Why I'm loving the small house movement

In the past 40 years living space per person has doubled and 1000sq ft bigger in the USA. When it comes to houses the notion of 'bigger the better' is considered by society to be true. Many people have several spare bedrooms in their house and homes far beyond a size they need for their family size. 

It is this context that makes the tiny house movement so intriguing. Typical tiny houses are between 100-400sq foot (whilst the average USA house is 2500 SqFt). What is amazing about these tiny houses is how they manage to compact all the necessities into a small space without the cramped feeling. 


Though not everyone will want to take downsizing the this extreme, there is a lot that can be learned from living in a smaller home. As a college student I spend the last two years living in a very small space (a small single room + communal kitchen) and now C and I have a very small 1 bed flat. It made my living space simple and minimalistic as there was not space for clutter. 




                           Peachtree City Architects & Building Designers Our Town Plans



Here are some of the benefits of living in a smaller house:


- You learn to discern between needs and wants. Due to the lack of space for furniture you learn to furnish primarily with essentials. By having mostly essentials your house will look clean and uncluttered and I find having an uncluttered home is a real de-stressed. When I moved into the flat I realised how much of the things I had amounted at my parents house I had not used at all whilst being at college. It made me reflect on how much I had been hoarding over the years. 


- Bills are much cheaper. The less space you have to heat, the fewer appliances you have, the fewer numbers of bathrooms the less your household consumption will be and consequently you bills will be much less. 

-More ecofreindly. This goes along with bills being cheaper with less use of utilities your houses carbon footprint will be much less. In addition, it is easier to use green methods to heath your home. Plus a small garden means less spent on watering it. 

Entertaining is funner (in my opinion). You make not have enough space to sit 10 people round a table for a meal but that doesn't mean you cannot entertain and have fun. We love having raclette and poker nights with our friends. We put the raclette grill on the table and we sit on the floor to eat and play cards. 

-Easier to decorate. Upkeep and decoration of a smaller house is inherently easier and less expensive. There are fewer rooms to think about co-orindating the wall colour to the cushions. 

- You spend a lot less time cleaning. Less rooms and sq ft means less rooms to clean, plus fewer pieces of furniture and less clutter means you can spend more of your time doing what you want.

- Less debt.  A smaller house means smaller monthly mortgage payments, freeing up money in your monthly budget. A smaller mortgage means there is less risk so the is less stress and worry about money in your life.

- Housing mobility. A less expensive house means more people will be able to afford to purchase your home, compared to a more expensive home which will become more niche in the market. This means you can get more value for money when you sell and may be able to move easier.   

- Change your mentality You start to think differently about your possessions. Stop over purchasing, pick smaller appliances, look for items with dual purpose and things that can easily be store. Bigger is not better when it comes to a small home. You become less tempted to accumulate items. 



Have you ever considered downsizing?


Establish an emergency fund or pay off debt?

Your snowed down with debt, got no savings and overtime you make progress paying off your debt. Now some advocate having a 3-6 month emergency fund before tackling debt whilst others such as Dave Ramsey reconvened a set amount such as $1000. Emergency funds are important and have the potential to give us financial peace of mind. 


It is unlikely you will find a savings account that gives as high an interest rate as paying your debts saves. So it would technically mean that you will save money on interest by paying the debt off first. 


However, this principle fails to take into account one key point. Emergency expenses occur in life, things that we cannot foresee. Without an emergency fund, you will find you self taking one step forward and two back (so you end up paying the interest on the debt anyway). The whole aim is to avoid acquiring new debt whilst paying off existing debt. Having an emergency fund gives you peace of mind and means that you are able to avoid a crisis. Also when an incident occurs, you money can still go towards you debts and you are able to pay off at the same pace and momentum.


I advocate building up a small emergency fund, that doesn't take too long to build and then once you have that in place start paying of the debt. But make sure you are making all your minimum payments. I think that a 6 month + emergency fund whilst paying off debt is overkill, even though there is more employment uncertainty in this economic climate. There is no set amount that works for all, you need to asses the likely risk of an emergency. If you have little assets such as living in college halls, no car etc then you would need a much smaller emergency fund than someone has a home, cars, children etc. I would say that a £1000/$1000 is a good starting point and adjust this amount up and down depending on your level of assets. 


This amount should also be guided by your amount of debt, if you have a smaller amount of debt and it is going to take less time to pay it off, then statistically speaking there is less time in which for an emergency to arise (and less time to have multiple emergencies). Conversely, the more debt, the longer it will take to pay off the more chance of emergencies occurring. Its all about that debt to income ratio. 


