Learning to Invest Online – a Winner for Your Finances and Your Family

Everyone wants to boost their income, whether it is for short-term spending like holidays or for long-term revenue such as retirement. There are plenty of options when it comes to increasing your wealth. However, it is crucial to look not only at the risks and rewards but also at the level of time-commitment involved. This can be particularly important for parents, as while growing money is essential for financial security, it should not come at the cost of sacrificing time with your family. Here we will take a look at some of the most popular ways to boost income and how they stack up in terms of initial cost and time-commitment.


Investing in property

A perennial investment option is property. Although there continues to be caution in the market following the global economic crisis, bricks and mortar remain a reliable method of growing money. Common property investment types include buying to let and renovation projects with the objective of resale. Unfortunately, property investment requires a lump sum of cash up front, mortgage eligibility and time. For buy-to-let investments, money has to be reinvested for upkeep and time is needed for the administrative aspects of being a landlord. There may also be periods without income between tenancies. You’ll need to be available to answer tenants’ queries, arrange maintenance and vet new tenants. Although letting agents remove much of this time-commitment, their costs eat into your profits. With renovation projects, thorough research is necessary to ensure returns are viable. You’ll need to investigate local property prices not only within the region of potential properties but also in the particular streets on which vacant houses lie. Cash and time are essential components as you will need money for the property purchase and the renovations upfront. Even with the most stringent planning, renovation projects frequently exceed costings and scheduled timescales. Due to the outlay and time constraints of property investment, it might not be a savvy way to boost income when you have a family.


Running a small business

People with entrepreneurial drive have the potential to grow their money by running a small business. Selling wares or services is a great way to utilise personal talents alongside a full-time job. There are numerous options for the type of small business you could run. You could sell products online or at physical outlets. Products could be items you have made yourself or those which you have purchased for less than retail price. A small business selling wares is a good choice if you’re competent at sales and marketing and have a bit of spare space in your home or garage for storing stock. If you have a trade background you could run a business offering services like plumbing or provide more generalised help as a handyman. For those with an interest in sport or fitness, becoming a personal trainer could be an option. If you’ve got corporate experience you could sell your services in fields such as accountancy, business management or even life coaching. Sadly, there’s no escaping the huge time-commitment a small business demands. A successful enterprise can be established on a relatively frugal initial budget, but the time and dedication needed will likely infringe on family life too much to make it a satisfactory option.


Learning to invest online

Learning to invest online has become a popular way of boosting income without sacrificing family-time. If you are unfamiliar with terminology and how it works, investing in the financial markets may seem like a daunting way of growing money. However, it is really easy to learn and this type of investment can provide the highest returns in the shortest amount of time. You don’t need to invest a lot and some forms of online trading, like spread betting, are even tax-free. Assuming that investing online is not your only source of income, the profits you make through spread betting are exempt from Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty and commissions. There are lots of resources on the Internet which can teach you the basics, and the best places to learn how to invest online are the financial dealers themselves. These companies facilitate online trading and are fully regulated. As such they offer some of the best learning resources, getting you familiar with all the terminology and different ways to invest. For example, CMC Markets has guides to walk you through areas like spread bet

ting, CFD trading and forex trading and offers a free demo account so you can practice what you’ve learned with virtual funds. Once you have learned how to invest online, you are able to manage the process from your computer or mobile phone, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice time with your family.

Review: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 DTEC

I’ve had my Civic Tourer three months now, so when I read this review in the Guardian was a highly entertaining read! The Guardian is, in my humble opinion, almost completely wrong in it’s assessment of the car. Although I’m writing a review of the Civic Tourer, I’d like to make it clear that this isn’t facilitated in any way by Honda, they’re involvement only went as far as building the thing.

