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7 life hacks that’ll save you some serious money

Money – however much you’ve got, it would always be useful to have a little more.

For many people, that means working harder, putting in longer hours – or even having a second job to bolster your income.

But, before you go making life more difficult and sacrificing more sleep – you should consider whether or not you can save money in any aspect of life. The result is the same – more money in your pocket – although when you’re saving, it’s generally a lot less hard work…

We’ll take you through 7 financial life hacks that’ll make sure your money stays in your pocket.

  1. Consolidating loans

Sometimes, the financially simpler option is the key to saving a lot of money.

If you’ve got a lot of lines of credit currently open, consolidating them into one place can do wonders for the amount of interest you pay. Generally, companies who lend smaller sums charge higher levels of interest – so, putting these smaller sums together can bring the interest rate you’re paying down significantly.

Talk to your bank or a loan provider about products that might fit your need – and if you’d like to know more, the website Face the Red has some great info in its article ‘How does consolidating loans work?’

  1. Buy clothes in the wrong season

There’s a huge amount of money to be saved if you’re willing to buy your clothes and keep them in your wardrobe for a few months.

Last year, retailer H&M sold winter coats with discounts of up to 90% when spring came around and temperatures started to rise – and other retailers do exactly the same each time seasons alter. The key is knowing when sales are about to begin – and jumping on the opportunity.

To stay on top – follow your favourite shops and brands on social media, pounce when the sales begin – and feel smug and better off when next summer comes around!

  1. Ask for discounts

As a nation we’re extremely polite – and while we might make a lower offer if we’re buying a car or a house, we tend to save haggling for those big-ticket items.

We’re here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case – a small fortune can be saved if you’re willing to ask for a discount in your favourite stores. Be bold, ask to talk to managers for the best discounts – and offer bribes! A letter to a company’s head office or a glowing review on social media is probably worth more to the outlet than the 10% discount they’ve agreed to give you.

  1. Clear your saved card details

Here’s a tech hack that’ll save you a small fortune.

Isn’t it great that companies save our card details so we don’t have to go to the trouble of re-entering them every time we want to make a purchase with them?

Here’s a reality pill. The only reason a website saves your card details is to make it easier for you to spend money with them. Physically reaching into your purse or wallet puts a small barrier in the way between browsing and checking-out.

Use your browser’s settings options to clear your card details – that way, you’ll have to go to some effort to buy your chosen item – and sometimes, a few more seconds is all you need to ask yourself if you really need what you’re spending on…

  1. Use real money

Credit and debit cards make money quite an abstract concept.

Rather than having a pocket full of change or some notes in your wallet – money is just a series of numbers on a screen, never actually passing through your hand. This makes it very easy to spend – as there’s no emotional connection to numbers on a screen – while there is to a fifty or a twenty that’s in your hand!

Experts suggest withdrawing a day, week or month’s worth of money and actually dealing with it in real coins and notes. Studies show that when we do, we’re far less likely to ‘break into’ those bigger notes for the series of smaller transactions we can often mindlessly make.

  1. Stand up for your rights

Consumer groups report that throughout 2017, customers have been due billions in refunds that they never pursued.

Modern retail is geared towards items being more disposable – lower cost stores often trade on the basis that if something is cheap enough, people will either settle for a lower quality or they’ll neglect to bring it back should it fail in some way.

Sadly for our bank balances – they’re right. We’re more likely to throw away a cheap pair of jeans when they split than we are to take them back.

In reality, consumer law states that any item bought has to be ‘fit for purpose’ – so, if your t-shirt shrinks, your Bluetooth speaker sounds distorted or you’re a child’s toy doesn’t stand up to normal levels of play – you’ve got a legitimate right to return it and ask for a new one.

If you face any resistance, ask a shop to define what ‘normal use’ is for the product that’s failed – and don’t be afraid to take your complaint to the next level if you’re not getting the help you deserve.

  1. Think about savings differently

This next hack is more of a ‘brain hack’ than a financial one!

Saving money is great. Statistics show that around 75% of us will have some large, unexpected outgoing that we’re not expecting every year – and unless you’re going to get expensive credit to facilitate finding your way out of that issue – you’re going to need some savings to fall back on.

