Thursday, 30 January 2014

Ways to save on your energy spend

We have been really lucky this winter and it has been wet and mild in the UK, but apparently there is a cold snap on the way.  So here are some great tips on saving money on your energy spend



  1. Make sure you close your curtains when it gets dark and open them during the day.  This shuts out the clod and let the warm in.
  2. Use draft excluders, we have a range from stuffed fabric ones to ones that we have stuck on door frames and even screw on ones on the external back door.
  3. Use a curtain at external doors.  We have one on our front door and also one on the door from the garage. 
  4. Turn off lights in empty rooms.
  5. Do not leave items on standby
  6. Unplug or turn off chargers at the wall when not in use (they still pull power even when not charging)
  7. Turn down your thermostat by 1 degree.  This will give you an annual saving of over £50
  8. Wear more layers.  We have got in to the habit of wearing dressing gowns and slippers
  9. Use throws - we all snuggle up under throws on the sofa when we are sitting
  10. Hot water bottles are great for warming beds.
  11. Install active heating such as Hive, this can save you up to £150 a year. The current installation cost is £199 so you could save this cost and more in just over a year.




Share trading: Getting the hang of the basics



Getting into share trading can be difficult. Well, getting into it is easy, especially with the abundance of online trading accounts out there. Getting it right however, can be tough.

Novice traders can find the whole process of deciding what to invest in, buying shares, selling shares, and knowing when to enter and exit the market somewhat daunting. And for good reason – it is daunting, and there is a lot to know.

Get informed

Before you start trading, it is highly recommended that you find out as much as you can about the market and the kind of trading you want to do. This may take a while, but getting a good grounding makes it much easier to succeed, and allows you to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

There are various investor starter guides available online, so check them out as a starting place. There are also dozens of websites dedicated to helping investors make decisions. Make sure the advice you take is credible, and use your common sense.

Create a trading plan

Whether you trade full time, after work or just as a hobby, it’s important to understand that trading is a business, and to treat it as such. That means making a trading plan. A trading plan is to trading, what a business plan is to business. You need one if you plan on being successful.

A trading plan allows you to set down goals and guidelines for trading. It allows you to identify your attitude to trading and to risk, and it sets out entry and exit strategies to follow. Having this all in writing makes keeping to your own rules much easier, preventing you from making impulsive decisions and trading mistakes – even when market conditions get hectic.

In order to create a trading plan, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Regarding your current situation
What kind of trader are you?
How much experience and what skills do you have?
How much capital do you have to trade with?

Regarding where you want to be
What do you want to achieve from trading?
What timeframe do you have?
What is success to you?

A trading plan can help you:

·         Identify and learn from your mistakes
·         Manage your risk better
·         Identify and keep to your entry and exit strategies
·         Stay focused on your trading strategy (if you have one) and keep faith in it
·         Evaluate the success of your trading, and make changes as needed.

Create a trading strategy

Some traders swear by strategy trading, some are not that bothered. As you become a more experienced trader, you may create a trading strategy. Read up on this process and how to test out your strategy to ensure you can rely on it.

Get some practice in

Once you know everything you need to know about the market and what you want to invest in, it’s time to get involved. Some online trading accounts allow you to do some paper trades (pretend trades) to get you started. Once you’re ready, start trading!


It can be a good idea to start out small and stick to large companies known for their stability – however, what you trade and how much you trade is completely up to you. If you are still unsure, you may want to seek the advice of a professional.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Using online loan calculators to find the best loan option



Using an online calculator is a great way to find the best deal on a loan, allowing you to compare loans and work out how much you can afford to borrow. There are many different types of loan calculators, from car loan calculators to personal loan calculators, to a whole range of calculators for home loans.

Using an online loan calculator to work out a budget

Online loan calculators can help you work out how much you can afford to borrow before you take out a loan. The key to finding the best loan is finding a loan that is affordable. Note down all your incomings and outgoings, and work out how much you can afford to pay back on your loan each month. Then use the loan calculator to find a loan that fits within this budget.

You can use the calculator to play around with different repayment options, and find a repayment schedule that works for you. This will help you work out how much you can afford to borrow overall, and how long you will need to pay it back.

Using an online loan calculator to compare loan options

Online loan calculators come in very handy when you are comparing loan options. If you are comparing different loans from different providers, a loan calculator can help you compare the amount you will pay in interest each month and the amount you will pay in interest on the loan overall. This can help you find the cheapest loan option.

