Thursday, 30 January 2014

How to make money on your old Mobile Phones

Are your old mobile phones sitting in a draw unused? Did you know they could be a source of cash? There are close to 80 Million discarded phones sitting unused in the UK. So we've put together a step by step guide for getting cash back for your phone.

Old Mobile Phone Buying Companies

These are companies that will take your old phone and give you cash in exchange. They are usually very fast, web based companies and will let you know their valuation for your handset by filling in a questionnaire on their website. If you're happy with their offer, they will send you a jiffy bag so you can post it to them for free. Their offers are usually better than any trade in on the high street or second hand electronics shop.

What phones can you get cash for?

It needs to be in decent working condition, have no more than mild cosmetic damage, a working battery and can be switched on.

If the phone is in pretty good condition but has say a faulty battery, see how much you would get for a fully working model and it might be worth replace the battery to get that amount.

You don't need to send the charge, but they will recycle it for you if you do.

What else do you need to know?

These companies don't accept responsibility for non-delivery, this is an important point if the phone is valuable you should make sure its delivery is insured. This can be done by sending it 'Recorded Signed-For' delivery, the amount it costs depends on the weight and value of the item you are sending.

When sending the phone off, make sure it's charged, switched off and has the Sim and Memory card removed. Also make sure you have turned off security settings and any other features which could hamper its testing. It is also essential to wipe all your private data and to reset the phone to factory settings.

Around 20% of phones get rejected at the testing stage. If your phone is rejected you will be offered a reduced fee, which you could then either accept or request that your phone is returned.

What about Damaged Phones?

The very least that these companies will do is recycle your phone, but it is still worth checking how much they will offer you. However, the price you receive will be a lot less (10-50% of the working price).

What Damage Effects the value?

You will get less money if the casing is damaged, it is pin lock or doesn't power up.

If the phone is physically broken, unresponsive, water damaged or has a cracked screen, mean you will probably get nothing at all.

What other options are their?

A phone buying company isn't the only option, they are the easiest and most convenient, but not necessarily the most profitable.


In the 21st century everyone should be aware of the benefits of eBay, opening up the opportunity to sell your second hand (or new) items around the globe. There is a thriving market for old handsets, if it is listed effectively and honestly you could earn up to 30% more than using a phone buyer site.

This does take a bit more effort than just sending it off to a phone buying site, so balance out the extra time you will spend doing it with the guaranteed money from a phone buying company.

Check how much your handset has been going for on eBay and that should give you a rough indication of its worth and whether you want to proceed.

Selling it to a Friend

Another relatively stress free alternative is to sell the phone to a friend, around 10% on top of what you would get from a phone reseller is usually the best practice.

You Don't Need a New Phone

With the constant advances in technology and pressure to upgrade from your phone provider, it is worth remembering that you don't have to have a new phone. You can get your phone unlocked from its network legally and then you're free to use any contract or package you wish. Don't forget to shop around for the best deal.

Charity Deals

There are a lot of schemes that will collect your phone and donate a cut of the cash you would've received to charity. To be brutally honest, if you're earmarking your cash for charity the best option is to cash the phone in yourself and donate the whole amount to the charity of your choice. If you use Gift Aid as well, it can reclaim its tax back.

Trade Ins 

If you're after a new phone, speak to the company you're getting the new one from (this mainly applies to high street retailers) they may be able to give you a good price for your old phone, even if the recycling companies aren't willing to.

What do the recycling companies do with the phones?

Once the phones are tested, if they're in good working condition they're sold abroad in Africa, South America and the Far east. Some of them will probably even be resold on eBay if they're particularly high value, so please be aware that you should be able to get more money for these yourself. 

If your is phone of a lower class then it'll be broken down and sold as components. If it is broken or completely worthless, these companies will dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.

It is important to remember though, that you cannot just discard your phone in the rubbish, there are various parts of the phone that can be bad for the environment. So it is essential that it is disposed of in a safe way.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How to beat the January Blues with a Cheap Holiday Deal!

January can be a depressing time for some, with many people already dreaming of their summer escape to a more exotic locale. The January sale season can be a great time to grab a deal. Tour operators, travel agents and airline companies are all competing for your custom and reducing prices to get it. Since the start of the year, there has been a 10% jump in the number of people booking summer breaks. To ensure you get the best possible deal, you should take into account the following...

