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Finance, Lifestyle

Saving for summer

Saving for summer

Saving for summer

Being a parent and trying to save money can sometimes prove very difficult. Even more so for summer activities and a family summer holiday. I don’t know about you but it often feels as if money evaporates before our eyes. As the saying goes “every little helps”. A few small changes to spending habits can help a great deal and make quite a difference to the savings pot.

Saving doesn’t have to be boring, you can still have fun and save at the same time.

Here are a few saving ideas that may help you save a few pennies for summer:

  • Are you one for going off of lunch dates with friends? Try and cut out on the expensive coffee shops or pub lunches, try and meet for a picnic or even play host and take turns to lunch at each others house. That way you could save a few pounds but your still meeting and having fun.
  • Do you meal plan? Meal planning we find also helps watch the pennies. If meals are planned out in advance for the week it helps with budgeting the funds, it helps to cut out on the impulse buying and also food waste. I am guilty of always impulse buying and buying the “I may need this” item. I am always buying food products and forgetting that they are there and before I know it the food has gone out-of-date. Having a list to stick to and a budget in mind has helped massively. I now try and do online shopping to save the risk of temptation.
  • Voucher codes are always worth looking out for to help keep the costs down. A quick look online could help reduce your bill.
  • Having a sort out of unused items could bring in a few pounds to your saving pot. I think we are all guilty of having a junk area and unused things shoved to the back of the cupboard.  It may be worth having a sort out and advertising the products for sale, someone could grab a bargain and you make a few pounds.
  • Have a closer look at your usage to see what you truly need/use. We recently reduced our TV and internet package as half the channels we didn’t even watch. We are also going more energy-efficient around the home. In the long run the savings here will help keep costs down.
  • Comparison sites is always worth a browse. We never just auto-renew our insurances/contracts we always take a look at the end of every contract. This helps to keep the bills down each month.
  • Walking where possible saves us money and keeps us fit. Being a two car family due to both working and needing a car this means double the car bill. Where possible we leave the car at home and walk. This saves on wear-and-tear on the car, petrol and also parking fees.
  • Grow your own is something we done last year and really enjoyed. Have you ever tried growing your own fruit and veg? this saved us money last year and we hope to do it again this year. Home grown tastes so much better.
  • Try out cheaper brands in store, you never know you may be surprised and even like the cheaper brand. If you can change just a few items to a cheaper brand that could save you a few pounds to add to your savings pot.

These are just a few ideas that may help with saving a few pounds to put towards something for the summer. We are off on a few family holidays over the next few weeks, making a few changes will save on having to apply for a loan. Some may say short term loans can be a good solution but we would rather avoid loans as much as possible.

Do you have any good money-saving ideas?

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Garden, Garden tips

Preparing our garden for summer – Top tips

Preparing our garden for summer – Top tips

Preparing our garden for summer can be enjoyable for some but for others it can seem quite a chore. With spring fastly approaching now is the time to start planning and getting our garden ready for the summer. For the past few months we have looked out at our garden and seen cold, wet, frosty wintry days so now it is time to turn our garden into somewhere we can sit and enjoy a lovely summers day.

Of course, in order to do so means lots of prep work following the winter months.

Here are our top ten ways to get our garden summer ready:

  1. Repair work. Winter storms may have damaged/weakened fences so checks are done to see if we think they will last or need changing. Our shed is also checked.
  2. Clearing out the guttering, a horrid job but it needs doing. Clearing out all leaves and moss. Whilst there we also do a check on the guttering and drain pipes, checking for any damage – this is done to prevent water damage caused by broken/blocked pipes.
  3. Checks are then done on garden tools to make sure they are in good enough condition to last another summer. Some may just need a little TLC.
  4. A rubbish clearance in then done of the garden, clearing up any leaves, litter and unwanted items from the garden.
  5. A quick check on our pot plants/baskets to see if they survived the winter. Some may need emptying and preparing for new plants.
  6. One thing we recently done was install a water-butt. Much better for watering our plants. Helps the environment and saves £s on the water bill.
  7. The big wash then takes place of all garden furniture, ornaments, patio and even the BBQ.
  8. Checks are done on lighting. In the summer months we sit outside until late into the evening so lighting is a must have. Especially mood lighting.
  9. Garden furniture is then checked and placed in position – although since last summer we have had a garden makeover so this year will be easier once we have purchased a new set.
  10. Once dry enough to do so – mow the lawn and treat/paint the fences.

Once all this is done and the warmer weather is in here we then start making up hanging baskets, planting and looking forward to some homegrown fruit and veg!

Here are some of last years fruit and vegetables.

 

 

Last year saw us doing some upcycling and turning unwanted goods into something useful in the garden.

(click on the photo to see the full post on how we made them)

An old wooden crate into a herb garden.

Upcycled project – wooden crate

Old camping saucepans into bird feeder

Upcycled saucepan

 

Do you enjoy spending time in the garden?

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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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