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Lifestyle, Top tips

Could you BE more energy-efficient?

Could you BE more energy-efficient?

Imagine for moment you are sat in a scene of the famous sit com friends. You are drinking your coffee in central perk, having a chat with everyone about saving money on your energy bill and Chandler says “Could you be any more energy-efficient?” While this wouldn’t make the most exciting Friends episode, the point I am trying to make is that many of us have the very best intentions of being energy-efficient, but could we do more? Have we explored other options.

Of course, many of us will look at our current bill and aim to reduce it. Often by changing companies or shopping the market you can get a cheaper quote, and that’s the job done. You are saving money on your energy bill right there and then. Perhaps you ask your family members to switch lights off in rooms not being used, maybe remarking that the house isn’t supposed to reflect some light show. But is that all you do? Really, if you ask yourself honestly, many of us do the bare minimum when it comes to being more energy-efficient, so I wanted to share with you some of the other ways you can improve it.

Could You BE More Energy Efficient?

Stop using standby

Switching something off is one way of saving money, but if you put a TV, computer or device on standby then you aren’t saving much at all. That is because there is still an element of energy needing to be used to keep that product in standby mode. Instead, consider switching them off with their off switch or better yet switch the plug off. This could work for anything including smaller appliances like a kettle or toaster in your kitchen.

Invest in your home

It is important to invest in your home, and there are plenty of ways you can do that with being more energy-efficient as your priority First things first, why not consider making sure that the heat stays in your home, especially with the colder months ahead. Replacing your windows and doors from companies like Buckingham Double Glazing could prove a worthwhile investment in this department. Other things to consider would be to insulate your property thoroughly, and even change the light bulbs you use in your home to more energy-efficient ones like LEDS. While all of this has a cost, it can prove to be very cost-effective in the long-term, as well as enabling you to be more energy-efficient.

Consider solar energy

Finally, solar energy could be a real viable option for your home. The panels can be installed onto your roof, so they don’t interfere with the aesthetic look of your home. They can then produce hot water, heat and energy to your home. Often, there is a cost upfront for these panels to be fitted, but there is a big potential saving when it comes to the monthly costs of running your home.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider some of the other ways you could be more energy-efficient in your home.

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Lifestyle, Top tips

Home cinema Ideas for the whole family

Home Cinema Ideas For The Whole Family

Home cinema Ideas for the whole family

A man cave, she-shed, or just a home cinema; call it what you like, but a proper entertainment room at home is something everyone should treat themselves to. If you have the interest in video games or movies and some spare space, you’ll easily be able to build something like this over a short weekend.

Home Cinema Ideas For The Whole Family

How much money you’d like to put into it is up to you, so here is a quick guide to get you sufficiently inspired to get started.

What is it used for?

While you may very well want a gaming room as well as home cinema, you need first to figure out if you want to entertain guests in there as well. As a big family, we need that extra seating space in any way and multiple couches, as well as a large screen, is a must – particularly if guests come over. It’s not quite the entertainment room you imagined when you have to carry in extra kitchen chairs to accommodate people.

When it’s only two of you, and you won’t really invite your neighbours over, you’ll be fine with at least two comfortable chairs or one single couch.

TV or projector?

The next and most difficult step is to pick the right kind of screen for your new entertainment centre. If you’d rather have a TV than a projector, you need to browse through some of these wooden TV stands or a table in any other material you prefer – just make sure it has space underneath for your console and remotes.

Projectors are popular for home cinemas as the room is supposed to be kept dark at all times; not like your living room, for example, where you might want to let the sunshine in even though somebody’s watching. If you’d like a projector, you also need to place it with a bit of distance from the wall so the room should be rather big too.

Consider the purpose of the room and if a TV would be a better fit for a brighter or smaller entertainment room.

Collection library

If it’s purely a gaming room, you definitely need a few shelves to display their games (unless they only have them online, of course) as well as whatever collectables they pick up on their gaming adventures.

Home cinemas should also have a library of movies but most of these are also stored on a hard drive these days; get a display stand in any way to show off your collectables, and you’ll still be able to dazzle your guests.

Have some fun decorating your space as well, by the way, and set a theme if you’re into that sort of thing. What about an 80’s theme with drive-in cinemas and large buckets of popcorn? It would look really sweet if you also have a vintage console to pair the decoration with, such an any old Nintendo.

Comfort and lightning are key terms when you’re assembling your new entertainment room. Just make sure everyone has a soft spot to sit in and are able to view the screen – and you should be good to go. Invest in a proper sound system too either now or when you’ve saved up for it, and you’ll have a hard time keeping the neighbours away.

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Lifestyle, Top tips

Handy hints to simplify your home move

Handy hints to simplify your home move

Handy hints to simplify your home move

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences that you can have in your life. And while this may well be true, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to make the whole process easier and less stressful.

Handy hints to simplify your home move

Of course, there are the big things that you will need to organise like hiring removalists, sorting out your utilities and decluttering. But there are also plenty of other hacks to help you out so here are just a few of them for you to peruse.

Organise Your Boxes and Take Photos

Before you start actually packing things up, you should make sure that everything is properly organised into categories so you can find things once you get to your new place. If you want to be extra sure, you can take photos before everything is packed up so you can consult these. This way, you won’t have to go through the frustration of rifling through all your boxes to dig out the things you need.

Use Ziplock Bags for Small Parts

There is nothing more annoying than taking the trouble to disassemble something, only to find that you have lost an essential part when you arrive at your new place. So, avoid this drama by keeping all screws, nuts and bolts in a separate ziplock bag. Label this clearly with a black marker and use a separate bag for each one of your furniture items so you don’t end up mixing these things together.