However, one of the problems of building a emergency fund whilst getting out of debt is that you may not have the right mindset yet. Be sure that you can avoid the temptation to spend that money unless it is an absolutely emergency.


By using a hybrid approach you are achieving both necessary goals of building an emergency fund and paying of debt. 

Ultimately the approach has to be your own as only you know the nature of your debt. 
Disease Called Debt

Money conversations to have with your partner

We a couple choses to spend their life together they also choose to accept financial responsibility for each other. It it therefore, really important to talk about your finances. Having financial conversations from the beginning of the relationship and continuing them throughout are important to the stability of your relationship. This is especially important as money troubles as the leading reason for divorce in the USA. 
These conversations don't need to be super formal and try to avoid making them inquisitorial. What is important is that you both feel comfortable to share honestly. We know it can be super awkward but it will truly bring you together. 
When you first start talking about money early on in the relationship keep it simple are not overly personal. Perhaps just ask about opinions on investing, when do you want to retire etc. As you begin to be more open it is then it better to talk about more specifics and even progress to doing a regular meeting that can involve a monthly budget. Try to not be critical towards each other but help each other grow and develop financial sensibility. 
C and I advocate the value of having shared finances, through combining finances it helps to remove the individualistic attitudes associated with money and makes you think of your partner and your goals as a couple when making money decisions. Shared finances does not automatically mean that you have all shared account but it can be very useful to have at least the main current account (where the bills are paid) is shared. 
Below are some of the topics we recommend talking about:

1. Financial liabilities. Discuss what debts do you have, credit cards, student loans, car loan etc. Also talk about how much you have and who your creditors are. Its also a good idea to talk about how much monthly payments are and how your progress is with paying off the debt including the method you are using (debt snowball or avalanche). It is also good to talk about what debt you've had in the past as these experiences shape how we deal with our finances.


2. Financial assets. Got an emergency fund, savings, a home?. Discuss what assets you have and remember these will become joint upon marriage. Let your partner know where you keep these accounts (i.e with which bank) and the types of accounts you hold along with the balances. We choose to use a savings spreadsheet to manage our net-worth and allows us to keep track of our various accounts. 


3. Financial goals. It is important to create short and long term goals as a couple. This is needed so that you can shift from an individualistic approach towards money. It is important that you are both on the same page with your goals as this will guide your spending and investment. Talk about your attitudes, do you prefer to spend a high proportion of your income or are you keen on making savings a priority. This will help you to determine what 'finical success' means for you. When making financial goals it helps to discuss the lifestyle you want to live, for example do you expect to take regular holidays, send children to private school etc. It can also be useful talk about your parents attitudes to money as these have a huge impact on how you deal with money and set finical goals. It will also help you to understand each other's perspectives towards money. 


4. How are you going to spend. It is important to talk about how you are going to spend you money. Do you want to use cash primarily, debit card or credit card. The all have their pros and cons but it is important that you are comfortable with the method you use. It is also important to discuss how money will be budgeted and assigned. Will one person carry the cash for food if they always do the food shop. Who is going to keep an eye on the balance, the bill payments. Often one person will have a tendency to take a lead with the finances but its important that is a unanimous decision as to prevent the other partner feeling resentful. 


5. Learning from each other. Neither one of you are perfect, nor will you know everything about money. You will both have your strengths and weaknesses in you knowledge, so share what you know and ask for help in areas you don't know. Remember that you have both had different experiences and these shape how people manage money. 


6. Agree on risk. When you decide to invest your money discuss the level of risk and whether you both agree on this being an acceptable level of risk. It is not uncommon to have one person more willing to take risk than the other, so be prepared to make a compromise. The level of risk you are willing to take will be heavily influenced by your lifestyles.


7. Retirement Discuss your plans for retirement, what pension schemes are you paying into. Are you making the most of employer matching? How much do you collectively want to save and when do you plan on retiring. Let these answers guide how you prepare for retirement now. 




How do you and your partner discuss finances?
Disease Called Debt

Guide to Peer to Peer lending

What is peer to peer lending?

Peer to peer (P2P) is where you lend money to companies, property developers etc and they pay you back the loan with interest. It takes away a bank from being a middle man and makes you the bank. It is often agreed through an intermediary know as a P2P platform. 

What is the risk?
P2P is higher risk than a normal savings account and is not covered by the FCSC scheme (which protects up to £75,000 per person/per financial institution). Though there is regulation through the FCA who appear to be particularly stringent with their accreditation. As of 2017 accredited firms will need to have at least £50,000 of reserve capital (larger amounts for bigger companies). The loans agreement is technically between you (the lender ) and the borrower, so if the P2P company goes bust you could pursue the borrower for the money owed. However, to date there have been no horror stories to guide what to do in those circumstances. 

