How to Take Control Of Your Finances And Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt

Budgeting is an important part of managing your personal debt. Although the process can be a little bit challenging, it can help you get a clearer view of your financial picture so that you can make smarter choices with how you spend your money. If you find yourself with a low credit score you can consider payday loans for bad credit.

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Once you have a budget in place, the next step is to figure out how to cover all of your expenses without having to rely on credit cards.

#1 Avoid using your credit cards

Until you get your finances back on track, do your best to avoid using your credit cards. When you go to the store, try leaving them at home. If you need more of a deterrent, you can freeze them in a block of ice or cut them up and throw them away.

#2 Eliminate any unnecessary expenses

Go through your expenses line by line, looking for items that can be eliminated. For instance, you may be able to get rid of cable TV until your debt has been paid off. Sacrifices like these will make it much faster for you to get out of debt.

#3 Find ways to lower your essential expenses

Some expenses are essential and can’t be completely eliminated. In many cases, however, you can lower them. For instance, try comparing car insurance prices to see if you could be getting a better rate. Instead of throwing old vegetables away, turn them into soup. You can even lower your fuel expenses by walking instead of driving whenever you can. All of these small changes add up to big savings.

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#4 Know where your money is going

Many people have a hard time understanding how they got into debt in the first place. Stay on top of how you are spending your money by setting financial goals and tracking all of your expenditures.

#5 Earn more money

One of the fastest ways to pay off your debt is by bringing in more money. Some of the ways that you can do that include:

– Taking on a second job

Selling items that you don’t use anymore

– Moving in with a roommate

Any extra money that you bring in can be applied directly to your debt.

Following these five suggestions will help you get control of your finances. Even though it will take some time to pay off your debt, knowing that you are moving in the right direction can provide you with a lot of relief.

Make Ends Meet with These 5 Tips

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A tough household situation can make things hard for all involved. So, here are some great tips to make ends meet.

#1. Use Coupons (In The Right Way)

Coupons are widely available for almost all products. You can save a lot on the items you buy. A simple Google search or browsing websites such as RetailMeNot will help you get coupons for your favourite service, store, or item. Importantly, you can save as much as 50% on your purchase by using coupons when shopping.

That said, you should follow several golden rules when using coupon codes. For instance, look for the coupon codes when you are buying the item. Do not fall into the trick of purchasing an item just because you have received a coupon code as you will end up spending more than you need to. Typically, retailers try to use coupons to push you into making impulsive purchases.

The second rule of thumb is to do your research. You should search on google to make sure you are using the best coupon code available that yields the highest savings possible. There are plenty of coupon codes available online for the same product each giving you different savings. Logically, you want to use the codes that offer the highest savings possible.

#2. Unsubscribe From All Promotional Emails

Promotional emails are notorious for tricking customers into making impulsive purchase decisions that you wouldn’t normally make. As such, you should unsubscribe from as many promotional emails, if not all. This will cut your expenditure on items you do not need.

You can use Unroll.Me. The service helps you sort your emails and unsubscribe from promotional emails in bulk, making the process faster and easier.

Keep in mind that you can stay subscribes on specific promotion emails for items you are interested in getting discounts.

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#3. Take Advantage Of Secondhand Buying

Purchasing used items instead of new ones can save you 50% or more. With some effort, you can get almost-new items for almost half the price of the new item. The best place to start for secondhand items is eBay or other similar websites. You can buy simple items such as DVDs to more complex items such as cars from these sites. And usually, these items are in great condition. Doing this may mean you won’t need to apply for a loan but if you do there is nothing easier than payday loans online.

#4. Rent Party Clothes

Many of my old party clothes wound up on the secondhand market and were sold at half price. These clothes were as good as new since I wore them once or twice. If you have gone through such an experience, you will appreciate how unsatisfactory it is to fork out for dresses and accessories you hardly use.

Do not make this mistake as there is an alternative. Consider renting expensive clothes for a fraction of the price when needed.

There are plenty of party clothes available for rent. Websites such as Our Closet and Hirestreet offer interesting picks for party clothes. The service typically handles the delivery, pickup, and maintenance.

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#5. Wait For Sales

Whether you want to buy electronics or clothes, sales come often. As such, you should keep your eyes open for the next sale in the product category you are interested in. If you have mulled over buying a certain product, it is worthwhile to wait for the item to be listed on sale. Clearance and holiday sales are good options. Moreover, you can ask the store agent if there is an upcoming sale and they will give an estimate. With this information, you can plan accordingly.


Things You Need to Teach Your Kids About Money Before They Get Their First Job

If you’re living with a teenager, you probably already know they don’t really get money. Sure, they know how to use it to buy clothes, but when mum and dad seem to be an eternal fountain of wealth, it’s harder for them to know where that money comes from. When they get their first job, it’s a good idea for them to have some essential money management knowledge under their belt. This will prevent from making money mistakes from day one. 

