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The UK PPI Deadline Is Abound: What You Can Do

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The Financial Conduct Authority had announced the PPI deadline on August 29, 2019 and UK consumers are on a frenzy. Banks have yet to streamline the claims process but still, the fact remains that consumers only have until 2019 to reclaim their refunds from a mis-sold PPI policy. Here are three things to remember to ensure you get all your refunds intact.

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Data Access Request

Consumers could have their bank send their entire interaction with their debt, which would include the repayments they made for their PPI policy. This would allow them to calculate the total expenses they have incurred with PPI and the amount they are owed.

Financial Ombudsman

The Financial Ombudsman Service is open to consumers who believe their complaints were not handled efficiently by their banks. Banks are known for rejecting even legitimate complaints and often have a 3 against 10 chance of successfully defending their rejection decisions.

PPI Calculator

To ensure that you get your complete refunds, make sure to use a PPI refund calculator to help you see how much PPI compensation and annual interest your insurance gained adding the 10 per cent PPI compensation banks must grant as mandated by the UK Supreme Court.


Become a Student for a Year of Discounts

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student discount cardA lot of places offer student discounts, ranging from online stores to supermarkets to tourist attractions. These can be a great way to save money, but the problem is if you don’t happen to be a student then you aren’t eligible for the discount.

But there is a way to become a “student” for a year and access most or all of the student discounts you would get. This is entirely legal at time of writing, and though it has become quite a popular trick there are no signs of a rule change. And if you’re wondering, it does not require you to hand over £9,000 for a year’s tuition fees.

Becoming a Student

The key point to consider is that many student discounts are, more specifically, special offers available to people who hold a National Union of Students or NUS Student Discount Card. Fortunately for the frugal, you do not have to be attending university in order to qualify for the card. They are available for £12 for a one-year card to people studying just about any course at a wide range of institutions, including most online learning providers. Even if your course only lasts a few weeks, you will be able to keep using the card to get disocunts until it expires at the end of the year. So to become a student and be eligible for the card, all you need to do is sign up for a cheap online course from a provider. Usually, these courses are advertised at around £200 each but are frequently made available on special offer or through daily deal sites like Groupon and Wowcher for a fraction of the price. For a course that could cost as little as £9 plus the price of the card, for a total expense starting at £21, you could get a whole year’s access to some quite significant discounts. To double check whether a course will qualify you, you can start the process of ordering a card and see if the provider comes up on the list.

Do I Have to Study the Course?

With the kind of online course providers that usually offer their courses at these prices, you don’t strictly need to even study the course. There should not be any negative consequences for never attending the virtual lectures, reading course materials, or completing the assignments apart from the fact you will not get your certificate at the end. That being said, it seems sensible to try to pick a course you might actually be interested in so that you can get your money’s worth by actually studying it, but of course that is up to you.

Is it Worth It?

Some of the discounts you get with an NUS card can be quite generous, so it is entirely possible to save much more than you spend on the course and the card itself before the year is through. You might want to take a look at what discounts are actually available, though, as this will help you assess how many of the offers you are likely to take advantage of and get an idea of how much you could save.


Software and Websites Frugal People Should Know

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It’s good to be frugal, and being frugal is easier when you have the right tools at your disposal. There are a few bits of software, websites, and general tech tools that frugal people should know about if they want to take their money-saving efforts as far as possible for the least amount of effort.

Spotify

spotifySpotify is a music streaming service. There are various account plans available, but prices start at free. There is a huge catalogue of music available, which includes most big hits past and present as well as a range of more obscure, specialist, niche artists. Unless you have a paid account, adverts will be played every few minutes which is how the service is funded, but they are not intrusive. A few competitors such as Deezer can also offer a good experience, but Spotify is definitely the market leader. This essentially translates into free music. Spotify and most competitors also offer mobile apps for portability but these can be tough on your data plan and generally have restrictions. For example, the Spotify app allows unlimited free streaming, but only in shuffle mode. In other words, you can choose an artist or album but not which specific track to play or the order they play in.

