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Month: August 2016

When a penny saved is more than a penny earned

When a penny saved is more than a penny earned

The saying ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ in one that most people know; its certainly something I heard repeated a lot as I was growing up. It’s not a particularly exciting concept though, not spending money.

It gets more exciting when a penny saved is a penny that’s earning (I know, it doesn’t have the same ring to it).

This isn’t intended as financial advice by the way, just information to help you make decisions with your money that will help you to reach your goals. I’m not responsible for decisions you do or don’t make after reading this article.

Putting extra pennies to your debt, be it mortgage, credit card or loan, reduces your balance and reduces your interest, and therefore helps you repay the balance sooner.

Take this example: If you have a mortgage at £100k and pay 3% interest over 25 years, your mortgage will be costing you in the region of £474 every month. For 25 years.

If you ‘save’ some pennies and put them to the mortgage, even as little as £26 per month to round up your monthly payment to £500, you’ll save £3513 in interest and pay your mortgage off 1 year and 11 months sooner (according to the overpayments calculator on moneysavingexpert.com).

£26 doesn’t seem like a huge sum of money to find in a monthly budget, but imagine how incredible it will be in 23 years and 1 month, when all of a sudden, you have that £500 sloshing around in your account EVERY MONTH! Now that’s a bit more exciting.

Now hold on to your hats. What about investing? It’s usually reasonable safe to assume that over a 25 year period, you can achieve a 4% average return by choosing low cost index trackers. (This is the first mention of investments on my blog, so if you’re new to the world of stocks and shares, please, please, make sure you get the low down on investing from a reliable source before jumping in).

So if you used that £26 per month to invest for 25 years (instead of paying it off your mortgage), you would have deposited £7,525 and earned returns of £5,304, leaving you with a nice £12,829 at the end of your mortgage, at which point you get an extra £474 freed up. (I’ve run these figures through an online compound interest calculator)

For investments, you’ll usually find that you need to invest more than £25 per month in funds; £50 is a more usual minimum amount, but the point of this was illustration. It certainly is worth considering.

So rather than being satisfied that a penny saved is a penny earned, aim to have your saved pennies earning more!

How to find good food at reasonable prices on your holidays

How to find good food at reasonable prices on your holidays

For many, food and travel go hand in hand. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as finding a city that’s known for its culinary riches. It takes a bit of time and effort, but these travel tips will help you find local gems that offer authenticity and aim to avoid the tourist price tag.

None of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means I don’t earn a penny if you click on them, even if you make a purchase. I might turn some of them into affiliate links at a later date, in which case I’ll update the article to let you know.

A more authentic breakfastCappuccino and pancakes

It’s often simpler and more convenient to eat breakfast at the hotel, but unless its included in the price, its usually much more expensive too. That’s especially true if   you don’t have a big appetite first thing in the morning and so don’t get the full benefit from buffet breakfasts.

If you’re staying in a city, there’s bound to be local cafes surrounding your hotel, especially if you’ve chosen the right place to stay. It’s easy to find somewhere nearby for breakfast just by using tripadvisor.

Large peppers on a market stallCheck out the markets

Food markets in European cities are an awesome place to find amazing produce at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal. There are usually stalls that will prepare food, whether it’s freshly prepared sandwiches, cheese and meats for a picnic, or a simple menu to choose from.

If you’re staying in an apartment, you have even more excuse to visit the market!

Ask the owner

If you’re staying at a small hotel, i.e. one where you see the owner virtually every day, they’re usually a better source of local restaurant recommendations than the larger hotels. They provide a much more personal service and use their own experience to recommend places worth eating at. In larger hotels, the staff are more likely to commute from outside the city each day and therefore have less knowledge of the local food scene, and they’re also less invested in providing you the very best service they can.

Keep your head up and look around

It sounds obvious, but you can find just where you’re looking for by keeping your eyes peeled as you’re exploring and making a mental note (or an actual note) of restaurants you want to try later in your holiday.

If you’ve got a range of options you know you want to try, it reduces the chances of collapsing in exhaustion hunger at some crappy place on a city square, charging you 10 euros for a pokey little sandwich on soggy bread. It can even pay off to pop into places that look a little more formal or are really busy to see if you need to make a reservation.

