Budgeting

Are rail season tickets value for money?

Commuters faced by increased train fares

Commuters faced by increased train fares

Travelling by train to work hasn’t been a lot of fun for many of us so far this year, with industrial action, service problems and fare increases in many places all over the country.

The fare rises in the first week of January 2017 saw a nationwide average increase of 2.3%, with increases of 4.9% on some routes, such as the East Coast main line. In Britain as a whole, it is the highest fare rise since January 2014, when rail fares increased by 2.8 per cent.

Are season tickets value for money?

Looking at some of the most popular commuter routes, among the highest is an annual season ticket from Stevenage (home town of Lewis Hamilton, in Hertfordshire) to London is £3,612 which works out at 27p per minute. Continue reading

How to budget for the year ahead

The monthly financesTo get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we asked some of our favourite finance and budgeting bloggers to tell us their best tips for how to budget for the year ahead.

Francesca from the super From Pennies To Pounds blog said: “Make sure you allow yourself some wriggle room in your budget for some fun things as this will make you much more likely to stick to your budget.” 

Continue reading

What you need to know about credit builder cards

For those who maybe haven’t got the credit history they’d like to have, the options for credit cards may be fewer.

But there are credit cards around which are aimed at helping you get your credit history back on track.

How do they work?

These no-frills cards are aimed at people who need to help build their credit history.  They often have low credit limits to start with and a high APR, but paying off the bill each month can help show lenders that you’re reliable.  Applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit score even more, so it’s an idea to choose a credit card you’re more likely to get, and one that suits your needs best.

Continue reading

2016: the money year in review

New Year is loading nowHere we take a look back at 2016 and some of the more significant things that may have affected our finances.

January  We focused on our Millennial Me report, which found that 45% of Millennials manage to save at least a quarter of their disposable income each month, compared to just a third (34%) of 35-54 year olds.

February  With a busy year of voting ahead, we focused on National Voter Registration Drive (1-7 Feb), which not only encourages young people to register to vote to increase their voice, but also to help boost their credit profile – as lenders use the information on your credit report to help confirm your identity which could help you when you apply for credit.

March  March saw George Osborne’s final Budget  as chancellor (though he didn’t know it at the time) , and the main points we focused on included changes to the personal allowance, spending cuts, changes to savings and infrastructure projects.

April Continue reading

New Year financial goals: 5 tips for making and keeping them

The monthly financesNow is a good a time as any to clear out your financial clutter, especially with – for many – January’s salary feeling a long way off after the festive blowout.

So to get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we’ve got 5 simple tips.

1.    Check out your ins and outs  Even small changes can help you balancing your income against your outgoings, which can often help you feel more in control of your finances.

It can help you work out when to allow room for certain annual essentials, for example direct debits like a TV licence, one-off annual charges like home or car insurance, or things like birthdays or special events – as well as stopping outgoings you may no longer need or use, like a gym membership you forgot you had.

Continue reading

Which city is the Christmas capital of the UK?

Christmas surprise presentWhere are the happiest, best-budgeting and biggest-spending areas in the UK at Christmas?

We can now reveal that Leicester is the country’s Christmas capital – the city where residents enjoy festive fun more than anywhere else in the UK.

Not content with being the home of this year’s surprise Premier League champions, Leicesterians are most likely to enjoy a merry Yuletide, with two thirds (66%) saying they get “a lot of enjoyment” out of Christmas.

How does the UK spend Christmas? – INTERACTIVE MAP

Continue reading

How to stay credit-savvy in the new year sales

Christmas shoppingWhen it’s time for the New Year sales, shops and suppliers are extra keen for our custom.

And there could be some room for a bit of give and take, with shops probably having plentiful stock to shift in the face of the boom in online discounts.

There isn’t much that cannot be discounted, so it’s up to you to persuade them to do it. Remember that you have nothing to lose, as all retailers ultimately want your custom.

Four quick haggling tips:

  1. Before you venture into a shop, find out what the best price is online so you can ask the seller to match or better it.  Doing your homework could help you get in a position where you can negotiate a happy middle ground. Continue reading

5 ways to get a money-saving winter break

Money-saving christmas breakWho wants to spend winter in the sun? It’s fair to say many of us could do with a break – ideally with a bit of sunshine included.

So we’ve put together 5 ways to get away from the cold and wet of a British winter without having to over-splash the cash.

  1. Book at the right time – Online ‘screenscrapers’ can instantly hunt down and compare the cheapest flights, while popular review sites have dozens of useful customer reviews to help you compare hotels and resorts. With package holidays it can pay to book late (as long as you’re flexible), as unsold seats and rooms have to get sold one way or another – and by then it can be a real buyer’s market.
  2. Credit-savvy – While many credit and debit cards charge up to 3 per cent per transaction if you use them abroad, there are specialist credit cards available that don’t charge for overseas cash withdrawals or have no foreign exchange fee. If you do get one of those cards though, make sure you pay the bill off in full when the bill arrives if you can. It’s also advisable to let your lender know you are going abroad, so as to prime them in case it raises suspicion when they see you making large purchases in duty free! Continue reading

The best financial advice I heard in 2016

financial planningThere’s nothing quite like the end of the year for taking stock of your finances, and budgeting for the year ahead.

So to help us out, we asked some of our favourite finance and budgeting bloggers to tell us the best financial advice they’d had this year.

Cass from family blog Diary Of A Frugal Family told us: “This year I’ve found out that changing energy suppliers is so much easier than I thought it would be. 

I’d been putting it off for ages because I thought it would involve lots of time and energy for not very much return but it took me a total of about 10 minutes and I saved enough each month for a treat takeaway. ;-)” 

Nicola, who runs budgeting blog The Frugal Cottage, has this to say: “When you invest, you are always going to take a risk. However, if you’re in it for the long term, then ignore the ups and downs that happen daily and enjoy the ride.”

And Francesca From Pennies To Pounds told us she’d learned this year that: “You can only squeeze so much out of your budget – earning more money should be one of the key focuses when you are paying off debt or working towards a financial goal.” Continue reading