What are the pros?

The considerably higher interest rates may make this a suitable investment option for you. It is the potential for return that has meant that the P2P market has exploded following the post 2008 interest stagnation. Though it is important to remember that you money may not be loaned immediately and as such won't necessarily be earning interest straight away. 
Another benefit of P2P is that it can now be tax efficient. Some providers recently got the go ahead to provide an ISA service (similar in style to a cash ISA). 


Top P2P Platforms



1. Wellesley

This platform lends your money out to property investors and therefore your money is secured against real estate lowering the risk. Their Auto-matching tool means your money is kept well diversified and their provision fund is there to protect you in the case of any loses. They offer an ISA  with up to 5.55% interest. There normal savings accounts provide interest rates ranging from 3.55% to 6.32%. For easier access there is a 30-day access fund which offers the lowest interest rate available. 

2. Zopa

Zopa is the longest running P2P platform having lend out over £1bn to individuals. The rate averages are 3.8% for 3 years and 5% for five years. However, you will be charged a 1% fee. Your money is spread across a number of borrowers with a variety of risks. Where the borrower is in 4 or more months arrears this is usually covered by their safeguard fund. Money can be withdrawn in 3-5 days. 

3. Funding circle

Offers some of the highest P2P returns but also high risk. Involves loaning to businesses. INterest rate averages at a MASSIVE 7.1% (though there is a 1% fee and 0.25% if you sell loan on). Using auto bid helps to simplify the process and ensure diversification with your investment. 

Have you tried investing in P2P? How have you experiences been?

100 birthday freebies (UK and USA) : The BIG List

Birthdays are great and they are even better when its an excuse for freebies. Check out our mega list of freebies available all for just getting a year older !!


This list is split up into 50 UK and 50 USA freebies so everyone has the chance to get their birthday treats. Most of these offers mentioned are given by big chain companies but plenty of smaller independent companies also offer birthday freebies but just don't advertise it, so never be call up and ask if they offer birthday freebies.


Most of these freebies required to sign up to a newsletter or loyalty program, and a small number of them require a minimum spend to receive the freebie. 


Companies give out these freebies as a clever marketing strategy. They know that you are likely to go out with friends and family for your birthday and draw you into going to them by giving you a birthday freebie in return for bringing in paying customers. 


For the UK restaurant freebies why not save even more money and pay for money with a discounted gift card allowing you to save up to 10% on the food you do pay for. 