The people at iThink Finance, know just how important it is for kids to have a healthy understanding of money and just how dangerous it can be to start earning without having a healthy respect for money. In 2018, 8.3 million people in the UK were in bad debt. They had lived beyond their means and were unable to pay for their regular household expenses. Many of those people have poor money management skills. 

5 Things All Kids Should Know About Money Before They Start Working

Some kids get a good financial start and others don’t. How much money you have has no bearing on how well-off your child will be financially in the future. Ultimately, it really comes down to how your child understands money and if he/she has a healthy respect for spending and saving. As a parent, you’re probably worried about how well your child will cope with earning money for the first time. It’s natural for teenagers to want to blow their first pay cheque. But with the right guidance from you, you can stop them from blowing the rest of them!

Follow these things you need to teach your kids before they get their first job to set them on the right track.

Ditch the allowance and pay a “commission”.

Kids that get allowances to do what they want with can develop an unhealthy understanding of how money and finances really work. Instead of giving them an allowance each month, recommend commissions for different chores around the home instead. Write up a list of chores and say how much you would pay them. Draw up earning charts so that each commission can be confirmed and authorised by you. Pay the commissions over on a weekly or monthly basis with a “pay slip” included. You can even work out a way to teach about deductions by deducting fees for poor behaviour, chores completed sloppily, bad manners or staying out late! 

The lesson: Money isn’t dished out – it’s earned. 

Get them a bank account.

Pay whatever you give them into their own bank account. This is an important part of the process. It’s the very first opportunity for them to learn about the joys of saving. Every commission/allowance paid over to your child should go straight into the bank account. Spend some time drawing up a budget with your child, including expenses such as magazine subscriptions and savings. Ensure that they put aside money each month for savings and insist that it is treated as a fixed monthly expense. They may not like it now, but they’ll thank you in the future.

The lesson: Savings are vitally important and fees are a fact of life.

Start saving for retirement.

Children and teens don’t grasp the fact that one day they will get old and need financial support. Having access to a good retirement fund is vitally important and it is never too early to start saving. Make sure that this figure appears on their budget. To make it seem like less of a punishment to them, offer to pay a portion of the retirement fee up until they reach a certain age (most parents choose 18 or 21). A great option for kids is the Virgin Children’s Pension package. This is popular as the state tops up payments made by 25% and your child can access the funds on their 55th Birthday. Stress that saving for retirement is essential for their future happiness and security.

The lesson: saving for retirement is vitally important.

Last Word

These are just three of the many lessons you can teach your child about money before they get their first job. Having this understanding of money and a good starting point financially is invaluable to any child. Help your child to make a great financial start by preparing them for the money challenges that they will encounter throughout their lives. 

Old Fashioned Cash Budgeting Hacks: How Well Do They Actually Work?

Nowadays there seems to be an app that claims to fix all of our financial and budgeting responsibilities. But do we really need them? Perhaps you could try budgeting and money-saving the “good old fashioned way”? The people at Flexy Finance often speak to people looking for budgeting hacks and tips. Recently, this got them thinking about how things were done, before the internet, before mobile phones, and before apps started to make everything “easier”. They came up with three, great old-fashioned ideas to try – and I think they still work well.

Three Old Fashioned Budgeting Hacks That Can Still Work Today

There are several old fashioned cash budgeting hacks (some might call them old wives tales) that actually do work and will still work today. They had merit in their time and even though many people would like a technological fix, sometimes the old ways are the best! Let’s take a look at three old fashioned budgeting hacks that work now as well as ever. 

The Envelope Budgeting System.

After you’ve paid your bills, including your investments and savings, make a list of all the other things you generally end up spending your money on. This can be things like groceries, entertainment, clothing, beauty and whatever else you like to buy. Decide how much is a decent amount to spend in each of these categories without being wasteful or frivolous with your cash. Then, write the name of each of these categories on a separate envelope. Withdraw the cash amount from your bank account and put the exact amount into each envelope. When this amount of money is depleted in each envelope, that is it – you can’t draw any more cash or spend any more. You can do this on a weekly or monthly basis quite easily. The envelope budgeting method teaches you to spend more carefully when it comes to clothing, hobbies, food snacks and treats. 

Don’t Pay for What You Can Do Yourself.

Calling someone in to fix anything that goes wrong around the house is a pretty modern thing. Years ago, most people would fix what they could themselves. There’s probably a lot that you can do around the home yourself, instead of paying someone else to do it for you. Look at YouTube for a great collection of DIY videos that you could follow. The more you do yourself, the more you stand to save. 

Set Some of Your Salary Aside, No Matter What.

You can never save too much. It’s good to be prepared for things like a shaky economy or a loss of employment. Before household borrowing rocketed in the 1980s, it was common for everyone to save a good portion of their earnings, even if it wasn’t much. Be strict with yourself when you save. This shouldn’t be a fair weather activity, but something that you do every month. There should be no plan to spend this money and no particular “reason” for saving it (such as a holiday etc.). This money is only to be used for a rainy day. 

