Services Your Online Business Is Going To Need

*This is a collaborative post*

If you run an online business, then there are certain services you are going to need to help with the general day to day running of your site; and to make your life that little bit easier!

This is going to be the case whether you are just starting out or whether you have been online for a little while. It doesn’t matter how well you think you can handle every aspect of your business because the reality is that you’re going to need help. If you want to know more about what we are talking about, then keep reading down below.

SEO

The first service that you are going to need is to do with SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and how often it is seen or ranked on search engines.

Now you might not realize it just yet, but SEO is going to be invaluable to your company. It makes sure that you are seen on the internet, and that your online business is not being pushed to the very back of the SERPs. Now some of the basic SEO tactics include targeted content and keywords, which are quite basic and can be done by you, but it does require a fair amount of research into keywords that you might not be aware of how to do.

However, there are far more complex tactics that are used by SEO companies, and it is best that you hire them to take care of this for you. The reason being that if you do try and do it by yourself, and you don’t actually know what you’re doing, you could end up harming your ranking in the SERPs, which will cost your business.

Management

The next thing that you’re going to need is management in various areas. As you’re business grows from strength to strength and you get busier, you’re going to need someone to manage the social media side of things, the blog, the services, and so on. You’re also going to need someone to handle contract management, and this means that you’re going to have to hire a professional company even if you didn’t have to for the other tasks we mentioned. You can find more information on this on a site like https://www.templafy.com/contract-management/,  which gives you the information that you need as to why it is beneficial for your company.

Marketing

Finally, whether or not you think you need marketing, you do. A lot of companies think that it is a waste of money, and as an online business, you might think that you are somehow exempt from needing it, but you would be wrong. Marketing helps you get seen. Marketing helps people know what you’re about. Marketing piques people’s interest and boosts your conversion rate. Marketing makes sure that you don’t have a high bounce rate when coupled with good SEO because you will have high-quality leads.

As you can see then, there is so much that marketing can do for your business. This can be done in different ways such as ads, social media posts, and even non web based tactics to appeal to a larger audience. You can find a number of ways to market your business online on a site like https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283832.

We hope that you see now some of the services your online business is going to need and will implement them as soon as possible. Good luck.

Confronting Getting Older Head On!

*This is a collaborative post*

As I’m writing this I’m now a fully fledged member of the 25 club. I spent my birthday (and my mum’s…We have the same birthday!) in Bristol and being thoroughly spoiled it was a lovely way to enter into a new year for me. As I reflected on in my previous post, I don’t want to sound depressing or bring the mood down of this post but I’ve been thinking about death a little bit over the last few weeks. As we get older, we mature into ourselves and into a happier version of you, you might start to become a bit more aware of your own mortality.

Nobody likes the idea of getting older and we all have those days where we would like to cover up that wrinkle or stress out about that one grey hair (which nobody can actually see or takes any notice of!), but dealing with getting older is something that we’ve all got to contend with. So many people decide to fight the signs of ageing and we’ve all got one of those friends that refuse to age beyond 24 (guilty!) despite what their driving licence says! But what can you do to ensure that you get older with grace and style?

Confronting Those Horrible Realities Head-On

We can only bury our head in the sand for so long. For so many people getting older can mean getting sicker. But when we see stories of people that have have a majorly traumatic incident or they go through something horrible like cancer or alopecia at such a young age, why don’t we look to those people for inspiration? Some people go through a traumatic incident so young in life and it completely revamps their perspective. It’s important to remember that when we go through something incredibly traumatic, especially with something like a medical condition, but there’s ways and means for us to develop a coping strategy, but there’s also medical help. There is hair loss treatment online, as well as support groups, and even if you feel that you are someone who is experiencing a very unique problem that none of your friends is going through, there is no need to look upon this as a negative thing. When we are younger we don’t tend to embrace our uniqueness but as we get older we can realise that this is a positive.

Enjoy Yourself

There are still some people that believe getting older is about getting weaker and slowly resigning yourself to the stockpile of life. As we get older, we soon start to put things into perspective. While there’s a lot to be said for the importance of saving money or preparing for the future it seems that so many of us just don’t enjoy ourselves now. We live to work rather than the other way round. And it’s not a difficult thing, enjoying yourself, but it seems that there’s plenty of things out there are trying to stifle our enjoyment. Enjoying yourself isn’t difficult and, believe it or not, you don’t need to have loads of money. And besides, when you’ve got friends that go on protests and are forever worrying about the state of the country after Brexit or those that are fighting the good fight, this is a great thing but at what point do they have the opportunity to enjoy themselves? We all need passions and we all have things we believe in but at the same time, if we completely focus our efforts on the stressful and anxiety-inducing components of life where is the room for fun?

Spend Time With The People You Love

The people you keep company with says a lot about who you are. When we start to look at life in technicolour rather than black and white and we realise that there are people in our lives that are toxic or bring us down or just feel they’ve got to twist the knife in somewhere, are these people are incredibly frustrating to be around. The solution? Rather than breeding your own frustrations by hanging around these people, keep good company and be with people that are engaging or exhilarating. From a sociological perspective, we can fit a certain category. And when we are unhappy that we are in a group of friends that we feel like the butt of the jokes or we are the “quirky one,” these little thoughts can soon develop into full-blown anxieties. Put simply, the people you hang around with can be incredibly toxic for your emotions. Do yourself a favour and be with people that you know will improve your life.

Life Is A Learning Lesson

While we spend time with people that aren’t good for us, we shouldn’t spend a long time regretting those decisions. After all, we are people that learn how to be better versions of ourselves. And life is one of those things that we are entitled to make mistakes in. The great thing about life is that we make errors and that we learn from them. As we get older we may believe that we shouldn’t make too many errors or we’ve been holding onto too many regrets. Getting older is a sign that we are making the most of our mistakes and are beginning to turn them into something that benefits us. There’s no such thing as a mistake as long as you learn from it.

