Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Life's Dramas - I Need a Break!

Recently a lot has been getting me down, but when I sit down and think of everything I've been doing, I can't say it's any surprise.

I'm not superwoman - who is!? She's a fictional character! Although I know there's loads of superwoman's and superman's out there, I think everyone is entitled to a break - superheroes included!

I'm engaged - but I hardly feel it sometimes, it's not as though I have time to spend with Gareth, not as much as the both of us would like. Being a full time single mum means I'm not free often, plus I work, part time technically, part time is what I get paid for, but the hours spent unpaid is more than just a few.

People see a blogger's life and they think we have it easy, they think we just sit at home all day answering the door to couriers dropping off parcels.

They think we can have time off work because we're our own bosses, they think we can spend hours on the phone chatting away, and have people round our homes for hours on end.

Yesterday I turned 26, not that birthday's are fun at my age and with my tired, worn out state, but the day got off to a good start. Gareth's mum come round and spent a few hours with me, it was the first time we'd been alone together as Gareth is usually with her, or I visit them at their house, I was quite nervous even though I've been with Gareth for over a year, but I literally had nothing to worry about, it was really nice.

My sister had popped in prior to this just quickly to drop off a card and a present, and once Spud had finished school, my brother Paul had popped in with a card, and my cousin and her baby girl come aroid for a few hours. Gareth and my brother Jamie had planned to come around in the evening, with Jamie treating us all to an Indian.

My dad was going well until I picked Spud up from school.

I didn't notice anything unusual in his behaviour or tone of voice, so was surprised when he asked me if he could move to a different school! I asked Spud why, along with asking him if something had happened today for him to come out and say that, he told me nothing had happened but he really wanted to go to a new school. 

I know my child, I know when he has something to hide, and I knew something was up. 

Not wanting to press on the subject too much around the school surroundings I waited until we got in to ask him more, he soon broke down in tears and told me that a girl - who'm he'd class as his friend had told him she would kill him.

I told Spud that NO ONE will ever hurt him, NEVER EVER!!!

However, he was still extremely worked up, terrified and upset, so I called his school and spoke to his teacher and she'd arranged to have a word with Spud in school today.

Spud is a child who loves spending time in his bedroom playing with his toys, reading and playing his game consoles, however yesterday, he was a completely different child, he followed me everywhere and sat as squashed up to me as he possibly could, he didn't want anything for dinner, but eventually agreed on a pizza when I told him it's important to eat - he had one slice, he didn't want to go to bed when it come to bedtime, he was scared to fall asleep.

Before anyone tells me what this girl said is child's behaviour - let me tell you it's NOT!

My child would never say that to anyone, and I strongly believe children only learn from what they've been brought up around.

Today has consisted of tears - lots of them, from both myself and Spud. He's been sobbing, catching his breath from crying so much telling me how scared he was to go to school - my child is scared for his life, to see him that scared, afraid and upset destroyed me.


I send my son to school for an education, not to be hearing vile threats from dragged up estate children, you know the child who's parents are so lazy, they can't be bothered to take them to school, the child who is never in correct uniform - its most probably a choice of fags or school clothes in homes like that.

Whilst I feel sorry for the child, because she clearly hasn't been brought up properly, I'm angry with her at the same time!

Spud is 10, she's in his year, so she's either nine or 10 years old, she should know BETTER, even though at NO age has my child ever said that to anyone, and I hope he never does!

This morning, so upset and frustrated that I can't deal with the situation the way I would love to, I thought about leaving this rubbish whole that I call home. Leaving the town altogether and getting me and my child miles away from here. My mum said moving to Cornwall was the best thing she ever done.

People say bullying happens everywhere, but having blogger friends who live in small villages, I know it's rare to see, whereas with places like Reading, and especially the part of Reading we live in, it's common. It's so common, too common for my liking!

We live in a disadvantaged area where so many children get free school meals because their parents are on benefits, and without help from charities and various organisations then these families don't get to see the seaside, they don't get holidays, they don't get nice days out and they don't even get a decent dinner - the cheapest chicken nuggets/fish fingers/sausages, chips and beans are most probably common scenes on their dinner tables.

I should add I love sausage chips and beans - I've not had it for a long time!

You get my drift.

I'm no way making out to be the perfect mother, I've had two small benefit stints where I was unable to work mainly due to Spud's health. However, I know to give my child a better life - I have to work for it.

I'm not going to pop out child after child so I can live off benefits for the rest of my life - what kind of life is that?

You're living but are you alive?

