28 articles Articles posted in Adulting

Are Single Parents Being Penalised? #CostOfSingleParenting

Single ParentsPhoto by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

One thing you may or may not know about me is that I am basically a professonal bargain hunter. I never pay full price for anything, unless I’ve fully satisfied myself that there’s not a discount code or voucher that I can use, or some way to bring a price down before buying. I collect points for everywhere I shop, never EVER pay full price for a pizza without searching for a voucher code and I even shop around every three months to get my contact leanses at the cheapest price.

This summer, we’ve been trying to do things as a family and we’ve been fortunate to get ‘family’ tickets for a lot of places, thanks to the fact that we’re a “two adults and two kids” family, which is where most discounts are firmly aimed. However, it got me thinking about the fact that single parents are being penalised and missed out of discount opportunities, despite the fact that with just one adult, they’re probably in greaterneed of offers and discounts than anyone.

PayPlan has put together an infographic showing the true cost of the summer holidays to a single-parent family and some of the figures are truly eye-opening:

Do Single Parents Feel Penalised?

As well as missing out on the discounts, being the sole breadwinner must be daunting for many. I thought I’d ask some of my single parent friends if they felt that they were penalised for being a non-conventional family and about the difficulties they’ve faced. Here are some of their comments:

Zoe (Insta: runningonempty_mummy) said “I’m new to the single mum world and notice it all the time – family tickets [aimed at 2 adults and 2 kids], holidays abroad – I got charged a supplement, kids eat free with two adult meals bought etc”

Sarah said “I’m not a single parent but I travel and go out a lot on my own with my 5 year old. I find I can’t use child free places on holidays, I have to sometimes pay single Supplement in rooms as he’s only 5, I can’t take advantage of family deals at the cinema (even with the husband we don’t have enough kids to make the min number) I also effectively pay more per head on the train as well as with groupsave other adults can travel free bringing cost per person.”

Mandy said ” I had an argument in [a cinema] once; they had this promotion on for families for tickets and like a snack combo thing, which worked out cheaper than me and sienna and a snack combo, but they wouldn’t let me have it”

Sian said “Not [a single parent] anymore, but continue to be sick of having to be quizzed as to who I am to my daughter when bringing her home from abroad get no one ever cares what kids I’m taking out the country!! Just because we made the mistake of putting a fathers name on birth cert doesn’t mean we should be interrogated and humiliated at every UK airport!”

Toni said “Private renting is my biggest problem. I work but obviously don’t earn enough to be able to private rent a house without claiming top up and no one accepts it. So i am left renting a damp house with a leaky ceiling because I am worried if i complain i will be evicted and homeless.”

Are you a single parent? Do you feel like you’re overlooked when it comes to money saving opportunities? Do you experience other difficulties? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please do leave me a comment below.

Ways You Can Get Out Of A Slump And Back In The Swing On Things

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For some reason, life has this strange way of handing us lots of adversity. Sometimes it is fine to deal with; sometimes it’s even quite fun as it provides us with a challenge and helps us veer away from the mundanity of everyday life. A lot of the time, however, it can be quite draining. We’re already very busy with everything on a day-to-day basis, so throwing in a few curveballs isn’t exactly what we want. Maybe it’s the universe’s (or God’s, if you’re a believer) way of providing a balance. Who knows? What we do know, though, is that it takes a lot of effort to climb out of certain issues.

Are you in a bit of a slump right now? Well, that’s not good. I hate when those come along. We know what we have to do in order to get back to normality, but, for some reason, we’re stuck in the mud and cannot reach where we need to be.

While they’re a real pain in the backside to get out of, the good thing is that we can (and do) get out of them. We just need to do a few things to boost ourselves mentally and physically. Everyone has a different way of viewing the world and doing things, so there’s no fixed way that everyone should heed. Here are a few that you could try to see if they work, though:

Do Something Your Worried About Every Single Day

It’s a paraphrased quote that’s often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s the idea that you’ll grow as a person and a personality if you constantly face something that you don’t feel you can. Now, everyone should probably do this, whether they’re in good spirits or not. It can make us improve so much, so it’s a great little piece of advice. For someone in a tricky situation, though? It would do them a world of good. The idea is to become more accomplished and much more mentally sound than they were before. Improving on one’s self? There aren’t many finer ways of getting out of a slump. 

