Help kids manage money successfully this summer

The money that comes to me todayWhen I was a Mum to two small children, in the summer holidays it seemed like there were so many potential expenses. Ice creams, days out, treats, and maybe some extra toys to keep them occupied during the long break. However, mindful of the school shoes and uniforms that needed buying at the end of the holiday, and their recent birthdays, I was not always keen to buy every ice cream/book/toy that caught my children’s attention.

My response? To say what I genuinely felt – “we can’t afford it”. Now, from a child’s point of view that is blatantly untrue – I could afford to spend money in the supermarket, I could afford to pay for petrol, I could afford car parking tickets at Moors Valley Country Park. They could see cash in my purse. So how could I “not afford” an ice cream? No doubt it looked like I was being unco-operative just for the sake of it. And, to be honest, I felt bad when I said it, although I didn’t realise why at the time.

I now know the phrase put me in a feeling of “lack” – my subconscious was taking my statement literally and thinking “hey, if you can’t even afford an ice cream, we’re broke!” I was also in danger of setting up negative beliefs in my children about money and how we control it. Saying “We can’t” suggests we have no control over the matter and could make me and them feel vulnerable about money and the future. So, what would I do second time around?

  • Explain that we use money to pay for everyday expenses like rent/mortgage, power, food, clothes etc. Use words like “Needs” and “Wants” to explain bills versus treats.
  • Tell them how much we have available to spend this day/week on treats and let them help decide on what to do with it.
  • If old enough give them their own personal money to look after so they can begin to make choices for themselves about what to spend on or save up for.
  • Use words like “choose” which are more empowering i.e. “we choose to pay for our “needs” first so that we stay safe and warm in our homes.” or “are you going to choose to spend that money now, or save it for a souvenir later?” This way your child can learn that they have a choice about what they do with their money, they don’t have to buy something because the advertising tells them to.

I think these are much more constructive ways to talk about money, with the potential to short- circuit arguments, tantrums and negativity about money both in adults and children. It feels more empowering and stops us from saying/thinking words of lack.

Why is that important? Because our brain is programmed by what we say and feel, it makes us notice more of what we talk and think about and, if repeated often enough, can make us create what we say come true. So what would you prefer to make true in your life?

“I can’t afford it” or “I choose to balance my money for my needs now, and my wants in the future”? Have fun this summer helping your children learn positive ways with money!







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What to do if a situation makes you feel small

No-One-Can-Make-You-Feel-Small1So there I was, having delivered a presentation using what I thought was great care, inventiveness and creativity, being told by my Tutor “you are capable of so much better than that”. It wasn’t what he said, but the manner in which I received the comments that made me feel like a small child again. I almost heard an echo from another time when I had experienced this before.

I knew that my Tutor’s intentions were positive and that he didn’t mean to hurt me, but somehow inside I was tearing apart. I felt very small, very misunderstood and very hurt but also indignant. Did he not understand how much thought and effort I had put into this? How I had overcome my fears to be creative and deliver something new and different?

I was surprised at the depth of my response as I had been working for so long on my confidence. How could I have responded inside so violently to a small admonition and (generally) positive feedback when I had so many tools in place to keep me emotionally safe? I had a new lesson to learn about myself.

With some coaching from a friend straight after, I realised I had been reminded of some time when I had been told off for not doing something “right” when I had tried my hardest. I realised I had to take more notice of that small part of me that still feels like a child, the one that we all have inside of us. When a situation makes us feel fearful, sad or anxious, it is normally because our “inner child” remembers a similar situation in our childhood and gives it the same meaning. I needed to heal that time in the past using NLP and support my inner child more in the future, helping her feel strong and capable. This I did the next day.

On further reflection, I noticed that in my head I was imagining the Tutor and the situation to be much bigger than me, which drained my confidence and affected my behaviour and presentation. I felt like a school child before I had even begun the presentation and thar reflected in my result.So I decided to:

  1. Think about the situation again, but this time imagine myself much larger than I had felt at the time.
  2. Notice how much more comfortable I felt this time presenting and delivering feedback.
  3. Imagine another time when I will face the same situation, and view it as if I was large again, feeling my own inner power surging through me.
  4. Recognise that the more confident and powerful I feel, the more effective my performance can be.

What situations or people make you feel “small” and how can you use this technique ahead of a situation to help you feel larger, more in control and confident again? How do you support your inner child? You will notice what she/he likes because you will feel happier and more fulfilled as you do it, even if it is just studying a leaf or making a daisy chain. You can also tell her everything is OK and you will look after her.

