6 places to get in the Christmas spirit in London

The first snowflake has officially fallen and the advent calendar windows are starting to be opened but if after all of that you’re still missing some Christmas magic, here are some of my favourite FREE places in London to help get you in the Christmas spirit:

Regent Street

Once again Regent Street have their beautiful angel Christmas lights that sparkle and glow magnificently. Nothing makes me feel more in the Christmas spirit. For true Christmas magic  follow the angels all the way to Hamleys and tap into your inner child (it is Christmas after all).

Carnaby Street

Just tucked behind Regent Street is the magnificent Carnaby Street where you can experience a different kind of Christmas. This year they have opted for a Christmas carnival theme. With birds of paradise and all the bright colours you could imagine. Pay the spectacular Choccy Woccy Doo-Dah a visit and get some Christmas chocolate inspiration. Or if beauty is your thing, get lost in the likes of Benefit, Urban Decay, Mac and Too Faced for all your Christmas wish-list dreams.

 

Liberty London

Also just off Carnaby street is Liberty London. Founded over 142 years ago it is one of the oldest and most spectacular department stores in the country. With its mock-Tudor exterior and dramatic window display it’s enough to get that warm fuzzy feeling and that’s before you’ve even visited the 4th floor. Take the lift to their Christmas shop for unique Liberty gifts and stunning tree decorations. They have everything. Think personalised baubles for your pet to stunning peacock tree decorations. It’s near impossible to resist them all.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Whilst it may not be the largest Christmas market in London, year on year it becomes one of my favourites. At any time of year there is something special about Leicester square, so add some Christmas magic and you have a truly beautiful mix. Be sure to check out the craft stalls and the mini pancakes to feel truly Christmassy.

 

 

WinterVille – Clapham junction

Think of it as almost a mini winter wonderland. Whilst not as spectacular, it’s certainly cheaper and far less crowded. With a bouncing beer tent, ice skating and alcoholic hot chocolate on offer it is certainly not one to be missed.

And finally…

Oxford Street

For me, it’s the epitome of Christmas in London. There is no greater feeling than stepping off the tube at Bond street station and seeing beautiful lights wherever you look. Year on year the window displays set it apart from your normal London shopping street. Be sure to check out “Moz” in John Lewis and the neon “with love” at Selfridges for a true feeling of Christmas.

Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 2 with Simon!

My name is Simon, I’m 36 (I know what you are thinking, good moisturiser) and I work for myself.  I quit my job back in February 2016 and took the leap, technically I’m a director of my company rather than being self-employed according to HMRC.  I work in digital marketing and lead generation, partnering with companies in the UK and US to help them with their online marketing needs.  I really enjoy the industry, I work from home – get to travel and most importantly it pays the bills.  It also allows me to vlog and blog as I can justify them as online marketing tools!  

My outgoings.

– I own a house, with that comes a mortgage of just over £900 per month. 

– BILLS! Got to pay those bills.  TV license, Gas & Electricity, Sky TV, Council Tax, Home insurance, pet insurance (x2), Life Insurance – it all adds up! £400 per month

– Food and all that – roughly £250 per month

– Credit cards, love them and hate them.  Fortunately most I have are at 0% so it’s just paying balances off and that costs around £200 per month

– Saving – I still manage to do this via an app that takes a little from my account each week depending on how much I’ve been spending.  Averages around £250 a month right now

– Memberships/subscriptions – this is my Norwich City season ticket which is £48 per month.  I also pay £10 per month for NFL Gamepass on my TV and £40 a year for Xbox live.

– Socialising, leisure etc. Etc. I really don’t spend that much, to be honest.  When I travel for I try to factor in some work so I can claim it back as an expense. Maybe £100-200 per month

Questions!

