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Facing Your Debt Crisis

Facing Your Debt Crisis

Struggling with debt is perhaps one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. Not only does it wreak havoc on your finances, but it will also do significant damage to the other aspects of your personal life. This is precisely the reason why you cannot delay. Procrastinating will only serve to exacerbate the problem.

This article presents important advice for anyone currently facing a personal debt issues and looking at the psychology of debt.

Get a Handle on the State of Your Finances

You have to face facts. You cannot avoid the problem any longer. At this stage, you will need to have a clear picture of your financial status. Get all the relevant financial documents together – overdue bills, credit card statements, bank statements.

From there you can work out how much you owe to whom. Once you know the scope of the problem, it is only a matter of working out the ways to fix it. This way you can work out your strategy and prioritize which debt to address first. So, just remember to take things in stride.

We cannot overstate the importance of facing your financial problems. After all, acknowledging a problem is the first step towards fixing it.

How can having a poor credit score affect you?

How can having a poor credit score affect you?

The majority of people don’t understand just how a credit rating can have a direct effect on their financial life.A credit rating, or credit score, is essentially a number that helps a given financial services provider decide if you are a viable customer for one of their products. Your 3 digit credit score, or credit rating, is just one of many factors that are looked at that can help establish whether or not an individual may be a financial risk to a lending company.

Other elements can include:

  • Employment
  • Income
  • Savings
  • Assets (do you own your own home or do you rent it)

These things are all looked at together, with your credit score, and a lender can then decide, as fairly as possible, whether to accept you for a loan. Obviously, having a bad credit score is going to have an effect on your dealings with lenders, and not just those that offer financial products. There are ways to fix your credit score if it is on the low side, so all is not lost.

As well as impeding your ability to apply for credit, a poor score can also make it more difficult to rent a home, or any other property, and can also hike up insurance premiums to higher levels.

Downsides of a low credit score

Having a low or poor credit score means that you will have reduced, or even no, access to new credit. It also means that you could be refused a credit card, mortgage, car loan or even a new bank account. This is all due to the fact that a low or poor credit score does not indicate financial responsibility.

Of course, the score is not the only thing being looked at but it is an important part of the decision making process. Naturally, the ability to keep up with repayments and pay the loan back is going to be the final decider and so is the most important thing that a lender will look at. If you built up a bad credit history in the past for example, but you know hold down a very well paying job then the lender may choose to not place as much importance on the credit score itself.

The opposite of this is also true. For example, if somebody with a great looking score of 800 and above wanted to loan some cash, you would think that a lender would say yes without thinking about it. What if, however, this same person had no job or a stable source of income? No financial lender in the whole of the world, never mind the U.S. would consider this person as a customer.

If you have a stable source of income, you can improve your credit score over time if you alter the habits that landed you with a poor score in the first place.

Poor score equals higher rates of interest

A low score tells a company that are a potential risk when it comes to credit. Some lenders and businesses will take a risk, but they will offset that risk by making you an offer that comes with higher interest rates than would be usual. Again, multiple areas will be looked at when deciding on the interest rate, but your credit score will be a be part of that.

As an example, consider the difference in interest rates between two people that have credit scores of 760 and 660 respectively. The difference is that the person with the 660 score would be paying an extra $120 a month, on a $300,000 loan amount. On first glance it doesn’t seem that much – it is a large loan, after all – but that $120 a month difference adds up to $37,500 over the 30 years it would take to repay that amount.

That $37,500 could buy at least two vehicles. This is, quite literally, wasted money and all becuase of 100 ‘small’ points off the credit score.

Taking out a new credit card is not so straightforward with a low score

Getting a new credit card gets more difficult if the person applying for it has a low or poor credit score – this is especially true when you consider the current economic climate that we find ourselves in. Even when people have a good credit credit score, well paying secure job and they do everything they are ‘supposed’ to do, banks are still approving far fewer loans and credit cards that they used to.

