Leaving home? How to cope with the financial stresses of a flatmate

Whether you’re moving out of the family home to go to uni or to just to gain some independence, it’s an exciting time. Yeah, you do have to do your own washing and cooking BUT you’re free to come and go as you please and if you want to make pancakes when you get in at 2am and set off the smoke alarm in the process, you can!

PLUS, you get to live with someone (or some people) who is your age and shares your interests!

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Well, there are a few things……I remember washing up and cleaning became such an issue that we once created an OFFICIAL rota (YUP!) but the issue I want to talk about here is money.

Yup, it’s a touchy subject for everyone but if you don’t discuss some ground rules on day one with your flatmates, you run the risk of falling out with them within the first month of living together.

Need some examples to convince you why there could be a problem here?

No problem.

Let’s start with food. Unless you like all of the same things and will be cooking together every night, you’re probably going to shop separately. But does that mean you’re going to have two bottles of milk and two tubs of butter in the fridge? What about fruit? Are you going to have two fruit bowls? Two loaves of bread? Do you even have room for that? Maybe you will share after all, but then how do you work out if you’re splitting everything equally? Count the tea bags? I know I sound crazy here but even the most laid back people get to this point when money is tight, trust me.

And what about bills? Does one person pay them and then the other person transfers money to their account each month? How do you set up a system to ensure this does happen every single month without delay? NOBODY likes to chase their mates for cash.

What if you don’t even know your new housemates that well? Perhaps you found them on the internet. You have no idea how good they are with money!

Have I made my point about the financial stresses of a flatmate? Ok good.

Well let’s look at how you can avoid these issues, simply and fairly, so you don’t go running back to mama two months in. Hurrah!

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Here is FeastStyleThrive’s guide to handling flatshare finances:

1. Communication is key.

Make it clear, in a non-scary way, that to avoid hassle, you want to get the bill and money chat out the way at the very beginning and schedule a time to sit down with them and go through it all. You need their agreement for this to work so make sure they’re up for it. And make sure the meeting happens asap!

2. Cover all areas.

Together, go through all the bills and costs that you will incur in the flat, both big and small. This should cover everything from utilities, council tax and internet, to cleaning supplies, toilet paper and weekly groceries.

3. Be reasonable.

Identify what you can split evenly – toilet roll is included in this, regardless of what gender you are(!) – and which items can’t be shared and therefore must be bought separately.

4. Take responsibility.

Try to split roles fairly. Rather than one person paying all of the bills, can they be shared? It will help your credit rating if you’re a registered billpayer! Obviously whoever pays less, ends up paying the balance to their flatmate to make it even. Also share the shopping responsibility where possible.

5. Make a record of what has been agreed.

This must include not only who is paying for what, but also on which dates of the month the payments will be made.

6. Don’t fester.

If you feel like an element of the plan isn’t working, then aim to discuss it, calmly, with your flatmate as soon as possible. It can then be resolved quickly and easily without any arguments.

7. Sort all of the above with science!

Yep, it’s true there is an app for everything, even managing finances with your flatmates.

splittable-app.jpgSplittable is an app which lets you and your housemates split all bills and everyday expenses (even nights out!). It then keeps track and tells you who’s paid for what and who still owes money. It also shows you what payments are coming up so you don’t get caught out.

All you have to do is download the app, sign up and then invite your flatmates. You can then start logging bill or cost details and who is taking responsibility for what.

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An easy way of establishing a fair and reliable way of managing shared finances, leaving you to enjoy your freedom!

Have you experienced any financial stresses of a flatmate or awkward situations with housemates? How did you overcome them?

 

Riga – weekend break

As you know, I love a weekend break. You work hard all week and then you pack your bags, scoop up your sunnies and your passport, and scoot off to a different city to relax and enjoy yourself.

A few weeks ago, I went to Riga with a bunch of girlmates. We could have gone to Paris, or Barcelona or Italy but not only was Riga (Latvia) cheaper, but it was also a new city for all of us.

Yes, my friends, this post actually serves two purposes. Oh yes it does. After all, this is a money saving blog about living life to the full! This post shows you a way to SPEND money, because life isn’t all about possessions; it’s also about experiences. And secondly, it shows you how to have a fancy weekend away without breaking the bank. *takes a bow*

So anyway, back to the trip…..

We boarded the early Friday morning flight from Gatwick with at least two stag dos (yes it happens to be a popular stag and hen do destination due to its affordability), and arrived mid afternoon (Latvia is two hours ahead of the UK) to GLORIOUS sunshine. I’m not kidding, it was roasting. If you’re aware of where Latvia is on a map, I’ll forgive you for thinking that it’s a chilly country. It’s really not.

