Better Money Management in Simple Steps

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Money is a pretty important of life. Most things we do involve money in some way so it’s strange that we don’t get taught very much about managing our money at school or college at all. This has led to a lot of people not really knowing how to take care of the financial side of life which leads to poor decisions, debts and quite a lot of regrets in many cases.

If you find dealing with your money more challenging than it perhaps should be, follow these simple steps to better money management and change that starting today:

Spend Less Than You Make

It’s a pretty basic point, but if you spend less of your money than you make every month, then you’ll always a have a surplus that you can put into savings, invest or simply just keep you from being tempted by loans and credit cards. The easiest way to consistently spend less than you make is by writing your own household budget and in order to do that, you’ll need to track your spending using an app, like the ones at https://uk.virginmoney.com/virgin/living/article/top-5-budgeting-apps.jsp spreadsheet or even pen and paper for a month to identify your spending trends. You may need to cut out a few extras that you don’t really need (gym membership, Sky TV, all of those posh coffees) but it will be worth it in the end.

Diversify Your Income Streams

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Having more than one source of income means that if you should, say, lose your job, you will still have something coming in to help keep you afloat. This doesn’t mean you need to get another job (unless you want to) but you could set up and monetise a blog, start your own online business or even rent out the spare room – anything you can do to increase your income will help.

Fix Your Credit Score

If you have a low credit score and you need to, for example, take out a mortgage, if you can get one, it will be at a much higher interest rate than someone with identical circumstances, but who has a better credit score, and that will mean that you have to spend more of your income on interest. So, if you want to be able to minimise the cost of big future expenses like that, visit http://repair.credit/best-credit-repair-companies/ and start sorting your credit score out today. It may take some time, but it will be worth it for the cheap credit you can access when it is vital that you do so.

Automate Your Finances

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If you want to avoid getting behind on your bills and getting penalised because of that, it makes sense to set up direct debits that will automatically pay the minimum in a timely manner. You might want to do the same for savings too because if you have a sum deposited into your savings account each payday, you won’t miss it nearly as much and you’ll be far less likely to spend it frivolously to boot.

It’s pretty easy really, isn’t it?

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Affordable Luxury: Get The Best Without Breaking The Bank!

Most of us love to own nice things, and when you spend a huge chunk of your life working it’s being able to have the things we want that can make it feel worthwhile. However the finer things in life do come at a cost, and even if you work hard many of us find that we can’t always afford the luxuries we want. Thankfully there are ways to bring down the prices- here are some ideas.

Property

When it comes to property, one of the best ways you can achieve luxury on a budget is to buy cheaply and renovate. Once you own your home you can make changes to it over time, a nice new kitchen, a new bathroom, built in wardrobes, luxurious fixtures and accessories. You can add an extension, a conservatory, build into the loft or down into the basement. This allows you to completely tailor your house and add luxury and style without having to have lots of money up front. When you buy a home that’s ‘move- in ready’ you will always pay a premium for it, if you go with something that needs work and have this done yourself it will almost always work out cheaper. Just use caution, have a survey done so you know exactly what needs doing and how much it will cost. Anything major, make sure you’re making a lower offer to compensate for this. When it comes to decorating your home, always check clearance stores. These have furniture that’s perfectly good but is just being discontinued by the supplier so it massively reduced. Here you can get huge discounts on the original RRP so are well worth checking out.

Cars

Our cars are much more than a method of transportation, a way to get from A to B. They’re a reflection of us and our personal style, which is why we’re all so precious about our vehicles. We wash them lovingly, we drive them with pride and we genuinely enjoy having them. If you want an upgrade but don’t think you can afford the high prices that come with luxury models, then you could be in for a surprise. Take brands like Porsche for example, while the top models and new cars can cost an eye watering amount- there are plenty that are much more affordable. Just be sure to give any vehicle you buy a thorough check, especially if it is a little older. You want something rust free, with good paintwork and a full service history. Check insurance prices on a comparison site like GoCompare too to make sure you’re not paying over the odds. Lots of older cars or less expensive models still look incredible but are far cheaper than you might think.

