Using Smartphone Apps to Save Money

Smartphones are a wonder of modern technology, and through the use of apps they can accomplish a wide range of things. This includes a range of apps to help you save money in various ways. Some of these relate directly to your phone – such as reducing the size of your bill – and some help you to manage other aspects of your finances more effectively.

Bill-Cutting Apps

There are several apps that can help reduce the cost of using your smartphone. For instance, messengers such as WhatsApp can serve a similar function to text messaging, but they use your phone’s data (mobile internet access) allowance rather than text messages. Since they use such a tiny amount of data, this usually works out far cheaper for pay-as-you-go customers, and easier on the allowances of contract customers. Skype serves a similar purpose for voice calls. The downside is that you can only contact people in this way if they also use the app and are connected to the internet.

Money Management

There are a number of budgeting apps out there to help you manage your outgoings. These include apps to help you keep track of your utility usage and the size of your bills, some provided by energy companies, as well as apps to help you manage the cost of things like fuel shopping and car usage. This type of app does actively cut your spending, but rather serves as a tool helping you keep track of your finances and manage them more effectively. This helps you identify ways of keeping your spending down, and to better realise when small expenses are mounting up, and often this will leave you better off.

Replacing Other Gadgets

With certain apps, a smartphone will be able to replace other gadgets and therefore save you the expense of buying them. Straight out of the box, a smartphone should be able to serve as an excellent MP3 and MP4 player, and many people have already stopped buying new music players because their smartphone does the job perfectly well. Another excellent example is using a smartphone as a SatNav. Most have an app for this installed as standard, but this is not always very good and a lot of people therefore assume that smartphones do not make good SatNavs. However, there are a number of much better apps available to download, free or very cheap. There are even apps from major manufacturers like Garmin and TomTom, which tend to be more expensive but still cheaper than buying a separate device. You will probably need some kind of in-car holder for your phone, but these are widely available for very little money.

Could You get Cheaper Rent as a Property Guardian?

For young people who are just starting out with living independently, rents can be pretty steep. However, there is one way you may be able to live in a place for far less. What’s more, that place could potentially be a country mansion or a large, disused public building such as a church. This could be achieved by becoming a property guardian.

What are Property Guardians?

Property guardians are sort of a cross between tenants and housesitters for empty properties. Property owners, companies and organisations allow people to live in empty and disused properties for knockdown prices in order to discourage squatters from setting up there. The average rent paid by guardians is somewhere around £250 a month or £350 in London – far below the standard rate of a rented residence.

In return for their low rents, guardians not only serve the purpose of deterring squatters but also have a few basic responsibilities. These include keeping the building reasonably secure, reporting any problems you come across, and generally looking after the area they occupy and keeping it clean.

What are the Catches?

The extremely low rents that guardians pay form the obvious advantage, and the duties expected in return are very light. However, the situation is not without its disadvantages.

If you occupy a larger property (such as a country estate, which is not entirely unheard of in the guardianship world), it will probably be shared with others. Usually you will have your own private bedroom, but share many facilities.

The biggest disadvantage, however, is probably the fact that property guardians do not have the same rights as regular tenants. They are essentially there to look after the property until it is needed again. When it is, you may have to move with just a couple of weeks’ notice. Some guardians manage to find cheap accommodation for years, but there is absolutely no guarantee of this. It is best to have a back-up plan such as returning to your parents if becoming a property guardian.

One aspect of becoming a property guardian may be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the individual property and your own spirit of adventure. The range of properties on offer is extremely wide. Examples include everything from small homes to country estates, and many are non-residential buildings such as churches, schools and warehouses. Former hotels and care homes also sometimes employ guardians. Semi-empty large buildings and disused churches can be eerie, while non-residential properties such as warehouses may offer only very basic living standards. Country estates may turn up from time to time, but it is important to note this is not the norm and many properties are a world away from them.

How to Become a Property Guardian

You can become a property guardian by searching for properties with guardian companies such as Camelot and Adhoc. Some companies may have restrictions on acceptance, such as a minimum income threshold.

Which Things Really Push up Your Electricity Bill?

Bills are the bane of households everywhere, so saving electricity (and therefore money) is a popular pursuit. But it can be hard to know which things really use enough electricity to make a big difference, and this can make it difficult to work out where it is most important to economise. Knowing which things waste the most energy can help you target your efforts and bring down your bills.

