Siobhan Emma

Lifestyle. Mental Health. Adventure

Monday, 7 January 2019

Why I'm Taking Part In Veganuary

2019 is the year I want to take small steps to better myself, and a way I thought I could do that is to set myself small monthly goals.  I've always been an all or nothing kinda gal, so I would try and take on every task I want to get stuck in to all at the same time, only to inevitably fail, then eat my emotions away at my own pity party.

By splitting my goals in to 12 manageable chunks (One goal per month), I'm allowing myself to completely focus on that one area, plan how I'm going to meet that goal, and reflect on how I feel as a result of it.

I briefly spoke about it in my 2019 Goals post, but I'll say it again; the latter half of 2018 saw me at my worst diet wise.  I wasn't being in any way mindful of what I was putting in to my body.  I'm pretty certain I could have single handedly kept McDonald's afloat even if everybody else decided not to eat there ever again, and I was opting to order in and eat out far more often than I'd like to admit.

My bank balance was taking a massive hit, my waistline was growing, and I was seriously feeling the affects of eating so terribly.  It's lucky that I have flexible start times at work, because I was really struggling to get out of bed and in to work at a normal hour, concentrating on my work whilst I was there was near on impossible, and I just felt lethargic, hormonal and generally rubbish.

I was having full on sugar binges, shoving whatever sweet treats I could get my mitts on in to my mouth, which resulted in actual sugar hangovers the following morning.  Seriously, those headaches were some of the worst I've ever felt after a binge.

I was stuck in a vicious cycle.  I wasn't in the best place at the end of 2018, so I was eating to make myself feel better, but eating was making me feel even worse, so I ate even more to make me feel get the picture.

One of my priorities for 2019 is to nip my eating habits in the bud once and for all, so I decided my first goal for the year was going to be to challenge myself to Veganuary.  I attempted Veganuary in 2018 as well, but after only four days failed miserably, and instead of picking myself back up and carrying on with it I just packed in the challenge altogether (See what I mean?  All or nothing!).  I do remember feeling better within myself in just those four short days, so I decided to try again this year, but this time give it a proper shot.

There are a number of reasons I want to do Veganuary this year.  I want to get more experimental with the food I make, I want to see if it works out cheaper or more expensive in my weekly shop to eat vegan, I want to see how I feel within myself (For longer than four days!), and I want to feel like I'm doing something for the environment.

So far I'm a week in to Veganuary.  I've managed to successfully make it through the entire week without caving (Yey me!), and I feel great so far!  I feel great just for the fact I've fought off any cravings for non-vegan food (And trust me there have been a few!  There is a 750g bar of Toblerone waiting for me to not be doing Veganuary anymore!  Also, I miss McD's).  I've got experimental in the kitchen and made some delicious (And not so delicious!) meals, and I feel great within myself.  I feel less sluggish, I have more energy, and I think that's all thanks to the fact I can't just turn to my usual sweet treats when I'm having an emotional moment.  If my sweet tooth kicks in I have to turn to fruit mainly, which means I'm easily hitting my five a day with the amount of veg I'm eating in my meals too.

The only downside is that so far my vegan eating has not resulted in a cheaper shopping trolly at checkout.  I'd day it works out around the same, so it's certainly not making me worse off, and it's definitely not anywhere near enough of a reason to put me off continuing doing this.  Either way I'm spending the same amount each week on my food shop.

So far I'm really enjoying the challenge.  So much so that, although I'm not sure I'd continue a fully vegan diet after January (I love eggs too much!), at the moment I think I'll be willing to eat a mainly vegan diet, with maybe the odd chocolate and sweet treat on special occasions.

I'll check back in at the end of January to let you know how I get on, but in the mean time excuse me whilst I go and find myself one of those controversial Greggs Vegan Sausage Rolls.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

20 Cogs: A Totally Legit Way To Earn Yourself Some Extra Cash

DISCLAIMER: Parts of the following post talks about gambling.  If you are under the legal age to gamble, or gambling is an issue for you, I would highly recommend avoiding reading this blog post.