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Latvia from the sky…. pretty init?

Rather than staying in the centre of Riga in a hotel, we chose to make our money go further and rented an enormous house slightly out of town through Air BnB.

riga-tour-accomodationIf you want details, it’s called Villa Forest and information can be found here. It sleeps 16 which was perfect for our little party and there was a cook there who prepared a meal for our first night and laid out a lavish breakfast for us each morning.

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Another thing to mention about the accommodation is that it’s situated very near to a beautiful lake.  None of us were brave enough to swim in it but it looked nice.

Now, it may be a stag do destination but we were keen to fit some sightseeing into our weekend.  So, on our first morning, despite a few sore heads (did I mention that the alcohol is very cheap in Riga?), we took part in a tour of one of Riga’s most popular sites – the Central Market. It is the largest market in Europe and comprises several enormous halls, each focusing on a type of food such as meat, fish, dairy or vegetables.

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Latvians love to pickle!
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Tongue. Bleeeuuugghh.
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Latvians also love to smoke stuff.

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It’s best to visit this as part of an official tour and I’d recommend Eat Riga. Our tour guide, Marcus, taught us all about Latvia’s national dishes and culture and took us to a local restaurant where we sampled the country’s cuisine. This included hemp bread, cottage cheese bread, lots of sausage and pickled cabbage.

That afternoon, we tried our hands at segwaying which is SO MUCH HARDER THAN IT LOOKS.

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The lovely Emma looking like a natural segway-er. LOL

It’s also exhausting because you end up using all the muscles in your feet and butt to balance. But hey, a butt workout isn’t a bad thing, is it?

The segway experience was part of another tour of the city and was an amazing way of getting around and seeing everything in a short space of time. If you’re planning to visit a new city, wherever you go, try and do a segway tour. It’s fun and you cover so much ground. Literally.

Our tour was with Tours in Riga and the guide was lovely. I can’t recommend this enough.

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Freedom Monument
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Riga town hall. I think.

You may be able to see from the photos that the city is very clean and well maintained. It was beautiful and made the UK look a little shabby in comparison, I’m ashamed to say!

That night we went out-out in the centre of Riga. A fancy dinner first at Valtera. Think fine dining and lots of wine.

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Then after dinner, we hit a club. I can’t remember what it was called and I can’t even tell you a lot about it. The music was good.

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Me on the left doing my signature move of a hip wiggle and fierce finger point to the sky. I totally rocked it.

Yep, the shots were cheap. Basically, the nightlife in Riga is great. Oh and there’s a massive McDonalds open 24 hours too.

The next and final day of our trip was spent on the beach. Yep, Riga lets you do it ALL in a weekend. I would share a pic of the beach but we all look a bit er….fragile.

Jurmala beach is lovely although the water did look a bit grim but it’s fine if you just want to laze on the sand.

Then…..home again. Back to slippers, and cups of tea….and emails.

Until the next holiday. YAY!

Oh so sexy chocolate truffles

Yeah, I like chocolate. And even if I’ve eaten a MASSIVE meal, I still need something sweet afterwards to eat while I’m watching whatever TV series I’m obsessed with at the time. I think at the moment it’s Billions but anyway, I digress….

A box of chocolates costs ten pounds. Well, it costs a fiver if you’re cheap.  And then you always have that really annoying moment with a box of chocolates where you pop one into your mouth only to discover that it’s a flavour you don’t like but you can’t be bothered running to the bin to spit it out so you have to sit there, reluctantly sucking/chewing on it until it disappears. After that, it’s a game of lucky dip and the fun has GONE.

Well, I’m about to fix the cost issue and the russian roulette of nastiness with one simple recipe. BOOM.

Here’s how you can have a supply of 100% delicious after dinner chocolate truffles at a fraction of the price.

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To make 12 of these beauties, you’ll need,

100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

65ml double cream

A pinch of salt

The zest of half an orange

20g icing sugar

cocoa powder

Break the chocolate up into tiny pieces.  The technique I used was to break the pieces up into a plastic food bag and whack it several times with a rolling pin until it broke into crumbly shavings.  VERY satisfying.

Zest the orange with a grater.  Alternatively, use a peeler to collect the top layer of peel and chop it up into teeny tiny pieces.  You want TEENY tiny. Zesting is easier.

Heat the cream in a saucepan for a few minutes.  Before it gets too hot and starts to boil, mix in the orange zest and take the saucepan off the heat.

Pour in the chocolate shavings and mix well with a wooden spoon.  The chocolate will melt and form a brown ‘goo’.  Sift in the icing sugar and mix again.

