Luxury Fragranced Candles vs Lower Priced Imitators

One of our big indulgences is a good quality scented candle. Cosying up on the couch, reading a book with the warm fragrance of a candle creeping around the room is a wonderful extravagance. But scented candles can be expensive – with a 2.5kg Jo Malone luxury candle retailing at around £300.

Luckily, the high street has come to the rescue and giving the luxury brands a run for their money. We look at some of the best budget copycat versions of fragrant candles on the market.

So, should Jo Malone be worried? Let’s find out!

B&M – Karina Bailey 15cmx15cm

The budget store that you cannot help but love have released their own range, which could give Jo Malone a run for their money. Their line of Karina Bailey candles are available in Cedar & Plum (which is reminiscent of Jo Malone’s English Oak & Redcurrant) and Raspberry & Oud (which is identical to the upmarket brand’s Velvet Rose & Oud), which will fill your home with the most gorgeous of fragrances and retail for £14.99.

Aldi – No.1, No.2 and No.3

Launched amid much fanfare last year, the first round of these candles sold out in Aldi stores in about 7.6 seconds. The supermarket duly responded to demand, and now the candles are regularly stocked in store, together with a reed diffuser line. These candles are an unashamed rip-off of the Jo Malone big three fragrances – Pomegranate Noir, Lime, Basil & Mandarin and Blackberry Bay and at £3.99 – we’re willing customers.

 Aldi – Scentcerity Tin Candles

The German supermarket is at it again, this time leaning heavily on the Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery line with its copycat versions of the Lily-Flame tin candles that normally retail from £7 to £20 in shops like John Lewis and Waitrose. The Scentcerity range is a purse-friendly £2.79, however, and are available in Velvet Rose, Autumn Garden and Moonflower.

Moneybright conclusion: While the cheaper versions from B&M and Aldi lack the complexity and intensity of the posher versions, these are incredible value for money. And as we’re sinking into winter, a great day-to-day candle to have on the go when you get back from work. We’re stocking up for the coming season!


Do you live in a ‘Cash for Crash’ hotspot?

30 postcodes around the UK have been identified as hotspots for crash-for-cash scams that have affected countless of motorists over recent years.

And drivers in the north of England will not be happy.

Birmingham has taken the top three spots – with B8, B6 and B10 being the areas that experience the most fraudulent accidents.

Bradford comes in next, with BD8 and BD9 taking the fourth and fifth spots.

Manchester takes sixth place – and Bradford, Birmingham and Oldham return to steal the top ten places.

Last year, the Insurance Fraud Taskforce (IFT) introduced a set of measures aimed at curbing the increasing number of fraudulent crash-for-cash attempts being made by scammers.

This included insurance data being shared with anti-fraud organisations and collaborative work between regulatory bodies and the insurance sector to identify those masterminding the criminal activity.

However, research by insurer Aviva said it detects a new crash-for-cash claimant every three hours since the IFT’s planned crackdown

Graphic courtesy of Insurance Fraud Bureau

How the internet has dominated our shopping habits

With the indomitable rise of Amazon, eBay and other online retailers, the footfall on the traditional high street has significantly reduced. More and more shoppers are turning to their keyboards to find the latest deals, rather than rifle through disordered sale rails.

The ease, convenience and speed of internet shopping has made it the success story of the past decade.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics, (ONS), has revealed online shopping figures for 2017.

While the figures are up, the increase from a decade ago isn’t that drastic. There has been no increase in the past twelve months, and only 24 percentage points up since 2008.

The bottom line shows that this year, 77% of adults in Great Britain have bought goods or services online – and the majority of these consumers are younger. Yet, evidence suggests that older generations are becoming savvier when it comes to buying things over the internet.

According to ONS, the largest growing sector for online shopping is the 55-64 age group, which has grown by 30 percentage points since 2008. In contrast, the age group that shows the slowest growth is the 25-35 year age group, which grew by just 17 percentage points.