As with any deal always look at the very final price you will pay. Watch out for any add ons and hidden extras and then compare the cost with other deals. Be particularly aware of any small print which could make you liable for extra charges at the end of the trip, such as bed linen and electricity use for apartment hire.
If you want to travel in the off season, be very cautious about booking your holiday early unless you are sure you're getting a bargain. Both tour operators and travel agents often slash prices a month or so before departure, so often a last minute deal can be the cheapest. The problem with last minute deals is that you will usually have to compromise on destination, holiday type and when you go, but if you're flexible there are amazing bargains to be had.
Even when you think you've got a great deal, it's worth contacting rivals holiday providers and seeing if they can beat it. At this stage they're often desperate to get your custom.
Cheap Flights
January can be the best time to book flights, especially if you're travelling outside the peak summer months where airlines usually struggle to fill their seats, but you should always watch out for additional taxes and charges. 
For the month of January British Airways and Virgin offer discounts on most their long haul routes. Most airlines will release more discounted fares later in the year, so make sure you sign up to their mailing lists to get the deals first. 
Also remember that discount airlines are likely to charge you extra for baggage, this can be as much as £45 return with operators like Ryan Air.
Small Deposits
Many companies offer low upfront deposits in January to appeal to people strapped for cash after the Christmas period. However, when you pay the balance differs greatly. Some may require you to pay the balance eight weeks after booking or two weeks before departure. This can seriously effect your cash flow and ability to afford the holiday so make sure you check.
Children Go Free
Tour operators often offer this incentive to make you book early, typically though the child will already be sharing a hotel room with you anyway. So in reality the only "free" part of the offer is the child's meals and flights. These offers are an effective marketing ploy, but it may still be possible to find the holiday cheaper elsewhere without the offer.
You should get travel insurance straight away upon booking your holiday, so that if you are forced to cancel, you are covered. Buy this through an insurance company and not a travel agent. If you become ill and have to cancel your holiday, you cannot then take out insurance to cover your losses. Likewise, you cannot hear about potential serious disruption, such as a natural disaster, and expect to be able to claim unless you have already taken out cover.
Also check terms and conditions carefully. Many travel insurance policies do not cover losses if a holiday company goes bust. This leaves holidaymakers out of pocket if they have booked a flight and hotel separately, as DIY holidays are not Atol protected, unlike package holidays.
Often credit cards offer additional protection on your holiday, you should be able to get your money for payments up to £30,000 if the travel company goes bankrupt. Paying with some cards may incur charges, but it is worth it for the protection it offers. Look into which companies either cap credit card charges or charge nothing at all.
Hire Cars
Booking your hire car in January will save you money compared with later in the year, due to various deals and saving available. However, be aware of additional costs, which could add hundreds to the original quote. Fuel, additional drivers, car seats, insurance and the quality of the car can all effect the cost of the deal.
Price-match guantees
Once you've booked the holiday it is likely you'll wash your hands with the whole process until you are ready to pack. However, to take advantage of price match guarantees such as a's, you need to make sure you can't find anything cheaper within 24 hour. If you do find a cheaper deal, they will refund the difference once you have sent them a screenshot of the better offer. Shopping around for the best deal initially is always the best course of action though.
Europe has recently been very expensive for the British tourist due to the Pound's weakness against the Euro. However with Sterling's recent rise, the prices in Euro Zone countries have become more favourable to a British tourist. 
So should you buy currency now, whilst the rate is favourable? Well this is not an exact science and the rate could go either way. If you want certainty buy now or put your money on a pre-paid card which will remain at today's rate. Although if sterling strengthens further you will lose out on any benefit. 
To find the best exchange rate try's travelmoneymax service. The number one advice with foreign currency is to never change cash at airports, which always has the worst deals.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Is it possible to eat well and save money on your food bills?

Just a short post today about the one financial outgoing that everyone must spend their money on. Food.

Almost everyone loves to eat well and with the cost of food on the rise, it is getting more expensive to do so. With money saving January in mind, I thought I'd point you in the direction of a blog written with eating well and saving money in mind:

A girl called jack
The blog is written by Jack, "a cash-strapped single mum living in Southend. When she found herself with a shopping budget of just £10 a week to feed herself and her young son, she addressed the situation with immense resourcefulness, creativity and by embracing her local supermarket's 'basics' range. She created recipe after recipe of delicious, simple and upbeat meals that were outrageously cheap."

