January is often the time that we start to plan our holidays for the next year and is the perfect time to look for the once in a lifetime trip you’ve always fancied. There’s nothing wrong with a nice beach holiday or a city break trip but why not use your holiday weeks to tick something off your bucket list weeks to tick something off your bucket list?

Going somewhere unusual

One way to enjoy a holiday with a difference is to go somewhere a little unusual. If you are a nature fan, then somewhere like the Galapagos Islands could be the trip of a lifetime. The island is the place where Charles Darwin visited and formed his theories about evolution that we still use today. It is the home to some unusual animals including the giant tortoises. You can even turn your holiday into a VIP experience by staying in one of the luxury resorts on the islands.

Staying nearer to home

A trip of a lifetime doesn’t have to involve a trip to distance parts. Instead you can visit some of the ‘best kept secrets’ Europe has to offer, places that aren’t on the main tourist list but have something special to offer. Examples include Lugano in Switzerland, a Mediterranean style city in the middle of the mountains or the Cinque Terre, the best natural and semi-natural areas along the Mediterranean that are also important spots for viticulture – wine making.

Have a sports holiday

If you are a fan of a certain sport or activity, then your luxury holiday could incorporate this. One example is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – an activity that can also be done alongside a notable charity to raise money for a good cause while enjoying a memorable experience.

You can also look to spend your holiday at your favourite sporting event whether this is football, horse racing, rugby, cricket or anything else. You can look to make it special and enjoy a bit of luxury by booking a quality hotel or combine the sporting even with sight-seeing in the area.

Do something worthwhile

Depending on your occupation, your dream holiday could even involve doing something worthwhile for others. The Mount Kilimanjaro hike is one example but there are lots of charity challenges available for all abilities. These allow you to test yourself, visit somewhere different and remarkable and also raise money for a worthwhile cause.

Other ways to do something worthwhile with your holiday include working with disadvantaged children around the world. If you can teach, then volunteering your time to teach them for a week or a month can be a great activity and very satisfying.


Defining the holiday of a lifetime is a very personal thing and depends on what you like and what interests you. But whatever it is, there are some great ideas out there to fit in with it and if you start planning early in the year, you can work with your finances to ensure they fit in with the holiday idea and you can afford that dream break.

Income Boost

So, for a long time now I’ve been dreaming of ways to own my very own home. In my fantasies this is a beautifully renovated country home, out in the sticks with just fields and animals for neighbours but with access to the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s also pretty big and has a few acres of land…In reality I know I’m pretty far off being able to achieve this. But, it has got me thinking about a couple things. One how I’m going to raise the funds in the first place and secondly, the debt and financial burden that will come with my beautiful new home. So I started doing my research and found that there are some pretty unique way of making some extra money using my current property, which means, when I get my hands on my beautiful country home (and my not so beautiful mortgage agreement) I’ve now got some great ideas for a plan to boost my income.

Have Paying Guests

Spare rooms, annexe’s or out buildings make fantastic spaces for guests but if I set them up as independent, well designed spaces with good linen and extras, I can make a fair some by letting them out to travelers through sites such as Airbnb, UK country rooms for one guest go for an average for £65 a night in the summer months and this can go into the hundreds, so there could be some good income to be made here.

Photo/Film Location

I’m already a sucker for pointing out all the places I’ve visited whenever I get a glimpse of them on TV shows or films so I’m not sure I could contain my excitement if I saw my very own home get a starring role in a film! In all seriousness though, it’s not just the big movies, all media require unique and accessible places to film and big open spaces with feature properties make great locations for photoshoots, plus properties that have great lighting and are adaptable are always popular with photographers. On top of the excitement of potentially getting to spot a few stars or see your home out there in the media, payments come in anywhere between £500 and £2,500 a day, so even though it certainly wouldn’t be regular income, it’s certainly one to the income boost list.

Using the Land

Ok, so this one might be starting to sound excessive, and I know I’m not all of a sudden going to move to the sticks and become a fully-fledged farmer but, I think I could make some money by saving money if I put my mind to it and used my (new fantasy home) spare land. And here’s how…

  • Putting a bit of time and money into an allotment, research has shown that the cost of growing fruit and veg on an allotment is 5 times cheaper than buying it in the supermarket…so this sounds like a good money saving idea to me and it means I’d know exactly where my food came from and that it was free from harmful chemicals, AND, it would be lovely and fresh.
  • Get some livestock, again I know I’m not building a fully-fledged farm but a couple of chickens and a goat would save me money on eggs, milk and cheese and still have all those great foody health benefits.
  • If I’ve got a couple of acres spare, I’ll be able to let it out for a horse to exercise/graze on, this can bring in around £40 a month per horse.

These are just a few ideas I’ve got up my sleeve but I’m sure when I find this dream home I’ll be able to check out exactly how it can be used to my advantage so I can achieve my dream home along with financial independence in plenty of time for retirement.


There’s often a joke about surviving Christmas, living through the festive season and coping with the demands it can put on us. But for some people, it can become a real menace, a drain on them mentally and physically that takes most of January to recover from. So, what tips can help you survive Christmas and enjoy the festive season?

Managing the shopping

For most people, Christmas shopping is the biggest task of the holiday season, especially if you have kids. Getting to the shops to do the present-buying is easier than it used to be with extended opening hours but it can still be harassing and when you just finished work, its cold or snowing and you are tired, you just want to go home.

