How To Tackle Budgeting for Fun

As regular readers will know I love to have a flutter and chance my arm at winning some easy cash. Budgeting is something that everyone should do but often doesn’t, myself included, however if you want to be able to enjoy your favourite activities like gaming, you need to know how to draw up a budget that allows you to have money set aside to play responsibly. Here are some simple tips I’ve put together that will help you stay on track financially, whilst still having fun.

Calculate Expenses

Before you buy anything or spend any money work out your monthly and weekly expenses, and be honest about them. An inaccurate budget won’t benefit you in any way, so it’s important that you add in every coffee you buy on the way to work and other little indulgences you don’t usually account for. For an accurate representation of your monthly spend keep all your slips for a few months, you might be surprised to see where your money goes.

Use Existing Resources

If you look around it’s amazing how many existing resources you have that can help you budget and save money. For example, your mobile phone can do so much more than just make calls; chances are you can download a variety of free apps that assist in creating a budget accurately, effectively and with minimal effort. Use your phone to track your daily expenses, monitor your spending and take advantage of having a free accountant with you, wherever you go.

Stick To Your Limits

Working out a practical budget is only one half of the job done; the other half is the self-control you need to exercise when gaming. The only way a budget will be successful is if you stick to it and there’s no point playing $100 when you only budgeted $50.

Stress-Free Fun

Lastly, remember that gaming responsibly is part of successful budgeting, and if you stick to your budget you will enjoy your gaming time far more than if you know you are overspending or have not budgeted correctly.

As you can see, it can be easy to create an effective budget and still game responsibly, and when you win you can always spend or save a little more!

How much is your Haggis?

How much is your Haggis?

The cost of the weekly shop will be pushed up for Scottish consumers if they choose independence in this year’s referendum, supermarkets have warned. I read this at the back end of last year and it has constantly played on my mind. A few qu9otes are in there, which to me most sound ridiculous. Let me know your thoughts. Haggis is important.

Morrisons told Sky News the amplified cost was down to a number of taxes to be imposed on Scottish retailers which would not apply to those in England. They also cited the higher costs of transport and distribution as well as the imposition of the public health levy by the Scottish government.

UK supermarkets currently absorb the extra costs in the interests of fairness to customers across the UK, but may rethink that policy that if Scotland becomes independent.

One executive commented “We would treat it as an international market and act accordingly by putting up our prices.”

Andy Clarke, chief executive of Asda, reported: “We believe in fairness, so the price the customers pay for a pint of milk or loaf bread is the same regardless of where they live in the UK.

“However, the cost of doing business in different parts of the country does vary.

“A ‘Yes’ vote in 2014 could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for business and put further pressure on our costs.”

The Scottish government, however, says there is “no reason” for retail prices to rise.

A spokesman said that plans for lower corporation tax and fuel duty would make Scotland “more competitive and less costly” than at present.

Energy Cheaper Than Expected

Energy Cheaper Than Expected

Finally; some good news from the energy companies. Four of Britain’s biggest energy companies have said bills will rise by around £50 less than expected this winter following David Cameron’s decision to “roll back” green levies.

British Gas said the average bill would rise by £70, rather than £123, after the government scaled back a programme to help poor households cut their energy usage and said it would pay for another subsidy out of general taxation.

Npower said it could now hold off increasing bills until 2015.

The third supplier to act was SSE, which said it would reduce its tariffs before April – still potentially allowing it to benefit from higher prices over the winter months.

Over the weekend, EDF said it could hold off increasing bills until 2015, having raised its prices less than other firms in anticipation of government action to cut levies.

However, the companies’ statements also contained caveats that their price freezes were contingent on no new rises in wholesale prices, network costs or policy costs – the three reasons typically used to justify price rises. Scottish Power has not yet made an announcement, while E.ON has not raised its prices in the latest round of increases.

The coalition came under pressure to act on energy bills after Labour said it would freeze bills for 18 months after the election if it won power, as it went on the attack over the rising cost of living.

Hopefully keeping warm this winter may be less expensive than originally thought.

You Have to Spend Money to Make Money – The way banking is going

You Have to Spend Money to Make Money – The way banking is going

If you pay for goods with a cashback credit card, you get a certain percentage back for each £1 you spend. So that literally means you’ll get paid for spending!

You can find out which is the best cashback card on the market by comparing the cards on the internet.

 When deciding which one to go for, bear in mind that some cards have tiered rates of cashback. So if you spend more than say £10,000 a year on the card, you may qualify for a higher rate than if you only spent £1,000.

 There’s an easy way to get around this if you trust your partner. Take out an associate card which he or she can use. This means every £1 your partner spends will build up cashback on your card as well, increasing your total spend. Just be aware that you – and you alone – are still responsible for paying the entire bill, including anything your partner spends.

 It can be hard to get your head around paying for even the smallest items with your cashback card, but it really is worth it when those pennies start to add up. And it’s a great feeling handing over your card and knowing you’re getting something back, too.

