Self- Employment: Self-Assessment Tax Returns

I am so proud of myself right now; I have just been super organised and filed my 2017/18 tax returns online already! The deadline isn’t until the end of the year, but I couldn’t blog anyway because my site was being transferred to a new host, so I figured I might as well use that time effectively and submit mega early to get it out of the way! Especially after having a massive last second faff last year and finding myself needing to send a paper version in the end, only for Royal Mail to return it to me a week later as the envelope got damaged in transit! So I was then panicking about deadlines and potential late fees; it is a massive relief to know there will be none of that stress this time!

Are you self-employed? If so, you will need to keep records and fill out a tax return form each year too. In many cases that is obvious; people are generally aware that if you run a business and get a regular income from it, you must be self- employed and need to declare your income. However, some people don’t realise that even if you just earn a small irregular income, for example if you mainly blog as a hobby but occasionally get paid work, or if you sell things from home, or receive any other ad hoc income, that you still need to register as self- employed and complete an annual tax return. If that is the case, here’s what you need to do…

Self- Employment: Self-Assessment Tax Returns

Register as Self- Employed

Firstly, you need to register as self- employed. The easiest way to do this is by completing the form online. You must register by 5 October in your business’s second tax year at the latest, although personally I would recommend doing it asap.You will then be sent your Unique Taxpayers Code.

Register for Online Self- Assessment

Assuming you intend to file your tax returns online, you then need to register for this service on the government website. Technically you can use either the government gateway system or Gov.UK Verify to register and submit your returns, but this is the part where it got complicated for me the first time around.

Government Gateway

I tried to use the gateway system, whereby you complete a form online then they send you an activation code in the post. However, this did not work for me and I was told to use Verify to confirm my ID instead. The gateway system is gradually being phased out and will be replaced completely by March 2019, but I am not sure whether this issue had anything to do with it or not.

Verify Gov.UK

So I tried to use the Verify system. And this is where it got really frustrating! For the vast majority of people this would probably be a really quick and easy task. For me, however, not so straightforward; quite the opposite infact!

You see, my passport – which was in my maiden name anyway – had just expired and I don’t have a valid UK driving license either. On top of that my back account is with Nationwide. This combination apparently means you can not possibly verify your identity online with any of the seven different approved companies who offer this service on behalf of the government. Hmm. I wasted so many hours trying to sort it out, it was absolutely ridiculous.

Long story short: eventually I had to renew my passport and open a new bank account with a different bank – just so I could use the government’s online services! Needless to say I was less than impressed.

Tax written on a notebook. Hand holding pencil.

Submitting Your Tax Returns

That said, once you are verified online, it is really easy to submit your tax returns online. If you have all the information you need in front of you, it isn’t too much of an onerous task; actually, it didn’t take me very long whatsoever. If you are submitting online, the deadline is 31st January. For paper versions, it is 31st October.

Record Keeping

Obviously make sure your books are accurate and kept up-to-date, so you have the correct figures to submit. Also keep evidence; receipts, invoices, account records etc… incase you should ever need them. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to record my monthly income and expenses. I operate on a cash-in, cash-out system, as I find that easiest personally. You will need to check if your situation allows this.

Remember to include all your allowable expenses. For example, if you work from home you can include a percentage of your utility bills. To make this easier, you can use simplified expenses. This is a flat rate, depending on how many hours you work from home per month. Note this does not include phone and internet so they can be listed separately. Once you have got to grips with your record keeping you shouldn’t find it too difficult, especially if you have a straightforward business. However, some people do like to hire a book-keeper to be sure it is all correct.

Calculator, pen, graphs, paperclip

It can be daunting having to complete your tax returns for the first time, but try not to worry! I hope this information is helpful. Let me know in comments if you found it useful!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

This bumper birthday gift guide for adults features present ideas for men and women from brands such as CanvasChamp, Adagio Teas, GiftsOnline4U, Latest Deals, Hunkemoller and more…

Do you get stuck on what to buy for birthdays? Whether it is your partner, a relative, friend or even a colleague, my bumper gift guide will inspire you to find the perfect gift…

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

Engraved Watch – GiftsOnline4U

Any watch makes a lovely gift, but a personalised watch is even better! GiftsOnline4U have an excellent selection of engraved watches to choose from to design a unique gift for someone. I was gifted this gorgeous ladies watch to review from them…

Giftsonline4u engraved ladies watch flatlay image.

