These are the kind of jolly headlines you can look forward to over the next eight weeks – it’s so festive isn’t it? Just what you need to get you into a Christmassy mood. I mean seriously, you’d need a pint or two of mulled wine after reading things like that. (My excuse.)

The truth is though that YOU are not an average family. You are just you, and you don’t need to spend £2,831 or accumulate £1,298 of debt to make all of your Christmas dreams come true.

Christmas chocolates

My Christmas dreams. In a box. In chocolate form.

How much do you spend on Christmas?

So how much DO you spend? Do you think about it beforehand and set yourself a budget, or do you wing it and worry about it later? Aspire Money have put together a handy tool that you might like to have a play with – a Christmas Budget Planner.

The Aspire Money Budget Planner asks you to consider all of your Christmas costs, including those you might not think to factor in, like advent calendars, travel to visit friends and family, and Christmas stockings. (I’m not sure why it includes this though, as obviously Father Christmas takes care of those.) View Post

After buying all those Christmas presents and hosting that New Year’s Eve party, it’s highly likely your finances have taken a hit. However, even if there aren’t any extra hours available at work, you can boost your personal finances from your own home – all you need is an Internet connection.

Here’s how:

1. Start a Blog

Blogging may seem like a great pastime but it’s also a good way to get a steady stream of money coming in. A lot of top-notch bloggers generate above-average incomes through a number of different revenue streams, including advertising, affiliates, memberships, products and services. Just start writing about something you’re passionate about and this could be the easiest and most enjoyable way to earn money online.

2. Look for Deals When Shopping Online

Many of us favour online shops due to their convenience, but they’re also great for finding the best deals. So, sign up to your favourite online shops’ mailing lists so you’re aware when the latest sales or deals are hitting the stores, hunt around for coupon codes you can use at the checkout and make sure you’re getting the best price by using online price-comparison websites or installing browser plugins. Even though something may be advertised as being on offer it doesn’t always mean it’s the best price.

3. Enter Online Gaming Tournaments

Online, there is a whole host of casino and bingo websites that host regular tournaments and games with great cash prizes. Furthermore, a number of these websites will offer free promotions, allowing you to try and win money without spending a penny! And the best bit? You can even access these websites through app such as Ruby Fortune app so you can continue earning money while you’re on the go.

4. Sell Your Things

Since online auctions began, the number of online marketplaces has increased, providing you with plenty of places to sell things online. Start by creating a PayPal account for all your payments before taking good photos of the products you’re going to sell. Then work hard at marketing these products well, providing good customer service and using different platforms to sell your things.

5. Start Freelance Writing

If you have a way with the written word and enjoy putting pen to paper, freelance writing could be a good little money earner for you. Even though you can’t expect to dive straight in at the top and start earning lots per word (some of the lowest-paying gigs start at around £0.01 per word), with a bit of time and effort you should be able to build up an impressive portfolio. And this is made even easier if you get creative with the first tip we gave you, showcasing your writing skills on your own blog.

As you can see, making money online need not be an arduous or time-consuming task. Instead, all it takes is some savvy skills, creativity and dedication and you’ll be well on your way to generating some additional income that’ll cover all those expensive seasonal bills.

Everyone knows that having a child changes their life, but not everyone thinks about all the implications of that. For instance, a child needs to have the temperature in its environment carefully curated in order to thrive. If you haven’t put any thought into how your home will treat its new occupant, don’t fret. We have a guide to some easy ways to help with that.

Place the Crib Carefully

When placing the crib inside your new family member’s room, you’ll want to take a look around first. Where are the vents located? Putting a child directly beneath the vent may lead to discomfort when the system kicks on, not to mention the possible exposure to environmental pollutants if your system has not been properly cleaned for a while. Keeping the bedding away from windows is also probably a good idea, as the joins required of a window can make it a structural weak point where drafts can easily get in.