Another thing that's really getting me down at the moment also is constantly being asked to look after other children's kids.

I'm not a professional babysitter, child minder or nanny, and I need a break. I don't have my own life, my own social surroundings, if I'm not being a mum, I'm working, I need time with my own family, I even need time alone.

I'm not having a midlife crises or breakdown, but I do fear one could be around the corner if I take on anything else, if I don't get my life back to where I wanted it to be.

I have a house that needs decorating from top to bottom minus the kitchen and lounge, the smell from previous tenants has finally gone, but this isn't my home yet. Sometimes when I'm with someone who drives, I ask them to drive to our old flat - the one me and Spud called home, just so I can stare at the building that didn't bring us much happiness I must admit, but it was home, and it was decorated to how I wanted it.

I've got all the paint, gloss and wallpaper this house needs, but before I can think about decorating I really need to get the walls plastered!

Then there's my weight, and I don't even know where to start on that, I wouldn't even say I've became an elephant, because that's an insult to my favourite animals.

I've got huge though, seriously unhealthy, it's so bad that hardly any of my clothes fit me any more, and yet due to all the stress, I'm comfort eating badly. I wish I was one of those ones who got stressed and didn't eat, because I'm sure by now I'd be a nice size 10-12!

Life is poop at the moment, I just need a break from everything, some time to spend with my family.

Jada x

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Considering An Equity Release? Read This First!

If you’re over 55, or you’re taking care of an elderly parent, then you may have considered equity release. This will allow you to access the value in a property without anyone having to sell or move. However, any money which you access through this has to be paid back with interest. One the one hand, it’s a way of getting your independence back, and living the way you want to. On the other, it can mean that you’re cutting some of your family out of the money you’d otherwise lead behind. Obviously, equity release isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider before you proceed.

Image from Wikimedia

First of all, make sure you think about the alternatives. You may have been bombarded by junk mail and spam telling you all about the benefits of equity release. In this case, it can be easy to assume it’s the best solution to your problems. However, there are always alternatives. You should be looking into these before you make any big decisions regarding the future. One popular alternative is simply moving to a smaller home. There are expenses involved in downsizing, true. However, it will usually cost you far less than the set-up charges and interest of an equity release. Alternatively, you could ask your close family for support. I know that it may feel strange asking for help from your younger family. However, if you can swallow a little pride, getting help from those who care about you can be a great way out of your financial trouble. Whatever you decide on doing, make sure your family are informed throughout the process.

If you decide you are going through with an equity release, you should get advice from anywhere possible. There are countless equity release schemes available. With the wide selection in something you’re new to, it can be extremely hard to decide on what’s best for you. If possible, go looking for an independent equity release specialist who will be happy to talk you through the process. Failing that, there are a lot of online resources you can use to find out the full extent of your options. Tools like an equity release calculator could be a pretty good place to start. However, it’s always best to talk to someone in person. Before settling on an adviser, ensure their experience fits your personal circumstances. This is especially important when it comes to benefits, long-term care and so on.

Image from Pixabay

The next thing to consider is how much you need to borrow. Note how I say “need” and not “want”! Only ever borrow the amount you need to spend or give out. If you leave any cash on deposit, you’ll earn far less from this compared to the interest you’ll have to pay for borrowing it. Furthermore, borrowing money could mean that you lose out on certain benefits you otherwise would have been entitled to. Alternatively, you could look into a drawdown plan. Through this, you have a cash reserve which you can use in portions, rather than receiving a lump sum. The interest is only payable on the money you take out as and when you need it. for a lot of people, this is a far more cost-effective option.

When it comes to a lifetime mortgage, make sure you don’t overlook the APR. The annual percentage rate of a mortgage is the cost of borrowing over a year, including any fees as opposed to the headline rate. Far too many people completely ignore this, and end up tied to agreements which they never wanted. In some situations, the APR can add a whole 0.5 percent onto the headline rate. Usually, this is the cost of setting up the arrangement in the first place, and differences in how the interest rate is calculated.

Image from Pixabay.

Finally, make sure you’re getting all the legal counsel you need. Find a solicitor who has some proven experience working with equity releases. I know that you may be looking to save as much money as possible. However, without a legal professional on board, the whole process can be longer and less cost-effective. While equity release lawyers were hard to find in the past, these days there are many who have specialised in this niche. Your advisor should be able to give you a good recommendation. However, if you don’t trust their choice, go looking yourself. Consider these points, and you’ll have a much smoother experience with your equity release. My final piece of advice is to keep your long-term goals in mind. If you don’t have a set goal, a release could do more harm than good!

