Posts tagged: Bills

The Pros And Cons Of Your First Credit Card

money cardsYour first credit card is milestone in being able to stand on your own two feet. Not only can you improve your credit score, making mortgages more available to you, you can afford more bills and groceries each week, and you have plenty of backup cash in storage just in case of an emergency. However, we all know it isn’t simply sunshine and roses, so we need to think about the benefits and drawbacks of having a credit card. If you’re a young adult or someone older who never got the chance to before, and you’re just deciding to invest in a card of your own, here’s the biggest things for you to consider.

The Pro: Credit Cards Have Reward Systems

Credit cards, the more you use them, often have rewards for you to use at the end of the week or month. This makes them a lot more useful when it comes to shopping, and provides a little more incentive to use a credit card in a healthy manner. For your first card, looking into the systems each provider offers can require a bit of shopping around (to make sure you can use them for all purchases), so don’t make any decisions based on simple want alone!

The amount of different cards there out there means rewards can vary wildly from person to person. For example, with this in mind, you can get a variety of things on your credit card use, such as cashback for the standard types, or free flights for people using a travelling orientated card. It’s often a good idea to have more than one card in your possession, as being able to handle more than one at a time shows off how versatile and responsible you can be with money. It also means more rewards!

The Con: Debt Can Pile Up

Let’s face it, we can lie to ourselves a lot when it comes to money: ‘I need a new TV’ or ‘A few more dog treats won’t hurt!’ Even just thinking about the hypotheticals shows off how many different walks of life can bring in some debt when we let ourselves lose control.

At its core, credit is predatory, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use it safely. With this in mind, we can all agree that debt is a big drawback of using a credit card, and using your available credit too much is dangerous. Even the fact that credit card consolidation loans exist suggests that this is a common habit for people to fall into, so be aware of making excuses for yourself to use your credit card.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the amount of options there are on the market for getting a credit card. They’re there to help you rather than hinder you, and there’s no trap for you to fall into when you fully research terms and conditions, and any better alternatives! Balancing a checkbook gets easier and easier when information is so accessible like this.

Saving Up For Christmas

christmas moneyChristmas is only a couple of months away, and many people are already way into their Christmas shopping. But the real task is budgeting for your perfect Christmas as well as making sure you enjoy the festive season as much as possible.

Work Out What You Can Afford

Before you start planning all of your decorations, food and gifts for everyone you know, first take the time to sit down and look at what you can realistically afford. Think about it this way- Christmas is only one day a year. You don’t want to splash out on 24 hours and regret it for the next year. Be smart and think about how much expendable income you have saved for the festive season.

Stop Buying Unnecessary Presents

Sure, Christmas is a time for puzzle games and silly gifts; but if you are trying to save up and stay smart with your finances, it’s not really a great idea to buy 10 whoopee cushions for your friends. Stick to presents you know your loved ones will love.

Or, if you really hate the idea of not being able to be a bit fun- give yourself and your friends a small budget to stick to for silly presents. Maybe even arrange a secret santa

$100+ in time for Xmas

Yes, that’s right. You can bag yourself some extra cash for the festive season by simply switching bank accounts. Make the switch and get yourself a nice little bonus to go towards your festivities.

Supermarket Saving Stamps

Supermarket saving stamps schemes are used to help families save up for Christmas throughout the year to cut the bow at the end. However, if you are smart about it you could get an extra 4% bonus on your savings in time for Christmas. If you add in a large amount to the card at once, the supermarket will give you a bonus. So pay in, get your extra cash and spend on all of your winter essentials.

Christmas IOU generator

As many of you will know, during December the price of even the simplest item can sky rocket. However, in contrast the prices drop in January. So if you are trying to save up for something big such as a TV or Games Console, just wait for it. Yes, it might mean that the kids are opening an empty box (or a cheaper gift in the meantime) on Christmas Day, but it will save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

Black Friday

When you think of Black Friday, you may have visions of riots in the street and carnage at the supermarket…you wouldn’t be wrong. But you don’t have to step out into no man’s land this November to bag yourself a bargain. Instead, shop online. Sites such as Amazon run week-long events for Black Friday and chop the prices of products by anything up to 80-90%. If you are waiting for a game or DVD release, hold out for Black Friday because the likelihood is that a deal will come on for it.

