Monthly Archives

January 2017

5 TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE ON YOUR HOLIDAY COSTS

Now Christmas is over and the New Year is but a distant memory, we turn to searching for our summer holiday.  There are ways you can save money, below I have listed some tips to help you.

 

Go for Annual Travel Cover

If you plan to take more than one trip it makes sense to go for a yearly annual travel cover as it normally works out cheaper.

Don’t take my word for it though,  visit Go Compare and see what options are available.  For me travelling to Europe on a yearly annual travel cover costs as low as £11.85 – now that is a great deal!

Go Compare are also created on the premise of right product, right price – they offer a great range of financial products with jargon busting information!   They do the hard work of comparing,  I highly recommend you get a quote today to see how they do.

 

Get your travel accessories for £1

 

Yep you can get adaptor plugs and travel cushions for a fraction of the cost in the pound shops and you don’t even need to fight your way there – you can do it in the comfort of your own home!

 

PoundShop is now online, so why not shop for your travel accessories today and save yourself pounds plus new members get 5% off their first order!

 

Search out 4* and 5* hotel bargains

Don’t be paying over the odds for hotels.  You could save £000’s on doing a little research on lastminute.com in their secret hotel section.  Another website to search when looking for hotel deals is Hotwire again they offer secret hotels.

A little tip, before booking there is a way to try and find out what the hotel is, pick a key phrase used to describe the hotel, then search for this and you may be able to tell what the hotel is!

 

Travel Light

While airlines give you free hand luggage, these days they charge you for your bigger bags.  I recommend you minimise what is in your carry-on bag by wearing some of your clothes – put on several tops, your jacket, put things in your pockets.

Don’t give the airlines more money than you must so travel light!

 

Don’t buy travel-size toiletries – make your own

Travel size items, while convenient are expensive – looking at Sanctuary body wash for 75ml you pay £2.50 yet it is £5.50 for 250ml!  That works out £3.30 per 100ml in the travel size compared with £2.20 per 100ml in the bigger size.

 

It really is a no brainer to buy some small empty plastic bottles and fill them up with your favourite toiletries!  Plus, you can use them repeatedly.

 

Not to mention you can also bring home the lovely complimentary toiletries given to you by the hotel J

 

 

Happy holiday money saving!

 

Elf x

 

 

 

WANT TO KNOW HOW TO SET UP A BLOG TO MAKE MONEY IN 3 EASY STEPS?  VIEW THE POST HERE.

INTERESTED IN KNOWING HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG?  READ MY BLOG POST HERE.

WANT STUFF FOR FREE TO REVIEW ON YOUR BLOG?  READ MY POST HERE.

WANT TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR OLD RECEIPTS?  READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

WANT TO EARN GIFT VOUCHERS?  READ MY REVIEW OF SWAGBUCKS.  

INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOES AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY?  READ MORE HERE.  

WANT TO GET PAID FOR COMPLETING SURVEYS?  READ MY POST ABOUT PROLIFIC ACADEMIC HERE.

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3 BUDGETING APPS TO HELP YOU SAVE MONEY

 

 

It can be difficult sticking to a budget, making it is the easy part.  So in an effort to help you keep track of your spending I decided to download and test budgeting apps to see how they work and if they have helped me budget.

 

 

Wally App (available on iPhone & Android)

The Wally App is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income and expenditure, it also allows you to set goals and keep track of your spending.

 

It has been voted the number 1 finance app in over 22 countries.  A fantastic feature of this app is the option to add a photo of your receipt – that way you know exactly what you bought, where, when and for how much!

 

The app is totally free and the bonus being there are no ads!

 

Monefy (available on Android only)

Monefy is a personal finance application that helps with money management.  Some of the key features including seeing your spending broken down in to either a chart or detailed information transaction lists.  It is also easy to change the categories to what you need and you can select a reporting period if you want to look at a previous month.

 

I like the app as they use icons for each category which makes it look more fun.

 

 

Toshl (iPhone & Android)

Toshl Finance is an app that allows you to keep track of where your money goes and you can also set it up to remind you to pay bills.

 

It is very straightforward to use and it is easy to categories your spending in to different areas as well as setting your own categories up too.

 

The easy to use budget calculator shows how much money you have left once you make purchases but an excellent feature is that you can set a goal of what you want to spend, it will then let you see how much you have left – a fantastic visual way of knowing the amount you have left in the bank!

 

Another clever feature is the ability to set a reminder on the app which will notifiy you to add your spending – great!

 

 

Happy money saving!