Google Shopping Search

Google Shopping Search, also sometimes known by the catchy name of Froogle, is sort of like a price comparison for physical products. When shopping online, you can type in the name of the product you are looking for and Froogle will search a number of sites, including the likes of eBay, for the best prices. It’s not perfect and it shouldn’t be taken as gospel that the things it finds are the very, very best deals going, but it is still well worth checking if you are shopping around for a bargain on a specific product.

mySupermarket

The mySupermarket website is sort of like Google Shopping Search but for actual, physical shops. It is quite comprehensive, covering a fairly complete range of high street retailers and a huge variety of everyday items. You might not think your weekly shop really needs a price comparison site, but the website makes it easy enough that it can be well worth putting in your shopping list and seeing which store comes out as offering the best deal. It mostly focuses on the kind of things you would put in your trolley week after week, but does also cover a respectable range of other products such as electronics, books, and entertainment.


“Micro Job” and Survey Websites: Are They Really Worth it?

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The internet is full of websites that claim to offer you a chance to make money through your computer and from the comfort of your home. Many, especially the ones that pop up in adverts offering absurd paycheques, are outright scams. Some, however, are legitimate. Two of the main types of websites that really pay are micro job providers and survey sites.

While many of these sites do indeed pay you reliably and as promised, a question that is overlooked surprisingly often is that of whether they pay enough to be worthwhile.

What Are These Kinds of Websites?

Survey websites and micro-job or “crowdsourcing” websites are quite different, but they represent probably the two most prominent examples of genuine and relatively accessible ways to make money online from home. This is something that many people have, understandably, found attractive.

Survey websites are pretty much what you might think: websites where you get paid to take surveys. Those surveys are used to gather opinions for companies and other organisations carrying out market research. As market research is important to these companies, they are often willing to offer small payments as an incentive to complete the surveys.

Micro job websites give specific tasks to people to complete in a practice known as “crowdsourcing.” These tasks are usually small but difficult to automate, such as data entry or testing websites, so companies find that the most effective way to get them done is to hand them over to a “crowd” of workers on the internet. Payments are usually very small – often just pennies – but the tasks are small as well so the theory is that you can complete as many tasks as you want in order to build up your earnings. Some have hailed this concept as a way for businesses to get large tasks done quickly while making easy, flexible paid work available for ordinary people. Others have been more critical of the idea, particularly the low pay and the focus on getting things done quickly.

Are They Worth It?

This is the big question, and ultimately one that any individual who is considering these websites must decide for themselves. However, there are a few things that you really should think about before deciding whether to sign up for these kinds of sites.

The main consideration is the pay. Because payments are small but jobs are small too, it is hard to judge how good or bad the earnings are and many people who use these sites regularly do not really know what their effective “wage” is. The truth is, with most micro job and survey websites you are unlikely to make even the equivalent of minimum wage. This is legal because you are being paid per job and not for your time. However, legal or not, the idea of working for less than what would normally be the legal minimum is not one that will appeal to many people.

Many sites also do not really have enough work to go around the large numbers of workers who have signed up. This puts an automatic cap on your earnings, even if you find one that does pay well for the time a task takes, and requires you to spend extra time watching for new jobs to appear as they tend to be snapped up quickly.

The main positives are the flexibility and accessibility. You can work when you want, from home, using only an internet connection. For some, such as busy parents or those who are between conventional jobs, this may seem attractive enough to make it worthwhile, but it is important to weigh this against the pay in order to make an informed decision.


Your Guide to Using Daily Deal Websites

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DealsDaily deal websites are a group of sites that offer deals, coupons and discounts from various other businesses. The deals in question could be for physical products, services, days out, or even holidays. New deals, as the name may suggest, tend to be added every day but they all either have limited availability or are only valid for a certain time. By far the two most prominent of these sites are Groupon and Wowcher, though there are a number of other websites around that fall into this category too.

These sites can be great money-savers, but it is also possible to make mistakes with them. If you want to get the most out of these sites and ensure you get good value out of them, there are a few things to bear in mind.

Always Check the Newsletter

If you want to get the most out of these sites, then the first step will be to make sure you don’t miss deals you might benefit from. The easiest way to do this is simply to sign up for their newsletter (this will usually be the first thing they ask you to do when you visit their site), and make sure you take the time to look through it every time it pops into your inbox.