Auto insurance premiums are also affected

You will find that auto insurance premiums are also directly affected by credit scores, and if you don’t have a great history with making repayments then the company may see that as a sign that may also be late paying your premiums. Again, to offset the perceived risk, they will raise the insurance premiums to higher rates than before.

These insurance companies are in the business of risk management, and they know that individuals with lower credit scores are statistically more likely to make insurance claims. Conversely, those with better credit scores and therefore a better financial history, normally have fewer accidents and accrue fewer traffic tickets. That’s statistics for you, they can be a cruel but surprisingly accurate mistress.

Other things that affect the premiums that you are offered are not even under your control. Things like your age, the distances you would normally travel. Other factors include education level, surprisingly enough, and also the type of vehicle that you drive – although that one is fairly obvious, not to mention understandable.

There are ways to lower your insurance premiums, but that is for a whole other article for a very different website. As it is, you should now have a better understanding of how a credit score can have an adverse effect on your life and why it’s important to keep it as healthy as possible.

Easy Mistakes Personal Injury Clients Make

Easy Mistakes Personal Injury Clients Make

Suffering a personal injury is a traumatic experience for anyone but the aftermath can be much more difficult with the added financial burdens it can bring about. No one really considers the financial impact suffering a personal injury can have and that’s understandable after all the first thing on your mind is hardly going to be your money.

But the loss of a steady income while you rest and recover in the aftermath of an injury can really add extra stress to your life. And who really wants more stress after they’ve suffered a personal injury?

No one is the only answer to that question which is why the majority of people who suffer a personal injury whether it’s a minor or serious one will make a claim for compensation. But the claiming process isn’t exactly simple and straightforward so it’s easy for people especially after they’ve suffered an injury to make mistakes.

Even small mistakes can end up costing you money when it comes to your compensation claim so it’s important that you are careful when making your claim. Below we’ve outlined some of the easiest mistakes people can make when claiming for personal injury compensation, so you’ll know exactly what to avoid.

Not Researching Your Solicitors

Not all solicitors are the same and while many solicitors do specialise in personal injury claims that does not mean they’ll be a good choice for your individual circumstances. Don’t be afraid to ask solicitors questions to find out more about them and their experience to see whether they are a good fit for your needs.

If a union or motoring agency picks a solicitor on your behalf then you don’t have to use them, many people don’t realise they can actually ask for an alternative instead. An agency or union might have a partnership with a specific law firm but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be the best option so, do your own research into your solicitors. To find out more about your legal rights then click here.

Not Recording Your Losses

This is an understandable one because many people won’t be thinking about recording their losses, and even if you are you might not actually realise what counts as a loss. Every time you incur an extra cost because of your injury try to make a note of it and be sure to keep any receipts.

The mental aspect of the injury will also play a part in your losses as well so make sure that is expressed when you’re making your claim. Remember the mental aspect can take many forms it could nightmares, you could be drinking more or jumpier.

It can be difficult to talk about things like this but for your peace of mind and to help present the full effect the injury has had on you, you need to be open with your doctors about all aspects of your recovery and personal injury.

Not Asking Questions

Making a claim for compensation is complicated there are many different ways to approach compensation and many different things can count as personal injuries. One common mistake many people make is that they don’t ask enough questions.

This could easily cause them to miss out on a greater amount of compensation, so don’t be afraid to ask solicitors any questions if something doesn’t make sense to you or you just want to know more information about something.

Not Being Truthful

OK, that sounds extreme doesn’t it but what I’ am actually talking about is not being truthful to any medical professional you need to talk to. In many cases you’ll need to talk to a medical professional, so your solicitor will have a medical report to use when making your case.

But if you don’t tell the doctor everything then it won’t go in the report which means you then can’t use it later when claiming compensation. And once the report is written getting things added to it is not going to be easy and in some cases, it might not even be possible, so make sure you are truthful with any doctors you talk to and tell them everything.

