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Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo

 

Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  I'm Victoria Sully, a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker.  I’m passionate about making money online, saving money, self-employment, healthy living and blogging.  I’m on a personal mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Thank you so much for joining me.


 

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Category: Home & Garden

  1. Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think

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    Moving house can be a stressful time, and nothing makes the stress worse than trying to figure out how you are going to pay for everything. It can be quite a challenge and one that makes everything seem that little bit harder.

    But how would you feel if I told you that it didn’t have to be this way? That I had some money saving tips for you when it comes to moving home?

    Keep reading this article because we’ll be going through some of the simple ways that you can save money when you move house.

    Remove it yourself

    Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think (6)

    The first tip is to handle the removal of everything yourself. This can be quite a strenuous task, but one that could be manageable with enough preparation. If you think about it, the amount of stuff in your home will depend on how many people are living there. For example, if it is just you, then you aren’t going to have as much stuff as you would if there were three of you.  So the removal of your goods shouldn’t be too complicated.

    If you have a car, then a few trips should do the trick. When I was in my early twenties and single, I moved several times.  It took a few car trips each time, but I was always able to move as cheaply as possible when it came to the removal vehicle.  Either my own car or a friend’s (if I didn’t have one) was satisfactory.  I just had to pay for petrol and devote my time and strength!

    However, it could be the case that you are moving quite far away and you don’t have the time to make multiple trips. For this you might look at options to hire a van for the move. It might cost you a little extra, but it is still going to be cheaper than paying for an entire removal team to come and help you. If you look online, you will find a variety of places that allow you to hire cheap vans to make moving a little bit easier.  I’ve also done this option a couple of times.  I’ve always been surprised at how affordable van hire is, especially if you only need one for one day or a few hours.  As you’ll begin to realise, I’ve moved house a lot!  Around ten times in my late teens and twenties!

    Moving house should only be undertaken by yourself if you are in good physical condition. You should not put yourself in harm's way to complete this job, and this is something important that you need to remember at all times.  Lifting furniture and heavy boxes is a strenuous task and you don’t want to put your back out if you have a dodgy back for example.  The money side is secondary to your health so if you know that you have a bad back or other issues with your health, do not try to do this alone.  Get help or pay for help and don’t do anything that puts you at risk just to save a few pennies.

    Related - Live in Yorkshire? Sell your home for free!

    Safe packaging

    Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think (7)

    Next we’ll move on to packaging and how you can save money here.  I always advise people to start collecting boxes and packaging as soon as you know you are going to move house.  With most people buying goods online nowadays, you, your friends, family and colleagues can all start saving the packaging such as bubble wrap and boxes for your move.  This will save you a small fortune as opposed to having to buy it all.  Local shops and supermarkets might be more than happy for you to take cardboard boxes off their hands.  They can only say no, so just ask.

    You don’t want to go overboard on the packaging, especially if you do have to buy it as that’s money wasted.  But at the same time you want to know that all of your items are going to be safe during transit.  If you end up breaking items because they are not packaged properly then you’ll end up spending more replacing smashed items!

    Make sure breakable items are protected and not just loose in the boxes.  Check out online companies such as Easy Foam to find solutions for wrapping up your fragile items.  Foam is a great way to ensure that nothing gets damaged while you are moving, and it can be a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

    Once you’ve collected plenty of boxes and materials to safely wrap delicate items, then the fun begins – it’s time to pack!  Removal companies offer a packing service, but it’s going to cost you!  Instead, skip this luxury and pack everything yourself.  Check out my moving house timeline to see how to prepare for the move and have everything packed and organised on time.

    Out with the old

    Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think (8)

    Have you been through everything in your home and decided what you are taking and what you are keeping? If not, then this is something that you need to do sooner rather than later. You might be wondering how on Earth this is going to save you money! Well, the more stuff you are taking with you, the bigger the van/the more trips that need to be completed. For this reason, it is important that you are decluttering your home both before and while you are packing. 

    My moving house timeline in the paragraph before this section will suggest when you should start sorting each part of the house.  In brief I suggest starting in the attic weeks before you are due to move as there’s probably a bunch of belongings up there you really don’t need and haven’t used for years.  Then you pack away non-essential items and declutter as you go.

    For some people, this is going to be the hardest part of moving. Saying goodbye to items that have been in your home for as long as you can be difficult, but it is something that needs to be done. The general rule for doing this is that if you haven’t used it for years, or even a year then it should be passed on.  I go through my things regularly, like once per month and declutter as I’m always trying to minimise what I own.  This is a good starting point for decluttering all the rooms in your house.

