Things That Are Worth Paying For as a Blogger

While we may make a little bit of money from sponsored posts, advert space and affiliate links, for the majority of bloggers, a blog is a labour of love, and I know that I for one definitely don’t make as much money out of blogging as I put into it.

As a result of this, over the years I’ve learnt all the classic money-saving tips for blogging: hitting up Primark and Asda for blog props rather than Zara Home, robbing B&Q for wallpaper samples to use as backdrops for photos and finding as many high street dupes for our favourite beauty products as possible. The list goes on.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to pour money into your blog to make it successful, but with that said, there are a few things that I am more than happy to pay out for in order to keep my blog running as smoothly as possible.

A domain

Whether you’re self-hosted or not, buying your own domain as opposed to being a .blogspot or .wordpress address is 100% worth it. I pay about £18 a year for mine, and not only does it help my blog look more professional, it all counts towards that all important (though also thoroughly pointless in my eyes) DA score.

Buffer Awesome Plan

I’ve been with Buffer since I started scheduling tweets, but there are a whole bunch of other sites available. When I first started out I stuck to the free plan, meaning I could schedule 10 tweets in advance at a time. Now I schedule 5 tweets a day, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I could only ever schedule two days at a time, which was a nightmare when half the time I would forget, or if I was away I’d face days of no tweets at all, so before my trip to Florida back in February I decided to upgrade so that I could schedule the whole two weeks I was going to be away, and since then I’d never go back. Its $10 a month, which depending on exchange rate is £7-8, but it makes me so much happier knowing at the start of each week that I’m all set until Sunday night, when I’ll top them up again.

ASOS Premier

I’ve been paying for Asos Premier for 3 years now, and trust me its worth it. £9.95 for the year to get free next day delivery on all orders, meaning I never have to worry about knowing if my items are gonna show up on time. Its kinda like Amazon Prime for my wardrobe, and yes I did once just order a pair of gloves for £5 two days before going to France because I knew they’d get to me on time and I couldn’t be bothered to schlep into town to dig through Primark for a pair.. PS. If you ever return and item for an exchange, the replacement item is also sent next day.

Upgrading your iCloud storage

If you’re forever snapping away for those all too Instagram-worthy shots, paying to upgrade your iCloud storage so you never run out of space on your phone is a lifesaver! I think I pay 99p a month and not once I have I had the dreaded ‘your storage is almost full’ pop up. In fact, I have photos back to December 2015 on my phone and I’m at no risk of running out of room any time soon.

Do you have any services that you swear by?

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Car Insurance Renewal Myths Busted

I think we can all agree that there is nothing exciting or interesting about car insurance, right? Its a legal requirement, and considered by most to be a hassle or a chore, and what’s worse is that a number of people feel like they have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to it, which can really cause problems further down the line.

So while this might not be the most exciting topic to be blogging about, I thought I’d share some advice and information from my experience of working in the car insurance industry. I’m not sharing any industry secrets or naming/shaming any particular companies, I’m just hoping to clear up some of the myths or beliefs, and hopefully help a few people out! Here goes..

I’ve had another claim free year, why has my insurance gone up?

Its a common belief that every year you go without making a claim earns you a drop in your renewal price, and while this may often be the case, there are a number of factors that could mean you see an increase. This year especially, there have been a number of changes in industry factors that have been totally out of the companies control, namely the increase in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) and changes in legislation on personal injury compensation, both of which have hit car insurance hard.

On top of this, insurance rates are calculated based on a whole tonne of information and statistics, so while you might have another year of driving with no accidents, things like your car being another year older, or if there’s been an increase in the number of accidents or claims in your postal region, are all things that are factored in during the underwriting process.

What about my no claims discount?

No claims discount (NCD) can of course reduce the cost of your insurance substantially, and within your first few years of earning NCD, you should be seeing a general reduction in your insurance quotes, but the further up the years you get, the discount percentage increases by smaller increments, until you eventually hit your insurance companies maximum, which in most cases is 9+ years. At this point, while you may feel like your insurance should be dropping every year – which is may do! – you’re already benefiting from the highest discount you can get, so you may find a bit of a plateau.

