20 December 2011

Want to Start Saving Money? Here are Some Tips!

Saving money is not fun or easy. But it is necessary, especially now that the economy doesn’t seem to be recovering any time soon. With the expense of Christmas hanging over many of us, the New Year is as good a time as any to start thing about your finances. Adding to your savings accounts is often simple; spend less money! It often means that you have to change some of your habits, which is the hardest part of all. Follow these tips to make a real difference to your outgoings!

1. Keep a note of all that you spend for a couple of weeks. Writing down every pound you spend, in cash, through direct debit, by card or credit card, will make you sharply aware of where all your money is going and even in itself stop you from spending.

2. Use the data you collect on your spending to identify your weak points. Whether it’s eating out, buying clothes or high rent, there are ways of cutting down.

3. Keep a copy of your most recent bank statement on your fridge or somewhere where you see it every day, to keep your balance in your mind and make you more careful when spending.

4. Cut back, stop spending and watch the money roll in!

29 November 2011

Keen to Cut Your Petrol Bills? Here’s How!

The price of petrol at the moment is enough to make anyone flinch at the pump. Whether you just want to save money, or are more concerned about the environment, there are some things you can do to cut down on the amount you spend on filling up the tank without cutting back on the amount you drive.

Here are a few simple tips that anyone can follow. They might seem like small changes, but if you stick to them, you’ll notice your petrol bills going down.

1. Find the cheapest place to buy petrol and forward plan to fill up there. Many of us try to buy petrol at cheaper garages, but make sure you do it every time. Larger supermarkets often have the lowest prices.

2. Drive slower on the motorway. You might not think that driving at 70mph instead of 80mph will make a difference, you save in excess of £10 depending on the length of your journey.

3. Empty your boot of things you don’t need. If you car is very heavy, you will be paying more in fuel to move it.

4. Drive in as higher a gear as possible! This will mean your engine will run more efficiently and you will save some cash today!

22 November 2011

What is a Payday Loan?

Since the economic crisis and the recession, banks have been more and more reluctant to lend money. All types of borrowing have become more difficult to get approval for, from small personal loans to mortgages. This has however opened up the loan market to a range of private loan companies which now offer a new range of loans for your convenience.

One loan that has become very popular over the last few years is the payday loan. As the name implies, these loans allow you to borrow smallish amounts of cash to tide you over until your next payday. The loan amounts are relatively small, ranging from £100 to £1000, and the loan lengths are short, normally 2 weeks to a month.

As the nature of the loan means that you need it quickly, you can often have the money put into your bank account on the same day as you apply. In some cases, you can even have the cash within 15 minutes. This feature of the loans is helped by the fact that credit checks are rarely carries out, making approval instant.

You have to be over the age of 18, be a UK citizen, have a bank account and you may have to provide proof of employment. As the loan amounts are small and for short periods of time, the interest rates are quite high. But if you are stuck for cash, need to pay the rent, for emergency dental treatment or a car repair, then a payday loan could come in very handy.

16 November 2011

Want to Save on Your Heating Bill This Winter? Here’s How!

With the big 6 energy companies hiking up their prices by up to 18% this winter, more people across the UK will be in fuel poverty than over the last few years. Fuel poverty is when more than 10% of a household’s income goes on heating their home. Although things may not be that bad, we all could do with reducing the amount of money we spend on our gas bills.

Just as with saving money on anything, it’s not always easy and old bad habits must be broken in order to save. If you are serious about reducing your bills, helping the environment and saving yourself some cash. There are various small changes you can make, and bigger ones too, to save money today! Just follow these tips.

1. Insulate your home! Lagging your boiler and insulating the attic will save you more than you might think.

2. Turn it down. Have your heating on a lower heat to save money.

3. Turn it off. If you put your heating on a timer, you can often get away with having it on for just a couple of hours in the morning and a few hours at night.

4. Invest in double glazing! This costs money initially, but will save you in the long run.

5. Layer up. Put more clothes on, drink hot drinks and make a hot water bottle before you reach for the thermostat.

11 November 2011

Keen to Start Saving? Here Some Tips to Get you Started!

Saving money is not an easy thing to do at the best of times, let alone at a time when borrowing has become expensive, pay freezes are common and prices are rising. Saving money is not something that happens by itself; it takes planning and some effort.

The main thing you can do to make a difference is to stop spending! This is the only real way you will be able to add to your savings accounts. Here are some tips to help you pin point the areas you can save on today!

1. Keep a diary of all your outgoings. This is a great place to start to get a clear picture of your bad spending habits.

2. Cook at home, avoid eating out in restaurants and buying take aways. You’ll be surprised how much money you’ll save.

3. Keep a copy of your bank statement on the fridge to keep your finances on your mind so you’ll be more careful with your money!

27 October 2011

Consolidation Loans Explained!

Put simply, a consolidation loan is a loan that allows you to pay off your debts. This means that instead of making multiple payments to multiple companies, your debts are consolidated into one lower payment each month for a longer period of time. Although you will still owe the same amount of money in the long run, these loans can really take the pressure off.

A consolidation loan doesn’t just ease the pressure of mounting debts, but it can even have a payment protection scheme is some cases. This means that if you are ill, in an accident or lose your job, you are covered for the payments, taking all the worry away, especially if you have dependents.

You should always research all the options available to you before committing to a loan. Different companies may offer you different deals as often the loan is tailored to your personal circumstances. It’s best to weigh up your options; having to pay big bills every month puts pressure on you, but these loans do have higher interest rates, so you will be in debt for longer.

17 October 2011

How Could a Payday Loan Help You?

The global economy is slowly worsening; as the European debt crisis sluggishly goes on and economic data continues to disappoint, it has become increasingly difficult to get approval for loans from banks. Loans from traditional institutions like banks are also mostly long term and for large amounts. So what if you only need to borrow a relatively small amount of money, but don’t know where to get it from? This is where payday loans have come onto the market.

You can only borrow from £100 to £1000, usually for a couple of weeks to a month. This means that these short-term loans are great for tiding you over until your next payday and getting you out of a tight financial corner. Whether you need money for an unexpected expense of any kind, need some spending money for holiday or need to take you car to the garage, a payday loan could be the answer.

You have to be over 18 years old, have a bank account, be a UK citizen and you may need to provide proof of employment. Credit checks are very rarely carried out, so if you have had debt problems in the past, you don’t have to worry about not being approved. The application forms are mostly online, and as there are no background checks, you often will get the money in your account within a matter of hours.

