Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Why Is Growing Up So Expensive?


Do you remember being a child and wishing to grow up to be allowed to eat anything you wanted and stay up late? Most adults, when they finally embrace the multiple responsibilities and challenges of the grown-up life, wish that they could be children again. It’s not specifically the responsibilities that adults dislike – after all, with great responsibilities comes great power too. It is the cost of the adult life. When you become a grown-up, you rapidly realise that everything has a price. That, somehow, doesn’t match your childhood dream of growing up to be free. Nevertheless, while everything is costly, it doesn’t mean that you can find ways to make significant savings. Indeed, there are costs that you can actively limit, such as your energy bills. All you need to do is to look at for solutions to reduce energy waste, whether it is improving your insulation system or turning off the lights when you leave a room. Similarly, shopping bills can be reduced too. It’s easy; you simply need to find something else to do on a rainy Saturday – yes, it does sound boring, but your bank account will be grateful.
But there are other costs. Costs that you can’t avoid. Costs that pave the way to adulthood. Indeed, being an adult means that you start to have serious relationships – and maybe find your Mr. or Mrs. Right. You also climb the property ladder and become a homeowner. Maybe, at a later point, you will have children, and you will be responsible for the health of your family. All these stages of your adult life are more expensive than they should! Maybe being an adult is about making it through without accumulating debts, like some giant Monopoly game.   

Getting Married: Why Is Love So Expensive?

Could there be anything more wonderful than planning your wedding with the person you love? However, according to wedding experts, getting married is more than just an act of love. In average, weddings in the UK cost above £30,000. That is the equivalent of a one-year pay for most of the young professionals. Fortunately, as the saying goes, you get only married once – technically, you can get married as often as you want to, assuming it’s not all at the same time; yet it’s likely that you won’t be able to afford a proper dream like wedding day often. Nevertheless, from the engagement ring to the catering on your big day, getting married can be the conclusion of several years of saving.

The Costly Steps On The Property Ladder

Becoming a homeowner is the moment where you can finally wave goodbye to all the limitations of the tenant’s life. Finally, it’s your home, and you can do what you please with it, including painting the walls in the most outrageous colours. Admittedly, with this new freedom comes new responsibilities. You need to look after your home and to ensure that it is always in the best of conditions. In reality, the costs associated with a home related to moving in, improving it, and upgrading it. If you thought that buying a house what all the expenses you had to deal with, you were wrong.

Moving House

Picture the scene, you’ve bought a new house. You’ve already sorted out the mortgage agreement. All you have to do is move house. Sounds simple? It isn’t! Moving house means that you first need to pack all your belongings – you can thank B&Q or IKEA for all the boxes –, sell everything that you know you won’t need. Only then can you get in touch with a moving company, either to rent a van or to organise the move, depending on how much you have and how involved you want to be. Most first-time homeowners consider planning the move with their individual car, several friends and a lot of motivation. While it might seem to be cheaper than working with professionals, it might be in fact just as expensive, if not more. You need to take the cost of fuel into account – especially if you spend a lot of time drive back and forth between two properties – the cost of food and drinks that will be consumed during the move, the cost of hotels and restaurants if you are driving a long distance, etc.

Improving Your Home For Comfort And Safety

It’s not uncommon to have to think of home improvement projects when you buy your first home. Certain projects can’t be delayed, such as fixing the roof or modernising the kitchen with new appliances. Consequently, you might find that your savings are not stretching far enough for it. Whether you consider a short-term loan or a DIY approach with repurposed material, is entirely up to you. More often than not, homeowners include the estimated cost of essential improvement works directly into their mortgage agreement.

Buying A New Home

The last kind of cost you will have about houses is when you decide to step up the property ladder and buy something bigger, or in a better location. In other words, you buy more expensive. While you may partially finance your new house by selling your previous property, things rarely run as smoothly as you might hope. For a start, it’s likely that you will have to add value to your old home with smart renovation and improvement projects, such as an en-suite bathroom, a swimming pool, or even brand new energy-saving windows. If you want to sell the house at a good price, you need to invest in it. Yes, that means more costs. You’re never done spending when you have your home. 


Monday, 22 May 2017

Husky And Healthy: Why Having A Pet Is Good For You


Has it ever crossed your mind about having a pet? For a lot of people, having a pet is a lot of hassle for very little in return. They cost money, and you have to feed them, but did you know that having a pet is actually very good for your health? Let’s have a look at the benefits.


