Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas wishes and a thank you

Christmas mantel decorations

The Christmas greyhound

Christmas mantel decorations

Christmas stick tree

It's Christmas Eve although it doesn't feel like it - it's 10 degrees outside, the sun is shining and it feels more like spring.

Our Christmas decorations have been up for a few days, the food shopping was done yesterday, and the dog is wearing her Christmas collar, but even though I always intend to be more organised and wrap the presents early on I always end up doing it on Christmas Eve.  So in a few minutes I'm going to make a cup of tea, decamp to my bedroom, put the radio on, and get on with the wrapping.

In the meantime I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. I hope 2016 brings you everything you wish for yourself.

Thank you for visiting my blog this year, and in previous years if you're a long-time reader. I really have appreciated each visit and the time you've taken to leave comments.

Thanks again,

Jean x

P.s. If you're spending Christmas Day on your own and you're a Twitter user there's the #joinin hashtag to help you feel a little less alone. You can read more about it here.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

5 things you can do to save money without even noticing it

We're heading towards the most expensive time of year, so I'm pleased to share this post with you about saving money without even noticing.  I hope you find it useful!

5 ways to save money without even noticing

Since Christmas is coming and all the huge spendings are coming as well, we should sit down and discuss a few ways how you can prepare yourself for that. We all need to relax a little bit and just try to slow down our spendings. Therefore, today I am going to share five super great and almost invisible things you can do before Christmas to save some money for a perfect gift! So – here they are! Have fun!

Sleep well
Believe it or not, but if you sleep well, you will feel well and so you will keep yourself away from overspending. To be fair, getting a good night’s sleep might improve your decision making. And what depends on everything you do during your day – shopping included. Furthermore, if you sleep enough, you will improve your impulse control as well. So just by sleeping around seven hours per night might drastically improve not only your health but finances too.

Use coupons
This requires a little bit of your time and energy, but the results of couponing will be amazing. I bet that you get many coupons with your newspapers or magazines, so all you need to do is to cut them out and bring to a store. Moreover, searching for discounts online is not that hard either.

Eat breakfast
Another thing you can do and save money without noticing is eating breakfast! Many people skip this essential meal of the day for some reason, and they are making a huge mistake. Eating in the morning is not only good for your health (because the body absorbs all the nutrition better in the morning) but directly affects your mood and so – shopping habits as well. Hungry people are angrier and more impulsive, so by having good and big breakfast every morning you will do more good than harm for yourself. Furthermore, if you eat more in the morning, you will eat less during lunch or dinner. And so – won’t spend tons of money on groceries as well.

Drink water
Drinking water works on a few levels as well. First of all, by drinking a glass of room temperature still water in the morning help your body hydrate and also makes less space for food. So you won’t overeat and won’t overspend on grocery bills. So do that then you eat at home! While eating out, also remember this tip. In fact, alcohol and other beverages cost a few times more than table water. Also, these drinks make you feel even hungrier as well. By ordering water, you won’t only spend less in a restaurant, but also live healthier and eat less too.

Hang out with frugal friends

And finally, if you wish to save money for Christmas and just on an everyday basis, you should take a better look at people you hang out with. If your friends love to party and go out every weekend, you might naturally spend more money with them. While if you spend time with a group of people who prefer cheaper entertainment, you will save money. Your friends can be a huge influence on you, and we naturally take some habits from them as well. So if you want to save money, choose to hang out with people who have the same goals, and you won’t even notice that you are living frugally.

Small space living

Mantel arrangement

This time next year we could be moving house.

Our five-year house share arrangement with my brother will have come to an end, and because I'm reluctant to get tied into another fixed term mortgage deal I'm probably going to downsize to a (much) smaller house, taking my daughters, the dog and my squashy sofas with me.

Or maybe not the squashy sofas, because no matter what I do they never look tidy. Washing the covers makes them shrink slightly and then after wrestling with them to get them back onto the sofa, it looks great for about a day.  Then we're back to a messy looking seating area.

Here's the evidence. Before washing, and after.  What a difference.

Before and after sofa covers

I should add that they're now back to the 'before' version.

Next time I buy a sofa I'll buy one that will look much tidier and not require constant washing and plumping of cushions.

One of the things I've been doing to prepare for the move, apart from decluttering, is to talk to the girls about the benefits of living in a smaller house.  They've always been lucky enough to have their own bedrooms, and while that won't change they'll probably be much smaller, and of course there'll be less living space.

So I'm trying to sell downsizing to them as having cosier rooms, being easier to keep clean and cheaper to run (and therefore more money for other, more fun, stuff)  but they're not sold on it at the moment. I clearly have more work to do in that area, but give me time.

By coincidence, the first house I ever owned has come back on the market and I pass it on my daily walks with Alice, our greyhound. It's a tiny little cottage on a quiet lane and opposite the village green  and I lived there very happily for over 12 years, and even though it was the tiniest two-up, two-down terrace everyone who visited loved it and I was very reluctant to leave.

Alice the greyhound

Maybe it's a subconscious desire to recreate those happy days in my little house, who knows, but this time next year I'll be on the lookout for something similar.

For me, the beauty of living in a smaller house is eliminating superfluous items and finding creative and more efficient ways to furnish rooms and store belongings.  I'm currently obsessed with Apartment Therapy and their features about small space living. So many gorgeous homes with small footprints that use ingenious ways to use the limited space.

And what about this tiny house, which I absolutely love, which is home to two adults and two children? Could you live in such a small place? I think I could, not sure about my daughters though.