Friday, 28 November 2014

Making the most of your money this Christmas

December is just days away and the countdown to Christmas 2014 is in full swing. Every shop has its displays out and today has seen unprecedented adoption of the US 'Black Friday' concept in the UK.

Christmas may seem like a massive expense, but there are way to get your loved ones Christmas presents and stick within a budget. If you're a savvy shopper and prepared to shop around, you can grab bargains. Here's our tips for making the most of your money this festive season....

Start building up those extra pennies

  • Sign up for supermarket savings schemes.
  • Sell books, CDs or DVDs on trade-in sites.
  • Start hoarding store reward points early.
  • Head down to a car boot sale to to sell any unwanted possessions and festive treats like mince pies, cakes and homemade decorations.

Draw up a spending plan

As with any financial goal, preparing for Christmas starts with budgeting and savvy spending. Here's how to get organised and avoid last minute impulse shopping:
  • Start by listing all your individual expenses, including presents, food and travel, and estimate a rough cost by looking up prices online.
  • Create a budget spreadsheet so you can see what you can afford and how much money you'll be left with. Based on your incomings and outgoings.
  • Check on your budget each week or so over the next couple of months to make sure you're on track.

Shop smarter

Christmas on a budget doesn't have to mean cutting back on luxuries; it just means finding places to save as you spend. Putting these money saving tips into practice will make it much easier to stick to your budget:
  • Decide on your presents and festive menus early – this reduces the chance of costly panic buys.
  • Use comparison sites to find the best deals on your shopping.
  • Search for voucher codes before submitting online orders.
  • Buy own-brand products where possible and loose veg (it's cheaper).
  • Team up with neighbours to buy from wholesalers to save on delivery costs.

Get creative

There are lots of ways to guarantee smiles on Christmas morning without even having to step inside a shop – give a few of these homemade festive fixes a go:
  • Make your own gift labels from old Christmas cards.
  • Try creating personalised gifts, from festive fudge to upcycled furnishings.
  • Make decorations from holly and pine cones; it's more economical – and fun – than buying them ready-made.

Make the goodies last longer

Long after the celebrations are over, your Christmas goodies can become the gifts that keep on giving, making your money go further.
  • Save old wrapping paper, and do try to reuse it next year.
  • Make the most of leftover meat by making soups, stews and curries.
  • When it's time to take the tree down, use it for a festive bonfire.

If you're gearing up for Christmas you might be surprised how much you can save by shopping around, remember - get creative, shop smarter and make the goodies last longer.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Save £30,000 On Your Mortgage

Shortening the term, or overpaying your mortgage effectively do the same thing - potentially, save you a lot of money! How much exactly? Taking a £200,000 repayment mortgage with a 25 year term at 4.5 percent interest as an example, you could stand to save almost £30,000 by lowering the term to 20 years. If you can afford the hike in the monthly repayment it is really a no-brainer.

Friday, 7 November 2014

5 Unusal ways to cut your energy bills

So the clocks have gone back and the British weather seems to be turning colder by the day. With the regularity of day turning to night, temperatures plummet and energy bills go up.

Everyone is stocking up on items to keep them warm over the winter months, Amazon suggest sales of everything from electric blankets or hot water bottles have gone through the roof.

Whilst these traditional methods of keeping warm are effective, here are some much quirkier ways to heat your home - as well as reduce your bills.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Top 5 Money Saving Mobile Apps

There's an app for everything, as the adage goes. The problem with apps is finding the good ones, those shining jewels in a sea mediocrity. Money saving apps are no different! It's with that in mind that we set about finding the very best money saving apps available, and compiled them in this easy to digest and infinitely useful list. Do let us know if you think we've missed out any gems, we'd love to hear from you.


Free - Android and iPhone

This is much more than just a place to keep a shopping list. This handy app goes one step further and shows you where your desired items are currently on sale across 9 supermarkets, and which supermarket is offering the best price. 

You can also compare prices, set price alerts, get saving suggestions and discover other bargains.


Free - Android and iPhone

One of our favourite budgeting apps. Spendometer allows you to set a daily, weekly, or monthly budget for a number of different items and fill out your spending as you go. Very handy for keeping on top of your spending.


Free Android and iPhone

Onava compresses data that you use on your phone while connecting to the internet. Why would you want to do this? Well, according to the creators of the app, this could save you up 80% on your data plan. Perfect for those of us not on unlimited data plans.