Wrap Up Cables and Wires with Twine

Handy hints to simplify your home move

A tangle of different cables and wires that you have to spend ages sorting out is the last thing that you need. Avoid this problem by neatly winding up the different cables and securing them with some twine. This way, you can get your electrical items up and running as soon as possible which is extremely important in any modern home!

Pack an Overnight Bag with Essentials

When you arrive at your new place, it is likely that you will be absolutely exhausted and you won’t want to do all that much. So, pack yourself a bag as if you were staying overnight at a hotel including PJs, a clean set of clothes and toiletries. This way, you will be ready for a good night’s sleep as soon as possible and also prepared to tackle the job of sorting everything else out in the morning.

Avoid Over packing Boxes

Though it may seem like a good idea to have fewer boxes, if you over pack the ones you have, they are much more likely to break and tear. And it is an absolute nightmare situation to find that something valuable or sentimental has been damaged during the move.

Moving house is a stressful experience at the best of times, so using these handy hints can help to make things that little bit easier. After that, you can start enjoying the positive and exciting aspects of moving to a new place.

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Interior Design, Kitchen, Top tips

House hacks for a family friendly kitchen

House Hacks For A Family Friendly Kitchen

House hacks for a family friendly kitchen

Everyone loves to get stuck in when it comes to cooking, and as the kids get a little older, getting them involved is the best way to install a little wisdom in them when it comes to cooking and other chores. Making the kitchen a space that is family-friendly is a great way to make life easier for you, too!

House Hacks For A Family Friendly Kitchen

Renovating the kitchen entirely with The Renovation Company is a great option, especially if you want to lower kitchen units and sinks and make things physically more reachable for the youngsters in the house. If you just want to make things a little more accessible and organised, then we’ve got some of the best hacks around for you to tap into and make your family kitchen easy to use.

House Hacks For A Family Friendly Kitchen

  • Keep the crockery and cutlery for the kids in a separate cupboard is a great way to allow them to take initiative and control. Giving children independence is part of teaching them to grow up, and so autonomy over their things is important!
  • Glasses and tumblers are a necessity, but the idea of allowing children to access glass is usually a no-no for parents. Ideally, you don’t want the cups they use out of reach so why not try this nifty little hack of adding magnets to the tumblers? They can be stuck to the refrigerator in reach of small hands – just make sure there’s nothing in them first!

House Hacks For A Family Friendly Kitchen

  • Cereal stations like this one are becoming more and more popular in family homes and for good reason. When the children are old enough to take themselves downstairs in the morning, they can be independent and make their own breakfast. Pots of their favorites in low cupboards, as well as an easy milk dispenser such as this in the refrigerator make for an excellent start to the day!
  • While we’re talking about help-yourself-stations, why not provide a basket in a low cupboard full of prepackaged snacks? You could have one in the refrigerator as well, for cold fruits and dairy snacks. Rearranging your kitchen to allow the children to self-serve doesn’t mean that they can go and help themselves whenever they like, it just means that when you say so they can feel pride in their own independence!
  • It isn’t often practical to have a step by the sink to reach the taps for hand-washing, especially if space is sparse. There are a lot of tricks you can use like the ones on this website so that you can adjust things and make them easier for smaller members of the house!

House Hacks For A Family Friendly Kitchen

Adjusting your home to suit the youngest members of the house doesn’t always mean ripping out entire rooms and starting again. You can make some pretty successful changes with just a few things re-organised. Kids need to learn that they can do things for themselves and you are the person who is going to teach them that. Start by making it easy for them to learn how to be their own person.

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Energy-Efficient, Top tips

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

Is your home energy-efficient? This is one of the many questions being asked of homeowners in the twenty-first century. With the emergence of the Internet of Things, smart homes and Eco-builds, it has become more important than ever to try and keep your humble abode as energy-efficient as possible. This means that you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside having done your bit to save the environment and you will have saved money on your utility bills at the same time. Sounds like a perfect win-win situation doesn’t it? And it is if you get it right. Take a look at these three easy ways that can help you maintain an energy-efficient home.

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

Lighting

Energy saving light bulbs have been available to the masses for a couple of decades now. Whereas they were once a luxury of the more well-off folk amongst us, energy-efficient and long-lasting bulbs are now hugely accessible as they have reduced in price. By heading to your local DIY store and swapping all of your energy-wasting light bulbs with those that will emit the same amount of light but cost you less money doing so, you’ll be saving on your electricity bill.

If you ensure that everyone in your household sticks to a homemade energy contract of switching off lights when leaving a room, you’ll be saving even more of your pennies. If every household in the UK used energy-saving bulbs, the annual electricity consumption across the nation would reduce by 2%, the equivalent of a nuclear power station.

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

Heating

Although they sound like something out of Star Trek, smart thermostats are the latest piece of technology to help homeowners reduce their energy usage and save money on their utility bills. You could now set off from work on a cold winter’s evening and have your home intelligently switch on the heating to ensure a warm and toasty temperature for when you arrive. Even if you require domestic heating oil to fire up your heating system in the winter, you could lower your thermostat by just one degree to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that go onto create the dreaded greenhouse gases that harm the environment.

3 easy ways to maintain an energy-efficient home

Water

It’s vital that you maintain the pipework within your home. Drip leaks can occur beneath your property, under your sink or in your bathroom and if you don’t carry out an annual check on your pipes, you may be in for a nasty surprise when the inconspicuous drip turns into a raging waterfall.

By running your bath a little less full, boiling your kettle with only the water you need and showering for shorter lengths of time, you’ll inevitably use less water. This means that you will be diverting less water away from rivers resulting in you doing your bit to preserve wildlife habitats. It really does pay to turn the tap off while you’re brushing your pearly whites.

Start making your home more energy-efficient today. Not only will you be protecting the environment and showing off your Eco-credentials but you’ll also be saving your household money in the process.

 

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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