Do you have a relative or know someone who is bad at managing money? There’s a good chance you are not alone. Almost everyone has that one person in their life who remembers to call when they can’t make ends meet and need some help.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

When you care about someone, it’s hard to see them go through financial hardship. It’s even more concerning when you see that their difficulties could easily be avoided if they made better financial decisions.

It gets trickier when you have older family members, like uncles or parents, who made some unwise financial choices. So, if you decide to support a family member in financial hardship, Alpha Car Finance has these tips for you.

Talking about money.

Money is a touchy subject for most people. That’s why it’s important to be sure if your family member has a problem with handling money. Because you are concerned about their financial well-being, you might get too eager and offer unsolicited advice. So, wait for them to feel comfortable enough to discuss their financial woes.

Sometimes, all a family member needs is someone who will listen. Allow them to share where their money goes, how much they spend on certain things, and then try to offer some advice. The more they open up to you, the better your advice will be received.

Be a good example.

Aside from offering advice, you can also be a good role model for your family. When they see you are doing your best to stick to your budget, save money, and pay off your monthly bills, you’ll become more credible, and your relatives and friends are more likely to heed your advice.

Determine the cause of their problem.

Many people get into debt in various ways. They might have a gambling problem, a substance abuse problem, or using their credit cards uncontrollably, among other things. Whatever it is, you can help in sorting out what got them in trouble.

You are in a better position since you can see the big picture. Once you identify the root cause, try to help them resolve it and, hopefully, they can avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Be cautious when lending money.

Sometimes, we may tend to give a loan and hope that these money problems will naturally disappear. However, most of these problems may stem from bad financial choices or lack of money management skills.

Lending money straight away will not solve anything and might only make their problems worse. Instead, help them improve their decision-making and money management skills by sharing how you have personally overcome your own financial challenges.

Put it in writing.

If you do decide to offer money, make sure to set clear guidelines. While it may appear overly formal, it is a good idea to put any agreement or transaction you may have on paper. Is it a loan or a cash gift? Be clear about it and set expectations. If it is a loan, set a deadline and have an agreement when your relative must pay it back.

Set clear boundaries.

Seeing a family member go through financial difficulty is tough, but ultimately, they must learn how to be responsible for their own finances. While there is nothing wrong with extending help, there’s only so much you can do. You also have your obligations to worry about and need to think about securing your own future.

Do you know someone who is financially struggling? What did you do to help them? How did you deal with their situation? We’d love to know. Please share your experiences with us by leaving a comment.

Busy families find it hard to get the time required when cleaning up the house. Perhaps they’ll leave unwashed dishes in the sink for a day or two, maybe the shower glass gets a little grimy, or perhaps the stains on the carpet will soak in for a little longer than they should. Whatever your family situation, it’s completely understandable if you feel you don’t have enough time to actually take care of your house.

However, it’s still no excuse to leave your house looking like a mess! So to give you a hand, here are a couple of ways to help you get the most out of your cleaning time.

Staying organised

Firstly, make sure you stay organised. Getting things done is difficult if you aren’t focusing on the task at hand, so make sure you get some sticky notes and keep them on your fridge to stay organised. If you want a little more warning, consider setting up alarms on your phone or keeping a notebook handy of all the tasks that you need to accomplish during the day. As long as you stay organised, you’ll be able to clean up quickly and painlessly without feeling like you’ll need to waste most of your day on it.

Don’t clean what isn’t dirty

If you see stains and dirt, then clean them up. If you don’t see noticeable stains on your bathtub or your shower window, then don’t clean it! Many people assume that you need to scrub down and disinfect everything in your home several times a week to stay clean. Unless you really hate the idea of germs, this isn’t needed and it’s actually better for your immune system if you’re exposed to some bacteria now and then. If you want things to stay cleaner for longer, then consider using products like Nanokote to create protective barriers around surfaces, or dust filters on devices like computers to trap the dust and make it easier to clean.

 

Declutter the home

It takes a while to declutter but letting go of things will help you keep your home cleaner for longer. With less furniture and items on the shelf, you have less to dust, less to clean, and more room to breathe. Stop hoarding items and learn to let go. This is probably the most time-consuming idea on this list, but it’s also one of the most effective if you want to be efficient while cleaning your home.

Don’t hide the cleaning supplies
If you’ve ever wondered where to keep cleaning supplies, then there’s a simple answer: near the source of stains. If you have something to clean the bathtub, then keep it near the bath. If you have a hand vacuum, keep it in the kitchen so suck up bits of crumbs and spills. If you have a surface cleanser, then keep it in the kitchen for easy access. The less time you spend gathering your supplies, the more time you have to clean and the less time you waste.

Being made redundant is a very unpleasant experience, especially if you were in a job you enjoyed.  There’s a feeling of helplessness, that nothing you did was good enough but often it is simply a numbers game on behalf of the company or even beyond their control.  