The website itself is easy to navigate, with clear instructions at checkout. Personalising the watch was also very straightforward. You can enter up to 72 characters over 4 lines for the message, which is plenty of space. You can then preview the engraved before ordering. Gift bags and greetings cards can also be selected.

I had my watch engraved with an Albert Einstein quote “Time is just an illusion.” Just a note, the back of the watch is actually silver, it is just the reflection of the camera making it look black. It isn’t the easiest thing to photograph (or I need to improve my photography skills… take your pick!) but in real life the engraving is clear and beautifully written.

Delivery was efficient and there are various delivery options available. Standard delivery is free, charges apply to speedier services. The watch arrived nicely presented in a gift box.

This contemporary style watch is plated alloy with a leather strap and retails at £39.99. GiftsOnline4U also do a range of other personalised Birthday gifts on their website too.

Ladies watch from GiftsOnline4U in box

Canvas Print – CanvasChamp

A canvas print can brighten up any wall and makes a wonderful gift! It is a very thoughtful present, especially if you choose a meaningful photo with the recipient firmly in mind; such as a photo of their loved ones, their favourite place or a picture that captures a happy memory of theirs. If you are familiar with their home, try to consider their colour schemes too, to really make sure you pick out the perfect photo to use.

Canvas on wall. Matches colour scheme. A well coordinated cat is sat on the sofa too, also matching the canvas art!

CanvasChamp specialises in canvas wall pictures and other types of print. Prices start very low (from £3.89) and they offer a wide range of sizes. There are also different options for finishes, and various styles too. For example, you can select from a variety of choices of wrap and border, so you can customise it exactly how you like. I uploaded a photo straight from my instagram and the quality was fine for a fairly small canvas, but if you are going to opt for a larger size then I would recommend using a higher resolution image.

Canvas hanging on wall. Wrap sides

For something even more unique, CanvasChamp offers split picture prints (i.e. the picture goes across two or more canvas), collages, mosaics and wall display sets. As you can see from my photos, the single 12 x 8 canvas looks abit ‘lost’ on such a large bare wall space at the moment, but it will look brilliant as part of a larger wall display!

As an alternative to canvas, you could also opt for acrylic or metal prints. So plenty of ideas to choose from!

Delivery takes up to 8 – 10 business days according to the website, although mine arrived much quicker than this. Shipping is free on orders over £40 and costs £4.99 for orders under that value.

(I was sent a 12 x 8 canvas for review).

CanvasChamp canvas wall hanging art. Picture of Southend beach, Essex. Photography of sea by Living Life Our Way.

Adagio Teas

For tea lovers, Adagio Teas might be just what you are looking for! They have an excellent selection of tasty teas that make a cool gift for any avid tea drinker in your life. There is a wide range of loose tea flavours, as well as tea bags and iced teas too. They also stock high quality accessories and some funky gift sets too. For something even more quirky, check out their awesome signature blends.

A photo of Adagio Teas and accessories

We were kindly sent a variety of teas to try from Adagio; in fact they were incredibly generous and sent us a massive box filled with goodies! If I waited until we had sampled them all before writing this post, it probably wouldn’t be published until 2020! However, what I will tell you is that the selection looks amazing and I literally cannot wait to try them all out.

Bundle of Adagio loose teas, tea bags, ice teas and accessories inc ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea filters

Some of the loose leaf teas we have been sent to try out include calypso green, citrus mint green and raspberry green from their green tea range, spiced apple chai tea, earl grey moonlight black tea, peach oolong, green rooibos bonita, pu-erh hazelberry, hibiscus, coconut, passionfruit and mango flavoured teas, plus berry blues and samurai mate from the herbal tea range. This is just some of the many choices they have available. I am so excited about the pina colada! I am also particularly looking forward to the fruit medley herbal tea and intrigued by the chocolate chip flavour too.

