Why not servicing your car is a false economy

With the mounting costs of family life, things like your car’s annual service can seem like an unnecessary expense. Servicing your vehicle isn’t compulsory like an MOT, so it’s easy not to prioritise it. What’s more, if your car is running fine, with no obvious problems, you can fall into the trap of putting off your service to save money.

However, not maintaining a regular service interval can often be a false economy, as a service aims to ensure your car runs efficiently and economically. What you think is saving you money in the short- term, could actually cost you far more in the long run.

At an MOT, the majority of checks are aimed at making sure your vehicle is safe, whereas a service is more focused on the overall maintenance of your car. The garage will check vital parts for signs of damage or wear and will check fluid levels and top up as required. They’ll also carry out an oil and oil filter change to maximise engine efficiency. By ensuring you stick to your service schedule, problems may be picked up early which may reduce repair costs.

However not maintaining regular servicing can also result in a number of other problems which are highlighted in the following infographic from Stoneacre

A useful infographic about what happens if you don't service your car.

Be honest, how often do you service your car at the moment? Are you more likely to keep up a regular service schedule now? Let me know in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

Living Greener In Your House

Living a little greener throughout our lives is something we think is hard to achieve. Companies like to croon all the time about how energy efficient they are, and yet when you have all that money behind you it seems so easy to keep that up! However, a huge lifestyle change doesn’t have to be in swing here, and some simple changes are just as effective as taking to a cabin in the woods. We already know a child friendly home with a bit of flair is possible, but what about living as green as possible whilst still being comfortable?

A vase of flowers on a wooden table in a large bright room.

Check Your Appliances

Checking your appliances means going around your house in the last five minutes at the end of the day and making sure everything is turned off and unplugged. It’s something simple and yet so effective, and you’re not going to be donating valuable hours to it. You see, even when something is plugged in and switched off, there’s a very good chance it’s still using power, considering how popular the standby function is these days.

At the same time, make sure everything you use has a good energy rating. When something is in the A band for electrical use, you’re not going to be wasting any energy simply as a byproduct of chilling your food in the fridge for example. And that also ends up saving you some pennies, which all add up at the end of the month.

Start Recycling Everything

Of course, not every material out there is yet capable of being recycled. But recycling as much of your waste than ever before means you’re going to be doing a great bit for the planet.

Sort through your clutter! If something is using the space you need to live harmoniously, it’s definitely going to need passing on. Make some effort on reducing your carbon footprint; don’t throw away anything that could be avoided. Make sure any electronic waste you have laying around, either on the side tables or in the attic, are being disposed of or sold off. Those old laptops are never going to see the working world again anyway! Sometimes you can make some cash, sometimes you just have to part with an object responsibly.

Open Up Your Curtains

If you have curtains, make sure they’re open for as long as they can be during the day, and then close them at night. Keeping a room warm is a lot easier when you’re using the insulating material over the windows to full effect after all. You won’t have to turn on the heating so much when you’ve got your curtains on a tight schedule, and it just takes a bit of arm work to pull them open and closed when the time comes to it.

There’s a lot of little changes you can make to your daily routine to make sure your house is as green as possible. Try to incorporate these moves as soon as you can to save you time and money.

*This is a collaborative post.

Random Acts of Kindness Day & Valentines Day: Spread Some Love!

Happy (belated) Valentines Day and happy Random Acts of Kindness Day everyone! Firstly, an apology. I had good intentions, I genuinely did. My ‘Spread Some Love’ theme for this year was meant to include a bunch of giveaways for you all; I contacted companies, started to arrange the details… then we were hit with a family bereavement and that sent Squiggle’s anxiety spiralling. With a mental health crisis on our hands, naturally everything else just got thrown to the wayside. So I hope that you all appreciate the sentiment ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and know that I would have done this – and will as soon as we are back on top!

However, in the meantime, Squiggle wrote a message…

Paper heart cut out with message 'Happy Valentines Day! I love Everbody!' written in pink felt tip with hearts over it.

