It is hard trying to balance
a blog, job and free time
(Image Source: Authors own)

This is something which if you look at my blog and the amount of posts I manage to write you can see I struggle at and that is balancing a blog and a full-time job. Many bloggers are in full-time employment or have other time-consuming activities can still manage it- yet I find it very hard. I have read countless number of blogs detailing how bloggers do it and have tried some of their recommendations, but I still struggle. Therefore, today’s post essentially details why I find it hard. I hope I find other bloggers reading this can relate to some of these points.

Sheer tiredness.
As well as having a full-time job I spend an hour each way travelling to and from work (yes I admit some people do think I am mad). In total that’s about 10 hours away from my house. So when I get back all I want to do is flop in front of the telly or read a book. I have a partner at home as well so want to spend time with him and after I have done the housework I don’t have much time left to settle down and write a blog post before bed. I have tried writing posts on the train, but it is hard with limited internet connection (and I don’t want to buy WiFi for the train).

Looking at a screen all day
As my job is looking at a computer screen for 7 1/2 hours a day (and sometimes writing articles as well), the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen for the rest of the evening. I am also conscious that I will be damaging my eyes long term if I keep looking at a screen. My eyes really ache sometimes from looking at a screen so long that I get headaches so I have to limit the number of hours I stare at the screen.

Things just keep popping up
I exercise twice a week in the evenings (and I am way too tired after a circuits session to write a post!) and then something else will come up = no time to work on the blog.

Does anybody else suffer from balancing a blog and a full time job?

(Source: wifflegif.com)

1- Did your school look like Hogwarts?
No of course it isn’t like Hogwarts, for a start Hogwarts isn’t REAL. Boarding schools have lovely grounds tho.

2- Did your school houses have a Hufflepuff and Gryffindor equivalent?
Yep it does (FYI I was in the Hufflepuff equivalent).

3- Did you use broomsticks?
NO

4- Did you have midnight feasts?
What is this, an Enid Blyton novel? No there were no midnight feasts involved since we were all pretty much ready for bed at half ten and we were fed three times a day and could buy all the sweets we want from the local tuck shop.

5- Did you hate sharing a room with someone you didn’t know?
Well you have to man up and get on with it really, however my personal experience in sharing a room is mainly positive.

6- Were you surrounded by rich people all the time?
There are some boarders who are very wealthy and you would always get the odd person flaunt it but mainly private school students are normal like everyone else.

7- Your parents must be rich for you to have gone to boarding school?
Not necessarily. There are lots of students who have parents sacrifice a lot to pay for their child to go. Also plenty of students gain scholarships.

8- Did you never get to see your parents?
That depends on how often your parents want to see you and how often you want to see them. At the school I attended you could go home or see your parents every weekend as long as they knew about it first. You can also speak to your parents at anytime as long as it isn’t in the school day.

9- Did you get to play lacrosse or go horse riding?
In my experience my school didn’t offer lacrosse or horse riding. Ironically I did play pop lacrosse at my state school.

10- Learn the lingo
Homework in private school land is called prep. There was frugal lunch  once a year where we had soup, bread and an apple with the rest of the money that would have normally been spent on food going to charity. Also forget Year 7, 8 etc you have 1st year, 2nd year etc.

I love reading and there is nothing more I enjoy doing than sitting down with a good book as the day goes by. If you are thinking about reading more this year or looking for something new to read take a look at the books I have read in the past year below:
Looking For Alaska- John Green
The Understudy- David Nicholls
Starter For Ten- David Nicholls
The Last Telegram- Liz Trenow
Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
Limestreet Blues- Maureen Lee
The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories- Marina Keegan
Likeable Social Media- David Kerpen
Happier At Home- Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project- Gretchen Rubin
Student- David Belbin
Love Lessons- David Belbin
Until The End Of Time- Danielle Steel
Lone Eagle- Danielle Steel
Fine Things- Danielle Steel
Pictures Of You- Jane Elmor
Molly’s War- Maggie Hope
Sh*t My Dad Says- Justin Halpern
When Science Goes Wrong- Simon Levay
Birdsong- Sebastian Faulks
A Week In December- Sebastian Faulks
Atonement- Ian McEwan
The Midwife’s Confession- Diane Chamberlain
It’s Your Time You’re Wasting- Frank Chalk
Firefly Lane- Kristin Hannah
Fly Away- Kristin Hannah
Perfect Match- Jodi Picoult
The Storyteller- Jodi Picoult
Nothing you fancy on here? Take a look at this website I use for book reviews: http://www.lovereading.co.uk/ 

Learning to drive has possibly got to be up there with one of life’s milestones. I was an oldie when I started to learn to drive aged 19 (In the UK you can learn to drive at 17). I had to save up for my lessons compared to a few of my friends who were lucky enough for lessons (and car in some cases!) to be bank rolled by mum and dad. I brought my first car (a Ford KA if any of you are wondering!) at 21.

