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  1. Working from home is the dream scenario for many people, but if that dream becomes a reality, where will you work from?  Unless you have a dedicated room that can be used as a home office, then you’re going to be working quite literally from your dining table or squeezing a desk into a shared space. 

    It’s not always ideal to have to share space, especially if you have young children running around your feet when you need to work.  I’m talking from experience as my office space is shared with the playroom for my children.  We are very lucky to have the space for me to fit a desk into, but if I need to work when the children are home then it can be very difficult. 

    One idea that has popped up in conversation several times with my husband is the idea of building an office in the garden.  Looking outside of the space available within the home and instead looking at the space available outdoors could be the perfect solution.  In this blog post I am going to explore the benefits of building a garden room office.

    The benefits of building a garden room office

    Less hassle than an extension

    Whilst an extension might be the first obvious choice, they come with a lot more upheaval than garden rooms do.  Not only do you need suitable space on your existing property for an extension, but you’ll need foundations dug, planning permission, building regulations and the build itself could take weeks, as well as be very costly.  Plus you’ll have all that noise, dust and inconvenience right where you are living and working.  It might not be ideal. 

    In comparison, a garden room might be built away from the house disrupting your actual home very little.  A build can take as little as two weeks.  Planning laws are more relaxed and many garden offices will fall under permitted development meaning you won’t need to gain permission so long as it’s less than 2.5 metres high and takes up no more than 50% of the back garden.

    Enjoy the summer weather

    There’s nothing worse than being cooped up in an office all day long when the weather is glorious outdoors.  A garden office with open bi-folding doors, or even just open French doors, will make you feel more connected to your garden and outdoor space and less like you are trapped in a stuffy office.

    No need to take up valuable space inside

    One of the greatest benefits is not having to sacrifice space inside the home for a home office.  You can keep your home exactly as it is and create another room outdoors instead.  Of course there are many genius solutions to create a small home office if you have to create something inside the home, but if you have the funds and garden space then a garden office is the perfect solution.

    30 second commute

    Of course some people have absolutely no room in the house for a suitable work space, so instead will hire an office space or frequent cafes and WiFi spots.  Not only can this begin to add up in rental fees and daily coffee expenses, but there is also the cost and time needed to travel to a different location.  By investing in a garden room as an office you’ll have a 30 second commute, no rent to pay and much cheaper hot drinks!

    Better work-life balance

    One of the trickiest parts of working from home is being able to separate work and life.  It’s possible to work all the time and you can never leave work at work, because you’re always technically at work!  It’s a dilemma!  By creating a garden office that can be locked shut and forgotten about when you are back in your home, you can create a real sense of division and keep your home simply as your home.  Having an office away from the house will create a better work-life balance and a clear mental separation.

    Away from distractions

    As well as creating a better work-life balance, it will also help to create a more productive work environment too.  As much as it’s tricky to switch off from work if you work in the home, it’s equally as challenging to switch off from the housework when you are meant to be working!  Being at home all day means you are surrounded by chores that need doing and it can be hard to let them go when they are right there in front of you. 

    Creating a garden office gives a space that is for work only and allows the mind to switch off from any other distractions.  It also means there is a place to work that is away from partners and children to allow for greater concentration if work needs to be completed when the family are at home.

     

    There are so many benefits a garden office can bring, from a more productive work day to a better work-life balance.  The more I think about it, the more convinced I am to go for it!

     

    Related blog posts:

    Setting up a successful business space from your home
    How to set up the perfect home office
    Why adding a garden room is a great investment

    Collaborative post - Photos from Canva

    The benefits of building a garden room office (2)

  2. I signed up with Prolific Academic, also just known as Prolific, quite a long time ago.  I’d read rave reviews from other bloggers and home money makers about it being the best sort of survey site out there.  I say sort of as it’s not really a survey site, but the tasks are more like studies and research for academics.  Well, I’ve only just got round to properly using the site recently and making money as I was using the site totally wrong!  Read on to discover the best way to get notified of studies on Prolific.

    Make money at home with Prolific Academic

    The best survey site?

    I’d actually totally forgotten about this site until I saw a money blogger mention it the other day as a better way to make money than most other survey sites.  Really?  I thought.  I remembered I’d been signed up for ages and never been sent a study!  Coincidently, a couple of days later I received my first email from Prolific saying I qualified for a study!

    To my surprise, when I signed in I saw there was not one, but two studies in my dashboard.  Thinking this strange and perhaps I hadn’t been receiving all their emails I spoke to customer services. 

    Don’t rely on emails

    Turns out they don’t email everyone about every study they are eligible for, but only email a random selection of people.  I had totally not realised this as every other similar site I’m with emails every time there is a study available and it’s just tough luck if you don’t get to it on time.

    So what was I meant to do?  Check the site every five minutes for a study?!

