Six Budgeting Tips to Prepare You For Home Maintenance Disasters*

*This is a collaborative post*

If you’ve ever had your fridge break on you, or you’ve discovered a leak in your plumbing, you’ll know that having to perform emergency repairs on your home can be really expensive.

These tips will help you prepare for unforeseen costs, so you’ll be ready to whip that wallet out when the need arises.

Choose Your Approach

Even if you’re good at budgeting for other household requirements, emergency repairs are their own category of expense. Firstly, you never know when you’ll have to shell out for a pricey repair or replacement. Secondly, you don’t have a choice about when to get the repairs done: if water’s raining down from your top floor bathroom, you have to call that plumber in YESTERDAY. Bearing this in mind, it’s worth acknowledging that you have two options when it comes to preparing for unseen expenses. The route you favour will depend on your current financial position.

Firstly, you can do your best to budget ahead of time for unexpected events by putting into place useful strategies for saving. However, that does mean you will cut into your budget every month for other aspects of your home life, and you may not feel willing, or even able, to do this. Your other option is to make use of same-day loans when you find yourself in a fix. As long as you’re confident you can pay the money back in a timely manner, debt collection won’t be an issue for you. This option means you can devote your full budget to other areas of your housekeeping, and even save towards updates to your home.

Know What You Could Afford Today

Before you start creating your emergency fund, it’s useful to know how much you can afford to pay if you had a home disaster today. Say your washing machine broke today and you needed a replacement. How much money could you spare towards the issue today? If the answer is, ‘none! I need all my money for groceries!’ then you know your starting point: you need your emergency fund to be large enough that you don’t have to dip into your monthly earnings. If you could spare a couple of hundred pounds, then you know your emergency fund can be a little slimmer—basically, just enough to top up your monthly earnings, if something expensive crops up.

Sell Stuff You Don’t Use

Starting an emergency fund from scratch can feel a little intimidating. One of the best ways to give your emergency fund a head start is to sell some stuff you have that you don’t use anymore. While you might think nobody would want to buy the things you don’t want, remember that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That tennis racquet you haven’t used in a while is worth nothing to you while it’s stashed in the attic, but once you’ve listed it on eBay, it could take on value you forgot it had. It can also be freeing to get rid of possessions that you don’t use anymore, especially if they no longer bring joy to your life. While each item you sell may not be worth all that much on its own, you’ll be surprised how much it adds up to once you’re finished your purge. Your emergency fund should be well on its way!

Evaluate Your Existing Budget

If you already run your spending on a tight budget, you may not think you have much to spare, but take another look. You may find that you’ve changed your priorities since you first established your budget, and you can make a snip or shift here and there to save a little money. For example, do you still appreciate that weekly trip to the nail salon? Maybe you’re a little over having glam nails, but you still go out of habit, and because you love a good chat with your beautician. Or maybe you don’t need therapy anymore because your mood has improved, but you just hadn’t noticed yet. If you’ve started getting into cooking lately, maybe you don’t get as much pleasure out of eating out on a date night as you do from cooking something special. In that case, cut your restaurant budget and enjoy an intimate date night at home. A couple of adjustments could add a decent bit of cushioning to your emergency fund.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut With Bills

Monthly bills are a good place to start when you’re looking to cut expenses. Give the service providers for your T.V, Internet and mobile phone service a call, and ask if they have any more cost-effective options available for you to switch your contract over to. You never know: since you signed up, they may have introduced new deals or service bundles that offer exactly what you need for less than you are currently paying. A couple of tweaks to your monthly bills could go a long way.

Open a Separate Account

As you watch the money in your emergency fund grow (which it will!) it can be tempting to use it for other things. What use will it be then? The best way to combat this is to open a separate account for your emergency fund, rather than stashing your cash under the bed or even ‘knowing’ how much of the money in your account is set aside for emergencies. Allocating the money to a savings account means your emergency funds are ‘out of sight, and out of mind’, removing the temptation to splurge and ensuring you have access to the extra money when emergency strikes. Another great benefit of having the money in a savings account is that you will accrue added interest while it sits there, swelling your emergency fund even more.

Whether you own your own home or not, you may have occasional emergencies that require a dose of extra cash to put right. Even if you don’t have extra money lying around for emergencies, a household disaster generally cannot wait. These tips will help you ensure that you have the money to hand, avoiding panic and disorder.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image source: Pexels CC0 Licence Second image source: Pexels CC0 Licence

Five Updates You Can Make To Your Home*

*This is a collaborative post*

Carrying out occasional updates to your property can help to give you that feeling you had when you first moved into your home. That buzz of excitement of getting the keys, walking into your home and knowing you have a new space that's yours to do with as you want. If you're looking for some inspiration to help transform your home, here are five updates that you can make to your home.

