Monday, 2 December 2019

Christmas gift guide for all the family

How can it be that time of year already, I have only just packed away the beachwear! Christmas seems to take up so much planning time and we know exactly when it is going to be each year yet it still creeps up before you know about it. If like many you simply have not got a clue where to start or what to buy then let me help you out a little with a few suggestions for all the family.




Dad - Who's Dad doesn't love a gadget, so what about this great dash cam from Nextbase, not only is it a great gadget if you have a prang to help with those insurance claims but it could provide police with vital footage in road traffic accidents or offences. These days it is an essential bit of motoring equipment that all Dad's will love to receive. The 122 has improved 720p HD recording on a 5 layer glass lens and a 120° viewing angle, making it ideal for any driver. With free cloud video storage at mynextbase.com, be assured your footage is protected to a secure location.



Cleverly named coffee club and subscription company Perky Blenders makes a great gift for Dad's out there, Perky Blenders is everyone’s favourite, family-friendly coffee roaster. Thanks to their all-encompassing online shop you can find a brilliant range of brew methods, cleverly curated coffee and simple to use gift subscriptions. Delivered locally by bicycle or to anywhere in the world; for you, a loved one or your office. All their packaging is excellently eco so you’re safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit for the planet. This coffee is amazing and a brand I am definitely going to be returning to, especially as they do a subscription service, maybe it will even make my Santa list!




Mum - Now we know mums love to receive flowers so how about a Christmas themed delivery, with plenty of seasonal gifts to choose from Blossoming Gifts have something for any taste or budget, including these gorgeous ready decorated, trees, ideal as an indoor decoration this year then can be planted and grown on for use again and again over the years as a beautiful garden Christmas tree. Head over and check out the whole Christmas gift range.



What mum doesn't have a pair of leggings in the wardrobe, comfort at its best or sports wear for the active days, simply they are an essential part of every woman's wardrobe and these everyday leggings from Love Leggings come in sizes 4 through to 28 as well as a  maternity range. These leggings from Love Leggings are some of the best I have tried, comfortable and thick enough to not be see through around the rear! They offer super comfort in the sportswear, making any workout a little easier, the perfect one stop place for all your legging needs. As well as women's leggings they offer a children's range, perfect for your little lady, and reassuring to know the quality is going to ensure they will last.



Sibling (Adult) - If like us you love a get together and have a few drinks and laughs then the Game of naughty things from Interplay UK is an ideal gift, one player reads out the topic card then everyone writes down a witty, funny, or completely inappropriate response, how far will you go to shock? What will you discover about your nearest and dearest? For adults only!


We can't forget the kids now can we so let's start with this Toniebox, the  Tonie box is truly magical, it allows the kids to access stories, music and audio simply and independently, it needs an initial online set up and connection to the Tonie app or Toniecloud account then once content is downloaded and stored in the cloud it can be accessed  any time your little one then places a Tonie onto the box, it is that simple to use,  it retrieves and plays the interactive content and with up to 7 hours battery life it will get through any bedtime story. You have the choice of many different Tonies, ranging from classic fairy tales to Julia Donaldson favourites, you can also record and upload you favourite content onto a creative Tonie, perfect for bedtime stories from Nanny, Daddy or a favourite Aunt who cannot be there in person, once your bedtime story has finished, the Toniebox will automatically turn itself off and go to sleep as well, no need to interrupt the sweetest of dreams just to push a tedious little button ever again. I am sure this is going to be a popular gift this Christmas so get your hands on one quick.





Christmas wouldn't be the same without lots of yummy chocolate, Thornton's have a fabulously delicious Christmas range to please all but the cheeky elf collection will be a favourite with the kids. The famous Thorntons Cheeky Elf is back for a second year, acting even more mischievously than ever. Wherever you find him, rest assured his cheekiness will follow!
For those that love to count down the days to Christmas, the range contains the Santa Advent calendar, a fun way to build up the excitement with the front of the calendar depicting Santa with his friends. The Elf Advent even has a Christmas quiz inside to make the festive season even more enjoyable for the whole family. The range also contains the Continental Advent Calendar, with its crisp white design stunningly adorned with golden Christmas trees and snowflakes, containing an assortment of delectable milk, dark and white chocolates.
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For a personalised and magical gift for the little ones how about a personalised Christmas story book from Itsyourstory, the offer a choice of stories and personalisation is simple and quick through their website, simply enter the required information, upload a photo and they will do the rest, delivery once complete is fast and efficient. With young children not only fascinated by their own image, but also the thrill of storytelling, fuelling children’s imagination is at the heart of this latest story which
uniquely personalises both the story and the pictures. The child’s face is incorporated into all the illustrations and the story includes information about them such as family members, their address and the name of a friend. A message from the sender can be printed on the first page.



