Saturday, 31 December 2011

Six self-enhancement purchases for 2012 (totalling under a tenner too):

How can a second-hand book, a pedometer, a cheap brolly, a pair of tights, six second-class stamps and a packet of seeds add up to self-enhancement? Here's how:

·      Get stuck in to a stonking good used novel   COST 1p
A can’t-put-it-down novel is the perfect way to cherish yourself. On Amazon are tons of good used books available from dealers for just 0.01p. No kidding. Sure they make money on the postage but if you add your 1p book to someone else’s Amazon order you won’t pay extra. Here are some of my all-time favourites all available for 1p:
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Perfume by Patrisk Suskind
Room by Emma Donoghue

·      Get a pedometer   COST 78p
Walking is the best way to trim your body and lift your mood. Use a pedometer to see how many steps you can clock up in a day, aiming for 10,000. If you’re monitoring every step it’s amazing how many ways you find to walk a bit further. You’ll be healthier and happier and won’t have been near a gym or put on lycra. This one from Amazon really is only 78p. OK it probably is crap for that price so go for a better one if you can.
Walk your way to health for under £1

·      Leave magazines on the shelf    COST £0
Women feel worse after looking at a magazine (all that social comparison is depressing). And why waste money on mags full of  glossy adverts peddling the 'happiness through having' myth?  There are good free online magazines instead. Or if you must spend out then at least help someone by doing it and buy the Big Issue. Or buy a mag that doesn't bang on about shoes and handbags and whose maxim is 'Curiosity is sacred' - Oh Comely magazine.

·      Spend on a stranger    COST  £1
Research shows we feel happier after spending money on someone else than after spending it on ourselves. When caught in a Tokyo downpour once a Japanese lady came up and gave me an umbrella. I was so touched by her kindness. Why not buy a £1 brolly from a pound store and give it to someone caught in the rain. They'll love you for it. Or jump on the Pay It Forward bandwagon, pay for the next person's coffee in a queue or the next car's toll. I guarantee you'll feel happier.

 Colour up  COST £3.99
Bright colours and a personal treat to cheer the soul. Quell the urge to clothes shop by splashing out on some really brightly coloured tights. They're cheap and cheerful and will add that touch of wackiness to any outfit that's feeling a tad tired. These cerise pink ones are from H&M

·      Six second class stamps     COST £2.16
Another way of getting pleasure through giving. Don't you love getting a letter or card with a stamp on? it's a rare pleasure nowadays. Send 6 letters or cards to loved ones, long-lost friends or just people you know. Say hello, suggest a meet-up, thank them for being in your life or tell them why they matter to you. At 36p each you'll be spreading shed-loads of happiness that'll soon come bouncing back your way.  
Long time no write.
Plant seeds    COST £1.55
        Connecting with nature is so good for the soul.
        You'll feel such a smug-filled sense of satisfaction when you grow something from scratch. I recommend a packet of rocket seeds, dead easy to grow and you'll be nibbling the leaves all summer and sharing them with friends. Even better are nasturtiums, you can chuck the seeds on poor soil and they'll still provide a riot of fiery flowers right through the summer. Even better, you get poor-man's capers from the seeds and the flowers are edible too! 

       Green fingers, flowers and food - the perfect ingredients for super self-enhancement. 

     TOTAL INVESTMENT?     £9.49

Try these tips in 2012 and let us know how you got on!


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

...and a prosperous and Sheconomical New Year to you all.

Thank you all so much for your support. 
This year the number of hits on this blog almost tipped 10,000. 
We've got sled-loads of good stuff coming your way next year, and some exciting new developments. 
So keep checking in and we'll see  you a-plenty in twenty twelve!

Monday, 19 December 2011

It's panic-now-pay-later week. Would you credit it?

This week is panic week. 
The week when we panic-buy those extra presents (just in case she buys me one), that extra food (can't have too many mince pies) and drink (come on, it is Christmas after all). That extra ton of tinsel and kilometre of lights.
And the panic-buyer's best friend is their credit card. Knowing you can panic-now pay-later makes it all too easy to slip those extra goodies into the basket.
But how much will credit card debt cost you if you only make the minimum repayment on your card?
Test how much you know with this simple question, taken from Martin Lewis's brilliant money saving site.


Your New Year's resolution is to stop borrowing, but you've still £3,000 on a credit card at 17.9% interest. How long will it take to clear if you're making the minimum monthly repayments (the higher of 2% or £5)?

A. In two Christmases time
B. In eight Christmases time
C. In 14 Christmases time
D. In 41 Christmases time

Think about it before scrolling down for the answer.

Mmm...shouldn't have stuck all those presents on my visa card.
The Correct Answer is: D. In 41 Christmases time
Staggeringly if you only make the minimum repayments it’ll take over 41 years to repay the card at an interest cost of £6,300. Minimum repayments are designed to keep you in debt. Think about it 17.9% interest a year is about one and a half percent a month – the minimum payment is 2%, so you’re not doing much more than servicing the interest.
Further Info: See the money saving expert's full Minimum Repayment Calculator which includes a guide to beating the trap.