It’s easy to get embarrassed and therefore not mention things but you need to be one hundred percent open with any medical professionals you talk to. You can also sometimes not be truthful completely by accident if a doctor doesn’t ask you a certain question then you could easily miss telling them something important. So, don’t wait for them to ask just tell them clearly.

Not Gathering Evidence

OK, this is going to be a difficult one in some cases if you have a serious injury then you won’t really be able to take photographs or note down any details, will you? But for things like a minor traffic accident then you might be able to take some photographs with your phone.

But evidence doesn’t just mean photographs it can also mean witness statements or possibly even security footage. If you suffer a personal injury at work, then you should be able to find plenty of ways to gather evidence even after your injury.

Evidence might not always be needed, but it will almost certainly help make your compensation claim easier.

Not Getting Help

Finally, this is one that some people will find more difficult than others, asking for help after suffering a personal injury can be hard for some people but it will be a huge benefit to you. There are a lot of people who can help you after suffering a personal injury and make the recovery process much easier and less stressful.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for example can be a big help if you’re looking for guidance on the compensation process or if you need help with the financial matters. The impact a personal injury can have on your finances can leave you in a very difficult situation which is not going to help your recovery any, but help is available, and the Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to find it so make an appointment when you can.

The ultimate house-viewing checklist

The ultimate house-viewing checklist

For most people in the UK, a house is the single biggest purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. Despite the size of the purchase, studies show we’re likely to spend more time selecting the next pair of jeans we’ll buy than the house we’ll spend years in.

Whether we don’t want to miss out, don’t want to be seen as fussy or even want to avoid inconveniencing others, not taking time to truly understand what we’re buying can have enormous repercussions.

We’ll walk you through how to make sure you’re 100% about the house you’re looking at before you make an offer you might come to regret.

Try to be objective when viewing

Buying a house is an emotional purchase – but if you can try to look with your head instead of your heart, at least initially, then you’re far more likely to make a good decision.

When you’re viewing a house, try to put aside thoughts of furniture or picturing yourself there until you’ve looked at the property from a structural point of view. It doesn’t harm to consider the first visit a ‘fault finding’ inspection.

That’s not to say you should put yourself off, instead, this fact-finding exercise gives you the power to go away, do some research into potential repair costs and go back with a fully informed offer.

View more than once

No matter how objective we try to be, there’s always a chance that something will appeal to us and we’ll take our eye off the ‘objective’ ball.

The very best way to make sure you’ve got your eyes open is to view the property multiple times – at least twice, but ideally three or four times. You’re far more likely to spot issues doing this – and what’s more, those questions you forgot to ask first time will be priorities next visit.

Check the area

The importance of checking the local area cannot be underestimated. There are the obvious factors that most people consider – school catchment areas, local amenities and transport links, but what about those less obvious factors?

Take time to research the following:

  • Flooding – You don’t have to be on a riverbank to flood, talk to local people and businesses about water levels locally.
  • Crime – The police publish statistics on crime in every area, check these online to make sure you’re comfortable with what’s happening near the house.
  • Planning – Is there anything planned locally that will impact your home? The possibilities range from parks and conservation areas to by-passes and runways, so be careful.

Visit during key times

Estate agents and most home report surveyors in Glasgow are very good at what they do – which means they’re extremely unlikely to show you a house when the local area is in a flurry of noisy activity. There are some key time to observe the property – and you don’t necessarily have to be inside to get a good impression of what’s happening.

What’s the area like at 8:45am when children are being dropped off for school? Is the property on any paths between pubs or bars that get rowdy at 11:30pm on Saturday nights? There are lots of possibilities – and asking neighbours can help too.

Spend time looking

We’re a polite bunch – but don’t be put under pressure to cut your viewing short.

Make your intentions known from the outset, letting people know you plan to spend 30 minutes or so means they’ll diary accordingly. Statistics show that you’re far more likely to secure a below-asking-price figure if you’re willing to commit to a decent amount time looking.

