TOP 7 CASHBACK WEBSITES AND HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEM

Everyone likes a little something extra in their pockets and with a high rate of outgoings your wallet can feel pretty light at times. But did you know that some brands will pay you cash if you buy something from them by going through an external website first? These are called cashback sites, and they’re a great place to start if you’re on the hunt for ways to save a bit of money, especially if you’re at uni, without having to completely freeze your spending.

What you ask, is a cashback website?

A cashback website is a type of reward website that pays its members a percentage of money earned when they purchase goods and services from its affiliate links. Many websites such as Quidco and TopCashback offer cashback on a variety of goods and services, from mobile phones to car insurance and bank accounts to broadband. Payment is generally made in the form of bank transfers, gift vouchers, online sites such as PayPal, bank checks, mobile recharges or online orders at the request of the user.

The amount of time that it takes to receive the cashback benefits is dependent on the site and its terms and conditions. Some websites will make their payments every four to six weeks, while others will only issue their rebates after a few months. 

When deciding what cashback website to sign-up to and use, you should be thinking about choosing one that pays the highest percentage to you.

Here are a few websites that have been compared to give you the best options to earn cashback:

SwagBucks:

Swagbucks is a free-to-join and you get a £3 fee for joining! They have services that pay you cash backs, gift cards for shopping online, as well as taking surveys, watching videos, searching online, playing games and more. In other words, all the things you usually do online on a daily basis,  you can do via Swagbucks and earn cash back on purchases and offers.You can choose to be paid via gift cards for top shopping brands such as Amazon, or have it paid directly into your PayPal account.

Boom25:

With Boom25, you have a 1 in 25 chance of getting your entire shop for free. It works like a normal cashback website in that you sign up and then visit online shops like you normally would. Then, instead of earning a small percentage back as cashback, you enter the draw to win the entire cost of your shopping for free. Every 25th order that is registered with Boom25 gets the whole shop for free – whether it’s a £5 pair of socks or your entire Christmas shopping!

20Cogs:

Similar to Swagbucks, 20Cogs is a UK-based service which offers cash rewards for your online activity, which includes taking part in Competitions, Offers, Games and Surveys (hence the name).

20Cogs is a growing cashback website which now has over 300,000 users, and is completely free to join. All you have to do is complete a really short sign-up form. You’ll need to enter your full name, email address and a password to join for free and start earning!

Oh my Dosh:

Also, Uk based, Oh my Dosh is a cashback site that is again completely free to use – they do not charge a subscription fee, unlike some other reward sites.

After signing up, users can receive cashback by completing surveys or by purchasing various products that are on offer. It’s a fast and easy way to make money online. When you visit advertisers and complete their offers e.g. signing up to 30-day free trials or LAMB (Look After My Bills) through the OhMyDosh website, they receive a payment from the advertiser and they then split that money with you.

When your balance reaches a total of £10 cashback, you can cash the money out and it will be transferred to you via PayPal or a standard bank transfer, which can take up to 5 days to process (as standard). OhMyDosh is safe to use – you are not asked to add any of your bank details until you’re ready to cash the money out. To top it all off, the website has a 5-star rating on Trustpilot!

Quidco:

Quidco was the first ‘big’ cashback site to enter the UK market and pays similar levels of cashback commission as TopCashback. The two sites have now become the two biggest cashback websites in the UK, and compete for exclusive deals and commission rates – so it can be worth signing up with both to maximize your cashback.

Quidco is also free to join and you can sign up online by completing their short sign-up form. The basic membership is free, but if you choose to upgrade, you’ll be charged. ‘The average Quidco member can earn over £300 a year’, as per Quidco’s information, so get ready to pay for that holiday!

Quidco always has great cashback rates and let’s not forget the regular promotions including Flash Sales with exclusive cashback rates, member bonuses and discount vouchers to help you get the most from your money.

You can even increase your Quidco rewards by getting a ‘top-up’ bonus. To get this, all you need to do is withdraw your cashback as a gift card, instead of just simply cash. The gift cards available with Quidco include Amazon, Argos, Marks and Spencer and many others.

Topcashback:

TopCashback is considered one of the best sites out there by many users as it is possibly the largest site with over 5,000 plus merchants. It generally offers higher rates than Its competitors and most users give them excellent reviews! Their Classic membership is free but the Plus membership offers a bonus of an extra 5% cashback on most transactions, as well as extra money for referring friends and other perks! However, they will keep £5 of the cash back you earn every year as payment.

When you first sign up you are automatically assigned to be on a Plus membership. Make sure you opt out of that if it’s not what you want. You can also swap your cashback cash for vouchers through Reward Wallet and get an extra up to 15% value-added!

Also, keep an eye out for their Free Cashback feature which enables you to earn cash back just by completing certain tasks online, for example, you can earn £2.25 just for creating an account and checking your credit score with Experian. This site is not just for online shopping or cashback. You can also register your bank card and get cashback while you shop on the high street and can also claim free or cheap food coupons when you take a photo of your receipt and either upload it on-site or do a snap and save app! 

Your cashback should appear in your account within seven days of your purchase, and once you’ve chosen a payout method, you have to wait another seven days to get your hands on that cash (although it often arrives much quicker than this).

KidStart:

If you’ve got kids, grandkids or even one on the way, KidStart may be a cashback site you would want to consider. KidStart is smaller than other cashback sites but that’s because it works differently. Instead of giving you the money back, any cashback you earn has to be, as a rule of the website, put towards your child’s savings.

KidStart says you could earn around £250 a year and deposit it into a child’s savings account.That is the one catch – it does need to be a child’s savings account. It could be with any bank, a child trust fund or a Junior ISA. If you don’t have kids or have kids in the family you want to transfer the money to, you can choose to donate your cashback to them or a school or a choice of children’s charities.

How do the websites earn money? 

The core concept for this is that all the above-mentioned sites make their money using affiliate marketing and then share the profits with their shoppers. In simpler terms, it’s like them earning a commission every time a customer makes a purchase through their links. 

Any drawbacks? 

As a customer, there are a few things that need to be considered regardless of what website you choose to go with. 
Always compare all the sites with each other and see which one is the most profitable for you. 

It’s all good for getting some money back, but is it the best bargain for you? Make sure to read the terms and conditions very carefully for each to make sure you are not at a loss, e.g. You could be losing out on savings if you’ve got a 10% off voucher code, but only getting 4.5% cashback.

Also, cash out as soon as possible, just to be on the safe end. This is because if the company you are with goes bust, you could lose all that money.

 So choose the one that suits you best and start earning that cash!

The Best Tips For How To Host Christmas Day

Christmas season, is here, which means it’s time to celebrate and to party! We know you just can’t resist a seasonal get-together! However, you might not be confident at hosting your family and friends and would rather keep the stress involved to the minimum.

Whatever your budget is, we’ll share with you on how to get that perfect balance between entertainment and hospitality which you can enjoy with your guests. Whether you are looking for ideas and tips to host a cocktail party or a fabulous Christmas dinner, this guide will make sure you’ll have every detail under control.

Invitations

There’s no need for cards or overly traditional invitation formalities. Just send a WhatsApp or an email invitation. It’s the fastest and simplest method. If you are looking for something more original use a free online designer such as Canva to create your unique invitation.

The Budget

Think ahead! Don’t make too many plans before you actually come up with a budget. It will determine the size of the party, what you will serve to drink and eat as well as the decorations and entertainment.

The Food

Cook your ultimate favourite dishes and those you feel confident in or practice before-hand. It’s not a good idea to try out new recipes on the day of the event especially if you don’t have a plan B.  Why not also make larger batches, anything left over you can freeze and use as meals for another between Christmas and New Year to save those extra pennies!

You don’t feel like cooking? Our hack is to get some goodies from your local deli and serve it with home-made salad, this way no one will suspect your little trick. If you’re hosting a cocktail party rather than a dinner, place some snacks like olives, cheese cubes, grapes, hummus and carrot sticks etc. on the table. Another great trick to avoid too much cooking is to share hosting duties. You can ask your guests to each bring a dish.

If you want more time to prepare your delicious dishes serve an aperitif which will give you the breathing space you need. It will also help your guests relax and liven up the mood before the highlight of the evening.

Think about how you’ll serve the food. Our personal favourite is laying the different dishes in the middle, so that everyone can share and have as much as they want. It definitely, gets people closer together, but could be problematic if the food runs out before everyone gets their fair share.

Christmas Drinks

For that extra effort, offer some alcoholic and virgin cocktails. Some of your guests might be driving or just prefer not to drink and they will definitely appreciate this gesture. Our favourite is the London Calling, perfect for this season. Here are the ingredients:  

London Calling cocktail recipe

To save money look for the appropriate discounts and deals. You can get plenty of ingredients and even a couple of bottles of Prosecco and Cava for a very good prize. Another way to save money is to buy in bulk, especially if you’ll be cooking for a lot of people. Finally, try to buy some ingredients from the reduced section. Depending on the shop the times when these sections are filled can vary, but generally speaking around 7 pm is your best option.

Easy Christmas Dinner Recipe

Now, if you really want to impress and uphold the Christmas tradition, there has to be a Turkey on your table! This could feel like a challenge especially when you have a massive naked bird staring right at you and you’ve never cooked one before.

Here’s our favourite Turkey recipe:

Easy Christmas Roast Turkey

Time: 30 minutes prep, 1 hour 30 minutes cooking

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion
  • 4kg Turkey
  • 60g Butter
  • 6 Servings of Stuffing
  • Glass of Red Wine

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan or 180C gas. Prepare the stuffing and then pack the bird with the stuffing through the neck.
  2. Take a large sheet of baking foil line a roasting with it and then place the bird inside it. Melt the butter slightly then coat the turkey with it and red wine. Season well.
  3. Put another sheet of foil over the turkey and seal it. Roast in the oven for 90 minutes. After 60 minutes, you can add any vegetables you want with your turkey.
  4. After the 90 minutes of roasting, test to see if the bird is cooked through. If not, cook for a further 10 minutes. Repeat until it’s cooked through.
  5. Once cooked, take out of the oven and wait 10 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle. Serve immediately.

Make sure the tin you choose, is big enough for the bird and deep enough to catch all the yummy juices and fat. Remember to give your turkey some resting time, before serving.

The Table

Have a holistic approach when it comes to choosing the decorations. Sometimes less is more! Focus on a festive cloth, napkins and obviously, candles are a must. If you are feeling fancy you could think about placing some vases, flowers or foliage. Feel free to experiment with colours, if you feel it will suit the personality of the party more, or your interior. Then just place the essentials on the table like, plates, cutlery, glasses and a jug of water and you’re good to go.

Dinner Table

We suggest you let your guests choose where they would like to sit, especially when it’s an informal, small party. This way you won’t feel responsible if someone won’t like their immediate neighbor.

Playlist

Depending on the atmosphere you want to create you will have to design your playlist accordingly. Think about the volume, your guests tastes and the rhythm. There’s not point of playing loud and upbeat tunes if you want people to stay seated and relaxed. Feel free to adapt the playlist if the mood changes. This is why downloading spotify or creating multiple playlists on YouTube is a good idea.

Playlist

Try not to be over-protective of the music and let your guests tryout their music selections.

You want to make your party more adventurous? How about karaoke? This can be a very fun activity for everyone who enjoys music, and don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional singer to be able to chant to some tunes.

Lighting

If you combine the music and the lighting you can truly achieve the perfect atmosphere. However, you don’t have to have a fancy fireplace or a chandelier to create a magic aura at your party. So, don’t panic it doesn’t have to be a nightmare before Christmas!

Dim your lamps, switch on your fairy lights, light the candles and you’re good to go.

Dress to Impress

Match your outfit with the atmosphere of the party! If you are hosting a cozy little get together don’t pull out your tux. If your party is an upscale affair, we advise you mention the evening dress code on the invitation. No one likes to feel out of place because of what they are wearing, so make sure your guests know what to expect.

