Everyone likes to feel that they have got a bargain when they buy something new, particularly if it’s something expensive like a fridge or washing machine. One tried and tested method is to shop around, and the Internet has taken a lot of the hassle out of this. You can now compare prices at several different retailers from the comfort of your own home. As well as specialist on-line retailers of domestic appliances, most high-street retailers now have an Internet site where you can check their prices.

However, when they are buying a fridge or washing machine, most people only factor in the up-front cost, and don’t think about the cost of the electricity that it takes to run the appliance over its lifetime. And this can add up to a surprisingly large amount. In fact, sometimes the savings from an energy-efficient fridge or other appliance are so great, they will almost cover the cost of buying the appliance in the first place! So when it comes to replacing appliances, you can actually save the most money by buying an energy efficient model.

Take fridges and freezers, which are the hardest working appliance in your home. They are on all day, every day of the year. They can account for a quarter of your electricity bill. If your fridge or freezer isn’t energy efficient, you could be paying through the nose. New energy saving fridge freezers use two thirds less energy than other models and can save you up to £45 a year on your bills. So when buying a fridge freezer, you should look for the most energy-efficient.

Dishwashers are now thought to have about the same environmental impact as washing up by hand. They use electricity, but use less water and water heating. The balance is tipped in the dishwasher’s favour if you use an energy saving dishwasher. To run a cycle on an inefficient appliance costs around 16p but to run the same cycle on an energy saving machine will cost you only 9p. A difference of 7p per wash. Energy saving dishwashers use 40 per cent less energy which should equate to around £20 off the average electricity bill each year.

The average washing machine does around 1 wash every weekday, and wastes a very large amount of energy. Buy an energy saving washing machine and you can use a fraction of the energy of old energy-hungry models. Again this can equate to a saving of around £20 from your electricity bill. The same applies to a tumble dryer, where the most energy efficient models will save you around £15 per year over standard models.

So all in all you can save around £100 a year on your electricity bills if you buy the most energy efficient appliances. Given that they last around 10 years, this will add up to around £1,000. Now that is some saving!

But how do you know which appliances are most efficient? Well, each model of appliance now receives a rating from the European Union for its energy efficiency. The EU energy label rates products from A++ (the most efficient/least energy used), down to G (the least efficient/most energy used). By law, the label must be shown on all refrigeration and laundry appliances, dishwashers, electric ovens and lightbulb packaging. In the UK you can also recognise the most efficient appliances because they are approved by the Energy Saving Trust, and have an ‘Energy Saving Recommended logo’. Your on-line retailer should give you this information when you browse available models. If they don’t, then try another one that does; there’s plenty of choice.

Chances are that if you attend Uni, or are at the age to, you’ve been deluged with offers to apply for your pre-approved student credit card. If they haven’t landed in your postbox, you’ll find all the major credit card suppliers and banks vying for your attention at the freshers faires when you start your year. Is there really a difference between a student credit card and a regular low interest credit card – other than all the free swag you can get if you apply for at the faires?

The answer is both yes… and no. A student card is rather like a regular card on stabilizers – helping to keep you steady while you get the hang of managing your newfound financial independence. It’s designed with features that make it appealing and especially useful to a student who is just starting off on building a credit history. Generally, they carry a relatively low APR (annual interest rate) and have very small credit limits – usually between £200-£300. In addition, a student credit card will also carry reward points for things that are attractive to a student – discounts on music, travel, books and other things from UK merchants.

There are many offers out there for students. Nearly every one of the major card companies offers at least one designed specifically for students. Though they share a lot of features, it’s very worth it to compare with one another to get the best student credit card deal for you.

There are some great comparison websites which are a great place to compare cards. In addition to offering descriptions and links to all the best student offers, you’ll also find information on how to choose a credit card, how to compare and how to use credit cards responsibly. If you’re considering applying, here’s some helpful advice on how to compare products and decide which one is the right one for you.

Before you compare
You don’t have a past credit history to consider, but you do know yourself and the way that you generally spend money. Different types of credit cards are designed for different kinds of spenders.

Does money burn a hole in your pocket? You’ve got to have the latest thing, even if it means paying it out of your pocket money for months to get it?
In that case, you’ll want a student credit card with the lowest possible rate of interest so that it won’t cost you a lot to carry a balance from month to month. When you compare products and good comparison websites, look for the ones with low APRs.

When you borrow money, are you uncomfortable until it’s paid back and do you try to pay it back as soon as possible?
The APR isn’t as important to you. It’s not completely insignificant, but if you pay off your balance every month, the interest rate doesn’t matter quite as much. Instead, when you compare credit cards, look for the one that gives you the kind of rewards that you’ll use, whether it’s points to spend on the latest music, or contributions to your favorite charity.

When you decide what sort of credit card is right for you, visit a comparison site to compare products and find the one that’s right for you. You’ll find all that you need to choose and apply for a credit card right there.

Brits are on course to put away as much as £1 trillion in savings by 2012, with balances having doubled since the turn of the century. It would appear that the message from government and financial advisors may have got through with many more people putting some money away for their future.