Have fun with your inner child, make her as big as you wish for that moment, and watch your confidence grow!





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How to protect yourself and your children from negative behaviour


This week I have begun working with two individuals who have been struggling for many years with the inappropriate and abusive behaviour of someone in their life. It set me to wondering which of my skills and tools I could use to help them make positive changes in themselves, so that they could experience a more appropriate relationship with the person causing the problem. (Let’s be clear here, I am not talking about domestic abuse, which of course should always be dealt with through appropriate support and removing oneself to safety.)

The truth is, our external experience in everyday life is like a mirror, showing us what is going on inside us. If someone is treating us less than perfectly, chances are in some way, we are treating ourselves badly too. This could be either verbally in our speech or self talk, or physically such as through the wrong foods, inappropriate amounts of exercise or overworking and putting others first too often.

For instance, how many times have you berated yourself for getting something “wrong” or being late for an appointment? How many “shoulds” do you use when speaking to yourself? “You should have left earlier and checked out the map beforehand!”, “how stupid are you, leaving your phone in the shop?” “you should be able to have a night out with friends and do your homework!” Sound familiar? You may not have been aware of this inner self talk or self-abuse until now, so just notice over the next few days the times when you do not treat yourself in the way you would a best friend.

So how can we protect ourselves from “ourselves”, and from other’s negative behaviour? And how can we protect our children from it too? I believe the solution is to:

  • create what I think of as a solid pillar of self confidence inside you and/or your child, in all areas of your life, so that negative behaviour can bounce off your protected core and you have the confidence to create safe boundaries for yourself.
  • where necessary, prioritise parts of your inner world for change, so that your outer world can reflect back to you the love you are learning to feel inside.

Once you have a strong inner core of self worth and worked to change your inner world, school bullies, angry bosses, grumpy family members or difficult customers can no longer affect you as they did, and indeed may begin to almost magically change or disappear, leaving your life more peaceful and relaxed.

So how can you do this? Well there are many professionals and coaches out there to help, as well as stories about people who have achieved amazing things despite very rough beginnings in books and on the internet. For starters, try this video recorded by a young person covering building your self confidence. . 

What do you do when you want to feel stronger?

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Are you programming yourself to fail?

scan0004I met up with an old friend yesterday who I had not seen for a year or so, and we caught up on each other’s news. It turned out both of us were in the midst of learning a new language – my friend (let’s call him Harry) is learning Greek so he can speak it during his extended stays in the country, and I am on the journey of NLP – learning how to help myself and others communicate with themselves in a way that creates greater success.

Harry told me that he was “struggling to learn the Greek language and finding it very hard.” He also cited age as a barrier to learning new things. This is a normal response in 99% of the population and I listened to his beliefs and experiences without question.

That was until Harry asked me what NLP was. I started explaining that it was short for Neuro Linguistic Programming which contained a set of beliefs and behaviours learned from the study of people in the world who had been successful in their field. This seemed a bit vague so I searched around for an example and remembered our conversation just a few moments ago.

“For example” I said “we can program our mind to be successful or unsuccessful – a bit like a computer. You’ve just told me “I’m struggling to learn Greek” and so you are telling yourself that it is a struggle to learn. What would it be like if you told yourself it was easy to learn the language and you were absorbing more and more of it every day?”

“Wow” said Harry. “So by saying that I am struggling, I am programming myself to fail? How stupid is that!” I reassured him that this was perfectly normal thinking and behaviour until we understand the affect that it has on us and choose to change. We then went through a coaching process that helped him understand what it would be like to be comfortable speaking Greek with a local person. I really enjoy supporting others and sometimes my coaching slips into conversation without me noticing…

So this morning I began to wonder, how many of us do unconsciously “program ourselves to fail” by our thoughts and what we say to others? What happens as you become more aware of your thoughts and words and notice where your words may be unhelpful? What change do you notice in yourself, your feelings about life and your behaviour as you choose to state in the present tense, how you want things to be?

Do give it a try and share your experiences in the comments below.

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The Magic of Jam Jar Accounts


I want to let you into a “Secret” that is used by many who work in, or are familiar with, banking – to help them pay for what they want even if at first glance it looks like they can’t afford it. It’s called “Jam Jar Money Management”.

