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finance

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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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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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WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE PAID MORE MONEY?

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Given the UK has been under the grip of stagnant wage increases over the past decade or so, it won’t be much of a surprise that you might feel you are languishing somewhat in the pay stakes. And no matter how hard you work or how much commitment you show your bosses, they never seem to give you the pay rise that you want – and, more importantly, need.

However, there are people out there who are getting healthy pay rises and promotions – and all of them will be doing the right things when it comes to ensuring they are getting the best-paid jobs correctly. Let’s take a look at some of your options and reveal what is needed to get a better-paid job.

 

money

Focus on the money

Ultimately, your value to the company you work for – or one that you want to work for – is based on money. It’s the money that you can make a business or that you can save for them that will make a difference – and you will get your rewards because of it. So, if you have great ideas that could make or save x amount of money for your employers, let them know, and ensure they understand your expertise and – most importantly – your value.

Train across different areas

The more adaptable you are, the better chances of getting a higher pay cheque – it’s as simple as that. Make sure that you always seek out new challenges and assignments at work, and make sure you are putting yourself forward. Get a broader view of your company to develop your insight, and take advantage of as many training schemes that are on offer. The more responsibilities you take on, the better light your employers will see you in.

 

Start networking

The reality is that you are only one conversation away from scoring a better-paid job than you have right now. So, it makes sense to employ a sensible, strategic networking strategy that ensures you will get face-to-face contact with the right people. Whether that is your team leaders and bosses, recruitment consultants, or attending local business networking events is down to you. But the more you put your face out there, the better chance of getting a well-paid job role.

 

Improve soft skills

Soft skills are an often forgotten part of earning more money than you do right now. Excellent verbal and written skills are critical, and your ability to work in teams, as well as motivation to work alone, can really make a difference. You should also be able to work well under pressure and be prepared to remain cool when the proverbial hits the fan.

 

Start asking the right questions

When you are in a job interview, don’t act like a candidate. Sure, you will need to impress your interviewers, and there is a delicate balance between a keen candidate and arrogant job seeker, but you need to ensure that the employer understands you are looking at them as microscopically as they are looking at you.

 

Hope these tips help – feel free to share any others if you have them!

 

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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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WHAT ARE THE BEST ALL-ROUND INVESTMENTS?

If you are keen to make the most of your money, then thinking about investment is likely to be a good way to go. No matter what financial situation you might currently be in, you will find that with the right investment you are able to make much more of whatever you do have. Something that often stops people from trying to invest is that they think they don’t have enough to spare. But as it happens, even having just a little spare can often be enough to get started in an investment. This can be the case for many different kinds of investment, so it is important that you never feel as though you have to throw in the towel. Let’s take a look at some of the best all-round investments, as well as what you might want to do to get started with them.

 

 

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Precious Metals

 

This has to be one of the oldest investment types, and there is a good reason that it is still so popular. If you want to make your money go as far as possible, then you can do much worse than invest it in precious metals. If you do decide on this, you will find that there are a lot of choices to make. For a start, you need to know what kind of metal you want to invest in. This is one of the most important decisions, and one of the most difficult as well. Although all precious metals are usually worth investing in, they do differ considerably, and you need to look into which might be best for your current situation.

 

If you only have a little spare cash, then you might feel that starting with one of the cheaper metals is a good start. Steel or silver are surprisingly good options, and they are easy to get hold of. However, these markets can be surprisingly volatile, so there is very little in the way of certainty when you invest in these. If you are really keen on precious metal investment, then there is no denying that gold is the best. As long as you feel you can afford it, investing in gold is always going to be a good idea. Even when global markets crash, gold tends to remain a standard – the standard – so if you have some gold you are likely to be in a good position no matter what. Of course, it can be harder to have enough money to afford it, but if you are able to then this could be one of the safest investments that you ever make.

 

 

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Metals are not for everyone, but in the right hands they can be a useful and lucrative investment which can last for your whole life. The amount of control you have over it, coupled with the usual strength of the markets, means that this is an investment worth considering for just about anyone, from the first-time investor to the experienced professional.

