100 Ways To Save Money in 2021

This year has been tough, with many people having job insecurity and a reduced income. However, there are some things you can do though to save money, so let's have a look at what they are and hopefully you will be able to reduce your outgoings and make your life a little easier.

Food


1. Check out the reduced aisle, usually late in the day for the best reductions. Ask a member of staff when this is for some insider information. 

2. Look for special offers in the supermarket but only buy if you would use them anyway. It can save time if you check the supermarkets' website in advance of special offers. 

3. Try supermarkets own items, rather than branded goods. Some are very good, for example, Morrisons own fresh orange juice is excellent, Tescos bran flakes are very good too. My husband used to be a big brand person but not any more!

4. Shop online with supermarkets. This will help you plan your meals for the week and take advantage of special offers you can see online. It will also stop you buying when you smell the fresh bread being piped through the shop.

5. Sign up to supermarket loyalty cards for vouchers and special offers. Tesco Clubcard is very good, you get points for spend and these convert to vouchers.  Vouchers can be used for food or for things like railcards, theme park tickets and more. 

6. Always make a meal plan for the week ahead if possible and try not to go off this. This can help you avoid waste as you only buy what you need and plan the most cost-effective meals.  

7. Bulk cook for the week ahead. This can save money by meal planning.

8. Invest in a slow cooker. Ok, this is actually spending money but slow cookers use the amount of heat of a lightbulb and make cheaper cuts of meat tender.

9. Grown your own fruit and veg. You can even grow potatoes in a bucket and herbs on a window shelf if you haven't got a garden or allotment.

10. Check out your local market for cheap fruit and veg. Some may reduce prices at the end of the day too.

Household

shower


11. Save energy. Turn off things you don't need like lights when you leave a room, and put the heating on only when you need it. Instead, put on a jumper or get a blanket when sitting on the sofa if you are cold.

12. Buy or make an old fashioned draught excluded for doors. Something simple like that can keep your home cosy and keep out the cold.

13, Check out the best broadband deals in your area by using a comparison site. You could also get better download speeds, so its a win-win situation. 

14. Shop around for your utilities.  Always a great way to save money and its usually easy to swap. 

15. Single household? A water meter may save you money. My mum saves loads by using a water meter.  Be sure then to take showers rather than baths, and fix any leaky taps.

16. Make sure you are in the right council tax band. It only takes you 10 minutes to check with your local council. 

17. Cancel direct debits and standing orders you don't need. You may be surprised by how many you don't need. 

18. Look at the costs of remortgaging. This can save you money if you are on a variable rate. A mortgage advisor can help.

19. Check if you are entitled to any energy grants. These grants will help you save money on energy bills and you become more eco-friendly too.

20. Pay off your debts first before you save as this will almost always save you money on any charges.

Kids

kids

21. If you have a baby, the local National Childbirth Trust has nearly new sales, as well as trying other places to buy second hand like Facebook groups, Gumtree, and eBay.

22.  Don't think you have to buy everything new. Some things are fine second hand, check out the usual sites for these. If you have friends that have kids maybe they have baby items they no longer need. Things will need to be thoroughly cleaned, old fabric toys can be hand-washed, plastic toys should be wiped over with antibacterial cleaner. Car Seats and mattresses should be bought new though due to safety. 

23. Two ways to save on nappies are use reusable or supermarket own brands. With reusable you have the initial outlay, then you have to buy liners and of course you have to clean the nappies. 

24. Join clubs for discounts like Boots Baby cCub, Asda and Baby Toddler club, Tescos Baby club, and Bounty. 

25. Make your own baby food and freeze in portions. It's not that hard and saves on jars of baby food.

26. Have a kids birthday? Limit the amount you spend, check out second-hand electronics, Amazon used or open box items, shops like Cash Converters, charity shops, car boot sales, local Facebook groups.

27. Supermarkets have some well-priced clothes these days and are great for school uniform. If you can buy a school badge and sew it on this can save money. 

28. Check out if the school sells old school uniform or will give you school uniforms that haven't been collected at the end of the year. If not put out a request in local groups, you will be surprised how generous people can be.

29. Shop in sales where you can for clothes, especially things that are expensive like shoes and trainers, and if you can, it's worth buy clothes up the next size for future use.

30. Pool together a group of friends or family members that can help with babysitting at no or little cost. Always a good idea to give a gift to say thanks if its a one off.

Luxuries 

prosecco


31. 
Buy Cava or Prosecco instead of champagne for a special event to save money. Pour it in the kitchen where no one can see the bottle and it's harder to tell!

32. Do your own pedicure or manicure. Although this will be a small investment at first in nail polish, files and other equipment, it can save on average £20-£30 a time. 

33. If you want a hair cut ask your local barbers, they may do it for you at a cheaper price than at a hairdressers as many are unisex these days.  Alternatively,  get a friend to do it.

34. Check out Groupon for spa breaks, manicures, pedicures, massages and the like.

35. Ban or cut down on takeaway coffees. Instead buy a flask and make drinks to take with you when you are out and about and at work, or get a reusable coffee cup and make a drink to take with you. This can save you an average of £3 a time.

36. Buy your flowers from the supermarket rather than a florist. I've found they often last longer. Remove the label and add a posh bow to make them look more upmarket.

37. Buy expensive items like designer bags and luggage in outlet stores. I have a great Coach bag I bought in an outlet in the US at a third of the price. Macarthur Glen is a local outlet close to me that I get many bargains. 

38. Going on a cruise or to an exclusive party or event? Buy diamond substitutes like CZ or moissanite at a fraction of the price of diamonds, and no one will really know. 

39. Rent a dress. You can rent designer clothes for special occasions and then return it for a much smaller cost than owning the item outright. Great for weddings or a special event.

40. Make your own canapes for entertaining. There are a number of great recipes blogs out there or go old fashioned and buy a recipe book. 

Birthdays


41. Make a cake. If you are not sure how YouTube has some great how-to videos, or crack open a recipe book and go old school.