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Clothes

Clothes show off our style, they help us to express ourselves and can be a fun way to show personality. If you have a liking for designer gear but don’t have the budget to constantly splash out then how about checking in second hand stores? A good tip is to go to a wealthier area, as these people are more likely to give good quality designer items to charity. Using sales, vouchers and discounts is also useful- the sales after Christmas time are usually particularly generous. Save your money and check out these, chances are you can snag some items you want at bargain prices.

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How Debt Can Seriously Affect Your Life

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Warning! Debt can seriously affect your life! You probably don’t need us to tell you that, especially if you have already experienced debt in your life, but then again, you may be in need of a few reminders. You see, while you may be tempted to take out or a loan or credit card, whether it’s for the first time, or to add onto your other debts, you are going to feel the pain down the line.

How debt can affect your life

  • You will never have enough money to save for your life’s goals. Want to go away on holiday with the family? Thinking about buying a new car? Hope to have extra money to top up your pension fund? If you’re still paying your debts off for years to come, you can forget about some of your future aspirations.
  • You will feel sick! Not only through the stress and worry that comes with having the burden of debt, but in all those other ways stress can affect your health. Mentally, you may suffer from depression and heightened anxiety. Physically, you will feel aches and pains throughout your body, high blood-pressure, or be at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. Our advice if this is you now: see your doctor!
  • You won’t get a step on the property ladder. Assuming you’re still renting of course. Sadly, mortgage lenders take debt into account when you are trying to buy a house, so you will struggle to make the move from rented accommodation into a place to call your own.
  • You will get into more debt. Whether frivolous or not, you may get into the trap of paying off your current debts with another loan or credit card. Now, this is acceptable if you are consolidating your existing debts with one easier to pay loan or credit card (see best.creditcard), but you still need that resolve to get the new debt paid off quickly. Always check interest rates if you ever do consider replacing old debts with new; otherwise, you may end up in a worse position than you are already in.
  • Your assets are at risk. If you have put your car or house up as collateral for a loan, you may be in danger of losing them if you fail to make your monthly payments on time. Needless to say, this could be catastrophic, especially if you lose your home to the bank.
  • You will struggle to support your family. Being single is one thing, but if you have family to support, consider how your debt will affect them. You will struggle to feed and clothe them, as well as have the luxury of those things families do together, such as having holidays or having treat days indoors and out.

If you are in debt

If you are bogged down in debt, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are debt charities out there who will give you professional advice to help you manage your finances. As well as talking to them, start taking steps in all aspects of your life to improve your situation. Start budgeting, try to make savings, and stop squandering your money on anything that isn’t essential. Help is available to you, but you do need to be responsible in managing your money.

Finally

Should you be one of the lucky few not in debt, consider our warnings, and continue to practice good money habits to steer you away from that awful pit. If you are in debt (and many of us are), do get the help you need and form good habits in the future to protect you from further harm. If you have any further advice for our readers, perhaps from your own experiences of debt or money-management, please let us know.

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Buying vs Leasing: The Pros And Cons

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When it comes to obtaining a brand new car, you have two major options; Buying and leasing. A few years ago, leasing was practically unheard of in the UK, but has become increasingly popular in recent years and is now considered one of the best ways of securing a new car. If you’re on the lookout for a car and want to think through your options, then take a look at the pros and cons below.

Buying A Car

Pro – It’s Your Car

When you buy a car, it is your car straight away. This means that, if you want to make any modifications to the car or customise it in any way, then you are allowed to do that. You can also drive your car as much as you like, as you don’t have to any mileage limits.

Pro – Payments Will End

Another great advantage of owning your car is that you won’t have to keep paying for it. Of course, you’ll still have to pay tax and insurance, but once you’ve paid off the loan for the car, the payments will end, and the car is yours completely.