Finally, don’t forget that purchases you make over £100 are covered under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, something you just don’t get by paying by debit card.

So, in a myriad of ways, you really can be significantly better off. But make sure that you always pay off your balance in full each month – or the money earned in cashback will be negated by the interest you will have to pay on your debt.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! – Preparing for 2014

Budgeting in January

The tinsel and turkey is gone, ‘auld lang syne’ has been sung and the debris of Christmas and New Year festivities recycled. Even the Boxing Day sales started in November and we finally got paid in January. January is a long month for many.

The only thing to complete our start to 2014 is of course those bank statements and credit card bills that have arrived.

January is traditionally a ‘lean month’ for many and given that we may spend a few dark evenings in until payday, by “servicing” your money, it will put you in good stead for the rest of the year.

How to Plan for January and February ….

Food – reassess your food bills. Could you buy it cheaper? Read the offers, check them out and use them, but if the rest of your grocery list is cheaper elsewhere, then go elsewhere.

  • Heating Bills – Fuel prices are going up. Go online and compare costs by using utility switching services – you will probably find a cheaper deal. Turn your thermostat down just a couple of degrees.
  • Petrol – make a mental note to write down the cheapest fuel station prices as you drive buy. Do not just keep going to the same service station you usually do. Filling the tank is expensive and you can save a few pounds each time by shopping around.
  • Insurances – There are usually cheaper life insurance, house insurance and motor insurances out there. Get some quotes.
  • Credit Cards – if you do have card debt, do not just leave it on the same card. At the end of special offer or interest free balance transfer periods, credit card company interest rates increase to as much as four to five times your mortgage rate. Get your card bills out, consider paying them off from low interest bearing savings accounts now or switch to another nil balance transfer.
  • Television – do you really need the all inclusive TV subscription?
  • Internet – there are always better deals out there for your data allowance and often include free landline calls.
  • Mobile Phone – check out your allowance on your tariff. Did you really use all those inclusive minutes and texts? Could your tariff be changed to a cheaper one?
  • Gym Membership – if you have one, do you get value for money? Would a bicycle, walking, running or swimming be cheaper but just as effective?

Better to be safe than sorry – Home Insurance at Christmas

Home Insurance at Christmas

Following on from my last post I thought i’d follow up with an insurance post to cover you even further this Christmas.

Christmas is an expensive time of year and what with all the gifts and food you will be buying, you’re likely to have an increased amount of goods stored in your home.

But what happens if something goes wrong – can your Home Insurance help to protect all your hard work?

Check your policy. On most, your carefully chosen Christmas gifts are protected automatically by your Contents Insurance.

Once you’ve done all your shopping, if your food or domestic purchases are lost or damaged on your way home, home insurance could pay up to £1,000 towards replacing it. Plus, if frozen food gets damaged in your freezer due to an accidental change in temperature it can provide cover to replace it.

Colder weather and longer nights can mean that problems like burst pipes and break-ins increase during the winter. While home insurance can’t stop these things happening, it can help lessen the impact. Make sure you’re covered for these kinds of issues and if it’s offered by your provider, a home emergency service is also a good idea.

Christmas also sees a dramatic rise in the numbers of fires and accidents in the home. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, (ROSPA), around 80,000 people suffer accidents and injuries in their homes during the Christmas holidays every year. Many of those happen in the kitchen during food preparation, while putting up decorations – or worse, as a result of faulty fairy lights or unattended candles.

As well as taking necessary safety precautions, remember that when your home is filled with party guests and overexcited children, accidents can happen. Make sure that your home contents insurance provides you with comprehensive cover for common breakages as well as fire and accidents.

How to Save Money on Christmas Food and Drink

How to Save Money on Christmas Food and Drink

Not long to go until Christmas day now!!! Is everyone as excited as I am? I love this time of year, spending time with the family, opening all the presents but more importantly eating well.

If you’re entertaining this festive season, you might be worried about the cost of the food and drink you’re going to have to buy for your guests. Food and drink can cost a fortune, so this is where you really need to shop around to get the most for your money.

Ask your guests to bring something to the party

If you’re having family and/or friends round for Christmas dinner, why not ask them to bring a starter or a pudding or some booze? After all, you should give as well as receive.

Stock up at the deep discounters

The likes of Aldi, Lidl and Poundland all have brand name products (both food and drink) at low prices so stock up a couple of weeks before Christmas. Just make sure you stick to your shopping list.

Compare prices at the big supermarkets

Shop around in the big stores to find out where you can get the cheapest festive ingredients.

Make it, don’t buy it

It’s actually much more expensive to buy things like mince pies, pigs in blankets and stuffing ready-made than it is to make them yourselves. Your own versions will probably taste better too.

Use your loyalty points

If you have Nectar or Clubcard points, you could put them towards the cost of your Christmas food and drink. Just bear in mind that they are actually worth more if you use them for other rewards.