Although the lack of credit checks has its advantages, it also means that these loans are relatively high risk to the lender, meaning that interest is often high. If you budget properly to pay back the loan as soon as possible, this does not have to be a problem. Do however make sure you are fully aware of how much you will be expected to pay back before you agree to anything. Shop around and find the best payday out there for you!

13 October 2011

Spending Too Much on Food?

It can often feel like you’re spending all your money on food. Prices seem to be going up constantly, from meat, fruit and vegetables to coffee and restaurants; it’s easy to spend a bomb just feeding you and your family. The trick with saving money on food is the same as saving money on anything - find a cheaper option and stop spending! Being aware of how much money you are spending is the first step. You won’t save anything without trying and making some cut backs.

The best step you can take towards saving is to cook at home from basic ingredients. By choosing meals that have inexpensive ingredients, you can really stretch out your budget. It is often healthier to cook meals yourself as you can more easily regulate fat, calorie and salt content. Avoid restaurants and take-aways when you can, the mark up is more than you might think!

Another great way to save is to take lunch into your place of work from home, or buy basic ingredients in a supermarket. The prices of sandwich shops, cafes and restaurants are hugely elevated, so why not make your own?

The bigger the supermarket, the lower the prices. Perhaps you should consider switching supermarket to a less expensive one if you really want to save money. Smaller convenience stores always have higher prices, so forward planning will save you money so you don’t have to pop around the corner to pick up extra items.

If you like your coffee, and buy one from a cafe on the way to work, this can really mount up. Why not make your coffee at home or at work? It might seem like a hassle but if you’re spending £3 a day on coffee, that amounts to £60 every month, so it’s really worth it.

07 October 2011

Start Saving on Petrol Today!

With the price of petrol going through the roof, it’s no wonder that people across the UK are cutting down on the amount they use. Using your car is often the most convenient option, but it’s time to ask yourself is it the most efficient? There are various things you can do to cut down on the amount of money you spend on petrol, with the added bonus of being kind to the environment.

1. Walk, cycle or take public transport on short journeys. A cold engine uses more fuel, making shorter distances less efficient.

2. Get rid of excess weight in your vehicle. A full trunk will require more petrol to shift.

3. Drive slower! It’s obvious, but the faster you drive, the more petrol you use.

4. Keep your engine well maintained, it will be more efficient and use less fuel.

5. Share car journeys with friends, family and neighbours when you can.

28 September 2011

Pet Insurance Explained

As a nation of animal lovers, many of us have pets. Whether you’re potty about parrots, dizzy over dogs or crazy for cats, the chances are you will need to visit the vet at some point. If you have pets, you know how much these bills can amount to. Pet insurance is a must. You can get all types of cover for a whole menagerie of animals. There is no equivalent to the NHS for your pets, so whether it’s a major operation or a general check-up, you’ll be footing the bill.

You can get cover not only for vet bills, but also if your pet is stolen, strays or dies. You can also get third party liability cover if your animal causes an accident, does any accidental damage and even holiday cancellation due to your pet.

There is often an excess to pay on any vet bill however, which is usually at a level which means you will have to pay for flea control treatments, worming and vaccinations. But this is not always the case, so make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions before you buy.

There are countless numbers of companies that offer insurance, so do your homework and find a policy that suits you and your beloved pet. Most companies cover cats and dogs, but if you have a more unusual animal like a reptile, exotic bird or horse, you may need to find a more specialist insurance company.

There are many pitfalls to look out for when buying pet insurance, other than an excess. Some policies will only cover a certain condition for a year. This means that if your pet has a reoccurring problem, anything from a specific type of cancer to an allergy or epilepsy, then you will only be covered for the first year. Always read the small print!

22 September 2011

Want to Save Money But Don’t Know Where to Start?

Every day seems to bring more bad financial news at the moment, and even if you don’t understand completely the implications of it, we all know it’s not good. If ever there was a time to examine your finances and where your money is going, then this is it.

Saving money however is not always that easy. There always seems to be one reason or another cropping up meaning we can’t add to our savings accounts. It’s your mum’s birthday, the kids need new shoes, you’re going on holiday or whatever it is, there is always something. It can easily feel like your finances are out of your control.

There is no need to feel like this! If everything is a bit overwhelming and you are looking for some clarity, then keep a financial diary for a month or two. Write down everything you spend, in cash and on cards, even direct debits. A picture will quickly emerge of your spending patterns and bad habits.

We all have weaknesses and it’s usually the little things that add up rather than bigger expenses. Look at what you spend your cash on, and if there are ways to avoid parting with this money. We all have busy lives, but this trick is simple and doesn’t take much time. You’ll find that you save money just by keeping the diary as writing everything down will make you more reluctant to spend.

Whether you eat out once or twice too often a week, indulge in expensive clothes, taxis or holidays, there are always areas that you can work on with your spending. Old habits are hard to break, but think about what you’re buying and find a cheaper alternative. You’ll be so grateful in the long term .

15 September 2011

Ways to Tackle your Debt!

There is nothing worse than worrying about money, especially if you have children or any other dependents. It can keep you awake at night, and the stress can seriously affect your health. There is no need to suffer in silence as there are various options available to you to sort out your finances once and for all.

If you feel like you’re drowning in your debts, then a consolidation loan could make all the difference. Owing a range of sums of money to several lenders, all at different interest rates and with different deadlines can be extremely stressful. A consolidation loan allows you to pay off all of your existing debts at once. This leaves you with only one monthly repayment, with one loan to keep track of. The monthly repayments are much lower, and the interest rate is considerably less than you were paying before.

As these loans are specially designed for those in debt, you don’t have to worry about being accepted for bad credit. You can apply online and get your debt situation sorted before you know it. The company will assess your debts and devise an appropriate loan amount, interest rate and repayment plan to suit you. Remember that the lower monthly payments don’t mean you owe any less money in total, and it will take you a lot longer to get out of debt.

If a consolidation loan is not for you, then the best option is to consult a debt solutions company and get your own personalised debt management plan. These are flexible financial plans that can help manage your debt should you not be able to keep up with repayments. The professionals at your debt solutions company will be able to negotiate with your creditors for you when making your plan. Interest rates may be frozen, and you often will be left with a lower monthly payment. You may have to have a minimum amount of debt to qualify for a debt management plan, usually of about £1000, so it’s important to check the terms.