Tap on walls

You don’t have to be a DIY expert to know what damp plaster sounds like in a house – there are plenty of videos online that will show you how to find any damp that’s there. Get tapping and listen for the dull sounds that indicate water coming in.

You might be impressed by freshly decorated rooms – but don’t discount the fact that new paint might be there to hide wet patches and stains that indicate water in the property.

Look for moss and mould

Moss and mould love to lurk in places that stay dull and damp – so if you see them, even on the outside of the property or on patios and paths – there’s good reason to thoroughly inspect the walls that are nearby.

View with your nose

Even if you can’t see it, damp in a property has a distinct smell – so a keen nose can find what paint and fresh plaster can sometimes hide.

Cupboards, loft spaces, basements and cellars are all prime places to do some sniffing – and beware the scented candle, it’s often a coverup for what’s really happening…

Turn the lights out

Estate agents and vendors know that putting the lights on can give the impression of a sunny and spacious feeling room – so shut them off for a true impression of how much light the room gets.

Talk about fixtures and fittings

When you move into the property and find that the integral appliances or period fireplace has disappeared, it’s too late to go back and double check who’s taking what.

Be very clear about what’s staying and what’s going – take a note pad and pen and record it at the time of the viewing – before referencing back should you progress to making an offer. The fixtures and fittings can make a room – and they’re unlikely to be cheap.

Measure

If you’re planning on moving your current furniture in to a new house then making sure it fits is an obvious – but often overlooked – part of the viewing process. Take a tape measure and check floorspace, as well as the doors and openings it’s going to need to fit through.

Scrutinise land access

There’s often more to a house than just the bricks and mortar – so a clear understanding of the land included can be vital. Understanding boundaries and access to the surrounding property can save a lot of heartache further down the line.

Talk about parking

Parking is becoming a more and more significant part of home ownership – so don’t overlook it.

It’s not uncommon for houses to have two or more cars – and where parking is at a premium, space on the street might be hard to find. Understanding parking outside the property is important – do you need a permit? Will you need to pay? Does the street fill up at key times?

You might be able to park nearby when you view – but a 15-minute walk to your car in the rain every morning after you’ve moved in is likely to take the shine of your new home!

Buying Gold as an Retirement Investment: What Is There to Consider?

When planning for the future, it’s normal for us to venture into unknown waters when it comes to making the right investments. While our paper-based assets may seem fine, there is certainly no harm in looking at other investment routes to ensure we’re maximizing our investments, and achieving our end goals.

However, there can be many avenues in relation to buying gold as an investment, so it’s important that we understand what kind of value they offer us as an investment.

Investing in Gold Shares

Buying shares in gold effectively mean that you are investing in a company that mines gold. While a popular choice for many, not everyone is confident when investing in gold companies direct, given that gold shares are unpredictable domains from an economic point-of-view. However, if shares in a gold company is what you’re looking for, then it is advisable to obtain some professional advice. There may also be instances where it’s advisable to spread your capital across several miners as opposed to a singular company.

Investing in Precious Metals

Investing in precious metals such as gold is often the preferred choice for those looking to make an investment, especially when making financial plans. This can be attributed to its resilience in the financial market, often offering those who devalued portfolios an alternative route if they find that their paper-based assets have decreased in value. This is why buying gold as an investment can be such an attractive option to those looking for financial stability. In the US, there is a rollover process called Gold IRA Rollover, allowing you to transfer the funds from your retirement account into a self-directed account by buying and holding precious metals such as gold, platinum and palladium.

For a quick overview, check out the video below:

How is Gold Viewed Within the Economy?

Investing in gold can be quite different to other investments, such as bonds and shares, as the investment does not produce any dividends, such as coupon payment or rent. However, it does become relevant when other investments start to fall by the wayside due to troubled economic times. For example, should our property portfolio take a financial hit, then it may be possible to recoup some of the loss with the selling of precious metals you have invested in.