I hope these suggestions help a little and would like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year. 



Thursday, 21 November 2019

Six Ways to Get Back On Track When You're Struggling With Debts

If you’re struggling under a pile of debt, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how you look at it, your income is not covering your expenses plus your interest repayment, and something has to give.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting out of debt. The best way is usually a many-pronged approach, which involves cubing unhelpful spending habits and making positive changes in a few different areas of your finances.

 

Before you despair of your situation, try these strategies to find some balance in your financial life and start moving forward. Who knows—once you find your way out of debt, you may start to discover simple ways to grow your savings every day.


Image Source: Pixabay CC0 Licence


Establish Ground Zero

 

The first step to getting rid of debt is getting a clear picture of where you’re currently at in terms of financial health. Right, we know it’s bad… but how bad exactly? And why? Now is not the time to hide from your bank balance or kid yourself about your spending habits. If you’re going to get your finances back in order, now is the time to recognise the importance of Fiscal Responsibility: It Could Improve Your Financial Present And Future. Yes, really.

 

While the idea of fiscal responsibility may sound scary, it basically means getting your financial ducks in a row. And that’s not too hard to do, if you take things step by step. While you may think that you should focus on paying your debts now and deal with creating better spending habits later, it’s crucial to acknowledge that you will never be effective in paying off your debts unless you start spending wisely and saving effectively first. 

 

Track Your Spending

 

Begin by tracking your earnings and outgoings to understand what proportion of your income is being spent on things such as rent/mortgage repayments, groceries, bus fares, education and leisure. A good old spreadsheet is always a good bet, but there are other options if you prefer something more intuitive. You could download a spending tracker app or check out your bank’s online banking interface, as many will be able to give you a breakdown of your spending every month—graphs, pie charts, the works!


The Devil is in the Detail

 

When it comes to tracking your outgoings, remember that the devil is in the details. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only big spends matter, and letting yourself forget to track the smaller expenses. On the contrary, it’s those seemingly insignificant but regular expenses (a coffee and a muffin on your way to work every morning) that can add up frighteningly quickly and throw an enormous spanner in the works when it comes to the end of the month. If you’re going to track your spending, it’s well worth your while to commit to tracking every cent you spend, at least until you have a clear picture of your situation.



Image Source: Pexels CC0 Licence

 

Study Your Credit Card Statements

 

Once you’ve got your spending tracking going, it’s time to fish out your credit card bills and study them closely. This won’t be pleasant, but this is no time to hide from the truth. If a quick glance at your credit card bill reveals that you’re living beyond your means, a “necessity score” system can be useful to help you parse the situation. The idea behind this is to assign everything that you’re purchasing on credit a score that will help you see a clearer picture of where your habits are leading you astray.


A necessity score of one means that the item on your statement is an unnecessary extravagance. On the other end of the scale, a score of five means that the item is an essential expense. For example, a new pair of shoes to wear to a party is probably going to be a 1 or 2, depending on how you look at it (spending priorities are always subjective, and it really comes down to what matters to you—the main thing is that you understand your choices). If you had to pay for your prescription medication on your credit card, that would count as a 5, which indicates that you sometimes have to dip into debt in order to cover something crucial. After a while, you will start naturally using this scoring system before you decide to use your credit card, which will empower you to understand why you’re going into debt before you swipe the card.

 

Pay Down Expensive Debts First

 

One of the most intelligent and easy to apply pieces of wisdom in the world of debt management is to start by reducing all your monthly debt repayments to the absolute minimum amount you can get away with. That is, except the biggest debt. Whether it’s a credit card you’ve maxed out or a student loan racking up interest, choose the single most expensive debt (in terms of interest, stringent repayment schedules, and lost sleep) and pour all of your resources into it. When you’re paying off one debt in a focused way, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can zap that debt and be done with it for good. Phew!