Whatever method you go for when sorting out your debts, it’s important to address the problem sooner rather than later. Paying back existing debts by taking out other loans will only suck you into a debt spiral that is extremely difficult to get out of. So don’t bury your head in the sand and look towards a brighter, stress-free future for you and your loved ones.

06 September 2011

Retail Sales Across the UK Fall in August

According to the British Retail Consortium retail sales across the UK dropped throughout August. As heightened inflation and poor consumer confidence continue to negatively affect spending, a marked decrease was seen on the high street. The group however did dismiss the riots as being a major cause in the drop, saying the disruption was not widespread or long enough to have any significant affect on the sales figures. Data releases on Monday did suggest that the riots did affect footfall on high street throughout the UK, which inevitably would affect sales.

The British Retail Consortium has said that like-for like sales dropped by 0.6% in August this year compared with 2010. This figure does not include sales figures for new stores. Total sales for August 2010 saw a 2.8% increase. This year however the figures were only up by 1.5%.

Other data published yesterday again showed sluggish activity in the services sector in the UK, which saw the largest monthly decrease for over ten years. Food and drink sales increased during the month, whereas clothes remained the same. All other goods, including furniture and footwear, saw falls in sales.

It would seem that high inflation, knocked consumer confidence and the squeeze of personal finances across the country are taking their toll. Many of us are dipping into our savings accounts in order to maintain the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to but perhaps can no longer afford. Others are taking out loans and putting more and more expenses on credit cards.

We put advice articles up on our website every day, with tips on how to save money as well as explaining financial products that could help your situation and make things a bit easier. Click here to read some.

02 September 2011

Do You Need a Payday Loan?

We all have months where our paycheques just don’t stretch far enough. If you get caught out by an unexpected bill, dental cost or car repair, there are loans out there that are specifically designed to help you out of a tight financial situation. Payday loans are tailored to lend you relatively small amounts of money for short periods of time.

You can typically borrow anything up to £1000, usually for a period of a couple of weeks to a month. The application process is quick and easy, with online forms that can be completed in minutes. Credit checks are rarely carried out, making it easy to get your hands on the money you need.

The criteria for being approved for a payday loan is pretty straight forward. You have to be over 18 years old, be a UK citizen, have proof of employment (although this is not always needed) and have a bank account. The money can be in your account within 24 hours.

The loans are short-term, meaning that the interest rates on borrowing can be high. The more money you borrow, the more interest you will have to pay so be careful that you fully understand how much you will be expected to pay back. This factor of the loans also can get people into spirals of debt; once they have paid back the first loan, they need another one to tide them over until the next payday and so the cycle continues. If you are sensible with your budget and make the repayments, payday loans could really get you out of sticky financial situation.

30 August 2011

What Benefits Can I Get With My Credit Card?

Choosing a credit card can be difficult at the best of times. Today there are hundreds of deals to choose from, and it can all get a bit much. Whether you just a regular credit card or one that offers rewards, there is something out there appropriate for you, it just might take a bit of research.

First things first! Decide how you want to be rewarded! Other than reward credit cards, which offer a variety of ways you can benefit from your spending, you can now get football credit cards and even charity credit cards.

Reward credit cards let you collect points as you spend, which are redeemable for a variety of things from air miles, hotel rooms, a selection of shops and even petrol. You can now sign up to cards that have even more specialised reward schemes.

Football credit cards are being put on the market by many of the top football clubs in England. These cards let you collect points as you spend, which are redeemable for exclusive offers, merchandise and even tickets for games. Often the card provider will make donations to the club on your behalf without you spending a penny.

Charity credit cards work under the same premise as other reward credit cards, the only difference being that you earn money to be donated to your preferred charities. By having one of these cards, you can donate to worthy causes as you spend, the money coming from the credit card provider not your pocket. This is a great way, as well as donating, to contribute to charitable causes.

Whatever it is you are after from a credit card, always make sure you do your homework and fully understand what it is you are signing up to. Never borrow more money than you can afford to pay back, as you could be in danger of getting into a debt spiral and seriously damaging your credit rating and chances of borrowing again in the future.

19 August 2011

What Is A Payday Loan?

With the cost of living increasing almost daily, money can get tight sometimes. Why not get a payday loan to tide you over? If you are bit low on cash, or get an unexpected bill or expense, then a payday loan could get you out of a financially sticking situation. You can normally borrow anything up to £1000 for a period of 2 weeks to a month, so they are specially designed to give you a bit of cash until your next paycheque clears.

There are lots of different payday loan companies out there, so make sure you research the market before you commit to anything. Never borrow more money than you can afford to pay back, or you could get into debt. You can compare different companies on our website, click here to have a look.

09 August 2011

Violence in London Spreads, is the Cause Poverty?

London is today recovering from the third and most destructive night of violence yet across the capital. The rioting, beginning on Friday in Tottenham following a peaceful protest after the shooting of local man Mark Duggam. Copy-cat activity started almost immediately across London as many youths saw the opportunity to wreak havoc and loot local businesses. The violence and destruction then continued over the next two nights, and has been starting earlier and earlier in the day, with many employers across London sending people home early from work to insure the safety of employees. But can this widespread violence, now being seen in cities outside of the capital, really just be put down to a degenerate few. It would seem that we are in the midst of a social breakdown, unhelped by the high unemployment rate and increasing poverty across the country as the financial crisis is now thought to lead to a double-dip recession.
There is no doubt that the people taking to the streets are from poor backgrounds. The recent impact of cuts in local council funds to general effects of a global recession such as the price of fuel skyrocketing and energy prices going up considerably have all affected the household budgets, incomes and even benefits in recent months. The growing tension between the poorer and the richer population has been on the up, with the richest 10% of the population in the UK now earning 100 times what the poorest equivalents live on.
Although these social problems in no way excuse the violence and criminality being seen on the street of London from Enfield to Ealing, the problems undoubtedly run deeper than just a bunch of greedy kids. 

05 August 2011

E.On Ups the Cost of Energy

Energy provider E.On is now number 4 of the 6 biggest energy companies to hike the price of electricity and gas. The hike will see the cost of gas increase by 18% and electricity to go up by 11% from 13 September this year. The significant increase has been blamed on the 30% hike on wholesale energy earlier this year. This comes as the government released estimates that these rising prices of energy will see up to a fifth of UK households in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty occurs when more that 10% of the household income is spent on fuel to keep warm.