Kettles, Ovens and Heating

Heating something up with electricity is one of the most energy-hungry processes of all. Anything that involves heating can be a good place to look when you want to economise. Kettles, electric ovens, toasters, and electric heaters will all use a lot of energy, so avoid using them unnecessarily. Even little things like not putting more water than necessary in your kettle can mount up to a noticeable difference. If your central heating uses an electric boiler, you can even potentially make savings from just turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees.

Light Bulbs

Light bulbs, by contrast, do not use nearly as much energy as many people think. Even old-style, non-energy saving lightbulbs are not that power hungry in the grand scheme of things. However, this does not mean that you should pay no attention at all to lighting as you aim to cut your bills. Over the course of a year, unnecessarily leaving lights on can still mount up. If you are also concerned about the environment, lots of households being careful with their lighting can also add up to a big cut in emissions. Leaving a light on by accident now and again is likely nothing to worry about, but you should still aim to turn them off when not in use. Bear in mind that, while old-style lightbulbs do not use a vast amount of electricity, modern energy-saving ones still use less by far and so can still save you money over time.

Standby Gadgets

Things like TVs and computers do not use a huge amount of energy while on standby, especially if they are fairly new as energy-efficient standby modes have improved in recent years. That being said, if you leave things on standby most or all of the time they can still lead to a noticeable increase in your electricity bill. Like lightbulbs, the relatively small difference can mount up over time, especially if more than one device is left on standby. It is easy to be lulled into complacency by the relatively small amount of energy used and let it mount up more than you expected, so make sure you turn devices off properly when they are not in use.

Ways to Make Cash This Summer

Switch bank for a £100

Building societies and banks are looking to open as many new current accounts as they can which means competition has never been higher before. This means many of them are offering lucrative deals to switch where you deposit your money. Why not take advantage of witching accounts and benefit from some of the perks offered. The Co-op Bank, Halifax and First Direct are currently offering £100 in cash for moving your account to them. What more, Co-op are even offering a £25 donation to a charity of your choice.

Cashback offerings

Foursquare and American Express have joined forces in order to offer its customers cashback when you spend money at a selected number of shops and restaurants. The offer is valid from now until the end of the year or until such time where 15,000 people have taken up the deals, whichever comes first. The way this works is that you need to sync you American Express car to your Foursquare account and then press the check in button when you reach the desired destination in which you want to benefit from cash back. Following this the offer will be sent to your account and once you have made a purchase your account will be credited! Simple!

However, if you are not currently the holder of an American Express card and this offer is luring you into getting one then you have plenty of options. The American Express Platinum Cashback Exclusive card offers you the chance to benefit from an interest free period if you would like to spread the cost of a big purchase. The card will offer you a 16 month interest free period on purchases in addition to 1.25% cashback on every pound you spend. The cost for these benefits is a £25 annual charge in addition to a representative 18.7% APR. 

Saving on the cost of alcohol for your summer parties

If you’re the type of person who enjoys an occasional barbeque or partying with friends, then you will be well aware of the cost of alcohol. While drinking responsibly is always advised, so is drinking on the cheap! If you join TopCashback as a new member they will offer you a fantastic deal of purchasing two four backs of beer worth £7 and receiving the cashback of £7 within several weeks.

How much a lifetime of commuting costs?

According to a recent survey, a career-long commute is likely to set a worker back an average of£50,000.

The investing service Nutmeg has carried out a poll where it estimated that for a Londoner who starts work at 18 and retires at the age of 65, his cost for commuting will reach as high as £66,000.

Furthermore, the hours that an individual commuter will spend travelling to and from work are nearly 11,000, which is the equivalent of 443 days. Both the length and the cost of a commute are highest in London, compared to other regions.

The daily time that it takes for a commute to and from London is an hour and 14 minutes, with estimated travel costs of £118. However, the Liverpool commute is in contrast with the London one. It is only 42 minutes and costs £72 a month on average. This means that workers in Liverpool spent around 7,532 hours of travel in a lifetime. Furthermore, comparing with Glasgow where commuters travel for 52 minutes a day which is more than those in Liverpool, they pay the least expensive prices for travelling- £63 a month which adds up to £35,500 on average in a lifetime.

From the commuters that participated in the survey, 20% pointed out as a reason for their commute that it was too expensive to buy or rent closer to their workplace. Indeed, 51 % of commuters in London agree that the cost of travel is too high. The poll showed that the most satisfied commuters are in Birmingham where only 25% of them complain about the expense of travel.

When asked about the most annoying things about their daily commute, participants in the survey pointed out jams, cost of travel, delays, and dangerous or bad driving. Other problems were the length of the journey, the crowds in the trains, music-playing fellow travellers and those commuters who take up too much seat room.

