Post in association with NatWest

A couple of weeks ago I found myself sat alone at the bar of a members’ only club in London, sipping prosecco and feeling that heady mix of nervous and excited as I messaged my family WhatsApp group.

‘What are you doing in London?’ asked my sister Annabel.

‘I’m going to a speed dating session being run by NatWest to show how easily you can be emotionally vulnerable to online scams,’ I told her. ‘I was MADE for this.’

‘Do the other daters know,’ asked Annabel, ‘or is the assignment to go in and try and scam them?’

‘I think they have to scam ME,’ I said, ‘but I know there’s going to be ‘a twist’. A behavioural psychologist is going to be there. Maybe they just watch and laugh at how gullible I am??’

‘You’re going to get so scammed,’ she said.

‘I’m going to get scammed RIGHT UP,’ I agreed. ‘Hopefully someone will step in before I hand over any cash.’

tips to avoid being scammed

Because I wasn’t joking when I said I was made for this experiment. View Post

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energy saving tips

If I’d had a pound for every time I’ve said ‘you left your light on’ over the years then quite frankly I wouldn’t have to care about my energy bills, as I would be a millionaire.

Children leaving on lights drives me absolutely mad, as there is just no excuse for it. Think about it – it’s like the light itself is TELLING YOU YOU’VE LEFT IT ON.

It SHINES. In your face.

I don’t even know how it’s physically possible to leave a room and NOT notice that you’ve left the lights on. I can only conclude that children’s brains have a vital part missing from them until they reach some kind of magical age where they are able to SEE LIGHT.

Anyway.

This post isn’t meant to be me complaining, it’s about positive things you can do to save energy – not just to reduce your bills but also to ensure that you leave less of a mark on the world. I’ve recently bought my own house and so I’m in the lucky position now where I can think about bigger things I can do to reduce energy consumption. I’ve had my loft properly insulated for example, and I’ve got decent double glazing throughout.

Even if you don’t have the cash (or the enthusiasm) to tackle bigger projects, small changes you do can add up. Something as simple as comparing electricity providers can make a huge difference. If, for instance, you’re interested in finding the best Texas electricity suppliers, you can do your research and switch providers if you detect better deals.

Here are seven properly useful ideas I’ve had to help you create good energy habits in your home.

Get a smart meter

This is top of my list and an excellent first step to help you reduce energy consumption. With free smart meters, which allow you to monitor your energy usage in real time, in actual pounds and pence, it means you can see for yourself how much it costs to do specific things like boil a kettle or run a dishwasher and thus identify ways to cut back. There is something about having this information presented to you, seeing the energy and money tick away, that really helps to hammer the message home. View Post

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In association with Profile Pensions

Here’s a little known fact for you – I have a first class Economics degree and when I graduated I trained as an actuary. Yeah I know, I didn’t know what an actuary was either until I got the job, (it’s a lot of maths around pensions and insurance and risk), although I remember at the time reading somewhere that it was a job for ‘people who found accountancy too exciting’.

As you might well guess, it wasn’t really my dream job. What it does mean though is that I’m meant to know a bit about pensions.

What is it exactly about pensions that so many people find scary? Why do we bury our heads in the sand when it comes to long term finance? This attitude is particularly frustrating in the case of pensions as by the time you feel grown up enough to think about it, it’s TOO LATE. Okay, so it’s never too late exactly, but the younger you can start investing in a pension the better – money saved in your twenties is worth SO much more than in your forties. The state pension is currently only worth about £8,000 a year, so if you’re relying on this when you retire then you’re screwed. Sort out your pension NOW, however old you are.

Fortunately I did kind of twig this early on, (it would be a bit embarrassing if I hadn’t with the whole ‘working in pensions’ background), and I started paying into my first work pension scheme when I was 21. When I left that job to have Belle at 24 I took it upon myself to set up a stakeholder pension. I only paid in £60 a month initially, because I was on maternity leave and poor, but it has always been there, pottering along. Last year, when all the documents for my pensions could no longer fit into a lever arch file, I decided it was time to take action. I went through everything and it turned out, due to my flighty nature, that I had a total of seven pension pots from various jobs over the years.

Seven pensions is just a bit greedy isn’t it?

I went to an independent advisor, and they helped me streamline everything and transfer all seven into one pension pot. Just to reinforce the point about the earlier the better, that first pension that I paid into between the ages of 21 and 24? That’s now worth over £40,000. (Yeah, I know, I was surprised too.)

Is this making you think ‘Damn, I really should track down all my pensions and DO something with them?’

Good.

By the end of this post you are going to be digging that pretty little head of yours out of the sand and feeling excited about dealing with your pension situation. Well maybe not excited, unless you are a pension geek like me, but reassuringly positive at least. View Post

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Post is association with Admiral

tips to cut cost of Christmas

Does it feel like Christmas is getting more and more expensive every year?

It does to me. I bought the Christmas Radio Times this week, so I can go through and highlight all the films I want to watch, only for Belle to say ‘that’s on Netflix, that’s on Netflix.’. Do you know how much it cost??