Check Postage

This is always good practice when shopping online, but especially with daily deal websites. Postage is generally different for every deal offered and is generally hidden in small print away from the main price. Often, a bargain deal comes with free postage. At other times, small items come with a seemingly excessive postage charge of several pounds, and this can represent a significant portion of the overall price and easily be enough to turn a good deal into a bad one.

Shop Around

When the item being offered is a physical product, it can pay to look around the web a bit. While all the items being sold on these sites are discounted, prices are only reduced relative to the price usually charged by the specific business that is making the offer, and this may not be cheap. It is not uncommon to find the exact same product cheaper elsewhere – notably on eBay or Amazon – and at the very least finding it on a site like Amazon may also give you a chance to see customer reviews.

Don’t Buy Unnecessary Things

These kind of websites rely partly on impulse buying, and while the newsletter might be a good way to ensure you don’t miss deals it can also serve to encourage unnecessary purchases. The idea is that you see something that looks nice or fun, the price seems good, and it has quite a big discount applied, so you buy it quick before the item runs out and worry later about whether you should have done so. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself sometimes, but for the most part you should actively avoid this kind of buying behaviour. Think carefully and try to be sure that an item is something that you would have bought anyway, something that will be genuinely useful, or just generally something you won’t regret buying later.


How Your Mobile Could Save you Money

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smartphonesIt’s not that long ago that mobile phones made texts, received calls, played basic games and browsed the internet at the speed of a heavily-laden snail. Then the first smartphones hit the market and everything changed. Now, many of us have phones that are really complete miniature, portable computers. However, a lot of people don’t realise quite how many ways there are to save money with their phones.

Turn it Into a Sat Nav

If you’re in need of a sat nav, you could just use your phone. Perhaps you’ve tried the in-built navigation app and found it pretty rubbish, but that’s not your only option. There are several excellent free and paid-for sat nav apps available in app stores. This includes apps from some of the major sat nav brands such as TomTom which, though they cost money, are much cheaper than buying an actual sat nav from that brand. With the right app, there is little or nothing your smart phone can’t do that a sat nav can. You will need to buy some sort of holder or cradle for your phone and ideally an in-car charger (sat nav functionality can be a big drain on the battery), but this will only set you back a few pounds.

Showrooming

Most people have been in this situation at one point or another: you’re in a shop looking at something you want and the price seems good. You think you could still probably get it cheaper online, but you’re not completely sure and you’re worried about missing out. Instead of just heading to the checkouts and hoping for the best, you should take out your phone and indulge in an increasingly popular practice called “showrooming.” This is as simple as using your phone’s internet browser to check prices online and see if you really are getting a good deal. If you don’t do this because you’re simply shy about whipping out your phone in a shop in case staff guess what you are up to (naturally, shops aren’t keen on this practice), then just leave for a wander around some other shops and come back if you do decide to buy.

Special Offers

It’s not uncommon for companies to offer incentives such as vouchers or discounts in order to get people to download their latest app. Assuming the app is free, or worth less than the incentive on offer, then this is definitely something to keep an eye out for. Unless the app is a genuinely useful one (often it is just an easy shopping utility for the company offering the incentive), there is no reason to keep it cluttering up your phone when you’re done. But when it would probably take a couple of minutes to install it and claim your reward, neither is there any reason not to get that free item or a voucher for 10% off your next purchase.


Three Steps to Reduce Food Waste

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The average household wastes a surprising amount of food every year, and this leaves its impact on a family budget. If less food were wasted, less would have to be bought and the money spent on food would fall. The average household loses £470 a year on wasted food, according to Love Food Hate Waste, and for families with children that annual figure rises to £700.

There are several things you can do to reduce the amount of food that you waste and save that money for something else. These include:

Don’t be a Slave to Expiration Dates

It is estimated that over half of the food thrown away in the UK by households could still have been eaten. This is largely down to people adhering strictly to the dates printed on food. These dates are an important guideline, but that’s what they are a guideline. If in doubt, throw food away but use your common sense first. Dates should have a few days “safety net” built in, and many foods will make it obvious when they have really gone off. For example, milk will smell bad long before it becomes harmful.

It is also good to know the difference between “Use By” and “Best Before” dates. “Use By” is used for foods that become harmful when they go off. “Best Before” means the food may decline in quality but should be okay to eat unless there are issues such as mould.