 

Elf x

 

 

WANT TO KNOW HOW TO SET UP A BLOG TO MAKE MONEY IN 3 EASY STEPS?  VIEW THE POST HERE.

INTERESTED IN KNOWING HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG?  READ MY BLOG POST HERE.

WANT STUFF FOR FREE TO REVIEW ON YOUR BLOG?  READ MY POST HERE.

WANT TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR OLD RECEIPTS?  READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

WANT TO EARN GIFT VOUCHERS?  READ MY REVIEW OF SWAGBUCKS.  

INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOES AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY?  READ MORE HERE.  

WANT TO GET PAID FOR COMPLETING SURVEYS?  READ MY POST ABOUT PROLIFIC ACADEMIC HERE.

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WHY EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND

Today I have another fantastic post from George who runs the blog Retired Broker.  You can follow George here.

 

 

The word “emergency” originally comes from the Latin “emergere” meaning “appear”, in the case of an “emergency fund” it really does mean something that needs to appear pretty quick because you need to lay your hands on some cash straight away.

 

 

From the first time you are given pocket money as a kid, you are told to not spend it all at once, but to save some for use later. The phrase “save for a rainy day” is one I remember being bombarded with from my parents, it never made sense to me as we lived in the UK and pretty much every day was a rainy day. I learnt later that it wasn’t meant to be literal. Saving, however, is not easy – and never has been. The calls on your cash from everyday life are difficult enough to meet without adding further pressure on yourself by trying to save. But saving is worth it in the short, medium and long term. And here’s why…Something will go wrong in your life that will need cash to put right. Notice I said “will” and not “might”. This is because I really did mean “will”.

 

 

If you drive a car, then there are an almost infinite number of things that can go wrong with it, at virtually no notice either, from punctures to flat batteries and cracked windscreens to having to pay insurance excesses. All these mishaps will need immediate attention if you want to carry on with getting to work or taking the kids to school. And it will cost. If you own anything with a plug on it, then it can, and almost certainly will, go wrong. TV, computer, washing machine or Kirby trouser press; all of these essentials (ok, possibly not the trouser press..) will cost to replace or repair. If you have children, then the cost of unexpected school trips and unexpected damaged uniforms are actually to be expected. Got a dog? Can you guarantee that your canine friend won’t ever munch your favourite shoes? Got a house? Has it got guaranteed “non damageable ever under any circumstances” guttering? I thought not.

 

 

To meet these challenges of everyday life there are pretty much only two options. You take the necessary cost from savings or you hit the credit card or take a loan. By far, the first option is the cheapest. But how do you save? The simplest way is to treat saving as an essential bill. If you can get into the mindset whereby putting a little money away each payday is a bill you have to pay, then it becomes a bit easier. Most current account providers will happily arrange for a savings account to be set up side by side with your current account. Arranging an automatic transfer into the savings account on the day you get paid couldn’t be easier. If the account provider offers you a card so you can easily make withdrawals from it, say no! Make it a bit awkward for yourself to withdraw money from your savings account. You’ll be surprised how soon you’ll give up trying if you have to put some effort into getting the money out!

 

 

If you are the type who will go the extra mile to do things just that bit better, then you can look around at the various Monthly Savings Plans that the banks and building societies provide. Some of them even pay (by current standards) an almost acceptable rate of interest. Researching these accounts is really easy using any of the comparison sites available online and setting up a regular deposit into them is also very easy as well.

 

 

Having an emergency fund is a necessity, because emergencies will appear just when they are least expected. Wouldn’t it be great to feel just a bit smug for planning in advance rather than feeling miserable for not?

 

 

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HOW THIS SIMPLE STEP DOWN TRICK COULD SAVE YOU £000’s

 

 

‘Step-down’ is a process of identifying less expensive purchase alternatives.  Instead of cutting out an item (for example, eating out a restaurant or buying clothing), find a way to purchase it for less or get it for free.

 

You can think of spending as a descending staircase, with steps going down from the most expensive way to buy an item (top step) to the least expensive way to buy something (bottom step).  For example, if you consider clothing.  A five-step staircase might look something like this.

 

 

1st Step:  Expensive department stores or speciality shops

 

2nd Step: Mid-price department store or outlet

 

3rd Step: Discount department store

 

4th Step:  Second hand stores / Ebay / Car boot

 

5th Step:  fREE from sites such as Freegle / family / friends

 

 

 

I highly recommend you try this process out and see how much you could be saving.

 

Happy Saving!

