Browse Category by Top tips
Interior Design, Top tips

Cutting down costs with energy-efficient Interior design

Cutting down costs with energy efficient Interior design

Cutting down costs with energy-efficient Interior design

Gas and electricity prices are notoriously on the rise. With living costs skyrocketing and the living wage failing to keep up with the demand, it’s high time that we all start to cut the amount of wastage in our homes. You’d be so surprised at the amount of money that is frittered away through sheer waste. What’s most shocking? It’s entirely preventable! So, here are a few ways to cut down the costs with energy-efficient interior design.

Cutting down costs with energy efficient Interior design

Windows

The two main areas of a home that lose energy are the windows and the roof. So let’s start with the first. Windows need to be made of glass. There isn’t any alternative, suitable material. But sadly, glass doesn’t tend to have the best insulating properties. But not to worry, there’s a fix to everything. Make sure that your home has double glazing. This helps to create a vacuum of sorts between the two individual panes, containing heat within your home more effectively. It’s a relatively quick process and fitting won’t take all too long. For extra measure, you could make use of a specialist window coating.

Roofing

Cutting down costs with energy efficient Interior design

Onto the second largest site of energy loss: the roof: about 25% of a home’s energy will be wasted if its roof is uninsulated.  We all know that heat rises, so it is logical that you need a well-insulated roof to keep everything contained. There are a couple of ways to go about this. If you have a pitched or sloped roof, good news! This is the easiest type to work with. You can opt for a warm loft or cold loft. A warm loft has insulation lining the inside of the roof, allowing heat from your home to rise and fill the loft space. A cold loft has insulation lining the top ceiling of the building, meaning heat is contained to the home, but not the loft space. A second area to focus on is the roofing on any extensions or conservatories that you may have added to your home. Check out http://www.guardianwarmroof.co.uk/ for a quote from the most reliable and high-quality manufacturers and installers of the Guardian Conservatory Roof.

Color Scheme

Who would have thought that the colour of your walls could have an effect on energy conservation in your home? Well, it can! Lighter shades, like cream, beige and mushroom reflect energy, slightly preventing loss. It’s a small feature but it’s worth a try, right?

Cutting down costs with energy efficient Interior design

Lighting

This seems a simple one, but so many of us still fail to make use of energy-efficient light bulbs. These last up to ten times as long as standard incandescent bulbs and are more durable (they are less prone to break from knocks and bumps). Though they are initially more expensive to purchase, they save enough on the electricity bill to cover the cost and more. LED light bulbs only use 2-17 watts of electricity, which is between one-third and one-thirtieth of the energy used by most common incandescent bulbs!

***Collaborative post***
Home, Interior Design, Top tips

The benefits of LED lighting in a busy family home

The Benefits of LED Lighting in a Busy Family Home

The benefits of LED lighting in a busy family home

By now, you’ve probably heard the hype about LED lighting. It saves money, it’s good for the environment and it is available in a variety of styles. If you have a busy family home, LED lighting could be a great investment for you. Here is everything that you need to know about the different benefits of LED lighting:

Choice of Styles

When LED lighting first came to the mass market, it was only available in cool-toned bulbs that could make a home look bright and harsh. However, the technology has moved on a lot since then, and LED lighting is availability in a variety of styles and colours. You can get soft, yellow lighting that works well for mood lighting, and bright white lighting which looks great in a bathroom. You can buy LED lighting in a range of styles from pendant lighting to recessed lights for the kitchen and decking area.

Money-saving

One of the biggest benefits to installing LED lighting in a family home is the money that it saves. There is an upfront cost to LED lighting – the bulbs generally cost a bit more than the standard halogen bulbs – but in most cases, you’ll make the cost back in savings on your electricity bill. The best way to experiment with the impact of LED lighting in your family home is to put them in the room that you use the most – be it the kitchen, living room or bathroom, and see if there is a change in your electricity bill.
Although the upfront cost may seem off-putting, it’s important to remember that LED bulbs have a lifespan of over 10,000 hours, compared to 1000 hours for halogen bulbs. This means that you’ll barely ever need to replace them, making them more of an investment than a reoccurring cost.

Reduces carbon footprint

Another upside of switching to LED lighting is the environmental impact. 95% of the energy used in LED bulbs is converted into light and only 5% wasted as heat – the opposite is true in fluorescent bulbs. You also need less LED lights than standard lights, as they focus light in one direction to give a brighter light, unlike halogen bulbs.

Safety

One reason to install LED lighting in a family home is all about safety. As the bulbs do not generate as much heat, they are not as hot to the touch in the event that a child should accidentally touch one. They are also less likely to shatter and break.

