Sometimes we put an irrational amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve our financial goals. When we aren’t feeling at our best, we beat ourselves up, especially when we unconsciously compare ourselves to our ‘age mates’ which at times can feel like they are winning this invisible race society has created.
Make no mistake, I don’t question the happiness of those people who have posted their version of success on social media (which at times could be glitter not gold) however, what I question is our ability to asses whether we are allowing said news to contribute to the ridiculous amounts of pressure we put on ourselves, all because:
“I’m almost *insert age here* and I’m not married”
“I’ve been working my butt off, but can’t seem to save”
“I Should be further ahead in my career at my age”
“I should be buying my 1st home by now”
“I *insert negative self talk*
Social media has amongst other things created urgency to achieve things simply because everyone on our feeds are sharing their wins all at the same time.
Once upon a time in what we now call the dark ages (before facebook) we didn’t really have exposure to so many other ‘lanes’. Of course we would hear about other people’s successes, but it wouldn’t be so in your face.
What’s your point Joseph?! In short I’m pretty certain we as a society have become impatient. We are a generation that thrives of INSTANT gratification.
This is by no means a message to bash social media or encourage you to go off grid, but actually the key message I want you to take away from this is to stop. Take a breather. Stop putting yourself under the wrong kind of pressure. I guess it is a longer way of saying trust the process, and stay in your lane.
Task: Think about the thing that is distracting you from your lane, realign yourself and go at your pace.
P.S. the more time you spend worrying and beating yourself up the less time you are spending on achieving your dreams. You’ve got this!
Today we are going to be discussing something that is very close to home for me – the big commute!
It’s no secret that London is the place to be in order to receive a quality salary. This tends to be because salaries incorporate the extortionate costs of zone 1-3 travel and the general cost of living. Let’s not forget that London is the heart of the UK. London is home to the Bank of England, the worldwide beloved Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to name a few!
Throughout my career from retail right through to the financial sector I have always met people that lived in areas I had never heard of either on the outskirts or far out of London. They’d always express how affordable it was to maintain a high quality of life, whilst commuting to London and still having a considerable amount of disposable cash.
I have had the experience of renting in London for around 6 years and the most I have spent on rent is £1,200 per calendar month for a 1 bed apartment and then an additional £500 on bills & groceries. That’s a whopping £1,700 to have a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Let’s not forget that we haven’t even discussed the cost of travel, luxuries and unexpected miscellaneous expenses. I’d say my monthly expenses were not too shy of £2,500 – crazy!
Living outside London I have realised that I am able to keep the same quality salary, whilst reducing my outgoings, in turn being able to save more and invest elsewhere. Not to mention that the house prices are extremely affordable. I went from paying £1,200PCM on rent, to under £500 on my monthly Mortgage.
Thinking about making the big move?
Here’s some tips and things to consider…
5 Steps to making it outside London:
Drive. Get your driving licence so that you don’t have to depend on your partner, taxi’s or public transport. Honestly, public transport is shocking! You can expect a bus every 30mins.
Commute. Live somewhere that is within walking/cycle distance of the train station. If you live far from the train station, you will have to drive, pay for parking or a taxi and this is counterproductive.
Flexible working. The current climate has meant that the hands of many employers have been forced to be more flexible with their employees. Not commuting in to the office everyday can take some pressure off both financially and physically, this also allows you to recharge your batteries, in turn making you a lot more productive.
Opt for a bigger space. Outside London the pound goes a lot further. If you can, opt for a house/apartment with a spare room. Make this your office. Try to avoid working on your bed hunched over on your laptop. And if you can stretch a bit further, go for somewhere that has a garden or a lovely communal outdoor space.
New Normal. Have an open mind. Things are going to be different, try new things. You can’t expect that London ambiance, because after all, it’s not London.
This is a very popular topic and one that comes with a lot of questions requiring clarity.
A couple with a Joint Bank account will both be responsible for the behaviour and management of that account.
Because a joint account tends to play second fiddle to someones main sole account it is easy to go in to an unarranged overdraft without noticing.
Once the account goes in to an unarranged overdraft of say £7, months and then years pass and you are paying interest on interest with being none the wiser. This account balance in the *minus without an arranged overdraft will appear on both of your credit files. The same for any joint utility bills that are not managed well and fall under “missed payments” or the “returned direct debit” bracket.
