Happy half term, a few ideas to make it less painless and expensive, from the folks at www.voucherbox.co.uk. I have got out the habit of checking for vouchers before I commit to buying, but there are always some bargains to be had, make day one of the holidays a PJ day, make some plans and snaffle some discounts… Continue reading
I am holding my Dad’s hand, I gaze up, and he is as tall as the poplar trees at the end of our road. He has a brown jumper, jeans and a brown beard. No one else’s Dad is as handsome as mine. My hand tucks in his and we swing happily along the road to the post office.
One of my favourite childhood memories…the walks to the post office with my Dad to pay in my pocket money. In my mind it happened often, but now I wonder if I just created that impression to make my adult-self feel guilty, just like the one where my mum took us to the library every week. Continue reading
This rather clever frame within a frame Nationwide ad had me thinking about the lengths we go to to save money. When we need to economise I immediately start planning lentil and potato soup for the next month, whereas Mr A focusses on cutting down on our biggest outgoings first. This did leave us without a car for a couple of months once, but I suppose at least we still ate well.
Although I might be right to think about food as in the UK our monthly food spend is often our second biggest expenditure, after our mortgage. What do you economise on?
Nottingham Playhouse challenged us to grow a beanstalk as their panto this year is Jack and the Bean Stalk. My magic beans arrived in the post. I thought I’d left it too late to join in, everyone else’s beans were growing so fast. We really needed to get some gold too, as we’d spent so much money already, and it was only the start of the holidays.
But once a magic bean breaks out of it’s hard case, then wow it wastes no time. In three days it was this big and peeping over the top of its jam jar. I was hopeful. Continue reading
I thought this was a really useful guest post, and judging from the response on Twitter, one that is worth reading, despite the difficult topic.
Losing a loved one is one of the biggest traumas we’re most likely to face and that trauma is compounded by the fact that you’ll probably have to sort out their practical and financial affairs. This will include making the necessary arrangements to distribute their financial assets if there is no spouse. The right to do this is called probate. Continue reading
At the moment there seems to be a far more positive atmosphere than there has been for quite a few years when it comes to how people think their finances will work out over the next few years. Although there is still a great deal of talk about cutbacks and austerity, the UK has in fact coped much better than many other European countries in getting through a difficult recession which was caused by the fallout from the banking crisis. Continue reading
What tools do you use to budget? For me it often comes down to pen and pencil. Mr A made a whizzy spreadsheet for our joint finances, but old fashioned pen and paper makes me feel more in control.
It really annoys me that my bank account doesn’t give me more ways to manage my money. I am so used to being able to search the internet, facebook, twitter for the snippets of information I require, so why can’t I search my internet banking for specific information? Continue reading
Back when I left home for the ivory towers of Hull Uni in the mid 90s, I made my decision on my bank account based on best freebie.
I’d grown up a stone throw from Madchester, music was hugely important to me, I didn’t want a cheap walkman, I wanted hard cash to buy baggy jeans and records, or if I had to be practical, a student railcard to get me home to my then boyfriend.
I can’t even remember what I chose, before I signed my life away, but it seemed like a good deal at the time. For some reason £25 sticks in my mind.
Fast forward 17 years, my bank have had that £25 back so many times over, in overdraft charges and fines.
In my twenties I attempted to shop around, but failed to change bank account due to the generous overdraft limit, they had so kindly provided me with. As a 18 year old with no concept of how far a teacher’s wage goes when you decide to shack up with your boyfriend, not in Hull the land of plenty, but in Brighton and then London.
Then there were mortgages and kids. More recently I have finally come up for air and started to contemplate my finances a bit more. I think my generation was one of the first to get really hit hard by offers of credit, loans and overdrafts. It was so easy to pile up debt as a student in the 90s, and not to think about the future. It is even harder for today’s students. I guess this mid thirties contemplation is what happens, unless you are an accountant or a financial whizz who had it all planned from the start.
I am fond of that account in some ways, each time I set up a direct debit it takes me back to Cottingham Road in Hull. It has also come to symbolise my financial freedom, Mr A and I have always kept our own accounts along with our joint account.
However you find the best student bank account, it is definitely the one time when you really should take a long hard look in the gift horse’s mouth. You may be living with it for a very long time.
One of my favourite games when I was a kid was the Game of Life, don’t know if you ever played it? After sticking little pegs in a plastic car to represent partner and kids and landing on a square that determined your job, there came a point in the game, a day of reckoning, where you could either retire to the millionaire’s mansion or the country cottage. Anyway it got me thinking about how I might play that moment in my real life.
To tell the truth I didn’t really get how to weigh up the different annuity options at the end of the game. As a kid I would often opt for the country cottage just because it seemed like a cosier place to be. But I’m pretty sure there was another reason, I think you got more security there? I need to buy this game to play with my own children, but I googled the rules and found that:
If you retire at Countryside Acres,
collect 1 LIFE Tile. Your LIFE tiles
are safe! If the draw pile has run out,
players cannot take tiles from you
when they land on LIFE spaces.
So there was definitely more security and less risk in that cottage.The different retirement options baffled me, so the cottage seemed like an easy option.
Anyway fast forward to real life, just like in the Game of Life, I prefer low risks with my finances, but I married someone who is hell bent on the millionaire’s mansion. That day of retirement reckoning is getting closer, but I am not sure I am any closer to understanding pensions and how to calculate annuity.
I read recently you can get them with a fixed and a variable portion which sounds like a middle ground between the country cottage and the millionaires mansion to me. I need to put aside a day for a real day of reckoning. I still feel like that ten year old retiring to a country cottage, but twenty five years on and it is high time I made a plan to make that a reality!
What was your Game of Life strategy and has it played out in real life?
This morning’s George Osborne ‘flashmob’ in Parliament Square to lobby the Chancellor to stick to the government’s pledge on international aid in the budget. It’s all part of the Enough Food IF campaign.
There is enough food for everyone but almost 900 million people will go to bed hungry tonight.
After watching numerous videos on Friday night for Red Nose Day, of parents starving so their kids can eat, risking their lives to do so, of kids starving, I urge you to make some noise. #IF #SpottheGeorge
I will start this with a disclaimer, before anyone reading this assumes I am actually paying off my mortgage early, I am not, but the idea really appeals. Although I am a big fan of living in the now, I also absolutely love the idea of having the freedom of no mortgage. The best place to start is with a plan. I did some investigating into how to pay off your mortgage early and here’s what you need to do: Continue reading
Sometimes, it takes real courage to face up to a New Year. Just as we’re congratulating ourselves on getting through another year without anything too terrible happening, we wake up to the realisation that it’s all starting again.
The number on the calendar changes, but all too often, the New Year looks like it’s shaping up to be a lot like the old one. Millions of us, of course, will be taking an unwelcome reminder of 2012 with us into 2013 – our debts. The best way of dealing with them will depend on your situation, but there are a few tips that’ll work for just about everyone who’s borrowed money. Continue reading