How to Start Saving Money in 2018

How to Start Saving Money in 2018

Before you rush to check out those January sales, take a moment to assess your finances. After the blowout over the Christmas holidays, everyone’s bank accounts have taken a hit. Start off the new year by making a savings plan to carry out in 2018. Keeping on top of your spending will relieve stress in the long term. Once you get into the habit of saving, paying bills and emergency expenses becomes so much easier to handle. Read on for some tips on how to build your savings up. You might be able to afford that new car or dream holiday sooner than you think!

Gain Interest While Saving Money

You might not know where to begin when it comes to saving money. First things first, if you haven’t already, then look into opening a savings account! In addition to keeping money for the future, you can gather interest on your savings. There are different account types with varying interest rates, so look around for one that suits your needs.

For example, an easy access savings account would allow you to withdraw from your savings whenever you want. The downside is that they often have lower interest rates, generally 0.25% AER. A Post Office Online Saver account has an excellent rate of a 1.05% gross fixed bonus for the first year. If you prefer to manage your money online and need unlimited withdrawals, this could be the best option for you. However, you might end up switching to somewhere else when it drops back to 0.25% after 12 months. Be wary of the uncertainty of variable interest rates.

The same goes for Nationwide’s FlexDirect account. Current accounts like these allow you to earn interest on the money in your main spending account. Nationwide offers a fixed 5% AER on £2,500 for the first year but drops to 1% after that. If you open a current account with Tesco Bank, it guarantees 3% AER on up to £3,000 until April 2019. Each person can open two accounts, so you could gain 3% on £6,000 if you spread your money. There are multiple conditions you need to meet every month, but you can get extra Tesco Clubcard points when you make purchases.

Create a Savings Account For a Rainy Day

Most people save up for a specific purpose, such as buying a house or travelling abroad. If you don’t have a target, it’s still a good idea to open a savings account. You never know when you might suddenly need money for an urgent reason. If you want to put your money away without touching it, you should look into fixed-rate bonds. Cash ISAs are no longer more attractive than regular savings accounts. While interest gained through a cash ISA was tax-free, since 2016 the Personal Savings Allowance lets anyone earn up to £1,000 annual interest without tax.

Only invest in a fixed-rate bond if you definitely have the money to spare and won’t need to access it. You won’t be able to withdraw any of your savings for the duration of the fixed term. This will be a minimum of a year. Some banks won’t let you deposit more money, so you’ll only gain interest on your first deposit for that year. To give you a little wiggle room, try a limited access savings account. Virgin Money offers a Defined Access E-Saver account with 1.01% AER and up to three withdrawals per calendar year. If you need to withdraw four or more times, the interest rate will drop to the basic 0.25% AER.

Consider Switching Banks

Some banks will pay you to open an account with them if you swap from another bank. This is a good way to get some extra cash, but it’s also a big commitment. You’ll have to close your existing account, and updating your your details for payments can be a hassle. If your current bank account has fewer benefits than you would have at another bank, you may as well go for it. You could get a better deal on interest rates and get paid for it, too.

HSBC awards a big bonus of £150 upfront for switching to their Advance Account, plus an extra £50 after one year. Opening the Advance Account makes you eligible to open a regular saver account, with 5% AER for up to £250 a month. However, you have to pay quite a high minimum of £1,750 a month into the Advance Account. Halifax Reward will give you £75 when you open the account, plus £3 every month if you meet the criteria. It’s a smaller bonus overall, but you’ll only need to pay in a minimum of £750 per month.

Saving Money With a Family

 

Give Yourself a Budget

Once you’ve sorted out your bank and savings accounts, it’s time to sort out your spending habits. Make sure all your bills and payments are cleared first and foremost. Work out your travel expenses so they can be set aside each month too. If you commute by train or bus, invest in discount railcards and monthly or annual tickets to save money. Next, you need to set a limit for your food budget. Try lowering it by shopping at cheaper supermarkets, like Aldi and Lidl. Avoid buying lunches every day and bring your own from home instead. This will also help to reduce wasting money if you’re always using up what’s in the fridge and cupboards.

With all your necessities covered, work out the portion of the money you have left that you can afford to spare. Don’t forget to give yourself an allowance for things like clothes and entertainment. Saving doesn’t mean you can never treat yourself. We’re all sick of those articles telling you to stop buying coffee every morning, assuming that you’re in the position to afford that extra expense in the first place. The point is, don’t go overboard and buy too many new things you don’t need. Designate how much you want to save per month, and move it into your savings account if you have one.