42. Have a party at home instead of paying for an organised event. This can save a fortune. 

43. Put a budget on the present. It's the thought that counts. 

44. Make a present. From homemade fudge to simple jewellery, to knitting a jumper, a homemade present is always thought of well. 

45. Make your own pinata. This is a decorated figure of an animal containing toys and sweets that is suspended from a height. You then blindfold some kids and they have fun hitting it with a stick until it breaks apart.

46. Combine birthdays with others. This can help cut costs if you have to hire a venue.

47. Get decorations from the local pound store. It's cheaper to buy usually than make yourself these days.

48. Organise cheap or free birthday activities yourself.  It's not hard to draw a donkey for pin the tail on the donkey, play charades, organise a scavenger hunt or write some famous names on paper for Guess Who.

49. Give a voucher for a skill-based gift. Maybe you can offer an afternoon babysitting, an hour walking the dog or something else.

50. Design and create your own birthday invitations. 

Christmas


51. Agree to buy presents just for kids.

52. Put an amount limit on presents, perhaps £10 each to stop you over spending and getting carried away. It will limit expectations and stop people over spending on you too.

53. Buy a chicken instead of a turkey which will less at Christmas,  or take advantage of meat on special offer. Beef can be cheap at this time of the year. 

54. Make a present. You will get the satisfaction of making a gift that a lot of thought has gone into and it could save you money too. Homemade fudge, homemade chutney and homemade Christmas cake are just some ideas. 

55. This one takes a little planning but buying in the January sales for next year can save a load of money.

56. Compare postage delivery services to save money if you have to post gifts at Christmas (and year-round too). Parcel 2 Go is one such site for postage comparison. 

57. Make your own beer or wine for Christmas. There are kits available and if you like the result it can save you in the long run too.

58. Print out free Christmas colouring pages to get the kids in the mood. Many are found online.

59. Make your own Christmas decorations with the kids. This will keep them busy, save on bought decorations and you have a souvenir for years to come.

60. Buy your Christmas food frozen. This will often save you money on buying the ingredients fresh if you on a limited budget and you won't have any waste.

Vacation


61. If you can, go out of high season. This can save you a fortune. Avoid school holidays like the height of the summer, Easter, Spring Break in the US and local holidays to your destination. 

62. Sign up to your favourite hotels' emails or loyalty schemes to keep ahead of special offers and sales. 

63. Shop around for hotels. I use a comparison site like Trivago, check on Expedia and Booking.com then go to the hotels' own site to compare the best prices.

64. Use flight comparison sites like Kayak.com or Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. Then I recommend booking with the airlines direct as if you book through a third party you may have problems in they go bust. 

65. Take hand luggage on airlines to save money on luggage cost. Many airlines will allow you to take a carry on bag for free which is great for a short break but double-check the terms and conditions first.

66. Look for free or low-cost activities when on holiday. This is especially good for families. Check out the beach, nature reserves and the local parks. Many museums are free in the UK, and often museums have free kids activities to make learning accessible.

67. Save on train tickets by buying in advance, travelling off-peak if you can, and buying a railcard. Alternatively, will the bus be cheaper? Compare prices and weigh up the pros and cons of saving money versus the time it takes to get to your destination. Travelling by a low cost bus service like Megabus can save a fortune too. 

68. Going self-catering can save you money on eating out if you don't mind cooking. If you don't mind more basic accommodation check out hostels.

69. Consider hiring a car abroad vs taxis vs taking the underground or walking. If you are hiring a car for a day it can often be cheaper than a transfer. If you want to take a taxi consider the Uber or Bolt app, if they are available to save money at your destination. If you are thinking of hiring a car using a comparison site like rentagile.com can save you pounds on car hire by finding the best deals. On the underground, a weeks ticket may work out cheaper than daily tickets so compare the costs. Of course, walking is the cheapest of all. 

70. Book your parking in advance. If your accommodation doesn't provide free parking, if you book your parking in advance it could save you money. First, check with the hotel or accommodation provider then check out sites like Just Park in the UK.  Holiday Extras is great for airport parking and will compare different parking options, as well as offering you a discount if you sign up to their emails. 

Eating out


71. Check out restaurant deals and vouchers. For example on Tuesday, Dominos do special offers like buy one pizza get one free. It's always a good idea to sign up to your favourite restaurant's email lists for special offers.  In the US they do many restaurant offers and coupons.

72. Eat out at early times, lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner, pre-theatre meals usually before 7 can be an excellent price.

73. Check if any restaurants in your area allow you to bring your own alcohol. Sometimes they will charge a small corkage charge but it could still save you money. 

74. If you can't finish your meal ask to take the leftovers. Everyone does it in the US, and this can be a free lunch for you the next day.  Just be sure to store and reheat properly, and never reheat rice as it can give you food poisoning. 

75. Don't order alcohol with your meal. Instead have a drink at home before you come out, or a drink at home when you return, or just have soft drinks.

76. Tap water is almost always safe in Europe. Drink tap water unless you are in a destination where it is not advised. 

77. Use loyalty cards for money off and freebies. Greggs, Costa Coffee, and KFC are some such cards.

78. Some places allow you to eat for free on your birthday or give you free starters or desserts. Again, sign up to their emails lists for offers and discounts on your birthday. 

79. Become a mystery diner. Sites such as mysterydiner.net allow you to eat out for free in exchange for feedback. 

80. Learn to recreate your favourite restaurant meals so you can save money at home. There are some great fakeaways recipes online.

Miscellaneous


81. Use cashback sites like Top Cashback and Quidco. I've saved over £1500 with Quidco over the years. 

82. Cancel your gym membership. Instead, exercise at home or outdoors. A small investment in equipment like weights, resistance bands and exercise videos can save you in the long run, and walking or jogging is free, you just need some loose clothing and suitable trainers. 