My insurance company will give me a discount if I tell them I’m going to cancel

Sure, a lot of insurance companies will be able to offer you a discount if you express unhappiness at your renewal price, but I urge you to think about the amount of discount they give. If they can knock £100 off the price the moment you question the price, why is it they can do that without second thought? You may find you’re only offered £10-15 off, and while this may seem a little stingy, what it actually suggests is that you were sent out a pretty accurate price in the first place, rather than an over-inflated price designed to make you feel like a winner when they half the cost.

I shouldn’t have to shop around to get the best price

One of the biggest reasons that people see their insurance prices go up and up and up is because they allow their insurance company to renew the policy time and time again without comparing the market. Most insurance companies do have a preferred customer, be that based on age or any other factors, and while you may think that you’re being a lovely loyal customer staying year after year, it is possible that you can get a much better deal elsewhere. This has actually become such an epidemic that the insurance regulator has mandated that insurance companies must now put a statement on their renewal quotes encouraging their customers to shop around, so don’t be insulted if you notice this!

On the back of this, insurance companies can vary massively in how they assess your details, so one company can quote you £300 while another quotes you £600 for exactly the same cover!

Do I really need to review my insurance every year?

YES. I urge you to check through all of your documents every year, as well as being sure to update your insurance company to any changes throughout the year. Even small changes, such as a different job, becoming a homeowner, going from living at home to living with a partner or getting married; these are all factored into the calculation of your insurance premium, and its so easy to forget about informing your insurance of these changes, but they can make a difference!

What should I do if I’m uncertain about anything on my policy?

If you ever have any questions about your car insurance, the first thing you should do is speak to YOUR insurance company. While friends and family may be keen to give you advice, if they’re insured with a different company, there could be a big difference in what their insurance covers to what yours does, so bear this in mind when seeking a second opinion.

I’m sorry to bombard you with quite a lot of information, but I really hope that I’ve been able to help a few people out with this post! If you have found this helpful, please let me know as I’d love to know if you’d be interested in seeing more posts like this!

This post is primarily based on facts, but any of opinions stated in this post are my own personal views and do not reflect the views or opinions of any insurance companies.
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How to do Disneyland on a Budget

Pretty much the only thing that bothers me about Disneyland is that generally its a more expensive to visit than Walt Disney World, especially as it doesn’t have regular package offers like the annual free dining deal, and being on the west coast, flights tend to be pricier. Despite this, I would still 110% recommend any Disney fans visit Walt’s original park; while I don’t do favourites, this park holds a special place in my heart and I’ll never stop loving it.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few different things you can do to cut down the cost of a trip to this magical place, and I thought I’d share them for anyone who’s thinking about a trip!

Consider non-direct flights

Depending on when you book, sometimes you can get direct flights to LAX for around £350-450, but other times they can be well over the £500 mark, but you can save a lot of money flying indirect. Also, a stopover can break up the 10-11 hour flight!

Buy your tickets at home

Yes, you can get your park tickets when you arrive, but Disneyland tickets from UK sellers like Attraction Tickets Direct generally work out a bit cheaper (plus you can use cashback websites to get something back!) and it means you’ve got your tickets ready to go and don’t have to waste valuable park time queuing at ticket booths!

Stay offsite

Unlike WDW, Disneyland has a tonne of offsite hotels that are all within walking distance of the park – some of them are literally just across the road! The price difference can be pretty amazing; I paid the same amount for a week offsite as a room for a night in the Disneyland Hotel. There’s also so many to choose from, from budget motels to well known chains, so you’re bound to find something you’re happy with.

Bring your own food

If you’re really looking to save the pennies, take a trip to a supermarket and stock up on snacks to take into the parks with you. That being said, on my last trip I spent less than £20 a day on food in the parks!

Consider transport options

If you’re going to be a larger group, and the drivers are over 25, it may be cheaper for you to rent a car to get from the airport to the parks, rather than using the Disneyland Express.

