41 articles Tag money

Are Single Parents Being Penalised? #CostOfSingleParenting

Single ParentsPhoto by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

One thing you may or may not know about me is that I am basically a professonal bargain hunter. I never pay full price for anything, unless I’ve fully satisfied myself that there’s not a discount code or voucher that I can use, or some way to bring a price down before buying. I collect points for everywhere I shop, never EVER pay full price for a pizza without searching for a voucher code and I even shop around every three months to get my contact leanses at the cheapest price.

This summer, we’ve been trying to do things as a family and we’ve been fortunate to get ‘family’ tickets for a lot of places, thanks to the fact that we’re a “two adults and two kids” family, which is where most discounts are firmly aimed. However, it got me thinking about the fact that single parents are being penalised and missed out of discount opportunities, despite the fact that with just one adult, they’re probably in greaterneed of offers and discounts than anyone.

PayPlan has put together an infographic showing the true cost of the summer holidays to a single-parent family and some of the figures are truly eye-opening:

Do Single Parents Feel Penalised?

As well as missing out on the discounts, being the sole breadwinner must be daunting for many. I thought I’d ask some of my single parent friends if they felt that they were penalised for being a non-conventional family and about the difficulties they’ve faced. Here are some of their comments:

Zoe (Insta: runningonempty_mummy) said “I’m new to the single mum world and notice it all the time – family tickets [aimed at 2 adults and 2 kids], holidays abroad – I got charged a supplement, kids eat free with two adult meals bought etc”

Sarah said “I’m not a single parent but I travel and go out a lot on my own with my 5 year old. I find I can’t use child free places on holidays, I have to sometimes pay single Supplement in rooms as he’s only 5, I can’t take advantage of family deals at the cinema (even with the husband we don’t have enough kids to make the min number) I also effectively pay more per head on the train as well as with groupsave other adults can travel free bringing cost per person.”

Mandy said ” I had an argument in [a cinema] once; they had this promotion on for families for tickets and like a snack combo thing, which worked out cheaper than me and sienna and a snack combo, but they wouldn’t let me have it”

Sian said “Not [a single parent] anymore, but continue to be sick of having to be quizzed as to who I am to my daughter when bringing her home from abroad get no one ever cares what kids I’m taking out the country!! Just because we made the mistake of putting a fathers name on birth cert doesn’t mean we should be interrogated and humiliated at every UK airport!”

Toni said “Private renting is my biggest problem. I work but obviously don’t earn enough to be able to private rent a house without claiming top up and no one accepts it. So i am left renting a damp house with a leaky ceiling because I am worried if i complain i will be evicted and homeless.”

Are you a single parent? Do you feel like you’re overlooked when it comes to money saving opportunities? Do you experience other difficulties? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please do leave me a comment below.

Summer Holiday Money Saving Hacks

summer holiday money saving hacksWe’re now in July, which means the summer holidays are just a few weeks away and we’ll have six whole weeks of entertaining the kids to keep up with. It can be an expensive time of year, especially if you have to factor in childcare while you work, so I’ve put together a little list of money-saving summer holiday hacks for you to use, so you don’t bankrupt yourself by September!

Meal Plan

If your kids are anything like mine, your main role in the summer holiday is to keep them supplied with a steady stream of snacks, the cost of which really mounts up over the course of a month and a half. What we tend to do is meal-plan for dinners so that everything is sorted for the evening meal, and then let them graze throughout the day. Recipe boxes like Hello Fresh are a good way to keep organised and also get them trying healthy and exciting new dishes like their Chicken Laksa.

Vouchers

I know for a fact that I’m not alone in having a purse full of loyalty cards that I use each time I shop and some of the points really add up. Some cards will give you a monetary amount off of your shopping, which can be a massive help if you save them until the holidays, while others can be exchanged for days-out vouchers, saving you an absolute fortune in the long-run. Go through all of your loyalty cards and see what you’ve accrued.