You can also use a loan calculator to compare loan options from the same provider. By using the calculator to compare loans with different interest rates borrowed over different loan terms, you can compare the total amount repaid in interest, helping you to find the most affordable option.

Find the best online loan calculators

There are many online loan calculators to choose from. It’s simply a matter of trying a few of them out and deciding which one offers you the information you need. Some offer helpful graphs, giving you a more visual picture of the interest/principle breakdown, while some offer tables with a month-by-month breakdown.

Different types of online loan calculators

·         Car Loan Calculator: Helps you compare car loans.
·         Personal Loan Calculator: Helps you compare personal loans.
·         Home Loan Calculator: Helps you compare home loans.
·         Honeymoon Loan Calculator: Helps you compare loans with honeymoon periods.
·         Extra Repayments Calculator: Helps you work out how much you will save in interest when you make extra repayments on your loan.
·         Borrowing Power Calculator: Helps you work out how much you can borrow according to your salary and existing financial commitments.

Find the best finance option

If you want to find the best finance option, you will have to compare all your options. Check out loans from various providers using a loans comparison site, or use a broker such as Lend Me Finance to find the best loan and the best loan features, at the best price.




Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Save money on private health insurance with these easy steps



If you want to save money on private health insurance, there are some really easy ways to do it. From choosing the right level of cover, to choosing the right insurer, to choosing the right level of excess – there is a lot you can do to make sure you get value for money on your private health insurance policy.

Choose the right level of cover

Making sure you have the correct level of cover is one of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t pay more than you have to for health insurance. Most insurers will offer varying levels of cover, with the more basic options generally being cheaper. You can also choose which services you want cover for, allowing you to only pay for the services you are likely to use.

Choose the right insurer

Different health insurance providers offer different types of policies, and charge different prices for their services. If you want to save money on health insurance, be sure to compare private health insurance companies and find the best option for you – at the right price. Bear in mind that the cheapest option will not always offer the best cover – make sure the policy you choose offers you the cover you need, or you may find yourself out of pocket when you need to make a claim.

Choose the right excess

Another easy way to save money on health insurance is to choose the right level of excess on your policy. When you make a claim, you may need to pay a certain amount in excess. By increasing the amount you pay in excess, you may be able to reduce the amount you pay in premiums. If you choose a lower excess, you may pay more in premiums. Think about the likelihood of having to make a claim, and how much you can afford to pay in excess when you claim.

Choose the right extras

Health insurance can be divided into two main sections – hospital cover and extras cover. You can choose to get hospital cover or extras cover or both. If you choose to get both types of cover, you can get them both from the same provider, or you can get hospital cover from one provider and extras cover from another provider. When it comes to choosing extras, be sure to choose a policy that only covers the extras you need – or you may end up paying for services you don’t use.

Review your cover

As your life changes, your cover requirements will change as well. Review your policy regularly to make sure it gives you all the cover you need, and get rid of cover you don’t need. There’s no point paying for cover that you don’t use.

The Private Health Insurance Rebate and Medicare Levy Surcharge

If you purchase private health insurance, you may be eligible for a rebate from the government on the cost of your premiums. This rebate is income tested, and applies to hospital, general treatment and ambulance policies. The rebate levels for 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 are:

Singles
Families
≤$88,000
≤$176,000
$88,001-102,000
$176,001-204,000
$102,001-136,000
$204,001-272,000
≥$136,001
≥$272,001
Rebate
< age 65
30%
20%
10%
0%
Age 65-69
35%
25%
15%
0%
Age 70+
40%
30%
20%
0%
Medicare Levy Surcharge
All ages
0.0%
1.0%
1.25%
1.5%


The table also includes information on the amount you will pay on the Medicare Levy Surcharge according to your income.



Tuesday, 21 January 2014

My M&S Magical Dining Room

I love my dining room. We use it each and every day and we eat together as a family 5 out of seven days as week.

I also make sure that we eat breakfast together when we can too. Growing up we had family dinner times and those times all at the table hold special memories for me, of good times, conversation, family and food.

I believe that children learn good manners and are also more adventurous eaters when they eat with the rest of their family. Also it is a great time to catch up on what everyone has been doing each day,


M&S Magical Dining Room


I am also a great believer in not keeping things for best.  So we all use the china, glasses  and good cutlery too.