Think About What You Want, Not What Everybody Else Wants

We can all suffer from being a “people pleaser.” These people feel that in order for themselves to be happy they’ve got to cater for everyone else. When you start to figure out what you would like in life and there are people that aren’t particularly receptive to what you want to do, should you continue to be with these people? Start to think about what you want rather than what everybody else wants and there will be conflict. The big problem is that people please don’t like conflict. But like they say “if everybody likes you, you are doing something wrong.” Start to think about what you would like, focus on your dreams, and you will begin to make life work for you on your own terms. Arguably, this is the key to getting older in a healthy way. One of the biggest regrets of those at the end of their life is that they didn’t trust their instincts and did what they wanted. Let’s learn from these people.

Dealing with getting older is something we’ve all got to come round to, whether we just noticed a grey hair or we’ve suffered a traumatic incident in life. Getting older doesn’t mean deterioration. 

25 Things I’ve Learnt In 25 Years.

Hello reader, as you’re reading this it’ll be the 27th of January and that is my big fat birthday. So I am now 25. Twenty five. toooooooooooweeeeeeenttttyyyyyyyyy fiiiiive. Quarter of a century. Twen tee five. I’m lowkey freaking out about this as you might be able to tell as that is an actual, proper age. It sounds older than 23 or 24 did and I feel like I’m not mentally prepared for the responsibility of being a grown up. Not now or ever to be honest. 

Society says I should have my life together by now. Hollywood films say I should be living in a cute apartment with an exposed brick wall with all my besties by now, or about to meet the love of my life in some sort of random meet cute scenario but none of that actually happened sooooooo HOORAY for me! Turns out life isn’t exactly word for word like the fairytale teen blockbuster with the pop-punk soundtrack and that’s okay. Life isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and fighting dragons to get to the princess who’s actually a part time ogre and that’s also okay. I feel like in your twenties there’s a lot of pressure to succeed and exceed and I’m not here for it. I just want to be happy. SO happy in fact it makes others a little bit nausous. I want to be so happy being me that other people look at me like ffs can’t she just give someone else a chance?! 

So I’m writing this very cliche list of 25 things I’ve learnt on this awesome planet to remind myself and you lovely readers on some wonderful things I’ve learnt, adapted to and am trying to live by. 

  • It’s okay not to be okay.

Everyone has great days, everyone has good days and everyone also has bad days too. Sometimes those bad days happen more and more and all of a sudden it’s become a bad week, bad month or become a bad year but please try to not let it define you. It’s taken me a long time to learn to accept that sometimes not everything goes the way I want it to but you’ve got to try and make the best out of every situation. I’m definitely the type of person that could very easily wallow in my own little pity puddle and it can be incredibly hard to lift yourself out of that frame of mine. Just know that however you’re feeling, whatever you’re going through; you’re loved and you’re never alone. ❤

  • It’s more than okay to be on your own. 

Do you have any idea how freeing it is to be alone. Not lonely but alone. Go on a solo movie trip, grab a bite to eat on your own, travel solo? It’s honestly one of the most liberating feelings and I wish I had the confidence to adopt this mentality sooner. 

  • Say Yes.

I’ve tried so hard to push myself out of my comfort zone and say yes or do things I wouldn’t normally just to see or just to try it once. I’ve become so much more confident in myself and my abilities and every single time I’ve had a blast and have been so pleased I said that little Y word. 

  • Don’t believe all you see online.

What you see on social media is not real life. It is simply the highlight reel, no one is going to be posting about their boring dead end job, the fact they spent 2 hours deep cleaning their oven to no avail and the fact that age 23 they found their first grey hair. I found that the way I perceived my own life compared to the lives I saw on Instagram was really affecting me last year and I came off of it for a few months. I came back again later on in the year and changed my focus. I unfollowed a lot of accounts and changed the way I used the platform, sharing my love of photography instead, and I love it again! 

  • Take compliments.

I honestly find this so difficult when someone says something nice to me to not go bright red, flash a dorky smile and bash their kind compliment down with a generous helping of self depreciation. Next time someone says something nice, believe them and say thank you. Manners cost nothing y’know!

  • Have faith in the universe. 

I’ve had a rocky couple of years and it’s affected the way I outwardly look at things. I’m lucky I’ve got a wonderful fam that support me through thick and thin but I don’t think I could have coped either if it wasn’t for my kooky sense of trusting the powers of the universe (pls don’t click off I promise I’m not crazy). I know that everything will work out okay in the end because it just HAS to. 

  • Trust your gut.

I’m not just talking about those gurgly feels I get after I eat brioche…do you know how linked your stomach and your brain are? When something feels off, trust that vibe and run with it. 

  • Have a cheat day and/or a treat day.

Life is far too short to not eat the cake. I am a huge advocate of any form of therapy whether it’s seeking professional help, self care, journalling, retail therapy whatever you do to make yourself feel better. I’m a big believer in self care and self love and I wish more people were head over heels in love with themselves as much as they love other people. Treat yourself to that item you’ve been lusting after for ages, take yourself to the cinema or to a spa on a date day. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like the centre of your own universe. 

  • You don’t need to wash your hair everyday.

Honestly….I don’t know how I have been conditioned (soz for the pun) to believe that was normal. My hair feels so much better and shinier since I stopped with this madness.

  • Some relationships don’t last forever and that’s just the way it was meant to be.

I am strong believer in full time people and part time people. I think everyone who comes into your life is there for a reason, sometimes good, sometimes bad (sometimes ugly too) but the important thing is to remember to cherish those who you love and tell them as often as you can. Learn from those who treat you how you don’t wish to be treated and don’t give them a second more of your time. Life is a journey but most importantly it’s your journey; who you want to bring along with you is down to you.

  • Dairy Milk Caramel tastes infinitely better after it’s been in the freezer.

I don’t have anything else to add to that statement. Just try it and let me know your thoughts alright.

  • Pursue what makes you happy

Life is the longest thing we’ll ever do so you might as well do something you love. 

  • You’re responsible for your own happiness.

Genuinely i’m starting to sound like a motivational canvas you’d see on pinterest and I’m not sure I’m alright with that. But this is something that flickers through my mind everytime I’m having a whinge about how sucky something in my life is. The only person that can change it is me. 