Last Word

There are plenty of apps out there that claim to set you and your finances straight. Try them, by all means. But what if the old ways are the best? Follow these old fashion budgeting hacks to find out for yourself. 

Online Loans: Definition, Types and Approvals

If you are looking to borrow money and applying for a loan, finding options will be as easy as 123. You may be looking into online solutions for your borrowing needs and these come with both pros and cons as well as involved other factors that you should consider. Take your time to understand the different loans before committing to one.

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What is an online loan?

An online loan is a loan where the entirety of the transaction will occur online. You will send in your application online and the approval will be reviewed and sent almost instantly. The experts at recognize online loans as alternative options for borrowing money aside from banks and credit unions. It is easier to be approved through online lenders than it is to be approved by those financial institutions. Most online loans are going to be personal loans that are smaller in total amount. These tend to be more expensive than other loans as they will usually have higher interest rates as well, but this is to counter the risk involved with faster approvals and taking on loans for people that do not qualify for the traditional loan alternatives already discussed.

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What are the types of loan?

  • Secured

Secure loans involve the use of collateral. This means you will use the assets you have, such as your home or your car to put up for the loan as a way to guarantee the repayment.  If you are not able to pay back your loan, these assets will be repossessed. This makes it less risky for the lender and will come with lower interest rates as these loans are more secure.

  • Unsecured

Unsecured loans don’t require collateral. These loans will have higher interest rates, but will fluctuate depending on your credit score. Your borrowing total will also be determined by your credit and will alter your repayment period.

  • Bad Credit Loans

Bad credit loans are loans for people that are typically unable to find loan providers that are willing to work with them to give them a credit agreement due to their poor credit scores or their struggle with an inability to pay back previous loans. These are loans that come with higher interest rates, but if you are able to pay these types of loans back, this is one way of building your credit score back up. Applying for bad credit loans takes only minutes, with response available almost instantly. The approval will be based on your credit history and income.

  • Short term loans

Short term loans are loans that have a shorter term for repayment. These repayment tenures will range from a month up to 12 month period depending on the size of the loan and the agreement made by the lending party. Interest rates on short term loans are typically higher to incentivize the faster repayment. The amount for these loans tends to be smaller than what a bank may be open to lending but easier to attain than bank loans. As a guarantee you will be able to make payments, you will have to give access to a debit or bank account. Short term loans are easy to apply for, and some lenders allow application even through text message so you are able to be approved very quickly.

  • No guarantor loans

In most cases, you will need a guarantor that will agree to take responsibility for your loan if you are unable to make the payments. There are, however, no guarantor loans available for those that do not have the connections for a guarantor loan. These loans, like others mentioned, will have higher interest rates to cover for the risk of lending money by the loaner. Applying for these loans is a quick process and approval can happen in minutes.

  • Payday loans

Payday loans are for loans of smaller amounts that are needed immediately. These types of loans have a faster turnover time, meaning that you will commit to paying these loans back almost immediately. The agreement for repayment on these loans is typically in full on your next payday, hence the name. It is only advisable to take these types of loans in the case of an emergency because the interest rates are extremely high. You can adjust the repayment time for larger borrowing amounts, but the high-interest rates will still apply. Application and approval of these loans are relatively fast and can occur in minutes.

If you need to borrow money, you need to be careful in selecting the right loan plan for you and should discuss with an expert or advisor all your options. This will help you find the best solution to get the money you need and be able to best repay the loan back in the fastest time with the least interest.


Financial Tips to Overcome the Anxiety Caused by Too Much Debt

We live in a world where money has become the source of all agony. People spend their lives trying to make enough of it, hoping it would somehow make their lives better. There is no doubt that financial security is an essential cornerstone of healthy living, however, a lot of suffering comes with the effort it takes to reach this level of security. Moreover, whether you have a good job with a decent income or you are suffering to make ends meet, debt seems to be inescapable these days—be it a mortgage, credit cards, or student loans.

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Like many people, you definitely must have felt weighed down by your financial commitments at one point. You may even be struggling with anxiety and mental distress as a result. However, this should not be the case; there’s a way out of this loop of financial despair. 

Read on to learn about some financial tips to help you overcome anxiety caused by too much debt.

Use Debt Management Tools

You don’t have to feel bound hand and foot by your debts. Many debt management tools are available for people like you whose debts are causing them constant anxiety. In the UK, for example, debt has become a growing problem; one person is declared insolvent every 4 minutes! This astounding rate has necessitated IVA agreements. However, IVA isn’t an option in all countries; in Scotland, for instance, you can’t apply for an IVA but you can apply for a protected trust deed, which is fairly similar to an IVA. As explained on, an IVA is a formal and legal agreement that you can reach with your creditors to re-discuss the terms of your debts. After an insolvency practitioner assesses the amount that you would be able to pay given your current financial status, he/she will then act as a mediator and take this deal to your lending parties. If the majority of your creditors agree to the terms of the IVA, it will be legally approved and effectively binding. These tools are a great alternative to declaring bankruptcy.