My family dining table is somewhere we gather, where homework is done, where board games are play and where we do jigsaw puzzles as a family.  It is also the place where most of the art and crafts in the house are done.

I find if we eat together I only have to prepare one meal and the boys will eat what we eat.  

Do you eat together at a dining table? 

I also saw that there was a competition running for your dream dining room via M&S, so although the below is in no way thrifty, It is how I would kit out my current dining room! 

Alstroemeria Abundance Bouquet - £30
Wexford Compact Sideboard - £500
Conran Hepworth Mackenzie Chair - £249
Ercol Turville Dining Table - £899
Woven Placemat - £5
Feather Tray - £29.50
Graphic Kilim Rug - £99
Original BTC Stanley Large Ceiling Pendant - £409
Plumen Large Ceiling Bulb - £19.50
Conran Copper Wire Trim Glass Tealight Holder - £12.50
Curvy Glass Jug - £15
12 Piece Deco Geometric Dinner Set - £125
16 Piece Stainless Steel Kinsley Cutlery Set - £39.50
Ombre Platter - £25
Ludo Board Game - £6
Richmond Teapot - £22.50
Letter Mug - £6
Hamilton Mug - £5
Barrel High Ball Tumbler - £3


How to find the perfect car loan



Whether you are looking for a loan to buy a new car or you are looking to refinance your current loan, finding the perfect car loan is simply a matter of asking the right questions and looking in the right places. Find out the best way to find the perfect car loan by following these easy steps.

Decide how much you need to borrow

Think about which car you want to buy, whether you want to buy new or used, and what extras you need. Compare options at dealerships and from private sellers, and work out how much you can expect to pay for the car you are looking to buy.

Decide how much you can afford

How much you need to borrow and how much you can afford to borrow may not be in the same ball park. Create a budget to work out how much you can afford to pay back on your loan each month, and work out how long you will need to pay off the loan.

If you cannot afford a loan for the car you want, rethink your options. It’s not a good idea to take on a loan you can’t afford. You may end up defaulting on the loan, paying late payment fees, and perhaps even losing the car.

Compare car loan options

Once you’ve decided how much you need and how much you can afford to borrow, it’s time to compare car loan options. There are numerous car loan providers out there, all offering different options at different costs. Whether you are looking for used or new car loans, or refinancing for your current loan, compare all your options to make sure you get the best deal.

·         Interest: Try to choose the loan with the lowest interest over the shortest period of time. Think about how much you will pay in interest overall. Think about whether you want a loan with a fixed rate or variable rate of interest.
·         Fees: Check how much you will be expected to pay in fees, and add that to the overall cost of the loan to make sure you are getting the best deal.
·         Features: There are various loan features to think about, for example, if you may pay the loan off early, make sure the loan allows for that.
·         Loan term: Choose a loan term that has an affordable repayment schedule. Be aware that you may pay more interest overall on a loan borrowed over a longer period of time.
·         Secured or unsecured: Loans secured against the car may be easier to get approved for, and may offer cheaper interest rates.
·         Refinance: If you are looking to refinance your current loan, find a lender that offers this option, and make sure the new loan offers all the features you need, and gives you a great deal.

Use a car loan calculator

For a simple way to compare car loan options, use a car loan calculator. This can allow you to compare interest and loan affordability, and can make it much easier to find the best deal on your car loan.




Monday, 20 January 2014

Week 3 decluttering tasks

I have been trying to keep up the momentum with the decluttering tasks, but have to admit that I have slowed down somewhat.


This week I am moving down to the kitchen and I am going to work my way through all the cupboards and drawers! 

Food - take an inventory of what is in your store cupboards.  Make sure you check the dates and if you think anything is past its best then throw it away.  Is there things that you will not eat?  Then gift them to a local food bank or friend.

Freezer - Again time to defrost the freezer, removing everything to a freezer bag making an inventory as you go.

Do you have a junk drawer or cupboard?  I have both.  The understairs cupboard needs a good sort through and clean as does a couple of the kitchen drawers.

How many mugs does one family need?  This is what I am going to have to ask myself when I sort though the kitchen units!

The same goes for tea towels and I am also going to clear out the unit under the sink too!

How is your decluttering going?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The moments that mattered in 2013

2013, it was an eventful year, one that truly flew by and was filled with lots of eventful moments, but it was also filled with lots of mundane moments too.  


