Have You Thought Of Rental?

The housing market certainly moves in cycles. When I was a child everyone seemed to rent, hardly anyone owned their own home, and I grew up on a council estate in a council property and was perfectly happy. Flash forward a few years and my parents were making the most of the right to buy and purchasing their council property, it was now a home of their own. When I met Pete, we had moved on further, and secured a mortgage and bought our own property. But when the housing market and banking markets suffered their collapse (Northern Rock anyone?). It suddenly became difficult for first time buyers to get that initial mortgage. Which is why home rental has its place once again.

Whilst it is still a dream for many people to own their own home, there are some definite advantages to renting, especially when it comes to your first home. This is all new to you, and you have to get used to paying all those bills and costs, so it may be more beneficial to test the waters by renting first.

Here are some just some of the reasons why rental may work for you.

The property itself

Everything about buying a home is expensive, and homes that you can actually afford to go for may need lots of work doing to them, work which you can’t afford. Renting from a private landlord could help you get used to paying the bills, and give you a property that is all ready to move into. Good,reputable landlords will have landlord insurance which will not only cover them for payments, but also for building issues, accidental damage and flat roof cover, so if you do come across any of these issues, they shouldn’t be your problem.

In some cases you can actually rent a furnished property, perfect if you are starting from scratch and don’t have much yet in the way of furniture. This can make moving in quicker too.


Buying your first home, even if you have no chain, can still take months. Choosing a rental property can be so much quicker which could be useful if you are moving to a new area to start a new job and have to be there quickly.

In the same way, if you need to move again, you may have to give a month’s notice of your intention to quit, but this is so much easier than if you are trying to sell your property, a process that could take months, even, in the worst case scenario, years. Rental is much easier if your job sees you moving around a lot.

Finding out if it suits

OK, so this may not be the most romantic reason to rent, but it is a reason to consider it. When you first move in with a person, the truth is, it could go either way. You could have found your soulmate, the person who you will spend the rest of your life with. But you may equally have moved in with someone you just can’t live with, try as you might. Renting does not have to be permanent, you can move out and move on, far easier than if you were tied in with a mortgage.

Have you ever considered renting?


Charity Shop Buys – Christmas Party Special

In the Summer I set the question, could you get your holiday wardrobe from charity and vintage shops and buying second hand. The answer was a resounding yes (you can check out that post here). So now, with another very special time just weeks away I am asking the question – Can you get your Christmas party wardrobe by shopping preloved once again?

I think that, once again, the answer is yes, and the benefits are brilliant, not just for you, but for charities who rely on their customers to keep vital services going, but also for the planet. Sure you can get clothes very cheaply from stores like Primark, but these clothes also tend to be the sort of fast fashion that end up in landfills once they’ve been worn once.

Charity shops and vintage clothing offers you the chance to find something that is different from the High Street offering, hence lessening the risk you will bump into someone else wearing the same outfit (which, incidentally, shouldn’t matter to us, but totally does, all the same.). It gives you the chance to express yourself, whilst raising money for a good cause.

Each year I make sure that some of the pieces I wear in the run up to Christmas come from Charity shops and vintage stores (I’ve got a Vintage Fair coming up at the Manor House on 1st December, and a theatre press night on the 5th so am looking for something special. I also shop my wardrobe, and then add new accessories. By new, I mean preloved pieces that can also be found in charity shops.

Below are some of the dressy things I have found in charity shops over the past couple of years, along with a few things I saw in some of my local charity shops this weekend.

This was a 1970s vintage dress I found in a charity shop for £4.99. (Acorns I believe). I added the vintage style belt as the original one was missing.

Vintage velvet dress that cost £2.50 from a preloved sale.

This jacket was a Definitions jacket, almost kimono style, found in St Giles hospice for £4.

Top is such a 1980s style and is quite heavy. I wore this for a family house party last Christmas. Can’t remember where I found it though, although I think it was Compton Care, but have had this for years.