Local Libraries

Your local library can be an absolute fountain of resources in the summer holidays, many of which are free or cheap. As well as being able to borrow books, DVDs and CDs, lots of libraries have reading challenges and crafting events which cost little, if anything at all. We usually allocate one day every week or fortnight to visit the library to see what’s going on.

Kids Eat Free

If you’re partial to a nice lunch as a family but don’t want to spend a fortune, loads of restaurants offer a Kids Eat Free menu during the holidays. Some of them are just walk-in deals but some of them require you to print a voucher, so do make sure you check before you go, or you might get hit with a much bigger bill than you expected!

Scour Facebook

Facebook might not be your cup of tea, but it can be a wealth of information at this time of year. Join a local parents group and you’re sure to see dozens of weekly posts regarding events that are happening near you, ideas for daily activities, reviews of the best parks and picnic spots and even selling posts for pre-loved toys that your kids might love.

Get £10 off your first delivery with HelloFresh, here: https://www.hellofresh.co.uk/plans/?c=OS10OFF

Saving for the Summer

Saving for the SummerWith the summer holidays fast approaching, many of us have started to think about our finances over the coming weeks. Keeping kids entertained for six weeks isn’t cheap, and the cost of summer can seem truly daunting. With that in mind, I thought I’d look at some things you can do to top up the funds, ahead of this expensive time of year.

Get a Part Time Job

Childcare can be super expensive, but if you’re not currently working and need some extra cash, there are lots of part time jobs out there which can fit around family time. From courier work to bank nursing at your local hospital, out of hours options are there, providing you’ve got someone to watch the kids in the evening.

Get a Loan

While I wouldn’t usually suggest getting yourself into debt, as long as you’re sensible with making your repayments on time a loan can be a useful buffer at this time of year, and getting a loan can even help to repair bad credit if you ensure you stick to your repayment plan. There are also loans for bad credit if you don’t have the best credit rating.

Cancel Any Services You Don’t Use

This is a great time of year to take a look at your finances and cut back on anything that you really don’t need. I currently pay £10 a month for a gym membership, which I barely use, and although a tenner doesn’t seem like much, it’s enough to make your eyes water when you think about it as £120 a year!

Streamline Your Shop

If you’re like us and end up wasting food because of less-than-savvy shopping, this is a good place to start when it comes to money saving. Sit down and look at HOW you shop (weekly, monthly, day-by-day) and work out where most of the waste is coming from. You could also think about WHERE you shop and whether there’s a cheaper option out there, like Lidl or Aldi. Meal planning is also often a good way to help you to be more frugal. 

Get Your Walking Shoes On

Many families are guilty of jumping in the car for short journeys, which would actually be more than walkable. Unless you’re in a massive hurry, try to make any journey of a mile or less on foot – or even better, get the bikes out and get the whole family cycling. As well as cutting your fuel costs, it will get you all moving and will also reduce your carbon footprint – everyone’s a winner! 

Do you have any fab money saving or money making tips for my readers? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. 

How to Increase Your Income as a Blogger #SEOYourBlog

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

When I started blogging nine years ago, I started off very much from scratch. I didn’t know anyone who blogged and had no idea that there was a whole blogging community out there. I started my blog on a free WordPress URL and just started writing. I didn’t discover for quite some time that it was possible to monetise a blog, and never knew quite how many ways there were to do it.

One way to optimise your exposure is by including PPC links into your posts through an agency like Click Consult – advertisers use space on your blog and in return you’re paid a fee every time someone clicks on the advert. It’s a great example of what we call “passive income”, essentially something that ticks over in the background, earning you money, and doesn’t need you to do anything beyond adding a little bit of code to your blog.

One of the most important skills to learn as a blogger is SEO, or search engine optimisation, to those who don’t already know. SEO, according to Moz, is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”. Using good SEO practices within your posts allows them to be found by Google and means that your blog will show higher up in search results when someone searches for a keyword you use. There are lots of plugins which can help with SEO, making your life a whole lot easier!