Exercise More Often

When you exercise, you have way more of a bounce in your step. You also gain a mental boost as the good chemicals in your body start flowing at a fast rate. It can get a lot of people temporarily out of depression and immense states of anxiety. The prospect of exercising always seems daunting beforehand, but you always feel so much better afterwards. With that post-workout attitude, you might feel as though you can conquer anything.

Get A Car And Start Driving

It sounds a little odd, but having a car is a lot different from being a pedestrian. You have the freedom to go out and view the world. You have that confidence in yourself to go wherever you want. You feel more mature and capable. These all make you feel a lot better about yourself. Simply hopping online, and looking at places like Stephen James, AutoTrader, and similar sites might initially shift a large burden. 

Stay Hydrated

This is a huge one, and it’s quite frustrating to hear if you’re not in the mood. But a lack of fluids in our system genuinely makes a massive difference to our mentality and our thinking patterns. We’re made up of the stuff, so we need to have it in us at all times. 

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

Coffee is a very popular drink, but one with a high environmental and ethical impact. How your coffee is grown, the carbon footprint of flying it to you and the waste generated by coffee pods and takeaway cups all cause a problem. With these small changes to your caffeine habit, you can make your coffee drinking more sustainable. 

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

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  1. Don’t use takeaway cups. One of the biggest problems with coffee is the volume of non-recycled waste that is produced by takeaway coffee. Paper cups, cardboard sleeves, plastic lids and plastic straws often end up in landfills, even when they can be recycled. Instead of using these, take your own reusable cup. You can even buy ones that collapse flat to take up less room in your bag. Buy a fun cup and get in the habit of carrying it with you.  
  2. At home, don’t use single serve coffee pods. These pods are incredibly popular, but most can’t be recycled. Even the ones that can be usually aren’t, as they usually need to be sent back to the supplier and can’t just be put out with the rest of your recycling. Instead of using pods, treat yourself to beautiful fresh coffee, like Third Wave Coffee, and make a habit of drinking fantastic coffee at home.  
  3. Swap single use filters for reusable ones. Paper filters are often bleached with chlorine, so as well as creating more waste, they’ll also leak chemicals when they reach landfills. Instead, use a reusable filter, like a metal one. Less waste, and your coffee will taste better. 
  4. Treat yourself to a manually brewed coffee. Auto-drip coffee machines are cheap for a reason. They use a lot of plastic, and break often, meaning all that plastic gets thrown away. A manual option makes your coffee more of a routine, and is kinder on the environment. 
  5. Read the packaging carefully. Look for information on whether you can recycle the packaging. Check for symbols to confirm the coffee is organic or fair trade. Do some research into your preferred coffee brands to make sure they’re paying growers fairly, and doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.   
  6. Don’t waste leftover coffee grounds. You can add coffee grounds to your compost heap or straight onto your plants. The nitrogen in the coffee grounds acts as a great fertilizer for your plants. If you add the grounds around the flower beds, the nitrogen also acts as a natural bug repellent, keeping ants and other creatures away from your plants. The smell of coffee can also work well to discourage neighbourhood cats from using your garden as a litter box. 
  7. Don’t use a coffee pot with a warming plate. The plate is left on for long periods, which uses up a lot of energy, wasting electricity. Consistently warming your coffee also over-brews it and can end up burning it, making it taste worse too. For better tasting coffee that doesn’t waste energy, buy a thermal coffee pot instead to keep your coffee warm for longer. 

Four Easy Ways To Cut Down Your Spending

Sometimes when you look at your bank account the only thing you can really feel is a sinking sense of despair. It’s hard to know where all your money somehow vanishes to over the course of the month – but it doesn’t have to be hard when you start trying to save a little more cash. Here are some tips on how you can make your bank account look a little more cheerful by cutting back on your spending.

