Wednesday, 12 July 2017

How to save for your first home

Buying a house is tough and often people of my generation have to get help to get a foot on the property ladder, I'm not ashamed to say we received help with our deposit and I will always be extremely grateful that we were given that opportunity, however we worked and saved incredibly hard for what we've got as there's so many other things to factor in such as legal fees, furniture and appliances and making sure you have a healthy bank balance to get you started with paying bills etc, all of which we did on our own.

Today I thought I'd share with you some easy and achievable ways to save for your first home.

1. Turn your holiday into a staycation rather than a vacation - I've written about the money saving benefits of a staycation before here. Everyone needs a break from work it's just about compromising a little and being savvy with your money. Previous to going to Florida in 2015 Josh and I hadn't been abroad since 2010. Staycation's allowed us to explore some beautiful parts of the UK too. It's surprising what's on your doorstep sometimes!
2. Pay money into a savings account the same day you get paid - Josh and I set up a joint account around 3 years ago specifically to save for our first home, we always made sure (and still do) to pay a set amount into the joint account the same day we are paid. This prevents you accidentally over spending throughout the month leaving you with less money to save.
3. Set a weekly budget - factor in everything you need to pay for in a week and take that amount out of the bank. Using cash rather than cards gives you more of a visual representation of what you are spending and not using cards again prevents over spending. We all like to treat ourselves now and again but try to stick to the weekly budget more than treating yourself. Any money left over at the end of the month can then be saved.
4. Leave your cards at home - when you've withdrawn your weekly budget, leave your cards at home. It's far too easy to pay with your card as it's essentially invisible money. When you pay in cash you can physically see your money going down and it prevents you from being frivolous.
5. Enjoy free activities - just because your saving doesn't mean to say you can't have fun. There's a bunch of stuff you can do for free/cheap such as going for a walk, having a movie night with a selection of films and snacks, having a picnic, baking. The list could go on.

The harsh reality of saving for your first home is there has to be some cut backs and compromises and you really do have to save, save, save but I promise you, it's completely worth it!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Book Review: The Witchfinder's Sister

'The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...'

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.

Based on the true story of the witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins, this novel propels you back to a time where women were hunted down and accused of witch-craft. Alice Hopkins is an entirely fictional character as there's little known about Matthew Hopkins' personal life but it provides a great perspective on history coming from a woman's point of view and I'd like to think if he'd had a sister she'd have been just like Alice.

I'll start off by saying I found this novel a slow burner, it seemed to take a while to get going and even though I was enjoying it, nothing much happened in the beginning. Please don't give up or let that put you off though because once this book gets going, it REALLY gets going. I was completely hooked and after weeks of only reading a couple of pages here and there, I eventually finished the book in just two days. And I'm a very slow reader! 

I found it so interesting to read about the kinds of things the women were accused of and how life was completely different for women then. Men like Matthew Hopkins had complete control of the lives and the fates of women and they fully played up to that. All of which is perfectly demonstrated in this book.

In all I'd highly recommend The Witchfinder's Sister. The only reason it hasn't got 5 stars is for the very slow start but otherwise this is an absolutely brilliant novel. 

Rating: ★★

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Disney Haul: June 2017

I usually include any little Disney purchases on my monthly Happy List but as I've got quite a few things to share that I bought in June I thought it would be fun to do a separate Disney Haul.
The Haunted Mansion Tsum Tsum pins (Ebay £14.95)
I love the Tsum Tsum Disney pins and The Haunted Mansion is one of my absolute favourite rides at Disney World. I was going to buy these when we go to Florida next year but when I found them on Ebay brand new, factory sealed from an English seller for about £10 cheaper than what I'd pay in America, I just had to snap them up. I absolutely love them.
 Marie Funko Pop (PopCultcha £14.75 with £8 shipping)
When it was announced that Funko were releasing a Marie Aristocats Pop I was so excited, Marie is one of my favourite characters, however it was also announced she'd be a Hot Topic exclusive and there were rumours she wouldn't be making her way to any UK sites. A few people on Instagram reccommended PopCultcha to fellow Disney lovers. PopCultcha is an Australian site hence the £8 shipping price but if you only buy one Pop there's no custom fees. She was well worth the higher shipping price. Funko need to release the rest of the Aristocats characters now.

