Brexit: a week on

BrexitLast week’s vote to leave the European Union was a big milestone in the UK’s history, and, understandably, has brought with it some uncertainty. 

Here at Experian, we’ve been working with people and businesses through times of prosperity and times of uncertainty for many years.  And while we understand that uncertainty can be unsettling, our message is simple – don’t panic. In particular, don’t make rash decisions about your finances and always consider the pros and cons of any financial decision you have to make.

Many of us are wondering what might happen next, when, and how it might affect us, so let’s take a closer look at the situation.

What does leaving the EU mean?
One of the basic elements of the EU is that all the member states (of which there are currently 28) make up a ‘single market.’ This guarantees the free movement of goods, money, services and people; basically as if the EU were one country. However, beyond being simply a trade association, the EU is a form of government and so has some legal powers over its member states, so there are some UK laws that have their origin in EU law.

Last Thursday’s vote was specifically for the UK to leave the EU. However, the decision does not rule out the possibility of the UK having access to the single market for trade purposes (European Economic Area). The Government could, for example, opt to try to negotiate a similar model to Norway, which is not part of the EU but is part of the EEA which gives them access to the single market.

It is in the interests of the UK and the rest of the EU to negotiate a compromise that works for all countries, but at this stage – and until the new leader of the Conservative Party is elected – all options are on the table from the UK’s side.

What’s next?
For the formal process to begin for the UK to officially leave the EU, the UK Government must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty . Article 50 effectively starts the clock on a two-year countdown, after which the UK leaves the EU. During this time, the UK and the EU negotiate the details of the UK’s new relationship. However, following David Cameron’s resignation the country first needs a new Prime Minister in place to lead these negotiations.

A Conservative leadership election is now underway with the candidates confirmed as Theresa May (Home Secretary), Michael Gove (Justice Secretary), Stephen Crabb (Work and Pensions Secretary), Liam Fox (Former Cabinet Minister) and Andrea Leadsom (Energy Minister). A new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister is expected to be announced on September 9th. The new Prime Minister is then at liberty to begin the Article 50 process.

What to keep an eye on
The next few months are going to be very interesting and that’s before we even begin formally negotiating to leave the EU. There are a number of key things that we can all keep a close eye on over the coming months that may affect us and our finances:

  • Interest rates could be affected. Whether they rise or fall will impact different people in different ways.  For example, lower interest rates might mean better deals for borrowers, but savers might suffer, earning less interest on their money. If you have a tracker mortgage, you might find your mortgage payments fall if interest rates come down.  If you are about to get a mortgage or re-mortgage, or apply for a large loan, ensure you are getting the advice you need and check your credit report early to make sure it’s accurate and up to date and paints the best possible picture of your financial situation.
  • Exchange rates change regularly, and are likely to continue to do so, meaning you’ll get more or less for your pound depending where you travel.  Since the referendum result, the pound has weakened against the Euro and the Dollar; however, there are still many countries that offer good exchange rates for British people travelling abroad. Wherever you choose to travel, make sure you shop around before you go on holidays and secure the best rate you can in advance, rather than just turning up at the airport and hoping for the best.
  • Inflation may rise, which could mean changes to the cost of living, which could affect your disposable income. Make sure you know how and where you’re spending your money. This will help you understand if there are areas you can cut back on so you can confidently manage your finances and put some money aside if you can afford to.
  • Property prices could change in time; however, in the immediate future, it’s looking unlikely that property prices will rise, which could be good news for first time buyers looking to get on the property ladder.

We think we should use this time as an opportunity to take stock of our finances.  It’s the simple things like checking how much you have coming in and going out each month, what you’re spending money on, and knowing the interest rates on your mortgage, loans and credit cards. By doing this, you can get an overall picture of where you stand now, which will help you make better, more informed decisions. Things will eventually become clearer, and we’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

Most of us have lived through periods of uncertainty, both in the UK and in other parts of the world, and we’re fully confident we’ll come out the other side. It will take a while for things to stabilise, but we have no doubt we’ll get there. And during the good times and periods of uncertainty, our commitment to you and all of our customers will remain the same as it’s always been: to help you understand, manage and improve your credit report and help you get access to the best financial deals you can afford, whatever unfolds in the future.