  • Find your cheerleaders. 

Find the people that’ll be constantly in your corner, boosting you up and treating you like the gift you are. No one wants a negative nancy. 

  • A job isn’t the be all and end all.

I cannot stress this enough. It reeks of privilege but I’ve been in a position where I had my mental health wrecked because of a terrible employer and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I stuck it out for so long. I wish I quit sooner, I wish I had a cool quitting story, where I told my boss to stick it in a boardroom meeting and made history as I high fived with every other scorned worker but alas that was not the case. Working as an early morning cleaner has taught me more about my character than any other role has. 

  • Try to save where you can.

I’m obsessed with getting a good bargain, who isn’t though, amirite?! Financially challenged is the legit story of my life but one day I’d quite like to move out of my parents house and live in my own little home and I’ve been saving the pennies where I can. I’m not being too hard on myself and if I want a treat or to go out socially I do but it’s surprising how a few coins here and there in another bank account soon adds up. 

  • Be more present. 

I am the absolute worst for being on my phone all the time. Whether I’m chatting with friends, surfing the socials or taking happy snaps of what I’m doing, embarassingly, I find it difficult to not put my phone away and live in the moment. My thought is that if I take a picture or a video of that moment then it’s saved in time and I can come back and look at it again and again. Unless it’s for a special occasion (or just pretty food…) I try to leave my phone in my bag when I’m out with family and friends and spend the most time enjoying their company.   

  • Try new things.

Oooooh look at me, my name’s Abbie and I tried an olive the other day and didn’t gag so I think I know everything about trying new stuff. But srsly try everything once (except bad, super illegal stuff, like don’t be stupid) and if you don’t like it at least you gave it your best shot. 

  • Don’t save things for best/a rainy day.

I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently. Morbid start to any sentence I know. But that might be a potential late night blog post I touch on soon…Not to bring down the mood or anything but when you die, everything that’s important to you or special to you probably isn’t going to be that special to anyone else so you might as well wear that bouji outfit that cost you a tonne of money whilst you still can; you never know what’s around the corner. 

  • Get to know yourself and your body.

Get to know who you are, everything about you, your mind, your soul, your spirit and your body. It sounds silly but you’re more likely to notice little changes once you know what’s normal for you and what’s not. 

  • Never underestimate having a good hairdresser. 

A good hairdresser is one to be cherished. Finding one that is good, reliable and not too expenny is like finding the bermuda triangle. 

  • Find a hobby.

Even though blogging and reading are my hobbies I sometimes find them a bit on the stressful side if I put pressure on myself through it. If I’ve set myself a goal of how many books i’d like to read in a year I feel guilty if I don’t get anywhere close or if I haven’t written online in awhile I feel guilty that I’m not applying myself enough to write more. In my spare time I actually really enjoy photography, crossword puzzles and antiques. I know it makes me sound like an 80 year old off on another bus trip but I loooove it.

  • Be curious.

Never stop being curious, asking questions, learning more about different people, places and cultures. Travel to new places far and wide and come up with your own narrative on something rather than adopting something you’ve heard from an unreliable source. 

  • Develop your own skincare routine.

Doing me face is the technical term of applying all of my lotions and potions, creams and oils on to my facial region when I arise from my slumber and just before I go to bed. It’s fast become one of my favourite things to do because I feel quite at peace when I’m doing it, it’s relaxing and I feel like I’m doing something quite positive to my life. 

  • Celebrate; always.

Celebrate the good things and the bad things and even the really boring, mundane things. Life is as good as you make it and I for one would like to be remembered as someone who loved hard, laughed a lot and was a pretty terrible dancer even Theresa May would grimace. 

 

How to develop Leadership Skills in a Changing Business Culture

*This is a collaborative post*

One of my favourite tv shows in the world is The Office…The american version because as controversial as it might be for a Brit to say this I think that this variant is substantially better (come fight me in the comments if you disagree). Not only is this show hilarious, albeit sometimes so silly and far fetched, it makes you really realise that terrible managers are something that everyone across the globe can relate too.

Good jobs and good management can be really hard to come by. We live in a world nowadays where it’s more uncommon now for someone to stay within the same job at the same company or even in the same sector, the amount of potential jobs or careers available to pursue these days are increasing so if you wanted to completely change what you do you could with the tip of a hat; metaphorically speaking of course. Please don’t walk into the job centre and flick your baseball cap off and expect to come out employed as an astronaut.

More often than not people are changing their current job roles to go somewhere different to try something new, for a better pay scale, if it’s closer to their home and the new workplace is easier to travel to. Another reason a lot of people. myself included, have left jobs is because of poor management. Knowing there’s nothing you can do to fight this is particularly frustrating and often you feel like leaving is the best thing you can do mentally and emotionally.

I’ve worked in different roles and at different levels and something that I sadly noticed a lot was the different ways people would speak to me if I was the early morning cleaner compared to if I was the main manager in charge. The latter of which may have paid me more (just about!) but I can tell you I was nowhere near as miserable and unhappy as the cleaner! I personally believe that the desired traits to become a good manager are as simple as being a good leader, a good listener and good at the job in hand.

These are brilliant attributes for anyone to have and hold but when you’re in a position of importance and/or responsibility it’s even more vital to have.

Leadership is crucial at all levels, in both the private and public sectors. Indeed, when a company fails to meet its standards, one of the primary causes of blame is that there was a “lack of leadership” within the organization. However, it’s important to be aware that leadership isn’t a static idea that is easily replicated using a few simple steps — and that’s because the nature and role of leadership are forever changing.

At some times, these changes can be considered subtle, since society and the business world often changes slowly. However, there are times when new skills and change become more desperately needed, since things have progressed too quickly for society to catch up. In this category, you could place more or less everything to do with information. We may be living in the ‘information culture,’ but that doesn’t mean that we’re hitting it out of the park on all fronts.

Part of the issue is that while we can identify the skills that we need for leadership in this climate of information, there is something of a shortage of those skills. To succeed in this role, the candidate must have existing leadership qualities (such as promoting teamwork, handling conflicts and so on) and also skills related to information. They would need to have experience and expertise in things like how to store and manage data, how to differentiate between valuable and non-important data, and how to investigate data.