For many people, ‘saving’ is what’s done with money that’s left at the end of the month. Well, I’m here to tell you – that attitude doesn’t work – especially because most of us report having nothing left in the days the come before payday!

Instead, you need to start looking at saving as a monthly outgoing. When you’re paid, allocate a small amount to be transferred into a savings account.

That’s right – we said ‘a small amount’. If you’re planning on suddenly putting away half your salary – it’s just not going to be sustainable. The very best saving is done with a ‘constant drip’ attitude – small amounts that add up over the long term. Reframe your thoughts on saving – and you’ll start to see the money stacking up.

Should Gold Be Part of My Retirement Savings

There are many ways of saving for the future and many will have differing portfolios when it comes to maximizing their savings and assets. For example, some people may have bonds and shares that they rely on, whereas others could have a portfolio of properties. While precious metals such as gold are renowned for their high value, many may not consider the prospect of using gold to secure their future, but is it a worthwhile planning retirement savings with gold?

Like any investment, there is no certainty that the value is as we would like it to be, as there can be many can be many differing factors that dictate the overall value. However, it is worth pointing out that gold has always been high-value and sought after. What’s more, gold is also a rare precious metal, so it’s often the case that gold can be a good investment.  However, this doesn’t mean that you should simply go out and purchase a series of precious metals. It’s about reviewing your current status, and deterring as to whether the investment in gold would be a worthwhile venture for yourself.

Why Even Consider Gold?

While it’s evident that gold if high-value and much sought-after, there are also times when it’s dipped in popularity. Many may ask themselves why they would include gold as part of their retirement savings, when they already have a solid retirement plan in place.

As well as gold being valuable, it also operates in a different way, and is generally a good way to combat inflation. Many people will have a portfolio that consists of property or simply savings. The US dollar is a currency that has taken a fair few hits when it comes to value, and as such assets can take a dip, meaning that many have seen the value of their portfolio decrease in value.

However, as inflation grows, so does the value of gold, which means that you effectively have a contingency plan in place should another aspect of your portfolio lose value.

How Do I Add Gold to My Retirement Plan?

Investing in gold can be a slow process unless you have the capital to hit the ground running. It is often the case that many will already be in receipt of a 401(k) Retirement Plan. Those who invest in a Gold IRA are often required to carry out a rollover, which means transferring assets from one plan to another. How this is operated on your behalf can depend on a few factors, but it makes sense to seek the assistance of a professional before altering any aspect of your current portfolio. A great resource for any information regarding the process is mineweb.net. You need a reputable company that will make sure the transfer is done according to the IRS rules.

What Are the Requirements of a Gold IRA?

Like many investments, a Gold IRA must be carried out in a manner that satisfies the rules and regulations of the IRS. As such, it is often the case that precious metals must be stored with a custodian.

Although the custodian is effectively responsible for storing the gold, it’s normal for them to offer other services, such as settlements and account administration.

How Does Gold Differ to Currency?

Many would ask the question of why they should invest in gold if they already have an Individual Retirement Account that appears to be strong. While there is no requirement to invest in gold, it can be seen as a savvy way of diversifying your portfolio to fight back against devaluing of the US dollar.

But why is gold so different? The US Dollar only has value when economic times are at their peak. Many countries have seen much success when its currency is used during healthy economic times, only to feel the pinch when times become a little harder. In effect, more money must be printed which in turn means that the value overall is much less.

Gold on the other hand has always been a valuable commodity. While it’s true there have been highs and lows when it comes to its value, it has always been a consistent repellent against inflation. The reason that gold is so desirable is due to a few factors. Gold is used in a lot of technology, due to its resilient form.

Gold is also yearned after within the jewelry and fashion industry, who use it to carve high-end aesthetically pleasing pieces. To summarize, gold a precious metal that is sought after by many, meaning that its value rarely offer devalues as much as paper-based currency.

Should I Plan All My Retirement Savings with Gold?

Unfortunately, there is no generic answer for this question. You simply must go with what works for you. Some people choose to convert all their paper-based assets into that of gold, and see a great reward for doing so, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that this the right path for you.

Your first port-of-call should be to speak to potential custodians, and then read their feedback and reviews. From here, you will be able to determine as to who the best provider is.

