Community Newsletter 

Community Newsletter 

Saving for a House Deposit

For most of us, the most expensive thing that we ever purchase will be a property, and the prospect of saving for that all-important deposit can be rather daunting. However, the key to saving for that lump sum is simply good financial preparation and making a few changes to your outgoings which should reap big rewards. Take a look through our handy hints and tips and you’ll be in that new home in no time.

Speak to an expert
If you have made the decision that you are ready to buy a property, then an excellent first point-of-call would be to speak to an expert, be that a financial planner, mortgage advisor or a savings expert in your bank. It is important to get a detailed overview of your personal finances and speaking to an industry expert will provide you with tailored advice which suits your lifestyle, as well as being given some proven strategies to help you to save. Whether you’re a saver or a spender, it is important to get in to the right mindset to save and starting the process by speaking to an expert is a sensible first step.

Make a move
With the cost of renting often leaving many with little money to save for a deposit, making a temporary move can be a key factor in achieving a sufficient deposit. More and more people are moving back in with their parents for a period of 6 to 12 months; often paying no rent and economising through saving on laundry and food costs. If living with your parents is a truly unbearable prospect, then finding a lodger to live with you will also aid you in that all-important quest for a deposit.

Know your options
Did you know that you could buy a property with just a 5% deposit? Knowing what schemes and grants are out there will most certainly help you to achieve a house deposit. The Help-to-Buy shared equity scheme allows you to purchase a home with as little as 5% deposit and the government or developer (this is available for new homes only) lends you the rest of the deposit. Shared ownership schemes involve purchasing part of a property and then renting the rest, and although you would still need a deposit to get a mortgage for the part of the property you are buying, the deposit would be considerably lower; for example, to get a 90% mortgage on a 50% share of a £150,00 property, you would need only £7,500 for the deposit.

Make your savings work harder
Naturally, any changes you make will have one similar goal – to help you in saving more money more quickly and making these savings work for you should be a top priority. Open an ISA and use your yearly cash allowance so you don’t pay unnecessary tax. If you don’t already have one, open a savings account and save what you can, even if you think the amounts you are saving are inconsequential, they will soon amount to a worthwhile value. Shop around and see which bank offers the best interest rate on your savings, don’t just take one out with your current banking provider as finding a good interest rate could go a big way to helping you reach your goal faster.

Saving for a deposit can seem like a tall order, so making some sound financial decisions will be the key in to being approved for a mortgage and taking a step on to the property market. Get yourself into the right mindset where you are aware of why you are making some financial changes, remember that they are all short-term, and you’ll see those savings growing faster than you could have ever hoped.

Essential Tips For Working From Home

For a small number of people, working from home will be the norm. But for the majority of the nation, the current climate has caused us to quickly adapt our working practices to home working for the safety of ourselves and those around us. In doing this, it is important to create healthy working practices to maintain motivation and routine throughout the day.
We’ve gained advice from those who regularly work from home so that we can share some top tips for the coming weeks ahead. Continue below for our top tips on how you can get the best out of home working:

1. Get ready for the day
Get up and ready for work as you normally would. Getting dressed out of your pyjamas and fresh for the day helps you to maintain a routine and get ready for a day of work. Doing this will signal to your brain that you are going to work and create a good mindset.

2. Have a routine
Working from home can get lonely, so a routine will prevent the day blurring into a mix of work and relaxation time. Creating a morning routine that will guide you into your work chair each day so that you can signal the separation between home and work. Start and finish work at your usual times so that you do not become overworked.

3. Create an office space
If you have a separate office space to work in, then that’s great. But even if you don’t, it is still important to create an area in your home that you can designate and associate with work. Whether that be at a desk, or if it has to be your dining room table, this will support you to keep a routine. At the end of the day, shut down your equipment and put it away. This will signal the end of your working day and the start of your own time.

4. Keep to your regular hours of a working day
With all your work equipment at home, it can be tempting to try and get ahead by setting yourself mammoth tasks that take you all evening to complete. Set yourself achievable goals (as you would when you go into work) so that you maintain your usual work hours and maintain your positivity and optimism. This will also allow you to keep a work life balance.

5. Have regular breaks
When you are in the office, you naturally take short breaks throughout the day. Whether that be to go and make a drink or go and discuss something with a colleague. These breaks away from the computer are crucial for your productivity and health. Breaks away from the computer screen help to break bad posture habits, help with concentration and productivity, and prevent fatigue. This should be no different at home. You can call a colleague for a chat, go and make a drink, or spend some time in a different room for a few moments.

6. Get some exercise
Living and working in the same space can be challenging at times so you may find it important to get a change of scenery. Stepping outside for a walk not only allows you to “leave the office” but also allows you to get valuable exercise (providing this is in line with Government guidelines). Some fresh air and natural light will do you the world of good. With people rarely leaving the house, a short walk could be all the exercise you get in a day so place importance on this. Alternatively, you may want to do a short home workout. There are tons of guides online to help you do this. Let’s not forget about those all-important endorphins.

7. Take your lunch break
You are still entitled to your full lunch break and it is important to take this. Ensure you continue to eat well and take time away from your work space to break up the day. Using this time to get some exercise (as advised in step 7) is a great idea too.

8. Get on the phone
Communication is so important during this time. Working from home can be isolating (especially if you live alone). To overcome this, ensure to keep up with regular team meeting via group calls. Check in with your colleagues throughout the day – even for a general chat not related to work. This is what you would usually do in the office and it is important to maintain this to make the day more enjoyable. Call people instead of email so that you can have proper conversations during the day which is so much more personal that email communication. You could even use Facetime for a more personal touch.