Sell Your Old Stuff

Out with the old, in with the new. And money goes straight into your pocket ready for the festive season. We get a lot of things around Christmas, and often it can be difficult to move in a sea of gifts for the week afterwards. Get onto GumTree and sell some of your old things to make room for the new stuff, it’ll also mean a nice financial bonus for the festive season.

Home Or Away?

Although staying at home is the obvious choice for most of us, you don’t have to spend Christmas in your house using up all of your own electricity and water. Why not club together as a whole family and rent a lovely cottage or apartment from a site such as Meriton? It will be exciting for the whole family and means that you all club together for a great holiday and amazing memories.

Avoid Expensive Turkey

Now, of course turkey is the star of the show for your Christmas Dinner, but to be honest, you don’t need to splash out for the most expensive brand to get a good quality bird. Try swapping out your usual choice for a lower brand option, you probably won’t even notice the difference!

And there is another option… you could eat a different meat.

‘That’s sacrilege!’ you say- but it is well known that stores will hike up the price of turkey through the winter months because they know people are willing to pay for it. But actually, not everyone likes turkey, and a great alternative would be a beautiful joint of roast beef.

Consider the Risk of Gift Cards

You might think that getting someone you don’t know very well a gift card is much better than buying them a gift that they won’t like, and that can be the case. However, sometimes there can be a few risks with opting for a gift card over money.

• Big Retailers can go under. It’s happened before, and it could happen again. When a retailer declares bankruptcy, they will stop accepting gift cards as payment.

• Expiry Dates – always check that there is a good amount of time for the recipient to use the card.

Kids Don’t Care

If you have children, you’ll know that you could buy them the most expensive and elaborate toy for Christmas and they will still play with the box. Children don’t care how much you’ve spent on decorations, how many presents they have in front of them or whether you’ve bought a budget turkey. For kids, it’s the magic of Christmas and the thought of Santa visiting which makes it special.

So save up your cash for a rainy day and keep it simple. Put out a cookie and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer, read them a bedtime story and sleep safe in the knowledge that you can have a perfect family Christmas without spending all of your savings.

The Best Financial Advice For College Students

money for studentsDespite all their partying and endless nights of fun, college kids actually have it rough – financially speaking, anyway. It’s a tough period as students have a lot to pay for, and not a lot of money to pay for these things.

As such, if you’re a student, here’s some of the best financial advice you’ll ever read:

Make As Much Money As You Can

The grind never stops – or at least it shouldn’t stop – during your college years. Any opportunity you have to make money, take it! You will need money now more than any other time in your life. If you’re earning while in college, you can start paying off some of your student loan debt while you study. This lowers your interest rates and means you have less to pay when you graduate. It’s also mentioned on businessinsider.com that the earlier you start to pay, the faster you can pay your debt off. Plus, it’s always handy to have some disposable income for college essentials.

Find a part-time job in the town near where you’re attending college, or look for jobs around campus. Some final year students will often pay other students to take part in research projects or to be test subjects for them. The way I see it, this is basically free money for a student, so you should do it!

Raise Your Credit Score

College is usually a good indicator that life is getting serious and it’s time to do some adult stuff. One of those things is raising your credit score. Do this during college, and you can leave with a very good score that opens your world to many possibilities.

You can raise your score in various ways, but there are two main ways a college student can do this. The first is to use a credit card responsibly to build up your creditworthiness. It’s mentioned on studentcredit.cards that some companies offer credit cards with low-interest rates specially for students. The second thing you can do is avoid going into your overdraft and taking ages to get out of it. This doesn’t make you seem very creditworthy, and your score won’t grow.

Learn How To Budget

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most people haven’t budgeted before they go to college. You don’t really have any need to before then, your parents tend to take care of everything. Now, you’re on your own, and you have expenses to pay, and you want a social life too.

So, you have to learn to budget your money. Do the math, work out how much you have, how much you need to spend, and how much you’ve got left over. The money you need to spend is essential payments you know you have to make, such as your tuition fees and accommodation costs. What you have left over will be split up into food money, toiletry money, and so on. Stick to your budget, and you will make it through college without much financial trouble.

Don’t become one of the many college students that manage their money badly. Work on improving your financial life while you study, as well as setting yourself up for a less stressful financial life after college.