To learn more, take a look at the infographic from the University of Southern California below.


Infographic by University of Southern California University of Southern California

Staying Safe Online

*This is a collaborative post*

Nowadays, we’re spending increasing amounts of time online. Increased availability of affordable technology means that most of us now have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a computer, or a combination of these items. We spend time online for a whole host of reasons. We work online. We socialise online. We show off our lives online. We catch the news online. We read books online. We watch tv shows and films online. Chances are you’re behind your screen for a fair few hours everyday. But when we are more open online, we also face more threats and it’s so important that you do your utmost to keep yourself safe when you spend any time on the web.

One thing you can do to keep safe online is to be wary of how much personal information you share. The more you openly share, the more complete strangers get to know about you. You could let strangers know where you work, where you live, where you study and so much more. This puts you in personal danger. You could also accidentally upload pictures containing pictures of your bank cards or credit cards and put yourself at risk of people hacking into your accounts. You should also be wary about sharing personal information because it could give people a clue to your passwords, allowing them to steal your identity online.

The infographic below will give you a deeper look into cybersecurity and more tips and tricks on how to protect yourself online!


For more information on this click here

The internet is a hugely vast, sometimes scary place and there a few different ways that I try to stay safe whilst using the interweb. Firstly, I use different security packs for my blog, internet browsing and on my laptop too. This protects against any vicious malware, helps to keep my laptop and my sites healthy, and running smoothly plus it gives me peace of mind; knowing that it’s backed up and in safe hands so to speak.

Secondly, I have two factor authentication installed where and when I can. For example on Instagram, I know my sister and a few other people who’ve had previous accounts hacked and compromised so they can’t access them again simply because of a vicious bot attack gaining access to their account, email address and password, changing their information so they can’t get back into it. This really freaks me out as I practically live my life vicariously through my Insta grid. It’s got so many memories of things I’ve did, done and seen and many of which I don’t have those pictures backed up anywhere else. If one day I lost my Instagram (yes I know, worse things could happen!) but I’d be gutted all of these lovely things I’ve done and like to look back on would just disappear in a flash.

If you are using a computer or a public wifi always remember to log out. Sounds super simple, if not patronising, but it’s easy to just do what you’re doing and completely forget to completely log out of your site.

Try to make your passwords as unique as you can. Commonly used passwords or your name/date of birth could be something that is very easily guessed!

If you get anything suspicious in your emails, messages, phone calls etc always double check with a real life human being if you can before taking further action! If for instance you get a phone call/email from your bank and it seems a bit fishy before you do anything hasty; suggest phoning them back and checking with your local team beforehand. Similarly, if you get any emails that don’t seem quite right, don’t rush into opening any links or responding. Always double check and if it does turn out to be legitimate at least you’re on the safe side!

Simple Steps On How To Save Up For Your First Home!

*This is a paid collaboration*

Hello readers and a Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a lovely time over the festive period whether you’re big on Christmas or New Year or not I hope you managed to enjoy yourself. We are now six days deep into 2020 and with the dawn of a new year and a brand new decade brings about a sense of change and reinvention. I know sometimes people think it can be a bit silly to wait ’til January 1st or the New Year to bring about the changes you wish to make but there’s something a little bit cathartic about starting a new month, a new year and a brand new decade with a clean slate, a fresh outlook on life and a bunch of brand new life goals to smash through and achieve!

One of the things, which I’m sure many people are thinking (or hoping!) to achieve within this decade would be moving out of their family home or being in the position to save up enough money to put a deposit down on a home. For me, at this moment this feels like it’ll be nearly an impossible venture! What with the cost of living going up and up and the national wage staying relatively stagnant; the amount of cash that you need to get the ball rolling and transfer to bigger and better things can seem so far out of reach. 

Saving up for a home is difficult, I still live at home but I’m so looking forward to the day I have my own place to put my own stamp on. It can be so hard especially when you’re already living well within your means to be able to cut back on spending and help your money grow. So, if you want to know more about what you can do to get yourself financially prepared in order to purchase your own new property, then read on to uncover some of the my tips and tricks that you can think about or utilise today to make it hurry up that process.

Buying or Renting?

Consider whether you want to buy or rent or what option would be more feasible in the meantime. Take a look at the current housing market in your area or even speak to estate agents and see what they would say is the best thing to do. Do you have any friends or siblings you’d want to move into a new place with? Not only would that cut the costs as you’d be sharing the bills it might be quite good fun too to have a couple of housemates.

Living Efficiently? 

To save up enough money to afford a deposit on a home a good start can be to learn to live more efficiently and save money on a daily basis. It’s a good idea to try and focus your efforts into every aspect of your life in order to reap the most rewards, so you can address different features such as your food, fuel and energy consumption as well as the amount of money that you spend on material goods such as clothes. Eating in the smartest way can cost you a very small amount, as you needn’t spend extortionate amounts of prepackaged, processed and preserved foods that won’t provide you with any vitamins or minerals – dried items such as beans, pulses, pasta, and rice can be a great option as they are inexpensive, nutritious and have a very long shelf life, whilst learning to say no to takeaways and fast food can help you to take back control. If you have to reach a destination that might be done on foot in under half an hour, there’s really no need to spend money putting fuel inside your car to drive there. Plus you’ll feel so much better for a bit of light exercise in the fresh air; it’s a win win! Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference over time. 

Can you make any realistic cutbacks?

Living within your means and being able to save does means you might have to give up a few certain luxuries to benefit in the long-term. Maybe you can live without a gym membership or your netflix account for a while to be able to save a bit more. Or save on going out as much or your regular retail therapy trips or try out a few different shopping hacks like thrifting in second hand or charity shops…find out more about how to shop better for less in a post I wrote all about avoiding fast fashion here!

Need Money Fast? 