The 5 million customers, both domestic and business, of E.On have already seen a rise in the cost of energy this year, when the company hiked the price of electricity by 9% and gas by 3% in February. These combined increases mean that by the end of the year customers will be paying 22% more for fuel, roughly equating to an increase of £250 on every £1000 spent, a significant hike.

29 July 2011

Nervous About the Impending US Debt Doom? Better Get Saving

As we await the US government's new legislation to be passed and the debt ceiling to be raised, hopefully saving all of our skins, the international financial markets have all but clammed up as investor confidence takes a beating. With the price of energy increasing, with promises from British Gas of further price hikes before the year is out, and the cost of petrol literally is driving away with our disposable income, it may be time to adjust the standard of living we have become so accustomed to and tighten our proverbial belts.

There are various ways you can save money on a daily basis, but also other ways you can save cash in the long run. Whether it’s insulating your home properly to avoid wasting money on heating, or properly planning the meals of the week to keep the cost of food down, making small changes to the way you live could really make a difference.

At Which Way to Pay, we don’t only strive to give you the best, impartial advice and reviews of financial products, but also to keep you up to date of financial news and give you general financial advice on a daily basis. On our website you will find hundreds of tips and pointers to help you make the most of your money, and to help you feel a bit more in control of your situation in this time of turbulence in the economy.

Click here to read some advice articles.

20 July 2011

Famine In Somalia

UN Declares Famine in Somalia

Somalia has been fraught with civil unrest for many years, most notably now much of the south and centre of the country are controlled by Al-Shabab, a group closely affiliated with al-Qaeda. In 2009 the group banned foreign aid agencies access to its territory, only recently allowing aid into limited areas. The worst drought seen in the country for 50 years has not been dealt with as well as it could have been, the recent violence and civil leaving the country ill-equipped. Now Somalia is suffering badly from famine, especially in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle where the gravity of the situation has escalated rapidly.

The UN have not declared a famine in the country since 1992. The majority of aid agencies such as the FAO, Save the Children UK and Oxfam, only label a crisis as a famine when the area in question reaches level 5 on the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system. This level means that a minimum of 20% of the entire population have access to fewer than 2100 kilocalories worth of food per day, acute malnutrition is seen in over 30% of minors, and 2 people die in every 10,000 or there are 4 child deaths in every 10,000 children each day. This is the case in Somalia at the moment, and may spread to Ethiopia and Kenya who also saw little rainfall, and therefore depleted crops, since the beginning of the year.

The UN have said that getting aid to the worst affected regions have been limited by the need for further safety guarantees from the armed Al-Shabab across the country to ensure the safety of aid workers. So far over 10 million people have been affected by the famine, and over 25% of the country’s population have been displaced from their homes. The UN and the Disasters Emergency Committee are calling for much needed donations to the cause, as Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, has said that $300 million is needed to tackle the famine over the next two months.

07 July 2011

Students Are Building Up Enormous Debts

Student debt will reach an eye-watering £70 billion over the next four years. It appears that ministers vastly underestimated the number of universities that would charge maximum tuition fees.

Students will be building up personal debts of up to £50,000 which could affect their credit ratings detrimentally. A poor credit rating could prevent a former student being granted a mortgage.

Students will be building up huge debts, and some will default on their loans. This could be the start of a worrying pattern of loans being reneged upon by those who originally took them out.

The potential debt burden that young people take on if they go to university will lead to some of them giving the decision some serious consideration.

Some students who are still at school may feel that their time would be better spent getting into work, establishing financial independence as opposed to falling into crippleing debt.

29 June 2011

The Pound Is Down Against The Euro As Athens Burns

Despite the fact that Greece appears to be imploding the pound has still fallen against the euro today. The problem is that the UK services sector has slumped recently.

The pound fell to €1.113 today, the lowest level for the past month.

Commentators have been waiting for poor services output figures after the number of bank holidays the UK has had this year. Closing the banks inevitably hits the service industry. On the bright side people have argued that the month of April was an exceptional month for the UK service industry and figures in May will be more in line with positive growth.

A further problem is that the Bank of England has left interest rates on hold for so long. Many people have argued that this is weakening the economy and the pound. Doves on the MPC have argued that interest rates will stay low as long as the UK economy falters. Bears argue that the economy is struggling because of low interest rates.

28 June 2011

Thorntons Will Close 180 Stores Nationwide

On the one hundredth anniversary of Thorntons chocolatiers they have announced that they will be closing up to 180 stores.

The closures will put between 750 and 1,125 jobs at risk although the company has said that they will attempt to find alternative employment for some of the sacked workforce.

Thorntons has joined the list of high street stores that have been hit hard in the recession. Habitat and Oddbins have also been casualties of the downturn.

Redundancies will hit families hard. Many families’ finances have been stretched to breaking point in the current economic climate. They may even put pushed into debt.

Many commentators have said that the recession will bring about the end of the high street. It is so much cheaper to run stores online. Online stores save on property rental prices as they do not need expensive high street lots. Internet businesses save people the effort of making the trip to the shops.

08 June 2011

Food Prices Rise by 25.0%

Food bills have reached the highest level for two years. Basic food stuffs such as bread and pasta have increased in price by 25.0%.

Poor harvests over the past few years combined with low rainfall this year have resulted in rising food prices. Wheat prices have increased by up to 72.0% on last year, corn by 112%.

People forget the majority of livestock do not graze, they are fed animal feed which will often be cereal based. As the price of cereals rises so does the price of meat.

This news will not be well received by many families who are already struggling in the current economic climate. The combination of rising food prices and utilities bills will be a two pronged attack on families in debt.

Speculators are the target of many complaints as they buy and hold commodities, waiting until demands is high to release them on the market. This style of business can cause artificial shortages which affect the world population.

01 June 2011

Are Rising Tuition Fees Putting People Off Going To University?

Year on year the number of people going to university has increased. This year, the number of applicants has fallen. This year students will have to pay hgiher tution fees. We can assume that it is no coincidence that the two events have come as a pair.

People are clearly considering alternatives to going to university. Students must think about whether the investment of time and money is well spent when they could go into work earlier, gaining valuable experience.