Go Cash Only

If you have a habit of using your credit card a lot without thinking about it, go cash only. It’s easy to allow small card purchases to add up over time – a coffee here, a shirt there – and you may be spending a lot more than you realise you are. If you get out a certain amount of cash every day, you will be more aware of what you’re spending and it will be a lot easier to stick to your budget.

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Start Meal Planning

Everyone’s done it: there’s no food in the house so you go out to dinner or you order a takeaway. The only problem is that they are a lot more expensive than what you could make at home, and also often a lot less healthy. At the start of the week, make sure that you begin to plan out your meals so that you know what you’re eating on what day. This will help you when it comes to buying groceries, and you also won’t have to wrestle with trying to decide what to cook for dinner when you get home from work.


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Invest In A New Car

It’s a great idea to invest in a new car. If you have a large car that uses a lot of fuel, consider how much you really need that – not only is it hugely expensive to run, but it isn’t great for the environment. Although investing in a new car might seem like a big expense, in the long run it will definitely be worth it. You could also think about getting a used car instead of a new car from somewhere like https://www.hiltoncarsupermarket.co.uk/locations/london – not only do they offer warranties which individual private sellers won’t, but you’ll also notice that your insurance costs will be lower and as the car will be worth less, you may even be able to pay in cash.

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Start To Use Your Local Library

Finally, make sure that you start to use your local library. Not only is it free to borrow books so you don’t have to spend a lot of money buying them, but there will be a lot more services there than you realised. There may be storytime sessions for your toddlers, reading challenges for your older kids over the summer, computer sessions for older people that you could encourage your parents or grandparents to attend – and you will also be able to borrow CDs, audiobooks and e-books, as well as making use of newspaper and magazine subscriptions that your library has. 

 

It doesn’t have to be hard to save money – these tips will add to your life in more ways than your bank account!

How to Add a Touch of Luxury to Your Home

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With house prices on the rise and wages seemingly stagnating, more people than ever are choosing to renovate and extend their current properties, rather than moving elsewhere. There’s scope to add value to your home when making big changes and a lot of this potential lies in the quality of the finish, so with that in mind, we thought we’d talk to you about 5 ways to add a luxury feel to your home:

Bathrooms

Anyone can go and buy a budget bathroom from a massive store and give their washroom a nicer feel, but the luxury possibilities of a bathroom are one of the biggest draws for a buyer. Lots of people will consider buying a house with terrible decor everywhere else, as long as the bathroom has amazing fittings. Insignia Steam Showers are one example of high-end fixtures that will really add value to your home.

Curtains

Cheap window coverings might do for a while, but thick, luxurious drapes will make your home feel a million bucks. Opt for soft colours like light grey or mink, which are neutral but elegant and this will give every room the feel of a high-class hotel room.

Ornaments NOT Clutter

While we aren’t suggesting minimalism for your home (it’s not hugely practical for families, is it?), decluttering your rooms and then dressing them with carefully chosen ornaments and other dressings will help to give your house a “put together” feel, rather than making people feel like they’ve walked into a jumble sale!

Kitchen

A kitchen is another huge expense, but you don’t have to rip it out and start again to give your kitchen an update. My gorgeous friend Jen from Love Chic Living, and person I turn to for all of my interiors inspiration, actually painted her kitchen units and replaced her tiles and you wouldn’t believe that it’s even the same kitchen. Read her post to see the completed makeover.

Plants

Plants…well cared for plants, make a room look great. However, if you’re the sort of person who could kill the hardiest cactus from 100 paces, why not opt for some fake foliage? There are some incredibly real-looking fake plants out there these days, and apart from a little flick over with a duster every now and then, you don’t need to do a thing to care for them.

Saving for the Summer

Saving for the SummerWith the summer holidays fast approaching, many of us have started to think about our finances over the coming weeks. Keeping kids entertained for six weeks isn’t cheap, and the cost of summer can seem truly daunting. With that in mind, I thought I’d look at some things you can do to top up the funds, ahead of this expensive time of year.