 

 

Property

 

Although metals like gold and silver are relatively strong investments, they are not exactly certain. Property is not certain either, but you do generally have an extremely good chance of profiting well from it. The property market almost never crashes hugely, so you will find that this is a pretty sensible way to spend your money no matter what situation you are in. Of course, one of the main hurdles for most people is that you do need quite a fair bit of money to get started with a property investment. It is not the kind of investment you can just fall into, and it does require planning and a hefty amount of upfront capital. As long as you have that, though, there is a lt that you can do with such an investment. In order to make the most of it, it helps if you know as much as possible about what exactly increases value in property.

 

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As the old saying attests to, location is always the most important element of any property. As long as your property is in a prime location, you will find that it remains a good investment for as long as the market itself is relatively solid. But this doesn’t mean that all other properties are worthless. No matter where exactly your property is located, you will be able to improve its value considerably if you follow some basic advice. It is often a good idea to take on board a professional conveyancing firm like Bannister Preston. They will be able to guide you through the whole process, and that will often mean that you come out of the other side with much more in the way of returns. It is also worth spending some time watching the market before you either buy or sell. There is nothing quite as important as knowing when to buy and sell – this is how you really maximise your return on your investment, and it is one of the most vital skills that you can have in the world of investments.

 

As long as you are approaching it in the right way, and sensibly, you should be able to make a lot of money with this particular investment. Just be sure that you focus on the location, and the timing of your sell.

 

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Stocks & Shares

 

One of the earliest twentieth century investments is still one of the most potentially lucrative, but you do need to know a great deal in order to make the most of it. When you are dealing in stocks and shares, it can be quite difficult knowing everything you need to know in order to get the kind of return you want. It is also worth remembering that you never really know what kind of result you are going to get. In a way, this is an investment with a touch of gambling involved. But as long as you are happy to take a few risks, you might find that investing in stocks and shares works wonders for you and your own situation.

 

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BAD CREDIT: HOW IT IMPACTS ON YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING GOOD DEALS

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We have all spent a lot of time on this blog talking about how to find great deals and discounts. But we have never discussed one of the biggest factors that can stop you from accessing them: a poor credit rating. Having a bad credit score can seriously impact your life in many different areas, and if it’s a problem for you, it’s vital that you get it fixed. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through some of the ways a poor credit rating can impact your ability to find a great deal. Let’s get started right away.

 

 

Store cards

Bad credit means you are a risk to lenders – and that includes the financial institutions that run all your favourite store card schemes. Everyone knows that store cards can help you uncover some amazing deals on the products you love, but if you have a poor credit score, it’s unlikely you will qualify. And that means you will miss out on all those targeted, special deals on clothing, food products, and excellent discounts at the tills.

 

 

Smartphone contracts

It’s the same principal for smartphones, unfortunately. And given how important smartphones are in our lives these days, it’s going to cause you huge issues. The only way you will be able to get a brand new phone is by paying for it outright. And you might be denied access to a contract, too, leaving you with more expensive pay as you go SIMs. You might get around this by sticking with the same smartphone supplier or network operator, but doing this means you won’t get those special deals the networks offer for switching.

 

 

 

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Bad loan terms

We all need to borrow money from time to time, whether it’s to pay for an upgrade on our home – or even buy one. The trouble is, with a bad credit score banks won’t trust you, and it’s likely that any loan application you make will be rejected. Even when you do qualify, the rates of interest you pay will be extortionate. A visit to your local no credit check loan broker could prove fruitful, of course. But the simple truth is that it is going to cost you more money to borrow than someone with a good or excellent credit score.

 

Living conditions

Landlords are starting to use credit checks these days, too. And that means if you are looking for a new place to live, it’s going to be difficult to find the perfect flat, house, or apartment. The sad truth is that many of the landlords who don’t care about checking credits often feel the same way about their properties. So you could end up in a barely liveable flat with a whole host of problems to deal with – all because of your poor credit score.

 

Conclusion

If you have a terrible credit score, make sure you try and fix it. Without question, it’s the single biggest thing you can do that will reduce the costs of your living and spending – by a significant amount.

 

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

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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.

 

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

 

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