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A lot of people have heard the term equity release but, thanks to the wide range of myths that are out there, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand what equity release is really all about.
In this post we’re going to explore a few of the little known facts about equity release plans, and also debunk some widespread myths. This will ensure that you’re armed with all the information needed to make informed decisions about your financial situation.
FACT: Equity release lets you unlock some of the cash from your home
To start with the basics, equity release means unlocking a portion of the equity that is tied up in your home, generally to spend on emergency expenses, big living costs, or luxuries that you’ve always dreamt of affording – or anything you wish.
There are two different types of equity release plan available, but the most popular is the lifetime mortgage – and that’s the main thing we’ll be discussing throughout the rest of this article. With a lifetime mortgage there are typically no monthly repayments to make as the loan, plus roll up interest, is repaid when the plan comes to an end. This happens after you have passed away or moved into long-term care.
FICTION: Equity release will leave your kids in debt
We know that people worry about equity release potentially leaving their kids – or other beneficiaries – with debt after they are gone. With equity release plans that adhere to the Equity Release Council’s guidelines, however, you get a no negative equity guarantee.
This means that if the plan comes to an end and the sale of your home doesn’t generate enough money to cover the costs of the monies owed to the lender, the excess balance will be written off.
FACT: Equity release doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t move home
People also find the idea of being stuck in one property for the rest of their lives off-putting, understandably. Once again, though, people who ensure that their plan follows the Equity Release Council’s guidelines will be guaranteed the right to move home, providing the new property is suitable and approved by the provider.
FICTION: Equity release puts you at risk of losing your home
Equity release is sometimes used to release money to pay off an existing mortgage; what can put people off though, is the idea that one day the provider might come for their money, claiming the home.
Providing you meet with your plan terms and conditions, the Equity Release Council is on your side yet again, with another guarantee in place that means equity release customers have the right to stay in their home until they either pass away or move into long-term care.
Flexibility is key here: staying in your home and moving to a new location are both options that stay on the table.
FACT: You can do equity release and still own your own home
While one specific type of equity release plan does necessitate selling all or part of your home, this certainly isn’t true for every plan. Home reversion plans involve ownership of your home passing to the provider, however with lifetime mortgages you would remain the legal owner of your property, as the loan is secured against your home.
FICTION: Equity release is right for everyone
So far we’ve been looking at the positives – but it is important to note that equity release isn’t going to be the right option for everybody. Reliable equity release companies will be honest and upfront about the fact that equity release shouldn’t be jumped into without consideration.
Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits.
If you’re considering equity release it is recommended that you read ‘is it right for you?’ carefully.
With the start of a new tax year comes another wave of resolutions; this time though, they are all money related. As we all take notice that the new financial year has started, we inevitably all decide that this tax year will be the year we save ‘x’ amount, earn ‘x’ amount or simply cut our budget.
I’ve already got plenty of financial resolutions for the financial year ahead. There are so many things you can do to give your finances a refresh – and perhaps even a boost too. But what are they?
Check Your Accounts Properly
How many of us give our bank accounts a brief glance but don’t think to look deeper? You may be missing that payment going out that you thought that you cancelled years ago. It hadn’t been cancelled and you’ve been paying a few pounds every month to it and you didn’t even know – it all adds up and that money would look so much better in your savings account than being spent on something you aren’t even aware of. Locate any such payments and get rid of them for good.
Check to see if you have PPI
So many people are affected by PPI and don’t even realise it. I was just about to check myself a little while back when I received a cheque from a company I had PPI with many years ago. It wasn’t for that much but every little helps – and who knows, you may have lots to come back, especially if you had multiple financial products with PPI that you were mis-sold!
People claiming mis-sold PPI has already seen refunds of over £30 billion so why miss out – check to see if you’ve got PPI and if you are owed anything! Claims have to be submitted by the 29th of August 2019 so there is plenty of time but I’m going to be double checking my own sooner rather than later.
This year I am going to take advantage of ‘skimming’ much more. This is where you have an odd amount in your bank e.g £51.52 and you move the £1.52 to your savings account. The amounts are minimal so you don’t really notice but it soon starts to make a nice amount in your savings. My bank account actually offers such a feature so I will definitely be taking advantage of it!
Earn More, Save More
Sounds easy – but it probably isn’t. However I plan to make this tax year my most successful and profitable yet. This means I will be taking a look at the prices I charge for my freelance work and adjusting if I see fit; widening the range of services I have to offer and perhaps even being a bit more proactive about looking for work.
These are just a few of my financial resolutions for this financial year ahead – what have you got planned?
Sundays are supposed to be a day for R&R – but as a mum to two young children, I find this is rarely the case. But with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I might finally get a chance to stay snuggled up under the covers for a little longer than usual… wishful thinking maybe, but a mum can dream!
Here’re my thoughts on four simple factors that can transform a Sunday morning from parenting pandemonium into a well-deserved day of rest.
The perfect lie-in
As a parent, the luxury of a lie-in is a long distant memory.
Remember how wonderful it is to gently wake up after a long, deep, 8-hour sleep, and stay in bed for as long as you want?
No annoying beeps from the phone. No nagging thoughts of breakfasts going unprepared or household tasks left undone. Just blissful, guilt-free duvet time!
For me, a little preparation can go a long way when I want to try to create idyllic lie-in conditions. I close the curtains so not even a sliver of morning sun can sneak in and wake me. I set the heater to an optimal ‘I-could-sleep-forever’ temperature and I unplug all technology and treat myself to a mini digital detox.
The perfect bedroom
A bedroom should be a place to switch off, snuggle down and relax. It’s really important to keep it a totally ‘stress-free zone’. If I wake up to a tidy room it definitely relaxes me, even if I know there is a pile of washing out of sight in the wardrobe!
