Tag: Lifestyle

Things no one told me about pregnancy

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I’m 33 weeks pregnant exactly today and feel particularly agitated. To make things worse I haven’t had a pizza in two weeks because my ovens broken and i’ve just had an encounter with the post lady, i.e. Satan in a fluorescent jacket and the inability to close a gate. So I thought i’d channel my aggravation into a ranting little list of things I wish I had known about pregnancy.

*Disclaimer – This isn’t proven, this is my opinion from my experience. Everyone’s experiences are different.

The blooming period doesn’t exist.

No matter how many weeks you are, its lies, its all lies. For the whole three trimesters you will feel like a sack of potatoes with greasy hair and a pale complexion.

Hair Growth

People told me that I could expect a stunted body hair growth. Again, lies. My leg hair resembles that of a yeti and grows at an alarming rate, I also have a VERY hairy stomach and lets not even mention how fast the forest down there is multiplying. But, on the plus side the hair on my head is growing faster than I can book a hairdresser appointment!

Everyone thinks you’re disabled

As much as I appreciate being offered everything without having to move and the luxury of always claiming a seat even if i’m the youngest in the room (and therefore are normally downgraded to the floor). I’ve had an irritating amount of strangers using the phrase ‘in your state’ like i’m a disabled heroine addict who needs professional health.

Everything Itches

Speaks for itself. Itching. Constantly. Everywhere.

You could’ve potentially been an alcoholic

Before pregnancy I had not appreciated the sweet sweet taste of a strawberry daquiri quite like the way I’m glamorising it now in my head. The inexplicable need to just drink a pint of cider or even a shot of sambuca (my worst nightmare) is overwhelming and now im questioning whether before pregnancy I really was a functioning alcoholic? Also why does EVERYONE drink? It’s just pure cruelty to drink a G&T around me and if you value our friendship you better turn up with a drink at the delivery suite.

Your Partner is actually really annoying…

This one is in jest because I obviously dunno what i’d do without john but seriously, one more night of snoring and I swear to god I will go Freddie Kruger on you. With the spike in all the hormones all the annoying habits I have overlooked seem to have suddenly hit me, like, why you gotta use all the utensils and all the saucepans when cooking? Why do you fall asleep before me? What the fuck is that weird twitchy thing you do when you fall asleep? Just stop. Why does the football being on mean you need some beer? Why you drinking the vodka I got for my birthday when I am clearly saving it for a binging session after the birth of OUR child? Why do you go to work to early and come home so late, I need attention? Why cant you be at work longer, I need my space!? Why don’t you discourage my excessive eating? Do you want me to get fat? Why do you put your dirty laundry next to the basket and not in the basket? Why do you burp so loud? Why do you need the tv so loud? Why is everything you do the volume of an earthquake? Aww, you have a cold? IVE BEEN GROWING A CHILD FOR 8 MONTHS! I’m gonna stop before this ends in an argument…

Sleepless nights

For some reason i’ve developed the inability to sleep through the night. One minute im fast asleep dreaming of Tom Hardy and the next i’m wide awake wondering why I suddenly need to do some DIY. (Despite John’s horrific snoring which also wakes me up).

Every conversation turns into being about your baby

I don’t know why but I find myself physically unable to not mention my pregnancy or my baby when having a conversation. We could be having a discussion about onions and id still managed to link it to having a baby. So i’m sorry for everyone who has had to endure me.

Why cheese though?

I could just about live with having to give up patê on my toast, even not being able to have a runny egg or smoked salmon. But I absolutely draw the line at cheese. If I’d have known I had to give up camembert or brie, I would’ve opted out. That’s a deal breaker.

Isolation

Having a baby can be an isolating experience, especially when you’re the first out of your friends to be expecting. You find your whole paradigm shifts and it means accepting your social groups will change aswell as your whole lifestyle, you’re suddenly really busy and don’t have a lot of time for social interactions. But it is important to (at least virtually) surround yourself with understanding friends and likeminded people. If it means letting go of old friendships who just don’t get the place you’re at in life, so be it. There is a whole new world of similar people you are likely to meet when baby arrives.

Sex

Sex is great. Better in pregnancy. The only benefit of pregnancy that makes it worth it (besides getting a child at the end obvs).

The ‘Morning’ Sickness

Everyone knows one of the most common tell tale signs of pregnancy is morning sickness. They didn’t tell you however that ‘morning’ sickness is actually ‘every hour of every day for 40 weeks’ sickness.

The use of the phrase ‘You’re gonna need it’

As lovely as your concern for how I will cope post pregnancy is, I HATE it when you only have to mention being tired and EVERYONE says ‘Get the sleep in now, you’re gonna need it and you’ll miss it when baby arrives’ Yes Barbara, I know I will be sleep deprived. I’m sleep deprived now despite sleeping 15 hours a day and I am fully aware it’ll get worse, you don’t need to remind me.

Why is everything so expensive!?

I’ve always thought that me and john live fairly comfortably, we are by no means rolling in it but we certainly aren’t eating 15p spaghetti hoops out the can. However, brand new baby products and all the necessary (or just preferred) bits and bobs is quite eye opening, ive considered taking out a mortgage on furniture for the baby’s room its so expensive and there’s just SO MUCH. I’d assumed things like cot sheets would y’know be a tenner or something but no, £50 on a couple of sheets for a cot!? Then just when you think you’ve bagged a bargain cot you’ve got to get the mattress which is another couple hundred, then the bumper and god forbid I want a mobile. Baby product design is where the moneys at kids.

Ignore everyone else

Following from the previous statement, yes baby shit is fucking expensive. But if you want it for your baby, you get it. I absolutely love getting advice and recommendations because its my first time and im a little clueless, but one thing I really dislike is people judging me on my purchases or passing judgement on them. If I want to buy something, whether it gets used or not, I obviously wanted it. So many people see what ive bought and be like ‘That’s such a waste of money’ or ‘You know you wont even use that’ and ‘I had one of those, never used it, you should take it back.’ While I appreciate the advice, it’s my first baby and so i’m going to spoil her, and i’m also going to spoil myself by buying all the unnecessary products for my child. Part of being an excitable expectant parent is buying all the crazy baby shit, whether its necessary or not. So, if you can afford it and you want it, who cares what other people think? Secondly, everyone has something to say about EVERYTHING. Yes im a clueless first time mom but I will figure it out by myself and with advice and support from those I see fit, I don’t need lecturing on what I should be doing or interfering strangers telling me i’m doing something wrong. I’ll parent the way I want to and the way it happens. Before the baby has even arrived people are giving me rules and lectures on how to bring up my child, and honestly, i’m gonna do it how I want to and how I think is best, whatever you say.

Tiredness

Despite the fact that I cant sleep properly or for a good uninterrupted period of time I am tired ALL OF THE TIME. Literally could wake up from a 5 hour nap and then need to sleep again straight away. Imagine being asleep and dreaming of being tired and needing to sleep. THAT.

