Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Why I didn’t buy my dream home

You know when you have an idea of your perfect home in your mind – go on, picture yours now… You’d hope to one day be able to buy that house and move in with a perfect blush pink sofa and two fluffy cats, right? Or maybe that’s just me. But anyway, you know what style you like, the type of building you’d choose and the location you’d love. So why, when I was searching for a property to buy, didn’t I buy my dream house?

The dream cottage from House and Garden

It’s not as simple as ‘I couldn’t afford dolls-house-esque Georgian mansion I wanted”. I found plenty of beautiful homes within my budget (though I wanted to get a good deal, naturally – I’m a thrifty gal after all) but none of them quite came up to scratch. I wasn’t being picky – they we’re all homes that only two years ago I could never have dreamed of owning – but for a whole year, every house I viewed or came close to buying ended up not being ‘the one’. Here’s why:

It was too small. I quickly found out that the trouble with picturesque cottages is that they’re too small. I’ve stayed in SO many lovely holiday homes that are small but perfect-formed, so I thought that this was the style of house I wanted to buy. But when I started looking at them with the reality of actually living there, I realised it would be a struggle. The rooms in cottages are so cosy, but tiny. Even the windows were too small, meaning that most rooms were dark even in the midday sun – no good for a full-time blogger, eh?! I can’t even remember how many times my husband banged his head on the low beams! Sorry quaint holiday cottage, you’re not the house for me.

Beautiful home and garden by photographer Rachel Warne

The road was too close. A couple of the perfect cottages we looked at were just too close to the road. Some were main ‘A’ roads, while others were tiny village roads. Either way, the proximity of the road always seemed to cause a problem. It could be that there was no nearby parking, it was sometimes a noisy truck-route and in other places it was difficult to even get out of the driveway onto the main road. Sorry ‘excellent road links’ house, I won’t be parking in front of you.

It was listed. And even though this means the building is packed full of beautiful original features, gorgeous inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings, I didn’t want to take on this responsibility. As you know, I like to do a lot of DIY work myself and I couldn’t imagine being restricted by the listing requirements. The listings often covered things like the colour of the front door (that’s conservation areas for ya!), the style of windows (cold non-double glazed, for a start) and the roof tiles. Considering that I love to learn new skills and DIY as I go, it seemed unlikely that I’d want to stick to the listing restrictions and keep things exactly as they are. Sorry ancient house, you’re no home of mine.

The dream garden from Sequin Gardens

There was no garden. Okay, not true – they all had gardens. But the trouble was the tiny size of the garden. Or the overlooked nature of the garden. Or the neighbour who was sitting in their garden, which backed onto our kitchen window. Odd configurations of the plot was a big factor in the decision not to buy most of the houses we saw. Considering that we like to work in our garden and host gatherings around a BBQ it was important that we had a usable outdoor space. And even the most perfect ‘how does your garden grow’ plots were too small to put up a shed. Having space to build a workshop was one of our ‘essentials’ so that my artist husband and I can work together, so if there was no room for a sizable shed, we walked away. Sorry cottage garden, I won’t be mowing your lawn.

The good news is that, in the end, I actually DID buy my dream home. I just didn’t know that this house was what I was looking for when I started my property search. It’s about twice the size of any other houses we saw and has a garden that we can grow into. We can park easily and the no-through road rarely sees any traffic. Other houses in the area have been altered and updated without any problems with planning and I love that I can DIY everything myself. Hi happy home, I think I’d like to move in.

The moral of my story is to keep an open mind when house-hunting. After countless viewings, I said to my husband “let’s just look at ANYTHING within our budget” even if it doesn’t seem right. The very next day a square 1950s house came onto the market and I booked a viewing with this new ethos in mind. I very nearly cancelled that appointment a few times because I was sure this house wasn’t the right one for us. But when we arrived at the quiet location and walked up the long garden into a house with more rooms than we knew what to do with, I was so pleased that we’d given it a chance.

Good luck with your house hunting guys!