If you have a set goal for what you eventually intend to spend your savings on, calculate how much time you have to save up and how much money you’ll need to put aside every month to meet that goal in time, and stick to it. Keep tabs on your spending habits and track your progress by logging everything into a spreadsheet. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and you can even use Microsoft Online for free.

Saving Money With a Family

When you have kids, saving up can seem impossible. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. When you’re spending for a family, you can save money by joining loyalty schemes like Boots Advantage or Sainsburys Nectar. Make sure you have the best possible deal for TV, internet, and entertainment packages. Sky, Virgin Media, and services like Netflix and offer multi-device or family subscriptions for huge comparative annual savings.

Consider opening savings accounts for your children, too. Accounts for kids often have higher interest rates. You can put money in for them to save for their future, or encourage your children to invest some of their pocket money every month. This will also help them learn how to manage money for later in life. If you have a partner who pays fewer taxes than you do, they will have a higher Personal Savings Allowance. Assuming that you can trust them with this, move your savings into their accounts.

The 365 Challenge

There are many tips and tricks out there for saving money over the course of the year. One of these is the 52 Week Challenge, where you put £1 into your savings for the first week of the year and increase this by £1 every week. By the end of the year, you’ll be putting away up to £52 a week. The problem is that with Christmas at the end of the year, who can afford to spare around £50 a week? The answer to this is the “365 Challenge,” which is more consistent.

How this works is that on the first day of the week, you put £1 into your savings, then increase this by another £1 every day. On the seventh day of the week, you’ll deposit £7, before resetting to £1 the next day at the start of the new week. At the end of the year, you’ll have saved up a decent £1,500 – compared to the £1,378 total from the 52 Week Challenge. This is a great way to steadily top up your savings account, without having to deposit a big chunk of your wages every month.

Remember that saving money is a gradual process. Don’t give up if you aren’t saving as much as quickly as you’d like. There will be months where you don’t have a lot of money to spare, and months where you have more. All you have to do is put your saving plan into motion, and keep going with it. Good luck!

Spread Cheer This Christmas and Donate to Charity

Spread Cheer This Christmas and Donate to Charity

‘Tis the season of goodwill, so what better way to spread some cheer than by supporting a good cause? Whether you donate money, time, or your unwanted belongings, you can easily help to make a positive difference. As a festive holiday, Christmas is all about giving and sharing as a celebration. Sadly, some people don’t have much to celebrate this time of year, or no money or family to celebrate with. There are many charities which aim to support different types of people in need. If you donate to charity, you can help to make the future a little brighter for some of these people. It takes very little effort from you, but your donations can go a long way. Here are a few ways you can donate to charity and help people out this Christmas season.

Save the Children

Today, December 15th, is actually Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day! Since it began in 2012, the day has become a kind of national holiday. Across the country, people at every school and workplace can pay in £2 to wear a Christmas jumper. People truly embrace Christmas Jumper Day as an opportunity to wear over-the-top festive knits and do some good at the same time. Every donation goes towards providing food, healthcare, and education to underprivileged children around the world.

If you forgot about Christmas Jumper Day, you can still donate to Save the Children in other ways. You can buy beautiful Christmas cards and wrapping paper from the online Christmas shop. If you’re looking for some small Christmas gifts, you can also buy tote bags, candles, and soaps. Not only are you donating to charity, you’re receiving ethical handmade products in return.

Or you could donate to charity on behalf of somebody else as a Christmas present to them. Select a “virtual gift” and you can send a card to the recipient with a message about how their donation will save lives. You can “buy” things like clothing, school supplies, toys, water filters, mosquito nets, food, or education for children living in poverty. The money you donate for the virtual gift will go towards relevant projects, such as education or health programmes.

YMCA

In the UK, YMCA is the biggest provider of support and safe accommodation for otherwise homeless youth. The organization provides somewhere to stay and access to educational training to help young people get back on track in life. Christmas can be very difficult for adolescents with family problems, who might end up having to leave home. At this time of year when temperatures drop, nobody should be on the streets with nowhere to go. You can give a young person the gift of their own room and holistic support by making a donation.

YMCA accepts single or recurring donations of any amount of money you choose to give. Even a few pounds a month will help. If you want to see where your money goes, you can even become a Room Sponsor. Just £12 a month can pay for a safe home for young people escaping abusive backgrounds. You’ll receive a special gift and regular feedback on the progress of whoever lives in your sponsored room.