Perhaps you have decided upon your dream home before you checked the deposit against your current budget, or simply don’t have enough time to save as much money as you need, say if you have to move for work or similar. Luckily there are a few ways which you can utilise to gain money fast to help pay for your deposit. One of the best things that you can do is to begin selling the furniture, clothes or other items that you currently have inside your home, as this will help you to make a profit. It would also mean overall you’d spend less on moving fees as well…You can’t say I don’t cover every eventuality?! As well as this, knowing how a secured loan works can offer up a different avenue for you to explore to gain some funds fast but I’d recommend totally looking into this before you make a hasty decision. 

Second job?

I don’t know what your current job role is looking like and I know when you work full time you barely get enough time to relax let alone find the time for a second income. But sometimes when the first full time role doesn’t pay enough a part time job might have to come into play. I’ve done everything from dog walking to cleaning to ghost writing online content to earn some extra cash and it’s not only enriched me literally with monies but also given me a different perspective on a role I hadn’t done before. I love dogs so being able to play with puppies, get some exercise and earn was great. I cleaned, which involved early starts (which I did not enjoy) but meant I got money at the end of a shift and also learnt how to clean a toilet in less than 90 seconds?! Every cloud.

Speak to a mortgage advisor?

Ideally this is something you should do at the start of your search so they know how much money you’ve got, if you’ve got any debts or bad credit and how much you could realistically be loaned. That way you know what type of price limit you’ve got and can start looking accordingly.

Have you looked into what your bank or other banks offer?

Not everyone is lucky enough or can even ask for a loan from the Bank of Mum and Dad but if you’re looking for some proper help when it comes to financing, different banks and lenders offer a whole host of different schemes to help people get onto the property ladder. Check out what your bank provider has on offer or shop around to see which one has a better deal so to speak and that would suit you the most. There was a Help To Buy ISA scheme running in the UK which ended at the end of November 2019 which allowed those with access to those accounts to get a government grant of 25% of whatever was in the account if you were first time on the property ladder. Your best bet would be to have a look and see what is on the market, what works for you and speak to those who actually know what they’re talking about…Not just Ab from the internet.

Saving for a new home is big step, a giant scary step! One of the biggest and most grown up things you can do as an adult.  Hopefully some of these points might be deemed helpful and hopefully whomever is also taking a journey of home ownership in the roaring twenties 2.0 can hopefully be where they want to be by the end of the decade. If anyone has any further tips and tricks please do comment below!

Simple Ways To Become A Savvy Shopper!

*This is a collaborative post*

We’re now nearly halfway through the month of December. Christmas and a brand new year is quickly coming round the corner and if you’re anything like me you might be facing a moment of sheer panic/crisis about how you are going to budget for it all. I used to be quite a big spender (alright Shirley Bassey, keep ya hair on!) until my financial circumstances changed and I really learned a lot about myself, what’s important (and what really isn’t) and learning how to budget my allowance properly. It was a hard process to go through both in the literal sense and mentally too.

At this time of year, it’s easy to fall into the trap shops want you to: to buy more and more stuff. When you feel as though you are saving money, it’s far easier to justify spending more. It’s also easier to justify buying lower quality stuff – we rationalize that it’s okay for something to break immediately as long as it didn’t put too much of a dent in our savings. I’ve said it myself in the past when I’ve bought something for a few pounds and then when it breaks I’m left feeling annoyed but justify it with a ‘oh it was only £2 or so it wasn’t going to last forever’. 

Obviously you don’t need me to write this and tell you that this isn’t good value in any way, shape or form. In fact, buying cheaply and having to replace things all the time is a poor use of resources as well as a poor use of your money. This is why it’s really important that we all fully understand the concept of good value. I don’t want to patronise you or to teach you something you’d already know but I’m going to list beneath a few of the ways I’ve found helpful to monitor my spending habits and how to become a more savvy shopper. 

Note down what you’re spending.

Now this one might not be for the faint hearted especially if you’re anything like me. It’s a great way to really re-evaluate what you’re spending and it also really makes you second guess yourself before you grab yourself another £3 takeout latte in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I personally always think things like that always feel so much more real by seeing things in writing, especially in an age where contactless card spending is so prevalent in our culture. So when I see a piece of paper or my notes on my phone that show me how many gingerbread lattes I glugged that week or how many things I bought from New Look sale rail in my lunch break. Oops.

Make plans and stick to them. 

When it comes to food shopping and keeping everything on a budget, I’ve found that a great way to keep cost down is to meal prep and meal plan each week. Some people might find that really time consuming, monotonous or boring but if you get your family or everyone you live with involved it will go by a lot quicker and you can have some fun with it too! It works out a lot cheaper to meal prep/plan that way you know what ingredients to buy for each week, it’ll be harder to go off piste when in a supermarket doing the weekly shop and think of the savings you’ll make when you don’t grab the same lunchtime meal deal at work each day!

Take advantage of voucher/offer websites

You can find some fantastic offers for a whole range of things online these days. Whether you’re a regular user of Groupon/Livingsocial/Wowcher you can get some fab offers from treats for yourself, gifts or even holidays and spa trips. If you were looking to purchase one of these things anyway it’s always good to shop around and sometimes you’ll find a great deal from one of these sites. Similarly, websites like Vouchercodes or honey can be automatically uploaded onto your browser so the next time you buy something online and are in the checkout they’ll scan through the internet and find suitable voucher codes and take off any savings they can! Who’d say no to that?!

Don’t be put off by shopping around

Before you make a big purchase I’m sure I can speak for many people when I’d recommend shopping around for different prices or offers first. Maybe I’m just a bit of a cynic and someone that really hates a hard sale in a shop but I always wonder when a shop assistant is really pushing to sell an item if they really believe in what they’re selling or whether they’re just hoping for a commission based sale. If it’s something that is quite a big purchase I’d suggest sleeping on that decision before you make it. Have a look in different shops and online and see what prices can be recommended to you and if you could haggle. If you’ve seen a good deal somewhere but it is more expensive some places might price match for you. You’ll still get the exact same item but with more satisfaction as you got more bang for your buck.

