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THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE FINANCIAL WORM!

In the modern world, there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of finance. Of course, this makes sense. Without money, life can be very hard. And, the only way to ensure that you will have money into your later life is by starting with your finances early.

 

When you’re young, though, it can be very hard to focus on this area of life, however important it is. With your career and independent life just starting, you already have loads on your mind. But, in reality, this is, even more, reason to start working on this now. To help you out, this post will be going through some of the reasons you should start early. And, some of the ways you can put your money away.

 

savings and investments

 

SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS

For most, the aim of saving and investment is to try and make more money out of what you have. Most of the methods you’ll use to do this are based on interest, though. So, you know exactly what you can expect to make, long before you ever make it. Unfortunately, the nature of interest-based saving and investment means that the longer you have it in place, the more you will make.

 

Failing to save when you’re young will limit the amount of interest you can gain. With some services, like life insurance, you’ll find that the price only goes up as you get older, too. And, this will make it harder for you to save. Starting on something like this early will make it easier for you to make more money, along with helping you to learn everything while you’re still young.

 

LIFE INSURANCE

Life insurance is one of the best investments a young person can make. Of course, you will never see this money again. Instead, it will be given to your loved ones when you pass away. But, this doesn’t make it any less important. In most cases, your insurance company will expect you to put forward a certain percentage of the policy, and they’ll cover the rest. So, regardless of your age, you will always have to contribute the same amount. A website like http://www.insurancehero.org.uk/types/500-000-life-insurance.html can help you to understand this better. But, basically, the longer you leave it, the more expensive this sort of service will become.

 

 

PREMIUM BONDS

Of course, you probably won’t want all of your savings and investments to be slipping past you and into someone else’s pocket. And, this is where bonds and ISAs come in. In a lot of cases, these sorts of accounts are tax-free. This means that you will be given 100% of what is made from your money, without the government taking their own slice. Along with this, bonds, like the ones found on https://www.nsandi.com/premium-bonds, are usually covered by your local government. This makes it impossible to lose money on them, at the cost of a lower return. Because the return on this sort of investment is very low, it’s good to start early to make the most of it.

 

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start getting on top of your finances as early as possible. The skills required to go far in this sort of area will take a long time for you to learn. But, with the right effort, you’ll be able to start nice and early.

 

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ARE YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS TAKING UP MOST OF YOUR SALARY?

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Does your money fly out of your bank account as soon as it is deposited? If your monthly standing orders and direct debits are eating up most of your monthly salary it is time to start making some changes to your contracts. However much you manage to increase your income, these bills are going to continue taking a sizable chunk out of your paycheque.

 

You may be able to negotiate better deals for your mobile, broadband, insurance and utility bills that will give you some spare cash at the end of the month. Then you can spend it on doing things that you enjoy!

 

Getting a better mobile phone contract

A mobile phone is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for modern living and you probably organise your social life, shopping, transport and entertainment through your smartphone. It is important to keep up with the latest models because they offer a better service, a wider range of applications and updated software. The downside of that is the cost!  

 

It is easy to rush into signing a mobile phone contract if you think you are getting a good deal but you may be tied into that contract for two or even three years. If you wake up thinking I’ve changed my mind about a phone contract there is guidance on what you can do about it. This useful advice gives provider-specific tips for how you can get out of the mobile phone contract that you feel is not right for you.

Changing your utility provider

Gas and electricity bills will use up a large proportion of your monthly income. The utility industry can be very confusing and it can seem a lot of hassle to change provider but you could potentially save yourself a lot of money.

 

It is best to start by contacting your current provider and finding out if there is any way in which you could reduce your monthly costs. Then start looking around for a better deal. There are plenty of price comparison websites if you are sitting in front of your computer thinking that you don’t know where to start when it comes to swapping utility provider. You don’t have to rush into anything, take your time to make the right decision.

