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budgeting

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?

monthly budget

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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THE SPENDING HABITS THAT COULD BE CAUSING YOU TO WASTE MONEY?

spending habits

I love treats, but sometimes the treat becomes a habit and before you know it, you are spending hundreds each year!  So I wanted to share with you some of the bad habits that we can get in to without realising it.  By pointing these out you can then decide if you want to stop and start saving the money.  I can assure you your budget will thank you for it!

 

Coffee Shops

It is so easy to nip in to a coffee shop on the way to work or during your lunch hour.  Even more so during the summer when the offering is even more delicious with smoothies!  But did you know that if you are buying a coffee at £2.50 each day, over the year it would add up to £650!  Now that’s a tidy sum to be saving.  Why not purchase an insulted coffee mug and brew your own coffee at home?  There are so many beautiful blends out there you may find one that is nicer than your regular coffee shop one too!

 

spending habits

 

Television

You know the song goes, 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)?  Well it is more like 200 channels and often there is nothing on!  Many of my friends pay for TV packages that they don’t watch.  Why not spend some time writing down which channels you do watch and then see who has a better deal on specific packages.  If you don’t often watch TV, consider ditching it altogether and using your computer, that way you could also save on the TV licences.  But make sure you check out the legal requirements of ditching your TV licence first.

 

spending habits

 

Gym

I still have friends who pay for gym membership and rarely go.  Don’t waste your money on something you don’t use.  Cancel it immediately and download some of the free apps if need a little motivation to get fit.  You can also download the likes of from Couch to  5K and within a few months you will be running!  If you are the type of person who needs the gym to motivate you, there are many pay as you go memberships which could work out much cheaper.

 

spending habits

 

Mobile Phone

Are you on the right contract?  Track how you use your phone and how much data you use over a month.  You may find it cheaper to switch to a sim only deal.  Check out the great offers on Go Compare  to compare your current deal.  There is the potential to save hundreds on your mobile phone bill.

 

spending habits

 

Do you have any other suggestions that could save money?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

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ARE YOU A FINANCIAL CONTROL FREAK?

Do people call you a control freak? Are you more comfortable when you are in control of everything? Well, I’m here to tell you that rather than being a derogatory comment, you should see it as a compliment. What’s wrong with being in control and being in charge, especially when it come to your finances? I say; nothing! In fact, folks that haven’t got a good handle on their financial situations can learn a lot from you and the following advice.

 

Budgets

Being in control of your budget is surely a good thing right? Whether it’s a personal budget or one for the whole family? It means that you only buy what is needed, don’t go into debt, and have a much more stable financial situation. Allowing you to put money away for other things like buying property or going on holiday.

 

But what is the best way of being in control of your budget? Well, using mobile on the online app can really help. As they can show you what you have spent in a visual way. Which makes it a lot easier to see if you have overspent in any particular area, and manage this better the next month.

 

Savings

 

Being in control of your saving is a great thing. Why? Well, why would you not be in control of your own money that you have worked hard to scrimp and save for? In fact, for some folks just having some savings is an achievement, so they are not just living paycheck to paycheck.

 

However, for the true financial control freak, they will; not only want to see what savings they are making every month. But they will also want a hand in choosing the best account with the most benefits and the highest interest. So they can ensure that their money is working hard for them and their future.
finance

Image

 

Pensions

 

Now, a lot of folks don’t worry too much about their pensions because they like their retirement is so far off in the future it seem irrelevant. But you won’t find the financial control freak making this mistake. Oh no! For them having their pension sorted is one of the most important things, because it ensures that they are in control of not just their current situation but also their future as well.

 

Of course, the pension can be complicated things. They can end up scattered if you have worked for a few different employers. Or they can be unusable if you are using a fund where you have no control over how your money is invested. Which many folks in the ‘90s pension scandal learned the hard way.

 

That is why it can be especially useful for the financial control freak to use a SIPP or a Self-Invested Personal Pension. As this allow them to have ultimate control over where their money is invested.

 

Investments

 

Lastly, a true control freak of the financial variety will not only have the budgeting, saving and pension sorted but they will also be making medium to long term investment to increase their overall wealth.

finances

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This Investment may take the form of a business venture, buying property or even investing in the stock market. But of course whatever they choose to put their money into they will definitely want to be as in control of it as possible.

 

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WHY BEING A LOYAL CUSTOMER RARELY PAYS

loyal customer

 

How loyal are you as a customer? Do you pay your bills on time and quietly accept those half-hearted apologies from your service providers when things go wrong? Don’t you think you ought to be rewarded for that?