 

Elf x

 

Want to know ways to increase your income?  Visit these blog posts

 

WANT TO KNOW HOW TO SET UP A BLOG TO MAKE MONEY IN 3 EASY STEPS?  VIEW THE POST HERE.

INTERESTED IN KNOWING HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG?  READ MY BLOG POST HERE.

WANT STUFF FOR FREE TO REVIEW ON YOUR BLOG?  READ MY POST HERE.

WANT TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR OLD RECEIPTS?  READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

WANT TO EARN GIFT VOUCHERS?  READ MY REVIEW OF SWAGBUCKS.  

INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOES AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY?  READ MORE HERE.  

WANT TO GET PAID FOR COMPLETING SURVEYS?  READ MY POST ABOUT PROLIFIC ACADEMIC HERE.

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FREE ONLINE TRAINING COURSES

 

 

 

 

I wanted to share with you a wonderful free way to study online and choose from hundreds of courses from top universities as well as specialist organisations.

 

FutureLearn is an online learning company set up by The Open University which offers totally free courses that you can study at your own pace and during your own time.

 

There are many courses to choose from – the complete list can be found here – there is such a vast array of subjects and the courses are from six to ten weeks long but of course there are shorter courses too.

 

The courses are very interactive and contain various activities to keep you interested and motivated including videos, audio and articles to read.  There are also short quizzes you can take as you go along.

 

Some of the courses that have just started are:

 

Business Fundamentals:  Effective Communication from The Open University

 

Cancer in the 21st Century from University of Glasgow

 

Exercise Prescription for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease by Trinity College Dublin

 

Innovation: The Key to Business Success of University of Leeds

 

Spanish for Beginners by The Open University

 

 

Each task you complete the easy to navigate system allows you to tick it off from your “To Do List” so you can move on to the next task.

 

There are also discussion sessions where you can chat to others who are taking the course – this is a great interactive tool to allow you to compare notes!

 

There are assignments that you can complete and at the end of most courses you will be given the opportunity to purchase a Certificate of Achievement.  The price for this really does depend on the course but you really don’t have to purchase one – it is up to you.

 

Whether you are studying for pleasure or considering a career change, FutureLearn is an excellent tool for increasing your knowledge or a way to increase your confidence in learning again.

 

Whatever the reason it is an infectious resource that you can continue to use again and again – totally free!

 

Happy learning!

 

Elf x

 

 

 

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HOW TO START A FINANCIAL DETOX TODAY

This article first appeared on Belfast Live.

 

A New Year is about fresh starts, it is about making resolutions to implement a new habit or kick a bad one.  While many work towards becoming healthy and fit or setting out to achieve a specific goal, there is one part of our lives that is often overlooked – money!

 

The New Year is the perfect time to take part in a financial detox.

 

What is a financial detox I hear you say?  Put simply it is a way of getting your finances in shape.

 

We all know that Christmas comes around at the same time each year yet three in 10 adults reported they will be in debt after Christmas 2016. A nationwide poll which was commissioned by BBC1’s Watchdog noted that the debt is likely to be up to £250 per person with younger adults more likely to experience debt.

 

I’ve put together a financial detox list of tips to help you keep on track in 2017…

 

Write out your financial goals

 

Most of us are so focused on today that we are often ill prepared for tomorrow.  Which is why it is so important to plan for the future.

 

We all have dreams for the future, but without a plan dreams can often be put to one side.

 

To gain control of your financial future start with your financial goals.  Writing these down is a great way of reinforcing the goal and it also allows you to visualise and reaffirm that goal.

 

Why not treat yourself to a notebook in the January sales and start writing down your financial goals – remember to keep it close and have a pen attached to it – no excuses!

 

 

Purify your income and expenditure

 

To get a handle on your finances it is important to list your income and expenditure.

 

First step is to know your actual income from your salary, benefits, child benefit etc.  Once you have this information you can then move on to your expenditure.

 

Note down your bills and whatever other monthly expenses you have including those trips to the coffee shop or the times you nip in for a pint of milk but end up spending over £20!

 

Once you have this information you can create a realistic budget to help you keep track of your monthly budget.

 

 

Trim your spending

 

Seems straightforward but when you have a lot of bills it can seem a daunting task.  Break it down in to manageable chunks.

 

First re-negotiate your current services such as mobile, home insurance, broadband and cable TV services with your current providers.  However, before calling them visit a cost comparison site such as Go Compare and see if you can get better deals by getting a quote for each of the services.

 

With this key information to hand contact your current providers and ask them what kind of discount they could give you.  Pass on the deals you have found on the cost comparison website.  More times than not, they will offer you a discount.