Entertainment

If you want to provide more than just good food, drinks and the right company, invest in some board games! Alternatively you could organize secret Santa before-hand and use this get together as an opportunity to exchange gifts.   

If your budget allows it, you could provide a photo-booth or a DJ. If you print the photos on sight your guests will also have something to remember the party by.

If you are looking for cheaper entertainment, but just as fun, you could play charades, carol pictionary or pin the nose on Rudolph.

Christmas Charades

Christmas Pictionary

Pin the nose game

Don’t forget to reward the winners!

Souvenirs

This final touch will put you in the pro-category when it comes to party hosting! To make sure your magnificent evening is long remembered leave your guests with a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive or large, if you feel up for the task you could even hand make it.  A little thank you gift bag would be the best option especially if your guests aren’t coming empty handed.

It’s not an easy task to host such a special celebration as Christmas, but you can definitely do it. With our tips and tricks you can be certain not to forget any important steps and have everything planned to the smallest detail. Try not to worry too much, after all it’s a party, so go and have some fun!

The Best Money Saving Tips At Christmas

There’s less than one month until Christmas, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by all the christmas decorations and mince pies in the shops. For some people, it’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas, some are full of holiday spirit all year round, and others may celebrate Chanukah, Eid or owt.

No matter what you are celebrating, the festive season can be the most expensive time of the year. Big retail days like Black Friday in November has also encouraged higher spending in the run up to christmas. In fact, a typical UK household spends about £3,300 in the month of December to cover the cost of Christmas. According to the Bank of England, that’s about £800 more than an average month!

This means that saving money for christmas has become an even more important part of managing your finances. Going into your overdraft to afford the christmas spending can be even more expensive than borrowing money, even online payday loans. To help ensure you don’t get into the situation of having no money for christmas, read through out list of the top tips to save money. 

How To Save Money At Christmas

Pink Christmas Presents

Plan for the Festive Period

Lists are not just for Santa. Make sure you keep track of the people you need to buy presents for, the food you must have, and any decorations that are essential. Then work out your budget and see what is actually doable. Thinking about Christmas this early can help, as you’ve got time to start saving!

Do Secret Santa

Talk to your friends and family members about doing a Secret Santa this year, instead of buying everyone a gift. That way you only need to buy one present instead of loads for each of your friends. This is a great thing to do at work too.

Switch Your Bank Account

A lot of people don’t like to switch bank accounts, as they think it will be a lot of hassle. The biggest issue tends to be your current bank trying to tempt you to stay though. If you swap banks, a lot of them offer an incentive of up to £200! Some may call it bribery, we call it free money.

Enter Competitions

While this is not a sure fire way to get extra presents (for yourself or others), entering into loads of free competitions could be a good way to source smaller gifts. Even if you don’t win the main prize, you could win something, so why not give it a go?

Shop in Discount Supermarkets

While it’s common to have some treats aside from christmas dinner, it’s true that most of us buy a bit too much food at Christmas. But it doesn’t have to be from the most expensive supermarkets. Discount shops like Lidl and Aldi have much cheaper options, and often stock German festive food like stollen and gingerbread.

Check For Amazon Discounts

Items on Amazon are for the most part reasonably priced anyway, but there could be ways to save even more. The Money Saving Expert site has a great page where you can search for Christmas gifts and get up to 75% off.

Sell Old Gifts

If you’ve still got a gift from your last Christmas haul lying around, why keep it? Whoever gave it to you has probably forgotten by now, so don’t expect to see its pride of place in your living room… Selling old unused presents could raise enough money to buy half of the gifts for this year!

Order Gifts Early

Buying gifts in November means that you don’t need to pay for priority delivery – you’ve got loads of time. So you can always choose the cheapest delivery option.

Online Outlets

Although shopping on the high street can be fun, if you can stand the crowds, it can be a lot cheaper and do your Christmas shopping online. There are loads of online outlet stores if you don’t live near any outlet villages. You can even do online shopping for more expensive brands like Superdry— they have an online outlet store on eBay.

Second-Hand Doesn’t Mean Second Rate

There is nothing wrong with buying second-hand gifts if you know someone will love it regardless. Charity shops often sell things that are in fantastic condition or even new. Sites like eBay can also have great deals that will cost less. If you’ve got transport, you can even pick up things locally via Gumtree.

Buy From Abroad

Companies like Wish and AliExpress can offer you things from clothing to cameras for a fraction of the price. The only catch is that some things will take up to 6 weeks to arrive – better start looking soon if you want to get presents in time for Christmas!

Cashback Credit Cards

If you have a cashback credit card, you’ll get money every time you spend. As long as you pay back in full each month, it’s interest-free. Some credit cards pay 5% for the first three months, so you could get a lot back if you use the card for larger expenses. This may not be an option if you have bad credit.

Get Items on Sale

Almost all shops have a sale on towards the end of a season. As we enter into winter, you can probably bag a few bargains you can give as Christmas presents.

Quite a few people are thinking about Christmas in January – if you shop in the January sales this year, you can get wrapping, cards and decorations for next year! As long as you have a place to store them, and don’t forget they’re there, this is a great way to save money.

Book Tickets in Advance

People travel all over the country (and abroad) to get home for Christmas. Train tickets can be expensive if you buy them last minute, so make sure you check the prices as soon as possible. If you’re eligible for a railcard, this can pay for itself on your first trip if you’ve got a long way to go.

Look For Cheap Deals

It’s always a good idea to shop around. If you find something you like on one website, but it’s too expensive, you may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere. Google Shopping can often show you the cheapest deal.

Make Homemade Presents

Even if you’re not that creative, you can still make your own gift vouchers – perhaps promise a meal eating out, or a weekend away. You’ll have time to save a little more money if it’s a trip you need to pay for.
For those of a more artistic temperament, there are loads of great ideas to amaze and inspire on sites like Pinterest.

Don’t Post

Stamps can be expensive. This is a universal truth. So if you’re sending tons of Christmas cards each year, it’s probably costing far too much. Perhaps try sending e-cards this year instead.

Cheap Show Tickets

If you subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list, you may be able to find theatre or show tickets for discounted prices. You can also look on sites like TheatreMonkey to get the best deals.

