What Is Compound Interest? – An Intelligent Way Of Saving

It was revealed recently that you can become a millionaire by the time you retire just by saving £18 a week from the age of 22. And actually, it’s entirely true. Compound interest is being branded as ‘the intelligent way of saving’ and is making it’s prominence into the financial world as time goes on. But what is compound interest, and more importantly – how can you make use of it?

Continue Reading…

20 Ways to Save Money

Saving money doesn’t have to be all doom, gloom and sacrifice. It doesn’t have to mean never going out and having a good time and it certainly doesn’t mean giving up all and every luxury. Here are 20 ways to save money that don’t mean giving up any form of enjoyment in your life!

1. Take advantage of ‘free events,’ in your area for entertainment purposes. http://wherecanwego.com/ is a great website which lets you search for events in your area and allows you to filter to show only free events. There are a surprising number of free events on as well, some of which you might not have even considered before. Give it a go! For those of us who thrive on being entertained, the cost of gig and entertainment tickets can soon add up and you may find you have just as much fun at one of these more economical alternatives.

2. Don’t go shopping without a shopping list. If you’re anything like me, you’re a marketer’s dream! Bright packaging, a catchy slogan and immediately you’re overcome with the temptation to put it (whatever ‘it’ is) into your shopping basket. Stop. Breathe. Slow down and step away from the brightly coloured entirely unnecessary object that you will probably never use. If you spend an hour or so planning your shopping and producing a shopping list, you’ll find you save money over time. No unnecessary impulse purchases means more money in the bank. Take a list and stick to it.

3. Try local markets for food. Supermarkets are convenient. Yes, absolutely. But you will often find your local market has a number of fruit and vegetable stands, butchers and bakers etc. Not only is it often cheaper than the supermarket equivalent, but in my experience is fresher and much better quality too. Support your own finances and the local economy too.

4. Own brand products. Ok, now I’m odd. I insist upon Heinz for beans. I don’t know why and I know, I know, I know that the supermarket brands are probably ‘just the same.’ But I’m quirky. However, I do buy supermarket brands for a number of other items and it does save a lot of money. Weigh up the differences and see where you can save.

5. Do you really need designer labels? Do you? Honestly? If you can bring yourself to stop buying the designer brands, then do! Of course, a special treat now and then is wholeheartedly deserved, but even then try to shop on eBay or at designer outlet malls for the better prices.

6. Sell your junk! Use eBay or similar sites to sell items you no longer need and earn a bit of extra cash. As this is ‘bonus’ cash that you were not expecting to earn, it won’t have to make up part of your budget and you can therefore just save it!

7. Switch to the cheapest utilities provider. Yes, electricity, gas and water are all very essential. Nobody is suggesting you should cut them off altogether, but do shop around. Electricity and gas prices vary from provider to provider and it’s worth shopping around to see if you could be saving money on your bills. We shop around for the best price on other things, so why not our utilities?

8. Can you trade your car down? Is your vehicle bigger/better/newer/flasher than it needs to be? The savings on fuel and on insurance can be immense by ‘downgrading’ to a smaller vehicle. This is a particularly good idea if you’re only ever driving yourself around and don’t need a big car for multiple passengers.

9. One step further… car sharing. If you drive to work, ask about a car pool scheme at your place of work or even ask around with your colleagues. It might be that someone you work with comes from the same direction as you do. Sharing the journey in means splitting the driving and the petrol costs and doesn’t only save a lot of money but also goes some way to cutting down your carbon footprint.

10. Do you really need that gym membership? Now, of course if you use the gym a few times each week you’re probably getting your money’s worth. But let’s say you’re paying  £30/month and only going once every blue moon. Why do you still have the membership? Cancel it and put the money towards some home gym equipment. Perhaps even consider running home from work a couple of days. You’ll save money on your transport too!

11. Packed lunches. Packed lunches don’t necessarily have to be the nightmarish affairs they may have been when you were at school. No need for triangular shaped jam sandwiches in bright coloured boxes now. But consider the price of a sandwich bought from a shop and then consider the fact that, for that price, you could probably have made lunches for a week if you’d done it at home. Save the cash and prepare your food from home. Besides, you don’t have to feel cheeky asking for extra mayo when you do your own!

