THE CASH FLOW

It seems like only yesterday we were all on a level playing field.

Only really able to afford H&M, Primark and bits from the ASOS sale. We’d drink to get drunk before heading out and we’d have a similar amount of pennies in our purses.

In the last couple of years, however, although we’ve all definitely moved on from bargain bins and can each afford at least one drink in a real life bar on a Friday night, things have changed. We’ve taken different career paths, life has thrown some of us all the luck in the world, and others, a good few curve balls. We’ve travelled, we’ve temped, we’ve climbed ladders. We’ve joined wallets with boys. We’ve changed direction. The result of all the twists and turns of our twenties has meant we now don’t all have the same amount in our pockets as before. It’s all gone a bit sort of ‘The One With Five Steaks And An Eggplant‘ episode in Friends. At times it can be frustrating, at others it can be awkward.

Luckily, my friends and I aren’t stupid. We acknowledge that our salaries range from modest to hefty. We cater for somewhere in the middle and we shop, eat and drink within our means. We lend each other cash if we need to and celebrate when the money comes a flowing. Finances are rarely a big deal, but the divide is there, and I’ve a horrible feeling it’s only going to become more obvious as time goes on. I know nobody’s talking about it, but with destination weddings in abundance, babies popping up left, right and centre, and many buying houses in the city, I can’t be the only 28 year old wondering where all the money came from, can I? And if I am, perhaps I should’ve started to think about my finances a little sooner than now.

In truth, money has never meant a great deal to me. In fact, I’ve never really given it more than thirty seconds of thought, if I’m honest. Probably because I’ve never really had it. I didn’t place any importance on it and have always spent every penny of what I’ve earned, which has been fun, but not a particularly sensible decision.

I won’t go into detail about what I’ve learnt about money in the last few months right now, because I’ve written a little something for The Coven about how I’m feeling about the current cash flow situation, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are also feeling this way right now, to know you’re not alone. To know that there are still some of us who can’t afford that popular designer handbag, the fancy car or a house in London. And that’s okay. As long as you’re keeping enough aside for a rainy day.

Turns out, by simply saving a little each month, cutting back on take out coffee and not buying that pair of boots you think you can’t live without can make all the difference when it comes to the big stuff.

People tend to avoid to talking about money, but I’m starting to think we’d be much better off if we did.

So let’s start today.

If you have any money saving tips or advice, get in touch. I’m all ears (and empty pockets), ready to learn.

THE BILL

Is it just me or is expecting the guy to pay for dinner on a first date a little… outdated?

I watch Channel 4’s First Dates religiously and can’t help but have noticed that so many of the women who appear on the show expect the guy to foot the whole bill. They get turned off when they don’t automatically jump to it or insist on paying. Twitter goes into meltdown, condemning him to eternal singlehood for treating her as an equal, and it really frustrates me because, at a time where we are fighting for – and actually getting somewhere with – women’s rights, we are undermining our entire cause by picking and choosing when to enforce the rules. Equality shouldn’t only be something we fight for in the workplace or in the House of Commons, it should be something we pay attention to in our personal relationships with the opposite sex, too.

I, for one, would not be caused offence if someone I was dating didn’t pay for my meal. If, since the day we met, we split what we ate, drank or did together, equally. Because after all, we are equal and should behave as such. Granted, it would make it a little easier on the old purse strings if women were being paid the same wages as men, but you can’t blame the guy sitting opposite you for that (unless he’s your boss, of course).

There are obviously instances where I’m not averse to letting him pay. If it’s a birthday treat or a congratulatory cocktail for bagging that dream job, then sure. But for the love of god, I don’t expect it.

Before you even think it, you should know that chivalry, to me, is as outdated as your nan’s curtains, so don’t even bother flying in with that one as an excuse. I like to be wooed as much as the next girl, but the best sort of wooing comes in the form of good manners, making me laugh and wearing an excellent pair of shoes, not someone’s wallet.