Shop secondhand

Buying second hand is often really good value but you have to know where to look. For example, buying second hand cars or something like these nearly new Vauxhall cars is a good option because cars are built to last and lose value the moment they are driven off the forecourt. But there are plenty of other things you could buy second hand. Vintage clothing is a great example and as more people become environmentally conscious, it is gaining popularity. Fast fashion might be tempting but developing a capsule wardrobe is a tip that comes from the heights of the fashion industry. 

Invest Sensibly

When you spend your money, you are investing in the product or service you are buying. The hope is that the product will fulfill a need and be worth the money spent on it. But this kind of logic can be problematic – if you spend a little and receive a little, it still seems like a worthy investment but it isn’t really. 

A good way to determine good value is to work out the cost-per-use of an item. A t-shirt for a fiver worn once costs £5 for that one wear but a t-shirt bought for £30 and worn 10 times costs £3 per wear. Now you will start to see why buying second hand can be such good value – you will pay less because you aren’t the first owner but you will still get plenty of use out of what you buy. 

Understanding your ethics.

Everyone has a slightly different ethical code and, let’s face it, we can’t afford to have outstanding ethics all the time. However, the more you can do to behave when you shop, the better you will feel. Our world is in a perilous state at the moment and while we can’t blame ourselves as individuals for what is going on, we can all make a small difference by ourselves. Choosing where you shop and how you shop will influence what shops and manufacturers produce and sell. This is why understanding value is so important. You have to figure out what you think of as good value and then pursue it. 

Figure out a good time to shop.

This might sound a bit daft but hear me out with this. Depending on how much time you have, what shops are closest to you or what your budget is, a great way to save a few pennies here and there is by timing your big shop a little bit differently. When it comes to food shopping most big supermarkets will be pricing down any produce for reductions in the late afternoon/evening so that’s a good time to scour the aisles for an offer on something you’d usually buy.

Good value incorporates the longevity of the products you buy, understanding the cost-per-use of each item and taking your ethics into account. 

Clowns To The Left Of Me Jokers To The Right…Here I Am; Fed Up Of Everything I Read In The News.

Once upon a time, I used to just think bad people were few and far between and the underworld was really just a knicker factory on Coronation Street. I also used to think that trolls were mythical creatures that lived underneath a bridge… Flash forward to 2019 and instead you’ll find them lurking behind a computer screen ready to catch you at your lowest ebb or just simply if you’d made an accidental spelling mistake.

I was reluctant to write about these subjects, I wanted to keep my site a somewhat happy place, somewhere where you don’t need to face the overwhelming sense of continuous bad stuff that happens every single day around the globe and have it shoved in your face on another website and media platform. You see, you’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to come on here and actually write something quite serious for a change. In Britain there will be a general election happening today and UK politics, brexit, and how much of a walking poop mountain Boris Johnson actually is something that the majority of the UK are completely sick and tired of seeing everywhere and hearing about. I’m not the most clued up on politics, the government or parliament etc but I’ve been making much more of a concerted effort in recent months to try and understand what exactly is going on in the news.

Ask me anything you’d like about pop culture or get me to quote an outdated vine from 2009 and I can do that no problem but ask me what really is going to happen to me and my generation, whether we’ll realistically be able to buy our own home, retire at a nice age (without selling all our vital organs or working 18 hours a day 7 days a week to make that all possible) and whether brexit does in fact mean brexit and sadly I fall a bit short.

If you’re reading this in the hopes of having some political review on everything that’s going on in the political climate across the globe, I’m afraid you’ve come to the place. I don’t really know all the ins and outs of it all and to be quite honest I don’t think I ever really will.

What I do know is that I am completely and utterly fed up of rich, posh white boys running the world. I’m fed up of people who don’t care about regular, averages Joe’s (and Josephine’s..) like you and me but loosely pretending that they do. I’m fed up of these carbon copies of each other employing their other posh, rich friends.

I’m fed up of big media corporations allowing these people to buy their way to the top. I’m fed up of single use plastic straws being extradited to hell because David Attenborough said they’re bad for environment but they’re is literally and metaphorically a whole ocean of single use plastic products out there. I’m fed up of big corporations using the very current trend of coming across as ethical and more green by cutting the use of plastic straws or plastic bags but wrapping everything else in store in…SiNgLe uSe PlAsTiC. I’m fed up of media bias. I’m fed up of such obvious media bias. I’m beyond fed up of seeing and hearing about so many regular, working class people struggling in one of the most progressive countries in the world and no one caring or doing anything to change that matter. I’m fed up of hearing some of the few, regular working class people who actually think and believe that these types of people actually care about them. Spoiler alert they don’t.

I’m sad I live in a country where so many people’s lives have been ruined, lives have been lost and lives have been taken because not enough people at the top give a damn. I’m sad I live in a country where so many voices still aren’t heard. I’m sad I live in a country where I see people who don’t bother voting because they can’t be bothered or don’t know who to choose. Suffragettes died for these chances and opportunities don’t forget that and many people around the world still don’t have that chance. I’m fed up of people not taking voting seriously and they think that their one vote won’t make any difference anyway so why bother. Imagine if everyone had that mentality!

I’m sad I live in a world where the big issues that will wreck more havoc on our future, like global warming or that, still in this day and age in 2019, girls will go off on a holiday of a lifetime and might get raped and/or murdered and somehow end up being the one that gets tarnished as if it’s their own fault, aren’t deemed important enough yet.

I don’t know much about stuff, long suffering readers of mine will know this by now, I could ramble on and on about my favourite biscuit for about twenty minutes before realising you didn’t even ask (or care). But this particular political event really bothers me as whichever way it’ll go it’ll affect me and my generation. It’ll affect my future children, grandchildren etc and the lack of forward thinking scares me. It sounds silly and I hope I’m not tempting fate but I really hope I wake up tomorrow morning to utter chaos from the Labour Party.

Image result for love jeremy corbyn

Twelve Simple Self Care Steps To A Happier You!