Invest wisely in the right excursions

Consider taking a food tour with a local guide; they can be worth their weight in gold, especially if you’re only staying for a few nights. It seems counterintuitive to spend money on food tours because the cost of the tour far outweighs the value of the food you’ll be eating, but it’s not really the food you’re paying for. It’s the knowledge of someone who knows the area and will happily scribble all over your map with local suggestions and tell you where you should steer clear of.

Before booking, make sure you’ve done your research, by checking out what tours are available in the area, what people are saying about them, whether they are escorted by a local guide and the size of the groups. The smaller the group size for better, not just for a more personal interaction, but also meaning you can visit the really tiny places that you wouldn’t even notice if you walked past them on your own.

Use a mixture of sources to find great restaurants

Invest in a good travel guide

A travel guide is an investment rather than an expense. To make sure this is the case, borrow a range from the library beforehand so that you know which works will for you. Lonely Planet guides are usually the best where food is concerned, with the most comprehensive restaurant sections, but which you’ll prefer might be different to you, and Rough guides, DK guidebooks or any other might be better for you.

One caution with lonely planet: The pocket guides, which they usually have for less popular cities, have much smaller food sections and the quality of the suggestions tends not to be as good.

Trip advisor will allow you to search not only top restaurants and budget options, but also places near to your hotel. It makes it easier to find good places that you don’t need to walk miles to. It can be daunting when there are thousands of restaurant options, so this is a good way to narrow down.

Rather than looking at the top 10 restaurants, search for the hotel you’re staying in. From the review page, on the right hand side there’s a small map and a ‘Browse nearby button’. If you select the restaurant link, it will bring up restaurants by distance from your hotel. When there’s over 11k restaurants listed (such as in Rome) it makes it a bit easier to penetrate the list for good spots that don’t have a premium price tag.

Blogs Lots of people blog about food, either from the perspective of a traveller or as a local sharing knowledge. It’s a great way to find restaurants that don’t feature in a guide book, a hidden in the midst of a thousand others on tripadvisor.

Magazine articles In my last post, I mentioned Food and Travel magazine. I’ve found this to be the best magazine for finding local restaurants, if my destination is included, as the whole point of the magazine is food and travel.

 

These tips work best if you layer them, use all the sources you can find to help you find the best local eats. It does take time and effort but the reward is usually worth it. Even if you use one or two tips on this page, it will certainly help you get more from culinary experiences both at home and away.

How to get a more authentic travel experience and save money

How to get a more authentic travel experience and save money

You may think it’s not possible to have a more authentic travel experience and save money. Whatever your financial goals, the prospect of paying less for more is certainly an attractive one! If you’re wondering how you can travel whilst limiting the impact on your finances, these tips will help you do just that. Its focussed on city breaks, as this is where these tips work best, but you may find these useful on all sorts of holiday.

No. 1. Don’t choose somewhere too obvious

If you’re looking for an authentic experience that doesn’t cost the earth, it’s much more difficult to find in a city that everyone wants to visit. As well as hotels and restaurants costing more, money grabbing enterprises that exist only to profit from tourists mean you can end up paying more for lower quality.

So, how do you choose somewhere that’s not too obvious?

For inspiration, check out the ’48 hours in…’ articles by Food and Travel (not an affiliate link, by the way). There’s a huge list of cities, some of which most definitely won’t save you money, but others definitely will. It’s true that some are obvious, but lots of them aren’t.

Bologna skyline
City of Bologna

This has inspired some incredible city breaks that we otherwise wouldn’t have considered, including a week in Bologna (inspired by 48 hours in Ferrara), and 3 nights in Stuttgart.

Having travelled to Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice, my favourite is undoubtedly Bologna. It is a city that is lived in, not just frequented by visitors, so there’s something real to immerse yourself in. Surely that’s the feeling, the experience you’re looking for, when you decide to spend money on travel!

You can also find unusual cities by taking a look at the places that budget airlines fly to from your local airport. If you’ve not heard of the city, it classes as unusual and you can look into whether its worth visiting. The great thing about this method is that it helps you figure out if cities have expensive flights, and therefore if you’ll get value for money.

Obvious cities can be great inspiration, so certainly don’t ignore them! For example, if Paris springs to mind, check out other cities in France such as Toulouse or Lyon. If Barcelona floats your boat, consider the Spanish cities of Valencia or Santiago de Compostella.