UK Freebies
  1. Krispy Kreme- Free donought 
  2. Pizza express- Free prosecco
  3. Las Igaunas- free main course
  4. Shepheard Neane- free main course - sign up here 
  5. Harvester- Free sundae
  6. Beefeater Grill- Free main course
  7. Frankie and Bennies- Free main course
  8. Hungry Horse- Free drink
  9. TGI Fridays- Various freebies
  10. Fayre and Square- Free bottle of wine
  11. Marston's - Free drink
  12. Ed's Easy Diner- Free milkshake
  13. Brother's cider- Free cider
  14. Barburrito- Free main dish
  15. Subway- Free cookie
  16. Moshi Moshi- complimentary Kyoto course menu
  17. Jimmy's World Bar and Grill- Free meal and cocktail
  18. Hello Fresh- £20 discount
  19. Damons hotel and restaurants- free main and birthday cake
  20. TableTable- Free main
  21. Drake and Morgan- Free brownie dessert
  22. Grosvenor Casino- Free main meal and £10 bet
  23. Cafe Rouge- free bottle of bubbly
  24. Hummus Bros Club- Free birthday meal
  25. Boost Juice bars- Free boost juice
  26. La Tasca- Free Cava- Need to book in advance in birthday person's name (meal for 2 weeks either side of birthday)
  27. Chimichanga- Free bottle of house wine 
  28. Loch Fyne- Free Joeseph Perrier Champagne
  29. Pitcher and Piano- Free cocktail or beer
  30. Jamies Italian - Free gift
  31. Bingtang Birthday Club- £10 voucher and 1/2 for birthday boy/girl
  32. Jongleurs- Free ticket on birthday 
  33. Strada- Free bottle of proseco
  34. Etsy- Free birthday discount
  35. Paperchase - free £10 discount
  36. Bobbi Brown- Free birthday kit
  37. Debenhams- Free Benefit Brow Wax
  38. Boots- Free advantage points
  39. Nectar- Free Nectar car points
  40. Pixifoto- baby photo on childs 1st birthday 
  41. Lego club- Free birthday card and treat
  42. Playmobil- Birthday card and badge
  43. Toys r us- Geoffrey's birthday club- Free £5 voucher
  44. Mothercare- 20% off toys on child's birthday
  45. Spur steak and grill - Kids eat free
  46. Ebuyer- Free next day delivery (worth £9.99)
  47. Dove- various freebies
  48. Joy the store- 10% Joy Club members on their birthday
  49. Liverpool Philharmonic kids club- Free tickets
  50. N.dulge members- birthday treat
USA Freebies
  1. Denny's - Free grand slam - present valid ID
  2. Krispy Kreme- free doughnut
  3. IHOP- Free meal on birthday- join Pancakerevolution
  4. Baskin Robbins- Free ice cream 
  5. Ben and Jerry's- Free Scoop of ice cream
  6. Starbuck- Free coffee 
  7. Black angus steakhouse- Free Steak meal (with purchase of a second entree)
  8. Applebees- Free dessert
  9. A&W- Free Float
  10. Pizza Hut- Birthday Surprise
  11. Old Chicago- Free pizza
  12. Olive garden- Free birthday surprise
  13. Tucanos Brazilian Grill - Free birthday meal 
  14. Sticky Fingers Club- Free entrée 
  15. Pappa Murphy's - Free cookie dough
  16. La Madeline French Cafe- Free pastry
  17. Jersey Mike- Free sub and drink 
  18. Fuddrukers- Free burger
  19. Dunkin Donuts- Free coffee
  20. Culver's - Free sundae
  21. Cinabon- Free mochalatta chill
  22. Jack in the box- free dessert 
  23. AMF bowling- Free bowling
  24. Aveda- Free gift up to $24 in value
  25. Wendy's- $1 of any premium combo
  26. Red Robin- free gourmet burger (with loyalty card)
  27. La Madline- Free pastry
  28. Maggie Moos' - Free ice cream cone
  29. Glory days grill- Free dessert
  30. Del Taco- Free premium milkshake
  31. Black angus steakhouse- BOGOF steak dinner
  32. Au bon pain- a free sandwich or salad
  33. Carrows- free dessert
  34. Fox and hound- BOGOF entree 
  35. Anthropologie- 15% off
  36. Benefit- free birthday brow arch
  37. Chuck E Cheese- kids vouchers
  38. DSW shoes club- $5 voucher
  39. Firehouse sub- free sub
  40. HuHot mongolian grill- free meal
  41. Jersey Mike's- free sub and drink
  42. Maggino's- free $10 vouchers
  43. Menchie's frozen yoghurt- birthday surprise 
  44. Orange julius- free drink
  45. Pretzel Maker- Birthday surprise
  46. Sephora- Birthday surprise
  47. Smashburger- Birthday surprise
  48. Yoghurt mountain- free yoghurt
  49. Weinerschnitzel- free hotdog
  50. Zaxby's- free kids meal

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    If you are new to our blog, we are all about finding new ways for students and millennials to make and save money. Here are some of our favourite sites and products to help you out:
    • Start a blog. Blogging is our side-hustle just over a year ago we didn't think I would bring us any income . You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
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    5 ways to stick to your wedding budget

    While C and I are planning our wedding it is important for us to use our budget wisely. At first we had no real idea of how much things cost for a wedding, but it quickly became clear to us that things can be very expensive (if you allow them to be). We sought to find ways to get the most out of our money and to prioritise it to the areas that mean the most to us. Today we will  be sharing our top five tips to save money and help you stick to your wedding budget. 

    1. Be prepared to negotiate
    Don't assume the price you are quotes is the price you have to go for. Especially if you are in a position to pay in full ask for the opportunity to bring down the price. For our reception we altered the package to remove alcohol (as we are LDS) and canapés and a few elements that were not that important to us. These changes reduced the price by over a 1/3 and meant the venue of our dreams was within our budget. Ask is an off-season or military discounts is applicable, you won't know unless you ask.  

    2. Build your 'foundation'. 

    Start by planning and paying for the things that are absolutely essential for the day (i.e wedding license, ceremony location, attire for bride and groom, photography), from here expand to things that are of high importance (reception location, food, flowers, attire for bridal party). Your essentials are those that should take paramount importance in your budget. We avoided buying 'bits and bobs' and decorative accessorise until the essentials were paid for, that way we know that it is within our budget to buy these things, also it helps prevent impulse buys if you have to go and check if you have all your essentials covered. A good way to do this is to create a list of priorities having three categories (essentials(needs), high importance wants, low importance wants) and assign items to those lists. When looking to purchase something assess what category it falls under and if you are ready to make purchases for that category yet.