All universities are permitted to raise their fees to £9,000 per year. Some commentators have said (although some people may disagree) that the value of a degree from a Russel Group university is probably higher (in the workplace) than a degree from a former polytechnic.

This sort of view has resulted in people suggesting that those who pay full fees at universities should be allowed in separate to those who are receiving student loans. This suggestion has been received with consternation.

Resist Temptation When Offered Credit By Online Stores

Commentators have argued that online shoppers are being taken advantage of by greedy shops. Some online stores are now charging almost twice the usual rate of major credit cards when they use buy now, pay later credit accounts.

The rates of interest that these in store accounts use are eye wateringly high. Interest rates of 39.7% are not uncommon. Some people feel that the rate of interest on standard credit cards is too high at 17.0%.

People already get themselves into enough debt by overspending on credit cards and eating into their overdrafts. These store accounts are another way to bleed money from those foolish enough to keep spend beyond their means.

It is all very well that saying that people should be disciplined with their spending but the fact is that these stores take advantage of people who are quick to react to the call to arms to spend, spend, spend.

25 May 2011

UK Household Spending Hits A Low

Britain’s economy is not as stable as some commentators would like to have us think. House hold spending - a useful indicator of the state of the economy- is scraping the lowest rate for two years.

Understandably, people just don’t want to hit the high street when their most basic expenses such as gas and electricity are shooting through the roof.

It is doubtful that consumer spending is going to be revived by creating a shopping Tsar. David Cameron’s latest gimmick of placing a television savvy celebrity in a position of governmental responsibly is worrying.

Mary Portas may be nicknamed the “Queen of Shops” but I hardly think that tinkering with a few window displays will mend our broken economy.

What is next? Nick Clegg gets “Jimmy” of “Jimmy’s Farm” fame (Heard of it?) to head up the United Nations World Food Programme?

The mind boggles.

Current Generation Don’t Understand The Meaning Of Money

Will the current generation of university graduates ever be financially independent? Worryingly, many commentators think not.
The current generation of graduates have got so used to the financial support of their parents that they could not do without it.

Where financial support ended at employment for the previous generation, now children expect their salaries to be topped up by their parents.

Research carried out recently has shown that children, far from becoming less of a drain on their parents’ resources on leaving school become even more of a financial millstone.

In the current economic climate many parents’ finances are already squeezed to bursting point yet they still feel the duty to help their children out.

The generation labelled the “coping generation” has spawned a generation of takers. The question is when do parents say no?

It appears that parents set themselves no boundaries when it comes to providing for their children, they will even push themselves into debt.

09 May 2011

University Fees – The Price Of A Good Education

Universities can now charge a maximum of £9,000 per year. Although universities cannot exceed this limit there are other factors that need to be taken into account when assessing how much a university education now costs.

Very few universities provide accommodation for their students all the way through university. If you want to study in central London you have to take the price of renting into account.

Students attending the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) will have to suffer the most expensive living costs and education combined. It is estimated that three years studying at LSE will cost £52,319.

Both second and third place are taken by other London universities.

Cambridge pips Oxford to the post in terms of expense: Three years in the fens will cost just shy of £50,000.

If you want to go to university you need to have a good job lined up for after graduation.

06 May 2011

Energy Bills Will Continue To Rise This Summer

The past few months may have been scorchers but this will not stop your energy bills rising. Both oil and gas prices have steadily risen over the past year.

Crude oil prices have risen due to worries about supplies caused by the Arab Spring. Rising crude prices mean inevitably mean rising energy bills.

Average energy bills are now almost £200 more than they were three years ago.

In order to find the best deal for your utility bills do some research, it really pays off. Use price comparison websites to get money off.

Rising utilities bills will hit families with lower incomes who will already be feeling the pinch. One commentator said that if things carry on this way then the government will need to provide some sort of subsidy or relief for lower income families.

Our advice is, keep the heating down.

08 April 2011

Increasing Frequency Of Financial Worries May Be Linked To Rising Number Of Cases Of Depression

A number of indicators are revealing a possible link between worrying about money and depression.

Over the past four years the number of prescriptions issued for Prozac has risen by 40.0%. GPs have said that more and more people are contacting them citing debt or job fears as the cause of problems ranging from anxiety to full blown depression.

One commentator said that GPs expected mental health problems to become more common in times of economic difficulty.

One problem is that medicating a patient may help deal with the symptoms of depression but it does not tackle the root of the problem. If people are suffering from depression due to their financial circumstances then they need help with that too.

The government needs a two pronged approach to these kinds of issues: The NHS can treat the patient and the social services should advise people on financial issues.

All First Choice Holidays To Become All “Inclusive”

As of summer 2012, all First Choice holidays will be “all inclusive”. In a bid to save customers money, they will now pay a flat rate that covers transport, accommodation, food and drink. This style of travelling harks of past decades, until recently the trend for organising your own holiday and finding deals on the internet was popular.

A package holiday is a good option for anyone who does not want costs to build up. In the current economic climate it would not be a surprise to see a resurgence in the popularity of package holidays.

There are critics of package holidays who have been branded “travel snobs”: Some people argue that a package holidays removes any of the spontaneity of travel and only provides revenue for the holiday company, not the local economy.

There may be vocal critics of package holidays but that did not stop 17.9 million people booking one last year.

05 April 2011

£7 Billion Of Mortgage Debt Paid Off In Fourth Quarter of 2010

According to the Bank of England’s (BoE) records homeowners have paid off their mortgages at a record rate. £7 billion of debt was paid off in the final quarter of 2010.

The performance in the fourth quarter of 2010 built on an already solid performance earlier in the year. 2010 saw the largest input of equity ever recorded.

Due to interest rates being maintained at a record low, homeowners have been more inclined to pay back larger slices of their mortgage than they are required to each month. Low interest rates have been married to low savings rates therefore giving an extra incentive to reduce mortgages rather than save money.

One knock on effect of high spending on mortgage repayment is lower spending on other goods: Consumer spending is at a low as people are more inclined to pay off debts rather than spend on material goods.

04 April 2011

House Prices Rose by 0.5% In March

A survey by Nationwide building society found that house prices rose by 0.5% in March. In reality this news should not be too awful for first-time buyers: House prices have only increased by 0.1% on last year.

Although prices have gone up a little, this should not be taken to be the new trend in the housing market. Nationwide’s chief economist, Robert Gardener made it clear that the outlook for the housing market remains uncertain.

