How to Declutter Your Home the Easy Way*

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

*This is a collaborative post*

If you feel like your home is fit to burst under the weight of all your stuff, then it may be time to have a clear out and de-clutter. The problem with clutter is that it sneaks up on you very slowly, and before you know you’re tripping over that pile of books in the hallway, and searching for your dressing table stool under a mountain of clothing.

As everyone’s lives are so busy nowadays, it can be hard to find the time to have a good clear out, and you may find it is a chore that never seems to make its way to the top of the to-do list. Here are some ideas to get you started on your mission to ditch the clutter:

One Step At A Time

Often people wait to de-clutter their house until it’s absolutely necessary, such as moving house. However, this can make life much more stressful at a time when you’re already probably going to feel pretty stressed out.

It’s easy to put off de-cluttering when it feels overwhelming, so breaking the process down into small steps is the way to go.

Starting with just clearing out one cupboard rather than a whole room is a great place to start, and won’t leave you feeling completely swamped.

Image Source Pixabay

Little And Often

If the thought of spending a whole day rummaging through your stuff is your idea of a nightmare then simply commit to spending 20 minutes a day sorting through your things.

An effortless way to get started is, to begin with furniture such as cupboards and drawers. Once you’ve gone through these and sorted out what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of you should have freed up quite a bit of space. This means that when you go through other areas of the home, the things you decide to keep can be placed in the cupboard space that you have created. This system should have you de-cluttering with minimum effort, and you should see faster results.

Divide it Up

Rather than just emptying a cupboard into one big mountain of stuff, try to separate it into bags and boxes as you go, this will save you time as you won’t need to handle everything twice and will also make the process more manageable.

You could try having a bag of recycling, a bag for the charity shop and a pile of stuff that you want to keep to prevent yourself from getting in a muddle and so that you don’t have tonnes of stuff that was in a cupboard adding to your clutter.

Storage Is Key

Of course, while you’re de-cluttering, you’re bound to come across stuff that you don’t want to get rid of but are unsure where to keep it. In this situation, you may decide to rent some space at a self storage site. That way you know that your stuff is safe and that you can access it whenever you need it, but without it being in the way at home.

Some Tips For Your Dream Winter's Wedding*

 *This is a collaborative post*

For many people, the idea of a magical Winter's wedding is the ultimate, and apart from the obvious potential pitfalls which can befall a Winter wedding, - mostly weather related - there are many upsides to having a wedding at this time of year. With the right preparation you can ensure you have a weatherproof day of celebration and revel in the the excitement of your Big Day.

Save Money On Your Venue

The first advantage of a Winter wedding is that by comparison with Summer weddings, you can actually save a small fortune when it comes to venue fees. Because business is slower for wedding vendors and suchlike during Winter they will be keen for your business. For many people who might be a little strapped for cash, you could also consider getting married on a weekday in order to really save a sizeable chunk of money again particularly when it comes down to venue fees, the differences in the fees are quite extraordinary.

If you would like to have a 'big' wedding and need plenty of guests, a weekday wedding will be unlikely, but for those who picture the smaller more intimate wedding it might be a more feasible and cost-effective option. However if you aren't particular bothered about having a Summer's wedding then you will find the Autumn, Winter and Spring seasons much more affordable than Summer weddings. Also with regards to having a Winter wedding, do not be afraid to shop around, haggle with venues and vendors on pricing, or be politely cheeky and ask for some kind of deal etc.

Again due to business being slower during these months they should be more open to your negotiations. We are spoiled these days with our range of options with regards to venues, and a quick online search will bring up a list of potential candidates. With so many old stately homes, former castles and historic buildings now transformed into the perfect wedding day venue. Botley's Mansion is a great example of this. For those who might like a more modern feel to your wedding, have no fear, that options list is also considerable. Lot's of venues will have their own website, so be sure to check out menu's, photo galleries, potential themes and other details before you get in touch as this will help you to discuss and tailor your plans to your specific design.

Make The Most Of The Photography

With high risk comes high reward, and with regards to booking a Winter's wedding and hoping for the best weather possible: if it is good weather especially, the photographs can be amazing! If you are planning on a wedding with a good backdrop or with beautiful scenery then you can really get some beautiful crisp clear images. And with a bit of luck you might get that dusting of snow, which of course is what everyone who dreams of a Winter's Wedding envisions right!? The opportunity for the most beautiful and dramatic wedding photographs are during Winter. 

