Budgeting

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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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Today we welcome our friend James Smith who has kindly written the following post to help you save money on your car maintenance. This is definitely something that would have helped us a month ago!

Working on a budget seems to be such a grown-up thing that many of us do not consider it to be a useful financial tool. This is a huge shame as a properly planned and adhered-to budget can see us coasting comfortably through the months, savings building slowly but steadily along, with a highly favourable credit report! The mistake many people make is to create a prohibitive and restrictive budget, aiming to save too much and cut down on all the little treats and pleasures that make life worth living – especially when cash is tight. Allow a small amount of your budget towards pleasurable pursuits, but do first make sure that you have covered all the necessary expenses; car servicing and repair being a significant example.

Budget from the Start

Include your vehicle in your budget from the moment you first get your car. Just as you start to put money aside for fuel and oil, you should put another amount aside for emergency repairs, hiring a replacement car if necessary and to begin to save for the vehicle’s first service. Make sure that you stick to recommended service deadlines, even if your vehicle is new and clean your car on regular basis. Should you need to resell the vehicle you will get a higher price if the servicing log is comprehensive, up-to-date and according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Make a List

Study your vehicle and work out which parts will need replacing at which intervals and mark this information on a calendar. Save a small amount every month towards these replacements and in this way, you will not be taken by surprise when wear and tear has its way with your vehicle, as it is sure to do. Replace tyres promptly, as your life can depend on those small, but vital pieces of rubber that keep the wheels turning sweetly. Check out sites like Point S Tyre Dealers to find the best deals for your make and model of vehicle.

Keep Your Savings!

The money that you put aside for car expenses must then be ignored until you have car expenses to cover. Never allow yourself to be tempted to use it for a night out, ‘borrow’ against it until pay day or lend it to anyone – who is to say car will not break down the moment you have handed your precious car fund over to someone who will not be able to pay you back for a month or more?

Know Your Insurance

Keep your vehicle insurance up to date, choosing a policy that is not necessarily lowest required by law. Some policies provide extra benefits to people who rely on their car every day for an acceptably small increase in the monthly premium. If you do not drive very often, you can perhaps get away with having just the basic coverage, but if so, you definitely need to make sure that you have a nest egg to fall back on in the event of something unforeseen befalling your car!

 

Track Your Expenses

Keep the receipts for every piece of work or spare part that you pay for your vehicle over a set period of time. This will help you to accurately work out the total cost of ownership of the car, not just the obvious expenses like fuel and oil, but every penny spent on the vehicle.

Finally, if your car is very old – usually over 10 years – it is time to invest in replacement. If you continue to pay for spares and repairs on a car this old, you will quickly find yourself spending more than your vehicle worth just on keeping it roadworthy!

Without treating our car with care, we soon found out why you need an emergency fund!

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Christmas is the most expensive time of the year; presents, decorations and so much food! If this year has been a drain on your savings, why let next year be so tough on your wallet?

It’s time to arm up thrifters – let’s take on those January Sales!     

Make sure not to fall into the marketing trap but you will save yourself a great deal of hard earned cash if you invest in seasonal gifts straight after Christmas. The January sales are your opportunity to take advantage of some enormous bargains as thousands of stores drop their prices to the lowest point of the year!

Here’s what you should be stocking up on while they are super cheap:

  • Christmas Cards – This is an easy win, stores will basically give these away at this time of year
  • Wrapping Paper – That real shiny paper, the one you thought was way out of budget, it’ll be a third of the price in the sales!
  • Gift bags, Ribbon and Sticky Tape
  • Decorations – Tinsel, Baubles and Snowflakes. You might even find yourself a discount Christmas tree!
  • Christmas Lights –‘Deck the Halls’ at a discount!
  • Winter Clothes – Hats, coats and gloves will all start to drop in price too!