Its definitely an approach this blogger plans to adopt for the New Year and I thought it might come in handy for anyone else looking to cut back on food costs, but not lose quality.

Please let us know if you try it and how you get on.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Beat the January Blues by Saving Money

If the January blues are kicking in and you've overspent in the Christmas and New Year period, many of you will have made New Year resolutions to be better with money and save more.
If that's the case we've put together this ten point guide to help swell your bank balance in no time. It's not as hard as you may think and small changes can make a big difference. 
1) Get Ready for Christmas 2014 Now!     
Everything is reduced and put in the sale once Christmas over, so buy cheap wrapping paper, cards, Christmas decorations and even presents right now whilst they’re still cheap. A typical Christmas costs a family on average £650.
Paying this out in one months salary can lead to very lean months following and can be a nightmare if you're hard pressed. If you save a bit each month this reduces the impact significantly and stops the temptations to borrow. 
2) Reclaim what you're owed, for free!
Whether it is PPI or Council Tax. Claim it back! 
If you were mis-sold PPI or over charged, don't let the companies off reclaim your cash. If you want an easy way to reclaim your PPI find out more here.
There are multitude of things you can reclaim. From reclaiming tax for washing your work uniform to supermarket membership points online. Make sure you get what you're owed!
3) Check your financial health
If you spend more than you earn, you could be in serious problems in no time. Whether that manifests itself as debt or spending all of your income.
Use a website such as which will allow you to budget in detail for the entire year and give you a clear indication of your finances.
4) Switch your Bank Account
It is easier than you think to switch bank accounts for free. All your payments, direct debits and standing orders should be changed to your new account. It takes about seven working days and some will even give you cash for doing so.
5) Check your Insurance Policy
A lot of people just agree to renew their insurance policies without checking if they are actually getting a good deal.
You could be wasting a lot of cash, always check that you have the best cheapest and best deal for you before confirming your policy for another year. Find the cheapest on one of the many comparison sites out there, you could save a fortune.
6) Don't Believe the Supermarkets
No one is suggesting you buy poor quality food, but don't always swallow the marketing at face value. Just because a product is listed as 'finest', doesn't mean that it is actually better. Always assess what you are actually paying for and see if an alternative might be just as good.
7) Credit Card Juggling
To some people this may seem precarious, but moving your debit from one credit card to an interest free balance transfer card could save you big money. This allows you to repay the debts without acquiring extra interest charges.
8) Sell Sell Sell
Have a New Years clean and if you have anything lying around that you don't need, sell it! With eBay and other similar sites, it has never been easier to find someone who wants your unwanted items. Old mobile phones are an especially great way to get cash for things that are lying around gathering dust.
9) Beat the Big Six Energy Companies
The recent round of spending increases has seen prices rise between 4-10%. So the difference between the cheapest and most expensive tariffs can be as much as £200 a year. Act quickly to beat the rises and find the cheapest deal possible.
10)  Haggle!
It might be a decidedly un-British concept, but haggling isn't just for trips abroad or back street markets. You can try haggling at shops from Tesco, to Debenhams and John Lewis. If you're prepared to ask for a discount you never know the shop may give you one!

Monday, 6 January 2014

How to get fit without your wallet taking a hit

Gym Fitness
New Year resolutions to get fit can often mean wasted money, with many people more likely to break their resolution than break into a jog.

Britons waste a total of £37 Million a year on gym membership, slimming classes and fitness products that are left unused and ignored. 

However, it needn't cost to get fit, as there is a lot of valuable and free fitness advice available on the internet. The NHS's Change4Life fitness advice service for example– includes free programmes aimed at getting coach potatoes to run three miles in nine weeks.

  • If you do bite the bullet and want to check out your local gyms, you should always ask them for a free trial to help decide if you have what it takes to visit regularly. Also remember to keep your eye open for the frequent special offers available. For example, insurer Prudential offers half-price membership to gym chains such as Virgin Active and LA Fitness if you take out its life insurance or sign up to its health cover products.