For me, the moments that mattered are not all about our fantastic once in a lifetime holiday to Florida with my brother and his family at the end of November, or a fabulous trip to Butlins over the summer holidays with Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family.  They are also the days spent having blood transfusions just before Christmas, wondering if I would be spending the festive season in the hospital.

Jumping off a wall in France and breaking my ribs was also a pivotal moment for me.  I realised that I can no longer act my shoe size, even though my boys thoughts I was super cool for giving it a go!

Oh yes, 2013 has been filled with massive ups,  just the weather made sure that the summer holidays were ones to remember where we enjoyed picnics on the beach and my boys chased each other with the hosepipe, but they were also filled with sadness when we had to say our final goodbyes to loved ones who are no longer with us.

We welcomed in to our lives Alvin, our bundle of joy pup.  He has filled my day with so much pleasure.  He is wonderful company when I am in the house on my own and gives me a reason to get out and go for a walk every day.

What mattered is that as a family we made time to enjoy the simple things in life.  To enjoy each others company and to choose to see joy in the mundane.

We had our ups and we had our downs, but you need the dark to be able to see the stars.

This is my entrance into Lloyds Bank moments that mattered competition. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Save money in your home - Bedroom

This week we are looking at ways to save money in your bedroom.



  1. Use the appropriate tog quilt - make sure you add a heavier weight quilt on to your bed in the autumn or if you do not have a heavier one, then layer up with flannel sheets and blankets.
  2. Use a hot water bottle in your bed.
  3. Line your curtains or add a blind
  4. Shut your curtains at dusk.
  5. Fit programmable radiator valves. These will allow you to set different heating patterns for every room in the house, so you don't have to go round turning the radiator valves up and down throughout the day.
  6. Turn your mattress regularly.  This extend the life of your mattress by regularly turning it. Some mattresses can be turned and flipped – others only turned – so check with your manufacturer.
  7. Turn off lights when not in the room.
  8. Get into the habit of keeping doors closed.
  9. If you have a spare room why not consider renting it out.
  10. Wear socks to bed in cold weather to keep your feet warm.  Appently people with warm feet get to sleep 20 minutes faster than people with cold feet! 

Previous posts in this series include:



Saving with a purpose

I always find that saving with a goal in mind is really empowering.  We started saving for our own home before we got married and then made the decision to relocate to Berkshire from N Yorkshire and had to save a LOT more for that initial deposit, which is why I think this infogram is great as it gives you an idea of house prices throughout the UK.

Buying your dream home - find out what you can get for your money

We all know property prices can vary significantly, but do you know the average house price of each region in the country, or the most expensive region vs the least expensive? Find out the average house price in your region and share this with your friends, so they too can find out what they can afford with their budget.
Buying your dream home - what can you get for your money infographic


Monday, 13 January 2014

This weeks decluttering plans

I have still be busy decluttering and even managed to get MadDad to sort through his clothes at the weekend!



This weeks plans are as follows:


  1. Linen Cupboard - Sort though the linens and make sure they are sorted in to bed.  Donate or sell any surplus sets.
  2. Bathroom - Clear any drawers or storage in the bathroom.  Make a list of what products you have, so that you do not over stock.
  3. Children's bedrooms - Sort through drawers removing items for your throw away, giveaway and sell box.
  4. Children's bedrooms - Sort under their beds.
  5. Children's bedrooms - Wardrobe sort out 

If you have older children then it is important that you involve them in this, so that they can ensure they keep their rooms in a clean state.  I always agree with my boys that anything I sell from their rooms that they can have that spent on them.

Emotionally decluttering 

For me removing excess items from the home is all part of a larger exercise.  When I am upset, scared or unwell I accumulate "stuff".  A lot of what I am removing from our home is things that I brought in after my mum died and I am learning that if I remove this clutter that not only does it make the house easier to look after, but there is a side effect of clearing my mind too.  

I am slowly emotionally decluttering.  leaving room in my mind and home for the beautiful and useful things.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

Free Magazine - 91 Magazine Craft Special



I have mentioned many times before my love of Free online magazines.  91 Magazine is a firm favorite and I was delighted to see that they had brought out their first ever 91 Magazine craft special.

January might feel like the longest darkest month of the year, but you can delight at this wonderfully inspirational free magazine.  It is filled with creativity of all sorts and I am so looking forward to sitting down with the IPad and a steaming cup of tea to  envelope myself in craft inspiration.

