Experts Blog

Expert advice, information and tools on a wide range of credit-related matters.

How could recent inflation rises affect us?

Small changes to the things we do on a regular basis can help cut down costs Did you know inflation in the UK reached a two-year high in December 2016? We look at how this could affect all of us.

With the weaker pound pushing up air fares and food prices, the cost of weekly shopping and jaunts abroad is on the up, not matter what your budget.

The  Office For National Statistics estimates that a basket of goods and services that cost £100 in December 2015 would have cost £101.60 in December 2016.  They put the rise down to “Price movements for the majority of the broad groups of goods and services.”

*Did you know: the most recent figures show that in 2014 the average food shop was £58.80, which would have meant an extra 50p a week in 2016 with these rises.* Continue reading

14 new Garden Villages to be built across the UK

Garden Villages to be builtWe now know where the 14 new ‘Garden Villages’  - new towns to help solve the housing crisis – will be. Their locations range from Cumbria to Cornwall.

Government ministers have backed plans for a brand new wave of ‘garden villages’ with between 1,500 and 10,000 new homes, in an effort to confront the growing lack of good housing stock.

Here’s where they are:

Long Marston (Stratford-on-Avon)
Oxfordshire Cotswold (west Oxfordshire)
Deenethorpe (east Northamptonshire)
Culm  (Devon)
Welborne (Hampshire)
West Carclaze (Cornwall)
Dunton Hills (Essex)
Spitalgate Heath (Lincolnshire)
Halsnead (Merseyside)
Longcross (Runnymede and Surrey Heath)
Bailrigg (Lancaster)
Infinity Garden Village (south Derbyshire)
St Cuthberts (near Carlisle)
North Cheshire (Cheshire)

Each village will include green spaces, good links to public transport and a wide mix of house prices, including affordable homes. Continue reading

Rail fares increase by 2.3% in 2017

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

Credit card jargon buster – 10 top terms

Credit cardsEver wondered what some of the key credit card terms really mean? Here are our top ten.

  1. APR - The annual percentage rate is the price you pay each year for money you’ve borrowed, including interest and fees.  The representative APR is an advertised rate that a minimum percentage of customers will pay, usually 51% of those accepted.  If you’re not given the advertised rate, you’ll get a personal APR.
  2. Balance Transfer – This is when you choose to move credit card debt you already have to a lower or  0% interest credit card balance, usually for a transfer fee.  With a 0% balance transfer deal you can potentially give yourself longer to pay off an existing credit card debt, without having to pay interest. This is as long as you make the minimum monthly payment and stick to any other Ts and Cs. More about balance transfer cards here
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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.” 

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What you need to know about credit builder cards

Credit builder cardsFor 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.

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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.

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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

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