Con – More Expensive

Unfortunately, while the payments may end eventually, while you have them, they are likely to be fairly high. The down payment will also be pretty pricey, which is why lots of people can’t afford to buy brand new cars. As your car gets older, you will also have to pay more for maintenance and repairs.

Con – Depreciates In Value

As it explains at whatcar.com, your car is going to massively depreciate the longer you own it. Of course, some cars depreciate less than others, and you can reduce the effects depreciation, but you are never going to sell your car for the price you bought it.

Leasing A Car

Pro – Lower Costs

When you lease a car from a company like IntelligentCarLeasing.com, you are pretty much guaranteed to spend less each month than you would do buying a car. You also rarely have to provide a down payment and don’t have to worry about depreciation, as car owners do.

Pro – Covered By Warranty

Another great thing about leasing is that you are usually covered by some sort of warranty for the entire duration of the lease, so you don’t have to pay out large amounts of money on repairs if your car has a mechanical problem.

Con – You Don’t Own It

The biggest downside of leasing a car is that it’s never really your car. Because of this, you have to stick to mileage limits and aren’t allowed to customise or modify your car in any way. You also have to give it back when the lease runs out, which you may not want to do.

Con – Payments Continue

Because the car isn’t yours, you are going to have to pay for it each month for as long as you have it. You will also have to pay fees for going over your mileage limit and for any damage that the car incurs, so leasing isn’t always as cheap as it appears to be.

When it comes to buying or leasing, there is no “better” option; It comes down to preference and circumstance. If you want to save money, but still want a new car, then leasing is probably better, but if you want to own your car and keep it for longer, then buying is the way to go.

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Turn Over a New Leaf and Change Your Financial Future: Five Easy Methods

If you haven’t been the best person to trust with your own money, and have gotten into trouble in the past, it might be time to start focusing on the future and stop dwelling on the past. In case you just consolidated all your finances and given yourself a fresh start, you will have to try and avoid making the same mistakes and making the right decisions. Below you will find a few ways to turn over a new leaf and improve your financial outlooks.

  1. Start Saving Today

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If you don’t have a saving account yet, you should start now. Most accounts can be opened with just one pound, so you don’t have to wait until you have a lot of money. Create clear saving goals for yourself and stick to them. For example, if you have taken on another job or started a new venture, pledge a fixed percentage to go into your saving account. If you are expecting additional money, save up at least half of it instead of spending it all at once.

  1. Reduce Your Repayments

If you have a mortgage or credit card, it might be time to get a better deal, so you have more left in the bank at the end of each month. Using comparison sites is free, and you can save hundreds of pounds on your electricity, mobile phone, and credit accounts. Compare mortgage deals and find a fixed rate offer that will help you manage your budget better long term.

  1. Downsize

Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest to make. If you want to change your life, you will need to make compromises. If your home is too big or too expensive, you can move on to a more affordable property. If you have a car that is far too big for you, or less economical than you want it to be, do yourself a favor and get a smaller one to save on insurance and taxes.

  1. Say Goodbye to Vanity

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One of the reasons people get into financial trouble is their vanity, and the need to impress others. They will engage in conspicuous consumption and buy things they cannot afford on credit. You need to learn to be patient, and stop seeking instant gratification. The more deposit you save up for your next car the less interest you will have to pay for the next few years.

  1. Make Smart Investments

To grow your net worth every year, you will need to learn how to make smart financial decisions. Study the market predictions and get in touch with a financial advisor if you need further guidance. Check out the ally invest reviews to find out more about the risks and potential returns of different investment plans. Be vigilant and don’t make emotional decisions.

To make your finances work for you, it might be time to get rid of the old habits that made you end up in trouble before. Learn more about investments and save up more, so you can afford what you really want without the guilt.