Build An Extension

There are many factors to consider before building an extension on your home. It's a big project, and it's not something that everyone has the opportunity to do on their home whether that's due to a financial limitation or for lack of space on the land. If you find that there may be a chance that your property boundaries aren't correct, then a solicitor for a boundary dispute would certainly be worth the hassle. That could well be the difference between you being able to go forward with your extension or not. If you're building an extension, you first want to work out what it is you want that new space to be because the floor space may dictate what is possible within the extension.

Then you want to ensure you’ve got the budget to complete the works and to factor in any consequences of having the extension done while living in your property. It may require temporary accommodation, and you’ll need to inform your neighbours about the plans so that they are in agreement with what you are doing. 

Paint Your Cabinets And Touch-Up The Walls

Paint is great for making even the most worn cabinets and walls, look brand new. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a fresh coat of paint, and that paint doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Painting yourself can be a very therapeutic thing to do when it comes to decorating, and it can also save on you having to fork out the money to replace cabinets and cupboard or desk drawers that are still perfectly functional. Your walls will certainly suffer from bumps and scratches, whether that’s something you do directly, your guests or any furniture you may move around the process. It’s a normal thing to happen, but these scuffs can end up making it look worn, so keep a pot of paint in your garage to do touch-ups every now and then. 

Switch Up The Soft Furnishings

Soft furnishings like the throws on your sofa, the cushions on your bed and even the curtains or blinds that hang on the windows can become a bit of a bore to look at. Especially if you’ve had the same cushion cover or blind design in your home for the past several years. Finding the right designs and patterns that last a lifetime is pretty rare, and even if you do, it’s nice to give your home a change of appearance every now and then.

Soft furnishings are not as expensive as replacing a sofa or something bulkier, so look at every room and see what you could replace or update. Rugs can help add that extra layer of comfort and can make neutral walls or flooring, look more interesting. Cushions and throws are great at masking a worn sofa, so that if you didn’t have the funds to pay out for a new sofa now, it can provide you with a temporary solution. 

Incorporate Some Technology

Technology has truly transformed the way we live our lives, and that also comes down to the functionality of our homes. Incorporating some technology is one update you can do to your home to make it easier for your household to navigate a daily routine. But it’s also worth having if you ever decide to sell your home. Maybe it’s replacing the thermostat with a smart meter or having remote-controlled lighting or blinds. Alexa is a feature in many people’s homes and also can be connected to devices around your home.

Ensure Everything Has A Home

We can easily create a lot of clutter in our home, and unless everything has a home, things will end up strewn across the floor or in places where it shouldn't belong. So always have an attitude of everything having a home and if it doesn’t get some storage. Storage is a great way of making sure everything is placed either on display or hidden away. Multi-functional furniture that also acts as storage space is highly recommended.

So what are you waiting for? That’s five updates that you can be doing to your own space right now!

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header photo source.

Old Dogs, New Tricks*

*This is a collaborative post*

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well that might be true but nevertheless we recently decided to try our family dog on a new dog food which I'd heard rave reviews about. 

It's certainly safe to say that changing your dog's food is not a quick or overnight thing and our nine year old German shepherd Kaiser is already a notoriously fussy eater as it is, so much so that even all his pet treats have to be chicken flavour! On top of this he also has a very delicate stomach so we have to be very careful with what we give him as even the slightest change can give him an upset tummy. Stress is another factor that hugely affects pets and unfortunately the loss of my dad in December has taken its toll. That said Kaiser seems to have bounced back a little since the birth of my daughter in May whom he adores.

Hill's Pet Nutrition is a world known pet food which has clinically proven nutrition that can transform your pets life. We opted to try Hill's Science Plan Canine Adult Light Large Breed with Chicken which seems tailor made for adult dogs like Kaiser who require fewer calories because they are less active. As Kaiser has got a little older unfortunately his back legs have started to wane and as such he is indeed a lot less active than he was. The product is formulated to maintain an ideal weight and contains clinically proven antioxidants and L-carnitine which help to turn fat into energy. The high fibre content helps to control hunger between meals.

The advice with this dog food is to introduce it gently, mixing it at first with some of your pets usual food. As is the norm for Kaiser, he was a little stand-offish when I first gave him some of his new food to try. He played with it for a short while whilst he became familiar with the taste but this isn't to say he didn't like it, just that it was something new and alien to him. After some coaxing and encouragement he tucked in.

I can't honestly sit here and write genuine feedback on the results yet because it's taken a while to get Kaiser to transition. That said, I have read many positive reviews and so have high hopes.

The only negative really is the cost. At over £35 a bag it is a little on the pricey side but then Kaiser's original dog food wasn't exactly a bargain anyway! As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and as many pet owners will tell you, nothing is too much when it comes to their beloved pets!  