Despite this, the 25-35 year age group bought more regularly than any other age group – with 26% using the internet to buy goods eleven times or more over the past three months. Only 7% of the 55-64 year age group matched this frequency.

When it comes to the most popular items to buy, clothing and sports goods are at the top of the list, bought by 56% of adults in 2017. Household goods, including furniture and toys, was the second most popular – and bought by 50% of adults. Holiday accommodation came third.

Posted on in Shopping.

Fancy upgrading your train ticket from £5?

Train travellers disgruntled in economy class now have a chance to upgrade to first class from £5 – thanks to a new app launched yesterday.

Seatfrog has been hailed as the answer to empty first class carriages and over packed economy seats.

The app enables customers on Virgin Trains who have already booked standard class tickets to bid on empty first-class seats from as little as £5.

Seatfrog is available to download for free on Apple and Android devices.

How it works:

  1. Download the free app and create an account with your email address. You will also have to give payment card details.
  2. Enter your train booking reference and set your maximum upgrade bid.
  3. App will notify you when the auction begins.
  4. Travellers can view the current price and what others are bidding.
  5. After a winning bid has been placed, Seatfrog will send an updated train ticket to the passenger’s smartphone to board the train.

There are no credit card or booking fees. The online auction opens two hours before the train is scheduled to leave the station and ends thirty minutes before departure.

While passengers can choose to up their bids while the bidding is underway, they are also given the choice to put in a ‘pre-bid’ from as soon as they book their original seat.

This will kick in as soon as the auction goes live to save them the time and hassle of manually updating their bid.

The app also allows users to upgrade straightaway – echoing eBay’s ‘Buy it Now’ button. This facility is available to travellers five days before the date of travel.

However, the app promised that the auction cost will never exceed the ‘Buy it Now’ price.

While upgrade costs change depending on the journey, taken through the auction process will mean that it is guaranteed.

Quieter services will usually mean that the upgrade costs will be lower than busier services. Rush hour trains, and busy services like Friday nights out of London will see rates go up.

According to the app, an upgrade from Leeds to London cost £10. A midweek train from London to Edinburgh cost £15.

Tips for getting a good deal

Seatfrog advises bidding early. ‘Place a pre-bid any time before you travel and Seatfrog will bid on your behalf up to that price.

‘The software is much faster than you’d be able to do it yourself,’ says a spokesperson.

Bid your best price – there’s no point hanging back, bid your highest, because Seatfrog will bid against other travellers for you up to that price and you’ll always get a deal.

At launch, only passengers travelling on Virgin Trains will be able to use the app to upgrade cheaply.

But the network is extensive, with routes spanning the majority of the mainland Britain – from London to Glasgow.

However more train operators are due to come on board, and interest has been shown from several airlines.


Money saving tips for students

It’s Fresher’s Week, and the merry-go-round of student unions, halls of residence, making friends, late nights and Freshers’ Fair is in full swing. It’s exciting, it’s raucous and for most of you, it’s your first taste of proper independence.

But with this freedom, is some hefty responsibility. You are now in charge of your own finances, the food in your cupboard and your bank balance.

The plastic might be getting swiped left, right and centre right now, but you’ll need to learn to live within your means very quickly. Here’s a few tips on how to get through the next few years without ending up ringing up the Bank of Mum and Dad.

  1.    Don’t get excited when your loan/grant comes in

It may look like a sizeable amount in your bank account, but this has got to get you through the next few months. While it may be tempting to go on a celebratory bender or a massive extravagant food shop at Waitrose, it’s all about pacing yourself. Work out a weekly budget and stick to it.

  1.    Reward yourself

There are ways to reward yourself while living frugally, though. If you’re saving up for festival tickets, or a trip to Europe, you can put aside a little money every week. By not buying Starbucks, or not going to the Student Union every night, you’ll feel better because your good behaviour is being rewarded. While you miss out on a night out, it’s all good, because you’ll be going on holiday while will be a hundred times more fun than drinking cheap cider from a plastic pint pot at the same place you go every week!