The website has lots of useful information about tea preparations, pairings and health benefits. You can also learn more about the origins of the different types of tea; it is really quite educational!

A selection of Adagio Teas and accessories

I was also sent some very cool accessories too, which are very cleverly designed to make life much easier when preparing loose teas. The ingenuitea teapot has a special valve in the bottom that releases the tea directly into the cup, leaving the tea leaves in the mesh filter. The teapot is easy to clean; just rinse it out with water or pop it into the dishwasher. This retails at £18.

They also sent some paper filters, which are made of taste- neutral wood and hemp fibres, so are fully biodegradeable. You just fold them over the edge of your teapot or mug, then throw them away. So simple! And very good value at £4 for 100 filters.

Then there is the glass mug and infuser, which is handy for use anywhere. RRP £18. As the website explains:

“An ideal ‘have tea anywhere’ set that combines a glass tea mug with a removable stainless steel infuser. In addition to being convenient, it is also loads of fun: watch the leaves dance as they infuse a perfect cup of tea. When done, remove the infuser (the cover doubles as a coaster) and have a perfect cup of tea wherever, and whenever, the mood strikes. Perfect for home or office use.”

Brummie Gal in Cardiff has some useful video clips and tutorials of these fab accessories in action.

Adagio Teas Prize - ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea samplea

I have also teamed up with Adagio to offer a lucky reader a chance to win a bundle of Adagio teas and accessories. The fabulous prize includes an IngenuiTEA teapot, glass mug and infuser, plus 15 sample pouches (which makes up to roughly 150 cups of tea!) To be in with a chance of winning, enter via rafflecopter below.

Competition ends on 10th June 2018. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Underwear – Hunkemoller

This one is just for the ladies! Whilst some people may feel uncomfortable gifting underwear, as a female I think a bra or matching set makes a lovely gift to either give or receive from a close friend or partner. (As long as they know your size!) Hunkemoller have a beautiful selection of pretty designs that come in a good range of sizes, including for fuller figures. Prices start from £12, with free shipping on orders over £20.

I really love the non- padded underwired full cup black bra I was sent to review. It is very comfortable and it looks so pretty on that I almost shared a photo of me actually wearing it. (I said almost…) It is gorgeous and makes an ideal gift. The box is lovely too! (And it is recycled!)

Hunkemoller underwired non padded black bra flatlay. Pretty box next to it says life is about pretty moments, enjoy this one. Love, hunkemoller

Find Inspiration… Plus Save Money Too!

Searching for gift sets on Latest Deals is a fantastic way of saving money, but also a great place to get inspiration too. As I browsed through the current offers listed, I spotted some really awesome ideas that I might not have thought of otherwise, such as a ‘grow your own superfoods kit’ for example. You might also come across lovely new brands that you haven’t heard of before too. The perfect site to find some fresh new gift ideas and get yourself a good deal in the process!

Screenshot of grow your own superfoods gift idea from Latest Deals website

Subscription Boxes – Various

Organising a subscription box as a present is almost like a gift that keeps on giving! Whether you go for 3, 6 or 12 months, the recepient will enjoy getting their monthly box of goodies. Many offer one- off boxes too if that is kinder on your budget. There are plenty of topics on offer to choose from; such as mindfulness, eco friendly, art, healthy snacks, yummy treats or gardening activities, just to name a few, so easy to pick out one you know they will love.

Experience Days/ Event Tickets

Not every gift has to be tangible. Days out, experiences or event tickets make an amazing present too. Whether it is a relaxing spa day, the chance to zoom around a race track, or a fun night out seeing their fave band, tickets/ vouchers to go somewhere or do something is a brilliant birthday surprise!

Other Gift Ideas

For more ideas, you can also check out some of my previous gift guides full of wonderful gifts:

Mothers Day Gifts

Men’s Gifts Under £20

Eco- Friendly Gifts

Gifts for Health and Wellbeing

Unique Personalised Gifts

*Disclosure: I was gifted items for the purpose of review and also compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are of course my own.