*This is a collaborative post*

Nobody said that life was going to be easy; they just said that it was going to be worth it. And that’s generally how it seems to go. It’s a series of good and bad moments, and we need to have the wisdom to appreciate the good moments and how to handle the bad ones. It’s always important to remember that while you simply cannot avoid the negative parts of life, there are always, always, always things you can do to make them easier to bear and to overcome. Stress is something that is near on impossible to avoid these days even just watching the telly and flicking onto the news channel is enough to make you want to turn the thing off forever; with it’s constant stream of bad stuff happening every single day. 

As someone who gets anxious and stressed quite easily I’ve conjured up a little list here of simple, easy steps to help overcome a stressful, low period in your life. Obviously not everything here might be applicable to you, it may seem completely obvious but sometimes it’s enough to know that you’re not on your own, in this big ol’ world you are never on your own and a lot of people (even the ones you who laugh and joke all day long) are in the same position as you.

If you’d like to add anything, any other tips, tricks or pointers please start a conversation with me in the comments down below!

 

Treat Yourself Well

Life will give you plenty of knocks over the years, and if you’re not doing anything to protect yourself, then naturally it’s going to be hard to endure. The best, most recommended way to preserve yourself is to treat yourself well. We can get so wrapped up in the daily obligations and responsibilities of life that we forget to focus on ourselves and give our bodies and minds what we need. It’s fine — even dare I say it essential; to be selfish from time to time. Listen to what you need, and don’t feel bad about treating yourself. A person in tune with their physical and mental needs will be better equipped to handle the trials and tribulations of life better than someone that doesn’t listen.

That can mean anything from physically treating yourself to some retail therapy, you DO deserve that nice new top, that new edition book to read on the way home from work, go for a large hot chocolate with all the topping rather than just a small/medium. Run yourself a big, bubble bath with some gorgeous smelling treats in it, switch your phone off for the evening and soak away any troubles.

Get Exercising

Exercising to me used to be just one of those annoying things that we think we have to do just to “be healthy,”  or to stay fitting into my clothes but it’s about so much more than that. While you likely would feel a little better about yourself if you’re in shape, that’s not the only reason why you should hit the gym or pull on the running shoes. Joining a gym or fitness group is an excellent way to get out of the house, out of your comfort zone and to meet new friends. Exercising is great for the mind — it clears your head, and also releases plenty of mood-boosting chemicals, too. It’ll also give you more energy, so you’re able to handle everything that you need to do without feeling like a walking zombie.

A Good Night’s Rest

And talking of being a walking zombie: make sure that you’re getting enough sleep! It’s one of the fundamentals of life, and there’s a big difference between someone that is well-rested and someone that is running on empty. You probably know yourself how irritable and unlike yourself you are when you’re tired. If you’ve been struggling to get to sleep, then look at making some changes. The rise in people suffering from sleeping conditions has resulted in a lot of research into how we can improve our sleep. It’s all about creating a cozy bedroom, limiting distractions such as noise and light, and avoiding screen time in the two hours leading up to bedtime. Your mind needs time to switch off if it’s going to seep, and that can’t happen if it’s continually stimulated by the buzzing and flashing lights of smartphones and tablets. I’ve been trying not going on my laptop, ipad or phone too close to bedtime and actually dedicating half an hour to some reading time. It’s meant I’ve really made a dent in my TBR list and I think my sleeping has definitely improved because of this. 

Calming the Mind

We’re all prone to feeling stress from time to time. Working towards a promotion, owning a home, raising a family, day to life in this modern age…they can all induce stress. And while it’s relatively straightforward to handle a little bit of stress, if it becomes too much, then we’re liable to crumble before what life throws at us. There is a tried and tested method for handling stress, however, one that dates back thousands of years: meditation. It can do wonders for all areas of your life, indeed, it can push you in a generally positive direction. It’s super easy to get started by yourself, find a local class that offers meditation or yoga for beginners but if you want a little help, look at downloading an app that can guide you through the process. After a while of practice, you’ll find that you attain a sense of peace that makes all aspects of life easier to control.

Simple Tasks

People can become blindsided by the big things in life. They focus on the grand aspects of life, yet, while it’s always good to keep those things in mind, it’s much better to have a bottom-up approach. If you can take care of the essential aspects of life, then you’ll find that it’s much easier to get to grips with everything else you’ve got going on. The essentials can be classed as ensuring your home is tidy, you’re eating well, and that you’re looking after yourself. These things will be the foundations upon which you can grow. 

Handling the Finances

There are few things worse than enduring the stress associated with financial issues. We could be in good health, have good friends, an active social life, but if our money situation is in trouble, then we’ll always have stress hanging around our neck. This is especially problematic during the festive period or other cost-intensive times of the year. Once you’ve been in this position it’s like you’re staring at every aspect of your spending through a magnifying glass. I’ve been there and it’s absolutely horrific. It’s easy for me to sit behind a screen and say the usual tropes of ‘everything will be okay in the end’ because that doesn’t help at all and well… you don’t want to know that; you want to know about getting out of this is situation in the here and now. It’s important to remember that there are always things you can do to improve the money aspect of things. If you need money fast and have exhausted every other option feasible then you could look into whether you’d want to try a bad credit payday loans. Before you do anything hasty I would probably advise you really thinking hard about this decision, check the loan rate and how much you’d have to pay back overall in the end and how long it would take you as well. The upside to doing this is that you would have money in your account, and then you can simply pay the money back once you get paid. That’ll handle short-term problems. For longer-term issues, you can develop a financial strategy that’ll give you enough to live on and also put some money into your savings account. 

I know it’s super cliche and easy for me to say but money isn’t the be all and end all. One of the hardest things I found was being honest with myself and those the closest around me about my money/financial situation. Admitting I can’t go to certain things as I simply can’t afford it, I can’t buy something brand new and have to look second hand or in a charity shop to save money. As hard as the conversation might be it’ll feel like a massive weight has been lifted from your shoulders. 

