Budgeting

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save money on great clothes

We shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to look good in nice clothes. However, take a walk through your local shopping centre and you could be excused for thinking that you need to spend a great deal in order to look sharp. Consider that expensive fashion brands can “buy” more publicity, says The Guardian‘s Hadley Freeman; there are plenty of inexpensive clothing options out there which would have simply slipped past your radar. Here is how you can take advantage of them.

Shop at charity outlets in upmarket parts of the country

Freeman acknowledges that coming across “good cheap stuff requires some nosing out on your part” – and some of the places where you could nose around include charity shops. You shouldn’t just pick any, however; stick to those in posh areas. Hadley enthuses: “This was one of the best fashion tips I got as a teenager and it has honestly never let me down.”

Presumably the reason why this tip works so well is that, in these affluent areas, people can afford high-quality fabrics – but, once they no longer want them, a charity shop is one of the first places that they consider handing those surplus-to-requirements clothes to.

Continue your shopping trip in… your own cupboards

Sometimes, it seems, you don’t know just how much you already have until you’ve had a good rummage. By having this in your home’s cupboards, you could come across various items that you had bought long ago but since forgotten about.

Maybe, on a trip to Paris five years ago, you purchased a souvenir t-shirt that, you could now realise, still fits. Alternatively, you might have accidentally wedged a jumper between a couple of drawers when hurriedly looking through them during a moment of urgency a while ago; now could be the time to pull out those drawers and retrieve that still-perfectly-usable garment!

Avoid trends… or, at least, ones that will be short-lived

Keeping up with fashion trends can undoubtedly be expensive, considering how often they change. Therefore, if you are in the habit of following them, you could, as MoneyAware advises, save money by dropping that habit… or tweaking it. You could, for example, stick to trends that should last a few more years at the least. Alternatively, you could opt for classic styles – think 1950s style – that typically take a while to go out of fashion. Marilyn Monroe has been a style icon in many decades!

When you buy new, buy quality

Sometimes we just can’t avoid buying new clothes – we might need them for work or an important event. A good rule of thumb for buying new clothes is to buy something that will last, something that will stay in good shape after washing and something you can where for a variety of occasions.

For example, if you are looking for a pair of shorts for the summer – think about whether you can get a quality pair that you could also wear to work and even in the garden. Dickies Life stocks a pleasing range of work shorts – including slim, multi-pocket and industrial varieties. Buying quality often means only buying once every few years rather than every few months!

How have you saved money clothes in the past? Any tips for catching a bargain?

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reducing car insurance

While tax might often seem one of life’s few certainties, there remain ways in which you can reduce how much of it you need to pay.

This certainly applies with car tax; however, there are numerous changes that have recently been enacted and, in the process, muddied the waters concerning how you can trim the amount you need to pay in tax on your car.

These are changes that have been made to Vehicle Excise Duty or VED, as it is officially called. There’s a rather complex picture painted by these changes, which came into effect on April 1, but one thing is clear above all: if you buy a new car now, you could end up having to pay much more in VED than you would have been responsible for under the old system.

In this article, we will detail how you can still take advantage of parts of the new system to save yourself significant amounts on car tax. We will also explain how even your car insurance policy could play a large part in minimising your car-related obligations to the Exchequer.

1. Use or buy a car that was registered before April 1 2017

One great piece of news is that, if your current car was registered ahead of April 1, you won’t be financially hit at all by the new rules, as Daily Post explains. Instead, you will continue paying VED under the previous system; the rate which you were paying, or soon due to start paying, won’t change from what was the case pre-April. The changes apply strictly to cars registered from April 1.

Also, these changes don’t apply to second-hand cars. Therefore, if you are in the market for a replacement for your current car, you could avoid paying tax under the new system by purchasing a used vehicle. Nonetheless, we emphasise that, before you buy this vehicle, you must check that it was registered before 1 April 2017; if it wasn’t, you would be paying under the new system.

If you are planning to go down this route, it might be better to buy sooner rather than later. Otherwise, if you go browsing for a used vehicle in the more distant future, you could find that the only used vehicles on offer meeting your needs fall under the same VED system as a new car.