Customisable

LED lighting works well in a family home because it is highly customisable. You can connect the lights to a dimmer switch, allowing the lighting level to match the atmosphere. You can have the lights in the kitchen bright for mealtimes and darker for when the kids go to bed and you are enjoying a glass of wine.
You can also connect your LED bulbs to a range of smart home systems, which allow you to control the lights when you’re outside of the house via an app on your phone. This also adds to the saving on your electricity bill, should you forget to turn the bathroom light off when you leave the house.
Would you consider installing LED lighting in your home?

***Collaborative post***

 

Top tips, Travel

Accommodating the family: A guide to cheaper holiday digs

Accommodating The Family: A Guide To Cheaper Holiday Digs

Accommodating the family: A guide to cheaper holiday digs

When the family goes on holiday, you have to find a place to stay for a couple of weeks. Accommodation may not have been an issue in your younger days, but you now have kids to look after. Unfortunately, travel digs don’t come cheap, so you may have to fork out a small fortune. And, that is before you have even begun to think about spending money. All in all, a regular hotel can make the cost of a family holiday too much.

But, are you supposed to call it a day and wait until next year in the hope of finding something more affordable? No, you are not! What you should do is search for affordable accommodation now. All you need are a few helpful hints to point you in the right direction, and as luck would have it, you can find them below.

Happy hotel hunting guys and girls!

Accommodating the family: A guide to cheaper holiday digs

Search The Internet & High street

Of course, the first place to check is the World Wide Web because it has all of the best deals. Thanks to sites like Booking.com, it has never been easier to find a bargain. Indeed, some people get to stay in four and five-star accommodation without paying the usual price. Still, the internet isn’t the only resource at your disposal. Whether you realise it or not, holiday bookers exist on the high street, and they are very helpful. In some cases, they are even cheaper than the deals online because they need to keep up with the competition. A holiday broker may not have anything that is suitable for a young family, but it is worth checking all the same. When you cover all the bases, you are bound to find the cheapest deals.

Book More Than One Night

Some people like to stay for a night to check out as many establishments as possible. In truth, this is a great way to save money if you can find cheaper digs elsewhere. However, it depends on the deals that the hotel has to offer. In most cases, hotels have discounts which only apply if the guests stay for three or four nights. In that sense, it is costlier to move because the promotion will not apply and you will have to pay the full rates. Before you book, check what promotions are on offer and the terms and conditions. Far too many holidaymakers don’t read the fine print and it bites them on the backside on arrival. Also, don’t be afraid to haggle. The deal may say one thing, but you can ask for a further discount. After all, ‘no we can’t do that’ is the worst they can say.

Stay Mid-Week

Regardless of the time of year, the weekends are always the most popular days. As such, the rates are more expensive on a Friday and a Saturday night. The logical move, then, is to avoid these days whenever possible. Although it sounds hard, it is pretty easy as long as you book the flights strategically. The trick is to fly out over the weekend so that you arrive during the week. That way, even if you spend two weeks, you should only have to pay the peak rates once. The rest of the time will be weekdays, so the prices should be lower. Anyone that goes away for one week to seven days can exploit this trick. Don’t worry about Sundays as they don’t follow the same rules due to the mix of clientele. Leisure bookers, for example, prefer Friday and Saturday, while business bookers stay from Monday to Friday.

Accommodating the family: A guide to cheaper holiday digs

Travel Off Season

The prices in the summer holidays are higher as it is the most popular time of year. But, there is no need to holiday in June, July and August. If you get organised, you can go away in the early autumn instead. All you have to do is take time off work, which isn’t difficult, and link it with the half term holidays. You will find that September is much cheaper even though you still get the weather and the atmosphere. October is also another good time to get away because of half term. Simply put, don’t book a holiday in the peak season if you want to save money on accommodation!

Sacrifice Location

One thing that bumps up the price is the location. People don’t want to travel far to the restaurants and bars and will pay more to stay close to the action. Because most guests are willing to fork out, the hotels shamelessly take advantage. There is nothing you can do about this if you want to be within a stone throw from the centre of town, so you have to pay extra. However, if the location isn’t a big deal, you can take up a position further a field. Then, the cost of the room for the duration of your stay will be a lot lower. And, you can use the extra money to spend on the kids, your partner, or yourself if you get the chance. Also, thanks to public transport, there is no need to miss out on any of the action. A local bus will get you into town within ten to fifteen minutes, and Uber is almost everywhere in the world.

Think Outside The Box

This post uses the word ‘hotel’ a lot because that is what springs to mind when you think of accommodation. But, there are lots of other types, and they tend to be cheaper. All you have to do is research all of your options and get creative. For example, hostels won’t appeal to you because they are for young travellers who like to party. However, there is no need to share a dorm as you can book a private room. Plus, if you pick a quiet hostel, the noise shouldn’t be too much of a big deal. Or, you can rent a houseboat and stay on the water. Houseboats are quite affordable because there are few overheads to factor in as long as you moor in a marina. Finally, there is a guesthouse for those of you who get sea-sick. These are three options, and there are plenty more at your disposal.

