Helpful Tips When Struggling with Mortgage Payments

For most home owners their monthly mortgage payments will be their biggest regular expense. With austerity continuing to bite, keeping up with the payments may become difficult or even impossible for some people.

The ongoing squeeze on family finances means many of us have less money to spend each month. Benefit and wage freezes and even salary cuts for some, combined with increasing prices for basic needs such as food, utilities and petrol mean it can be hard to make ends meet.

How to save money

It’s vital to keep up your mortgage payments if you can, so look for ways to save money in other areas. This can mean having to prioritize spending in a way that you might not have had to do before.

Take a good look at the household budget and work out how you can free up more of your money. Non essentials such as subscription TV channels and gym memberships can be cancelled (but check your contract first) while extras such as take away meals and even the occasional night out might all have to go.

Check your grocery bill for ways to save. Swap from brand names to supermarket own labels and make more of your own food, which is cheaper than buying ready meals. Turn the thermostat down a degree in the winter to help keep fuel bills in check.

While money is tight don’t be tempted into buying anything new unless it’s absolutely essential and don’t take out loans or credit deals to finance new products which will only add to your debt.

If you do have other debts that you are struggling to manage then talk to a specialist money adviser. They might be able to set up reduced payment arrangements for unsecured debts such as personal loans or credit cards which will then release some money that you can put towards paying your mortgage.

Talk to your lender

For some people money saving measures simply won’t be enough. If a breadwinner has lost their job then it’s very difficult to make up the shortfall in income simply by cutting back on household expenses.

It’s important to contact your lender as soon as you know you are struggling to pay your mortgage or if you anticipate that a problem may arise i.e. the threat of redundancy. They’ll have a special department with experienced staff who may be able to help.

Depending on your circumstances there are a number of options your lender might propose. For example they could agree to reduce your mortgage payments for a set time. If you are on a repayment mortgage they might only charge you interest. This will mean smaller monthly payments but you won’t be reducing the capital amount borrowed.

Another option could be to give you a payment holiday. You may be able to extend the term of your mortgage which has the effect of reducing your monthly payments but will cost you more in the long term.

Of course all this can put an incredible strain on families and it’s no surprise that many couples will really feel the pressure and may even separate. If you need legal assistance for family law Liverpool solicitors can help you at this very stressful time.

If your financial circumstances don’t improve, for example you can’t find another job, then it may not be feasible to continue living in your home but your lender may agree to you staying there while it is sold and you look for somewhere new to live.

Written on behalf of Hughes Carlisle solicitors who specialise in a variety of family related issues.

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Ways To Save on Christmas Cards

I share a few tips on how to save money on holiday cards over at Coupon Cabin– What are some of your best tips?

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Families Advised To `Stay Safe & Warm` This Winter

Families Advised To `Stay Safe & Warm` This Winter, So Let’s Make it Happen the Green & Cheap Way

If it’s cold outside, then you need to keep warm inside your home, but it is essential that you keep safe at the same time. Many people who struggle to keep their home warm during the winter months often turn to less safe and cheaper forms of heating such as paraffin heaters, naked flames and hot water bottles and heated blankets.

Look out for family and friends.

If you have family or friends who are elderly or vulnerable, it is essential that they stay warm in the colder months, so remember to talk to them and pop in from time to time to check all is well. Make sure they have plenty of warm layers on, that any equipment they are using is in good order and safe and that they are using any benefits they are entitled to, to help them beat their household fuels costs.

Tips to help keep you warm, day and night.

With this in mind, there are some quick and immediate solutions to help keep you and your family safe and warm this winter. Some quick solutions require no money outlay on your part, for example, simply turning your boiler down by 1 or 2 degrees could save you up to 10% on your overall heating bill. If you feel the chill, then add an extra layer to keep cozy and snug. To achieve this, an efficient temperature control system is a must and investing in a modern thermostat is a good idea. In addition, while it is tempting to fire up the boiler as the nights draw in, if you can delay the time of the year that you decide to switch your boiler back on to a little later in the autumn rather than the beginning of it, more savings could be coming your way.

If you are at home during the day, heat your main living area to around 64-69 degrees. If you need to heat the rest of your home, then aim for a lower overall temperature of 60 degrees. Where possible, instead of turning up the thermostat as soon as you wake up in the morning to gain that instant hit of heat, set your timer to come on a few hours before you rise from your bed. By doing this, your home will have reached and ambient and cozy temperature while helping to keep your fuel bill under control and you won’t be cold while you wait for the house to heat up.