Using one or more of these ways will help you find exciting new places to visit where your money will travel further.

No. 2. Opt for a hotel in the residential district

This tip is great regardless of whether you’re going to one of the great European cities or one that’s lesser known. Choosing a hotel (or even better- an apartment!) in residential areas of a city, or outside the immediate vicinity of main attractions, tends to be a great money saver. Most travellers will only stay for a couple of nights, and therefore pay a premium for a conveniently located city centre hotel.

But there’s an even better reason to pick a hotel that’s away from the hustle and bustle of the main attractions. Lots of tourists don’t stray to the outskirts of a city so there’s less incentive for the tourist traps to set up shop there. It’s where you’ll find amazing restaurants filled with local people, meaning better food, better atmosphere and better value. Why did you want to stay in the centre again?

No. 3. Challenge yourself; what do you really want?

Even if the holiday that you’re planning might be in the budget you’ve set yourself, you should always consider if it is really what you want. You might have set the money aside for a must do activity, but is it really must do?

When you’re spending money on anything you need to feel (before, during and after) that it’s the best use of your money. Think about what you enjoy, what you want to experience and whether a place really is the right choice. It is better to think “why am I spending a shed load of money on this?” before you book, and not afterwards.

The same can be said for spending decisions when you’re on holiday. Do you have an expensive bottle of wine with every meal because it enhances the experience of your holiday or because it’s a habit you’ve never questioned?

For a holiday in Venice, I budgeted for a gondola ride.

“Why are we going on a gondola?” my husband asked.

“Because we’re in Venice” was my reply.

“Well do you want to go on a gondola?”

When I thought about it (because I hadn’t before this point), I couldn’t really say why I wanted to, it was simply that it was the thing to do in Venice. We didn’t save all that much by not doing it; instead we found a restaurant tucked behind the rialto bridge, ordered a platter of cheese and glasses of wine, and had a much more romantic experience.

If you’re paying money for something, make sure it’s something that you want to experience for you and not something that others will expect you to experience!

 

There are many other ways to save money, or get more for your money, when it comes to travel. These are my first considerations when I start to think about where our travels will take us next, and without fail they have lead us to a more authentic travel experience that has saved money.

Fear of missing out? Use it to make good financial decisions

Fear of missing out? Use it to make good financial decisions

People often say they end up spending money they hadn’t planned to because of a fear of missing out (FOMO). And it’s justified because you only live once (YOLO), right?

It’s something I really struggle to wrap my head around. I have a fear of missing out on all sorts of stuff and it has  long had an impact on the way I make financial decisions but not in the way you might expect. When I’m presented with last minute plans, like lunch with co-workers or a night out with friends that’s not in budget, FOMO kicks in straight away. The fear of missing out on something a hell of a lot better!

When I say it’s long had an impact on the way I make decisions, I really mean it. At around the age of 6, my dad used to occassionally give me the choice between a £1 coin and a comic book costing £1.20.

If I went for the comic, I understood that it would be all I could choose. If I took the pound, I could use it to buy anything I wanted at all, but if I later decided I wanted a comic after all, I’d have lost out on 20p.

Most of the time, I couldn’t help but think there might be something I’d want more another day. I was afraid that, by taking the comic book, I wouldn’t have enough money saved if and when I saw something more expensive that I wanted more. In summary, I guess I was afraid that I’d miss out on something better in the future by choosing to have something I wanted now.

 

A few years later, maybe around aged 10, I complained to my  parents that we didn’t get to do cool stuff in the holidays, like going to the cinema, bowling, the zoo, theme parks etc. (We mostly did bike rides, picnics, and played games). It’s not that we never did that stuff, but it was rare.

I expected to be told off for not appreciating what I had, to receive a lecture on everything my parents did and gave up for me (I do realise and appreciate what I had now, but I was a bit brattish when I was younger). I didn’t get told off or lectured. My dad calmly asked me how many of my school friends had a holiday abroad every year. I couldn’t name a single one. Then he gave me a choice. Would I prefer that we have a family holiday each year or should we spend the money on days out throughout the year?

I do not know if he knew what my choice would be when he asked the question. But it was clear to me that missing out on awesome family holidays was never going to be worth a few better-than-average days out, even knowing I would have to wait for the holiday.