Go With A Group

Why? You still have to pay per room. That is true, but some establishments offer discounts for guests with multiple bookings. More importantly, there are more options when you travel with a bigger group. Take a condo or a villa as an example. For one family, these are two options which are out of most families’ price range. But, when there are two or three families together, the price is lower because you split it evenly. After all, the price of a villa stays the same regardless of how many people want to stay. Unlike hotels, they don’t charge per person, which works out in your favour if you can get more friends on board. Just make sure you like everyone you ask. Staying with people who get on your nerves may ruin your holiday!

Accommodating the family: A guide to cheaper holiday digs

Look For Free Cancellation

Once you make a booking, you have to stick to it unless there is a free cancellation option. It is worth noting that the majority of places don’t provide this option for obvious reasons. However, there are ones that are willing to take the risk, and these are the ones you need to find. That way, it won’t cost you a penny should you find a better and cheaper alternative.

***Collaborative post***
Lifestyle, Top tips

Ways to reduce the stress of moving house

Ways to reduce the stress of moving house

Ways to reduce the stress of moving house

Anyone that has ever moved house would most probably agree that it is one of the most challenging lifes events, both physically and emotionally that anyone can go through, even more so if you have children.

Moving house can be extremely stressful as there is a lot of changes happening and unfamiliarity to deal with. This can lead to stress and anxiety if not careful. It is important to make sure moving does not become to overwhelming.

We recently moved house and was a mix of emotions. We was happy but also sad, excited but not. Tears on moving day was happy ones but a few sad ones too. Our moving post and reasons for moving can be read here.

We would like to share a few tips on how to have a stress-free house move.

Our top ten tips are:

  1. Our top tip would be to write an action plan as far in advance as possible as come closer to the moving date you wont be thinking straight and will have 1001 things going round in your head. At least with the plan in place it will help ease some of the stress for you and it is even on paper for any volunteers you may have to come and help.
  2. As soon as you have a date set shop around and get your removal company/vans booked ASAP. It would be awful if forgotten or left to the last-minute and there is none available. Plus it would be a tick off that huge to-do list.
  3. Book time off work to allow yourself time. Moving can not only be exhausting but it also gives you time to adjust to your new home and neighbours.
  4. Book re-direction of your mail and start making a list of whom to inform of your new address.
  5. Put a moving day box aside to keep to hand on the big day and fill with handy things such as, medication, drinks, snacks, phone chargers etc. It is important to have means of contact should anything go wrong as well as keeping hydrated and some snacks to hand.
  6. Don’t make the boxes too heavy as the removal men won’t be too happy. If possible borrow or hire a sack barrow as this would be most welcomed when it comes to any heavy appliances. Also a van with a tail-lift would be extremely useful. Minimize heavy lifting where possible.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help on the big day, some may only be too happy to lend a hand. More hands the better, especially if it’s a rainy day like our moving day was.
  8. Moving house is a good time to have a sort out/de-clutter. If honest with ourselves we are all guilty of owning a junk draw or cupboard? do you really want/need to take all that with you?
  9. Take time out for a short break, have a drink, rest and recharge. Don’t forget to eat otherwise you will burn all energy.
  10. The key to a successful move that we found was organisation. Everyone had an allocated job so we all knew who was doing what. We swapped around during the day so we all took turns to help with the heavy lifting, it also gave us the chance to have a much welcomed rest from it.

If you are moving into a house that is in need of renovation works then perhaps self storage may be a safer option to help protect your belongings whilst works are carried out.

***Sponsored post***
Lifestyle, Top tips

The Garage Clear out Guide

The Garage Clear out Guide

The Garage Clear out Guide

So you have made the decision to go about turning your garage from a junk depository into something more usable. Perhaps you have decided it’s finally time that you were able to keep a car in there, or you might even be contemplating using the space as an extra room on the ground floor of your house as www.mkhomedesign.com.au suggests. Either way, you’ve got big plans and now all you need to do is… remove the years of mess that have been being stored there! No big problem, then.

While this might be a worrying undertaking, there’s no doubt that it can be a beneficial one if you commit the time and energy to doing it. There’s a whole extra space in your home that you haven’t been taking advantage of, so why not roll up your sleeves, put on some gloves, and blast through it in a weekend?

Deciding what to keep, what to throw, and what to do with the mess that’s left is one of the most difficult parts of this project. If you need a few guiding pointers, then there’s a few good ideas that you should be putting into use…

1 – Don’t Get Trapped By Memories

As you peel back years of junk, it’s far too easy to find yourself being trapped by nostalgia. You’ll find boxes of items you’d thought lost; memories of experiences with your kids, their toys, and all sorts of items you have an emotional attachment to.

