• 25Sep

    Research by the Santander 123 account has revealed that 14 million Brits collectively borrow £3.6 billion a month in order to pay for basic household bills.

    Some 17% of people opt for overdrafts, while 15% choose credit cards to find additional funds. Over one million people collectively borrow £2 billion annually from payday lenders.

    However, despite all this borrowing, only 32% of Brits regularly shop around for better deals on services such as utilities or telecoms providers.

    Reza Attar-Zadeh, banking director at Santander, said: “The fact that only a third of people are regularly looking for ways to reduce their monthly bills is worrying, as there are a number of opportunities to bring these costs down that require very little effort or change.”

    How can you easily reduce your monthly bills?

    • Pay by direct debit. You should be able to set up a direct debit account with most providers, who will provide you with discounts for doing so
    • Compare the market. Spending half an hour a week checking out offerings from providers other than your own could save you hundreds
    • If you have an internet, phone and cable service, moving all of your accounts to one provider could save you cash
    • Get involved in the ‘voucher culture’: it could chop hundreds off your grocery bills over the year
    • Move to a fixed-price energy plan with no exit penalty fees. These are running out fast, so don’t hang around too long
    • Unmetered bills take the property’s size into account, so if you have more bedrooms than people in the house you could save money by installing a water meter

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  • 03Sep

    Following the news that energy company E.on is failing to pass on the full benefit of drops in wholesale prices comes the revelation that the high prices crippling its customers have seen its profit margins soar by almost a quarter.

    The German firm experienced a sharp increase in its profits in the first half of the year by charging its four million UK customers on average £200 more for their annual dual fuel bill than they did in January last year.

    The average yearly dual fuel bill now clocks in at £1,261, 55% higher than the £813 customers paid in early 2008.

    Reading through the following tips could help you to reduce your energy bill:

    • Unplug appliances you rarely use, such as spare refrigerators. Likewise, keep chargers for things like phones and cameras unplugged until you need them.
    • Use power strips to fully switch off TVs and stereos when not in use. Even when you think these are off, their combined ‘standby’ consumption can equal that of a 75-100 watt light bulb running continuously.
    • Make sure you have enabled the ‘sleep’ mode on your laptop or computer. This means that less power is consumed during periods of inactivity.
    • Similarly, the ‘hibernate’ mode turns the computer off automatically after a certain time period of inactivity. Not only does this save energy, it also turns the computer off in such a way that you don’t have to reload everything when you switch it back on.
    • Turn your thermostat down by a couple of degrees this winter. A small change can make a huge difference to your energy bill each year.
    • Keeping blinds and curtains open on a sunny day, rather than relying on central heating, can save cash. Likewise, closing them at night can help to conserve natural warmth.

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  • 15Aug

    Time and money are two things that most people are lacking these days. So, how can you save money while going about your daily business in an efficient manner?

    Shop groceries online

    The internet has made life much easier for everyone. Online shopping is one of the best time and money-saving ideas, since you can get your groceries delivered to your door for little or no cost.

    By purchasing groceries online you will avoid temptations and stick to your main shopping list. In addition, online grocery sites are very well structured these days and consumers can easily navigate their options without the additional temptation of seeing everything in front of you.

    Take public transport

    With sky-high petrol prices and car insurance premiums, taking the car out on a daily basis is almost a luxury. If you need to commute every day, consider taking public transport instead. Not only will you save money, but also considerable time avoiding traffic jams.

    Look at the price per unit

    Whenever you purchase food or another countable product, make sure you look at the price per unit parameter if what you are looking for is getting more for less. Since you will obtain a higher amount for a specific good, this will also save you time because you will not need to visit the shop as often.

    Go for a run

    If your stretched bank account doesn’t allow you to keep fit at the gym, a good idea is to go for a run in roads or parks near you house. Running is free and also very hard work, which means that with just a 30 minute run you can burn as many calories as you would if you spent one hour in a gym class – and also save the actual time that it takes going to the gym.

    Buy food that does not require too much preparation

    Even if you stick to cheap deals, buying food every day in your lunch break can end up costing you a fortune -not to mention the trips to the food shop. Preparing your meal at home, in contrast, will help you save considerable time and money – not to mention the health factor.

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  • 06Aug

    A new report has revealed the top five favourite spots that Brits flock to when retiring abroad. If you are thinking about retiring in a foreign country, there are a few key points you should consider.

    According to a study that was recently published by the retirement income specialist MGM Advantage, the top five countries that Brits retire in are Spain, France, Australia, Ireland and Cyprus.

    “It is vital you seek professional financial advice well in advance of making the move. There are a number of firms who specialise in providing advice to expats, which could make the world of difference between the retirement of your dreams or an experience altogether more challenging,” said Andrew Tully, Pensions Technical Director at MGM Advantage.