Balances since the year 2000 are up by £426 billion – five times the increase in unsecured borrowing (£79 billion), according to research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Alliance & Leicester. What’s more, almost two fifths (39 per cent) are planning to increase their savings balance over the next five years.

Commenting on the study, professor Merlin Stone of Bristol Business School said: “Today, we have a savings paradox.  Households appear to be stretching themselves to meet increased taxation and a general rise in the cost of living.  However, perhaps surprisingly, overall savings balances have continued to increase. 

“It seems that the pressure has fallen on pension contributions.  Evidence suggests that people in their prime years are saving more cash with a view to funding their retirement.”

However, while 39 per cent of people feel saving is necessary for their financial future, almost a quarter (24 per cent) have no savings at all, with 75 per cent of those with no savings saying the main reason for not having any cash savings is lack of spare income.  Meanwhile, one in eight (12 per cent) feel they lack the discipline to save and a hedonistic two per cent say saving is unnecessary and that one should “live for the day”.

Of the savings accounts on offer, Instant Access Accounts have grown in popularity recently – a phenomenon attributed to the increase in popularity of internet banking and e-savings accounts. A total of 40 per cent of cash savings are now managed in online savings accounts – four times the amount five years ago. 

According to Apacs, the five-year growth statistics for online banking show that the number of adults in the UK using online banking has increased by 174 per cent from 6.2 million in 2001 to 17.0 million last year. This includes a 350 per cent increase in usage among the over 55s.

Brian Capon, a spokesperson for the British Bankers’ Association, said recently: “People like the flexibility and immediacy of the internet. It is instant and I think that’s part of the appeal of internet banking, not just for banking but as a society these days.”

As a result balances in instant access accounts are up 60 per cent to over £5,000. Disciplined and Regular Savings Accounts have also increased in popularity – a trend that looks set to continue. However, this seems to be at the expense of Notice Accounts, with virtually no new accounts being opened and balances falling dramatically.


This article has been written for information and interest purposes only. The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author only, and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only.

Use a credit card to get you out of the mess caused by credit cards? If you’re trying to repair a damaged credit history, bad credit credit cards may hold part of the key. The trick is all in choosing the right option and using it wisely.
Your credit report is a listing of all sorts of information about you, including when and how you pay your bills, if you’ve got overdue accounts, if you have a history of defaulting on loans and if it’s safe to trust you with borrowed money. On the flip side, it also can show that you handle money responsibly, that you’ve paid off debts and that you are a fine upstanding citizen who pays accounts off on time and properly. Bad credit credit cards can help you change the image that your credit report reflects – as long as you actually use them appropriately.
Why a bad credit credit card? Obviously, if you qualify for a low interest option, you wouldn’t need to be reading this, would you? If you’ve had trouble applying from most lenders, though, there are options designed for people with spotty, stained or downright tattered credit. In some cases, you may have to go so far as applying for a secured credit card – where you deposit 1-2 times the amount of your credit limit into a bank account as collateral – in order to get a card that you can use – but the results are worth it. Here’s why.
One feature that most bad credit options share is their reporting habits. Most credit companies only make reports to the credit bureaus when you miss payments or are late on them. Credit cards that are marketed as ‘credit repair’ cards, on the other hand, often report every payment that you make, and label your account ‘in good standing’.
This is important if you’ve had credit troubles in the past. While many infringments will stay on your credit record for up to six years, the further in the past they are, the less they’ll count with prospective creditors. If you had a bad spot of trouble four years back, but your credit report now shows two years of regular, on time payments to a credit card company, the picture that emerges is of a regular person who had a tough time, but has since recovered and is paying their bills on time. That’s even better an outlook than a person who had a spot of trouble four years ago, and hasn’t used credit since.
Obviously, you’ll pay a bit more for your credit card than if you had spotless credit. Bad credit issuers are taking a bigger risk by giving credit cards to those who have had trouble in the past. To offset that risk, they’ll charge higher interest rates, and quite possibly membership fees and service charges. That doesn’t mean, though, that you’re stuck paying a fortune in unreasonable fees and rates.
If you shop carefully, you’ll find companies that aren’t taking advantage of your vulnerability by tacking on outrageous fees. You can compare various options online where you’ll find a full selection of the best offers available in the UK today.