If you do have a car, don’t drive to the parks

Parking is $20 a day, but plenty of hotels have free/cheap shuttle buses that drop you off right by the park entrance.

If you’re ever looking to book a Disneyland trip and need any advice, feel free to ask, or check out all of my Disneyland posts here!

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50 Post Ideas for Disney Bloggers

Disney Blogger Ideas

In a #disneybloggerschat (Thursday 8pm) a few weeks back, I was a little upset by the number of people saying that where they struggle most when it comes to Disney blogging is actually not having enough ideas for posts. It bothered me, because all the Disney bloggers in the community are totally fab and I love reading everything they have to write, so my primary reaction was ‘what can I do to help?’..

Personally, I’m always intrigued when I see those ’50 blog post ideas’ or ‘101 Instagram photos’ posts, so I thought I’d give my own version a go, and if I can provide a little bit of inspo for my fabulous Disney blogger friends, then I’ll be a happy girl!

  • Collection posts:
    • Mickey ears
    • Disney mugs
    • Disney artwork
    • Funko pops, vinylmations, Traditions etc
    • Tsum tsums and soft toys
    • DVDs and O-rings
    • How you display your collections
    • Advice to others wanting to start collecting
  • Movies:
    • Your top 5 favourite movies
    • Movies you watch when you’re happy/sad/need inspiration etc
    • Favourite moments
    • Favourite character and why
    • Most underrated films
    • Most overrated films
    • Favourite soundtracks/songs
    • Movies you’ve never seen/want to see
    • Thoughts on upcoming releases
  • Disney parks:
    • Park bucket lists
    • Your favourite park and why
    • Favourite rides
    • Favourite character meets
    • Things you’ve never done
    • Favourite places to eat
    • Dining reviews
    • Eating in the parks with dietary requirements
    • Hints and tips for others
    • Favourite photos
    • What’s in your park bag?
    • Things you HAVE to pack for your trip
    • Disney park must-dos
    • Hotel/resort reviews
    • Trip diaries
    • Trip hauls
  • Disney lifestyle:
    • Best places to buy Disney merch
    • Disney small business spotlights
    • Your Disney wardrobe
    • Disney outfit posts
    • Disney inspired makeup looks
    • Disney hairstyle tutorials
    • Favourite Disney bloggers
    • Favourite Disney vloggers
    • Favourite Instagram accounts
    • 5 Disney blog posts you’ve loved recently
    • Why Disney means so much to you
  • Disney DIY and crafts – even if they turn out to be a disaster!
    • Recreate your favourite Disney food
    • Try making your own ears
    • Bake Disney inspired cupcakes
    • Buy some iron-on patches and customise a denim jacket/jeans
    • Make a collage of photos from trips
    • Cosplays and handmade Disneybounds

I really hope that this can get the ball rolling if you’re stuck in a little bit of a blogging rut, or if you just fancy something a little different!

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Dressing for Walt Disney World in January

Die hard Disney-goers like myself rarely visit the parks without carefully coordinated outfits, complete down to the matching Mickey ears; its probably one of my favourite parts of trip planning. I like to believe that if I have one skill in life, its putting together a good Disney outfit, and lord knows I’ve got the wardrobe for it!

Now if you’re visiting WDW any time from March-November, you can rest assured that it will be warm, if not stonking hot, and while there may be rain, its Florida rain – big, heavy and warm raindrops that will dry within minutes of the sun reappearing – so you can still wear what we here in the UK consider to be summer clothes without having to worry too much, and therefore booking a trip for early January posed a slight conundrum for me.

Being Florida, it was always gonna be warmer than it was here in Bournemouth, I could count on that for sure, and after looking up average temperatures in Orlando, I quickly discovered that it would be about the same as a cooler summer day here in England, around 18-20°C, and that became my starting point.

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Long story short, you know those summer evenings when you might warm up an outfit by throwing on a cardigan or a pair of tights? Yep, that’s essentially it right there. I spent pretty much every day in tights and dresses or skirts and shirts, chucked a cardigan on top of whatever I was wearing, and maybe a jacket on cooler days.