How Should I Start Investing in Gold?

If you were to start buying and selling gold yourself, you could find that it takes quite some time to build a portfolio. However, if you currently have an IRA, then you may wish to transfer some of your current accounts into a Gold IRA. This means that you can convert some of your paper-based assets to that of precious metals, such as gold.

It should be noted that Gold IRA means that the investor doesn’t have physical ownership of the gold, rather it is kept in storage by the chose custodian. As such, those who want to be in ownership of the gold will find that a Gold IRA isn’t for them.

If I Can’t Have the Gold, Then What’s the Point?

A Gold IRA comes with many rules and regulations, and one such rule is that the gold must be stored in an IRS-approved location. It’s important to understand that the undertaking of a Gold IRA is more about financial planning, and less about owning the physical gold. As advised, this type of investment can be made in order to diversify a portfolio and help minimize risk when it comes to any economic downturn.

There’s also the fact that precious metals aren’t prone to the same levels of inflations as other assets, so make a good investment for those looking to secure the future of their family.

What Else Should I Know?

As your gold will be stored by the custodian, you need to ensure that you use the right kind of financial institute. Although many will offer a similar service, you need to ensure that you’re only dealing with a company that is of good repute. It can also be worthwhile considering what services are on offer from various Gold IRA provider.

You also need to ensure that you’re getting value when paying any fees. Again, understanding what’s on offer can ensure that you are paying the right amount for the service you want. While we’re all naturally drawn towards a good deal, we need to ensure that the service on offer is able to cater to our needs.

The investment in gold can be a sound one, as long as we take the right steps. Ensuring that we only deal with reputable companies and ensuring we only take advice by seasoned professionals can ensure that when investing in gold, we are doing so in a way that’s compliant, as well as one that suits our particular requirements.

Working from home jobs – busting the myths!

Working from home jobs – busting the myths!

Perhaps you currently work from home? Or are you in the market for working from home jobs? You’re undoubtedly going to hear from friends and family all about how lucky you are to work from the comfort of your house – but not many people realise the implications being at home for your working day can have on your health, well-being and productivity.

We’ll look at the myths of working from home, what they mean in reality and offer some tips on how to keep your brain and body on the productive working-from-home path.

“You get to spend extra time in bed!”

This is of course true, especially if you live in a location that would otherwise mean a big commute to the office. There are a couple of downsides though – firstly, the morning routine is the way many people start their day, without it, it can be difficult to ‘get going’. Secondly, extra time in bed might feel like a bonus, but being sedentary for long periods of time can have a big impact on your mental well-being.

Research shows that people who don’t keep a morning routine can find it more difficult to focus on work tasks throughout the day. While many people would disagree with the next research finding – experts say it’s also possible to have too much sleep, and doing so can contribute to a number of physical and mental health issues.

Tips

  • Try to keep a normal ‘working day’ – even if your work means strange hours.
  • Try to avoid getting straight out of bed and into your office.
  • Get dressed for work and do your normal morning routine to get your brain into work mode.

“You get to avoid all the office politics!”

Depending on the kind of person you are, not having people around you all day can be either a blessing or a curse. If you enjoy your own company then being alone most of the day can be great and productive – however, if you bounce off others and rely on them for your energy, it can be pretty soul zapping to sit at home all day.

There is of course still the phone to keep you connected to people all day – this doesn’t quite cut the mustard for real interactions though, people will tend to only call and email when they want something from you.

Tips

  • Try hard to take breaks and a lunch time – if you can, step out of the house during these times, ideally to somewhere you can have some lunch and be around people, even if that’s just a park or bench with your lunchbox!
  • If you’re feeling isolated, call, Facetime or Skype someone, psychologists say that seeing a person’s face can elevate your mood far greater than just hearing their voice.

“You can get all the jobs done at home!”