12. Take advantage of the library. I read a great deal. But, with the exception of about two books in the whole world, I can’t read the same book more than once. That means new books are read once and then just sit in the back of a cupboard, before your next door neighbour’s friend’s daughter’s school teacher’s cousin’s Mother ‘borrows’ it and you never get it back. Yet brand new paperback books cost in the region of £7, sometimes more. If you even read just one book a month that’s over £80 you could be spending on books every year. Well stop. There’s no need. Libraries are free in the UK to borrow books, educational CD Roms etc and it’s also incredibly cheap to hire DVDs, games and CDs from the library too. So get a free membership and read as much as you like at no cost.

13. Use your skills for a bit of extra income. Sites like www.getafreelancer.com and www.elance.com allow people to sign up either to hire freelancers or to find work as freelancers. Essentially, they put people with skills in touch with the people who need the skills. Whether you’re a talented copywriter, graphic artist, translator, computer programmer or anything else you can think of, there’s probably someone online looking for your skills. The great thing about freelancing is that it is again income you were not expecting to have and therefore does not have to make up part of your budget. So it can be saved! You also have the luxury, with freelancing, of only taking on the projects you feel you can manage!

14. Compare your music before you download it. The i-generation have a habit of logging on, downloading and listening when it comes to music. But thanks to Martin Lewis, of Money Saving Expert, it needn’t be the case. He has launched an awesome music comparison site, Tunes Checker, which allows you to compare the price of downloads from a number of e-stores before buying. iTunes tends not to fare too well!

15. Pay as you go mobiles really can save you money. Perhaps your contact is drawing to an end? Well the good news is that with most contracts, once they expire, the handset is yours. So why not get a Pay as you Go sim and just put it into your existing phone? You could save a small fortune! Look into it. Or, if you do wish to continue on contract, ask your service provider before you renew, whether they’ll negotiate the rates. If they think you are considering a move to pay as you go, you might just be surprised at the deals they offer you to stick with the contract!

16. If you’re not satisfied, complain. Now, there’s a certain group of people who complain about everything just to get something for nothing. They complain if they’re happy!! I don’t condone that. I think that if you pay a price for something and you are happy with it, then great! The only correspondence you need to be sending anywhere is praise. But if you do pay for a product or service and you are not satisfied with it, do raise a complaint. Why spend lots of money on products and services you’re just not happy with and that don’t meet the expected standard?

17. Budget carefully. This might seem like the most obvious of these money saving tips but one that few of us actually do, believe it or not. Do you write down each month what you earn and what you have to spend? If not, it’s worth doing. This is one really simply way to save money just by enabling you to get a clear idea of what you should be spending. It makes you consider your expenses and think about your finances a bit more.

18. Use cash. Now of course this is not always practical, but where it is, cash is great. I’ve found that if I physically have to hand money over, I am slightly more conscious of it. So I take out my maximum budget at the start of each week in cash and I keep it in a safe place at home. I can then clearly see when I am going over budget or heading that way. Anything left at the end of the week, I pop into my savings. Added bonus!

19. Cheaper train travel. If you travel around a lot between cities in the UK, you may find that the train is cheaper than the car! However, possibly not if you buy on the day! Train travel is notorious for being far, far more expensive if left late than if booked early. Visit The Train Line to check our prices for trips in advance and work your journey so that you can take some of the cheaper priced journeys.

20. Discount vouchers. If you are buying anything, whether online or off, it might just be worth doing a quick online search for related vouchers. There are promotional discount codes and printable vouchers online for everything from restaurants and cinema trips to electrical items. Have a look before you buy and you might find yourself saving a fair few pennies!

These are just 20 money saving tips that might make a small difference. Of course, there are limitless other ways to save money and finding the right combination of little tricks that add up for you is the key to keeping the bank balance in check!

5 Ways to Earn from your Junk!

An extra income is always a desirable thing, but perhaps even more so when it comes off the back of junk you might even have been considering throwing out!! Here are 5 ways to earn a little something extra through your rubbish!