 Rapunzel and Mother Gothel Tsum Tsum pins (Ebay)
When I first started collecting pins earlier this year, I snapped Pascal up for a really good price on Ebay without releasing he came from a limited edition box set with Rapunzel and Mother Gothel then three Monsters Inc pins and three Lion King pins. Obviously with these pins coming from a limited edition box set they don't appear on Ebay very often and hardly ever from a UK seller. I spent months searching which paid off when Mother Gothel and Rapunzel appeared together from the same seller. I now have a complete set of Tangled Tsum Tsum pins.

 Tsum Tsum Squishies (The Entertainer £3 and £5)
I've been waiting for the series 4 Tsum Tsum Squishies to come out for months. A series 4 carry case appeared in The Entertainer at the beginning of the year but no series 4 packs. Anyway they've finally made their way in store and online. I picked up a two pack and four pack of the series 2 fuzzy ones as I hardly have any of those and the same in series 4.

Boo Tsum Tsum pin (Ebay)
Much like the Tangled pins I didn't realise at first that these were from a limited edition box set (the same one as the Tangled pins) when I first bought Mike from someone on Instagram. I managed to find Sulley pretty quickly on Ebay and for really cheap but Boo was impossible to get. She hardly ever appears on Ebay and never from an English seller. I literally spent months searching and never once saw her come up from an English seller until the middle of June. I was expecting to have to bid big given how rare she seems to be but I was willing to do so to complete the collection however I snapped her up for an amazing price (£2.95 to be exact!). That's the Monsters Ince Tsum Tsum set also complete now.

 Mater and Lightening McQueen Tsum Tsums (Clintons £3.50)
When the Disney Store released the Cars 3 Tsum Tsums I wasn't really fussed about any of the collection apart from Mater because look how great he is! Anyway there isn't a Disney Store close to me and I wasn't paying £4 shipping just for one Tsum Tsum. So when I heard they'd made their way to Clintons I snapped up Mater and Lightening McQueen. I think Mater is now one of my favourite Tsums that I own.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Happy List: June 2017

On the whole, June was a quiet month. We took advantage of the beautiful weather we experienced by spending every moment we could relaxing in our garden. Working in a huge school is not the one when its so hot though! I do wish the sun would make a reappearance though now. Normally there'd be more photo's on these Happy Lists as I usually include any little Disney purchases I've made, however I've decided to do a separate post for that this month so look out for that later this week. 

1. I know I said the Disney buys would be in another post but I couldn't resist putting a little peak of my Marie Funko Pop in here! 
2. The new Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone covers were released at the start of the month. Representing Hufflepuff all the way! I can't believe it's been 20 years since it was first released.
3. My two little fur babies turned one towards the end of the month. They've been with us from 9 weeks old and it always amazes me when I look back at their old photo's, they were so tiny and fuzzy!
4. I booked my next tattoo in June, I'll be having it at the end of July. It's Disney themed and going near my ankle. That's all I'm saying for now. 
5. Of course, since we booked to go back to Florida we've been watching loads of Florida vlogs. We've found an amazing channel The Time Tracker and we've being watching his videos for almost 3 weeks straight now. It's become our new evening ritual.

I've a feeling July is going to be a great month, I finish work for 6 weeks this month (3 weeks and counting #workperks) and it's my birthday at the end of the month which I'm really excited for even though I'll officially be in my late twenties, take a look at what's on my birthday wishlist.

Another little side note, some of you may have noticed my blog URL has changed. After 6 years of blogging I've finally purchased my own domain, it's all in preparation for a big blog overhaul that will gradually be happening over the next couple of months. Josh is designing my new blog header, I'll be getting a whole new layout and the name will be changing to Laureny Loves... so keep a lookout for all the exciting changes happening here.