Read my UK family lifestyle, making money online & healthy living blog here:

 RSS Feed

Category: Money

  1. Want To Make Your Money Work Harder? Read This

    Posted on

    When it comes to money, you always want to know that you’re doing well with it. Although it is common for you to find that you go through tough times with your money, you don’t have to live that way forever. Maybe right now you’re not doing so well financially and you’re desperate to find a way to turn that around? Or maybe you’re doing okay, but you still want to make sure that you really change your financial situation for the better? Well, then it’s time to make the money you do have work a little bit harder. And not only can you use some great online money making ideas to help you here, but you should also look to get a bit smarter with your money too.

    Want To Make Your Money Work Harder Read This

     

    1. Get To Know Compound Interest

    So the first thing that you want to do, is to make sure that you get to know all about compound interest. When it comes to debt, compound interest is your worst nightmare. It essentially costs you more money for borrowing the same amount, the longer you take to pay it back. But when we’re thinking in terms of savings, compound interest is your very best friend. It allows you to build up more and more money, because the interest is earning on itself! So even if you only have a small amount to put away today, over time, it could be really worth something.  It's something I've only just learnt about and I'm keen to learn more.

     

    2. Start Trading

    Alongside the idea of committing to saving, you may even want to consider trading. Now, a lot of the time, people will think that they just can’t start investing online because they have no idea how to do it. But everyone has to start everywhere - right? Just make sure that you start off slowly, that you do your research on new terminology like calls vs puts and just take your time. Don’t go all in, but find your feet with trading, and over time, you may find that it really pays off for you.  If, like me, you are pretty clueless when it comes to trading perhaps just start by investing in some stocks and shares and leaving them to grow for years.  Your bank will probably offer a stocks and shares savings account and they'll invest for you.  Just remember your capital is at risk so make sure you do your research and choose a reputable company to invest in.  Your workplace may even have a share scheme you can benefit from with discounted share purchase prices.

     

    3. Try Online Tactics

    Next up, there's the idea of making money quickly online. The thing with saving is, you do have to be patient. Even trading can be better over time. But there are things you can do online, like matched betting, surveys, freelancing and more to get your cash pool stacked up instantly.

    See some of the ways I make money online here:

    The top 3 ways I made money from home in 2017
    Get paid to test websites from home (£5 per 20 minutes)
    Get paid doing simple tasks from your phone with Streetbees
    I’ve made £300 tax free cash from home in 2 weeks and you can too

     

    4. Start Affiliate Marketing

    Then there’s also affiliate marketing. This is something that you can do with a blog, or even just using a social media platform. So read up on how you can earn money with affiliates and get started.

    Read who I use here: Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing

     

    5. Be Smart With How You Spend

    Finally, you’re then also going to want to make sure that you’re being a little bit smarter about how you spend too. When you think about your money working harder for you, you can often forget about holding onto what you have. While you may not want to be incredibly frugal and really cut back on everything, you do need to make sure that you’re not wasting money or throwing it away. If you just think a little more careful when you spend, then your money will automatically be working harder.

     

    Want To Make Your Money Work Harder_ Read This

    Collaboration

  2. 13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen

    Posted on

    The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house.  In ours it is probably the busiest room and I can never seem to get out of there enough!  There’s always cleaning to do, food to cook, lunchboxes to prepare, laundry to tackle, recycling, waste to dispose of and cupboards and draws to sort out.  It’s never ending, especially as a family of four.  I expect it’s also the most expensive room in the house.  There’s always something switched on whether it’s the washing machine, kettle, extractor fan or our water distiller.  The fridge and freezer are always plugged in zapping energy all day.  In this blog post I am going to share with you how to start saving money in your kitchen whilst being more eco-friendly too.  Win-win!

    Wash by hand

    Hubby and I debate this all the time, but I’m certain it’s better to wash by hand.  We do only have a slim dishwasher and it just doesn’t fit much in at all.  We can fit one family meal’s worth of washing up in at a time and it runs for almost two hours!  I can’t see how that is cost saving as it is using electricity for two hours.  If I wash the same amount up I will use one or two hot soapy bowls of water and no electricity, perhaps a tiny bit of gas for the hot water.

    According to this statement I would definitely be saving money by washing up - ‘One cycle in a typical dishwasher costs the same in energy and water as heating between four to six washing-up bowls of water in the kitchen sink’ - Source

    I guess it depends on how much you can fit in your dishwasher and how many bowls of washing up you would do, but for us I’m certain it’s cheaper to wash by hand as I never use 4-6 bowls per load.