Transfer into a bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Once it has hardened, scoop out teaspoon size amounts, roll into balls in your hands and then roll in the cocoa powder.  And there you have it, chocolate truffles.

Keep them chilled in the fridge until you need one…. or four.

chocolate-truffles

The month’s 10 best clothing buys under £10 – June

It’s officially Summer. I’ve had a bbq, consumed Pimms, and have dodgy tan lines on my back to prove it.

So I thought I’d give this month’s 10 under £10 a summer holiday theme. I have therefore gathered together my favourite items of beachwear currently available to buy on the world wide web.

Some of the bikinis I’ve paired together aren’t necessarily from the same sets but together they cost under £10.

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beachwearunder10pound-2 1a. New Look Coral Tropical Print Contrast Trim Bikini Top £5, 1b. New Look Black Knotted Bikini Bottoms £5, 2. Primark Black White Stripe Swimming Costume £6, 3. ASOS Straw Trilby Hat £10, 4. ASOS Fabienne Studded Flat Sandals £10, 5a. New Look Soft Cup Triangle Bikini Top £3.99, 5b. New Look Black Tie Side Bikini Bottoms £4.99 6. Monki Round Tort Retro Sunglasses £10, 7. H&M Short Jersey Dress £9.99 8a. Debenhams Iris & Edie Bikini Top £4.80 8b. Debenhams Iris & Edie Bikini Bottoms £3.60, 9. Missguided ankle strap red sandals £10, 10. H&M Strapless Playsuit £7.99

While these are my favourites, it is possible I have missed one or two stores so if there are any pieces of lovely holiday wear under £10 that you have come across that haven’t been included here, please do post a comment below and share a link to the item in question on the FeastStyleThrive Facebook page.

Until next time…….

Money saving tips you shouldn’t ignore when moving house

Moving home is an expensive business. Pulling together a deposit is no longer enough. From stamp duty to removal costs, set up costs and Estate agent fees… everyone you come into contact with will be trying to dip their sticky fingers into your pockets./div>

So if someone challenged you to find a way of saving money when moving house, you would be forgiven for laughing out loud! But it is possible! Here’s the FeastStyleThrive guide on how to do it.
MOney saving guide
1: Compare Estate Agents
The cheapest agent isn’t always the best value and the most expensive isn’t always the best agent.
It’s vital that you do your research before committing to any company and the good news is that a company called www.GetAgent.co.uk makes this very easy to do. It will show you a list of the six best agents in your area, how quickly each agent sells, the percentage of asking price they achieve and how many properties they have listed around your area. This coupled with a list of each agent’s fees means you can compare the best agents quickly and easily – possibly saving you time AND money when selling your house!
2: Book Early!
Chasing the conveyance and following up with the estate agent is not a fun game… everyone is waiting to know that magical date that you will complete on your property purchase and moving can commence…
As soon as you know that date, BOOK your removals company, sky engineer and every other workman you may want to fix up the old place and sort the new place.
Did you know that by booking early, you can save up to 25% of the cost with removal firms? That’s one hell of an incentive to get organised!
Additionally, if you are using large companies ensure you look for deals and discount codes.
And if you’re super thrifty, hire your own van, recruit your family and friends get as many hands as possible helping you move!
3: £500 Challenge
Picture this: You’re taking the rubbish out and someone comes up to you outside your house and offers you £500, would you take it? Silly question. Of course you would!
So when you are waiting for your legals to go through take time to completely clear your house of unwanted items. Use Facebook Sale groups, Gumtree, Ebay, Friday Ad, Auction Houses and Car Boot Sales to sell all your unwanted items. I challenge you to raise £500 out of the items you would usually throw away… Forget saving money when moving house, earn it!
4: Use free boxes
Did you know that your local Homebase has a crate of free boxes you can help yourself to at its exit? Head down there on a frequent basis to pick up large moving boxes completely free! This could save you around £150!
5: Negotiate
With the agent, the vendor, removals company, utilities companies, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker… whoever it is, negotiate the pants off them! Maybe not the tax man though… Stamp Duty is non-negotiable (unfortunately!).
6: Avoid Mail Forwarding Costs
Two months before you move, start changing your address to a friend or family member’s address. This way, as post arrives over the two months it reminds you to keep changing your address. When you finally move into your home, make sure you take all that mail (if it’s anything like mine, it’s unopened!) and tell them of your new abode!
I hope this helps and takes some of the stress out of the process! Any other tips that I’ve missed, please add them below in a comment.
And a special thanks to Chelsea from GetAgent.co.uk for her huge help in pulling this piece together!