6 Financial Resolutions for the New Year

The New Year is a great time to put a plan together and overhaul your life for the better – especially financial resolutions that can help you get closer to your money goals. Here are 5 financial resolutions to make for the New Year.

1. Set some clear goals. Do you have debts that you want to reduce or completely pay off? Do you want to save for a down payment on a house? Whatever your goal is, you should be as clear and concise as possible. It’s not enough to say “I want to have more money in my savings account”. Your resolution should be something you can actually achieve, such as “I want to save £100 a month and have £1,200 in my savings account by the end of the year”.

2. Prioritise your debts. Managing your debts can sometimes seem like a mammoth task, but putting in some work to achieve a positive will result will leave you financially better off in the future. Make a list of all your creditors and outstanding balances, work out your monthly salary for 2018 and set a budget each month that prioritises paying off these outstanding balances over things like entertainment, eating out etc. If you need help, StepChange offers free and impartial advice or get a debt consolidation loan.

3. Open an Individual Savings Account (ISA). If you’re serious about making long term savings, an Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a great way to save. You can save up to £20,000 tax-free in 2018 and you can easily create an account through your bank or building society.

4. Start the penny saving challenge. Did you know you can save over £650 in a year with the penny saving challenge? The idea is that you save an increasing amount each day until the end of the year. You start at £0.01 on day 1, £0.02 on day 2, £0.03 on day 3… all the way up to £3.65 on day 365. By the end of the year, you’ll have £667.95!

You could easily do this with online banking or you can use actual coins in a jar, which is much more visually impressive!

5. Get a budgeting app. Managing your finances in 2018 doesn’t have to be difficult – there are thousands of online banking and budgeting apps out there that can ease the burden. These apps have evolved to now act as your personal financial assistant. Cleo, for example, can spot your spending habits and automatically put what it thinks you can save into your savings account.

6. Improve your credit score. Your credit rating is used by lenders to help them decide how likely they’ll be repaid on time if they gran you a credit card or loan. The better your credit score, the more likely you’ll qualify for larger loans, mortgages and credit cards. You can take small steps to improve your credit rating, such as registering to vote or taking out a small loan and repaying on time. We don’t believe ‘no credit check loans‘, but we offer payday and instalment loans for people with bad credit.

What Are The Last Dates For Sending Post This Christmas?

With Christmas just around the corner, Royal Mail have now published their recommended domestic and international last posting dates for Christmas 2018.

 

Sending cards and presents across the UK
To ensure your loved ones receive their gifts on time for Christmas, you’ll need to send letters and packages at the latest:


Saturday 22 December – Special Delivery Guaranteed 
Friday 21 December – Tracked 24
Thursday 20 Dec – 1st Class and 1st Class Signed For, Tracked 48
Tuesday 18 Dec – 2nd Class and 2nd Class Signed For

 

Sending your post abroad
These are the last days to post for international standard mail with Royal Mail:

Monday 10 December – Greece, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand
Friday 14 December – Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland and USA
Saturday 15 December – Finland, Sweden

Monday 17 December – Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland
Tuesday 18 December – Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg

 

Keep in mind, there are no deliveries or collections on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 27 December, New Year’s Day and 2 January. For more details check the Royal Mail website. 

 

Missed your posting date?

If you missed your Royal Mail posting date, don’t panic. There are other delivery companies such as Parcelforce, DPD, myHermes – they do late Christmas deliveries. However, be aware that they often charge more. Delivery comparison website such as Parcel2Go can help you to find the most affordable.

 

When is the last day to send a letter to Father Christmas?

Royal Mail will send a letter from Santa Claus for free. Post him a letter by Friday 7 December, and make sure you include a full name and address so he can write you back. Santa’s address is:

Santa / Father Christmas
Santa’s Grotto
Reindeerland
XM4 5HQ

Cheap DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

Presents made with love (and your own hands) are the best kind.

DIY projects are not only a good way to save some money on buying presents, but is also a great way to show your love for your friends and family by putting in some time and effort on something handmade. Here’s some easy and cost-effective DIY ideas:

After Eight Brownie Mix in a Jar


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of crushed After Eight Mint Chocolate Thins
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of salt

Layer the ingredients in a mason jar. Tie with ribbon and download a printable tag with instructions.