6 last-minute holiday money-saving tips

Did you know that this is the week there are the most online searches for holiday money?

According to Google Trends*, in 2015 there were 100,000 online searches for holiday money in the week ending 4 July, higher than at any other time in the year.

Before you go on holiday this summer, it’s worth remembering that there are many ways you could cut costs before you’ve even touched down.

  • Waiting until you get to the airport to make essential purchases makes you a captive customer – you’ve literally got nowhere else to go, so you’re likely to pay a premium for exchange rate and small items. So get your pounds to euro, pounds to dollar sorted out in advance, get your sun cream & toothpaste from pound shops, and book your airport parking as soon as you know your flight times – and you might save a packet.

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How do you work from home?

Working from homeThe work environment has changed a lot over the generations.

From the cheery local shopkeeper who knew everyone, to the zero-hours contractor who lives from day to day.

From the days of rows of ‘worker bees’ in hot, sweaty factories, to, well, ‘worker bees’ in air-conditioned, open-plan offices.

(Video: See how the working world has changed over the generations)

Perhaps that’s why so many people nowadays choose to work from home, even if only for part of their week.

People work from home for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps they want more freedom and want to fit their work around their lives more, perhaps their employers feel they’ll be more productive, or maybe they are self-employed or a freelance.

Figures to mark 2016’s National Work From Home Day last month found that a record number of over 1.52m people now work from home, an increase of a quarter of a million over the past decade, with women accounting for 65% of the increase.

We asked some of our favourite bloggers to tell us their top tips for working from home, why they recommend it, and how to ensure you get the most out of it.

Sally Whittle, who runs the super Who’s The Mummy blog, told us how important it was to make sure you’ve got the right environment to work in – and not just sat at the dining table: “Invest in a good, adjustable chair (even if you use it at the kitchen table), a decent worklight, ergonomic mouse and a proper screen to plug a laptop into.

Gina Caro, whose Gypsy Soul is one of our favourite lifestyle blogs, agrees: “Have a designated work space, whether that be a small desk in the corner of a room or a complete office. It’s really important to have an area that is purely for work.”

The temptation to let your mind drift when you’re working, and conversely to feel that you’re ‘always on’ day and night – is something you may need to avoid.

Sara Williams from the incredibly useful Debt Camel blog has this advice: “If you need to get something done, stop checking your emails and social media.”

After many years, I ditched my laptop at home because the temptation to be “always on” was impossible to resist” added Sally Whittle.

“With a desktop computer on a desk in a single room, I’m a lot less likely to be distracted while I’m cooking dinner, watching TV or whatever.”

Gina Caro recommended getting into work mode as soon as possible : ”Always get up, get dressed and ready for the day as if you were going out to an office. It helps you to feel more motivated and stay in work mode.

And how about balancing flexibility with deadlines? Sally has this to say: “I generally do religiously keep evenings free between 4 and 9 when my daughter is around, and then I know I do have those ‘spare hours’ if I need once in a while to take a day out, or go to sports day.”

Sara Williams adds: What I love best is no commuting – and being able to have a dog.”

Gina also told us why she loves working from home: “It gives me the flexibility to work around my children without the need to pay out for childcare.

“I love being my own boss and setting my own targets, although you do have to be self motivated which some people can struggle with.”

So there you have it – to work from home you need to be motivated and disciplined, but it can be rewarding both in time management and family life.

Do you work from home? Share your tips and recommendations with us at @ExperianExperts and we’ll re-tweet the best ones!

 

How working life has changed: future-proofing your finances

The working landscape has changed immensely in the past 50 years, and in many ways is unrecognisable from that of a generation or two ago.

