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  1. So You Want To Buy Your First Home? Here's How To Do It Right

    More and more of us are keen to get on the property ladder. You may have a young family and want more freedom and security for your future. Or maybe you’re just fed up with throwing your hard-earned cash at greedy landlords. Rents continue to rise, but mortgage rates seem to be pretty favourable right now. There have also been a few Government-backed schemes to help first-time buyers get that foot on the property ladder too. If you want it, maybe now is the time to figure out if you’re ready for it.

    Why?

    Before you commit to twenty-something years of debt, consider carefully why you want to be a property owner. Many people buy property as a long-term investment. Others believe their monthly mortgage will be cheaper than renting an equivalent property. Some families think the house could become an inheritance for their families. Or maybe a future nest egg for retirement? For most of us, we just want the freedom to sculpt our homes into places we can personalise and nurture our families. Decorating, extending, gardening, and pet ownership are things most landlords simply don’t permit.

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    Where?

    It’s important to carefully consider where you buy your house as well. Out of town is cheaper. City centre is ideal for the office. Next to the school almost guarantees a better education for your little ones. Do you need a park nearby to walk the dog? If you don’t drive, you’ll need great transport links. Some estate agents will talk about location, location, location. You can find new details about Taylors and your other local agents online. These are the best people to give you the details about new neighbourhoods.

    How?

    Mortgage companies are looking to lend to couples in full-time permanent employment. That employment should have lasted at least two years so far with no danger of redundancy in the air. Of course, you can get a mortgage no matter what your employment status, so long as you have proof of a steady income. However, you may not be able to access the most favourable rates.

    When mortgage companies talk about deposits, they are referring to the amount of money you have squirreled away to put toward the asking price of the house. The best rates are available for those who have at least ten percent of the asking price in cash already. If you don’t have it yet, consider saving for a few more months. Borrowing it may go against you on your mortgage application.

    Keep your bank accounts in good order for at least a year. That means paying off all outstanding debts and credit if you can. Cut off your subscriptions for mobile phones and TV services if you can live without them. And make sure all your earnings show up in your monthly statements. Keep your utility bills to a minimum if you can, and reduce all non-essential spend. This might include your shopping bills for coffees and clothes and nights out. The mortgage company will pick through your last twelve bank statements to determine how much they think you can afford to borrow.

     

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    Try not to push for a mortgage that costs more than your current rent. You want to demonstrate that life will be cheaper with a mortgage, not more costly. Once you’re securely on the ladder, you can probably push for bigger and better places with more expensive mortgages. Start small and you’re more likely to be accepted.

    Search

    Now you have an idea what size mortgage you can afford, you can start searching for properties within your price range. This is usually three to four times your total household income. Some mortgage companies offer more if you have an extremely large deposit. Put your name down with your favourite estate agent and they will contact you as suitable properties come in.

    Viewing as many properties as you can is essential. It gives you a good idea of what you can afford and helps you to make decisions about what you’re really looking for. It will also give you some great tips for decor too! Always check out the neighbouring houses and the local area for each property that piques your interest. Don’t be afraid to book two or three viewings of the same place. It’s best to be absolutely sure.

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    When you’re checking out a property, look out for signs of damp, decay or other problems. Stains on the ceilings or wall could be indicative of an ongoing problem with the plumbing or the roof. Check everything is in order externally. Crumbling brickwork or large cracks could be very serious and very expensive to put right. If they’re obvious, chances are the mortgage survey will put a halt to your purchase.

    Making An Offer

    Once you’ve found the house that’s right for you, it’s time to make an offer. Most owners are willing to accept a few thousand off the list price of their properties. Going beyond a ten percent discount probably won’t go down well, though. Of course, if you can see some problems with the property or it’s been on the market a long time, a cheeky offer could be accepted.

    Any offer you make may be legally binding. There are different rules and regulations in places like Scotland, so be sure you know what you are getting into before offering. Offers are usually expressed through the selling agent. They will then contact the owner to find out if they’re willing to accept it. You will then be contacted back by the agent with their answer. Now comes the expensive part!

