Tuesday, 30 October 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE | FIRST TIME BUYERS DEPOSIT SAVING TIPS

It's no secret that getting onto the property ladder isn't easy; there are so many barriers and even though there are government schemes to put property within reach (Help to Buy, Shared Equity etc.) they still require you to save a substantial amount of money for a deposit. You'll be expected to cough up at least 5% of the property value and this can seem really daunting and unachievable but it doesn't have to be. There are lots of things you can do now to put yourself in a better position when it comes to buying your first house.


Have an idea of your budget - decide what is realistic for you in terms of a house price, there are plenty of mortgage calculators online which will work out how much banks are likely to agree to lending you so you'll be able to get a rough figure as to the houses that are in reach. Don't forget that Help to Buy and Shared Equity schemes are also there to help so definitely look into those as part of the process. 

Keep an eye on your credit score - ultimately your credit score will be one of the main things that banks look at when deciding whether to offer you a mortgage so this needs to be as strong as possible. Don't forget that having no credit at all can be as bad as having too much credit; banks want to know whether you're capable of managing your finances and paying back what you owe and not having any credit previously means it's very hard for them to do that. Understanding your credit score is key to improving it so if it isn't where it needs to be make sure you find out why and take steps to rectify it. 

Declutter your life - selling the stuff you don't need can be a great way of giving yourself a tidy sum of cash; I've sold all sorts on eBay and local Facebook selling sites and it's important to remember that your trash really could be someone else's treasure; the beauty of Facebook is that there's no selling fees so anything larger or potentially worth more try selling it on there before you go to sites that'll charge you a commission. Shpock, Gumtree and Depop are other sites specifically for selling second hand things so go have a look at those too and see what sells well on each.

Do some online surveys - some online survey sites can be quite stingy with 'rewards' offered and often screen you out a couple of questions in but my personal favourites are YouGov and Prolific Academic - neither of these screen you out a couple of questions in because they only allow you to complete surveys that are relevant to you/them. You can cash out at £50 with YouGov and Prolific Academic allows you to cash out at as little as £20 without paying a fee and you accumulate money pretty quickly. This money doesn't look a lot initially but it soon adds up and to be honest a lot of the surveys are quite interesting to do so I'd highly recommend them for a bit of extra cash. 

Don't forget to let HMRC know of any additional income, Emma Drew's guide on this is fab for newbies.

Save before you spend - when it comes to physically saving money obviously only save what you can afford to but make sure you save at the beginning of the month rather than at the end. In other words put an amount into your savings on payday rather than waiting to see what's left over and just saving that. That way you're guaranteed to save an amount every month. 

Clear up your spends - basically see what you can do without. When I started saving I got rid of my Spotify subscription, cancelled my gym membership (when I could... be careful of contractual agreements that you may have signed) and stopped spending money on lunches at work. It's amazing how much all this adds up to and you might be surprised how many direct debits leave your account and you have no idea why you're still letting them take money from you! 

If you're looking for more saving tips and inspiration Pinterest is the place to be, as well as Emma Drew's blog - she has some amazing tips and tricks on how to save plenty of cash to do the things you want including buying a house!

*post written in collaboration with Credit Fix. 

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Monday, 22 October 2018

LIFESTYLE | SUNDAY CHILLS

Sunday is traditionally when we spend the entire day dreading what awaits us at work on Monday but I've been determined to change that mindset by making it a day that I actually enjoy right up until I go to bed.

Get out and about
Sometimes on a Sunday you literally do just want to stay in the house all day and chill out but I think it's the staying in all day that sometimes breeds that feeling of dread because you end up feeling a bit bored and naturally your thoughts turn to the next thing on your agenda eg. work. For that reason I like to try and get out for a short walk if it's not raining - I actually prefer walking in autumn/winter weather because you can layer up accordingly and actually enjoy the walk without sweating as if you've done a full on workout.