 

Once your biggest, nastiest, most sleep-costing debt is done and dusted, redirect all of the funds that you were funneling into that black hole, and start working on getting your next largest debt down to nothing. Soon you’ll be done with that one, too. Breathe a big sigh of relief, but don’t get complacent at this point: immediately start with your next debt, and move down the list in this way, zapping the worst debt, and moving on to the next. One of the best things about this approach to debt management is that you get to witness real progress being made really quickly. You know how satisfying it is to tick items off a to-do list? Well, that’s nothing compared to ticking debts off your hit-list. Crossing off that last debt is sure to give you a new lease on life.

 

Start a Side Hustle

 

If you have a special skill outside of your day job, you might be able to create new opportunities for yourself to earn a little extra money and get rid of your debts quicker. Turning your hobby into a job can seem a little cynical, and many people resist it unless they have a good reason, but isn’t debt a great reason to take the plunge? Many people who end up working for themselves, with flourishing businesses doing what they love, credit an urgent financial crisis as the event that gave them the motivation to finally start spending more time and resources on an activity they enjoyed.

 

Side hustle ideas have proliferated on the internet, but the best place to look is inwards: what do you have to offer the world that is unique? An effective side hustle will draw on your natural talents and your skillset. If you’re a fantastic visual artist, start by designing logos or graphics for your friends' businesses, or join a freelancers platform to tap into a global client-pool. If you’re a gifted cook, you might try offering cookery classes after hours and during weekends. The first step is to ask yourself what you’re good at and what you love to do.

 

When debts start adding up, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. But you needn’t let this situation get the better of you. These tips will help you keep calm and carry on moving onward and upward.


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Simple Ways To Grow Your Savings Every Day

Some days it can feel like you’re just getting by, let alone having enough money to save! But as life can be unpredictable, saving is important. 


Even if you feel like there’s no way you can put some pennies aside, there are some things you can do to grow your savings. From making some cuts to your spending to being savvier with what you have, you can give your finances a boost.


Take a look at some of these simple ways to grow your savings every day.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Motivate yourself with goals

Having savings goals can motivate you to save more. And one of the ways to do this is to set yourself both long-term and short-term goals. You can start with something simple like saving for a holiday, and work your way towards building larger savings like for a house or for your retirement.


Learning to save can help you get into some better habits for the future. Achieving those smaller goals will help you make more general savings, which is important for your future. You never know what the future holds. From expensive home renovations to needing civil litigation solicitors, it helps to have a long-term savings pot there to use for life’s emergencies. Start saving for both the long and short term, it will help teach you a lot about your finances.

Cut your monthly expenses

Do you know how much you spend in a week? Making some changes to your habits could help you put a little extra aside each month. Cutting back is as simple as stop spending money! From making your own lunch every day to resisting the urge for your Saturday night takeaway, it’s easier than you think to save money. Try leaving your wallet at home and only carrying the cash you need, it could make a big difference to your weekly spend.

Shop smarter online

Online shopping can be a great way to save some money. Discount codes are great, especially around Christmas time! Always carry out a search for discount codes before you hit the checkout, most of the time you’ll find something.


As well as using discount codes, why not try using cashback websites? Cashback websites can help you earn a percentage back on your online purchases, allowing you to grow your earnings into savings you can put towards something later on. If you get your friends and family involved too, you could earn some great money from referrals!

Have some ‘no spend’ days

Could you make it through some days without spending any money at all? It’s easier than you think. By walking to work, getting creative with what’s in the cupboards and resisting those online sales offers, you can easily manage a ‘no spend’ day. Try doing one of these at least once a week and put aside the money you would have spent. It’ll soon become easy to grow your savings ready for a rainy day!

Use a savings app

Savings apps are ideal for people who struggle to save money. Some cool budgeting apps include Cleo and Emma, which can help you save by analysing your outgoings and stashing away some of your money each month. These types of apps can also make sure you round up your spare change, leaving you with some extra pennies saved at the end of the month. A few pence here and there might not seem like much, but it all adds up!

Try a side hustle

If money is extremely tight to the point where you can’t save at all, why not look at other ways you can earn some money? From selling things on eBay to trying your hand at something like copywriting or proofreading, you could be surprised at how your talents can earn you money. Even if it was for an hour a day, it can be very easy to boost your income.


Saving money is all about making choices. Even if you decide to sleep on a decision overnight, you’re likely to find yourself shying away from the purchase. Making those smarter money choices will teach you some effective money habits and change your approach to your finances. It only takes some small changes to help you save more, so why not set yourself the challenge now? By the end of next week, you could have the beginnings of a great savings pot ready to help you reach your goals. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a bigger piggy bank?