There’s definitely some benefit to be had when you’re at home all day – there are some quick jobs that you can do that make little or no impact on your day, such as putting a load of washing in – and you’ll never miss a parcel delivery again! However, it’s easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking that you’re at home and therefore feeling like you should be doing home tasks.

Even if you feel like you can manage some jobs around the house while you work, be careful that you’re not losing important focus on what you’re being paid to do. Where procrastinating in an office is difficult, it’s easy to lose track of your priorities at home – if there’s a call you don’t want to make, rearranging your sock drawer can begin to look quite appealing…

Tips

  • Making a work schedule can help, feel free to add little household jobs in to your day – but try to quickly come back to the task at hand.
  • Creating a solid understanding about your role with family and loved ones can be useful – for those who don’t work at home there might be no reason you can’t do the ironing as you take a conference call – agree some realistic expectations early.

“I bet sitting in your house all day is great!”

Again, there’s some element of truth to be had, being in an environment you like can be a bonus – but missing out on the commute will further take away from the little activity that most office workers already struggle with – and seeing the same 4 walls for your entire working day can remove some of the variety that gives life a little zest, sometimes leading to reduced mood and energy.

It can be tempted to sit at your desk all day – and sometimes you’ll have done less than 100 steps between getting up and sitting down at your computer. As a result, home workers report greater levels of back-pain, headaches and diminished energy.

Tips

  • Buy a chair that’s designed for your ergonomic comfort – rather than just looking good in your office. Try not to just repurpose a dining room chair, and don’t be tempted to sit on your sofa with your laptop on your lap.
  • Putting some music or a radio station on can liven up the mood in your office.
  • Try to get as much natural light into your working area, dull environments can significantly impact a person’s mood.

Looking after yourself overall

Because there’s often no one to look over your shoulder, home workers can find themselves in bad habits very quickly. You may quite-rightly have no one to answer to, but that doesn’t mean you should let an overly sedentary and lacklustre attitude set in. As someone who works from home you should try as much as you can to keep an objective view of how you spend your time.

If it helps to motivate you, set some times through the week when you work in coffee shops or even the local library. It’s easy to find an internet connection in most public places and getting out of the house can have a positive impact on your brain and body.

Financing your Self-Build Mortgage

Financing your Self-Build Mortgage

Planning to self-build your home? If you’re not lucky enough to have savings or fund the self-build with the sale of your former home, you may have to borrow cash to finance it. A self-build mortgage will be the perfect thing for you. This can accompany financing new double glazing windows, or a new conservatory.

The separation between a self-build mortgage and a house purchase mortgage

A self-build mortgage is generally the same as an house purchase mortgage with a couple of differences. From interest only to repayment, a self-build mortgage can all have the same similar diverse forms as a house purchase mortgage.

The main differences between the two is that self-building mortgages or funding include stage payments instead of a single amount. If none stage payments happen during the self-build, or if these payments are pushed back so far while doing the self-build making them pointless, then it won’t be a self-build mortgage. during

As well as this, it’s a necessity for the payments to take place in the stages of land purchase, which is also a factor in ensuring it is a proper self-build mortgage.

When do you in actual fact get the stage payments?

Below are the two different types of self-build mortgage:

Arrears Mortgage – You receive the stage payments as each stage of the build is completed.

For those who have whoppingly huge amount of cash for their self-build mortgage, then the arrears type is the one for you. This is because if you are not on such a big budget with this type of mortgage, this can lead to cash shortfalls throughout the build and delays whilst waiting for more cash. On top of this, with this type of self-build mortgage the lender will merely issue 75% of costs throughout the self-build and they will keep the rest of this loan until the job is complete.

Advance Mortgage – You will receive the stage payments at the start of each stage of the build.

The advance type of self-build mortgage is brilliant for people with a low budget as there are no worries about any cash shortfalls and borrowing loans. This is ensured because the money for the build is in their bank, which means the money is available at the exact time it is needed, such as when labour and material bills become due.

