Will 2016 be a year to save or invest?

For quite a while people have been holding back on their investments. Whether for a car, house, flat or just daily purchases.

A friend of mine has seen people reducing their day-to-day spending and for instance having a coffee with no pastry because budget was tight.

January and February 2016 are no exception.

Are people actually saving for 11 months in order to be able to buy want they want for the festive season (presents, drinks, food, holidays…etc). But, is Christmas not a bit too excessive making the following months a real struggle?!

Modern lifestyle is almost perceived as wanting to own everything. Is this to be seen as cool or wealthy?

A few years back (early 2000) not that many people had a mobile: it was rare. Nowadays, it is consider as strange, if you don’t have an email, computer and smartphone. You have to be “connected” with the latest technology and ideally got one of these wearables. How did we do previously?

Is social media draining our spare time or is it actually bringing something positive to our already busy schedules?

Families are rushing to work and school then it is a kind of a race to reach their beach holiday destination. And it is the same when it is time to go back to the daily routine. An endless and stressful pace for parents and children.

So, how can individuals find enough time to make an appointment for home/flat viewing when there isn’t already enough hours in the day to complete basic tasks?!

Investing in a property is also something which takes time. There are various stages and a couple of acquaintances managed to get their properties after 6 to 8 months following several appointments with solicitors and banks.

A neighbour who works part time hours has decided with his wife (and new born) to buy a house and a second hand car at the same time! In this particular case, investing to get on the property ladder seems to be as natural as buying a pint of milk. His wife is a trainee doctor… this is probably the reason why this young couple has been able to move forward after renting and sharing various accommodations.

The mortgage will be in the long term cheaper than the monthly rent. The most important is to be able to put the hefty deposit on the table and the rest is history!

Are we going to see more people buying a roof over their heads in 2016 or will it be a slow walk to the top of the mountain – as it has been for the past years?

your money in 2016


The aftermath of Christmas shopping

When Summer holidays end we can already hear people counting down to Christmas – then, some shops get some decorations on their shelves. Marks and Spencer even sell mince pies in October with a “used by 1st December“. Today, the festive food is totally ready to go. However here again, there are “Christmas mini sausage rolls” for sale but “used by 12th December“?

So, what is it with all this shopping? A kind of need to shop & buy expensive and big gifts? But, should we question whether people are misunderstanding what Christmas is about?

The size and price of the present(s) should be irrelevant – it should be all about the thoughts. A book or a scarf are and should be sufficient to please the other person. However, for some unknown reasons individuals seem to make their own lives more difficult by going to town centres many times… and at the busiest times too. Saturdays and Sundays should be avoided. It is über busy and the stress and tension are very high. It all looks like an assault course, with a lot of angry faces when it comes to queue (patiently) to reach the till.

Christmas shopping Covent Garden by night London

Christmas shopping Covent Garden by night London

The craze is in full swing. When you think that we all have 11 months to think of what to buy for family members, sadly and maybe because of our busy urban lifestyle, it happens that we run out of time.

Also, it is not just about gifts but the food seems to be important as well… maybe too important? Is December the month where we should spend all our savings – just for a couple of days of celebrations during the festive season?

Some of us faced the incredible “black Friday“! Buying because products are reduced: why not as long as we actually need it. Others decided to queue outside some stores from midnight because the aim was to buy to re-sell online for the second wave a few days later – that was “cyber Monday“.

Cyber Monday Vs Black Friday infographic

Usually, after this mad rush to High Streets (wherever you are in the UK), there is the aftermath and spiral of depression. In other terms, after the euphoria comes the massive drop because financial resources are thin(ner) – but life continues with the regular bills to pay. It can be a struggle for some households.

The other potential situation is the rubbish collection. A few years back, some cities were knee-deep in refuse black bags. Exeter was one of them but according to Exeter City Council this was NOT a major issue! In recent news, Newton Abbot recycling centre won’t accept waste from Torbay and this is all due to budget! This doesn’t mean that it will be closed – it is simply the fact that Torbay residents HAVE to use their own recycling plant they have contributed for, rather than the one from their neighbours! Alternatively, some streets and neighbourhood communities could decide to hire a skip from Devon experts – this would avoid all inconvenience. Should this be the way forward?

The aftermath of Christmas can truly cause mayhem in streets of certain cities/towns. Here again, all councils have eleven months to plan and deal with the exceptional excess of cardboards and other packaging from these few festive days.

Why in the twenty first century, are we still facing such predictable and obvious chaos?!

Christmas aftermath dinner

Christmas aftermath dinner

Culture, Design

When street art can be eco-friendly

It is becoming more and more visible. When you travel throughout the world most cities and suburbs have it. An open exhibition which can take place almost anywhere as long as there is a space: wall, bus shelter, train carriage, bridge, road sign…etc – and the list goes on.

Street art is a way for artists to express themselves and show their art to the world.

Some councils are totally opposed to it. Others are actually supporting such way of expression, depending where it is.

In London, Shoreditch and Brick Lane could almost be the street art heaven…if you like such type of creativity!

In Berlin, it is vibrant too.

Outside the Capital, Bristol is another focus point: the name of Banksy doesn’t need more explanations. An artist who has kept a low profile despite his works famous around the globe and very distinctive too.

Of course, using paint can be seen as not very environmental/eco-friendly. Some artists are also working on reverse graffiti (known as clean/dust tagging).

Some tags can be huge – check Mister Thoms! During an Italian street art event “Re_acto Fest” (@reactofest on social media) in L’Aquila – this artist produce a rather impressive chef-d’oeuvre titled FACE OFF.

Face Off by Mister Thoms

Face Off by Mister Thoms

But things can go even further: mural artworks don’t need to use paint or  high pressure water jets.

Belgium based artist Stefaan De Croock (known as Strook) made something outstanding by using recycled wood and a bit of paint to give it some contrast and colours. The one below is in Bruges.

Strook Wood and Paint street art

Strook Wood and Paint street art

It doesn’t need to be on a big scale as sometimes small work is even better. It all depends whether it is for an outside exhibition or even an advertising campaign.

Nowadays, everything has to be big – but we all know “less is more” – just look at the refine dishes served at Sketch in Mayfair.

For some artists it can be a struggle to find old materials for their creations. Once again some counties are doing more to recycle and collect the originally unwanted items. In the past, fly-tipping was happening too often. Things needed to be controlled drastically.

Anything along the Southwest of England is carefully regulated, mainly because of the beaches in Cornwall, & Devon. Coastal UK based in Devon deals with container and skip hire for home and business in order to avoid waste to be left in the beautiful countryside. By providing such services everything is collected and the “keep britain tidy” is fully respected. It is all about being eco-friendly and thinking about the nature. After all, everyone is concerned.

Not everyone is good at street art. It is not just about signing a random name on a wall or on the side of a bus. What is even more appreciated by Councils around the United Kingdom and certainly around the World is to use ethical products which work well with the environment such as natural paint (without chemicals) and re-usable structures (including old door, metal tube, cardboard…).

The artists in questions will be even more recognized/respected for their double efforts: artworks & environmental thoughts.

Banksy - Bristol - Street art

Banksy – Bristol – Street art