    You will need to get your mortgage sorted quickly. If you don’t have it in place when you offer, the owner may reserve the right to keep the property on the market. You need to stipulate clearly that you want the house removed from the market. Your mortgage company will move quite quickly to get their survey done. If this comes back OK, you need to make the rest of the arrangements yourself.

    Completing

    Before the sale completes, you have a lot of running around to do. First, you need to agree on a date that the owner will relinquish the property. You may also need to give notice at your rental property. Next, you need to engage a solicitor who will oversee the legal details of the sale. A conveyancing solicitor will also ensure all the land searches and property history checks are done. While you may engage the solicitor, they are ultimately working for your mortgage lender.

    Most of the information they will find is freely available on your local authority’s website. This will detail past planning applications and the history of the building. You may want to check this out yourself before making any commitments to the property. Unfortunately, you will still be billed by your solicitor for retrieving and collating this information.

    Conveyancing could easily cost you over £1000. You need to have this cash available, ready to pay, on your completion date. Your mortgage lender will also ask for fees of several hundred pounds to be paid by this date. If you used a mortgage advisor, there might also be a fee for their service. The solicitor will detail all of the costs in an itemised bill. The resulting pack will be quite detailed and thick, though. You get to keep it for your own reference.

    The Government also charges taxes on many house sales. It may depend on the value of the property and when you finally complete the sale. It could cost you several thousand pounds to pay this bill. Again, this must be paid in cash on the date of completion. As you can see, the cost of buying a house goes far beyond the asking price of the property

     

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    Got The Keys!

    Once the sale is complete, you immediately receive the keys and possession of the property. You may choose to decorate or even remodel before you move in. This is one of the benefits for first-time buyers. When a chain is involved, you often have to all move house on the same completion date. You may need some more cash to hand to cover the removal costs and any new furniture or appliances you need.

    Insurances are essential as a homeowner. Your mortgage company will demand you have life insurance and building insurance to protect the loan. Further to this, you may want contents insurance, home maintenance insurance, and other plans to protect your property. You’ll also need to alert the utility companies about your move. Finally, pop all adults on the Electoral Roll through your local council.

    Driving licenses and car insurances will need to be updated. Some car insurance companies will charge you an administration fee for this. Phone, broadband, and mobile phone companies will also need to be contacted. You can use a mail redirect service to ensure you continue getting your other mail, but again, there is a fee for this.

     

    It may be a lot of hard work and a lot of money to buy a new home of your own. But when you wake up in the morning staring out of your own window, it feels pretty fantastic knowing it’s yours!

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  2. Early Bird Snackbox Refined Sugar Free Subscription Box Healthy Discount Co

    Early Bird Snackbox Refined Sugar Free Subscription Box Healthy Discount Co

    Early Bird Snackbox Refined Sugar Free Subscription Box Healthy Discount Co

    Refined Sugar Free Healthy Subscription Box Review

    I’d been thinking I’d love some sort of subscription food box which is refined sugar free as I recently cancelled my Goodness Project Box.  It sadly often contained sugary snacks (insert sad face).  I’ve not gone 100% refined sugar free (yet), but I’m a lot more aware of added sugar in food and now try to avoid it as much as possible.  I won't eat any cakes, sweets, regular crisps, biscuits, etc any more, it's probably been for most of this year.  I didn't eat loadsssss, but I did have a treat session maybe one night per week with Ben and some rather large chocolate bars!  I stopped drinking fizzy drinks and squash a few years ago now.  My only chocolate feasting session this year was on Easter Day and I won't be doing it again now.

    I don’t avoid added sugar when eating out if it's in main meals, or on our treat night each week (usually a pizza on a Friday evening) but otherwise I’ve pretty much stopped eating the stuff. I occasionally have baked beans (the reduced sugar version) maybe once per week if that, some mayo and veggie sausages.  I think this is everything I buy with added sugar.  Everything else, even the bread I buy, is added sugar free (Warbutons wholemeal if you're wondering - the only one I've found with no sugar after reading nearly all the breads in Tesco!).   There's an added sugar free jam in our supermarket and most Yeo yoghurts are refined sugar free.  If you look and read most labels, you'll soon discover the brands which don't add it.  Most other foods we eat are vegetables, dairy and wholegrains.  I try to eat as many whole foods as possible.