This is one of the perks of cleaning out an area like the garage, but it’s also one of the biggest time sucks. If you want to do a thorough job, you need to ensure you’re not caught up in an endless parade of attached memories. Rather than reflecting on items, give yourself five seconds to match a quick decision on whether to keep or throw them out. You can go back over them later and indulge as much nostalgia as you want, but the first task is to remove all the rubbish that needs to go, so you can begin to see how much space you have to work with.

2 – Get Rid Of The Rubbish

When you have accumulated a lot of items to be disposed of, then get rid of it as quickly as possible. As mentioned, this helps you to make a more thorough assessment of the space that you have available to you rather than being backed into corners. If you don’t fancy making numerous runs to the tip, then consider using the likes of www.dirtcheaprubbishremoval.com.au to collect and dispose of unwanted items and rubbish for you. Any extra time you have to tackle the mess is preferable!

3 – Separate The Remaining Items Into Sections

If you try and deal with a whole room as a single entity, then it can be overwhelming. However, separating items out into their own space before you decide what to do with them is the best bet. You could have a specific area for items you’re keeping for the sake of nostalgia; a pile of ‘useful’ items such as tools; seasonal items that you only use a few months out of the year – and so on and so forth. This kind of separation makes all the difference when it comes to organising the remnants in the room, as it helps to truly focus you so you can be done as quickly as possible.

***Collaborative post***
Lifestyle, Top tips, Weight loss

How To Break a Weight Loss Plateau

How To Break a Weight Loss Plateau

How To Break a Weight Loss Plateau

If you have ever embarked on a weight loss journey, you have more than likely come across the dreaded weight loss plateau. This can be frustrating to dieters, particular since it seems to come from nowhere, stalling weight loss efforts that may previously have being going well.

So why do weight loss plateaus occur, especially when you’re doing the same things that made you lose weight in the first place? Here we’ll explore some of the reasons weight plateaus happen and what you can do about it.

Reasons For Hitting A Weight Loss Plateau

To break through your body’s weight set point means understanding what might be working against it.

Decrease of Metabolism: Adaptive thermogenesis is the scientific term for what happens to the body when calories are reduced. Essentially, over time, the body adjusts itself to fewer calories and eventually the metabolic rate drops.

For instance, let’s say you eat 2000 calories in your diet then reduce it to 1,500 calories. It makes sense for your body to grab the 500 calorie difference from your fat reserves, except (unfortunately) it doesn’t work that way. Studies have shown that the body simply adjusts itself to surviving on 1500 calories. This is the body’s way of intelligently preserving itself, great for survival, not so great for your waist line.

Food intake increases: Being on restrictive diet day in and day out can cause a major increase in appetite. This can lead to scenarios when binge eating may occur, causing the calorie deficient for that week to be lost through overeating.

Water weight returns: In the first few weeks when losing weight, there’s usually a rapid drop in water weight. This water is lost as the body utilises carbohydrate stores as glycogen (sugar). Since carbohydrate intake goes up and down day-to-day, it’s not unusual to gain some of that water weight back.

How To Break A Plateau

While it’s good to know why weight loss plateaus occur, it’s even better to find out how to reverse it and start losing weight. Below are some of the methods that are tried, tested and effective.

Lose the Weight slowly: Although it’s exhilarating to see the pounds fly off, fast weight loss usually correlates with fast weight gain. Try to lose no more than 1% of your total body weight per week, which is usually 1-3 pounds.

Change your fitness routine: To take your daily exercise routine to another level, try varying your exercise routine. This means your body muscles don’t get used to working out in one particular way.

Re-feeding: While it may sound counterproductive, you could actually lose more weight by increasing calories. For example, once a week increase your calories by 10-20%. This can stimulate the metabolism which often helps to break a weight loss plateau.

Try Orlistat to increase loss: This is an over the counter weight loss medication vouched for by thousands of people. How Orlistat works is by stopping the absorption of fat in the gut. This allows it to pass through the body undigested and, in turn, reduce the overall calories absorbed by the body.

If you are having an issue with occasional overeating, Orlistat is an effective way to stay on track and continue losing weight, even on “cheat days”.

Final Thoughts

A weight loss plateau does not have to spell the end of your diet. The tips above show that with a few tweaks it’s possible to continue dropping the pounds. Try one or two and see what works best for your lifestyle and body.

***Collaborative post***
Lifestyle, Top tips

Sardine families: to move Or to extend?

Sardine families: to move Or to extend?

Sardine families: to move Or to extend?

Is your family starting to feel like a family of sardines? If you are struggling to find the room you need in your home, you might feel like you are becoming more and more like sardines living in a tin with each passing day!

So, what are the solutions to making more space for you and your family? There are certain tips you could try but, at the end of the day, the better options for creating permanent space are to move house or to extend your current one. This is certainly a huge decision to make no matter which option you decide to go for. Are you struggling to figure out which one would be best for you and your family? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Sardine families: to move Or to extend?

