Comparison Websites

Comparison websites are really helpful when trying to get the best deal on things your already buying.

People most often associate comparison websites with car and home insurance but there are comparison websites out there for all kinds of things.

Uswitch is a good comparison website for Mobile phone contracts and often do better deals than even going direct! Uswitch also offer comparision for: gas and electricity; broadband and tv ; personal finance products such as loans and credit cards and a range of insurance products.

There are also other websites such as Money Supermarket, Compare The Market and Go Compare who all offer different comparisons on a range of products, always be sure to check all of the comparison sites as they often have different offers.

Once you have checked all the comparison sites you can also check the cash-back websites to see if they have any better deals, read our article on cash-back websites here.

Save Money On Your Mobile Phone Contract

Mobile phone contracts can be expensive, particularly if you want the latest handset with the best deal. But there is a trick you can use to save money and still have the latest handset and a deal that suits you.

But before I explain how to do this, you need to make sure you know what deal you need. So look at your recent months usage (this can be found on your bills) and see how much minutes, texts and data you use on a monthly basis.

So now the money saving part, did you know when you buy a contract with a phone and a SIM card your paying a premium on the cost of the handset? For Example lets take a look at this deal from EE:

Here you get the latest iPhone 7 32GB with 5GB of data, unlimited texts and unlimited minutes for £50.99 per month on a 24 month contract with an initial handset cost of £9.99.

That means your agreeing to pay £50.99 * 24  + £9.99 for the initial handset costs. The total of which comes to £1233.75!

Now if you were to purchase the handset alone that would cost £599 direct from Apple. this leaves you paying £643.75 over the 24 months for your data, minutes and texts. That works out at £26.45 per month.

On the very same site you can get the following deal for just £25.00

As you can see this deal offers 4 times as much data for £1.45 per month and not only that but your only in a 12 month contract which means you can change your contract in 12 months rather than having to wait for 24 months.

If you shop around and use comparison/Cashback websites you can save even more! Read my article here on comparison/Cashback sites.

 

*Disclaimer*

Offers correct as of 30/04/2017.

 

Tracking Your Money

Tracking your money is one of the key elements of your personal finance health.
Tracking incomings and outgoings allows you to see where your money is going and how much money you have left over each month. Having this information helps you to see with ease areas you can reduce your spending and increase the money your are putting into investments.

Another important reason to track your money is that it allows you to see your net worth and track how much it will increase by as time goes on. This allows you to see when you will hit key milestones and also help motivate you to keep on track.
You can also use a tracker as a modelling tool to see if certain changes were made to your investing and spending habits what the effects on your net worth would be.

Google sheets is a great place to start, they offer free spreadsheets you can access from anywhere, but MS Excel will do the job as well.

Outgoings

A good place to start is by listing down all your out goings, fixed or variable they all need to be tracked. You should also track your predicted outgoings at least 12 months ahead, this allows you to see if you have any upcoming bills larger than normal and means you can also plan to put money aside for these. Tracking your outgoings helps you to keep on top of your finances and lets you see where you are each month.

Tracking your fixed out goings is fairly easy as these remain the same every month. To track your variable outgoings such as credit cards you can usually find the way the minimum payment is calculated using your statement or by contacting the provider of the variable payment to find out how it is calculated.

Remember to also include costs like petrol and food costs.

Once you have all your out goings listed then you can begin listing your income, if you work a salary job this will be fairly easy. If your income varies then try to make a best estimate.

With this complete you should now be able to easily see your incomings and outgoings and this should allow you to add in things such as saving for holidays in a way which is affordable and manageable. If your outgoings are exceeding your income you can also look at what can be reduced in order to bring them inline. Alternatively you will need to look to increase your income.

Debts

You can also use a money tracker to help see your debts if you have any and track how much your debt is reduced by and also see when your debts will be cleared by. You can also keep track of key dates when promotional offers on credit cards end if you have these, then align these with your out goings so you can plan to put money aside to cover these. Seeing how much your debts will be reduced by can be a great way to see when you could be free from them and keeps you in control.