Apart from the Zara box bag, this whole outfit is from charity shops. Top is Children’s Society £2.50, tulle skirt is St Giles Hospice £6, and the sling back, kitten heeled shoes are Beacon for the Blind. Whole outfit was £12.50. The skirt still had the Dickens and Jones tags on it.

My vintage faux fur was a Christmas present that my sister found in a Charity shop during a trip to Lincoln for £10.

This dress was £5.99 from Acorns Hospice shop and I wore this to The Nutcracker a couple of years ago. Think I need to dig it out again.

Animal print dress from The Children’s Society. Could definitely work with red accessories for Christmas.

Maybe these Principles shoes?

Warehouse 1960s style dress, bargain at £5.99.

This would really jazz up a little black dress, but would be great with jeans and a white t-shirt too.


Strategies for Buying Online With Good Customer Satisfication

The benefits of online shopping are nothing to brush under the rug, but making purchases electronically can carry risks and can be a very different experience to shopping your High Street. However, you should be able to great deals, stay safe, and be satisfied with your all around experience.

Expect the best from the product and service

First of all, you should expect the same level of product and service when buying online as you when you buy from a store. The good news these days is that many companies are measuring their business in levels of customer success. Companies like User IQ explain this in terms of desired outcomes for business, with the ‘Desired outcomes representing what customers seek to do with your product combined with an adequate user experience.’ Many online businesses even us business software in order to measure this customer success, which could also be called customer satisfaction.

In short, you should be happy, not just with the product, but also with the ease of using the website, the delivery time, the way it was packaged, the courier used. Your whole shopping experience from start to finish.

Keep on Top of Security

 As Mike Homnick of PCWorld points out, basic techniques such as keeping your browser updated and installing a top-notch malware protection application can reduce the odds that a cybercriminal is successful with an attack. Additionally, check that you see a padlock icon in the url bar as you shop or make your payment to vendors through third-party sites, such as Paypal. This icon, along with https:// rather than http:// preceding the website address, indicates that the website is secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. Online payment services also can provide more protection in that they often allow you to transfer funds without giving the retailer your credit or debit card information, all while protecting you with unauthorised transaction coverage and monitoring for suspicious activity. Using only secured network connections and sticking to only well-recognised retailer applications are additional tips. Finally, find and verify the phone number and physical address information for the company you’re considering buying from, as the National Cyber Security Alliance recommends. Legitimate businesses readily supply this data to prove they’re valid enterprises, as well as to facilitate good customer service.

Internet Security

Insist on the Minimum

 Many great retailers ask you for a little more information, such as your email address, for niche marketing or customer service purposes. Some pieces of data, however, such as your Social Security Number, specific date of birth or driver’s license number, have no marketing or delivery value for a legitimate seller. If you can’t place your order by providing your name, address and credit card/third party payment option, be suspicious. The fewer fields you have to fill out, the better.

Be Willing to Compare and Research

 The online market is incredibly competitive. If you buy from the first retailer you see, you might miss finding a better price from another seller, especially when you take into account that some websites offer incentives like cash back. Take the time to shop around, and don’t forget about options like coupons, which can reduce your bill even if your primary seller isn’t offering a deal. As you compare vendors, read as many reviews as you can, not only about the product you’re interested in, but about the sellers themselves. Aim to use only retailers that have satisfaction rates of 99 or 100 percent during the process, and check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to be absolutely sure the good reputation you’re seeing is valid.

Keep Documentation

Documentation such as confirmation emails or transaction numbers can assist with refunds, exchanges or other problems. Terms and conditions, price pages and product descriptions also fall into this category.

Assume a Return

Although you hopefully won’t need to return what you order, never buy anything online unless you’re aware of the seller’s return/refund policy. Many vendors won’t take back products without receipts, return numbers or original packaging.


 Online shopping can be a convenient way to get what you want or need, provided you take steps to protect yourself. Simple strategies greatly reduce the chances you’ll have a bad experience and of your marking your experience a customer success.