Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Morning Routine

 Did you know that one in ten people only washes their hair once or less a week? I was so jealous when I read this statistic for a campaign that Pebble Grey, a company specialising in online bathroom accesories conducted (you should definitely check out their website - I am in love with their bathroom ideas page!). Talk about being jealous. I'd love to get away with that! Unfortunately, I have very fine hair so this is not an option for me but it did get me thinking about my morning routine which is shamefully very basic. I'm quite lazy! Especially when my bed looks as pretty as this...

 However, I do like to leave myself plenty of time in the mornings - there is nothing worse than feeling rushed and stressed out before you have even walked out of the door. Leaving myself time gives me a chance to relax in the mornings, and feel truly prepared for a day at work! I start my day with a short, but super sweet shower - at the moment I have been loving Imperial Leather's sweet shower gel range: the marshmallow one is divine. If I'm not washing my hair, I'm definitely rocking the Frozen shower cap..No shame here!

 I must admit, I'm far too lax with my skincare. I don't wash my face with products everyday, and I definitely should, but I find that on the whole my skin is pretty good and when I do put product on it it makes it worse. I tend to properly cleanse my face before bed to clean the icky stuff off my face. So a face wash in the shower is as good as it gets. In the Winter, I'll use moisturizer before I go but I don't tend to wear make up.

One of the things I am specific about is definitely brushing my teeth. It's something I make sure I do no matter what - it can be so easy to get comfy in bed and just not want to brush your teeth but it is so important. Last pay-day I treated myself to an electric toothbrush which was very adult of me if I may say so myself.

I would never brush my teeth before my morning breakfast and cuppa tea though! They are my STAPLES in my morning routine. Tea is comforting, and breakfast gives me the energy I need for a busy morning. This is easily my favourite part of my morning; the relaxing time before I get ready for my day. By the time I've finished - I'm ready to leave the house ready for a day at work!

What do you do in the mornings? Do you have a routine?

*PR collaboration

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

If You're Saving For A House

 If you've been reading Suitcase and Sandals for a while, you'll know that Dan and I are currently saving to buy our own house. This can be exciting, and disheartening all at once, because I don't really need to remind everyone how expensive buying a house can be these days...Although I'm not 100% clued up financially in any way at all, I thought it might be helpful to share what I have learnt since starting to save for a house. I've actually written a separate post about saving money, so this one is more focused on the practical tips and things you can do to prepare for buying a house. We're a little way off actually buying one but everything you do now, will help you buy later!

If only I could afford this beauty of a house...

Check your Credit Score

Some sights may require payment for this but if you use noddle, it is completely free. Always a bonus! Checking to see if you have a good credit score will be beneficial because the better your score is, the more attractive you will be as potential buyers. Things like being on the electoral roll will improve your credit score so this is something worthwhile doing - obviously for more reasons than just getting your credit score - use your vote wisely!

Get a Credit Card

 This is something that has been recommended to us a few times. If you are worried about it, you could always set up a direct debit so that you know you will pay it back every single month. If I decide to get one, I'll definitely only be putting things like my petrol on it so that it's not a huge expense. This will help boost your credit score too so that is definitely a plus.

Know your stuff

Before researching into it a little bit, I didn't really understand all of the hidden costs of buying a house. Obviously, a deposit is necessary but naively, I didn't even consider the solicitor's costs which are going to be very important. You'll also need to consider things like buying a lease-hold property (usually flats) or a free-hold property. There are lots more things I need to learn but even having a vague idea helps.

Saving Strategies

There are so many schemes out there for first time buyers. I'd recommend doing some research and then making a choice about the type of scheme you want to go for. There are some where you can add a government loan to your mortgage, and others where the government will give you a quarter of what you are saving when you buy the house. There will be a right one and a wrong one so everyone, so do you research!

Look into your mortgage

Despite being a little way off yet, I know how much of a mortgage I am likely to get from a few different places. I think this is important because it cements a goal of saving. Even though you will have a rough idea anyway, this will help you to realise your budget for buying a house - which in turn will help you have an idea of places you can afford i.e where I live absolutely nowhere!

These are most practical tips about preparing yourself to buy the house, although you'll probably want to find a blog post about the actual process as I haven't done this yet of course. I'd love to read some more posts about this so if you have one please link it to me.

What advice would you give to someone either saving for, or buying, a house?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Combating Tiredness

 I've been trying to combat a serious case of tiredness lately. At first, I thought I might be anaemic, but it appears not. Being brutally honest, I can't really think of a time when I wasn't tired - but after trying to combat my tiredness in recent weeks, I thought I'd share a few of the things I have been trying. Believe it or not, I have noticed a difference in how I've been feeling since I started to change things up a little bit. It's nice to finally see a change, and have some manageable ways to deal with being tired, because it can be one of the most frustrating things ever!