My experience learning to drive wasn’t exactly the best experience I have had. It took me two years and three test attempts before I passed on my fourth try. By then I was feeling really demoralised, I was running out of money to pay for the lessons and tests, I had bought my own car to practice in and was practicing all the time. I knew I had to keep going because I didn’t want my partner to be driving me round all the time and I am so glad I did.

In terms of picking an instructor I asked friends for recommendations. I had two instructors: the first instructor I had for around a year and a half and the second for about half a year. I liked my first instructor because he did teach me the basics but after a year I just felt that I wasn’t improving, my performance was literally flat lining. The instructor would make me drive around for an hour with no focus and I just had enough. Therefore I decided to move on and try another instructor.

My next instructor I found on the internet. I chose him because the driving school he was a part of happened to offer a hour’s lesson whereby you drive round and the instructor could assess how close I was to taking the test. He said to me after the hour’s lesson that I could drive however my manoeuvres needed practice. Additionally I had to learn to drive in a new area in a different car so it took time to learn new routes.

In regards to the tests themselves as above I took four driving tests. I do know in the press some people are saying you should only have one chance to pass your driving test but I think that’s ridiculous. People mature at different rates and sometimes things happen in the test that is out of your control and nerves can be real factor for some people. Out of sheer desperation, I even brought off eBay a driving test hypnotherapy CD which you are meant to play at night and it’s meant to make you all calm before and during your test.

My first driving test I failed because I didn’t check my right side when I was reversing around the corner (even though I got round the corner perfectly). I genuinely couldn’t remember why I failed the second and third time however I do remember my fourth test so well. It was raining, snowing, I had to pull over for an ambulance to pass and overtake a stationary school bus. The relief and happiness when I passed the test was amazing. I was over the moon. It felt as good as when I passed my degree.

I drive fairly regularly now to and from work and it has allowed me and my partner to live in a place not close to the city centre. I am so glad that I continued learning to drive.  If I had given up I wouldn’t have passed and would have to start all over again which would have cost more money.

Are you taking your driving test soon? Has anyone had any bad or odd experiences learning to drive?


Save those extra pennies for a holiday
(Image source: skitterphoto.com)

Whilst saving for a house and a wedding, money has never been more important in my household. Therefore we decided to cut back to allow us a few extra pounds to spend on what we really want or to save. This is how we have done it below.

Switched our Supermarket
I used to shop in the one of the big four but then decided to switch to Aldi and see if there was a difference in price. In the past few months on average we save around £40 per month on food. We find that by planning all our meals in advance we shop in one of the big four once a month to get the items that we cannot get in Aldi and then shop in Aldi for the rest.

Using the Library
I read an awful lot and used to buy second hand books however that was starting to get pricey. By using the library I reckon I have saved around £200 (and space) in books. Libraries these days are not just about physical books there is also a selection of audio and online books.

Also my local train station has a book shelf where passengers leave and pick up unwanted books. I have picked up and dropped off many books myself.

Using Charity Shops
Charity Shops are brilliant for second hand bargains. I have brought books but also clothes, I got a set of fashionable and hardly used black boots for £8 once which would have easily been £15- 20 first hand.  

Using eBay and Amazon
When we moved into our flat we had a small budget for buying furniture. On eBay we brought a coffee table and TV stand for £50. Which if we had brought this in a shop would have cost £50 each. This applies also for selling. I am a great believer in reusing as much as possible so any unwanted items are either sold on ebay or Gumtree or go straight to a charity shop. Just be mindful of sellers fees.

Borrowing Movies and Boxsets
What originally started as a friend lending us a box set to try out a TV programme has ended up us borrowing the entire series. Hence £50 worth of TV entertainment we have watched for free.

Using Voucher Codes
Before buying online I usually browse voucher code sites looking for any discounts. If you are a student I recommend buying a NUS Extra card because the amount of discounts available are phenomenal and you easy make your £12.00 the price the card costs back.

Delay Repay Scheme
I commute so spend an awful lot of time on the train. If my train is over 30 minutes late I always claim back. I reckon I have claimed in total about £50 back from the train companies so far this year. I email a picture of my train tickets to customer services so it is not costing me anything in postage.

Checking My Receipts
I always match up my receipts against my bank statements to check that all money coming in and out my bank account as it should be. I don’t want any money leaving my account when it shouldn’t be.

This concludes my money saving tips, does anybody have any they would like to share below?