When you find out you are going to be made redundant, it is important to start preparing for this time in lots of ways to help you make it through with the least possible stress.

Don’t give it to worry

It is completely natural to be stopped still by the worry of what will happen after redundancy.  But the first thing to do it get rid of that paralysis as quickly as possible.

Yes, you will be worried about finances, finding another job, paying the mortgage and all of that.  But if you let the worry stop you, then you won’t get anywhere.

If you think redundancy is on the cards or you know it is, then start preparing immediately.

Finances

Obviously, the biggest worry is around finances and therefore getting them in order before the redundancy happens is a good step to take.  For starters, do a debt audit – look at your credit score because there’s a chance this might go down when you don’t have a regular income.  This means before redundancy is a good time to consolidate debts, change for a better credit card or even loans or mortgages. Don’t take on new debt, just try to keep the cost of existing debts as low as possible.

If you do have savings, you might even want to use some of it to pay off some debts although don’t leave yourself without an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses.

See if you can get help

There’s nothing wrong with claiming benefits that you are entitled to – we all contribute to the pot with our tax and national insurance.  You may be to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while looking for a job and you may be entitled to income support if you aren’t earning what you once were and are struggling.  It may be worth giving them a call.

There are various departments available to help you see what you may be entitled to and what to do to make a claim.  

Set up a budget

Once you know what you are entitled to and what income you have you can start creating a budget.  This is important to help you spot if you haven’t got enough money coming in to cover your bills and essentials like food.  There are lots of advice pages on the internet as well as charities such as Step Change and the Citizens Advice Bureau who can give you budgeting advice.

Don’t be afraid to approach companies to who you owe money and explain the situation.  Some may be willing to help with reduced payments or other systems to assist until you get back on your feet.

See if you have any protection

Sometimes we forget what insurance is bundled into the products we buy so now is a good time to do an insurance audit.  Look for mortgage protection and income protection to see if you have any of these policies that can help when you are out of work.

Also look for policies like Payment Protection Insurance for two reasons – either to see if you can use the policy if it is still in force.  Or if you didn’t realise you had it, you might be able to claim back the money paid to it (often with interest) to boost those savings.

Shop around for everything

Making money go further is the aim of the game and that means spending a little time shopping around.  Car and home insurance, gas and electricity suppliers, even your groceries – there are lots of ways to shop around online and these can result in savings for the cost of a little time.  

Make the most of the online comparison sites to see if you can get a better deal for everything you pay but always watch for charges to cancel mid-contract as these can wipe out the benefit of switching.

It won’t be long till spring is here and all the pretty flowers start to pop up from the ground. We can all start to relax a little bit as the weather warms up. However, this change in the weather is the perfect time to see to your home and carry out any maintenance that may need doing after the winter. Not sure which jobs you need to do now that winter is drawing to an end? .

Revamp the outside from the inside!

I love a bit of a revamp for spring. Perhaps things about how to bring pastels into your home. I  have been thinking about getting some made to measure curtains at the moment and how they give a nice warm feel to homes. Some blue pastel would make your home exterior look nice and bright. Or if you have blinds then think about a light varnish or a fresh lick of paint.

 

 

Clear Your Garden

There won’t be many plants and flowers that will have survived in your garden over winter. All of the ones that were blooming through summer and autumn will have probably died so you will need to dig up all the dead plants and clear them out of our garden. If you have a compost bin, you should add them to that to create more. Once your garden is completely clear, it will be worth spreading some compost onto the soil to add plenty of nutrients ready for when you start to sow new seeds in spring.

Check Paintwork

Any paintwork on the exterior of your home might have got chipped over winter, especially if the weather has been bad. To improve it, simply scrape off any flakey, old paint, and then repaint with a couple of layers of fresh paint. It’s worth waiting for a few sunny days to do this to make sure that rain doesn’t spoil your fresh paint job. While you are doing this, take a look at your window frames. If you notice any holes and gaps in them, you should think about replacing them. Otherwise, you could find pests and vermin in your house this summer!

 

Living in a dream home is something that many of us fantasise about. A place where all your wants and needs are taken care of that you can call your very own. While not all of us are lucky enough to one day live in a mansion, there are some common features that many people are looking for. And while having a swimming pool or tennis court in your back garden maybe a touch unrealistic, there are some things you can look out for when on the hunt for a new property, or even incorporate into your current home.

A house is always something that is a work in progress, so you may end up putting some of these on your to do list. Alternatively, you may decide to have your dream home built from scratch. Or maybe a bit of a makeover getting your sash windows from Quickslide and having the rendering a different colour. Here are a few of the most common modern trends that homeowners are looking for.

Open Concept Living

Rather than closing off separate rooms of the house, people are looking for more open space and higher ceilings. Modern homes tend to be built with this in mind, focusing on open plan living. If you are the kind of people that have guests over on a regular basis, this may well be the option for you. Light and space are two particularly attractive prospects. However, in older houses this isn’t always easy to create whereas new build properties are built with this design trend firmly in mind.

