How I learnt how to save money and feel ok again…

The trick to getting a handle on my personal finances?

Eating out less and cooking from scratch more.

When I think about the amount of meals that I used to order in, using apps such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo, I often want to be sick in my mouth.
There was a time when I ate bolognese every day for lunch and dinner. I know what you’re thinking: ‘How could you do such a thing Karen. Bolognese?!’ You might not believe me, but it does get worse – during these heady days of reckless bolognese scoffing I often neglected to even make it myself. That’s right. I would regularly order in bolognese once, even twice a day. I didn’t care where it came from, how long it took to deliver or how much it cost. I was a bolgnese fiend and I’d be damned if I was going to make my own.

There was a reason behind this behaviour, of course, an excuse really. That excuse was a lack in cultural education and an inability to cook.

I grew up in the 80s, as the only child of a single Father. My Dad was many things: a skilled metalworker, a profligate drinker and a loving football player. But one thing that he was not was an experienced cook.We didn’t have much money between us and he was constantly caught between either work or the pub. This was a time when a man’s standing in his local boozer was far more important than the food his family ate and I understood that.

As a result of my Dad’s hectic schedule he would only have time to cook one meal a week and that meal was (you guessed it!) bolognese. Every Sunday, whilst slurping down a crate of Castlemaine XXXX, he would throw 2kg of beef mince into the one massive cast-iron pot in our house, along with 8 cans of chopped tomatoes, 4 chopped onions and 2 bulbs of garlic. This pot, along with scraps of bread, would constitute breakfast, lunch and dinner for both of us. This was the way of our household for the 18 years that I lived there and when I left for University, you can guess what food stuff I would constantly fall back on.

There’s a lot to like about bolognese. The garlic is a rich source of B Vitamins, there’s loads of Vitamin C in the tomatoes and who said eating red meat everyday is bad for you?

Still, when my lifestyle got naturally more hectic in my thirties I found that I was increasingly running out of time to make my regular bolognese every Sunday – it turned out that the behavioural habits that my Father lived by weren’t flexible enough for a socially active woman living the single life in London!

That’s how I got to where I was – up until a year ago: totally dependent on ordering in bolognese, because it was the only food that I knew and I didn’t have the time to cook it. My takeaway bolognese habit ended up costing me over £600 per month and, worst of all, sometimes the bolognese wasn’t even that good.

It took a cold hard look at my bank statement to see where I was going wrong. The statement was a who’s who of Italian restaurants throughout the city – I’d effectively lined the pockets of 400 delivery drivers since I first started using the popular delivery apps and I knew that something had to give.

My life changed in the right way when I remembered by Father.

I knew what I had to do. Rummaging around in the basement I found what I was looking for: a massive iron-cast pot, with a can of Castlemaine and a note inside reading:

‘For my darling Karen – when times get tough, cook some bolognese.’

5 useful services that will make your problem ok

Sometimes you need a helping hand with getting things done.

We’re not all super-men and super-women.

When the worst happens, you should be prepared for every eventuality and that might entail calling in a helping hand from somewhere else. Don’t be a Proud Penelope and waste precious time on attempting to fix your pickle. If you’re facing an issue that is looking like it can’t be solved, then you should stop what you’re trying to do and simply call in a professional who can sort out your problem with minimum hassle and maximum efficiency.

Rug Doctor

Whether it’s a dinner party with clumsy guests or simply an attempt at decoration that went horribly wrong, the average home’s carpet can get well and truly soiled during it’s tenure. For the smallest of stains to the nightmare problems of red wine and bolognese, there’s now a solution to all your carpet related problems! You can buy or rent carpet cleaners through their site, as well as consult them directly on how to remove a particular stain.

Home Appliance Care

For every broken fridge, oven or induction hob that needs replacing, there’s a hundred men or more who think they can fix it – when actually they really can’t. Don’t let a stupid man get in the way of you fixing your precious appliances. Take action, skip the amateur handyman next door and call the people who know best. Home Appliance Care understand how to fix your appliances, because they’re owned by the companies who make them. They have the right spares for your model and trained technicians to fit them.

Mr. Handyman

On the subject of Handymen – if you’re going to hire a stranger to fix a leaky tap or fit a door, wouldn’t you rather you know that he’s experienced and vouched for by national standards? The hard working folks at Mr. Handyman have an average of ten year on the job experience between them. They’re trained in a wide range of activities and are fully insured, so you can rest easy whilst Gary is bleeding your radiators.