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Do Not Default on Payments

Whatever you do, always make sure to never delay or default on paying installments. The risk of facing penalties, which means yet more financial burdens, is never worth it. There will come months when you will be financially strained and feel unable to pay the compiled monthly installment. You have to make sure you plan ahead and try as much as possible to never be in such an unfavorable situation. 

Learn How to Budget

Budgeting is the most responsible approach to managing your finances. Especially if you are self-employed or work on a commission basis, your income will vary from one month to the next. Make sure you keep an accurate and updated budget where you add all of your expenses versus each month’s income. With time, you will be able to draw a trendline and project how your financial status will look like in the future. You can find many apps and budgeting tools online that are designed for personal use. They will be of great help if financial matters usually make your head spin. Budgeting will help you avoid having income variations come in the way of meeting your monthly installment requirements. This way, you will feel more secure and possibly even notice that you are having fewer anxiety attacks than before.

Make Saving a Habit

Even the smallest amount will get your savings ball rolling. You might think that you will never have enough to put aside after fulfilling your daily needs and monthly payments, however, you will if you start saving small. Even if it’s a few bucks, you will at least be practicing how to save up, which is a very important habit. You must have heard many people complain about their inability to save; the truth is that they’ve never really honed that skill. In any case, it’s never too late to start. 

Think Twice Before Taking on More Debt

Unless it is a matter of life and death, do not take on any more debt. You already have your plate full of the money you currently owe, so there’s no point in making it worse. Even if you’re presented with a great opportunity to purchase the car of your dreams at half price with a simple car loan, do not give in. Your future self will thank you for siding with common sense and not giving in to short-lived wins.

Being in debt can shake your self-confidence and negatively affect your mental health. However, you have to understand that it is a universal problem; you’re not facing these troubles alone. Be honest with yourself and tackle your debt problem practically without being too emotionally invested. This will help you see things clearer and make better decisions. 

How To Win The Lottery – Tips To Improve Your Chances

How to win the lottery – that’s what we all dream of, isn’t it?  Particularly at the moment when we are stuck indoors thanks to COVID-19 and desperate for any ray of sunshine to restore our optimism in a happier, healthier future!

Despite the odds against us, many of us hold our breath, particularly on Tuesdays and Fridays when the Euromillions jackpots have rolled over to staggeringly large amounts.

Now whilst I might have an occasional flutter on the Grand National, I do play the lottery quite regularly. I think of it as my way of giving a bit to charity and, let’s be honest, for most of us, winning a lottery jackpot is the only way we are going to join the ranks of the rich and famous – quickly, at any rate.

A while ago, online lottery ticket service carried out some research in which they discovered that the top 5 wishes of a 1000 people surveyed across the UK were as follows:- the lottery [7%] 2. health [6.6%] [5.9%] peace [4.8%] 5.happiness [3.5%]

I’m not sure what the other 72.2% wished for but I imagine you’d need cash for most of their desires.

Interestingly, men wanted money most [6.5%] but women wanted health [7.9%].  Money was the top wish for both the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, but both the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups wanted to win the lottery.  The 55-64 and 65+ age groups valued health most (unsurprisingly!).

So the big question is – how can I improve my chances of winning?

You’ve got to be in it to win it, they say.  And it is possible to enter lotteries not only in the UK but in Europe and the US, as long as you check the local laws about collecting your winnings! This should increase your chances rather than always playing the National Lottery in the UK.

The Telegraph has compiled its 10 tips for maximising your chance of a lottery win [here]. These include a couple of surprises including not bothering with ball number 13 (in 20 years it’s only appeared 229 times which is the lowest of any ball) and instead choosing number 38 which is the most drawn at 314 times.

Only 11% of lottery millionaires won by sticking to their tried and tested numbers such as birth dates, anniversaries and door numbers so you’d do well to mix your numbers up occasionally.

Tips to increase your chances of winning the lottery

Join a syndicate

Your chances of winning are also significantly raised if you join a lottery syndicate, making sure you have a written agreement between the members of course!

Other things you could consider are:-

Play less often

Play less often but buy more tickets when you do – apparently, this increases your chances.

Don’t pick patterns

Don’t choose pretty patterns – it’s popular to pick your numbers by creating diagonal lines or vertical lines on your ticket, increasing the risk of having to share the jackpot with others who choose the same way.

Avoid poorly performing numbers

Avoid numbers 16, 41 and 20 which perform just as poorly as number 13.

Keep your ticket somewhere safe

Whatever you do, just make sure you keep your lucky ticket safe as you will need it to claim your winnings.