Usually this type of mortgage payment will give:

  • 90% of the building costs
  • 90% of the worth of the land
  • A maximum of 90% of the final value of the home which is subjective to the borrower’s

The cash is generally released at six stages, starting with land purchase, foundation work, watertight, wall plate level, and so on.

When are these fees due?

It may be surprising but rates for self-build mortgages are typically higher than you might just expect compared to a regular mortgage. You might be looking at a decent payment of £1-2,000 to achieve a self-build mortgage after the completion fees, application fees and broker fees have been fully paid for. For the arrears type of mortgage, an interim valuation is obligatory to break down each stage and the funds before the money is released.

The advance type of mortgage doesn’t require interim stage valuations but there are further costs for receiving the cash in advance. This cost depends to a certain extent on the amount of extra cash-flow that is needed and the amount that the self-builders themselves are putting in.

Can you receive penalties for early repayment?

It is possible on a few mortgages to receive the initial repayment charges – if you’re looking to repay by the next two years, normally it will be around 2-3% of the entire loan. Do ensure that you head to your mortgage consultant or advisor if you are able to do this, that way before you begin the self-build they will be able to receive the perfect package just for you.

What are the financial implications of separation?

What are the financial implications of separation?

For most people, divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership would feature highly on a list of life events that impact both individual’s finances. In reality, divorce doesn’t always occur immediately, with couples often being ‘separated’ for long periods of time before formalities are pursued.

Lots of people and organisations can talk you through how to handle the division of finances during divorce – but few can go into as much detail with separation. Here are some vital considerations if you’ve decided to separate, but haven’t yet moved toward divorce:

Also Read: 5 Simple Steps For Dealing With Debt

Shared in marriage means shared in separation

Although the two people concerned might have verbal agreements in place that relate to finances and living arrangements, until the formality of divorce proceedings nothing can be taken for granted. This can raise a number of important questions spanning numerous life areas:

  • Who will pay a mortgage or rent?
  • Who pays for household bills?
  • Who will live in the family home?
  • What happens to debt that has been accrued together?
  • Who takes control of savings and investments?
  • What happens with shared assets, goods and property?
  • Is any child maintenance to be paid?
  • With whom with children live?
  • How is visitation of children arranged?

There are no hard and fast answers to these questions – but it’s important to recognise that there could well be expectation from the other person involved.

Being careful with how these questions are handled is important. In separation, you’re essentially trusting the other person involved to maintain your best interests, despite the breakdown in relationship.

  • Example

Lucy and John are married and rent a flat together. They amicably decide to separate and John continues to live in the flat. When John loses his job, he is unable to pay the rent so moves in with his parents. Lucy, having rented a new flat, is now required to pay two amounts of rent or be subject to potential joint legal action from her previous landlord.

The right to access the home

When a couple separate it would ordinarily involve one partner moving out of the shared home. What is often overlooked is that partner’s right to have continual access to the home until divorce proceedings are complete – no matter how long that takes.

The law states that the locks cannot be changed by the remaining partner, so legally speaking, there would be nothing stopping the other partner accessing the house 24 hours a day.

While an amicable separation agreement would mean this situation is unlikely, if a partner were to decide it appropriate, only a divorce or a legal injunction could stop it from occurring.

Money and goods accrued after separation

While separation might represent the end of the relationship to the two people involved, legally speaking, your marriage or civil partnership remains in place. This means the acquisition of wealth, goods or property beyond separation is effectively the same as accruing those things during your time together.

So, if one person leaves the family home and buys a property during the separation period, that property would be taken into consideration upon the commencement of the legal proceedings of divorce. It might seem obvious when viewed objectively, but in the haste that surrounds separation and re-establishment of life, this can be overlooked.

It’s not just property that falls into this trap either, increases in earnings, savings accrued, goods purchased and money inherited while separated are all taken into account.