 

These days, most of us are penalised for loyalty. Instead, it is the new customer who reaps the rewards on offer from our favourite big companies. We’re charged more for staying with the company than new customers pay who have yet to prove themselves as good paying and loyal. Why is that?

 

Next time you’re sent an auto-renewal notice from your insurance company, spend some quality time on the various comparison websites. Chances are you’re going to find the same cover for much less money. Once you’ve set up your new policy, be sure to phone the existing provider and tell them you are now insured with someone else. Make sure you have told them you are cancelling their auto-renewal proposal. The word ‘cancel’ is the most important part of your conversation.

 

loyal customer

Picture from Pexels

 

So what should you look for when you’re trying to get a better deal for your service provision? Start with what you have. You need to check the start date of the contract or policy. Now see the minimum term of that agreement. If the contract has expired, you can cancel it and go somewhere else. Most services we use all the time without thinking about it have a minimum term. Make a note of the end date for your broadband, phone, mobile phone, mortgage, energy providers and car insurance. You may have more.

 

Now you know which ones are ready for a better deal, use price comparison sites like http://www.broadbanddeals.co.uk to find it. You’ll need a list of the services you want to keep or that are already provided. For example, with broadband, you might want a minimum download speed and an unlimited data provision. For your car insurance, you might want to ensure you’re covered for driving in Europe and your no claims bonus is protected. Many comparison websites allow you to put those stipulations in as search parameters. The last thing you need to check is added costs like connection or administration fees.

 

Yes, it takes a couple of hours to find the very cheapest deal that serves your purpose. Yes, it can be intimidating having to call your existing provider and telling them you don’t want to be with them anymore. But it could save you so much money! Keep a little spreadsheet detailing each of your finance or contract agreements. Put reminders in your phone calendar when they come up for renewal. Shopping around instead of staying loyal can often reap rewards like new customer gifts or cash back too.

 

Of course, if you’re happy to stay with your existing provider, you still can. Why not let them know you’ve found a better deal with one of their competitors? Chances are they’ll aim to match it if they can. Who knows? They might suddenly reveal a good loyalty deal they ‘forgot’ to mention earlier!

 

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7 SMART AND EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR GROCERY SHOP

how to save money on your shopping

 

 

We’ve all read it in newspapers or heard it on the TV, the cost of groceries is expected to rise – whether this is inflation or the effects of Brexit is neither here nor there, the fact is that families will continue to struggle to make ends meet.

 

So, if you want some tips on how to cut your grocery bill down, then you have come to the right place!  Your food bill is an area where you can make savings just with a little planning.

 

Below I have noted some ways to help you the next time you go food shopping.

 

Plan, Plan & Plan

Before heading out the door, I recommend you plan your meals and what you need to buy.  Meal planning can help in so many ways, including saving you money and time overall.  It also helps you cut down on waste and can turn what becomes a boring dinner into a lovely feast!

 

If you want to read more about how to meal plan, head over to my post How to Save Money with Meal Planning.

 

Make a Shopping List

Make a shopping list from the meal plan AFTER looking in your fridge, freezer, and store cupboard.  Going without a list can lead to many temptations and spending more than you wanted.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, the back of an envelope will do just fine!

 

Use coupons and cashback apps

Cashback apps and vouchers are a great way of reducing your overall grocery shopping.  You can get many free items too when shopping with coupons and cashback apps.  Head over to my blog post about the best Cashback apps which you can download now and start saving immediately.

 

Know where the reduced section is

Supermarkets reduce food these are often items that have best before the day you are shopping.  If you buy bread at a reduced price it’s a good idea to freeze it if you don’t intend using it all.  You really can get some excellent bargains. Why not visit your local supermarket and see where they keep the reduced section?

 

Look at the top and bottom of the shelves

The higher profit items are often placed at eye level – make sure you look to the top and bottom of the shelf and label to make sure you get the best priced item.

 

Loyalty Cards

If your store has a loyalty card, make sure you sign up for one as you can get a discount or money off coupon from the till.

 

Pay with Cash

After you do your planning, bring cash along – that way you certainly won’t overspend. Having a debit or credit card can often be tempting so leave it at home.

 

Happy grocery shopping folks.