If you can’t quite spare £12 a month, why not team up with a friend or two to split the cost of donations between you? Then you can all take part in reading the updates as a group. YMCA has around 80 charity shops across England and Wales, so you can even donate by shopping! If you don’t want to buy, you can donate by providing goods for YMCA shops to sell. Donate your unwanted clothes, homeware and other accessories at no cost to you.

Age UK

Elderly people are part of one of the most vulnerable age groups in society. Many older people experience feelings of isolation and the negative effect this has on their wellbeing. The charity Age UK provides advice, health services and emotional support for older people. Connecting with Age UK can massively improve their lives and help them feel less alone.

Christmas can be especially lonely for old people who have no family. You can help Age UK to help them in any of several ways. When you donate to charity, you don’t just have to give money. You can also give your time. Age UK runs a Befriender programme where you can either visit in person or speak with a lonely older person over the phone once a week. Volunteering to do this will only take up a little of your time, but you could make a great new friend. You’ll be matched with someone in your community according to your interests, so you’ll have things to talk about.

If you’re just too busy to commit to regular appointments like these, you can still support Age UK. Set up a monthly donation of £3, £5, or £10, or make a one-off donation of however much you’d like to give. You can also donate items to Age UK shops to be resold and make money for the charity. Any clothes, electronics, or furnishings that are in good condition but you no longer need can be given to Age UK, or they can collect them from you.

Oxfam

As a global movement to fight poverty, Oxfam aims to improve the living conditions of millions of people across the world. If you want to help make a difference but don’t have much yourself, consider buying Oxfam Unwrapped gifts for Christmas presents. Until 21st December you can get 50% off! This means you can provide survival kits, soap, seeds, fertilizer, solar energy, toilets, and livestock, as well as fixing wells and supporting refugees, for as little as £2 – £20.

If you want a more tangible gift in addition to the donation, you can add little extras like Fair Trade chocolate at checkout. You can also browse hundreds of “pre-loved” and often vintage items in Oxfam’s online shop. If you’re on a low budget, you can buy toys and books as Christmas presents while donating to charity at the same time. With free delivery, you don’t even need to go and visit your actual local Oxfam shop.

That said, why not have a clear out and take your old stuff down to Oxfam? Make some room for the newer things you’ll be getting for Christmas. If you want to donate secondhand clothes to Oxfam, you can even do it at a Marks and Spencer store. With “Shwopping” you can drop off your old clothes at Marks and Spencer for either recycling or resale in Oxfam shops.

British Red Cross

The British Red Cross organization supplies first aid, emergency response, and health and social care, as well as supporting refugees and protecting people in areas of conflict. Based in the UK, the Red Cross has 8 overseas branches and operates wherever people need them. Red Cross volunteers do vital work in all the aforementioned areas.

You can help by making a single or recurring donation to a particular appeal. Support people closer to home by donating to the UK Solidarity Fund or London Fire Relief. After the terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy earlier this year, many families need your support more than ever this Christmas. Further abroad, many Caribbean islands were devastated in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Donate to the Hurricane Appeal to help the people who desperately need disaster relief. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Myanmar have left millions of homeless refugees in need. If you don’t know where to direct your donation, you can donate to the General Fund to support people in crisis across the world.

You can also support the Red Cross by purchasing items from the online gift shop. Cards, gifts, books, toys and games, home accessories are all available. Donate to charity and help someone you know with a chronic illness or disability at the same time. The Red Cross sells products to assist with independent living and make life easier. You can buy first aid manuals and first aid kits as well if you need one.

Tips to Help You Be Charitable

When you make a donation, if you are a British taxpayer you can help the charity get more money using Gift Aid. Whether you make a financial donation online or in person, or donate old belongings, request a Gift Aid form. This allows the charity to claim the tax on your donation back from HMRC, meaning they could get an extra 25p for every £1 you donate. Your donations only qualify if they aren’t more than four times the tax you’ve paid in the current tax year. If you haven’t paid enough tax for future donations, you’ll need to tell the charity.

If you have some spare change in your purse or pocket, don’t be a Scrooge. Many shops have charity donation boxes at the tills you can drop your change into, even if it’s only a few coins. If you see someone selling the Big Issue, buy a copy. Or if you see a homeless person sleeping rough, give them whatever you can. A good way to help them without handing out cash is if you have a free coffee card. Many retailers like McDonald’s provide loyalty cards, where you can collect stickers or stamps to get a free drink. If yours is full up, a homeless person could use it to get out of the cold for a bit and have a hot drink. Have a heart and spread some warmth this Christmas.

