Archive for April, 2012

Running a portfolio business - Paullette Schwartz

Running a portfolio business – Paullette Schwartz

Winner article writing competitionInterview with Paullette Schwartz, working mum, business owner, single mum and winner of our 2011 article-writng competition. Her daily schedule and tips offer great insights in how to run 3 business along-side being a single parent.

 Paullette, you won our article writing competition, congratulations! What did you think when you heard you had won?

It was completely unexpected; I write for fun and write a blog as a hobby. That said, whatever I do needs to have a benefit, that is time management. As a single working mum I have to be ruthless with choosing what to spend my time on. So my writing is fun but also serves to raise my profile and generate business.

How did you decide to enter the competition?

I read about it somewhere, then Sarah (founder of Ladies@11) mentioned it and then I met you at the Ladies@11 teaparty. I wanted to help Mum & Career as it is a really worthwhile site and working mums need that sort of information. Our chat made me realise my experience as a highly organised single mother could actually be valuable for other parents. I have to be organised, know this stuff inside out, and realised many of us struggle to do just that.

Could you tell us about your business?

I run a number of businesses, really because I have so many different interests and focusing on one leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction I am not doing the other. Also, as a single mother, it is important my income is sufficient to sustain a family; a portfolio of businesses gives me a buffer in a recession.

I run IdealHearts (now closed – IW) – happiness and relationship coaching after a break-up. I use similar skills as a coach to business people going through a life transformation. I also run IdealBusiness, mentoring small and micro-size businesses. Then there is my not-for-profit venture: Fabulous Woman, a community of women that inspire each other. Last I have a side-line in trading cars with my boyfriend.

All of my businesses are about helping women thrive; it’s about happiness and profit. We all want to be happy and when you are successful you are more likely to be happy. We all need to survive and thrive.

It does sound impressive. How do you fit running five businesses and looking after two children in? What does a typical day look like for you?

5.0o Get up, eat breakfast, have a quiet morning-coffee, read e-mails. Collect my thoughts for the day and get materials ready.

5.30 Exercise, usually a walk, yoga or a Pilates video.

6.00 Wake up the kids, they are 12 and 13. They get dressed and I get them ready for school. They are very independent though, and I have taught them to be so. For instance if their clothes aren’t in the laundry basket they simply do not get washed.

7.45 Kids catch the school bus; I get a coffee and respond to e-mails.

8.15 I write, go to meetings, do cold-calling and meet up with clients.

4.00 pm Kids come home, and I listen to them and carry on some work.

5.30 pm We have dinner as a family and catch up, I tidy the rooms, feed the cats, mow the lawn or whatever needs doing. My house is not the epitomy of tidiness, my two children are like tornado’s and housework will come last. In busy times only the essentials are done, such as the children’s laundry. I believe tidiness doesn’t make a big difference to the quality of our life.

8.00 pm The kids go to bed, and I have time for some reading and catching up with friends, having a chat or organising social engagements.

9.00 pm I get ready for bed. Occasionally I work in the evening too, if it is really busy, I try to avoid it as it affects my sleep. I always read for an hour, for fun, or professional development.

Of course every day is different, as the kids have all kinds of activities and I fit in driving them places too. I always like to start mindful though, reflecting on what I have achieved, it is so easy to forget those and dwell on the negatives.

I am very fortunate to run my own businesses, if on a day I don’t have the energy I listen to my body and take the day off. I meet a friend for lunch, chill out at home or go back to bed.

And of course I do more than just work, there is more to life than that. I make time for hobbies such as horse riding, rock-climbing going to a play or an opera. We have a camper van and I take the children on trips. I adore travelling and go on trips 3-5 times per year, on my own or with my boyfriend.

I hope every working mum reading this remembers being organised is key, but it’s not all about work. I believe it is important you keep in touch with what you really like doing.

Working mum and maternity leave

Handing over to your maternity cover professionally

When you are becoming a working mum, and are planning your maternity leave, one of the key things to get right is your maternity cover. Make sure you run your handover professionally. I would like to give you the key aspects to consider and practical tips on how best to approach these.

If someone is taking over your role, it is understandable to feel a little (or very!) protective of your position, but your cooperation and proactivity will be appreciated in the long run. After all you know your job best. Besides, it give you more influence on who is chosen.