FOUR POUNDS FIFTY! I was expecting it to be about 95p! That’s Christmas inflation for you.

However…

It’s NOT a given that Christmas has to cost you more every year if you’re prepared to do a bit of research and shop around, which is exactly what I’ve done in this post. I was challenged by Admiral to take the 1996 figures from their Cost of Christmas Index, and to see if I could beat them in 2017. It felt like a tough job, but I’m always up for a challenge, so I said ‘yes, bring it on.’

Here’s my shopping list at 1996 prices: View Post

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In association with HotUKDeals

God I love Christmas.

I harp on about it, but I really do love it. Mainly I love the shopping and the twinkly lights which yes, I know, is totally NOT what Christmas is about, but YOLO, as I’m sure the three wise men would have said if they’d have thought about it.

What I’m not so keen on is the ‘spending vast amounts of money’ aspect, so I do like to make savings where I can. I’m one of those really annoying people who will buy presents in April if I see something on special offer, (although if it makes you feel better, I will then put said present away ‘somewhere safe’ and forget about it until January.)

I am also, thanks to the bargain hunting skills of an ex-boyfriend, well trained in the art of sniffing out an online deal. HotUKDeals was in fact one of his absolute favourites and he’d browse it regularly, in a kind of excited/guilty way, like other people might look at the profiles of exes on Facebook.

He knew what he was doing though as HotUKDeals is a great way to save cash, whether you’re buying gifts for Christmas or looking for things for around the house and garden, as I am ABOUT TO PROVE…

DUM DUM DUM!

HotUKDeals set me a shopping challenge – exactly how much could I save by exploring the special offers listed on their site?

Let’s see shall we?

The deals on HotUKDeals are pretty easy to navigate. You can either go to the main deals page and see what’s hot, or you can use the drop down menu to explore deals by department or by retailer. Members use the temperature gauge to vote on deals so other users know that the hotter the deal, the stronger the offer.

HotUKDeals

Deals could be anything, from someone having spotted cheese slices at half price in Morrisons to £100 off a mattress. Literally anything, so it’s always fun to see what new offers have been listed.

Now, my mission primarily was Christmas presents, but then browsing through the main deals page I came across this kettle, which I thought would look very nice in my kitchen, and which was reduced from £80. When you find an offer you like the look of you just click on it to find out more and then get linked through to the retailer where you can either buy directly or find out more. View Post

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‘THE AVERAGE FAMILY SPEND £2,831 ON CHRISTMAS!’

‘FAMILIES ACCUMULATE £1,298 OF DEBT OVER CHRISTMAS!’

These are the kind of jolly headlines you can look forward to over the next eight weeks – it’s so festive isn’t it? Just what you need to get you into a Christmassy mood. I mean seriously, you’d need a pint or two of mulled wine after reading things like that. (My excuse.)

The truth is though that YOU are not an average family. You are just you, and you don’t need to spend £2,831 or accumulate £1,298 of debt to make all of your Christmas dreams come true.

Christmas chocolates

My Christmas dreams. In a box. In chocolate form.

How much do you spend on Christmas?

So how much DO you spend? Do you think about it beforehand and set yourself a budget, or do you wing it and worry about it later? Aspire Money have put together a handy tool that you might like to have a play with – a Christmas Budget Planner.

The Aspire Money Budget Planner asks you to consider all of your Christmas costs, including those you might not think to factor in, like advent calendars, travel to visit friends and family, and Christmas stockings. (I’m not sure why it includes this though, as obviously Father Christmas takes care of those.) View Post

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Today I have another guest post from the lovely Jon at The Money Shed. Every so often Jon likes to share handy information/mildly mock me, and today he has an excellent cheap web-hosting deal for you. Have a read!

cheap web hosting for a blog

Have you ever read Jo’s blog on here and thought ‘I’d like to give blogging a go!’

Maybe you’ve read one of her many angry posts about signs outside coffee shops or some other middle class problem you can totally relate to and thought you could do an even better job!

Blogging is a fantastic platform to not only connect with other people but also one you can earn a HUGE amount of money from in the long term.

Usually to earn that money though companies who want to place content on your site will want you to be what is called self hosted. That means that you are in full control of the blog you are running and aren’t just hosting it on a 3rd party website such as Blogger or Blogspot.

A lot of people hold off on running a self hosted blog because they worry about the cost involved but trust me, you can worry no more as I can show you how you can host your blog(s) for only £2.99 a month (although it’s actually less but more about that in a bit) with the amazing UK hosting company Kloudhost. View Post

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As hard as we try to spend cautiously and save carefully, sometimes we’re hit by an emergency that leaves us needing to get money quickly. It could be a car breakdown, a vet bill, a boiler explosion – whatever it is, we suddenly find it’s a week until pay day and we have a cat with a leg in plaster/car exhaust on the road/no hot water. (Delete as appropriate.*)

A couple of years ago for example I came home to find a huge puddle of water on the kitchen floor. I looked around suspiciously. No taps were on and the ceiling was intact. I opened the freezer. Things were suspiciously warm and NOT icy.

ways to get money quickly

Now although I did spend the winter of 1997 living without a fridge and keeping single pints of milk in the garden overnight, this was the summer. Plus I’m not 19 and living in poverty any more so you know, I did quite want a fridge that worked. Fortunately I had a little bit of money set aside, but not everyone is so lucky. If you find yourself needing money for an emergency purchase, I’ve put together a few ideas for ways to get money quickly.