    When moving there are usually items of furniture that won’t be of use in the new home, so organise which items need to be sold or passed on a few weeks before moving and start arranging a sale, collection or drop-off.   

    Avoid throwing things away as they will be useful to someone else.  You shouldn’t throw things in landfill unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Pass them on, give them away, sell them, give them to a charity, reinvent them into something else if possible – anything but throwing reusable things in the bin.  It’s even better to take them to a local recycling centre as they will be able to dismantle items and recycle different bits.  Our local recycling centres usually recycle around 80-90% of the items dropped off there.  

    By doing this in advance then you are not taking them to your new home with you and chucking them into a garage or attic to sit being unused for years on end!  Doing this will save you those extra pennies, but will also make you feel pretty good about yourself.   You might even make some money from sales in the process which can all help towards moving costs!

    Friends and family

    Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think (3)

    Asking your friends and family to help out is a great way to get the support that you need without spending the entire content of your account. By using your friends and family to get your stuff moved to your new location, you are going to be saving yourself the high cost of booking removal companies. And you might not even have to hire that van we talked about above, especially if your friends and family can drive and you have plenty of cars.  You might even have a very helpful friend with a van - fingers crossed you do!

    Don’t use storage

    You may need to move out of your house before your new house is ready to move into. This is where many people will find a storage unit and put their stuff in there for a while. This is only going to be worth it if you have so much stuff that it can’t be put anywhere else like one of your friends or family member’s homes. Or if you can pay on a monthly basis and the price is not too high. It is all going to depend on how long your items will need to remain in storage to whether it is worth it to rent a space.  It’s going to be a hassle and a cost, but sometimes needs must.

    Think of it this way, if your new home is going to be ready to move into in three weeks, but you have to pay for the storage place three months at a time, this is not going to be financially worth it for you. If this is the case, then you can ask your parents or friends if they will have some of your stuff at their house for the next couple of weeks.   Maybe you can spread the items between a few houses.  This way you don’t have to pay for storage and each friend or family member only has to store a small amount to help you out.  Just make sure you return the favour when they need your help in the future!

    Make a checklist

    Being organised is key when arranging a house move.  You don’t want to forget anything, so if it helps you stay on track then make a checklist of everything that needs to be done, everything that needs to be moved and so on.  Making a note of everything to sell, all the items that are going into a skip and items you want to donate closer to the time will ensure nothing is forgotten and you don’t end up paying to lug a huge piece of furniture to the new house at a cost, just because you forgot to order a collection or sale of the item.  If you can’t mentally remember everything then checklists are a must for you.

     

    Moving house can be a costly experience, but there are plenty of ways to make it more affordable from roping in friends and family to lend a hand, to decluttering and planning in advance.  Happy moving!

     

    More helpful articles when buying a house:

    Live in Yorkshire? Sell your home for free!

    9 ways to start updating your home on a budget
    Why I won’t use a mortgage adviser again
    My top tips to prepare for a house move
    Is buying a house better than renting?
    3 ways to make sure the house you are buying is in good shape
    Should I stay or should I go. Moving house decisions.
    Why you should check the water pressure when buying a new home
    How to survive a house move without losing your mind

    Saving money when you’re moving home is simpler than you think (1)

    Images from Canva

  2. How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

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    This blog post is in association with Boost.

    It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling the pinch after Christmas and looking for ways to cut back, spend less and save as much money as possible.  This can be particularly tricky when it’s also the darkest and coldest time of the year.  We’re all using more energy than normal just to see and stay warm.  There’s always lots of advice out there for lowering energy bills, but what if you’re on a pay-as-you-go tariff?  Is it still possible for you to reduce your energy bills? 

    Years ago I used to be on a prepayment meter.  I was only around 18 or 19 at the time, having moved out of home at age 17, and I had no idea about how to save money whilst using a prepayment meter.  I didn’t even have the internet or a laptop as it was 15 years ago and smart phones didn’t exist. I was clueless about the ability to switch suppliers or how to save money when it came to my energy bills.

    Luckily times have changed a great deal since then and thanks to the internet and smart technology, there are plenty of ways you can begin to save money on your energy bills if you are on a pay-as-you go tariff today.

    What is a PAYG meter?