    3. Simplify stationary

    Firstly consider what is actually necessary, do you need to send out engagement announcements if you will soon be sending out save the dates? Does every individual attending need a ceremony program? Consider only sending save the dates to out of town guests. We kept our stationary budget low by taking advantage of the many great free printable sites out there (we used this site). By using the designs on the site we were able to create beautiful pocket fold invitations, save the dates and order of service for the fraction of the price we would pay to have it professionally made. I will be uploading a post in the coming weeks on how you too can make beautiful wedding invites on a budget. 

    4. Work your contacts

    Know a budding photographer, a wonderful baker or a musician? Take advantage of your friends and families talents and ask for their help at the wedding. Friends and family discounts are great and sometimes you'll get stuff for free as a wedding gift. We have been fortunate to have a friend offer to play the organ for us at the ceremony and the reception. Whilst another friend is making cakes for us and we just have to cover the cost of the ingredients. Whilst my parents are using their car to drive the bridesmaids around. 

    5. Don't be afraid to use second-hand

    At the end of the day most of what you will use on your wedding day will be used for a matter of hours. We are borrowing some second hand chair covers from a friend. Plus a lot of the decorations we have bough we got second-hand on ebay. Lots of people have barely used wedding items in their home that they are looking to get rid of. In fact I even got my dress second hand on eBay. The dress had been worn once (as to be expected) and was in beautiful condition. I ended up spending £150 on the dress plus £75 for alterations which is a fraction of the $1200 retail price 

    What ways did you manage to save money and help stick to your wedding budget?

    Disease Called Debt

    Don't let black Friday take you into the red

    Over here in the UK black friday is increasingly becoming a bigger event (despite the fact we don't do thanksgiving so it seems odd to have a place in UK culture). It is so easy to get caught up in the moment but don't let black friday drag you into debt (or hinder your progress for getting out of debt).

    Shops love to lure you in with special deals, that get you up at the crack of dawn. The pressure to buy can feel overwhelming. Some easy ways to manage your spending on black friday are

    • Shop on cash (or debit card for online) only. Cant afford to pay cash (or the electronic equivalent) then you can't afford to buy what you are looking at. Take a pre-set amount of cash with you and once it is gone its gone.
    • Plan ahead, if you are going to be making purchased make a list of what you intend to buy (and ensure that they are things you need to buy and can afford). This could include thing that you intend to buy for christmas presents.
    • Stick to your list. When you start to deviate from your pre-set shopping plan that is when the problems arise and you start buying compulsively.
    • Use the method that reduces compulsion the most. Some people find being a physical shop worse than online shopping and visa versa.
    • Take a buddy who will hold you accountable (make sure its not someone who will compel you to buy more) and enjoy the shopping experience together whilst being responsible. 
    As Dave Ramsey puts it 
    via http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/stay-in-the-black?ectid=Pinterest 

    What are Help to Buy ISAs?

    The governments new 'Help to Buy ISA" is launching on December 1. Today's post will explain what this new financial product is and who is is best for. 


    ISA are Individual Savings Accounts they allow for tax free savings up the cap set by the government each financial year.  The Help to Buy ISA is very similar to a cash ISA but there is the opportunity for a bonus. Individuals can save up to £200 a month with an initial deposit of up to £1000 and received a 25% bond.  The maximum that can be saved and receive a bonus is £12,000 and this is topped up to £15,000 when the saver goes to buy a home. 

    The property must be less than $250,000 in London or £250,000 elsewhere. The money must go towards a deposit and not other fees to be able to receive the bonus. 


    It is still not clear how interest rate will fluctuate for these ISAs as It was seen with Junior ISAs that shortly after their introductions rates decreased significantly. 


    It is also not clear how much of your overall ISA allowance you can contribute to Help to Buy and if you will be able to contribute beyond the £12,000.


    The ISA is individual, not based on your household. So both you and your partner (or whoever else you plan on purchasing a house with) could take our a Help to Buy ISA provided that you are both first time buyers. 


    Be aware you cannot open a a cash ISA and HTB in the same tax year. If you have a cash ISA opened this year then it will need to be closed and the balance transferred before opening up a HTB or just wait until the next financial year to start.  Though some banks are offering a split ISA allowing you to hold a cash and HTB ISA at present Nationwide offers the best interest rate for this product. 

    Several banks have signed up to offer the product. Halifax as of present offers the best rates at 4% interest and you are able to transfer the balance of a cash ISA towards the £1000 deposit. 


    How to set and achieve your savings goals

    Setting goals is a fundamental element to any budget. When you are working to get out of debt this is the primary goal. However, its easy to feel lost after you've gotten out of debt and it is therefore, important to set yourself some financial goals. 