Chicken or Turkey?

It might sound a little radical, but do you need to buy a huge turkey for Christmas? They’re often marked up due to the season, and a lot of people prefer chicken anyway. You could also go veggie this year and have a nut roast!

Use Your Loyalty Cards (Sometimes)

Many shops have loyalty cards, but we tend to forget to spend the points we save over the year. Now is the best time to cash in the points you’ve earned! You can sometimes also convert points into vouchers that you can give as gifts instead. But be cautious, read about how using loyalty cards and being too loyal to retailers can be more expensive!

Ways To Bring Your Car Insurance Down

Car insurance is something everyone has to pay for. Having a car insurance is essential because it covers your expenses in the event of vehicle damage or injuries to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. It’s easy to save hundreds of pounds a year on your car insurance, yet most people stay with their existing provider and pay far more than they should because they are unaware of how to save. But there are plenty of things you can do to make sure it doesn’t leave you out of pocket.

The best way to save money on any outgoing is to shop around the market and compare everything from prices to cons and perks. See what deals are being offered and which one caters to your financial needs and only then jump into it. By doing this you are able to compare the quality of the policy and have an idea of the best price to negotiate with your existing insurer if you want to stay with them of course. 

Here are a few top tips we think you can use to reduce the cost of your insurance:

Use a comparison site:

If you’ve not done this before you should try it now. It will definitely save you hundreds of pounds on a renewal quote. This is a simple and easy way to compare prices and while results will broadly be the same across most comparison sites, they may slightly differ enough for you to make the best decision for yourself. So it is worth checking a couple of these sites before taking a decision. Here are a few examples you can check out:  Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, or  Confused.com

Shop around for the best car insurance policies:

When shopping around for car insurance, it’s important to make sure that you are comparing like-for-like cover. Some policies may seem cheaper, but you may find you don’t have the same level of cover when you have to make a claim. If you’ve been happy with the cover your existing provider has given until now but are unhappy with their renewal quote, let them know that you have been looking elsewhere and have received a better offer from a rival insurer and ask them to at least match it. I’m sure no insurance company wants to lose a customer, so they will give you options and offer discounts and you can pick out the one that suits you best. Comparing prices is essential to finding this information. You can save hundreds of pounds if you shop around before you renew your cover.

Protect that no-claims bonus:

A long no-claims bonus is the single best way of cutting car insurance costs, so protect it. This may increase the premium by a few pounds, but this fades into insignificance against the potential loss of a 90% discount on a premium of several hundred pounds. Although the definition of a protected no-claims bonus can vary widely between insurers. The fact is that accidents caused by another driver will normally have no impact on such a bonus but those caused by the insured could. Also, if you have an older car that isn’t worth very much, a third party, fire and theft policy rather than comprehensive cover could save some money.

But third party-only insurance might not offer the cover level you want, and it isn’t always cheaper than comprehensive cover. The key is to always check the policy carefully and consider every detail.

Secure your car:

Fitting an approved alarm, immobiliser or tracking device in your car can attract a discount of around 5%. Many newer cars will come with these as a standard inbuilt feature, so make sure you check if you have them and then declare them. Drive safely and park in well lit areas or at night in a garage to reduce chances of break-in. 

Think carefully about adding young drivers:

Adding a young, inexperienced driver to your policy can be considered as false economy, especially if you have a large or higher powered vehicle. The premium will still be affected by the youngest driver and they may not have a no-claims bonus. Insurers have also been focusing on fronting, where experienced drivers such as parents insure cars in their name for children to cut costs, so make sure if you are the policyholder on a car driven by your children that you are actually its main driver, or that you declare otherwise. 

Pay upfront:

Many insurers charge interest on your payments if you decide to pay monthly payments. This is because car insurers treat split payments like a loan – with some charging 30% APRs on them. On a big quote, that can be hundreds of pounds extra over the year. Not all of them do so, but it’s the case for a lot of them. So try and pay upfront if you can and save money in the long run. 

Use the right job title:

Most of the general population is unaware of this and how they can work around it. Did you know, If you describe yourself as a “chef” when filling in your car insurance application your average quote is £98 higher than if you write “kitchen staff”? “Music teachers” pay £86 more than “teachers” & “office managers” pay more than “office administrators”. This basically means, tweaking your job description can change costs. For more on how your job affects your car insurance, check out GoCompare’s guide on how to use the right job title to save costs.

Be a better driver and sign up to a BlackBox:

For those of us who are unaware, Black box car insurance is when your insurance provider uses a type of telematics equipment (a method of monitoring a vehicle) – known as a black box – to keep an eye and set your premiums based on your driving habits. These equipments basically check your speed, how harshly you accelerate and brake and how carefully you drive, and also whether you are on the road at perceived dangerous times – i.e. the early hours of the morning. They can cut down premiums substantially once you start proving you are a good driver. The biggest win is for those whose premiums are high, especially young drivers. Some insurers even offer an upfront discount if you take out a telematics policy.

Black box car insurance and any type of telematics cover is generally suited to groups seen as ‘high-risk’ by insurance and may be especially beneficial for you if you are young or inexperienced driver. 

Consider what vehicle is best for you

Cars having a smaller engine are more likely to have a low insurance therefore tend to have lower premiums as well. And just the same way, road tax on a smaller engine vehicle should also be cheaper. To explain this better, a two door smart car insurance premium would be cheaper than an SUV which comparatively has a large engine.

Every insurer will treat every sort of vehicle differently though. For example, some classic cars are very affordable to cover as insurers recognise the love that owners put into them and you may find a discount through an owners’ club.

Take a driving course

Advanced driving courses such as Pass Plus scheme cost money but they will get you a discount on your insurance with some companies, especially when it comes to young and inexperienced drivers. But keep in mind that not all insurance companies will take courses like these into account. Always weigh up whether the savings on insurance will outweigh the course cost or not.

Limit your mileage

Even though in the beginning your insurance premiums may be high, especially if your a young or inexperienced driver but you can always bring it down in time. You can do this by Limiting the number of miles you drive each year –  fewer miles, lower the risk for insurers, leading to cheaper insurance.

