Friday, 16 March 2018

Our First Time Buyers Journey - Help to Buy

Welcome to our journey to becoming first time buyers. I am so excited to share this with you, when it comes to buying a house for the first time there aren't a lot of real stories out there and I wanted to be open and honest with how the process has been for us. We have been renting for 10 years now with lots of ups and downs and it is so good to finally be buying a house. We have come a long way since our tiny 2 bed flat.

This first post is about the early days. How we decided on using the government Help to Buy scheme and where our home owners journey started. I will be sharing my tips on saving for the deposit in the next few weeks but lets assume for now you have started to get your deposit together and are looking at options. 

What is Help to Buy?

The government Help to Buy scheme is available to first time buyers and also people looking to move up the property ladder. It allows you to buy a house with just a 5% deposit and a mortgage of up to 75% of the value of the house. This means the remaining amount (20%) is lent to you by the government with 0% interest for the first 5 years. You are able to repay the loan any time within the first 25 years (although this will depend on the terms of your mortgage) or when you sell the property. 

Persimmon who we are buying from have a handy calculator on their website and more details on how to qualify for Help to Buy. 

How will we pay the government back?

Our plan is to put money aside each month to repay the government at the end of those 5 years and alongside remortgaging to the value of the property after 5 years (keeping everything crossed that the house increases in value) we should have the money to settle the 20% loan. 

Are there any downsides to this scheme?

From year six a fee of 1.75% is payable and will rise each year based on inflation. 

The scheme is only available on new properties so you will need to find a development in the area you want to move to. 

It also isn't available for buy to let properties (which I think is actually a benefit for us as the houses aren't being scooped up by landlords to rent out)

This scheme relies heavily on house prices increasing in 5 years time which is always a gamble. If you are unsure this scheme is right for you and are able to it may be worth saving for a bit longer to secure the 20% deposit needed for most properties and waiting a while. 

If I am honest I think this scheme is only worth considering if you have a good steady income. I can't understand how a couple on a lower income or a single person will be able to afford their mortgage repayments, general bills and saving enough to pay the government back but that is your call to make. 

Our choice

We decided that 2 years of paying into our landlords mortgage (10k a year) just didn't make sense so we made our choice to go for the H2B and take a leap of faith! Having made the decision to use this scheme our choice between buying a new property or an older one was sort of made for us. I will be sharing my pro's and con's to buying a new build in the coming weeks but I hope this post has been helpful to you. 

Please pop your email address in the subscribe box on the right hand side to get updates into your mail box and I will be back with more updates soon!

*This post isn't an advert for Help to Buy, these are the facts we have been given and our honest opinions on the scheme as first time buyers.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Fresh Start

You may have noticed I haven't posted in quite some time. If you have been following the blog for the past few years you will know that our lives have been quite full on to say the least. 2016 was one of the most up and down years I have ever had and I was happy to leave that behind us.

Moving to 2017 we wanted to enjoy family life a lot more which meant stepping away from the blog and embracing those little moments. I continued to write throughout year but found myself increasingly torn between spending quality time with the family and coming up with blog content. Life just seemed so much more important.

I decided to take a few months off completely. I still used my Instagram account as I love how quick and easy it is to use. I enjoyed being able to still document my Slimming World journey on insta and it has a great community feel which I felt kept me motivated. However, all other parts of the blog went on hold.

I took a lot of time to think about what it was I wanted from the blog moving forwards and I realised my passion for writing, photography, brand collabs etc was still there but my content no longer matched the parenting tag Late For Reality had acquired. I decided to rebrand with a fresh new look and I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey to rediscovering myself. 

So here I am, no longer a 'Parenting Blogger' but still a Mum, still a Wife and most importantly still Me!

Friday, 8 December 2017

3 Small Businesses to Support This Christmas

Christmas is great isn't it? Full of festive cheer and time to spend with your loved ones. For me I have always enjoyed putting a smile on people's faces and buying an extra special gift is a perfect way to do this. This year I have tried to buy from small businesses where I can, be it at Christmas fairs or online and I wanted to share with you 3 of my favourite places to pick up unique handmade or hand designed gifts.

Up first is a brand I have mentioned over on my social media a lot over the last few years. Lamb & Bear started off life when talented blogger Alex decided to take a gamble and set up her own business designing children's leggings. Her unique designs included ducks, crocodiles, giraffes and my favourite's Stevie Stegosaurus prints. 

Over the past couple of years the brand has grown but Alex still works from home around her two little boys and has recently released a range of new designs including these beautiful Flaming Flamingo leggings, muslins, sleepsuits and a new range of Mummy and Baby headbands. All the clothing is 100% cotton and the sizing is great. I love the fact the designs are unisex and Ted and Callie had matching Stevie leggings for a while too. These products make great gifts as they are so reasonably priced and come wrapped complete with a Lamb & Bear sticker.

