Five Writing Lessons I’ve Learned From Test Match Special

I get a lot of surprised looks when people find out about my love of listening to Test Match Special (TMS) on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Either people are surprised because I’m female, and everyone knows women don’t like sport, or because I’m under 50, and young people don’t like test match cricket these days, or because cricket is boring and nothing happens.

Now I realise that in the age of instant gratification, where any information we want is available on our smartphones at the touch of a button (or tap of the screen, if we’re being pedantic), test match cricket, where matches run over five days, is not everybody’s cup of tea.

But listening to Test Match Special is not just about the cricket. When I was in my teens and first starting to write, my dad recommended listening to Test Match Special. It wasn’t for several years, when I reached my twenties and had cultivated a reasonable interest in cricket, that I eventually tuned in. Read more

Five Tips to Boost Your Productivity

I confess: sometimes, I’m as good as anyone at putting things off. But being productive – at home or at work – is all about mindset. Here are four tips that have helped boost my productivity. They’re all little things, and I find that is crucial. As a rule most people aren’t good at making big changes, completely overhauling the way they think and work. So make little changes, and reap the rewards. Read more

How to get paid for getting fit

For a couple of years now I’ve been using a range of fitness and health apps, and I use a fitbit to track my steps and daily activity, but Bounts* is a new addition that I think might be the ultimate fitness motivator.

Bounts is an app/website that links in to many popular apps that you probably already use – fitbit, mapmyrun and strava, for example – and lets you “earn rewards by getting active – whatever the exercise.”

Bounts syncs with your activity tracking apps or websites and rewards you points based on your level of activity or number of activities done that day. When you have enough points, you can redeem them for vouchers – for example I’ve been using Bounts for a couple of months and have received my first Amazon voucher, and am well on the way to having enough points for another voucher. Read more

How I saved £170 on my car insurance

Today I did something that I’ve been putting off for a couple of weeks: I waded into the minefield of car insurance.

My renewal quote had come through from my current insurer for £430. I saw it and went ‘pfft, not paying that!’. So this morning I sat down to sort it out.

You’ll know from a previous post that I’m a bit of a MoneySavingExpert fan, so I followed their Cheap Car Insurance guide. There was one insurer that was consistently coming out cheaper than my renewal quote by about £55 – not bad, I thought. But that insurer happened to be the company I’m already with. Read more