Clementine Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1½ – 2 cups sugar
  • 10 drops of clementine essential oil


Mix all ingredients in a jar, stick on a tag, and your spa in a jar is ready! Use the sugar scrub 1-2 times a week in the shower to exfoliate away dead skin cells and make skin soft and glowing this winter.

 

Flavoured Vodkas

Chai Vodka: Combine vodka, cinnamon sticks, candied ginger, black peppercorns, cloves and cardamom pods. Let stand at least 3 days, strain and pour into bottles.

Spicy Citrus Vodka: Combine vodka with grapefruit zest and dried chillies. Cover and let stand for 2 days. Strain and pour into bottles.

Keeps for 2 months.

Christmas Tea Tree

This project only requires just a few individually wrapped tea bags. The more attractive the wrapping is on the tea bags, the better. Make sure to include at least a few green tea bags into the mix to highlight the the tree theme.

You will also need:
Styrofoam or paper cones
Glue gun with glue sticks
Small paper mache box or some kind of short, round cylinder to use as the “stump”
Wooden star or other star trinkets for decorating

Instructions: Place a thin line of hot glue along the upper edge of the back of a tea bag, then attach it to the cone, starting at the base of the cone. Using hot glue, attach the star to the top of the tree and paper box to the base of the cone.

 

Gingerbread Bath Bombs

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp molasses

    Whisk all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the melted coconut oil and molasses and mix well. If the mixture is too dry – add a drop of water.

    Pack the mixture into your gingerbread men mold. Let dry for 24 hours. Take out and store in a dry place. Use 1-2 gingerbreads per festive bath.

 

World Cup 2018: How Much Will Travel Cost?

The FIFA World Cup 2018 is scheduled to take place in Russia from June 14th to July 15th 2018, with the highly anticipated draw kicking off today in Moscow.

If you’re a fan looking to travel to Russia for the event, you should start budgeting and planning out the rough costs now, so that you have as much time as possible to save. You’ll need to consider the following:

Travel to and from Russia

Russia is one of the more expensive countries to visit – especially during the World Cup. A round-trip flight will cost you anything from £150 to £500+. As we edge closer and closer to the World Cup, it’s expected that the price of flights are likely to increase. You can regularly check cheap flights through websites like Skyscanner to find some good deals on getting to and from Russia. If not a flexible short term loan can help spread the cost of flights over the football season. 

Accommodation

Your choice is between a hotel, a hostel or Airbnb. The most expensive city to stay in will be St. Petersburg, so it’s worth booking your accommodation well in advance so that you’re not paying more than you need to. Booking.com is a useful website for finding last-minute and package deals.

Russia has very strong train links, so don’t be put off if you can’t find accommodation right next to a venue. It’s also worth noting that the stadium venues have been selected specifically to minimise travel between them during the event.

Food and drink

The current exchange rate is currently about £1 to 80 Rubles, so make sure you get the best possible exchange rate for your spending cash.

Budgeting for food and drink will depend on your accommodation choice. If you’re staying at a hotel you may get a free breakfast, but otherwise here are some average prices you can expect to pay in Russia:

  • Buffet style lunch: 500 Rubles
  • Pizza: 500 Rubles
  • Beer at bar/restaurant 150-200 Rubles

It’s always a cheaper option to buy your food and drink at local grocery shops rather than eating at a hotel or restaurant.

Transportation in Russia

Once you’ve landed in Russia, you’ll need transportation to your hotel. Taxis are usually the more expensive choice, but Uber has fixes prices from Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo airports.

If you’re a ticket holder, Russia is offering free ground transportation (by bus or train) between host cities during the event. The scheme called FAN ID requires ticket holders to apply for an identification document which can then be shown at bus or train stations to get free travel.

If you’re not a ticket holder, getting from St. Petersburg to Moscow will cost you about 5000 to 6000 Rubles (£70 to £80).

Travel insurance

Travel insurance can be quite cheap and can provide with useful medical and electronics cover – if you’re travelling with a group you can book as one and get a discount.