Set Challenges 

It’s normal to fall into a rut from time to time. Life can begin to feel a little same-y, we’re stuck on autopilot mode, and we begin to think that our options are limited. It’s always important to remember, however, that there are always ways to step up and be more. Sometimes we just need a little bit of a push to get going. If you’re beginning to fall into a rut, look at setting yourself a challenge — it doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as you’re pushing yourself forward. You might just be surprised at how invigorating it can feel, and how it reminds you of your capabilities. If you’re beginning to feel in a funk, then get moving in any direction. It’ll be the spark you need to get back to your best. You’ll also be raising the bar when it comes to your standards. Find a new hobby is a great example of this, take up running or blogging for example! You’ll be able to look back and monitor how far you’ve come and it’ll give you a fresh new focus. 

Find Your Sore Points 

Everything could be going fine, but then, from nowhere, we begin to feel a little low about ourselves. Everyone has insecurities and things that make them feel bad about themselves; it’s completely normal. If you can identify what those things are however; then you can limit the impact that they have. If it’s something you can change and want to change; then change it. If it’s not, then be aware of how those triggers can make you feel, and accept them. Sometimes our biggest mistakes happen when we’re feeling low about ourselves because of insecurities. If we can recognize the things that make us feel this way, then we might just stop us from making those mistakes. 

Help Others 

One mistake that you could say people is that they focus too much on themselves. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s just normal — and to an extent, completely understandable. You have to focus on yourself first! But it’s also worthwhile focusing on other people from time to time, too. Studies have shown that helping people can give us a lot of good feelings! So as much as it is about you too, buuut it’s mostly for them. Life can be tough and it’s up to all of us to help each other get through it. Also, not to take it a selfish place, but the more people that you support when they have difficult moments, the more people you’ll have to support you when life kicks you around a little. It’s nice to be nice. Remember that. 

Accepting Help

Of course, having people around you who are willing to help is one thing. Accepting their help is another. One of the best gifts that you can give yourself is the ability to accept help when it’s offered. We all know people who want to handle every detail of every issue all on their own. While there will be times when you have to help yourself, there’ll be others when a helping hand from a friend or family member can do wonders. A problem shared is a problem halved like they say, your family, friends and loved ones care about you and would only want the best and wouldn’t like to think that you’re struggling in silence. 

If you feel like you couldn’t reach out to someone you know in real life, sometimes actually saying what’s worrying you is really hard. Write it down, send it as a text or even reach out to a charity like the Samaritans. You can email, ring or even text them with what’s worrying you and it’s nice to know that whatever it is, whatever time of the day it is too, someone will always be there to help you through.

Learn from your mistakes

Some people are guilty of beating themselves up far too much when they make a mistake. But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t make mistakes! Indeed, it’s better to try things and make mistakes, rather than play things safe all the time and do nothing.

 

Positive Attitudes

Finally, don’t forget the power of a positive attitude. It really can make a big difference in your life. If you act like good things are happening, you’ll be more likely to take opportunities as and when they arrive. A pessimistic attitude can keep you stuck where you are. If everything is fine in your life, then choose to be positive — it really is that simple.

Book Review: Jacqueline Pirtle’s 365 Days Of Happiness *

One of my favourite pastimes is immersing myself in a book, to me there is nothing quite like being able to slink off, forget all your troubles and worries and absorb yourself for a little while into a different world. I’ve been this way since I was a child and I’m still one of those people that could pick up the same book and reread it time and time again. This year in an attempt to try and cut down my screen time I’ve set myself a challenge of reading 25 books in a year. To some this may seem simple to others it may seem mammoth but i’m hoping it could be an achievable goal.

I’m trying to branch out in what I read rather than the usual fiction or chick lit I’m trying to broaden my literary horizons and add some different genres to my bookshelf.

I was lucky enough to be gifted this particular book from one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. I know that probably sounds false or like a massive cliche but Kelsey from Book Publicity Services in the States is a literal ray of sunshine. Which was totally apt considering she sent me over Jacqueline Pirtle’s book 365 Days Of Happiness to read and review.

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They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but when there’s a gorgeous cupcake that looks too good to eat how can you not want to dive in head first? From the description and the blurb I was already super interested in what this book had to offer. Jusr from reading that I learnt that Jacqueline is a holistic practitioner, healing arts teacher, mentor, author, all round cool chick, need I add more to the list?! She has published this book as a step by step guide to happiness. She spent every day throughout 2017 dedicated to her own happiness. Noting down the things she did that improved her wellbeing or sparked joy. 

I’d never read a book like this before and I must admit to being a bit sceptical at first. I suffer with low mood and anxiety and am also a natural cynic so how much would this book realistically change the way I think? Is she going to tell me surefire ways to win the lottery, wake up looking like Charlize Theron with Tom Hardy running upstairs bringing me breakfast in bed? Well…sadly not. But, Jacqueline will teach you the very easy, subtle art of changing the way you think to a much more positive happy outlook on life.

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I’m the type of person who can often find herself in a more negative head space and that can be a funk that can be quite hard to break out of. This book teaches you simple ways to rethink normal, day to day life and before you know it, it’s slowly seeping into your normal way of thinking.

book review

A lot of the teachings in the book really resonated with me and definitely made me sit back and reorganize my thoughts or the way I think about things. This passage above has made me look at situations I’m presented with in a different way. Sometimes when you’re faced with difficulties it can be hard to raise your head above it and think of the bigger picture in life. That someone somewhere will have it better and someone somewhere will also have it a lot worse. What you think or what you see as a problem someone else could see as a blessing.

This isn’t the sort of book you would necessarily read all in one go but perhaps place on your bedside table or your kitchen counter so when you wake up first thing or have a few minutes with a cup of tea and your breakfast you can spend a moment or two dedicated to yourself, your thoughts, gratitude and mindfulness. As someone who can often feel quite pessimistic this book taught me that sometimes you have to adopt a mindset in seeing positivity in things you might not normally.

I really liked this book and I feel like Jacqueline’s personality and soul shines through so warmly. It’s like she’s an actual friend and is offering life advice and cheering me up a bit every morning! If you’re looking for a book along these lines I would wholly recommend this one. I’ve actually lent it to a friend and he really loved it and tries to put the teachings into practice each and every day.

*this book was gifted to me but all of my thoughts, feelings, opinions and pictures are completely genuine and completely my own.