If this doesn't apply to you but you know someone who needs help keeping their spending under control, a copy of Sheconomics could be the prefect present.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A formula for how much you should spend on that gift.

The average shopper will spend £673.56 on gifts this Christmas.
But how much of that will be spent on the wrong people?

I was thrilled to be asked by Warrington-based Golden Square Shopping Centre to come up with a 'gift formula' to help people decide how much to spend on everyone on their gift list this Christmas. 
You can cap how much you spend.
Whether they’re having a cut-back Christmas or a festive blow-out.

After all this is the time of year when most people feel under pressure to spend more than they should. Many shoppers will be tempted to impulse buy, spend too much and risk going into debt – a real issue in the current economic climate.

Ian Cox, Marketing Manager at Golden Square said: “We realise that it may sound strange that a shopping centre is helping shoppers to cut back on their Christmas budget, but this season is the time of year that sees most people slip into debt."

The formula takes into account two key factors: your current financial situation as well as the closeness to the person you are spending for.

So what/s the magic formula?
Work out how much you should spend on everyone this Christmas:

Average spend - Financial situation X Closeness = CHRISTMAS SPEND
To work this out you:
1.    Take the average amount you spend on most gifts.
Do this by taking the total amount you spend and divide it by the number of people you buy for (exclude your partner or anyone you spend a lot more on).
            2.    Reduce the amount to take account of your financial situation.
            Unless we’ve won the lottery, we should all take off 5% for austerity/inflation or up to 20% if you’ve hit harder times.
             3.    Adjust that amount for closeness*.
Add half as much again for someone you are very close to. But consider spending just a quarter of that amount for anyone you are buying for out of obligation.
*The Closeness Scale
See where the person you are buying for fits on the scale below. Then adjust the amount that you spend.
I’m just buying this person a present out of habit/obligation.
I’m buying this person a present partly out of obligation
I’m buying them a present because we are close
I’m buying them a present because we are very close
Divide by 4
Divide by 2
Multiply by 1.2
Multiply by 1.5

So, for example, a person spending £300 on 10 people last year, reduced 5% for inflation and buying it for a person partly out of obligation, should spend just £14.25 on their gift.

In short:
  • Use the ‘gift giver’ formula to help bring real meaning to gift giving. 
  • Remember to spend according to how close you are to the person, and keep within your financial means. 
  • If that means not giving to those who have become an ‘obligation’, that makes sound economic sense.

You can read more about my psychological research into gift-giving (and gift failure) here.
And remember Sheconomics is stuffed full of tips to help you manage your budget.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

How much cleavage should you flash at work?

Sarah Brummitt, image consultant.
Thanks to Sarah Brummitt (right) for airing the important issue of cleavage in a corporate environment.
I must admit, I've long been bewildered by the trend for boob-flashing at work. 
And now it seems that more mammaries equals less salaries.
Sarah, an image consultant and training and development consultant, keeps us abreast of this issue:

Last year, a survey commissioned in the UK suggested that women who display too much cleavage at work could end up sabotaging their careers. More than 3,000 managers found that almost half of bosses would overlook a woman for promotions if she regularly exposed her cleavage.
Is this fair? Or is it sexist nonsense? Is cleavage cool or crass at work?
I'm not a prude - and as a small chested woman I can appreciate a fabulous bosom as much as the most hot-blooded male...but.......a glorious cleavage in the office is just not on. It's a distraction to both men AND women - but for different reasons.
1. Men see it as a clear 'come on' sign OR, they are so embarrassed they don't know where to look.
2. Women can either be continually distracted (I know I am because one of my colleagues insists on regularly exposing her cleavage and I can't help but keep looking.......). The altenative female response is to elicit some good, old-fashioned, bitchy jealousy and loathing.
As an Image Coach, I'm all about personal brand - helping professionals create a perception by colleagues which conveys the real essence of them; their reputation; their unique expertise. 
Who on earth wants to be known as the girl that always has her baps on show? 
It's not right and it's not fair, but the reality of still working in a predominantly male-orientated work environment means that to succeed in business we need to be viewed as credible, professional and authoritative.
A woman can't do that if her boobs are out.
So, ladies please - a glorious bosom is for a date, a cocktail party, a social event. It's not for the office. So button up, put them away and create a focal point somewhere else. May I suggest the face instead?

Thanks Sarah - check her out on Thank goodness the good old polo neck is coming back into fashion.
And remember, psychological research confirms that the image you portray may be at odds with the one you intended. 
You may think that a flash of cleavage is cool, alluring even. 
They may think you look like a lap-dancer. 
Think about it next time you dress for the office and keep in mind that less is probably more.