It’s a technique that’s common with those in the know, who are confident enough to have several bank accounts and switch money between them as required. This helps them to make sure their rent, bills and everyday spending are catered for and allows them to build cash for what they want as well.

 And don’t worry, in our version you won’t have to open lots of bank accounts, Credit Unions provide this service for you.

Here’s how it works. Think about how much money you have coming in a month or week, depending on how you understand your money best. Then split it up in this order of priority

  1. Rent/mortgage Jar (VERY important to make sure you stay safe and housed long term). This may go out as a direct debit from your current bank account already and may not need your action.
  2. Bills Jar (monthly payments like gas, electric, council tax, insurance, petrol for work)
  3. Save Money for what you want ( Christmas presents, a holiday, a winter coat, a night class or a day out). This can also be used as “rainy day” money in emergencies. I like to call it “Future Proofing”. Hint – you can have as many of these jars as you like for different plans and expenses.
  4. Spending Money – groceries, magazine, night out, sweets for the kids etc

Some people consider groceries a “bill” and you can plan ahead and put that money to one side too. Either way, make sure that you are prioritising some cash for your “Future Proofing” jars. It will make a huge difference to how prepared you feel for life’s ups and downs and help you towards your dreams as well.

Once you’ve paid jars 1), 2) and 3), you get to decide how to spend your “spending money”.  You could get really mean, only buy the cheapest of foods, no sweets, no mags and no fun, and put even more in jar 3) for your future needs and wants, but you may not stick at that for long!

The trick is to save on your everyday spending so you can put it towards the things you really want in your future, but to allow yourself a few luxuries as well, if you can.

By separating your money, you end up with an account that only has spending money, and it will be easy to judge how much you have left till the next pay-day. This avoids over-spending and nasty bank charges. To see a working model of this technique, try our “Jam Jar Puzzle Game”  – scroll down the page a little to play.

For Credit Unions in Dorset and West Hampshire visit

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You don’t have to be perfect!

girl drawing  “I can’t draw” – that’s what I used to think – my first attempts at drawing after childhood were tiny pencil sketches so small you could hardly see them. And I would not dare colour them in, in case I “ruined it”. But I’m not the only one – my experience with helping people create their future through drawing has meant I’ve heard many cries of “I’m no good at art” – some have had to practise drawing circles, triangles and squares before gaining the confidence to create the stick people and house shapes they used to draw happily as a child.

So why are so many of us reluctant to put pen to paper, especially if there is a risk someone might see our work? Well, I once had a craft stall where children could come (for free) to make any picture or model they liked from recycled materials. No rules. They could do as much or as little as they wanted with the materials provided.
What I noticed was that adults who accompanied the children would often correct the child’s work (“no, the eyes go there” “grass isn’t that colour”), sometimes even taking over and completing the project. Looking back at how the adults enjoyed finishing off their child’s work, I believe this was because they really wanted to get stuck in and be creative, and were frustrated by their child’s inaccuracies and/or slow work. And they didn’t feel they could make their own project so they had to pretend to be helping their child. But what message did this give the child , and what beliefs were the adults passing on to their children? That their creativity had to be “right”, “perfect”? That they were not capable of finishing their own work? That it wasn’t OK for adults to “play” and create their own art?

Here’s the thing – young children pick up “beliefs” from the behaviour of adults around them, and those beliefs can be true for them all their lives if they don’t question them. These beliefs can be so easily formed – like “it’s not safe for me to be creative” because an adult criticised a piece of work when they were young. Mostly adults don’t do this deliberately, it’s how they were brought up and they have their own critical voice in their head

What happens is this creates a voice in our heads, that continues to criticise and put us down when we try something new. We think it has to be perfect first time.

But that’s not how it works. If Thomas Eddison had been afraid to fail we wouldn’t have the electric light bulb – he “failed” over 100 times to create a working bulb, but each time knew that he was one step closer to finding the answer.

So next time you try something new, know that it doesn’t have to be “perfect” – just whatever is right for you. Ignore that critical voice in your head – it’s just the beliefs that you’ve picked up from others. Sure, not everyone will “get” what you do – and the people who allow you to express yourself and grow without criticism are the ones you want as friends and associates. But be kind to the others – you only have to hear them occasionally, they have to listen to their own self criticism all of the time!