From what I know, same-sex couples have it down. Whenever they appear on the show, they split the bill without question and, to me, it just makes perfect sense. You both applied for the show, you are both there because you want to be, so pay your way.

The truth is, if we want men to understand feminism, we need to make it clear for them. So ladies, if you call yourself a feminist and want to be treated equally, then behave as such and pay your way or alternate who picks up the bill each time. Don’t just pick and choose when the rules suit and when they don’t.

My boyfriend and I take it in turns to pay for meals, which works for us, so to the waiter who handed my boyfriend the card reader at brunch on Sunday with such certainty: it’s not your fault, and sorry for snatching it back, but please don’t assume in future; we’re feminists.

THE SLIP UP

I vowed to post every day throughout lent.

Throughout April.

The busiest month of 2017.

So it has come as no surprise, then – between heading back to London every five minutes, jetting off to Paris and spending the bank holiday weekend up north, all the while tending to my 9-5, celebrating a birthday and generally adulting – that it didn’t happen and I failed to post every day, for forty days.

I’ve decided to convince myself that 99% of you didn’t stick to not eating chocolate, crisps, carbs or remain T-total anyway, just to cope with my own inability to commit. But anyway, blogging every day is a full-time job, no matter what they say. And also, quite simply, shit happens. Or in this case, didn’t happen.

One good thing that did come out of trying (and failing) to post every day for forty days was that I was finding it difficult to think of topics in the same vein I have been posting in for years, which in turn made me realise I wanted to change what The London Ladybird is all about. This also comes as no surprise seeing as I started this blog when I was 22 and, six years on, I am nothing like I was back then.

So, just a heads up: although I am going to continue to blog about career, love and all things feminism, I want to try and incorporate a little more style, tech and travel pieces into this space, with a little sex and relationships thrown in, too. Just so the space grows with me, you know? After all, I am 28, iron my bed sheets and own house plants now…

What do you think about this change? If there are any topics you would like me to touch on, do let me know.

Until then, keep your chin up, it’s almost Friday.

Sort of.

THE MOTHERHOOD

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Motherhood has always fascinated me.

From the mums who have managed to carry something that heavy inside them for nine months, enduring chubby feet, flatulence and raging hormones, to those women who invite children in need from around the country and across the world, into their homes and love them as their own: I honestly don’t know how you do it.

I’m lucky to have one of those amazing mums you hear about in storybooks. A woman so small, yet so powerful and strong, I am sure she defies some sort of scientific theory. Not only a pillar of strength and hope to me, but this little lady treats everyone who comes into her life with as much care and attention as she gives me and my brother. So much so, I’m convinced she’s Mother Nature herself, disguised as a pocket rocket with great hair and a penchant for Paolo Nutini.

When we were little, donning dungarees and a flamboyant hair tie (it was the 80s), mum used to pound the pavements of London; me in a pram and Alex by her side, wanting us to see and do everything possible, undeterred by the dangers of the big city. As I’ve grown older, she has become the sort of mum I call on an almost daily basis, to ask for sensible advice about boys, my career and everything in-between, but who also convinces me to buy the white studded leather jacket I’ve been eyeing up in Zara that everyone else told me to avoid.

With a wicked sense of humour, a big heart and an ability to never put herself first, ever, she really is one of a kind.

Although I sometimes worry I won’t be up to the job, having such an amazing mum has made me so excited for the day I have a child of my own. I’m always so intrigued as to what that time will feel like, so this Mother’s Day, rather than hear messages of gratitude and love from sons and daughters, I asked a few of the mums I know to share what they’ve learnt on their journey so far, and in true superhero style, between nappy changing, school runs and the rest, they managed to come back to me within 24 hours in time for Mother’s Day.

Tap the images below to find out what these absolute mega babes have learnt from their experience of motherhood, so far…

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If you’re lucky enough to have your mum around to celebrate for another year, then make sure you say thank you in any way you can, even if this means a phone call from across the country or a quick cup of tea in the garden. Trust me, she’ll appreciate it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonder women out there. You really are amazing.