Get a Part Time Job

Childcare can be super expensive, but if you’re not currently working and need some extra cash, there are lots of part time jobs out there which can fit around family time. From courier work to bank nursing at your local hospital, out of hours options are there, providing you’ve got someone to watch the kids in the evening.

Get a Loan

While I wouldn’t usually suggest getting yourself into debt, as long as you’re sensible with making your repayments on time a loan can be a useful buffer at this time of year, and getting a loan can even help to repair bad credit if you ensure you stick to your repayment plan. There are also loans for bad credit if you don’t have the best credit rating.

Cancel Any Services You Don’t Use

This is a great time of year to take a look at your finances and cut back on anything that you really don’t need. I currently pay £10 a month for a gym membership, which I barely use, and although a tenner doesn’t seem like much, it’s enough to make your eyes water when you think about it as £120 a year!

Streamline Your Shop

If you’re like us and end up wasting food because of less-than-savvy shopping, this is a good place to start when it comes to money saving. Sit down and look at HOW you shop (weekly, monthly, day-by-day) and work out where most of the waste is coming from. You could also think about WHERE you shop and whether there’s a cheaper option out there, like Lidl or Aldi. Meal planning is also often a good way to help you to be more frugal. 

Get Your Walking Shoes On

Many families are guilty of jumping in the car for short journeys, which would actually be more than walkable. Unless you’re in a massive hurry, try to make any journey of a mile or less on foot – or even better, get the bikes out and get the whole family cycling. As well as cutting your fuel costs, it will get you all moving and will also reduce your carbon footprint – everyone’s a winner! 

Do you have any fab money saving or money making tips for my readers? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. 

A Mum’s Guide To Staying Safe On The Roads

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Dear mums,

You don’t need us to tell you how important safety is when it comes to your children. Especially when you’re out on the roads where the risk of an accident could be high, you do need to take care. With this in mind, here is our safety guide. Read it, heed it, and take the appropriate steps to keep your children safe!

 

1. Replace your car (if you need to)

Replacing your car might not be your preferred option, especially considering the stress and expense involved when buying something new, but if your car is more than ten years old, or is showing signs of wear and tear, then for your children’s safety, you might want to consider an upgrade. Newer cars come equipped with modern safety features such as rear-facing cameras (useful for when you need to check on your kids in the back), emergency braking systems, and crumple zones that can minimise the damage caused to you and your little ones in the event of an accident. You don’t have to buy the newest car on the market of course (unless you can afford it), as you can still buy something reasonably up to date even though it’s second hand. Be sure to buy from a reputable used car dealer akin to Motor Mill, however, as you need the peace of mind that you are buying a car that is fit to drive and not likely to break down soon after leaving the dealership.

2. Keep your car maintained

To alleviate the risk of any accidents on the road, you do need to look after your car. And while there are some maintenance jobs you can do yourself; you should still take your car to the garage every so often to make sure everything is working as it should. We appreciate there might be an expense, but when it comes to the safety of your children, they should be the priority over any cost that might be incurred at the garage.

3. Be mindful of distractions

Your biggest distractions are probably your children. When they kick up a fuss in the back seat with temper tantrums and those blessed words “I’m bored,” you could easily take your eyes off the road, and that could lead to an accident. If they do start to create a fuss, you should pull over when it is safe to do so to sort out any problems. However, you might also want to read this article on keeping your children entertained, as there are plenty of ideas within to focus your children’s attention in the car. Your other biggest distraction will be your phone. When a text comes in or if you receive a phone call, you might be tempted to take one hand off the wheel to grab your mobile. DON’T!! Install a hands-free system in your car if you need to take calls, but otherwise, turn off your phone when you’re driving so you will be less prone to distractions.

4.  Don’t drive when you’re tired

You don’t need us to tell you how exhausting it is being a mum. With much to do in the day and chances of reduced sleep if your kids keep you awake at night, you might find yourself running on empty! It’s something many of us get used to, but when it comes to driving, you need to be mindful. While you might not fall asleep at the wheel, you might still make some mistakes if your concentration drops because of your tired state. Therefore, resist the urge to get in the car if you don’t have the energy. When it comes to the school run, walk the kids to school or get a taxi, and consider the same for any other journey you need to make. Then, to give yourself a fighting chance of getting some decent shut-eye, follow this sleep guide and commit to other research online for tips to help you.

