Cast your mind back merely two decades ago and the thought of children sitting in front of screens would send shivers down any mother’s spine. The good old days when too much TV would set your eyes square and kill your brain cells! We all laugh, but mum was probably right all along.

Don’t tell her.

I’m certainly not about to throw it all out there and ban screens from my household. I value my sanity and, let’s be honest, ‘100 per cent screen-free’ is one heck of a claim in the 21st century.

That said, instead of preaching on and perhaps judging other households who do have a lot of screentime, it would be beneficial if we all simply remembered how great things can be if you just turn off the phone/tablet/tele/laptop/games console [delete as required] for a short while and enjoy being outdoors. Or just being.

Just being.

Christmas is a fabulous time to encourage children to switch off the screen and spend time doing other stuff. Gifting outdoorsy items such as skates, scooters, and skateboards, for example, is exciting and they’ll want to get out there to play with the friends.

Rather than creating rules and regulations for screen time, how about we just make the other stuff just as fun so it appeals to our kids, tweens, and teens.

Mind-blowing, I know.

As well as reducing the amount of time spent on YouTube, Fortnite, and [enter your tech nemesis here], it’s more about kids reaping the rewards of outdoor play. Health wise, fresh air improves their blood pressure and heart rate, they’re running around, exercising, working their body, increasing the oxygen flow in their blood. It’s all good.

But there’s more to it than that. Sure, they’re not sat still indoors, scoffing, sweets. Thumbs up. Really, though, outdoor play is about developing skills, learning independence, creatively spending time. Seeing friends, enhancing social skills, improving overall wellbeing as little human creatures who very much need and enjoy spending time with other little human creatures.

We know enjoyment of exercise and social skills are important long-term. We have that knowledge nowadays. We’re privileged in that way. With that in mind, as parents, let’s get nostalgic and make playing outdoors as appealing as it was, way back when.


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One of the biggest expenses in your daily life tends to be getting from one place to another. Of course, using your own two feet is the cheapest and most environmentally-friendly way of doing this. But for the times when you need to get somewhere a little bit quicker, you may need to use another means of transportation. Here, we will be discussing how you can make getting from A to B that little bit more affordable for yourself.

Give Your Car a Little TLC

First of all, check your trunk for any unnecessary objects which you have been lugging around from place to place. The greater the excess weight you are lugging around, the less fuel efficient your vehicle will be. Next, complete a couple of basic maintenance tasks like checking the tyre pressure and fluid levels. It is all these little things which can add up in the long-run. Also, check your manufacturer’s handbook to ensure that you are using the grade of motor oil that they suggest.

Calm Down Your Driving Habits

Not only is aggressive driving more dangerous, it also guzzles more gas. So, slow down, limit your acceleration and reduce the number of sharp stops that you make where possible. You can also save money simply by driving a few miles per hour slower. A perhaps more unexpected way that you can save some money is by rolling down your windows instead of using air conditioning as this can cause your car to consume more petrol than necessary.

Take Advantage of Car Insurance Discounts

There are so many car insurance companies out there that it doesn’t necessarily pay off to stick with the same company. In fact, they may increase your premiums for no reason at all. There are various factors which can reduce your insurance costs including whether or not you have short commutes, you are a retiree or you have your own garage. The internet is a brilliant tool to use that helps you compare the cheapest car insurance deals. Make sure that you check again from year to year to get the best deal.

Look Out for Transportation Incentives

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It is worth checking out whether your local government or employer offers you any tax or monetary incentives to carpool, take public transportation or purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle. Alternatively, you may want to look into getting a bike. Not only are incentives always being offered, there are also bike lanes springing up all over the place to make cyclists’ lives easier.

Use Public Transportation Cards

Many towns and cities offer public transportation cards that give you a discount if you buy a card in advance and top it up as you go along. Not only is this the cheaper way of travelling, it also means that you don’t have to go through the hassle of buying a separate ticket every single time you want to take a bus or hop on the metro.