You haven’t treated yourself in ages

One change that I actually enjoy is the fact that everytime I go shopping, I no longer even bother going to the women’s, its straight to the baby section and every purchase is now for said baby. I see everyone’s insta stories of their brand new summer dresses and designer handbags and have come to the realisation I haven’t shopped for myself in a long time, infact the only bags I own are underneath my eyes.

Maternity fashion is ugly

When I do try to shop for myself unless I go to a supermarket’s fashion section or a department store, nowhere seems to have a maternity section in store. When I do finally find a maternity section it is all the same. It is all stereotypical ‘pregnant-middle-aged-woman.’ Gone are the skinny ripped jeans, gone are the cute slogan tees, gone are the summer two pieces with matching accessories. Instead you can have stripes. If you don’t want to wear stripes you can opt for the second option of misshapen plain Tshirts, failing that your only other option is…more stripes, perhaps a different colour stripe? how about a vertical stripe instead of horizontal? Basically for 9 months you can wear stripes.

Becoming public property

Since the development of a bump (not that im complaining) but personal space seems to have been eradicated. Everyone, without asking, seems to want to touch my stomach. It’s become a kind of greeting, they shake John’s hand and then magnetise their palms onto my tummy. Secondly, every medical staff has now seen every angle of every part of my body possible and so I may aswell just be a public art expedition. If you’re shy, being pregnant isn’t gonna be a fun time for you, every inch of you will be exposed, even parts you’ve never seen yourself. One of the scans I went to the sonographer rested her hand on my thigh whilst probing me with an internal ultrasound and I have to admit for a second I thought I could’ve been in fake hospital but y’know, 8 months down the line, its pretty standard.

9 months is an eternity!

I swear to god ive been pregnant for years, I can’t even remember a time I wasn’t pregnant now, it goes sooooo sloooowwwwlyyyyy.

Where is my vagina?

Seriously, I haven’t been able to see my vagina in about a month, Ive forgotten what it looks like from my POV. The only way to try to tame myself was by propping up a light up mirror between my legs and go by touch, which was 100% more terrifying than any horror film ive ever seen.

Heartburn is literally Satan climbing up your throat

I’d had heartburn and indigestion before but I was not prepared for the trauma that is pregnancy heartburn. I’ve thankfully only experienced it a handful of times and I honestly think I need therapy to get over it. It is what I can only describe as a fire in my chest that was trying to creep out, and when it finally did (after hours) it was the most horrific vomit ive ever had, it was pure foaming acid. If I wasn’t used to weird occurances from my body, i’d have thought that I was about to spontaneously combust, my mouth was literally foaming. So if you can, stock up on Gaviscon or other pregnancy safe remedies.

You dribble like a baby

Never in my life have I dribbled in my sleep, but all of a sudden I wake up with a snail trail and a wet patch on my pillow. Apparently during pregnancy your body produces excess saliva, but I didn’t realise the amount i’d dribble would be enough to quench the thirst of Africa.

Weird leaks

One thing no one mentioned to me was the amount of discharge that comes out throughout pregnancy. Discharge is completely normal for most women but during pregnancy it is like double the issue, so make sure you’re stocked up on pantyliners! Same goes for wee. One minute you feel fine, the next baby has kicked your bladder and you’ve pissed yourself. It’s fine, its normal, don’t worry.

You have an alien growing inside you

One of the most magical feelings is feeling your baby wriggle around. Although it can be absolutely terrifying when their pattern changes or slows down it is incredible when you can relax. I’ve recently learnt to chill a bit when it comes to baby’s movements and just enjoy them when they come. I’m actually feeling and witnessing limbs moving across my stomach and at times you can feel bones and little feet through the skin. It makes you think how absolutely crazy it is that there is literally a human, with arms and legs and nails and hair inside your stomach. But they don’t half hurt sometimes when they are big enough to get under your ribs!

I could go on complaining but Come Dine With Me is on and recently its been my go to napping program.

Remember these are all in jest and everyone’s experience is different, i’m not a medical professional just a first time mom-to-be moaning and being angry hormonal.


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32 Weeks Pregnant Update

32 weeks pregnant

My face girth is like princess Fiona,

My feet are like giant pig trotters,

My legs feel like they are constantly on a rollercoaster and need a treadmill, but my body wants to sleep for 15+ hours,

And I can’t see my genitals without the use of a handheld light up mirror.

I have officially made it to 32 weeks!

Only 8 more weeks to go until I sit on the corner of my bed crying because she is now overdue. I cannot wait till she arrives but everyone keeps asking if I’m prepared and I don’t think you can ever actually be prepared unless you’ve had billions of kids previously, and even then each one is different. But I am as prepared as a woman who doesn’t know how many muslins is too many or how thick a sanitary pad is gonna cover the amount of blood, can be. But I do have a mini watering can at the ready for that first piss (apparently pouring water over your vag is the best way to go) so y’know.

The nursery is coming along quite slowly because of all the trips to the hospital we’ve been doing and so there’s literally no time to get it done unless I do it alone (which John would have a 2007 Britney meltdown if he came home and id decorated it by myself and he hadn’t got to share the experience). But I will be doing a separate nursery makeover post anyway.

She’s now apparently the size of a coconut but according to the growth scans she’s a bit of a porker and the distance she’s kicking out of my stomach is like a flailing beach whale, so I reckon she’s gonna come out a fatty. A fatty with a tiny head apparently, but it is in the Dawson genes to have tiny heads, there’s a reason we are known as the “Dwarfson’s”

According to the bounty app I’ve been eagerly checking each day, Scientists have found that babies can actually dream at this stage in pregnancy, so god help her if she inherited my overactive brain because my dreams are like full length feature blockbusters every night. Only last night did I dream I was having a long hard chat about my questionable sex life in my teens with Professor Snape on a plummeting helicopter. (Figured you’d rather hear about that than my non-family-friendly dream about Abel Tesfaye).

I’ve noticed I waffle on a lot about the hardships of pregnancy but there are good parts too….

This week I’ve discovered that I am able to fully shave from the eyebrows down, going only by touch and so if I ever go blind at least I know that issue is sorted. I’ve also discovered that despite living 21 years with a full-length intestine (which I now don’t have, as you know) and the inability to eat whatever I want, that I can infact eat EVERYTHING right now. We stopped at my grandparents’ house and I figured one cake wasn’t enough to follow a roast dinner so I had two sponge cakes and a chocolate gateaux to tidy off my meal, which ngl, still wasn’t enough. Another good thing about pregnancy is the sex. A lot of people are weird about having sex when pregnant from fear or anxiety of putting a dick through a hole their child is soon to travel through (didn’t wanna be all formal but also didn’t wanna be too x rated so apologies for the weird description). But I can tell you sex whilst pregnant is amazing, I don’t know how or why but as soon as that second trimester hit I turned into some crazed … (I couldn’t think of a good analogy because all of the things I came up with either made me cringe or made me gag, but you get where im going with this). So moving on from that positive, cause my grandparents read my blog…another positive thing to come from pregnancy is the fact that my boobs no longer resemble those of a prepubescent teen and are actually large enough to not have to wear chicken fillets! Also, my obsessive need to buy shit has escalated, as I now have a whole new market to buy for, and the options out there for babies are far more fulfilling than scouting around Topshop looking for something that ISNT A CROP TOP. Although my bank account and my self esteem don’t agree, as I think I’m turning into an actual stereotypical ‘Mom’ even with the fashion choices I’m making. I find myself looking at a really nice top I would’ve bought straight away and putting it back on the rail saying ‘It’s just not practical’ or ‘I don’t think I can get away with wearing that anymore,’ ‘I’ll be too cold’ and the most realistic of reasons ‘I just don’t have a social life to wear that outfit to anymore.’ I even picked what I thought was a cute outfit for Alex who is only 3 YEARS YOUNGER than me, for her to reply “It’s nice, but it’s just a bit too old for me.” So apparently I have past my prime and soon I will be hearing the phrase “Mutton dressed as Lamb” far too often.