Install a Smart Thermostat

You may want your home to have different temperatures at different times, but it can be hard to remember to manually set the thermostat when you wake up or walk out the door. But, with a baby on board, you need stable temperatures to keep them comfortable. A smart thermostat installation can help by allowing you to program in different temperatures for different times, and making it easy to remotely access the system from your smart device, wherever you are in the house. Some newer systems even allow for zone heating and cooling, where you set different temperatures for different rooms.

Seal the Walls

Image via Flicker by Laura604

We sometimes think of our houses as our fortresses against the outside world, but our fortifications aren’t always optimized against the weather. Depending on how old and solidly built your home is, it may have a series of cracks in the walls, letting in the draft and driving up your heating and cooling bills. You can keep the temperature in baby’s room more under control by walking around the interior and exterior surfaces of the room, looking for flaws. Pay special attention to the joins, such as where the windows meet the wall, as they tend to degrade.

Cover Windows

While plugging up all the cracks and making sure the window seal is good will go a long way to keeping the temperature in your child’s room under control, there are other measures that you can take that are perhaps less drastic. Window treatments include things like curtains, with thicker drapes helping to seal in the climate in the room. If you are concerned about the draftiness of the room where your infant sleeps, you can bring in thicker curtains and make sure they are closed during troublesome times of day. Opening them when it is sunny, however, is a great way to bring in some light and heat.

With all that a new parent has to worry about, you don’t want to add to your concerns by failing to prepare for bringing a child into your home environment. Luckily, a few adjustments like those above should make your home child friendly.

An ex after a breakup is quite similar to delicious hamburger during a diet. You decide you don’t want them, but the thoughts just keeps popping up in your mind. And the more you try to not think about it, the more you end up obsessing.

When it comes to dieting, you can probably stop thinking about food once you’ve had a delicious meal. But it’s not so easy with an ex. This article is going to give you a few tips to stop obsessive thoughts about an ex.

  1. Stop communication with your ex

A lot of people tend to stay in touch with their exes after a breakup. It’s a little reassuring, since it gives you a sense that you still haven’t lost him forever. Unfortunately, this sense is one of the main reason you start obsessing over your ex. You start over analysing every message he sends you. You start expecting him to contact you and you get extremely nervous when he doesn’t reply to your message.

The simple and quite obvious solution to this problem, according to GetYourExBackPermanently.com, is to stop all communication with your ex. You just don’t contact him, and if he contacts you, you don’t answer. It’s a little hard to do, but when all is said and done, it’s the most effective way to move on and get your ex out of your head.

  1. Disconnect Them On Social Media

While you are stopping contact with your ex, it’ll be a wise idea to unfriend, unfollow or block him from all your social media accounts. The reason is simple. Out of sight, out of mind. As long as your ex keeps popping up in your Facebook feed or your twitter account, you are going to keep thinking about what’s going on with him.

  1. Give Yourself Some Time to Grieve

Once you’ve cut all contact with your ex, don’t expect your obsessive thoughts to go away instantly. It’s completely natural for you to think about every detail of the relationship and what he said during the breakup. Your mind is going to grieve the relationship and you are going to think about him. A lot. It’s OK though, because this phase will pass away.

Do not try to force yourself to stop thinking about him. It’ll only make your thoughts more intense and come back at a later time. Let the thoughts come and accept them for what they are. Just thoughts. And they don’t mean anything unless you act on them. If you don’t let your obsessive thought control you (like calling your ex, or checking his Facebook), they’ll eventually fade away.

  1. Start Enjoying Your Life

It might seem a little hard at first but you must go out and start enjoying your life without your ex. Do anything that makes you feel better and learn to be happy without him. It’s necessary that you give your mind and your body some break from grieving. Just a little bit of exercise everyday can be that much needed break.

  1. Start Organising Your Thoughts

Writing is therapeutic. However, if you just keep on writing about how bad you feel, it’s not going to be of much help. It’s a better idea to write with a goal in mind. Instead of analysing everything in your mind, you can write down how you feel about the relationship and your ex.

Write down the pros and cons of your ex. Write down the pros and cons of your relationship. Write down the pros and cons of getting back together with him. Write down the compatibility issues you had with your ex. This will make you feel much better and your mind won’t feel the need to think these thoughts again and again now that it’s written on paper.