House and buildings insurance

This is an area of your life where you must avoid making a quick saving. You must be careful about keeping your possessions protected, it is important that you have insurance just in case the worst should happen. However, you do not want to have to pay for cover that you don’t need. For example, if you are living in rented accommodation you will only need contents insurance because your landlord will pay for the buildings insurance.

 

You may be able to make your monthly premiums less by opting for a higher excess or a slightly reduced cover. There are many websites that can help you to select the insurance policy that will suit your needs the best.

 

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3 THINGS THAT MAKE YOU A GREAT LANDLORD

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If you fancy a change of career or want to start a new hustle on the side to make some extra cash, getting into property can be a great route to go down. Despite the housing marketing certainly not being what it was thirty years ago, buying now rather than later can certainly hold you in good stead for the future.

 

House prices are rising all the time, so on paper, even if you bought a house and only made some minor upgrades, it is reasonably likely that you could still sell it for profit some years down the line. But not everyone buys property with the intention of selling it.

 

The concept of buy-to-let properties is a popular one, particularly since many younger people, in particular, are having to rent rather than buy. Landlords can make a decent living from renting out their properties, and provided that you get on with your tenants, it can be quite rewarding too. However, there are a few things you need to know before you jump headfirst into landlord life, so you can do the very best job you can.

landlord

 

Secure a good standard of property



Sadly, the country is not famed for having a good selection of rental properties. The rental market has been blighted by a host of sub-par properties and rogue landlords, who prey on the desperate need for housing that so many people have. This doesn’t mean to say that you can’t buy investment properties such as older houses, or a so-called ’empty shell,’ and rent them out. But, you need to be prepared to make the home livable first. Make sure the property is cleared of any damp, that the electrical and heating systems are all in order, and that you have secured flooring and appliances. Failure to do so could mean that you are breaking the law, and you could end up garnering a bad reputation as a landlord.

 



Keep copies of EVERYTHING



Even if your property involvement is purely a side hustle, it’s still important that you treat it like a business. This means doing everything by the book and keeping copies of every document that relates to the house you are renting out. Gas certificates, rental agreements, deposit information and utility forms all need to be on your records in case you ever come into a dispute with your tenants. It can also be worth having physical copies AND electronic versions of everything so that you know you have the back-up if you need it.

 

Be available


You are the only point of contact your tenants have regarding anything to do with their house (unless you have rented your property via an estate agent). So, with that in mind, you need to be prepared to be in semi-regular contact with them and be willing to be around if an emergency occurs. Share contact details with your tenants and always try and get back to them within 24 hours if they have a query – sooner if there is something seriously wrong. Landlords do sometimes have a bad reputation, but by following some of these rules, you can have a harmonious relationship with your rental properties and your tenants.


 

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DON’T SPEND ALL YOUR VACATION CASH ON FOOD

food

Food is kind of annoying, right? I mean, yes, it is enjoyable. There are few things in life better than cake, after all. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could enjoy food without actually needing it? It costs money to fulfill that need, after all; that is, unless you want to go completely off the grid and grow all of your own stuff. Which most of us don’t want to do, really. So our only option is to buy our meals and ingredients.

 

food budget

 

This may not be something you think about all that much when you’re at home. But what about when you’re on vacation? That’s when a lot of us start to pay even more attention to what we’re paying in order to feed ourselves. Because we generally don’t have ovens, microwaves, or even refrigerators to hand when we’re travelling, most of us tend to rely on restaurants. Back home, restaurants are an indulgence, and they’re an indulgence for a reason – because they’re expensive. But when we’re on vacation, we often find ourselves in restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

A lot of us don’t really calculate how much in total we spend on a given vacation. Perhaps it’s because we know the figure is going to be a little shocking. If more of us were to do this, perhaps we’d see something that we should really all be paying more attention to: eating while on vacation sees you spending hundreds per week – perhaps even in as little as a couple of days.

 

This should really call more attention to our need to find ways to save money on food when we’re on vacation. And this means doing more research and exploring your options.

