Life: An Update

Life has been a little strange recently. Work has picked up massively but it seems like just as soon as we are getting somewhere, something comes to bring us down again. I’ve had a few end of year bills come in and have paid them with the excess money I have been earning – however this means I haven’t been saving as much as I would usually do.

We finally found two properties in our area that suited our needs. I’ve mentioned before that the rental we are in right now is a little too small for our needs and we need to move but stay within this area due to Jack’s schooling.One property is perfect, the other almost perfect – but we encountered a problem. With my savings almost depleted, Steve’s inheritance still pending and our deposit in this place tied up until we move out, we couldn’t work out just how to get the deposit for one of these other places.

We finally hit on an idea and searched for online personal loans to see if we could find one that would help in this situation. The plan is to pay it back as soon as the inheritance comes through or my savings start rising again. We finally found one and now we are just waiting on hearing about the properties, to see if we can move out after all. Unfortunately we were in a Catch 22 situation – if we didn’t raise the funds, then we definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford the deposit. If we don’t get the property, we now have funds for no reason. But decisions have to be made and that’s what we decided. Hopefully it works in our favour!

pina messina

If we don’t actually move out just yet, we will keep it in savings until it is required – finding a property that suits our needs in this area isn’t that easy due to really high property prices, both to rent and buy. Of course, if the money comes in to pay off the loan before we need it for anything, then of course we will pay it off.

That’s not the only thing that has been going on recently. Steve’s searching for a part time job to go alongside his studies, work (as I mentioned before) seems to have perked up quite dramatically the past few weeks and life is very busy. However I sometimes find the life working from home a little lonely at times so with the prospect of a few new businesses in the village in the New Year, I might take on a few hours at one of those, just to get out of the house and have some time to myself. Sounds silly but I know plenty of mums who do actually go out to work, not for the money but the time to themselves!

Jack has just turned six and Olivia is about to turn one. With so much in the pipeline for 2018, I had better get preparing. Life has been a little bizarre recently – taking turns I am just not used to – but hopefully these twists and turns will all work out for the best. Fingers crossed we manage to get one of these properties – I’ll let you know.

What has been going on in your life lately?

Collaborative Post


Winter can be tough on our wallets, with Christmas presents to buy, parties to attend and of course the big day itself! Another expense that winter brings is increased utility bills. iCount spoke to families across the country and found out that 40% of us have had to borrow money to pay utility bills, and over a third have had to choose between cooking a meal or putting on the heating in winter.

If your utility bills are a challenge over winter, there are some simple steps you can follow to help reduce your bills and make your usage more efficient.

Switch your payment method

One of the easiest ways to cut down your bills is to switch your payment method. If you pay monthly, you may not be getting the best deal. Many utilities providers offer a discount if you opt to pay by direct debit, with the average saving being around £75 per year. It’s worth giving your utility providers a call to see what discounts you could be eligible for.

Keep an eye out for deals

Many of us avoid switching providers for fear of the amount of hassle or admin involved. Luckily, switching providers is easy, with most providers taking care of everything for you.

Use price comparison websites to have a look what deals are being offered, or call your existing provider to see if they are offering any new plans that you may be eligible for.

Get into good habits

Picking up a few good habits can also help to drive down your utility bills this winter. Make sure to switch off lights that aren’t needed, pop on a jumper instead of turning up the heating, and switch appliances off at the wall instead of leaving them on standby.

There are other simple changes you can make around the house too, such as moving bulky items like sofas away from the radiator, and blocking up gaps around doorways to help your heating be more efficient.

Hopefully these easy tips will help you to reduce your utility bills this winter, and ease the financial pressures that Christmas can bring!

Collaborative Post

Protecting Your Family’s Financial Future

Protecting our family’s financial future is always something that has been important to us. This is why Steve and I have been working all the hours under the sun – him outside of the home, me working from home – to ensure our family have the best possible future we can.

Steve has recently left his security job and is currently in the interview process for multiple other jobs – he’s currently taking a career break whilst he searches for something part time to work alongside his studies and this is something we have budgeted for. Him studying for his new career is something that needs to be done to get him his dream job – and us a decent income on decent hours (no more night shifts!) so we’ve made sacrifices to ensure our financial future is as bright and rosy as it should be.

However this isn’t the only way we have protected our financial future and the future for our children. If either Steve or I were to pass away, the loss of income we would suffer would be vast –  however we have prepared for this.

Life insurance is a must, especially when you have children. We’ve both recently taken out new policies – mine is slightly cheaper for the same amount of coverage due to certain differences – and should anything happen to either of us, this would go to the other for the children. When my father passed away in January, his policy paid for the funeral and has also been so helpful to my mum in the months afterwards as she went through the grieving process. Our policies will also be for the same things – to make any arrangements for our funerals and then to ensure the quality of life of our children for as long as it possibly can.