Great Options For Home Improvements*

*This is a collaborative post*

Whether you're planning to put your house on the market or make it more comfortable to live in, there's а lot to be gained from making home improvements.

Improvements in your home could involve:

  • Repairs of existing structures,
  • Remodelling certain parts of the home to give them а facelift,
  • Making additions to your home to enhance the quality of life,
  • Home improvement projects in order to create а house more energy efficient or environment-friendly,
  • Making your garden into a little paradise with the help of Alice's Garden.

To choose а home improvement project can seem pretty daunting. But armed with а few handy home improvement tips, you may be well on your way to the perfect home of your dreams. The majority of these tips are simple to follow and will make deciding on home improvement projects а breeze for you.

- Before deciding on а home improvement project, you need to determine why you think your house needs it, how much you should be spending on it, and what is the result you would be happy with.

- The first home improvements you should consider are fixing ones. Attend to any ceiling issues - like peeling paint, the plumbing job you are putting off or that loft insulation that is now necessary. This holds true whether you intend to reside in the house yourself, put it on rent, or put the house on sale.

- Remodelling your kitchen or bathroom is а intelligent home improvement move if you're planning to put your house on sale. This increases the value of the house immediately, and if researched correctly, can be carried out with very little investment.

- Home improvement projects that involve remodelling need to be well thought out, so that they do not look weird on or in the house. They are generally done to improve lighting, provide more room, or glamorize the house. For instance, if а kitchen wall is broken down to create an open kitchen, it immediately makes the house more friendly and social. But adding extra walls badly, will cut out light and make things smaller. 

- Making additions to а house like adding а deck, а pool, or an outdoor storage area are usually the result of what the family wants but may also be excellent selling points if the house goes up for sale. Additions to the home should be considered as home improvement projects if there's extra outdoor space which by itself doesn't enhance the value of the house. A good idea for an improvement in the exterior areas of the house is also to consider the neighbourhood and just make changes and additions that would blend in.

- Helping а house improve its energy efficiency is also а great idea for а householder, since not only does it cut down on the gas and electricity bills, it's а terrific thing to do for the environment. Improvement in the insulation of the house can be a long-lasting blessing. Investing in а house so that it partially harvests solar energy could be another method of improving the home for the future.

It is obvious that home improvement projects should not be carried out on а whim. It is essential to evaluate why а particular home improvement project is required, and what is gained from the investment. While home improvements that involve fixing increase the comfort in the house and its durability and are therefore essential, the other sorts of home improvement need to be carefully evaluated before embarking on them.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image by Theme Photos on Unsplash

How To Make Your Wedding More Personal*

*This is a collaborative post*

When you get engaged, it’s safe to say that you’re going to be really excited. When you’re in love and you’re looking to spend your life with this person, there’s nothing better. Not only that, but the initial honeymoon period of getting engaged is so lovely too. However, you don’t always think about the planning side of things at first but when the haze wears off, you start to think about everything you have to do and it can be exhausting. Instead of overwhelming yourself, you definitely have to make sure that you’re planning a wedding that you love. A wedding that’s for you – and is about you and your tastes. You have to make it personal. Let’s take a look at how.

Know What You Want

First of all, you’re going to want to get in your mind exactly what you want. Because weddings are personal and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in different themes and trends. But here, you should aim to focus on what matters the most to you. If you want to get healthier before the wedding, go with it. If you want to get married abroad, that’s okay too. Just to know what you want, and keep that in mind so you don’t get swept away.

Stick To What You Can Afford

When you’ve got your thoughts in order, the next thing that you need to do here, is to make sure that you are setting a realistic budget. Because weddings can get very expensive. And if you do not want to get into debt over this is spend too much, then don’t – stick to what you can afford.

Keep It Intimate

From here, you may find that you want to think about keeping it a bit intimate, rather than going for something big. When you have a small wedding, it can sometimes feel much more personal – and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Plus, you get to spend the day with those you love the most, and enjoy things on your terms.

Do It Your Way

But then also, you are going to want to make sure that you aim to do it your way. It’s okay to prioritize the things that matter to the most, and allocate your budget on that. Whether it’s wedding photo booth hire and a photographer, or food and drinks, invest where suits you best. Because then, you get to enjoy the things that matter to you the most.

Forget The Pressure

Finally, you have to make sure that you’re just not letting yourself get all worked up about what your wedding should be. Don’t compare yourself or what you do to others. Don’t let yourself judge what you want against what others have done. It’s not a competition and you don’t have to spend tons for this to be a success. So remember that. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Just enjoy things your own way and see what happens.

 *Post contributed by Sam Jones. Photo source Unsplash.

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