    The following pieces of advice will help you to make the most of your retirement abroad;

    • Find out how much your state pension will be. You can check that online in sites such as www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/StatePension/StatePensionforecast/DG_10014008 
    • Get information about the reciprocal agreements in the country you are planning to retire to, as well as information about your welfare rights. “If the country you’re retiring to has a reciprocal agreement in place with the UK then the UK state pension will be paid and increased as normal.   However where there is no agreement in place, and that includes Australia and Canada, your state pension will be frozen and won’t increase,” pointed Tully.
    • Find out whether you may have UK tax liability by asking the HM Revenue and Customs for information.
    • Arrange your electoral register so they can forward it to you via post.
    • Make sure you can benefit from healthcare services in your destination of choice by researching their system thoroughly. The same comment applies to living costs and utility bills, the more information you have will help you to steer clear of any nasty surprises down the line.

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  • 19Apr

    As recent study from Confused.com showed that a quarter of men in the UK never shop around to compare and find the best deals. Consequently, men end up paying more for the same services in comparison to female shoppers. How can you buy more for less?

    1. Shopping list – writing down a list of what you need to buy before you set off will help you to focus on the essentials – and therefore, to avoid overspending.
    2. Set a budget – as well as planning what you are going to purchase, it is also helpful to set a budget so you don’t end up spending more than planned.
    3. Shop in the right time – make sure you are not in a hurry or hungry when you go shopping. By shopping in a rush it is more likely that you will forget the essentials, whereas shopping while hungry may encourage you to buy more than you need.
    4. Get a second opinion – when you are shopping for expensive goods or products you are unfamiliar with, make sure you take a friend with you for a valuable second opinion.
    5. Too good to be true? – If you find a bargain, be cautious and check out what the full terms and conditions are. A good idea is to make sure you are you gauge customer service, customer satisfaction and general standards of reliability.
    6. Get it free – take advantage of voucher codes, special offers, free gifts and cashback offers. Similarly, you might find lots of interesting deals by shopping online. Consciously search for good deals and you will see how much you are able to save.
    7. Shop around – last but not least, here is the top tip: shop around. The more you research and compare products and services, the more likely you will be to end up purchasing a good deal.

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  • 13Apr

    Together with fuel prices rises, rising car insurance costs are among the top reason why the finances of many British drivers have been squeezed. Young motorists are also subjected to the most sky-high insurance policies; but bringing your motoring costs down is possible if you know how.

    Secure your car

    The more security devices your vehicle has, the less your insurance is likely to cost. Make sure your car has an alarm and an immobiliser, insurers like vehicles that are not likely to be stolen.

    Contract your policy online

    These days, many companies are offering many benefits to customers who decide to buy their services online. That makes the work easier for the insurer, and could work out much cheaper for you too.

    How are you paying your insurance?

    As well as bringing your insurance costs down by buying your policy online, certain payment methods might come with a discount too. For instance, customers paying per month instead of per year might end up paying an additional APR for the same policy.

    Stick to a small engine

    Bear this in mind; cars with powerful engine are more expensive to insure. The more capable your engine is of achieving high speeds, the more probable it is for that vehicle to have an accident – at least in the eyes of an car insurance company. Therefore, stick to an average engine if you want to keep your car costs down.

    No extras

    Fitting extra features to your car, such as big spoilers, wide tyres, alloy rims or a turbo-charged engine will do nothing but increase your car insurance premium. Therefore, think twice if you want to modify your vehicle.

    Accurate mileage

    The number of miles you drive every year or, in other words, the amount of time you use your car, is a key concern for insurers. If you hardly take to the road with your car, make sure your motor insurance provider is aware of this – otherwise, you might end up overpaying for your premiums.

    Insurance is important, because otherwise you may find yourself needing to rely on pay day loans to sort out replacing the car in an emergency.

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  • 19Mar

    According to new research by Money Advice Service, 61% of parents in the UK spend £1,000 more than initially expected when a new born baby arrives. A shocking 22% of them, however, spend between £1,000 and £5,000 in unexpected extra costs.

    Putting your finances under control is essential when you get a new addition to your family. The following tips could help you to save money and help you avoid overspending on your new baby.

    Baby Costs Calculator

    Aiming to help UK parents get a clear idea of the costs involved when having a baby, the Money Advice Service has launched the Baby Costs Calculator. “As well as advice on essential costs, our simple new tool contains a range of other useful resources to help parents make the most of their money during this exciting but sometimes stressful time in their lives,” said Sarah Smith, consumer expert at the Money Advice Service. 

    Nappies 

    Parents will need to spend money on this for at least two years, so saving money on these items is essential. Take advantage of your baby shower by asking all the attendees to bring baby nappies with them, which will provide you with a great store that could last for some months. 

    Buying nappies in bulk is another way of saving money, while using cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies whenever possible, will also keep spending in this area to a minimum. 

    Recycle and reuse baby equipment 

    Babies grow very quickly. This means that what you buy today will be out of use in five months time. Therefore, reuse items from other mums or buy second hand articles such as a pram or a crib. This way you will get items that are “brand-new” for a fraction of the price.