A Guide To Christmas Eve Boxes

In recent years, Christmas eve boxes have become more popular and have started to become more of a tradition. The idea is that you buy a box and fill it with festive goodies for a loved one to open on the night before Christmas. Many people fill them with things such as pyjamas, bath bombs, face masks, chocolate and Christmas movies! Here’s a selection of Christmas eve boxes that are available at your local shops and supermarkets.

children opening a christmas eve box

Asda

Asda has a selection of different types of gift boxes that aren’t necessarily Christmas Eve boxes but would definitely be perfect to use. These boxes come in different sizes and different patterns with one option saying ‘ho ho ho’ all over it and another saying ‘Merry Christmas’. They also range in price but the most boxes cost £2 or £3 which is one of the cheaper options allowing you to spend more on the contents of the box.

Matalan

Similar to Asda, Matalan also has a few options for boxes such as the 6 pack of novelty Christmas treat boxes which you can use to give small individual gifts. Their prices range from £3 to £4 which is great as you can keep the costs down whilst still being able to buy the gifts you would like.

John Lewis

John Lewis’s boxes are a little more expensive with the price tag being £12.50 for their version of the boxes and some of their alternatives being £20 Santa sacks. This, of course, is fine if you have some money to spur after buying all the present you need but it is a bit extortionate for the average Christmas eve box.

Mothercare

Mothercare has a personalised Christmas eve box available for £23 which at first seems a little expensive but as it is made out of wood and has your child or loved one’s name carved on the front you will be able to reuse it every year which in turn will probably save you some money.

Gift Ideas

Now that you know where to buy your Christmas box you may be left a little lost with what to fill it with. It all depends on who you are buying it for but here is a little list of ideas for different people.

For husband/boyfriend/dad

If you are a little lost for things to buy the man in your life you could opt with a shaving kit, face wash, his favourite chocolate, novelty or joke gifts, a small game or a tiny version of his favourite alcohol – I’m sure he will be more than pleased with the box and all the little presents inside. Keep it personal if he likes a specific TV program or band try and include some gifts associated with them.

For wife/girlfriend/mum

Shopping for a girl can at times be a little difficult but you can always play it safe by buying her things that she can pamper herself with such as bath bombs, face masks, nail varnish, body lotion, chocolate or hot chocolate, her favourite snack or her favourite alcohol. If you are buying her products for her skin or to go in the bath make sure you find out if she is allergic to anything – you don’t want a nightmare before Christmas.

For little ones

If you are buying your little one a box for Christmas Eve you could be extremely creative and include things like carrots, biscuits and your drink of choice for them to leave out for Father Christmas and his reindeers. You could also take a more traditional approach and include a Christmas movie for you to watch before bedtime, some Christmassy pyjamas for them to get all snuggly with and hot chocolate or some toys as an early surprise.

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!

If like us, you’re already super excited for Christmas to arrive and envelope the country in all its wintery-joy, then you’ll be as into all of the new beauty range advent calendar releases that have been teased this month. Because obviously, October is a reasonable time of year to start thinking about all of the money you can spend treating yourself this Christmas.

Estée Lauder‘s ‘The Beauty Countdown’ calendar features a wide range of products from all of our favourite brands that are in the Lauder stable. With brands like Clinique, bumble and bumble, Origins, MAC, Smashbox, Aveda, Darphin, GlamGlow, Michael Kors and, obviously, Estée Lauder, we can expect haircare, skincare and plenty of makeup to be supplied within the calendar – meaning all of our party season essential will be provided in one beautifully packaged collection. The calendar is a gorgeous star-shaped box that includes 25 doors to open, which will give you a great reason to wake up every December morning! This limited edition release is the first time that all of the best Estée Lauder brands have appeared in a multi-brand calendar, and won’t go down without a fuss. The calendar is priced at £125 but is really worth around £197, so we’re really being treated by the brand.