But always give an accurate estimate of your mileage when getting a quote – your policy could be invalid if you’re not honest.


So if you are looking top bring your car insurance down and are unsure as to how you can do this, follow these steps, do your research well. Weigh your options and write down the pros and cons. Then think and decide what is the best option for you and never jump into this blindly. After all, the goal is to save as much as you possibly can!

7 Budgeting Apps To Help You Manage Finances By Christmas

Are you still paying off for a holiday you took this summer? Not to mention there is only one month to go until Christmas arrives – So now would be a great time to start planning and saving for the upcoming holiday season. We know you may have too much on your plate to manage considering all the things you have to do in your daily budget by yourself, so we’ve rounded up some of the best apps we think will help you save before Christmas this year! 

We all know how important money management is. According to Bank of England data, UK households typically spend £500 more in December compared to other months during a year. Considering this, If you haven’t planned ahead already, it could result in an empty wallet in 2020 which arrives sooner than you can say ‘Save it’. In fact, research suggests that  many Brits don’t manage to pay off their Christmas debts until the following April. That means four months down and you still have lingering after effects of that spending spree you went on with a loan that is now a burden on your shoulders. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way if you do it right the first time around. From interesting ways to cut your expenses, to warning notifications when you’re over-spending, these apps can help you build up those savings before and after christmas for any rainy days to come. 

All of the apps we’ve chosen to look at are both FCA-approved and regulate open banking providers.

Introduced in January 2018, open banking enables third parties to access your financial information in a secure, encrypted way. It’s like looking at your bank statements to verify your income and outgoings without the third party having access to your online banking.

So here’s what we think can help you save:

1- Money Dashboard

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

Features: This app’s dashboard allows you to see all of your accounts in one place, including current accounts, savings accounts as well as credit cards. With all of your income and spending automatically categorized, it’s easy to see where your money is being spent, and you can set targets and goals for each and see where and how you can save. This can be particularly helpful if you need to cut down on costs such as eating out or take away coffees at work. Furthermore, the app sets out your predicted income, expenditure and balances for future references and you can always work around that and plan a month ahead! If you’re looking to save some money for Christmas or generally any other event, being able to see ahead of time can show you how much you need to start saving. More than 70 UK banks are supported in the app, from the big high street banks to smaller challengers, with more being added soon.

2- Oval Money 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features:The Oval Money app allows you to monitor your spending, and set up ‘Steps’, as a way of saving and then it sets out rules based on these habits. One rule might be to pay into your savings whenever you go for a run or post on Facebook, for instance. Oval currently works with 28 banks and credit cards, which you can sync to your account. Your savings with Oval are held in a segregated account at Barclays. Keep in mind that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will protect deposits of up to £85,000 per provider, so if you have other accounts with Barclays, this will add to your total. The app also features ‘Oval Coach’, which sets you savings missions to improve your habits. Again, setting future goals is the key here. Think it and then do it. The more missions you complete means you are now developing better spending habits. Sounds like a hard thing to do to suddenly change you spending habits – but the more money you save, the better your future.

3- Yolt 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

Features: Yolt puts all of your bank accounts, credit cards and pension investments in one place, supporting more than 35 banks and institutions. Your spending is split up into categories so you can see where it goes. This is also aided by a three-month spending-history charts which shows you a pattern of your spending’s. This way you are able to Judge and control any upcoming spending sprees. Upcoming payments are also highlighted, so you can avoid any nasty surprises. You can set and track spending limits for each category, monitor renewal dates for any bills and subscriptions as well as make payments and switch energy providers – all of which should mean you’ll have more money to salvage away as savings for any thing up ahead.

4 – Emma 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features: Emma is described as a ‘financial advocate’ for your money. The service aims to help you avoid overdrafts, track debt, cancel needless subscriptions and save money. You can track your spending and set budgets, plus receive notifications to let you know when you’ve received a refund, when your direct debits are going to leave your account and when your salary has been paid. It also helps you keep track of any cryptocurrency investments you may have. All of this means you can get a full view of your finances at any point in time, making it easier to identify where you can save money.


5 – Cleo 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web 

Features: Unlike the other apps listed here, Cleo works through Facebook Messenger. You can ask interactive questions like ‘Can I afford a night out?’, and expect to receive answers that give insights into how your spending is going this month – and maybe a witty gif at the end. Cleo also sends notifications, quizzes, insights and challenges to keep you up-to-date and engaged with how your money’s doing. The app basically keeps you on your toes when it comes to finances with some puns intended. You can choose which accounts you want to link up. The app is only able to read your transactions and make calculations based on your income and spending, you can’t move money within the app itself. There’s also a Cleo wallet feature, where the AI calculates how much you can afford to save each week, and saves it away before you spend it. Quiet clever isn’t it. Every little action from the app helps towards that Christmas budget you know you need.

6 – Bean 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features: Unlike like Mr.Bean (pun intended), this app is all about tracking and staying in control of your regular payments and managing your subscriptions. You can connect your bank and credit card accounts to the app and the dashboard will find all recurring payments. If you find, for example, an old gym membership you never use, the app can sort out cancellations, as well as provide a comparison and help you switch services if you want to get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Bean also notifies you if any of your bills are going up for renewal dates for things like insurance contracts. This way you get to make sure you’re not paying out any more than you need to.

7- Moneyhub 

Price: 99p a month/£9.99 a year; £1.49 a month/£14.99 a year via the App Store

Availability: iOS, Android, Web 

Features: This app has options for individuals and businesses both. Moneyhub allows you to connect all of your current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, mortgages, pensions and investments in one place to get an in-depth analysis of your spending and savings. Once you’ve sorted that, you can then set up budgets for different spending categories. The app will send you ‘notifications’ to let you know how far through the budget you are. Knowing that you’ve nearly spent your eating out budget for the month might encourage you to cook at home instead. For trickier financial decisions, there’s Moneyhub’s ‘Find Advisor’ feature. This puts you in touch with professional advisers and, with your consent, it can share all of the data you’ve connected to the app to give them a full overview of your situation. They are then able to analyse the data and answer any questions you have and help you see where there maybe gaps for savings.

