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How to Save Up

All of us dream of saving enough money to accomplish something we have always wanted. Some of us dream of going on a holiday cruise abroad. Some want to get that dream house they have always wanted. Some dream of living a life comfort in their twilight years.

Whatever your goal is, saving money is often easier said than done. This article seeks to give you some concrete advice to help you save money.

Set a Goal

First things first, you need to have a concrete number in mind. This will serve as your target, your goal. This is actually a crucial step as it will give you something to strive for. Otherwise, your dream vacation will only remain in your dreams.

Check Your Finances

You need to rein in all financial documents in your possession. This is vital so that you can have a concrete idea on the state of your finances. It will also give you a timeframe for your financial goals.

Make a Budget

Now that you know where you stand, it is now a matter of planning how to get to your goals. Making a budget is simple enough – juxtapose your income flow.

10 Clever Tips to Help You Save Money While Travelling

10 Clever Tips to Help You Save Money While Travelling

Traveling is the kind of thing that pays dividends at all stages of life. It helps us get out of ourselves and brings our life and our world into clearer focus. If there’s a downside to traveling though it’s the cost.

With many people spending so much when the travel it often leads to debt problems with many people becoming ill with stress. This article is a really good example and shares 7 ways debt can make you sick. 

If you’re like most people every expense on your trip is either coming out of your savings or will have to be paid for at a later date when the credit card bills come in. Because of this enterprising travellers are always looking for ways to cut costs and below we’ve compiled a list of 10 clever ways to do just that and bring the cost of traveling back down to earth.

Traveling Doesn’t Have to be a Financial Ball and Chain

While there’s virtually no way to completely eliminate the cost of traveling there are ways the average traveller can reduce the cost by thinking outside the box and keeping their eyes and ears peeled for opportunities. Here are 10 travel hacks you can use to cut your costs while on the road or in the air.

Choose Affordable Destinations – If you’re determined to go to the world’s most expensive cities, good luck. You might find a deal here and there but you’re going to pay a premium on most things. Instead, take some time to investigate those corners of the map you normally pass over. Thailand is a favourite destination of budget travellers and so is India. What about Peru? Machu Picchu has to be seen to be believed.

Travel During Off Months – Every country has a high season for travellers. During this time of year prices on everything from hotels to restaurants to museums and more will be as much as 50% higher than the rest of the year. Arranging your holiday for times just outside the parameters of the high season can wind up saving you bunches of money and chances are the weather won’t be significantly different than it is during the peak tourist times.

Explore Alternatives to Hotels – The internet has created an entire subgenre of the hospitality industry that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago. People the world over are opening their homes to travellers through services like HomeAway, Airbnb and Roomorama. If you’re truly the adventurous type you can use a hospitality exchange which sets you up with someone willing to let you stay on their couch for free with the expectation that one day you’ll return the favour. If none of that appeals to you the world is still fairly crawling with hostels.

Use Budget Airlines – The best known airlines can charge more because they have an established reputation for getting you from here to there safely and in relative comfort. People like predictability so they’re willing to pay more to fly these airlines. Low cost start-up carriers have no such reputation however. They just want to put butts in seats and are willing to offer deep discounts to do that. You can save hundreds of dollars on your flights by eschewing the big boys and flying with the unknowns.

Eat In – If you arranged your accommodations through Airbnb or some such service or you’re staying in a hostel there’s a good chance there will be a kitchen. Use it. You can save significant amounts of money by cooking your own meals whenever possible while on the road. Even if you’re in a hotel somewhere you can still save big by hitting up the local supermarket for salads and sandwich making materials and keeping them in the fridge in your room.

Eat Local – If you must eat out avoid tourist areas like the plague. Prices will be on average 25 to 50 percent more in these areas. Instead go off the beaten track and find where the locals eat. Even in the most popular tourist destinations like Paris you can find affordable meals if you veer from the Montmartre/Notre Dame/Eiffel Tower axis and explore the back streets. You’re also liable to discover hidden cultural gems on your way that you would never have seen if you’d stayed with the herd.

Take the Bus – Or the songtaew or the subway or just walk. Sure, it’s not glamorous but there’s typically no better way to get a feel for a location then by traveling the way the locals do. You’ll also save a ton of money as opposed to taking taxis or private coaches. Like seeking out local eateries this will challenge your communication skills and may be a bit nerve wracking at first, you’ll wind up with a much more comprehensive understanding of your locale and save a bundle in the process.