I cannot tell you how excited I am already. We’re coming into that phase now where I can start drinking mulled wine at lunchtime and having mince pies for tea and it’s all totally fine and acceptable because it’s NEARLY CHRISTMAS!


In case, for some BIZARRE reason, you aren’t immediately filled with Christmas cheer at the very thought of twinkling lights and overpriced Christmas gift packs of toiletries, then this should cheer you up – a competition to win £100 to spend on toys.

You’re welcome.

win christmas toys

This prize comes courtesy of PoundToy.

PoundToy is a website that has all the same toys as your big online retailers, but they’re up to 75% cheaper. They do this by cutting out the expensive high street and store costs and delivering all orders directly to the customer from their family run warehouse. They offer free delivery on all orders over £25 AND they price match against Amazon and eBay.

“The reason we started PoundToy,” they told me, “is because we identified that the big named stores are very expensive and they make incredible margins, taking the money out of families pockets that struggle at times such as Christmas. As a company that was setup by such a family, our values and company ethos is to ensure every family can have a Christmas on any budget by buying toys at more reasonable prices.”

Sounds good right? Plus the bonus here is that your £100 will get you even more toys that you might expect!

To enter, first visit the PoundToy site for a browse, and come back and leave a comment on this post, telling me one thing you’d spend your prize money on if you won. Register your comment in the widget below and do as many of the bonus entries as you can to increase your chances of winning.

The competition will close at 11.59pm on 10th November. UK entries only. Full T&Cs apply.

Good luck!

Like this competition? Enter my other one HERE to win 8 beautiful craft books!

Win £100 to spend on toys for Christmas

No parent likes seeing their child suffering from allergies. But, there are some simple ways to help you control allergic reactions, especially those caused by dust, pollen, and other environmental triggers. Let’s look at ways to help your child get through allergy season with a lot less discomfort.

Clean Your House

Image via Flickr by Phyllis Buchanan

Dust allergies is one of the most common allergies, so it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible. Vacuum and dust daily to prevent the buildup of dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and other irritants. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter for capturing even the smallest particles. Clean exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms, too, and use a damp cloth to clean air registers, return vents, and ceiling fans. The air conditioning filter needs changing monthly in order to function properly, and hosing down your outside unit often keeps pollen, dirt, and dust from building up.

Wash Clothes

When children come in from playing outside, their microscopic allergens cling to their clothing. Have your child bathe or shower and change clothes once outside activities finish for the day. By bathing in the evenings, allergens won’t transfer to sheets and pillowcases giving your child a better night’s sleep.

Close Windows

When the weather turns nice and you open your windows, you let allergens into your home. Despite the beautiful day outside, keeping your windows down prevents pollen and other springtime irritants from upsetting sensitive noses.

Eat Right

A healthy, balanced diet helps keep the immune system functioning properly and helps control allergies. Cook with fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and add essential fatty acids from organic flaxseed or hemp seed oil to your recipes. Keep congestion-causing food such as dairy products, processed wheat, and sugar products away from children as they worsen allergy symptom. Adding nuts and fish to the diet also helps fight allergies, but make sure you child is not allergic to nuts before offering them. Fruits like citrus, apples, and kiwi are tasty and contain Vitamin C, a natural antihistamine.

Use Non-Toxic Cleaners

Cleaning products sold in most stores contain harmful chemicals that trigger allergies. Check the labels and look for natural products or make your own cleaning products using baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar. Not only do these products clean well, they leave your home smelling fresh and clean without any chemical residue.

Control Mold & Mildew

Moist environments breed mold and mildew so you want to rid your home of as much extra humidity as you can. Use bathroom exhaust fans after hot showers so the damp air doesn’t invade the rest of the house. If possible, invest in a whole-house dehumidifier, especially if the climate where you live is already muggy. Use smart thermostats which check humidity levels and tell you if the air in your home is too moist or dry.

Suffering from allergies is no fun. Try these tips, and you can rest assured those runny noses, sneezes, and red and itchy eyes won’t ruin your child’s day.