There are many other ways to make money through blogging, such as sponsored posts, brand partnerships and even branching out as a freelance copywriter, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you may need to register as self employed and start filling in a tax return if your earning exceed a certain amount.

If you’re new to blogging and are interesting in other ways to make money from your writing, leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you and help you to get started.

Managing Financial Stress This Christmas

Christmas is typically a time of joy and love, giving and receiving, peace to all men and all the lovely things that we look forward to around this time of year, from tasty treats and delicious Christmas dinners to meeting up with immediate family and having a laugh.

There is a darker side of Christmas however, one that parents usually keep wrapped up in their own mind; financial stress. Too often do people believe they need to go over the top every year and have a bigger, better Christmas than years before. This can quickly lead to debt which casts a dark cloud over the New Year celebrations when you are more focused on saving the pennies to make it through the typically longer pay period between Christmas and January.

If you are concerned about the effect financial stress is having on your mental health and home environment, here are some tips to make your Christmas less about the cost and more about the sentiment.

Reduce Santa Presents

A modern trend that is causing more harm to children than good is the increase in cost and number of presents from Santa children get each year. While in your own home it might be wonderful to see the joy on your child’s face as they open their gifts from Father Christmas, however, this is often the greatest cause of financial stress for parents, who see no appreciation or gratitude for the presents they get from Santa.

Not only does this cause financial worry in the household (which your children can and will pick up on), but this can have a knock-on effect on less-fortunate children when they go back to school and see the disparity between what Santa brought one child when compared to them. Of course, while no family needs to curb their spending to protect somebody else’s feelings, your child won’t be worse off from one less gift.

Introduce Secret Santa Amongst the Adults

Secret Santa is typically a gift giving activity that takes place in offices and between large friend groups, however, with bills ever increasing and the cost of goods going up, buying decent gifts for the adults in your family can soon get expensive. Consider introducing the opportunity for Secret Santa in your family. Each person puts together a list of different things they would like to receive below a certain budget, choosing multiple items so the gift giver can offer a surprise rather than an expected gift. Names are then put into a hat and picked at random, just make sure nobody picks themselves out!

Sell Things Around the Home You Don’t Need or Use

Sometimes things pop up that are unexpected, and you may find that an expensive bill or expenditure is going to leave you short for the season. To make a quick bit of cash without taking up more of your precious time (like getting a second job would do), consider having a look around your home for bits you can sell, popular items that sell well second hand include; children’s toys, baby and toddler clothing, working homewares and unblemished furniture. If you are crafty, consider putting together some homemade Christmas cards or decorations, you can even work with your local shop to sell your creations or create an online store via Amazon, eBay or Etsy.

Other Small Areas to Make Savings

There are few things we typically do at Christmas that can be changed up in order to save money, for example, rather than sending out physical cards, put some effort into creating a digital card and email this around your friends and family. Rather than give gifts that don’t offer anything value, like gag gifts and silly presents, you could instead give the gift of a charity donation, adopt an animal or even sponsor an orphan. These sorts of gifts can make the receiver feel like they’ve helped a bigger cause and save getting something cheap and plastic that will be thrown out in the next house clearing.

 

If you are worried about funding Christmas this year, think about the places you can cut back and consider setting rules, a popular one going around at the moment is a “ban on unnecessary gifts” where you reduce the giving circle to immediate family only. This stops people thinking they need to give you a gift in return, just make sure to discuss with friends and colleagues before hand so you don’t receive a gift and feel obligated to give back.

Christmas shouldn’t be about the monetary aspect, so spend more time with the people you care about and let them know how special they are to you with your words and actions, rather than your wallet and if you do find yourself struggling from month to month, without the extra cost of holidays, consider talking to your employer about a pay review.

Find Money You Might Not Even Know You Had!

