New Year, New You? This year make it stick!

Hands up if you have made a New Year’s Resolution and by February it was out of the window?  I’m sitting here with my hand in the air for certain as I’ve done it more than a few times.  We start the New Year full of ideas, determination and the will to change but then life kicks in and it all goes sideways.  So this year, I thought I would do some research on how to make those resolutions stick and here is what I found.

Make clear goals

One of the best ways to make goals and stick to them, according to psychologists, is to make clear goals that are achievable and have a path to that aim.  Don’t just say ‘I’m going to finally do something about getting a new job’ but instead, say you are going to update your CV, brush up on the latest interview techniques and review your qualifications.  Once you are sure that you have everything prepare, you are going to look on the internet job boards for roles and start applying.  You aren’t going to get disheartened if you get turned down but are going to keep working towards that dream job.

Take it step by step

Say your ambition for the New Year is to start a small business from home and you have an idea for the business that you have done a little research on and feel it is a viable proposition.  So rather than jumping into running it full time, making a profit and quitting your current job, set a series of aims to get the business running.  This might be things like get your products ready for sale, set up a website, start building a social media presence and do some advertising.  Have a series of steps that will end up with the business up and running and can then continue to a profit-making venture.

Change things one at a time

You may have a list of resolutions you want to enact over the year but don’t try to do them all at once.  Say you want to start going to the gym but also get on top of your housework.  Then why not hire someone to help around the house for the first few months while you establish your gym routine then work on adding the housework to it – or work on the housework schedule then add the gym trips, whatever works best.

Talk about your goals

Tell your friends and family about your goals and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it or if you are feeling down about your progress.  You might think you are doing poorly but others might think you are doing great and that boost can make all the difference!

Don’t beat yourself up

My thing is beating myself up when I don’t achieve a goal but often it’s because I’ve set unrealistic timetables for that goal.  So try to be realistic about your resolutions and then if something goes wrong, don’t get too stressed about it – just look at what didn’t happen or what went wrong and see what you can pick up from it.

Make Light Work of Job Hunting in the New Year

I’m not always one for New Year resolutions but I do think of January as a good time to take stock of things and to see what I want from the next year. One big element of this for many people is looking at their job, their career. This is why job hunting is a popular New Year task but if you do it right, it doesn’t need to be a hard one.

Preparing for job hunting

If my New Year plans involve starting job hunting, then I always do a little preparation work during the first week or so of the month (sometimes even on New Year’s Day if I’m up to it!) and the first place I start is my CV. There are loads of great templates available and plenty of good advice sites on the Internet to help you get the right information in it. Don’t forget to adapt it for the job in question each time and not simply send out a generic document.

As well as checking my CV is up to date, I also check through my social media feed and make sure all the professional stuff is in the right place. One of my friends recently had an interview where they asked her about something on her Facebook wall as she had published it for anyone to see (!) so that makes me a little cautious about what I saw.

Finally, it can be a great time to brush up on your interview technique. There are big changes in terms of interview styles and questions that have been inspired by the big US companies such as Apple and Google. This means preparing for the standard questions isn’t always enough – look out for those weird and wonderful variations.

Finding the job

Once you have done your preparation, you are ready to stand out from the crowd. Use job boards and other places around the internet to find the kind of jobs you want and start applying for them. if you aren’t ready to apply yet, start making contacts and keep records of the kid of jobs that match your ambitions and your skillsets.

New Year could even be the time to think about doing a little retraining if you want a change of direction. Many college courses that are shorter term do a fresh intake in January after the Christmas holidays and this can be a great time to prepare for that big change you want to take.

Keep at it

I know I am guilty of it and we probably all are – we build up for this job we have taken a liking to and set our hearts on it. But it is important that you don’t get disheartened if you’re unsuccessful – it may just mean it wasn’t the perfect job after all! Every time you get a ‘no’ then you are working towards that ‘yes’ down the line and you learn something – don’t forget to ask for feedback from the employer who said no to look at what you might need to alter next time around.

Putting Our House To Work

In our 2017 Income Booster Guide we talked about the urge to generate some extra income and how we could boost our income, which got me thinking about another resource that many of us have and that can make us some extra money – our homes. If you own your home, then there are ways of putting the house to work to make some extra money. Here are a few, including ones I have tried myself – with pros and cons of them.

Taking in a lodger

There’s a huge demand for housing these days and this has seen an old idea come back to life – taking in a lodger. The combination of people with spare, empty bedrooms and other people wanting to live in a certain area but unable to afford the full rent has led to the need for rooms to rent. I’ve done this one a couple of times, for students, and it can work but you need to be a little careful.

Remember, this person is going to be sharing your house so you could be eating meals with them, sharing bathroom rotations and even relaxing together, depending on the layout of your house and the person. Sure, they will likely have their own things to do but everyone spends time at home. So remember you need to be willing to share your home with a stranger for it to work.

Used as a film location

This is an exciting and interesting way to make a bit more money that isn’t a guaranteed source of income but if you need a boost for a holiday, a project or to clear a debt, then it could be an ideal solution. I did this once for an (unnamed) film company and it was great fun.