In essence, I understood opportunity cost from a young age. Spending money on one thing means its no longer available to spend on something else. I learned that I couldn’t have everything, but I could make decisions about what I did have.

Think about what you want from life, what your goals are and what really excites you. Is it a daily coffee, a Friday night takeaway, a week in an exotic destination or possibly the opportunity to work fewer hours and spend more time with family? Your goals are exactly that- yours! They may be in this list and they may not, but that doesn’t matter as long as you know what your own priorities are, you can work towards them.

Ask yourself what you’re more afraid of missing out on- those daily treats or ad hoc nights out, or meeting your life goals. This will help you say ‘no’ more easily to things that aren’t a priority. It’s not a case of never spending money on those less important expenses, but being deliberate about how often you do and knowing it could cause you to miss out on something even better.

Honestly, when I’m lying on my death bed, a few missed lunches or days without a latte aren’t going to be remembered. But the memory of toasting a long and happy marriage aboard the exquisite orient express with the man of my dreams will still put a huge smile on my face.

The choice is simple. You can miss out on various small things today, tomorrow and the next day. Or you can miss out on something that means a lot one day in your future. Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy, and those big goals only come as a result of lots of smaller sacrifices. But if you reach your true goal because of those smaller sacrifices, have you really missed out?

 

Three key things that made our mortgage free dreams a reality

Three key things that made our mortgage free dreams a reality

Boat at sea
The feeling of freedom

 

There are three key things that I believe made our dream of mortgage freedom a reality. We became mortgage free in July 2016 after working towards our goal for almost five and a half years.

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t just 3 things that got us there- there are lots of smaller things we did to manage our money better every day, week, month and year.

This absolutely isn’t intended as advice, and you should make sure you understand the consequences of any financial decisions you decide to make. Hopefully, though, this will give food for thought anyone else seeking mortgage freedom.

1. Knowledge

I understood the impact of overpayments before I had a mortgage because of one of my early jobs in a call centre. You can get this same knowledge from one of the various mortgage calculators there are online. I’ve used this one at Money Saving Expert quite a lot over the years. That’s what I’ve used to re-run the figures below.

It was back when the Bank of England base rate was 5% meaning that mortgage rates were in the region of 7%. I plugged some figures into a calculator and worked out that a mortgage of £100k over 25 years at 7% would have had a monthly repayment of over £700. The total amount repaid would be £212k, more than double the amount borrowed!!

I saw that if I overpaid by £50, that would cut the interest bill by £20k and knock nearly 4 years off the term. £50 a month seemed a lot on top of £700.

But even £5 per month would knock 5 months off the term and save nearly £2,500 in interest.

Or if I could scrape together £1,000 after a year of holding the mortgage to make as a capital payment, it would save £4,500 in interest over the life of the mortgage.

By the time I got a mortgage, bank base rate was 0.5%. It seemed a no brainer to choose a house well within our affordability and then set our monthly payments at £700 per month, far above the minimum payment required.

Of course, the amount you save in interest won’t be as high at the moment but that’s because interest rates are much lower. Hopefully that means you have more spare cash to overpay with (or actively choose to do something else sensible with!)

2. Choosing a variable rate mortgage

I don’t know why, but the UK is in love with fixed rate mortgages and there are loads more fixed rate options out there. Without a doubt, they give certainty of payments over the period of time that the rate is fixed for. If knowing your exact mortgage payment for the next 2, 3 or 5 years is important to the success of your budget, then it might be for you. My complaint about them is that they restrict you in the amount of overpayments you can make before you start incurring charges (and, crucially that can restrict your mindset).

We started out with a low minimum monthly payment by choosing a 30 year mortgage (5 years longer than what has traditionally been considered a ‘normal’ mortgage term). It might seem counter intuitive for someone aiming to be mortgage free, but in the event either of us lost our job, it would make it easier to manage until the other found employment. However, with no early repayment charges, the variable rate mortgage meant we could significantly reduce our term by consistently overpaying without being penalised.

A variable rate mortgage isn’t for everyone and it does come with uncertainty. However, if you’re committed to making overpayments, the risk of your payment going up is reduced because if your monthly payment were to be recalculated, it would most likely reduce (even though you would still be being charged more interest on the balance that’s left).