I’m gonna cut this there because I’m starting to waffle on about really uninteresting factors of my premature aging process and its hitting 9:30 pm, which is way past my bedtime, obvs.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for another update.

Xoxo


 

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What’s been happening with Ophelia…

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Being open and transparent can be difficult sometimes when I’ve made my life into a job and things don’t go all that great. But none the less eventually I will share it. As most of you know, the past week or so has been pretty hectic and shitty and I’d taken some time off to just recuperate and focus on my body and Ophelia.

I just want to say how thankful I am for all your messages, I literally received over a hundred and I wasn’t able to reply to all of you, but I read each one and it was so lovely that so many of you wished us well.

ophelia 30 weeksSo, to fill you in fully on what’s been going on, (if you haven’t been blessed with a rambling stream of consciousness with a dog filter on my face already) I had my 28-week growth scan and everything was fine, she was even weighing just on the edge of too big. But about two days later I stopped feeling her moving around, before she would be constantly winding me or kicking my bladder to the point id leak a little (So glamourous).

But I’d noticed I’d not felt her move in a few hours, so I called up MAU (Maternity Assessment Unit) because I know how important the movements your baby shows can be. Any change in your baby’s movements can be a sign of a problem, even if they are still moving but not at the same rate as before, or it feels different, they could be at a serious risk. A reduce in movements can be directly linked to still birth, which is any expectant mother’s nightmare, so it doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re pestering people, it is better to be safe than sorry.

The MAU midwives told me to come straight in to be put on the CTG monitor andIMG_20180523_104441_491 arranged for a doppler to be done the following day. Every midwife I see reassures me that it doesn’t matter how many times I call them or how many times I visit and get checked i should always never hesitate. But still, you feel like you’re constantly pestering them like a buzzing gnat. Still, I went in the following day for my doppler.

A doppler is an ultrasound scan used to measure the blood flow to the baby, the uterus and the placenta.

It turned out that she hadn’t been moving much because my placenta was not working sufficiently, and the blood flow was not getting to her fully. Sort of like a hose, if you bend a hosepipe the water can still trickle through but at a slow pace and at a decreased amount, this was what was happening with the blood vessels, they were providing her with enough oxygen to survive but not enough for a normal pregnancy. Therefore, my pregnancy very suddenly became high risk and a happy hopeful me turned into a blubbering, paranoid, psychotic.

20180522_150334The midwives and doctors all talked me through what it meant, that it doesn’t necessarily mean the worst or that she’s suffering, just that they need to watch her constantly and be prepared that at any point she might need to come out.

I was 30 weeks pregnant exactly. At 30 weeks Ophelia is around the size of a large cabbage (although considering she was chunky she was probs more like the cabbage in Wallace and Gromit) and weighed around 3lbs. She is fully developed but there is some fine tuning to be done in order for her to survive without intervention, her lungs still need to mature and intricate details are still being worked on like the grooves in her brain. However, if she was to be born now she would have a 97% chance of survival with medical intervention, she would have to stay in ICU until she could breathe without machinery but there is no guarantee she wouldn’t have problems or develop serious conditions later on in her life.

Still 97% survival was all that mattered.

From then on, we have been going to the hospital every single day to be monitored. The CTG shows she is still fairly happy being inside my womb and although I cannot feel her moving as much she is doing fine. We have been having doppler scans twice a week and the most recent one we had showed a significant improvement. The blood flow to her is increasing each time we go to the hospital and she’s just started to move around like she used to before.

We can breathe a sigh of relief now knowing that we still have a few more weeks Screenshot_20180521-201221(hopefully) before she arrives so can hurriedly start painting the nursery. The blood flow to her is consistently being monitored and her heart rate is being measured daily to make sure she is not in any distress and that is all we can do. All we can do is wait and hope that everything will be fine, but I have a positive view and think it will be fine, she will just be joining us a lot quicker than we originally expected!

In the meantime, I’m literally exhausted, I’ve been napping repetitively and managed to get through 13 reasons why in just 3 days (which to my sister would be an absolute failure). There literally isn’t really much more to tell, we are taking each day as it comes but each day she is moving around a bit more and my body is showing signs of improvement.

Again, thank you all so much for your messages over the past week, its meant a lot! And I’ve actually rather enjoyed not being on my phone or on social media for a while, its been quite refreshing for me, but as much as I wanna lie around watching reruns of Come Dine With Me I have to get back to doing normal work.

But it is important to take time away sometimes, and these past few days of recuperation have been revitalising and enabled my body to continue to grow my chubby cheeked and large nosed Ophelia.

xoxo


 

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28 weeks pregnant on the hottest bank holiday…

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So it’s been the hottest early May Bank Holiday on record and i’m officially at my ‘take this baby out of me now’ stage of pregnancy. Yet there’s still 3 months to go! Literally everything is uncomfortable, it feels like I need to just go do a massive shit and then my stomach will have a moment of space to breathe. However instead, my brain and my big mouth are telling me to eat more. I’ve somehow managed to devour 3 cakes this week and that’s not including all the chocolate, sweets and man vs food size portions ive eaten. I forced john to drive me to Tesco because I was really craving a pic n mix and legit

nudged a child out the way of my sour cherries, I was so desperate. But I have become the absolute master of stuffing too much pic n mix into the wrong sized tub and still making the lid fit. The cashier probs just thinks I’m a fat greedy bastard cause my pregnant belly isn’t even that “pregnant looking.” I’m like screaming at John to put more elbow grease into the squishing – there’s always room for another gummy snake! Again though – and I blame the raging hormones – I can’t help but feel cheated and have a little spoilt strop when jaiden asks if he can have some as soon as we get back to the house. Like I can’t exactly say no can I? And he knows it. Why did I become a step mom so young cause i’m not cut out for this sharing malarkey!

On another note, all traces of the blooming season have gone and i’ve returned into a now larger slob with greasy hair and a spotty face. In the second trimester my nails were growing so well but now all of a sudden they’ve just started breaking and refusing to grow back. I’m also experiencing some rather questionable symptoms of having leaky boobs…or at least that’s what I think is happening, cause right now at 28 weeks there’s all kinds of shit escaping my body and for all I know i could be all walking disease cause no one seems to tell you all the gruesome changes your body will make.