    Install a notifier

    With a bit of digging I found a solution.  There is a browser extension on Chrome called Prolific Assistant which will notify me whenever a new study is available.  Phew!

    I now realise I must have been missing out on so many studies and so much money!  As soon as I installed Prolific Assistant I completed 10 studies over a couple of days and now have over £10 in my account!

    How many studies do Prolific have?

    It’s very early days for me actually actively using the platform, now I realise what to do!  The studies  seem very sporadic as yesterday I wasn’t alerted to any studies at all, but there were loads the day before.  Even some I didn’t take part in as they were 40 minutes long and I couldn’t spare that time.  But most of the tests I’ve done have been 5-15 minutes long.

    It will also depend on which studies you are eligible for.  They have an ‘About You’ section with loads of questions to fill in so you’ll be allocated studies you qualify for.

    Out of the 10 studies I have completed so far they have all been accepted no problem.  I’ve also read you’ll never be booted out of a study which is great news.  If you read my recent blog post called how to make money searching the web then you’ll see I was booted out of 23 studies in a row when trying another survey site which was so frustrating!  So I’m pleased that on Prolific everything has been accepted so far.

    A survey site with a difference

    They aren’t your typical survey site as I mentioned.  Some of the studies I’ve done have been questions, one was a game to play and in another they flashed words up on the screen and I had to try and memorise them.  The variety makes it so interesting and nothing like many other mundane survey sites!

    They say ‘Prolific empowers great research. We enable fast, reliable and high quality data collection by connecting diverse people around the world. Our mission is to make trustworthy data more accessible in order to help improve human knowledge and decision-making.’

    A great referral program too

    If you sign up friends and family using your referral link then you’ll get 10% of their first cash out, up to £5 maximum.  If you know any researchers who would be interested in the platform and you refer them, then even better, you can each get 10% of the value of the first study.

    Simply go to your account and click on ‘Referrals’ to find your referral code or exclusive link to share.

    Payments by PayPal

    I’ve not cashed out yet as there is a fee for cashing out anything under £20, but you can cash out with a fee once you hit a balance of £5 if you want to.  I’d rather wait and I’m building up my balance.  I’ve chosen PayPal as my payment method and there are plenty of reviews online to confirm they are reliable and pay quickly.

    I’m really excited to start using this platform regularly as an enjoyable way to top up my side hustle earnings.

    Click here to sign up to Prolific Academic today and start making extra cash from home!

     

    More ways to make money from home:

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    How I made £35000 from home  in 2018

    Make money at home with Prolific Academic

    Image source: Canva

  3. Not only are road trips a great way to save money when travelling, compared to flying - especially when you’re bringing the whole family along on the trip, but they’re far less stressful than standing in lines at airports and then being crushed into tiny seats for hours with kids who are perfectly happy to be more than vocal about the fact that they’re uncomfortable and annoyed.

    The other great thing about road trips is that they’re seriously fun when done the right way and a great adventure for children. So if you’ve been considering going on a road trip for your next family trip, or you simply have a long car journey ahead of you and would like to make a small holiday out of it, then in this post there are some top tips for how to prepare for a family road trip, so that you can enjoy it as much as possible.

    How to prepare for a family road trip
    Image

    Plan your route

    There’s often more than one way to get to the same place, so choosing your route is the first step to making sure the trip goes as smoothly and stress free as possible. Choosing your route isn’t just about planning the best and quickest way to get there, although that’s definitely part of it, but it’s also about planning for some things to do and see along the way. For example, maybe there’s a lovely town or city on the way to the place you’re going that you’ve always wanted to visit, so maybe now would be the perfect time to make a stop there since you’re passing through.   You may also want to consider toilet stops if you have a long journey.  Though the motorway might be the most direct route, you could opt for an alternative route with plenty of countryside views that become a part of the journey.

    Arrange a vehicle

    Depending on how far you’re travelling, you may want to go in your own car, or you may be considering hiring something a little bigger that could make it more comfortable for everyone on a longer journey - especially the kids. Whether you want to hire a people carrier, or even a full-blown RV that has a lot of the home comforts you’re used to, you can find many options online for these. Of course, no matter which rental company you go with, you should make sure they’re reputable and well known, and that they have all their paperwork, safety checks, and things like a solid traders policy in place.

    Check out this blog post before you hire a car: Tips to save money on car rental for a road trip

    Bring plenty of supplies

    As an adult, it’s a lot easier to keep occupied on a longer road trip since you’re generally going to be happy enjoying the view and playing some good music, but children are going to need a bit more.  If you don’t want to be taking the brunt of their boredom, then bringing things like snacks, games, and even movies for them to watch will just make everyone’s time more enjoyable.