Start planning for your maternity cover handover as early as you can

As soon as you have told your manager and your colleagues about your pregnancy, you can start thinking about this. Consider you will probably not be very fit the last 3-4 weeks, unless you happen to be lucky. A cover needs to be found and you will need to allow some time for the person covering you to get up to speed.

Think through how your absence during maternity leave can be managed

In your opinion, could someone in your team step up temporarily or do you feel it would be more appropriate for an external contractor to come in? Your manager is likely to have their own ideas about what will work, but they will generally appreciate it if you have put together a business case for your preferred option.

Begin writing a ‘job bible’ as early as you can

It’s key for you that your maternity cover functions well too. If they don’t you are the one who will have to pick up the pieces when returning, or worse it might lead to a decision the function is no longer necessary. Besides, it shows you are professional. It’s difficult to remember everything at the last minute. Also, you don’t know if you will need to leave very quickly (or if the baby will come early) so be prepared. Make sure you include every task, working group and responsibility you have.

The process of doing this can also be really helpful in addressing unfinished business before you go – build your ‘to-do’ list as you write it.

Build a list of contacts (organisational and external) who your cover should speak to about key issues. Include the name, email address, phone numbers, job title and department as well, in case people move on or are unavailable. If there is no organisation chart, create one (obviously only include relevant people).

Notify all your contacts about your impending maternity leave

Make sure you get in touch with all of your contacts well before you leave to let them know when you will be going, when you intend to return and introduce your cover (assuming one has been found – if not – e-mail them again with an update at a later stage). Cc in your cover and your manager to this e-mail.

Make sure you have three copies of your handover notes. One for you, one for your cover and one for your manager – this serves two purposes – firstly they will see how much you do and therefore how necessary you are, and secondly that if the cover is successful, you will be given significant credit for giving them so much support. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be due to your lack of cooperation. If you are likely to need access to key documents while you are on maternity leave, and do not have remote network access, it may be worth e-mailing yourself copies to your home account.

Declutter well before you go on maternity leave

Leave your desk space clean and tidy, and also try to sort your actual and virtual inboxes. If there are any outstanding issues as you leave, you must give full details of what stage you are at, any relevant history, full details of the contact and what is still left to be done by whom. Don’t leave loose ends – it’s frustrating for everyone.

Plan a formal review with your manager before you go on maternity leave

A review is useful to appraise work to date and to set (reviewable) objectives for your return. Discuss any concerns that you may have about your impending absence. If you have any serious worries, make sure these are documented. If, for whatever reason, you are unexpectedly away early, you can still send a last update by e-mail, summarising key points you would like to make.

Author: Tamsin Crook, founder of Making Careers Work – a maternity coaching and career support service which helps mums and mums-to-be reach their full potential in their careers within the dynamic context of their family life. As a mum of three boys herself, she understands the desire to try to balance the needs of the family with personal career ambitions – not always straightforward!  Tamsin works with women at all stages of motherhood, and is based in Thames Ditton, Surrey.

Tamsin is one of the key contributors to Mum & Career and has written most pages on Maternity Leave for us


working mum

Why a husband should pass all his assets to his wife – save tax!

I might wish it wasn’t so but working mums often earn less than their husbands, and this article is especially for those mums that don’t have a high income at this point in their lives. To be truthful, the correct headline for this article should be: ‘why the higher tax paying spouse should pass their assets to the lower paying/ non earning spouse’. But I love starting off with something controversial.

It is very straightforward for a couple to introduce some simple strategies that would reduce the amount of money you pay to the taxman, and it’s all totally legal and above-board.

This rule applies to couples that are married and in a civil partnership. It doesn’t apply to couples cohabiting.

Women get tax rights too!

Can you believe that just over 20 years ago married women did not have to do their own tax return? Not because the Government decided that they didn’t have to pay tax, but because it was the husband’s responsibility to do a joint tax return. The wife therefore provided all her financial information to her husband and he then made the return.

Presumably it was thought that women had too much to think about with looking after the husband, the children & doing the washing & cleaning of the house. Why would she want to worry her pretty little head by doing something as difficult as dealing with her finances? After all, that’s probably why she got married…to have her man deal with this for her!

Luckily for all us independent married women this is no longer the case. The rules changed on 5th April 1990. Good job they didn’t choose April 1st or it may have just been considered a good joke!