Self-Employment Issues: How To Deal With Variable Monthly Income

If you are self- employed you may well find your monthly income is variable. It might depend on how promptly invoices are paid, some of your work might be seasonal or you might simply have an unpredictable flow of work each month. This can make it difficult to manage finances and create unexpected shortfalls. Here are some practical tips to dealing with a variable monthly income…

Self-Employment Issues: How To Deal With Variable Monthly Income title. Image of desk with keyboard, wallet, plant and pencil

Plan Ahead

If you know your work is seasonal, or you happen to have a particularly good month, then you need to make sure you budget the extra income carefully so that you will be prepared for the slower months when they come around. It might be tempting to spend it while you have it, but don’t!

Once your business is established enough, take an average of your monthly earnings then use that to base your budget on. Ideally, budget for slightly under your average figure to be on the safe side. You can also try to forecast your predicted future earnings and use this information too, but don’t rely too heavily on it – at best it is most likely still just an educated guess! (Unless your business is fairly predictable in nature of course).

Tax Returns

When you calculate your budget, make sure you remember taxes; you don’t want to find yourself with a tax bill that you hadn’t accounted for! Work out roughly how much your tax is each month and set that aside. That way, when you complete your tax return at the end of the financial year, the lump sum will be there ready and waiting to pay the outstanding amount immediately.

Stack of coins and pens on finance sheet

Late Invoices

If you are self- employed it is essential to make sure you invoice corrently, and you must record income and expenditure accurately. So keep a careful track of all of your invoices and note when they have been paid. Chase up late payments after 30 days past the due date and have a clear policy for any late fees. If absolutely necessary, seek legal action to recoup the money. Late invoices sadly are a fairly common occurance and can really mess up your finances so it is important to have a clear process for dealing with this, as well as a financial back up plan.

Income Shortfalls

In reference to the previous point, what happens when an unpaid invoice, or an unexpected fluctuation in income, creates a shortfall? This can be one of the hazards of self- employment unfortunately. Ideally you will have budgeted for this and have some money saved aside. But we all know that of course sometimes this isn’t the case.

As already suggested, the first step is to chase any outstanding overdue invoices, which hopefully might prompt them to pay. There is also plenty of advice on how to make some extra pennies when needed.

However, if this isn’t enough to balance the shortfall, you could consider taking out a loan as a last resort. If you need cash fast you could research quick loans. Alternatively, if you are on Universal Credit, you could also enquire about a budgeting advance from them. Borrowing from family or friends maybe another option. Just remember, you will need to pay it back as soon as possible and you may need to modify your budget to enable you to pay off the interest, and to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Are you self- employed? Do you have a variable income? I would love to hear your tips for managing this. Leave me a comment!

*This is a collaborative post.

Getting More Bang For Your Buck

Often, the amount of purchases people make where it is just wasting money is incredible. There are so many ways that we can get more bang for our buck that we just seem to be ignoring. Why this is, I guess we’ll never know! It is, of course, more helpful to make the most of the money you have. You most probably will have realised that life isn’t always easy, and money seems to come out of the bank quicker than it goes in. It’s a problem most of us are plagued with, certainly at some time or another anyway, but one that can be avoided by a large amount if we just try and get more bang for our buck. Here’s a few ways that you can do just that…

Getting More Bang For Your Buck title with image of 20 pound notes

Resellers

Resellers are the ones you need to be looking at. You can get something nearly brand new, for next to nothing compared to what you would pay if you went into the store and bought it. Resellers offer pretty much anything, and you can find them almost anywhere. For example, you’ve got resellers of clothes. You don’t even have to pick up your laptop to sort this one, a lot of resellers of clothes have apps that you can use. The clothes you’ll buy might have been worn once or twice, but it’ll be some excellent designer things with the price slashed completely. There’s also resellers of items that aren’t second hand, such as food. You’ll probably need to go online for something like this, or look out for stores such as Costco. You will be absolutely amazed at how much money you can spend here, and how much you’ll be able to get for it.