If you’ve ever cuddled a friend’s dog and felt all lovely and warm inside, that’s because your body is releasing a chemical called oxytocin, which has a calming and relaxing effect on people. It’s something that mothers release when they cuddle their babies, and cuddling your pet not only helps to release that chemical, but it will strengthen the bond you have. And depending on the type of person you are, not all of us are cuddly people, a cat is a different type of bond, and is more at arm’s length than anything. But when cats show their affection, they will cuddle up in their owner’s lap. The crazy cat lady syndrome may appear bonkers to most of us, but that cat lady is oxytocined up to the eyeballs!

Not only is there the happy hormone aspect, but wellbeing can be improved overall. Exposing children to pets at a young age reduces their chances of getting allergies like rhinitis or asthma. And the bond between child and pet is one we've all seen on TV and so forth, but the overall mental outlook of a lonesome child, when compared to a child with a companion, can be vastly different. For pets like dogs, a routine is very important, so the regular walks (or runs, depending on the level of your dog’s “enthusiasm”) will help to build up good cardiovascular health. And for children who have no sense of routine in their lives, this will encourage one. The task of looking after an animal that relies on you for everything will encourage a sense of responsibility, whatever your age! From buying food and essentials to comfy cushions or a leather dog pillow, the comforts your dog needs will be your responsibility. Even if you live alone, the fulfilment in owning a pet will stave off feelings of loneliness and encourage feelings of responsibility.
 
It is also a great method of calming down, as owning a pet will decrease the amount of cortisol you have in your body. This is the stress hormone that is released whenever we’re under pressure or have some anxiety. If you find yourself to be of an anxious disposition, you may find that the constant company will improve your whole outlook on life. Depression and anxiety are, unfortunately, very common, and if you find yourself in these states, this could help you to stave off clinical depression. And, a fun little fact, if you find yourself getting colds constantly, dog owners suffer fewer minor illnesses and ailments like colds! Of course, a pet will make you feel better, but make sure you have the means to give them the support and care they need.



Friday, 12 May 2017

Water Palava: Choosing a Water Feature for Your Garden


If you love spending time in your garden, you probably find that it's a very relaxing thing to do. It's a good space to enjoy when you need some quiet or at least a different environment to the one you have inside. When your garden is somewhere you go to relax, you should think of some of the elements that will help to calm you and improve your mood. A water feature is an excellent option. You can have a still pond, where you can watch fish swim leisurely or enjoy various pondlife, or you could have a moving water feature that provides a calming sight and sound. Choosing a water feature for your garden means thinking about several factors.

How Much Space Do You Have?

Firstly, you have to consider how much space you have available. While a lot of people have gardens, they're not always very big. And you probably want to ensure you still have plenty of space for kids to play, the dog to run around, or for you to sit and enjoy the area. You should think about how much space you're willing to give up to a water feature. They can come in all shapes and sizes so you could have anything from a little bird bath to a large pond. Even fountains can come in smaller and larger designs, so don't let the space you have limit you too much.


What's Your Style?

Next, you need to think about what sort of style you want to go for. One of the main things you can consider if whether you want to have a classical style water feature or if you want something more modern. Classical choices could include fountains with cherubs or gargoyles. You can get something that looks like it's made from aged bronzed or invest in the real thing. More modern features could include water walls and tiered fountains. Consider having lights or different colours to add something different. If you're thinking of having a pond, you can consider what types of plants you might use within it and around it.

Care Requirements for Your Water Feature

When you're choosing a water feature, do think about what care it will require. Some will need more attention than others, and you might feel you don't have the time to look after them. For example, a pond can require a lot of care. You might need to buy special equipment and treatments, like an air pump from Swell or solutions to keep algae and weeds away. Other water features won't require much care at all, except for maybe a quick clean once or twice a year.

Positioning a Water Feature

Think about the best place to put your water feature and its installation requirements. A lot of features will need pumps, which might require some electrical wiring. However, it's also possible to use solar power if it's too difficult to wire a feature to your house. You might also want to think about where to position your water feature in regards to sun exposure, safety, and plants in your garden.

A water feature could improve your garden greatly. Choose one carefully to make sure you get the right one.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Teaching Your Elderly Relatives About The Benefits Of Being Computer Literate


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The internet has changed our lives for the better in a variety of ways, and it’s now difficult to imagine a life without the World Wide Web. However, the older generations aren’t quite dependent on online communications. While in many ways this is a good thing, there’s no doubt that those digital facilities could enhance their lives too.

If your elderly relatives have resisted the temptations until now, they’ll never be addicted to those systems. Nevertheless, computers and tablet devices can work wonders for their lives. Your job is to help them gain the greatest benefits. Focus on the four cornerstones below, and you won’t go far wrong.