One key problem for the housing market is that first time buyers are not being approved for mortgages; therefore many people can neither buy nor sell their property. There is very little movement in the property market.

A recent report by the Bank of England has found that the number of households defaulting on mortgages rose in the first quartile of 2011. If people default they risk losing their house which may add some dynamism to the market.    

28 March 2011

Large Insurance Firm Moves To Enforce Wearing A Helmet On The Slopes

Essential Travel, an arm of the travel company Thomas Cook has made steps to make it the first insurer to insist on skiers wearing helmets if they want to be covered against head injuries.

A spokesman for the company said that the company was aiming for a “no helmet, no head injury cover”.
The move has provoked controversy as many skiers insist that wearing a helmet is over-cautious, the reserve of slalom skiers.

In Italy it is against the law for children to ski without a helmet.

Critics of Essential Travel’s proposal have pointed out that a skiers helmet would need to be seven inches thick and twenty inches wide in order to prevent injury in a head on collision at 30pmph. It would seem that insurers are not looking out for skiers’ best interests but are exploiting regulations to defend themselves against claims.

24 March 2011

The Queue For The iPad 2 Begins Thirty Three Hours Before Its Release

The first iPad 2 will go on sale at 5PM tomorrow but one man has already begun his vigil outside the Regent Street Apple Store so that he will be the first iPad 2 owner in the country. Jewels Lewis began queuing at 7.30AM.

The iPad 2 is in fact cheaper to purchase than the original iPad. The iPad 2 starts as £399 for the basic model. As these expensive gadgets become more common, more and more people are considering purchasing gadget insurance.

The average commuter on the train in London may be carrying a phone, tablet computer and maybe even a laptop too. All this gadgetry is fantastic but is also susceptible to knocks and bumps as well as malfunction. We have all seen someone spill their coffee down someone else on the tube.

In preparation for life’s accidents it is sensible to purchase a gadget insurance policy.

18 March 2011

Barclaycard Offer Credit Card With 20 Months 0% Deal

Barclaycard had made an offer on their new credit card that outstrips their competitors: The zero interest period on its balance transfer have been extended from 18 months to 20 months. Rival companies had been racing to catch up with Barclaycard’s previous offers, but when they release a similar deal, Barclaycard ups the stakes.

This competition between credit card companies is welcome as it benefits the consumer. However these credit cards are not handed over on request, you must have a good credit rating in order to be granted a card.

If this trend continues the conditions attached to credit cards may become even more favourable to the consumer. One commentator said that credit card companies may begin to offer two year interest free periods in the not so far future. Offers may not stop there as companies compete for business.

Number Of Jobless People In The UK Reaches A Seventeen Year High

Unemployment has reached a seventeen year high according to a recent study. More than 2.5 million people are without jobs at present. Youth unemployment levels have also reached a record high. The number of 16-24 year olds who are out of work rose from 30,000 to 974,000 over the past five months.

Between November 2010 and January 2011, 27,000 more people registered as unemployed: The last time unemployment levels were this high was in 1994.

There are now real worries that more and more families will fall into debt as there simply are not enough jobs being generated to support the population.

The Employment Minister Chris Grayling made the following statement: “There’s been a welcome drop in the number of people on benefits and an increase in full time private sector jobs but the rise in overall unemployment is a real concern”.

11 March 2011

It Is Getting Harder And Harder To Get A Mortgage

The number of mortgages that are being granted to house buyers has tumbled by 29.0%, according to a recent survey. Figures produced by the Council of Mortgage Lenders have shown that the slip of 29.0% occurred between December 2010 and January 2011.

This is a gloomy time for the housing market as prices appear to be dropping. The tougher the conditions attached to the grant of a mortgage only knock the market further.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders release the following statement: "With the effects of last year's government spending cuts beginning to bite, and rising inflation and tax measures putting pressure on household budgets, potential house-buyers are likely to have been discouraged".

Some commentators have said that the feelings of uncertainty that surround the UK economy create an atmosphere that flattens both the housing and mortgage markets alike.

04 March 2011

Rug Pulled From Under House Prices This Month

House prices have fallen at the fastest rate since 2009. In this month alone prices have dropped by 0.9%. It appears that demand for properties has fallen as fewer and fewer people wish to move, therefore prices have started to head south.

A further problem is that many people cannot obtain mortgages. Banks are reluctant to lend to families with children under the current economic conditions.

Perhaps falling prices will provide an opportunity for young earners to get their foot on the property ladder.

One market commentator has drawn attention to the volatility of the markets saying that observers should not watch sudden changes in the market but should consider the overall market trend. 'We expect this trend to continue for some time to come. It is best to try and draw an overall impression on all the data available relating to both house prices and activity”.

UK Consumers Should Brace Themselves For Price Rises

UK consumers have been warned that they will receive a double hit this year from rising oil and food prices. Vince Cable made a statement that said that these price rises had the potential to put the UK’s economic recovery at risk.

Price rises will also put pressure on families who are already struggling perhaps even pushing them into debt.

There is some good news; the UK fuel duty which was due to be levied by a penny next month will probably be scrapped. The fuel duty has been voted as the government’s most unpopular tax in one recent survey.

Global food shortages have been created by adverse weather conditions especially in the Canadian Corn Belt. The demand for food is growing rapidly yet there is simply not enough to go around therefore prices continue to rise. Corn prices have risen by 70.0% this year alone.

25 February 2011

Will Your Insurer Cover The Damage Done By Household Pets?

According to a recent survey, pets have caused around £690 of damage to average UK household over the past year. It is unlikely that many of these people would be able to claim for damages on their insurance as very few insurers cover damage caused by pets.

Out of insurers surveyed twenty nine (incuding some of the market leaders) did not cover pet damage. The explanation for the lack of insurance for pet damage is that the behaviour of pets depends on whether they are trained or not and if they are trained, to what extent, and are thus impossible to underwrite.

Obviously some pets are more likely to cause damage than others: Dogs and cats are not only the most commonly owned pets, they are also prime candidates for causing domestic damage whereas birds and fish and smaller animals do little damage.

When purchasing insurance check the terms and conditions of your policy to see if it covers pet related damage.

London Stock Exchange Shuts Down For Four Hours Due To Computer Glitch

Trading on the London stock Exchange was suspended this morning after a new computer system broke down. The London Stock exchange blamed market data technology for the problems and said that an investigation would be launched to look into the matter.