Your Flexible Friend? Four Things That You Should Know Before Getting a Credit Card

before getting a credit cardIf you’re thinking about getting your first ever credit card, then it may just seem like another way of spending money and making purchases. But in reality, and something that is often forgotten about, it can be much, much more. If you use a credit card wisely, it can help to give your credit score a boost. If you weren’t aware of that, though, then it could damage your credit score without you even realizing it. Experian.com explains that a credit score can be an influence when it comes to things like mortgages, loans, and even a new cell phone contract, you want to make sure that your score is a positive one.

So, what are the other things you should know before getting yourself a credit card? Here are some things to be thinking about or finding out the answer to before you commit to a credit card.

You Should Know What a Credit Card Is

It might silly, but you’d be surprised at just how many people think that a credit card is like a debit card. In the ways you physically use it, they are basically the same. But in terms of money, they couldn’t be more different. A credit card is like a small loan essentially, that you have been approved for. But you have to pay it off each month. Otherwise, it costs you more than it would have been if you’d used your debit card.

You Should Know Why You Want a Credit Card

If you’re looking to get a credit card, simply because you find yourself in your overdraft each month, then that is not the wisest of reasons to get one. If you’re looking to get it to help build a credit score and to practice discipline with money, then that will stand you in much greater stead.

You Should Know How To Budget

Again, in order to make your credit card work for you, then it is a good idea that you know how to budget. A credit card can be helpful when you don’t have money right now, but you have some coming in. You need to know your finances well, as well as being able to budget, to really make your card work for you. If not, it can spiral out of control, and the next thing you know, you could be looking at a site like consolidate.loan in order to help you to consolidate your credit card debt. So budget, know your finances and pay off your card as soon as you have the money to do so.

You Should Know About Interest Rates

If you are getting a credit card, then you need to know all about interest rates. What interest rate does the card you have, or are looking at, have? If you don’t pay off your card in full each month, then what will it mean for your finances? How much will it end up costing? A credit card only works for you, if you don’t have to pay any interest.

Being Self-Sufficient When Self-Employed

premium payablesAs more people are leaving their very insecure permanent jobs and going down the self-employed route, there doesn’t seem to be many financial preparations for the future anymore. And it’s hardly surprising, given the current nature of unpredictability in the market. People are setting up their own businesses, and approximately 9 out of 10 small businesses are failing because people are ill-equipped, or the financial strain is way too much for them to bear. Living a lifestyle of self-employment can be all about living day to day while working all the hours under the sun. While this isn’t the most fruitful way to live your life, how can you make the most of a delicate financial situation while working for yourself?

Assess The Real Amounts Of Outgoings

Living in a hand to mouth way means that you seldom stop and take notice of how much you’re spending. If you get a big contract, you may feel that you are in the money and spend quite lavishly, which leaves you out of pocket when you’re left wanting for work. The best way to tackle this is to establish a base level of spending and stick to that, though it’s worth doing this when you’re in a good working contract and not when you’re struggling. Look at your outgoings and cut back on what isn’t essential. Have you been to the gym in the last 6 months? No? Get rid of it. Getting a selection of credit cards is handy when you’re self-employed is handy for expenses, but not for buying everyday items. The best way to avoid temptation is to lock them away and avoid remembering the PIN number. If you have pressing payments when you’re in the middle of a contract, you could use a credit card to make the payment and then use your earnings to pay off the card. With costs like insurance, you can pay insurance premium by credit card which helps to spread out the debt over a longer period of time. It all depends on the rate of the credit card you have. It is always ideal to have a 0% card for business expenses. So if you needed to travel to another country, the card could pay for the travel insurance.

Look At What You Can Claim Back

One thing that newly self-employed people forget about is what they can claim as expenses. Depending on where you live it varies, but if you operate out of your home, you can make the most of cutting back on your energy bills if you use one of your rooms as an office. So if you have a phone set up, the internet, and of course, all your electricity usage for your business coming out of this one room, you could try and claim some money back on your bills. The rules differ, but you can always speak to an accountant to get the bearings on this situation. Self-employment is a feast or a famine, but saving money is possible in light of circumstances. Just do your research, and make the most of what you are entitled to.