Catch up on cleaning
I know some of you will read that and think 'cleaning' and 'chilling' do not go in the same sentence but I can honestly say that I genuinely love cleaning. No I've not travelled back to the 1950's, I don't believe my place is in the kitchen but I do believe that there's nothing more therapeutic than hoovering your living room carpet, stepping back to admire the hoover lines and spraying them with 1001 Winter Berry Carpet Freshener. Ok so I may have lost it slightly but on a serious note since it exploded on Instagram I've absolutely fallen in love with cleaning and I really do clean for enjoyment rather than it being a chore.

Fill in a bullet journal
I've spoke about bullet journalling as a way to give yourself a bit of me time; you can find hundreds of ideas on Pinterest and I find it really quite a cathartic thing to do and I highly recommend it as a way to kind of 'offload' the week.

Have a bath
A bath is how I end every Sunday because I find it so relaxing; I have a specific little routine that I go through and I find that it really relaxes me ready for bed. I was kindly sent a pamper pack from Sanctuary Bathrooms so I wanted to share what my Sunday night pamper consists of...


  • I always light an aromatherapy candle, whether it's Wax Lyrical Lavender and Chamomile or Neom De-Stress 
  • Use use a luxury bath product like a Lush bath bomb
  • Apply a face mask just before getting into the bath and leave it to work it's magic as you relax
  • Use a nice hair treatment - I have blonde hair so I use the Lee Stafford Bleach Blondes toning shampoo which just takes out the brassy tones but a deep conditioning treatment would also be nice
  • I take the opportunity to exfoliate and shave because I find this much easier in a bath than a shower.
What do you with your Sunday? Share your pictures with me on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GiveYourselfSomeSanctuary 


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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

HOME & LIFESTYLE | HOW TO SAVE WATER AROUND YOUR HOME

I can't believe it's been a month already since I started the water saving challenge with Yorkshire Water! If you missed the previous posts, Yorkshire Water challenged me to try and save water around the home just by changing my daily habits ever so slightly which I've actually found fairly easy which surprised me!


The 4 Minute Shower - This was the one that I thought I'd find the most challenging but it was, in fact, a lot easier than I thought. I honestly think the only reason why I was spending longer in the shower was because I wasn't thinking about water consumption but as soon as it was at the forefront of my mind, miraculously, I was able to do things far quicker! If you order a water saving pack from Yorkshire Water it actually comes with a little egg timer that you can stick on the tiles so remind you of the time you've got.

Making Hot Drinks - I used to fill the kettle with way more water than I actually needed which actually meant that I ended up tipping away some of the water because, I don't know about you, I won't use water that's been stood in a kettle overnight because I'm convinced it's stale or full of limescale. So now I use the mug I'm going to drink out of to actually put the water into the kettle so I'm only putting in exactly what I need. Not only does this save me water, it also saves on electricity because naturally, a kettle with a lot less water in takes less time to boil.

Doing the Laundry - Being on my own I don't use my washing machine every day but what I was guilty of was washing twice a week, only filling it half full of clothes before I turned it on. This was obviously a totally unnecessary waste of water and I've found it surprisingly easy to wait until I've got a full load to actually turn the washer on. I have plenty of clothes so it's not as if I've been without clean clothes to wear and I can imagine that cutting down to one wash per week on average that I've cut down my average daily water usage by quite a bit!

Watering the Garden - Just before I started this challenge I bought a sprinkler because my garden was looking so yellow, sad and dead because it had been so relentlessly hot in the UK. However, Yorkshire Water recommend that you don't use a sprinkler or a hose pipe to water your garden because it's hard to control the water you're using. I actually haven't watered my garden at all during the past month and because we finally got some cooler weather with some rain showers it's not actually doing too bad now. If you do want to water your garden, the best thing to do is use a watering can so you know how much water you're using. Alternatively you could invest in a water butt which recycles rain water which can be used for watering the plants/grass. Another little tip is to Leave your grass a little bit longer which helps it to stay greener as the sun doesn't scorch it whereas shorter grass tends to go yellow quicker as it burns.