Staying safe

The official UK government travel advice for Russia breaks down what you should watch out for during your travels. Petty crime is common in the cities, so always be alert for the possibility of pick pocketing, mugging and theft from hotel rooms.

The draw

32 teams who have qualified will be split into eight four-team groups drawn from four pots and the groups will contain one team from each pot. England is in pot two.

The pots

Pot one: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France.
Pot two: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico and Croatia.
Pot three: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Iran.
Pot four: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

A Royal Engagement and Wedding in 2018 – Here’s How To Plan YOUR Big Day on a Budget!

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on a beautiful wedding. While their wedding was paid for by the royal family, most of us have to reach deep into our pockets for a day just as special.

Fortunately, our short-term loans can help you plan your magical day. As an instalment and payday loan direct lender, you can borrow between £100 to £1000 to put towards a wedding fund and repay over 7 days to 5 months.  But here at PiggyBank, we believe in sensible spending. If you’re not looking to have a lavish wedding, here’s how to do it on a budget.

Budget

Take time to write down everything that you need to spend money on – from shoes and flowers to the registry office fees. Then, set a budget with careful consideration as to how much you can afford.

Discuss what’s most important to both of you. You might think that it must be a beautiful reception in a castle, but you could both easily be happy with a simple church wedding. Same goes for the party venues, check out local pubs and restaurants for great off-peak season deals. According to UK’s No 1 Brides Magazine, venue costs often account for up to a third of your budget.
Don’t feel obliged to stick to conventional “wedding rules” – if you both do not like cake, simply don’t get one.

The Wedding dress, Grooms wear and Accessories

You don’t have to splurge on a designer gown to look fabulous. Most High Street clothing brands such as John Lewis, Monsoon, Missguided, and Asos have their own bridal collections. Check out your local bridal boutiques for bargain dresses from last season collections. If you’re buying online, make sure you allow extra time for return if the dress doesn’t meet your expectations.

Bridesmaids

Your bridesmaids don’t have to look like quadruplets! Talk to them and choose the colour they would not mind wearing – it could be that they already own suitable gowns, meaning you’ll both save out on not having to buy matching outfits.

Wedding photographer

Professional wedding photography can be very expensive, however, you cannot allow your happy memories to not be recorded.

Consider approaching your local college or university and offering a small fee to a final-year student to photograph your wedding. Most students are looking for opportunities to practice their skills and expand their portfolio. Just make sure you check their existing portfolio and don’t be shy to arrange a pre-wedding photo shoot to make sure you are happy with their skills! The same rule works with friends and family photographers.

Need some help?

Feeling overwhelmed with wedding planning and wish you could squeeze hiring a wedding planning expert into your budget? That can be possible at no extra cost!

Wedding planning apps such as WeddingHappy can help you keep on track of your budget, timings, invitations and much more.

Doorbusters and Loss Leaders – Is Cyber Monday Worth It?

Cyber Monday was first introduced in the US in 2003 and much like Black Friday, quickly made its way across to the UK. Cyber Monday is becoming widely known as the busiest internet shopping day of the year. The big question is – is it worth it?

 

Even though Black Friday has started to move online, Cyber Monday has been long sold as an alternative to spending times in queues, and it’s also when retailers are able to offer their best online deals.

The specific offerings that get the most Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are called doorbusters and loss leaders.

 

Doorbusters are the most common type of item on offer and are designed to attract a large amount of shoppers to visit the website. They will often have a set time limit or stock limit to ensure you don’t buy them from a competitor. When a doorbuster is sold out, the hope is that you’ll stay on the website and buy other items.

Loss leaders are similar to doorbusters in that they’re also designed to attract as large an audience as possible but are more heavily discounted and often sold at a loss so that the offer will make you shop around and buy other items that compliment it.

A good example of a loss leader are laptops – heavily discounted so that they’re sold at minimum profit, but will have “useful” suggestions for antivirus software, carry cases, headphones, wireless mice etc. which is where the majority of the profit is made.

 

If you’re looking to make the best savings on Cyber Monday, you should always go for the loss leader items over the doorbusters, as they are less likely to be sold out and are more heavily discounted than the doorbuster items.

 

What are the most common Cyber Monday loss leaders in 2017?