Play online

I like to play online so that there is always a record of my entry.  The National Lottery UK website is easy to use and, best of all, emails you to both acknowledge your ticket purchase and in the event of any winnings.

Report lost tickets within 30 days

Be aware that the National Lottery UK has a 30-day time limit for reporting lost tickets and has previously refused to pay out when that deadline has been missed. [The Daily Mail]. Another good reason for playing online.

How to increase your luck

What makes some people luckier than others?  Richard Wiseman who has written extensively on the subject in his book “The Luck Factor” says that there are 5 psychological principles you can observe with ‘lucky’ people [The Guardian, 2/4/15]

  1. They create and notice opportunities by building a strong social network, developing a relaxed attitude to life, and being open to change.
  2. They tend to often listen to their intuition and act quickly. In contrast, unlucky people tend to overanalyse situations and are afraid to act.
  3. They are confident that the future will be bright, and these expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies because they help motivate lucky people to try even when the odds are against them.
  4. Unlucky people are sure that they will fail and so often give up before they have begun.
  5. They are highly resilient and keep going in the face of failure and learn from past mistakes. Unlucky people get dragged down by the smallest of problems and take responsibility for events outside of their control.

Now I reckon that if you can cultivate a mindset like that, you really will have won the lottery in all walks of life!

Note: You must be over 16 to play the lottery in the UK. Always play responsibly. Help and support available at

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The Importance Of Life Insurance For Parents

There’s a lot going on when you have kids, which I know isn’t news to any parent out there. With a young family, it’s hard to sit down and have a cup of tea in peace, let alone find the time to do life admin. I’m here to tell you though that it is pretty important to steal a little bit of time to think about life insurance if you haven’t already.

Life insurance is important at many stages in your life but there’s no time more important than when you have a family to provide for. If you’re not around anymore, that’s going to hugely impact your partner and children and that’s why you should be thinking about safeguarding their future.

What is life insurance?

You’ve probably heard the words ‘life insurance’ mentioned before but you may not know exactly what it is. Life insurance is basically insurance that you take out to cover your beneficiaries when you pass away. It’s designed to fill the financial void that would be left when you’re no longer there to cover mortgage repayments, bills, debts and to cover the cost of a funeral and such alike.

There are actually a few different types of products when it comes to life insurance.

Traditional life insurance is the most common and talked about product. This is the one I mentioned above that pays out a lump sum to your family when you pass away. You’re basically paying monthly into a policy that will give your family some sort of reality when you’re no longer around.

The last thing they’ll want to deal with if you pass away is paying off any debts, keeping on top of the mortgage and bills and trying to keep food on the table. A life insurance payout ensures that this is no longer a worry for them.

Family income benefit

Another really popular product for families is family income benefit.

It’s really similar to life insurance. In fact, the only real difference is that instead of paying out a lump sum upon death, it provides a family with a regular income.

You decide how long you want your policy to last – so perhaps until your family are financially dependent and you don’t need to worry so much about what would happen to them if you passed away – and the amount of money your family would need per month in order to be financially secure.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say for example that your family would need £2,000 per month for the next 20 years to maintain a comfortable life without you.

If you passed away within the first year of the policy, the insurer would pay out that sum for the full 20 years.

If you passed away 15 years into the policy, they’d receive £2,000 a month for the final five years.

After 20 years when the policy ends, you can’t claim and there won’t be a payout. You’re essentially paying for that peace of mind and protection.

Mortgage protection insurance

If you own a home, the biggest worry you’ve probably got when it comes to finances is how your family will continue to pay the mortgage without your income.

A mortgage is likely to be your biggest financial commitment and probably always will be. If your family can’t make the repayments then they could face being uprooted from the family home in a difficult time.

Enter, mortgage protection insurance.

Mortgage protection insurance pays out a lump sum like life insurance, but it’s specifically designed to pay off your mortgage.

When taking out this product, you need to decide whether you want to take out level term cover or decreasing term cover.

Level term cover means that your payout will always be a fixed amount, no matter at what point in the policy you claim.

If you opt for a £180,000 payout to cover your mortgage then this is what you’ll get when you claim.

With decreasing term cover, the amount decreases with time, just as the amount left on your mortgage does.

If a claim was to be made 10 years into a 20-year policy, the payout would be half of what it would have been at the beginning of the policy. Simple!

If you’re thinking about how best to protect your family, then these are probably the insurance products that you’re going to want to look into in detail. You don’t need them all, but you’d be wise to have one of them under your belt.

Tips To Make Sure You Don’t Break The Bank This Christmas

Christmas is the time of year when it’s easy to spend more than you can afford and, if you have kids, it’s tempting to buy them everything on their Christmas lists. This means that many of us find it a struggle to make ends meet at the start of a new year. Budgeting at Christmas has little appeal when there’s so much fun to be had but it really can make all the difference to how you start the new year.