The Costs

One of the main things that will probably sway your decision will be the costs involved. Over the past few years, property prices have continued to rise, and they are now at an all-time high. Buying a bigger house may well depend on if you can afford to. Extending will certainly work out cheaper, but may still end up in the region of £60,000 depending on the side. If you call a builder, such as detaildevelopmentsltd.co.uk, they will be able to quote you a price for the work. It’s worth contacting a few different building companies to see who can offer you the better price.

Planning Permission

No matter what type of extension you would like added onto your property, you will need to get official planning permission for it. You need to start the application for permission before you begin any work. Otherwise, you might have to remove the extension if permission is denied, and this will cost you a lot of money! If your local planning office refuses to grant you permission, then you might have to start thinking about moving home instead…

A New Area

Moving into a bigger home saves you from all the hassle of having to hire builders and other labourers, and you won’t have to live in a building site while they get to work on your extension! But you will need some time to adapt to your new home, especially if you move to a new neighbourhood. If you can only afford property prices in certain neighbourhoods, you need to make sure that moving there isn’t going to affect your kids getting to school or your daily commute. If the journey to school and the office is going to increase dramatically, you might be better off staying where you are and enduring all the building work that comes with an extension!

If you still aren’t sure whether it is better to move to a bigger house or extend your current one, you should check out other articles such as budgetbreakaway.co.uk/to-move-or-to-extend-that-is-the-question/. Just make sure you do plenty of research before you make your decision. That way, you know it will be the right option for you!

***Collaborative post***
Debt, Top tips

Do you know how to handle debt?

Do you know how to handle debt?

Do you know how to handle debt?

There isn’t a person alive who isn’t in some way concerned about their finances. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, your financial situation is always going to present certain limitations on your life and the way in which you can live it. You may not be able to spend as much money as you would like on luxuries or perhaps you simply aren’t in a position to save money. Of course, for some, it’s much more serious than that. Some people are in a position where their financial situation means that they’re constantly in danger of not being able to afford their energy bills, food, or even to live in their homes. These kinds of issues are incredibly serious, and many people don’t how to help themselves avoid them.

However, there are some things that people can do to avoid this, potentially catastrophic situation. Unfortunately, since you can almost never get something for nothing, many people find that the solutions to their finances problems often involve debt. Whether it’s a loan from the bank, remortgaging, short-term cash loans, or credit cards, many of the ways in which people are able to pay off any large financial obligations can land them in pretty significant amounts of debt.

Of course, debt isn’t always bad. In fact, it can be pretty positive at times. After all, many people find that a small monthly payment is far more manageable that a single large payment. Not only that but paying off your debts can even help improve your credit rating. Of course, that doesn’t mean that debt is always good. In fact, too much debt can leave many people financially crippled and completely unable to pull themselves out of it. To help make sure that doesn’t happen to you, here are some ways that you can manage borrowed money and hopefully avoid falling into a bottomless pit on every increasing debt.

Only borrow what you can afford to pay back

 Do You Know How To Handle Debt?

This might sound a little odd to some people. After all, why would you need to borrow money if you could already afford it? But this isn’t really how debt works. After all, most of the time people end up borrowing money not because they can’t afford something overall, but because they can’t afford it at that particular moment in time. This is why payday loans exist. They are designed to tide you over for a week or two until you get paid and can then pay off what you owe.  Or, at least that’s how it should be in theory. Far too many people end up miscalculating how much they can actually afford to borrow instead of thinking carefully about what their monthly income can stretch to. This leads to them being unable to pay off their debts and slowly building up more and more interest over time, not only costing themselves money but also destroying their credit score in the process. Think carefully about how much you’re borrowing, how long you’ll be paying it back for, and how much the payments are. Then, balance that against your monthly income and how much you can afford to remove from that amount. Only then can you truly figure out how much to borrow.

Never buy luxuries on borrowed money

One of the biggest issues that are facing modern households is that much of their household debt has been accrued through the purchase of luxury and non-essential items. This is part of the reason that so many people were left financially crippled following the financial disaster of 2008. There are plenty of experts who fear that the amount of spending on credit that people are doing in recent years is leading them down the same path. One of the most dangerous things that you can do is to think of credit cards or loans as free money to use on luxuries. Not only is this incredibly short sighted but it also causes you to massively overestimate what you can afford. It’s all fun and games until the end of the month when a huge credit card bill appears on your doorstep, and you’re in no position to actually pay it back.

Keep a clear budget

Do You Know How To Handle Debt?

If you want to be able to pay off your debts, then you simply can’t afford to be in a position where you’re not keeping close track of your money. Far too many people seem to think that their money will handle itself and that they don’t need to track it carefully. Having a budget is one of the most important things that anyone can do on a financial level, but for those in debt, it’s even more important. You need to be able to look carefully at whether or not you’re in a position to pay certain things off or not. It will help you know whether you can borrow money and how much, not only that but you’ll be able to more closely manage your spending so that you’re not spending money that you need in order to pay back debts on something frivolous. Your budget should be as detailed as possible. Any regular payment, no matter how small, should be included so that you can keep the clearest possible track of where your money’s going and when.

