One in four Brits will struggle to pay household bills beyond January.
Whilst Blue Monday has thankfully passed for another year, new research by Peachy.com has identified that for many individuals in the UK, Blue Monday is not the only time to reflect on ill finances. Excessive Christmas spending is now thought to cause debt woes to continue through to the spring, a lingering financial hangover. In a survey of 2002 people’s attitudes towards Christmas shopping, it emerged that 15% of Brits will struggle to pay household bills in February, 7% will still struggle in March and 5% in April. To try and avert the stresses of impending large bills 11% of the UK sell their personal belongings to improve their financial situation and over a fifth (22%) dip into their savings.
The study also identified that women had more financial burdens after the festive season than men, struggling more to pay bills and being more inclined to utilise their savings to pay off looming debt. A massive 71% of the UK are short of cash after Christmas, with those aged between 25 and 44 struggling the most to pay their January bills in comparison to any other age group. The research also highlighted that those aged between 18 and 24 were the most likely to improve money troubles by exhausting their savings. For most surveyed, Christmas shopping begins in October, with those aged 55 and over proving the most organized for the festive season, beginning their Christmas shopping in July.
Katre Kaarenperk from Peachy.co.uk offers her top tips on how to banish Christmas debt woes and ensure financial stability for the remainder of the year: ‘Firstly, do not ignore impending bills, be honest with yourself about your finances. Create a list or spreadsheet document, note down when the final balance is due and for what company, prioritising to pay off the loans with the highest interest first. By consolidating debt under one single card it is simpler to manage and you can often find better credit rates. The key to being debt free is to create a budget plan and stick to it, only spend money on non-negotiable expenses such as food shopping and mortgages and resist temptation to splurge on luxuries. Wait until your debts are cleared and your savings are replenished before starting to make disposable purchases again.”
The survey ultimately highlights the severe impact the extravagance of the festive season has on individual’s financial stability. To avoid, financial insecurity as a result of Christmas spending next year Katre Kaarenperk adds, “beginning to budget and possibly save for Christmas 2019 now can massively help in averting financial strain next January.”
Many of us spend £20, £30, or more on our phones each month, without ever thinking about it. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Every month there are new deals to be found, and savings to be made. We spoke to Handsetexpert, who told us how to get the best deal.
1. Don't go for the newest model.
Everyone wants the best phone, but getting a brand new version that has only just come out will be incredibly expensive, as well as potentially riddled with bugs, glitches, and other problems, as the first version of all new technology is usually not as polished as later versions.
2. Pay in monthly installments
If you want to avoid paying off a large lump sum, consider paying off the handset in monthly installments. You might be able to get this tied to your monthly bill, so you don't have to worry about separate payments each month. Alternatively, if you want to avoid a long-term contract, some retailers may sell you just the handset with no obligations. However, they may charge interest, so be sure you can afford the repayments before you commit to buying.
3. Only pay for what you need
Many service providers will be flexible on what you can get each month. If you never use calls, perhaps you can lower the number of minutes you get to save money, or tweak your data to compensate for less texts for example.
Courtesy of: HandsetExpert
British Savings Week offers advice and tips on how Brits can save money. Online retail is growing year on year and although it is yet to overtake brick and mortar sales part of its appeal is the ease with which you can order dozens of items with a single click. But this can really start to add up if you don't watch out, and with online shopping increasing British Savings Week has put together a list of online shopping habits every customer must adopt.
1. Use coupons and codes
As well as offering sales, many websites offer codes and coupons which offer various benefits, typically in the form of X% off your shopping, or even free gifts. British Saving Week’s top advice is to open another tab on your browser and Google the name of the store you are shopping on alongside a phrase such as ‘discount codes’ or ‘voucher codes’. Within a few minutes you will find numerous codes you can enter at the checkout which bring you additional value, sometimes it is even possible to use multiple codes on the same order: a member of the British Savings Week team recently scooped a pair of £80 Adidas shoes for £50 by taking a few minutes to Google discount codes – It is an essential tool in your online shopping arsenal!