Please note: these are simply suggestions, not financial advice, and my ideas are meant to be for anyone who needs to get money quickly for one-off emergency purchases, not day to day spending or treats. If you are struggling to meet everyday expenditure, like food or bills, then speak to a debt advisor. You can call the Money Advice Line on 0800 138 7777 or try a debt charity like Step Change. View Post

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Post in association with Tesco Bank

money saving hacks

 

A little while ago Tesco Bank asked me to put together some of my best budgeting hacks for their website. I came up with 10 really simple ways to save money – I was quite proud of myself. You can read them here, so please do go and have a look.

In the process of writing that piece though, I realised that I’m a bit of a natural in the old money saving department. Perhaps that first class economics degree really is good for something?? I thought I’d put together a few more ideas for you here.

Have a read and let me know if you have tried any of these and if they’ve made a difference to your household finances. I’d love to hear about any other tips you have too! View Post

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Unfortunately this offer expired on November 30th 2019. Sorry about that!

AdvertisementBooking.com discount code

I love staying in hotels.

One of my favourite things about the whole experience is the hotel breakfast. When would you ever make yourself a fruit salad for breakfast, drink juice from ridiculously small glasses and poach yourself some smoked haddock? You just wouldn’t.

I did once miss a hotel breakfast. I was staying for a night in Manchester with Fiance and we’d had a bit of a late night and overslept. When I woke up, checked the time, and realised we had slept through breakfast I was GUTTED. I mean properly, irrationally gutted. I had this awful sinking feeling and just wanted to turn back time – to do anything to make it NOT TRUE.

As you can see, it still haunts me. I probably need to get over it.

booking.com discount code

My normal hotel breakfast

I tend to book my accommodation through comparison sites like Booking.com, where they search for the best deals for you in whatever location you want, give you reviews and ratings, and generally make the whole process a lot more straightforward. Not like the good old days when you had to get out a Yellow Pages and take pot luck. How did we COPE WITH LIFE before we had to ability to see star ratings from strangers??

What’s super cool about Booking.com is that you can now get money off with my discount code. View Post

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Looking for easy ways to make money online? Here are some tips for you from Jon at the Money Shed. He’s just given the site a big revamp so he’s been hounding me to let him tell people about it.

ways to make money online

As a modern tech savvy bloke who frequents all things social media I am forever seeing posts and tweets about how little money people have. There seems to be a template to these bits of communication. It starts with a boohoo statement (It’s SO unfair! Why can’t I have such and such a thing?!) and then seems to descend into a rant about how life has generally given them the short straw because they can’t even buy whatever fancy makeup / car / item of clothing / holiday that they want!

I see this sort of stuff ALL DAY, EVERYDAY and it drives me MAD!

DON’T THEY NOT REALISE THE MONEY THEY CRAVE IS LITERALLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM??

Well as the owner of The Money Shed which is the UK’s largest community website dedicated to earning money from home online I KNOW I can get these people earning around £1000 a month easily from their laptops at home without any trouble! (If you are in any doubt then take a look at the previous interview I have done with Jo on this site here and you will see the the AMAZING testimonials from users of my blog and forum)    View Post

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Fancy making a bit of spare cash? I’ve got Jon from The Money Shed again, going on about his latest thing ;-)

There are quite a few offerwall sites around these days that all differ in how they work and the amount they pay out. One that has caught quite an uptake over on The Money Shed is GBonus. The site has been around in the rest of Europe for a great number of years and has recently launched in the UK with quite a bang!

Offerwalls often get a bit of a bad rep however the way I see it is that in our day to day digital lives we hand over information all the time. It doesn’t matter if we are entering a competition or signing up to a newsletter a lot of us are quite happy to hand over our details and at least if you use a website like GBonus then you are getting paid for handing over their details.

Once piece of advice I will give you if you want to earn money from this offerwall or any other one is to make sure you use a spare mobile number if possible. Frequently you can untick the ‘please make contact with me’ box and companies (even big ones) will just ignore it and contact you anyway!

The site is like a lot of other paywall websites out there which require you to login to work your way down a list offers which pay you for signing up to various free trials or handing over some of your personal details.

LET’S GET THE EXCITING PART OUT OF THE WAY FIRST!!

THE MONEY SHED HAS NEGOTIATED TO GIVE YOU ALL £2.50 FOR FREE WHEN YOU SIGN UP WITH THE CODE MONEYSHED250 View Post

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