83. Make your own clothes. A small investment in a sewing machine can save you money in the long run. There are many local adult education courses up and down the country, tutorials on YouTube, blog posts and books on how to sew out there. 

84. Make your own furnishings. You can save a fortune making your own curtains which is particularly good if your windows are not a standard size.

85. Check your mobile phone rate. Do you really use the minutes provided? Give your mobile phone provider a ring or shop around for a better deal if you are out of the contract.

86. Dust off your bike. Cycling can save money if you cycle to work or to the shops, and is great for your health saving on gym membership too. 

87. Want to reduce waste? Apps like Olio and Too Good To Go are great! You can pick up a bargain with free or cheap food that individuals, restaurants and supermarkets are discounting or giving away for free.

88. If you don't drive much, check if your insurance company offers a low mileage discount on car insurance. Many are doing it due to the COVID situation. Admiral and LV are two such companies. 

89. Carshare. If you need to travel to work or even a shopping trip can you car share? This saves money on petrol and parking and it also better for the environment. Of course, offer a contribution towards costs. 

90. Take up comping. Entering competitions can be a great way of winning things you want and need as well as winning presents for other people. Start now for winning presents for next Christmas thus saving you money! This is especially good if you have the time to put it. I used to do this myself and I've won hotel stays, hampers and electronics in the past.

91. Hunt out cheap fuel. Many supermarkets are the cheapest for petrol and diesel and you can also earn supermarket loyalty points which can add up to money off. I particularly like Tescos myself.

92. If you are a health care worker, check if you can sign up for the Blue Light Card which will give you discounts worldwide. If you are a member of a union but don't work in the health service you may have something similar too.

93. Skip the movie theatre food and drink. Have food before you go or buy some to take in with you from a local supermarket. Most places will let you bring in snacks and drinks, just don't flaunt it.

94. Avoid extended warranties. Most of the time they are overpriced. If worried put that amount in a savings account to cover any potential breakdowns.

95. If you like a drink on vacation, check out the Happy Hours. Drinks are usually much cheaper and you may get some great appetisers on special offer too.

96. Check out local ethnic supermarkets. These are great for specialist food at excellent prices. For example, a Chinese supermarket often has the best prices on rice if you are buying in bulk. 

97. Swap with your friends. This can work for DVDs, Blu-Rays, games and even clothes.

98. Check out the local library. This is especially good if you have kids. You can borrow books for free and some have films to hire for a nominal fee. 

99. Check out the baby aisle in the supermarket for cheap wipes, cleansing cream and shampoo. Especially good if you have sensitive skin at a fraction of the price of specialist products.

100. Use your phone as a Sat Nav. This is a great idea as most smartphones have Google maps these days and it saves you buying one or renting one for road trips abroad. You can also download the directions to use offline using free internet service saving mobile data and roaming.

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So this is 100 ways to save money in 2021.  Are there any ideas here you'd have never thought of? Let me know if I've missed something off this list!

The Benefits Of Bamboo

Bamboo is a useful material that has many benefits. Hailed as a wonder material it's naturally produced, sustainable and has a number of great properties. There aren't many materials that are as sustainable and eco-friendly as bamboo. So let's have a look at the benefits of bamboo and it's use in modern society. This is an ad.

What is bamboo?

bamboo

Bamboo is an evergreen perennial flowering plant,  found in Asia, Australia, North and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, taking only a year to grow to size again and being naturally prolific and resilient it's an incredibly useful plant.

Sustainability

bamboo

Bamboo is natural and biodegradable, which makes it an important plant. No pesticides are used when growing bamboo, little water is used and this makes a good sustainable choice. 

Bamboo also absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate higher than cotton and releases more oxygen into the environment. Each square metre of bamboo produces 10 times more product than cotton, so that's excellent as well.

Uses

bamboo matting

Bamboo has many uses in food, wood and clothing.

The bamboo shoot is eaten in Asian cuisine and is the main food of the panda bear. In the UK we eat it mainly as an ingredient in stir fry. They are low in fat, low in calories and contain lots of fibre and potassium.

Its wood is used in Asian architecture, furniture and landscaping.  It is naturally bendy so is used for items which need some flexibility like fishing rods. When it goes through the manufacturing process it can become really hard and this is then used for flooring. Bamboo is also used for many uses in the kitchen such as chopping boards, chopsticks and bamboo matting for sushi. 

Another use for bamboo, and perhaps a surprising one is for clothing.

Clothing

underwear

Bamboo clothing has become popular in recent years. 

It's a durable fibre and long lasting which is good for the environment. It also absorbs well, keeping moisture away from the skin,  a term called moisture wicking.  This makes it good for work out gear. It's a breathable material and hypoallergenic as well. 

One of the best properties though is that bamboo clothing is super soft and comfortable to wear making it perfect for clothes that are close to the skin such as underwear, T-shirts and socks.

Bamigo clothing

bamboo boxer shorts

There are a number of companies producing bamboo clothing, such as Bamigo who produce bamboo loungewear for men, and other bamboo clothing such as socks, t-shirts and underwear. Their clothing is wonderfully soft as well as breathable, and they are proud of the superb comfort and fit of their clothes.  Of course, the clothes are sustainable too and long-lasting. 

So as you can see there are many benefits of bamboo. Let me know, do you own any bamboo clothing? Did you know how eco-friendly bamboo is?

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4 Tips For A Low Key Wedding

One of the big effects of the global pandemic is that large weddings worldwide have been postponed. With government restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, it will be a long time before people can enjoy enormous weddings and parties with all their family and friends.

But this doesn’t mean you have to put your plans on hold completely. It is still possible to tie the knot with your life partner, as long as the event is an intimate affair with a select number of guests. The number of people you can invite to your wedding will depend on the current restrictions at the time, as well as the location in which you get married, but expect to only invite a handful of close family members or best friends.

Perhaps you never wanted a huge white wedding anyway. They can be extremely expensive, and you may prefer to use that money on a honeymoon or towards your first home. If you are planning a low key wedding, here are four tips to get you started.