I’m still suffering from PTSD in regards to the traumatic heartburn i’ve been getting. I swear if Ophelia don’t come out with long flowing locks like Rapunzel I’ll be furious! The episodes are like an exorcism, hours upon hours of just fire in my chest and throat, trying to spit up anything to eventually (and this is graphic) spew up everything in my body in foaming acid, its so hot it burns and its literally coming from both ends so i’m tryna get to the toilet whilst john balances the sick bowl to catch the chunky vomit which wouldn’t surprise me if it melts the plastic, it’s that acidic. Johns has his tshirt over his face trying to understand how much shit can come out of my tiny body and gagging whilst I’m choking like a cat with a fur ball. Honestly, pregnancy heart burn is the most traumatic experience so far, even worse than the first shit I did after surgery.

My bump is getting bigger everyday and ive come to the conclusion that no matter how good the outfit looks and feels, I just don’t suit having a giant balloon tummy and no

matter how thin/stretchy/loose fitting my clothes are i’m still uncomfortable and losing my breathe for the majority of the time. But I enjoy watching her moving around in my stomach, her kicks are so strong they are coming through my clothes now and at points i’m actually winded by her.

This weekend we made a start on the nursery. The previous owners had left us with dark khaki and cream coloured walls so the first thing we needed to do was white wash it. Which was supposed to be a fun activity for us both but because the temperatures were so hot, john had had too many cold ones and was spilling paint everywhere whilst I was sweating so bad I was just getting my arse stuck to the dust sheets and giving the Severn trent man an eye full of naked pregnant belly when he came to check the drains. We also ran out of white paint trying to cover the vomit coloured walls so that was annoying…

We had spent the weekend with family, Friday was my parents 26th wedding anniversary so we went for a few drinks and had a Chinese at my fave place which we don’t get chance to go to very often anymore but is the only Chinese ive found to sell sex on a plate – Duck wrapped in minced prawn. I’ve been eating for 2…or 4 perhaps..so needless to say I stuffed myself to the point that my belly button could no longer stay an innie. As my bump gets bigger my belly button has been undecided whether it wants to come out or stay in (as creepy as I find that) but the Chinese was the final straw (although weirdly, since it’s returned back in). Then we met up with johns brother and his wife who we haven’t seen since their wedding 6 months ago and proceeded to have more drinks. (They did, I was obvs not drinking, just eating everything I could find like a human dustbin).

The following day we went over to spend the day with Johns family whilst they were in bham and came to the realisation i’m in for some major boot camp training if i’m going to be able to keep up with the kids. Me and john were shattered by 4pm and they were still going, telling me the names of all the dinosaurs, catching frogs out the pond and running around naked in the paddling pool. When I returned home to my moms (where we were stopping for the weekend) I expected a child free relaxing evening with my slippers on and a cup of tea to finally get comfortable and cool. But instead I walked into a shit version of benidorm. Everyone was pissed as fuck, dancing around the fire pit and poking at my pregnant belly warning me how much harder it’s gonna get. (Thanks guys)! But the final tipping point was when I noticed my sister wearing my Katie price sliders and for some reason I just burst into tears. But 5 mins later I joined back in the party all calm and collected again. Bloody hormones.

My baby brain is getting that bad i actually can’t remember what i did on the Sunday

other than do a mad dash to Primark to get some cheap clothing for the last two days of sunshine we were going to get. Which i felt very pleased about because the majority of maternity clothes ive found are very stereotypical of middle aged women, as if younger adults aren’t supposed to be pregnant. It’s all mom jeans and stripey tops, but i managed to find some clothes to fit into that i felt pleased about. However my boobs are still too small for my bump and i ended up with a saggy boob situation in my dress when we went out for a carvery before saying goodbye to John’s brother and family as they left back for Darlington.

Monday we returned home for me to continue to stuff my face with cake and junk food but without the concerning looks and raised eyebrows of my parents. And much of the rest of the week has pretty much been a repetition of eat, sleep, pretend to do some work, eat again, complain about being pregnant, eat again, sleep.

It’s now Friday and i’m not going to lie right now, despite the growing heartburn in my oesophagus all i’m thinking about is how in half an hour ill have allowed myself enough of a break between cake intervals to have yet another slice of angel cake.

Have a good weekend people!

xoxo



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The Crow Girl || Book Review

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“It starts with just one body – the hands bound, the skin covered in marks.

Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is determined to find out who is responsible, despite opposition from her superiors. When two more bodies are found, it becomes clear that she is hunting a serial killer.

With her career on the line, she turns to psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Together, they uncover a chain of shocking events that began decades ago – but will it lead them to the murderer before someone else dies?”

This is the initial blurb on the back cover of the book I received for Christmas, my first initial thought was, it sounds very generic. But before I go any further I can tell you 100% that that synopsis does NOT give the book any justice at all.

AT ALL.

Judging by the fact you are reading this post I am guessing you’ve had enough of me going on about how much I loved this book on Instagram and just wanted to finally know what all the fuss was about. And you’ll already know that this is one of THE BEST books I have read in a long, long time. I hate starting a book and not being able to finish it, however prior to picking up The Crow Girl I had done just that, I got halfway through the previous book (U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton) and had just had enough, id given it a few hundred pages and it just wasn’t flowing right for me, I found it boring and trying to get through it became more of a chore, so I was apprehensive when I started The Crow Girl in case I felt the same. But I can safely say that was not the case, by the second page I knew this book, despite its healthy length was going to be one I couldn’t put down.

I’m first going to give you a little more of a relevant synopsis of the book (I have based this synopsis from a review written by the guardian, if you want to read the guardian review then click here, but it goes into slightly more depth and could involve spoilers) to give a more detailed account of what the book entails and then I’ll go into the disclaimers I think you should note before you chose to invest yourself in this book.

“First is the discovery of an unidentified young boy’s body , showing signs of having suffered sexual torture after the administration of an unusual sedative and then, after death, a bizarre process of mummification. This murder is investigated by Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg, a headstrong character who is constantly undermined for being a woman, and continuously challenges the female societal persona at the time. Her viewpoint alternates with that of Sofia Zetterlund, a psychotherapist whose patients include a child pornographer, a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder and a former child soldier in Sierra Leone.

Between scenes of Jeanette and Sofia at work, there are present-day sections taking place in a house where a psychopath has created a prison for a child. There are also flashbacks to the distressing childhood of someone who identifies herself as “Crow Girl” as well as other characters going about their lives, all carrying their own past secrets that intertwine storylines into a one huge thrilling journey.”

The first thing you’ll notice is the length of the book, it is over 700 pages long and the storylines get fairly complex, so if you aren’t one to delve into a more lengthy, hard thinking novel, then this isn’t for you. It most definitely is not a ‘light read.’

Secondly, you’ll notice the bizarre names and locations, this is because the book has beencrow girl 3 translated into English from its original format, which was actually written as a trilogy in Swedish. The book was originally three individual novels but as it has been translated and republished to be a worldwide phenomenon, they put the three books into one large book, separated into three parts.