Many of your guests will be taking their own photos too so be sure to make use of a wedding photo sharing platform. Wedding photo shop in particular is free to join and allows your guests to upload photos as they take them throughout the day.

Indulge In The Romance

There is something wonderfully romantic about a Winter wedding. As mentioned the opportunities for amazing pictures and moments from a magical snow coated Winter's wedding are second to none and obviously unique only to this season.

Take Your Pick

If you are considering getting married during the Winter months then you will most likely have your pick of venues, officiants for your ceremony and reception as well as bands and or DJs etc. Vendors are more likely to be available also and you will be more likely to get the photographer that you really want, or perhaps that exquisite caterer who did your best friend's wedding last summer.

Dare To Be Different

There is no denying that by holding a wedding in Winter you will be able to make your wedding your own in ways which are not an option during the Summer's months. Of course you can embrace one of many themes depending on your culture and background, from Christmas, to Honika to Winter Wonderland. You can add unique twists and turns of your own which will give your Big Day a truly special and memorable experience. Also another plus, is that you can rest assured that your guests and vendors are going to be happy, fresh and raring to go. This is not always guaranteed during Summer, as the wedding season can burn people out at times. 

*Written by Michael.
 Photos via Pixabay and Pexels.

10 Summer Wardrobe Essentials - My Fashion World Wishlist*

*This is a collaborative post*

As I write this I've now less than two weeks of pregnancy left, that's if the little miss arrives on her due date! I literally cannot wait for her to be born - nervous as I am. Firstly because I'm obviously eager to meet her and secondly because I really want my body back. (Pregnancy has been hard going to say the least.) Once she is here, with Summer just around the corner I'm going to want some flattering Spring/Summer clothing that is both stylish and flattering for my postpartum tummy! 

Fashion World is one particular website I love which offers a vast choice of stylish clothing and at reasonable prices. Whether you're looking for value for money or maybe for something a bit more special, you're sure to find something to suit almost every budget.

In today's post I've put together a Spring/Summer 19' wish-list of some of my favourite pieces that are sure to see me through the warmer months. 

For sunbathing in the garden, maybe a swim class at my local leisure centre, chilling in the splash park or even perhaps for the family holiday, a swimdress is an absolute must for me. Post-baby I just know how self conscious I'm going to feel about my tummy, hips and bum so I'll be plumping for a swimdress over a swimming costume or bikini. This JD Williams Polka Dot Padded Halterneck Swimdress below is uber flattering and won't break the bank at £32.

I also love this pretty Joe Browns Navy Floral Swimdress below at £40.00 for when I fancy a change. You can see both my swimdresses of choice plus many more if you click here

For my footwear of choice I've gone for two pairs of sandals because as much as I love a good pair of heels, in the heat I do prefer to be comfortable especially if I'm spending a lot of time wandering around outdoors. These Lotus Marci Flat Open-Toe Sandals at £40 are super stylish and will go with most outfits.

To make sure I do have footwear to go with everything I've chosen a second pair of sandals but in black. These Simply Be Karmen Demi Wedge Sandals will give me a little bit of height whilst still being comfortable to walk in. Usually £30 they're currently on offer! 

There are so many gorgeous summery dresses to choose from but I've plumped for stylish styles that will keep me cool in the warm, balmy weather. This Simply Yours Bardot White Beach Dress is only £12 which is an absolute bargain. 

These pack of two Pink Print Cami Dresses below at £27 will be ideal for pottering around on a hot Summers day and will look great with the Lotus Marci Open-Toe Sandals.

When I want to glam it up a little perhaps in an evening for a family barbecue, for a meal out or even just going from the beach straight to the bar, this Monsoon Amber Hanky Hem Dress below is perfect. At £49 it is a bit pricier than what I'd usually opt for but I love the gorgeous bohemian style so it's made my wish list!

Speaking of pricey, as sunglasses go, Ray-Bans are a tad on the expensive side but I'm totally in love with these sunnies in tortoiseshell. And as I practically live in sunglasses all year around with having such sensitive eyes, I'd definitely get my money's worth out of them even at £139.
In terms of shorts, I usually live in my denim cut offs in the Summer but I particularly love the floral print on these Shired Waist Shorts and they'll make a nice change. At £22 I'd team them with a simple black boob tube style top like on the model below. 

Last but not least is my bag of choice because let's face it, what girl doesn't need a bag when they're out and about? I've always loved the ease of use and practicality of a cross body bag and so this pretty in pink Slouch Messenger Bag at £20 is just perfect for me!