If you remember from my previous post all about my 2019 Goals, I talked in great detail about how I want to get my finances under control by saving more money, but also earning more money.

In the last few months of 2018, I discovered the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram.  I've spent that time reading up on a lot of their posts and advice, and let me tell you, those guys know how to use the internet to their advantage to make themselves some extra dollah!

One website that kept popping up in my feed was 20 COGS.  COGS stands for Competitions, Offers, Gaming and Surveys, and the concept is simple.  When you sign up to the website there are 20 cogs.  You must complete one to unlock the next.  Each cog has a number of offers to select from, and will earn you cash.  Depending on what offers you choose to complete, you can earn anything from 50p - £25.00 per cog.  The catch is that you must complete all 20 cogs and wait for them to turn green before you are able to cash out, so this involves a little patience and a smidge of work.

When I say work, the offers can be anything from signing up to free trials, purchasing a product (For which you will get your money back and then some from that particular cog), and signing up and wagering to casino sites if you so wish.

When I first signed up I thought it was all a little sketchy.  Why would a site pay out so much money for me to just sign up for free trials to Now TV and Hayu?  I was really cautious about the casino offers, especially as I had to wager anything between £10.00 - £20.00 per offer.

In the end I decided to try one of the casino offers out with some of my Matched Betting winnings.  If I wagered £10.00 I would receive £20.00 from that particular cog, so even if I didn't win anything I still profited by £10.00 in the end.  It just so happens that I was incredibly lucky and won £40.00 on that particular offer, which I was able to withdraw straight away.  Add the £20 I would get from that cog and minus the £10 I wagered, on that one cog alone I earned myself £50!

Now I'm not much of a gambler, so for me it has been very easy to sign up to these sites and then walk away from them without returning.  I know how high risk these sites can be, so it is only because I knew that no matter the outcome I would profit on those offers that I signed up in the first place, but high risk gambling is not something I do and I know I have the will power to stay away from sites like these.  If gambling is something you would feel would be an issue for you, I would highly recommend taking up one of the other offers.

Due to my success with the first casino cog, I ended up completing a few more casino offers.  Some I didn't win any extra money with, and some I did (With one I even won an extra £100!!!).  My only rule with these offers was that no matter the outcome, I would always come away with a profit.

I understand that not everybody has the spare cash to take up these offers, or do not trust themselves to sign up to gambling sites.  In which case that's absolutely fine.  There are plenty of more offers to choose from, and even if there are no offers suitable for you at that time to move you on to the next cog, give it a week or two and eventually the offers refresh and an offer will come up that you can use to earn extra money and move on.  I had to do this a couple of times, but eventually something suitable came up.

There are three stages to the cogs.  A grey cog is an incomplete offer, an amber cog has been confirmed and is awaiting approval from the brand you have taken the offer up with, and a green cog is an approved cog.  It can taken up to 48 hours for a cog to turn amber, but if I'm honest I had a few issues with cogs I had completed remaining grey.  I would suggest taking screenshots of every offer you complete so that, under these circumstances you can submit a ticket to the 20 COGS Help Desk.  As long as you submit your attachments along with the ticket, they will turn your cog from grey to amber for you.  My tickets were always dealt with within 48 hours, and the information the 20 COGS team are generally looking for on the screenshots is your name, and the name of the brand on the same screenshot.

Once your cogs have turned amber, it takes up to another 30 days for the brands to approve them and your cogs to turn green.  In the end it took about two months from me signing up to 20 COGS for me to be paid the full amount, and I earned a whopping £218.50 (Not including the extra money I won from some of the Casino offers!).  The reason it took me this long is because sometimes I needed a bit of a break for a few days from completing the cogs.  The Casino ones could be especially time consuming.  I sometimes had to wait for more suitable offers to come up as well before I could move on to the next cog.