Critical illness cover isn’t something we have yet added to our policy but it is something we are definitely considering. Critical illness add-ons usually cover a number of different conditions including different types of cancers, heart attacks and strokes. With my father suffering a heart attack not long before he passed away, Steve’s grandad having a stroke and friends and family passing away from other illnesses covered, we know just how common these illnesses can be and how important this cover is so we will definitely be sorting out some for both of us.

Another form of cover we are yet to add on to our policy but are considering is personal accident cover. Just knowing we are covered should an accident occur would be a great weight off our shoulders. I’ve also noticed that more and more places are doing children’s cover as an add on for no extra cost. Whilst we are yet to add Jack and Olivia to our policies, we do think it is always best to be prepared and whilst you never want to think that something could happen to them, nobody knows the future. That’s why you have to prepare for it.

When it comes to life insurance for my family, I always ask certain questions before purchasing a policy.

Can I hold multiple policies if I so wish? Yes you can. I don’t plan to always have more than one policy but I currently also have a free life insurance policy until Olivia is one which is running alongside my paid for policy. This pays out £10,000 which isn’t a lot, but for a free policy, is great. It is handy to know if you can hold multiple policies if required.

What do all these terms mean? There are so many different things to look out for – is life assurance the same as life insurance? Technically no. Insurance pays out when something happens to you. Assurance pays out when it does. I always make sure to know exactly what I am buying.

How much cover do I need? This is where I always struggle. I try to make sure that any funeral costs are covered and that my family are provided for, for the foreseeable future – whether that means paying rent or a mortgage, bills or just there in case they need it. I’m currently covered for just over £100,000 but this can be scaled up and down if I so wish – the monthly amount I pay would just vary slightly.

I’m taking other steps to provide protection for my family’s financial future too. I’m working hard to get out of debt, I’m putting money aside for a ‘rainy day’ and we also know of an inheritance coming to our family, the majority of which will be put away in a high interest savings or bond account as our fully funded emergency fund.

I’m taking steps to protect the financial future of my family – what are you doing?

Collaborative content

Get Your Voice Heard With The New Hatch App From C Space

I received compensation from C Space to thank me for my post.

Ever wished you could share an idea directly with a brand to help create positive change? C Space specialises in bringing the customer and the brand closer together through their online research opportunities. How great is that?

To make sure all consumers were heard, C Space created an app called Hatch by C Space where consumers can participate in influencing change with multiple brands that are important to them, like Twitter, Unilever, Colgate, or Godiva, among others. In the app you can interact with others like you, engage in activities, surveys and discussions that interest you. What’s even better – for each research activity you participate in, you earn an Amazon gift code! Handy in the run up to Christmas, right?

Hatch by C Space was only available to US and Mexico before but it is now live in the UK too – why not download today to start earning rewards and influencing big brands. Below are links to download on iTunes and Google Play. Please use referral code UKLaunch1 when signing up – this is my referral link and I would be ever so grateful!

You can find the iTunes Hatch here and the Google Play Hatch here. Don’t forget to use referral code: UKLaunch1. You know how much I love a good survey – so I will be airing my thoughts on the app! Why don’t you join me?

Saving For A Deposit | How Are We Doing?

This is a sponsored post

We’ve been saving for a home deposit for quite some time now. Unfortunately this is taking us a bit longer than it would probably take others as we live in a very expensive area – so if we want to get a mortgage, we need to save an extremely substantial deposit. This does also mean that we have been looking further afield to see if we can find properties elsewhere that suit our needs and don’t require such a large budget!

I’ve been trying out this handy My First Home Calculator tool from MyVoucherCodes (why not give it a try yourself below?).



The tool talks about your outgoings and where you can actually save money on them. I gave the tool a try and found out that if I cut back a little on my non essential outgoings, I could have an extra £2000+ per year to put towards my deposit. When you put it like that, it seems crazy not to cut back, doesn’t it?

But how exactly am I saving money for our deposit? Steve is putting a little money aside from his pay packet each month but that isn’t as easy for me as I’m self employed. I never quite know how much money I will make but I try to put a percentage away for tax purposes, some kept in my account for bills and then move amounts over to my savings as and when. I also have a bank account which has a ‘Save The Change’ feature which enables me to save money to my savings account without even thinking about it.

Another thing I do is I always check for voucher codes and My Voucher Codes really is a great resource for this. They feature so many different brands! I always check the site before purchasing online as I am bound to save some pennies by finding a voucher code – and then I can move the amount I’ve saved straight into the deposit fund. Have you been checking out the site for voucher codes? If not, why not? You are bound to find the brand you are looking for on there!

Lastly I am still doing my online surveys and market research chats – these may not be consistent but the odd £10 payment for cashing out on a survey site still boosts the deposit fund a little and the £50 cheque I get from one of the survey sites every couple of months is a substantial boost. I also am decluttering as I go and selling anything that we no longer need – I am being brutal. It goes, it sells and the money gets added to the house account.

Steve and I have been together eight years now and living together for seven yet we are still going to be first time buyers. It is important for us to save a decent deposit to get us our perfect house for us to raise our family. I can’t wait to finally get there.