Only borrow from trusted sources

It’s a sad fact of life that there are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to take advantage of desperate, frightened, and vulnerable people in order to make money. Because of that, you should exercise as much caution as possible when you’re trying to find somewhere to borrow money from. This is especially important in the internet age where it is far easier than ever for criminals with ulterior motives to manipulate and trick unsuspecting people into getting into bad debt. Make sure that you do as much research as possible on any organization that is lending money. If you can’t find multiple sources of verification that they’re legitimate, steer clear. Stick to things like banks and other established organizations. Sure, there are risks when it comes to borrowing from banks too, but they are certainly far less significant than borrowing from random companies. Remember: if someone is offering you a deal and it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Never cover the debt with more debt!

 Do You Know How To Handle Debt?

One of the most tempting things that a lot of people do is to panic and use more borrowing to cover the payments of existing debts. While this might seem like a good idea in the moment, it’s the worst thing that you can do. All you’re doing there is digging yourself further and further into a hole where there is nothing but more and more debt. As hard as it might seem, you’ll be better off with things like saving bit by bit or working extra hours for a little more spare cash. Adding more debt onto what you already have is going to make life much, much harder. Of course, this is not the same as consolidating your debts. There are plenty of situations where you’ll be able to combine your various debts into a single monthly payment. Not only does this make a huge amount difference to your mindset, since you no longer feel like you’re drowning in debt, but you may also be able to reduce your monthly payments overall. You may end up paying your debts for slightly longer, but for those who are worried that they wouldn’t be able to make the payments at all, that’s a pretty fair trade.

***Collaborative post***
Property buying, Top tips

8 Important things to look for before buying your beautiful new holiday home

8 Important things to look for before buying your beautiful new holiday home

8 Important things to look for before buying your beautiful new holiday home

You’ve worked hard for years, your little babies are growing up, and you’ve decided that now is the time to invest in a holiday home. Finding real estate abroad is an exciting time. If you have a culture or special place that you love to travel to, making your home-from-home official by purchasing property there can set you and your family up for a lifetime of beautiful vacations.

Not only will purchasing a new holiday home allow you to have a reliable and beautiful place to holiday, in the long run, it will save you money in accommodation fees. You’ll also only be limited by how long you can stay in that country on a holiday visit, as opposed to how long you can afford hotels for. If you improve the property over months, you might also increase the property value. This makes a great asset worth much more when you sell it in your retirement. Investing money in real estate can be one of the best ways to have a hard, stable money saving resource.

No matter what you enjoy, long strolls on the beach or extreme winter sports, the checklist you need to assess your potential new property with should be thorough and without flaw. This list will help you do just that. Without further ado:

Location

The obvious first place is, where would you like to relocate? Somewhere new or somewhere you’ve visited for years? Think about this carefully. A holiday home will likely be with you for years, maybe even decades, so you need to both be so fascinated with the culture you’re locating your house in that you’re willing to spend the next years learning about it or find somewhere you consider even more intriguing to locate. If you really enjoy extreme winter sports and you purchase the holiday home in your mid-forties, it’s likely that by your sixties playing extreme winter sports will not be a good idea, or even desirable.

Consider this long-term viewpoint over your initial desires. Property is always an investment, no matter the practical uses, and you want the most bang for your buck, both in resale value and utility. If the country you’re hoping to buy the property in is likely about to suffer an economic collapse, maybe hold off for now. Do plenty of research and forecasting, and try to pick the wisest option. You’ll be sure that you have the most sensible property you can have when you think in this way.

Size

With the foresight stipulation in mind, you should assess your size requirements. Are you planning on bringing your children and pets to the home, or your entire extended family or work colleagues? Are you purchasing it so your children can one day have parties there with their friends? How often are you going to visit it?

All of these questions happily contribute to the size requirements of any property that you are hoping to buy. What might work for you this year might not work for you five years down the line. Also, take into consideration the value of the property. Will it be worth purchasing a larger property now while the currency conversion rate is competitive so the size will pay off as a large investment when you come to sell it? This might justify purchasing a property that’s slightly more than your needs would first suggest.

Competitiveness (Desirability)

How desirable is the home? What are the amenities like? Are you going to use these amenities? Having a swimming pool in a property isn’t particularly worth paying for if you’re only going to spend Christmas celebrations there. However, if you’re of the mind that you’ll let the property out during the time you’re not there, this can actually be a great amenity to have.

Websites like Airbnb allow you to provide tourists with a holiday destination and get a return on your investment. It’s always good having a form of passive income and provided you maintain the property well with trustworthy cleaning services, you might have a handy little cash cow.