One luxury we hadn’t foreseen with a variable rate mortgage was the ability to pounce on a competitive tracker rate  when our LTV (loan to value) came under 60%, allowing us to move swiftly and benefit from an even lower variable rate.

I’ve read that many people get around the ERC (early repayment charge) on a fixed rate mortgage by saving in a separate account and make a lump sum payment when the year ‘resets’. If this works for you, that’s brilliant. We thought seeing a positive savings balance was likely to make us feel like we were doing really well and therefore be less focussed on driving that balance up as much as we could. I was also concerned that I wouldn’t want to pay all the money saved to the mortgage because it would feel like whipping away part of your security cushion… What if we might need it?! Whereas once its paid, its paid and was never part of your cushion anyway.

3. We set ourselves an annual balance reduction target

When we first did this, we didn’t intend to do it through the life of the mortgage.

The idea was that we’d hammer the mortgae in year one, because we’d psyched ourselves up for tightening out belts anyway and we would then benefit from having a lower balance on which interest is charged for the life of the mortgage.

However, as certain expenses reduce (insurance, for example) and income crept up, we maintained or increased our target year after year. Most years we fell slightly short and do you know what? We celebrated! Because without the target, we would have come nowhere close.

Why a balance reduction target rather than an overpayment target?

  • Making £10k in overpayments reduces the balance by less than £10k, so balance reduction target stretched us further than an overpayment target would have done.
  • In working out how much we would need to pay, we calculated the annual interest based on the balance at the start of the year. This would reduce with each month of overpayments, but in effect made our target easier to reach because we had background assumptions of greater values needing to be made.
  • We aimed to get the amount of annual interest paid as close to the start of the year as possible, so every subsequent payment would count towards reducing the balance

And that’s it, the 3 key things that made the difference for us. Except that’s not quite it. As I said before, lots of other things were done daily, weekly and monthly. I’ll tell you more in my future posts….

 If you have examples of big things that made the difference to your financial goals, I’d love to hear about them! And what about big ideas that didn’t go so well?

Things not going to plan? Embrace it!

Things not going to plan? Embrace it!

Books

Sometimes, its good when things don’t go to plan. This week, I’ve been drawn in by Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History Of Time’ and all because my plans went slightly awry…

What was the plan?

Over the last few years, I’ve had various attempts at trying to declutter the house without being fully successful (hence why I’m setting mini goals now). One of my husband’s favourite quotes is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

The target of getting rid of 31 things in 31 days is an attempt to do something different and I hope it will get results. Borrowing some books on decluttering from the library was another idea I had for trying something different.

Though I’d got the impression that decluttering, tidying, minimalism and shunning consumerism was ‘on trend’ at the moment, the expression on the librarian’s face suggested otherwise (you would have thought that I had asked if she had any books on oriental swan ornaments from the 19th century, or something equally obscure). A search using the term ‘decluttering’ yielded no results, so I offered the name of Marie Kondo’s book, the Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying. It wasn’t in stock, so I’ve been waiting for a copy to arrive over the past few days (Its just arrived- hurrah!).

And embracing a different plan!

The thing is, I’d mentally prepared myself to curl up on the sofa and read for a few evenings last week. Whereas I’d usually watch a film or something on TV on a Friday night, I was itching to read. My eyes drifted over the shelf to see what I hadn’t yet read when they stopped on Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History Of Time’.

Why is this relevant? Well, for 2 reasons:

  1. Setting myself this challenge has inspired me to read something new, even though its unrelated to the challenge. Can you remember the last time you were excited by something you’d previously thought was boring? I couldn’t. And yet, here I am, eager to understand more about the mysteries of the universe, time and space. I don’t even care that some pages have had to be read two and even three times. This is a book that’s written by someone whose passion absolutely shines through and who is eager to kindle excitement in others. As you might be able to tell, its certainly worked for me!
  2. The book has a short introduction that has renewed my perspective on when things don’t go to plan. Hawking references his ALS diagnosis, and describes himself as being fortunate to have a physical disability as his discipline is in theoretical physics. This has really challenged the way I think and I’m sure it will be something that remains with me when life puts obstacles in my path.

With two books on the go and my eyes on the mission, it feels good for TV and film to be quite far down the agenda at the moment.

And how am I doing with the challenge? Well, 8 days into the month and I’ve been able to get rid of 12 things. I have a feeling this book may influence how I go about the rest of this challenge, but I’m well and truly open to new ideas.