    A prepayment or pay-as-you-go (PAYG) energy meter is exactly as it sounds.  Rather than using energy and being billed afterwards for what you’ve used, you instead pay upfront for the energy.  You’ll have a PAYG meter installed and you’ll need to top-up a card, key or online in advance of using the energy.  Then once the energy runs low you’ll receive a warning and you’ll know it’s time to top up again.  It’s a great way of tracking exactly what you’re spending on energy and you’ll be aware each week of how much you are using.

    Tips on lowering your energy bill if you’re on a prepayment meter

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    Here are some actionable tips to help you reduce your energy bills if you’re on a PAYG meter:

    1.     Compare suppliers

    Most energy companies will revise their tariffs once per year, which means you may no longer be on the cheapest tariff for your area after the year is up.  It’s always advisable to check a comparison site each year to see which energy company is the best value for you.  Don’t think you can’t switch suppliers just because you’re on a prepayment plan, or because you are renting.  Most energy suppliers offer a prepayment tariff and if you are responsible for paying the energy bills then you have the right to choose a cheaper supplier.  You should always compare different prepayment plans as it could save you hundreds each year!

    2.     Join Boost.  Get up to £30 free credit.

    If you switch to dedicated PAYG energy supplier Boost then you’ll get a free smart meter installation as well as up to £30 credit; £15 credit for gas and £15 credit for electric.  To get your smart meter installation (& £30 free credit) you just need to click here to go to Boost and a code will be populated for you to save. 

    All you need to do is 1) sign up to Boost online 2) book a free smart meter installation 3) get installed before 30th April 2019 and they'll apply the credit!

    Boost is a part of the trusted OVO energy brand so you know you are in good hands. Boost specialises in PAYG Energy, their whole focus is on giving customers the power to control their energy, the way they want. As part of the OVO group they do everything to ensure the best service possible for PAYG customers. 

    OVO has been recognised as the uSwitch Energy Supplier of the Year.  They were also number one in the 2015 and 2016 Which? energy customer satisfaction surveys, so you can be sure you’re in good hands.

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    3.     Claim your heating benefits

    If you are of a certain age, claim certain benefits or meet certain criteria (such as being on a low income and having dependants) then you could qualify for some financial help towards your energy bills during the winter months.

    If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 then you could get a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ of between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.

    There’s also the Warm Home Discount scheme which helps eligible people who are struggling with their energy bills.  If you qualify you will receive a one-off £140 payment to go towards your electricity bill.

    4.     Reduce how much energy you use

    Being on a prepayment meter means you are really aware of how much money you are spending on energy each week.  Use this knowledge to your advantage to see where you can reduce energy.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

    • Make sure you always switch off appliances when not in use instead of leaving them in standby mode. 
    • Only boil enough water for your cup of tea, instead of boiling a full kettle of water.
    • Heat only the rooms you are using and not empty rooms.
    • Only wash a full load of laundry and turn the temperature down.
    • Eat more healthy plant-based and raw foods to reduce how much you use the oven.
    • Put on cosy socks and a jumper and cover yourself in a throw before turning the heating up.
    • Turn the thermostat down slightly, even by 1 degree.
    • Use draught excluders along the bottom of doors.
    • Turn off the ligthts when you leave a room.
    • Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

     

    Hopefully this article will show you that it is possible to make some smarter and money-saving choices with a prepayment meter. 

     

    Great blog posts to read next:

    How to eat more eco-friendly and save money
    How to cut household expenses with renewable energy
    15 ways to reduce plastic consumption
    Click here for a free trial of contact lenses

     

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    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

  3. The benefits of building a garden room office

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    Working from home is the dream scenario for many people, but if that dream becomes a reality, where will you work from?  Unless you have a dedicated room that can be used as a home office, then you’re going to be working quite literally from your dining table or squeezing a desk into a shared space. 

    It’s not always ideal to have to share space, especially if you have young children running around your feet when you need to work.  I’m talking from experience as my office space is shared with the playroom for my children.  We are very lucky to have the space for me to fit a desk into, but if I need to work when the children are home then it can be very difficult. 

    One idea that has popped up in conversation several times with my husband is the idea of building an office in the garden.  Looking outside of the space available within the home and instead looking at the space available outdoors could be the perfect solution.  In this blog post I am going to explore the benefits of building a garden room office.

    The benefits of building a garden room office

    Less hassle than an extension

    Whilst an extension might be the first obvious choice, they come with a lot more upheaval than garden rooms do.  Not only do you need suitable space on your existing property for an extension, but you’ll need foundations dug, planning permission, building regulations and the build itself could take weeks, as well as be very costly.  Plus you’ll have all that noise, dust and inconvenience right where you are living and working.  It might not be ideal. 