A few cosy luxuries are key to setting up the perfect Sunday morning environment. For me, three must-haves are:
A big, beautiful duvet to snuggle into
A lovely warm rug, casually thrown across the bed
An outrageously OTT pile of pillows
The perfect mattress
If you’re spending a couple of extra hours under the covers, you want to be sleeping on the perfect mattress, and a Bruno Mattress ticks this box for me.
It’s made in Germany and is relatively to the UK, but now that it’s here, I would definitely call it a lie-in essential! The key to it’s comfort is a springy natural latex top layer, which, as well as being hypoallergenic, keeps air flowing, so you feel nice and snug but never overheat.
What caught my eye about the Bruno is that it has been designed with 7 precise zones to promote healthy spinal alignment, so it’s ideal if back pain is troubling your sleep. Because I’m so busy, and am rushing around all the time I can be prone to overdoing it, so waking without any twinges is a luxury in itself!
The only downfall I can find with the Bruno? It’s so comfy, you’ll never want to leave your bed, even when the lie-in should really be over.
The perfect breakfast
The final touch to my perfect Sunday morning is – of course – breakfast in bed. And I’m not talking about regular run-of-the-mill marmite on toast and tea here (although being brought a cuppa in bed is always welcome!)
I want the full 5 senses shebang: strong, aromatic coffee; sweet, freshly squeezed orange juice; an impressive tower of toasted sourdough, mashed avocado and a perfectly poached egg, with just a little golden yolk running down the side. And, to complete this picture of Sunday morning heaven, a beautiful vase of spring flowers!
Your retirement years are your reward for a life of honest hard work, and the chance for you to do all the things you may not have had time to do in your working years.
With so much free time it’s likely you’ll start to think about all the possible improvements you can make to your home, some of which you’ll have been dreaming of for years. Home improvements are so popular with over 55s that it is the most common reason people take out equity release plans in their later years according to latest figures.
The average equity release figure currently stands at over £80,000, so you can see why people are increasingly using comparison sites like equityrelease.co.uk to find the best plan to achieve this financial freedom.
There are a number of interesting and cost-effective tips to improving your home in retirement, and in this blog we’ll look at some of the best that we recommend for shoring up your castle.
Tip #1 – Energy Efficiency
What if we told you that there are easy improvements you could make that would save you money in the long run, whilst also increasing the value of your property?
Making your home as energy efficient as possible may not sound like the most exciting way to start enjoying retirement, but we promise it will be worth it to see your energy bills reduced and your property value all the better for it.
First, you should ensure all your windows are fitted with A-rated double glazing which reduces heat loss through the glass itself. The Energy Saving Trust estimate that you could save up to £160 a year on your annual bills through this sole action.
The next step to a perfectly insulated home is to ensure your external doors and letter boxes are insulated and well draught-proofed. By installing A-rated external doors you could save up to £35 a year on your bills, so this makes another no-brainer for keeping your home warm and bringing down your annual cost of living.
Best of all, these energy efficiency measures have been reported by government figures to increase the value of your home by 14% on average, even as high as 38% in some cases! This stand-out factor surely makes using your spare time and cash to make your home as energy efficient as possible.
Tip #2 – New Appliances
Sometimes we keep hold of our old appliances because they still work, are familiar, and above all “get the job done.” However, we often neglect to think of the implications that these old and outdated technologies can have on our bills and the environment.
One of the biggest advantages to new appliances is their effect on your energy bills. By buying new and more energy efficient appliances you can shave £££s off your monthly electricity bill whilst also enjoying the advantages of all the latest technology on offer today.
Another important factor to consider is the size of your appliances. If you still have a large fridge freezer fit for a family, but you now live alone or with your partner, you could end up forking out a huge amount for fridge/freezer space you don’t actually need. Not only that, but if this is an old and uneconomical model you’ll end up with a double whammy of unneeded energy costs.
If you’re looking to make your home as efficient and reliable as you can in retirement, your next port of call is to think about replacing your boiler. Not only could you save upwards of £350 a year with an energy efficient boiler, an old boiler model runs the high risk of an eventual breakdown.
In your later years the reliability of your heating and hot water should be a priority, therefore it is paramount you have the peace of mind that you have modern trustworthy equipment backing you up in your home.
Tip #3 – Outdoor Decking
A great way to add extra value to your property whilst also creating a useful and aesthetically pleasing living space is outdoor decking.
By transforming a section of your garden into a purpose built area for both relaxing and entertaining you can make the most of your available outdoor-space without breaking the bank.
Decks offer a versatile space that allow you to host memorable BBQs, social gatherings, and events with family and friends whilst offering a comfortable raised area where you can relax in the sunshine during the warmer months. As well as a host of uses, decks also come in a range of sizes and styles; there is always an option that would perfectly suit your home and garden, whatever the size.
With even high-end professional-built decks costing a fraction per square foot of an indoor room, house decking offers the most cost effective option for sprucing up your home and improving your quality of life.
The more DIY enthusiastic can also maintain or even construct these wooden decks themselves using a range of guides available both in print and online – bringing the costs down further still.
Tip #4 – Fix the little jobs ASAP
It is imperative that in your early retirement years you don’t overlook the small jobs that you’ve been putting off for months or even years that you know need to be tackled sooner rather than later.
These small jobs can easily become big jobs if it’s something that could potentially get worse such as a small leak in a pipe, an overflowing gutter, a loose hinge on a door or simply a bit of touch-up painting.
As you get older you may lose the energy to do these jobs and they could grow even worse still over time, so it’s important you tackle them early whilst you can and whilst they are manageable.
In short, don’t let a small job become an ignored and costly task in your later years that you can no longer do yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy the rest of your retirement knowing your home is watertight, safe, and looking its best so you can relax and plan the things you really want to do, not the ones you need to.