These are just common sense, but here is a reminder of some simple things you can do to avoid emptying your wallet and maxing out your credit cards.

Write a List and Stick to it 

So easy to say but how many of us actually sit down and take the time to write a list? Whether you prefer handwritten or typed, there are so many apps and journals available to take the dullness out of what can be a bit of a chore. Make yourself a hot chocolate, get cosy and start writing.

How many of us mums remember to include ourselves on the list by the way?

Set a Budget

Budgeting at Christmas is key. Just jot down who you intend buying for, what you’re thinking of buying them, and the amount you’re thinking of spending on them.  This way it will be easy to see if you are likely to go over budget before you start online shopping or head out to town.

When you have an idea of how much you want to spend on each person, set a budget that you can afford. If you think money is going to be tight, work out where you can cut back on your occasional spending or be ruthless with who really should be on the gift list.

You might also want to talk to your immediate family to agree on an upper financial limit to gifts or perhaps restricting gift-giving, as my sister and I do, to our kids and just giving each other a bottle of wine.

You don’t really need to give gifts to relatives you see once a year, I think and certainly don’t go mad for friends who wouldn’t put themselves out for you.  Very often I think we spend out of guilt or in an attempt to win friendship.  That very rarely works.

The other thing that can swallow up your cash if you’re not careful is stocking fillers for the kids and pets, as well as advent calendars.

Again, budgeting at Christmas can make all the difference.

Start shopping as early in the year as possible

The earlier you start putting money towards your budget in the year, the better you’ll feel when it’s time to go Christmas shopping. Yes, Christmas shopping in August can be depressing, but it all helps to avoid being broke during the new year.

It’s also a good idea to have a review of your finances in July to see what other bills are looming and how much realistically you can free up for Christmas.

Don’t forget the ‘incidentals’

It’s a cliche but true nevertheless that it is the thought that counts but remember that the smallest amounts can really add up.  It’s not just the gift, is it?  There’s cards, wrapping paper, gift boxes and bags, postage and even fuel to deliver them in person.

There are always those things that you forget to buy and end up desperately scrabbling around your corner shop at 4 pm on Christmas Eve.

You can find lots of helpful gift lists online if you need some inspiration and Pinterest is a great place to look.

Gift wrapped with handmade paper and adorned with a sprig of spruce and a fir cone

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Use credit wisely

Obtaining a credit account is an option, although you’ll need to proceed with caution because too much credit and particularly defaulting on payments will have a negative on your credit score.  This might mean being turned down for important loans in the future – for example, a mortgage.

The question is, can you trust yourself to make all the repayments on time, without incurring compound interest and late payment fees?

You may be able to spread the cost of Christmas by shopping with some of the catalogue stores who offer credit accounts but make sure you know what you are getting into and if the credit is interest-free.  Otherwise, the cost of your purchase will be much higher than the advertised price.

Compare Prices

Before buying something, compare prices in different stores first to see if you can get it any cheaper. Every little helps, especially at this time of year.  Do try to support smaller businesses and your local traders.  This year is going to be a tough Christmas trading period for lots of the smaller retailers and crafts folk who are fighting the might of Amazon and the like.

My personal feeling is that if we don’t start to support our local traders then the high street as we know it may well just disappear and, much as I enjoy the convenience of internet shopping, there is nothing like the experience of Christmas shopping in a shop – if you are prepared and sensibly dressed for it that is!

Get creative and make your own gifts

Why not get creative and make some stuff yourself? This will save you a ton of money, and people will appreciate the thought and effort you’ve put into their gifts a lot more. You could make a food hamper, pamper hamper, cupcakes, a canvas, or anything else you can think of.

Give to Charity

I think it’s fair to say that charities have had as tough a year as the retailers and my personal preference is to support the smaller, local charities where I can see that my donations are actually making a difference.

If you want to give a gift to someone who has everything and is a supporter of a particular charity, why not give to charity in their name? Of course, there are plenty of charity Christmas cards but I find that more and more of us are relying on email and texts.  It’s not the same, though, is it?

I hope these tips will serve as a useful reminder that, with a bit of planning and budgeting, you can take control of your Christmas spending and avoid the stress of wondering when the credit card bills and email reminders will start appearing.

And don’t forget that you deserve a gift too – if it’s only some time out for pampering and whatever form of self-care works for you.

How To Find Money For That Rainy Day

They say that you should find the money for a rainy day, but what if it seems always to be raining? Often, life has a habit of steamrolling on through and leaving a trail of destruction in its path. And it never rains, it pours. So when it comes to saving up that money for a rainy day, we very often find that we need more than we can save.

Lots can go wrong that we suddenly need cash for. You might need to find the money for an emergency dentist, or the car may break down and need a whole heap of work doing to it. Here are a few ways to consider finding money when you need it the most.