    In comparison, a garden room might be built away from the house disrupting your actual home very little.  A build can take as little as two weeks.  Planning laws are more relaxed and many garden offices will fall under permitted development meaning you won’t need to gain permission so long as it’s less than 2.5 metres high and takes up no more than 50% of the back garden.

    Enjoy the summer weather

    There’s nothing worse than being cooped up in an office all day long when the weather is glorious outdoors.  A garden office with open bi-folding doors, or even just open French doors, will make you feel more connected to your garden and outdoor space and less like you are trapped in a stuffy office.

    No need to take up valuable space inside

    One of the greatest benefits is not having to sacrifice space inside the home for a home office.  You can keep your home exactly as it is and create another room outdoors instead.  Of course there are many genius solutions to create a small home office if you have to create something inside the home, but if you have the funds and garden space then a garden office is the perfect solution.

    30 second commute

    Of course some people have absolutely no room in the house for a suitable work space, so instead will hire an office space or frequent cafes and WiFi spots.  Not only can this begin to add up in rental fees and daily coffee expenses, but there is also the cost and time needed to travel to a different location.  By investing in a garden room as an office you’ll have a 30 second commute, no rent to pay and much cheaper hot drinks!

    Better work-life balance

    One of the trickiest parts of working from home is being able to separate work and life.  It’s possible to work all the time and you can never leave work at work, because you’re always technically at work!  It’s a dilemma!  By creating a garden office that can be locked shut and forgotten about when you are back in your home, you can create a real sense of division and keep your home simply as your home.  Having an office away from the house will create a better work-life balance and a clear mental separation.

    Away from distractions

    As well as creating a better work-life balance, it will also help to create a more productive work environment too.  As much as it’s tricky to switch off from work if you work in the home, it’s equally as challenging to switch off from the housework when you are meant to be working!  Being at home all day means you are surrounded by chores that need doing and it can be hard to let them go when they are right there in front of you. 

    Creating a garden office gives a space that is for work only and allows the mind to switch off from any other distractions.  It also means there is a place to work that is away from partners and children to allow for greater concentration if work needs to be completed when the family are at home.

     

    There are so many benefits a garden office can bring, from a more productive work day to a better work-life balance.  The more I think about it, the more convinced I am to go for it!

     

    Related blog posts:

    Setting up a successful business space from your home
    How to set up the perfect home office
    Why adding a garden room is a great investment

    Collaborative post - Photos from Canva

    The benefits of building a garden room office (2)

  4. How to cut household expenses with renewable energy

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    When Ben and I first switched to a renewable energy company around seven or eight years ago we were shocked by the cost.  We were trying to do our bit for the environment, but at the time we couldn’t afford to pay a premium to be greener so we begrudgingly had to switch back to our old supplier.

    Luckily times have changed and sustainability is a hot topic.  In recent years we have actually been able to cut our household expenses by using renewable energy.

    Here’s how:

    Getting free energy from solar panels

    How we reduce our bills using renewable energy - photo of solar panels on o

    When we were looking to buy a home we were interested in any energy saving features they had.  Luckily we were able to find a home with solar panels already installed.  Going forward we would definitely look for another house with solar panels, or alternatively we would make the investment ourselves.  As the new home owners the tariff simply transferred to us.  Not only do we use the free solar energy before anything else, which reduces our bills, but we also sell the surplus back to the grid.  These quarterly payments add up and they pay for two-thirds of our annual energy consumption (gas and electric).  That’s quite a saving!

    Investing in a log burner

    Almost four years ago we invested in a log burner and we have been very lucky to not have to buy a single piece of wood yet!  Ben’s late mum worked locally at a place that had woods on their grounds.  They let us know whenever they had felled trees and were more than grateful for us to take the wood off their hands, as were we!  We’ve also had family members call us whenever they’ve cut trees back, or their neighbours have, and want us to come and clear the wood.  Ben, my husband, is always looking out for free wood opportunities on Facebook too.  Plus we get lots of offcuts and smaller pieces that are great for kindle from Ben’s own workshop.  I’m sure we’ll have to buy some wood soon as we are running low, but it must have saved us a small fortune to not buy any for four years and it might even stretch to five.

    (Just to note you should never just take wood you find lying around in woods and forests.  In some counties you can apply for a licence to give you permission to collect felled wood on Forestry Commission owned land, otherwise you’ll need permission from the landowner.)