We looked a little silly compared to some people; so many people were wrapped up in hats and scarves, but some (including the locals) its pretty cold compared to what they’re used to!

When is your favourite time to visit Walt Disney World? °o°

Top Tips for Road Trips

When I was planning for my European road trip, I thought I’d check Google for top tips to see what handy advice the internet would give me, so I was massively disappointed when the top results were massively wishy-washy, so much so that I can’t even remember half of these ‘great’ tips. So having done it all for myself, today I’m sharing some advice that could help you, whether you’re travelling alone or with company.

1. Spring for public car parks

In some places, public car parks can be stupidly expensive, but depending on whereabouts you are, and if like I did you’re leaving valuables in your car while you’re off exploring, its definitely worth paying a little extra for the protection of a ‘proper’ car park, rather than a dodgy little side street.

2. Split your money up

Its a good idea to have your cash in a few different places; you never know if you might lose your bag, or worse.. I had the majority of my money in cash for my trip, and while I did also have a credit card, I didn’t like to use it! I actually kept my money split in pockets in my notebook, to keep my tight budget, and only put what was needed into my purse for each day. I also kept a separate little coin purse in my car to pay for parking and any tolls along the way.

3. Pack food and drink, and take advantage of ‘free’ meals

No road trip is complete without snacks, but if you’ve got some long drives ahead, its handy to keep a little more than the usual amount, especially to save the cost of pricey service station food! If you’re staying somewhere that offers included meals, like breakfast, be sure to take full advantage and load up!

4. Know and set petrol limits

If you don’t know already, find out how far your car goes on a tank of petrol. Ignore the supposed miles per gallon, because so many variables can affect that, go out and do a proper test. For example, I found out that one bar on my fuel gauge would last me around 50 miles, or an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how I was driving. Once you know that, set yourself a limit on when to refill. After one worrying night drive where I was running seriously low with no petrol stations nearby, I always filled up when I dropped to 1/4 of a tank to be safe!

5. Prepare for tolls, or plan around them

There are more toll stations than you might think out there, and they all add up! I was lucky enough that my road atlas had toll roads marked, and my satnav also knew where they were, so I could choose a route without them, but be warned, avoiding toll roads can make your journey a lot longer!

6. Get breakdown cover

Its pretty self-explanatory; you don’t want to be caught out at any time, let alone in a foreign place where you don’t speak the language. Lots of companies offer cover to suit the duration of your trip.

7. Know your own limits

Personally, I found driving long distances a lot easier than I thought I would, especially given a lack of experience, but I still had my limits. Try and avoid the mentality of ‘I’m sure I can drive through the night’ or ‘once I’m behind the wheel I’ll wake up a bit’, because the fact is you’re only human, and there’s nothing wrong with needing a break.

8. Embrace the unknown

Turning down a wrong street will not mean you’re going to disappear off the face of the earth. Getting lost is all part of the adventure, just stay calm, get your bearings, and have fun!

9. Know your speeds

Wherever you are, make sure you know the speed limits, and be wary of any speed cameras that might be hidden. Also double check whether limits are in mph or km/h, and be straight on the conversions!

10. Fully prep your car

Get it serviced, pack spare oil, bulbs, a petrol can etc, and be sure to check if there are any legal requirements where you’re going. For example, for most of Western Europe you have to be carrying a safety triangle, breathalysers, a high vis jacket, and headlamp deflectors for relevant cars. It also helps to have a torch, blanket and first aid kit!

I hope these few nuggets of wisdom can help a few of you have an equally amazing road trip as the one I had, and if you haven’t read all about my trip, check it out here!

xo

Disney Packing Must-Have #5

A mini first aid kit, or at least a few supplies

Its unfortunate but true that holidays rarely go without some little medical mishap; sunburn, blisters, headaches, the list goes on.. And while Disney World has medical stations, and there’s drugstores in the area, its still better to be prepared with a few basics:

1. Plasters and blister plasters

2. Painkillers, including kid friendly ones

3. Allergy medication and anti-histamines

4. After-sun lotion or aloe vera

5. Travel sickness aids

And anything else you think you may need, better safe than sorry!