This is also ethical for the destination you’ve purchased the holiday home within. This is because an empty property being paid for by someone abroad doesn’t provide accommodation or tourist investment in the local community, but letting it out will because it will constantly be in use for tourists spending their hard earned money abroad. This might not mean much for your pocket, but the locals will surely appreciate it.

Utility

Not only do you need to purchase a holiday home that’s suitable for your needs as has been listed above, but you have the added contingency of making sure it’s perfect for your family. If you have a newborn, making sure the property is correctly insulated can prevent them from catching illnesses they’re susceptible to. Do you plan to invite your friends to stay? Extra beds for them and their children are a must too. Consider every single use you might have for this property, and plan around it.

Legal Ease

How easily can you purchase it? Are there any stipulations in the contract? How is the land, and how are the foundations the house rests on? Could the house use some work before you can declare it ‘home-worthy?’ This is your chance to pour over the contract before you sign it. Make sure there aren’t any nasty hidden costs or repairs you need to make that the property sellers are neglecting to tell you.

Maintenance

How much maintenance does the property need every year? If the location experiences heavy rains or snowfall, upgrading the drain or roofing structural integrity might be a regular occurrence. Factor these contingencies into your long-term and short-term cost and planning decisions that you make. A cheap property might not seem so cheap when you have to pay $6000 a year keeping on top of it. This includes little things like pool cleaning, general cleaning, security or insurance payments if you let the property out year round.

Security

How secure is the property? If you’re going to let it out, you have a responsibility to keep those letting the house safe. Of course, they are also responsible for their own sensible self-protection, but making sure the house has adequate security features like strong locks, secure windows, and even CCTV coverage can help keep you covered and insured if any legal ramifications were to take place as a result of robbery or damage.

Insure the property effectively with a great package that prepares for any eventuality, even freak occurrences. For example, if your home is near surfing destination, don’t rule out the possibility of freak waves damaging the boundaries of your property. Take a little time thinking of the ‘what-if’ scenarios, and you’ll receive better peace of mind for the attempt.

Value Fluctuation

Check out the trends of buying power in the area you’re choosing over the last fifteen years. Check the news of the country it’s in. Make sure the country is stable, the economy is secure, and the holiday home market is thriving before you make a purchase in that area. This will give you plenty of foresight and predicting power to ensure your investment isn’t subject to negative value fluctuation if you needed to sell.

There are many things to look for when purchasing a holiday home, but on the whole, you’ll know when the right one presents itself. This property buying instinct seems ubiquitous among people who are genuinely searching for a home, and finding somewhere to enjoy your free time with your family is no different. Make sure you read over all the contracts, use your best sense and right feeling, and you’re sure to find the holiday home of your dreams.

***Collaborative post***
health, Lifestyle, Safety, Safety tips, Top tips

Making your home safer and healthier

Making your home safer and healthier

Making your home safer and healthier

Your family home should be a safe space. It should be a place where you can bring up your kids to be healthy happy adults. Unfortunately, for too many of us, our homes are far from being the safe havens we would imagine. They’re filled with potential dangers like boiling water, toxic substances and dodgy wiring that could potentially make us sick or cause an accident. So, even if you think your home is a pretty safe, healthy place to be, it’s worth doing what you can to make it even healthier. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Check Your Hot Water Heater

We all know that leaving young children alone in the bath is a bad idea because they could drown, but few of us think too much about the possibility of scalding, Unfortunately, many kids are burned by too hot bath water each year, and although most of them are not too badly affected, some will experience significant injuries. That’s why, if you have a baby or toddler in the house, it’s a good idea to check the temperature of your water heater. 120 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal because temperatures above that could scald a child in as little as 5 seconds!

Secure Your Windows

It’s shocking, but thousands of children each year are injured falling out of windows. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to install window guards on any windows that could be accessed by small children. Of course, you want to be able to open your windows quickly in the case of fire, so you should look for guards that are quick-release, just in case.

Remove Asbestos

It’s unbelievable how many homes and sheds in this country still contain asbestos. Once a popular building material due to its fire-resistant properties, asbestos is known to cause a range of devastating illnesses, including lung cancer and asbestosis. If you suspect you may have asbestos on your property, it’s important that you call in the professionals to remove it safely from your home.

Look Out for Faulty Wiring

Making your home safer and healthier

Faulty wiring is a disaster waiting to happen. It can cause fires and electric shocks if left unattended to. Tell-tale signs of faulty wiring include flickering lights, circuit breakers, and fuses that go out on a regular basis, switches that give off shocks and burning smells. If you notice any of these things, call in a local electrician to take a look. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your family’s safety, after all.