  1.    Separate budgets

That money in your bank account will be spent on different things, so work out how much you’re going to put aside for food/entertainment/bills/savings each week. There are some brilliant apps which are available to download for free, like DailyBudget, which can help you divide your money up to give more order to your finances.

  1.    Come to terms with your balance

Checking your balance can terrify people who haven’t got control over their finances. While nights out and shopping sprees are fun, the fear of checking your balance the next day and trying to budget around it, is not. Make it a habit to check your balance everyday, that way you get to see the impact of buying those trainers on a whim, or stopping off at that deli for a nice lunch.

  1.    Get a job during the holidays

Make sure you get a job at half term and holidays, the wages will come in very handy. Check in at pubs and cafes, anywhere that can takes on casual staff.  And don’t think that because you’re earning, you can be frivolous. This is the real world now – all that money has to be put aside for when you will really need it!


Are you affected by Ryanair’s flight cancellations?

When Ryanair announced that it was set to cancel 40-50 flights a day over the month and a half, in order to improve its punctuality, there was genuine outcry from the public.

The measures, taken to improve punctuality, mean that hundreds of thousands of customers are forced to rearrange travel plans.

So are you affected by the cancelled flights? If so, reading up on what you are entitled to is important.

At the moment, the cancellations are being drip fed, so the public only have information regarding flights up to Wednesday 20th September. However, the budget airline has announced that they have emailed customers who have booked on cancelled flights to keep them abreast of the situation.

Ryanair have advised that customers can presume their flight is going ahead unless notified by email. Anyone who hasn’t received an email can double-check with the airline themselves on the state of schedules.

What to do if your flight is cancelled

Under EU rules, if your flight is cancelled, you can be awarded with a full refund or an alternative flight.

If you want to take the alternative flight option, it is up to the airline to find you available flights that are suitable. You can decide whether you want to fly as soon as possible, or at a later date that suits, subject to availability.

However, if Ryanair provide their customers with less than 14 days’ notice on cancellations, customers may be due compensation.

This is based on the arrival time of the alternative flight you’re offered – but you can claim compensation even if you opt for a refund instead and never actually take the alternative flight.

There are a few clauses to the grounds for compensation, and it all depends on the distance of the flight, how long the delay is and how much noticed you were given.

Can I get compensation on hire cars and hotels?

Unfortunately, a cancelled flight’s compensation will not cover consequential losses – ie, anything non-refundable that has been booked to tie in with the original flights, like hire cars, hotels and tours.

It might be a good idea to check our travel insurance to see if you’re covered. They may offer ‘abandonment protection’, however, this is not guaranteed on every policy.


Posted on in Travel.

How to make a DIY phone charger

We’ve all been there – desperately needing our phone after it has ran out of battery.

There’s nothing more infuriating than needing to use our phone in a place where there’s no clear means of charging up the battery.

However, one video suggests a DIY lifesaver hack that could help us out in emergencies.

The YouTube video has gone viral showing viewers how to construct a DIY phone charger when the normal methods of powering a phone are unavailable.

However, is it as safe as it looks?

The method requires a 9v battery, a coiled spring from a pen, a car charger and a phone.

To generate power, connect the metal point on the car charger to one of your battery’s sprockets.

Then connect one end of the coiled spring to the second sprocket of the battery, and then connect the spring’s other end to the metal piece on the side of the car charger.

Next, connect your cable to the phone and the USB port of the charger as normal.

Reviews across the internet have been mixed with some critics saying this could be dangerous to overall function of your phone.

However, it may help some people in emergency situations.

Matthieu Dubarry, an electrochemist at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute who is an expert in batteries, speaking to has claimed that trying to charge a phone with a 9V battery ‘is certainly not a good idea because of the voltage.’

‘You don’t want to put anything past 4.5 volts.’

‘That’s really really bad,’ he echoed, emphasising that no batteries, even lower than 9V, should be used.

If you attempt this for too long and the battery gets too hot, the phone can explode.

Sometimes this can happen right away and other times it can take two or three days.