 

Let’s say you’re going to stay in London for a week. Most restaurants in London are shockingly expensive. That’s why you need to do your research on the places to eat in your area. There’s a good list of budget restaurants at timeout.com. Instead of heading to the West End and spending ages wandering around for a place that looks cheap, find a good list beforehand. This will save you both time and money.

 

food

 

 

Even at the more expensive places, you have money-saving options. Consider looking for coupons for London restaurants at groupon.com. These usually work best if you’re going in a group!

 

Of course, even budget eats will end up costing a fair amount over the course of your vacation. This is why you might want to consider looking into renting an apartment. You can find short let apartments from londonservicedapartments.co.uk. This option doesn’t usually cost more than a hotel; in fact, it can be cheaper at times. But the main benefit in this context is that you’ll have access to the appliances you have at home. This means you can head out, buy your own ingredients, and cook up a batch of something to eat throughout the week – saving you tremendous amounts of money.

 

There are other strategies you can employ when you do want to check out a restaurant. In London, as in many places, the prices often rise quite considerably after 5pm or so. Basically, dinner is way more expensive than lunch. Consider eating a big meal at lunch and a smaller one for dinner!

 

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HOW TO INVEST IN YOURSELF

invest in yourself

Warren Buffet is one of the wealthiest people in the world, yet when he was asked what he thought the best investment was, he said:

 

“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”

 

He went on to say that he has never stopped learning and as a result has got better at was he does.  For all sorts of common sense reasons, not all of us can become one of the wealthiest people on the planet. However, we can take heed of his advice and improve through learning, free learning! The internet is awash with free resources on virtually any subject. You can type “How to…” for anything into YouTube and there will  almost certainly be a video showing you how to do it. From craft subjects to fixing cars, cooking to web design, you can just watch and learn. Try it. Go on to YouTube now and type in something you would like to learn about. I bet you’ll find something of interest!

 

Perhaps you prefer something a little more structured. Most people are aware of the Open University and that it provides access to graduate level qualifications in a way that a conventional university doesn’t, but are you aware that it has about 1000 courses that you can sign up to for free? Business, Education, Sport, Health, Languages, Environment and Law are just some of the subjects covered. Go to http://www.open.edu/openlearn/about-openlearn/try and see if there is something for you.

 

If you think your CV could do with a bit of a boost, take a look at the Vision2Learn website https://www.vision2learn.net/courses  Vision2Learn is a government funded project designed to make available  relevant online courses that will improve your chances in the workplace (or the self employed workplace!) Customer Service, IT skills, Business Administration and a lot more are covered. All are designed to end with a certificate and are delivered online with human support to guide you through the process. As well as improving your CV, employers are always impressed with anyone that has used some initiative and done some self improvement or learning.

 

Ever wanted to learn a language? The choice of learning languages is truly wide! As well as countless Youtube videos and many free websites such as BUSUU.com,there are a number of apps such as DuoLingo which will do the job. All you need to do is take a little time to look at a few of them and decide which of the many methods of learning suits you best. Some of them even have you talking to native speakers in exchange for you helping them with English. As I said, the choice is huge and there will be a style of learning that is perfect for you somewhere.

 

Never has it been easier to find help in improving your knowledge and while a lot of this is free, it may be that some courses have to be paid for. Before jumping straight in with the debit card in these instances, do a little more digging. Some courses may have a free taster course so you can dip your toe in before you spend. Others may offer a bursary or discount depending on your personal circumstances. Always ask first, you may be entitled to something that is not well advertised. If you are thinking of a course that will help you in your job, talk to your employer, it is quite possible that your boss may be persuaded to cover all or part of the fees, especially if they can see how it will make you a better employee.

 

 

This is a guest post by George the Retired Broker.  You can visit his blog here.

 

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HOW TO SEE THE WORLD ON A BUDGET

travelling on a budget

Whether you’re doing a gap year or a sabbatical, everyone wants to take every opportunity to travel. The downside is that money eventually runs out, and travelling further than your own borders can get expensive quickly.