 

Elf x

 

 

THINGS YOU CAN DO OR SELL TO MAKE EXTRA CASH

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6 IDEAS TO TREAT MUM WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

treat mum

Below I’ve listed some great ways to treat mum without you having to break the bank!  I love my mum dearly and being a mum is the most rewarding and challenging job in the world.  While I often shy away from imposed ‘days’ by the card industry I often still do something special for my mum.

 

If you would like to treat mum this Mother’s Day without breaking the bank or making that gift more personal, then this blog post is for you!

 

Below I’ve listed some extra special ways to treat mum.

 

 

Make a photo album

 

In today’s smart phone era most of us look at our photos online, but I must admit there is something special about flicking through a photo album that contain some precious memories.  Why not gather these up and make a family photo album?  You could also spend some quality time together going through them.  A great place to upload your photos to is Photo Box who at the moment are also offering up to 40% off Mother’s Day gifts!

 

 

Give your mum a break

 

Without a doubt being a mum is often a 24/7 job which can be both physically and mentally challenging.  Why not give your mum a break by doing her chores for the day?  You could start by cleaning her house or doing her washing or ironing.  You don’t even have to tell her, surprise her when she’s out!

 

 

Afternoon tea

 

Busy mums often find it hard getting the time to sit down and relax with a cuppa and chat to friends.  Why not organise for your mum’s friends to come around and make them all afternoon tea?  You could either bake some delicious cakes or buy them from the local supermarket, serve them on vintage china and cake stands to make it extra special.

 

 

Cook her favourite meal

 

Mums can be busy preparing family meals, pack lunches or snacks.  Having someone cook a meal is such a treat.  Why not prepare your mum’s favourite meal, you can all sit down as a family and enjoy each other’s company?  If you wanted to be a little more adventurous why not try the likes of Gousto who will provide you with all the necessary ingredients to make a special meal?

 

 

 

Flowers & Chocolates

 

Always appreciated by mums everywhere, you could order flowers from the likes of Marks and Spencer with the offer they have on at the moment where you order flowers and get free chocolates!  You could also order a wonderful selection of chocolates from Thorntons.

 

 

Mum coupon book / vouchers

 

Well, it wouldn’t be right not to include vouchers somewhere in this post!  I absolutely adore this post on Mashable, it contains 10 Mother’s Day vouchers from things like One ‘Get out of House Free’ card, Breakfast in bed and permission to criticise my haircut for one minute!

 

 

Hopefully this post will have inspired you for this Mother’s Day, although my advice is not to wait to Mother’s Day to show how much you appreciate your mum!

 

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Elf x

 

 

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6 TRICKS SUPERMARKETS USE TO MAKE YOU SPEND MORE

save money knowing supermarket tricks

 

Did you know there are ways that supermarket tricks can get us to spend more?  Imagine this…

 

You get to the supermarket checkout and you begin to wonder how one earth a trip for milk and a loaf of bread turned in to a £20 purchase!  If that’s you then read on because it happens all the time and it often has nothing to do with willpower – more like soft manipulation to get you to spend.

 

Supermarkets have years of incredible marketing expertise which they take full advantage of to get you to turn a one item purchase in to a many item purchases.  Of course, these marketing ‘tricks’ have been around for years but if you are on a budget or want to cut down on your grocery shop to save up for a holiday then it’s best to arm yourself with the knowledge to recognise what is happening and avoid falling in to the trap of spending more of your hard-earned cash than you wanted.

 

Below are some of the tricks supermarkets use to convince you to spend more…

 

Floral and Fresh Baked Goods

There are two smells that always welcome you in to a supermarket, one is freshly cut flowers, the other is freshly baked goods.  The look and smell is just wonderful, in fact they may even put a smile on your face with such a sensory overload.  The reason they are there?  These goods are often the highest price margin for the supermarket, put here when you enter as the smell often activates your salivary glands which in turn is more likely to make you impulse buy!

 

Essentials are hidden

Remember that pint of milk and bread you went in for?  Well, it is often hidden near the back or end of the store.  The reason for this is that the supermarket want you to walk through the whole store just to get them –tempting you to buy other items on offer as you make your way to the item you came in for.

 

Healthy versus junk

Fresh fruit and vegetables are often at the start of your shop.  The reason for this is that if you purchase these items at the start then you won’t feel as bad when you come to the junk food, so you will feel just fine purchasing biscuits because this balances with the fruit and vegetables you bought earlier.

 

Aisles

I don’t know about you but I find myself blindly walking up and down the aisles without deviating at all.  The supermarket counts on us doing this, which is why they often change where products are located – again to make us walk round more of the store to tempt us to buy.  The higher profit items are often placed at eye level – how often have you searched for a supermarket own brand of cereal only to find it at the bottom, hidden behind a pillar?  Now you know the reason for this.