Squiggle had her own ideas about how to spread love too, which fitted in perfectly for both Valentines Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day combined! These were entirely her own initiative of course, which is particularly why I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.

Her first idea is to buy some small plush hearts to give out to people wherever and whenever the mood takes her. So sweet! She also told me to put the heart message (pictured above) in my coat pocket so she could randomly hand it to someone. Lastly, she made a point of smiling, waving and verbally greeting or complimenting everybody she saw in some way. For an autistic child with severe anxiety disorder this is huge! She pushed herself out of her own comfort zone in order to be friendly to others – I am so proud of her!

As for kindness to her family, she gave us this…

Happy valentines day message with lots of colourful hearts drawn and written by Squiggle.

Two hearts - one sweet and one chocolate - in a bowl.

Now this may not seem like much, but Squiggle bought these in Ikea a few days beforehand and thought ahead to Valentines Day by saving some heart ones specifically that she had chosen for us. The fact that she went out of her way to do that and chose to give away something she had meant so much! Like the saying goes; ‘if a child gives you a rock, cherish it. It is all they have to give!’

Balancing The Boring And The Bracing In Business

When a lot of people first start looking into running their own business, the hard side of the work will often go completely ignored. Focusing on the idea of being able to make money from something you love will consume all of your thoughts, and spending time on mundane areas will often feel like a waste of time. Of course, though, looking further down the line, your company could suffer a lot if you don’t have the right things in place to support it. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of these areas, along with the ways that you can get them handled in your early days.

Balancing The Boring And The Bracing In Business title

There isn’t any doubt that you love the business you’re going to be running, and you’ll want to make sure that it is protected from those who could do it harm. But doing this will be more than simply standing up for yourself, and a lot of new companies find it hard to know where to turn at this stage. Below, you can find some examples of the areas you’re most likely to need support with then you’re protecting your business…

Protection

One of the most valuable things a business has is the ideas which it has collected over the years. There could be marketing campaigns, written content, and even products which belong to your business but aren’t in the public eye. If someone gets their hands on them, they could make money out of it, and this isn’t very fair. To solve this issue, paying close attention to copyright and patent law will give you the chance to protect your intellectual property without having to do much work. Of course, you could also think about paying someone to do this for you.

Along with protecting your own sensitive data, it is also a good idea to think about the customer information your company looks after. In a lot of cases, the sort of things you will keep about these people will be very valuable to criminals, as it will range from addresses and passwords to bank details. Data protection law is very similar in most countries, and you can find details about it around the internet, making it incredibly easy to start protecting this area in the right way. As a big part of this, you will need to know how to store data securely.

Of course, there are loads of different ways to protect your business, and most of them involve insurance of some sort. If you have the time to spend, though, learning these skills could provide some huge benefits in the future. Likewise, you also have to think about a couple of other areas before you are done, and you can find some examples of early business financial management below.

Finances

Tax is one of the very first areas to consider when you’re starting a business. It can be very easy to ignore this part of your operation, especially seeing as you will only have to pay it once a year, but this can lead to some issues. Tax investigation specialists have the skills and resources to fight your corner for you when you’re handling your taxes. Software like Wave can often do the rest, helping you to collect exactly what you will owe that the end of each tax year. Along with this, though, it’s always good to have a human touch, especially if things go wrong throughout the process.

Along with dealing with the tax side of your company’s finances, a lot of small business owners will find it hard to get their income balanced, too. Having a solid idea of how much money you’re making comes with obvious benefits, and this can make it hard to understand why so many will ignore it. This sort of job, like the one above, can be well handled by a single professional. Accountants have the experience to help businesses in even the tightest spots. While it could feel embarrassing to give someone access to your money, it can also have some huge benefits which shouldn’t be ignored.

This final financial area is one which everyone should be aware of. When you’re running a company, being personally liable for the money moving in and out of it will come with loads of risk. To avoid the issues which this can bring, most people will make their business into its own body, using a business registration to take the stress out of your hands. This process can be handled by anyone, and you will only need to pay for a small fee if when you’d like to put it through.

As the last area to consider, it’s time to start thinking about the law, and the relationship you’d like your company to have with it. A lot of people find it hard to learn about this field when they’re first getting started, with research tools and resources being hard to understand. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, and most people have everything they need to get it covered.

The Law

Losing data, failing to pay taxes, and causing someone else to experience financial loss could all come with a cost. Even the process of going to court will cost you a small fortune, leaving your company to foot huge bills for something which could have been avoided. As the first stage to this, it will be worth having someone come to audit your business, ensuring that you’re following all of the right rules. From here, insurance can be bought, providing coverage for the most important areas. With all of this in place to protect you, it should be a simple matter of trying to follow the rules to avoid ever having to use it.

Hopefully, with all of this in mind, it will start to become a lot easier to shake off the boring work which comes with your business. It can be easy to put off the jobs you don’t want to do, assuming that you’ll have time for them in the future. In reality, though, you’re set to keep getting busier, and this will leave you with far too much to do if you leave things too late.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Your Family And Finances: The Rules

When it comes to your family and finances, you need to make sure that you’re handling them the right way. Many people don’t realize that the way they handle their finances and talk about their finances teaches their kids everything they believe about money before they’ve even grown up and had a chance to experience it for themselves. Take a look at your family and finances: the rules…

Your Family And Finances: The Rules title on faded background image of pennies

Always Use Positive Language When Discussing Money

When talking about money, especially in front of your kids, always use positive language. If you talk about money in a negative way, they’ll have a bad relationship with money right from the start. You don’t want that!

Have Regular Meetings

Having regular family meetings where you discuss money, amongst other things, can make it less of a taboo topic of discussion for your family.

Give Your Kids Pocket Money

There’s nothing wrong with buying kids things that they want, but giving your kids pocket money is usually a better way of going about it. This way, your kids get to decide how to use their money early on. Do they want to save it up for a bigger purchase, or spend it on something small? You can use this as an opportunity to get them into their own saving habits, too.

Get Into Good Saving Habits

Make sure you’re in good saving habits. This will be evident to your kids and they will learn from watching you – it’ll also make your family less stressed out when an emergency payment or something of importance pops up! Take a look at the superhero saving habits below for help:

credit to Sunny

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Qualifications That Can Lead To A Job

When you are choosing a degree to study, you might want to pick one that has the highest possibility of getting you a job as soon as you graduate. With that in mind, here are three degree qualifications that can lead directly to a job…

Qualifications That Can Lead To A Job title on faded background image of graduation robes.

Medicine

Medicine degrees have the highest possibility of getting you a job straight out of University. This is partly because of the time you have committed to learning about medicine and training in one of its professions in that you know exactly what your career goals are. A qualification in medicine has a much clearer goal and destination that other degrees such as ones in English or other subjects. As you study medicine, you get a very specific set of skills that are in high demand for positions like doctors and nurses. These jobs are sought after due to the time it takes to become qualified and learn all of the necessary skills and techniques. This makes medicine one of the best degrees to study if you want a job as soon as you graduate. However, it does take far longer to graduate than other degrees.

Business

You don’t need a business degree to get a business related job. However, it will make it far easier as you will have a lot of knowledge from your degree to fall back on. If you have a degree in marketing, for example, and want to get a job in PR, then having this knowledge and the skills from your degree are going to surpass those from people with history degrees. Certain other business related positions require specific qualification. Accounting is a good example of this. In order to be an accountant, you need to have an accountancy qualification. This might be baked into your actual degree or something that you study for once you have graduated. Either way, having a business related degree such as a business management masters degree is going to give you a head start and make you a better candidate in job applications. For this reason, you want to have a business related career then you should get a business related degree.

Languages

Languages are an incredibly sought after skill. If you are fluent in a language and have a qualification confirming this, then there is very little limit to the type of job that you can do. You can work as a translator, work in another country doing whatever job you want or anything like that. This is because, in order to become fluent in a language it takes years of training, practice and dedication. It isn’t something that you can learn on the job as the whole job is knowing a language. This means that you will be highly sought after by employers across the world. Certain languages are more useful than others. Unfortunately, if you studied Welsh, then you won’t have the same opportunities as someone who learns French or Russian. However, knowing a language is always a good thing, and it will definitely open doors for you.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You?

