Utility bills – how to save yourself money

Moving house is a great opportunity to save money on your utility bills but if you're like me the whole process fills you with dread and fear. Somehow it just seems easier to stick with what you know and even though you know the hours spent on the internet chasing cheaper offerings would be worthwhile you'd rather stick pins in your eyes - or is that just me? Anyway - I had a meeting with a chap the other day from Utility Warehouse. I've heard about them before but never dared let one into my home fearing I'd never get him out and would find myself signed up for a 24 year contract. Actually I was pleasantly surprised. You won't see Utility Warehouse advertising around the place - they use their distributors to advertise for them and through word of mouth as far as I can tell. It's a discount club and your membership is free to join. It's a pretty straightforward process but if you're like me and a bit nervous of the switch I thought you might appreciate knowing what will happen if you dare to invite one of these chaps in (or ring them up). First they will play you a 5 minute video, hosted by Terry Wogan (don't judge them for that!) which explains everything, they run through the cash back plan and how that works. They fill out a form to show the savings for your own house and then that's it. You either sign up or say farewell and they won't be pushy or unpleasant! If you switch your phone and broadband that...

Using a Buying Agent – Real Life Experience

I often talk to our potential Life after London families about the possibility of using a buying agent.  For some it can be a life saver and prevent endless journeys down the motorway for houses that aren't quite right.  For others it's simply a case of having been searching for months and getting no where...the opportunity for a third party to work on your behalf can be seriously useful. We share here to the story of a family who have recently bought a property in Monmouthshire, using Stacks Property Search and Acquisition. Monmouthshire magic! Tim and Samantha Andrews came to Stacks having been looking for a property in Gloucestershire, east of the River Severn,for almost a year. They’re a young family, with two children, 7 and 5, and another on the way. Tim’s job is in London, so he needed to commute for four days, with one day working from home. But he’s hoping for a change in job and a relocation to Bristol, where the daily commute would be so much easier. They had sold their four bedroom in Battersea, but despite the substantial proceeds, were struggling to find what they wanted – a large period property, with land for horses and ponies, and a rural, even wild, setting. A good local school was important. They were finding it exhausting driving up and down the motorway to look at unsuitable property. When they approached Stacks, the first thing we did was de-construct then re-construct their brief. We suggested buying a small pied a terre in Paddington to keep a foothold in the London market, and moving their search...

Passwords

Are you like me, spending a lifetime forgetting passwords being driven ever so slightly mad by the 'failed login/password incorrect when you try to login?  Oh my word I was going crazy but I wanted to share a little secret with you.  It's my new method and I'm loving it - so much so that I really haven't forgotten a password since starting my new system!  So here goes - as a service to everyone my method for remembering passwords. Most of us have a word that we like to use for all our passwords but we've been told, endlessly, that it isn't wise to use the same password for every website.  So instead this is what I do - let's say my favorite word is bubble.  When I have to set a password I use the first three letters of the website I'm joining then my chosen word bubble and then the number 1.  So as examples Lifeafterlondon.com  =  lifbubble1, sainsburys = saibubble1 Garden Trading =  garbubble1 Made.com = Madbubble1   So I've shared the secret - never forget a password again! Do you have any fail safe methods you'd care to...

Useful Websites

  Property Search You probably know them already but make sure you register and set up a search so you know when a new property comes on the market.  However, be aware the best way to find your dream home is to register directly with Estate Agents and build a relationship with them.  For more information on this subject please visit  http://www.lifeafterlondon.com/useful-information/buyingselling-a-house/househunting-how-to-go-about-it/ Rightmove http://www.rightmove.co.uk/  Zoopla www.zoopla.co.uk/  Prime Location http://www.primelocation.com/ Where to Go To find out which stations enable you to commute to London visit www.Commutefrom.co.uk.  It includes helpful information about season tickets but don’t forget to include parking charges when you’re doing your finances. It doesn’t cover everywhere but might prompt some new ideas if you’re not sure where you want to go http://www.commuterguide.co.uk/– although a bit out of date it can give a few ideas of where to start Schools www.schoolguide.co.uk for more information on this helpful school website have a read of http://www.lifeafterlondon.com/searching-for-schools/ www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk you can buy the guide but also a certain amount of information is available for free http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/ not available for all schools but growing numbers Random but handy Check the broadband before you move  http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/postcode_checker Check out a one stop shop Property Notepad for lots of helpful website connections http://www.propertynotepad.co.uk For more information and helpful websites please visit...

Working from Home

I don't know about you but working from home always sounded like the perfect working day.  However with more and more people making the move out of London it's actually quite a serious subject.  If you're considering a long distance commute, or indeed even a short distance commute, you might have secured the option to work from home perhaps one day a week or so. Sitting about in your PJ's really isn't the option and that's both for your own sense of achievement and to ensure you don't over egg the 'pudding' and have the privilege taken away from you and your colleagues.  There are some important factors to consider and watching the test match, drinking beer really isn't going to be satisfactory. I read this really good article by David Hart of Codegent and I felt he really nailed it in terms of what is expected  He goes into much more detail in the article but his top tips are a great place to start. Value the fact that you are able to work from home. Make sure you can justify to yourself why you are doing it and try your best to make the most of the time. Create a proper work environment: being sat on the sofa won't work for the entire day Get to your desk half an hour earlier than you normally would, convert the time you would have spent commuting into something productive Arrange your time into blocks. It could be quarter days, it could be hours. Work out what you need to achieve in each. Use a tool like Pomodoro if it helps you....

Fireworks….

Any day now the bangs will begin in London and they won't stop until some time after New Year!  That said there is nothing quite like a proper fireworks display and it's this time of year I yearn for the village life.  I love the local fireworks displays, huge bonfires and mulled wine, fireworks  and children everywhere.  These days the fireworks have become much more sophisticated, when I was growing up we were happy with a sparkler and a catherine wheel but now it's all computer generated and fancy pants...but never mind! Some tips for anyone with pets..... For those of you who have lived with pets for year these things will come as second nature and I expect you've many more top tips. For our lovely new county contacts who are making a lifeafterlondon and might be new to owning a furry friend you might find them handy.       Ignore fearful behaviour, such a panting, shaking and whining. Let them head off on their own (within the house!)  Dogs and cats may pick up on their owner’s anxiety so try not to jump every time you hear a firework.       In the run up to Bonfire Night walk your dog when it is still light outside. It avoids being outside with loads of bangs when they might dash off, leaving you trailing behind them.       Make sure all windows, doors and cat flaps are securely closed during fireworks night to ensure they stay put in the house.       Provide distractions, for example new toys or chews, while fireworks are happening. Draw curtains and switch on the TV to...