Keeping The Kids Entertained

With schools now essentially closed across the country, many parents are having to care for their children whilst also working from home. During these unusual circumstances, it is essential to keep your children’s minds active, as well as ensuring that they exert some physical energy. We have compiled a list of resources and activities which should help fill the days…

1) Joe Wicks PE lessons – Joe Wicks, known as “The Body Coach” is streaming thirty minute PE lessons for kids every morning at 9am from Monday to Friday. You can either follow the workout live or catch it on his YouTube channel here

2) Carol Vorderman’s maths resources – since the Government chose to close schools for the masses, Carol Vorderman’s online maths resources have been made free for all to use. You can visit the site at and there are plenty of resources to keep your children busy, all of which have different levels of difficulty attached.

3) – You may never have heard of but if you are a teacher or work in education then it is a goldmine of resources. You can sign up free and then in the “Resources” section you will find literally thousands of lesson plans, activities and ideas that teachers upload to the site and often form the basis of their own lessons. With TES you can search for a specific topic and there will often be multiple resources – if you are looking to keep up your child’s scholastic habits during the school closures, this will be a real lifesaver.

4) Audio books – David Walliams’ children’s books have proved to be extremely popular and for the next month a new audio story will be released each day totally free of charge. Just head to each day for the latest story.

5) Twinkl – Twinkl provides professional educational resources from early years upwards and often puts together some of the most imaginative learning resources around. During the Coronavirus period, they have made many resources free of charge and are offering free guides to help you with your child’s education

6) Teach them to cook – If you are looking to teach something extra-curricular then why not start in the kitchen? Teaching your children a few basic recipes will eat up the time, as well as teaching them valuable life skills. You can start with baking basic recipes that require few ingredients, to them helping you with dinner for the evening.

7) Learn a new skill – With the internet, there is no excuse for avoiding new skills and has there ever been a better time to do so? With your child, you could learn how to knit – order the tools online – and could watch videos together, whilst helping one another with the intricacies of the craft. Other popular crafts to learn include crochet, needlepoint and cardmaking.

8) Practise yoga – In the current climate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with world events, and children are extremely sensitive to our own behaviours. One activity that you can do together and is mutually beneficial is yoga – there are plenty of apps or YouTube channels which you can use to guide you through the process, and it should help with your whole family’s wellbeing.

Twinkl Home Learning Hub

Twinkl is known widely amongst teachers for the graphic and creative resources available, and they currently have free resources on their website to help parents who are homeschooling at the moment. One of the most useful resources available is the daily timetable, which will help to provide some structure and variety to your child's day.

Click here to read Twinkl Home Learning Hub.

Top Tips For A Swift Spring Clean

It’s officially time for a spring clean! Whether the lighter days and warmer weather have got you in the mood for a post-winter spruce up or you’re looking to get your home presentable for a spring sale, we have some tips for cleaning your home.

The first and hardest step in the entire process. It’s vital you take a brutal stance when it comes to decluttering your home. If you don’t like a decoration or if you have an outfit that you haven’t worn since 2010, just throw them away or donate them. Don’t just focus on one room – ensure you search every part of your house, especially in rooms like the kitchen and bedrooms where clutter can quickly get out of hand.
The problem with clutter is it quickly manages to grow again! You might wish to consider setting up a bag, box or bin that you can designate as a “donation bin”. In the future, you will be able to sort clutter as you come across it, and then donate it all to charity as soon as you fill up the bin.

The bedroom
Your wardrobe is a key area you should focus on when having a de-clutter, however, unlike other areas of your home, there is potential money to be made when clearing this area! If you have a hardly worn item of clothing, consider putting it on a Facebook sale page or eBay to generate a little extra pocket money.

There are also some areas of the bedroom(s) that will most likely be in need of a little TLC. Make sure you clean underneath all the beds, dust the curtain rails and even consider flipping the mattress.

The kitchen
It’s more important than ever now that our surfaces are kept clean using disinfectant. Did you know that you should leave disinfectant untouched on a surface for around 30 seconds before you wipe the area? This is so it has time to work and kill harmful viral bacteria. You should clean your work surfaces more frequently as well, to keep the germs at bay.

After the surfaces, there are a few areas of the kitchen that can prove to be a big job on their own. After you have finished de-cluttering your cupboards of old pots and spices you only used that one time, you should then turn your attention to the appliances.

The fridge is a good place to start. Clear out all the old produce and table sauces, give it a really good clean to get rid of all the odours and then try to stay on top of its organisation, which will save you a job in the future.

Have you been avoiding cleaning the microwave for the past few months? Luckily, there is a quick and easy way to clean your grease spattered appliance. Simply place a combination of vinegar and water in the microwave, heat it up for ten minutes until the solution is steaming, then simply wipe away the grease.

The bathroom
The bathroom is another time-consuming job. The tiles, floors, toilet, bath and sink may be ready for a deep clean. This requires a full gutting of all the beauty and hygiene products, and a good deal of manual labour to remove any troublesome stains like limescale or mould that might have built up over the winter.

There are thousands of home remedies available on the internet so if you’re short on cleaning products, you will likely have the right substitutes at hand. So, roll up your sleeves, snap on the yellow gloves and give it a bit of elbow grease.

Our little secret…
Want to add the perfect touch to your spring clean? Take a leaf out of our book and put a cup of vanilla extract in the oven for an hour. Your home will smell like a bakery in no time!