2. Abandon your basket
Approximately £3.4bn worth of online shopping baskets do not make it to checkout each year in the UK, an abandoned basket is when somebody gets through to the checkout page and they decide against their purchase. This causes online retailers major headaches. To scrape back some of the revenue this loses many websites will alert you via email (if they have your address) or when you next visit the site, these alerts often offer you to complete your purchase (at a discount) or give you a voucher code to use next time you shop on the site.
3. Shop around
The vast majority of shoppers tend to stick to a few websites, largely major marketplace sites such as Amazon and eBay. Marketplaces are fantastic for shopping around generally, but if there is a specific item you are looking for it may be worth using Google to find other retailers. A good material-world example would be paracetamol; you can buy it at the supermarket, or walk down the high street and buy the same product for a fraction of the price.
4. Read customer reviews
Businesses are always going to describe their products in the most positive light, but it’s always worth reading customer reviews. Although you can return goods bought online within 14 days of receiving your order, the refund can take some time to process. By reading reviews you may find a customer which has bought the product for a similar purpose you intend to use it for, if it’s not suited to their needs it may not be suited to yours, and you could save yourself having to wait for a refund.
5. Shop second hand
There are plenty of websites selling second hand goods, eBay and Gumtree tend to be the most popular. There are many bargains to be found if you put the time into looking and shopping around, often you can pick up major discounts. During and after Christmas is a particularly great time to seek out bargains in the form of unwanted Christmas presents. There are a lot of people who buy items online and may be too busy to return them so list them on sites like eBay instead – pretty much brand new!
Let us know how you saved money this #BritishSavingsWeek
According to website Money Saving Expert a couple of months ago, over a third of households in England and Wales are rented, and the costs can be staggering – rents are at record highs with the
average now £846 a month or £1,273 in London, according to estate agent Your Move.
For most people, however, renting is their only option for accommodation and if they work in a big city centre like London, a large proportion of their hard earned income goes on rent, utility bills and bus/tube fares, leaving what’s left for food, clothes and entertainment and the occasional holiday; never mind saving, that’s virtually impossible. The high cost of commuting also means even if you live out in the country where rents can be cheaper, the money you save on rent goes to the train companies. It’s hard to win whichever option you choose. For many the idea of saving up for a deposit to get on the housing ladder seems an impossible dream.
Don’t despair, though; there is an option that more and more people are now turning to as word gets out. It’s not for everyone but if you’re working, flexible and have no kids, this might be your answer to putting some money to one side every month for a few years. It’s all about being a property guardian.
What do you think about living in a former church? What about an empty school building, a police or fire station, or having an entire block of flats to yourself and a mere handful of like-minded other people? In return for keeping an eye on vacant premises to deter squatters, fly-tippers, or thieves after copper piping or beautiful fireplaces, property guardian companies charge their 'guardians' as little as a third of local rents. Prices vary hugely depending on the part of the country, the location and the type of premises, but it typically works out, on average, at around £250 a month, or £500-800 a month in London.
Locations and properties cover everything from country estates to council estates, so you could end up living it up in a sprawling country pile for less than a studio flat. We’ve known dancers who love living in empty warehouses so they can practise and leap around to their hearts’ content. The same goes for musicians. They can make as much noise as they like if they’re living in a former high rise office block with no one to hear them drum or sing except the birds.
Since the law changed in 2012 to make squatting in residential, but not commercial, properties illegal, building owners and managers have seen a rise in squatters in commercial properties and are increasingly turning to guardianship to combat this while a property is awaiting sale or redevelopment. This can take months or sometimes a building can lie empty for years. This is why guardians have to be flexible, you might need to move again after a few months, but not necessarily; some people have lived in the same property for years and years.