MoneyWith the summer holidays just days away, a lot of us will be thinking about how we’re going to afford all of the days out and activities that we’ll be wanting to do with the kids. It would be nice to be able to do a different thing every single day, but with the best will in the world, that’s just not in the budget for most of us. There might be, however, some money hanging about that you didn’t even realise you had, and we’ve got some suggestions of how to find it:

Outstanding PPI?

It’s hard to believe that anyone could still have any outstanding PPI claims with all the reminders on TV, radio and in the papers, but there are still a whole bunch of people who still haven’t claimed. It’s a simple process that could see you entitled to hundreds, even thousands of pounds!

Old Accounts

If you’ve changed bank accounts over the years, there could still be accounts in your name, laying dormant, with money in them. Write to the bank who you were once with and ask for details of any old accounts and you could be in for a surprise windfall!

Premium Bonds

If you’ve got Premium Bonds and haven’t seen much of a return, you might actually be better off cashing them in for an injection of cash now, rather than hoping they’ll come up long term. If you are hoping to win the top prize you probably need to know that the odds of winning £1million are 1 in 35,926,766,878. So I wouldn’t count on a payday anytime soon.Even winning the lowest prize of £25 is a 1 in 24,500 chance!

Pension Plans

If you have a pension plan that you don’t pay into any more, it’s worth having a look at the terms, as some plans will allow you to release the funds early, before the term is up. Have a think about any plans you may have paid into and contact the companies to see if it’s possible to withdraw the money. a

Cash Around the House

This one might be slightly less lucrative, but still worth a try. Gather up any old purses, handbags, wallets and money boxes and pillage them to see if there’s any cash that you forgot about. My kids own about 20 money boxes each and have managed to gather together the cash for some desperately needed toy on more than one occasion!

Don’t forget, the PPI deadline is 29th August, so you’ll need to get your act together if you think you might be entitled to claim!

Are You Sitting on Hidden Treasure?

treasureUnless you’re one of those people who’s a sensible adult with a savings account or an emergency credit card, there’s a good chance that you’ll come to a point in your life where you need quick cash and struggle to find it. There are, however, a few raise to raise some funds and most of us have things in our houses which we no longer use but are of value to someone else. Here are some suggestions of things you could sell to make some cash:

Jewellery

While I’m not suggesting that you flog your family heirlooms, many of us have jewellery boxes full of outdated items that we basically never wear, and there’s never been a better time to recoup some of the value in your items. It’s simple to get cash for gold and you could get a decent amount if you sell enough of it.

 Art

I’ve watched enough Antiques Roadshow in my time to know that the most valuable art is often the smallest, most unassuming pieces which don’t look like much which are worth a small fortune! If you’ve got any paintings which look like they might be originals, have them evaluated by an expert to see if they’re worth anything.

Bags and Purses

Bags and purses hold a surprising amount of value if they’re designer pieces, or even if they’re just made from decent leather. Look on eBay or other selling apps to see what sort of items sell well and to get an idea of what sort of price you’re looking at, and then sell anything that you’re not likely to use again.

Retro Games Consoles

If you’re the sort of person who puts things away nicely and stores them in the loft, and you have retro games consoles squirrelled away, you could be sitting on a small fortune! Retro games consoles are incredibly collectable and the more games and accessories you have with them, the more the bundle will be worth.

Vinyl

A lot of vinyl isn’t worth much these days, purely because there’s only a limited amount of collectors left and the condition isn’t always great. There are, however, particular albums which are worth a LOT of money, especially if they’re ones which are printed on a special vinyl, like clear or coloured records. Go through your collection and see if you have any of the valuable ones.

5 Ways to Save Money Ahead of Summer

save moneyI don’t know about you, but for us, this always seems to be an expensive time of year. Between birthdays, holidays, needing to spruce up the garden and all the other expenses that pop up, I seem to be spending money hand over fist at the moment. Because of this, I’ve been thinking about ways to save, so that we’re not skint by the time summer is over, and these are some of the things I came up with:

Shop Around

Recently, we needed to buy a new tumble drier, because our ancient one wasn’t really up to the job anymore, and because it was a big purchase we decided to shop around to make sure we got the best price. There are sites to look up the cheapest prices in the UK for just about everything you want to buy, and we scoured these before making our purchase.