Now for a disclaimer (of sorts), this book comes under the genres; thriller, mystery and crime. And most definitely it is aimed at readers who enjoy those genres, however it is not for the faint hearted, it’s not a simple mystery or just a rivetingly fun thriller, it is a fairly complex, dark novel. I have been going through a few reviews to get a variety of opinions and the majority of the low scoring reviews are due to the fact the violence (mainly sexual) is pretty graphic and readers have felt unable to get through the scenes. Likewise they have also found the psychological aspect of the book tricky to keep up with as it is very fast paced and I feel if you have no knowledge of psychological theories, trauma and the human mind, you may struggle to understand parts of the novel as it doesn’t necessarily explain, it is assumed you understand the basic concepts.

I myself study forensic psychology at university and am an avid documentary watcher of all things psychology related (the darker and deeper, the better) so I didn’t find the concepts particularly hard to understand, instead I found the use of the social sciences a positive and enjoyable part of the book. I find the concept of the human mind and the complexity of cause and effect very fascinating and so this only drew me in further. Without explaining the concept, it does cover the general idea of nature verses nurture, aswell as concentrating on the human psyche and how that is affected by certain events and can shape a future.

Because of studying the subject I study, mixed with my obvious choice of films/documentaries/books/etc, I am not effected greatly by particularly horrible acts. I am a bit of a psychopath when it comes to horrific things, they don’t affect me in the slightest, I can watch the most horrendously violent and sickening scene and still sleep very soundly at night. For this reason I didn’t find the graphic content of the book disturbing, I think the severity of the descriptions was essential in building the story and how you are supposed to feel in regards to the characters and the events. But, if you are easily effected by graphic accounts and explicit imagery, (mainly on the topics of rape, child abuse, murder and torture) then you probably won’t enjoy this book.

I realise I’ve now portrayed myself as the most cold hearted psychopath, which I can assure you isn’t the case, i’m just a naturally unaffected individual when it comes to horrible things. I mean, I will cry and have a fit if I drop my pizza on the floor, or when left alone at night will turn into a terrified child who anticipates a burglar breaking in and killing me every time, but on the whole, I can watch a horror without blinking or being frightened and can read some horrific accounts and not be emotionally effected.

My overall opinion on the novel, as you already know, is that it is one of the most thrilling, gripping and fully immersive books I have read. The characters (once you’ve figured out how to pronounce most their names) were all unique and engaging, giving the reader different feelings on each one and captivating you to follow each of their journeys. I often found myself at the end of every character’s narrative, being frustrated that it ended where it ended because I wanted to know more, and yet did the exact same on the next narrative. A major plot twist is revealed fairly early on in the book which I at first thought was unusual and wondered where further plot twists could go, but there is literally plot twist after plot twist. And they are all just as gasp-worthy as the last.

Although the general motives of the plot/characters may seem widely generic to some, I found the book uniquely interesting and portrayed the entire plotline far better than any previous crime thriller I have read, Anyone who even remotely enjoys a dark crime novel, I would suggest reading this before you read anything else, because this one is significantly more enjoyable, interesting, dark, complex and gripping than any previous psychological thrillers I have read. The negative point to that being, I doubt in the near future ill find a book I will enjoy as much as this one and will forever be comparing them to The Crow Girl.

John doesn’t read( I used to wonder, despite his high intelligence whether he could in fact, actually read) , he is a get into bed and put the horror channel on, then fall asleep snoring 10 seconds later kind of guy, but I have forced him to give The Crow Girl a go and so far so good, (it’s only been one night so I will keep you updated and let you know his opinions on the book aswell).

If The Crow Girl sounds like something you’d like to give a go you can purchase the book from Amazon by clicking:

Here for Paperback.

Here for Hardback.

Here for Kindle.

crow girl

 

Home owner at 21 : Getting a mortgage and buying our first home

how i bought a house

Part Two

If you haven’t read Part One Click here

(Images at the end for mobile version)

I was sat in my parents conservatory scrolling through rightmove, zoopla and every estate agent site I could find, realising everything on here is still too far out of our budget. This should’ve been the first red flag to say, ‘just be patient and don’t try to rush things,’ but I ignored every single sign that told me that. I’m not a patient person.

We had booked to view multiple houses, some were lovely but the road they were on wasn’t great and I didn’t know how comfortable i’d feel walking around alone at night, others were just giant sink holes portraying our spirits at the realisation of what we could afford. Sometimes the estate agent didn’t even turn up to show us around and other times we were welcomed in by the home owner themselves and had to listen to them waffle on in every room about all the sentimental things that had occurred in each space. Some were three bed and some were two bed, some had a new fitted kitchen and appliances, some were just utter shite and some looked like it belonged to their grandma only a week ago before she’d passed away leaving her entire life inside the house.

We had been to many but realistically none of which we could afford, as first time buyers we were going to set up a help to buy ISA. This means that whatever you save, the government will give you 25% of that amount towards the purchase of your house, however the maximum you can receive is only £3,000 and one thing they don’t make clear is that this cannot be used for the deposit, the solicitors or any type of fees related to the purchase before the exchanging of contracts! So basically its like a little bonus AFTER you’ve managed to buy your house (.gov).

Another option to look into is the Help to Buy Scheme, these are for new builds predominantly. This is where you can pay only 5% deposit, have a 75% mortgage and the remaining 20% will be an equity loan. This is ideal if you have the funds and the monthly income to be able to have a mortgage (and prove it profusely) but haven’t got the spare cash for a large deposit. Bear in mind, the 20% is a LOAN and will have to be paid back, however you do not have to pay it back within the first 5 years. This is probably the best option, but, and this is a big but, you need to have an absolutely impeccable credit score to be able to secure a 75% mortgage.

It sounds so simple, and you probably think, oh well that’s fine because ive never had a credit card, ive not been behind on any bills, I’ll be fine. No. This is false, that credit score needs to be watched and looked after more than your own child. I have never had any credit cards or been in debt, this is a point down to getting a mortgage because if ive never had to pay anything back that ive borrowed how can I prove I can pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds for a mortgage?

Secondly, they go back five years when assessing you for a mortgage, this means any kind of slip up in payments at all in the last five years is under scrutiny. I am talking payments for pretty much ANYTHING. If you are buying with others, all of theirs will be scrutinised also and one tiny slip up could cost you being accepted for a mortgage. If you have a low income, chances are you aren’t going to be accepted for a substantial mortgage because you need to be able to prove you can pay back the monthly costs and still live a comfortable life, you need to prove this for a minimum of 3 months. If you are a currently a student, the likelihood is you wont get a mortgage, they don’t take into account your student loan payments but they assess any income unrelated to student finance (so a student loan is not classed as your income). When assessing how much you can pay back monthly, it is essential you can prove you can pay back what they assess your mortgage to be, plus interest, plus what the government see fit as a substantial living cost for your age/status/job for a minimum of at least 3 months. You will also have to prove you have had the substantial amount for the deposit in your account for this time also. If you work for an employer, proving your earnings requires a minimum of 3 months, however if you are self employed, you need to prove your earnings for a minimum of 3 years (this posed a problem for me), if you work for an agency things can differ from different banks/building societies/mortgage lenders/etc, but the likelihood – like being a student – is you won’t be accepted for a mortgage.