Just looking at all the gorgeous Summer clothing on Fashion World has got me even more excited for the forthcoming warmer weather - roll on Summer! Why not pop on over to their website and create your own wish list? There's some absolute bargains to be had and with limited stock on particular items you might want to grab your faves before they sell out completely. 

I hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend and hopefully you'll hear from me very soon with baby news!

*All photos taken from the Fashion World website with permission. All prices correct on day of publication.

9 Things To Look For In The Best Email Service Provider*

*This is a Collaborative Post*

Are you and your business making the most of the benefits that utilizing a good email marketing platform can provide? Marketing products or services via email can be a pretty quick, reliable and cost efficient method of maintaining relationships with existing customers as well as being a great way to try and reach new customers too.

By personalizing messages for example, you can help to build up a rapport and develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with your customers. This is also a great way of being able to keep your finger on the pulse as it were, as you will have an established line of communication with your customers which you can really use to your benefit when it comes to understanding their wants, needs and desires.

Security is a major issue these day as with any kind of online data related software so I would personally recommend that any business should be using a good Email Service Provider. There's lots of really good, free information on the Myemma website. Free Email Service Providers are okay for personal use but they are limited in their security and analytics so if you do any banking or financial transactions through it I would upgrade asap. If a business's email account is ever hacked, this can and often does impact the business' profitability and efficiency.

Now that we’ve laid the foundation for your search, let’s look at what you need to look out for as you shop around.

1. Features

Probably the first place to start in looking for an email service provider is the features.

You’ll want an ESP that has as features that line up with your goals and are within your budget. You’ll need to carefully look at the features of each ESP, and, if possible, take it for a test drive. A free trial will give you a taste of what to expect from your ESP of choice.

When it comes to features, make sure to look not only for the features you need now, but features you’ll need as your business grows. In other words, you need to look for scalability in your ESP of choice.

2. Ease of use

Let’s face it. Email marketing, particularly automation, is quite a complicated affair. That’s why one major facet you need to consider in your search for an email service is ease of use.

Some of the basic features you’ll need in an email service provider are responsive templates for mobile. Advanced features include advanced personalization and segmentation options, dynamic content, and automation among others.

If the ESP you’re looking at ticks the features box, move on to the next factor that will determine if it’s the best ESP for you.
That’s why one major facet you need to consider in your search for an email service is ease of use.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
Some features that contribute to an ESP being easy to use include a drag and drop builder, a user-friendly interface, and ready-made templates among others.
Although these easy-to-use features may make the email service provider a bit more costly, you recoup your costs in the fact that you won’t need to invest a lot of time and money in familiarizing yourself with it.

3. Security

With the recent spike in data breaches, security is now a core element you should look for in an ESP. After all, it’s not only your sensitive data that is vulnerable, but your customers’ as well. Ensure that you maintain trust with your clients by getting an email service that has a robust multilayered security protocol.
When looking for an email service provider, security definitely has to feature at the top of the list of things to look for.

Speaking of things to look for, one important document you need to read and understand is the Privacy Policy and Terms page. This explains how your emails service provider collects, stores, and safeguards your data.

4. Support

Email marketing is a sensitive marketing tool. If one small thing goes wrong, the entire campaign is in danger of being a flop.

This is where customer support comes in.

An email service provider with good customer support will always be there to help ensure that your email marketing campaign runs smoothly. Make sure you go for 24/7 support and test their response rate by email, phone, or live chat before you make your final purchase.

5. Integrations

We’re living in an age where there is an app for everything. And quite frankly, many of them are quite helpful. When it comes to marketing, a study revealed marketers use an average of 5 apps to power their marketing. This is from analytics to automation and everything in between.

It’s crucial to have top integrations available so you can use data to create intricate segments, and send extremely personalized and relevant campaigns to your subscribers. Data is at the core of these possibilities. And data is what helps you form deep relationships with your audience.

6. Tracking

An email marketing campaign without data tracking (no matter how successful it may seem) is a waste of time. Tracking the progress of your emails is not just for the sake of feeling good (or bad) about the metrics. It’s all about improving your strategy and systems.

So tracking must be a part of your ESP.

Tracking will help you understand what your customers want and help you craft more personalized emails. It’ll also make it easy for you to segment your list and create the kind of journeys they’ll love and appreciate.

Apart from excellent data-gathering abilities, you should make sure your ESP of choice compiles the data in an easy to understand fashion.