    I was amazed when I discovered the EarlyBird snack box as it's all free from added sugar!  This is exactly what I had been thinking of and I immediately signed up!  The personalised leaflet in the EarlyBird box is a nice touch.  It was so cool to open it and see my name.  It makes the whole experience more personalised.  I also love how there’s a tea bag in each box.  I’m obsessed with green tea, but have ventured into the realms of herbal tea over the past few months and love them!  I can’t wait to see what tea will be in my next box and it’s the perfect accompaniment for the delicious snacks.

    Here’s what I got in my very first box and my thoughts:

    ABC Nuts
    Who doesn’t like nuts?  I’m a big fan and prefer natural nuts in all their glory.  These were delicious and I could munch them all day.

    Beetroot and Carrot Crisps
    Oh wow! Beetroot crisps are absolutely amazing!  So flavoursome.  They are so full of flavour, it’s still super strong even when turned into a crisp.  Delicious and I want more!  The carrot crisps are tasty too.

    Cacao Chia Pud
    I accidently flooded this with a bit too much water, but it was still very tasty and chocolatey.  A guilt free chocolate treat.

    Shmokin’ Peas
    ACTUAL peas.  Yep.  Really good too.  Little hard pea balls with a great crunch.  Not dissimilar to eating a handful of nuts, but these are really peas.  Such a great idea.

    Mojitea Mockingbird
    This tea bag was super refreshing and enjoyed along with the tasty snacks above.  I love that a tea bag is included.  It comes in the cutest box too!

    I have now received several of these healthy snack boxes and I continue to be impressed.  They are right up my street!  I have changed to a fortnightly delivery.  To do this I went to cancel my account online and then they give you a monthly or fortnightly option instead.  It's a great trick to know if weekly is too much for you :)

     

  3. four tips to remember twitter hashtag hours marketing small business

    Four Tips to Remember Twitter Hashtag Hours

    A lot of people always mention to me they find it difficult to remember Twitter hashtag hours.  There are a lot and unless you do the same ones regularly, like I do, it can be difficult to keep track of them all.

    Here are four tips for remembering hashtag hours that I have used:

    1. Make a spreadsheet – I have an excel spreadsheet saved on my laptop with all the hours I like to do.  I have a list of days in the first column and times across the top.  I then fill in all the hours and colour code each day so it’s easy to read at a glance.  I access this on my laptop as well as printing it off (fit to one page) and keeping it on my desk.  I leave the bottom half of the page blank and use the space to scribble notes each week.  I tend to print a new one each week and add a to-do list to the bottom.  It’s my handy point of reference every day when planning tweets, etc.

    2. Add them to your phone calendar – I use an iPhone and have the hours added to my calendar so I can access them on the go.  On the iPhone it’s possible to set the event to a recurring weekly event, so it’s quick to add the hours to repeat on the calendar weekly.  If you are super forgetful and forget to look at your calendar it’s possible to set up an alarm to remind you of your calendar events.  Obviously you might not want your phone dinging all day long, so set an alert without an alarm.  The event will flash up as a notification on your phone without dinging.

    3. Follow @hashtag_hour and enable notifications – I’m not sure they have all the hours, but a good amount.  Some have no interaction, so it’s worth checking the ones they are advertising before tweeting.  I follow this account and have activated mobile notifications so it flashes up to me on my mobile at the start of each hour they know about.  I’ve turned sound off for Twitter notifications so it’s not annoying!  I’d love to know if there’s another Twitter account that does this too, so if you know of one please let me know in the comments.

    4. Bookmark a hashtag hour list – There are several lists of hashtag hours on the internet which you can Google and find easily.  Bookmark the page and find it easily whenever you need to reference it.  It’s a good idea to find one that is updated regularly.

    I hope these tips help if you need to remember when all your favourite hours are.  Let me know in the comments if you have any more tips.