Monthly Archives: July 2016

Jangle wins ‘Best Family App’ at #LBPawards2016

Jangle - LBP awards 2016We’re thrilled to announce that Jangle, Experian’s free children’s app, has won a Platinum award for ‘Best Family App’ at the 2016 LovedByParents (LBP) awards.

It also won a silver award for ‘Best Children’s App’ too.

LovedByParents is a parenting website offering news, pregnancy and parenting advice, articles, reviews and competitions, and their annual awards comprise several categories from travel accessories to feeding products.

What is Jangle?
Recognising the importance of helping children learn essential money management skills early in life, Experian and consumer champion and BBC ‘Dragon’ Sarah Willingham have partnered to develop Jangle, a free app which has been quality marked by pfeg (part of Young Enterprise).

Jangle is a great new and free app for children aged 7-11, that teaches children money skills in a fun and easy way while helping them save for the things they want.

It’s easy to use, and contains a wide range of exciting activities that you and your children can choose to do in order for them to learn about money, save money, and have a lot of fun in the process  – from baking cakes to planning journeys, from planning a party to hunting for bargains.

You can find out more about Jangle here, and you can download the Jangle app for iPad here.

5 ways the cost of living has changed since 1966

UK Bobby Moore World Cup postage stampHas ‘fifty years of hurt’ come by already? Saturday 30 July marks the fiftieth anniversary of English football’s finest moment, when they thought it was all over (and it was) and England’s XI won the World Cup for the first and only time with a 4-2 win over West Germany at a sun-drenched Wembley Stadium.

We thought it would be interesting to look at five ways the cost of living may have changed since 1966 – in real terms – which brought up some surprises.

1.       Buying a house – In 1966 the average cost of a house was £3,620, which equates to about £60,848 in today’s money. In contrast, the average cost of a house in the UK broke the £200,000 barrier for the first time in April 2016, going up to £313,000 in the south of England.   Continue reading

Brexit: how to manage your holiday spending

Summer at ocean beach with two chairs and umbrellaWhile it’s still not fully clear how our money will be affected by Brexit, one area where we are likely to notice a difference in our pockets is around holiday spending this summer.

Since the referendum result, exchange rates have dropped against both the dollar and euro. What this means is that you’re now likely to get less dollars or euros than you would have last year. At its highest point in the last year, you would have been able to exchange £100 for €143, whereas now you’ll get €119. Likewise with the dollar, at its highest point in the last year, you would have gotten $157 for £100, $26 more than £100 would get you today.

While your pounds may not go as far as they would have last year, there are some savvy ways of getting the most from your money with some simple preparation and smart decisions.

When to exchange

At the moment, it’s impossible for anyone to say for certain whether the pound will weaken again, remain stable, or strengthen – and in what timeframe. When it comes to choosing when to exchange your holiday money, you can either choose to exchange your money now to lock in today’s exchange rate in case sterling falls again – or – you can wait until nearer your departure date to see if the pound recovers.

There are no guarantees which way it will go, but keeping an eye on what the experts are saying will help you make an informed decision. The main thing to avoid is turning up at the airport and hoping for the best. Exchange rates at airport bureaux can be extremely expensive, so shop around in advance instead to make sure you’re getting the best value.

Paying by card

Another alternative to cash is to take a pre-paid currency card. This will allow you to pay by card abroad, but with an exchange rate that’s been locked in before you travel when you transfer the money to your card.

There are also specialist credit cards available that don’t charge overseas transaction fees and have special exchange rate terms. However, the exchange rate you pay on the card can still vary and you’ll be paying the current exchange rate at the time of purchase, rather than a rate you’ve locked in in advance.

The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be accepted for the most competitive rates, so use eligibility checkers to understand what you’re most likely to be accepted for before you apply and avoid wasted applications that can negatively affect your credit score. Specialist credit cards work in the same way as regular credit cards, so make sure you can afford to pay back what you spend on the card during your holidays and that you don’t miss a payment after you get back.

Whenever you’re paying by card, whether debit or credit, it’s better to pay in the local currency than in sterling, as you can be charged an additional fee otherwise.

Savvy spending

Aside from getting the best deals you can on currency, there are some other ways to save some cash.