Using Credit Cards

Having a credit card handy can be handy if you know that you can repay the money soon. However, if you already owe money on your card, it can be very easy to start spending lots on it. Pretty soon, your card will be maxed out, and paying high levels of credit card interest generally means that your minimum payments never actually reduce your debts at all. 

It is very useful to own a credit card for an emergency situation, but if you can find a way of getting the money without risking getting into debt that you can’t pay back straight away, explore some other options. 

Have A Clear-Out

If you need cash but can wait a couple of weeks to get it, then you may want to see if you have any items that you don’t need any more. Listing these on eBay or Facebook Marketplace can help build up a bit of money. You will also be decluttering your home, which is handy, and you will be surprised how much money you have sat around in possessions that you don’t use.

You could also opt to go to do a car boot sale. This is a very quick way of working through a collection of items that you may want to sell.

Take On A Side Job

If you are currently earning all that you can from your primary income, you could always take on a bit of flexible part-time work to help you out while you need the money. There are plenty of opportunities to join the gig economy, such as becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft.

You may also want to try your hand at freelance writing for blogs and websites. Many content creation sites offer jobs such as these on a per gig basis, meaning you can pick and choose how much work you want to take on.

Have a look at Freelancer or Upwork. The flexible nature of this work means that you will get paid quickly, and you can choose how much you want to work or not work. Don’t forget though that you will need to pay your taxes on this work, so keep records and hold some money back.


Should You Make Room in Your Family Budget for Insurance?

Families today are under more financial pressure than ever before. As a result, there are a number of things that families would once have taken for granted, such as insurance, that are now dependent upon there being room in the family budget. With many families having to make tough financial decisions, It is understandable that lots of families are questioning the wisdom of buying insurance.

However, insurance is one of those things that you don’t really appreciate until you don’t have it.   While the costs of insurance are unavoidable, when you compare them to the often sudden and unexpected costs involved in replacing uninsured items or fixing uninsured appliances, they are an absolute steal.

One of the reasons that many families are hesitant about buying insurance is because there are simply so many different types and providers to choose from. While the competition is good, at least in theory, for customers, the range of choices can sometimes be overwhelming.

What Types of Insurance are There?

It is easier to understand the value of insurance when you understand what different types exist. There are types of insurance that are designed for insuring individual objects, such as the insurance you might take out on your smartphone, as well as types like home insurance that cover property or the items within it.

There are some types of insurance that you are legally required to have, such as home insurance and car insurance for people who own cars or have mortgages. But while most types of insurance are optional, they are often highly advisable.

Home Insurance

If you own your own home and it’s covered by a mortgage, then you are required to have home insurance. There are two types of home insurance, buildings insurance, and contents insurance. The difference between the two is easy enough to understand. Building insurance covers the cost of any repairs or rebuilding that needs to be done to your home in the event of unexpected damage. Meanwhile, contents insurance covers the cost of any possessions that are lost or damaged during unexpected damage. If you are still not sure which type of home insurance will serve you best then check out aa insurance website for more details. You can find different types of home insurance with various features and find the one that suits you most.

Neither type of insurance will cover general wear and tear. If you leave your property unoccupied for more than 60 days, this also invalidates most insurance policies. You don’t want to end up having to foot the costs of unexpected home repairs. Home insurance will, therefore, keep you safe financially.

As with any insurance policy, you will have to carefully read the terms and conditions in order to make sure you understand exactly what is covered by home insurance.

Contents insurance will allow you to either repair or replace any possessions that become damaged or lost. Again, you will need to look at the specific policy in question to find out exactly what is and isn’t covered. Some types of contents insurance will also cover your items when they are outside the home. You usually have to pay an excess for any claim that you make, this means that you will have to pay some money to repair or replace items, but it is considerably less than it would be without insurance.

Boiler Cover

Boiler cover is a type of emergency home cover that covers your boiler, and often other plumbing, drains, and electrics as well. Home Emergency cover will cover the costs of any unexpected home emergencies, such as boiler service. The Certi UK website is a great example of the kind of boiler cover that families on a budget can still consider.

As with most types of insurance or damage cover, the boiler cover package you buy might come with a number of other services. Having your boiler covered is a great idea, as you don’t want to be footing the costs of repairing a boiler when you aren’t prepared for them, but it is far from the only thing in your home that can go wrong unexpectedly and put a huge hole in your finances.

An issue with your plumbing or electrics can affect your boiler, depending on the type you have. It, therefore, makes a lot of sense to have both of them covered under the same plan.

Car Insurance

Car insurance is a legal requirement if you drive a car. Therefore, for many families, it is going to be an unavoidable expense. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the cost of your car insurance. The first, and easiest, is to use a price comparison website to check what insurance providers are available and who can offer you the best deal.

In the UK, you need to have third-party cover at the minimum; this covers other people who ride in your car such as passengers from any injury that they might sustain in an accident. However, if your car is lost or stolen, then you will be responsible for the costs.