    Make sure you check out these tips: 3 ways to keep your kids entertained on a family road trip

    Bring a good camera

    If you’re planning to make some stops along the way, then a good camera will definitely come in handy so that you can make some nice family photos and memories together of your fun road trip that you can look back on in years to come.  Luckily most of us have a great camera on our smartphones, so just remember to charge it up fully before you leave and that you have enough space to take lots of snaps.

    Ensure the car is safe

    Always make sure the car is maintained before setting off on a road trip.  There are several checks you can do yourself such as fluids, wiper blades, tyres and lights which I guide you through in this blog post: 5 important car checks before your next family road trip

    Enjoy your road trip!

     

    What to read next

    4 features every family car needs
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    Collaborative post

    Please pin me:

    how to prepare for a family road trip (3)

     

  4. Almost every week I like to give back to my readers and blog supporters by giving away a £10 Amazon voucher!  It takes only a few moments to enter and there are lots of entry options so you can choose the quickest or the options that you like best.

    It's the ultimate prize as you can choose whatever you like with it.  You can also pop along to my Giveaways section for lots more chances to win vouchers.  I try to post a new giveaway once per week so do bookmark my website.

    So thank you for taking the time to come and read my blog.  I hope you find lots of great ways to save money and to make extra cash from home.

    Thank you

    Great blog posts:

    One of the entry options is to read another one of my blog posts.  Here are some great suggestions.  You can also discover my top blog posts in the footer of my website or visit my main blog page to read my latest blog posts.  You can find an archive on the side bar to see all recent titles.

    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb, £50 off your first energy bill and a cheaper tariff than the Big Six
    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum
    Get paid to test websites from home (£5 per 20 minutes)
    Get paid doing simple tasks from your phone with Streetbees
    I’ve made £300 tax free cash from home in 2 weeks and you can too
    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing

    Enter here:

    The full terms and conditions are below, but simply enter using one or more of the entry methods in the Rafflecopter widget below and remember, if you win your delivery address must be in the UK.  The entry options are really easy and range from following a Twitter account to reading a blog post.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Terms and conditions:

    • There will be one winner
    • The prize is a £10 Amazon eGift card
    • The prize must be claimed within 28 days of the first winner's notification email being sent.
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    • Winners will be notified within 28 days
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    • Giveaways are open to the UK only
  5. When Ben and I first switched to a renewable energy company around seven or eight years ago we were shocked by the cost.  We were trying to do our bit for the environment, but at the time we couldn’t afford to pay a premium to be greener so we begrudgingly had to switch back to our old supplier.

    Luckily times have changed and sustainability is a hot topic.  In recent years we have actually been able to cut our household expenses by using renewable energy.

    Here’s how:

    Getting free energy from solar panels

    How we reduce our bills using renewable energy - photo of solar panels on o

    When we were looking to buy a home we were interested in any energy saving features they had.  Luckily we were able to find a home with solar panels already installed.  Going forward we would definitely look for another house with solar panels, or alternatively we would make the investment ourselves.  As the new home owners the tariff simply transferred to us.  Not only do we use the free solar energy before anything else, which reduces our bills, but we also sell the surplus back to the grid.  These quarterly payments add up and they pay for two-thirds of our annual energy consumption (gas and electric).  That’s quite a saving!

    Investing in a log burner

    Almost four years ago we invested in a log burner and we have been very lucky to not have to buy a single piece of wood yet!  Ben’s late mum worked locally at a place that had woods on their grounds.  They let us know whenever they had felled trees and were more than grateful for us to take the wood off their hands, as were we!  We’ve also had family members call us whenever they’ve cut trees back, or their neighbours have, and want us to come and clear the wood.  Ben, my husband, is always looking out for free wood opportunities on Facebook too.  Plus we get lots of offcuts and smaller pieces that are great for kindle from Ben’s own workshop.  I’m sure we’ll have to buy some wood soon as we are running low, but it must have saved us a small fortune to not buy any for four years and it might even stretch to five.

    (Just to note you should never just take wood you find lying around in woods and forests.  In some counties you can apply for a licence to give you permission to collect felled wood on Forestry Commission owned land, otherwise you’ll need permission from the landowner.)

    Switching to a renewable energy supplier

    We had been wasting money needlessly for the first few years in our new home as we had stuck with the same energy supplier.  I never realised how easy it was to switch and the great savings we could make.  In 2018 we took the plunge, did a price comparison and switched to renewable energy company Bulb.  This saved us £264 compared to our old supplier British Gas and the most amazing thing is Bulb use 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas.  This definitely aligns with our values and we’ll be looking for green energy companies should we ever switch again.

    To get £50 credit with Bulb simply use our referral link: https://bulb.co.uk/refer/benjamins1007 

     

    Those are the three ways we use renewable energy at home.  Amazingly all three ways have been saving us money too!

     

    Great blog posts to read next:

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

    How to cut household expenses with renewable energy