The answer – online shopping! There isn’t much you can’t get online these days and sometimes at better prices than in the shops. Use the internet to either research what you want so trips to the shops are less stressful or even just to do the shopping. Then the postman drops off your parcels and all you need to do is wrap them.

Christmas lunch

Christmas lunch is often the big moment of the festive season and a lot of work goes into it. Whether you are responsible for it, partly or just in charge or purchasing, it is a cause of stress. However, the stress can be reduced with organisation and planning your day – it may not be fun but it works.

Write up a list of jobs to do for the meal and see if you can do any of them the day before, such as prepping the vegetables. Then look at the timing of everything and create a list of jobs to do at what time. That way nothing is forgotten or left too late and you move smoothly from one task to another. Don’t forget to get helpers involved too and give them their assignments!

Have some ‘me’ time

We often end up feeling run down and blue after Christmas because we are so busy, we forget to leave some time for ourselves. Make sure you keep some time for yourself to relax, take it easy or to do something you enjoy that isn’t Christmas related. You could even get involved in a Christmas-themed activity such as joining a carol singing group or even working at a local soup kitchen. That way you are still doing something seasonal with your time but it is a change of pace to the rush of shopping and preparing.

Being physically active seems to be part of Christmas with all the shopping but getting the right kind of physical activity can boost your mood and make you feel better. Those mood-elevating chemicals can make you feel better and are released after physical activity so don’t forget to keep time to visit the gym, go for a walk or whatever kind of activity you enjoy. It can be a good time to meet with friends and catch up too – another activity that makes us feel better.



Hands up if you have ever made a New Year resolution that involved finding a new job? Or told yourself that you would get serious about looking for a change of career once Christmas was over? Lots of us do and this is why January is one of the top job hunting periods of the year. But this year, rather than bouncing from one moderately interesting job to another, why not take a step back and see what you really want to do then begin working towards that goal.

Getting your dream job

Let’s say you have a dream job but there are things standing in the way of you have a serious chance of getting it. Start by looking how to improve your prospects of getting the job you want. This might involve doing some charity work that is in the same area as the career you want. This helps you get skills and experience that will make you a better candidate while also helping the charity with whatever they require.

Think about how you market yourself and look at what an employer might be seeking for your dream job. Might it be that charity or voluntary experience? Might it be a certain qualification that you can look into getting in the new year? Maybe you just need to boost your self-confidence and work with a coach to do this, making you a more confident person to go for that interview.

Finding inspiration

But what about if you don’t know what your dream job is? What if you are going through the motions but aren’t quite sure what direction you want to head into? Then why not spend some time on job advice websites looking at the kind of roles that are out there. You might realise that you always had a passion for cooking and are really good at baking cakes and other sweet treats so working as a pastry chef would be perfect.

Once you have ideas about what your dream job might be, you can start looking at what you need to do to get there. It might be short or long term retraining or it might be considering a starter position that will lead to your eventual goal. Creating a career path with a series of steps in it to get you where you want to go is a worthwhile task and gives you things to aim for.

Simply looking for a change

Sometimes you just want a change and feel the need to work somewhere different. I know that not everyone has a dream job or an ideal career and there’s nothing wrong with that. If January is the time to start looking for a change of pace, then review the best job hunting tips to remind yourself what works best for your industry and how you can put your best self forward for a new role.


Whether looking for a new role, a new career or chasing your dream job, I wish you the best of luck going forward and would love to hear how you get on!


I love Christmas from the time spent with family and friends through to the gorgeous decorations and delicious food. But there’s no doubt it can be a drain on the finances, especially if you have kids. Finding the cash for Christmas can be difficult and can leave you with a headache afterwards. But there are some tips to help with getting your finances organised and still enjoying the season.


There are various financial concerns for the modern family and budgeting out what you have available can help offset some of these during the festive season. It’s easy to get a bit excited and end up spending more than you meant to but if you work out a budget and stick to it, then you can avoid the January blues.

There’s nothing wrong with using credit to pay for Christmas but always try to get the best rates for your borrowing. Look at the rate you are paying on your credit card – is there a better rate out there? I often take a card with 0% interest for twelve months then when the time is up, look to see if I can get another card and swap the balance. But I always cancel the old one or there is the temptation to have two cards on the go and I can’t always afford double the minimum payments.

Make use of special offers and vouchers

We all know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday see some spectacular deals but there are also a lot of other deals over the Christmas period that are often not based around big ticket items. Use websites for price checking to see the best deals at any time on food and Christmas presents.

Voucher websites are also very handy and there are some good ones. Hot UK Deals and Top Cashback are just a couple of examples of websites that offer vouchers and discount codes that can save you real money or get you cashback deals on items you want to buy that can then be used against other items.

Start planning for next year

One of my pre-New Year resolutions is to try and plan my finances for next year a little better. Sure, you always want to increase your income in 2017 based on 2016 but with the way the economy is going, this might not happen. So, I want to take a proactive view on my finances and look to start saving for the Christmas period right from January.

Saving account rates aren’t great at the moment but if you shop around, there are deals to be had. And if you can put money in and not touch it for most of the year, there are also other options that might see the cash grow a nice little amount come December. But either way, you will have the lump sum of cash you need for those presents and food and we may all be able to just use credit cards for those super deals, rather than for normal shopping.