When March came I’d come across a house I knew we could afford, it was a lovely house with an absolutely huge garden. It was within the outskirts of the area we wanted to move to, not too far from either of our parents and was a price that was exceptional for Birmingham prices. We had decided we would probably have to look at a two bed as it was all we could afford but the bedroom sizes were large and there was no obvious faults with the house. I went with my mom to view the house and despite being distracted by the bright fuchsia lipstick the estate agent was wearing, I was in awe of finally being out of the conservatory and on the way to owning this house. Id already moved in in my head and pictured the entire Ikea catalogue inside the rooms. The lady had informed us that the house had fallen through at the last minute, only a week before contracts were being exchanged (that is the final part of buying a house) so she was extremely keen to sell and would most likely accept less than the asking price. She had also completely refitted and refurbished the attic and fireplace/chimney to fit safety regulations and there was a new heating system fitted, so that night we made an offer of £135,000 (asking price was 140k) and she accepted. I popped the pink prosecco and we celebrated in the garden, thinking this was it.

All we had to do now was secure the mortgage. We had just under the 10% deposit (the standard required deposit, but would have the full amount before the contracts exchanged as the process can take months, so that’s a few more months to put more money aside) what more could go wrong?

But as we frantically applied to bank after bank, different loaners and mortgage lenders we were just being consistently rejected due to the fact we had a ‘low credit score’ and the fact that I was currently a student meant I was viewed as a “dependant” (Meaning they viewed me as a non income earner and took this out of johns monthly payments to ‘sustain’ me as if I was his child). Because I am self employed (I work on social media and blogging) this meant that to not be seen as a ‘dependant’ and as a contributor to the mortgage I had to have been earning a high wage in self-employment for over three years, and provide bank statements going back the whole three years to prove this, which of course I did not have, so there I was now a liability.

We were in desperate need of talking to someone who actually understood all of this and why exactly we were being rejected. We’d never missed a council tax bill, never missed a rent payment, had the 10% required deposit, it was literally beyond me why we couldn’t get this mortgage. It felt like the whole banking system was just like ‘nah, don’t fancy giving you a mortgage tbh’, for no apparent reason. Also, just to have this conversation to fully understand what the situation was and what exactly was going on, was going to cost us hundreds of pounds. One thing for sure is I was studying in the wrong field, I should’ve become a mortgage advisor or a solicitor where i can literally charge hundreds of pounds just to simply answer a one sentence question.

Luckily for us, John had a friend who was infact a mortgage advisor (its not what you know folks, its who you know, if ive learnt anything in life its to go out and search for friends in useful jobs like they are cattle! [im joking…kind of..] although not all is helpful because, GAVIN IM STILL WAITING FOR MY INCREDIBLE INSURANCE DEAL HERE! Id have thought id hit the jackpot being friends with an insurance broker…)

Anyway, we went to see johns friend all hopeful he could finally sort this out for us. He was amazing really, he explained exactly what all the technical mumbojumbo meant, what it was all the mortgage lenders were looking at/for and explained the whole process to us like the retards we are. He set us up a credit score account so we could see a full credit report (usually these cost a couple hundred pounds to obtain) but despite his good cup of tea making and cute dogs, the results were still a negative. We went through the credit reports and he showed us exactly what it was that was costing us our mortgage.

Now, let me take you back to what seemed like a great night a year prior, It was my 20th birthday, id met my friends up town and we had got inexplicably drunk, ending up in snobs to dance on the sticky floor and wait for hours to take a piss, after breaking the seal. God knows what the night entailed cause I was so pissed I cant remember half of it, but I know it resulted in having a pump truck on our front garden and many hungover lodgers to indulge in a greasy breakfast the next morning. At some point throughout the night however, john had gone missing (this isn’t alarming, when everyone’s drunk we don’t really pay attention to what’s going on and mixed with the fact john likes to have a wonder when he’s drunk, we often lose him for half an hr or so). So, john had done his usual wonder off on a drunken adventure whilst we were digging into a dirty kebab and being sick over the pavement. The next morning, we were all worse for wear and john came in and explained how somehow his jeans had ripped completely across the crotch, so somewhere along his little escapade he’d managed to entirely rip through his jeans and stumble back home in his boxers. Few eyebrows raised here but the more pressing point was he had a really shit flip up phone (he hadn’t entered the 21st century until he met me, I can safely say) that was something stupid like £5 a month on contract that had gone missing, it had fallen from the pocket in the jeans which had ripped off (seriously john what the fuck happened in that missing half an hr). This was a completely innocent act and we were more upset that it had nice photos on the phone than the phone itself, but now, flashforward a year and a half later we realised that that stupid nokia was the reason we could not get a mortgage.

Staring at us, on the credit report was three red flags of £5 for that ridiculous flip phone. When he lost the phone, he simply got a new one, it wasn’t worth anything but little did we know that in the crossover between registering a new contract (he’d used a pay as you go untill he actually got a brand new 21st century smartphone) we had missed a couple bill payments for that phone. 5 fucking pound. This meant the credit score was too low. This, added to the other strains on why we couldn’t get a mortgage meant we were being rejected for a 10% deposit, 90% mortgage. The only way to be able to get a mortgage on the house we had put an offer for, was by submitting a 15% deposit and receiving an 85% mortgage with high interest rates. Because we’d made the offer of £135,000 , 10% was £13,500, we now needed 15% which would have been an extra £6,750 to make the £20,250. We didn’t have just an extra £7k lying around (rounded up £6750) and therefore had to pull out of buying the house.

The following few days I spent crying and feeling low thinking how we would be stuck in my mom’s conservatory for another 6 months until we could save up enough to buy a house with 15% deposit. But life goes on, I had my surgery booked in for the summer and being at my moms meant they could look after me, the dates passed by that our two little ones would’ve been arriving into the world and we put it behind us and celebrated with drinks instead of moping about in the sauna attached to mom’s house.

We continued to save a minimum of a thousand pounds a month for the following few months and I was becoming increasingly desperate to find somewhere before the summer ended. I began searching along the Birmingham trainline instead of inside the city itself, scouting the outskirts of the West Midlands. I noticed a railway symbol on the map with a purple ‘Z’ right next to it, so I zoomed in to find a house for sale right next to the train station. After a few clicks I found that the train from the station goes directly to Birmingham centre (where john worked) and so I considered the possibility of maybe living a bit further out.

I was a little irrational at the time and hastily booked a viewing, seeing only the cheap price and the fact It was next to a train station going to bham and then had to explain to john that the house was infact over 20 miles away. But we were optimistic and we both decided what would the harm be in going to look at the house?

John booked the afternoon off work and we caught the train, marvelling at the fact we got offered a cup of tea on this train and pointed out the countryside views that were so different to the cityscape of Aston we usually passed on the train home. When we got off the train the house was less than 5 minutes walk from the station, we looked outside at it and thought, okay not really what we wanted but it looks spacious. We then noticed the neighbours. The house was next door to God. We had a few laughs both being atheists, at the irony of living next to a functioning church, but I noticed they sold cream teas in the church café so I was sold. At least God wouldn’t be the nightmare neighbour from hell. We were a bit early for our viewing so we took a walk around the harbouring streets, nosing at the nearby shops and all the real ale pubs offering beers straight out of the keg, made in the brewery that stood less than a mile from the house.