Narrow down the guest list


If you have a large family or lots of friends, it can be difficult to choose a few people to invite to your big day. Particularly if you already sent out invites for your original wedding. Most people won't make the cut, so you’ll have to let them down gently. Find out how many people you are allowed and keep it limited to immediate family or your closest friends. If you still can’t decide, you don’t have to invite anyone if you don’t want to. Make your big day as romantic as possible by keeping it to just you and your partner.

Scrap the wedding dress

couple


A wedding dress is an enormous expense, especially considering you’ll only wear it once and very few people will actually see it in the flesh. Consider saving a bit of money by scraping the traditional wedding outfit and arranging your own dress code. Some nice clothing like a smart dress or an upmarket suit will more than suffice and will take the impact off your bank balance. Try Balenciaga clothing for some elegant, high-quality outfits.

Pick an appropriate venue

With a limited guest list, there is no need to hire out a huge church or an extravagant country house. Pick a location that is the right size for your particular marriage. A small venue can make the proceedings feel more intimate and cosy and will save you a lot of money too. Small churches, country pubs, registry offices, or even an outdoor setting can be perfect venues for a micro wedding.

Remember what your wedding is about

table set for a meal

If you are the kind of person who has dreamed of a fairytale wedding since you were a child, you may be disappointed that you can’t have the big day you wanted. But the marriage process is not about vast guest lists and extravagant venues; it’s about you and your partner professing your love and agreeing to spend the rest of your life together. Don’t forget it, and you can always have a big celebration when things are back to normality.

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4 Ways to Prevent Electrical Fires in the Home

Losing a home that you have put so much effort into a fire is devastating. However, many home fires caused by electricity or electric systems are preventable. Although many homeowners are scared of electricity, making the necessary changes to prevent an electric fire does not have to be daunting. By knowing the common causes of electrical fires in the home and how to prevent them, you will be keeping your home as well as your family safe.

Faulty Appliances and Outlets

house fire



A common cause of electrical fires is faulty outlets and appliances. While you may love the appliances that came with the house or you may be into vintage electronics, it is important to know that they can be a fire hazard, especially if they use old cords that might be frayed. Frayed or worn cords can transfer heat to combustible surfaces such as wooden floors and curtains and start fires.

Outdated Electrical System


Many older homes come with electrical systems that use older wiring materials or other electrical parts that can overheat and cause a fire. Additionally, an older home's electrical system might not have been inspected in a while and therefore any deterioration in the electrical system might be unnoticed.

To ensure your electrical system and its wiring are not fire hazards, it is important to ask your electrician to have a look at it from time to time. If they find any issues or if your electricity demands are too much for the system you have to handle, you should ask them to upgrade it.

During the upgrade, ensure that the electrician uses the correct electrical cable that will support the load you will put in it. It is also important that they use cables from reputable companies like these cables from expertelectrical.co.uk, for example. Expert Electrical is a one-stop shop for electrical cables, wiring and accessories. Whether you need a residential or industrial cable, conduits, alarm cables, cord sets or armoured cable, Expert Electrical has it.

Ignoring Directions

toaster

Although many appliances such as ovens and toasters come with instructions, a lot of people do not pay attention to those. These instructions and directions are important in telling you how to install these appliances to prevent any malfunctions that could lead to electrical fires. Always read and follow these directions because they also tell you what to do in case of a faulty appliance or if you need anything from their manufacturer.

Ignoring Signs of a Bigger Problem

electric fire

In many cases, the signs that there is a risk of an electrical fire are always there, but most of us ignore them. The most obvious signs are those that point to problems with electrical sockets and appliances that are overheating. These can include discolouration around a socket, an outlet, appliance or power cord feeling hot, a burning smell every time an appliance is plugged in, and breakers tripping frequently. If you notice these or any other suspicious signs of trouble, it is always a good idea to turn off your appliances and call an electrician before you have a much bigger problem on your hands.

Preventing electrical fires is almost always about being careful and vigilant. If you are careful about the installation of your appliances and vigilant about the signs of an impending electrical fire, you are already doing much more than a lot of people to prevent an electrical fire.

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Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring

Giving your significant other an engagement ring is a practice that has been existing since time immemorial. The ring is a symbol of commitment to a bride, but do you know where this tradition came from? Are you aware as to why people place an engagement ring into the fourth finger? This tradition began in ancient Rome, whereby the Romans believed that the vein in this specific finger led to the heart, and so, this practice has stuck with all the generations. Use these tips to buy the right engagement ring.

Understand Your Partner's Lifestyle


Some people do not mind shopping for engagement rings together. This action eliminates the surprise element. If you want to surprise your better half, you can request help from a friend or sibling. This other person can disguisedly obtain information from your partner without making them suspect any intentions.

If you want to maintain total secrecy, then you better pay attention to your partner's jeweller. Note down their preferences, such as do they love silver or gold? You can then take such information to your jeweller.

Have A Budget

You need to set your budget prior that guides you on which type of engagement ring to buy. Do not let this act of purchasing a ring drive you into debt. Only spend what you can afford. Shop for alternative options that are within your budget. Let your partner appreciate a ring for what it symbolizes and not for what it's worth. If they want what you cannot pay for, then you might have to save your money.

Have A Good Understanding Of Buying A Diamond Ring

If you decide to buy a diamond ring, then it's worth getting an in-depth understanding of what to look for, as it's an expensive purchase. The diamond has what jewellers call the 4C properties. These characters stand for clarity, carat, cut, and colour. Let's delve into each one of them.

The Colour And Cut

Diamond rings come in all colours, with colourless being the most prized for an engagement ring. Your jeweller will confirm that the hue is graded from D to Z. With  D being almost colourless while the latter nearing a tint of yellow. 


Antique diamonds are usually not graded. The diamond's cut quality determines how it reflects light. A round brilliant cut diamond that sparkles well, is popular for an engagement ring but square princess cut diamonds, as well as emerald cut diamonds, are also popular. 