#1. Staying In Touch With Friends

As we grow older, it’s very easy to lose touch with friends and family. This is especially true when people emigrate, but can impact relationships of all backgrounds. Social media enables users to get back in touch, and is also a great place to share photos and stories for free.

Meanwhile, video calls can offer your elderly relatives the chance to feel closer than ever. If this is their only motive for using the internet, an iPad may be a better option as they can simply click the Apps and get started. Either way, though, those connections can have a telling impact on their long-term happiness.

#2. Making New Connections

The internet isn’t only a great place for keeping in touch with old friends. It’s also a wonderful environment for making new acquaintances. This could mean encouraging them to find romance through senior dating platforms. Alternatively, this tool could be used to find out more information about local yoga classes and senior activities. If it boosts your relatives social life, it has to be considered a positive thing.

New connections don’t have to be made through local streams either. Message boards and forums can be fantastic tools for discussing problems and fears. Whether it’s gaining useful support or simply avoiding the panic of facing issues alone doesn’t matter. The online community is there to help when they need it most.

#3. Staying Organized

Good organizational skills are an essential trait throughout every stage of life. While the older generations typically boast far better control than younger ones, computers can still be used to great effect. Perhaps most obviously, they can aid the bid for financial control. This can be done through utilizing software and finding cheaper deals amongst other ideas.

Frankly, there’s computer software and smartphone Apps for virtually every task imaginable. It might take a little time and patience to teach your elderly relatives how to use those facilities. Once they’ve mastered those elements, though, their lives should be noticeably enriched.

Conclusion

Ultimately, your elderly relatives are unlikely to use computers with the same level of frequency as you do. They might still prefer to reach the hard copy of the newspaper, and may not need to use emails for work. Still, those simple elements for increased control and emotional connection can only have a positive impact on their lives. It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My PTSD Story :: #mentalhealthawarenessweek



At the present moment, mental health is a massive topic. The statistics for mental health sufferers is hard reading and even more so now it has been published that only 1% of NHS funding goes towards mental health. 

Mental health still even to this day has a stigma surrounding it. Even back when I was studying counselling, it was such a taboo subject..but why? Just because it's an illness we can't see, that doesn't mean it's not there. I have witnessed mental health and the damage it has on loved ones both from a professional and a personal perspective. Did I ever for a second believe it would happen to me? I can honestly say I was one of those people that thought I was strong enough to overcome anything but that wasn't the case. Now that it's Mental Health Awareness Week, I have decided that I no longer want to hide my struggle and share my story.

Back in September 2016, my relationship ended and the root cause was my ex's depression. Even though I had lived with his illness for 2 months previously, it was such a massive shock and the impact it had on me was a world apart from any other break-up.

A week or so after he left, I was dealing with the break up the same way anyone else would..I was crying constantly, not eating, asking myself question after question of what I did wrong...but something else was there and I knew straight away it wasn't a standard feeling of loss.

When I went to bed at night, I struggled to sleep in my room. I felt like it was a void and if I went in there I would be hurt or someone or something would 'get me' because that was the room we shared together and the room where he had broken up with me. I was watching TV with my mum and a trailer for Gavin & Stacey came on, I ran out of the house and sat outside because that was the programme he and I watched together. I would experience nightmares, something I very very VERY rarely have and sudden reminders of him or memories put me in a panic which made my heart feel like it was about to leap out of my chest and smack me across the face.

I knew from all of this that there was something deeply wrong with me and I wasn't handling the break up like I would've done usually, I went to the doctors and he confirmed my concerns...

I was suffering from PTSD

PTSD is commonly associated with ex forces or people who have gone through a rape or traumatic accident but it can affect people from something as straight forward as a break up and my god it hit me like a bullet train.
My ex and I were together for 3.5 years and he was the love of my life, I wanted to marry him and have his children. For him to leave me when I had supported him and stood by him was what triggered my PTSD and made me question everything about myself. Anyone who knows me, knows that I will go above and beyond for the people I love and I will sacrifice everything to ensure they are safe, happy and at peace with their life. For him to do what he did, I had to ask myself why after 30 years on this planet, had it come to this. Was I a bad person? Did I hurt him? Where did I go wrong? Yes, these are the questions we ask ourselves when we deal with a break up but this is when PTSD takes a nasty turn. 

I didn't just cry or hurt inside when I remembered the good times and memories we had together, I went into a blind panic. I would sweat, jump at every little sound or even when people spoke..everything was a trigger for me. 

