No One Ever Gave Me The Spring Clean Rule Book

Well, we’ve done our massive spring clean, ready for our yearly exchange with our house-swapping friends from Paris. It took a while as we’ve been a bit slack with the dusting, but there’s nothing better than that spangly clean feeling! When I say spring clean, what I actually mean is that we’ve hidden everything we don’t need in the attic. Don’t judge me… No one ever gave me the spring clean rule book, okay!

We’ve taken over the in laws for a few days and are then heading to Devon for a long weekend from Friday. It’s seems like ages since we were last there, but we just haven’t had a long weekend free for a while. We’re using the Paris pad over the summer and I guess, like all Parisians, our French friends will be heading to the south of France. Such a hard life!

It’s been a while since I introduced Betsy the Chihuahua to the blog, but she loves traipsing around with us and she especially loves a trip to the sea. She’ll be two in a few weeks, so we might treat her to a few of Rick Stein’s finest fish and chips if she’s lucky (she’s always lucky). Fat Cat gets to spend some more quality time with Alex’s parents, which he loves – Somehow he always comes back a reformed slimmer version of his old self. Everyone’s a winner!

We are actually going to get to spend some a bit of time with our home-swapping buddies tonight. We usually only have time to do a quick key changeover, but this time round we’re going to get together and chat about a potential longer term exchange. Hopefully it will all pan-out, but if it doesn’t we’re more than happy with our once/twice yearly trip. I really do need to buff up on my French if we go for more than a week!

I’ve got lots of blog posts planned as soon as I get back. Lucky you!  I’ve been testing a few skincare products that I’m pretty happy with and we’ve got a last supper dinner booked in somewhere lovely in London, which I hope makes for much picture drooling! I’m treating myself before implant number two happens in a few weeks…. boooo.

Until next time x

Happy (nearly) Birthday Betsy!

No One Ever Gave Me The Spring Clean Rule Book

Besty & Fat Cat

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Home and Away – Home Swapping and Renting

Alex and I are currently camping out at his parents house while they are away, as we are renting our place out via Airbnb again. This is the second week in a row that someone has rented our home and as much as I miss my creature comforts, it has meant that we can now afford a long awaited trip to Berlin in October. I’ve been dying to get there for years and can’t wait! I love to travel and without home swapping or renting our place out on occasion, we certainly wouldn’t be able to do it as much as we do. We’re pretty frugal when on holiday and it helps that we don’t like to take in the usual tourist attractions. We’re just happy to roam the streets sucking up free atmosphere!

This year, a few of our really good friends have chosen to get married over Christmas – One in India and the other Australia. With the peak season flight prices and increasing workloads around the festive season, we have had to pass and unfortunately can’t go to either. No amount of saving would have covered the costs and we couldn’t get any home swaps. Christmas is always a tricky time for those. Most long distance swappers like to swap for over three weeks and we only had a max of two. We really struggled to make the decision to turn down the invitations, but it just didn’t work for us. *sad face*
If all of my friends would move back to the UK, that would be much appreciated!

Anyway, mustn’t grumble. I’ve got more travel out of this year than I expected and have been a lot luckier than many that have never ventured outside of the UK. For those of you that are keen to know more about home swapping or renting someone’s pad below are a few links that you may find useful. There are hundreds of site out there, but these are the ones that have worked for me over the years. You do have to pay to register on the worthwhile sites, but if you search in Google, there are often promo codes or free site trials. Give it a go if you can and see more of the world than you might have done otherwise.

Home Swapping:
https://www.lovehomeswap.com
http://homeexchange.com
http://www.homeforexchange.com

Rentals:
https://www.airbnb.co.uk
http://www.flipkey.com
http://www.booking,com – Select apartments

Have you every considered home swapping or renting out when you can?

My favourite room in our home…

Home and Away - Home Swapping and Renting

Lounge2

 

 

 

 

Money Saving Tips

Looking at my salary is actually quite depressing – Compared to those around me I seem to be earning a relatively low wage for the hours I put in, yet I still get people wanting more hours for less money, and that’s even if they even decide to pay up at all! Times are tough for everyone I guess, but working freelance, as I do, is unquestionably an extremely risky business indeed! I wouldn’t have it any other way though and I’ve even manged to increase my wage year after year. I’ve always been someone who loves to work to my own set of rules, and working from home gives me the freedom that I need, to be a much more productive person.