Jada x

Camping With Kids: Essential Items You Need To Have

Picture link.

If you’re planning on taking your kids camping sometime soon, you’re in for a real treat. You can spend time enjoying the great outdoors, discovering wildlife and learning new skills. But if you’ve never been camping before, it’s likely you don’t know what you need to take. The last thing you want is to arrive at the campsite to realize you’ve forgotten to get something you really need. This can make yours and your children’s first experience of camping truly miserable. So to give you some guidance, here are some essential camping items you cannot do without.

A Good Quality Tent
This may seem like a very obvious essential you need to take. But many first-time campers often don’t realize the importance of a good quality tent. If you buy a cheaply made, low-quality tent, it could leak, break easily and not give you the suitable space and structure you require. It’s always better to get the best quality tent you can afford that has enough room for each member of your family and their bags. Look at reviews online and talk to other parents about the tents they have bought for their camping trips. This should give you a better idea of what you need to look for. Also, try to find a tent that is easy to pitch and pack away. As it’s your first time, you don’t need the stress of pitching a complicated tent if you don’t have to.

A Gazebo
A gazebo is a brilliant camping essential that can provide comfort, space, and shelter from the elements. There may be periods during your trip when the weather may take a turn for the worst. While there is nothing wrong with going into your tent, you may find a gazebo lets you move around more freely. It can give you extra space to cook meals, play games and keep your belongings dry during bad weather. Instead of being limited to the space inside your tent. It can also provide some much-needed shade and stop you and your family getting sunburned. You can find gazebos for sale in camping shops and online in a range of different price points and styles to suit you.

Sleeping Bags
Sleeping bags are something every camper should have and without them, your nights will be very uncomfortable. Look for well padded, suitably sized sleeping bags for each member of your family. You can find some excellent adult kids sleeping bags from OLPRO and Go outdoors. You can also find sleeping bag designs with hoods and pockets for extra functionality. This will make your tent far more comfortable to sleep in by providing protection from the floor and warmth. Shop around for the best prices and also consider air mattresses for additional comfort.

Now you know what you need to take; you can start looking forward to your camping trip. If you need a more extensive list of what items you need to take, look online for a camping checklist. Or talk to the staff in camping shops to make sure you are all prepared for your adventure.

Jada x

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

My Top Tips for First Time Renters.

Like a lot of people in their twenties, I found it very difficult to move out on my own, especially with a young child to care for. I lived with my parents for a long time with Spud before we finally got our own place in 2008, but it can be a tough world for people just starting out. That’s why I’ve put together these top tips for anyone just going into the scary world of renting for the first time. Hopefully, it will give you that helping hand you need…

Be brutal with your budgeting
If you want to move out, there will be some tough decisions and sacrifices to be made, so unless you’re absolutely sure you can afford it then you should probably re-think. I’ve always worked and paid my own way, so I know how hard it can be just to pay for living costs, but you’ll have rent to think about, council tax, utility bills and food. Do your research on the area you want, and make realistic estimations of how much the running costs of a place will be.

Cater to children and animals
Some people might intend to rent for a number of years, in which case it’s better to allow for the growth of your family like you would when buying a house. For example, rent somewhere with some outside space if you want a pet, or get a place near good schools if you expect to still be living there when they reach that age. That way, you won’t have to move again just as you settle in.

At the flat, Spud desperately wanted a puppy dog, but our landlord wasn't clear on the rules, in one document it said permission was to be sought, in another it said no domestic pets! Although it broke my heart breaking Spud's heart, I had no choice but to abide by the rules! Now we're at the house and our landlord is fine with pets, Jezeppi is now the third member of our little family!

Pick an agent who treats you like a person
The agent you choose can affect the whole renting experience, and they can be like a dream to deal with, or a nightmare. How well you get on with them and how professional they are is crucial, so make sure you pick a business that is both friendly and knowledgeable. For example, there are plenty of letting agents in York, but Linley & Simpson are perfect for those who want to be treated like an individual rather than just another tenant!

Always check what’s included
Even if you’re going to opt for a fully furnished flat, there are some things that won’t be included. For example, you might get a TV stand, but you often won’t get a TV, but all of these little things add up to one big cost when you move in. If you’ve found somewhere you like, make a list of questions to ask your letting agent. Make an appointment to go through everything in detail that you’ll need to provide, and then you’ll be able to go away with an idea of the cost attached to it. Read more on this here.

I hope these top tips help you to work out whether it’s time for you to strike out on your own – do you have any more tips for first time renters?

Jada x