So, what's the catch, you ask…
So, that’s all there is to it. If this sounds like something you’d like to know more about, why not get in touch with a guardian company and talk it through with them? Do your homework and make sure you know your rights and go to a reputable one that has good reviews. Try www.global-guardians.co.uk, Tel: 0203 818 9100. They are one of the leading and most reputable ones and belong to the British Security Industries Association. Make sure any company you go through has this membership.
University is often the first taste of freedom for many young adults. It's a time of self-discovery, making choices about the future and finding others with similar passions. And, for many, it's the first time adult responsibilities set in. Amidst all the partying, sleepless study nights, and building friendships, there is rent to pay, food to buy, and laundry to do. All these things needs cold hard cash, so here is a list of ways to save money as a student.
Make a Budget
The maximum maintenance loan the average student will receive is £10, 702, with payments typically appearing at the start of each term (September, January, and April). When your bank account suddenly starts looking really healthy, it's easy to forget that this money needs to last but, unfortunately, your rent isn't suddenly going to disappear just because you've frittered away all your finances.
First of all: figure out what you need for your rent. Then lock it away.
Having two bank accounts – one as your easily accessed “active” account, where everything goes in or out, and another for saving – can be a great way to protect yourself from the temptation of a splurge. After all, out of sight is out of mind, and putting funds that aren't needed immediately away gives them a chance to earn a little interest. Banks have a a wide variety of accounts available to choose from, including high interest saving accounts to student accounts that are a bit more forgiving when it comes to the dreaded overdraft, meaning that you should be able to find a set up that suits your needs.
Next: Make a budget for food. Depending on your taste and where you're willing to shop, a weekly shop could cost anywhere from £20-£50. While it can be tempting to wing it and not plan ahead, there is nothing worse than living off of nothing but instant noodles and water. You deserve better than that.
While restaurants can have some great student deals, you can't eat out all the time. Websites like mysupermarket.co.uk will help compare prices to make sure you're getting the best deal but sometimes you may need to physically shop around. Supermarkets often reduce soon-to-be out-of-date produce towards the end of the day – which you're unlikely to see on comparison sites – and these can be a great way to boost your regular shop. Just be sure that you have room in your freezer before you splurge!
Though it is also dependant on freezer space, batch cooking can be a great way to make food last for less. A big load of chilli, curry, or spag bol (preferably using some of your finds from the reduced section and padding them out with nutritious veggies!) portioned off and frozen will mean you have multiple meals ready for those days where you can't be bothered and they won't cost you as much as a take away or ready meal. They can also be a great and healthy alternative to the after-club kebabs – just make sure you don't fall asleep before it's ready!
Another great way to save money, with the added perk of socialising, is to cook meals with friends or flatmates. Some university's discourage students from shopping together in their accommodation – to save arguments over money – but having a big meal together once in a while can add variety AND save money. Special events like Christmas or birthdays can be a good time to split the cost and effort of a big meal between cooks. And, if you're not a big cook yourself, it's a great way to learn.
Students can also save when it comes to their spending habits. Many stores and restaurants have specialised discounts or offers for students so it can be worthwhile checking around to find which places should be on your new favourite list. You can purchase an NUS card for £12 a year, which has a huge range of student discounts associated with it, but there are many places that will knock money off just with a valid student id. From New Look, who offers 10% off in-store, to McDonalds and their freebies, it's always worth asking if there are any student deals.
Plan Your Parties
One of the best parts of university life is going out and having fun. Unfortunately nights out are just one more strain on the student budget. Luckily many clubs and pubs in student-y areas will run weekly events at a cheaper price, meaning it's just a case of working out where you like and when to go. Going to an expensive club will drain your money fast. If you are going to go, consider taking cash rather than your card. Everyone has a story of going out to a club and spending more than they should, buying everyone drinks and generally 'balling' as the kids say.
Not that British Savings Week wants to encourage excessive drinking BUT if you're going to drink, you may as well get as much as you can for as little as possible. That's just good economics.
Supermarkets will always have special offers or multi-buy deals. In the long run it's better to stock up now rather than go out and get two drinks for the same price as an entire crate or beer or bottle of wine.