 

The idea of getting stranded in a foreign country with no money and no way of getting home can put people off the whole idea, but there are ways you can fulfill your dreams and stay within your limits. Here are just a few ways you can make this possible.

 

travelling on a budget

 

Work while you travel

If money is your biggest issue, then you should make sure you still have a way to support yourself while you’re travelling. It may be the last thing you want to do when you envisioned yourself sitting on beaches all day, but the beauty of working freelance all year is that you can decide what you do and what your hours will be.

 

You could teach English in the evenings, sign up to work at a hostel for a few months and explore in your own time, get paid to write freelance articles online, or you could even apply for an all-inclusive internship. There are so many things ways you can make money that won’t hinder your plans.

 

 

Alternative accommodation

You might not be able to afford 5 star hotels, but you don’t have to stay in crummy hostels either. There are plenty of websites to help budget travellers find a room for the night, so your cheapest accommodation while travelling should be nice hostels, or couchsurfing.

 

If you’re travelling due to an internship you could check in your city for all your available options; Homestay in London puts in you touch with host families close to where you’ll be working, so you can get the full experience of living and working in London. If you’re just freelancing, or hoping to find a job once you arrive, Airbnb can offer you a place to stay for a reasonable weekly basis. These options are flexible in case you get the urge to travel further.

 

 

Cheap travel

The biggest assumption about travelling is that you have to get to all your destinations by flying. While this might be true for your first stop, travelling by car, train, or bus is something that you should consider, if only because it is so much cheaper than flying all the time. It might not be as luxurious as travelling in style, but travelling by road is a great way to see more of the country you’re visiting.

 

The Greyhound bus company in America stops at 3700 locations throughout the US and Canada, and you could even take an overnight bus if you don’t want to waste daylight hours on travelling. However, if you absolutely have to get somewhere by plane, try and fly off-season to save money on plane tickets. Skyscanner can help you compare flight prices across a whole month meaning you’ll be able to see the cheapest days and months to fly.

 

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A CHANGE OF CAREER: 3 STEPS TO FINDING A BETTER JOB

 

Are you getting sick and tired of working the same old boring job? Would you like to try something more enjoyable that could help you to give something back? Then you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m going to show you three simple steps anyone can use to change career. If you put this advice into action, you could have everything sorted in a matter of weeks. It all comes down to the type of job you’d like to find, and the availability in your local area. However, the strategy outlined below will give you the best chances of success. With that in mind, let’s get started.

 

change of career

 

Look for progression routes within your current career

 

Before you do anything else, it’s wise to search for chances of promotion within your current role. Perhaps you could stay with the same company and do something different? You have to play it carefully. However, you should speak to your boss and explain that you aren’t feeling happy at the moment. Let them know that you plan to leave if you can find a better role elsewhere. If you are valuable to the company, they will bend over backward to put you in a better position. Just try not to come across as arrogant. Let the boss know you’ve love to continue working for them if they have something different.

 

Search for recruitment agencies that deal with your chosen industry

 

There are lots of recruitment agencies for almost every niche. So, you just need to search for companies that deal with desirable roles. Experts from Employ Social Care say that’s the best method of finding work in the care industry these days. So, if you like the idea of giving something back, maybe that’s an idea you’d like to consider? The hours are often long, but people working in those roles tend to experience high levels of job satisfaction. Agencies are also useful for driving jobs or anything else with a high staff turnover rate.

 

Use the internet to check specialist online job boards

 

We are living in the digital world, and so it makes sense that you should use the internet to your advantage. There are many online job sites for almost every industry. So, you just need to search Google to find the best listings. Some sites like Indeed allow you to upload a CV, and that means you can make applications fast. Just apply for as many positions as possible and try to obtain some interviews. There are also lots of articles online that will give you tips and tricks about the best ways to get decent results. Keeping eye contact etc. is important. So, make sure you read as much information as possible to give yourself a fighting chance.