More In The Long Run

To get more in the long run, you need to be looking at the long term bargains. Let’s talk about cars for example. People usually take out finance to get a brand new car, meaning you’re tied in for years, or buy it outright. So, consider leasing instead. It allows you to switch from car to car every two years, and that way you always have a brand new car! Check out All Car Leasing for more information. If you know you’re a lover of cars, and the newest ones at that, this is going to work out really well for you. So many people go for financing, when that is often actually the more expensive option. At least this way you know you’re going to get a new treat every so often. And that will likely save on maintence costs too, which tend to increase as the car ages.

Cheaper Essentials

Cheaper essentials is something we should all be looking out for. We’re talking about the things you’ll buy on a daily basis, that you probably usually spend hundreds a year on. Again, you’re going to need to go bargain hunting. There are discount stores that will sell essentials such as shampoo and conditioner for next to nothing, whereas mainstream supermarkets will make you pay through the nose in comparison. You can also try your hand at couponing to see how much money you would be able to save!

A pile of £20 notes

What are your top tips for saving money? Tell me in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

Overcoming The Slippery Slope of Debt

Economically, times have been tough for some time now, and this has resulted in many people falling down the slippery slope of debt because they are in dire need to make money. But even if you have the money in place, it can still be hard to keep your head above water, let alone enjoy the prosperity of financial freedom.

Getting out of debt can feel like an uphill struggle to the point people want to give up. When people are in serious amounts of debt, they often do end up on a downward spiral, falling down the slippery slope of interest and other fees accruing on overdue payments. Indeed, one of the vicious cycles in terms of debt is that people often end up paying more in interest and fees than they are from the actual balance. The challenge is that once you start missing a few payments, your financial position can quickly go downhill, and this is when people lose control of their financial situation.

It’s the same in business, yet there tend to be more options available to manoeuvre. As an example debtor factoring helps business to borrow money and you can always get venture capital to expand your business, or avoid a financially disastrous situation.

It’s understandable that people in debt wish to bury their head in the sand due to the emotional overwhelm they face. But the best starting point, if you’re feeling this way, is to contact the money advice service; an independent organisation that offers free and impartial advice on how to get out of debt.

An image of spreadsheet, calculator and coins in a vice

If you’re feeling the pinch and are trapped in debt, it can often feel completely hopeless – yet, there’s always hope. It’s important to remember that just like how the bodies cells replenish themselves, so does your financial history, as CCJ’s and the like are all wiped away after six years.

Even the social stigma that was once associated with bankruptcy is nowadays much less potent. In part this is due to the number of people having to file for bankruptcy, as well as the entrepreneurial culture we are now living in, which has seen many highly successful business people go bankrupt multiple times only to rise up like a phoenix.

The point is that just because you’re in debt, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It can feel like it, when you are backed into a corner and have creditors banging on your door – nobody likes to receive intimidating letters, or be threatened with the prospects of bailiffs. Indeed this is a tremendously stressful experience for anyone to endure; yet there are a number of ways to relieve the pressure.

The best thing you can do, is to take the bull by the horns and seek some advice. There are a plethora of options from IVAs, debt reduction and debt consolidation programs, where you can get one loan that covers all existing debt and then just make one monthly manageable payment. If you own your home, you could even remortgage your property to consolidate the debt you have accrued, and pay it off, in a similar way.

In summary, you always have options, the trick is to take control of your money situation – rather than letting the situation control you!

*This is a collaborative post.

Are You Wasting Money In The Worst Areas?

Do you have trouble with money? It’s possible that you struggle to save because your money is actually draining away in wasteful areas. There are lots of areas in life where you might be spending a lot more than you actually need to. Cut the cost, and you will find you have a lot more money to play with at the end of each month. Let’s start by thinking about purchases that you should never have made in the first place…

Are You Wasting Money In The Worst Areas? title with image of piles of coins

Straight Out The Box

Financial experts will tell you that you should never purchase a car brand new on the market. The reason for this is simply the depreciation. When you buy a car, it will immediately start to drop in value. There is literally no way that you can make money off a car that is purchased brand new when it comes time to sell. Unless of course, you decide to purchase a classic. However, even then, you will need to be careful how much you drive the vehicle and what you use it for. You see? Even purchasing a classic vehicle, something that should always balloon in value, isn’t guaranteed to lead to an ROI. The obvious answer then is to purchase a car second hand. While this can be risky, it does mean that you won’t be losing as much money when it does inevitably start to drop in price Instead of losing half the value of the car, that value will already be gone when you make the purchase. There are other benefits too. You’ll be able to afford a nicer car, and that car will be cheaper to insure. Gocompare.com can show you how expensive it is to insure a Merc and one that is second hand will always be a lot cheaper.

