Monthly Archives: June 2016

Splitting up savings

‘Though small was your allowance, you saved a little store; and those who save a little shall get a plenty more’ – William Makepeace Thackeray (19th Century novelist)

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about savings, and am pleased to say my savings are still growing, though now I’ve moved on to a different purpose.

Now I’m saving to pay for house move fees!

numbers-money-calculating-calculation

I hope you’re feeling just as satisfied with how well you’re managing to set aside money every month, whether it’s a little or a lot.

Today’s post is just a quick update on how I’m managing my savings right now…

In this article I described ISAs and pointed out that I’d probably set one up this year. Well, I haven’t!

The Tesco Internet Saver I opened in January 2015 had done its job, earning me higher interest than most instant access saving accounts. The bonus had been paid and the annual interest rate dropped drastically.

Better accounts are now out there.

So I got onto Money Saving Expert (as usual!) and checked out the best rates going.

I knew I wanted the best returns I could get, but without paying monthly fees. I also didn’t want to lock all my money away for a long time, just in case of an unseen emergency.

I discovered that the RCI Bank offers a relatively amazing 1.45% AER interest through their Freedom Savings account, so that was one contender. Plus, it’s easy access and online management. The downside – if the bank did go under, getting the money back could be trickier as it’s a French bank (owned by Renault). They still cover up to €100,000 though!

I also saw that Charter Savings Bank – a British establishment, covered up to £75,000 as standard by the FSCS – offered a good rate of 1.70% interest. This, however, is on money in the 120-day notice account, so if I needed to withdraw it, I’d need to allow four months to receive the cash. Not ideal.

Then I had a EUREKA sort of moment.

Why not split my savings?

I’ve now got a few thousand £££s in the Charter Savings Bank, earning a bit more interest, and a little less in the RCI Bank earning a little less interest. Ultimately, when both interests are added after a year (grab a calculator!), this still comes to a decent amount even adding nothing extra in.

So always bear in mind it IS possible to split your cash, as long as you’re well organised and willing to keep a close eye on your finances.

How I keep on being grateful

‘Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world’ – John Milton, poet and civil servant

Regular gratitude is the foundation of every stong relationship we can have, whether romantic or otherwise. It comes in extremely handy even in the workplace.

We should take every opportunity we have to show how grateful we are, even when someone has performed the simplest of tasks.

IMG_1031 (2)

When I was teaching, it was something I fell short with. As I felt less and less appreciated, I showed less and less gratitude to the students for any good behaviour or work they did. I saw it as their duty. Big mistake.

The same goes in all walks of life, from the kitchen to the office to the supermarket. People don’t have to do what they do.

Never let someone feel unappreciated or like their efforts are expected.

Here are five simple ways I try to display my gratitude to others.

Keep your eyes peeled

Always be ready to pick up a small, impromptu gift for a lover or friend. It reminds them how grateful you are that they are simply in your world.

This doesn’t have to break the bank. It could be their favourite chocolate bar, fruits or magazine.

For me and my other half, it’s usually picking up a packet of our favourite crisps when we pass Sainsburys or Asda!

DIY

If you have some time to yourself, why not put in extra effort and create something heartfelt and handmade?

One of my top gifts I ever landed on was a jar of home-mixed fajita spice – a moving-in present for a friend who’s particularly good at fajitas.

You could bake their favourite cake or perhaps give card-making a go, adding in a special personal message of thanks.

Me and Alex have nicknames for each other which lended themselves to cartoon characters, so from time to time I draw these two little personalities along with a message. No amount of money can make a thank you card that fantastic.

Treat them

If you happen to be passing a café, shop or pub with your friend or loved one, consider nipping in. Splash out on a fresh cup of coffee or tea. Treat them to a beer. Buy them their favourite sandwich for lunch or a muffin to snack on.

I’ve even done this for colleagues because I walk past a little coffee shop at the entrance to my place of work.

Cut out the middle man

Do you have a garden of your own filled with flowers and interesting foliage? I like to cut some in-season blooms, tie them together and deliver them myself to someone as a birthday present.

Forget InterFlora or the supermarket.

Save them the hassle

Do something for someone that they won’t enjoy doing or maybe don’t have a lot of time to get done.

Next time you go to your friend’s house for a cuppa, hop into the kitchen and clean the pots first. Even do any that they left from earlier and will have to eventually wash.

When your parents walk in from the supermarket laden with bags, take some and put it away for them.

Cleaning your own car? Consider doing your other half’s vehicle too, if they’re around.

 

These are just five simple things you can do to make someone special in your life really feel special. There are unlimited amounts of things you could do besides these, and unique things will spring to mind based on your friends and family.

Showing our gratitude not only bolsters our relationships with others, but also our own sense of wellbeing and harmony.