Our old family car was given a few months to live. It was a 53 plate 1.6 Vauxhall Zafira that we bought with 31,000 miles on the clock, added a further 67,000 miles to and were told that the crankshaft needed replacing, which given the age of the car, probably wasn’t worthwhile. View Full Post

Fun ways to teach your kids DIY

Part of the pleasure of having kids is seeing them learn and grow, and the bags of fun that they have along the way. Spending time with your kids to experience this is an essential part of parenthood, and there is no reason why you can’t combine seeing your kids learn and develop with the mundane household tasks that need to be regularly carried out.

Teaching your kids how to do DIY while you go about your job of taking care of the family home is an excellent way of educating your children. Many life skills are contained in DIY tasks, and kids can learn about a great number of topics, ranging from counting and measuring to the important safety precautions that adults take without thinking twice.

These are some of the DIY tasks that you can use to teach your kids.

Painting a room

An easy task and an enjoyable one, this could be a good place to start teaching kids the value of taking a DIY approach to home improvement. Leave your kids to fill in the large areas needing painting while you concentrate on the delicate finishing. The pleasure of seeing a fresh and complete new room should help your kids to develop a desire for DIY.

Using a bubble level

This is a fun device to use, and it’s safe to play with even for young children. You can teach your kids how to make surfaces level and straighten artwork easily by means of a bubble level, while also giving them a casual physics lesson if you feel up to the task.

Pulling weeds

An unkempt and overgrown garden is unattractive, so teaching your kids how to take care of a garden is an excellent life lesson. Instead of simply pulling off the tops of weeds, show your kids how weeds should be removed by the roots. If they are old enough, you can also show them how to apply weed killer in areas where plants are not supposed to grow.

Hammering and removing nails

Every homeowner needs to fix something to the wall every now and again, and the earlier that your kids learn to do so, the better. Teach them how to carefully and patiently remove existing nails appropriately with the back end of a hammer, and if they are strong enough, help them to tap in a nail safely and patiently.

Holding a ladder

DIY safety is very important, and correctly using a ladder is a key point here. When completing tasks that involve the use of a ladder, you should show your kids how a ladder is correctly and safely positioned. Asking them to hold it in place can help them to feel that they are contributing to the success of the task.


Installing window shutters


For a lesson in planning a project, show your kids all the steps involved in buying and installing wooden window shutters. Kids can learn how to measure the space where something is due to be installed, how to purchase items of the correct size, and how to drill holes correctly to fix items in their desired places.


Wiring a plug

This is another common DIY task that is simple but needs to be taken on with great care. Teaching your kids to wire a plug correctly from an early age will make sure that they never get it wrong as an adult. It will also teach them a sense of respect for the dangers of electricity, which to young minds can be an invisible force.

Building a PC

If you’re good with technology, you might want to show your kids how to build a computer from scratch so that they get a good idea of how the individual components of a computer fit together. It will also teach them how to handle delicate equipment safely and how to make sure that all the necessary elements for a finished project is in place.

Clearly, you can bring your kids along for the experience while you complete your DIY tasks. Another excellent way of engaging younger children is to buy child-size tools. Though they may not serve any practical purpose, these toy tools are great fun and can make your kids feel more comfortable handling the real tools when they are older. Remember that part of the reason for getting your kids involved in DIY from a young age is to ensure that they are as good, or even better than you, at keeping their future homes in excellent shape.

The Busy Person’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals in 2017

There’s something about the end of the year that inspires people to dream big; making heartfelt, and often quite drastic resolutions to improve their lives. From crash diets to plans for a career change, somehow anything and everything seems possible; yet as winter marches on, and the demands of everyday life take priority, those ambitious dreams fade into the background, along with the turkey and tinsel.

The good news is it’s not too late to turn things around. If you are keen to make some life changes but are not sure where to start, take a look at these useful tips and ideas, which will help you both set and achieve the goals you need for success.

Be Realistic

How often do you hear people talk about how their lives would instantly change for the better if only they could win the lottery or halve their bodyweight overnight? Dreams like this rarely make it any further than idle fantasy simply because they are just too huge to tackle.  