There has been a steep rise in environmental concerns and a deep uncertainty surrounding financial markets in recent years. Those who are recognising the difficulty in the financial markets are turning more and more to a life of self-sufficiency. The dream of being off the grid in a home that is free of a mortgage with solar panels to generate electricity and heat without being tied into contracts? That’s a big dream for a lot of people.

We used to live in a world where we made do and mended; people learned how to sew and cook and garden for themselves – these were not jobs that were outsourced to others. The conveniences of modern technology and consumerism have all but eradicated the want to learn how to mend something rather than throw things out and start again. Society is stuck in an endless cycle of spending money, getting into debt and an overall dissatisfaction with life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A photo of homegrown tomatoes growing.

Living a self-sufficient life can be busy, hard and labor intensive. However, the satisfaction you get from cutting down your expenses, changing your reliance on fossil fuels and even installing Cultivar greenhouses to grow your own produce is immense. It doesn’t matter whether you are already barefoot and farming or you’re living in a city tower block, you can take the right steps toward a life of independence and throw off the shackles of society.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You? Title on background image of bees.

One of the best and biggest investments that you could make toward a lifestyle that is independent is learning some DIY skills. The whole point of self-sufficiency is not relying on the professionals to repair your car, sew your clothes and grow your food. Learn how your home operates, from the pipes to the electrics. Learn with videos like this one how to rewire a plug and learn the basics of maintenance of your car. There are a lot of free classes you can take to learn how to fix things and use a thread and needle, and YouTube is a goldmine for things like that.

Gaining independence from your home includes generating your own resources, and that will mean learning how to grow your own food and collecting your own rainwater. This article can tell you the benefits of rainwater collection and what you can use it for. Having a wind turbine installed or adding solar panels to the roof gives you the chance to have the ultimate solution for moving off the grid. If the costs don’t allow for those things, checking out solar water heaters or even outside lights could really make a huge difference to the way that you live – and what you pay out on utility bills. You can make many home improvements to conserve energy, from covering the windows in a film to keep the heat in and installing skylights to bring in natural light. You can enhance your energy use by harnessing as much of the natural light and heat as possible.

i - robot plugged into wall.

The world is ruled by automation – everything that we do is now automated to be efficient and easier. While this is great in the business world and can make life a lot easier all around, opting for manual systems where you can is the best way to conserve energy. Turn off the Roomba and use the brushes and vacuum cleaner that you bought to clean the house. Utilise the clothesline in the backyard instead of using the dryer every day. Small changes like that – even ones that see you using a bowl and a wooden spoon instead of an electric whisk – can add up to the biggest savings. You don’t have to do much to change the way that you live, but the best change that you could make is to stop plugging in and start using a little elbow grease!

One of the biggest expenses – aside from a car and a mortgage – is healthcare and insurance. It would be stupid to cancel your health insurance altogether, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot take control of your health. Eating organically, reducing the use of toxic chemicals such as aerosols and bleaches and turning toward natural medicine solutions can make a difference to the spend on healthcare. You can use recipes like these to make your own household cleaners and you can start ditching the car and getting on your bike to improve your health. Taking the right steps to ensure you get a good workout in everyday can make a big difference to your overall health, which will save you money on what you spend in medicines and at the hospital.

Starting to learn how to grow your own food, and if you have the land, raise your own animals for slaughter can change the way you spend your cash on groceries. You get to know exactly where your food comes from, and you can learn to cook your own food from recipe books or classes. Growing and preparing the food that you have chosen to raise in your garden can save you cash but also save the number of trips to the doctor that you have each year. Home grown fruit, herbs and vegetables means no preservatives and no chemicals sprayed on them to get them to grow. Chickens could provide your family with eggs. A beehive supplies you honey and gives you the chance to have pollinators on site in a natural way.