Free Museum Days! – The standard admission price to the Louvre is €15. However if you are under 26 you can get in free every Friday after 6 pm. On other days they offer free admission to a variety of visitors ranging from art students and teachers to those under 18. Most major museums in other cities offer similar perks so it just doesn’t make sense to show up during peak hours and pay the entrance fee without first investigating whether you actually have to.

Call Home with Skype – Are you still paying to call home while you travel? Why, when you can call anywhere for free using Skype? Sound too good to be true? Well it’s not. As long as both you and the person you call have Skype installed on their mobile phone/PC/laptop/iPad or whatever you’ll be able to talk to your heart’s content for nothing. Nada. Zippo. What could be better?

Use Credit Cards That Don’t Charge Foreign Transaction Fees – Not every card slaps you with big fees when you use them overseas. Do some homework and find a financial institution that offers cards with free foreign transactions and secure one before traveling.

Traveling doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. Put these handy tips to use while traveling and you’ll see more for less and have a more fulfilling experience to boot.

Bailiffs & Debt Collectors: What are Your Rights?

Bailiffs & Debt Collectors: What are Your Rights?

If you have built up debt over the years then you are likely to feel anxious about making payments on time. The main reason for this is that you will know if you fall behind on your payments then the bailiffs or debt collection companies may become involved.

These companies are organised by a creditor in order to recover debt from you. They seem to have a negative reputation, and seeing as they are often involved as a money recovery tool, this is understandable.

If you are struggling to make repayments the you may also want to consider an IVA or a Trust Deed if you live in Scotland. This article provides some great advice “How To Help Yourself If You Cant Afford To Pay The Bills. 

Worried that a bailiff or debt collector may become involved in your debt? Want to know more about your rights and the process to expect? Here is our helpful guide to understand more about what they may mean for you.

When may a bailiff come to your home?

There is a big difference between debt collectors and bailiffs. Debt collectors are sent to your home in order to enquire about your payment plans for a source of debt, however you do not have to let them into the property, and they are unable to take anything from your home.

A bailiff on the other hand is employed by the court as a form of debt collection. They are often involved in cases such as county court judgments, child maintenance arrears, unpaid tax or parking fines. A bailiff will visit your home only when you have received a final demand from the creditor in question, and you have been given a 7 day notice that they will be coming.

Do you have to let them in?

This is a common question that is asked regarding bailiffs. The answer is that you don’t have to let them into your property, however, you should be prepared for them to use forceful entry in some circumstances.

Forceful entry does not mean that they can push past you, or break your windows in order to get into your home. But they can break a door lock or remove a gate lock if they have been given the right of entry.

A bailiff is restricted on the time that they can gain access to your property, and they are only allowed to use regular entrances, which means that they cannot get in through open windows.

There is a bailiff on my doorstep, what can I do?

The first thing that you should make sure you do is ascertain whether they are indeed bailiffs or if they are debt collectors. This can be done by asking for their ID and proof of authorisation. You will also need to have had notice that they would be coming to the property.

It may be advisable not to open the door to them until you are definitely sure of their identity. If you need to open the door in order to speak to them or see their ID, then you should try to block their entrance as much as you can. Although, this may cause some tension in the situation, so always be respectful in what you are saying and the way that you are presenting yourself.

Bailiffs want to recover the money that is owed, and removal or property is always a last resort, therefore if you can work out a payment plan with them, then this is always going to be the preferred choice. Often, they will require a payment there and then. If you can do this then you should always make sure that they give you a receipt to prove that you made the payment, the rest of the money will then be paid directly to the creditor, and you will need to cover any charges made by the bailiff for their services.

If you cannot make a payment or agree on a payment plan, then the bailiffs are able to take your belongings. They can only take belongings that are owned by you and you need to be able to prove that they don’t belong to you rather than the other way round. They are not allowed to take items that you will need such as your white goods, clothes or any equipment that is related to your work.

Is there any way I can stop them from coming to my house?

As we have said, when a bailiff is coming to your property you will receive 7 days notice. It is important that you do not ignore this notice. The majority of creditors will want to resolve the issue as easily as quickly as possible, which means that you should speak to them about arranging a payment plan.