Johnson Cleaners

There can come a time when your weekly washing can feel like an impossible mountain to climb, an endless pile of underwear and t-shirts that refuse to be moved. When you’ve backed yourself into a corner and you literally can’t move for dirty clothes, then stop, drop and roll right away from that responsibility. Using their website you can check how far away your nearest location is or even order a pickup of your dirty curtains.

deVOL Kitchens

This last one might end up costing you a lot more than an arm and leg, but a girl can dream can’t she? We spend hours of our lives in our kitchens, regardless of whether you have children to feed or if it’s just our hungry selves! Shouldn’t the kitchen be a place that is just inviting and comfortable as your living room? If you’re thinking of investing money into your home, then your kitchen should be the first port of call. deVOL kitchens ooze style, usability and elegance. The may cost you a year’s salary, but they’re so worth it.

3 examples of how best to deal with a customer and feel well and good

argumentWhen you’re running a business or supervising a shop floor, the issue of responsibility is a big one. How much responsibility are you really able to take on at any one time, and are you OK with this? As I’ve mentioned before, in my past life I used to be a part-time property manager. Owning nearly a hundred properties was stressful, but satisfying work. Giving homes to hundreds of people around the city felt good and knowing that their safety was in hand was of paramount importance. Despite my diligent efforts and constant communication, I still received a consistent stream of complaints and suggestions. These ranged from the ludicrously demanding to the infuriatingly meek. Either way, I forced time out of my day to attempt to deal with these daily requests, with very little thanks given to me.

Getting peace of mind on a day to day basis, is a huge part of feeling well and good. If your finances aren’t well, then you’re not good – and that’s not OK. The following examples, taken from my time as a property manager, should help to highlight what problems you should address when in a similar position—and what to do:

1) A tenant calls you up, claiming there is an emergency. He states that there are inches of water gathering in the basement (which is meant to be locked at floodall times) but that it has stopped rising. What do you do?

The knee-jerk reaction to this would be to panic, call the plumber and get the water pumped out as soon as possible. However, if we approach this situation logically with all the facts in mind, then the solution is simple.

The basement should not be lived in, there is a lock on there for a reason, because its not safe. For all we know the water could have been there when you bought the house, Lord knows you’ve never been down there – you can’t actually recall ever physically seeing this property.

The correct way of dealing with this situation is to completely ignore the tenant. If he tries to bother you again, you can tell him that he’s in breach of his contract and threaten to sue. This should sufficiently scare him, he’ll leave the damp basement the way it is, and the next tenants will inherit the situation.

pool in2) A client in a high-scale out of town house has a few concerns over an indoor pool that came with the house. Nothing major, just an after thought really, doesn’t even need looking at.

You need to react to these situations like you would a house fire or a stroke. Speed is absolutely of the essence, because the longer you leave this task, the more difficult it will be to ingratiate yourself with the client later. He may have sounded like he wasn’t too bothered about the problem, but he’s just playing it cool. Swimming pools can be dangerous places, especially if the skimmer is broken, and if he’s gone on re
cord as saying that he has concerns, he will sue you if there’s a problem. Don’t panic. Just do these things as quickly as possible:boquety

a) Send a large bunch of flowers with an apologetic letter

b) Call your pool maintenance expert and have him completely service the pool. Pool skimming, new pumps, new filters, smooth over any sharp edges in the tiling. Make this area as perfectly safe as possible; disregard the cost.

c) Once work is completed, send a large box of chocolates (ALWAYS check your client files for dietary requirements and adjust orders accordingly) with a congratulatory card; making sure to mention the improvements you have made.

chocd) Follow up this last gift with a phone call, a day later, to ensure ABSOLUTE customer satisfaction.

3) A reliable tenant calls you up in the middle of the night. They say they can smell burning and there are wisps of smoke collecting through the cracks in the floorboards and walls. They are unsure whether this is an emergency or if you’ve scheduled a gas extermination without informing them.

dirty flatTry your best to answer this fool’s questions in a polite way, but don’t worry too much if you fly off the handle at him (I mean, its the middle of the night for Christ’s sake). Tell him to check the ashtrays round his house for burning cigarette ends. Then formally tell him that you’ll be inspecting the property the following day to ensure there’s no evidence of smoking. Smoking inside is a violation of his contract, this would result in termination and eviction.

