Don’t Sell Up, Smarten Up Instead

There are loads of reasons we decide to up and move house, but unless the reason is down to location, should this always be out first port of call? Living in a ‘disposable world’ means we have got used to throwing rather than fixing, the trend of up cycling has made a real difference in this areas meaning we are beginning to learn how to make the best of what we have again. So rather than upping sticks and investing a lot of time, money and resources into selling, finding and acquiring a new property, might we be best investing a fraction of the time and money into making the best of our homes? Here’s a few of the top reasons we decide to move from a happy family home and a few bright and cheery tips for improving your home that might inspire an ‘up cycle’ over ‘up and go’ attitude towards it.

1: Need More Space

Desperate for an extra bedroom, office, store room or even gym space? Moving to a bigger property might seem like the only way to get the extra space you need in your home. But don’t be too hasty, if you love your home and are happy with where you live, there may be alternatives that give you exactly what you need. Lots ideas will create extra space in your house without planning permission so start looking at your home for possible expansions, you could consider: loft conversions, renovating spare garages or outhouses, adding a conservatory, building a garden room, converting basements or even adding single storey extensions in some cases.

2: Upgrading

Perhaps you want to move because you feel you have outgrown the style in your current property and want to add some luxury to your daily lifestyle. Finding a brand new property that has the style you want is a tempting option, but it’s really unusual to find a property that doesn’t need a bit of work to make it your own. So instead of jumping ship, take stock of your current properties attributes and see if you can add that pinch of luxury and your new sense of style to the home you already have so many memories in. Great features that can have a huge impact with less effort than a full move and renovation are things like well-crafted staircases, feature fireplaces, new windows and doors or even renovating a little and making open plan areas such as kitchen diners.

3: Running Costs

When you live in an older house, the running costs can become excessive and literally run you out of your home so it can be tempting to cut your losses and move. But, old houses can really benefit from some TLC and often by renovating the property and putting cash in to an effective renovation you can make a much more economic property with stunning traditional features you are unlikely to get at the same price elsewhere. To get your old property up to scratch you’ll need to consider things like the best insulation, window fittings, roofing, cellar spaces and any other areas that effect your energy usage. As well as this take a look at the most costly repairs required in your home and see if you can make a good situation out of a bad one, for example, if you are constantly having to make small repairs to old water piping in the kitchen, it may be just as effective in the long term to do a full kitchen renovation and get to the route of the issues whilst taking the opportunity to add that bit of luxury you were hoping for in a new property. It’s really hard to find a property with beautiful original features, so if your property has beautiful fireplaces, flooring, lighting etc then it’s worth giving them a bit of a facelift so they work for you in the right way.

 

 

Your Financial Healthcheck

It’s nearly time for the big spring clean and it’s got me thinking about all the other things in my life that it wouldn’t harm to give a little spruce up. My car most definitely needs a service and a bit of a clean, the garage and garden could both do with some tending to and so on, but this led me on to thinking about what I could afford to spend a little extra money on and in turn that got me thinking about how long it’s been since I actually took stock of my finances. It turns out it’s a lot longer than I imagined it was and that my finances probably needed the biggest spring clean of all. To get me started I came up with this little financial health check list and I hope it will be of some use to you too.

  • Sign up for a Free Credit report

There are a few companies out there who offer this service so just do a quick search online and work out the best option for you. This will allow you to view yourself how lenders view you which will be exceptionally important if you look to make a big financial commitment such as buying a new car. It also gives you a good overview of the type of financial products you have attached to your name or property.

  • Spring Clean your Credit Score Yourself

Once, you have signed up and taken stock of it you can set about really understanding your credit score. Look at all your open accounts, total debt, defaults and so forth. If there is anything than can be cleared off make sure you contact the companies and ask them to make a change to your report so it looks as good as it possibly can to prospective lenders.

  • Check for any suspicious activity

With your report to hand and with a good visual overview of your finances, make sure there is no suspicious activity on there, part of your financial health check should be to ensure that you have not been a victim of identity fraud and that someone else isn’t running down a credit score that you might need to be in tip top shape for a life event such as buying a new home. If you do find suspicious activity be sure to report it as soon as possible. Most agencies who offer credit report services will have a department that could help you with this so they might be a good first port of call.

  • Income and Expenditure

Make an exhaustive list of your income and outgoings and then pick it apart. Is there anything that you are paying for that you don’t need to be? Are there high bills that could be lowered by switching to other providers? There are some great online sites that have excellent budgeting tools that can help you out with this and also have extra help and advice for sorting out your finances if you need it.

  • Plan

Once you have finished your financial health check, just put a date in the diary to remind you not to leave it so long next time! It will be much easier the more regularly you keep up to it.

  • Get Help

And don’t forget to ask for help if you need it!

Dream Jobs

It’s extremely common for people to want a new job, in fact, studies show that in the UK one in five of us are ready to move on. It is however worth carefully considering why you want to move jobs and if the prospective new jobs out there are going to be more fulfilling than your current one. Recently there’s also been some noise about an amazing application from a ten year old who applied for the Professor of Lego at Cambridge University role, which was extremely inspiring! With this in mind I thought I’s take a look at some of the roles I would find most fulfilling and some tips on ways to land your dream job. There are some real unique roles out there including things like; waterslide tester, professional snuggler and even a professional sleeper! But for this one I thought I’d limit it to some more likely options (and I’ll apologise now that because of my love of food a fair few of these are orientated towards my tastebuds!).