Check Your Tarrifs

This is a great time of year to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for all of your bills, including gas, electricity, mobile bills, internet and TV. Providing you’re not at the beginning of a new contract, there is often room to negotiate with your service providers and could find yourself saving a significant amount each month (I recently did this with our BT will and am saving almost £40 per month on that one bill!

Scrimp on Fuel

Do you take the car on unnecessary short journeys where it would actually be possible to walk instead? I know SO many people who drive when they could walk and they’d save loads across the course of the month if they left the car at home. There are also websites and apps which tell you which petrol stations nearby are the cheapest, allowing you to get the best value there, too.

Use What’s in the House

We’re naughty when it comes to food and tend to buy our meals on a day-to-day basis, but recently I decided that we were going to actually use up what was in the house. It meant a few days of slightly odd meals that you probably wouldn’t eat ordinarily, but it saved us from buying new stuff and helped make space in the cupboard and freezer for new shopping.

Check Your Subscriptions

I know so many people who subscribe to the full TV package and never watch the channels, or have services like Netflix, Disney Life or Amazon TV and rarely use them. Do a stock-take of all of your subscriptions, including newspapers and magazines, and ditch any that you barely use.

How do you save money?

How to Start an Emergency Fund from Scratch

The future is full of unknowns and many things can happen to us that are beyond our control. That also extends to our finances, so it’s wise to have an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses.

Are you prepared if you lose your job or get sick? What would you do in a natural disaster? If your car or household appliances break down, can you fix or replace them?

An emergency fund is an answer to all of these questions. But how do you get started from scratch? Our four tips will help …

1) Prioritize

To successfully build your emergency fund you need to make it a priority. It’s all too easy to skip putting money aside one week because you tell yourself that the likelihood of an emergency is low, but it’s that mentality that will leave you stranded when one occurs.

Choose a set amount to put aside and treat it as a necessity like the electric bill or paying rent. You could even set up an automated bank transfer from your checking account to a savings account so you stay committed.

Another trick is to formulate a budget that excludes your emergency savings from income. If you pretend you never had $20 every week, you won’t miss it. And such a small sum will grow to over $1,000 in one year!

2) Budget

 You can’t save efficiently without having a firm understanding of your finances. That’s why it’s so important to budget, and it really isn’t that difficult to do. Whether you use an app or a good old-fashioned pen and pad, note down all the money you have coming in each month and all the expenses you have going out.

This should include your salary or wages and any other regular income, and all the regular expenses such as your mortgage, rent, utilities, car payments etc. It is also wise to estimate more sporadic income and expenses (you an average this out if you keep track over several months). For example, going out to the movies and buying new clothing.

With your budget clear, you now know exactly how much money you have left over each month and can choose a realistic amount to put aside for emergencies.

3) Set the size of your Fund

Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover your basic living expenses for three to six months. This gives you plenty of time to find a new job if you lose it, get your health in order if it takes you out of work, and re-settle in the case of a natural disaster.

The pot will also be big enough to cover other emergency expenses that don’t directly impact your income or home situation.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different and you may have a particularly high and stable income, home equity, and a great credit rating – all of which decrease your odds of a financial emergency. In that case, you may set a lower amount for your emergency fund.

On the flipside, if you’re renting, just starting out in your career or do not have stable work, and you have poor credit or are nearing your credit limits, then it’s wise to build a larger emergency fund to fall back on.