And so…

Make safety your #1 priority. Follow our suggestions in this article, and then look for other ideas online to keep you and your little ones safe when you’re out in the car. And if you have any other tips for our readers, do the right thing, and remind us of them in the comments section below.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

 

Giving Your Driveway Some Inspiration for Summer

These days, everyone wants a modern driveway. As times have moved on, the quality finish of these areas has developed alongside the vehicles they hold. Now they’re better than ever before.

Still, while car sales are falling nationwide, this doesn’t mean that everyone with a car wants to scrap or store away their own vehicles! When enough time has passed, the driveway needs a rejig.

Consequently, here’s how to give your driveway some inspiration for summer.

Drivegrid

One of the problems with the gravel driveway is that they can get very messy, very fast. However, the drivegrid was specially designed to maintain a sustainable gravel driveway. The grid uses cells to contain high quantities of angular gravel and can be filled with an impressive 5-16mm of the stuff. Therefore, the driveway will always look in good order and not scarce on stones!

It’s also practical, in that it inhibits weed growth as all good driveways should, with no sudden greenery sprouting from underneath or destabilising the finish. Each individual cell in the grid also allows a smooth running of rainwater, so you don’t have to worry about the gravel-filled grid clogging up in a summer storm. It’ll unnoticeably flow into the ground below, and your pristine gravel finish will remain intact.

Block paving

For a more solid, sturdy and robust result, block paving is likely the option you should go for. You can get 60mm blocks that better fit with the exterior aesthetic of your home due to their colour scheme; such as charcoal, bracken or red. This will give the perimeter of your home a more consistent look, or even a Mediterranean appearance depending on the colours chosen. Some even spruce up their designs further, incorporating blocks to form grey circles within too. If appearances matter to you, block paving is your best bet!

However, block paving also doubles up in a practical sense too. This is because it also acts as a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) that complies with new government legislation on keeping driveways clear, safe and efficiently balanced. If you love your summers to be relaxed and care-free (and who doesn’t?) in every regard, then block paving has you covered in the driveway department.

Security placements

Sometimes, the summer brings more than just heatwaves, but crime waves too. There’ve been reported links between summer time and crime, so it could be that you want to keep your driveway on lockdown, especially during the warmer seasons. It’s understandable and even advisable!

For example, you could erect security posts along the perimeter of your drive. They operate in a similar way to bollards in a town centre, deterring people from driving down certain avenues and streets. In your own driveway, they’ll stop car thieves from whizzing away with your vehicles and may deter thieves entirely. Who needs a gate worth thousands of pounds?

Conclusion

Summer is an aesthetic, but equal consideration must be paid to security too. After all, while people like their driveway paving to look appealing and immaculate in all its glory, it’s also important to have a practical frame of mind too. In taking that balance seriously, an excellent summer driveway is assured.

Mum’s Guide to Leasing a Car for the Family

Family CarsFamily Cars

Car leasing may sound like the perfect option for a family with a tight budget, but it is not the solution for everyone. Continue reading our mum’s guide to leasing a car for the family to see if leasing a vehicle is right for you.

What is the Difference Between Buying a Car and Leasing a Car?

There are some major differences between buying a car and leasing a car. When purchasing a car, you have to pay for the whole price of the car. Payments are made with cash, car loans, trade in of previous vehicles, or a combination of all of these. One of the major differences when leasing a car is that you only pay for the difference between the cost of the vehicle and its expected value at the end of the lease. You’ll also have to pay for interest and fees.

When the lease is over, you will have to return the vehicle to the dealership. You will have no ownership of the car and the leasing company will remain the owners of the title. When leasing a vehicle through a company or dealership there will be limits on how you can drive it and how many miles you can out on it. If you return the vehicle in a lesser condition than what the contract specifies, you can expect to pay some big fines. There will be penalties for breaking a leasing contract so take plenty of time to think about this before deciding to lease your next car.

