Category Archives: Uncategorized

Have You Missed Me?

It’s been a while, baby. I’m sorry. I really am. But I’ve just had other priorities. I’ve been…

Settling into my new job * enjoying a spur of the moment weekend in London * Celebrating the marriage of my Sister-in-law (to my new Brother-in-law) * Setting up another blog * Taking up Yoga * Supporting Mr Love of my Life as he starts a new job too * Seeing friends * Swooning at some very handsome men at Socceraid * Discovering the delights of Gin and Tonic * Rediscovering the delights of Martini and Lemonade * Sleeping in hotel rooms with four-poster beds and mezzanine bathrooms * And just generally enjoying life!

I’m back again now though. I might not be here as much as I would have been. I might not give you everything you want. But I’m back baby. Bring on the budgeting!

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What the budget means for me… and possibly you

Mug of hot chocolate
First of all it’s important to understand that, for this piece, I am going to make a gross generalisation. I am going to assume that most of my readers are female in their 20s or 30s and like to consume the odd glass of wine, tall skinny latte and meal out. Oh and also that shopping rates highly on their list of hobbies too. Basically I am going to assume that most of my reader’s are like me!

Please accept my apologies if you don’t happen to fall into this particular demographic. But also, please bear with me. You see I want to talk about the budget, and well, the budget means different things to different people. The UK’s pensioners appear to have drawn the short straw this year and whilst I feel empathy for them, in a very Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ style curiosity. I want to know how the budget will affect me and my contemporaries.

Work
Whether you work to live, or live to work, chances are you’re still on countdown to each payday like the rest of us. Yesterday the Government pledged to increase the Personal Allowance by £1000 from April 2013. Apparently 24 million people who earn below £100,000 (most of us then) will benefit from what is being touted as ‘the largest ever increase in the Personal Allowance’. Put simply, less tax means more take home, which means more spending money. Oops, I mean money to save. Hurrah!

And, if you’re struggling to find a new job, the Government are looking to invest in businesses, which should hopefully create new jobs and help to keep businesses afloat. Admittedly working within the offshore centre for trading Chinese currency, or taking up a job on the new oil field – might not be your career option of choice.  But the suits are also looking to link Public Sector pay to local situations, cut Corporation Tax, provide Tax Credits for businesses and pass low-interest rates onto small businesses through the National Loan Scheme. To quote a well-known supermarket: “every little helps”!

One thing’s for sure. If future budgets go the same way as this one, it looks as though the only way we’re going to be retiring early (or possibly even at today’s retirement age) is by saving our hard-earned cash now.

Shopping bags

Shopping
If the Government manages to realise its aim of ensuring the ‘fastest broadband’ for 90% of the UK population, those Net-a-porter/ASOS splurges are going to be a helluva lot easier. What’s not to love? Mr O has also retained VAT exemptions on food, children’s clothes, books and newspapers. I’d prefer VAT-free handbags, but if I can’t get that then I’ll take ‘no tax on books’ as a close second. Then there’s the extended Sunday trading hours during the Olympics to look forward to. Wonder if there’s a gold medal for retail therapy?!

Babies
Woah! Now hold on a moment. I know I got hitched last year, but I’ve been too scared by others birth stories (and retelling of stories from One Born Every Minute, which I refuse to watch) to sprog up just yet. Child Benefit will be withdrawn from families where one parent earns more than £60,000. Seems fair enough to me to be honest. Although concerns me as to whether they’ll get rid of this altogether in the future?

Car Interior

Girl Racer
OK, so the Government haven’t really added any extra tax to fuel. But the 3p rise is going ahead in August as planned. Car Tax will increase in line with  inflation (with the exception of hauliers). On the plus side there’s talk about more investment in transport in London (erm, hello Politicians I know this is difficult to believe, but there is a world outside of London?!). The people in power will also be looking to invest in roads (not sure that people will be able to drive on them mind), railways (hurrah) and clean energy (yay).

Cocktails

Girls Night Out
There’s been no extra duty added to alcohol at this stage (Yay! Crack open the rose etc…), but the government will shortly be publishing its strategy on alcohol pricing. So make the most of those affordable glasses of vino whilst you can! The rate of duty on tobacco has increased by 37p. I’m a non-smoker, so I’m quite happy about this, best not to get me started on that topic….