2. Buy a zero-emissions car costing less than £40,000

The two main factors influencing how much VED is payable are the car’s list price and the carbon emissions that the vehicle will produce when it is driven. For deciding the extent to which emissions should affect VED in the first year that the car has an owner, the government has specified 13 different tax bands.

In the initial year, you would pay no VED whatsoever if your car falls into the lowest of these bands. However, the car would only fall into that band if it is a zero-emissions one, like an electric car. Furthermore, to stay exempt from VED after this first year, the vehicle would need to have a list price under £40,000. If the list price was above that threshold, a ‘Premium’ charge of £310 would need to be annually paid from the second year of ownership to the sixth.

3. Be careful when adding options to a zero-emissions car under £40,000

We’ve repeatedly used the phrase “list price”, but what actually is this price? It is defined as the car’s price before the addition of “on-the-road” charges like a new vehicle registration fee and delivery charge, plus fuel and number plates. Furthermore, it’s worth emphasising that it is the final list price that determines whether your vehicle crosses that crucial £40,000 threshold.

So, if you do seal the deal on a zero-emissions car priced beneath this figure, be wary of adding options that could lift the overall price higher than £40,000. What Car? warns that “an option costing a few hundred pounds could end up costing you more than £1,500 over five years in extra car tax costs.” This would remain the case even if the dealer provided a discount bringing the car’s price back down below £40,000, as this price would not be the list price.

4. Utilise clever tactics to cut your car insurance premiums

In November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that, from June, insurance premium tax would be increased from 10% to 12%. IPT, as this tax is otherwise known, is levied on roughly 50 million insurance policies, including those for car insurance. As a result, car insurance premiums will soon rise beyond £600, as The Guardian has reported.

However, as this tax is charged as a percentage of this premium before the tax, you can lower the payable amount of this tax by, quite simply, lowering your premiums. You can do this in a variety of ways – such as by adding a parent or spouse as a named driver or, peculiarly, fitting a tow bar to your vehicle. That practice could trim up to 20% off your premium.

When the time comes to renew your car insurance policy, you should shop around. Call Wiser can help you in this task – as, taking account of policies from more than 30 leading insurance providers in the UK, this Hampshire-based company can give you an attractive quote in a mere 10 minutes. It can significantly reduce the hassle of looking for a great policy.

Looking for more tips on saving on your car? Check out this article from This Is Money about reducing your car insurance premium.

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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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Property marketFor tenants in the UK, moving house is not as simple as having enough income to pay the rent and having enough on the side for the deposit. The cost that is often overlooked until the last minute is the estate agent administration fees. Estate agents will need to take their cut and they’ll be taking it before you move in. Here’s what the tenant fees will cover two main services:

1. The Cost of Referencing

To ensure they find a suitable and trustworthy tenant, the lettings agent will run a series of checks on potential tenants. These include checking credit status,  current/previous employment checks and checking current/previous landlord references. All of these will be taken into consideration prior to arranging the tenancy agreement.

2. Providing a Tenancy Agreement

To ensure both the landlord and the tenant are protected in the case of any disputes, the lettings agent will provide a tenancy agreement for both parties to sign. If there are any issues with the property it is commonplace for the estate agents to make some decisions on behalf of the landlord or consult them on behalf of the tenant. This ensures the landlord does not a have to invest too much time into the property and gives the tenants any attention they need.

Are the Tenant Fees Reasonable?

As there is no industry standard cost and no regulation, the large profit margins that agents often make on these fees has always been questionable. More recently, the fees have become a topic of conversation as the government has recently announced plans to crack down on unfair costs in the near future. Unfortunately, we do not always have the luxury of choosing a house based on our estate agents but where possible you should look for an estate agent that is part of a professional body and charges reasonable fees for this service.

What is a Reasonable Tenant Administration Fee?

Some estate agents have been known to charge up to £600 in administration fees! This is why it is very important to check the fees prior to viewing houses. Rentify is one agent that is out to expose these fees, the following infographic shows average estate agent fees in various regions of the UK.

rentify prices

Tell us about your experiences with tenant fees. Do you think they are too high?

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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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