PTSD is a complex disease. Say for example if you suffer from anxiety. Your anxiety will kick in from being in a crowded environent or getting onto a plane, PTSD is similar only we are in the firm belief that being in that crowded environment or getting onto a plane will somehow reinact what happened to us. A month or so after the break up, I was walking to my local shop like I have done every day for years then out of nowhere someone beeped their car horn and most people would think 'oh are they beeping at me is it someone I know?' - in my mind it was him and he had come back to me to break up with me all over again. My brain told me I couldn't go through it again and I ran home. 

I'm a stubborn bitch I admit but even I knew I couldn't do this by myself so I went for counselling and believe me, a counsellor going for counselling is more ironic than you can believe. But what the counselling taught me was that it's a fact of life that as humans we must go through traumatic events so that we can establish our coping mechanisms and build up our 'fight or flight' responses. It wasn't my fault that my ex left me, I did everything in my power and out of the love I had for him but his depression TOLD him he had to leave. I did nothing wrong. But with me being the type of person who feels like they were put on the earth to be a people pleaser and make sure everyone is safe and happy, it knocked the shit out of my confidence and I felt like a failure not only to myself, but to my ex. My counsellor reassured me that this was not the case and that I am a good person and nothing that happened was my fault.

So here I am now, 8 months later, pregnant with his baby. He came back briefly but we once again seperated but I thought being pregnant with his baby would bring back everything that put the fear of god in me and the flashbacks would rear their ugly heads...they haven't. I feel nothing but love for this baby and even though my ex did what he did and hurt me beyond belief, I forgive him. I believe in my heart that he didn't mean to hurt me and I really know the heart of the man, depression took over and one day, he will come back stronger than ever. I think about him everyday, more so now that I am carrying his baby but the memories are no longer painful also the memory of the day we broke up has completely vanished from my mind. I miss him everyday too but again, this is no longer a painful experience. It upsets me but knowing how far I have come and knowing that I have to be strong for my children is what keeps me going. As for me? I'm ok, 2 words I never thought would come out of my mouth after everything I went through but...

I'm OK



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Financial Savviness For Major Life Events



Are you prepared for anything when it comes to your money? There are plenty of the main life events that can cost you a fortune, and unless you make informed choices about savings, spending habits, and investments, you could be forcing yourself - and your family - into a corner.

In today’s guide, I’m going to take a look at some of the most important life events that everyone will experience, and ensure you understand some of the things you can do to prepare for them financially. Let’s get started with the absolute basics.

Start saving

Getting into the habit of putting aside some money every month is vital for anyone and everyone. Even if you can only afford to make small contributions to a savings pot and an emergency fund, it is critical to look ahead to the future. Make sure that you pay off your expensive debts first, of course, and address any areas of your life where you are overspending. But, essentially, the earlier you start saving, the more secure you and your family will be.

Think about retirement

It’s never too early to start thinking about your retirement. The difference in your income when you start a pension in your twenties and when you start one in your thirties is huge. With good health and a little luck, your retirement funds will need to see through anything between 20-30 years, so don’t underestimate the importance of building up a good pension.

Consider the worst

Whether you are young, free and single or have a family, no one has any idea of how long their life will last. And bleak as it may seem, you need to consider what happens when you aren’t here. You should compare funeral plans to make sure that your loved ones aren’t saddled with enormous cremation or burial costs. It’s important to draw up a will, too - especially if you have children. And finally, make sure you have plans to pass on your financial affairs with a power of attorney if you suffer from some sort of mental health issue that means you can no longer make any decisions for yourself.

Buying a home

Buying a home is likely to be the single biggest expense of your life - and the more you have set aside for a deposit, the better. Larger deposits mean that you will be able to access better deals on mortgages, and it will also lower your monthly payments by a significant amount. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself free of bad debts as much as possible. The worse your credit score, the more unlikely it will be that you manage to get a mortgage. And the better your credit rating, the more likely you will be seen as less of a risk to lenders, who will reward you with a better home loan deal.

Sound financial planning is essential in all areas of life, of course. But even more so for these major life events. How are you saving for your future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Washing Machine Broken? Don’t Panic!


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Life can be stressful enough without having to worry about a broken washing machine. You want to be able to come home, throw your laundry in the machine and know that you will have clean clothes tomorrow and the next day and so son. Sadly, washing machines are one of the most common appliances to breakdown, and when they do, it can cause problems for the whole family. But, a broken down washing machine doesn’t have to be the ned of the world, and you don’t have to panic.

Instead of getting all worked up about your washing machine, keep calm and check out these useful tips:

Go Online

If you come home to find that your washing machine is no longer working, the first thing you should do is log on to your computer or smartphone and search for the make and model of your washing machine plus ‘repairs.’ A lot of the time, your machine will only be suffering from a minor issue, and there are many people online who have experienced the same problem, offering solutions. If you can find the right solution, you can make the repair quickly yourself at little or no cost to you.