A swarm of bees pollinators making honey

Being self-sufficient isn’t for everyone. We always become comfortable with consumerism and automation, and while that is okay to an extent, you do also have to look at the impact this has on your daily living and your budget. Take the time to shut things down and learn how to do it all for yourself. It’s not easy, it’s not light work, but it’s going to change the way you see the world. You can save a little piece of the world while you do it and you can feel good about that!

*This is a collaborative post.

Love Layla: Witty Birthday Cards, Gifts and Wrap (Review) 

Love Layla is a small independent retailer of greetings cards, gifts and wrapping paper for all occasions – with a difference. Their unique range is witty, cheeky and sometimes downright offensive… but all in good humour!

Love Layla greetings card, wrap and wine label for favourite child range.

I was kindly sent a sample selection of their range to review. I chose their ‘favourite child’ theme to feature because this is one of my personal particular faves; I think it works really well in a range of contexts. For example, Squiggle thinks it’s hilarious because the joke is that she is our only child! But it is also funny if you have siblings too of course, and even as an adult ‘child’ as well. It is very much my husband’s humour as a middle sibling to give his mum a ‘favourite child’ bottle of wine as a gift too.

Love Layla greetings cards, wine label and wrapping paper.

The wrapping paper is very thick, absolutely brilliant quality. It costs £4.25 for one A1 size sheet (841mm x 594mm). You can purchase the ‘From Your Favourite Child’ wrap here.

I managed to mess up putting the wine label on slightly, as you can see in the picture. I swear I hadn’t been drinking it before putting the label on, I was just getting distracted by my own favourite child, Squiggle! I can assure everyone though, it is easy to stick on as long as you actually have one moment to concentrate! The wine labels are £2.50 each.

Love Layla also have a funny 2018 calendar, available in both wall and desktop versions, which is now heavily discounted at only £4.50. So grab yourself a bargain!

Love Layla 2018 calendar. January page.

All prices include postage and packaging, i.e. delivery is free, which is fantastic! They post to UK only, and dispatch next working day by first class Royal Mail.

All in all, fab selection and great service!

*Disclosure: I was sent items to write a paid review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

PalmistryHD: Review of Palm Reading and Horoscope App

Are you a fan of reading your horoscope or do you think it’s a load of nonsense? What about other forms of fortune telling? I have to say, I am abit of a sceptic about such things!

Don’t get me wrong, I am very spiritual and believe that our universe has amazing mystical powers. I also realise that humans only use a small percentage of our brains, so we do not even begin to fulfill the potential of what we could achieve with our minds. Therefore, I firmly believe that some individuals are capable of things that others aren’t – or, more accurately, are more tuned into certain abilities that we all possess but do not access – such as telepathy and psychic awareness for example, as well as the more basic sixth sense that comes from a strong intuition. But I feel that some types of fortune telling, such as horoscopes, are just too generalised and gimicky.

However, I do find the whole subject fascinating. And I am definitely open- minded and curious about it all. So when I found out about the new PalmistryHD app I must admit I was quite intrigued and wanted to give it a try!

The app can be downloaded on both IOS and android. It does a basic palm reading for free and for a charge of £11.99 it can go into more detail. It also has a daily horoscope section too.

Screenshot of Palmistry HD app showing palm reading and daily horoscope options.

I tried out the free palmistry feature of the app (android version). It was very quick and easy to use, it literally only took a few seconds. The instructions were very straightforward and easy to follow too.

A screenshot of the palm reading app

I found the results an interesting read. I think some of the reading rang quite true but I do also remain somewhat cynical to be honest, as I suspect that perhaps alot of things stated are vague and general enough that they can be interpreted in whatever context the reader chooses and can relate it to. Here is a short excerpt from my personal palm reading…

Screenshot of an excerpt from my personal palm reading results.

I have only tried out the app on myself and, to be honest, I do also wonder how unique my reading is. In other words, if a handful of people tested all it out, would we all get entirely different results? I don’t know the answer to this but I would be keen to find out. However, the app is abit of fun and some people might find it insightful potentially. Why not download the free version of the app and decide for yourself!

Here is a YouTube video that explains more about how palmistry works:

What do you think about it? I would love to hear your opinions!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.