46 articles Tag money

5 Basic Money Saving Tips that Really Work

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

A lot of people assume that if they want to accomplish incredible things with their cash, they need to be saving hundreds of pounds worth of income every month. However, this isn’t really true. The fact is that just a couple of pounds placed into a savings account every week can make a huge difference to your finances in the future.

Rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed by the idea that budgeting has to mean changing your entire lifestyle, why not make some basic changes to your relationship with cash that really work instead? Here are some top tips to get you started.

  1. Think Bulk, Not Brands

When you’re shopping for essential items like toilet paper, tissues, and even cleaning supplies, it’s easy to get carried away looking at brand names and packaging. However, it’s important not to let the good marketing brainwash you. Instead, look for opportunities to save some extra money by buying supermarket-brand options in bulk.

More often than not, you’re going to get the exact same experience from a supermarket that you would get from a big-brand company, but you’ll save a fortune on the packaging. Remember, you can always buy extra of the things you always need in when they’re on sale, so you don’t run out too.

  1. Rethink your Electricity

When you start searching through your monthly statements for opportunities to save, you’ll notice that you spend cash in some areas more often than others. For instance, a lot of us overspend on food shopping, but we also tend to use a lot of our cash on gas and electricity. If you’re paying over the odds for your electricity, start by looking at offers from other providers to see if you can get a better deal. At the same time, you can also think about exchanging some of your high-consumption appliances with energy-saving alternatives.

While buying a new fridge, washing machine and other essential utensils might require you to take out a loan initially, it will mean that by the time you’ve finished paying what you owe, you’ll have much lower bills.

  1. Stop Over-spending on Drinks

Sometimes, it’s easier to see how much you spend on food from takeaways, restaurants and cafes than it is to recognise how much you’re spending on drinks. How often do you buy yourself a bottle of cola when you go shopping on a weekend to keep you going until you get home? How much do you spend on a morning coffee when you’re on your way to work.

Invest in a reusable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. Not only will you have an instant source of hydration when you need it, but you’ll also get a health boost by switching away from sugary and caffeinated beverages too.

  1. Prep your Meals in Advance

Next time you’re going shopping at the supermarket, make a list of all the meals that you’re going to make for that week. This will help you to make sure that you’re not overspending when you’re walking through the aisles. However, it will also mean that you have everything you need to start prepping your meals in advance.

While spending an afternoon cooking and chopping on a Sunday might not seem like much fun, it will mean that you have all the food you need ready and available to throw into the oven when you get home after a long day at work. Pre-prepped meals make it much less likely that you’ll end up turning to a takeaway for food.

  1. Make Saving Automatic

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who finds saving difficult, then why not simplify the process by making it completely automatic? Take a look at your budget and find out how much you can afford to put into a savings account after your bills are paid for. Then, you can set up a direct debit that moves your money into your savings account before you have a chance to spend it.

Making saving automatic will reduce your risk of spending the cash that you wish you had put aside for later. At the same time, it also means that you don’t need to think about saving at the end of each month. Just make sure that you come and re-check your budget every once in a while to make sure that the amount of cash you’re putting into savings, and the cash you’re using elsewhere still makes sense.

Teaching Kids About The Grey Areas Of The Money World

Money is a magical thing to a child. Adults have a lot of it, in their opinion, and the day they get their pocket money is one of the best times of their lives! But as we know, money isn’t always a sunny, fun thing. That’s something we need to make our kids aware of as well. 

Kids need to learn about the world they’re growing up in, and whilst they’re young, they’ll absorb more knowledge than ever before. And because of that, it’s important to introduce them to money at a young age, and highlight both the good and bad aspects of it. So, without further ado, here are some of the grey areas the financial world has to it, and what your kids ought to know about them. 

Pexels Image – CC0 Licence

How to Know They’re Spending Too Much Money

Kids should know that money doesn’t grow on trees, and when they want to spend some, they won’t be able to spend forever. Of course, the idea of object permanence can be hard to teach to a kid, but it’s definitely possible! Put the coins out in front of them, and slowly take them away using hypothetical purchases – when there’s none left on the table, ask your child what they see. 

Having a Debt

As a kid, the idea of debt can be incredibly scary – it’s something they see on the TV, in all the adverts and the drama TV shows, where scary men in suits bust into a house and take all kinds of things away with them. Well, it’s time to make sure they don’t grow up with that notion, and only that notion, about debt in their head. 

Teach them how easily debt can be resolved. Teach them that looking for an instant loan might be quick and easy but needs to be thought about at length. Teach them to be careful about who they borrow from, and to always look to family first. Teach them that you can always be relied upon! 

The Benefits of Saving Up

Saving can be something weird and alien to a child. A lot of the time, kids are about instant gratification, and if they want something, they want it now! But if you manage to get ideas about saving in early, they’ll be able to stop themselves and think automatically!

They’ll be able to look at the toy in the shop and work out how long it would take for them to earn enough pocket money. They’d feel more secure about making that decision, and they’ll be able to comfort themselves with the idea that they can come back later. All in all, you’ll teach them to be very mature about their money. 

There’s a lot of grey areas in the money world, but they don’t have to be unknowable forever. Make sure your kids are aware of the troubles money could give them, even when they’re not sure what they’re running into – it’s important for the future. 

