Authors Posts by Fi

Fi

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I'm a self-confessed dreamer who will one day live in a big country house, drive a Range Rover and cuddle up each night with my adorable Maltipoo puppy..... But until then, its a life of budgeting.

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events affecting stocks

There are many things that can have an influence on the global stock market, from a controversial change in political leader to a natural disaster. One thing can start a wave of change and before you know it, the stock market can have changed in the blink of an eye.

When something happens on the international stage, good or bad, there is never a doubt that it will have an effect on the stock market. In this piece, I have looked back at some of the top world events that shook up the stock market in 2016…

1. THE TRUMP ELECTION

Yes, I thought we ought to get the most controversial out of the way first! While stock markets were expected to tumble on election night, surprisingly Wall Street reacted quite positively to the shock election of President Trump. In fact, in currency markets the US dollar hit a high against the Japanese Yen for the first time in several months!

2. THE BREXIT VOTE

Brexit shook up the UK stock markets something rotten in June last year and we saw the British pound drop to its lowest value in more than 30 years, a significant depreciation against other major currencies. Unsurprisingly stock markets across Europe declined significantly in the initial aftermath of the referendum.

3. HURRICANE MATTHEW

Natural disasters can have a crippling effect on a country’s economy; Hurricane Matthew in September 2016 was no different and has been recorded as the costliest hurricane since Sandy in 2012. Before Matthew hit, stocks for Florida based insurance companies fell by up to 15%. Investors began to retreat from companies deemed most at risk and shares suffered steep declines.

4. CHINESE MARKET CRASH

In January 2016 the Chinese market plummeted into unforeseen chaos and saw investors fight to sell off their assets – ultimately they saw a sharp decline in the Shanghai Composite Index by 6.9%. This rippled across the global stock markets and around the world stock markets lost more than $4 trillion.

5. OPEC OIL CUT

Oil prices have remained low as a result of over production and producers have been receiving low sales revenue over the recent years. In November 2016 Organisation of the Pertroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that its 14 member countries would work to reduce their oil production for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008. After this announcement Brent crude prices rose by approximately 8% and trade prices began to increase.

What We Can Learn…

Where possible, we should be on the lookout for key events and dates that are likely shake our investments. However, not all of these will be highlighted in the mainstream media; we can take a more structured approach to monitoring such dates by utilising an economic calendar. The new Economic Calendar from CMC Markets certainly deserves a mention here and a tool such as this can increase your awareness of major changes to the market that may affect your investment decisions.

The CMC tool is an easy to understand live market calendar which gives you access to key economic announcements that will affect price swings in major index, currency and commodity markets. A really helpful tool to help you to identify stock market fluctuations and influencers.

Do you take world events into consideration when planning your investment choices? and how do you keep track of them?

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mumpreneurs

With successful female role models such as Arianna Huffington and Karen Brady its no wonder that so many UK mums want to follow in their footsteps. However a recent survey carried out found that there are three top challenges that UK mumpreneurs believe are stopping them from pursuing their business dreams.

The top three reasons that UK mums gave for not starting a business were;

1. It seemed like too big of a risk

This is a completely natural fear of starting your own business felt by anyone giving up the security of their day job and going solo. For mumpreneurs the risk can often seem that bit greater as there is the financial security of your family to take into consideration.  As long as you’ve done the legwork beforehand and are well informed about the steps you need to take to help your business take off, then the benefits in the long run should far out weigh the risks.

2. Not knowing how to get started

Knowledge is power. Before you jump into starting a business of your own make sure you understand the steps you’ll need to take to get started and what you’ll need to do to be successful. There is a lot of usful information available online such as this simple 6 step plan to getting started with your business from the Entrepreneur. The government website also has a lot of useful information with regards to registering your business.

3. The admin and financial aspects involved

The survey found that 22% of UK mums who own a business said that one of the main challenges they faced when starting out was finding a bank who’d support them financially. Many found that the flexibility of the financial service provider was not enough and as a result 38% commented that they had found the process of setting up a business bank account long and slow. Not ideal for a busy mum with a business to run!

This week I found out about APS financial who are able to offer small businesses the opportunity to get their current accounts set up within less than 10 minutes of starting the application! Brilliant news for mumpreneurs across the UK who will be able to get trading faster. So far they have helped almost 80,000 start-up businesses of which nearly a quarter were female entrepreneurs. APS financial also provide businesses access to finance through a range of credit products and overdrafts, lending up to £2,000, which can help fund the cost of starting up a business.

APS finance said;

“We should be empowering all small businesses, but especially mothers working to set up a business to thrive in our economy by offering fast, easy ways to open up bank accounts and manage cashflow, not throwing up barriers. It is worrying to think that it is fears about admin and financial hassle that stops entrepreneurial mothers going it alone and our experience shows that grassroots entrepreneurs don’t need traditional banks to ‘bank’.”

This is really positive news for mumprenures across the UK, APS financial helping to reduce the financial worries of setting up a business will allow small businesses to put their energy into getting started!

Are you a mum in the UK looking to set up a first time business? Will this financial reassurance encourage you to take the first step?

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zero hour contract mortgages

Unfortunately in the past, zero hour contract workers have found it very difficult to be able to secure themselves with a mortgage as they are unable to meet the lender criteria – as there is no guarantee of regular hours to be worked and therefore no fixed income for a lender to review. 

The Statistics

According to the office of national statistics, in 2016 more than 900,000 people in the UK held a zero hour contract. Almost 34% of them worked regular full time hours and 41% had been in the same employment for more than 2 years. In fact, 9% of them have been in the same employment for more than 10 years!