Remember, in order to feel OK, you need to be confident in your day to day work decisions. What I’ve laid out above is a blueprint for how to deal with a client or customer. Always remember: how much money they earn is equivalent to how important they are to you. And lastly DON’T forget that those with less power can always be convinced in to keeping quiet, or ‘changing their minds’. In the business world this is called ‘influence’ and once you’ve mastered it you will feel more than OK. You will feel well and good, with the confidence to say: ‘How dare you call me at this hour, who do you think you are? Do you know who I am? I will make you pay for this, you filthy serf.’


Its OK to not feel OK, why not change your style to get alright?

Iteenagert’s a tough time of year for teenagers. We’re reaching the end of our A-Levels/AS-Levels/Foundation Diplomas in Fashion Design and suddenly we’ve been faced with the daunting choice of what to do next. For many of us, its like being thrown back to our sixteen year-old selves again. We’re back in the deep end, stuck in limbo between educational institutions. Unsure about our bodies, the hair on our bodies, or even the hair on our clothes on our bodies; it can be a tough time for every one. At these great times of turbulence and change you might start feeling like everything’s not alright, just remember: it’s OK not to to feel OK.

I spent many years not feeling even close to OK. I’d spend my days gormless, staring at all the other kids who were clearly alright and wondering if I’d ever feel just fine. Of course feeling fine is a lofty ambition for a teenage girl; my GCSEs were a trial of fire populated with awkward house parties, underage drinking and abortive romances. However, there was a brighter future on the horizon for me. A new day was dawning for Kirsty Crisis; little did I know that I was about to discover the key to getting OK, and my days of not feeling alright were almost at an end.

punk shoppingThe summer between finishing school and beginning my Foundation Diploma was a difficult one. Stepping out of the school uniform that you’ve worn for five years straight is a daunting task, especially when the other clothes you own don’t make you feel alright. All woolen jumpers, striped tights and loose fitting t-shirts – I did not feel like Kirsty Crisis. I knew then and there that if I was going to feel OK come the start of my new life, I would need to get a new style as soon as possible. With enough money scraped together from washing dishes at a local pub, I launched myself in to the world of fashion head first. Deciding to ignore everything the media was telling me, I formulated a style that best presented me in my best form – alright me.

By the time the summer was done with, my wardrobe was complete. Black skinny jeans, ultra-bright t-shirts and baggy hoodies with 90s rock bands. I had created a new look, a new style – a new Kirsty. I needed to change my style, to change myself. I might not be fine right now, I might never be. But one thing I know for sure is – I’m just about OK.

Kirsty -x-

Clean your oven and just feel better…

Dirty_OvenMaking sacrifices is part of being human. At certain points in our lives we will make important life changing decisions – and then be forced to live with them, forever. Last year I came back to my family in Torbay, from a fifteen year studying and self-development sabbatical. I had left my husband of six years to raise our children, because I knew something was up and it wouldn’t stop being up until I did something for me. After returning to secondary education, then working my way through college, a doctorate and years of experience as a psychiatrist in Los Angeles; it was time to return home to my loving family – who had always accepted my decision and had probably benefited from my absence.

12_Messy KitchenReturning home after such a long time, I knew things would be different – but I was not prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that was stepping back into the kitchen. When I had left it in the early noughties, we’d just finished completing the renovation work, the white goods and paint were fresh – I felt at peace leaving it with my family. Stepping back in, years later, I was shocked by how it was treated. My oldest daughter had taken to cooking the family meals (my workaholic husband worked sixteen hour days) and had abused the hob and oven that had come at such cost. I had picked out the top of the range cooker, to complete our high-end kitchen, and remember distinctly signing the finance papers – not knowing that this was an investment in a future that I would not see.

unhappy teenDropping my bags in the halls; I remember opening the oven door and just staring at the build up of cooking oils, cheese spills and baking errors. All this mess on my hands, seemingly forever caked on, and none of it my fault! Thankfully I had a plan, and its something that you can instigate yourself if you’re left with a similar problem to clean up. I called up a company called OvenU, they specialise in personal oven cleaning services. For a surprisingly affordable price, they’ll send a skilled member of their team out to completely clean your oven from top to bottom. Its amazing what a clean oven will do to help you feel at home again. Its made my return so much easier to cope with.

Onwards with life! Its about time my oldest thought about leaving home. God knows she’s done enough damage to the kitchen, Lord knows
what she’s been feeding the rest of the family in my absence! My other ones are past school leaving age, I’ve no doubt they’ll be chomping at the bit soon to get a place of their own – and my husband has been talking about an extended golf holiday for a while now. Soon the house will be back to its former glory and we can be a happy family just like I always wanted.