6 Life Hacks for Students to Make Money

Finding yourself constantly asking for money? We understand what a student budget can be like. Living in Birmingham University Accommodation, bills and the like can become quite expensive, which is why we want to show you 5 different and tremendously easy ways for you to make money.

1.      Sell Old University Books

That’s right, you can make your money back from those previous academic and university books that you don’t want anymore! Believe it or not, you can get yourself a quite a bit of money fetching upwards of about £50.

Both Amazon and eBay are a fantastic option for selling your books (and any other unwanted items). Sadly, you do have to pay for the fees and postage that comes along with selling on these websites.

Another brilliant way you can sell your University books is with this site called The Book Pond, where you can become connected with other students who are in need of these books. Attracted buyers will get in talks with you after they’ve seen your post about the books are how much you want from them. Lastly, another great advantage is the fact that there is no fees or postage to pay!

Another handy app is called Shpock, a ‘boot sale’ app where you can advertise and sell for free to people in your area. People also use this app to sell clothes and other items, so if you want to have a bit of a clear out, you can sell more than just your old books!

However, the easiest way to flog your fiction of course is to simply sell your books to friends or family: perhaps you have a family member who just started University and who could use some books, or know some students in the year below who will need your books next year. Give them a discount and it’s a win-win!

2.      Make and sell your own custom T-shirts

Zazzle is a super simple site to use, it allows you to create your own custom T-shirt designs for other people to buy. As long as you come up with the idea, Zazzle will do all the hard tasks for you from shipping to printing and collecting money.

3.      Sell photos

Got a good camera? Into photography and have some neat holiday pictures? Got some worthy snaps that could make it into a news headline? All you need to do is upload your photos to image stock sites – then sit back, relax and wait for the money to come flying on in. Anyone that uses your photos will have to pay you a fee.

Some examples of stock imaging websites including Shutterstock and Fotolia. For a news site where you can send in your news stories or photos, try Cavendish Press.

4.      FREE Lottery!

The Free Postcode Lottery is exactly what it says on the tin. How can you not resist a FREE lottery! A winner is selected everyday – yes, the prize may be ‘only’ £100, however if it is not claimed it rolls on over to the next day. Enter for free now and test your luck over at Free Postcode Lottery’s site.

5.      Make money from your parking space

You heard that right – you can get your parking space at home rented out by other people on websites such as Your Parking Space and Just Park. You can make the amount you want to charge the exact amount you want; the best parking places can make up to £100 a day! However, the location of your parking space is what will give it value – a few examples might be living in a large city or near major attractions, such as stadiums, tourist landmarks, arenas or train/tube stations.

Even if you don’t have a free parking space to sell, these sites are also great for if you just want to see the cheapest options available to park when visiting built up areas.

6.      Teach your subject

All that knowledge you’ve accumulated over your GCSE’s and A Levels is worth more than just your ticket to your dream degree – it’s worth money! Working a private tutor is both flexible and well-paid, and you can use simple sites like First Tutors to register and get local applicants for free.

Alternatively, if you’re already doing great on your degree, you can tutor others on the same degree (either in your year, or most likely a year or two below) and give them guidance on how to study and pass the exams you did with flying colours. Most tutors charge around £15 per hour but if your subject is more difficult you could charge up to £20 or £25.

7.      Manage social media for local businesses

Most students tend to be pretty savvy with social media, and believe it or not, companies will pay you to post on their behalf! Small, local businesses often don’t have the time to invest heavily in social media, so pop into some of your local high street businesses with a pitch and CV, or get in touch with some businesses from home.

You can charge anything from £100-£500 per month for the full service or charge per post, and plan all the posts in advance with social media scheduling websites such as Hootsuite, Retortal, Buffer and more. A few hours work that you can do in your jammies too! What more could you ask for?

We do hope you try out at least one of these life hacks, and that they help you earn a little bit of spare cash! If you know anyone who could benefit from trying out some of these ideas, do share it and tag them, and if you liked what you saw here, you’ll love our cheap rates on our Student Accommodation if you’re a Birmingham student.

If you found these life hacks useful then please do let us know via our Twitter or Facebook on what you’d like to learn more about, or what you found most interesting!

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.

Also Read: 10 Ways To Save Money While On Holiday

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?

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.

 

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.

Also Read: 10 Budgeting Tips For Low Income Families 

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD_8u_xLiIQ

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!