Pre-drinking gatherings are not only cheaper than drinking while out but they also offer great opportunities to bond with those you're heading out with. Sometimes it can be even more fun than going out, and you'll all be glad you did the next morning.
Being smart with how you travel can save you money and time. Many students choose to live in student accommodation or with friends, and may have to travel great distances to visit home. Depending on how far you need to travel, different methods of transport will help to get you home in a cost effective way. For those going between big cities, Mega Bus can be a good option as prices start from £1, while a 16-25 railcard can save up to a third on train travel across the country. If you decide to drive home, car sharing with friends going the same way can cut costs markedly.
The most important tip for any money-conscious student is, however, to be aware of your finances and budget accordingly. There is unlikely to be a time where more opportunities are available to you and, with smart savings and a bit of determination, you can take advantage of them all.
So, you’ve finally graduated from uni, you’ve got a job, the world’s your oyster.
So why are you still broke?
Chances are there a few small things you can change to turn your finances around and start saving.
Credit card debt
Getting a credit card and using it to spend small amounts you can pay off quickly is a smart way to build up good credit. But sometimes that tiny debt can run away from you. It happens to everyone. But as soon as you can manage it, you should cancel out as much or all of it as possible. Debt builds and builds, and due to the interest, it can quickly snowball out of control. It’s better to shut it down as fast as you can, even if that means your savings take a temporary hit. There are apps that can help you calculate how much interest your debt will accumulate, and then you can work out how and when to start paying it off.
Everyone gets into their overdraft at least once while at uni. But that’s no excuse to stay in it. If you don’t work on climbing out, you could get trapped there when the bank starts charging interest. Make a plan of how much each week or month you’re able to pay back, and stick to it. Working your way out of the red will be a battle, but it’s one worth fighting.
Overspending on rent
You found the flat of your dreams. It’s big. It’s clean. It’s close to work, the gym, and a good bar. But it’s £900 a month. A staggering amount of people in their 20’s overstretch themselves when it comes to where they live. Which is understandable. You’ve spent three years at uni living in absolute squalor. Now you’ve got a job, you want to live in a place that you can proud of. But until you can afford the perfect place, you have to live within your means. Make a budget, really think about how much you make, and how much disposable income you need to cover your costs. See if you can find a place that has bills included, as that will stop any nasty surprises at the end of the month.
High phone bill
How much do you pay per month for your phone? £10? £20? £30? Can you really afford it?
If you can, consider dropping down to a smaller plan. If you can cut down on your phone time, you’ll save money, especially if you’re not going over your data. Onavo Extend is an app that can reduce your data costs by condensing your files into smaller sizes.
Getting to and from work every day can cost a lot. Whether it’s the train, taxi, or even the humble bus, travel expenses can add up without you noticing. It’s worth seeing if you can get a weekly or monthly pass, or sign up to a travel scheme website. They can discount your trips, or even cut the cost of a month entirely. Book your train tickets early to save money at thetrainline.com
‘Little things’ adding up
Getting a coffee on the way to work. Going to the pub. Subscription services. None of these on their own are going to make a dent in your finances. But add them all up, and soon you might be seeing a serious lack of funds. What can you cut down on, and what can you cut out entirely? It might be a case of changing up your routine, exercising a little self-control for a big reward at the end of the month. The app Monzo is a great way to keep track of your finances.
We’ve all been guilty of splashing out on something extravagant at some point or another. Sometimes it’s a case of rewarding ourselves, and that is important. But buying things we don’t need instead of saving that money can be dangerous. If you’re caught out without an emergency fund when things go wrong, it can derail your plans and stress you out. By preparing for the worst, you’re covered if something should ever go wrong: broken down car, flooded house, smashed laptop. It’s easy to think ‘oh that’ll never happen to me.’ They will. And you’ll be glad you had some funds saved up.
Saving doesn’t have to be a chore, and the sooner you start, the more you’ll save.