Managing money is something some people seem to tackle with aplomb and some really struggle with. Over the years, I have got into many a financial pickle so I thought I would share some of my lessons on how to avoid money troubles for yourself and your family.

Talk to your children

My parents never really talked to me about money. They protected me when times were tight. I left school unaware of the ramifications of loans such as those available from Cash Lady or mortgages. That left me prey to the student offers and I got into trouble pretty quickly into my university journey. So I talk to my children openly about money. I know my husband finds this uncomfortable but for me, it is better that they understand money and how to manage it when they leave home.

Ask yourself a question

Before making purchases now, I try to ask myself one key question. Will this item bring me pleasure in the longer-term? An awful lot of our spending is to give us a quick fix whether that is a coffee and cake when shopping or that dress that  is going to suddenly transform us into a goddess. The cake will add to the size of your hips and the dress cannot work miracles. I am not saying don’t buy them – I am saying work out why you want them and whether they are worth what they cost.

Save up

I can give you one big guarantee. Every life has its rainy days. Crises will hit and you can overcome them easier with  a good level of savings in the bank. A friend of mine used to put every expenses payment from work straight into savings and it was amazing how much  small amounts built up over a year.

Seek help early

We all like to be independent but sometimes seeking help is actually a great sign of strength. When you ask family and friends for help, they may well get a buzz out of helping  you perhaps with a short or longer-term loan. Also please realise that if they knew you were really struggling and had not asked for help, they may well see that as hurtful and tantamount to an insult.

If you don’t have family and friends who can help, there are so many charities that offer debt counselling and welfare benefits advice free of charge and on a confidential basis.

Be proactive

It is tempting to despair when times are tight. However, it is a better idea to sit down quietly and work out what baby steps you can  take towards improving your finances. Could you do some volunteering to enhance your skills? Could you take on some extra education or training? If you can’t get out of the house easily, is an  onlinebusiness a possibility?

What lessons about managing money would you like to share?

If I had to come up with one absolute must-have in any home it would be light. Of course as we also like our homes to be stylish that includes investing  in interesting and effective lighting.


I wanted to introduce you to the work of Lighting Designer Paula Arntzen from Studio Arntzen. She specialises in concept development, lighting and spatial design. Herr projects are dynamic right from the initial concept through to final production. Clients include individuals businesses, design labels and events.

Besides her lighting design interest Paula has a strong fascination for furniture design. Innovatively she mixes her craft skills with design, and a delicate use of technology, as communicative components of wonder.

I love how Paula pushes the boundaries of design based on stylistic research. Through experimentation with materials and techniques she creates experiences with their own distinctive theatrical identity.


I remember that both my mum and my uncle loved dramatic lighting. There was an infamous occasion back in the Eighties when my Uncle was feeling happy. He went out and bought a £400 lamp and then bored with it within a week and gave it to my very appreciative mum. That set her off and she would regularly go to design light shop to ring the changes on the lighting  front. She always had a real sense of style and was fashionably turned out even in old age and could make her home shine like a show home at the Ideal Home Exhibition. Sadly I did not inherit her skills unlike my brother who went on to a merchandising career with fashion brand Monsoon. Perhaps it skipped a generation a bit as my daughter is a brilliant artist with a real eye for shape and colour.


Here are a few tips of what to consider before making your next lighting purchase.


Can you remember the last time you changed up your fashion style. Perhaps you tried a different brand or went into a shop that you thought was only for younger people. Did you wear a skirt where usually you live in leggings? Did a friend or family member encourage you to break out of a fashion rut. I bet it felt a bit scary but also liberating and exhilarating.

It’s the same with lighting choices. Be brave. Make a statement. Express who you are in your home. Think big literally and metaphorically.


Look at your current lighting? Are you still living like a student with bare light bulbs or cheap paper lampshades? Are your colour choices of the bland variety. It does not need to be that way so if  you have a favourite colour why not incorporate it into your lighting choices?


It is easy to just have lighting over our heads but perhaps a bit boring. I actually miss the old days of the standard lamp giving a more cosy and subtle atmosphere in the living room. Have you considered lighting at different levels in a room? Could you make a feature of an art work will clever lighting choices?

I guess what I am saying is light is lovely and makes us feel better. Injecting some personal taste and individuality in our lighting choices rather than going for same old, same old can also give us some joie de vivre.





Post Comment Love

For many parents, encouraging their children to play out more is a priority. They know that kids who spend plenty of time outdoors are often far healthier than those who sit in front of a screen all day. Numerous studies have shown this to be the case. So, I thought I would put together a few suggestions to help you to get your children to spend more time outdoors.

Buy some outdoor toys

There are plenty of toys, like the ones you can find at, that are far more fun when you play with them outside. For example, radio-controlled car. Sure you can trundle them up and down the hall. But, that soon gets boring. To get the most out of this type of toy racing them along garden paths.

Get them into sports

From an early age encourage your children to play sports. Kick a soft child´s ball between you, play catch, get them into racket games or rounders. If they want to join the local cricket or football team, do your best to facilitate this. They will stay fitter, learn discipline, make friends and pick up great social skills. So, do what you can to encourage them to play sports, without pushing them too much.