Free Android and iPhone

This app uses crowdsourcing to compile a list of petrol prices across the UK and Europe, and makes that information available to all users of the app. 

Not only can you use this to find out where the cheapest petrol station is in the area, but it will also guide you to that location like a sat-nav.


Free Android and iPhone

You've probably already heard of this one. SkyScanner helps millions of people find the cheapest flights all over the world. It works by comparing the prices of more than 1,000 airlines to find the very best deal.

You can filter results by price, airline and arrival/departure times. Upon finding a suitable a deal you can book directly through the app.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Green Deal Home Improvement Fund Re-Launched

Homes across the UK will be able to apply for up to £7,600 to pay for new boilers, double glazing and wall insulation from November 2014 as part of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF).

A total of £100 million will be made available to households that meet the requirements. This will be the second round of cash up for grabs after the initial £120 million the government made available earlier in the year was understandably very fast to go.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Our Top 9 Winter Energy Money Saving Tips

It may still be sunny and it's not yet freezing cold weather, but if you've received your latest quarterly energy bill, to borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones, you'll know - winter is coming!

As the months approach where your heating will be on full force, the energy companies adjust your bills to cover the extra energy usage. So if you're concious of saving money, it's important to ensure your energy is the cheapest it can be for the amount you use.

1) Don't ever think that "all energy companies are the same" - there are BIG differences with price and service levels. If you're prepared to switch providers then you could make savings, so it is worth investigating the tariff you're on.

2) The energy sector is extremely competitive and companies are fighting to offer you the cheapest 'fixed' price deals. It is possible to cut some bills by over £200 a year. The average usage cost varies by region and amount used, generally the cheapest fixed rate is from Extra Energy and will cost someone with typical usage £991 a year, fixed until 31st October 2015. If you were to compare that to a big six standard tariff you're looking at around £1,180. With the EDF Blue+ price promise you can get a fixed rate until 31st March 2016 at £1,040.

3) Before doing a comparison, you should understand that the cost will be different depending on where you live and what you use. The prices we've already mentioned are just averages, so you may well be below or above these consumption levels. Doing a comparison means you can not only make saving but often get cash back for switching. Log on to a comparison site, put in your location and bill info and see if you can get a better deal. Ofgem has more info at, or has a special ‘top pick fixes’ comparison.

4) The levels of service you will receive vary greatly between providers, its a VERY competitive market place, so if you're not happy switch. You're already likely to be paying a lot of money to your provider so make sure that at least the service is good.

5) Are you on an electricity-only tariff or Economy 7? Those with no gas can still get all the tariffs above – and all comparison sites allow you to compare electricity only. If you’re on Economy 7 it can be far trickier, see guide for how to work out your winner.

6) If you're moving house, most fixed rate deals you have are portable, so if you move you can take them with you.

7) If you're on a prepayment meter don't think you're locked into one provider. It's possible to switch even if you're in debt as long as its no more than £500.

8) Another way to cut costs is paying by direct debit, this knocks around £70-90 a year off your bill. The provider will estimate your annual usage and divide it by 12. It is essential to take regular meter readings to make sure you aren't overpaying though.

9) And finally don't worry if your struggling to pay the bill. Help should be available, if you're seriously behind with your payments act immediately before the higher winter energy bills kick in. British Gas, EDF and Npower and several other providers often give grants to help people who're struggling.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Escape The Rat Race, Go Freelance!

It's 10am, you're settling into your morning routine, performing the same mundane tasks you have done day in day out for months, or even years. The robotic, hollow nature of your 9-5 existence is painfully apparent, but you put it the back of your mind. You think about the weekend, those brief few hours where you are free to do as you please with your hard earned cash. Your job is just a fact of life, an unfortunate necessity. A means to an end, you power on through. Who knows, if you keep your head down maybe, just maybe, you'll get that pay rise at the end of the year.

Lunch time, and you are dining on your home made sandwiches (got to save those pennies!), this is the highlight of your day. You glance over at your boss, who is thoroughly enjoying sumptuous feast from the nearby delicatessen. Anger starts to build inside you, your own pitiful home made sandwiches begin to mock you. This just isn't fair, this isn't the dream you were sold. Is this all you will amount to? The peak of your achievement in life; nothing more than disposable accessory to another man's dreams.