    These goals should be a mixture of short, medium and long term. But try not to have too many goals (about 5 in total is best). A common shorter term goal is often having a large emergency fund (of about 6 months to a year worth of expenses). However, you may also wish to save for other things such as DIY projects or holidays. 
    Mid-term goals may include paying off you house, or saving for a down payment if your are yet to get onto the property market. Whilst longer term goals may be retirement, children's college and school funds. 

    Whatever goals you choose to set it is important that they are attainable. Below are some top tips to making this goals achievable
    • Have a start date- it is so easy to postpone and procrastinate about starting to do something. Stop talking and start acting. Even if it means simply setting up a standing order to a savings account for the money to come out in the near future. Taking a positive action towards a goal is rewarding and has the same snowball effect as when paying of debt.
    • Have a end date- There will be points at which it is hard to maintain the goal and it seems like the easier option is to just quit. Having an end date to aim for helps with this. An end may be a time or a financial amount. It will also help you to calculate how much you need to save on monthly basis (or however often you save). 
    • Make sure the goals you have set are for you and your family. If you are setting a goals so you can 'keep up with the Jones' then it will be destined for failure. 
    • Use a visual- I love spreadsheets and these help me to visualise our finical situation and I also find them very motivating. However, some people like to use visual progress charts. 
    • Celebrate achieving a goal and break goals into smaller goals worth celebrating. 
    • Keep your savings system as simple as possible- having regular payments on standing order is usually the easiest way to manage a savings goal 
    • Dont overly restrict- Now you are out of debt, not every penny you have has to go towards your goals. Don't overload yourself with pressure but allow some money in your budget to enjoy life with. 
    What financial goals do you have at the moment?
    Disease Called Debt

    Why life is better debt free

    We are loving being debt free and the blessings it has brought into our lives. We are thankful for our journey to becoming debt free and hope that the lessons we have learned will stay with us throughout our lives (and prevent us getting into more debt). Today we are sharing some of the reasons why we are loving life so much now we are debt free. 




    1. We can plan for our future
    We are in a position now where we are able to plan for our futures. For us this involves getting our masters debt free and saving for a house deposit. Before when there was debt in the situation that had to be the priority of the focus and it detracted from our goals of the future. 

    2. The burden is lighter
    We don't have to worry about who we owe. We don't feel enslaved to a lender (Proverbs 22:7). We can live our lives as we want not bound by the constraints of another. The budget is able to be a little bit more relaxed and luxuries we cut out we can enjoy every now and again. The stress is considerably less, there is no worrying about going into overdrafts (incidentally C has now cancelling his overdraft when we got rid of the card). Less stress means less of a strain on our relationship. Rows about money just don't seem to happen anymore, we are on the same page and working towards the same goals. 

    3. We can do things we enjoy
    We can do activities or go on date nights without it being an issue. Since being debt free we can allocate more money to these areas of the budget (without going overboard). We are looking forward to visiting extended family over the Christmas holidays when we plan to go on a short road trip. These are treats that we can afford to include in the budget now we don't have to worry about paying down debt. 

    4. We can give more generously
    My family instilled in me the importance of giving to charity when you can and for many years sponsored children in less fortunate financial situations. When you live paycheck to paycheck there is little or no room in the budget to give. When we give we both give and receive blessings in our lives, being in a position to give is such a rewarding experience. Being able to pay it forward is such a wonderful way to make use of your money. 

    What do you love about being debt free
    brokeGIRLrich

    1 simple tip to reduce food waste

    Sometimes it can be hard to avoid food waste, even if you are diligent with your meal planning. You may have not needed as much as you expected, or unexpected been out of the house and not eaten a certain meal. But this shouldn't mean that we have to let good food go to waste. Today I'll share my favourite tip for avoiding food waste by turning leftovers into delicious meals. Granted this really only applies to vegetables (but for us this is where most of our food waste occurs).


    Turn it into soup

    Winter is coming and soups are a great dish for all the family. Plus put them in Tupperware and they store really well in the freezer. Soups are so simple to make and it doesnt matter if your food is no longer looking its best. They are great for pack-lunches and if you don't have a microwave at work/college then consider taking it in a thermos flask. Below I'm sharing one of my favourite recipes as we find carrots can be going off but are still great for in a soup. 

    Simple carrot and coriander soup recipe

    Ingredients
    1lb of carrots
    2 pint of stock
    1-2 onions sliced
    Coriander to season (fresh is preferable but not essential)
    Little bit of butter/ oil

    Method

    1. Brown the onion in the butter oil for a few minutes.
    2. Add the carrots and the stock and bring to the boil.
    3. Allow to simmer until carrots are soft.
    4. Blend the soup to the desired smoothness.
    5. Add coriander to season.
    6. N.B you can also use a slow cooker to cook the soup in. 