If you follow a few simple rules whilst completing the cogs, then I think this site is absolutely worth investing some time in to:

  1. Keep track of any free trials you sign up to so you can cancel on time and avoid any membership costs.
  2. Only sign up for casino offers if you will profit from the offer either way.
  3. Only take up offers to purchase items that you will get use out of, and again ensure that in the end you will still profit from the offer.
As long as you follow these simple rules, 20 COGS can be an extremely profitable site to use.

If you're interest in earning yourself some extra moolah in the dreary month of January, I'd be incredibly grateful if you signed up via my refer a friend link.  By signing up via this link it means I earn myself a little extra money for any referrals that discovered 20 COGS because of lil' ol' me.

If you do sign up and take part, lemme know how you get on by either commenting below (Although I hear that isn't the done thing in the blogging world these days!), or by hitting me up on my Instagram.

Now go forth and earn yourself some easy money!

Friday, 4 January 2019

2019 Goals

Hey there you guys!

Happy belated New Year and welcome to the newly refreshed Siobhan Emma!

I don't know if you guessed, but 2018 was a bit of a no go for me blogging wise.  I didn't know what direction I wanted to go in with my writing, and that had me questioning if writing was really the direction I wanted to go in at all.  I attempted a handful of times throughout the year, but none of the posts I typed up felt right, so they all fell redundant on here and I gave up a little in the end.

The very long hiatus from blogging did help me.  It helped me see what platforms I love and which ones I was using just because I felt like I had to in order to keep up with the cool kids (See ya Twitter!), and it gave me the head space I needed to see where my interests and passions truly lie, so that I can focus on those areas and not things that, again, felt like I had to write about in order to keep up with the blog crowds.

I've been crazy ill over the Christmas break.  I came down with the nastiest cold I've had in forever the day before Christmas Eve, and am still fighting it off now.  This left me with a lot of free time to make plans for the year ahead, and I realised, whilst making those plans that I want to make time to incorporate blogging back in to my life.

In fact, there are a few changes I would like to make throughout 2019, but I'm taking a slightly different approach to how I create my goals and plans this year.  First of all, I refuse to call my goals resolutions because, as John Green said in a Vlog Brothers video, a resolution is just a wish.  A wish that, in my case barely makes it past January with me.  I can honestly say I have never succeeded at a single resolution I have ever set for myself.

Second of all, I'm not going to be too specific with my goals.  I say too, because I know for a goal to be successful there needs to be some specifics based around them, but my specifics in the past have been along the lines of "I MUST GAIN 495733385638 FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM IN THREE MONTHS OR I FAIL AT LIFE!!!"

When I set goals in this manner, I find the pressure just too much, and as a result I procrastinate to the point that I will do anything but work on that goal because I know I can't reach something so unrealistic.

So, what are my 2019 goals?

There are three areas of my life I plan on focusing on throughout this year...

My Finances

My finances is an area of my life that I have always felt a little ashamed of.  To say I've not been great in handling my finances as an adult is an understatement, and I know that if I want to have a comfortable retirement later in life I'm going to have to start fixing this area of my life now.

Since losing my Mum I seem to have unknowingly gotten myself in to the habit of making myself feel temporarily better by buying a lot of material possessions.  I say temporarily, because the feeling never, ever lasts.  It started to become apparent to me at the end of last year, and I realised I was spending well above my means each month.

Over the past few months I've been reading a lot of books based around finances, and have been educating myself on the subject more and more.  It's actually much more interesting than I originally thought it would be!  Who knew?!

This area of my life isn't going to be a quick fix, so there are a few areas I plan on focusing on this year.  I plan on paying at least half of my credit card debt down, building our mortgage savings account, and building my own personal savings account.

I spent a lot of time last year decluttering all of the useless stuff I have bought over the years, and plan on selling them on eBay to make some money back.  I also discovered the world of Matched Betting, which, although complicated at first, is a sure fire way to profit on bets risk free, is completely legal to do and best of all, is tax free money.  All the extra money I make each month is going towards debt and savings.