Having your home used as a film location can also generate a reasonable bit of cash assuming your home is what the film companies are looking for at that time. Bear in mind, however, that you will need to move out while they are filming. The contract will include the cost of a hotel but you could be out of your home for a few days or even a few weeks depending on what they are filming.

A slight off-shot to this is if your home is in which case, photographers might pay for a short use of your home or a room in it for a photo shoot. This won’t pay as much as the film studios idea but it also less disruptive to your life if you don’t want to move out.

Set up with Airbnb

Airbnb is a massive new concept where people rent out a room in their home to holidaymakers for a short time. It has taken off in a big way and can be a good use for a spare room that can earn money when you want – say for a month in the summer or while the kids are away at university. You can list your home, facilities you have and local attractions to attract people but remember, you will have complete strangers staying in your home for their holiday.

 

Time for a Holiday? Make Summer 17 Sensational!

One of my favourite jobs of the year is planning the summer holiday – deciding where I want to go but also how I can do the most on a budget. While we all want a holiday of a lifetime, sometimes the budget doesn’t stretch that far. But there are some great places to go and some amazing things to do that don’t have to cost unbelievable amounts of money.

Make the most of the location

One approach to enjoying a luxury holiday on a budget is to go somewhere amazing and to then use a combination of good quality hotel and luxury excursions to make it a holiday of a lifetime. Venice is one of those places for me and if riding along the canals is something you’ve always wanted to do, then look for a good deal on the hotel and the flight then save some budget for that special canal trip.

New York is another place where you can get the best of the city without paying top price for everything. There are hundreds of hotels in the city so you can stay somewhere that’s a good standard but not luxury and then enjoy the best dining, take in a Broadway show or visit all the big attractions. Don’t worry about going all-inclusive either in the city as there are thousands of eating places!

Go somewhere luxury but unusual

Another option is to go for a luxury vacation that is somewhere a little unusual, not on the top vacation spots lists. Croatia is one example of this – a stunning country that offers great beaches, beautiful scenery and historic towns but isn’t as popular with tourists as Spain or Greece.

Another example a little further away is Sri Lanka. A friend of mine went there instead of popular regional locations in India and had the most amazing time. Riding an elephant along a beautiful beach is a great thing to do – especially where there aren’t queues of other tourists waiting for the same ride!

Egypt is a stunning country that has experienced some bad times recently and while there are some parts of the country to avoid, other areas are still safe. The government there is trying to make the country a budget luxury location so there are some really good prices to be found. Just make sure you follow advice from our government about where to go and where not to.

Do something amazing

If a whole luxury holiday isn’t on the cards, then you could go somewhere and do one amazing thing that you always wanted to. For example, sports fans could plan a dream trip around a top sporting event such as the Monaco Grand Prix or watching England football team play in the World Cup.

You could even go somewhere in the UK to see one of the many amazing attractions we have here. Think about places in London such as Buckingham Palace, often open around August time – you can get great deals on hotels and cut out the long flight to get there!

2017 Income Booster Guide

There are lots of reasons we could do with a New Year income booster – make life easier, afford a great family holiday, make renovations to the home to mention just a few. There are lots of ways to do this, even when you are working full time and here are a few tips to boost your income in a variety of ways.

1.      Check benefits

If you are married or have kids, then you are entitled to certain benefits or tax deductions and if the government doesn’t know you qualify for them, then you aren’t going to get them. You can increase your income simply by ensuring you receive all the help you are entitled to.

2.      Look at your credit cards

Most of us have credit cards and there’s nothing wrong with that. But they can require a big monthly minimum payment if you aren’t in a position to clear them entirely. A simple way to boost your income is to look to manage your credit cards better – could you do a balance transfer to a new provider who are offering 0% interest or a lower monthly minimum payment? Once you take a card, swap the balance then simply shut down the old one to avoid temptation and keep your credit record in good order.

3.      Consider second jobs

When you work full time, the idea of a second job might sound like hell but there are lots of modern ways to earn extra income that don’t require adding another four hour shift onto your day. One example is being a tutor online – if you have something you can teach there are lots of sites where you can get paid to help people. It can be as simple as answering questions and can be done when it suits you, say after the kids have gone to bed.

4.      Doing freelance work

Similarly, doing freelance work can fit around your schedule and is a great way to earn extra cash. Say you are an accountant assistant as your full-time work – you could do some bookkeeping as a freelancer. As long as you declare your earnings to HMRC and pay applicable tax, you are able to work as much as you want.

5.      Check out PPI

The PPI scandal has been a boost for some people – a few of my friends have received an unexpected windfall for policies they didn’t know they had. While some banks automatically give you back any PPI paid, others require you to apply for it. So go through your papers and see if you have any accounts or loans you may have had it on – query it with the bank and they will tell you if you did and if you can claim it back.

Conclusion

Having extra income isn’t about being greedy – it’s about doing the things you want to do. Increasing your income can help if you’re applying for a mortgage, for example, or if you want to start your own business and need to put aside some capital in order to do it. It can make life a little easier and allow you to do the things you struggled to do before. And that’s what life is all about.