  • 5 Ways to Gain Health and Not Lose Wealth

  1. Any gym contract longer than 12-month minimum terms is deemed unfair by the Office of Fair Trading. However, even a cheap 12 month deal can turn out to be a rip-off if you don't take full advantage of the gym.
  2. A flexible deal should always be sought before tying yourself into long contracts. A gym that really wants your business should agree to match other peoples offers. A continuous payment authority is often preferred by gyms – allowing them to take varying amounts of money for as long as they want from credit or debit cards. Always insist on direct debits or standing orders to ensure you have greater financial control.
  3. Never allow a gym to bully you. If they don't explain all the membership stipulations clearly in the contract, including the details of a long-rolling contracts after a fixed-term deal has ended. You should be able to cancel gym membership, equally if you lose a job, suffer serious illness or injury for at least two months or move home. This should be clear in contracts – otherwise you have a legal case.
  4. Why not try joining a cheaper council-run leisure centre or a gym affiliated to a college to see if you have the stamina to stick out the fitness regime. Perhaps you can later reward yourself with private gym membership. Councils often run city wide membership schemes so you can have access to all their facilities.
  5. Free fitness advice is offered by the NHS at website such as Change4Life, there are also a wide variety of websites and blogs offering advice from qualified experts. Remember ,you don't even need a gym to get fit! Go for a run or participate in sporting activities to shed pounds, they can often be much more sociable and fun too!

How to deal with the dreaded unwanted Christmas Gift

So its the first full working week of the year, Christmas and New Year are well out the way. The chances are you received some gifts that were not what you'd hoped for. Whilst you can't make up for the disappointment of unwrapping a faulty gadget or ill fitting clothing, you may be able to get a refund, an exchange or a repair.
Returning Christmas Gifts

Your rights to a refund depend on where it was bought (e.g. online or in-store), and importantly, whether its faulty. If its just an unwanted gift, the rights you have are much reduced, but you still have some so don't give up hope!
The gift is not working, what can I do?

The Sale of Goods Act requires the retailer to take responsibility for providing goods that are 
"of satisfactory quality, adescribed, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time".

So if its faulty of damaged, by law the retailer (not the manufacturer) needs to sort it out – so as long as you take it back to where it was bought within a month and you're legally entitled to a refund.

What proof do you need to return a faulty item?

Legally you only need proof of purchase, so credit card/bank statements are just as good as a receipt. It's a common misconception that you need a receipt to return faulty goods.

Does the person who bought it have to return it?

Buying an item is the beginning of a contract between the purchaser and the retailer. So in some cases you may need to ask the person who bought it for you to take it back to the shop or give you a receipt.

However, if an item's faulty, and you've proof of purchase or a gift receipt, many retailers will deal directly with you if you received the gift.

But its in the sale! Can I still return it?

The policy of an individual store has no effect on the law of the land. Faulty items, discounted or not, are subject to the same rules.

How long have I got to return it?

The short answer is that you have roughly a month to get a full refund. After a month under the law you're classed as having 'accepted the goods', so getting a refund is much more difficult. Although, do remember that you still have rights.

Under the Sales of Goods Act goods must "last a reasonable length of time". So after the month is up and before the six month mark, the onus is on the retailer to prove the goods weren't faulty from the first purchase.

If they can't place the responsibility elsewhere, you'r due a free repair or replacement. After six months, it gets a lot more tricky as you must prove it was faulty when sold.

And finally, you actually have up to six years to claim. In effect that's the maximum time you have to take back faulty goods. If an expensive electrical gadget fails after a year or so, you've still a good shot at getting a repair or refund.
What if my item was bought online and I can't take it in-store?

The rules for buying online are slightly different from buying in store, under the law you have the right to send goods back even if they're not faulty.

Due to the Distance Selling Regulations if you buy online, by mail order or catalogue from an UK or EU-based business, then you have a no-fault right to return the goods.

However, this only applies if you tell the retailer within seven days. There are some exceptions to this rule, including personalised gifts and perishables.

I don't like it!

When it comes to faulty or damaged goods the final word is the law. With unwanted gifts, it is at the stores discretion and their own policy dictates the outcome, as they're under no obligation to give you anything.

A lot of stores do however allow returns and exchanges as to not upset customers. Usually the item has to be unused and in its original packaging.

Can I return everything?