    Avoid expensive brands 

    Buying expensive brands for a baby only leads to unnecessary spending. Buying expensive baby clothes, for instance, will end up being a waste because your child will be only able to wear them for a few months. Purchasing an outfit which is slightly above your baby’s growth stage, will mean that it will last for longer. 

    If you need further financial help for the arrival of your baby, a same day payday loan could help. 

    Related articles: Tips for saving money when bringing up children.

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  • 14Feb

    With eight million Brits missing payments last year, it is becoming even more important for customers to clean their credit score. Credit card bills were the most common missed payment last year, followed by council tax bills.

    As recent research by Moneysupermarket.com found, one in six people missed at least one payment bill during the 2011, the leading comparative site gave British consumers relevant advice on how to improve their credit score and boost their chances of getting credit. Here are the best tips;

    Are you in the Electoral Roll? Signing up to the Electoral Roll is probably the quickest way to improve your credit score. Many companies use the Electoral Roll to fight identity fraud, so make sure you’re registered on the Electoral Roll at your current address, or your application will be declined even if your credit record is clean.

    Pay off your debts before applying – It is unlike lenders to give you money if they see that you already have debts to be paid off. If you are struggling to pay your debts in time, change your repayment schedule – it is preferable to defaulting. Additionally, cancel any unused credit cards and accounts to cut down the amount of credit (and debt) you access.

    Have a credit history in place – As much as lenders won’t trust customers with outstanding debts, they are also unlikely to trust customers without a history of borrowing. That is principally because lenders cannot see how you behaved in the past in terms of repaying your debts and, therefore, they cannot judge your repayment track record.

    Double check what credit reference agencies say about you – In order to make sure your personal information given by credit reference agencies is correct, ensure that the data those agencies have is accurate and correct. Having more than one address in your history can be costly, as well as being ‘financially-linked’ to someone with credit problems.

    5 tips to improve your credit score

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  • 31Jan

    Petrol prices have almost doubled in only 11 years and the current costs are set to rise further. Paying less for petrol might be unavoidable, but spending less on fuel is perfectly achievable.

    A new survey published by Hastings Direct has found that one in three UK motorists have considered switching to a Hybrid or Electric as their next vehicle and one in five have even thought about simply not having a car anymore if petrol prices hit £2 per litre.

    Many Brits are using their car less and less, but if there are situations in which you have to use the car, there are ways to reduce your fuel consumption;

    Keep going – It takes much more fuel to get a vehicle moving initially than it does to keep it moving. Therefore, in certain situations such as traffic jams, try to move at a slow pace rather than speeding up and stopping again after a few metres.

    Air conditioner savvy – Using your A/C at lower speeds will make you increase your petrol consumption, whereas using it at higher speeds will actually be more energy efficient considering the wind resistance from open windows at fast speed. Next time you want to cool your car down, think about whether it is better to open the windows or turn the A/C on. It all depends on the speed…

    Tyre pressure – Again, your car conditions affect your fuel consumption. For instance, under-inflated tyres have more rolling resistance, and this means that the engine will need to burn more gas to keep the car moving. Buy a reliable tyre gauge and check your tyres once a month.

    Speed down – The faster you drive, the more fuel is burned. By decreasing your speed you will realise how your fuel economy increases exponentially.

    Dirty air filter – When your air filter is not clean enough, it may affect your overall car performance, increasing the fuel consumption. To check whether it is dirty, take it and hold it up to the sun. When you can’t see the sunlight coming through, it means it is time to change it.

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  • 27Jan

    Young Brits are increasingly viewing the “culture of debt” as a normal part of their student life. However, there are always good ways to save some money.

    Data released by money education charity Credit Action has published new figures regarding the financial status of today’s university students;

    • Almost two thirds (65%) of youngsters planning to apply to university said they were concerned about their ability to manage and cope with money and finances at university. 
    • Almost half of them (46%) admitted they have never had discussions with parents or relatives about personal finance and 27% had never received any form of financial education. 
    • Consequently, 27% of respondents mentioned financial issues something which was putting them off the idea of university and only 10% spontaneously cited “getting into debt” as a fear. 

    Saving money tips 

    Pay off your student loan ASAP; the interest that you will have to pay from your student loan (between 5 to 6% interest rate) will cost you more than whatever money you aim to save. Therefore, prioritise the repayment of your student loan and try to pay off big chunks of it if possible. That will represent fewer months of paying expensive interest payments. 

    Save one third of your income; although prices are rising and incomes are freezing, financial experts say that saving up to a third of your income is the ideal goal. Despite the fact that doing that will not always be possible, it is something you should aim for whenever you have a more stable financial life. 

    Don’t wait too long to invest in your future; waiting for a healthy economic situation is something that could take decades – there is always something that will make you spend extra money. Because of this, start investing in your future now by setting up a retirement account. You can start adding only 2% of your income and increase the amount in the future when you enjoy more financial freedom. 

    Tips to set up an emergency fund 

    Save money on food

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