Easy Ways to Get your Kids More Interested in Saving

Easy Ways to Get your Kids More Interested in SavingAs parents, we need to teach our children many life lessons. One of which is how to handle money. Teaching your kids how to budget and save for their future will make a huge difference in their lives. They are far less likely to end up burdening themselves with debt. There are lots of ways to teach your children to be good savers, but these are some of my favourites.

Open a junior ISA for them

Opening a junior ISA from Wealthify, or a similar provider is a good idea for most families. The cash in these accounts is not available to your child until they are 18. Although from the age of 16 they can play a role in managing their ISA accounts.

Eighteen is a good age for a child to be given a lump sum. At that age, they are likely to be preparing to learn to drive, go on to further education or thinking about moving out of your home. Having some cash saved up for them in an ISA will enable them to do all of this without having to get into debt.

Get them an old-fashioned piggy bank

Old school piggy banks are still popular because kids love them. Giving them physical pocket money and encouraging them to put some of it into one is a great way for them to get the saving bug at a really young age. Even a toddler can understand that the bigger the pile of coins is the more of what they really want they can buy. So, as soon as it is safe to do so, get each of your children a piggy bank.

Open a full bank account for them

The next step is to open a proper bank account for each of them. At first, you will have to help them to manage it. But, gradually, they will be able to take over the reins. Handling money on a daily basis and getting used to budgeting so that their allowance gets them through the week is all good practice. They can use that bank account to save up for short-term financial goals. For example, holidays or buying something like a new phone or games consul.

Play games that help them to learn about managing money

Kids learn best through play. This YT video provides you with some ideas of how to do that.

Get them to help with the family budget

As soon as they are old enough to do so, get the kids involved with helping you to manage the family budget. Now, I am not suggesting that you burden your children with the full ins and outs of your finances.

But, you can, for example, get them to help you to shop around for the best power deals. Or, to find coupons for the products your family likes to eat. Giving them little tasks like this will really help them to better appreciate the value of money and learn how to save for their future.

Common Family Emergencies & How To Navigate Them

Knowing what to do when you experience an emergency is crucial – if you’re not sure what to do, it can be difficult to find out in the moment because you feel stressed and like your brain isn’t working properly. Below, you’ll find a few common family emergencies and how to navigate them. Take a look. 

Your Child is Sick

When your child is sick, getting time off work last minute can be a nightmare. However, your child comes first. Make sure you stress to your boss that you’re disappointed and you know it’s not ideal, but also present them with solutions. Tell them how you can rectify this at a later date and how you’ll make yourself available in the future. 

It’s Your Child’s Birthday/Another Special Occasion and You’re Going To Miss It 

Your child’s birthday is so important when they’re young, and things like plays and concerts can be huge for them. If you’re going to miss something like this, it’s normal to feel guilty. However, this is your opportunity to become a real role model for your child. See if you can find ways to be involved while you work, or whatever it is you have to do. Maybe you could facetime your child on your lunch break, or message them throughout the day to encourage them. This will still mean a lot to them. 

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Your Car Breaks Down 

A car break down can come suddenly and without warning, and this can be a nightmare if you have somewhere important to be. Quick Car Credit could offer you car finance for a new car if you know your old one is done for, but you should also know what to do straight away to rectify the situation. Who do you call? How will you get to where you’re going? Make sure you have your own break down plan ready. 

Needing Time Off Work

A family emergency can mean needing some time off work, but how long can you have off? There is no limit really, and it’ll depend on your workplace. Some reasons you might take time off include:

  • You need to attend your child’s school because of an incident
  • Somebody dies
  • Somebody gives birth
  • Somebody falls ill 
  • Somebody is injured or assaulted 

The reasons above mostly relate to dependents, which means people who are dependent on you. This might mean your kids, or even a parent. Anybody who depends on you. However, most workplaces will also allow time off for close family member emergencies. 

It’s normal to worry about an employer disciplining or dismissing you, but they can not treat you badly for needing to take time off. It can’t be counted as a sickness or unauthorised absence. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, citizen’s advice will be able to help you. Providing you are honest and do your best to keep your employer in the loop, you should be treated fairly. Leave your thoughts below – thanks for reading.

Made to Thrill: Best Halloween Slot Games for 2019

Okay, we’ll admit it: we’ve got a soft spot for Halloween. But who could say no to a day of carving pumpkins, dressing like vampires, and gorging on enough candy to satisfy even the sweetest tooth? What’s more, if (like us) you’re a sucker for slot games, you can’t have failed to notice that Halloween’s inspired more slots than Christmas and all the other holidays combined.  

Every year around October 31st, online casinos treat us to hundreds of top-notch Halloween slots, ranging from the mildly creepy to the down-right disturbing. This year is no exception. Already, serious thrill seekers are trying their luck with Halloween Jack, a highly-volatile slot with graphics as terrifying as its spin speeds. Meanwhile, those who jump easily are enjoying the likes of Pumpkin Bonanza and Halloween Fortune, with their cute cartoon animations and steady returns.

Want to read more about the spookiest online slots of 2019? Check out the below guide put together by the team from the online casino bgo.com. It gives you a brief run down of 6 Halloween slots well worth a spin this year.

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.