An image of an expensive new car

The Package Deal

Are you booking a holiday this year? You might have heard that booking a package holiday is cheaper. Unfortunately, it isn’t. If you use a package holiday, you’ll be buying your holiday from an agent. They will search through the indexes and systems to find the right holiday for you including hotels, flights, add-ons and anything else that you might have asked them about. They’ll then bunch all these items together. But on top of that, you’ll need to pay for their services. Agents will typically add money to the cost of your flight to cover their service. As such, instead, it’s far better to use sites like Lastminute.com to find your own. Right now, it’s possible that your holidays are costing you a fortune, but they really don’t have to.

A group of people on the beach on holiday

Throwing It Away

How much do you spend on shopping every week? Fifty, a hundred or more? If you’re spending a lot on food, you at least want to make sure that you’re getting the greatest use out of it possible. But most people don’t because leftovers get binned. Instead, you should be saving these, freezing what you can. With the right planning, you can have whole meals frozen ready to feed your family another day of the week. You’ll be amazed how much money this will save you overall.

Spaghetti bolognaise. Dinners can be prepared from frozen leftovers

We hope you find this advice useful when you’re looking for ways to cut back the waste in your life. Do you have other suggestions? Leave a comment!

*This is a collaborative post.

Purchasing Prescription Sunglasses Online: Review of Perfect Glasses

I reviewed Perfect Glasses last year for a pair of non- prescription sunglasses for myself and had an excellent experience. You can read about it in my previous post.

This time we opted for a pair of prescription sunglasses for Mr B (aka Andy, Squiggle’s dad). We have never ordered prescription glasses of any description online before so we were curious to find out more. Here is our experience…

Purchasing Prescription Sunglasses Online: Review of Perfect Glasses title with image of sunglasses in case

Andy took a trip to the Opticians for his eye examination first; we knew his prescription would most likely require updating anyway as he was almost due his annual check- up. Armed with his latest prescription, he then came home and browsed the Perfect Glasses website: Perfectglasses.co.uk

Website

The website itself is easy to navigate and has a handy app that allows you to virtually try on the glasses. It sells a wide range of both glasses and sunglasses, available in either prescription or non- prescription, including many famous brand names. Prices vary from very cheap basic pairs, right up to expensive Designer glasses. There are so many designs to choose from, I think there must be a style to suit all tastes and budgets.

Once you have selected your sunglasses/ glasses there are various optional extras to choose from, such as different tints and coatings. If you have a prescription you simply enter it onto the site as instructed. It is all very easy to do.

Perfect Glasses app to virtually try on glasses

Service

Unfortunately the first pair of sunglasses we received were actually non- prescription, due to an error in the laboratory apparently. After querying whether we could be mistaken about that (we certainly weren’t, we even took them to be checked), we were asked to return them to the lab at our own expense, which we were told would then be refunded if they found they had made a mistake. (At the time of writing I have not yet had these postage costs refunded yet).

It then took quite a few weeks to finally hear back from the lab, after trying to contact them several times. We finally received the glasses a week or two after that. So there was quite a length of time overall between ordering and finally receiving the sunglasses with correct prescription. It was only a minor inconvenience for us personally to be honest, but not so good if you need them in a hurry!

Sunglasses

The sunglasses themselves were worth the wait! They are good quality and good value for money, in my opinion. They arrived in a nice case too. Very stylish.

An image of Espirit sunglasses in case. 'If you feel good, you look good' quote.

Andy’s Verdict

The sunglasses are comfortable and fit perfectly. I have quite a wide bridge but the app allowed me to filter by bridge size which made picking from suitable styles vs. looking at dozens on a shelf so much quicker. I also find shopping in a store uncomfortable with people clambering for the same pair of glasses and assistants hovering over you, quite often I end up visiting a few times just to get my space but with the filter and being able to see how they looked on, it made the experience quicker and with much less friction.