Sell Your Old Mobile

Envirophone.com is just one of many websites that will pay you for your old mobile phone, irrespective of its condition. Many of us have at least one old mobile hanging around the house, stuffed in the back of a drawer! Cash them in! An old Sony Ericsson K800i would fetch £22.09. It’s worth checking out a number of websites doing this to compare the rates you’ll be offered for your phone. Mobilephonexchange.co.uk will pay you slightly higher rates than Envirophone for a number of models and give you a choice of payment in cash, Argos vouchers, Debenhams gift cards or M&S gift cards. Taking the gift cards means you get more value.

Get rid of your old CDs

Many of the tech savvy among us have completely stopped using CDs now and tend to buy our new music in the form of downloads. In my case, this means boxes and boxes of old and unused CDs sitting around clogging the place up. You can sell CDs, DVDs and games through Music Magpie. All you do is type in the barcode numbers of the items you want to get rid of and Music Magpie will instantly tell you how much they would pay you for it. You then decide which of the items you want to part with and they’ll send you freepost envelopes. You send the stuff, they send a cheque. The prices aren’t always great, but in terms of convenience, you can’t beat it.

Get rid of your old anything!

eBay! Need I really say more? It seems that on eBay there is always someone looking for what you want rid of. And what might be a space wasting piece of junk to you could be something pretty useful to someone else. So cash in. Flog your junk! Of course, the prices fluctuate massively with an auction format, but eBay is trustworthy, massively popular and simple enough to use.

Get crafty

Turn your old bits and pieces into quirky little craft items and sell them on. You can even turn your old clothes into costumes! There are a number of websites now geared at people specifically selling their own craft wares, if you prefer to use these as opposed to eBay. The biggest is perhaps Etsy which is a US based website, but welcomes international buyers and sellers.

Antique Dealers

Anything you have that is particularly old might be worth more than you think. What looks like an old worn out table might actually turn out to be fairly valuable and the only way you’ll know is by having it valued. Before you throw anything out or let it go for next to nothing, if it’s something particularly old do some basis research online and, if you think you might be onto something, take it to an expert. You might get more than you bargained for!

As tempting as it is just throw the junk out and be done with it, you can quite easily make a little bit of cash from it with very little effort. And then of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll use that cash to buy the junk of tomorrow!

5 Ways to Avoid Christmas Debt

The Citizens Advice Bureau forecasts an increase in personal debt for many as consumers spend more than they can really afford over the festive season. After all, Christmas doesn’t come cheap! In 2008, the British spent a combined total of £43.9 billion and that figure is forecasted to rise to £44.7 billion this year. However, there are a few steps you can take to cut your spending without budgeting your enjoyment.

  • Set a budget and stick to it! If you haven’t done so already, you should sit down and calculate exactly what you can afford to spend. Take into account your income and your regular living expenses and calculate conservatively!
  • Use cash! Alright, so this is not possible if you are spending online, but when you’re spending in the shops, using cash means that keeping a tally on your Christmas spending is much easier. You know how much you have and you can see instantly when it runs out!
  • Shop around. This is far easier online of course. But it’s a practice you should really employ in the shopping centres too. Yes, it can be nightmarish fighting your way through shops around the festive shopping period, but it’s worth your while to ensure you get the best deal.
  • Special offers! Employ a little frugality and take advantage of the 3 for 2 offers and the discount days in major High Street stores. A number of the major chains have planned sales in the run up to Christmas and buying during these sales will make your money go a little further.
  • Check online for discount codes. A quick search in any search engine will return a huge number of these that can be used when shopping online at various e-commerce sites to take a sneaky little discount off. 10% off a £10 purchase might not make an obvious difference to your bank account, but at Christmas we tend to spend significantly more and these discounts can make a noticeable difference.

Christmas tends to be expensive regardless of what thrifty tactics we use to cut our spending. However, the Citizens Advice Bureau warns of excessive credit card spending in the festive season, leading to a nasty debt hangover in the new year. Being a little more thrifty can help you stay within budget and avoid spending money you don’t have!