Category Archives: Money Saving Ideas

clothing prices

Clothing Prices on the Rise: How to Make Your Money Go Further

The inflation rate in the UK reached a two-year high. As reported by the BBC, clothing prices are a factor. In November, the inflation rate reached 1.2 percent. This is the highest rate since October 2014, where it reached 1.3 percent.

Clothing prices aren’t solely responsible. Rises in the price of petrol also impact the data. But airfare prices fell, helping offset the difference in petrol prices.

Often, the petrol price increases are unavoidable. When you need petrol, you need it. But purchasing clothing provides options in how your money is spent. To help manage the rise in costs, here are some tips to make your clothing purchases count for more.

Clothing Prices and Quality

A quality item of clothing generally lasts longer. It can survive more washes without looking worse for wear. By choosing quality items, you can enjoy more longevity. That means you will not need to purchase a replacement as quickly.

Cheaper items often don’t survive the test of time. So, the lower upfront cost doesn’t always translate into long-term savings. For example, a shirt purchased for £15 that lasts six months is a worse buy that the £25 that lasts one year. You would have to buy two £15 shirts (totalling £30) to get the same amount of life as one £25 shirt.

Before buying, consider how long the item needs to last and if it actually represents a good value when compared to a higher quality alternative.

Pick a Colour Scheme

Neutrals provide more options that bright or distinct colours. However, that doesn’t mean you need to live in a black and white world. Instead, pick a signature colour and a complementary colour. Then balance out your wardrobe with neutrals. Your selections will coordinate better with one another, allowing you to combine different pieces into a wide variety of outfits. That means you don’t need as many clothing items simply because you need to create entire outfits.

On Staples, Think Classic Design

Shopping on trend can be fun, but it isn’t always practical. Instead, look for classic cuts, designs, and patterns. When a trendy item falls out of style, you might be uncomfortable wearing it. Certain looks stand the test of time, essentially never falling out of style. This gives you more functional life since everything stays “in style” longer.

Explore Trends in Accessories

If you can’t pass up a trend, look for accessories first. It is normally cheaper to replace a piece of fashion jewellery or a neck tie than shirts or pants. This helps you save money while still acknowledging trends in fashion. And your wardrobe can feel updated without a large financial investment.

Watch for Sales

Certain staple clothing items go on sale regularly. Keep your eyes open for sales on classic pieces. When the price hits a low, consider buying more than one. That way, you have key pieces available when they are needed, and you won’t be stuck making a purchase when prices aren’t in your favour.

Economic Shifts

Clothing prices are up today, but that can change. Shifts in the economy might lead to falling clothing prices and rises in other areas. By being aware of the changes, you can adjust you approach in other purchasing categories when the need arises. Then your money can go further, longer.

train fares

Train Fares Rising for 2017

Starting on 2 January, train fares in much of Britain will rise. The average increase in cost is 2.3 percent, as reported by the BBC. The changes to regulated fares cap at 1.9 percent. But unregulated fares are not subject to a cap and can be raised as much as necessary.

This leaves many Britons facing higher costs for activities including daily commutes and leisure travel. And, as prices rise, customers often expect increased punctuality and reliability in turn. However, there is not guarantee the timeliness of service will change.

In fact, 84,000 Southern Rail passengers will receive for service disruptions in 2016. Season ticket holders can claim a month’s compensation while other customers must demonstrate at least 12 weeks of travel within the time covered from 24 April to 31 December of this year. Beginning 11 December, Southern Rail passengers will receive compensation for any train that is over 15 minutes late.

Reasons for the Increase

You can attribute the increase to two main factors. First, the demand for rail services outpaced expectations. That means more maintenance and repairs are needed, as well as service upgrades. The second major cause reflects changes regarding the division of total network costs. Right now, about 70 percent of the cost is covered by ticket sales. Previously, only 50 percent had to be covered by fares. Taxes cover the rest of the bill.

What this Means for Consumers

Train fares are often a necessary expense, especially when commuting to and from work. In fact, the housing crisis and lack of infrastructure investment have created longer commutes for many workers. As reported by The Guardian in 2015, more than 3 million people commute more than two hours daily.

The housing crisis impacts commuting times as people find it challenging to relocate. Additionally, the financial crisis led many to accept work outside of their immediate area out of sheer desperation. Then, “creaking” infrastructure results in more transit system issues and failures, limiting the number of available services.

Longer commutes are costlier than shorter ones, and low-income workers disproportionately feel the affects of long commutes. Add a price increase, and the low-income traveler takes another hit.

Couple these cost increases with those resulting from a weakening pound, and you stretch many low paid workers to the limit.

How to Prepare

Since the increase is going to happen, begin planning now for the change in cost. This includes examining budgets and making cuts if necessary. Additionally, check into all of your commuting and transportation options both for daily commuting and personal travel. Any reductions you make will help offset the increased fare costs.