1. What does a typical day look like for you? – My typical day can be a little boring.  Working from home has its perks, but does largely mean that you are on your own all day.  I wake up around 730am, I’m at my desk by 8 am replying to emails from the US.  At 9 am the UK guys come online and I’ll likely still be at my desk around 11am at which point I typically remember that I need to shower, eat, make the bed etc (rock and roll).  I carry on throughout the afternoon, I know when it’s 12 pm as my favourite tv show comes on (Good Morning Football – all about American Football) which runs in the background for 3 hours.  When that ends, it’s dog walking time.  My dog is like my apprentice, asides from that fact that he does nothing all day other than lay near me.  By 5 pm the US guys are back online, I’ll spend a short while dealing with them before dinner, then throughout the evening I will pick up Skype messages and emails on my phone whilst watching TV.  If you think your day is boring, you may not anymore!  I’ve taken a rest recently, but to break up some of the monotony I often go for a run.

2. What are your guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying?  I don’t really buy a lot.  I go on holiday, which I try and do a lot.  I’ve been away a few times this year with at least two to come yet.  A perk of working for yourself, you can go away when you like (the downside is that you always end up working when away).  If I do spend on anything, I have a mini passion for shoes from Goodwin Smith so pick up a pair occasionally.  I also enjoy a bet, recently I’ve started using a new football-based trading platform which is interesting.  It comes with a risk of course, but done correctly you can make a little money.

3. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? Most expensive thing I ever bought – a house.  If you own a house and are not rich, I imagine this is the case for most people.  By comparison to London prices, my house was a bargain.  It’s a lot bigger than most of my friend’s houses in London and cost a lot less.  By owning a house, I have over £200,000 worth of debt, lovely.  After this, I spend most of my money on travelling.

4. Is there anything you’re particularly saving for? Saving is quite fluid for me.  I don’t actively save for things, but I put money aside and then spend when needed.  For example, I may save a few hundred pounds, then fancy a quick break somewhere.  I’ll put that on the credit card (earn some points) and then pay it off when due with the money from savings.  Always make your money work for you.

5. If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d buy? Assuming it was a couple of million or something, I’d pay off my house straight away.  That saves me £900 worth of outgoings per month. I’d probably buy another one too which I’d then rent out.  Asides from that, I’d then jump on a plane to the US for a bit.  Travel around, get some sun, have a beer or two.

6. If money was no object, where would be your dream travel destination? I travel a lot anyway, but there are a few places on my list that I have yet to get to.  I’d like to go to Japan, so that would be up there.  I’ve yet to get to New Orleans or Austin in the US, so them too.  Perhaps New Zealand, it’s not at the top of my list but I wouldn’t say no to going there.

7. What’s the best money advice/tips you’ve ever received? No one has ever given me any advice, however, I made many mistakes in my younger years and learned the hard way – so I give myself advice when needed.  I left home at 17, not easy! I had to get a job and start earning right away.  When I went to uni, I ignored all of the bills – not a good idea.  In my early 20’s I had to take stock of my finances, I owed more than I could really manage so basically stopped spending in order to get everything right again.  It took 6 years to sort out my credit file so that I could borrow properly, so it’s only really been the last 6 years where I have been able to “live”.

My tips… 

*Budget.  It doesn’t have to be a super strict budget – but know what’s coming in and what’s going out.  I have a spreadsheet with all of my bills on.  When a bill goes out of my bank, I mark it on the sheet.

*Credit Cards.  If you can get one, get one.  Credit cards will allow you to build/maintain a credit file.  If you’re going to buy something and you can afford it, put it on the credit card.  With a good card, you can either get 0% interest on purchases or earn points/miles for spending thus getting more for your money.  If you do have good credit, but spending gets a little heavy – consider a 0% balance transfer card to take the burden off you a little.  Still pay off money each month, but this way you pay what you have spent and not the interest that accrues.  It’s often the interest and charges for not paying that make it worse in the long run, trust me!

*Cashback – If you are not using a cashback account – get one.  I wrote a vlog post about this, it’s free money.  Always take free money.  If you are buying things online and there was cashback available at no cost to yourself, why would you not take it!?

*Treat yourself.  Saving is boring.  If you focus too much on the end game, you’ll lose sight of what’s going on in front of you.  A little treat here and there will keep your moral up whilst you work towards the “big one”.  At the end of the day, you work hard to earn your money and you can’t take it with you when you are gone!

Thanks Simon! If you’d like to feature in the money diaries series, leave me a comment and I’ll email you the info! Ng x