*Solution= Check your accounts bi-weekly. All of them. Analyse your payments, be aware of when direct debits are due and make sure you have enough funds. Transfer funds between accounts if you need to.
Debt & your Credit Score Joint loan accounts, Mortgages and the like.
Any unpaid debt, missed payments or defaults will affect the both of you. Even if the payments for the commitment had a direct debit set up from a sole account (Mr), if a payment is missed, this will be attached to both parties as the account is in joint names and both are responsible for the upkeep of it. This will bring down both of your credit scores. Credit agencies like Experian also have a feature where it has an area that lists “linked/associated” accounts. This will bring up your husband, wife, partner etc that you currently or previously had a credit account with or simply have a marital connection to.
When is the right time to open a joint account?
Everyones situation and set up is different, however we found that the right time for us to open a joint account and merge our finances was when we got engaged. We knew that we were committed for the long run and were in the process of planning a wedding, buying a property and supporting one another where necessary so it was crucial that the finances were clear, accessible and shared.
If it wasn’t for marriage or saving for a property I wouldn’t be too keen on having a joint account or intertwining my credit.
Similarly, I know some married people that keep their finances separate. No joint account, no joint mortgage. One pays for the residential home, bills etc and it’s all in his name. One pays for and manages the buy to let property and it’s all in her name.
Do whatever works for you.
Expenses & Savings Goals
The key to staying on top of joint expenses, commitments and saving goals is a spreadsheet! I love me a good spreadsheet, especially one available in a shared Google drive as both you and your partner can edit, access it wherever and whenever you want. The latest version is also always being updated and saved.
We edit the spreadsheet on a monthly basis and are both able to see how much savings we have, the “free” income we have to play with and the bills that need to be paid.
We’re both very visual people so we colour code most of what we do and have regular breakdowns for as much as possible.
A key to us making this work is sharing the load, setting up standing orders and constantly updating the spreadsheet.
Since having this spreadsheet, we have saved more in 6 months than we were able to save in 1 year due to being disciplined and making sure every penny is accounted for.
We have no debts (except a Mortgage) and are enjoying the fruits of our hardwork.
Side Note: We use our credit cards for large purchases like holidays, electronics etc, but clear them within 24 hours. This is so that we can make use of purchase protection, fraud, returns, points and ultimately credit cards act as a level of insurance. I will dissect this topic further another day.
An example of a similar style of spreadsheet my husband and I use to stay on top of our finances can be found below:
I hope this helps.
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via the “Contact Me” tab.
Everyone is different and so is the size of debt. One thing we can all agree on, is that having debt, is not a nice feeling. Although we know it has to be cleared, at times we can’t think of anything we’d rather do less!
Clearing debt for me use to feel like throwing money in to a black hole.
However, I had to come to terms with the fact that I owed money to the bank and it wasn’t going to go away. I could have all the savings in the world, but until I’ve cleared that debt, my savings are compromised.
THE ACTION PLAN
For ease of the example lets say your net income every month is £2,000
We divide it up in to 3 sections.
10% – Gifts, Tithe, Charity Donations, Emergency fund etc. Whatever your chosen lifestyle supports.
40% – All essential bills including travel & food (This also includes luxuries like eating out and clothes shopping)
50% – Debt. Debt. Debt. Clear that debt!
10% – Gifts, Tithe, Charity Donations, Emergency fund etc. Whatever your chosen lifestyle supports.
60% – All essential bills including travel & food (This also includes luxuries like eating out and clothes shopping)
30% – Debt. Debt. Debt. Clear that debt!
The above is just an example and you can adjust the percentages to suit you.
Disclaimer: This worked for me as I was married and able to divide all household bills and essentials between 2 people. Due to this, I cleared my debt within 3 months. I do understand that this may not be the case for everyone and it may take longer to clear debt as a single person as your outgoings may be a lot higher. If you still live at home with parents or family, you have no excuse! Contribute, but save!
Something we can all do is cut back on the luxuries and use every spare cent to clear that debt.
Now that many of us are working remotely, we are saving a lot of money on travel, lunch and after work socials so no excuses!
It’s no secret that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire world.
Millions have lost their jobs. Off of the back of this, many will have to take payment holidays on their mortgages, some may eventually fall behind on mortgage payments and some may even lose their homes due to repossession.