Traders will not be best pleased by the stoppages, the current volatility of the markets requires traders to be on their toes, not hanging around twiddling their thumbs.

It would be difficult for the timing of these problems to be any worse; the London Stock Exchange has been negotiating a merger with the TMX (the Canadian stock exchange). No doubt the Canadians were not impressed.

This is not the first mishap the London Stock Exchange has had to face recently, trading was suspended in November for three hours and there are rumours that prices were incorrectly displayed on their system last week.

18 February 2011

The Co-operative Becomes The Pioneer Of ‘Ethical’ Insurance

The Co-operative has implemented a policy of vetting their investments to make sure that they meet the criteria of their ethical code. The Co-operative Insurance now screens the assets that underpin their business.

The Co-operative will not invest in any businesses that are felt to be unethical; Arms manufacturers, tobacco manufacturers, fossil fuel companies and furriers are not approved by the current regulations. This policy not only governs future investments, it is also retroactive. Eighty million pounds of assets that were considered unethical by the Co-operative have been sold off, and the money has been reinvested.

This ‘operating plan’ is the first of its kind implemented by an insurance company although other organizations with large investment portfolios have drafted similar investment codes. Oxford University has pledged to remove some of its assets from arms manufacturers, although these kinds of investment achieve the greatest returns.

17 February 2011

Current Levels of Inflation Result In Savers Losing Money

Official data can be misleading. It is true that the Consumer Price Index has risen to 4.0% this January, and this does not sound disastrous. Take for example, someone paying the basic tax rate with £10,000 deposited in an instant access savings account paying 0.67% interest. He or she earns £53.60 a year: So far so good. However, the saver in fact loses around £400 a year due to inflation.

It is possible to find higher rates of interest than 0.67% but these rates are not increasing at nearly the same rate as inflation. Savers may be relieved by the fact that growing inflation will force the Bank of England to raise interest rates but question is always, when?

Current economic trends hit the elderly hardest. Most pensioners live off a combination of fixed incomes supplemented by savings which are undermined by high inflation and low interest rates.

11 February 2011

Which? Appeals To The Office Of Fair Trading Over Extortionate Card Charges

Which? has accused many well known companies from hoteliers to cinemas of charging inflated processing fees on transactions carried out by debit and credit card. Banks charge around ten pence to businesses for facilitating a debit card transaction; however the low budget airline Ryanair charges a five pound each way surcharge on a ticket purchased by debit card. These rip-off charges have been banned in other European countries such as France and Germany while customers in the UK are still being robbed blind.

Previously, the banks have been blamed for these fees but Which? insists that they are not to blame. The fact is the charges do not reflect the real cost incurred by businesses. Which? has submitted an appeal to the Office of Fair Trading, now they must wait for a decision from the OFT to decide whether regulations or even the law need to be changed.

10 February 2011

Parents Hit By ‘Child Penalty’ When Applying For Mortgages

Mortgage lenders are giving less generous lending terms to parents with young children than to childless couples. Childless couples can borrow up to 50% more than families with children, even if both families take home the same wages. Mortgage companies argue that the cost of raising children can result in parents not paying off their debts whereas childless couples have fewer outgoings and therefore are more likely to pay back their mortgage.

This kind of client analysis carried out by mortgage companies is a far cry from the practice of fifteen years ago when mortgage companies simply lent a couple a multiple of their combined income – usually three times their salary. These ‘affordability checks’ are all part of mortgage companies’ policy, devised to ensure that mortgages are paid back. A further symptom of this intense client scrutiny is that fewer mortgages are handed out: In the UK around 1500 mortgages are agreed per day as opposed to 4000 fifteen years ago.

04 February 2011

House Prices Rise By 0.8% From December

The Halifax House Price Index released this week found that the price of the average home in Britain rose to £164,173 last month. Although this is positive news, Halifax have warned that the 2011 house market is likely to be characterized by consumer caution as the double edged sword of government spending cuts and increasing tax rates will undoubtedly wound consumer confidence.

The prospects of the housing market are inevitably going to reflect the state of the economy at large. The difficult Christmas period is now behind us and there may be a little sunshine just around the corner. Martin Ellis, a Halifax housing economist made a statement that advised that ‘the recent downward trend in prices is causing homeowners to be more reluctant to put their properties on the market. This development should help to relieve downward pressures on prices as long as it is sustained’.

03 February 2011

Tough Times Ahead As Food Prices Are Predicted To Soar

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has made a statement predicting that food prices will rise to an all time high as supplies of key crops become stretched. In the UK the average shopping bill has increased by 6.1% but this is just a taste of what is to come. One of the underlying problems is the increasing price of corn which is used in animal feed: As the price of feeding livestock goes up so does the cost of meat.

So far British pig farmers have had to bear the brunt of price increases but they are now demanding higher payments from the supermarkets. The National Pig Association warned: ‘Currently there is a shortage of British pork, bacon and sausages. Farmers cannot afford to keep producing it.

It would seem that supermarket prices are unsustainable and they simply have to rise.

25 January 2011

Fears Of Double-Dip Recession as UK’s Economy Declines

Data released today has revealed a shocking 0.5 percent decline in UK’s economic growth in the last quarter of 2010, sparking fears of a double-dip recession.

Following four straight quarters of economic growth, today’s figures have come as a huge surprise to economists who had forecast a growth rate of up to 0.6 percent.

The government has highlighted the severe weather during October and December as the reason for the contraction, citing extensive weather related losses in the retail, transport and construction industries.

However, experts have stated that whilst the weather can be considered a factor, the coalition’s spending cuts may also have proved too much for the UK’s increasingly fragile economy.

The UK has seen a 0.5 percent drop in the key services sector as a result of spending cuts, which contributes to more than 75 percent for the economy.

Howard Archer, European and UK economist for IHS Global Insight branded the data as, “a performance far worse than even the most pessimistic of forecasts.”

“This weakness cannot be put down only to the weather,” he claimed,  “It reinforces already serious concern over the economy's ability to grow significantly in the face of the spending cuts and tax hikes that will increasingly bite as 2011 progresses.'

The poor growth rate will now prevent an imminent rate rise, according to analysts, despite the need to offset rising levels of inflation.