Only 1,000 calendars have been produced, and with the calendars landing at some point in October – the date is still to be released by Estée Lauder – we can imagine that they will be disappearing very quickly. If you’re interested in finding out exactly what you’ll be getting in the calendar, here’s a concise list:

The Beauty Countdown Advent Calendar

Estée Lauder are launching the best multi-brand advent calendar this winter!
Photo Copyright: Grazia

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, 7ml

Estée Lauder DayWear Anti-Oxidant Sheer Tint Release Moisturizer SPF 15, 15ml

Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Instant Refinishing Facial, 5ml

Estée Lauder Deluxe Mini Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick, Envious, 1.2g

Estée Lauder Modern Muse Nuit Eau de Parfum Spray, 4ml

Clinique Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, 15ml

Clinique Chubby Stick Intense™ Moisturizing Lip Color Balm, Broadest Berry, 1.2g

Clinique Chubby Stick™ Sculpting Highlight, Hefty Highlight, 4ml

Clinique Aromatics In White, 4ml

Origins CLEAR IMPROVEMENT® Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores, 30ml

MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash, 12ml

MAC Strobe Cream, 6ml

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, 3ml

Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil, 15ml

Bobbi Brown Art Stick Liquid Lip, English Rose, 1.8ml

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks, Powder Pink, 2.55g

Aveda Shampure™ Hand and Body Cleanser, 50ml

Aveda Thickening Tonic, 10ml

bumble and bumble Don’t Blow It Thick (H)air Styler, 15ml

bumble and bumble Dryspun Finish, 40ml

Darphin 8-Flower Nectar Oil Cream, 5ml

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, 15ml

GlamGlow GRAVITYMUD® FIRMING TREATMENT, 15g

GlamGlow THIRSTYMUD™ HYDRATING TREATMENT, 15g

Michael Kors Wonderlust Rollerball, 10ml

Race for Life: How to apply

race for life how to apply

For those who don’t know. Race for Life is organised by the Cancer Research UK Charity. Although the events are called “Race for Life”, the races range from muddy race courses, family runs, marathons, half marathons and 5k races. The idea of the race is that you fundraise money, or sponsor yourself, to race in one of the events put on by the charity. There are a number of ways in which you can fundraise, and you can find more information on ways in which to do so below.

When it comes to applying for a race with Cancer Research UK, there are a number of ways you can do so…

how to apply race for lifeRace for Life: How to apply

Firstly, you need to find an event near you, on a suitable date. You can browse through the events, and learn more about the races available to you on the Race for Life website. From there, you can find a range of dates which will suit you best.

When applying, you can register yourself for the race individually, or as a group. If you are planning on applying as an individual for a race, you can do so once you have found the event you would like to take part in. From there, simply follow the instructions on the screen. You will need to pay around £15 to enter the race, however, all of this goes to cancer research UK. Once you have entered the race, you will be given a number – which will need to be printed out and worn on the day. From there, you will also be able to make a fundraising account – in which people can add money and donate money in order to sponsor your race.

If you’re looking to apply for a race as a group of people, this can be done as well. Again, find the event you would like to apply for. Once you have done this, sign up your friends and family along with your application using their email address. You will also need their date of birth. Once you have done this, you can set a fundraising target for either the whole group or individual targets. Once this has been done, and you have paid the amount due for taking part in the race, you can choose a group name. Your group name will be used in the place of a running number for the whole group. Once you have done this, you can start getting the word out there about your upcoming race for life!

If you are joining an existing group, all you have to do is sign up for the event that you would like to enter, click on “join a group” and find the relevant group that you wish to join. Once you have paid your entry fee, you will officially be a part of the group.

How to volunteer

If racing isn’t your thing, then you can apply to be a volunteer at any of the available events near to you. Volunteers are needed at races around the country in order to provide water, medals to runners, and to help organise and set up running areas/registration areas.

You can apply to volunteer at any Race for Life on the Race for Life website.

how to apply race for lifeGetting ready for your race

It’s important to prepare for your race. If you’re taking the race seriously, there are a number of apps available on both android and ios phones that can help train runners up in order to run the complete course. The Race for Life website also has training plan guides that are free to use for all of the races available. If you’re planning on walking the course, then that’s great as well! Make sure you protect your skin with sun lotion, especially if the weather is hot, and make sure you bring a bottle of water with you in order to hydrate yourself along the course.

If you’re looking to fundraise a lot of money for your race, you can browse a range of fundraising ideas on the Race for Life website. Ideas include holding a bake sale, or even a girls night in!

You also need to make sure you dress for the occasion. You don’t have to wear pink for the race, but it is expected! You can browse the Race for Life shop for items and inspiration for the correct gear to wear on the day of your race.