Employers are also part of the solution. If your organization offers alternative work schedules or the ability to work-from-home, now is the time to explore these further.

If the upcoming price change is too much to bear, then it is time to look for new job opportunities. While finding a new job isn’t easy, keep your eyes open for options closer to home. Even if something isn’t available right away, new opportunities might be on the horizon. And it never hurts to look for something new that could make your life easier.

rent-to-own

Rent-to-Own Firms: A Needed Service or Rip-off?

When you’re short on cash, your shopping options are limited. This is especially true for those who don’t qualify for traditional credit, like credit cards. And that’s where rent-to-own firms come in.

Instead of paying for items up front, either in cash or with credit, buyers get the chance to make weekly payments on the goods they need. Everything from household appliances to televisions and furniture can be purchased this way. And, while it seems like a godsend when you are in trouble, you’ll pay much more than retail when you’re done.

Rent-to-Own Costs of Purchase

Even though rent-to-own firms don’t advertise their services like most lenders, it is effectively like a secured loan. However, the interest rates can easily reach over 60 percent annually.

Initially, the costs seem reasonable. For example, a prominent rent-to-own firm will let you “rent” a 49-inch television from a prominent manufacturer for only £6 per week. While that doesn’t sound like much, over the full 156-week term, you’d pay £936 (before add-ons like insurance and service fees). A similar television purchased through Amazon would only cost £449.

When you look at it that way, does it seem like such a great deal?

The Risk of Repossession

Along with the higher prices, there is the risk of repossession. If a buyer misses a payment, then the company can take the item back. Depending on the precise terms, you might not have a lot of warning either.

Now, this risk is the same as any other formed of secured credit. For example, if you default on a car loan, the car can be repossessed too. The same can be said for homes and various other big-ticket items traditionally bought on credit.

Current Regulations

The Financial Conduct Authority began regulating the rent-to-own industry in April 2014. They have helped control the activities of those operating in the arena, and prevent less scrupulous companies from operating in the market.

However, even those following the new guidelines aren’t offering a good deal. Their services target more vulnerable populations with limited financial options. Potential buyers are enticed by the ability to acquire new items, including some of the latest tech, at what appears to be a manageable cost.

Buyer Struggles

At one point, as reported by The Guardian, it was estimated that 10 percent of purchasers using these services had a repossession. So, while the costs may initially seem affordable, they can quickly get out of hand.

Many rent-to-own companies advertise the ability to return items, should be payments become unaffordable, as a benefit. But, if you return the item, you still forfeit all of the previous payments. So, you may have spent enough money to have purchased the item from a traditional retailer, but you have nothing to show for it.

A Better Approach

If you ever feel tempted by rent-to-own promises, look at the total amount you’ll pay buying the item there. Instead of going that route, consider putting the same amount of money aside as you would for the weekly payment. Then, you can buy the item outright in half the time. And, if you hit a tough financial spot, you won’t have to give anything back or sacrifice your credit.

Yes, it requires patience, but your financial future is worth it.

Financial Decisions: Why They Can Wait If You Recently Lost Your Spouse

Most advice tells widows and widowers to get their financial house in order quickly. You’re urged to review your portfolio and make decisions about the management of assets. Ensuring you have access to the funds necessary for survival is critical. However, many other decisions aren’t. If you are grieving the death of a spouse or other close family member, now isn’t always the best time to make changes.

Clouded Thinking

Grief can cloud a person’s judgment. It is challenging to focus, and logical thought processes may not work as effectively. Couple this with possible sleepless nights, poor eating and drinking habits, or aggravated depression and you have a recipe for disaster. And once some of these decisions are made, there is no going back.

Often, self-care is challenging. That leads us to make poor decisions about our health and physical needs. We may eat poorly, too much, or not at all. We may drink alcohol in excess or have trouble stomaching anything, including water. If you already experience mental health issues, the added stress can make symptoms worse. If you can’t properly care for yourself, then making life-changing decisions isn’t wise.

Changing Perspective

Immediately after a death, it is hard to walk through the family home without feeling some level of pain. This leads people to sell the property because, at the time, they couldn’t imagine staying there with those memories. However, after some time to heal, you may regret the decision. While the memories are initially painful, your perspective may change once you are through most of the grieving process.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house either. You may choose to rent the property to someone else for a year, while you spend that time living as a tenant elsewhere. Then, you can decide if you would rather move back in without the swirling emotions that make it hard to think during the grieving process.

Support Systems

Other standard advice revolves around leaning on your support system for advice before making any large decisions. While this can be helpful, it may compound the issue if your support system is also grieving. For example, if you rely on your sister-in-law for help after the death of your husband, her brother, she may not be better equipped than you are to guide you through major decisions.