So here is an overview of apps we think may help you save by Christmas this year if you start today. So what app do you plan to use? As you know, every penny counts!

What Is Open Banking and How Can It Help Me Get A Loan?

Since January 2018 the nine major high street banks are required by the competition and markets authority to allow current account customers to share their financial data. This new technology, called open banking, is creating new financial options for people by giving them a better understanding of their finances. Here we’ll explain why open banking is being used by financial institutions and what that means for you if you are thinking of applying for a loan.

What is Open Banking?

Open Banking is a secure way of allowing third parties like lenders or banks to look at the income and outgoings of your current account. This grants an organisation the opportunity to look at your financial information such as your spending habits: including the companies you frequently spend money with and the amount you put into savings each month.

How Does Open Banking Work And Is It Safe?

Open Banking means that you can securely share your

Without getting too technical, sharing your bank account information with a third party is made possible with two methods: through an API (application programming interface) or screen scraping.

Screen-scraping is the method that many of the small finance management apps use to gain access to your account. You have to give providers your login details to your online banking which grants them read-only access to your statements. They cannot edit your account without your permission. There are concerns that screen scraping could be easily exploited, leaving your data at risk.     

Open banking through an API is supposedly a much safer method. Put simply, an API essentially allows information to be shared securely from one party to another. This also means you don’t have to share your login information with anybody. 

Every financial service that utilises open banking technology is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), so they must go through rigorous assessments to ensure that they can securely handle their customer’s data. You do not have to share your bank account data unless you want to. Each provider must ask for your permission to access your financial information.

How Can Open Banking Help Me Get A Loan?

When you apply for a loan there a variety of different checks that you will have to go through before you are approved. One of these is a credit check, which evaluates your history of borrowing and repaying your finances. If you have had a recent spell of not being able to repay your credit commitments, your credit score could be lower and you may be deemed as not creditworthy. On the other hand, you could have a thin credit file, which means you haven’t proven that you’ve borrowed much money before. This is where open banking can help you get a loan. By allowing financial services to look at your recent transactional data means you can show that you can afford to borrow money if you don’t have any credit history. Rather than having to get your recent bank statements and send them in to be evaluated, you can now simply grant a lender read-only access to your bank account.

Equally, you may be unsure if you are able to even borrow the amount that you’ve applied for. By being, literally, open with your banking, a lender may be able to advise you how much credit you can borrow and for how long.

Which Companies Use Open Banking?

A wide variety of companies are now using open banking to help people manage their finances and even borrow money online.

Budgeting Apps

Money management has always been difficult, but with the release of open banking, many companies have sprung up to help people better manage their money. Apps that are powered by AI like Plum and Chip are using this technology to work out how much you can put into savings based on your spending habits. They will then automatically save money away for you. Other companies like Coconut are using open banking to help small businesses and people who are self-employed to manage their cash flow, invoices and tax. You can find out more about alternative accounts on our blog.

Loan Lenders

Online lenders previously had to rely on the information entered into the application form to assess a person’s affordability. Bank statement was also sometimes requested and had to be slowly evaluated for the income and expenditure. But now, many types of lenders from business loan companies to short term lenders like PiggyBank can use open banking to gain a better understanding of whether you can afford to take out a loan. By sharing their data with the lender, the underwriter can quickly see the person’s transaction history and verify their income.

Money Saving Tips For Buying Back To School Supplies For Kids

The back to school supplies shopping trip can be an expensive part of the summer, especially after spending a lot during the summer to keep the kids entertained. Research from Mintel has shown that Brits spend an average of around £400 on new school uniform and classroom equipment each year. But you don’t have to fear the long and expensive supply list: here are some back to school money saving tips and tricks to help you save before term starts!

Reuse stationary from last year

Many parents believe their children need new supplies for a new school year but that’s what the retail stores want you to think. If school shoes still fit or their pencil case is still well-stocked with working pens and pencils, you don’t have to replace them instantly. After the initial back-to-school surge, retailed reduce the price of most school essentials, so you could save a few pounds by waiting. 

Buy basic school uniform from a standard retailer

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Many school’s uniform policies don’t require you to purchase everything from the school shop. Some basic pieces such as shirts, trousers and skirts can be purchased from standard retailers as long as they match the school colour theme. Key items such as blazers, jumper and dresses (or anything with the school logo) may, however, have to be purchased at the school store or an official store. 

Look For Second Hand Items

Check local auctions on Facebook, Gumtree or even local newsletters to see if any former student’s parents are selling their old uniform, textbooks, calculators etc. You might find some barely worn uniform pieces in great condition, or even a copy of Great Gatsby with some useful notes in for a fraction of the cost. You should consider looking in charity shops too— they’ll quite often sell secondhand stationary that has been barely used before.

Plan well in advance

The best way to save money for the school year is by planning well in advance. What textbooks are required for the school year? Will your child need art supplies for school projects? Are there any school trips this year you’ll need to fund? Email the school secretary or ask a class teacher at the beginning of the year what extra activities are planned and the cost involved for the year. Knowing what you will have to pay for you’ll be able to budget and plan better for the year ahead.

Save on next year by buying now

From mid-September onwards, most retailers reduce the price of most school stationary and uniform. If you’re able to wait for the sales, this is a great way to save for this school year. If not, you could use this as an opportunity to stock up supplies for next year. Just remember if you’re planning to buy cut price school uniform, buy a size up in case your children go through a growth spurt! 

Don’t fall for retailer’s marketing tricks

assorted-color hanging clothes lot

It is common for retails to divide school supplies into two categories – girls and boys. For example, school shoes are always nearly marketing for either boys or for girls, but boy’s shoes often have much thicker midsoles making them far less likely to break as fast as the thinner girl’s shoes. Try to buy your children the shoes that and are comfortable and robust rather than the ones that are aimed at their gender for fashion and you might find that they last longer.