 

MP’s Warn Supermarkets to Stop Offers in Order to Tackle Obesity

child obesity

Deep discounting is a popular practice by many of our favourite supermarkets, including the big 4, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. The nation’s favourite snacks and unhealthy treats are constantly on offer in superstores, whether it is a buy on get one free offer, a weekly rollback or money off if you buy a certain amount, it is safe to say that our supermarkets do little to encourage people to eat healthily, or any encouragement they might do is then counteracted by cheap chocolate, discounted cakes and mega multipacks of crisps. With obesity in the UK on the rise and definitely a serious problem today, ministers have warned that in order to tackle childhood obesity, tough new measures must be introduced – and this includes tackling the deep discounting, now.

The government published an obesity strategy last August, but it has since been said that this does not go far enough. The strategy makes no mention of targeting discounts and price promotion in supermarkets, nor does it make any mention of kerbing advertising on sugary food and drink, either. This could be a key factor contributing to obesity and one that needs to be addressed. There was also calls for products to show their sugar content in easy to understand teaspoons, which would prevent companies misleading people. This was also ignored. Crucially, the report also doesn’t cover any measures that might be taken to improve education when it comes to diet or give local MP’s any power to tackle the environmental factors that contribute to obesity.

One measure that was introduced was for companies to reduce the amount of sugar in drinks that are targetted towards a child audience. Whilst this is important, it was not introduced as compulsory, and there have been no penalties introduced to penalise companies that don’t comply. There are now calls for the government to take stronger action, as soon as possible. The fact that some companies are complying with new measures is now putting them at a disadvantage competitively, with companies that don’t bother advertise what is really in their food/drink. It has got to the point where industry representatives themselves have called for one rule for everyone. Ministers have not just called for true advertising to be in supermarkets but also in cafes, restaurants and takeaways so that nobody is misled there either. At the moment, the restrictions are only limited to products that have a significantly high sugar content, but there are calls for restrictions to also be placed on products with high fat and salt contents, which also contribute to bad health and obesity. Voluntary controls have had little effect up to now and MP’s are now calling for compulsory rules to be put in place. At the moment, wherever you go in supermarkets, you are within reach of an unhealthy product at a discounted price, even if you nip in to buy something non-food related, you are faced with chocolate, crisps, sugary cereal bars and sweets available to buy quickly and conveniently at the checkout. These type of displays encourage unhealthy, impulse buying. MP’s are calling for an outright ban on these kinds of practices as it is doing nothing to help the current obesity crisis that the NHS is dealing with.

Whilst the new tax on sugary drinks is a great start and is definitely a great step in the right direction, there is still so much more that the government should be doing but isn’t. MP’s have accused the government of missing vital opportunities to tackle childhood obesity by not taking strong enough action. To defend the actions of the government, public health minister Nicola Blackwood has said that the system that is currently in place seems to be working but would like to point out that they have not rejected or ruled out any further changes that need to be made to the plan should the current plan cease to make a difference.

 

Royal Mail Ups the Price of Stamps

1st class stamp

This week marked the increase of British stamps by a penny today as the Royal Mail ups the cost of sending letters in the UK. Although a penny increase is nothing to stress over, does anyone actually know how much stamps cost now? The Royal Mail has defended the increase by stating it is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the postal service. Alright, alright, you can have my penny. The price of a single first class stamp is now 65p (previously 64) and if you wanted to wanted to send it with the slower, second-class service, you will be expected to pay 56p for the privilege (previously 55). The price hike is all too familiar, as they went up by the same amount in March 2016, leaving people to question whether this will be a regular occurrence. Many are saying that the prices were already considerably expensive and so do not welcome a price hike, no matter how small.

When stopped in the street and asked how much the cost of a stamp was, it seemed very few knew the real answer, with a large majority of people underestimating its cost, saying they thought a first class stamp cost around 50 – 55p. It is not just the regular stamps that have increased in price, and those wanting to send a large letter will have to pay 2p more as of now. Sending a large letter will now cost 98p for first class and 76p for second class. Many people were struggling to understand why the cost had gone up when the exact same service was being provided and if you can do things online for free these days, it seems the Royal Mail are just going to lose customers. Many said they are not surprised about the price hike because the postal service is no longer essential like it used to be and therefore less and less people are using it.