Explain your situation and come to an agreement on what you will be able to pay on a regular basis, this is the simplest way to prevent a visit from any bailiffs. However, you should remember that if you fall behind with any payments then you may find yourself expecting a visit from them again.

Finding out that the bailiffs are coming to your property can be worrying, but you need to remember that there are still things you can do in order to stop the process and ensure that you don’t have to lose your property. You won’t be able to bury your head in the sand and ignore the issue, but you can work with the creditor to come up with a solution that not only works for them, but is something that you can maintain for however long you need to keep up the payments.

 

What is an IVA? – All you need to know!

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What is an IVA? – All you need to know!

You may have heard the term ‘IVA’ used when people and companies talk about debt – but what is it? How would you go about getting one? And would it be the right solution for you?

What is it exactly?

IVA stands for ‘Individual Voluntary Agreement’ – it’s a legally binding agreement put into place by between an individual and companies they owe money to.

What does it do?

Essentially an IVA (Individual Voluntary Agreement) takes into consideration all the unsecured debt that a person owes and packages it together into one large sum. The person is supported to calculate exactly how much they can afford to pay toward that sum each month and an agreement is put into place to ensure this payment is made. Payments will normally be made for 5 years and when the final payment is made, any outstanding money is written off and you are debt free.

Who can get one?

If you think an IVA might be the right solution the first step is to talk to a professional company experienced in supporting people through the process. You will work with that company to assess your current financial situation and an affordable monthly repayment amount will be decided upon. When that’s been done, your creditors will be contacted and this monthly amount will be proposed – they can either be in favour of the agreement or against it.

What happens if they say no?

Often it doesn’t matter, the company or companies to which you owe the largest proportion of the money get the final say, so if most agree, the others are bound by the agreement anyway. Creditors often welcome an IVA, for them it means a repayment of at least some of the debt, which is often preferable to chasing an individual over a large period of time with no certainty that they will be able to recover their money.

So I just pay a set amount?

To begin with an amount is agreed upon based on your current financial position – but this can change. Part of the reason creditors agree to an IVA relates to the fact it’s based on affordability, so if you can afford a little more, the payment might increase – although it’s not just creditors that are protected, if your financial circumstances change and you can no longer afford the payment then it can be reduced.

Who puts an IVA in place?

An Insolvency Practitioner (often referred to as an IP) assesses your finances and draws up the legal agreement between yourself and the companies you owe money to. As professionals, IPs are trusted to do this fairly and impartially. When in place they oversee the agreement, making sure an affordable amount of money is being repaid and ensuring that creditors stick to the terms – which includes not adding any additional charges or interest.

Why do people choose an IVA?

No more calls: The IP deals with the creditors so you don’t have to.

Your house is safe: Court action is stopped, if you’re a homeowner this means your house is no longer at risk.

No more charges: When an amount is agreed by a creditor that’s it, they cannot add further charges or interest.

Agreed amount: You make the payment you can afford, not more.

Agreed timescales: Your agreement runs for the time agreed (normally 5 years) – after that your debt is gone.

Continuing to struggle with out-of-control debts might feel like it’s the only option or the right thing to do – but it could be leading you toward a far worse situation; including bankruptcy or repossession of your home. If you think an IVA could be the right path for you speaking to a professional could lift an enormous weight from your shoulders and protect.

 

Making A Personal Budget

In order to properly manage one’s finances, it is crucial that each individual crafts his or her own personal budget. It is probably one of the most useful financial tools out there. Luckily, making a budget is easy enough that anyone can do it.

Budgeting is also one of the best ways to keep yourself our of debt, we all like to spend our money and buy nice things, however sometimes this does lead us to spending more than we make. This is covered is a recent article called The Psychology of Debt which is also worth a read.

This article presents the simple steps you need to do to make a personalized budget.

Getting the Full Financial Picture

Before making the budget itself, you will first need to have a grasp on your financial situation. After all, your budget will serve as your financial blueprint. So, like with any plan, you will want your financial blueprint to be as accurate as possible.

Making the Budget

In order to make the budget itself, you will need to make a two-column table. One for your income flow, and one for all your expenses. Make sure that you deduct taxes from your income so that you get the actual amount.

This should be as detailed as possible. List down all your expenses, including food, rent, and utilities. By determining the amount of money coming in and going out, you will be able to determine expenditures you can trim or cut out altogether.

Do the budget regularly and make the necessary adjustments for every cycle. More importantly, follow it!