The Gift Drawer…

Clear out a large drawer in your house to fill with your discount gifts; you’ll be pleasantly surprised when December creeps up on you again! Providing you still have some cheery Christmas spirit left, you should be full of ideas of what you need for your next festive occasion. Carry this seasonal inspiration through to the New Year and find some presents for the relatives in the sales! Make sure to set aside a budget for your early gifts; get this out in cash and leave your card at home – no overspending!

Easy Auctions

Where do all the unwanted gifts without receipts go? You guessed it, Ebay! You wouldn’t believe the bargains you can get in auctions by the end of January. Keep your eyes peeled for new and unused gifts that’ll help you skip next year’s seasonal stress!

Have you ventured out into the January sales yet? Any bargains or just budget nightmares?

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bristol castle

Our anniversary was getting closer so Joe & I wanted to treat ourselves to a long weekend exploring somewhere neither of us had been together before. We started searching last minute holiday deals for the perfect romantic destination, but such holidays are only so affordable if you are willing to go mid-week – not an option! After some careful calculations we estimated it was probably going to cost us around £600 for two nights in Rome, this wasn’t feasible if we were going to stick to our new-found budget plans.

So England it was!

We spent 4 nights before departure planning a road trip around South-West England and managed to draw up a schedule jam packed with three exciting new cities to explore and fun things to do.

Bristol – Just £26.60!
First stop on the road trip was Bristol, where we explored Blaise Castle and its beautiful grounds. The best thing about visiting Bristol is that there’s plenty of things for us to do on a budget! We had researched Blaise castle before we left home and found that it was totally FREE to visit, our only cost was lunch! We could of easily spent longer here exploring the grounds but the heavens opened and we decided it was best to move on. The afternoon took us into Bristol’s busy city centre. A friend had told us about an indoor crazy golf course called Jungle Rumble which was the perfect treat for a wet afternoon. As we’d saved money in the morning we decided to play a few holes!

Bath – £107.60 (inc our anniversary dinner and accommodation)

Bath photoWe arrived in a rather drizzly Bath in very much need of dinner! So after checking into our Travelodge and feeding the ever hungry parking meter we came across a Thai Tapas restaurant. I’d never really tried Thai food so I was intrigued and tapas is a great way to try new food as you can pick a selection and what you don’t like you can leave for your partner! – Who wraps bacon around mussels anyway!? The next morning we made the most of the morning sun and went to see the Abbey and Roman Baths. I was really keen to see the Roman Baths but was rather let down when we saw it was £11 each to walk around them – peeking over the walls would have to do! It did seem that everything in Bath came at a price, we were put off the magnificent Abbey and the garden grounds due to costs. But we were still able to enjoy the beautiful views of Bath just walking through the streets. I would definitely recommend visiting Bath, but perhaps not for the budget traveler.

Bournemouth – £95.91 (inc accommodation and three meals out!)

BournemouthBournemouth was our final stop and we had plenty of time to enjoy the sights. We checked into an impressive Spa Hotel that was actually cheaper than our Travelodge in Bath! The sun broke through the clouds just in time for lunch, so we set out along the beach front to find some classic seaside grub – fish and chips of course! We spent most of our time in Bournemouth walking along the beach, playing on the penny machines at the arcade and drinking tea at various cafe stops along the promenade!

So how much did it cost?

Our last minute budget road trip came to a grand total of £337.06!! Almost half the price of a city break in Rome!

The Budget Breakdown.

  • Food – £154.51
  • Accommodation – £88.00
  • Travel – £60.50
  • Attractions – £19.20
  • Parking – £13.10

Our Tips for Budget Travels

  • Pre-Planning – the best thing you can do before setting out to explore a new city is to Google it! Its amazing what you’ll find – we definitely wouldn’t have found Blaise castle if we hadn’t of done our research.
  • Set a budget – When you set aside a budget for a trip its much easier to stick to low costs when planning which attractions to visit. Its always nice when you have money in the pot left over from a trip too!!
  • Keep a money log – We found it very useful to note down what we were spending as we went along that way we were sure about how much we had left to spend to enjoy the rest of our trip.

Experienced travellers, do you have any tips for travelling on a budget? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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