    Break dishwasher tablets in half

    If you do use the dishwasher then try breaking your tablets in half.  Hubby always does this (he prefers the dishwasher) and it washes everything just as effectively whilst making our tablets last twice as long.  Plus there’s less of the tablet getting washed into the environment each time.

    Use Eco-Eggs

    Save time and money on your laundry by using Eco-Eggs.  These are egg shaped cases that are filled with pellets made from minerals.  Chuck them in with your wash load and you’ll not need to use any detergent.  They come in various sizes that can last one year or more before you need to replace the pellets!  The dryer balls have fragrance sticks to make your clothes smell nice, reduce drying time and soften the clothes to stop fabric softener use in the wash.  Just replace the fragrance sticks every now and then.  Using both of these will stop you from buying detergent and softener, reduce your drying time which will save on energy costs and it’s much better for the environment.

    Use cloths instead of wipes

    Cleaning wipes may be convenient, but they are terrible for the environment.  If you must buy them then choose eco-friendly options, instead of non-biodegradable versions that are smothered in nasty chemicals.  Try using a plant based kitchen cleaner spray instead with cloths that you can wash and reuse time and time again.  Much cheaper than wipes, nontoxic and there’s no waste.

    Make tea with a teapot

    Do you always put a teabag in each cup when making tea for everyone?  Invest in a teapot and you’ll be able to use one teabag to make four or five cups of tea!  I regularly do this with green tea bags and have even got six good tasting cups of tea from one teapot.  Previously I used a bag per cup so this would have wasted six tea bags!  Less waste again and more money in your pocket as you need to buy less teabags over time.

    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen

    Image

    Cook from scratch

    Making homemade meals is much more cost effective than buying expensive readymade meals and it’s healthier.  There’s a lot of debate online about which is really cheaper, but I definitely believe cooking from scratch is.  Just take a look at the price of a potato compared to a part baked one in the chiller section.  Just bake it yourself and save pennies or even pounds.  Another comparison is to look at the price of a readymade pizza.  It’s easy enough to make a thin dough base with water, oil and flour, then top with tomato puree and grated cheese.  You’ll have loads of flour left over and tomato puree and cheese… enough to make even more pizzas another day.  I’m sure making your own food can be much cheaper, just less convenient.  Plus there’ll be less packaging waste.

    Meal plan

    Meal planning can help to save money by reducing food waste.  If you’re buying random items each week not knowing what you’re going to be cooking then there’s a higher chance you’ll waste some.  If you plan your week’s meals in advance then you’ll shop for exactly what you need and use everything.

    Save leftovers (or give to pets)

    If you have left overs then save them to use the next day for another meal.  Throwing them into the bin is just throwing money away!  If you have pets then they may appreciate the leftovers and this can reduce how much pet food you need to give them.

    Bulk buy

    Buying in bulk or larger sizes is a great way to save money.  Just check the labels in the supermarkets for the ‘price per’ to see which size offers the best value for money.  It can also reduce the packaging waste too.  It may be more expensive upfront, but will save money in the long run.

    Batch cook

    Batch cooking is a great way to save time and money!  You can buy ingredients in bulk which will save money, you’ll be doing the majority of the chopping/cooking/food processing and so on in one go which will save on energy costs, plus you can divide the food into controlled portion sizes to reduce waste.  It’s also a brilliant way to use up veg that will turn if left for another day or two and so prevents food waste.

    Freeze browning fruit

    Don’t throw away browning fruit, especially bananas.  Peel and freeze bananas to use at a later date in a smoothie or dessert.  Frozen bananas make the best milkshakes when blended with your favourite milk.  We love almond milk for a sweet taste.

    Distil or filter water

    We were buying mineral water at first as our tap water tastes so horrid and isn’t very clean at all.  I actually measured it with a TDS meter to see how many dissolved substances were in it and it read 200ppm.  That’s 200 parts per million.  200 different little things floating in the water that I don’t want to consume regularly!  Plus I was concerned about the amount of plastic waste from the water bottles.  Oh and it was expensive to buy mineral water for our whole family!  So after looking into the water thing more I decided I wanted to distil our water at home and invested in a home distiller for around £150.  This means we get pure water to drink and cook with and over time we’ll make our money back compared to buying high quality bottled water.    If you’re regularly buying bottled water then look into buying your own filtration system or a water distiller.