 

If you follow the three steps outlined on this page, you should find a new job in no time. Whether or not you remain in the same industry is your decision. I just wanted to show you that anyone can move into a new career with ease these days. You just have to make proper use of technology and use some common sense. Whatever happens, I wish you the best of luck this year.

 

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MY KIDS ARE LEARNING HOW TO COOK LOW COST MEALS

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My children are growing up fast.  I want to help them prepare for when they are living on their own.  I have decided to teach them how to cook simple recipes on a budget.

Life skills are extremely important, especially cooking and sticking to a budget.  Giving my kids the confidence to make simple meals is also extremely important.  Below are just some the meals they have prepared.

 

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are so cheap and easy.  You can have almost anything with them to make them in to a really filling meal.  They can be quick too.  If you don’t have time to pop them in the over for an hour, you can blitz in the microwave first.

Our recipe is simple, pop it in the microwave for 15 minutes, take out, spike it with a fork, drizzle with oil and salt then pop in the over for a further 20 minutes to bake and crisp the skin.  Serve with filling of your choice.  So far our boys have tried beans and tuna – separately of course!

 

Easy, peasy omelette

Eggs are just so versatile.   Our boys have had fun making omelettes.  It was fun at the beginning learning how to crack an egg without getting bits of shell in the mixture!

We use 3 eggs, a little butter and some salt and pepper.  Crack the eggs in a bowl mix with salt and pepper pour in to a pan with some butter.  Move the eggs around the pan a bit until they are nearly cooked.  At this stage you can then add some ham and chives or whatever other filling you like!

 

Irish Stew

Is stew an Irish thing?  I really don’t know but I can tell you it is so delicious and easy to make, my boys have had great fun making and eating it!

This is a one pot recipe, you brown some mince and onions, add potatoes and carrots.  At this point you add some water which is just enough to cover the potatoes.  Throw in a couple of Oxo cubes and some salt and allow to cook slowly until the potatoes and carrots are very soft.  That’s it.  Honestly there is nothing more to it that that!

 

These are just the ones our boys have tried.  Next on the list to learn is a simple stir fry, chilli, spaghetti bolognese.  It will then be time to move on to baking.  Nothing more delicious than making your own buns!

 

What recipes do you think I should consider next?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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LET’S GO TO THE BEACH!

BEACH HOLIDAY

 

 

Summer is nearly here, and that means that many of my readers might be in the midst of planning a beach holiday. There’s nothing like a good few days spent at the beach, enjoying the surf, the sand and the sun. But you do need to make sure you are properly prepared for this type of getaway. Luckily, I’ve got a few tips that should prove to be very helpful indeed.

 

summer

 

 

Find Your Summer Style

The place to start is finding the right clothes to wear. You can find my own personal style preferences on another section of this blog but for now, let’s think about what you like. You can take some cut off denim shorts and perhaps a crop or too. You might also want to look into buying a new bikini if you’re planning on working on that tan. Or, if you are not beach body ready just yet, you can be a tad more conservative with a tankini.

 

Make sure you have some light, loose clothes to wear over it for when you dash into town for supplies. Or, if you just want to protect yourself from the sun’s powerful rays.

 

Remember, the key to great summer style is accessorising. You can start by looking for the perfect pair of shades. While there are plenty of different types to choose from, I’d opt for the vintage cat eyes. These look ultra chic and will compliment any beach outfit beautifully.

 

Skip The Time Of The Month

Are you planning on going swimming on your beach vacay or do you just want to avoid looking bloated? Either, way you might want to make sure you skip your time of the month. If you’re interested in this idea, you can delay your period with a prescription pill from a doctor. Highly recommended for anyone who feels like the seven gates of hell have opened whenever their period comes calling. After all, the beach is a place for relaxation and freedom, not stress and hormones.