Call the Manufacturer

If your machine is under warranty, or even if it’s not, the best thing to do is call the manufacturer and ask their advice. If the problem isn’t easily solvable, they will arrange for an engineer to visit your home and make a repair. If you haven’t got insurance or a warranty, many companies will fix your machine as an act of goodwill, so it’s always worth a try getting in touch with them.

Call a Repairman
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If you have no joy fixing it yourself and the company doesn’t offer a free repair, it is usually cheaper to hire a local repair man than it is to hire an engineer direct from the company or to buy a new one. If money’s tight, you might consider poor credit personal loans, which will help you get your machine going again quickly. Just make sure you will be able to afford the repayments before you go down that route.

What to Do in the Meantime?

If you’re unable to get your washing machine up and running quickly, you will need to find alternative solutions for a few days, at least for your work clothes and the kids’ school uniforms. Ideally, asking a friend or family member to allow you to borrow their machine is the easiest, most cost-effective solution. Just make sure you take your own powder and offer them a little something for the cost of running the machine.

If that’s a no go, you could always take your family’s clothes to the launderette, but that could get quickly expensive. It’s probably a better idea to wash your clothes by hand. Sure, it’s more work than a machine, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you won’t have to bother anyone else. Just ensure that you know how to wash clothes properly by hand before you get started and enlist the help of hubby or the kids to get the washing done quicker.


Where to Spend and Where to Save in the Home


Whether you’ve just moved into a new home and you’re looking to put your own unique stamp on the place, or you simply want to redecorate your place this spring, you will probably find that there are so many home decorating options that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is likely that you will also find it hard which items to buy for your renovations because there are so many different price points that it’s tough to know what to do with the best.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of some of the things it is worth paying more for and which items you can afford to spend less on.

Sofa
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The sofa is a difficult item to determine a spending budget for. On the one hand, you are going to be spending a lot of time relaxing on it, so you want it to be comfortable, but on the other hand, many sofas are more expensive than they really need to be because of the choice of fabric that is used.

What this means for you is that you should spend a decent sum (say £1000 minimum) on your sofa, but you can make savings by choosing a less expensive fabric like a linen blend, instead of expensive leather. Just remember to buy a sofa that is filled with a denser foam, feathers, and springs, because it will be more comfortable and keep its shape longer than a cheap sofa filled with a less dense foam.

Accessories
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If your spring spruce up is going to consist of nothing more than adding a few seasonal accessories, you will be glad to know that this is one area where you should aim to save. Cheaper candles, photo frames, and plants can look just as good as the more expensive versions, with the added bonus that you won’t have to feel bad if you decide to switch them up every time the trends change.

Mattresses
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Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial in everything from looking good in the morning to being able to concentrate on your job and can even help you to lose, weight, so it’s safe to say that it’s worth paying more for a mattress from a high-end retailer like John Ryan by Design, which has been well made, than it is to buy a cheap bed. That being said, what words for one person can cause a world of pain for another, so it is never a bad idea to visit your local mattress store to check out whether sprung or memory foam mattresses work best for you. You can the right mattress for you online for less.

Paint
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If you’re planning on sprucing up your home with a new coat of paint in a different colour, I would highly-recommend that you leave the bargain basement cans alone and at least plump for a mid-range product. You see, very cheap paint tends to be bulked out with a range of chemicals, which are not only potentially bad for you but which make the paint thinner and this means that you will need to apply more coats of cheap paint than the more expensive stuff. Cheap paint is false economy, and it will take up more of your time when decorating.

Rugs
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Throwing a new rug down in your bedroom, living room or kitchen is a quick way to add a touch of colour and give the room a new look, but do you need to buy an expensive one? It depends. If you are putting the rug in a low traffic area, where it won’t see much wear or tear, it’s fine to buy a low-cost synthetic one. However, if it’s going to be in a high traffic area, choosing a rug made from natural fibres, which has been expertly hand-knotted will be the best use of your money. These more expensive rugs might cost many times more than a cheap one, but they will last many times longer, and they’ll still feel softer long after than synthetic rug has lost its appeal.

Desk
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If your old desk is falling apart, don’t worry because a home desk is one of the things that you can buy cheap. A cheap flat-pack from Ikea will do just fine, providing you splurge a little on the accompanying chair if you’re going to spend a lot of time at the desk because it’s the comfort and support your chair offers that will keep you from getting a bad back, not the desk.

What are the home essentials that you always spend more on? Which ones do you buy cheaply?