Savings and investments

You also need to track your savings and investments, this can help you to keep track if you have lots of different investments and also see what their expected growth will be. This will also allow you to see your net worth and expected growth of it so you will know when you expect to hit key milestones!

Cashback Websites

Did you know you can save money when even when you buy a product? 

This is where cash back websites come in for anything from a mobile phone contract to flights you can save money without having to haggle. 

Cashback websites offer savings that can add up to thousands of pounds worth of savings over the years. On individual purchases you can save anywhere from pennies to hundreds of pounds and it all adds up to savings you otherwise wouldn’t have got for the exact same things you would have brought!

Money
Cash Back Savings

Interested? So how do you get started.

Currently there are two main cash back websites, both are free to join as a basic member.

  1. Topcashback
  2. Quidco

Both have a lot of the same offers but they can vary sometimes so be sure to check both before you make a purchase.

Warning: Do not click through the link until you are sure which one you want to use as you may end up being tracked (more on this later). 

Current Accounts
Current Accounts

Some banks also offer cash back services when making purchases through them such as:

  • Barclays Blue Rewards
  • Halifax Rewards 
  • Natwest My Rewards

So ensure you check all of the potential options when making a purchase to ensure you are getting the best savings.

So how does it all work?

When you make a purchase with a business using a cash back site they pay the cash back provided for them referring you to use their services. Cash back sites then pass the money they have been paid back to you. This works well for both the business and the cash back site because its a cheeper way for the business to get new customers and make new sales and the cash back site can make money from referring you.

Businesses of all types are always looking to make sales and attract new customers, using traditional marketing methods can mean that they spend a lot of money on advertisement to make only a few sales. With cash back they are able to focus the money they are spending on customers who are actually making purchases and giving them money. 

Sounds great so how do you get started?

Once you have signed up to a cash back site anything you buy you should check if what you are buying is available through the cash back site as well. As previously mentioned make sure you check all the possible cash back options to find the best one.

Next you need to follow the link on the cash back website to the site that has the product or service you want to purchase. You need to make sure you use the links because this is how the cash back sites track you and ensure you get your cash back. Sometimes the tracking doesn’t work, if you have any issues be sure to contact the cash back site you used for help.

Once you have successfully made a purchase through a site the cash back should show up in your account on the cash back website you used. The time taken for this to show up and be available to withdraw can vary so be sure to check with the cash back site you are using and always withdraw as soon as you can. 

Warning: Some cash back sites have a minimum withdrawal amount you have to reach before you can withdraw money so be sure to keep any eye on this and withdraw as soon as you meet it. 

Now you can get started using cash back sites and making savings even when you spending money!

(All information correct as of 09/06/18)

 

Managing Debt

Debt is very common these days, but knowledge of different ways to manage debt are not so common. We will explain in this article a number of ways to help manage debt and improve your financial standing.

Interest Rates

The most important part when it comes to managing debt is the interest rates. The interest rate is how much money you are paying to owe that money.

The first thing to do is check the interest rate of your debt/s, if you have multiple debts sort these in order of the interest rate from highest to lowest.

Then the next thing to do is to see if the highest interest rate debt can be moved to a lower interest rate.

For example if you have a credit card debt that has an interest rate of 20% APR you may be able to get a 0% balance transfer credit card and transfer the balance to this.

Once all the debts that can be moved to lower interest rates have been moved. The next step is to manage the payment amounts paid to each lender.

Multiple Debts

In the case of multiple debts it’s always cheeper long term to make the minimum payments on the lower interest debts and pay more of the higher interest debts.

For example if you have  two credit cards and one has a rate of 15% and the other has a rate of 5%, it would be better to make the minimum payment on the 5% credit card and make extra payments to pay off as much as you can of the higher rate credit card until the balance is cleared.

It may seam to make sense to clear off the lower debt and then pay more on the higher debt but this will cost more in the long run.

Consolidation Loans

There are also debt consolidation loans available. These can be useful as they allow multiple debts to be combined into one simple monthly payment. However they could end up being more expensive long term.

Credit Cards – Leverage Them To Benefit You

Credit Cards are often given a bad reputation and associated as being bad, but did you know credit cards can often be a useful way to help you manage your finances and save money?