What does this mean for the market?
I’m going to focus on2 things today.
It will be a buyers market, not a sellers
Lenders will have to recover a lot of unpaid debt and be a lot more frugal with who they lend to
What does this mean for you?
The person with a home to sell…
Now is the time! Sell as soon as possible and sit on the funds. Move in with family, think about short term renting and sit on the proceeds of the sale as in a few months, you will be able to buy a bigger house for a lot less.
Fast forward a few months… If you take too long to take the leap to put your property up for sale, you may need to take an Offer much less than what you wished for.
Are you in a chain? There’ll be more about what can do next week…
The person with a home to buy…
Hold your horses. There are going to be many houses to choose from and many people desperate to sell them so this may work in your favour when it comes to negotiating on price.
You may need to front more deposit than you may have initially planned due to Mortgage products being quite unstable. 90% Mortgages which require a 10% deposit have been pulled and reintroduced week by week. Lenders may also be a lot more picky with who they lend to, request much more information and be much quicker to decline applicants who don’t fit within their risk appetite
Key take aways
The time is now!
Be patient. Fix your credit & save save save!
All information on my blog is opinion driven based on market trends, statistics and forecasts regarding the current situation.
When I was younger, something I’d avoid with all of my heart was checking my account balance.
I’d spend and spend until the card didn’t work anymore. My card being declined was the indicator that I had no more money. It was that simple. This went on for about 9months to a year before I got a handle of it.
I’m not sure what it was, but ultimately it was fear. I knew that the funds in my account would always be decreasing and didn’t believe that checking my balance was worth the heartache.
Fast forward to today, I can’t help but constantly check my accounts. I have a good old nose across all of my accounts to keep an eye on my spending, move money around if necessary to do so and be in the know of how much expendable cash I have.
It is essential to be aware of your Account balance at all times to ensure that you don’t go in to an unwarranted overdraft, you have enough money for your upcoming direct debits, you haven’t paid for a service you didn’t receive, you wasn’t overcharged for something and many more.
If managing your essential direct debits and overspending on luxuries is something you find difficult, then break the two up.
I have an account for all of my Direct Debits. I put money in to it every month and I don’t touch it. The role of that account is simply to pay all of my direct debits and standing orders.
My second account is what I call my expenses account, with this I pay for petrol, food shopping, unexpected life woes (house maintenance) etc.
Finally I have my luxury account. This is the account I use for all of my online shopping dreams and desires. I have a budget and once it’s up, no more shopping for me!
This way of working has really helped me to save aggressively and never miss a payment or come up short at the end of the month.
Did you know that most people who have a “missed” or “late” payment as a negative marker on their credit file have no idea that this behaviour is effecting them badly?
Next week we will dive in to this further.
If you have any other tips for someone that doesn’t like to check their Account balance, feel free to leave your comment below.
1. When was the last time the *electrics were checked? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)
2. Has there ever been any water damage to the property? Flood, roof leak etc.
3. How long has the property been on the market?
4. Roughly how much are the monthly property related bills? Water, gas, electric, council tax, Building insurance2, internet
5. How old is the roof? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)
6. Have the owners done any renovations within the last 5 years?
7. How long have the owners lived here?
8. How far is the supermarket/train station?
9. What is the parking like? Do you have an allocated spot, drive way or is it first come first served?
10. Whats the crime like in the area?
11. Does the property have a restrictive 3covenant? If the Agent is unsure, dig!
12. Is there a 4chain? How quickly does/can the owner want to proceed to completion?
Ultimately, the seller/agent has one goal, sell the property! Take what they say with a pinch of salt and do some research of your own. Ask friends that live in/know of the area. Get a feel for the vibe on the street.
Go to your official viewing in the day and once you feel like you are willing to proceed with the purchase, visit the property and its surrounding area in the night to get a real feel for what it’d be like living there. Pay close attention to noise, anti social behaviour, over crowded parking etc.
1Electrics are particularly important, you can reasonably knock off £10,000 from the asking price of a property if the electrics have not been given the once over within the last 10 years. This is something you will definitely have to get done as soon as possible, this involves checking plug sockets, making sure no wires/cable are frayed and checking that the lights are working properly with no buzzing sound. Worse case scenario you will have to rewire the property. Rewiring a property is not cheap, but if required, is essential for older houses to prevent electrical fault damage which can ultimately lead to fires etc.