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The Top 5 Ways to Save For Your Dream Home

Whether it’s a new phone or new car that you’re saving up for, making a big purchase can be nerve-wracking, even for the savviest spenders. That’s certainly true when it comes to home buying; your house is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and, for many of us, it seems nearly impossible to save up for the down payment we need. While putting together a generous nest egg can seem like a pipe dream, there are some easy ways to accomplish it ever than you thought possible. If you want to purchase that dream home, start with these easy saving tips:

Use cash: While it can be easy to charge purchase after purchase on your credit card, only realizing how much you’ve racked up when you look at the bill, paying with cash can help lower your spending in no time. Before you leave the house for the day, put a pre-determined amount of cash in your wallet and leave your cards at home — you can’t spend what you don’t have on you, after all.

Set up automatic deposits: While it may feel painful to put cash in your savings account when there are so many fun things you could be buying with it, setting up automatic deposits can have you saving easily in no time. Simply set up a weekly automatic deposit from your bank account and you’ll accumulate a nice nest egg quickly — you won’t even miss the money.

Carpool to work: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American will spend nearly $2000 on gas this year. However, if you carpool to work even just a few days a week, you can cut that number down significantly, leaving you more money to use for the purchase of your perfect home.

Sign up for rewards programs: Save money every time you go shopping by signing up for in-store rewards programs. Those little keychain fobs they hand out at the grocery, beauty supply, or houseware store can save you serious money over time, often giving users access to special pricing and early sales. Just signing up could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to put toward your home.

Negotiate your bills: The amount your asked to pay on your bills is often more up to interpretation than you might imagine. For many bills, from cable to hospital bills, you can actually negotiate the price. In fact, many places that charge heavily for bills, like hospitals, will even offer you significant discounts if you pay them in full.

Owning your own home doesn’t have to be a fantasy. In fact, buying smart and starting early can save you tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Before you resign yourself to a life of renting forever, start saving and you might just be buying before you know it. Just a few dollars tucked away today can yield a healthy nest egg that will help you buy the home you’ve always wanted.

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Keeping Afloat During A Personal Financial Crisis

With troubled economic times, also comes rising personal debt, and if you feel like you are in a personal financial crisis, you are not alone. Australians have overtaken the citizens of Switzerland with household debts reaching astronomic figures. If you can feel your debt is starting to take control of your life, there are things that you can do to take matters into your own hands.

Learn To Balance Your Books

If you do not already, try starting a financial diary of all of your expenditures throughout the month. Make sure that you include everything that you pay out for, including your rent, food shopping, and car loans, right down to the pack of beers you bought to watch the game with at the weekend. It may just surprise you as to where a lot of your money goes, and it may also open your eyes as to where you could make some significant savings each month. The main reason that people get into debt is that they spend more each month than they earn, which is a lifestyle which is not sustainable. You will need to find areas of your finances that you can save money on, such as shopping at a cheaper grocery store, spend less on entertainment, or walk to the local shops for milk instead of taking the car. When you have reduced your outgoings, you will then need to learn how to manage your debts.

Getting Debt Advice

To be able to pay off all of your creditors it is going to require debt management on your part, and it is a good idea to speak to an expert for free, impartial advice on choosing how you will deal with your debt. You can contact the National Debt Helpline to get this information which can help you to make an informed decision on how to tackle your debt. One option that may be open to your is a consolidation loan.

Consolidating Your Debts

You may have the option to be able to consolidate all of your debts into one, which can save you money on interest payments in the long run. You will take out a loan which is enough to pay off all of your creditors, which will leave you with just one monthly payment to make. It can be suitable for a lot of people that are struggling with debt, but it is important that if you take out this type of loan that you make changes to your lifestyle to reflect the amount of money that you earn. Make sure that you always have something left over at the end of the month once all of your bills are paid, and put this into a savings account.

If you do not change your spending habits, then it will not be long until you are back in the same boat again, only this time you may have to look at different options such as bankruptcy! If you want to get rid of your debts that are hanging over your head, it can be done with a little tightening of the belt; you just need a little hard work and determination.