    Switching to a renewable energy supplier

    We had been wasting money needlessly for the first few years in our new home as we had stuck with the same energy supplier.  I never realised how easy it was to switch and the great savings we could make.  In 2018 we took the plunge, did a price comparison and switched to renewable energy company Bulb.  This saved us £264 compared to our old supplier British Gas and the most amazing thing is Bulb use 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas.  This definitely aligns with our values and we’ll be looking for green energy companies should we ever switch again.

    To get £50 credit with Bulb simply use our referral link: https://bulb.co.uk/refer/benjamins1007 

     

    Those are the three ways we use renewable energy at home.  Amazingly all three ways have been saving us money too!

     

    Great blog posts to read next:

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

    Save time and money with Look After My Bills

    How to cut household expenses with renewable energy

  5. Why making your home greener is better for your wallet and the environment

    Posted on

    Going green and being environmentally friendly isn’t just in vogue right now, it’s the right thing to do. While we all love nature and would like to take care of our planet the best we can, it doesn’t really seem like everyone knows how to do it. People might talk a big game, but you’ll hardly find more than one trash bin in their homes - and you will certainly not find a compost garden outside in their yard.  Being greener is more than just talking about it and acknowledging there's a problem.  It's about putting those words into action too!

    Image

    Improving your lifestyle and leading a more environmentally friendly life is actually so simple to do and even a bit fun when you get into the rhythm of it.

    Here is a couple of tips to get you started right away so that you can pass the message on to the rest of your friends and family, perhaps even your neighbourhood.  it doesn't need to be complicated.  Just a couple of small changes will get you on your way.

    First: Cut down on your energy and water usage

    Going green at home is about a few simple rules; you should decrease your energy and water usage, eat locally grown produce, and wave goodbye to plastic once and for all. This is definitely quite easy and will even make sure that you eat healthier on a daily basis - so why not get started as soon as possible?

    By cutting down on both your home’s energy usage and water usage, you will also be able to save a ton of money. Make small lifestyle changes such as changing your bulbs to LED, always turning off the water when brushing and shaving, and cutting down on your showers to just five minutes instead of fifteen.

    Use a smart thermometer such as Hive that you can manage from your phone.  That way you can turn your heating off remotely when you're not going to be home until late.

    Consider solar panels as an investment to make money by selling energy you don't use back to the grid, but also as a way to reduce your energy bills and usage as you can use solar power instead.  Alternatively you should at least look into moving to a renewable energy supplier.

    There are so many ways to reduce your energy usage or to use a more sustainable source.  Here are some more tips: Easy ways to boost your energy efficiency 

    Next: Find locally grown produce or grow your own

    Buying food that has been grown in your area and that is in season will be one of the most delicious choices you make. Simply hit your local farmer’s market and you will be able to find a ton of beautifully grown vegetables that haven’t travelled further than a few miles.  You could even order an organic vegetable box to be delivered to your home each week.

    Another great idea is, of course, to grow your own vegetables. They will be so much bigger than the ones you find in the grocery shops as yours will have the time to grow and mature; not like those that the commercial farmers grow as they cut them down as soon as possible to sell them a bit quicker.  Plus you know exactly how yours have grown and what you've put on them!  Oh, and larger vegetables tend to last much longer than the smaller ones so you can avoid the tricks of the grocery shops as well.

    All you need now is a decent compost garden to dispose of your food waste later on.  These are easy to start and mean you'll save money on buying compost for your vegetable patch as you'll create your own from your own scraps at no extra cost to you!

    Finally: Recycle, reuse, reduce!

    I'm sure you've all heard of this, but it's really important!  We need to stop throwing so much rubbish into landfill.  We need to reduce our plastic usage, especially single use.  make sure you recycle everything that you can and aim for zero-waste in the landfill or very reduced!  Reuse or donate what you can.  Don't just throw everything that is unwanted into the bin. It's probably of use to someone!  Even unwanted and ruined clothes can go to the rag trade via your local charity shop!

    If you run your own business then you should have a look at this site for an environmentally responsible rubbish removal company to cover yourself from all sides and make sure you are disposing of everything responsibly.  The great thing about choosing companies that are clear about their commitment to the environment is that you’re sending a message to the other companies as well. If they don’t change their ways, we won’t buy their stuff - and, that way, they’ll kind of be forced to change and improve.

     

    There are so many ways we can start making a difference.  It's never too late to start and to start making a difference.

     

    Read these next!

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

    Collab