All in all, this budget has worked out very favourably for me and Mr Love of my Life. Although I can’t help but wonder that whilst we’re the winners at present, how long is it before the tables are turned and we become the scapegoats as pensioners have been in this year’s budget?

What are your views on this year’s budget? Will it leave you better or worse off?

Babe’s View on the Budget 2012

Ah, the budget. The day the Chancellor gets to dust off his (frankly dilapidated) briefcase and become the star attraction of the government for once.

Mention it in any office and your comment will, no doubt, be met with a negative response.

“Tsk! What are the robbing b*stards taking from us now?”

“What are they doing with fuel duty?”

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”

Thing is. Is that actually the case? I used this calculator on the BBC website to find out whether myself and Mr Love of my Life would be better or worse off. And I’m pleased to report that for the second year in row Mr Osbourne has deemed to help us out to the tune of just over £300 per year. Add this to the £400 he saved us last year and I might just invite him over for supper.

And whilst this is great for us (every little helps and all that jazz), one does have to wonder if this saving comes at a cost? OK, so the rich-er are losing out on Child Benefit and having to face an increase in income tax. I can’t say I feel overly sorry for them, although I would probably feel very differently if I were earning more. But what does my gain cost our local services? Our NHS and the people who really run our country? What about our pensioners?

Also, whilst I don’t disagree with raising taxes on alcohol, tobacco and driving. I do think the money which the government makes back from these taxes should be ploughed back into suitable projects. Providing suitable public transport to offer a viable alternative to owning a car (After selling mine 18 months ago I’m considering buying a new one, despite the hikes in fuel duty and car tax) and ploughing the money from booze and fags back into the health service to try to offset the expense of people who require treatment because of their choice to live unhealthily.

You can take a look at what measures have been introduced on the Beeb news website and also on Sky. I don’t have time to do an in-depth account of the effects of the budget right now (I’ll try to catch up with my blogging over the weekend), but what I will say is whether you’re better, or worse off as a result of this budget… rather than the government deciding how we should spend our money, perhaps we should be telling them how to spend, er, our money.

What’s your take on the budget this year?

Spend it Saturday: It’s my Birthday and I’ll Spend If I Want to…

I turn 32 today. I can tell I’m getting older as I have to pause before I tell people my age and ensure I’m actually getting it right. I assume it’s going to be that way until I get to about 80, when I will once again, be broadcasting my age, like a proud five-year-old. Keep your peepers peeled for some photos of how I chose to spend my big day…

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When I was younger this would be the time I stumbled home after my birthday celebrations. Now it’s the time I’m waking up. How things change…

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Breakfast in bed… Yum!

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Pressie time!

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My first birthday as a wife!

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Fabulous birthday card from my bestie!

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Essential driving supplies.

I switched to my bridge camera for a bit whilst we were mooching around Gloucester, I’ll post those pix when I get home, but here’s some others…

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A birthday isn’t a birthday without Starbucks.

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Lunch!

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Cuteness at the Beatrix Potter museum.

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Feng Shui Friday: Green Lion Dancing Video

I received a link to this fantastic video in the Lillian Too Mandala which I’m subscribed to and thought it was amazing. Apparently the Green Lion is dancing over a mountain which symbolizes obstacles and shows how these can be overcome. The performance was part of her daughter’s housewarming celebrations. I was sceptical at first, but it really is a thing of beauty and very inspiring. Enjoy!

Subscribe to Lillian’s Mandala here.

Wedding Wednesday: Setting the Date

Save the Date

When it comes to setting the date for your nuptials there are two types of couples…

Ruled by the heart…
The date has special significance to them, perhaps an anniversary or a birthday of a loved one.