Depending on your precise financial situation, certain relatives may also have something to gain by manipulating you during this time. If your spouse owns part of a family business, then there may be ulterior motives behind their advice. Unless there is a will with expressed thoughts on the matter, you may want to delay these decisions as long as possible.

For these situations, a different kind of support system is also important. If you have a financial advisor, consulting with them may help you make sounder decisions. They will also know which decisions have to be done now and what can wait. Additionally, consider working with a grief counselor or other mental health professional. This will give you a safe place to express your frustrations, fears, and sadness to someone who is not currently in the grips of grief themselves and who doesn’t have something to gain from your decisions.

Saving on Energy Bills

How To Ditch Your Prepaid Energy

Switch Your Meter For FREE

It is now easier than ever to get rid of your prepaid energy meter and the best part is that it is absolutely free. As of this month, all of the big six energy firms now offer customers to switch to a standard meter at no cost.  But before you make the decision to switch, you should weigh the pros and cons.

Prepaid meters can be beneficial in regards to helping customers manage their energy usage. When credit is running low, users tend to be more mindful of leaving lights or other electric equipment running unnecessarily. This also prevents hefty and unexpected energy bills, which in turn will help those trying to budget.

However, prepaid meters can be significantly more expensive. The typical prepay user pays an average of £1,140 per year while the current cheapest direct debit standard meter tariff is £750 per year. Additionally, prepaid meters can be very inconvenient as you need to top up at a local shop and failing to do so can leave you without any electricity. Worst of all, for older meters, prices must be imputed manually, which can take months. So if the price falls, you may be forced to pay too much for a while.

How Can I Make The Switch?

In order to be rid of your prepaid meter, you first need to be eligible to switch to a standard. This requires you to pay any outstanding debt on your current energy account and obtain a credit score. The energy company you are currently using will carry out the credit check and give approval to change to a standard meter.

It’s important to remember that you are not obligated to stick with your current provider once they change the meter. Instead, this is when you should shop around and compare tariffs to find the most economical option.

What If My Supplier Charges To Switch Meters?

If you aren’t with one of the big six energy providers, smaller providers sometimes charge over £100 to switch to a standard meter. To avoid this cost, simply switch to a provider that still provides prepaid energy but also allows you to switch meters for free.  These providers include British Gas, EDF, E.on, First Utility, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE.

What If I Am In A Rented Property?

As the new meter needs to be physically installed at the residence, you must have your landlord’s permission to switch. Make sure you explain to your landlord that the energy bill will remain in your name. If you choose to move out, you can take your fixed energy tariff with you and any outstanding debt remains with you, the tenant, not the property. When a tenant leaves, the property moves onto a standard price tariff with the same supplier.

 

How To Be A Smart Shopper

Let’s admit it shopping can be stressful at the best of times, but this can be even more stressful when you get to the tills and find out how much the total cost has come too. Find out how smart shoppers keep ahead of supermarkets and retail giants. Our savvy tips will help you save £s at the tills.

Tips And Trick To Shopping Smart

  • Unbranded items are a great way to save money when it comes to shopping, we all have our favourite brands but you can save a hefty amount by opting for non-branded items. Did you know that some branded and non-branded paracetamols contain the same ingredients, these products can have a prices difference of around £3.
  • The weekly family shop challenge – A great way to save money is to try one weekly shop for the month at either Aldi or Lidl who’s prices are often a lot cheaper than its bigger rivals. These supermarkets often has it’s products in basic packaging but may be produced in the same factories as so called luxury items.
  • Bulk buying with supermarket deals, up selling is a term often used in the retail industry. The aim of the game is to get you to spend more money with bogof (buy one get one free) offers you can often get carried away with unnecessary extra products. This can be used in your favour, why not try shopping with a friend or family so u can split the cost of the bogof offer. Another great way to save money is to bulk purchase long lasting items such as cleaning products when they come on offer.
  • Another Retail Trick – Did you know that supermarkets will often place higher costing items at eye level increasing the chances of customer to buy those items. Try looking on lower shelves where you may find a bargain. Have a look on the reduce sections of supermarkets where you can pick up great deals, for those items close to expiry consider freezing items and save £s on your weekly shop.
  • A personal hate of shopping is the fact that supermarkets will move items around from aisle to aisle making it harder for you to find the items you want quickly, chances are you will walk through the whole store looking for your items the reasoning behind this is supermarkets want you to pick up unnecessary items.
  • Nectar Points, Tesco Clubcard Points – If you shop at specific supermarket don’t forget your clubcard or nectar card these points can be converted into vouchers and coupons and can be a great way to re-coupe some cash back.

Bottom Line is Supermarkets are here to make money, be smart when it comes to shopping in store. The few above tips will certainly help you in saving money but if you have any other great tips get in touch and share them with us.