It might feel like a distant dream, but summer will soon be upon us (I promise). Whether you are looking to get away, thinking about how to entertain the kids, or just wanting to make the most of getting out and about in the British ‘sunshine’, there are ways you can be smart with your money.
Planning ahead - If you know what you want to do, starting to think about it now will help you save cash. First create a budget of what you can afford; then make a list of everything you would like to do; and finally some rough estimates for cost.
If you find yourself wildly off budget, then be realistic about what you could cut out. Do you need to go abroad this year, or could you try camping instead? How about planning some fun activities at home?
Shop around - If you are headed abroad, have a look at price comparison sites for the best deals on flights. For example, skyscanner.net allows you to compare the prices of different airlines across a whole month if you’re flexible, and across a whole country if you’re not picky about where to go.
It’s worth noting that budget airlines are cheaper when you book two or three months in advance, but package holidays are cheaper when booked last minute. And according to Which? Research, apparently it’s 35% cheaper to fly on a Tuesday than a Friday and 45% more expensive to come back on a Sunday!
Remember to book your airport parking in advance to get the best deal and try travelmoneymax.com for the best currency exchange rates. If a holiday abroad is not on your agenda, why not see what this fair and bonny land has to offer? Visitbritain.com is a great website for ideas that include all the best of British culture, countryside, heritage, food and entertainment to suit your budget.
Save now and pay less - But why bother saving now when you can pay later? With so much credit readily available, it may seem like a quick fix to your financial situation, but a lot of us end up spending far more than we needed to.
For example, a £900 holiday paid back on credit over a year could end up costing you £1,057. That’s £150 you could have put towards your next trip. Saving is effectively like paying back each month what you borrowed – before you borrow it.
Budget recipe binder – Bev’s spring risotto
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Why not give Bev's spring risotto a go this week? Packed with veg, yet really filling – you can't go wrong with this tasty meal!
Bev says, 'This is a favourite option of ours – perfect for that first warm evening out in the garden!'
1 tbsp cooking oil
8 spring onions, chopped
1 pack button mushrooms, cut into halves
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into strips
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g risotto rice
1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
1tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper to season
Grated cheese to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pane
Gently fry the mushrooms & pepper for ten minutes or until softened
Stir in rice until it is coated with the oil and looks slightly translucent, then fry for two minutes
Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli powder and stir together
Add the stock a little at a time and stir constantly
As the stock is absorbed, add a little more. Keep doing this until all the stock has been added.
If the rice is not fully cooked, you may need to add more water, a little at a time and keep stirring.
Taste the risotto and season to taste.
Serve with the optional grated cheese or on its own.
*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing.
Alan and Jeannie’s story
Thursday, 02 April 2015
Watch and share Alan and Jeannie's story this Easter.
Friday, 20 March 2015
George Osborne unveiling his 2015 budget is a good reminder for us to revise ours. One of the big changes announced by the Chancellor will benefit UK savers. This is great news - if you are in a position to save. This month, grab a calculator and see how you can make your money go further.
Adjust your budget - If your idea of savings is whatever fell our your pocket into the sofa, then consider the three C’s: cut back, cut costs and cut out.
Cut back – We all have a few luxuries in the budget, but are there some that you could reduce to save money? For example, a takeaway for two each week could cost you around £18. If you only went for a takeaway every other week, it would save you around £468 per year. Similarly reducing a £3.50 lunch out every day to just one day a week, you could save up to £728.
Cut costs – Some expenses you might find you can continue but at a cheaper cost. For example, switching to a cheaper energy provider, using restaurant discount vouchers when eating out or buying cheaper supermarket own-branded products.
Cut out - Often people have gym memberships or subscriptions that they are not using, or not getting enough value for money on. With the weather improving could you try running or cycling outside instead of forking out on a costly gym membership? Many people find that a few simple changes can make a real difference to the amount they have left over at the end of the month.
Savings - Savings are not just for a rainy day, but are very important for future needs. Setting some saving goals will help you to keep motivated, so make a list of future expenses both short- and long-term, such as car insurance, house improvements or University fees. Calculate how long you want to save for and how much you’d need each month, then set up a monthly standing order into a savings account.
Small things add up - From this April, personal allowance tax changes from the previous budget will come into effect meaning that most of us will see around an extra £10 in their pay cheque each month. Ok it’s a small addition, but why not make it go further by putting it into a savings account rather than letting it vanish into the black hole of your spending. If you did that now you could find yourself with an extra £90 for Christmas.
Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to when you are having sex or eating chocolate?...It’s true! According to scientific research activity in the brain shows a link between giving money to charity and experiencing pleasure.
Further studies have also discovered that people who spend more of their income on gifts to others and donations to charity are happier than those who spend more on themselves.
However, most of us just know instinctively that “giving is better than receiving,” and are already being generous in giving our money away to those in need. With this in mind, we have compiled some tips about how to make the most out of your giving:
Gift Aid it: If you pay tax then you can make your donations go even further through the government’s tax relief scheme.Gift aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give and it won’t cost you any extra. For example a £100 donation will be worth £125, so it’s definitely worth completing a gift aid declaration when you give.
Little and often: Giving a few pounds a month by Direct Debit is simple and can be less disruptive to your budget. Also for charities, having a steady stream of income is vital as it allows them to plan for the future.
Reduce your inheritance tax bill: Legacies are a fantastic way to ensure your money does something worthwhile after you’ve gone, instead of just going to the taxman! Giving to charity can actually reduce an inheritance tax bill that could otherwise claim a massive 40 per cent your estate above the threshold, see http://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax for more info.
Valuable volunteering: Time can be just as precious as money, so if you don’t have a lot of money, you could always consider volunteering at a charity near you. It’s also a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and can enhance your CV!
Maximise your event: Achieving a personal challenge is always rewarding, and even better when you can generate some cash for a good cause. If you are doing an event, why not ask local businesses to sponsor you? Websites like JustGiving.com are really easy ways to collect sponsorship - post them on social media websites for greater publicity.
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