Spend less (or more) on tech

When it comes to purchasing new technology for school use or homework, it’s important to consider the age of your child and how advanced the gadgets needs to be. If they only require a laptop for typing up homework or researching, a very basic device will be more than sufficient – and you can worry less if they lose or break it. However, it’s also important to keep in mind the longevity of the product and how long it will need to support your child’s education – you may save more in the long run by spending more on faster, more efficient tech. 

Compare Prices

Lastly, shop around and compare the prices in multiple stores where you can. Some stores such as John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos and Tesco offer a price match guarantee, so check online to get the best price. The chances are that your children won’t need the professional set of colouring pencils and are probably better off getting the cheaper set.

Top 5 Alternative Savings Accounts

Saving money these days can be a challenge, especially with interest rates at their lowest. Though spending your hard-earned cash on things you actually want sound much better than leaving it in a cold dingy bank, it’s important to save little and often so you’re prepared for those unexpected expenses. Fortunately, we’ve found some alternative savings accounts to help build an emergency fund. If however, you don’t have enough saved away when disaster strikes, My Financial Broker can connect you to a short term loan lender. 

Moneybox

Moneybox is a simple and easy investment app. It works by rounding up your everyday purchases such as your morning coffee to last night’s Uber to the nearest pound and investing the spare change. They also offer cash saving products and long term investment products that can be set up from your mobile phone in minutes. 

When setting up the app, you choose from three different investment options – cautious, balanced and adventurous. These options are made up of different allocations of a range of tracker funds. Cautious is fairly low-risk investments such as cash funds and government and corporate bonds. Whilst adventurous is high-risk with a majority of your money being invested in global shares.

It’s important to remember that there is a risk in investing as you not receiving a fixed rate interest, but over the long-term stocks have delivered better returns as they pay higher interest so there is also a risk with not investing. Though it’s true that keeping your money in a standard saving account gives you more certainty about the interest rates, it’s very unlikely the interest you’d earn will match inflation – meaning the purchasing power of your money declines every year. With Moneybox (as well as most banks and building societies), your investments are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme up to £85,000.

Monzo

Monzo is a smarter online bank account that helps you to manage your money. It allows you to set monthly spending budgets for things like groceries and household bills and notifies you if you ever go over your budget. You can also use your card abroad for free! But how does a current account help you to save?

As you can see an easy summary of your account at any time using their handy app, you can identify where you’re spending unnecessarily, cut back and put that money into one of their saving pots. Monzo has partnered with a variety of providers who offer competitive saving rate (all over 1%). You can also add customer images to your saving pots to stay visualise what your saving for (whether that be a house, car or holiday) and stay motivated. Similarly to Moneybox, Monzo will also round up transactions to add spare change to saving pots automatically and schedule monthly saving to deposit to keep you on track. S

Squirrel

Squirrel operated a little differently than other alternative saving account but it still makes saving for your goals easy and helps you create your own personalised budget. 

Squirrel is an online savings account and operates as a middle man. Rather than having your salary paid into your current account, the money will be transferred to your squirrel account where it will be held safely until your bills are due to come out. Squirrell will automatically transfer money to your current account the day before your bills are due so there’s no need to ever have to worry about accidentally spending bill money. You can also transfer some additional spending money to your debit cards, and leave the remaining safe in your squirrel account. 

Squirrel is different from a regular saving account as it makes it easy to save and importantly help to keep you motivated to not to withdraw your saving early unlike a normal account. Similarly to Monzo, you can create personalised saving pots for all things you might want to save for and add your names and pictures to saving and set goals and track progress.

The most important thing about saving is not necessarily how much you save but making a habit of it, so we hope these alternative savings account has inspired you to save up for a rainy day. Though there are other methods of cover rainy day costs such as credit cards and overdraft, they can have high-interest rates, and wouldn’t you rather earn interest that has to pay interest.

Plum

If you don’t know how much you can afford to put away each month, Plum is the app for you. Plum aims to make it saving easier so you can spend money on the things you want, rather than the things you need. It’s smart algorithm analyses your spending, and every few days transfers the perfect amount into your Plum savings account automatically

Plum works as an AI chatbot service, built into your Facebook messenger. You can adjust how much Plum saves for you whenever you like by messaging Plum via Facebook. When you’ve reached your saving goal, or need some extra cash, you can request to withdraw at any time. Having Plum built into Facebook messenger as opposed to its own app makes it easier for those who struggle to save. As it blends into your everyday life, you can rest assured that your money is safe and savings are building up little by little rather than downloading and checking a separate app.

Plum savings don’t pay interest, but you can invest part of the saving earn with a single command. Your saving will be invested at RateSetter – one of the biggest peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders in the UK. P2P lending is a rapidly growing, FCA regulated form of investing in which people with money who are looking to achieve an interest return are able to lend collectively to credit-checked individuals and business who are looking to borrow. 

Chip 

Similar to Plum, Chip is an AI-powered money app that calculates what you can afford to save, and securely saves for you automatically. The app analysed more the 160 million transactions to save you money without it affecting your day-to-day spending. It’s different from Plum as you receive a high-interest rate by recommending a friend.

You start with a base interest of 1%, but every time you refer a friend, you’ll get a 1% boost for the year, up to 5%. You need to ensure your friend signs up with your specific code and connects their bank account. After a year, you can again refer another 5 friends. The interest is calculated on a weekly basis but is paid quarterly so you may potentially lose money if you withdraw the saving early. 

Unlike Plum, Chip is a separate app but still features the simple chatting service so it’s perfect for those who want to keep their social account and bank account separate. At the moment, Chip connects to with traditional high street banks and building societies.


Four Factors Affecting Your Credit Score, And How To Fix Them!

Your credit score affects many of the financial aspects of your life, including applications for payday loans, mortgages, and even for rented housing. Therefore it is important for you to have the best credit score you can. However, sometimes there are factors that can negatively affect your score. Luckily, some of these factors can be easily rectified to put you in the best financial position!

Not sure what’s actually in a credit file? Learn more here!