Ruled by the head…
The date fits in with:

  • The availability of the venue
  • The availability of their guests
  • Their budget
  • The seasonality of where they want to go on honeymoon
  • The amount of time it gives them to plan

Our wedding day was Saturday 1st October 2012. We fancied an Autumn wedding as we wanted to space our celebrations throughout the year a bit (myself and Mr Love of my Life both have spring birthdays and our original anniversary (of our first date) was at the start of the year too). We both also love the feel of Autumn. We originally looked into September, but discovered we could save a substantial amount of money by shunting the wedding back into the next month. This fitted in with the weather of where we wanted to go on honeymoon, gave us chance to plan and, in the end, meant we had one of the hottest days of the year to get married on (who’d have thunk it – certainly not me when I was busy buying Pashminas!).

Saturday Wedding? Friday? Wednesday?
Then there’s the weekday vs weekend dilemma. For us, it had to be a Saturday wedding. It’s just the way I had already imagined it. If you are thinking of holding a weekday wedding, bear in mind..

  • People will have to take time off work. In most cases this will be fine, but make sure you give people enough notice (especially for professions such as teachers where taking time off in the week isn’t always the easiest)
  • If you want children at your wedding and you’re getting married during term time, bear in mind that school has to come first for them. Even if the kids aren’t invited spare a thought for the parents who will have to ensure someone is there to pick their kids up from the school gates.
  • Traffic – there’s no rush hour on a Saturday, but traffic on a weekday morning can be challenging. Bear this in mind when pulling together timings for your big day and make sure you leave with enough time to get to the church on time.

How did you chose your wedding date?

Wedding Wednesday: How to Celebrate Your Engagement

He liked it. He put a ring on it and a nice sparkly one at that.

balloon
You’ve told your nearest and dearest
. The next step is to start planning the wedding, right? Well, hold on a minute, how about taking a moment to celebrate the engagement?

Whether you opt for champagne and cupcakes with close family and friends; a full-on disco with flashing lights, dancing Dad’s and buffet food; or a sit down dinner – do something!

Yes, getting hitched is exciting in itself and it’s all to easy to jump feet first into creating scrapbooks of hair and dress ideas, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the planning process it’s to enjoy every moment. So it seems only right that you take some time out to celebrate what is on its own – a momentous occasion.

We knew we were going to have a long engagement, as we wanted to save for a place of our own first and then the wedding, so we definitely wanted to celebrate the milestone of being engaged. We went for a carvery with our close family and friends and it was lovely. It was a great opportunity for our family and friends to get to know each other (which makes it much easier when it comes to wedding planning and the big day itself). The men bonded by talking about golf and their pet dogs, the women bonded by talking about the children, and well, the children just enjoyed playing with the balloons!

Here’s some tips on planning your own engagement party:

  • Think about what’s appropriate for you – if you don’t like big crowds, go for something low-key. If you’ve got a large boisterous family – do something where they’ve got space to burn off that excess energy.
  • Don’t blow the budget – it’s likely you’re going to need to pool all of your money for your forthcoming wedding, so don’t go too over the top. At our meal we got everyone to pay for their own meals, whilst we provided champagne, favours and some table decorations.
  • If you don’t want gifts tell people – but don’t be surprised if they bring them anyway. People are happy for you and want to give you something to mark this occasion. Accept the gifts graciously and remember to send thank you cards.
  • Only invite people to the engagement party who will receive an invite to the ‘day do’ of your wedding (although we kind of broke this rule as we had to reduce numbers dramatically due to our venue). But at the same time, you don’t have to invite EVERYONE who will be there on the big day – perhaps just opt for the ‘big players’.
  • Think about your outfit. You want to look stunning, but if you’re going to be celebrating with the in-laws, think demure and classic as opposed to hi-fash and skimpy.
  • Give it a sense of occasion. Anyone over the age of thirty will know that when you go out for birthday meals as you get older, it stops actually feeling like your birthday and you sometimes forget why you’re out for a meal at all. Make sure this doesn’t happen with your engagement party. Maybe have some decorations, get someone to make a speech, have a guest book (ask for advice on married life/wedding planning) and favours.
  • Mix it up. If you’re having a sit-down meal draw up a table plan and try to mix your family and friends up a bit, so they get to know each other. Make sure you seat people next to each other who have something in common, or who you are certain will get along. You don’t want to have to referee disagreements.
  • Polish your ring before-hand, after all everyone is going to ask to see it!
  • Enjoy!