According to research by consumer website Dealnews, their research has shown that in 2017 the most common loss leaders are:

  • Laptops
  • Travel and hotels
  • Kitchen items
  • Shoes

It’s important to remember that these trends can change over time, so it’s always worth doing your own research into loss leaders before starting your Cyber Monday shopping.

How The UK 2017 Budget Will Affect You

Today the UK government released their 2017 Budget. Chancellor Philip Hammond aka “Spreadsheet Phil” (due to his love of numbers) announced the government’s plans for future spending and taxes. Here’s how it will affect you.

 

Housing

Stamp duty on properties worth up to £300,000 is now abolished, which can help you get on the property ladder if you’re a first-time buyer.

The government also plans to build 300,000 new homes next year which means more affordable housing for you as well as jobs for those in the construction industry.

 

Transport

The UK government is about to invest £550 million in development of driverless cars.

So while we wait another 4 years for driverless cars to appear on the market, there’s good news for you train commuters!

The previous Railcard, offering discounted train travel is going to be extended for those up to 30 years old, with the new Millennial 26-30 card being introduced. The current railcard only covers the 16-25 age bracket.

Another reason why you might want to choose the train over driving is the fuel duty increase on diesel. Fuel prices will likely soar by up to 12p a litre before Christmas, which means you’ll be paying more for your daily commute to work. Additionally, if you’re looking to buy a diesel car over electric/petrol you will face up to an extra £200 yearly tax.

 

Wages & Benefits

From April 2018 the National Living Wage will rise 4.4%, from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 which is extra £600 a year for those who work full time.

When it comes to benefits, the previous 16 hours a week benefits cap which kept 1.4 million people out of work will be changed. The waiting period will also be reduced so that entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the day of the claim.

 

Alcohol

If you like a cheeky drink every now and then there’s some good news for you! Duty rates on beer, spirits and most ciders will remain frozen. However, the so-called “sin tax” on cigarettes and cheap high strength alcohol (white ciders) will go up due to raising health concerns.

 

You can use the BBC’s budget calculator to see exactly how this will affect you in the coming year.

Avoiding The Winter Squeeze on Your Energy Bills

Homes throughout Britain have just started to switch on their central heating to combat the cold weather. In most cases this will continue all of the way until March / April of next year. Heating your home can account for up to 75% of overall energy consumption, so if you’re on a budget it’s important to keep your home warm for as little cost as possible.

You could apply for a loan with online payday loans direct lenders to cover the cost of higher heating bills, or you could use these simple tips for keeping your home warm at little to no extra cost – just in time for the winter months!

    1. Move furniture away from your radiator – furniture can absorb heat and block warm air from circulating in your room. You should always leave plenty of space around your radiator to let it work efficiently.
    2. Use your central heating timer – why spend money on heating up your home when you’re not there? Set a timer to keep the heating off when you’re at work.
    3. Get a smart meter – smart meters are currently being rolled out throughout the UK, which are completely free of charge. Smart meters record exactly how much energy you’re using so you won’t get estimated bills.
    4. Get more insulation – so much heat is lost through thin walls, windows and roofs. You can buy insulation materials than you can put in your loft and walls and seal up any holes that are causing drafts.
    5. Wrap up warm – some days aren’t as cold as others, so it might be worth putting on a few extra layers to keep warm instead.
    6. Use your curtains correctly – keep your curtains open during the day to let the sun add to the warmth of your room, and close them at night to create another layer of insulation for your windows.
    7. Use space or radiant heaters instead – space and radiant heaters can use less energy than your central heating. Space heaters are more efficient at heating up multiple rooms and radiant heaters are more efficient at heating up a single room.
    8. Use a candle – not for warmth, but to find out where your drafts are coming from. Simply light the candle and hold the flame near any windows, doors and light fixtures. If the flame or smoke starts to move away in a horizontal direction, you’ve found a draft to insulate.
    9. Save energy by switching off devices – did you know that the UK wastes almost £1 billion of electricity a year on appliances left in standby mode? Switching off devices such as televisions, desktop PC’s, kettles and wireless routers can help you save.