  1. Tea Taster

Most of us have heard of whiskey and wine tasting as a job role, but I’ve never had a soft spot for whiskey or wine, so when I heard there was a similar role for tea I could hardly contain myself. It’s a real art and gives you the chance to travel the world sipping teas of all kinds. For this one, you’d need to make sure your taste buds were up to scratch, be up for 5 years of training and as it is a scare role, you’ll need a good CV that really makes you stand out from the crowd.

  1. Ice Cream Taster

Another one that makes my mouth water at the thought of, and if you were working for a US company, you could rake in between $40,000 and $100,000 for this one! It’s quite a rare opportunity so you would need to look into educating yourself in food science and you’d absolutely need to do your research prior to meeting with the company as you’ll need to be on top for to nail the interview and get ahead of the competition.

  1. Food Stylist

All those beautifully delicious looking dishes you see in film, TV and books don’t come from nowhere. Quite right some great chefs usually make the dishes up, but did you know that even the food we see in our media gets a facelift? This one would be great for me as I love making things look amazing and being creative. For this one, consider bumping up your current qualifications and skills set by looking into some courses in photography and cookery school to give you an idea of what you will be working with and to give yourself a well-rounded CV.

  1. Photographer

I’d absolutely love to be a photographer, I love the idea of creating beautiful artistic photos that people can enjoy for years to come. I genuinely think I’d love most kinds of photographer but especially combining it with one of my other passions such as travel or food. Even better, as a photographer I’d be more likely to be able to set out working for a great boss…me! As a freelancer I’d get the opportunity to work with a multitude of clients in a multitude of locations which would hopefully lead to a job in which there was never a dull moment. Jean Cazals, London Food Photographer, gives us some insider info in this clip…

  1. Actor, Stand In or Stunt Person

Ok so this one is pretty vast and nothing like any of my other jobs but I just love the idea of being part of the arts. I don’t care if its body doubling, working as an extra, being a stunt person or, thinking extremely positively, really making it as a big actor! I’d just find it so interesting meeting and collaborating with so many different types of people who are all working to achieve an amazing piece of art that will live on into the future.

 

 

Starting A New Job

You landed a brand spanking new job and now you need to start thinking about the impact you will have in your new role. It can be nerve racking walking into a new building, a new job, new colleagues and new line managers so it’s really important that you do everything you can to make yourself feel welcome from day 1 to try and eliminate anxiety and possible speed bumps from the get go. Here’s the lo-down on everything you need to do to make sure you get off to the perfect start.

One Month To Go

With a month to go you have likely just been offered your new role and you are about to set a start date and hand in your letter of resignation. It is at this stage you need to start thinking about anything that will make the biggest difference to if you accept the job or not, think carefully about if the pay, travel to and from work, training and holidays etc are right for you when you check through your contract of employment and then hand in  your resignation. Most employers have an onboarding plan, this usually includes paperwork for things like health and safety, extra background info, payroll requirements, training and holiday entitlements and so forth, now would be a good time to find out what kind of documents you will need to get together to supply your new employer with. Also grab important key personal contact details now in case you need to get in touch over the coming month.

One Week To Go

Recruiters always want to find the best employees to fit in with their team so it is important that you show them that they have made the right choice. An important way of showing this in a summary is how you first package yourself, this includes things like how you dress and how you carry yourself, because the way you appear will in seconds suggest the kind of traits you will bring to the workplace. So, with one week to go it’s important that you pick out an appropriate first day outfit, ensure it all fits and acquire any additions you might need. Ideally you want to pick something that fits in with the style of workplace, is comfortable and has layers (you don’t know what kind of temperature your workplace will have and there is nothing worse than being anxious, nervous AND uncomfortable), is understated but still shows a little bit of character.

It’s also at this stage that you will need to think about how you are getting to work and your timings. Being late is a huge no, no especially on your first day. You want to look as though you organised and efficient so arriving late and flustered just won’t do. Do a travel plan now and ensure you leave time for any last minute hick ups or emergencies, a little extra time once you are there will give you time to relax and make sure you look like you are raring to go when you arrive.

It’s a good idea to get a feel of the company and do a bit of research on your new colleagues so use the company website, linked in etc to get an idea of your team and the company’s overall ethos so that it gives you a head start on how you will approach people and help you remember all those new names! In smaller companies can provide more of a challenge as they may not have as much staff information online as some larger companies but most will have at least a basic outline of their visions and values.

An added nicety would be to drop your new employer a quick but professional email to let them know that you are looking forward to starting your new role with them and to ask if there is anything they would like you to be prepared for on your first day, i.e any meetings, travel to other office locations etc.

One Day To Go

This is the day to make sure you will be cool and collected tomorrow so it is really all about getting everything you have already done together. Get your travel route and check there have been no major disruptions, get your outfit and accessories hung up and ready to slip straight into in the morning, make sure you have any documents or requested info from the employer ready to take with you and then just clear your head. Take a little bit of ‘me time’ and get yourself comfortable for an early night before setting your alarm and preparing to awaken feeling extra organised and ready for the day ahead.

On The Day!

Take note of the tips in this video clip about being on time, having good posture and listening skills to make sure you make a really positive first impression on those you meet on your first day.

In addition don’t forget to follow instructions closely, take the initiative where appropriate and get to know your knew colleagues at appropriate intervals such as lunches or coffee breaks, getting friendly in the initial days will help people to warm to you and they’ll probably feel more inclined to help you out if you ever need to call on them.

Follow these tips and you will be sure to make the best impression to your new colleagues and employer as well as giving yourself the best shot at success in your new role.