How To Start Saving For A House

Last month officially marked the beginning of the next chapter. Laura and I both started saving for our house deposit so we can get our own place to properly call home. It's something to really look forward to and work towards so we're happy to finally get set up to start saving. When it comes to saving, there isn't a wealth of savings accounts with amazing interest rates jumping out at you. It may seem like there's no point looking around for any help with saving, however, there are still a few things out there to help you out.

Help To Buy ISA

These have been around for a little while and are such a good way to get some free money for first-time buyers. And yes, it's pretty much free money. If you're saving up for your first house and open one of the help to buy Isa's, for every £200 you put into the account, you'll get £50 from the government when you use this money for a house deposit. This is a great way to reach your savings goal quicker or to allow yourself to have a bigger deposit than you thought. You can be rewarded with anything up to £3000 on top of the money you put in.

We went for accounts with Halifax, which can be opened with anything from £1 to £1000 and transfer up to £200 per month via standing order. By doing it via standing order, it means you have a bit more freedom to change the amount and date of the transfer. Another bonus of the account is that it will allow the two of you saving for a house to combine them when putting down your deposit, as long as you are both first-time buyers. This means you'll get double the reward which will give you even more assistance with up to £6000 free top-up. There are a number of other banks that offer these government backed Isa's so you have some choice with where you'd like to go.

Don't Overlook Your Current Account

Sometimes the interest rate on your current account can actually be higher than some of the savings accounts. You also have more freedom to move your money around. There is sometimes an upper limit to the amount you can gain interest on but it could be a good option to help gain some extra money on the cash already in your account. The upper limit may well vary depending who the account is with, but it's definitely worth finding out when thinking about where to keep your money.

Make Use of Your Spare Change

I'm not one to really have cash. I use my card for most things and whenever I do have physical money, it tends to get spent easier because I know it's there. I do have one of those change jars for all your spare pennies which I've probably got around a tenner in now. It might not be much at the minute but there are ways I could start to increase this. As well as putting any change you get into it, setting yourself the target of putting a pound a day in will start to build up those savings. It might not seem much to start with but it will all help to get yourself that deposit.

Liverpool Docks | Photo Diary

Last weekend I was testing the new addition to my camera lineup, the Panasonic G6. I was an amazing day which provides some perfect conditions to get some shots around the docks area. I've picked out my favourite photos from the day for this post.

The four photos above were all taken from The Wheel of Liverpool which provides some amazing views on a clear day. It's well worth going up if you want to see some of the best all round sights the city has to offer.

In the couple of photos above you can see a view of the wheel which I think looks quite impressive in itself. It's located next to the Echo Arena if you fancy checking it out. The ones below are taken in the Albert Dock area and you can see imagery relating to Liverpool's history, such the yellow submarine.

How To Escape The Winter Blues

It's that time of year where it's still freezing cold and we are back into our normal routines. The Christmas break feels so long ago, and with the new year ahead of us being quite daunting. Sometimes it can be difficult to get into the swing of things, and feel like you don't know where to start. I've found a few things that can help with escaping those winter blues and get yourself back on track.

Set Some Targets

Sometimes it feels like there are so many things you have to get done and no idea how you will do it all. I find setting some targets or goals can really help make things more realistic and make that massive problem become more manageable. If you break it down into achievable parts you will feel much more accomplished when you reach this goal and keep you motivated. This could be applied to anything you want to do, whether it's developing yourself academically or hitting that new best time in the gym. 

Relaxation Time

Just because we aren't in the holidays anymore doesn't mean you should never have time to just stop and relax. One of the things I love doing is chilling out in front of the TV and sticking a film on. I'm normally one to pick a film that I know and have normally seen more than enough times already. If you need some ideas you could try The Legend of Tarzan, released last year, which is about Tarzan getting called back to his former home in the jungle. If you fancied something a little more magical, then Pan might be right up your street, with Peter the 12-year-old orphan becoming the famous hero in Neverland.

One of the films I've wanted to watch for a while now is Interstellar, which is about the journey through a wormhole in space. A group of explorers are on a mission to secure the survival of the human race. In the Heart of the Sea is a film based around the sinking of a whaling ship by a huge whale and their experience trying to survive. Mad Max Fury Road is right up my street, being packed with action about a woman's rebellion against the new dictator in post-apocalyptic Australia. Last on the list is a throwback one I remember from my childhood. The Wizard of Oz is all about Dorothy getting whisked away to the magical land of Oz and her journey to get back home. It's great to have a DVD to grab, so if you wanted to get any of the ones I've mentioned you can purchase them here.

Get Out On Those Cold Mornings

It can be all too easy to stay inside your warm house when you wake up and on those frosty mornings. I know I've done it numerous times. Getting up at a decent time, throwing some warm clothes on going out for a stroll is certainly one way of waking yourself up. Being outside and getting some fresh air really gets me ready for the day ahead, feeling more motivated, so I can be much more productive. Also, it's great to help reaching those goals I mentioned earlier.

Don't Compare Yourself To Others

It can be all too easy to flick through social media and notice what other people are up to. It's almost impossible not to. This can often leave you feeling disheartened if you see people 'smashing it at the gym' or posting so many times a week on their blog. Everyone is different and we all have our own ways of doing things, so don't compare yourself to others and let it get you down. Stick at what you are working towards for you, and you'll get there. Don't worry about everything else going on around you.

*Received DVDs in return for this post.