It is almost impossible to make life changes that last without clear goals that break down the process into achievable pieces or stages. It’s hard to imagine a dedicated couch potato suddenly jumping up and running a 5k, but entirely possible if they follow a program with short term goals, designed to achieve and build on stamina and ability.  

Harness the Power of Visual Images

Fight that initial reaction to setting goals by grabbing a pen and making lists, as contemporary evidence suggests plans made using visual images are more likely to come to fruition. If your goal is to grow and makeover your hair style, try creating a mood board with images of the looks you hanker after. By adding pictures of various hair lengths you get the chance to experiment and explore possibilities, along with the inspiration to keep going until you reach the end goal.

Get Help to Set Goals

Many people have a clear general goal for the year ahead, but no concrete ideas on how to break that down into achievable stages. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and giving up, why not make use of online resources to help you with this part of the process?

Take for instance the Ladbroke’s Bingo Card Game. Simple to play – you just need to add your first name and choose the area of life you’d like to focus on, and within seconds you have a personalised bingo card with twelve achievable goals waiting to propel you towards success. Simply print it and place it somewhere you will notice it every day, and then plan to cross at least one bingo square off every month.

Some tasks may be easier than others, but overall they combine to harness the power of small, achievable steps presented in visual form. Make this the year your long held dreams become reality, as you show yourself, friends, family and the entire world if you choose to, just what you are capable of doing and being.

Review: Dirk Gently’s Detective Agency, a Netflix Original

While the kids have been enjoying the Netflix original Middle School, I’ve been working my way through another Netflix Original (in association with BBC America), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

On the face of it Dirk Gently’s should be terrible. The Douglas Adams books are ace, the BBC adaptation with Stephen Mangan was good, if not stellar, keeping within a 100 miles or so of the source material but shifting the whole thing to America, introducing loads of other characters, a CIA undercover programme and my fourth favourite Hobbit, Elijah Wood, as the new sidekick, takes it a million miles away from the books and should be a recipe for disaster. View Full Post

WIN a family ticket to screening of Arsenal v Liverpool on 4 March AND more!

On Saturday, March 4, Arsenal’s family screening returns and YOU can win a family ticket to the screening of the Arsenal v Liverpool game at Emirates Stadium!

This event is an exclusive event for Junior Gunners- Arsenal’s young members, but this competition is open to any of our readers aged between 0-16 years.

The youngest age group that Arsenal do junior membership for is the 0-4’s, under their Welcome to our World banner.

The Junior Gunner Family Screening will be packed with fun activities where you will get to:

  • Watch a screening of the exciting away clash against Liverpool 
  • Try out fun football challenges for you to test your skills 
  • Get arty with Arsenal’s arts and crafts sessions
  • Challenge yourself with football skills sessions, hosted by Arsenal Soccer Schools
  • Meet Gunnersaurus
  • And much more!

Enter via the rafflecopter give away below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions

The winner gets to bring three guests to the event and the guests do not need to be members but one must be over 18.

Prize is non transferable, no cash alternative is offered, if the winner does not respond by Friday 3rd March, an alternative winner will be chosen.

You will have to provide your own transport the the stadium and the competition is open to residents of the UK only

The prize is offered by Arsenal Football Club, Highbury House | 75 Drayton Park | London | N5 1BU and the promotor, Daddacool, shall not be held responsible for their failure to supply the prize.

Review: Middle School, a Netflix Original

Make a note in your diary folks, the small screen adaptation of James Paterson’s excellent Middle School books starts on February 10 (today) with a movie adaptation of Middle School, the Worst Year of My Life, made by and exclusive to Netflix.

The Middle School series are wildly popular with primary school kids, sitting in the same genre as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Tom Gates books. Middle School has a slightly darker edge to it, but this aspect of it is handled with sensitivity and it’s also good to see the main character, Rafe, in a single parent family, better reflecting the different family lives that we all live now (not me I hasten to add, I’m married with 3 kids).