First of all lets talk about interest! A lot of the reason credit cards have a bad reputation is because of the interest that they charge, which means you often can end up paying back a lot more than you spent. However there are now so many credit cards that offer 0% deals that no one should be paying interest on a credit card.

Not only are there cards that you can get that offer 0% on purchases you can also get cards that offer 0% on balance transfers. What this means is if you currently have a credit card and you are paying interest on the balance, you can transfer it to another credit card to stop paying interest, which will allow you to pay off the balance much quicker!

Another way you can leverage 0% credit card deals is to use them to purchase car insurance. Car insurance can be expensive and its often easier to pay monthly if you can’t afford to pay upfront, however when you pay monthly you often end up paying more money out in the long run. So what can you do about this? Well if you get a 0% credit card and use this to pay the annual cost of your car insurance, then take the total cost of the insurance and divide it by 12 month and set your credit card repayments to be equal to this you can still pay your car insurance monthly but get a much cheeper rate.

Heres an example

Lets say your car insurance annually is £500, but if you pay this monthly its £50 per month. The monthly option works out at being £600 per year, which is an extra £100! So if you get a 0% credit card, use this to pay your insurence annual cost of £500 then repay £500/12 which is £42(rounded up) per month, you save £8 a month on your car insurance which adds up to £100 saving per year!

 

Save Money At The Supermarket

Shopping can be expensive, but don’t pay more than you have to. Heres our biggest tip to save money when shopping.

Have you ever noticed the price tags in supermarkets contain more than just the price.

Not only do these tags tell you the price but they also tell you which item is best value.

The part of this price tag that tells you the cost per kg, g, ml or l is very important. You will often find that this can save you lots of money. For example lets take chicken as an example.

If you go to Asda now you will see lots of different packets of fresh chicken.

Asda Chicken 29/04/17

This shows 500g of diced chicken for £3.67 and 250g diced chicken for £2.50. It may initially be unclear which one is the best value, however you can also see that the 500g is £7.34 per kg and the 250g packet is £10 per kg. This means the 500g packet of exactly the same chicken is more then £2.5o better value for money!

The best part is if you do this check for everything you buy it can really add up over the number of items and the number of shops you do and save 100’s of pounds every year!

Discount codes

Discount codes are available all over the internet for most things you could want to buy.

Fancy a pizza, why not get a discount with a discount code, fancy some new clothes, maybe a new laptop, theres almost certainly a discount for that.

There are a number of different places you can find discount codes. It can be as simple as googling the company name and discount codes. 

There are also dedicated discount code websites such as https://www.vouchercodes.co.uk and https://www.groupon.co.uk/discount-codes and many more that you can find just by searching the internet.

Another way to find discount codes is to go into stores and look at their leaflets these are often full of discount codes you can use to save money.

Beware Of Regular Savers Accounts

Regular savers accounts have been around for a long while but have recently become more attractive with interest rates being low, but are they really as good as they seam.

You may notice that with regular savers the interest rate appears to be much higher than most other savings accounts rates. So how is this possible.

Well it’s very clever wording that allows banks to advertise in this way. When they say you are getting 5% what you are actually getting is 5% paid on the balance of the account calculated monthly. What this means is if there is a similar account offering 5% but allows you to pay a bulk sum in you might be better off.

Here is an example of the interest rate of a 5% regular saver.

Month Number Balance Interest Earned
Month 1 250 1.04
Month 2 500 2.08
Month 3 750 3.13
Month 4 1000 4.17
Month 5 1250 5.21
Month 6 1500 6.25
Month 7 1750 7.29
Month 8 2000 8.33
Month 9 2250 9.38
Month 10 2500 10.42
Month 11 2750 11.46
Month 12 3000 12.50
Total 3000 81.25

So overall you earn £81.25, which is just over 2.7% over the year.

Therefore if you were to invest the full £3000 in an account that offers anything more than 2.7% you will be better off.

Now not everyone will have the £3000 up front to invest, so its always best to work out the best option for your personal circumstances.

Additionally a lot of the regular savings accounts also stop you from accessing your money or at least you will lose your interest if you need to withdraw money so its always worth checking the terms and conditions to see if they fit your personal circumstances.