Even though I’m a relatively low earner, I still manage to make the most of life. I’m sure that a lot of people we know actually think we are rolling in money because we manage to fit more into our schedule than they may think they can afford themselves. It’s not easy, but with careful spending and a few tricks here and there, you can achieve a whole lot more than you could ever imagine – All without any Fagin type pick-pocketing!

Here are some of the ways I manage to make savings in my life…

1: I don’t have children – An odd way to save, but a conscious decision we have made, so that we can live our lives to the max on what little salaries we have. I’m fully aware there is often ‘no right time’ to have children, but even on our combined salaries I don’t believe the time is now. (I’m also not much into dirty nappies)!

2: Home swapping – Regular readers of my blog will know I’m partial to a bit of holiday home swapping. Since I left school, I’ve loved to travel and these days I’m not much up for the youth hostels that I used to frequent! Home swapping offers us the chance to travel at a fraction of the cost – Rather than taking a holiday every few years, this opens the doors for us to travel to prime locations at least once a year, sometimes even twice. There’s no time to be possessive about your home if you want to travel more than your budget will allow.

3: I shop around – I have pretty expensive taste and often can’t afford many of the things I want, however if something genuinely catches my eye then I will happily spend hours, even days searching for it online. Combining voucher codes with hours of research has resulted in massive savings for many items in our home. Most of the furniture in our home came from ebay… Our best ever bargain was a 99p unit that stands proudly in our lounge! When it comes to clothes shopping, I’m not really one for the sale rack, as I find those clothes never get as much wear as they should. I tend to shop when I get downright angry about having nothing new to wear (not just on a whim) and often when sites offer codes and free delivery. I honestly don’t have many clothes at all and am actually quite happy to wear something over and over again, despite what Alex thinks! If I buy it I really have to love it.

Our 99p find, which stores heaps…

4: I sit in the dark – I don’t actually do this, but I am a bit of an annoyance to Alex when it comes to following him around the house and switching all the lights out. I’m tight with electricity and tight with the heating. When we had a water meter I was also tight with water usage – Luckily we have no meter in our current home, so I’m nagging about that one a bit less… Except of course the hot water, which is linked to the gas!  It all results in pretty cheap household bills and more money to spend on life’s little luxuries. Just add a few more layers, wrap yourself up in a blanket and bust out the hot water bottle! I often use the comparison sites to find the best companies – It truly is a must.

5: Eating and drinking out – I’ve done my fair share of spending a fortune on booze in pubs, clubs and bars, but these days I just can’t justify wasting the money.  If we go out to meet friends, I’ll have a few drinks at home first and then take it a bit easier when I’m out. We often find that we need to get the last train home to save on cab fares and if we are looking to stay out a bit later Alex will drive. Unfortunately for him, I don’t drive, so there’s no taking it in turns in that department.. One day, one day!
When it comes to eating out, we used to do that a lot more than we do now –  Often once or twice a week using vouchers for places like Pizza Express etc. There soon however came a point when we thought that we were missing out on some really nice restaurants, so we packed in the weekly visits and now treat ourselves to a really nice place a few times a year. There’s no way we would be able to afford our annual trip to Heston’s if we ate out every week!

6: I Don’t go to the high street unless I really need to – This one is REALLY hard for me. When you work from home, you can start to get a little irritated with your own company. Fat Cat helped me with this for a while, his company made all the difference, but he has never quite mastered the art of great conversation! Whenever I needed a bit of a reality check, I’d often take a walk down to my local high street, but I’d find that this resulted in me spending money on silly things that I didn’t need. Now we have a puppy I intend to hit the park instead of the shops. We’ll see if it works, but I know for a fact that there will undoubtedly be conversation, as Betsy attracts a sizeable amount of attention wherever we go.

So, there you have it. Just a few of my money saving tips, which allow me to continue living the life of a freelancer, but with a few little treats on the way. There are many more ways in which I manage to save money, but these are probably the most effective for me at the moment.

Do you have any money saving tips that you swear by?