Take Stock Regularly

Most food ends up expiring and getting thrown away because it has been forgotten about for a while. A great way to reduce waste is to regularly look through your fridge and cupboards and make sure you keep aware of the situation surrounding any perishable or opened foods you have. This could be as simple as asking yourself the question “do I have anything that needs to be used up” before deciding what to have for each meal.

If you need help keeping track there are several tactics you can use. For instance, you could assign a particular shelf in your fridge or cupboard exclusively to things that have been opened and need to be used, or which you have noticed have short dates. Alternatively, keep gods organised by how long they will last. It might take some time to get them in order in the first place, but after that it will be relatively simple to keep things that way.

Don’t Buy Excessively

Another way to cut food waste is to avoid buying too much of anything that will spoil in one go. People tend to be naturally drawn to larger value packs or multibuy discount offers because these usually represent the best value. However, if the extra is just going to get wasted, you are losing money instead of saving it.

If the savings from buying in bulk still look tempting, you might want to try splitting large packs of perishable goods with a friend. If you each pay half of the price and take half of the food, you will both get a better price than you would from a smaller pack and it will be easier to avoid waste.


Pointless Purchases: Things to Avoid Buying

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Bottled WaterSometimes, the best way to cut your spending is to identify things you can stop buying altogether. There are some things that are simply not necessary, or at least that there’s no point spending very much money on. Here are a few purchases that should be avoided, because you’re not really getting anything for your money.

Bottled Water

There is no evidence at all that mineral water is any healthier than tap water, so by buying bottled water you are paying money for something you have, quite literally, on tap at home. In fact, some studies have suggested there is a slightly higher risk to drinking bottled water because of looser safety regulations.

There are two situations in which you might have very good reasons to buy bottled water; when you need a drink while out and about or when you want a bottle that you can refill. Other than that, you (and your purse) will be better off with the tap variety. If you live in a hard water area and don’t like the taste, consider a water filter as a cheaper alternative to buying bottles.

Expensive Video Cables

Currently, HDMI leads are the dominant form of video cable and they come in a ridiculous array of prices. They are not unheard of in the pound shop, or they can easily cost £50-60. In fact, even major high street retailer Currys is currently selling a “Hyper Speed” HDMI cable for £149.99.

However, the biggest practical difference between this and a £1 cable is the fact that the “Hyper Speed” cable costs an extra £148.99. In the days when everything was analogue, your choice of cable may have made a very small difference to picture quality but digital signals are not subject to the same interference. As long as the signal reaches your TV set, the picture will be identical no matter how much you spend on a cable and phrases like “Hyper Speed” are virtually meaningless. Save your money and buy the cheapest cable you can find.

Disposable Batteries

Batteries are a necessity, but they can always be quite irritating. We need them to power so many of the things we own, but no matter how many we buy there never seem to be enough. They can also be expensive, and trying to economise with cheaper products soon turns out to be a false economy as they run out in no time.

Rechargeable batteries work out far cheaper than disposable ones. They also have the added advantage that, if you stock up fairly well, you will always have batteries to hand or, at worst, a quick charge away. High-capacity rechargeable batteries provide a life on each charge that rivals all but the most expensive of disposables. Their capacity is measured in mAh (milliamp hours), so the higher the number the better the batteries. However, if buying online always choose trusted brands. The web is full of weak, no-name batteries claiming absurdly high capacities, often higher than any real battery on the market.


Can you really afford a career change?

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Many people dream of changing their careers. The reasons are many; the prospect of a change from the same old routine, or a new challenge, learning a new skill set or industry, the opportunity to relocate (perhaps internationally). A career change can be part of a fresh direction or start in life, or the realisation of an old dream or ambition.

For whatever the reason, many people have considered changing careers. What stops most people is the cost.

It is not easy to break into a new industry, especially when already comfortable and experience in the workplace. Additionally, not only does such a change take much time, effort, planning and research, but it can be expensive. There might be training course to attend, certificates to acquire, or costs associated with a necessary relocation. Work experience may often be necessary when starting a new profession; those are often voluntary. Pursuing opportunities to enter a new career field may mean that you have to take time off your existing work.