20 January 2011

Fears of ‘Jobless Generation’ As Youth Unemployment Reaches Record High

The latest employment figures released on Wednesday reveal that the number of young people suffering from the UK’s dwindling job market has reached a record high.

The official figures reveal that almost a million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are now unemployed, sparking fears of a ‘jobless generation’.

Since 1992 when records began, the youth unemployment rate has risen 20.3 percent, with a particularly sharp rise in the number of 16 and 17 year olds classified as out of work rather than in education or employment.

The slowing economy has been blamed for the lack in job opportunities as well as reluctance by employers to recruit younger workers.  In addition, recent changes to retirement laws are enabling older people to work for longer, leaving fewer vacancies for the younger generation.

Graduates are also finding it increasingly difficult to find work and are being encouraged to undertake voluntary internships alongside their studies.  However, the rising cost of student fees mean than most students cannot afford to work unpaid.

This is compelling evidence of the way in which the last Labour government completely failed a generation of young people,” says Employment minister Chris Grayling.

Ministers claim that the figures have been skewed by the numbers of youth in full-time education seeking part time work.

18 January 2011

Interest Rate Hikes Could Cost Households £1800 Per Year

UK Households could find themselves having to pay an extra 1800 per year interest on their debts if interest rates are hiked as predicted.
A study published on Monday by Pricewaterhouse Coopers forecast that the current central bank base rate of 0.5 percent will rise to 5 percent over the next four years, possibly starting as early as June this year.

The news is worrying for UK households who are already struggling from the recent VAT rise, wage cuts and rising costs of petrol, food, clothing and energy.

However, many City analysts believe that a rate rise is necessary in order to curb the escalating levels of inflation as retailers will be forced to lower prices if consumers have less to spend.

Philip Shaw, economist at Investec said that the Bank of England is under pressure to address the inflation issue with both the Consumer Price Index and Retail Price Index way over the government target of 2 percent.

'We were originally forecasting that interest rates wouldn't rise until the back end of 2011 but there is a real risk the Bank of England's monetary policy committee will have to raise rates sooner rather than later to protect its credibility,' Mr Shaw said.

Yet some members of the Coalition and other in the City believe that a sudden hike in interest rates could be extremely damaging to the UK’s economic recovery and put the country as risk of a double-dip recession.

They believe that inflation will automatically drop over the next two years without the Bank of England having to take action.

13 January 2011

End To Enforced Retirement As Government Scraps DRA

The end of the UK’s Default Retirement Age will be announced in the House of Commons today, preventing employers from forcing their employers to retire at the age of 65.

The phasing out of the DRA, which currently forces people to stop working at 65, will be revealed in a ministerial statement by Business Minister Ed Davey and will not require legislation.

From the 6 April this year, employers will no longer be able issue compulsory retirement and only those due to retire before 1 October will be forced do so under the DRA.

The new rules mean that by October there should be an additional one million employees aged 65 or over in the nation’s work force.

Whilst the Department of Business claims that the changes will benefit both individuals and the economy, employers fear a greater risk of legal issues such as unfair dismissal claims.

John Cridland, the deputy director general of The Confederation of British Industry told the BBC last month that the scrapping of the DRA could open up a ‘legislative void’.

"In certain jobs, especially physically demanding ones, working beyond 65 is not going to be possible for everyone," Mr Cridland said.

There are also fears that an ageing workforce will result in less job opportunities for the young.

The government will also be outlining a new Pensions Bill today which will see the state pension age raise to 66 by 2020 for both men and women.

11 January 2011

Cameron under pressure to curb fuel prices as protest fears mount

David Cameron came under increasing pressure over the weekend to curb the UK’s mounting fuel prices ahead of threats of protests around the country.

Following a double rise from last week’s VAT increase and hikes in fuel duty, the cost of petrol has soared to almost £1.30 per litre angering motorists across and sparking fears of protests at the pumps.

Petrol station bosses also fear that the increase of 3.5 pence per litre will result in more criminal behaviour as motorists fail to pay after filling up their tanks.

Shortly before the General Election last year, Mr Cameron promised to introduce a ‘fair fuel price stabiliser’ which would see fuel duty drop in response to a rise in oil prices. At this time petrol prices were at a record £1.20 a litre.

Over the weekend Mr Cameron spoke about his pledged stabiliser policy stating, ‘We’re looking at that. It’s not an easy thing to put in place, but I would like to try and find some way of sharing the risk of higher fuel prices with the consumer.’

However, he later seemed to back track on his promise when he told the BBC, ‘I don’t want to raise people’s hopes too far because it is a difficult issue.’

John Redwood, former Tory Cabinet minister has publically implored the Prime Minister to introduce the policy immediately and to cut the price of duty to help struggling households and businesses.

It is thought that the Treasury will commission an independent assessment of the stabiliser proposal before any decision is made.

07 January 2011

Protect Yourselves!

“Spear Phishing” is the new term being used to describe the poaching of information from us, with sophisticated criminals targeting your computer, hacking into your personal information by using new kinds of corrupt software.

It is described by analysts as an “ingenious” and “malicious” method of identity theftand it effectively allows criminals to take complete control of your computer. One of the method’s use is a kind of email development that attacks your inbox to provide the intruder with vital pieces of your personal information.

Government employees and contractors have fallen victim to the ruse which only kicked in over the past holidays season, reeking havoc as naive innocents were conned into downloading the self-strengthening programme.

Let this be a lesson to us all. With identity theft becoming more and more sophisticated, we really must do all we can to protect ourselves. Obtaining identity theft protection is a way to create a virtual alarm bell for any unusual activity.

05 January 2011

VAT Rate Rise

The VAT rate has risen from 17.5% to 20%. The increase has been catalysed by the government who are aiming to cut its deficit by boosting tax revenues.

At the beginning of the summer, George Osborne (chancellor) commented that the hike should, if all goes to plan, raise £13 billion a year by the end of parliament-an amount which would help patch up the deficit.

Those things that are excluded from the rate hike are food, children’s clothing, newspapers and magazines.

Criticisms of the move are aimed at Osborne and the government and they focus on the fact that shops and retail will be severely affected by the changes. Along with this, they comment that those families with the least money are likely to be hit the hardest.

Among those who criticise the plans are labour leader Ed Miliband who believes that now is not the right time to introduce rate hikes-seeing as there are many other government spending cuts which families are trying to cope with. He described the decision as “wrong tax at the wrong time.”