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I have been a single mum for four months now and I’ve learned more about how to manage my money in this time than I had in the 10 years I was married.

Being responsible for our budget, expenditure and savings was a very scary thing when I started at the end of October last year but slowly yet surely, I’m getting the hang of this, I think.

The first thing I did was keep a very close eye on our bills and reduce them whenever possible. I changed my mobile phone provider and the gas provider as soon as we moved in as I found better deals with competitors. This resulted in a saving of over £20 per month, with very little effort.

Keeping a close eye meant also eliminating unnecessary direct debits. In October we still had both Netflix and Now TV billed to my account but upon realising that we rarely used the Now TV I decided to cancel our monthly subscription, saving another £10 per month!

I decided to keep my Amazon Prime subscription and bought an Amazon Fire TV stick, as I deemed the £39.99 investment worth the money long term. My judgement proved right as the Amazon Fire stick comes not only with a host of movies and series to watch but also with a Netflix account usage option, making our evenings in the house much more entertaining! Emma has numerous series saved as her favourite on Netflix which means she rarely runs out of options and is never bored when home. I also can relax in the evenings with a good movie when she is in bed, and all at no additional cost!

I then turned my attention to our food bill. I love variety in our diet and we consume loads of veggies and fruit on a weekly basis so I took to shopping in Lidl for those. When it comes to meat, I kept an eye on deals at the meat counters and also hunted for yellow stickers in supermarkets. I buy our canned and dry goods in Home Bargains, as their prices are the best and usually their products are great quality.  This strategy has been working like a charm, our freezer is always bursting with good quality meat which has been purchased at great prices and our food bill rarely goes over £40 per week now.

When it comes to clothing, I have been an expert at shopping in sales for years now and that hasn’t changed. This year, I scoured the internet for good deals for Emma and ended up bagging a lot of great items for her next season’s wardrobe from shops like Joules and Boden. For myself, I am still enjoying a very generous discount with Joules as a blogger so all my tops get bought from there now. My jeans and the rest of my wardrobe come from Primark or H&M, as they are usually cheap and can be replaced seasonally without great expense.

The scariest part has been thinking of savings and finding a way to save money for holidays in the summer. I have decided to set up an account for Emma and start depositing her child benefit in there every month. I realised that by saving the £82 per month religiously will create by the time she is 18 a golden egg of more than £10,000 (!!!) which she’ll be able to use to get herself a wee car or start her student life quite comfortably.

This year, we’ll most likely holiday with family in Romania or France, Emma is quite excited about seeing her grandfather as she hasn’t been there since she was 2! Going home for our holidays and staying with either my parents or my brother will mean saving on accommodation and food bills but I do hope in a few years’ time Emma and myself will have a proper holiday together. have invited bloggers to share their money knowledge and expertise with their readers as part of their #KnowYourMoney campaign. What are your own tips and experience, would you mind sharing with my readers?

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Swift Money and I have been compensated for taking the time to put it together.

Parenting Super Powers

I have been invited by npower(@npowerHQ) to write about my own parenting super powers in view of their new #familysuperpowers campaign that’s being promoted at the moment.

As a recently “knighted” single mum, my super powers have to cover a huge variety of needs: from being Emma’s protector and provider to being her playmate, role model and educator. From being her nurse when she is ill to being her encourager when she feels down.

But the thing is my super powers find their strength in the very person I am meant to “prove” myself to. Emma motivates me every single day to be the best mummy and super woman I can be.

We have learned a lot about each other in the past three months. We have become thicker than thieves, as they say, and we have continuously drawn strength from each other’s beauty of soul and resilience.

We have had some terrible lows but the highs are the things we cherish and will always remember.

We have grown together, in our grief journey, on our life journey.

If you are looking for a practical example, it will have to be the fact that we have gone abseiling together while on a retreat with Cancer Fund for Children last summer.

I am not good with heights but I didn’t want Emma to learn to fear the same thing.

So, when presented with the occasion, I did put my superwoman cape on and under the admiring gaze of my little girl, I climbed and then, with eyes closed, launched myself down, trusting only a flimsy rope.

Did I enjoy it? Nope, not at all. My knees and hands hurt afterwards and my legs were like jelly. But I did it because I want Emma to grow knowing that fear is there to be defeated, not there to defeat us.


I watched my beautiful girl follow my example and there and then, I knew that I am raising a super girl! I knew the strength it takes to climb that wall and more importantly, defeat those fears, and I saw it in her and couldn’t have been prouder!


npower is inviting every super parent in the land to share a video or image of her or his parenting super powers with at for a chance to win one of three UK theme park resort breaks.

Watch Peter and Emily Andre’s super power video for ideas for your own clip:

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not been paid for this blog post but there will be a gift voucher sent as a token of thanks. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Safety in the work place

I have worked in all capacities in the past 10 years, both as employed and self-employed, for big schools and small families and from home.

I have never seriously considered safety at work until I read the new research by personal injury solicitors, Hayward Baker, which reveals the unsafe and unsanitary working conditions that are putting the health of millions of British workers in serious danger.  