-x- Katherine -x-

Wooden laminate flooring could be the answer to making you alright again…

apartWhilst working the stocks and shares in London; my colleagues and acquaintances would often ask me how I had the time for a full time high pressure job, as well as time to manage nearly a hundred rental properties throughout the London and Greater London area. Its simple really, I didn’t. Between working at least nine hours in the office, commuting, going out for dinner and all the staycations; there was simply no time to attend to the beck and call of the hundreds of tenants staying in my properties. As my time in the city started to take its toll on me, my email and voice mail in-boxes started to overflow with digital demands with the most outlandish of requests.

After a particularly trying long weekend in Sicily, I took some time out of my schedule to check through some of these messages. What I discovered was a litany of claims and demands for things like ‘modern double-glazing’, ‘competent central heating’, ‘hot water’, ‘less extortionate rent’ and ‘some form of carpet’. When I looked into a cost-benefit analysis of all these changes, I realised there was only so much I could really afford to do. After looking around I knew what I could achieve with the smallest investment that would have the biggest impact on my tenants.

I contacted a great firm called Finsa. They specialised in exactly what I needed to satiate my demanding tenants: quality laminate wooden flooring. No longer would they yearn after carpet; with a high end wooden-like finish they could marvel at luxury that they can walk on every day. The good men and women at Finsa were more than eager to sort out the delivery and fitting of the floor, and soon all 96 of my properties had been fitted top to bottom with some of the finest laminate wooden flooring that money could buy. Happy that my responsibility as landlord had been completed, I took a week off in the Philippines to recuperate.

U127-Luxury-Living-Room-Designs-titlepon my return, I was surprised to find not only my virtual in-boxes full, but my door matt also covered in real life letters. Swelling with pride, I went to open one and was surprised by the amount of threatening language I found within. It looks like some people just can’t be pleased and, more surprisingly, some tenants would rather be able to wash their children in hot water than walk on high quality laminate flooring indefinitely. Confronted by the wall of disapproval and anger of these communications, I felt like everything was not OK. So I made the only logical option: sold all my properties to the highest bidder, ejected the tenants and took the proceeding profits down to Torbay to buy the modest summer house that I live in now. After briefly considering re-flooring the living room with some laminate, I thought I may as well treat myself; there really is nothing like a thick luxurious carpet to make you forget about your problems.

Karen -x-

Feeling alright? Everything OK? What’s the matter?

Are you feeling alright? Is everything ok at home? What’s the matter with you? What’s up? Are you hearing these questions on a daily basis from family, spouses or colleagues? Have you answered them truthfully or are you lying? Stop. Take a minute and ask yourself:

Are you feeling alright?exasperated-woman

Its OK not to feel alright all the time, but if you haven’t felt alright for a while now (more than 3 days) maybe its time to talk to the Crisis Girls. Sometimes it can be too easy to say ‘yes’ to these questions, when the answer is something else entirely. When you’re smiling on the outside but dead on the inside, its time to call in some help. Specialising in all kinds of therapy; from personal counselling to a more general care package consisting of spa treatments, chocolates and shopping; the Crisis girls have the care and attention that you need to get you feeling just about alright in no time.

Is everything OK at home?

Sometimes home lifefrustrated_woman can get tough to the point where everything is simply not OK. Through the stresses of home-making and bringing up a family, it can be easy for relationships to fracture without either party realising. Before you know it, its been two months since you’ve said ‘I love you’, you’ve made spaghetti bolognese for eight straight days and the family PC’s internet history is putting the entire household to shame. There’s always a way out: call the Crisis Clinic Girls and they can get to the root of your creative cooking catastrophe, and put some decent security locks on your internet.

sad womanWhat is the matter with you? And just what is up?

A crisis can manifest itself in many ways; you could be 72 hours into the most important crisis of your life and not even realise: patiently packing your children’s school uniforms into the fire place and making breakfast for dinner without a hint of irony. If your family members or colleagues are constantly asking you what the matter is, or just what IS up – it might just be you. It can be too easy to forget about your own well-being when you’re so busy caring for others; so before you start whisking up pancake batter mix for the fourth time this week and sending your confused husband out for the third bottle of bankrupting maple syrup – put the mixing bowl down and call the Crisis Clinic Girls.