7. Automation

Marketing automation is very popular for many good reasons. Sure, it ideally lightens your workload. But one of the greatest benefits is that it also increases the open rates and click-through-rates of your emails. (You can see our infographic on the latest email stats.)

In essence, automation increases revenue. Because of the data it helps you gather and track, your email marketing becomes more targeted. This helps you have a lead nurturing system that will work for you and power more conversions.

8. Scrutinize the delivery rates.

Many well intentioned emails sadly find themselves in the spam box. An important fact to realize is that just because you press the send the button, your email won’t necessarily reach its destination. It’s not that simple.

Email delivery is a bit of a tricky element. Just as you need to have a good relationship with your subscribers in order for your emails to be white-listed, so too do ESPs need to be in good standing with the giants running the internet—like Google and Yahoo.

Before you sign the dotted line, inquire about your potential email service provider’s delivery rate. A good service provider will guarantee you delivery rates in the 98% region. Don’t just settle for the delivery rate—find out how they plan to keep it that way or improve on it.

Deciding to use an email service provider starts a long-term relationship. You wouldn’t want to get into it without at least knowing their plans for ensuring your happiness.

9. A proven track record

They do say the proof is in the pudding. For an email marketing service provider, the proof is in its ability to adjust with the times.

An ESP with a good track record proves that it has mastered the art and science of sustainability. Remember, most of your data will be hosted by the ESP, meaning if it were to sink, your business would be in danger of sinking along with it.

That’s why ESPs like Emma are at the top of the list when it comes to the best email service providers. With a history that can be traced to as far back as the year 2002, Emma has weathered many storms to be a strong contender in a very fierce marketplace.

Wrap up

Choosing an email service provider that suits your business is no easy task. It requires that you do a lot of research. So take these notes, ask a lot of questions, and find out what you can. There are a lot of basics that may be covered in all ESPs, but you can start to find huge differences when you dig beneath the surface.

What Is The Answer To Getting Out Of Debt?*

*This is a collaborative post*

It could threaten to override our entire life, struggling with debt is one of those things that we all encounter at some point. When we find that we're living a paycheck to paycheck existence, and we are leaning on credit cards to help us with basic payments in life, have we got ourselves into a cycle that we are unable to escape from? What is the answer to getting out of debt?

Avoiding The Minimum Payment Mentality

It's easier (and less stressful on our wallets) to make the minimum payment. But when you factor in the APR percentage, this minimum payment is not enough. And while there are approaches that can really benefit us in this respect, like the debt snowball method, it's more to do with avoiding paying off the minimum payment. If you can get into the habit of paying a little bit more, this can give you a sense of purpose and will help you to pay off the debt quicker. While paying off more than the minimum payment helps to save on interest throughout the life of your repayments, it's important to make sure that you aren't bending over backwards too much to pay off this minimum debt. Because if you are paying off the minimum, but it's impacting your life elsewhere, you've got to reevaluate your lifestyle.

The Relevant Lifestyle Alterations

If you want to pay off debt quicker, you've got to get into the mindset of putting everything you can into paying this off. We can struggle with major alterations in our life, because they aren't learned habits. The first thing you really have to do is to go over your debt in comparison to your outgoings. Because if you're not able to see how much you're paying for the basic things in life, it may be a big shock to the system when you realise exactly how much you money you're wasting on things overall. When you look at your budget, cutting corners via the little things will benefit. A good example would be the brand of food that you buy. Can you go to a cheaper brand? Every penny will count. And in addition to this, there are apps that can help these days. Plum is one such app that looks at your bank balance and calculates a very small percentage of what you can afford to put away. If you can then leave this accumulate, this money can go towards something nice for you later on, or paying off additional debt.

What If It's Not Working?

Sometimes we've got ourselves into such a cycle that it's completely unbearable. Professional help is always worth pursuing, whether it's debt consolidation solicitors, or speaking to Citizens Advice to provide you with extra options. Bankruptcy is one of those things that can be the last chance saloon. But it can wipe the slate clean, especially if you've done everything you can but there's too much debt for you to cope with.

Unfortunately, that is one of those common aspects of life, but it stops us doing the things we want, whether it's buying a house, or even going on holiday. And while you don't want to feel like you are constantly paying off debt and living a grim existence, it's about striking that right balance and making the most of life, while also making sufficient progress to get out of debt.

*Contributed by Sam Jones*. Header image: Pixabay

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