Personalised items are unlikely to be excepted by the store if they're not damaged, as they will be unable to resell them.

Retailers will also usually refuse to refund perishables such as food and flowers, as well as items such as a DVDs, CDs and games if they have been opened.

What do I need to return a gift?

It may be slightly embarrassing but you'll need to ask the gift buyer to provide you with the receipt to stand any chance of getting a refund or credit note.

If the store do offer you a refund and the item was bought on a card, you'll need the buyers debit or credit card to get the money back.

But its the Wrong Size! Can I change it?

An item being the wrong size doesn't count as a fault, so its again down to the stores discretion as to whether you can get a refund. Always ask though.
If all else fails, sell it on!
The chances are even if you don't want it, someone, somewhere will. List it on eBay and you never know you may get more for it than you thought.

Train Commuting Costs on the Rise Again!

At the start of the new year the last thing you want to hear is that your journey to work is going to cost more. Unfortunately the travel companies don't take this into account when announcing their new fares. Prices have risen across the board with rail season ticket fares rising by an average of 3.1% from the first week of January.
Beat Train Fare Rises

In some cases train commuters may find themselves paying more than £5,000 a year for travel. For example annual season tickets to London from Deal or Dover Priory in Kent now costing £5,012.

Passengers now paying more than £4,000 for a year's commuting include those who who travel from Basingstoke to London. Their annual fare rises to £4,076.

This 3.1% rise is for regulated fares which are only allowed to rise at a certain rate, which include all season tickets. However when you consider unregulated fares, typically off-peak leisure tickets, the rise is not capped.

The increase was going to be even greater, until Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement in early December that the regulated fare price cap of RPI inflation plus 1% was being changed to RPI plus 0%.

Fares for both Tube and National Rail trips within London will rise by an average 2.7% on 19 January. The rise in London is later than planned and is slightly lower than first announced, as the Chancellor's move affected the price of the capital's Travelcard tickets.

If you would like a guide for getting the cheapest train tickets you possibly can, check out this helpful guide.

Is it possible to save money in an hour?

An hour is longer than you think and you can change a lot in an hour. So if you have a spare 60 minutes, we've come up with some practical ways you can save money.

1. Change Energy Suppliers
With consistent price hikes across the big six energy suppliers, adding to the pressure on households this winter. Make sure you're not paying more than you need to, and switch deals if you are not. You should be able to fill in the questionnaires and find out in under an hour.

2. Plant some crops
It can take literally seconds to plant some seeds in soil and it can save you money on your weekly food outgoings. Buying a packet of mixed lettuce seeds costs about 99p and can be planted in a window box. If you have a garden take advantage by planting onions, shallots, spring cabbage, garlic and broad beans. There is a wealth of information online to help guide you and who knows it may even turn into a full on hobby too!

3. Plan your meals!
Planning your meals ahead of schedule can save you a heap of money. Use a meal planning website or a couple of cookbooks to decide what to eat this week. This should allow you to use up stuff you already have and means you won't buy more than is needed when you hit the shops.

4. Check your tax code
If you're in the wrong tax code you could be paying thousands more than you need to. Read the guide on HMRC's website. If you think you're on the wrong code, let it know.

5. What's going on Locally?
Many businesses now provide their biggest discounts to social media followers. Follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook. This especially applies to local independent local businesses, many will offer customers the best deals on social media and local websites, rather than the well-known UK-wide discount sites.

6. Check direct debits
Go through your accounts, checking online or via your statements. If you have any unnecessary payments cancel them.

7. Fit water saving devices
A lot of water companies offer free water saving devices. These can lower the amount of water you use from your showers and toilets. Phone your company or check its website to see if it gives anything away, and place an order.

8. Don't Overpay on Council Tax
Council tax is ordered by banding and could cost you a significant amount if you're in the wrong one. Check you're paying the correct amount. Contact your local council if you think yours in wrong and claim the reduction.

9. Sign up for peer-to-peer lending
Are your savings accounts earning you almost nothing? Why not try a peer-to-peer lending scheme like The site links lenders to borrowers with good credit ratings. There's currently a 4.4% projected return after fee, for up to five years.

10. Bleed your radiators
Make sure your central heating is running as efficiently as possible by bleeding out trapped air. If you don't know how to do it, watch a video first – Homeserve's website has a guide.