As we near the middle of January 2009 many of us find our New Year’s resolutions slipping away as they always do. For many of us it is just something we do on New Year’s Eve and then hope we remember it on New Year’s Day and then continue it. For many of us it is the usual resolutions of start dieting to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, find a new job, get divorced, live a healthier life, be happy, save money and consult a money saving expert for help. Crickey how did he slip in here!
The Financial Times reported that new research commissioned by the ABI showed that almost fifty percent of British consumers had made this New Year’s resolution to start saving more money for the future. Most of these people have made this resolution given the current economic conditions and their fear for the future. 1,040 British adults were surveyed by Populus during December 2008 and 47% of them said their New Years resolution would be to save more. 51% of those surveyed also said that the current economic conditions made it more likely that they would resolve to save more.
All this comes at a time when Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are asking the British people to go out and spend, spend and spend some more; so that we can spend our way out of debt. This is difficult for us to do as all we hear about is thousands of people losing their jobs, the pound falling against the US dollar and the euro, the value of bank share free falling, etc. To compound the situation we have twenty-four televised news broadcasts giving all of us an hourly injection of gloom and doom.
It astounding, why so many people have made New Year’s resolution to start saving more money for the future. Interest rates are below 1% and those savers with over £50,000 have had to split their savings between different savings accounts. This should be done in order to protect their savings should the bank or building society go bust. They would then be covered by the governments deposit guarantee scheme for British savers in the UK.
If your New Year’s resolution is to start saving more money for the future then you need to be applauded and encouraged to do so. As a Money Saving Expert I should warn all newly converted savers that you are getting a raw deal with your saving accounts at present. Savers with mortgages would do better to overpay their mortgages which they are paying 5% or 6% per year compared with the measly 1% or less from their savings accounts. By overpaying your mortgage you would not pay income tax on your earnings from your savings account. Any money that you overpay your mortgage with will immediately start to reduce the term of your mortgage thereby saving thousands of pounds over the remaining term of the mortgage. Overpaying your mortgage is risk free and tax free.
Ask your mortgage lender how much you can overpay your mortgage without being penalised and if you can withdraw any of the overpayments you make. This is important if you want to have access to this money in the future. If you need to be able to withdraw the money deposited in the future and your lender will not allow you to then you need to look at other alternative saving vehicles, like ISA as they are tax free, risk free and they allow you access to your money in the future but the interest rates at present are poor. You may decide to remortgage to a new mortgage lender that will allow you to overpay, underpay your mortgage and take payment holiday breaks from your mortgage.

Credit cards are the new age plastic money. Like debit cards these can be used to obtain instant cash. However, unlike debit cards, the issuing bank lends the amount withdrawn to the customer. The lending body approves an amount which can be withdrawn using a particular credit card, known as the credit limit. Some popular banks which approve credit cards in UK are Barclaycard, MNBA credit card, Morgan Stanley Credit card, Natwest Credit Card etc. You could choose from a variety of offers and interest schemes to compare credit card rates and to find the cheapest and the best deal for credit cards.

People with a poor credit history have an an option of secured credit cards where the card holder is required to submit some amount as security. This amount can be equivalent, more than or even less than the credit limit depending on the lending authority. Like the normal credit card the card holder is still required to make regular payment though in case of default payment the lending authority may have use the deposit. Usually a deposit is used only in case of a long delay like 150 to 180 days or when the account is closed. Credit card security is a major concern for lenders and customers alike. High cost of surveillance have forced banks to adopt means which control credit card fraud to manageable extent. Credit card fraud is easy if credit card information is stolen or lost due to carelessness. It is crucial to secure card information to be encrypted in non readable format by humans, things like simply emailing card information by some website using SSL may lead to the customer being cheated.

Credit card industry has been reaping huge profits since the business relies a lot on unsecured loans. Ease in transaction and instant cash has made credit cards a boon for a lot of people. Though credit card fraud does not pose a major threat to the industry still there is a need to control theft to make the transactions reliable and secure.

Saving is a way of life. It’s not just about putting cash away for a rainy day or accumulating an amount to pay for a major purchase, but looking at everything we do in life and seeing how by altering our behaviour we can save money, time and effort. Additionally, altering the way we do things may have a positive impact on our health and also reduce our detrimental impact on the planet. Everyone can save money in many ways during the course of a single day. Although the savings made on each occasion may seem minor, they will soon add up to significant amounts. For example, many people start the day by popping into their local cafe or franchise coffee shop for an elaborate and usually expensive hot beverage. If instead they prepared their own coffee before leaving home and took it with them in a flask or insulated mug, they could easily save around £2 per day. Many people automatically drive to work without thinking about whether a car journey is necessary. But by walking or cycling instead they could save a substantial amount over the course of the year, especially if they have to pay car parking each day instead. Even if cycling or walking are out of the question then car-sharing could be an option which can save considerably on your daily travel bill. There is also the opportunity to save money when paying domestic bills, as many utility and other suppliers offer discounts if payment is made by direct debit. But, these methods of saving money are just a few examples. Savvy savers can look at everything they do and work out ways to save significant amounts of cash. With spare cash comes the opportunity to invest. When it comes to choosing a savings account a savvy saver will know exactly what they want. If they need to save for the long term, perhaps for a major purchase, they will know exactly when they expect to withdraw a considerable sum. Therefore, a notice account that pays a high rate of interest may be the best place to start for such savers. For other savers just looking to accumulate cash that they may wish to withdraw at short notice then an instant access savings account would be best, perhaps even an instant access Cash ISA. An Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a tax-free way of saving money and is available to any UK tax-payer over the age of 16. Up to £3,600 can be invested in a Cash ISA each year and the interest paid is tax-free. But whatever account is chosen, a savvy saver can soon accumulate a fair balance by looking at their day-to-day expenditure and making changes that result in savings.