In advance:

• Raid your piggy bank for old currency you may have left over from previous trips. Even small coins add up, and an extra €20 could get you a free lunch at the beach!
• Think about what you’ll be doing on holiday and divide activities into a list of must-dos and things you could do without. This will help you plan where to spend your money doing things you love, while avoiding a post-holiday hangover caused by over-spending on things you could have dropped.
• If you were planning to hire a car, consider whether you really need to. If your accommodation is close to local amenities, why not walk or use public transport, and free up money to spend on meals or other activities?
• Shop around for the best deals you can get on travel insurance, rather than automatically opting for the first deal you’re offered when booking your holiday.
• Check your roaming package with your mobile phone provider. You may be able to buy a low cost overseas bundle in advance. Regular roaming and overseas data charges can be very expensive, so make sure you don’t end up with a massive bill when you get home.

At the airport:

• Don’t be lured into unplanned airport purchases. Do your holiday shopping in advance, including toiletries and sun protection, and avoid the temptation of duty-free stores.
• Food at the airport or on a plane can be costly, so consider bringing a packed lunch.

When you get there:

• Consider alternating eat-out/eat-in nights. It’s possible to enjoy the local cuisine at home too, so look for a good-sized supermarket that will have a variety of foods to choose from. When you do eat out, veering off the beaten track a little means you can often find local places, where you’ll get better quality and value than the typical tourist traps.
• Local beers and wine can often be much cheaper than more well-known international brands, which can keep costs down on poolside drinks or nights on the town.

If you haven’t yet booked a holiday overseas, you might want to avoid the uncertainty of exchange rates by planning a ‘staycation’ within the UK. We have stunning beaches, picturesque villages and beautiful countryside – so, just because you can’t get overseas doesn’t mean you can’t have a fantastic holiday right on your doorstep. Check out our latest post looking at the pros and cons of staying put versus taking flight.

Staycations v Vacations

With the pound having taken a big hit in recent months, it’s not hard to see how the temptation to choose to stay put in the UK rather than go abroad is growing.

We look at the factors – cost and otherwise – and try to work out which is best.

Staycation v Vacation

Hotels and location
GO – It often doesn’t just depend on where you go, but when you go. Whether you stay or go, school holidays are always likely to be more expensive.  Costs vary from country to country, and the pound doesn’t go as far as it did a year ago.  Popular western Mediterranean islands like Mallorca and Ibiza are also becoming premium destinations now, with good hotel rooms hard to come by, as security fears make many holidaymakers avoid certain hotspots that are now considered to be danger zones.  Bookings to Portugal and Spain are respectively up 23% and 22% since last year.

STAY – Hotel prices in the UK are often higher than a comparable hotel abroad – there are fewer of them, plus there’s competition from overseas visitors and businessmen. In addition, the sunny days are so infrequent that when it does look as though it’s going to be sunny, competition for rooms is high. But Devon, Cornwall and the Channel Islands are particularly popular right now, with ‘strong sales’ reported.  Continue reading

Does financial responsibility make someone more attractive?

scales-image-300x200The summer months are often when love can bloom as people enjoy the sun and fun. People pair up with each other for all sorts of reasons, but is it true that one of the biggest is the way they manage their finances?

Well, could it be that most women prefer a man who’s responsible with money to a George Clooney lookalike with a degree?

A nationwide Experian survey of couples in relationships in 2014* asked if financial responsibility would make someone more attractive. 29% in total said it would, while 35% of women said this would make a male ‘much more attractive’.

However, 3 in 4 of women (75%) said they rated financial prudence more attractive than appearance, education or background, and on a par with intelligence (74%).*

Continue reading

Home sweet home – a ‘staycation’ summer

Guest blog post from Tracey Davies, PayPlan

With summer holidays coming to a close, a lot of families will be thinking about heading off on a late holiday.

Mother and kids hiking in sunny forestBut if you’re trying to rein in your spending, you might find that it isn’t financially feasible to go far.

As the cost of living increases, the popularity of ‘staycations’ is soaring as more people opt to stay at home – however it’s not always the most affordable option.

With the cost of attractions, activities and eating out in the UK relatively high, it can still add up – but it doesn’t have to.

Being prepared can help you have a great holiday at home without breaking the bank and our tips can show you how.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading