I also take a lot of supplements, which I do think makes a difference. The glucosamine and chondroitin mix is the most effective.
The car that refused to die
My car is so old it is almost a classic model! Every year we get the MOT time and I think it can’t possibly get through again and I will have to get another one. It always gets through! Thankfully, it passed first time back in May with just a recommendation to get a new tyre, which I have done.
This is great news as I don’t want to spend money on a car at this point. It is also tiny (a Toyota Yaris), is super easy to park and is not expensive to run.
We do love to go on holiday. When I was working for the council full time, I kept myself going planning our next trip away. We never go anywhere super expensive and have a knack for finding a bargain. This year so far we have had a week in the south of France in a friend’s apartment, and a trip to London to Kew Gardens, Windsor and Hampton Court (all over 3 days – it was exhausting but fun!). We have a long festival weekend coming up at the Green Gathering, followed by a week in Pembrokeshire.
I don’t want to be away from home too much at the moment as I need to focus on filling my eBay shop! So we probably won’t do too much more this year. However, Mr S is quite good at persuading me otherwise, so we shall see.
Here at Shoestring Cottage, we have found a lot of different ways to make some extra money over the years: selling on eBay, hosting foreign language students, teaching yoga and taking in lodgers, most notably.
As a UK money blogger, I come across a lot of other writers with similar mindsets, who also make money on the side. I have started a new side hustle series of guest posts, which has some excellent ideas for making extra money. If you are looking to earn extra for whatever reason, I hope they will be useful. Check them out below.
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