Nearly a fifth of zero hour contract workers are at the age of purchasing their first property, but they face being judged by the flexibility of their work contract and declined a mortgage.

The Mortgage Misfit No More!

Zero hour contract workers have long been considered one of the ‘Mortgage Misfits’. However Ipswich Building Society have very recently confirmed that as of the 1st March 2017 they have changed their lending criteria to be able to help zero hour contract workers to secure a mortgage!

They will be taking personal circumstances into account through a manual underwriting process rather than automatically hitting ‘computer says no’.  Ipswich Building Society have said:

“Zero hour contract workers have limited choices for mortgage borrowing. We are continuing to improve our products and introduce new programmes to help those who are creditworthy, yet marginalised by mainstream mortgage lenders. We believe that ‘mortgage misfits’, such as those who are on a zero hour contract and can demonstrate a consistent income, should have the same level of options and access to the mortgage market as any other applicant.”

What Do You Need To Be Able To Apply For A Mortgage On A Zero Hours Contract?

  • Evidence of the past 18 months of your employment history & a P60
  • 3 month’s worth of payslips
  • A letter from your employer estimating the minimum and maximum hours available for you to work per month can also be considered
  • The usual lending criteria applies also

This is such great news for those on zero hour contracts and its a highly important shift as more companies are recruiting via zero contracts and more workers are forced down this route.

If you are currently working on a zero hour contract have you previously had a mortgage declined in the past based on your contract and will this tempt you to re-apply?

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ClearScore

Last week Joe posted about 10 Ways To Boost Your Credit Rating, which really made me think how bad it is that I actually have no idea what my credit score is! I assumed it couldn’t be too negative, as I don’t have the obvious signs such as an overdrawn bank account or maxed out credit cards but I thought it was important to find out!

So I decided to check my credit score online and it turns out I’m actually not doing too bad! I used the ClearScore credit checker which was really simple (and free!) to use. I thought I would need a lot of information and paperwork to complete it, but it was completely haste free. Once I’d filled out some basic questions about my address history and income it gave me my credit score rating and clearly told me what was good and what was bad about it. It also told me where I stand in comparison to the average score of people in my local area and the average UK score – I was pleasantly surprised to find I’m above average!

ClearScore Coaching

One of the best things about ClearScore was the coaching platform it offers after you’ve completed your credit check. They have an automated instant message system that acts as a personal credit score trainer, that gives you advice on how to Build, Repair or Shape Up your credit score and the advice it gives is specific to you and your thoughts about you finances. As you go along it adds the tips to your own personal to-do list which you can tick off as you complete later on. The IM chat was really entertaining and combined valuable advice with a conversational tone and threw in some cat videos too!

As my credit score was looking good I went for the Shape Up plan. My IM chat had already added and bunch of things to my to-do list and it handily split them up by quick wins and tasks that would require a little bit more effort. Best of all, they offer some refuel advice to motivate you to carry on, mine included pug puppy videos – always a winner!!

ClearScore smashed it

ClearScore identified that not having a credit card was negatively affecting my credit score and my ClearScore coach directed me to some comparison offers of credit cards that were appropriate to me, with links to check my eligibility really quickly! This is particularly helpful as there’s nothing more frustrating than filling out all the fields on a huge credit application only to be declined after clicking submit.

I hadn’t realised how simple it was to check my credit score before and just how many things can affect it. Having the personal credit score trainer has really helped me to understand my next steps to not just improving my credit score, but my finances also! Have you tried out ClearScore, if so what are your thoughts?

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HisHers Featured

Like many other decisions in personal finance there is no one way to handle your finances as a couple. We’ve come across many approaches in the PF scene from the ‘let’s split everything‘ to the ‘good luck, you’re on your own!‘. As far as it goes, I think we’re in the middle; I don’t want to pay for Joe’s weights just as much as he doesn’t want to pay for my love of craft bits! Despite this, we are more than happy to split any costs that we both share and of course indulge in the occasional treat.

For the past eight months we have been in constant debt to one-another! Owing each other money for ‘that food shop I did last week‘ or ‘those drinks I bought last night‘ has had its toll on us so we have decided to take the plunge and open a Joint Account – very grown up! Keeping track of who owes what and re-paying each other is one thing we are looking forward to getting rid of when we receive our shiny new debit cards next week!

We can’t wait to stop our running total of ‘who bought what’ and having to ask for bank transfers all the time!

Choosing the Right Joint Account

Believe it or not, there isn’t much out there in terms of rewards for those looking for a joint account. Joint accounts (excluding joint savings) are simply current accounts where both parties have access and visibility over the funds. The only real difference is that unless you are closing your personal account, you won’t gain any switching benefits that the account is offering.

With this mind, we decided to stick with the Halifax Reward scheme and open yet another account!. This provides £5 cashback at the end of each month providing you have 2 active direct debits and that you pay in over £700 per month. At the moment, we are going to be putting in £150 each into the account monthly to pay for food shopping, bills and joint leisure activities; we will therefore not gain the £5 cashback yet. However come June when we move out of shared accommodation (YAY!) we will be combining our rental costs and further bills which will then meet the criteria for the £5 reward.

Opening a Joint Bank Account

So here they are; my five simple steps to set up your first joint account:

1. Find a handsome man to split your costs withHandy and kind of essential for this one!

2. Decide on what the joint account will be used for Groceries? Rent? Bills? Clothes? You make the rules.

3. Decide on how much you will both deposit Use your budget to work out how much you will need. 

4. Do your research and find your bank accountLook for good reward scheme/interest rate.

5. Go to the bank and set up your account You will both need to be present at this occasion – don’t forget your ID!

How do you split your finances with your other half?

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