Selfie of Andy wearing Espirit prescription sunglasses from Perfect Glasses

Shop the Espirit look here currently half price at £90.

*Disclosure: We received a pair of sunglasses and compensation in exchange for review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals

Whether you’re looking to implement big change in your life, or just looking to make small steps towards being a better version of yourself, setting goals is paramount. However, there’s a difference between setting achievable goals and giving yourself unattainable targets. Ambition is an enviable trait – and ensuring your hard work leads to accomplishments is the reason behind goal setting. So, how do you create achievable goals for yourself, and ensure you see them through to their conclusion?

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals title with faded tape measures image

Set targets to reach your goal
It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re chasing one or numerous goals – getting started will always be the most difficult part. It can be a daunting proposition, looking at the goals you’ve written down and wondering how you’re going to achieve them. For this reason, it’s recommended that you split your goals into further micro-goals, or targets. This way, you can start small and build on those early successes. Once you get started, you’ll soon find that the psychological benefit of completing each of these smaller targets toward your goals drives further determination.

Create detailed and specific targets to meet your goals
It’s important to clearly understand what you need to do. The more information you can include, the easier it will be to follow. A specific target gives you more focus. One commonly used example of this is if you’re planning to save money. Rather than ‘save £2,000’, incorporate more detail to keep your eyes on the goal: ‘save £2,000 for home renovations’. Then set the specific targets: ‘save £600 for new hardwood flooring, £1000 for new kitchen units, and £400 for re-painting the whole house’. The added detail and smaller target totals make it more achievable, whilst keeping you focused on why you’re saving.

A desk with planners, notebooks and organisers

Give yourself a timeframe
Further adding to the emphasis on detail, giving your goals a specific timeframe is an important factor in motivation and accomplishing targets. They also encourage action. Take, for example, a ‘flash sale’ email from your favourite brand, telling you that you can get an unmissable offer if you buy within the next 24 hours. The likelihood is that most of us have been persuaded by this before, and this is because the time-bound offer triggers a psychological reaction. Setting yourself timeframes for your goals works in a similar way. If you know you’ve only got a certain amount of days to achieve, you’ll be spurred on to put in the work. If your target is open-ended, it can easily fall to the bottom of the pile.

Put them down on paper
Having your targets written down provides you with something to refer back to. If you’re lacking in motivation, look back at your goals and remember why you set them in the first place. Seeing them in black and white makes the goals feel real, and helps to keep you focused one step at a time. Keeping them at the front of your mind allows you to focus on the bigger picture.

Lost sight of your goal and missed your targets? Don’t beat yourself up, or let it slip back further. Remind yourself of your next targets and review/ amend them if they feel too unrealistic. Focus on achieving the targets one at a time with your eye on the end goal you’ve set yourself and get back on track. Without these constant reminders it’s easy to let goals slip, which is a definite no-no. Start with a simple list, then edit and grow as required.

Make your goals realistic
Arguably the most important aspect of setting yourself goals: make them realistic. If your goal isn’t attainable, why set it in the first place? It’s a slippery slope when you become over-ambitious. Confidence is crucial, there’s no doubting that, but if you aim too high you risk knocking this confidence and subsequently giving up. Simply put, it can do more harm than good. Start off small and, once you have more experience, you can aim bigger and better. Many people set end-goals and put too much focus on getting there. It’s easy to forget that the journey is where you learn and develop. Whether it’s professionally or as a person, never take your journey for granted. Celebrate each target reached!

Weight lifting

Measure Your Progress
This is an obvious one, but it’s easy to forget if you’ve got multiple goals to track at once. Measuring your progress is important for many reasons. It helps keep you motivated – if you’ve lost weight for example, you’re more likely to feel confident on your progress and continue to work hard. If you’ve not hit targets, you know you need to put in more work in order to achieve your goal within the set timeframe. There are hundreds of tracking templates for almost anything, all you have to do is a quick Google search. Keep track of how you’re performing, and adjust your plan to make sure you accomplish what you need to.