At night time, your bedroom can be a few degrees cooler as lower, but not cold, temperatures can actually help you drop off naturally. Add an extra blanket or two if you really feel the cold and never underestimate the comfort bed socks and pajamas can offer. Never be tempted to use an electric blanket with a hot water bottle, even when the blanket is switched off and remember that electric blankets should be tested at least every three years to ensure they are safe to use – a service that various charities with the Fire Service can help with.

Sponsored Post via ENER-G are an internationally acclaimed renewable energy company who offer advice and support while choosing your electric & gas prices. Click for further information. My opinion is 100% my own.

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Ways To Save On Thanksgiving Dinner

I got the opportunity to share some Thanksgiving tips over at CouponCabin, did you use any of them this year?

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Find The Right Gift For Your Little Ones When On A Budget

Sometimes looking for the right gift for your kiddos can seem so easy until you actually hit the stores and try to find that right gift within your budget! We try not to over do it too much with a large variety of children toys and only buy one large gift and 5 or 6 smaller gifts. We have extended family that purchases gifts for our girls so they tend to get a lot of gifts and we don’t want them to become spoiled and loose the trued meaning of Christmas.

So we tend to try and buy their number 1 item of their Christmas list as their big gift! But then the smaller gifts more personalized, educational items, things they need and items they will keep for years to come. Whether it be the latest Wii Game, LeapPad or a engraved locket there is a lot of work that goes into finding gifts that mean something! Here are some tips as to how we try and find the right gifts for our kiddos and stay on budget:

  • What is on their Christmas list: Any parent wants to make their kiddos happy and make sure they think Santa is the best, so we tend to try and buy their most wanted gift as their bigger gift since that item tends to be the most expensive. But after that we do keep in mind what they want but don’t want to fill the tree with tons of toys that they will play with for a few weeks and then forget about them. Find gifts that you know will help enrich their minds or something they will cherish for years to come. I know what kids wants something they will cherish, but in the long run finding the balance between 2 will be the best option!
  • What is your budget for these gifts: Budget can be the biggest factor as to what gifts you buy and how many you can get. So figuring out what you can afford will help you get the most for your money. Sit down and come up with a number and then go through their Christmas list: is there just one item you can afford or are you able to purchase multiple smaller items?
  • Do Your Research: Make sure whatever you buy is worth your hard earned money and not something that is going to fall apart come January! Also be sure that the gift is age appropriate, will withstand the abuse of your child and of course affordable. Almost every online store offers customer feedback. This feedback can give you insight as to what other parents have experienced with certain products. Read them, it will help you understand the item, what is good and bad!
  • Additional Costs: Our 11 year old is on a mission to get a phone this year for Christmas. Although we do not feel that she is ready or needs a phone just quite yet, we need to figure in the additional costs of getting a phone for her. Many gifts can be a great idea, but when the gift receiver has to continue playing monthly access fees or purchase additional items to use it, the gift may not be the best idea. Consider everything that goes with it and what you may need to continue to purchase to continue using it!
  • All in all, are they gonna love it: Even though we want to purchase some items that they will get educational value from or keep and use for a long time, in the end it has to be something they really want! You can’t give a 4 year old a engraved gold necklace and get upset that they don’t jump up and down with joy that they didn’t get the latest Buzz Lightyear toy! Find a happy medium and get gifts that make them happy, make you happy and are easy on your pocket book!
Although this post was sponsored by Tesco my opinion is 100% my own.

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Tips for Planning a Holiday Party On a Budget

Dollar Tree

The holiday is quickly approaching and plans have already been underway for our family Christmas party! With this comes lots of shopping and lots of spending! But this year I am going to try and see how little we can spend on this normally expensive event! I will look to our local dollar stores, like Dollar Tree, to help me keep our party on a strict budget! Here are some tips I will use this year to save us money on our holiday party planning:

  • Make a List: I keep lots of lists, everything from what I am going to do that day, to birthday gift ideas, Christmas shopping ideas, etc. But I will keep a list of items that I need for our Christmas party- food, decorations, party supplies, etc. This way I will only purchase what I need but most importantly I will not purchase duplicates, which I tend to do pretty often!
  • Make a Menu: I have already planned out everything that I will need to purchase for our meal for Christmas. As I see items go on sale, I will buy them and hold onto them until I need them! Waiting til the week of, will cost you a lot more since not everything you need will go on sale that week! Plan ahead!
  • Ask Guests to Bring a Dish: Every year we have Christmas dinner at our house and we provide the majority of the food and drinks! But we do ask our guests to bring a side dish and or dessert to share with everyone. This helps make sure we have plenty of food with out the added cost of buying all of it!
  • Just Decorate the Main Areas: Decorate just the areas in which you will guests, dining room, living room, kitchen and maybe a bathroom or 2, no need to decorate rooms that no one will see!  Although I have about 10 large totes filled with Christmas decorations, you may not have as much as I do. So I tend to hit the Dollar Tree to look for cute vases to fill with ornaments, holiday candy dishes, holiday table cloths, etc. This will keep the cost low, while keeping your place looking festive!
  • Buy Holiday Paper Products: Although this may cost a little more than using our regular holiday plates and cups, it will save me time of not washing dishes and my sanity of knowing we will not run out of silverware and plates!

So what plans do you have this year for the holiday, any tips you want to share on keeping the cost low for your next festive party, leave a comment and share!

Dollar TreeThis post was sponsored by Dollar Tree. My opinion is 100% my own.

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Ways To Save: Repurpose An Old Wipes Container

When you have little ones, you always have a large collection of these wipes containers! Here is a great way to reuse them, thanks to Mission To Save!

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Ways To Save: Repurpose Old Paper For Printing Coupons

Looking for a way to save on paper cost while printing those hot printable coupons? Check out how Mission to Save does just that!

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Ways to Save: Back To School & Sport Photos

School has been in full swing for a few weeks now, meaning big time money spent! You bought/paid for school supplies, new clothes, new bookbags, new shoes, new haircuts, hair accessories and the list goes on and on! If you are not careful you could spend up to $500-$600 per child just in the first month of school! This doesn’t include school fees and our favorite cost, school pictures!

With 3 kiddos in school now and all of them playing some sport that requires pictures, we get new pictures taken at least every other month! We also have Christmas pictures taken and every few years birthday pictures (they all have summer birthdays, so we group them together). This can get pretty pricey! School pictures this year are $42 each child per package, sports pictures range anywhere from $10-$40 per child, Christmas pictures are usually $40-$80 for a family package and birthday packages can cost in the range of $70-$80! So all said and done we could spend $500 a year just on pictures! YIKES!!!

With this, I have started to realize that we do not need to buy all of these pictures or at least find ways to save while purchasing them! Here are a few tips we use to save big on pictures each year:

  • Help Out at School on Picture Day: This is probably my biggest way to save on school pictures. The photography company that comes to our school, offers parents a certain $ amount off per hour they work in a form of a coupon voucher. This is a very easy job! Helping the students comb their hair, wipe off the milk mustache from morning breakfast, button shirts, etc. Our school packages usually run $42 per child, I was able to get all 3 of our girls school pictures last fall for just $30 out of pocket. I worked a few hours at each of their picture days and got enough picture vouchers to save $96!
  • Skip Individual Pictures: With our girls playing 2 and 3 sports a year, we tend to pile up on team pictures, individual pictures, action pictures, etc. So last year we skipped the individual pictures and just purchased the team photo, which in most cases was around $5-$7. Instead we took our own individual pictures! We love to get those pictures of each of them in front of the same tree each year at the beginning and end of each season or school year- uniforms, soccer balls, etc!
  • Take Your Own Individual Pictures: With so many new cameras out there offering amazing tools to create photos that look as if they came straight from a professional, you can take some great photos all on your own!
  • Ask for a Discount: The economy stinks right now and the photography companies are looking to make every sale they can. So if you tell them no, then they get nothing and you get nothing. But if you talk to them and ask for either a discount or a smaller package that may not be available on the order form, they may be willing to work with you to get you the pictures you want and make the sale!
  • Just Order The Disc: Some companies offer you a disc of all the photos they take for a decent price. Most of these companies will also include the copyright to print your own photos as you want. You can then check Walmart or Shutterfly to grab a hot deal on FREE prints or .10 prints! Only print the ones you want now and save the rest on a compact disc!

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