Nevertheless, what people spend on train journeys is still half the equivalent of commuting by car. On average, people travel around 10,000 miles a year on an annual season ticket and the average price of a journey is around £5 or 24p per mile.

How to make money in unusual ways

Everyone would like to have more cash but however, this is not so easy to happen. It is hard to find ways to increase your income, besides the obvious ones of finding a second job or selling your stuff on eBay or Amazon. Here are a few interesting ways to earn some extra money.

Get paid for your old car

Scrap metal prices are rising and this means a lot of companies will be interested in your old car and will be willing to pay a good sum for it. Examples for such companies are or Their scheme is that you get paid beforehand £100 for your broken-down car. The rest of the money that you will make out of this deal depends on the kind of car you have and where you are located in the country. Just for a quick comparison, com will pay £160 for a 1999 Renault Megane Scenic in Glasgow, but only £115 for a 2001 VW Golf GTI Turbo in Bristol.

It is important that you get a Certificate of Destruction from the scrap firm you have chosen if you decide to sell your car. Fill section 3 of your V5C certificate and send it to the DVLA. This will serve as a proof that the car is destroyed and is no longer your concern.

Sell your hair

There is a high demand for wigs and hair extensions and this means many companies will be willing to pay for your hair. You need to put it into a ponytail, cut it off and then send it to the company. Prices depend on the length and the health of your hair. Just to get a understanding of how prices vary, pays up to £60 for hair that is 12 inches in length or up to £200 for really long (19 inches or longer) locks.

Become a Model

You do not have to look like the models on TV in order to earn some money out of modeling. Adverts look for all kinds of people so it is worth having a look around in websites like in order to find a modeling job that is suitable for you.

Move your direct debits

The usual way people set up their direct debit is to pay everything, like rent, bills, etc. at the start of the month when our wages arrive. However, if you move all the direct debits for the end of the month and then use a current account with a decent rate of interest, you will earn interest each month before you pay your bills. It is an option worth checking out.

Explore these options and you might find yourself earning extra cash in no time!

Saving on Energy at Home

It is worthy idea to invest in an energy-efficient home because it will keep your family comfortable while saving you money. You can choose between few simple steps or larger investments that will make your home more efficient and will result in lower energy bills; like using energy-efficient building materials. The savings that you will make will be worth the investment for improvement and will put money in your pocket. Furthermore, if you decide to sell your energy-efficient home at some point, it will be more attractive to buyers and might receive a better price.

Nowadays, a lot of energy is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems.  By wasting energy at our homes, we waste money that can be used for other things.

Here are 11 simple tips on how to save energy in simple low-cost and no-cost ways: 

1  For a batter management of heating and cooling systems, install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills.

2.      Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

3.     When you are not in the room or not using them, simply turn things off (lights, TV, other entertainment systems, computers, monitors, etc.)

4.     Use power strips to plug home electronics, like TVs and DVDs and turn the power strips off when those equipment are not in use (the fact is that TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

5.      Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 48 degrees Celsius.

6.      Substitute long baths with short showers and use low-flow showerheads.

7.      Don’t wash dishes and clothes in small batches.

8.      Air dry clothes.

9.     Ensure that windows and doors are closed when you are heating or cooling your home.

10.  When you drive fast and speed up or brake rapidly, it wastes unnecessary fuel.

11.  Look for label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products that guarantee efficiency regulations.

The key to make the most of these savings is to take a whole-house approach. Your home can be seen as one energy system with different interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace — it’s a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Therefore, if the ducts, walls, attic, windows and doors are leaky or poorly isolates, a lot of unnecessary energy will be lost.

Can we hope for rise in minimum wage?

Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants to see an above-inflation increase in the minimum wage.

In the beginning of 2014, Chancellor George Osborne proposed an increase in minimum wage in above-inflation level.  He claimed that since now economy is seeing better time, it can afford to raise the minimum wage from the current £6.31 an hour for people over the age of 21.

Before this claim was made, the Labour party had already criticized the government that the so propagated economic recovery has not transformed into better living standards for people. However, others have accused Labour for the low living standards up until now. Either way, the facts are the following:

·         About 1.35 million people receive minimum wage

·         The minimum wage has fallen in real terms since the financial crisis in 2008

·         The current rate of inflation is 2%


The figures that are being discussed now is for the minimum wage rate to raise from £6.31 an hour to £7 an hour by 2015. Thus, it will be return before the economic crisis that was experienced 6 years ago. Currently, the minimum wage rate for workers aged 18 to 20 is £5.03 an hour, while it is £3.72 for under-18s.