I’d like to leave you with a quote to consider, try it on and see if it could become a new belief for you! 🙂

“Fear of mistakes puts you under unnecessary pressure and makes you more likely to make errors. So the freedom to be allowed to make mistakes reduces the number you make – in all aspects of your life. This means that the freedom to be imperfect leads, in the end, to perfection”

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“My Personal Positive Playlist”

Let Me Introduce Myself___(By Guest Blogger Laura Martin)

So here’s a little background about little me (no seriously, and I’m shrinking – according to Mr Tape Measure I’ve lost two precious inches).

My name is Laura, I’m an un-brushed blonde, 20 years of age, nominated spider-catcher, living in London with the absence of a goldfish that I so desperately want, and finally, I am on one year’s work placement as an Event Coordinator for my course at Bournemouth University.

So no longer a full time student, I have now thrown myself into the real world. Commuting, clocking in, clocking out, commuting, cooking and gardening apparently. Working over 40 hours a week is really enjoyable but very exhausting.

Every day I am presented with a new challenge that I haven’t yet experienced, which is really exciting but naturally, sometimes causes a little nervousness. Even though I’m loud (I even went to get my ears tested because people were genuinely complaining about my volume but turns out I just “project my voice” said the audiologist…) and outwardly confident, inside quite frankly I can be bricking it if the pressure’s on and I know I am representing a company. Once a meeting has finished its A-Okay and meeting new people is so refreshing, inspiring, opportunity-presenting…the list goes on! It’s just the initial fear, which is completely irrational really, it’s just that point when I say to myself “man up Laura” and before you know it you’re away! As Woody Allen said “80% of life is just turning up” – couldn’t flippin’ agree more Mr Allen, couldn’t agree more.

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to test out a couple of techniques which deal with resilience or better known as bouncing back! (For when those fearful moments do occur). This pattern of thinking transforms negative situations (or what you perceive as to be negative) into more manageable situations by emphasising the good bits. Basically, the key is to thinking logically….

What is the best that can happen? What is the worst that could happen? And meet somewhere realistically in the middle.

I have realised that I become a little nervous in situations such as communicating with new clients because I am cautious of saying the wrong thingor making a mistake. For example, during my first week of my placement I had to read an email several times over to ensure I hadn’t made a spelling error or said something unprofessional.

Don’t get me wrong, you should perform your best and conduct behaviour(s) in a way that are appropriate in your environment, but if such a trivial thing was to occur as a misspelt word, that is an awful lot of my time and energy wasted over something that is really not very important in the grand scheme of things. I know I have the tendency to over-analyse and worry about things, so for me to sit back, reflect and think rationally is key to improving my mood and my work ethic. This is why the experiment is perfect for helping me develop my sense of ability and confidence.

After a spot of thinking, the 2 resilience techniques that I have chosen to test are

  1. “My Jar of Wonder”

This is simply popping a few thoughts about the great things I will have achieved in a day, in a jar. These scribbles on pieces of scrap paper will be tokens of congratulation to myself. I will break down these tokens into 2 categories: “Things that I am grateful for” and “Things I like about myself”.

2. “The Personal Positive Playlist”

This is just as it sounds, simply listening to tracks that are upbeat with positive lyrics. I will listen to them on my way to work and on the commute home to encourage positive thinking in my day. I will tell you about “My Personal positive playlist” in this post and write about “My Jar of Wonder” in the next.

Day 1

Here are a few of the songs that I chose to include in my Personal Positive Playlist:

  1. Bob Marley: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”/ “Three Little Birds”
  2. Yolanda Williams: “I Believe” (This song I actually used to listen to every day before I went to school when I was being bullied)
  3. Marvin Gaye: “Got To Give It Up”
  4. The Lighthouse Family: “Lifted”/ ”High”
  5. Bat For Lashes: “Laura” (A bit self-indulgent I know!)

Day 5

At this stage, I am already feeling more confident in myself.  The “Jar of Wonder” is definitely working and as for my music I found that some songs don’t particularly have to have any obvious positive message, but simply remind me of a sweet time that I have had. Consequently, many a morning did I look like a crazy lady on the first part of my commute with a silly grin or giggle to arouse suspicions among other passengers on the bus.

Day 10

 I’m feeling great, really positive and can’t wait for my journey into work!

Playing upbeat, happy and brilliant songs is invaluable. It takes no time, can be done whilst on-the-go and is enjoyable. Overall, I really recommend that everybody creates a Personal Positive Playlist and listens to it at the start of their day; on the way to school, college, work or dancing around your house in your pjs at breakfast time!

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