    How to store your soup
    - Store in an air tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days
    - Store in tupperware in the freezer for up to a month
    - For easy portioning pour into plastic cups and freeze. Then once frozen take out of the cups and put in a zip lock bag- I saw this idea on Pinterest a while ago and love it. This works even better with silicone cups as it means you can reuse them time and time again. 

    brokeGIRLrich

    How to reduce your water bill

    The cost of utilities can feel like its spiralling out of control. But utilities bills are one of the easiest areas we can save money. Making a few simple changes to your habits can have a big impact on your bill. This tips are especially useful if you are on a meter bill rather than direct debits. Check out this tips to cut your water bill.



    1. Hand-wash rather than using a dishwasher. Using a bowl of water uses considerably less water that washing using a dishwasher. Consider (depending on the size of your family) washing up every other day (or every few days) so that the water goes further and washes up more. Plus hand washing saves on the electric bill as well.
    2. Shower rather than bath. Showers are much more efficient, and the shorter the shower the more efficient, try to keep them less than 4 minutes. We alternate shower days with 'strip-wash' days which use even less water and completely avoid filling the bath. 
    3. Use your washing machine when it is full. Be efficient with your washing, putting it on when the load is full rather than doing lots of little loads. I find that if I'm going to run out of anything it is underwear so I will often hand wash this if I have run out. If you find it hard to get a full load try using a colour catcher so you can put both dark and light clothing in the same wash
    4. Car wash with a bucket. Using a bucket and sponge rather than a hose when car washing is a much more efficient way of using water. Using a hose can use unto 140 gallons when washing your car, using a bucket is a fraction of this amount. If you can't use a bucket try getting an automatic shut off nozzle as this can save up to 70 gallons per wash.
    5. Collect rain water. Using a water but to collect water for use in the garden and for washing your car isa  grey way to reduce you bill as these are activities that do not required sanitised water. What you are really paying for in you water bill is the cost of purifying and distributing the water so why not use the free stuff when you can. 
    6. Flush efficiently. People used to put bricks in to displace water and reduce the amount being used when fluxed however nowadays you can get bags filled with silicon gel that do the same job, these bags save about 30% of the water per flush. However, if you have a newer toilet with a dual flush function be sure to use it. Though a little gross the 'if its yellow let it mellow' rule works quite well at night time and again reduces the amount of flushes. 
    brokeGIRLrich

    10 personal finance moves you should make in your 20s

    It can feel like your going to be in the care-free twenties forever. But 30, is not far round the corner and there are a few personal finance goals to work towards before you hit the big 30. 




    Emergency fund fully funded
    This means you should have saved approximately 6 months of expenses (not income). Contribution to this should come after debts have been paid off. An emergency fund is such an important part of your financial portfolio and is really the gateway to a more financially comfortable lifestyle even when things get a little rocky. Make creating an emergency fund one of your financial priorities until it is fully funded. 

    Regular contributions to retirement plan of 10-15%

    Making consistent payments towards retirement throughout life is the sure fast way to having a care free retirement pot. Aim to contribute 10-15% and look for matched contributions by your employer.

    Pay off student loan debt (and any other debt) 

    So you've graduation nows the time to start paying off that debt you accumulated. Try to pay it off before making big financial commitments like buying a home so to allow you to have a clean slate to work from.Plus avoid accumulating any more debt.Just avoid debt, it really is that simple. If you are budgeting properly and have a fully funded emergency fund then this should be well within your ability. Work on prioritising how you spend your money to allow you to avoid debt. Stick to debit vs credit cards to allow control of how and when you spend you money. 

    Have a debt free wedding

    Weddings are very expensive the average wedding costs £18,000. When preparing for a wedding be conscious of the costs and look for opportunities to be frugal. Work within you budget and don't be afraid to haggle for a better price. 

    Make regular automated savings

    Making saving a priority and a regular occurrence means that you won't feel it and before not too long you will have a health savings pot. Set up a standing order to make automated savings from your current account. 

    Be saving/ have saved for a deposit on a house of at 10% (20%+ is preferred)

    Saving to put a deposit down is a big stage. It is important to save enough. Avoid the added costs of having too small a deposit. Aim for at least 20% but the higher the better. 

    Take out life insurance 

    If you have a spouse or dependents it is super important to take out life insurance incase of you sudden death. As you go through your twenties it becomes increasingly important to take out a policy and they can be for very little monthly payments. 

    Buy a car, second-hand.

    Cars depreciate in value very quickly, therefore it is better to invest your money in a second hand car where the rate of depreciation has began to slow down as most of the money is lost when you drive it off the forecourt. And most importantly buy it with cash!!