 

Personally, I have saved hundreds doing this – I know you can too.

 

 

Plug the toxic spending leaks

 

Sit down and assess what you currently spend your money on.  You need to be honest with yourself.

 

Ask yourself the following questions: Why am I spending money on this item? Do I want or need this item? Is it worth that much? Is this purchase trying to make up for some area of my life that is lacking? Is there a less expensive alternative to what I want to buy? If so, why am I not willing to buy the less expensive alternative? What else do I want or need that this money could be used for?

 

Give your answers some thought. Once you understand your feelings make an agreement to rectify any bad habits which are causing you to spend money carelessly.

 

For example, you could put strategies in place to deal with these such as having a ‘no-spend’ day or setting yourself a target such as saving for a holiday.

 

Whatever the challenge I highly recommend you start a spending diary so you can track where your money goes.

 

 

Fire up your income making skills

 

It’s not just about cutting back it is also about increasing your income.  There are many ways to do that.  If you have time to spare you could try out  mystery shopping, or completing surveys during your lunch break or indeed you could start a blog.  You could also sell your unwanted clothes, CDs, and DVDs online or if you have a hobby – sell your handmade items at craft fairs or online.

 

If you are receiving benefits, visit your local Citizen’s Advice to make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to.  There are so many people that miss out because they are unaware of what they can claim.  Make sure you are not one of them!

 

Happy Detoxing!

 

Elf x

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THINGS YOU CAN SELL OR DO TO MAKE EXTRA CASH AFTER CHRISTMAS

 

 

Money can be tight when the festive season is over so below I have noted some of the things you can sell and where to make some extra cash or things you can do to make some cash.

 

  1. Old DVDs, Books and LPs

You can either flog them altogether on the likes of Music Magpie or you can list them on Ebay.  After all if you no longer use the items there is  no point in cluttering up your home.

 

  1. Make things to sell

If you are good at arts and crafts then get your creative juices going and make items you can sell.  To get some inspiration have a look at etsy and set up an account with them today to start selling your lovely handmade goods.

 

  1. Offering a Service

Do you like pets?  Are you good with figures?  You could become a pet sitter, a dog walker or offer your services as a book-keeper.  Why not register with People per Hour and start  applying for contracts.  You too can register here and start making extra money.

 

  1. Old/Vintage Clothes

Vintage clothing is so popular with some vintage dresses selling for over £30 per dress on Ebay.  Get hunting through your wardrobe, you mum’s wardrobe and your gran’s wardrobe!

 

  1. Turn your hobby in to cash

Keen photographer?  Start selling your photographs or advertise your photography service on Gumtree.  You can do this for any hobby.

 

  1. Start a Blog

I would encourage anyone and everyone to set up a blog.  The potential for making money is fantastic – although it will take a little time to get established but if you follow along with me as I post about how I am currently undertaking this, you will certainly do great!

 

The first step though is register with TSO Host to get your blog started.  Some articles that will help you out:

 

How to set up a blog to make money

How to monetize your blog

How to get free stuff in exchange for blog reviews

 

  1. Complete surveys

Prolific Academic is a survey site but with a difference, it is mainly used by researchers from universities so the surveys you complete are that little bit more interesting – in my opinion anyway!

You are paid in cash so get registering today and find out how much you can make during your lunch break!

 

  1. Mystery Shop

A great way to make extra cash is to mystery shop.  To find out about mystery shopping view my blog post here.

 

  1. Join ClickWorker

As well as completing surveys another way of making some extra cash when you have a few minutes is completing tasks through ClickWorker.

 

  1. Earn Vouchers

You can also earn vouchers as well with SwagBucks.  Swagbucks is a paid to click website which offers numerous tasks for you to do, some of these are surveys, daily polls and searching online.  Another great opportunity to save up vouchers for birthdays and Christmas.

 

Happy selling!

 

Elf x

 

 

WANT TO KNOW WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR BANK BALANCE THIS JANUARY?  CHECK OUT MY BLOG POST HERE.

HOW TO SET UP A BLOG TO MAKE MONEY IN 3 EASY STEPS?  VIEW THE POST HERE.

INTERESTED IN KNOWING HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG?  READ MY BLOG POST HERE.

WANT STUFF FOR FREE TO REVIEW ON YOUR BLOG?  READ MY POST HERE.

WANT TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR OLD RECEIPTS?  READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

WANT TO EARN GIFT VOUCHERS?  READ MY REVIEW OF SWAGBUCKS.  

INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOES AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY?  READ MORE HERE.  

WANT TO GET PAID FOR COMPLETING SURVEYS?  READ MY POST ABOUT PROLIFIC ACADEMIC HERE.

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HOW TO SHED THOSE £000’s AFTER CHRISTMAS

 

 

Today I have a fantastic post from George who runs the blog Retired Broker.  You can follow George here.  George shares his ideas of how to shed those pounds from your credit card bill.

 

The January credit card statement is the financial equivalent of standing on the scales on Boxing Day;  you know the numbers you are looking at are accurate, but the events that led to this point don’t  seem such a great idea any more.

 

So what are your options when faced with the aftermath of a little festive overspending? Well there are options, but like the battle with the scales, success relies on a bit of planning, effort and will-power.

 

As with any credit card bill, the absolutely best solution is to clear it in one go, It avoids interest charges and does wonderful things for your credit score.

 

If that is not possible, you are then facing the prospect of paying interest probably in excess of 15% APR. If you took advantage of a special offer on a store card in order to buy that must have present that was otherwise just financially out of reach, then you are facing higher charges as these cards generally have interest rates of 20% APR and even over 30%! These can wipe out any “special offer” if not used wisely.

 

If you have a balance of £1000 with an interest charge of 18% APR and are paying £30 a month to clear it IT WILL TAKE YOU JUST UNDER 4 YEARS AT A TOTAL COST OF £1410!

 

If you can’t clear your bill in one hit, then the first thing to do is make a realistic assessment of the situation. This is quite simple; however it only works if you are completely honest with yourself!

 

Here are a few steps you can take that will help you get back into control:

 

Step 1.

Write down the total amount of the credit card bill. If there is more than one, then list them separately.

 

Step 2.

Read the terms and conditions of each card. You need to know the interest rate you are being charged and the length of time you have to pay it. If you have more than one card, list them in order of who is charging the most interest first.

 

Step 3

Work out a budget for yourself. Include everything you spend and include an amount for day to day expenses. Work out an amount that you can comfortably afford each month to pay the outstanding amount.

 

It may be that you find that the balance can be cleared in a few months and you are happy to accept the interest charges for those few months. On the other hand, it may be that it will take a while longer.

 

One way of dealing with this situation is to look at other credit cards and see if you could be better off switching and taking advantage of an interest free offer. Also known as a “Balance Transfer”, this is where you move your existing credit card debt to a new card in order to take advantage of an interest free period over a set time.

 

The advantage being that if you are no longer paying any interest, the whole of your monthly payment is set against the outstanding balance, resulting in the debt being reduced (and hopefully finished) a lot quicker. There is usually a bit of a catch though.

 

The new provider commonly adds a transfer fee, typically 3%, to the balance that is being transferred. You need to check this carefully when looking at your switching options. It has to be said though, that even with the fee, you are virtually guaranteed to save considerable amounts by switching to an interest free card.

 

Other things to consider are the interest rates the new card will charge when the interest free period ends and whether or not the interest free offer is just for balance transfers or will it be for purchases as well.

 

The safest way to use these cards is to make the transfer, work out how much you need to pay in order to clear the balance by the end of the interest free term and never use it again!

 

GOING BACK TO THE EARLIER EXAMPLE OF A BALANCE OF £1000, IF IT IS SWITCHED TO AN

INTEREST FREE CARD, EVEN WITH A 3% FEE, IT WILL NOW TAKE UNDER 3 YEARS TO CLEAR, AT A

TOTAL COST OF £1030. A SAVING OF ONE YEAR AND NEARLY £400!

 

There are a variety of credit card comparison sites on the internet that will help you choose the best one for you, but bear in mind that in order to qualify for the best offers, you need a good credit record.

 

WANT TO KNOW WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR BANK BALANCE THIS JANUARY?  CHECK OUT MY BLOG POST HERE.

HOW TO SET UP A BLOG TO MAKE MONEY IN 3 EASY STEPS?  VIEW THE POST HERE.

INTERESTED IN KNOWING HOW TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG?  READ MY BLOG POST HERE.

WANT STUFF FOR FREE TO REVIEW ON YOUR BLOG?  READ MY POST HERE.

WANT TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR OLD RECEIPTS?  READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE.

WANT TO EARN GIFT VOUCHERS?  READ MY REVIEW OF SWAGBUCKS.  

INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOES AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY?  READ MORE HERE.  

WANT TO GET PAID FOR COMPLETING SURVEYS?  READ MY POST ABOUT PROLIFIC ACADEMIC HERE.

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