What this means for a non earning spouse

Each individual under the age of 65 has a personal allowance, which for the 2012/13 tax year stands at £8,105. The allowance increases after age 65. Any earnings (including investment income) below that amount will not suffer any tax. So this means, you can earn £8,105 each year before you have to pay anything over to the taxman. After that level, tax rates then rise to 10%, 20%, 40% and 50% dependent on your total taxable income.

You can’t transfer any unused portion of your personal allowance to your partner if your income is less than this amount. However, if one partner is a non earner (or low earner) and the other partner is paying tax at a higher rate, there is some basic straightforward tax planning that can be done.

What you can do

Ownership of joint assets or assets held in the sole name of the higher rate tax payer can be transferred to the non earning spouse. Dependent on the level of income some significant savings can be made. The level of saving depends on the specific circumstances but will be greatest when there is significant investment income suffering tax at 40% or 50% by one partner and the other partner is a non earner or low earner.

How do I do it?

Any income on assets held jointly (including rental on an investment property) is deemed by the tax authorities (HMRC) to be split equally between the joint owners. If you want to change this ratio you would need to complete a deed of declaration to show that the legal ownership has changed. You then submit Form 17 to HMRC.

Is there a downside?

Do be aware that signing a declaration to say one party owns say 90% of a jointly held asset makes that person the legal owner of it. In a separation or divorce that spouse is deemed to be the owner. It is no longer split 50:50.

What if I’m not a tax payer?

Most banks and building societies deduct tax at 20% before you receive your interest. This tax can be reclaimed if you are not a taxpayer. However, it is possible to have the interest paid gross, without deduction of tax, by completing form R85.

Many bank accounts allow you to have ½ the interest on a joint account paid without deduction of tax where only one of the members is eligible.

What about capital gains tax?

The same planning tip also applies for Capital gains tax (CGT). CGT is payable on gains made on the sale of an asset. Each individual has an annual tax-free allowance of £10,600. Gains above this are charged at either 18% or 28% dependant on your tax rate.

It is therefore possible to save tax if one partner owns an asset in their sole name. If ½ the asset is transferred to the other spouse both parties can use their annual allowance. Alternatively a larger share or the entire asset could be transferred to a non earning spouse to reduce the tax payable.

Good luck with your tax planning. Isn’t it great you can earn something just by being clever with your taxes?

working mumAbout the author: Mary Waring is a Chartered Financial Planner with Informed Choice, and specialises in giving financial planning advice to women. She also enjoys giving talks to local female networking groups entitled “A man is not a financial plan.”.




Levels and bases of reliefs from taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested. MDM Associates Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England No.3306225
How involving your children in cooking can save you time

How involving your children in cooking can save you time

Are you finding it hard to cook a meal from scratch and are you often rushed? Could you do with a pair of extra hands? Do your children keep asking when dinner is ready when you are busy mashing those potatoes?

Try getting your children involved. It is a great way to cut down on preparation time – often the most time-consuming part of cooking a meal. On top of that you keep the children busy too!

Start on the weekend, when you feel more relaxed. Start by asking them to arrange your table, then move on to greasing the roasting pans, washing vegetables and peeling potatoes with safety peelers. Don’t underestimate these small tasks; your children are your little sous chefs in the kitchen! You can assign jobs suitable to your children’s age. Also get your children involved in the meal planning and shopping. Last, do remember to praise your children for their helpfulness!

This is the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, where you can teach your children practical skills alongside developing their relationship and knowledge of food. Parents often find themselves passing down not just culinary skills, but important messages about nutrition during cooking with children.

A study carried out by the School Food Trust measuring the impacts of children’s school-based cooking clubs found that learning to cook improved recognition of healthier foods, and enhanced the desire to eat them. Why not nurture this at home?

I can see you are going to say “But there will be extra work cleaning up the mess along with taking the time to teach: I don’t see how this is going to save me time at all’! Quite simply, I can guarantee you that it is an investment with huge rewards. By investing a bit of time and patience to teach your children, they will become the best sous chefs any mother could have.

Cooking well is an essential and lifelong skill. I don’t think any mother or father here would wish to see their children leaving home eating baked beans on toast every meal.

Put your sous chefs in their aprons and get cooking!

Busy Working Mums

Author: Jaycee Cheong from the mini cooking club in South London. The Mini Cooking Club is a charity which provides free practical cooking workshops and nutritional education for children and families. Check out the website to find out more about their workshops, or email

Twitter: @MiniCookingClub

Facebook: Eat In Campaign