We returned to view the house with an estate agent and there’s not much I can say to be honest, from the minute we walked through the front door, it didn’t disappoint. Yes it wasn’t decorated to our taste, and yes there was work that needed to be done, but it was literally three times the size of the houses we could afford in Birmingham. It was three bedrooms with a bathroom the size of a double bedroom, a large garden and a fairly modern kitchen with an attaching lean to for a utility. We left feeling we had a huge decision to make, walked back up to the town centre (which was 5 minutes away) and had a drink in a local cocktail bar. The price of the house was the lowest we’d found, the size was bigger than some of the £200k houses we’d looked at in Birmingham and most importantly, we could just about afford 15% deposit on this house. However, it was in a town we had never been to before, 20 miles from home.

But to skip to the point, after visiting the town a few times, doing research on the area, meeting the homeowner and crying stressed tears, we made an offer. And the home owner accepted.

Now again, in my head I thought great, we hand over the money, exchange the contracts and collect the keys, done. Nope.

The process took four months. FOUR MONTHS.

There were searches and surveys done for things I didn’t even understand or realise they needed to do, it goes through one solicitor to another and the time it took was just ridiculous. Who’d have thought a coal mining search needed to be done on the property? The searches (which may be more or less depending on your property) were; Local Authority, Water and Drainage, Environmental, Commons Registration, Coal Mining, Land Charges, Index Map Search, Disadvantaged Areas, Chancel Repair and Indemnity Insurance. Like Wtf?? I hope john understood what all these were because I just smiled and nodded and hoped I wasn’t being ripped off. Check Fridays move for the definition of these conveyancing searches. Then there are surveys, which included; A basic valuation, a house buyers report and inspection and a full structural survey (again surveys may vary). Check Fidler for further definitions on surveys.

Did I mention each one of these costs hundreds? Well, yepp. After all the stress of saving up the deposit, securing the house and the stress of coming to every result of the searches and surveys, not knowing if today would be the day we are told we couldn’t buy the house because of various issues (after we had paid hundreds for the tests to be done) we were handed a huge bill. I’m not going to lie, we knew it was coming, but we weren’t prepared for the entire cost of the whole process. The whole process requires (can be more or less depending on the expertise and services you required) the (15%) deposit (most commonly 10%), estate agent fees if the house you are purchasing is listed with an estate agent, solicitor fees, mortgage advisor fees, search fees, survey fees, stamp duty (depends on your circumstance and the price of the property you are purchasing), land registry, VAT (if you are required to pay stamp duty) and the bills required for general home owning for the month you are moving in. (I.e, set up the water, electricity, etc, bills ready to move in).

This is where we set up a direct debit loan to a family member, because without them we could not cover the expense of the solicitors, estate agent fees, surveys and searches and the basic fee’s as well as paying 15% deposit on a house. So we can only thank them for being able to give us that extra cash when we needed it. We pay that back monthly with no interest and do not miss a payment.

I’m not going to share the exact cost of the purchase but I did say I would be honest and transparent and I know a few of you have actually asked for figures on my Instagram. So the total cost of purchasing our first home, with all fees included was in the ball park of £25k.

In August 2017, I was 21 and 7 weeks post op, we collected the keys to our home, camped on the floor because we had no furniture and had a picnic. Since then, very slowly, we have been doing up the house and making it into our home and I love it.

We were able to buy a bed after a month of sleeping on an airbed and being propelled into the air everytime john moved, and then in December we finally bought a sofa, now we are preparing to decorate our daughters room as we welcome her into the world, celebrating a whole year of owning our own property. Progress is slow, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

If you want to get onto the property ladder, it is possible, with perseverance and a lot of strawberry daquiris you will get there. Saving money takes dedication but if I can do it (and still stuff my face with unnecessary take-aways) then you can. I understand I am very fortunate to have a partner to support me, as well as an incredible family who I’m lucky to have help me out when I need it and I understand not everyone will have that support network, but you can do it, it just takes time. Me and john are completely financially independent, and I am so so grateful for that, after purchasing the house we literally had to start saving from nothing again, and it is possible to live, play and save at the same time.

I apologise for the length of this post but I wanted to make sure I covered the majority of questions people asked me in regards to purchasing a home.

If you have any other questions relating to buying a house feel free to message me on Instagram.

Thanks for reading

xxx

(Hover on the image to read the caption)

 

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Home Owner at 21 – Part One: The Savings

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First of all I want to state that this isn’t a brag, yes i’m proud of what myself and john have achieved and want to share it but I in no means mean to boast about it. I’m writing this because I said I would be transparent in everyday life and not just the life portrayed online, which is all unicorn lattes and designer dresses. I have split this into two blog posts because its quite a long one and I think can be categorised into two sections: one being, the whole savings and the lead up to being able to make an offer for a mortgage and the second being the process of actually buying the house and the (horrific) struggle of securing it.

Buying a house is not easy, without a helping hand it is near to impossible, but I am going to share my journey at becoming a home owner at the age of 21 and as morbid as it sounds, but imma be honest (because it would be something id consider if I read this, probs cause i’m a psycho)  but no, no one had to die for me to inherit the money to buy a house. (There was many near deaths on my part during this ordeal but I can safely say no one died in the process of buying this house).

There has been a lot of news in the press about the fact that millennials nowadays are most likely never going to afford to get on the property ladder, and whilst this is vaguely true if we are stereotyping the sociological aspects of a millennial, not all young adults can be grouped by this.

In society teenagers and young adults have a typecast of living the #studentlife and whilst some people do like to ride the journey of being the labelled student, binge drinking the £1 shots every night, living out of the overdraft and relying on the words ‘I’m a student’ to justify the fact that your future is still unknown and make yourself feel better, that right now you are just enjoying life and don’t particularly have a plan. There are a vast growing majority of others who, whatever their circumstance or reasoning are having to think about supporting themselves and their families in the long run – in the right now. (I’m not saying that students don’t acknowledge their post uni life, i’m stating that in society it is stereotyped in that way.)

I have a lot of friends who, like myself, got small jobs to support themselves in their teenage years and I also have friends who haven’t worked a day in their life and focused on their education. Neither is right or wrong.

When I was turning 16 my parents forced me (quite literally would’ve dragged me if they had to) to get a Saturday job, and despite my reluctant tries at getting out of this, I ended up working at a children’s farm, in their café. If only I realised what a great job that was then, because I would be so happy to have that job now, working 6 hours amongst animals making coffee and having no pressure of anything, but yknow I was 16 and wanted to get drunk on a Friday night without the repercussions of having to get up at 7am the next day.

Since then I have worked various jobs, part time and full time in different areas of life, I didn’t go to sixth form and instead got an apprenticeship (one in which I have absolutely no use for now in life, may I add) and having been earning the dollar since 16.