My Life Has A Soundtrack

So should yours and it can. You can turn your beach vacation into a beach musical if you buy some waterproof speakers. Find a nice private spot on the sand, set up the speakers and let your music play. If they’re waterproof, you won’t have to worry about anyone ruining them when they are drying off after a dip.

Flip Flop

You definitely need some flip flops for those aching feet. Don’t try to look more stylish by rocking the heels or wedges. A) this is just going to hurt, B) you’re not a supermodel and C) you’ll ruin your shoes with sand and water. Flip flops are far better, and they can still be stylish and cool. You can get them in lots of cute colours that will match any outfit you’ve chosen to wear on the beach.

Wear Sun Tan Lotion

Some people think that the way to get the best tan is to burn and then let the old skin peel away revealing golden brown flesh. While this might indeed be the best way to get the nicest colour, it’s also your best shot at getting cancer. That’s why you should always make sure you’re wearing sun tan lotion when you’re at the beach. Remember, if you’re jumping in and out of the water it’s also going to wash off. As such, you want to make sure that you are reapplying regularly if you’re a keen swimmer. Wondering what lotion to use? Garnier has just received a prize from Which for the best one to buy so you should probably start there. Or you can check out some reviews online.

Forget Lipstick, You Need Lip Balm

What is the point of wearing makeup to the beach? You’d be far better off going au naturale because the sweat will make it drip anyway. Even if it doesn’t, swimming in the water certainly will, and you might come out looking like a drowned panda. You can think about opting for waterproof makeup, but even this won’t withstand a deep dive. Instead, you should just pack some lip balm. This will keep your lips look lush, free from dry skin and it’s really all the makeup you need. Don’t forget, you can get tinted balm to give your lips some extra colour.

 

Take my advice, and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time at the beach this summer. Better yet, you’ll look absolutely stunning and definitely catch the eye of a few onlookers. Have fun!

 

 

 

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ON THE HOUSE: HOW TO ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME

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There is no doubt that buying a home is the single biggest investment in most people’s lives. Whether you are planning to move up the housing ladder anytime soon or you simply want to make the most out of the property you already have, adding value to your home is an ongoing process for many homeowners.

 

 

home improvements

 

Housing tends to be a sound investment as you have funds there to be released if needed or the option of applying for homeowner personal loans. But if you choose to sell your house at any point in the future, you will want it to fetch the highest value. So, here are a few tips, big and small, for adding more money to your home.

 

Paint the House

 

A home that looks fresh and inviting is bound to attract more interest than one that it dull and faded. In fact, the whole outside of your home should look attractive, so make sure any plant life is well looked after or bring in some if you don’t have any already. When it comes to painting your house, you may well choose to bring in the professionals, but a job you can do yourself is repainting the front door. Even if you are not planning on selling anytime soon, it still gives you a nice place to come back to every day.

 

Refurbish the Kitchen

 

home improvements

 

 

If there is one room that is going to add the most value to your home, it is certainly the kitchen. It tends to be the focal point of the house where families can gather together. Your first priority should be a good-looking work surface which gives off a modern feel. Your kitchen should also provide easy access between the three key points on the kitchen triangle; the sink, oven and fridge. When it comes to new equipment, it needs to be as up-to-date as possible.

 

Make the House Open-Plan

 

One of the main things that people are looking for these days is a house that offers an open-plan feel. If there are any walls that can be knocked down – obviously without affecting the structure of the property – then these are a great way of creating space. If you are looking for a simpler and cheaper way of doing this, hanging up mirrors can make your house seem a lot bigger.

 

Bring in More Natural Light

 

Buyers are looking for houses that have a natural and airy feel, so bigger windows can really make all the difference. Even making sure that the ones you have already are kept clean can go a long way towards encouraging natural light into the home. Glass doors are another good option and can blur the line between indoors and outdoors.

 

Use Your Attic or Basement

 

Even if you don’t want to go through the process of an expensive conversion job, you can still show how your attic or basement can be used with storage units and some furniture. Buyers are looking for potential so showing your home has this is a major plus point.   

 

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