I’d love to hear about how you tackle decluttering, how you handle waylaid plans or if you’ve tried the Marie Kondo book. I’ll let you know if it helps me.

Don’t wait until January to make a change- carpe diem!

Don’t wait until January to make a change- carpe diem!

For many, the turn of the New Year is the point of making resolutions for the future. Perhaps it is symbolic, the start of the new year and the opportunity for a ‘new you’. Or, it may be to undo the negative consequences of Christmas. It is common to set a new challenge for yourself at the turn of the new year, but I’m going to challenge you not to put off what can begin today!

Here are some of the reasons that I think January is arguably one of the toughest times of the year to start goals, especially if you want to succeed.

  • The weather

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in sunny climes at this time of the year, you’ve probably experienced several months of cold, wet, miserable weather. A New Year’s resolution isn’t normally exciting and fun. If it was, you would have done it already! It might mean giving something up, cutting down, starting something you’re not so keen to start. Combined with the bad weather, its difficult to enjoy becoming a new you.

  • The consequences of Christmas

There’s also the post-Christmas come down. After months of excitement, planning, partying and the big day, its all over. You might have eaten, drunk, and/ or spent too much and rather than being left with a rosy glow, you’re now tightening your belt (or unable to tighten your belt, if we’re speaking literally!)

  • Its almost socially expected that you’ll give up

Each year seems to bring statistics with the percentage of people who have already given up on their resolutions before January is even out and giving up New Year’s resolutions seems almost as much of a tradition as starting them.

If you choose to change something at any other point in the year and you do it because you want to, it’s a stronger motivator that doing so at the start of the year simply because its tradition.

 

If you want to do something or change something, why wait a single day of the year to come around? You don’t have to overhaul your life. But you could change one thing, or discover one thing, or reduce one thing, or whatever your thing is! Set yourself a mini goal and an initial time frame (I like calendar months) and just have a go.

Even if you don’t achieve your goal in full in the time you set out, the fact that you achieve anything is a success because otherwise you would have done nothing. Celebrate the positive and don’t dwell on the negative!

What are your tips for setting and achieving goals? Do monthly goals work for you?

Set yourself a monthly goal and start making changes today

Set yourself a monthly goal and start making changes today

Butterfly

If you think about where you want to be in 5, 10 or 25 years, the size of the challenge ahead of you is sometimes so daunting that you don’t make the first step, or you find it difficult to know what the first step should be. Or you might have so many goals that you don’t know where to start, or feel like your days are too busy to cram anything further in.

Setting yourself a specific goal to achieve within a month is a perfect way to chip away at a big goal. If you think about August, you’ll know how busy you’re likely to be at work and home, and be able to come up with a challenge that is achievable but not too easy. Its also long enough to start to ingrain the right habits, so that even if you only do the challenge over a single month, you’re likely to think differently in future and not simply go back to how things were before the challenge.

One effective trick is to come up with a challenge that doesn’t require you to commit to do it on every single day. For example, if you decide that your challenge will be to do more exercise, set a goal for the month, rather than committing to exercise every day. That way, you don’t fail just because you skip a day. It also gives you an opportunity to get ahead of yourself, which can motivate you to meet and hopefully exceed your target for the month. And if you don’t meet your goal, for whatever reason, don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is that you achieved more than if you hadn’t started. The first day of the following week or month is the perfect time to try it again or do something different.

For me, buying and owning less will help me meet my goals; to be healthy, generous, consume less and experience more and to become financially independent.  That’s why, for August, I’ve decided to get rid of the equivalent of one item per day. So that’s 31 items over the entire month.

Without setting this challenge, I might get rid of a few things but certainly not 31. Its a high enough number to have me scratching my head at what I might be able to get rid of, and to give me a sense of achievement. I can do a big de-clutter exercise one evening or at the weekend to get ahead of the one per day average, and that positive feeling of being ahead of target will motivate me to keep focussed.

As far as possible, I’ll try to avoid simply putting any of those things in the bin, but will offer to friends, donate to charity and possibly even try to sell some of them.

The purpose of the goal is to simplify my home and my life and create space, and to do positive things with what I no longer use.

How do you set about achieving your goals? I’d love to hear what makes you successful and what lessons you’ve learned along the way.