    Change energy supplier

    One of the best money saving things we did this year was to switch energy supplier for the first time saving ourselves over £250 for the year.  We switched to bulb who use renewable energy sources and they are much cheaper than the main energy suppliers.  You can get £50 credit as well as saving around £200 per year (we’ll save £264) by joining Bulb with my referral link by clicking here

    There are so many ways to start saving money in the kitchen and be more environmentally conscious too.  Just start looking at where most of your money or energy usage is going and see if you can make a change.

     

    What to read next
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    Be eco-friendly with a climate-conscious pension from PensionBee
    Mustard Car Insurance Comparison Promises to Beat Your Cheapest Online Quote
    How to earn cashback on things you already buy
    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen

     

  3. Is buying a house better than renting?

    Posted on

    I have recently passed the four year anniversary of owning my own home.  I purchased my very first property just over four years ago at the age of 28.  Before this I was a seasoned renter who had rented eight properties over a seven year period after moving out of home at age 17.  I estimate I spent anywhere from £25000 to £30000 in rent during this period.  This is pretty cheap too as the properties I rented include a dinky bedsit and rooms in shared houses, so my rent was much lower than if I’d rented a property all by myself.  Before buying our first home together I lived with Ben for three years where I contributed to the mortgage so I’ve not included this in my estimations.  In this blog post I am going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of owning your own home.

    Is buying a house better than renting

    Image

    The amount I spent on rent shocks me and I’m sure others spend a whole lot more than my figure.  I get that renting is flexible and allows you to be young and carefree whilst you work out what you want to do with your life, but I still think it’s such a huge waste of money.  I did live in the same county and I never enjoyed moving around so much.  Packing and moving house was really a royal pain!  Living in houses with people you don’t really know is also quite challenging. 

    I’ve basically paid a nice chunk off someone else’s mortgage when I could have been paying my own.  Except I couldn’t as I never had a deposit at the time and obviously needed to live somewhere, so renting was the only option.  It’s a shame there wasn’t a 100% mortgage option, especially for those of us who could afford to rent a property so could clearly afford the mortgage repayments.  If that option had existed I’d have owned a property for almost 15 years now and have a nice pot of equity sitting there.  If only. 

    Now I own a home and have been settling in for four years, so I have had long enough to experience both sides – renting and owning.  Below I will share the advantages and disadvantages of owning your own home.

    Advantages of owning your home

    Is buying a house better than renting advantages

    Image

    You will make money

    Usually property prices will increase over time.  In recent years house prices have really boomed.  By using the ‘How much has my house made me?’  tool on the Sunlife website I can see that Zoopla estimate my property has gone up in value by £52,050 since we moved in four years ago.  See here exactly how much your house has made you too.  It’s an estimate, but it’s not far off based on what other nearby properties have been selling for.  That’s over fifty grand we’ve made for basically living in our property.  That’s £13,000 per year which is pretty staggering if you ask me.  If we were renting we obviously wouldn’t have made any money from the property at all.

    Equity

    As you continue to pay off the mortgage and the house value continues to rise you will generate more and more equity.  This is the difference between how much you still owe on the mortgage and how much the property is valued at.  This equity can be used to climb the housing ladder or it can be released in retirement to fund a more enjoyable lifestyle.

    One day you’ll be mortgage free

    So long as you don’t have an interest only mortgage then you’ll be paying off the amount borrowed.  Eventually you’ll be mortgage free!  When this exciting day comes you’ll no longer have to worry about paying mortgage or rent and will have more money in your pocket.

    Security

    Owning a home gives you the safety and security of somewhere permanent to live.  When renting you never know if the landlord will renew the contract or if they may decide to sell up.  You can decide how long you live in your home.  You’ll also be mortgage free one day and will have a home in retirement.  I always wonder what renters do when they reach retirement age as rents must be extortionate to those on a basic pension.  Paying off a home now means you have somewhere comfortable to live when you can no longer work and earn.

    Home improvements

    It’s your own home so you can do what you like to it, within reason and sometimes with planning permission!  But you can decorate it exactly how you like, put things on the walls and basically make it your own.  Renting either doesn’t allow you to make changes or if you did then it could be money wasted if you need to move out.

    It can sometimes be more cost effective

    Sometimes mortgage repayments are cheaper than rental payments, particularly if you have a sizeable deposit.  My husband’s previous home was in a very cheap area and his mortgage repayments were much cheaper than my rent in a shared house in the next town!