I'm so serious about my finances that I even cut up my credit cards so that the temptation to spend on them has been completely eliminated.  I had such major anxiety over doing this when I first gave them the snip, but it's been absolutely fine, and if anything the inability to lean on my credit cards has actually saved me from spending unnecessarily on a number of occasions since.

By the end of 2019, although I still won't be in a completely comfortable position, I plan on being in a far better position financially than I am now.

My Health

2018 saw me be the most frequently ill that I have been in a long, long time.  I came down with so many illnesses, yet powered my way through work with them.

In hindsight, the fact that I did this probably resulted in me being ill as often as I was.  The stress I was putting my body under sometimes to drag myself in to work, and the mental strain that was putting me under no doubt did absolutely nothing for my immune system.

This year I have made a promise to myself that my health will come first and foremost.

I'm hoping that allowing my body the rest it needs will mean it heals properly, my immune system builds back up to full strength and I might actually make it through the year with minimal illnesses, meaning I don't need time off of work anyway!

Under the health umbrella comes my mental health as well.  Working on my mental health is an ongoing journey for me.  Despite feeling physically ill recently, mentally I've felt pretty good.  It still could be better, but I would say it's been the best it has been in a long time, and I would like to continue building on this in 2019.

There are definitely things I can be doing to help my health both physically and mentally.  Firstly, my diet needs a massive overhaul.  My diet in the second half of 2018 has to be the worst it has ever been.  I'm not setting myself a goal for a number to reach on the scales, because I don't want this to be about numbers.  Instead I want to eat a healthier diet and to track how that makes me feel, both physically and mentally.

There's no doubt in my mind that putting the wrong things in your body results in a poor physical and mental state.  In recent months when I have binged on too much sugar I have woken up the next day with what can only be described as some of the worst headaches I've ever experienced.  I was literally suffering from a sugar hangover!  Mentally, I would feel down, and instead of being productive I would procrastinate hours of my life away scrolling on social media.  I want to see if how changing what I'm putting in to my body has a more positive affect on my body and mind.

I also plan on being more active in 2019.  I've finally accepted the fact that I'm not a gym bunny.  I don't enjoy going at all, and it's a waste of money that could go towards more important things at the moment.

However, I do enjoy walking and being outdoors in nature.  We have an amazing valley a five minute drive away from us that is a 5k walk all the way around.  When I first lost my Mum, my Dad took me there once a week so I could get outdoors, get some exercise and talk to him with no other distractions.  This helped my mental state so much.  I felt a little more at peace when I got home, and of course the physical exercise was great for me too.  This is something I would like to incorporate in to my life more again in the coming year.

My Blog

Eventually working for myself one day has always been a dream of mine, but so far I've only allowed it to stay as just that.  A dream.

Last year I finally was taken on permanently in my current job, and I'll be honest when I say that I became a little complacent in a professional sense.  I became too comfortable, earning my regular income in a secure job that I actually don't mind getting up and going to work for each day.

However, as much as I like my current work place, it's not my dream job.  My dream is to do exactly this; write.  Be my own boss and work under my own set of rules.

So 2019 is going to be a year full of hard work and graft.  I've started a fresh with this blog because I wasn't happy with the content I was creating, but that also means that I need to build myself back up from the very bottom, but this time I'm willing to put in the work.  This time I'm going to write about the things that are important to me.

At the moment this blog is pretty much invisible as I start from the very beginning, but by the end of the year I hope to have gained some momentum.  With the help of my social media channels, I plan on building a readership that will allow me to turn this blog in to a part time business, which eventually will become a full time one as I work on it more and more.

WOW!  This ended up being a much longer post than I intended it to be, so if you made it this far, well done!  Give yourself a pat on the back!

Here is to a happy, healthy 2019.  Let's work hard, grab every opportunity that comes our way, and make this a year to remember!


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