Even when successfully starting out in a new career, career changers will inevitably be at the  bottom of their new profession- and undoubtedly take a steep pay cut, which will impact on their lifestyle, especially when taking existing debts and financial obligations into account. All the benefits accrued in your previous industry (health insurance, holidays, parking, industry specific perks) will all vanish, and have to be laboriously worked towards all over again. Effectively, you will be starting at the bottom of the career ladder again; mentally and financially, can you handle that?

Although it is a major thing to consider when contemplating a career change, there is absolutely no reason that financial issues should stop you making that longed for change.

1Consider your current financial position carefully, with your existing obligations and income. Can you afford to make that change? How long can you afford to be between jobs and careers? Start saving, and building up financial reserves to deal with the expenses of such a change (nobody said that a career change would take place quickly!). Small steps in managing your finances will pay off dividends when actually taking the plunge and making the change.

According to some life coaches and self- help gurus, challenge and revise your thinking about money. Many people have certain limiting beliefs about money, which often hold them back. Now is the time to challenge those beliefs, and to change your thinking as regards money. Try turning limiting or negative financial beliefs or concerns into positive thoughts; for example, instead of ‘I can’t manage money’, thinks instead ‘how can I manage money more effectively?’ Don’t allow yourself to be held back from your goal of a career change by financial concerns. After all, you can stay at the same job, with the same lifestyle and finances- or you can take an expensive and risky chance. The reward, however, is a sense of achievement and accomplishment, a fresh start in an area that probably makes you happier overall. With greater positivity will come greater effort and enthusiasm- and over time, more money.

A point to consider is timing. Time your career change right, so that there is the minimum of time between jobs and careers, ideally when you have enough saved, or are financially stable enough. Time your change so that it is a good time break into your new profession, when the markets are good, companies are hiring, or (if applicable) it is the right time of year or season for hiring.

Gradually get the experience, skills, and qualifications that are required for your new profession. Research your new profession carefully, so you understand exactly what is required at entry level, and exactly what it involves. Talk to people in your prospective field, or specific, specialist recruitment consultancy agencies. For example, for financial and similar professionals, recruitment consultancies such as Randstad are very experienced and are knowledgeable about the job market out there right now, and will be able to help and advise those seeking employment.

Although challenging, tough, and a very long drawn out affair, a successful career change is ultimately fulfilling. There are many questions to consider, and issues to overcome- but don’t be put off career changing by financial concerns.


Effective Ways to Avoid Credit Card Debt Consolidation Woes

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Debt consolidation is a feasible option to eliminate your financial woes much faster without blemishing your credit report unlike other debt relief programs. When you consolidate your debts, you can manage your multiple bills into a single monthly payment. But you need to show perseverance as well as patience in order to achieve a debt free life. Most of the people enroll in a credit card debt consolidation program. Some of the consolidation companies may claim to eliminate debts of their clients within a fortnight. However, this claim is too good to be true. In reality, it’s not possible to eliminate debt within few days. Well, the financial industry is cramped with unethical and fraudulent companies. But it’s really difficult to decipher an authentic company from a fraudulent one. These tricksters take advantage of the vulnerable debtors to extract money from them. If you want to avoid getting associated with the frauds, you need to keep the following points in mind.

Here are some of the important points you need to consider when you look for a legitimate debt consolidation company:

  • Get information from the website: Before you enroll in a debt consolidation program, make sure that you thoroughly check the website. Generally, authentic companies provide their contact information. The websites place the postal address as well as email address of the company. Therefore, if you do not find required information from the website, avoid this type of company.
  • Verify the BBB accreditation: You need to check whether the company is accredited with Better Business Bureau. You can check with the BBB whether any complaint has been lodged against the company. Try to verify regarding the authenticity of the company from your State’s Attorney General’s Office.
  • Check whether the counselors are certified: Make sure you check whether the counselors associated with the company are certified. If the counselors of the company are not certified, then avoid working with these types of companies.
  • Review the feedback of past clients: When you plan to work with a debt consolidation company, make sure you check the feed back of the past clients. You can check the testimonial of the clients in order to find more information on service the company provides.

Therefore, you need to keep the above mentioned points in mind when you plan to enroll in a debt consolidation program. If you keep the above mentioned tips in mind, then you can effortlessly avoid getting associated with a fraudulent company.