Use your leftovers

Make sure you use your leftovers, either straight away or by freezing them for later.

Trade Uranium as a Commodity

This is a short guest post by my buddy Jo who resides in Canada and love everything to do with trading metals. What he doesnt know isn’t worth knowing. 

Uranium is an odd commodity.  It strikes a nerve with many people.  Some people are for it (it doesn’t give off any CO2) and others are against (dangerous i.e. Fukushima/Chernobyl).  Doesn’t matter how you feel about it there is some solid evidence coming in that its bottom is near or has arrived already.

Uranium is a commodity that needs to be mined.  At today’s prices not many people are interested in opening a mine and digging for it.  People out in the field (CEO Admir Adnani of Uranium Energy Corporation) figures for people to get interested in the good, it needs to trade for about $80 (US) per pound to make it attractive.    As we can see we are far from that.
Everyday more and more nuclear plants are coming into service.  Four more are being built in the US alone and many more around the world.  Most of Frances power is nuclear.  Iran is pushing to be allowed to produce nuclear power.  Japan shutdown all there nuclear plants after Fukushima but there are signs that japan may have to bring them back into service as other forms of energy are quite expensive and a massive strain has been placed on their electrical grid because of this.
Come 2014 a little known fact is about to take place that is to change the landscape of the uranium field for the foreseeable future.  The US has had a nice luxury in this department.  US and Russia signed a deal several years ago help Russia clean up its old nuclear weapons. Russia was to ship their old nuclear warheads to the US to dispose of them.  This helped the US by getting a large amount of their uranium for a cheaper price (just disassemble the warhead and you have uranium).  In 2014 this deal is up and there is no indication that Putin will continue the deal.

5 Festive Scams to Avoid

5 Festive Scams to Avoid

 Using Smartphone’s and tablets to do Christmas shopping can seem a lot easier than battling the crowds. But going digital offers cyber crooks an opportunity to use scams tailored to the season in order to steal personal information for identity fraud and spread malicious software.

Here’s what to watch out for this year from those dodgy little buggers!

Text scams

Should your mobile number get into the wrong hands you might be exposed to a text scam. A crafty crook can send text messages promising free gifts or prizes. But following the link might encourage you to share personal details that can leave you exposed to identity theft, or ask you to download something that contains malware that infects your device.

Phoney e-tailers

If you plan to do most of your Christmas shopping online, beware of fake websites posing as legitimate retailers. You should check names and web addresses carefully for subtle differences that indicate the site is a fake and wherever possible limit your shopping to known and trusted names.

Festive travel scams

Travel is a big part of the festive period and many will be looking for the best deals online. Cyber thieves are well aware of this and use bogus offers for great deals to trick bargain hunters into entering credit card details and other private information.

Bogus gift cards

If you’re planning on buying a gift card for a loved one, make sure it’s official. Gift card deals are sometimes promoted via ads on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. These third-party websites might be selling bogus gift cards that will leave the recipient red-faced when trying to cash it in.

You’re better off going direct to a retailer.

Fake charities

The festive season can move people to reach out to those less fortunate, but scammers are on hand to take full advantage of this generosity, setting up fake charity sites to pocket donations. Be on the lookout for bogus charities using copied text and logos in emails or on websites.

Don’t Forget to Include Your Christmas Tree in Your Christmas Budget

Don’t Forget to Include Your Christmas Tree in Your Christmas Budget

When people budget for Christmas they often forget to include two things – the tree and the decorations.

Buying a new Christmas tree every year, whether artificial or real, makes no sense financially. If you have an artificial tree and use it year in, year out, this is likely to be the best value for money even if you paid slightly more to buy it in the first place because you are getting a lot of use out of it.

However if you’re thinking of buying a brand new tree this year you may want to buy a real tree. Instead of dumping the tree after the festivities are over, consider planting it in your garden or in a large pot to take care of for the following year and use it again the following Christmas. This can be real value for money as you’ll be getting the authentic Christmas tree look and smell but for years on end.

An even better way to save money on the initial outlay for this is to buy a Christmas tree directly after Christmas – trees being sold off in January can be bought at dramatically cut prices and you can then plant it in your garden to enjoy all year until Christmas comes round again.

You might also consider renting a Christmas tree instead of buying a brand new one if you don’t want the hassle (or don’t have the room) to re-plant your tree each year. Look online for companies who deliver the Christmas tree of your choice to your door for you to enjoy for the festive period, and then pick it up again in January to be re-planted for the rest of the year – just make sure you compare the cost with buying your own.

Decorating your home during the holidays is one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for Christmas, but it can be all too easy to over-spend on buying brand new decorations at premium prices in November or December. Instead of buying brand new, always look through your old decorations from previous years and see how you can make use of them. It may be with a bit of polish you can restore your old decorations to their former glory thereby saving you having to splash out on new ones.

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