Next is a product close to our hearts as they are handmade by our brother in law Frank. He is so talented and I just had to mention our hand carved Family Stone Drop. Each drop is carved from re-purposed wood with gemstones set in for each member of the family. We have a Blue and Pink stone for Joe and I and two smaller stones below for both Ted and Callie. They come on a rustic wood slice plinth and each drop is packaged perfectly with a certificate of authenticity. Frank is in the process of setting up his own Etsy site but you can contact him directly through Facebook to register your interest and place an order. 

Finally is the brainchild of another work at home Mum, Beth who has 3 small children set up Freddie & Co just last year and her personalised prints and stationery are fab. Beth works so hard to adapt each design to suit her customers requirements and even makes designs from scratch if requested.

We have 4 prints we will be displaying around our home including this 'Our Family' print with wellies for each member of the family. We also have 3 other designs going up in the kids bedroom so I will share those with you when they are finished. I may also have ordered a unicorn print for my Goddaughter too! I love this sort of thing and I think personalised prints can really add some finishing touches to a room. These prints are really reasonably priced and would make a great gift in a pretty frame. 

So there you have it, 3 brands or products you may not have heard of before and 3 stories behind them. I hope this post has inspired you to hunt out some new small businesses this year. It feels so much better knowing your money is going to support a family or to someone who puts so much time and love into their products.

*I was sent these products as samples but all opinions are my own

Thursday, 16 November 2017

School Mum Essentials from Superdrug

When it comes to winter essentials our priorities change considerably when we become parents. I never in a million years would have thought a box of colourful emoji plasters or a nit comb would enter my home yet Superdrug were kind enough to send us some of their back to school essentials and we have been trying them out over the first term. 

When it comes to boo boo's kids get a lot of them and they aren't satisfied with beige medical issue plasters. To get those bad boys on a paper cut they must have fun characters on. In Ted's case it would most often be superheroes but these Superdrug Fix 'Em Plasters went down very well following the recent Emoji Movie release. The Savlon cream is also great for cuts & grazes, insect bites & stings, minor burns & scalds. 

Then there is the non blood related boo boo's in germ form. Once he started school Ted became a target for those icky germs and has had a constant cold since September. This is where we are relying on lots of fruit and veg to boost his immune system but for added reassurance we have been topping him up with a multivitamin. 

These Haliborange chewable ones are great and he actually asks for his 1 a day trying to convince me he doesn't need to eat his veggies if he has one of those! I remember having them as a child and as a parent it puts me at ease knowing he is getting the vitamins he needs even on days when chicken nuggets is all he wants for dinner.

I mentioned nit combs. My skin crawls at the thought of having to deal with them in the future but more than likely we will face the dreaded headlice at some stage and I am well prepared. I can't even write about them without itching but I am going to have to suck it up and deal with it should the 'issue' arise.

We were also sent a pack of Superdrug Handy Antibacterial Wipes, an essential for any changing bag and perfect when you arrive at school and spot your childs leftover Marmite toast still smeared across their cheeks! 

What must have items would you recommend to first time school parents?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

An Ode to New School Mums

An Ode to New School Mums

It is almost half term,
We have made it this far,
We are feeling haggard,
We need a trip to the spa,

There are stains on the polo's
And stuffs to the knees,
Name labels have come off,
We have resorted to the Sharpies,

Maisie Mountain is our new BFF,
Good old Read Write Inc,
We have so many dates to remember,
There is barely time to think,

But they have eaten all their lunches,
Cracked their new routine,
Made friends and laughed lots,
And a few days came home clean,

They nailed their song for Harvest,
They made us burst with pride,
Then despite refusing not to,
These brave new school Mums....cried!

Mother, Son, Walk, Parenting

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Coffee and a Catch Up...

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I haven't blogged in a long time. If I am honest I have been struggling to get back into the swing of things after the summer. Ted has now started school which has its own stresses (so much to remember!) and while he was on half days the time just flew by. It is my birthday next week and Joe's the week after so been sorting bits out for that and dealing with lots of other things so really life has been a bit crazy. 

I have a few posts I am working on but my mind keeps going blank making publishing them near on impossible. I have been meaning to update you all on Callie's development as she is now 10 months and turning into a toddler before my eyes. I want to share the pictures from our trip to Prague and a few days out we have been on. II have ideas for vlogs that I want to get filmed, I also have craft tutorials and house tours, recipes and weight loss updates but it is all a bit too much at the moment and I honestly need to focus on myself and my little family who are the most important thing right now. 

I have been embracing just spending time with them and enjoying moments without thinking that I have to photograph it for the blog. My Instagram is updated daily so if you do want to see what we are up to I always find the time to keep that going, do pop over and say hi. 

I will have a giveaway coming up soon for a Blade and Rose set which I am sure lots of you will love and a few travel essentials from Summer Infant to share with you. 

Anyway that is what is happening and where I have been. I want to know if you guys would be interested in any Christmas gift guides, if so I will try and hunt out some good gift ideas to share. Leave me a comment and let me know how you are all doing, I do love to hear from you!

For now I will go back to my roots and end this with Over and Out Blog Jockeys! 

Catch you soon!