 The in-depth study discovered a staggering 69% of British workers – 21 million of them – claim their workplace to be a health hazard. Please see the above attached infographic for more research findings although top level figures here:

·         35 percent of working Brits have picked up an illness from their place of work – with 18 percent claiming to have been struck down with food poisoning or caught a stomach bug because of dirty conditions.

·         A further 39 percent have even suffered an injury at work – with two in ten (20 percent) Brits having been to hospital due to a work-related illness or injury.

·         Shockingly, almost half (46 percent) of those polled complained to their bosses about the state of their place of work, with a further 21 percent saying their manager did nothing to rectify the situation.

 The research was commissioned following the launch of the personal injury solicitor’s new interactive injury compensation calculator,  which provides workers with an estimate of how much compensation they would be entitled to following an accident or injury at work.

It sure makes me glad to realise that all the people and companies I worked for so far took clear steps in safeguarding me and others working for them. I couldn’t imagine a more horrid situation than the one in which you get injured in your work place due to unsafe conditions or a manager’s lenient attitude towards worker safety.

I’m also very glad that as a blogger I get to work from home and that there are no hazardous activities or conditions involved in this occupation, other that expressing opinions others might find offensive :-)!

Have you suffered from an injury at work? Was the company supportive towards you or did you have to seek help elsewhere in settling the matter and getting the support you needed in your recovery?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.

To uniform or not to uniform?

I’ve been challenged by the lovely people at 4imprint to give the idea of uniformity some thought and create a blog post around my thoughts about what it is to wear printed t-shirts as a uniform.

I have been wearing uniforms all my life, from when I started primary school in Romania at the age of six, many, many moons ago.

I remember disliking the feel of the plastic onto my skin but cherishing the identity the uniform gave me. I was a big girl, going to school on my own (those were Communist times still and both my parents had to work in order to be able to provide for us) and I belonged to a community of little people, all dressed up more or less in the same fashion as myself.

Fast forward six years and me being in my first year of grammar school, when monumental things happened to the leadership of the country and Romania achieved its “democracy” from 45 years of dictatorship. People were elated and they demanded freedom in everything, including from our school uniforms. An instant influx of bad quality jeans inundated the market and everybody decided that they were to be preferred to a uniform.

I hated it, the lack of uniform in my grammar school. It immediately turned into an opportunity to highlight the financial gap between families and implicitly, the children.

I still have photos I have hidden away in my mum’s home of me wearing horrid, baggy clothes, the only ones my mum could afford buying for us.

My clothes did make me stand out but not in a good way. I would have appreciated the uniformity of a common outfit for all the pupils in school at this point and preferred the anonymity of the uniform over the embarrassment of ill fitting clothes as a teenager.

I moved to Northern Ireland 10 years ago and worked as a teacher intermittently in a lot of local schools. I soon realised that even the teachers adhered to an unwritten code of uniformity for which I felt very grateful, as it gave me a sense of guidance and belonging.

Of course, when Emma started school three years ago, I welcomed the strict guidelines that came from her school regarding not only the code of conduct but also the school uniform.

I love seeing her all ready in the morning, looking sharp and tidy and I do know that she always feels a sense of pride when wearing her uniform, as it gives her an identity and and motivation to keep her behaviour in check as she represents her school while she is out and about.

Lately I have been working as a nanny and even there, I did feel the need of a “uniform”! The school where I did the pick ups is in quite an affluent area so my Joules t-shirt “uniform”, although comfy and informal, did reflect the intention to comfort to the environment.

I have added an infographic on the subject as well.

Do let me know what your thoughts are on the subject, I’ll be very interested in hearing other opinions on the subject!


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

Bidvine – The App That Helps You Find The Professionals You Need

Emma and I have a wide variety of apps on our iPads, from reading ones to energy supplier’s ones to games and catch up T.V. ones.

Apps have become part of the day to day life of any contemporary technology user so I was not surprised when Bidvine approached me about their professional services bidding app. It only makes sense to me that in a world where we access entertainment, banking, T.V. programs and so much more via an app, to be now able to find professional services by the same means.

So, what is Bidvine?


Bidvine is a service which offers easy access to professional services, from domestic cleaning to interior painting to lessons of any kind (piano, photography, personal training).

After the easy sign up step and choosing the service you are interested in, Bidvine sends your request to professionals in the area and within 48-72 hours quotes would arrive into your inbox, from up to 5 local providers.

Since I live in Northern Ireland, I chose to test photography services through the app, with the option of the professional travelling to us.

The process is simple and intuitive and I was done within minutes:


Unfortunately, since the app focuses on the greater London area, we didn’t get a lot of offers so I wasn’t able to compare prices with what is already available when it comes to portrait photography in my area but I lived the app simply because it is easy to access, easy to navigate and provided you live in the area it aims at, probably easy to access services you are in need of.

I’d recommend it to any busy employees who don’t have the time to phone around or score the newspapers for local professionals. I love the bidding system which ensures you get a competitive offer. And all in all, the concept, I find it quite revolutionary and my only regret is that it does not cover Northern Ireland for now, as I would much prefer it to other means of finding professionals for required services within the home and more.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post, all opinions expressed are truthful and entirely my own.