    Prepare a will

    You now have assets and possibly dependents, and you need to ensure that they are provided for in the case of your death. It is important and often overlooked by those in their 20s to prepare a will. It will make things a lot easier for everyone if you die. It is also important as it can help reduce the amount of inherence tax paid. 

    Learn to enjoy money within your means

    This is probably the biggest move as it is more about you attitude towards money and it is an attitude you will want to take with you for the rest of you life. Learning how to budget, and determine needs vs wants are key skills for being able to do this. Money, when managed well can bring great joy. But it is not the source of all happiness, it is a healthy relationship with money that will bring the most from it. 


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      If you are new to our blog, we are all about finding new ways for students and millennials to make and save money. Here are some of our favourite sites and products to help you out:
      • Start a blog. Blogging is our side-hustle just over a year ago we didn't think I would bring us any income . You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
      • Save money with gift cards Whether its for buying clothes, your weekly shop or dining out use Zeek to buy discounted gift cards to get more bang for your buck. 
      • Use Swagbucks for your online searches. Swagbucks is a passive way to earn gift cards. Over the course of a year you could earn $500.  Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded “points called SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough Swagbucks, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. Receive $5 for signing up today.
      • Try matched betting. Matched betting is a great way to may easy money online. Despite the name it is not gambling and could see you earn £500-£1000 a month for only a couple of hours work a day see here and here. For your free trial head to profit accumulator or join the Facebook 'getting started' group.  
      • Sign up for a cashback site like Quidco. where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free £10 bonus!

      We're Debt FREE

      The big day has come and the credit card is finally paid off for good. Over the past 7 months C's paid off over £2400 (as a college student). As previously mentioned in my post about being engaged to someone with debt I personally have found this a very humbling experience. As someone has always prided herself on her financial sensibility to have to deal with debt has made me grow and become more considerate to others. Though it has been tough, especially in the beginning, C and I's relationship has grown much stronger for it and I am thankful for the challenges we have been given. 

      For C the amount seems pretty overwhelming and difficult to cut down. However, once he realised that if broken down into monthly chunks of on average £350 it was much more manageable. By creating a plan with smaller term goals we were able to feel constant progress. C's credit card was 0% interest until this November (so it was essentially a free loan), so the challenge was initially to pay it off before interest kicks in. However, when we realised we could pay it off before the next academic year that was when the goal was set. Now in September 2014 (two weeks before class starts) we are able to say that the goal was met. 





      Debt Kicking Changes

      - We made paying the debt a priority. It is one of the first things to get paid after payday. Meaning the rest of the month revolves around how much we put towards debt. Rather than paying it at the end of the month where you can end up overspending in other areas because you forget about the payment.
      - Making our own lunches. This is a simple way to save approx. £3 a day. We opt for pasta and a tomato sauce most days.
      - Cutting down how often we eat out (and how much we spend eating out). Eating out is a big part of our social life and so it has been hard to cut back. Encouraging pot lucks, and having dinner at home with friends has been a great option so that we don't lose out on the social side. 
      - C move job locations so that he could be contracted for more hours and pick up more overtime resulting a increase in his paycheque 
      - We had a lodger in our lounge for 6 weeks. Though not intentionally a side hustle at first (rather just helping a friend out) it managed to bring in about £300.
      - C sold some of his holiday (that he wasn't going to use) at work to get some extra cash raising about £200

      In hindsight we probably could have had it paid of sooner. We had a holiday booked during this period before the decision was made to focus on becoming debt free. Had we not had taken would have cut the paying off time down by a few months. But as we were not battling with interest rates we were not feeling bound to be super 'gazelle intense'. However, this is very limited to our circumstances and not something I would generally advocate during a debt free process. 




      Share your debt free journey with us below by commenting.
      Disease Called Debt

      ______________________________________________________


        If you are new to our blog, we are all about finding new ways for students and millennials to make and save money. Here are some of our favourite sites and products to help you out:
        • Start a blog. Blogging is our side-hustle just over a year ago we didn't think I would bring us any income . You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
        • Save money with gift cards Whether its for buying clothes, your weekly shop or dining out use Zeek to buy discounted gift cards to get more bang for your buck. 
        • Use Swagbucks for your online searches. Swagbucks is a passive way to earn gift cards. Over the course of a year you could earn $500.  Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded “points called SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough Swagbucks, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. Receive $5 for signing up today.
        • Try matched betting. Matched betting is a great way to may easy money online. Despite the name it is not gambling and could see you earn £500-£1000 a month for only a couple of hours work a day see here and here. For your free trial head to profit accumulator or join the Facebook 'getting started' group.  
        • Sign up for a cashback site like Quidco. where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free £10 bonus!