Is Now the Right Time for a New Car?

Getting a new car is a big step for any family. A vehicle is essential to addressing daily routines, errands and activities. Before you make any decisions, you must first know when it is the right time for you to get a new family car. If the time is now then you should consider looking into whether leasing a car is right for you and your family.

Is Leasing a Car Right for your Family?

Leasing a vehicle is only for people who can handle a long term financial commitment as most leasing options start at a 12-month lease. A leasing contract is best for people who are absolutely sure they will not go over their mileage limit. If you think you need more mileage, you should ask a dealership about a high mileage lease. These contracts will be more expensive and some additional fees. The more miles put onto a car the less the car is worth so you will be paying for that deterioration.

Leasing a car is a great option for families who like to change their car out every few years and for people who are happy without making any modifications to their vehicle. Remember, a leased car does not belong to you, therefore you cannot make any changes to it. That means so tainted windows or paint jobs. No changes to the rims or interior. This also goes for modifications made by children. If your little one spills an apple juice or smears gum in the back seat, there will be extra charges for you at the end of your lease so that the company can make the necessary repairs.

Finally, you will want to make sure that you have good credit before considering leasing a car. If you want the benefit of driving a brand-new car every three years, you will have to keep up on payments. Dealerships will check your credit and previous payment history to see if you are a trustworthy candidate.

If these conditions seem fair to you then you and your family may be a good candidate for leasing a vehicle. If you do decide to lease a car, keep food away from any small children inside the car. Their mess will become your problem.

Caring for Your Vacuum

Vacuum cleaners are a staple in many homes and have been so for decades. This is because they enable their owners to clean their homes with ease and in quicker time. As such, it is practically irreplaceable for many and they are considered a valuable investment.

Vacuum cleaners can run into thousands of pounds in costs, and as such, they need to be properly cared for to avoid damage and constant replacement. Fortunately, caring for a vacuum cleaner is not an overly difficult task, and can be done without much effort. If you are a vacuum cleaner owner who wishes to prolong its lifespan, consider the following steps:

Replace broken parts

While vacuum cleaners should be maintained and kept in good condition, they often get damaged at some point in their lifespan. Should that happen, it would be in your best interest to repair and replace whatever parts have been broken or misplaced.

For example, if a Karcher vacuum part needs to be replaced, look up Karcher spares from a retailer such as Spares2you and replace it as soon as possible. If significant damage has taken place, take your vacuum cleaner to a repair expert and have the issue resolved before more damage takes place.

Use as suggested

One of the most common reasons why vacuum cleaners get damaged in the first place is that they are often used in ways other than their recommended manner. This includes use on surfaces that are advised against, mishandling the various parts of the vacuum cleaner, and improper storage.

For your best interest, read the instruction manual that comes with your vacuum cleaner carefully and only make use of the machine in the way and on the surfaces that have been specified. This will go a long way to make sure that your vacuum cleaner does not get damaged and can serve you for a long time to come.

Clean regularly

While they are designed to help ease the process of cleaning your home, vacuum cleaners also need to be cleaned to prolong their lifespan.

Regularly empty the attached trash bag and wipe the surfaces. Make sure there is no obstruction in their pipes and clean them if any is discovered. If there are any metallic parts of the vacuum cleaner, make sure they are clean and dry at all times to avoid rust damage to them. If all these are observed regularly, the damage is less likely to occur.

Service it regularly

Once a year or so, have your vacuum cleaner taken to a technician who will service and conduct maintenance work on your vacuum cleaner.

This will help to identify and rectify any possible problems with the vacuum cleaner ahead of time to prevent further damage. When you take your vacuum cleaner to your technician, ask for any tips or suggestions they have about maintaining, using, and storing the machine, and be sure to follow any instructions given.

Vacuum cleaners last and serve for a very long time or can fall apart easily depending on how you treat them. Follow the above steps to maintain your vacuum cleaner.