Unrelated picture, but a cute bedside table also helps with combating tiredness (obviously!)
  • Having Breakfast - It's pretty much one of the cardinal sins these days to not have breakfast in the morning, and I am jumping on that wagon for sure. As much as I hate to admit it, having breakfast has made such a huge difference. I feel a lot brighter in the mornings, and actually have some energy.
  • Keep Busy - Doing nothing can breed tiredness. I always find it a lot harder when I don't do anything because my body relaxes almost too much it makes me feel tired - even if I've had plenty of sleep and feel good in myself. This is one of the most frustrating things, but keeping busy definitely helps with this!
  • Get Active - Dan and I have started going to badminton once a week, which is not only great fun, but I do always sleep so well after we've been out and been active. I try to swim once a week too which definitely helps me to sleep better because it is great exercise. Hopefully I keep a steady routine up (Disclaimer: things have been a bit slow of the Badminton/Swimming front since I wrote this)!
  • Acceptance - Life can be busy, and you will be tired. Sometimes, you just have to accept that you are tired (and not question the reasons why) and take that nap, or have that lie-in! It can make you feel so much better in yourself, and if you're tired you won't work as well as you could do.
  • Water, water, water! - Being hydrated always makes me feel better. It gets rid of the pesky headaches that keep returning to me at the moment, and makes me feel more awake. I try and drink the recommended amount everyday but sometimes it's easy to loose track of how much I've drunk!
  • Fresh Sheets - Sleep is TEN times better with fresh sheets, if not more. I love getting into bed with the fresh sheet smell and feel, it's a guaranteed good nights sleep for me!
 Perhaps these aren't the most comprehensive tips for dealing with being tired, but as they have been working for me it's worth sharing, even if it only helps one other person. No-one likes being tired but finding ways to cope with it and give yourself some more energy can be great. I never believed my family, but having breakfast really has been a game-changer!

How do you cope with being tired?

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Top 5 Saving Tips

 The time in my life has finally come where I need to be seriously saving. I'm in a stable job, and I'd like to buy a house so saving is high on my priorities at the moment. It's going quite well so far, so fingers crossed for this saving stint to continue successfully! Getting used to saving can be quite challenging initially, but as I've finally got the hang of it, I thought I'd share my top tips, as a subtle reminder to myself, and to maybe help someone else out.

Be Realistic

 Saving is not the most exciting thing on the planet, but being realistic will help it feel much less like a chore, and so much more like a habit. I set myself a decent amount to save monthly, with some scope to save more if I can (which I've actually done every month!). If you make it a realistic amount, then you can work with it. Some months I'll save almost double my target, and other months I've been able to pay for things like my trip to Amsterdam in April. I think the key to saving it to make sure you don't feel like you are missing out.

Secret Saving

 Once you hit a certain age, you realise that you will pretty much have to include some element of saving for the rest of your life. Whether that is budgeting, or properly saving, it will have to be done. By having money banks that you slip the odd note into, or put all spare pounds and pennies in, the money will quickly add up. You almost forget that you have been saving there, and that will be a great surprise for you when you finally realise how much you have in it.

Planning for the Future

 It's sort of linked to the point above, in the sense that you will need savings in the many years to come, so why not start now. I've already started popping a bit of money into a pension so that when the time comes, I'll be doing alright for myself, and I won't need to panic. It doesn't have to be much at all, but every little does help. Your future elderly self will thank your youthful genius for thinking ahead and planning things so you can truly live life to the full, to the end.

Question Yourself

 "Do I really need it? Will I wear it? Do I actually even like it, or am I just drawn to it because it's such a bargain?". Questioning everything you buy will be a great way to realise that actually, most of the time you don't really NEED those Topshop shoes, despite them being an absolute steal. Getting into this mentality now will only do you favours, and it will be satisfying to know that not only are you saving money, but you are also saving yourself the stress of adding more to your floordrobe. (I'm definitely still working on this one...)

Think of the end goal

 It might suck to feel like you constantly have to save, but the end goal will be so worth it in the end. Whether it is that holiday destination you've wanted to go to for your whole life, or buying your first ever house, it will be such a great feeling knowing you've done it, and you saved for that all by yourself. I can't wait for the satisfaction of knowing my saving has all been worth while.

 Hopefully I'll up my saving game even more soon to be able to reach my goals. The way I've been saving at the moment has meant I've still had some spare money to go a little bit crazy so in the next couple of months I'll be looking to cut back and save as much as I can.

What are your top tips for saving? 
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