2Building insurance is a necessity and legal requirement for a House. It is not required for a flat as you are covered under the ground rent that you pay to the Landlord/Freeholder.
3A restrictive covenant can encourage neighbours to be to create harmony and deter anti social behaviour. It can also prevent you from carrying out certain actions like extensions, loft conversions or converting the house in to flats etc.
Obtain copies of the properties title from the official Land Registry website to be sure there’s no surprises.
4A property chain is created when more than one buyer is involved in a transaction. For example, say you are buying a home from someone and they are moving to a new home they are buying from another. That is an upward property chain, meaning that your completion date (when you move in) is likely to be affected by the date when your seller can move into their new home too.
If you’d like to add to the list of questions to ask when viewing a property, feel free to comment below. Happy House Hunting!
The concept of equity is quite simple and in practice is a great way to see a return from an investment.
Whether you are purchasing a family home or a buy to let property for rental purposes, the location and aesthetics of the property are crucial for its potential.
2016 Purchase Price £220,000 Mortgage Attained £198,000 (10% Deposit) 4 Bed property bought just outside of the M25 Walking distance from station Local supermarkets not far Good school catchment area En-suite Bathroom
2020 The same house sells for £300,000 The Mortgage balance has been decreasing repayment after repayment for the last 4 year Mortgage Balance (guesstimate) £188,000 (Dependent on interest rate)
This means that on the property you bought for £220,000 in 2016, you have made £80,000 as the value has gone up by this much across the 4 years.
When you sell the property for £300,000 you will clear the remaining Mortgage balance of £188,000 and be left with £112,000
You will then have other fees like solicitor fees, capital gains tax (on the *gain, not the sale price) and if you sold your property before the fee free period on the Mortgage product you are locked in to, you may have to pay an exit fee.
*The gain here is £80,000
All in all, worse case scenario you are left with £90,000. That is a profit of £68,000 when you take away the £22,000 deposit you initial invested for the property.
This is why many people buy properties well outside of London, fix them up and then sell them on. The money that can be made is mind blowing. However, that is only possible if you get it right!
Next week I will be speaking about what questions to ask and what to look out for when you go for a house viewing.
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 7ft, suppressing all other plant growth.
Why having Japanese Knotweed at a property is a no go…
It’s pretty self explanatory, but from a Mortgage perspective, most surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a negative find at a property and will deem a property unsuitable for Mortgage purposes due to the aggressiveness of it. However other surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a problem and insist that it is seen to and removed by a specialist before giving the property a value.
Not all home owners know that their property has Japanese Knotweed, which means potential buyers won’t know either and if not noticed when a survey is done on the property, good news, you’ve got away with it. However when you decide to move on and the weed has grown out of control and is noticeable, you may find it very costly and difficult to get the property off of your hands.
It’s not a good idea to hide the presence of knotweed
Whilst it may make the sale easier, the TA6 form now has a specific question about knotweed. Concealing the presence of knotweed could prove to be an expensive mistake, as the buyer may have a case for misrepresentation and against the seller and report the acting agent to the authorities for breach of CPR regulations.
What can be done…
The two main knotweed removal methods are herbicide treatment and physical removal.
Herbicide Treatment is lower in cost but takes at least one growing season, often more. It’s the least disruptive method, but not suitable where there are plans that result in substantial disturbance of the the ground e.g. construction or landscaping works.
Physical Removal such as Environet’s Resi-dig-out™. This eco-innovative removal method can be completed any time of the year, and takes a matter of days.
2. Don’t buy that property if Japanese Knotweed is present. Do your due diligence.
Work life balance is ever so important. We tend to spend the most time at work, more than we do with our family. Hating your job, manager or assigned tasks isn’t good for you or your general well-being.
Today’s post is slightly different. It comes in the form of a video.
I have a special guest talking about his real life decisions and how he quit the job that he didn’t like without having a new perspective employer lined up.
In short, Joseph went from working in a Corporate Bank as a Business Portfolio Manager to the Learning and Development space. He initially took a pay cut, but over the course of a few years, his salary sky rocketed, as did his morale and joy at work.
If you have any questions or find yourself in a similar position to Joseph and would like to discuss things further, please feel free to reach out to either of us on LinkedIn and we’d be more than happy to help.