It was only from around 18 that I decided to start putting little bits away, sometimes left over money at the end of the month would go into a savings account I had set up or the odd coins from a shift at the pub would go into a smash only money bank, where it was not too easy to get back to it.

I am gonna be transparent with you, I was not an introvert or a “bore”, almost every day in my late teens I would be out drinking and partying, spending money on cigarettes and overly priced burger van food and well, I can openly say I was not someone who saved money enough to let it ruin having a good time.

You don’t need to give up having a social life in order to save money. It may slow down the process in getting to your end goal, but it isn’t something that you have to forfeit just to save up what you want/need.

When I was 18 I worked 3 consecutive jobs, whilst living with ME and Crohns and maintaining a social life and enabling myself to put away a few extra pennies. I could not do this now because at the ripe age of 22 I’m a full blown grandma and my body cant even handle a once a month sesh, let alone a working one (but the progression of my medical issues are to blame for this). Monday to Friday , 10-4 I did my apprenticeship, then on Wednesdays and Fridays I would work 7 – close (note how from 4 – the start of my second job I would be in the pub because I always thought being a little merry to work made me work better, yes, I was an idiot) at my local bar. On Saturday nights and Sunday daytimes I would work for an events company, doing waitressing, wedding set ups, conferences and bar work. These were all in the same area in which I made all my friends and also did my socialising, so I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be with and earning money at the same time. However, in the long run I would not recommend doing this, the phrase ‘don’t shit where you eat’, comes to mind and this played a huge part in my undoing later in life (yes, its as dramatic as it sounds, haha).

I didn’t have a lot of outgoings, I was living with my parents and would pay them a small fee of £100 a month in rent, I had my phone bill of around £40 a month, my travel pass which was also £40 a month and then any non essentials (like a takeaway pizza or an unneeded pair of new pjs) I would pay for myself. My mom and dad still supplied me with the essentials that were household items, i.e, shampoo and conditioner, food that would be for a family meal and would treat me often to a new piece of clothing so I wouldn’t have to fork out for myself, so I lived a cushy life really. Because I was only earning around £500 a month in total it meant I had a decent amount left over every month after paying out what I needed to. I wouldn’t hold back on my spending, if I wanted to treat myself to a new top or the latest make up palette, I would do, however ive never really had majorly expensive tastes. Primark has and will always be my best friend but I can be persuaded by a Michael kors bag or god forbid I see something (EVERYTHING) in Oliver Bonas. Instead any (if any) money I had on my next pay day left over from the previous pay day I would then transfer that into my savings.

E.G:

If I received a £500 paycheck on the 6th of the month, on the 6th of the following month anything left from that original £500 (could be anything from £1 – £200, realistically) would go into another account and I would start fresh at £500 again. So the 6th of every month I had £500 in my account, no more, even if I hadn’t spent all of my previous £500. (Hopefully that makes sense)

*Because I worked separate jobs, pay days would vary but I would stick to one day in the month to round up and transfer any leftovers.

Since then, I have continued to live by the same rule, even now when I don’t have a permanent full time job I try to put away little bits that are leftover each time a new payment comes in. But instead of it being one day a month it is on a job by job basis now.

This is a slow building process but it allows that extra emergency money when you need it, whether it was to save up for a holiday or for a piece of furniture, that is the method I use in order to save up for those luxuries.

Now back to the less technical part after I’ve bored you all with finances…

I had always had this emergency money that would build up, be emptied and build up again and in January 2015 I left home to move in with my boyfriend John. John is older than myself (by a fair bit) and he already had an established career, he earnt over quadruple what I was earning (approx) and had the knowledge and wisdom that came with living life. He was renting a small two bedroom, two up, two down house in kings heath and I moved in with him there. He continued to pay the full rent but I would then pay other bills, the council tax, food shopping, and although our earnings were nowhere near equal we both looked after each other, I would pay what I could, where I could. John has never expected me to pay for something I cannot afford, he has never made me feel pressured because he earns a high wage and I cannot always maintain the same substantial amount every month to contribute but we work together and live comfortably and equally.

We had been living in this two bed house for around 6 months when things were becoming obviously a ‘waste of money,’ We could not refurbish or redecorate the house and little things were just pretty poor. The bathroom leaked and flooded everytime you had a shower, the floor was coming up and the kitchen units were not grouted or sealed in place correctly, meaning the walls were crumbling and the units were becoming mouldy. Don’t even get me started on the garden…

The cost of living in this house was extortionate, when you leave home for the first time, you know there are bills to pay that no one ever mentions or your parents don’t ever tell you they cover but you never fully realise until each day a new bill arrives. Its not just a cost of surviving, (rent, food, essentials, luxuries) its costs for things you don’t even realise you need (a tv licence, the electric bill, the wifi, the water, insurance.) Things I’d never even considered, I never even knew you had to pay for a tv licence, and the wifi I thought was paid by the magical broadband fairy. I thought water came from taps for free and I could turn on and off the lights or the heating as I pleased so when dad always followed us around switching everything back off I thought he was a mad man. But they cost money, sometimes A LOT of money.

All in all living in the 2 bed house was costing us over £1400 a month and what did we actually have? We had a nettle jungle and four plain white pebble dashed walls that we couldn’t touch. We didn’t own anything, we were paying that amount to simply live in someone else’s house and pay for the upkeep of their property. We also had some creepy neighbours who were controlled by their dog and didn’t speak to each other (but that’s a whole other story).

After a lot of conversations over too many ciders we came to the conclusion that we really needed to start saving up more a month and think about getting our own place, so in the long run our money was being put into something we could actually own. An investment. However how could we possibly save up enough money to put down a deposit on a house whilst still forking out enough to live in the meantime?

This is where our family have been incredible. And without them, it wouldn’t have been possible. We approached our families and suggested moving back home, we would cover our own expenses, give them some rent a month and live in their house with them until we could save up enough to move out again.

They crazily accepted, mom because she secretly wanted me back home (and couldn’t cook so was happy to have me back to cook her food for her, sorry mom but its true) and dad I don’t think really had a choice after mom had decided. So Monday to Friday me and john lived in my parents conservatory, which sounds lovely, but it was hard work. No nighttime, no silence, no privacy, we were sleeping in the middle of a glass room like animals on show at the circus. The adjustment to having to follow someone else’s rules again was frustrating, for myself and for my parents. I’d gotten used to buying and eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and now I was like a child again being told ‘don’t stay up too late you’ll be tired in the morning’ the standard parental lectures that ill soon be instilling on my child. On the weekends we would stop at John’s parents to give mine a bit of privacy and time to themselves.

We were now able to save up a larger amount each month and had decided that £1k a month minimum be put aside into savings to go towards buying a house. This theoretically was like continuing to pay our lifestyle back in kings heath, but instead of the money going into a private landlords pocket it was going into our own savings account.

We lived with this arrangement for 9 whole months, and that wasn’t the difficult part. The hard part of securing a mortgage, putting down the deposit and actually purchasing a house was the excruciating part.

 

End of Part one.

Make sure you are following the blog to be notified when part two is published and find out the struggle of actually buying a house as a young first time buyer.