Get them a bike

Once they are old enough, consider getting them a bike. If you are not comfortable doing that consider buying them a kick scooter instead. They can get out and about with their friends on either of these. A skateboard could be another alternative.

Eat outdoors more

As often as you can, eat your family meals outdoors. Take your children on picnics too. Both habits will help your kids to enjoy being outside more.

Walk or cycle with your kids

At least once a week, try to go out with your kids for a few hours. Maybe get into the habit of attending your local park run, or going for a walk every Sunday, before lunch. This is good for your health and it gives everyone a chance to spend time together without any distractions. Spending time together like this can really help to keep the channels of communication open.

Getting into this habit early, and maintaining it through adolescence, has the potential to bring huge benefits to the family. You can find out more about the connection between well-being and quality family time by reading this article by Dr. Gail Fernandez. She is a board-certified child psychiatrist and is also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at a US University. So, it is a research-based article from which all parents can potentially learn a lot.

A few more ideas

If you would like a few more ideas, take a look at this article. I wrote it last year, so all of the suggestions are current. Plus, most of them are things you can do indoors as well as outside, so many of them will also work for cold or wet days.

Using Toys To Encourage Your Kids To Get Outside More

My Random Musings

Have you ever considered volunteering? My first major volunteering role came with the Citizens Advice Bureau when I left university. I had messed up my Law Society exams. Even though I had articles offered with a local solicitors’ firm, I had pretty much decided I did not want to do that sort of law.

So on my Dad’s suggestion I found myself at the Citizens Advice Bureau asking if I could help put leaflets out or something. I did not realise then that there are loads of volunteering opportunities available with Citizens Advice. I found myself training as a generalist advice worker. That involved going on training courses in Leeds. working through training packs and shadowing advice staff. I was so looking forward to doing an interview with a client myself but was a bit scared when my first case turned out to be about medical negligence which is hardly the simplest advice topic around.

After that first blip. I found myself coping well and specialising in money advice going onto a part-time paid job and then a full-time one. I guess I am trying to say that volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is interesting and can lead to great things. Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering volunteering.

Initial contact

You can turn up at your local Bureau like I did but these days you can fill out an online enquiry form and then the Bureau will get in touch. You might be invited for a chat or to an open day followed by you completing an application form and having an interview.


You will be given a full induction and training for your role. The training is free of charge and of a good quality. It is respected by so many different employers and educational establishments too so well worth undertaking. You will be supported by a tutor in the Bureau, self-study packs and a course away from the Bureau.


There is no minimum time requirement as such and it is really about what you can offer and what the Bureau needs. Most Bureaux advice sessions take place during office hours but even if you work full-time you could get involved in fundraising, marketing or other roles.


Your out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the Bureau. Bear in mind some Bureaux are unable to provide childcare or other carer expenses.


I am a big fan of volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I feel it can help you develop skills and qualities early in life that can last you a lifetime. It looks really good on a Curriculum Vitae if you are job-seeking whatever age you are. Many retired people find it helps them make friends and utilises their existing skills. It’s also a great way to meet people on moving to a new town or city.

You can find out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice really easily.

The Pramshed

Lucy At Home

Liverpool is a city with a strong history and a great culture. I used to visit the city with my Dad when he was working there and also once with a female friend who lived in nearby Chester. Later, I had to go to deliver training sessions in my own career.

However, it is one of those cities where I feel I have not really got to know it as well as I would like.

So for my next visit to the North West, I am going to research what to do in Liverpool One and have actually already made a start. The challenge is that there are so many fascinating events that I may need to keep going back for more.


As a writer I love anything that celebrates the power of the written word. Liverpool are putting  on a great event including book swaps, celebrity appearances. book reviews and competitions. Magic will be created with the reading trees so this is something that will appeal to all the family.

Accessible exercise

Our family is not the most sporty one in the world so exercise needs to be fun and easy to do. Greenbank Sports Academy is a centre of excellence in physical education, sport and recreation that is owned and run by disabled people. They are putting on special table tennis sessions and I reckon ever I could manage this fun way to add some movement to our Liverpool trip.


I have always loved visiting art galleries. It is one of those things that somehow has disappeared from my life since becoming a parent. I want to get back to this lovely pastime and to take my daughter who is such an artist herself. The Tate Liverpool is on the Albert Dock so in a lovely location as well as giving us a chance to stop and stare at the works of famous artists.

Going crazy!

I have always loved crazy golf and it equally popular with all my family. I have so many fond memories of games by the sea and at Butlins. So I will head to Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf. It sounds superb with promises of a jungle swamp and a live volcano!

Food and drink

I love finding quirky eateries and Liverpool has so many to choose from. I plan for my trips to be active ones so we will need regular refuelling. I really fancy trying some Japanese food at Yo! Sushi where there is a conveyor belt allowing you to pick what you fancy. The restaurant chain is also the only one in the UK to serve Japanese Seabass.

Have you visited Liverpool? What did you enjoy most about the city?



The Pramshed