Quick to defend themselves, the Royal Mail jumped in with the excuses, claiming that although they have risen in price, their stamps remained the cheapest in Europe, with the average price of a first class stamp in Europe standing at a whopping 87p. They have said that they understand how hard it can be for people to afford their stamps and so any price changes have always been considered extremely carefully and do recognise the impact that they can have. But they continue to insist that changes are necessary so it is likely that the price will increase again in the coming years. Although many don’t actually use the postal service anymore, there are still older people that will actually put pen to paper and write a letter, so the postal service needs to be kept up and running. director of communications at Saga, Paul Green has said that the price increase is definitely worth it if it will keep the service up and running. He says that the main thing is to ensure it continues to run as it once did, and if the prices rise then so be it.

 

 

Budgens Goes Bust (And People Aren’t Happy)

Budgens Supermarket st ives

Ah, another one bites the dust. First Woolworths, then Debenhams, now Budgens. It has been announced that owners of popular supermarket chain Budgens have collapsed into administration, followed by 800 job losses as the store is no longer open. Today, 815 staff will begin the redundancy process as others begin the mourn the loss of their favourite supermarket. Budgens was nowhere near as popular as other main competitors such as Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco, all part of the big 4, but for some, it was a reliable local and one that will be sorely missed. It has been reporters that the owners have been struggling to find a buyer for quite some time and due to it being no longer commercially viable to continue trade, many Budgens stores have closed their doors for the final time.

The store is currently owned by Food Retailer Group, who bought it from the Co-op in July and have said they are currently working closely with the Co-op and the relevant Government agencies so that they can make sure that all current employees of the supermarket will receive exactly what they are entitled to, which is full redundancy pay as well as practical and financial support. There were talks about the company making redundancies back in July when it got taken over but Food Retailer Group assured that none would be made and the company would continue to trade as normal. Until now. The Food Retailer group has, subsequently, for want of a better phrase’ gone bust’ along with all 36 of the Budgens it owns. Budgens, as a brand, want it to be known that they are disappointed in The Food Retailer but want it to be known that Budgens as a brand is still very much operating and going well and the current failure of The Food Retailer does not directly affect Budgens as a brand.

Nine of the stores due to close have closed over the weekend and it is expected that the remaining stores will close over the next two weeks – so if you live nearby – the time for a trolley dash is definitely now. The affected stores have been announced and they include stores in Totnes, New Brighton, Northumberland and Norwich, with the biggest number of staff affected by a single closure being in Gillingham Kent, where 37 workers will lose their jobs. The remaining stores and the overall Budgens brand is owned by wholesaler Booker but there are currently talks of it being taken over by Tesco which could potentially see their success and popularity increase significantly. You can visit the Budgens website for full details of what stores are closing in what area but it might be reassuring to know that 150 Budgens stores are to remain open. The 36 that are suffering from the closure have never really found their feet it would seem. First Somerfield, then Co-ops, then Budgens and now nothing – were they doomed from the very beginning? Although the staff were not affected in the beginning, it seems that this closure is definitely final.

 

How Much Will YOU Spend this Valentine’s Day?

valentine's day spending

So, as usual, we’ve blinked and Christmas is over and the next holiday in the calendar is fast approaching…Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated in the UK nowadays with spending becoming more and more extravagant with each year. It is easy to spend a tonne of money on Valentine’s day, with online stores advertising their Valentine’s collections as early as the beginning of January. Of course, Valentine’s day is a day of love, and about celebrating a loved one and so some cynics do think it’s a waste of time. That being said, there are plenty of people that love to celebrate it, going all out to show their appreciation to their other half. A study conducted by OnBuy.com has shown that we Brits have no plans of kerbing the spending anytime soon, with an estimation revealing that on the whole, we spend around £1.3 billion on Valentine’s gifts alone, each year. Year on year the value has gradually increased by 1 million…so what on earth can we expect this year?!

It seems that when it comes to the day of St. Valentine, male spending is significantly higher than women’s, with men collectively spending approximately £622 million as opposed to a measly £354 million spent by women. Whilst this may seem extortionate, it has also been revealed that only one in three Brits will even choose to partake in the festivities in the first place, with many scrooges deeming it as a waste of time. Next, comes the tricky question of how soon is too soon? How long do you have to be dating someone before it is acceptable to partake in Valentine’s rituals? The study, that looked at the situations of 2000 men and women concluded that 52% of the males involved will buy their other half a bunch of flowers if they have been dating for six months, or sometimes even less. Whereas women in the early days of a relationship will find their way to their partner’s heart through food, usually a sweet, chocolatey treat.