Politicians promise that living standards will improve for the whole country as the economy continues being fixed. The great recession has seriously hit the UK and therefore, people in many regions feel poorer. By calling for a minimum wage increase, politicians demonstrate concern over living standards and especially, those of the working poor. There were accusations that the parties did not act adequately in the 1990s when they did not want to increase the minimum wage rate and therefore, they are trying to correct themselves now.

There are other ideas for financial improvement of people that have been circulation around the political elites. One of them is a serious increase in the amount of money people earn before they have to pay income tax. £12bn are planned to be moved further from the welfare budget. The Government and Chancellor George Osborne in particular have claimed to support those who work hard by a welfare system which cares for the people.

However, Labour has often accused the coalition government for raising the prices of essential goods for life such as fuel and food. Furthermore, a fairer pay should be reached across all UK workforce in order for a real recovery to happen.

The rise of the minimum wage should be carefully thought and should reflect productivity so that it won’t end up in costing jobs and hurting smaller business.

Savers Dampened by Autumn Speech

Many savers have had their hopes of more prosperous saving schemes dampened by the Government’s Autumn Statement. The much anticipated changes to personal saving schemes and saving accounts did not take place. What was mean to be the highlight of the report concerned was the popular and much anticipated peer to peer lending which is seen by many in the industry as a good alternative to the tight pocketed banks in the current regime, which was not introduced.

It was further announced that Britons are moving away from their saving habits at a rate which has been the fastest since the 1970s. The Chef Executive of Nationwide, Graham Beale who’s bank is a major player in the market for cash ISA’s launched a fierce attack on the government by stating that the Chancellor had missed out on a huge opportunity where he could prove his support for the savers in our society by simplifying the ISA schemes. He went on to say that the disparity between equity ISA’s and their cash counterparts have a longstanding anomaly on the size of their limit which as a result has led to widespread confusion on how savers can make the most of their tax-efficient allowance on their ISA’s.



On the other hand, the report was welcomed by insurance company Skandia which expressed its relief that the Chancellor did not introduce a £100,000 upper limit on ISA’s which would have meant that investors who have benefited of strong, persistent growth in their portfolios would have been penalised unfairly and as a result forced out of the investment.

However, the general consensus was one of negativity as there was dismay that Chancellor Osborne once again ignored the calls by many to merge the junior ISA’s with child trust funds. At the moment an administrative headache is caused for parents by money invested in CTF which has to be kept apart from JISA’s. This has deterred many parents interested in setting up saving schemes from putting their money with new JISA schemes.

The managing director of the Chelsea Financial Services, Darius McDermott, stated that in his opinion he does not see why a child should be stopped from obtaining the best financial deal for its future simply based on his date of birth. He further believes this was a missed opportunity by Mr Osborne to sort out what can only be described as a ‘mess’ as well as labeling it ‘incredibly unfair’.


Knowing about Payment Protection Insurance

The nationwide PPI scam and the ensuing PPI claims in the UK have revealed the unethical practices followed by the money lending institutions and banks.  A payment protection insurance (PPI) policy is taken to safeguard the mortgage, loan or credit card payments in case you are not able to pay the dues due to reasons like sickness, accident or being unemployed.

A PPI policy holder can claim on the policy as it denotes the insurer will take care of the monthly dues till you are able to pay yourself or a duration that has been agreed when the policy was signed. This is usually six months or one year. The fundamental purpose of a policy is offering customers peace of mind. There are many who have claimed with such policies and have lived comfortably when they were incapacitated due to illness, accident or unemployment. But PPI need not necessarily be taken with a mortgage, loan or credit card and when this was termed as a compulsory addition by banks, the mis-selling started thus resulting in the huge spurt of claims.

You can find out if you have a PPI policy by checking the following things:

  • If the PPI policy you have is attached with the mortgage, you can know about it from the premium payments you do annually.
  • In case of a loan, you can find from the details written in the insurance cover.
  • For credit card payments, the PPI cover might be mentioned in the monthly statements as a separate entity.

In case you are not able to locate these documents, or you are not certain about having the PPI with any loan, mortgage or credit card, you can contact a PPI specialist such as the PPI Claims Advice Line to help you find out if you have had any PPI at any point in the past 6 years.  Such a company would be able to assist you to get your insurance premiums paid refunded back to you from the bank – as most of these policies were mis-sold and UK customers are entitled by law to get PPI compensation.