Compare Your Flight Costs

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When you are going to be travelling longer distances, make sure that you always give yourself the chance of getting the best deal. Use a flight comparison service as these let you check out multiple airlines at once before settling on the one that suits you best. Sometimes, an indirect flight with a long stop-over is going to be your best way of saving yourself some cash, so if you have the time to spare, it may be worth taking this approach. As well as this, you could look to fly to a major hub city as they are likely to have more flight options at affordable rates.

Carpool or Plan Your Parking

Set up a carpooling system with your coworkers as this is going to be a great way for you all to save some money. For longer journeys, take a look at carpooling websites such as BlaBlaCar which pair people together who want to make similar journeys. If you are planning to head out somewhere and you need to park your car, check out your options beforehand so that you can get the cheapest price available. Places like city centres and airports can be particularly expensive unless you plan your journey in advance.

Hopefully, after reading through this article, you have come away with a few tips that you can use in your daily life to make moving around that little bit more affordable.

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Your focus right now will probably be on getting through a magical Christmas and providing your family with great memories of the festive period this year. There’ll be last minutes gifts to buy and wrap, cards to write and send out, and you’ll have that huge food shop to look forward to at some point (or dread; it could go either way). Therefore, the new year and all it’s going to bring to you and your loved ones might not be at the forefront of your mind. However, if you’ve got major changes happening in 2018; it might e a wise choice to begin the planning process sooner rather than later. View Post

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Keeping track of your personal finances sounds simple enough, but with such busy lives, and in a world where you now literally tap your card on a reader and it instantly debits your account, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of what you are spending.  Once upon a time, it was simple, you would be paid in cash and then you would spend this cash throughout the week or month – meaning you always knew what you had left.   View Post

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When you are looking for a professional to complete a job for you – whether it’s a financial advisor to help you plan your pension or a property and conveyancing solicitors – you need to know what you should look for to pick the right person. Choosing a professional who turns out to be half as good as they suggested on their website is a costly decision so it pays to do a little bit of research first.

And, when life throws a spanner in the works, it’s always best to know what to do next.

Check for Qualifications, Awards and Testimonials

Many professionals will list their qualifications to give you an indication of their ability. However, as many qualifications are easy to mock up, be wary of certificates that are from a university you don’t recognise. Fonts like comic sans will stand out a mile and should also raise concerns. If it doesn’t look right, don’t buy it!

Their website will likely show that they have won some awards. Legitimate winners are likely to hyperlink the logo to take you direct to the page that shows they won. Similarly, many sites display testimonials from previous clients. You should take these with a pinch of salt – no professional is going to put up negative feedback in a prominent position and there’s nothing to say that they haven’t simply made them up!

Ask for Recommendations from Friends

Word of mouth might be old school in the days of social media, but it is still the best way to find a service provider who is trustworthy. Friends never recommend bad professionals to each other so you can be sure that their experience was good and the service was as expected.

There are also review websites that can help you to search for local professionals that show up all comments, good and bad, for you to make a more informed judgement. These sites can be really helpful but do remember that people tend to make more extreme judgements on here so the services are either going to be ‘excellent’ or ‘rubbish’ with little in between.

What to do if it All Goes Wrong

Unfortunately, even when you have done your research and got personal recommendations, sometimes a professional still isn’t as skilled as they made you think. This might be because they offered a slightly different service to a friend and have overestimated their skills in another similar area. Whatever the reason, you could end up paying over the odds for a service you don’t think was worth the money

You could try renegotiating with the professional to come to an agreement on a new, lower cost – or not pay at all – but in some instances this can lead to further problems. This is especially common when you have already paid. In this case, it is definitely worth contacting professional negligence solicitors to see how they can help you to recoup costs.

Finding the right professional for your needs can take time but it is worth making sure that whoever you hire is trustworthy, capable of fulfilling your needs and will charge a fair price. If you are unsure about any of these things, move on and find someone else.


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