On the surface of things, following a family bereavement, it looks like it’s Rafe’s little sister who has gone off the rails but as Rafe starts YET another new school, and his buddy Leo pulls faces behind the headmasters back, it seems like Rafe might have a bit of trouble with authority.

As the story unfolds, we see Rafe and Leo set about systematically breaking all the excessive rules the school’s headmaster has in place, with often hilarious effect. Tempering the humour is the story of Rafe and his loss, because even when we find out Leo is Rafe’s imaginary friend, that still isn’t the entire story…

Like any good kids movie, the villains (the head, the potential step dad) are larger than life, exaggerations of what you would expect to find but like a great kids movie, the main character, played with great charm by the awesomely named Griffin Gluck, comes across as almost the only normal person in the movie. The performances are great, they’re working from good source material and the whole film hangs together really well. My two eldest kids have read a selection of Middle School books and they both loved the movie (we went to a screening last Sunday). They’ve been waiting impatiently for the 10th because they want to watch it again!

Review: LEGO 70908 The Scuttler


While we all know what the Batmobile looks like, and even reviewed it in LEGO form, but the new LEGO Batman Movie has plenty more up it’s sleeve than old favourites. Thankfully, they decided not to make a set out of the Batshuttle or the Batsubmarine that featured in the trailer (Batman is a man after my own heart and loves gadgets, he just happens to be a billionaire so can afford more than me!).

The Scuttler is one beast of a set. In fact its literally a beast, a giant bat in fact. There is quite a lot of Technic type LEGO bricks in the set, which facilitate the Bat like movements- all 4 legs/wings move. It has a Net Gun and it has a compartment with a JetPack for Batman (although the boy currently has Robin piloting the thing because for some reason, Robin is the best thing ever).

The front legs are on rails and extend, letting the Scuttler rear up over whatever Batman (or Robin) is pursuing. It’s a complicated build with a big fat book but it is pretty sturdy once built. It kept the boy occupied for a few hours in terms of building and he’s been playing with it since without it requiring any major rebuilding work.



The Scuttler is out now to buy, with a recommended retail price of £84.99 and is available to buy from good retailers including Amazon.

Philips Centrifugal Juicer snack challenge

When Philips asked me if I’d like to take part in their healthier snack swap challenge by getting the kids to substitute an unhealthy snack with something whipped up in their Centrifugal Juicer I almost said no outright because everybody knows fruit juice isn’t as good as eating the fruit itself- most of the fibre gets lost, which just leaves you with sugary flavoured water. Yes, it’s fructose, not sucrose, but sugar is sugar. But, they countered, there’s a button that lets you increase the fibre content, so you can have your apple and drink it.

In the end my love of gadgets and the possibility of making after hour cocktails in the thing won me over and I graciously agreed to have one. I’m good like that. Philips, bless them, went one better and sent a supermarket voucher with the Centrifugal Juicer so we could stock up with ingredients.

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Hair raising adventures with Just For Men

Growing up in the 1980’s, Just For Men ads were up there with good old Victor Kiam’s “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company” line in electric razor adverts. For my generation, a well chiselled, grey haired, Pierce Brosnan  look a like badly acting his way to better hair was the stuff of most Saturday tea time ad breaks. Well guess what? Just like razors have had a bit of a make over and aren’t quite as cheesy as Victor made them, so has Just For Men. In fact they’ve got a new product which they asked me to try out. While their old adverts pointed out that not having grey hair would let you get a better paid job and send your kid to college, we’re not in the 80’s now and things are a lot more sensible. I’m not sensible but I thought I would take them up on the challenge to see if it changed my perceptions (and my hair).

Just For Men Control GX simply aims to gradually reduce grey hair through use over a period of several weeks. When Just For Men emailed me and asked if I wanted to give it a spin, I have to admit I was mostly driven to say yes by a sense of nostalgia and how I would be able to have a chuckle with my work colleagues. It turns out I was more than a little wrong though, as a month later, even my five year old has noticed the reduction in grey hair!

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