The Year Anniversary

As time moves on and you approach the year mark with your partner, this is when things start to heat up and Valentine’s flowers or chocolates just simply will not do (unless you want the silent treatment). After a year, we are much more likely to spend big. Think designer jewellery, as 41% of women admitted to buying their partner a top of the range watch and 30% of men will go the same way after a year, opting for jewellery as a safe (but nice!) bet. When it comes to generosity it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the younger generation that are spending the most on their loved one, with the average male aged 25-34 spending around £35. However, despite them being the typically more romantic type, women of the same age will spend as little as £10 on their special someone. One in ten men will even go as far as to spend around £75 for Valentine’s day.

A US study, that probably rings true here as well, found that most males only spend because they feel obligated to, due to how hyped up the holiday has become. As well as this, 13% of women only claim to celebrate Valentine’s day because ‘everybody else does’. And who said romance was dead?

 

Valentines Day Gift Ideas from ASOS

ASOS is one of the top online fashion outlets in the UK. They sell a number of clothing items in a range of sizes for petite, tall and curvy women. They also sell a range of designer wear, shoes and accessories. Whether your budget is low or high, ASOS have a large range if items perfect to gift this Valentine’s day. From high-end watches to novelty socks, you can pick up a great bargain from the ASOS website. You can browse their gift ideas section on their website, however, we have compiled a list below of some of the best Valentines gifts in a range of prices. Whether you’re looking for her or him, or you’re after an accessory or two for that special Valentine’s date, look below for some inspiration!

Love Moschino Quilted Shoulder Bag With Chain

£145.00

 

This Love Moschino Quilted Bag is the perfect accessory for that romantic Valentine’s Day date. Think candlelight and a flowing dress. You can also match this bag with an amazing shade of red on the lips for an extra pop of colour.

Talking Tables Love Balloons

£6.00
If you’re planning a surprise dinner at home, or would simply like to see your partner smile, this balloon set is perfect. Easy to set up and only £6, this paired with some roses is the perfect “I love you”. You can purchase these from ASOS on the link above.

ASOS CURVE Eyelash Lace Set in Red

New in from the ASOS Curve team is this beautiful Eyelash Lace Set in Red. The bra costs £22 and comes in a range of sizes. The bottoms come in at £12 and are sold up to a UK size 30. If you’re looking to impress, this is definitely your opportunity to do so.

Ted Baker  Harvys Leather Billfold Coin Wallet

£42.00
Wallets are a great present for the man in your life. Ted Baker offer a range of wallets at a range of prices. This mid-range wallet also has a coin wallet built into the seam, so pennies can’t come flying out. It comes in a dark tan colour with the Ted Baker emblem printed on the front.
Wallets serve as a daily reminder of how much of a great gift they are. Definitely, consider a new wallet for your significant other this year!

Jolly Awesome Bumble Bae Card

£3.00
How cute is this? No really, look at it. Look at the bee’s face. For £3, we can’t think of a better Valentine’s Day card. Literally, no one wants a huge soppy card anymore, go understood, splash out on gifts (if you’re buying any)

Michael Kors MK8344 Lexington Watch

£168.00
If you’re looking to splash the cash this year on your man, a watch could be the way to go. Everyone needs to know the time every now and then, and when your man looks down, he’ll be forever reminded that you bought him this watch. These amazing Michael Kors watch.
This model looks a lot more expensive than it is, and is well worth the money in terms of designer names.

 

Unsure of what to get the girl, or guy, in your life who could use a skin boost? If you purchase this Elemis gift set through ASOS, you will save 25%. It’s perfect if your skin is a little dry and needs a super hydrating formula to lift its spirits. This kit could always be used in prep for date night! At just under £40, this is a steal.

Fujifilm Instax Camera – Pastel Pink

£79.00
If that special someone in your life loves photography, this mid budget polaroid can provide so much fun. The novelty of this camera is that it provides you with instant photos you can hang up, or place around the house. You could also take a cute selfie together with it!
If you’re on a tight budget, but would still like to show how much you care, this ASOS bracelet comes in at £6 and has an amazing locket attached to it, which can be opened. As a gesture, this is perfect. Who needs to spend all that money anyway?
We hope you liked our Valentines Day Gift Ideas post! The most important part of this holiday is spending it with your loved ones. And, if you’re spending Valentine’s day alone this year, just think of all the discount chocolates you’ll be able to buy from the 15th of Feb!