To see the other free magazines I have featured, just click here.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Join @BT_uk to celebrate the Big BT Broadband Sale and #GuessThePrize

To celebrate the BT Big Broadband Sale offering BT Infinity for only £7.50, BT are holding the the world's first game show live on Twitter.



BT will be giving away amazing prizes every hour, starting at 12pm on January 10th with a live round lasting each time 7 minutes and 50 seconds

To be in with a chance of the prize you have to spot which prize is worth £7.50 and tweet your answer with the hashtag #GuessThePrize to @BT_UK

To enter  To enter successfully, you will need to feature the hashtag , the item valued at £7.50 and @ mentioning @BT_UK

How does it work?

You will have the chance to win a bundle of themed prizes including XBox1, home entertainment system, Barclays Premier League tickets and many more to be announced tomorrow (10th January) by interacting the BT's live twitter games how at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.  You will have a seven minute 50 second time slot to answer correctly once each hour.  

Each successful answer will go into a prize draw made up from correct guesses tweeted in during the stream. 

To enter successfully, you will need to feature 3 key bits of information in your tweet:

1. hashtag #GuessThePrize
2. The item valued at £7.50
3. @ mentioning @BT_UK 

Following the live game show at 4pm an extended prize draw will be open until 9pm for those who missed out during the day


Good luck




Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My first income from decluttering

Yippe, a side effect of all this decluttering has been that I have been able to add a few of the quality items I no longer want or need on to ebay and I have my first income from all the effort I am putting in to decluttering.



I have made £28 from selling three pairs of shoes.

I have also made £40 from selling some of my fabric stash

£40 from selling my books on ziffit.com (this is not a sponsored post)!

So I have made £108 in the first week of January just from making our home a better place to live in.

It certainly makes all the time spent decluutering worthwhile and has spurred me on to keep going.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Do you have a birthday box?

My boys are seven and eight and throughout the year they get invites to a lot of parties.  This means that I have to find presents for these children.  A birthday box is not a new thing, in fact my mum had one!

A tend to keep an eye out during the year and January is a great time to stock up with items from the sale or from ebay.  I even do not have issues giving away second hand toys (as I wrote about here for the Making Money Go Further Blog).



Some recent additions have been from Paperchase where we bought some Robot jigsaw erasers and also some wooden stamp sets.  Children of all ages adore stationery.

The book people often have some fantastic book sets that you can split into smaller gifts.  We love these LEGO Minifigure sticker books which work out at less than a £1 each.

Small LEGO kits are also a fab present and gratefully received. so we always keep an eye on LEGO Deals Facebook page for bargains throughout the year.

LEGO Legends of Chima 70000: Razcal's Glider is currently less than £8 on Amazon so perfect Birthday gift price.

We also love these Hand tattoos and they are great to split up and add to other gifts.

Being in business doesn’t have to mean a desk job

Work and family are probably the two most time intensive activities any of us is likely to engage in. Doing both can often seem to be a challenge that no-one can ever truly master, and finding a way to prioritise both without damaging either can be a real hassle.



Being your own boss and being able to set your schedule can seem like an ideal fix. It allows easy time management so that there’s flexibility when you need it, like school holidays, without compromising your work.

Becoming a landlord can be a great way to make the most of this kind of opportunity.

While you will need to be aware of your tenants and any problems that they might have, they won’t take over family life to the point where you start missing things. You can still focus the time when the children aren’t around to work and unless there is a real emergency you won’t have to sacrifice time you normally spend together as a family.

Being a landlord is an opportunity that can be as little or as large as you like. There is no pressure to extend further than you’re comfortable with. While it will require a lot of self-discipline (as you may be working for no-one but that means that no-one will badger you to get things done), you’re working towards goals that you’ve set yourself and are, hopefully, manageable.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t need a little help from outside though, in fact a little help right at the start can go a long way. Once you’ve found a suitable property, made sure you’re allowed to rent it and spruced it up, you should do the following.

Firstly, ask a specialist solicitor’s advice on what kind of tenancy agreement you need. It’s an up-front cost but getting it right first time is much better than having to do it over and over.

Secondly, decide if you’re happy to vet your tenants yourself. While there are letting agencies, their commission is as much as a fifth of the rent you charge so it can play havoc with budgeting.


Finally, get specialist insurance for landlords. This is vital and covers you against small problems to the worst that can happen. Natwest is a good place to start, as normal insurance policies don’t cover landlords but their specialist policies do. 


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