The Clarity And Carat

Clarity refers to how the ring lacks blemishes or inclusions.  The highest clarity is flawless to the lowest clarity included. However, at the top end, most minor inclusions cannot be seen with the naked eye. 

Carat, also known as weight, determines its size. The price of the diamond increases more on each half carat, and some think a one-carat diamond ring is a size to aspire to. 

Consider the Shape

The shape comes even before the colour, clarity, carat, and cut. Rings come in various sizes and shapes, and so do hands. An engagement ring that may look beautiful on someone's hand may look completely different on another. Try and find out the shape your better half loves. Buy one that flatters your partner's finger and a shape that they love.

Deal with Trusted Sellers

When buying an engagement ring, it's a good idea to ask around your relatives or friends for recommendations. Alternatively, go for stores that have industry affiliation to accredited jewellery organisations such as the National Association of Goldsmiths in the UK or the Gemmology Institute of America. 

If you haven't bought from any jeweller before, whether big or small, have a chat with the sales assistant, check out their knowledge base and always enquire about the return policy since you may need to exchange the ring.

Shop for the right engagement rings by knowing your partner's lifestyle, having a budget, understand the 4cs of a diamond ring,  consider the shape and 
deal with trusted retailers.

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Tips For Making Space In Your Shed

When most people think about garden storage, the shed springs to mind, a single place for every single tool, bike, and disused pot to be stashed away.

However, when sheds start fulfilling too many functions at once, they can become a cause for headaches. In fact, The Telegraph is advising people on converting old garden sheds into luxury hideaways, replacing the clutter with something more immediately pleasing and simple. However, the shed is still incredibly useful, and it might be you just need to free up some space to put things right.

Fortunately, sheds can share their burden with other forms of storage. There’s variety here, ensuring everything doesn’t get clumped together in one place where misplaced items, slips, and trips are all bound to happen at some point.

Therefore, here’s how to make some space in your main shed.

Utilise Garden Storage Units

garden shed

Sheds can quickly become overcrowded with bikes and other bits and bobs, so it’s important to consider a plethora of other options to distribute your storage efforts more evenly.

For example, you should browse the wonderful range of garden storage units from shedstore.co.uk. Shedstore provides affordable timber and metal sheds, stylish log and bin stores, and efficient garden tool storage units too. If that’s not enough, they also supply customers with garden storage benches, dual purposed as a comfortable seat and yet an incredibly useful storage option too. Ultimately, this is all about spreading your options out and using your space as economically and efficiently as possible.

Garden storage units will keep your belongings safe, protected from criminals and the elements both. Additionally, it will all just help you clear the space both in and around the shed and ensure that everything isn’t just concentrated within a single area. The more you spread things out here, the less you have to worry about.

Once again, there’s also something to be said here for aesthetics too. By including garden storage units, your back garden can be suitably transformed into a quaint and cosy village, of sorts. From extra little sheds to dynamic storage seating, it all adds to the appeal of the space. It’s nice when belongings can be divided into organised, designated areas, lending your garden an air of rustic efficiency.

Repurpose Other Items

watering can

Contrary to some circles of belief, bits and bobs and in gardening can be both stored and put-on decorative display simultaneously.

Why store your ladders in a shed when they can give outside areas a lift? Something as mundane as a ladder might not, at first, seem to have much going for it in the way of aesthetics. However, if you gently rest the ladder against a wall, and artfully arrange disused pots, trowels, and watering cans on each step – well, you just turned your ladder into a makeshift shelving unit!

It might seem like a cheat, but a rustic garden always has a feel of rough and ready improvisation. Moreover, upcycling is now a cool and trendy pastime, converting ‘junk’ into something worthwhile. Why not apply those principles to your own efforts, here? In having some items fulfil a different function than they were originally designed for, you’re giving your outdoor areas a slice of quirky charm. At the same time, that’s one less ladder taking up space in the shed!

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that disused pots and watering cans are usually shoved away in a corner of the shed or left on the ground in their own rights, too. With the ‘ladder shelving unit’, though, they can be put on proud display. You can even grow a plant or two out of the watering can! Twine, gardening gloves, and any other bits and bobs you find lying around could also sit decoratively alongside, so get creative with your arrangements!

Customise Your Shed

tools organised


Once you’ve made some ample space in your main shed, make sure you don’t stop there!

Try to customise your main shed so that, in the future, things don’t get quite so unwieldy again. You can install hooks and shelving units for all your tools or to hang up fresh pegboards to meet the same ends. The use of magnets can also keep all your equipment secure and off surfaces too. Use the opportunity to get organised, because, in the end, efficient storage makes gardening, and life overall, so much easier!

You can even install hooks on the ceiling of your shed, where boats like canoes can be securely held in place with hanger and hoist systems. Additionally, you can attach a hose hanger to the side of your shed, so that you can coil the hose neatly and tidily around it. That way, you’re removing trip hazards from the floor of your shed, and once again just giving items their designated areas.

When it comes to the main sheds, it’s been said that the ‘best’ are often those that have been converted into something else. If you’re making great use of other storage solutions, then it could be that you no longer need to use your main shed as, well, a shed! People have made makeshift bars and work offices out of these kinds of areas with a quick and easy conversion, creating enough space for multiple occupants to walk about freely. If you have made the space up to now, why not follow suit?

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Small Rooms: How To Make Them Look Bigger

If you live in the classic 30s semi like many of us Brits do, you’ll be all too familiar with the annoying third bedroom. Either it’s used as the bedroom for the unlucky sibling or a dumping ground, yet, there’s no reason this room can’t be made as appealing as the rest, and I'm here to show you how to make the most of it. This is an ad.



Colours are really important when looking at your small room. Avoid dark colours as these will only make the room look smaller. Instead, open up the room with white or a light colour on the walls. A solid wood oak floor would work wonders in light wood or even painted white floorboards.

If you’re lucky enough to have lots of natural light then great, but if not use a variety of lighting to keep all areas of the room lit up. Spotlights are great for bright lighting, floor lamps can add some directional light and table lamps can soften the ambience. All these forms of lighting will give the illusion of more space even if there isn’t much! Add a mirror or two to reflect light and the room instantly opens up.

Storage is always an issue with a small room, which is why it’s so important that you make use of every corner in the room. Use storage under the bed, install shelves to make use of the wall space, make sure that all cupboards are filled and mount your television or screens to the wall. Although this may sound obvious, being crafty about where you put things is important to make the most of your space.

Avoiding too much clutter is a basic rule in any home, but especially in a smaller one! Don’t have too many knick-knacks taking up surface space, instead, opt for a few well-chosen pieces that mean something or are beautiful to look.

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4 Proven Ways to Protect Against Pests in the Garden

Most gardeners know there’s nothing more frustrating than prepping and tending your garden thorough spring and summer, only to find pests have taken over. No matter the species you’re growing, all are susceptible to damage by garden pests. Today, we’re exploring 4 ways to protect against pests in the garden so next year you have a bumper crop and your hard work pays off!

1. Protect Fruit & Vegetables With A Fruit Cage


Fruit cages are very popular among fruit and vegetable gardeners for protecting against birds and smaller mammals. Usually, fruit cages are made from lightweight aluminium or steel and can be made to fit the area you are protecting. This makes them suitable for use in small and large gardens as well as allotments and smallholdings.

When selecting a fruit cage, be sure to think about the height you need. Walk-in fruit cages are perfect for growing a number of fruit and vegetables and usually have a door making access much easier. If you’re planting low-growing vegetables, a low vegetable cage may be better. These cages simply sit over your crops but do need to be removed before you can get to work.

2. Cover Smaller Areas With A Net Tunnel

If you have a small garden or are just using a small area for growing plants fruit and vegetables, a net tunnel is a brilliant way to protect against pests. Net tunnels can be purchased in different varieties including fleece tunnels, net tunnels and insect mesh tunnels. You can also purchase tunnels in a ‘giant’ and ‘standard’ size depending on your requirements.

Fleece tunnels are perfect for winter as they retain heat and moisture, creating a micro-climate for your plants to thrive. Net tunnels on the other hand are a great alternative to a fruit cage for protection against birds and small rodents. Finally, mico-mesh tunnels protect against everything from birds to slugs and flies. Micromesh tunnels are small enough to keep pests out while allowing sunlight, moisture and air through.

3. Depending On Your Plants, Use A Greenhouse 

greenhouse

A greenhouse is one of the best solutions for protecting against pests in the garden. A well-sealed greenhouse will stop almost all pests from getting in, leaving your plants to do what they do best with no interruption.

However, there are a few downsides to greenhouses you need to consider. Firstly, they can be expensive, take up a lot of space and tricky to install. You may also be restricted as to what you can grow in your greenhouse. Especially in the summer, when temperatures heat up, many plants struggle are best planted outside under a fruit cage or net tunnel in a cooler climate.

4. As a Last Resort, Try Natural Pesticides

If you’re considering using pesticides to protect your garden against pests, you must think very carefully about which you will use. Upsetting your garden’s ecosystem will not only impact your plants, but it can also have a devastating impact on the world outside too. For that reason, it’s best to use natural and homemade pesticides to minimise any impact you may have.

One of the lowest impact and effective natural pesticides is neem oil, which is derived from the seeds of the neem tree. It essentially acts as a hunger suppressant for small insects, triggering “anti feed” hormones when they approach plants sprayed with the oil. It’s non-toxic to pets, birds, fish, and other wildlife making it a perfect garden protector. Other natural pesticides you may wish to research include garlic spray and soap spray.

Wrapping Up

There are many tactics gardeners will use to protect their garden from pests, but these 4 methods have proven to be effective year after year. Investing in some highly effective solutions now will ensure that when it comes to harvesting time, you won’t be disappointed!


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3 Staple Characteristics Of Viking Jewellery

Vikings - the warriors, raiders, and navigators of the Norse world still hold the interest of historians as scholars today. Who they were as a people is still being studied, from their way of life to their weapons of war, what tools they used for exploration, what boats they sailed, and how they shared a rich culture across the lands of old Scandinavia.

Throughout all the Viking tribes and the spread of their practices and rituals, combat strategy and commodities, they shared one thing in common: they all had jewellery.

What Role Did Jewellery Play in Viking History?


The Vikings loved their jewellery, and it was through this love that they adorned almost everything with it. The craftsmen who were commissioned to create these pieces were handsomely paid and well respected. They would carve and bevel runes, engrave complex winding lines, and etch several different symbols on their jewellery. 

After the Viking received their jewellery, they would go out of their way to decorate their clothes, longboats, weapons, and even houses. If any piece of jewellery was too large to be worn, these were broken down into smaller pieces and used as a form of payment or currency but personal jewellery was the most prevalent request among them.

When it came to personal jewellery, the Vikings used these in some of the ways below.

As Rewards

Throughout the frozen plains of Scandanavia, jewellery spoke a special language among every Viking. Often Viking jewellery, usually brooches and rings, were rewarded by rulers to loyal subjects or villagers who did good deeds for them. The act of being generous was the mark of a great ruler. Wealthier Vikings would have their jewellery made from gold and silver, while poorer Vikings had their jewellery created from bronze or the bones of animals they had eaten from a hunt.

Symbols Of Status And Protection

Wearing jewellery also showed the Vikings’ courage, as well as honour tribal customs, lineage, political alignment, and ancient lore. Some seafarers would have amulets of protection around their necks. Others preferred symbols representing the power of particular creatures such as wolves, dragons, and various mythical beasts and beings. If a Viking had long hair or a long beard, they would have it braided with jewellery as it symbolised protection and status.