Credit score reports typically contain a lot of information, including your name, address, current employment, credit history and more. You can easily check your credit score and credit file for free on Experian, so if you’re thinking of applying for credit in the near future, you should check your credit file first to make sure there are no errors present.

credit-card-851502_1280

Any mistakes in your credit application or mistakes in your credit file can have a seriously negative effect on your credit score. Credit companies are much more likely to reject an application that has present mistakes.

There are several common mistakes made on credit files that should be fixed as soon as possible:

Mistyped or wrong National Insurance Number — Your National Insurance Number is linked to your identity from the moment you’re eligible to start working. Numbers are often quite similar, which means that a mistype could mean that your employment history comes up as someone else’s. You may be in a full-time job, but someone with a similar NI Number could be unemployed.

Repayment history — If you’ve had loans or credit cards in the past, you will have had to make consistence repayments. These repayments appear in your credit file so that when you apply for credit again, the financial lender can see that you are a responsible person who makes their repayments on time. In regard to this section, in particular, we’d like to offer some advice: If you’re applying for new credit, ensure that the new lender reports your repayment history to help you build your credit. 

Incorrect address — We briefly mentioned this above, but an incorrect address can lead to credit accounts being merged or a lender finding the wrong account for you. Some financial lenders base their rates on where you live, which means an incorrect address could make your credit rates quite high.

Incorrect name — Like having an incorrect address, an incorrect name can also cause confusion, and your credit file may pick up the history of a person who has a similar name.

To fix these errors, you need to dispute your credit file. You can do this by contacting the company that you receive your credit report from. Only that company will be able to fix the mistake in your credit file, but they may need to contact your previous lenders or see proof from you that the details are wrong. For instance, if your address is incorrect, you’ll need to provide proof of address.

By rectifying these mistakes, you should see your credit score improve. Having a good credit score can increase the likelihood of securing loans in the future. But, if you’re still working on your credit score there are lenders who can also help secure a loan for poor credit borrowers.

The Best Free Festivals To Head To In The UK This Summer!

Can’t afford to go to Glastonbury this year? Crushed that you’re not able to go to Creamfields? This summer, forget about paying hundreds of pounds for a weekend ticket to a music festival and check out some of the UK’s top free festivals. You’ll be surprised at how many big-name acts perform at smaller, local festivals. Take a look at some of our favourite most popular free festivals to head to this summer!

Freedom Festival, Hull

28th August – 1st September

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Free by name, free by nature, the Freedom Festival in Hull is one of the most diverse free UK festivals out there. Expect top notch music, amazing dance displays, street theatre, performance art and other entertainment from around the world. The multicultural Freedom Festivals celebrates inclusiveness with past artists including pop sensations Florence & the Machine, JLS, Alesha Dixon and The Saturdays, as well as incredible local talent such as Punjabi Akhara and Zagros Band.

West End Live, London

22nd June – 23rd June

Love musicals? West End Live in Trafalgar Square is a must-see! The free two-day musical theatre festival showcases songs from West End’s most beloved musicals. Previous performances include snippets from Les Mis, The Lion King, Wicked, Dreamgirls, The Phantom of the Opera and many more.

West End Festival, Glasgow

31st May – 30th June

Billed as the ‘Scottish Mardi Gras’, Glasgow’s West End Festival is not to be confused with London’s West End. It’s the second biggest carnival in the UK…and for a good reason! West End Festival is a paradise of music, comedy, outdoor theatre, children’s events, talks and street performances, as well as the main parade, street party and markets. The entire festival itself is a month long, but one of the biggest events is The Big Sunday on the 17th June, which is packed full of live music performances, food, drink, funfair rides and even a skateboard competition.

Liverpool Pride Weekend

27th July – 28th July

Sure, you could go to Brighton Pride…but unfortunately, tickets for most days are sold out now. But luckily Liverpool Pride is completely free of charge and it’s set to be an action-packed weekend! Starting in 2010, it’s one of the newer pride events but it’s one of the most popular in the UK. Previous headline acts include Katy B and Atomic Kitten, with this year’s acts soon to be announced. Liverpool Pride boasts three stages, a VIP section, a chillout area, a pride march through the city centre (of course!)  and a community exhibition celebrating local businesses.

Godiva Festival, Coventry

5th July – 7th July

Named the UK City of Culture 2021, Coventry really is the place to be if you want to check out fresh, new up and coming artists. The three-day festival is in its 21st year and has attracted some of the biggest acts in the UK such as Newton Faulkner, Scouting for Girls, Happy Mondays, Lightning Seeds, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Darkness, The Human League, Biffy Clyro and much much more. Godiva Festival is usually made up of two sections: the main stage and a family area – making it the perfect weekend escape for everyone!

Faversham Hop Festival, Kent

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31st August – 1st September

Who says festivals just have to be about the music? Kent is renowned for brewing some of the UK’s top beers and ales (way before craft ale was a glint in our eyes), so what better place to celebrate beer and music than in Faversham, a great little market town in the heart of the Kent countryside? As one of the UK’s biggest beer festivals, it’s home to plenty of rock bands, swing and jive groups, blues quartets and soul singers, not to mention street entertainment and delicious food.

Crystal Palace Festival, London

15th June – 23rd June

London may be one of the most expensive cities to live in, but it’s one of the best places if you’re looking for thrifty fun. The Crystal Palace Festival is one of the biggest free events in the capital…and it isn’t just a music festival. You’ll be treated to theatrical and spoken word performances, a huge maze, stand up comedy, wellbeing workshops, arts and crafts, talks and tours and dance acts, to name but a few!

Notting Hill Carnival, London

24th August – 26th August

This wouldn’t be a ‘top free festivals’ list without mentioning the Notting Hill Carnival! Attracting over 2 million people last year, the event celebrates Caribbean culture through music, storytelling, comedy, theatre, poetry and more. Notting Hill Carnival brings entire communities together and is easily one of the most vivid and enchanting festivals out there! Sunday is traditionally ‘family day’ and the following Monday is usually reserved for those who like more of a wilder party!


If you in need of cash quickly to cover an emergency expense, PiggyBank can help! We are instalment and payday loan direct lenders and offer £100 up to £1000 loans with flexible repayment options. If you need a loan urgently, apply for a short term loan online today!