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January 2019 monthly family roundup

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January has been half calm and half busy.  It’s my mum’s birthday in January so there’s always something to celebrate at the start of the year.  We’ve been cracking on with business plans and discussions as well as focusing on our savings.  My goal for 2019 is to save an emergency fund of £10,000.  I was half way there by the end of 2018.  I’d hoped to complete in 2018, but we lost a lot of money on selling our old broken car which typically got an engine problem as we came to sell (around £3000 lost) and then we had two big car repair bills for the new car within five months of owning it (£2400 for a new turbo and to replace the head gasket/top of the engine).  Very frustrating!  So I’m one year behind on my savings already thanks to annoying cars and also my dental work that was a LOT more than we expected.   But I am thankful we had been saving already and so had the funds available to pay for such extensive car repairs, towards a new car and for my pricey dental work.

I’ve always been a spender, especially when younger getting into horrific debt at an early age, but now things have changed and I am focusing on spending less and saving more with specific goals in mind.  We’re even planning a no-spend month in February so we can really top up our savings!  I couldn’t do it in January as I had already booked a few appointments, meals out and have my mum’s birthday.  So it’s postponed to February and I’m actually looking forward to it.

Before I crack on with the rest of January, here are my best Instagram posts (based on likes I believe) of 2018.  Goodbye 2018!

Family businesses – a reflection and going forward

Happy New Year!  2019 is well and truly here and we are all settling in nicely.  2018 was a great year for us overall.  My self-employed business had a successful year and improved greatly on 2017.  I’m hoping for an even better year in 2019 as I have four blogs now, so I hope I can increase my income and have plenty of back up too!  More blogs with more niches opens me up to more opportunities – well, that’s my plan!  I also love blogging so it makes sense to do more of what I love to make an income for myself.

Related - How I made £35000 from home, blogging and online in 2018

Ben started his handmade furniture business in 2018 and he hopes to grow it in 2019. Time is just the struggle for both of us, especially with two young children and Ben already having a full-time job.  We may just convert our playroom into an ensuite bedroom for a lodger after all.  It’s something we’ve ummed and arred about for a while and you may remember me mentioning it in previous blog posts.  This will give us an income to cover the mortgage payments and then perhaps Ben can have more freedom to pursue his passion and reconsider his existing career. 

I know that’s what he wants to do ideally, but we obviously need his stable income at the moment as mine is never guaranteed.  It would definitely be risky for us to both be full-time self-employed at the moment.  Hopefully we can come up with some great ways to make this happen though in 2019 or even 2020!

January has been a healthier month than December, where I let my usual healthy eating habits slide for a couple of weeks and then felt awful!

The kids and school

The kids had a great year.  Bella has completed her first term in year two, that’s the last year of infant school.  I can’t believe she will move up to juniors at the end of 2019!  This means it’s also time for Reuben to start school this year too as he turns four in March!  We have applied for his place and await the confirmation.  It’s the same school as Bella so there should be no issues with him getting a place there.  I’ve already heard that 14/30 of the new school places will be filled with siblings and 10 of those are boys!  Wow!

Christmas school holidays

So the first week of January was the school holidays.  Ben was back to work, but he had New Year’s Day off.  We went to Stratford Park in Stroud with the kids for the afternoon.  It’s somewhere I went as a child so it’s great to take my own children now and see them have so much fun there.  We spent a day with my mum and sister playing at our home.  We spent a morning at Jungle Chums soft play in Thornbury with my friend who has four boys, so the kids loved that.  The kids went to holiday club the other two days of that week so I could crack on with some work.  We also saw Ben’s Dad at the end of the week for Christmas and went for a carvery at The Fountain Inn in the Forest of Dean – they did a vegan option for us.

Back to school, pre-school and nursery

The second week of January was back to school, work, nursery and so on as normal.  I felt totally in hibernation mode and the weather really seemed to get freezing that week, so I struggled to get back in the swing of things in the day times, which only led to catching up at night staying up late and being tired again the next day… a catch-22 situation I needed to get myself out of sharpish!  The kids settled back into school and nursery well and after a week the holidays seemed an age away already as they always do.

Vegan meal at The Red Lion, Wainlode Hill

It’s my mum’s birthday in January so we met up for a meal at The Red Lion pub and restaurant in Norton, Gloucestershire on Wainlode Hill.  It’s a place me and Ben used to go to for a drink after work when we first got together as it was on the way home from work!  It’s set by the river so perfect for sitting outside on a sunny day and then wandering off for a walk along the river and through the meadows.

Luckily they had some great vegan options.  Ben ordered roasted avocado which was stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic oil and pine nuts on a bed of salad leaves and baby potatoes.  Me and the kids had a pumpkin and potato hot pot with vegetables.  The kids weren’t too impressed and barely tried it.  I’m sure if they did then they’d have been fine.  Mine was OK, but I’ll be ordering the avocado if we ever return!  Mine was a tasty but like a bowl of mush.  I’d have preferred the veg to still be chunky and have a bit of firmness!  It’s a lovely place though and has been refurbished since we used to go years ago and now has a rustic cosy feel.

A day out in Stroud town and a vegan lunch

At the start of January I had a day out in Stroud with two of my friends.  We live so close to Stroud and often go to a park there called Stratford Park with the kids, but I’ve never really explored the town centre.  It’s crazy really as they have a very indie vibe and lots of lovely vegan places to eat!  In 2019 I will explore these cafes and eateries more foe sure.  I’m already going back in February for a photo shoot as I need head shots for my business, so I hope to go for lunch again!

In January I had a peek around the market and saw a few vegan options such as homemade vegan pasties.  We snuck our heads into a few vegan friendly cafes to check out the offerings, but decided to eat at Falafel Mama as soon as I spied someone’s amazing looking pitta they were eating outside!  It looked delicious so I had to try one.  They are vegan friendly and homemade falafels served in pittas or as salads with a huge selection of salads and condiments.  Mine was so good!  We also had a bliss ball each.  I loved the creative energy of the place, the friendly staff and the music.  I’ll definitely go back! 

I’m starting to think I want to move to Stroud.  I feel it’s more my kind of place and lifestyle.  I’d love to sit and work in the cafes each day with my laptop!

Planning holidays and events

Perhaps it’s the January and winter blues, especially as I said this is the year of saving and not holidaying, but towards the end of January I booked two holidays for 2019.  We will return to Bluestone Resort in Wales for a short stay in the Christmas holidays.  We went last year and loved it! 

I’ve also booked to go to Pentewan Sands in Cornwall in the autumn.  A seven night break was only £400!  I’d much prefer to hop on a plane and go and get some guaranteed sunshine, like we did in 2018 to Fuerteventura, but it was so expensive.  We need some cheaper holidays this year so I can reach my savings goals.  £400 is an absolute bargain for a week in Cornwall, on a beach, with indoor pools, parks and a soft play.  Plus Bella is super excited to stay in a ‘caravan’.  I always find it funny people call them caravans – it’s actually more a mobile home. 

When I was little we stayed in a real caravan – a dinky little thing where the table turned into the bed and you couldn’t swing a cat in it!  We’ve also been looking at a possible summer trip as we’d love to drive the Bongo to Europe, but I think we’ll wait and see how our savings goals go first.

The usual

Most of this month was just the usual. We go to the gym at least three times a week and the kids go to kids club.  Bella has swimming ever Saturday and she’s doing great – I think she’s even starting to enjoy it and so it’s becoming less of a chore to get her there!  It still sometimes takes her a while to get in the pool, but once she’s in she is off.  There’s some sort of fear there still that she’ll hopefully overcome this year.