As Gifts

Such as jewellery is today, it was no different in ancient times. Vikings often gave jewellery as a gift among friends, significant others, or brothers-in-arms. Both men and women in those times wore various kinds of Norse and Viking jewellery, but most often, men would wear a design of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, around their necks as a symbol of might.

Staple Characteristics Of Viking Jewellery


With so many forms of symbolism and representation, below are the three staple characteristics of Viking jewellery and the meaning behind them.

1. They Were Very Ornate

Viking jewellery was very ornate. Several pieces come with intricate designs, emblems, motifs, and patterns with mystical meaning. For instance, when engraving on jewellery, every tuft of fur on a wolf’s head was etched out as though it were soft to the touch, or even the simple shape of Thor’s hammer would be lined with metal strips that coiled into one another. Depending on the craftsman, they would even write Viking runes on the jewellery piece.

Surprisingly enough, when the Viking age had ended, descendants of Vikings who married into different tribes (e.g., Celts, Gaels, etc.)  also adapted ornate designs from their new tribe into their jewellery, creating a hybrid form of Viking jewellery.

2. They Had Many Different Symbols


Vikings have always had incredible tales of old that were passed down from generation to generation. Through this tradition of storytelling, they kept their traditions alive.

Each item in a Viking’s jewellery piece holds meaning so when you’re planning to buy anyone a Viking accessory as a gift, consider some of the following symbols below:

Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor: Wearing the shape of Thor’s hammer on your person symbolises protection and consecration. Mjolnir was said to be the source of Thor’s almighty strength and when thrown, it would return to him at his will. Choosing to have this detail on your Viking jewellery is said to ward off evil spirits. Hence, this was popular amongst men who fought battles in the days of the Vikings.

Ravens: Ravens, in real life, are mysterious and ominous creatures often associated with fear, death, or misfortune. To the people of the old Norse world, ravens are the eyes and ears of the god Odin and are far from being ominous or portents of impending death. On the contrary, they are considered among the holiest of birds. Odin owned two ravens named Huginn and Muninn, both of whom scout the world for any events of interest. Huginn means ‘idea’ and Muninn means ‘memory.’ Whether a warrior worthy of entering Valhalla has been spotted or Loki was seen up to his misdeeds once again, Huginn and Muninn would tell Odin everything. With that said, ravens in Viking jewellery symbolise divine presence and wisdom.

Web of Wyrd: This is a symbol of intersecting lines forming shapes like triangles and rhombi. It represents a Viking’s understanding of fate as an unyielding force. It is with this symbol that Vikings exude their renowned courage and tenacity.

Wolves: The wolf is a double-edged sword in Viking lore. This canine represents the beast Fenrir, a great wolf that is said to swallow the sun during the end of the world or Ragnarök. While this meaning is grim by itself, Fenrir was also loyal to his father, Loki, and showed great strength as he was able to free himself from the bindings of the Aesir or the Norse pantheon. Therefore, giving someone a piece of Viking jewellery with a wolf on it is like telling them they’re strong, independent, and undyingly loyal.

Yggdrasil, the World Tree: One of the most iconic pieces of Nordic lore, the Yggdrasil or the World Tree, is a titanic tree that has been said to touch the sky and has roots that connect the Nine Realms together. This tree-shaped symbol is a profound icon of connection, and that each person has spiritual bonds between their fellow human being beyond comprehension. Giving someone a pendant or accessory with Yggdrasil on it tells them that you’re connected to them.

There are many more symbols and icons from Nordic lore, and these are the few that stand out. If you aren’t entirely sure of what the icon represents, you may ask the jeweller.


3. They Were Made from Precious Metals

For Viking artisans, bronze was the most readily-available metal as it was naturally-occurring in the lands of old Scandinavia. Once they began trading through the Silk Road, silver and gold were introduced. Silver was used mostly for currency and gold for luxury items. As time passed, the Vikings saw how much better quality both gold and silver were for ornaments. Thus, these metals became a staple feature for their make. Today, Viking jewellery is often made of stainless steel to mimic the sheen and quality of the original accessories.

Profound Gifts

Giving a friend or anyone of importance a piece of Viking jewellery not just honours the tradition of the courageous warriors of the north, but it also tells the recipient that you value them for their best qualities. Doing this may also bestow on them a quality or a blessing they need in these trying times, be it strength, independence, wisdom, or protection. The old ways of the Viking will live on through these icons and their wearers for generations to come.

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How to Optimise the Light Levels in Your Home

Having enough light in your home can really make all the difference – it can transform your home making it feel much livelier and won’t send you off to sleep constantly. Not all of us are blessed with huge windows which allow loads of natural light to flood in, so often we need to compromise and find ways to adjust the lighting through our own methods. If you feel as though your house is looking a bit dark and dreary, take a look through these tips to help you make your house feel rejuvenated and bright again. 

Invest in Some Good Quality Lightbulbs



Having good quality lightbulbs is step one to optimising the light levels in your home. Lightbulbs really do make all the difference, so if yours are a bit old, then it is likely that they won’t do the best job. The best kinds of lights for making your rooms super light and feel really well lit up are LED spotlights, which do exactly what they imply – they spotlight the room and make it feel alive. You can get LED spotlights, and even dimmable versions. This allows you to have varying light levels depending on the time of day or the mood.

LEDs are also much more energy-efficient than other kinds of light since they optimise energy usage and won’t add so much to your monthly bill. Plus, this means they are better for the environment.

Get Some Pretty Fairy Lights

fairy lights

Fairy lights are another way of adding light to your room, which can be used in addition to your main light source. Fairy lights are amazing for adding mood and atmosphere, particularly in the winter months as they can give your rooms a very cosy feel. They are great for evening use – you may want full light whilst you are doing household chores, but when you’re settling down to watch a bit of television or read a book, fairy lights can add a soft lighting effect.

Fairy lights can be bought relatively cheaply at most homeware stores, so it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for them.