You can also opt for third-party, fire, and theft insurance, which will cover the same things as standard third-party insurance but will also include fire and theft. This means that if your car is stolen or set on fire, you will be able to recover the value of it.

If you are looking at insurance plans for one of your children who are old enough to drive, then you’ll have to bite the bullet as far as the prices concerned. Insurance for young drivers is much more expensive than insurance for older drivers because they are seen as being a much higher risk.

Travel Insurance

It’s relatively easy to holiday on a budget these days. If you’re willing to take your holiday in the UK, you can save yourself a lot of money. if you decide to travel abroad, there will inevitably be some extra costs involved in that you will have to work into your budget. Nobody plans on becoming ill or injured when they get on holiday, but this is always going to be a possibility.

Travel insurance will protect you against the cost of healthcare while you are on holiday. Even in countries that have a system similar to the NHS in the UK, you will either need to have travel insurance or you will have to pay the cost of any treatment that you received. Medical treatment can quickly become very expensive, so travel insurance is worth having.

Travel insurance packages will not only cover the cost of any medical treatment you receive; they will also cover the cost of flying you home should the need arise. It’s worth noting that most travel insurance packages will not cover you for a pre-existing condition. There are also certain types of holidays, such as extreme sports holidays or holidays during which the policyholder undertakes dangerous activities that will not be covered by travel insurance policies.

Insurance is worth spending money on even when you’re living on a budget. It is better to take the small hit to your finances each month then it is to take the risk of suddenly being hit with a bill for thousands of pounds. Should a boiler or the pipes in your home fail, the potential for damage to your property is very high. The cost involved in repairing aren’t even worth thinking about, ensuring that you have the right insurance in place is a much better approach.

My Pain Free Way To Save For Christmas Every Day

Most of us are probably well-intentioned when it comes to saving but, well, life happens, doesn’t it?  There is always something to buy – whether it’s the kids’ school shoes or a DIY job around the home.

Then, come September, Christmas seems to loom large and we all start to think about where the money is going to come from to pay for the festive season.

The kids start to write their Christmas lists and the careful negotiating begins.

“I don’t really think you need to ask Santa for one of those – it’s too old for you”.

“Are you sure you would play with that?”

“I think that’s for a child a little bit younger”.

“If you ask Santa for this, I don’t think you can ask for that as well”.

If you’ve been disciplined, you’ve been squirrelling a little aside each week, but if not, you may well feel slightly panicky.

A while ago I read about a great idea which works well if you have internet banking and a related online savings account – and it’s a piece of cake to put into practice.

If you don’t have a linked savings account, why not start one just for Christmas or holidays or whatever big splashy exciting goal you may have.

A straight savings account is best as if you put cash into an ISA it really needs to stay there for the interest to accrue.  You just need an account you can dip in and out of without penalties.

So, to be clear, this is what you will need:-

  • a current account  you can access online
  • an online savings account
  • the ability to transfer money between these accounts online

My accounts are with Santander and I can move money between accounts with a few mouse clicks.  For the purposes of this exercise, it’s likely that your savings account will need to be with the same bank that provides your current account.

Here’s what you do.

EVERY DAY  go online and check the balance of your current account.

If your balance is an odd amount – and it usually will be – simply round it up to the nearest £5 or £10 and transfer the extra to the savings account.

Rounding up to the nearest £5 …..

For example,  your balance is £127.99.

Then you’d move £2.99 over to your savings account so your balance is £125.00.

Or your balance is £158.27.

Then you’d move £3.27 over to your savings account so your balance is £155.00.

Rounding up to the nearest £10 ….

If your balance is £244.50

Transfer the £4.50 leaving you with a balance of £200.

Sometimes you will move ridiculously low amounts – even under a £1 but stick with it.

I’ve saved hundreds!

I have been doing this for years now and I have saved hundreds of pounds and I have barely noticed the money has gone from my current account.  Rarely in that time has there been a day when I’ve transferred more than £2-£3.

It’s actually become a bit of a game for me – and I do not have that many transactions leaving my current account.

It won’t make you a millionaire, but it won’t hurt either!

It’s an easy and relatively pain-free way to say a Christmas fund – as long as you remember to check your balance.

Many of us can afford to save a little each day – even if we just give up our morning takeaway coffee.

Why not give it a try?  You may be surprised how much your savings will grow in the next 6 months.

It’s NOT about accruing interest on your savings though.

If your savings account has a decent interest rate (although few of them do these days), the extra benefit is that if you choose to leave your savings there to grow further, you might earn some interest but this isn’t the main reason I do this.

If you are looking to make a return on your investment, then you should be looking at pensions, ISAs or even, if you’re brave and have a bit of cash to play around with the stock market.

You might also find this form of saving easier than giving up your beloved daily coffee, although reining your occasional spending (you know, all those treats and fripperies you can’t resist), will free up lots of cash you could better spend elsewhere.

Let me know how you get on!