A Home that is Just the Right Size

For one thing, living in an enormous home will really rack up the electricity and heating bills…not to mention what a nightmare it would be to clean! If you are currently in the process of looking for a new home, finding one that comfortably accommodates your entire family (and any new additions you may have on the way) should be right near the top of your priority list. You want it to be comfortable and cosy, without being too cramped. This can be a difficult balance to achieve, but something to strive for. It is also nice to know that you have the space to add an extension if you do happen to want some additional room.

Outdoor Living Space

Having at least some sort of outdoor space for a garden, decking or patio is pretty near the top of the homeowners wishlist. In the summer months, there is nothing like being able to enjoy the peace and serenity that is right there in your own backyard. Even if you only have a limited amount of space, getting in contact with a good landscaper could be worthwhile as they will be able to give you more details about how best to utilise what you do have.

Modern Kitchen

The heart of any home, this is where buyers are often drawn to first. If you do already have your own home, this job will probably be right near the top of your list of priorities. A modern kitchen design often involves plenty of surface space for food preparation. Many also have an island in the centre that is used for dining. This frees up space for more cabinet space around the outside of the kitchen. State of the art appliances are also on many people’s dream home wish list.

A Green Home

Not only is a green home much better for the environment, it is also a lot better for your own family finances. New build houses tend to be built with energy efficiency very much in mind, but older homes are often something of a work in progress. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are growing in popularity, but these can be expensive to install in the first place. A more affordable option is looking for energy efficient fixtures and appliances relating to heating, ventilation and cooling equipment (HVAC). A dream home can’t be a dream home if it isn’t a green home!

 

Smart Storage Space

The modern family has a huge amount of stuff, which is why smart storage space is hugely important for many homeowners. Probably the ultimate dream for many of us is to have a walk-in wardrobe (something that more and more modern homes are being built with). But there are all kinds of innovative storage devices out there for all over the home. This is another feature that is always a work in progress, particularly fuelled by the fact that we acquire more and more stuff over time.

Garage/Workspace

 

Of course, having a garage is a big priority of many homebuyers, particularly if you are a car enthusiast. This gives your pride and joy a huge amount more protection from the elements. But many people now want a garage that also doubles as a workspace or tool shed. Of course, this is something that is very much on the male wish list, but it can be very useful to have an extra bit of space, even if it just used for more storage.

Attic/Basement

As I mentioned at the start, a home is very much a work in progress. Having an attic or a basement is a very attractive proposition as it gives you something to work on in the future. Obviously, the most common transformation is to add an extra bedroom, but there are other possibilities as well. You might choose to put in a playroom for the kids. You may instead want to create your own home gym. Like many things in life, having a range of possibilities is exciting!

A Reliable Broadband Connection

As simple as it sounds to many of us who live in an area that is well connected, the advantages of having a reliable broadband connection cannot be overstated. If you run your own business from home, it is absolutely essential. Even if you are just looking for some good quality entertainment, so much of it is centred around around broadband these days. As well as this, the homes of the future will probably end up being very reliant on broadband. We have already seen the rise of systems that control heating and other appliances through smartphones, and this is only likely to become more popular in the future.

Good Security Features

 

One of the greatest joys of going back to your home is that it is a place where you can feel safe and secure. Solid doors and windows, landscape lighting and other home security features all contribute towards having that peace of mind. As well as this, what sort of neighbourhood your home is in makes all the difference. Though it is not something that you can control, having neighbours that you can trust really does make all the difference to your sense of wellbeing and security in your home.

A Bathroom with A Bath Tub

Many homes have started saving space by just having a shower rather than a bath tub. But many people still prefer having the option of relaxing after a long hard day by having a nice bubble bath. Even if there is a limited amount of space in the bathroom, it is still great to keep your bath and have a shower facility within it. Other ways to make the bathroom a more attractive space include updating the lighting, installing new taps, mirrors and doorknobs. Like installing a new kitchen, putting in a state of the art bathroom is also right near the top of the dream home wish list.

Home Office

With more and more people working from home in today’s digital age, having space for a home office is of huge importance to many home buyers and homeowners. We have already talked about attics, basements and garages as locations to make use of extra space that is available, but another option is a small bedroom. Many people would now prefer to use any additional space as a home office rather than having a guest bedroom. This is all based around the changing working habits that now exist in the 21st century.

Low Maintenance

In days gone by, houses used to require a great deal of upkeep. New houses tend to be built with low maintenance firmly in mind, largely due to the fact that both parents often go out to work these days so there is limited time for cleaning. Some typical low upkeep features include wood floors and granite countertops – anything that can be wiped clean rather than having the need for a whole host of cleaning products.

 

These are just 13 of the most common features on the dream home wish list. Obviously, this list will vary from person to person, but it is likely that you will have at least a few of these in mind whether you are looking to buy a new home or improve the one that you are currently living in.