Keep Your Colour Scheme Fresh and Light

light home


The colours in your house can have drastic effects on the light levels, believe it or not. Having a dark colour scheme will create more shadows and will often make your rooms feel much smaller. To create the illusion of bigger and lighter rooms, try to stick to white or cream for your walls and keep your furniture relatively light too. Adding mirrors as decoration to your house also works well, as mirrors reflect light and add a sense of space.

mirror


There are so many ways you can make your home feel lighter, even if it's a tiny space. By putting a little bit of effort into buying nice lights, this will make all the difference and will really make you want to spend time in all rooms of your house rather than shying away from them.

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A Guide To Interior Door Selection

Certainly, throughout the course of 2020, we spent far more time at home than we normally would have done and with that came more than a passing interest in what our homes looked like. This created a boost in so many different aspects of DIY and interior design as many people became a lot more houseproud! One aspect of interiors that can sometimes be overlooked are the interior doors but the doors can have can a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your space. 

door


Cost is almost always a consideration when doing any work to houses so this must factor into any work to be done. But fortunately, these days, nice doors don’t have to cost the earth. Here’s my guide to interior door selection and the things you must consider before your purchase:

The supplier

You don’t have to stick with your local wood merchant or DIY supplier and their perhaps limited selection. In fact, buying doors online through websites such as Internal Doors UK means you’ll have access to a huge range to suit all tastes and budgets and it is a very straightforward process too. Furthermore, you can be assured of the quality; just make sure wherever you buy from is trusted and reputable with good customer service to avoid disappointment.

Colour

In the past, doors used to be far more limited in terms of colour so you had to make do with whatever was available. Now, there are so many options which are already finished, then there is also the option to buy doors already primed which you can then paint yourselves. So, you can literally have any colour you desire!

Material

Pine, oak, composite, laminated, glazed, unglazed; there are many choices in material and they vary in price. Were you to opt for a material such as oak, for example, you might find you pay a little more but it will be worth it? Solid oak doors can genuinely add value to the price of your property as they are such an asset. Consider the overall appearance of your home and what ‘look’ you want to achieve. Also, consider what level of security you want to have – internal fire doors, for example, are a good option in some properties.

Size

This may seem an odd suggestion as many doors are a standard size. However, there is an increasing popularity for oversized doors, i.e. very tall or very wide ones. These can add an impressive level of drama to any home and really make it feel a lot more modern. You could also opt for wide, sliding doors which can turn two rooms into a more open-plan space if you want to have the best of both of these worlds.

Your internal doors really can make all the difference to the overall look and feel of your home so it is worth spending a bit of extra time to make the right choice. You don’t have to spend the earth to ensure you get the right doors for your home too as long as you buy them from the right place!

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4 Important Things To Consider When Selling Jewellery

Are you getting rid of unused jewellery or raising money for a big project? There are plenty of platforms for selling your items and so many that deciding on the best option warrants careful deliberation. While you can side-step most pitfalls with some fundamental knowledge, there are some aspects that you might have overlooked I have sold many pieces of jewellery online so have personal experience of this. For that reason, I have come up with four important points to consider when selling jewellery. 

1. Do Your Own Research 

emerald ring

More than 60% of shoppers cited the retailer’s honesty and knowledge among the top factors they consider when they buy jewellery. So, how do you become a trustworthy seller? It is as simple as showing your customer that you know the product inside and out.

Prepare to answer questions about the brand, age, origin, and materials of the item. Always keep documents that prove the authenticity, value, and origin of your product. Older pieces may not come with paperwork, but you can utilise the internet to learn about an item.

Research also involves knowing what makes your item stand out so you can hit your target market. Are you selling designer jewellery to modern, independent women or pre-owned pieces to environmentally conscious consumers? The more you know about your merchandise and your audience, the more you are likely to get a good return for it.

2. Get an Accurate Valuation

jewellery appraisal

A valuation is not only useful for claiming insurance in case a piece is lost or stolen, it is also the best way to determine the worth of an item. You don’t want to receive less than the real value of the jewellery, especially if it is something you have inherited. Who knows? The piece could be a valuable antique.

Established jewellers offer in-house valuation services, but if you’re considering selling online, you can hire an independent valuer to appraise your item. Once the process is complete, you will receive documentation providing the details of your jewellery and its value. The service is expensive and sometimes lengthy, but it could be worth the cost and hassle if you want an accurate idea of the item’s resale price and you think it's worth a lot of money.

3. Consider Where You Will Sell


antique ring

From pawnshops to auction houses to online consignment stores, you have more choices than you can count. Before you decide where to sell, consider the worth of the item and if you are willing to wait to get the profit.

Auction houses are ideal for selling vintage jewellery and antiques because they target buyers hunting for rare finds and unique collectables. The disadvantage is, auctions don’t happen regularly, so you do not know when you will be able to sell your jewellery. For quick cash, a pawnshop is your best option; however, there is no guarantee that you will get the right price for your item in fact you will often get the bottom rate.

If you don’t mind waiting a long time for your product to sell, an online marketplace is a perfect venue for you. It allows you to pick the price of the piece, as well as choose the buyer. Be sure to choose an online platform that specializes in used jewellery. Such stores usually have better customer trust-ratings compared to general websites, such as eBay and Craigslist. They also have reliable safety nets that protect both sellers and customers from scammers.

4. Invest In Good Jewellery Photography

ring

If you decide to sell online, a good photograph can make or break a deal. Therefore, be sure to invest in excellent, high-quality images. Think about hiring a professional to take pictures of the item. But if that's way out of your budget, at least learn the basics of jewellery photography.

While you should show your customers any imperfections, you should focus on the highlights of the piece, such as unique design, stylish cuts, clarity of the gems.

Avoid insufficient lighting, reflections that could affect the colour of the product, incorrect image size, and inconsistent background. Shoot plenty of images, and show the piece from every angle, including how it would look when worn. It may be worth investing in a lightbox if you are going to sell a lot of jewellery online.

So here are 4 important this to consider when selling jewellery. Have you sold any jewellery? Do you have any tips?