These tips should help reduce your heating bill by keeping your house warmer in the colder seasons. If you have an overly expensive upcoming bill before payday, PiggyBank can help you cover unexpected costs with same day payout loans.

Save Money by Maintaining Your Home Appliances

We all depend on our home appliances for so many aspects of our lives, so when an appliance breaks down it can be an expensive proposition to replace it – especially if you’re on a budget. If repairing a necessity like this is too expensive and your credit score is low, you can apply for a payday loans bad credit with PiggyBank. But did you know there’s a few things you can do to ensure that your appliances are working at their best and last longer?

Here’s some simple things you can do:

Regularly clean the condenser coils on your fridge/freezer – if your fridge or freezer breaks down you’re put in a bad position for food storage (not to mention the food already in there!). The most common reason for a fridge/freezer to break down is the condenser coils shorting out. You can avoid this by regularly cleaning out all of the dust that builds up at the back – just make sure to switch it off first.

Set your fridge/freezer to the most effective temperature – over cooling/freezing your fridge/freezer can short it out much sooner, because it’s using more energy than necessary. You should always try and find a medium temperature in-between. This will keep your fridge/freezer running for longer but also reduces the electricity it’s using, keeping down your monthly bills.

Clean the lint traps on your dryer – lint traps are installed on dryers to catch the lint that builds up over time to stop it getting on your dry clothes. You should ideally empty and clean this filter after every use for two reasons. The first reason is that a full lint trap stops your dryer working as efficiently and requires more energy, which adds to your electricity bills, decreases its efficiency and its life. The second reason is that full lint traps can be a fire hazard, with a number of house fires linked to this cause.

Clean the food filter on your dishwasher – similar to the lint trap on your dryer, food filters are designed to catch food waste. When the filter is full it can reduce the efficiency and increase the energy costs of your dishwasher. You should always make sure to clean out the food filter regularly and rinse any dishes before cleaning them in your dishwasher.

Descale your kettle – your kettle will build up over time with limescale, which solidifies after hot water has evaporated. Limescale can slow down the process of heating in your kettle, which then requires more energy to reach a boil and reduces its life. You can remove this by regularly boiling your kettle with half water and half white vinegar, and cleaning it out with antibacterial wipes.

The Ultimate Christmas Saving Guide

Christmas is just around the corner and can often be a strain on our wallets, with the effects felt well into the New Year. That’s why you should always start planning your Christmas finances in advance so that nothing comes as a shock last minute.

Before you start going shopping mad, you need to set a budget. You should start by working out what your income will be for the month. Most people budget for Christmas based on their November salary, but some employers may pay you earlier in December, so it’s always worth checking this and factoring it into your budget.

After removing household bills, living costs, travel costs and other commitments you’ll be left with your Christmas budget!

Christmas saving tips:

    • Stick to your budget. It can often be really tempting to spend just a little more to get those perfect presents for your loved ones, but any extra spending is only going to lead to further difficulties in the long run.
    • Book your travel in advance. All forms of public transport are extremely busy during the Christmas period. If you’re looking to visit friends and family to exchange gifts, you should always book in advance to ensure there’s no last-minute price jumps and to guarantee your place.
    • Don’t shop at the same place. If you’re a part of a reward scheme or have loyalty cards, you may be tempted to shop in the same place. A report by Which? found that loyalty cards are sometimes not worth the extra you’re paying versus shopping at other shops, so it’s always worth shopping around.
    • Scour the web and social media for discounts. Many retailers post unique discount codes on their social media channels, so it’s always worth doing a quick check before you make any purchases. Websites like HotUKDeals also post up to date discount codes and deals.
    • Trial Amazon Prime free for one month. If you’re buying from Amazon, you can get a free trial for Amazon Prime which guarantees next day delivery – just don’t forget to cancel before your trial ends!

    • Sell your unwanted gifts from last year online. Now’s a great time to start selling your unwanted gifts online through eBay and Gumtree, as the demand for cheap Christmas gifts increases at this time of year.

Remember: preparing in advance reduces the stress of doing things last minute or taking out an instant payday loan to cover the cost of present, food and other Christmas essentials. A few hours here or there in November can save you so much time in December, plus you get to beat the crowds!