Take accountability
There’s nobody else you can blame for your failures (or your successes) other than yourself. You’re responsible for whether your goals are accomplished or not. Others may be responsible for minor setbacks, but your overall success is down to you. Hold yourself accountable and work hard to achieve your goals!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Mothers Day Gift Guide & Giveaways

Mothers Day is just around the corner; so whether it is a gift for your own mum or mother figure, you are in charge of getting something thoughtful from the kids, or you are simply looking for ideas to treat yourself this Mothers Day (and why not!), here is my gift guide full of inspirational ideas…

Mothers Day gift guide to title with image of botonique, rock and ruddle hairbrush, extra bright star gift set and hersey & son silver star pendant jewellery

Botonique (Non-Alcoholic Drink)

Botonique is a non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for mums to be, anyone looking for a healthier alternative to alcohol or just don’t drink for whatever reason! It looks like Proscecco, but has herbs, spices and citrus blended with sparking water and pear juice to create a unique flavour. In addition, it also contains a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which alcohol is known to deplete. This means it has some great health benefits; it provides anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, alkalising, detoxifying and hydrating qualities. It also contains just 1/6 the calories of wine too, with no added sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or preservatives.

Cost: £6.99 per 750ml bottle.

Botonique bottle with 2 champagne flute glasses

Giveaway…

One lucky reader can win a bottle of Botonique. Simply enter via rafflecopter below. Ends 31st March 2018. T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rock and Ruddle (Hairbrush)

This stylish brand of hairbrush comes in a selection of creative designs and makes a cool, unique gift that can be personalised too. It comes in two sizes; travel size or full size. They are made from ethically- sourced boar bristles (so note; not for vegans!) and are good quality brushes that are great for your hair.

Cost: £20 – £30 (exact price depends on style/ size).

Rock and Ruddle hairbrush with pretty bird design

Star Name Registry (Name a Star)

Give the gift of a star with Star Name Registry! You can name a star after your loved one as a unique and special gift. These come in a range of prices depending on which package you choose and they make a perfect last minute gift too! You can read more about them on my previous blog post and I have a giveaway to win an extra bright star gift set over there as well!

Hersey & Son (Silver Jewellery)

Hersey & Son is a traditional UK silversmith (one of the last in the country!) established in 1955. The range is made by hand in their London- based workshop and includes tableware, photo frames, wine coasters and jewellery. Most pieces can be personalised too. These beautiful items make a gorgeous gift.

Cost: £20 – £600

Giveaway…

One very lucky winner can win a lovely sterling silver star pendant with an initial of the winner’s choice (worth £45)!

Hersey & Son star and initial pendant

Hersey & Son star and initial pendant (Birthstone gem not included in giveaway)

To be in with a change of winning this amazing prize, enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Ends 4th April 2018. T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your perfect Mothers Day gift idea? Let me know in comments!

*All items included in this post were gifted for either review or giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Name A Star: Review and Giveaway 

Are you looking for a last minute gift idea? Or do you get stuck when looking for presents in general? Or perhaps you are simply on the hunt for something abit different? Whatever the occasion, I love finding thoughtful gifts; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with the perfect idea. Until now…

Naming star, own star, star name registry, gift ideas, outdoors, stargazing

Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!

I originally found out about naming your very own star with Star Name Registry last year, when I was contacted by their lovely team to review their extra bright star gift set and host a giveaway. It really is such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything, anyone with an interest in stargazing or outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different!

This lovely set includes your very own star that you can name, and choose which constellation you would like it to be located in too. It also has an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.

Star Naming Registry Uk, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors, Living Life Our Way

For my original review, I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.

This time, I didn’t have to think so hard because I knew it would make the perfect gift for a family member! So I named it after them, along with a short personal message to them to show our gratitude for all they do. They were very grateful!

And one lucky reader can win an Extra Bright Star gift set too! To be in with a chance of winning, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 29th March 2018. Open to UK residents only. Winner will be emailed a coupon code to redeem the Extra Bright Star gift set prize themselves. Other T&Cs apply.

Star Naming Registry UK, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors

*Disclosure: I was gifted Extra Bright Star gift sets free of charge for the purpose of review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.