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How to Travel (Relatively) Luxuriously on the Cheap

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If you think champagne on the cheap sounds too good to be true, then, well – you’re probably right. Budget travel typically won’t involve nights at five star hotels or days at top quality spas, but there’s a lot you can do to get those occasional sensations of living the luxurious life, whether it be an affordable fine dining experience, a spa treatment at half price, or a few free hours inside VIP airport lounges.

Collect travel points and book online

This one’s a no-brainer. If you’re doing a lot of travel, then collecting points through a loyalty scheme can add up and result in extra perks or discounts. Check with airlines and accommodation chains for membership cards. Some airlines offer frequent flyers time in their exclusive airport lounges. Booking online in advance, as opposed to booking at ticket booths on the spot, can also save you money on all types of transport.

Travel during off-peak season

Everyone knows that summer is the most popular season for holiday travels. Kids are off school, the weather’s great and – as a result – airline tickets and hotel prices skyrocket. Choosing to travel off peak season is not only cheaper, it can make for a more relaxing experience as you’ll be surrounded with fewer tourists. Off-season holiday package deals (flights and accommodation inclusive) are heavily promoted by travel agencies during non-peak season and can offer great value for money.

Activities and Excursions

Before paying for activities such as water sports or city tours, check online for special offers and discount codes that could apply to your purchase. If you’re visiting a popular tourist destination, then chances are that you’ll find at least some applicable promotional codes or coupons online.

Nightlife

Often, the best bars are the exclusive, chic ones that tourists don’t yet know about. So how are you going to find them? Ask locals, of course! Try the Like A Local Guide for insider tips on the best, and most reasonably priced, places to hang. Next, if you haven’t downloaded one of the many apps that help you discover which local bars are offering Happy Hour – then get on that right away! Nightclubs typically allow free entry until late, so turn up early and avoid wasting $30 on admission. Keep in mind that casinos sometimes offer free drinks to customers – just don’t be tempted to join a poker table or your financial loss might outweigh the benefit of a getting a couple complimentary mojitos.

Events

Joining international globetrotting and expat communities such as Internations.org often gives you exclusive invites to international events. Sites such as Meetup.com will give you access to competitive prices on numerous parties and social events. If you’re lucky you’ll even find cost-free meet-up events on here, ranging from ‘yoga in the park’ groups to wine tasting tours. Best of all is how international expat sites help you build contacts and increase your chances of getting on guest lists.

Accommodation

Boutique hotels, being smaller and local, can often give you the same luxury experience as big brands but at a lower price and with a more authentic feeling. Booking sites typically let you sign up for price drop notifications, meaning you’ll get an email update as soon as any accommodation that you’ve got your eye on decreases in price. Apps such as HotelTonight show last-minute room rates at what can be 70% off the original price. This is a good method for finding cheap luxury accommodation providing you’re comfortable procrastinating until last minute. Alternatively, check for home exchanges on sites like AirBnB – you never know who might be renting out their luxury apartment just in time for your visit…

Dining

If possible, opt for fine dining lunch as opposed to fine dining dinner. Lunch menus are typically cheaper (even more so if you go for a set menu) so this is the best time to grab some fancy grub.

Saving money on luxury travel can make all the difference for a vagabond who could not otherwise afford the full price of glamorous accommodation, fancy events and Michelin star restaurants. Taking advantage of all these budget tips requires a great deal of planning, but is nonetheless necessary for most people who want to travel luxuriously in the long term.

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Tips For Saving Money On Fragrances

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Perfumes and fragrances are an almost essential part of your wardrobe, yet they are so expensive.  The good news is that your favourite fragrance doesn’t need to cost a fortune, if you are clever and shop with a keen eye.  To help you out, here are some great tips on how to save money on smelling great.