And do remember to show yourself gratitude regularly. This could be listing three or four stand-out positives from your week.

A Saturday night glass of wine for a week’s hard work.

An hour of your favourite TV show after an afternoon’s blogging.

Some new clothes for several months’ solid saving.

Above all, remember to just say THANK YOU whenever you can.

IMG_0879

I’d love to read what you do to say “thanks” to yourself and those around you! Please leave any ideas in the comments section below, and as ever, thanks for reading =)

7 considerations when choosing where to live

Many of us develop a clear picture of what type of house we’d like to live in, whether it’s in the short-term or our dream home. But it’s not just the property that matters when we’re moving. We also need to think about where we would want to live.

None of us knows with absolute certainty how long we will stay in a place. I do believe, however, that we should enter into a house move expecting to be there for a substantial number of years. That way, we’re less likely to settle. Too much is at stake for settling.

7 considerations when choosing where to live

I’ve highlighted 7 considerations when thinking about where we’re going to sink our substantial deposits and monthly mortgage repayments…

(1) Property type

Yes, I know, I started this article off saying there’s more to moving home than the type of property we’d like to live in.

Nonetheless, there’s no point looking in area X, for example, if you want a four-bedroom detached with a large garden, when area X’s properties are all rows of terraced houses with small backyards.

Knowing the type of property you’d be most happy in is a great start for narrowing down your search.

(2) Affordability

Can we afford the type of property we’re after?

This is not just about how much of a deposit we’ve scraped together, or how much monthly income we have. It’s about how far our money can go.

Area X’s semi-detached houses might cost half as much again as the semis in area Y, simply because they’re different locations.

More city-central localities are usually more expensive than those further out, unless you’re heading into the leafy suburbs or commuter villages with more space.

(3) Transport

If you’re like me, you’re going to be fully dependent on that monthly wage packet for a good few years, if you want to stay in that great new pad you’re purchasing.

For this reason, we have to make sure work is within easy reach. This will vary from one individual to the next. A commute is measured differently by each of us.

I can’t stand the idea of a stressful cross-city journey in traffic for more than 20 minutes, so I’m opting for a more rural journey of half-an-hour, avoiding rush hours where possible.

Others might think an hour either way is fine.

Weather is also an important consideration here. Does the location have good transport links in case of bad weather? Can work go on without you making it in if the snow is really severe?

(4) Local amenities

We all need food and water, and no matter how much we might protest, we’re reliant on electricity and gas too. What’s it like where you’re property-searching? Is there a local supermarket you could walk to if need be, or some small shops?

From local experience, I’d also say to remember broadband and mobile networks. I’ve lived on a street that, to my utter astonishment, had a shockingly slow internet connection speed.

Now, we’re looking at a location whose coverage for my mobile network is non-existent, and I’m in the contract until October.

(5) Local experience

We’ve worked out that lovely little village has all we might need, but what about everything we would want?

You might love weekly live music nights – stick to the city centre or a suburb with great public transport connections.

You might love nipping into clothes stores regularly to pick up a new item – so don’t go to that provincial market town!

This is wholly dependent on your hobbies and pleasures. I love to walk, garden, cook, bake, write, read… I’m pretty self-sufficient given a roof over my head and a patch of earth.

Others amongst us will require a bit more occupying and outside stimulus.

(6) Family and friends

I’m from a close-knit family. I would hate to be somewhere too far from them, and definitely couldn’t cope if I couldn’t call them (that pesky network coverage again!).

If you’re the same, or see a select group of old friends frequently, moving too far afield wouldn’t be wise. This is similar to being able to get to and from work.

Do you want to be travelling an hour or more to visit pals?

Of course, if you’re after a four-bedroom house and have no kids (at least, not yet), then there’s always the sleepover solution for your houseparties and evening meals out.

(7) Demographics

The internet brings us many annoyances (social media procrastination, a barrage of emails at work, an unreliable connection…), but it has also opened up so many opportunities.

One of these is being able to check out an area from the comfort of our [current] home.

Whack on the laptop and get Googling for local crime rates or employment rates. Check out the average age of residents in your desired location. What about school Ofsted reports if you’ve got sprogs? They’re online too!

IMG_1807

Now there really is no excuse for going in blind. Begin your research in the study or living room, then get out and visit the place you’re considering.

Alex and I visit our pinpointed locale every few weeks. We have been at weekends and weekdays – it’s important to go on different days. It’s also useful to go at different times of day, and at different times of year.

It’s a great excuse to get out and eat somewhere new or take a different walk, and if you’re a couple or family, it’s all about sharing new experiences together too.

Do you agree with my list? Have you any other considerations to add? As ever, I’d love to hear your pointers and advice in the comments below. And don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram too =D