Washing up while the water is hot - This was the most challenging part of the whole month. I used to fill the washing up bowl with hot water and leave the pots to 'soak' for what I thought was 5/10 minutes when it actually turned into more like 40 minutes by the time I'd plonked myself on the sofa and forgotten about them. Obviously this meant that the water was cold by the time I got to it and no use for washing the dishes in. So over the past month I've stopped the laziness and I've been doing the washing as soon as I've put the water in the bowl - not once have I tipped it down the sink and refilled it. I'm quite proud of myself actually *insert smug emoji*

So there's 5 tried and tested tips on how to save water in your home. It's not a case of making massive changes, it's just a few little tweaks to bring your daily water consumption down. Although we have had a little bit of cooler weather in the past month we still haven't had enough rain so just by reducing your water usage a little bit, collectively we can make a big difference to the impact on water sources around Yorkshire. Not only would you be helping the environment, if you're on a water meter you could also be saving yourselves some money which, with Christmas in the not so distant future, should come in handy!

*post in collaboration with Yorkshire Water

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Monday, 20 August 2018

LIFESTYLE | 5 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU'VE GOT A BIT OF 'ME' TIME

Just recently, I've heard/seen a few people say that they've had time to themselves but had no idea what to do with it which I guess is a symptom of how stupidly busy we all seem to be nowadays especially when you really start to adult keeping small humans alive etc. etc. We're all juggling one thing and another but it's SO important to actually take a step back now and again and actually enjoy the 'spare time' we have rather than using it as an opportunity to 'get stuff done'.

Stop worrying about that bit of ironing that needs doing, get rid of the guilt and look after yourself for once because everyone deserves some time to concentrate on themselves:

Get comfortable, sit down and enjoy a drink - How many times do you actually make yourself a drink then actually sit down and drink it. Your me time can be as simple as changing into some comfy pyjamas, making yourself a drink and actually sitting down to enjoy it.


Pyjama Bottoms £20.00 Hunkemöller*

Look after yourself - This can be as simple as having a bath, putting on a face mask, painting your nails, giving your hair a deep conditioning treatment or even shaving your legs. If you're so preoccupied with looking after everything and everyone else you are naturally going to suffer one way or another. I'm not suggesting that looking good is the answer to feeling good but just spending some time concentrating on your own body can be so therapeutic.

Start a bullet journal - I've loved writing since I was little, so much of my money would be spent on new notebooks and stationery and nothing has changed now aside from the fact that bullet journalling has become a thing. If you're not familiar with bullet journalling it's basically described as the 'analogue system for a digital age'; it's a place where you can get organised (or pretend to, in my case), record your thoughts, learn about yourself, set goals and even doodle if that kind of thing takes your fancy. I'm obsessed with pinning bullet journal ideas on Pinterest which is where I get most of my ideas from so have a look on there, grab yourself a fresh new notebook, some colourful pens and pencils and get bullet journalling!

Watch something on catch up - Busy lives often mean that we get home from a day of running around chasing your tail to grab something to eat and just flop straight into bed meaning that before you know it, you've missed out on your favourite TV series or that drama that you really wanted to watch. You don't necessarily have to do this through a paid for service like Netflix; BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all have dedicated catch up sites where there's hundreds of episodes to watch. There's even older classic box sets on the Channel 4 on demand website like The Inbetweeners and Green Wing so there's bound to be something for everyone.

Text/ring somebody you've not spoken to in ages - Friends and extended family are among some of the casualties of a busy life because we just 'forget' to get in touch with them. One week rolls into the next and before you know it, it's been 2/3 months since you've spoken to some of your friends and family. We are all guilty of this at some point in our lives I think. Rather than worrying about them being annoyed out the fact that you've not been in touch just remember that they're probably in a very similar position to you and hearing from you might be just the pick-me-up they need that day.

There are so many more things you can do with a bit of me time but the most important thing for me is to actually make sure you allow me time. Don't feel guilty; look after number one for once.

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