    Monthly costs will decrease

    Your monthly costs will decrease over time if you stay in the same property as inflation rises, but your mortgage repayments stay approximately the same.  You’ll get pay rises and the cost of living will go up, but providing you don’t move those mortgage payments that seemed a lot in the beginning will start to seem much smaller in a few years.  Rent will always go up, usually every year, so you’ll save in the long run against renting.

    You can make money off the property

    You can rent out a room to a lodger or even convert an outbuilding to a guest room to make extra income.  The property is yours and you are free to make money from it by renting a room out.  There’s even a certain level of tax relief when doing so.  You would not be allowed to sublet when renting.

    Disadvantages of owning your own home

    Is buying a house better than renting disadvantages

    Image

    The housing market could crash

    There is the possibility the housing market will crash and you could go into negative equity or have less equity.  This is usually only momentary and you can always choose to stay living in your home until the market recovers.

    You need a big deposit

    This is usually the biggest drawback to owning a home as you need a large deposit.  High rents can make it impossible to save for this.  There are lots of help to buy schemes available where you now only need a 5% deposit, so it’s worth saving as much as you can and seeing if you qualify for government help to get on the property ladder.

    You are responsible for repairs

    One of the main benefits of renting is not being responsible for the white goods, plumbing and electrics and so on.  If something goes wrong you simply call your landlord or letting agent and they will fix the problem at no cost to you.  In your own home you own everything so if something breaks you will need to pay to repair it.  It’s a great idea to save an emergency fund for these situations.

    Less flexibility

    When renting you may move onto a rolling contract after a six month period or whatever is agreed, which means you can give one month’s notice to move house.  Owning will not give you that same flexibility.  It could take months to sell your home and even then there’s a chance a buyer will pull out last minute.

    High moving costs

    If you want to move home there are high costs involved. I estimate the cost of us moving home is around £10,000 with estate agents fees, solicitors and stamp duty to consider.  When you move from rented accommodation you will get your initial deposit back provided you maintained the property and there may only be some minor admin and referencing costs.

    Interest rates can rise

    If bank interest rates rise then mortgage repayments will also rise.  There are fixed mortgage deals which will give security for two or five years, but once these run out then there’s a risk that interest rates are no longer as favourable.  It’s best not to max out your budget for this very reason and take a lower mortgage than you can afford.

     

    For me, at this stage of my life, owning a home is a no-brainer.  We are a young family with children in nursery, playschool and school so owning a home gives us the security to stay put in one place and raise our children close to their schools.  It gives us a sense of security.  Once the mortgage is paid off it will also be our inheritance to our children.  The value of the property will increase over time so we will also make money either for ourselves to enjoy in retirement or again to leave to our children.  We also love being able to modify our property and make it our own, knowing it is really our own home.  So for security, investment and ownership reasons I believe owning a home is definitely better than renting.

     

    Related

    Your Path to Owning a Home - 3 things to do if you want to own a house
    3 ways to make sure the house you are buying is in good shape
    What To Look For When You're Buying A House
    Is Buying An Older House The Right Decision?

    Is buying a house better than renting_

  4. Budget friendly hen party ideas for all types of bride

    Posted on

    If you’re organising a hen do but don’t want to go overboard with the spending then I have some budget friendly hen party ideas in this blog post for you.  Whilst the dream may be for everyone to fly to Ibiza and stay in a luxury hotel for a week, the bank balance may simply say no.  Plus it’s a lot of money to expect your friends to pay, especially if you want to invite a large group who will no doubt have wildly different salaries and financial situations.  You can still have tons of fun even on a budget and in your home country. 

    Here are some budget friendly hen party ideas to make your cash stretch a little further:

    Hire a hen party house

    Whilst a flight and hotel room each might be off the cards, your money will go further if you hire a single property and split the cost.  Search for hen party weekend cottages online to find the perfect accommodation that accepts large hen parties and is perfectly equipped for your stay.  These dedicated party houses come with optional extras so you can splash out as much or as little as you can afford.  Hire beauty therapists to give spa treatments in the comfort of your party house, hire chauffeurs, hot tubs, a photographer and live music to make it really memorable or keep it simple and create your own entertainment.

    Budget friendly hen party ideas for all types of bride

    Image

    Go glamping

    If the bride is more the outdoors type than the party type then camping is a much cheaper and safer option.  An upgrade would be to go glamping and hire a yurt or wooden pod that has extra comforts such as an actual bed with mattress and linen, a log burner and sometimes a hot tub or en-suite.  Explore the outdoors with long walks, sunbathe if you’re near a beach, check out local pubs for food and sit round a campfire gossiping and looking at the stars.