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How to save: Taking control of family finances

As a thrifty gal who runs a blog on saving money in all walks of life, you can imagine how interested I am in financial affairs. Okay, perhaps not as interested as you might think but I DO still take an interest in my own money, my savings and the property I hope to investing in. After watching every penny and saving for years to scrape together a decent amount of savings, I’m very keen to learn more. While my 9am Monday morning financial accounting module in the first year of uni was a nightmare (ironically it was my best grade that year!), learning how to manage money and set up budgets in real life was almost fun. Even though at the time I couldn’t imagine why I’d ever need to know how to do a Balance Sheet, it turns out that I DID need that accounting module more than it needed me. I’ve done my own accounts and tax returns throughout all the years I’ve been self-employed and I’ve probably saved a lot of money in accountant’s fees by doing so! Spending Diary challenge for 2014-1While it might seem dull, it’s a great idea to at least look at your bank account every once in a while. Business guru Marie Forleo says that checking in on your accounts daily is a sure-fire way to keep on top of your finances and stop any issues before they turn into money problems. These days I can probably tell you about every single pound that enters and leaves my account. Geeky, right?! The fallout from the Brexit vote last week has already been intense, and looks set to continue for a very long time to come. Already we’ve seen the pound fall off a cliff (although, because I’m sometimes paid in dollars for my US writing, I am actually earning a little extra now – silver lining etc), the economy is in turmoil, and it’s left many of us concerned about where this leaves our families, and what the future holds for us. Everywhere you look there is talk about values of pensions being wiped out, and real people losing real money.Cassiefairy's spending diary 2014So how safe is our money?

The important thing to note is that for those of us with savings, nothing has changed. That’s because everyone in the UK is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which covers every individual for up to £75,000 per institution they have savings with. Banks and building societies have also been regulated far more tightly since the last recession, meaning they are obliged to keep higher levels of reserves to avoid crises like Northern Rock from 2007. The bottom line is that, if you have savings, you don’t really have much to worry about.

In fact, savings and current accounts may well become even more appealing in the months and years to come. It may sound paradoxical, given that the interest rates offered by banks have been utterly derisory for a number of years now, and probably won’t get any better in the near future. But certainly for those families with any extra savings to set aside, you’d imagine many will be giving something as volatile as the stock market a wide berth.budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2

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DIY renovations that add value to your home

Whether you’re hoping to make your house more saleable for an imminent move, or simply wish add value to your home for the future, today’s blog post will hopefully give you some ideas for ways to improve your home whilst increasing its value. As you may already know, I’ve been fixing up my home over the past 3 years; improving the bathroom, DIYing the bedroom, decorating my living room in mid-century style, and now I’m working on the kitchen. So I’ve been doing some research into how my DIY renovation projects have added value to my home and what I’ve learnt has been really interesting. I found out lots of facts about the things you can do to increase the value of your home prior to a move and I wanted to share these with you today.house to home

Give your home ‘street appeal’

Decorating. It may seem simple, but a quick spruce-up of a room with a lick of paint can do it the world of good. As buyers typically make up their mind about buying a property within the first three minutes, a fresh coast of paint can be enough to grab a buyers attention. It can brighten up a room, makes the property look ‘cared for’ and is reassuring to buyers that the house has been well maintained. It also means that the buyer doesn’t have to do any of the DIY work when they move in, saving them time and money. And, interestingly, a freshly decorated home adds £3000 to the value of a house according to survey by UK Homebuyers so it’s well worth investing in a few pots of paint.

My bathroom before…

Bathroom. This room needs to be fresh smelling and hygienic looking, so it should be one of the first places you paint and clean if you’re trying to sell your home. If you want to add a few touches to the bathroom, mirrors will bounce the light around and help the room feel bigger, and fitting a ventilation fan will keep dampness at bay. If you’re up for a construction project, adding an en suite to a bedroom can as much as £30000 to the price of your home so it may be worth measuring up and seeing whether you can fit one into the master bedroom.

…and after!

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