Shop For Fragrances Online

Trying to save money on fragrances at the local department store can be something of a hit and miss affair.  Shopping online however, makes it a lot easier to find big savings on all your favourite designers and brands.  There are even some sites that specialise in selling designer branded fragrances and perfumes at discount prices.

Shop For Fragrances At Wholesalers

Following on from the first tip, another great way to save money on smelling great is by shopping for wholesale freagrances.  It is not just wholesale clothing you can get at these specialist stores, and as you are getting the items at the same price many retailers would buy them before adding their own price on top, you know you will save something.  Check out ApparelCandy.com for more information/

Look Out For Sales And Coupons

Although, much like any other piece of clothing or accessories, perfumes do go on sale, you have to keep a close eye on stores and retailers to spot when these sales happen.  Valentine’s Day and Christmas are usually the periods of the year you are likely to see the biggest reductions on items such as perfumes.

Look Through Clearance Aisles

One of the best ways to save money on the fragrances you want is by looking through the Christmas items clearance aisles.  Depending on the shop you go to, you are likely to find some fragrances that didn’t sell well over Christmas at greatly reduced prices.

Invest In Bigger Bottles

If you are particularly fond of a fragrance and know it goes well with what you wear and how you look and your natural body odour and want to save money, it may be worth your while buying a bigger bottle of your usual fragrance.  Although it will cost a lot more money upfront, you will save in the long run as you will have a bigger bottle that will last longer and generally the per ounce or litre price is lower, the larger the bottle you buy.

Watch Out For Samplers

If however, you are still looking for that one scent to call your own, fragrance samplers are definitely the right option for you.  These are usually free, as they are meant to serve as introductions to particular scents, with the hope that once you like your sampler and it runs out you will pay the full price for a bottle

Consider Generic Perfumes

Have you ever seen those generic versions of designer fragrances that claim to smell just as good.  While it is true that a great number of these do not live up to their bold claims, if you look a round a little you will definitely find some that are as good as their more expensive counterparts.

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Everything you Need to Know about Estate Agents

Have you ever wondered what estate agents do, or considered a career as an Estate Agent? Well, estate agents take up the role of marketing and selling property on behalf of property owners. That is, they monitor the chain of buyers and sellers, liaise with the solicitor, negotiate with sellers and buyers as well as deal with all the paperwork.

Estate agents may also recommend to solicitors, surveyors as well as mortgage brokers to quick house buyers and sellers. Thus, you may talk to them even if you will not use their services. Unlike a popular misconception that estate agents double up as property valuers, this is not true. While some estate agents may give you a valuation of your property, the only valuation that is admissible by financial institutions is that done by professional surveyors.

Estate agents have a way of adding a positive spin on the description of properties, the same way a marketing expert may spin a title tag, or description of a website for seo purposes. This is a great way of selling property without offending clients. However, you need to be cautious because there is a degree of opinion involved in the description of the property.

Estate Agent Regulation

The definition of estate agents is solely the mandate of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Further, the Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 and the Estate Agents Act 1979 regulate the operations and conduct of estate agents.
Additionally, estate agents may also subscribe to certain bodies like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This is the principal body for UK property professionals dealing with commercial, residential as well as agricultural property. In fact, estate agents are legally required to belong to a redress scheme to trade as an agent. Consequently, agents who do not belong to any redress scheme as this governs agents.

Estate Agent Fees

When buying property, you are not required to pay estate agent fee. However, property sellers will pay between 0.75% and 3.5% of their property’s selling price in estate agent fees unless you are selling with a fast house sale agency. This can significantly have an impact on the amount that is due to you at the end of the transaction hence the need to consider negotiating for better rates. It is advisable that you check if the fee is inclusive of VAT, otherwise you may end up adding another 20% of the fee.

Overall, estate agents are an important link between property buyers and sellers. However, you need to understand that they may not always have your interests as heart as they are in business. Therefore, you will do well to research widely and understand the process so that you do not become a victim of estate agent traps.

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