Types of jobs
There are high-frequency job titles that didn’t exist a generation ago, many of them arising from the internet and the rise of technology – web developer, digital marketer, social media manager, SEO specialist and so on – but also elsewhere, such as Zumba instructor, dietician or app builder.

While few job titles have actually bitten the dust, some common in the 60s or 70s are getting more and more harder to find – the ‘traditional’ office secretary, typesetters, milkmen, high street travel agents.

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5 tips for an ‘ace’, money-saving Wimbledon visit

wimbledon-tennis-strawberries-300A visit to Wimbledon fortnight is, for many of us, a highlight of the British sporting summer, along with the Open and the British Grand Prix.

Most of the tickets for the Show Courts, of course, have long since been sold – that is, if they were ever on sale in the first place, as so many go to sponsors and guests.

Every year since 1924 there’s been a public ballot for advance tickets, as demand for tickets way outstrips supply around four times over. Even if you get a ticket, you can’t request the date or court – you have to accept what you’re given.

Read on for our five top tips for a money-saving day at SW19!

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Stay safe from identity theft at the summer festivals

rock-festivals-300It’s Glastonbury 2016 this weekend, probably the most well-known of the many summer festivals full of revelry, music and (hopefully) sunshine.

From black-clad teenagers to an family taking a ‘different’ holiday, they all want to get away from it all and stop worrying about the daily grind.

However, if you are going to this or other summer festivals, it’s worth remembering that fraudsters like to strike while your guard might be down – so it pays to remember some tips to keep your identity safe while you rave.

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Sarah Willingham: “Baking with the Bambinos”

Today we have a guest post from Sarah Willingham, BBC Dragon,  consumer champion and mum-of-four, about how she used Jangle to help teach her kids about money.

I am at my happiest in my kitchen, especially with my kids.  We LOVE to cook, bake and eat together. I don’t know a child who doesn’t love baking… even those who just want to lick the bowl at the end. So this weekend I set my little ones a challenge using Jangle, the free non-commercial iPad I’ve partnered with Experian and pfeg (Part of Young Enterprise) to develop.

The whole idea of Jangle is to get kids to do activities to earn money whilst working or learning. It’s full of pre loaded suggestions.  I did the ‘bake off’ and got the kids to hold a cake sale for the family.

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Managing debt and future finances – live discussion

Managing debt and future-proofing your finances is a target for many of us.  We hosted a video on June 15th with consumer champion and BBC Dragon Sarah Willingham, Chief Executive of the Money Charity Michelle Highman, and Experian Experts’ own James Jones to provide expert tips on how to beat debt and prepare financially for the future.

The guests spoke about three main topics –
Managing debt – Watch them discuss how and why people get into debt, what the common mistakes are and how we can try to avoid them, and give tips to beating debt and getting back on to an even keel.

Future-proofing your finances – Experian research has shown that the over-55s are worried about their financial future. Our panel discussed how people who fall into that demographic can help ensure they’re prepared for retirement and the probable loss of income that it brings, and also talked about how younger generations can future-proof their finances.

Financial education – The panel also spoke about what parents can do to help ensure they give their children the best start when it comes to financial education.

What do the new pension freedoms mean?

retired-couple-in park-300April 2015 saw the introduction of ‘pension freedoms’, which essentially gave those aged 55 and over wider access to their pension funds.

In previous years, this meant being able to take a quarter of their ‘defined contribution’ pension (ie: one based on how much they paid into it) as a tax-free lump sum, but invariably using the rest of the money to buy an annuity designed to pay out an income each year for the rest of your life.

Video: How we manage money has changed over the generations

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What kind of financial future is in store for us?

What kind of financial future is in store for us when we’re older? With house prices higher than ever and the cost of living making putting away savings a real challenge for many, there is plenty that may make some feel the glass is half-empty rather than half-full.

Almost half (44%) the people asked in a new Experian survey of over-55s[1] say they are concerned about their financial future, with over half (56%) worrying about not having enough savings and (55%) not having disposable income.  In fact, 40% have concerns over high monthly bills.

Video: Money through the generations – the future of money

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