Decorate with Chemical Free Paint

There’s nothing more satisfying that freshly painted walls that are all clean and new. Of course, the average can of paint contains all manner of toxins, which h won’t exactly do you or your family much good when breathed in. If you want your home to be as toxin free as possible, it is, therefore, a good idea to use eco-friendly chemical-free paint. Sure, they’re a little more expensive, but they’re so worth it, if only because you don’t have to put up with that horrible paint smell for days after decorating.

Install and Test Smoke Alarms

If you don’t already have smoke alarms installed in your home, please, please go out and buy some right now. A functioning smoke alarm really could save yours and your family’s lives at some point. You might think that a fire could never break out at your home, but most people who’ve had house fires think that too. It can and does happen to anyone so take precautions by installing and regularly testing an alarm today.

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Making your home safer and healthier

While you’re buying that smoke alarm, pick up a carbon monoxide detector too. Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it’s odourless and it can creep up on you without noticing. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, dizziness, and nausea and if you are exposed to it for long enough, you could die. Protect your family by installing a detector as soon as possible.

Keep the Place Clean

I know most of us hate doing household chores, but keeping your home clean and tidy is one of the best ways to prevent sickness bugs, food poisoning, allergies and the worsening of conditions like asthma. You don’t need to keep your house spotlessly clean, but don’t neglect it either or it could become a breeding ground for all kinds of nasties.

It might seem like a lot of work, but periodically checking up on your property and making any relevant changes will help you to maintain a safe, comfortable and very healthy home.

***Collaborative post***
Lifestyle, Top tips

The essential guide to a stress-free home

The essential guide to a stress-free home

The essential guide to a stress-free home

Do you ever feel like your entire life is dedicated to keeping the house in good shape? Maybe it’s the tedious daily tasks of loading and unloading the dishwasher, or the less frequent but bigger tasks like decorating or renovating a room? Your home should be where you can kick back and relax – it should be your calm oasis in a hectic world, and it certainly shouldn’t take a majority of your time to keep it in ship-shape condition. The key here is working smart, not hard. Developing a routine which works for you, but also allowing technology, and other members of the family, to take some of the slack. If you’d like a stress-free home, keep on reading.

Develop your routine

A daily and weekly routine of tasks which are unavoidable is a great way to ensure everything gets done, without praying on your mind. Maybe the trash goes out on Mondays, you vacuum on Tuesdays, and dust on Wednesdays, and so on. Small tasks which are done every day should be done at the same time each day, such as loading or unloading the dishwasher, collecting the mail, or tidying the living spaces. This way, it becomes part of your day, requires little consideration, and you may also find that the tasks are far faster to carry out. Any sort of routine is healthy for everyone, but especially for people who are feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

The essential guide to a stress-free homePhoto credit

Keep lists

Some jobs don’t fit into daily routines, and these jobs can really start to play on your mind, if you let them. Writing them down into a list form, usually with a connected calendar, can be a great way to ensure they get done, but also to take away the associated anxiety. The list apps on smartphones such as Google Keep and iPhone’s are perfect for this, as you can keep the list with you at all times and add to it as you see fit, as well as syncing it with calendars and emails. This means that larger projects, such as cleaning the guttering or fixing the roof, is noted, but doesn’t play on your mind. Keeping a running list of important contacts for the home too. When the furnace breaks or the fence blows down, you’re not going to want to be shuffling through your emails and contacts to find the right guy to come in and fix it. Keeping all these contacts in the same place is essential for reacting in an emergency, and you’ll feel better knowing the list is there too.

De-clutter (and keep it that way)

Clutter does not create a stress-free home. As they say, a cluttered room means a cluttered mind. If you want to be able to kick back and relax in the space, you need to keep all of the mess hidden away. Not only does this create a more relaxing environment, but it also makes it easy to keep tidy in the long run, and makes it far easier to clean and keep dust-free. Great storage solutions can make this so much easier, and look great in the process. Once you’ve de-cluttered a room, make it part of your daily routine to de-clutter at the end of every day. If you go to bed with a tidy home, and wake up to a tidy home, you will find your stress levels will drop significantly.

The essential guide to a stress-free home

Let technology do the work for you

We are lucky to be alive in a booming technological time. Many of us have dishwashers, washer-dryers, and even ovens which clean themselves automatically. But there are plenty of reviews of smart home products designed to save you time online which you might not have even considered. For example, if you have pets and have to vacuum up pet hair every day, have you considered investing in a Roomba to free up that time, without compromising on the cleanliness and tidiness of your home? It might seem like a significant investment, but time is money, and if it helps to create a stress-free environment for you, it might well be worth it.

Delegate

Unless you live alone, there are other people that benefit from all of your hard work in maintaining the cleanliness and tidiness of your home. Do you think they could better pull their weight? Being able to delegate tasks to family members can really help to take some of the weight off your shoulders. Asking your kids to wash the dishes, take the trash out, or clean the fish tank gives you more free time, and teaches them valuable life skills as a bonus.

Your home shouldn’t be a stressful environment, so don’t let it!