 

Another one to watch out for in the aisles is the kid’s eye level.  Yes, they strategically place products aimed at kids at their level so they will often pester parents to buy them.

 

Music

In October (not close enough to Christmas yet) it gets on my nerves the Christmas music you hear in stores but supermarkets often play music, but have you noticed how slow it is?  The idea is that slow music makes you take your time wandering round the store, viewing more products, and ultimately buying more.  Research has also shown that playing classical music can lead people to buy more expensive items.

 

Loyalty Cards

While I love loyalty cards, I know deep down that the store is probably benefiting more than I am but who can resist a discount or money off?  So, while a loyalty card will give you money off the main reason a supermarket wants you to use it is so they can track your spending habits and learn more about what you buy and when.  Have you noticed that at times the till will spout out a money off voucher for toothpaste when you’re about to run out?  Well now you know how they keep you coming back to buy toothpaste!

 

 

So, know you know why a visit to the supermarket for milk and bread can turn in to a major shop.  If you want to avoid these manipulation traps you can try some of the following:

 

  • Pay with cash – just bring along a few pounds, that way you certainly won’t overspend. Having a debit or credit card can often be tempting so leave it at home.
  • Never shop on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry you will be tempted to buy all around you from savoury to sweet – try to avoid grocery shopping when hungry.
  • Write a list. Lists are great if you stick to it.  The more you work with the list system the easier it will become to avoid the tricks of supermarkets.

 

I hope that now you are armed with the knowledge and skills you can avoid supermarkets manipulating you in order to spend more than you had ever intended.

 

Happy grocery shopping.

 

Elf x

 

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HOW TO SAVE MONEY WITH MEAL PLANNING

meal planning

 

 

Below I’ve listed some ways you can save money with meal planning.  Years ago, meal planning was something that I never considered but now it is a necessity as far as I am concerned.

Meal planning can help in so many ways, including saving you money and time overall.  It also helps you cut down on waste and can turn what becomes a boring dinner into a lovely feast!

People often say to me that they just don’t have the time to plan, well I’m here to tell you it doesn’t take that long and it will save you time – really!  Below I have listed the reasons why I meal plan so hopefully it will give you an idea of what the benefits are.

 

 

Weekly meal planning saves you time

Going grocery shopping without a list means wandering up and down the aisles trying to come up with recipes on the spot.  Or you think you have all the ingredients to make that meal at home, only to find when you get there you’re missing an essential ingredient.

Well with meal planning you prepare your list in advance so you don’t have to wander aimlessly up and down those aisles being tempted by offers you don’t’ really need.

 

Weekly meal planning helps you eat a more balanced diet

When you sit down to plan your weekly meals, it gives you time to consider adding in vegetables and thinking about the healthier options.  For us, we like to ensure we use the vegetables at the start of the meal plan so you get them when they are at their best and the freshest.  It also means you refrain from buying unhealthy snacks because you have your list in front of you!

 

Weekly meal planning stops you getting stuck in a rut

There are times when I can’t for the life of me figure out any more inventive ways to include vegetables in our diet so taking time to plan and look at recipes is great.

 

Indeed, as I will talk about below, signing up to Hello Fresh is a great way of keeping your meals interesting.

 

Steps to creating a weekly meal plan

Step 1:  Do a little recipe research or sign up to Hello Fresh.

Step 2:  Create a week-long meal plan – I’m offering you a free meal planner diary which you can download below.

Step 3: Make a shopping list from the meal plan AFTER looking in your fridge, freezer, and store cupboard.

Step 4:  Go shopping and stick to your list

 

After all this you will find that it will have taken you less time than if you’d been wandering around those grocery aisles, plus you will have planned your meals for the week, saved yourself money and set yourself a healthy eating plan.

 

Free Meal & Recipe Planner

I’m offering you a free meal and recipe planner to help you along your journey to meal plan.  To download just sign up below.

 

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READ HOW YOU CAN EARN CASHBACK FROM SHOPPING ONLINE –HERE

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

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HOW TO STEP DOWN AND SAVE MONEY

save money

 

I have a little trick for you about how to step down and save money, it’s a very simple process which I believe will help you save money in whatever you decide to purchase.

 

‘Step-down’ is a process of identifying less expensive purchase alternatives and a process which will help you save money.  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

 

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

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