    Stay home

    The ultimate budget friendly idea is to have a hen do at your own home.  There will be no venue costs and you can do whatever your heart desires.  Keep it cheap and cheerful and have a girly sleepover with a takeaway.  It may sound basic, but how often are all the girls together?  So long as you have great company you’ll have a great time.  If everyone can chip in then you could even hire in a chef and waiting staff to cook up a storm for the bride and hens.  

    Rent a canal boat

    Hire a canal boat and take to the waters!  They’re not too expensive when the cost is split between a group of up to 12 and no previous experience is needed.  They’re pretty easy to steer.  We hired one for the day before at a cost of around £20 per head.  Stop off at pubs along the way, take your own food and drink aboard the boat, sunbathe, take in the views and have a jolly good time!

    Visit a theme park

    If the bride is an adrenaline junkie then a visit to a thrilling UK theme park might be the perfect solution for an affordable hen party to remember.  Have a full day or two at your favourite theme park with all the hens.  Whizz round on rollercoasters at exhilarating speeds, dine in at the restaurants and make some memories that really will last a lifetime.

    There are so many ideas for having an affordable hen party and spreading the cost when there is a large group attending.  With a little imagination you’ll be able to create the perfect hen do whatever the type of bride.

     Budget friendly hen party ideas for all types of bride (1)

    Related reads

    How to make getting married affordable
    Dressing for a Summer Wedding on a Budget
    Wedding Guest Etiquette: How to be the perfect wedding guest
    Your checklist for a money saving DIY backyard wedding
    A Sneak Peek at our Garden 'Wedfest' Wedding

     

    Collaboration

  5. Save money and stay safe with a regular car service

    Posted on

    With the summer holidays coming up and long car journeys planned to festivals, camping trips and holidays, it’s really the most important time to make sure your car is in tip-top shape so you are safe on the road.  In this blog post I will explore some of the top reasons a regular car service is so important. 

    My car service is due and I’ve been scouting around the internet for the best full service deals nearby.  I’ll be booking mine in for its service as soon as I’ve finished typing!  When was your last car service?  Is it time to check and book yours in too?

    Below are some of the main reasons a regular car service is so important:

    Save money and stay safe with a regular car service

    Image

    Professional maintenance

    There are several checks we can do ourselves on our own cars which I outline in my blog post 5 important car checks before your next family road trip, but sometimes there are things on a car we cannot attempt ourselves or do not have the professional knowledge to examine.  Because of this it is always advisable to have a regular car service at a reputable centre. 

    Here are some of the checks they will carry out that I know I can’t do myself:

    Oil change

    Over time the oil can form a sludge which can damage the car and not allow it run as efficiently.  A full vehicle service will check the levels of engine oil and will replace it if needed.  They’ll also check the oil filter and replace this too.

    Brakes

    I definitely know I can’t check my brakes myself so a full service will allow a thorough inspection of the brakes and shock absorbers by a specialist.  If you are in Northampton visit Calmac Tyres Autocentre to professionally check your shock absorbers.

    Electrics

    I’ve got no clue when it comes to the electrics in my car, so a service will ensure the vital electrics are checked properly.  They’ll check the battery, alternator, starter motor and wiring to make sure there are no leaks or damage.

    Save money

    By properly maintaining your car with a professional regular service it will ensure its longevity.  The car will run smoother and use fuel more efficiently reducing the risk of a breakdown.  Maximising the use of fuel and ensuring the car runs at its optimum performance will obviously cut costs in the long run.  The car will be more reliable and you’ll save money on costly repairs down the line.

    Stay safe

    The main reason for getting a regular service is obviously for your safety and the safety of others.  The checks the mechanics perform will flag up any potential dangers on your car.  By highlighting anything they see you are able to take action and have the issue fixed rather than letting it wear away and possibly having a breakdown or even causing an accident.

    Better resale value

    When purchasing a car most people will ask for the service log book.  A full service history will show the car has been well cared for and maintained.  This makes it much more appealing to a prospective buyer.  It can even fetch a higher price or better trade-in value with proof of a full service history. 

    Hopefully you can now see why a regular service is so important.  Not only will it ensure your card is more roadworthy, but it will save money in the long run too.  Check your service log book and make sure you are up to date with your car maintenance checks.

     

    What to read next

    4 features every family car needs
    Mustard Car Insurance Comparison Promises to Beat Your Cheapest Online Quote 
    Travel Safely with these Car Safety Checks

    Save money and stay safe with a regular car service

    Collaboration