Note: Your fund should always be full, so if you tap into it, remember to start saving again. You might even choose to jump ahead of your savings schedule by using guides like ‘how to make 500 dollars fast,’ to give your fund a quick refill.
4) Make it Work for You

 Having some cash on hand is always a good idea for emergencies, but you don’t want the bulk of your fund under the mattress. The best option is a savings account that gives you full access at any time. This way you will earn some interest to make saving easier and you’ll still be able to withdraw as much as you need at any time during an emergency.

You may decide to put a percentage of your fund in a less liquid account, such as a mutual fund or even physical precious metals like gold and silver. Diversifying is always wise (bank collapses do happen), but you want the bulk of your fund accessible on the day you need it.

By following this simple advice, you will be able to create an accessible insurance policy to protect you and your family from any and all financial emergencies.

 

5 Ways to Boost Your Finances in 2018

No matter what happened in 2017, a new year has begun. For many people, organising theirfinances will be a new year’s resolution. After all, Christmas is an expensive time of year and we can end up spending huge amounts of money over the festive season.

January can be a tough month for finance, but it doesn’t have to be. PPI claims, gathering unwanted gifts and reviewing your current account is all part of the plan to have a healthy bank balance in 2018.

It’s important to have some extra money to pay for financial emergencies and events throughout the year. Thankfully, there are some great ways to boost your finances this year — and these five ideas can all be done right now! So, why put off getting that cash boost?

  • Try a New Way of Saving

The website Apartment Therapy came up with a new way of saving in small amounts. It’s a simple, yet effective way for people to save money from the very first day of the year to the very last. It’s not too late to start either! It’ll be incredibly easy to get on schedule quickly if you start soon.

The idea is simple: For each day of the week, you save some money. You increase the amount saved each day, but when the week restarts, you start all over again. The amounts below are the recommendations about how much to set aside every day:

Sunday £1

Monday £2

Tuesday £3

Wednesday £4

Thursday £5

Friday £6

Saturday £7

When Sunday arrives, you start back at £1. This way of savings means you will have £28 a week, equating to nearly £1500 by the end of the year. Find a big piggy bank or set up a direct debit to a savings account and add £28 a week. You’ll be so grateful by the end of the year and taking it out in small amounts every week can make the saving that much easier.

  • Make a PPI Claim Today

The PPI deadline is getting ever closer. While we’ve all seen and heard the adverts about payment protection insurance claims, the reality is that there are still thousands of people who haven’t claimed PPI. Many consumers were unaware that PPI was sold to them alongside a mortgage, credit card or loan. It’s so important to check old bank statements and find out if you’re due a refund. It could well be thousands of pounds; a substantial amount to boost your 2018 finances. Even if you no longer have the paperwork, you can still find out if PPI was added to your account.  Make your PPI claim today before it’s too late!

  • Sell Unwanted Christmas Gifts

Are there still some Christmas gifts at home which you know you won’t ever get around to using? Those bath salts from your secret Santa might be lovely, but you’re not really a bath person. Selling unwanted Christmas gifts is an excellent way to make some extra money and make sure the gift doesn’t go to waste. Using eBay or even Facebook to sell gifts can be a good boost of income and is very simple.

  • Cash in on Gift Cards

Instead of presents, you may have received some gift cards for Christmas. Some of these can be really useful, but, if you got a gift card for a shop you rarely use, you can cash it in online. Websites such as Zeek will show you various options about how to get cash for your gift cards. Although you’ll never receive the full price, the cash can sometimes be much more worthwhile than the card.

  • Switch Current Accounts

Years ago, the thought of switching current accounts was too much effort. Now, however, thanks to the Current Account switch guarantee, changing current accounts is swift and easy. Most banks are signed up to the switching guarantee, making it a painless experience.

The best part about switching bank accounts is the great rates that banks offer to entice you. Rates do change regularly and there are terms and conditions, so be sure to check on websites such as Money Saving Expert for the best deal.

So, why put off getting some extra cash in 2018? Whether you’re possibly due a huge refund from PPI claims or can sell £50 worth of unwanted Christmas gifts, making use of these finance-boosting tips can make a huge difference. Start making money today!