  • Example

Chris and Anthony separate after 3 years of civil partnership. In the coming years, Chris receives a promotion and saves enough money for a deposit on a house. Upon the commencement of dissolution proceedings, with no agreed separation date, Anthony cites an entitlement to the money Chris has saved.

Think about timescales involved

When the term ‘separation’ is used people are inclined to think of a short-term arrangement – but this is often not the case. There are no official figures relating to time people remain in a ‘separated’ state, but it is not uncommon for the time before divorce to stretch to numbers of years.

When you think of separation as being a state of a relationship that can last years, considering changes to your financial picture throughout that time becomes very important.

Arrangements beyond death

When separation continues for a prolonged period, financial proceedings can sometimes require arrangements relating to the death of one party. This situation is infinitely more complicated if the separated individual dies without having made a will – as the rules of ‘intestacy’ apply.

Under the rules of ‘intestacy’ only married or civil partners and a select few other close relatives can inherit. This makes a situation legally complex and very sensitive, especially if a separated individual has a new partner or family.

  • Example

Ian and Louise marry and informally separate after a short time together. Both live entirely independent lives for the next 10 years, during which Louise meets a new partner. Louise passes away unexpectedly without having made a will. Under the rules of intestacy, Ian is named as inheriting Louise’s estate.

So how can you stay protected?

There are situations where divorce or dissolution isn’t an option that the individuals involved want to explore. There are also instances where it can be financially beneficial to remain married – but it is appropriate that a couple separate. In some cases, a separation could appear resolution enough, especially if done amicably.

If separation is the approach that you plan to take, especially for a prolonged period, experts suggest drawing up legal agreements that cement each individual’s position in relation to the questions and situations posed here.

It is not uncommon for separation to happen quickly or without planning – often with money as the last thing on your mind. It can also be tempting to put your head in the sand and hope for the best, rather than exploring legal options. Be warned though, no matter how the situation currently appears, if you don’t make arrangements or decisions, you leave yourself open to the possibility that someone else is going to make them for you.

Does buying a new car make you happy – or worried?

Does buying a new car make you happy – or worried?

For some people, the thought of buying a new car is fills them with joy and excitement – for others, it’s a time of worry and uncertainty. Am I getting the right car? Am I paying a fair price? What should I know about monthly payments? Not everyone has someone trusted to guide them.

We’ve broken it down into 3 areas to help you explore the type of car that would suit you, make sure you’re getting a fair price and learn more about car finance. Understanding a little more about these subjects will give you the confidence you need to make sure the car and package you get is exactly right for you.

Which is the right car for me?

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a make and model! Instead, we advise everyone to pose themselves some questions. With the answers, you’ll be able to narrow your choices – and from there, let your personal preferences do the rest! Grab a pen and paper and scribble some notes on the following:

  • What do I plan to use the car for?
  • What type of journeys will I mostly be making? Long distance? Or shorter runs?
  • How many miles will I be doing each year?
  • Do I have any special requirements? I.e. Lots of seats? Space for dogs? Accessibility for disabled passengers?

With these answers, you’re going to be able to talk to some salespeople armed with information about your use. Most salespeople are specially trained to help – rather than pressure you into buying something you don’t need or don’t want. Dealers know that advocating the right car for you is the key to getting your business.

If you’re ever unsure about what a salesperson is suggesting would suit your needs – check somewhere else. It’s easy to identify different car types, so if the first dealer suggests a huge 4×4 – but subsequent dealers tell you a small family car would suit, you can be guided by the majority!

Am I paying a fair price?

If you’re not certain that the price being asked is fair, search online for similar cars. You’re going to need the age of the car, the type of engine it has, the specification level and for pre-owned cars, the miles it has covered. If you’re not sure, ask the person who’s helping you and write it down.

You don’t have to buy elsewhere, just check that the price you’ve been quoted is in line with the price of similar or identical cars elsewhere. There’s sometimes a little variation based on your location, but prices shouldn’t wildly fluctuate. If yours looks high you should ask your salesperson why – if you’d rather not haggle, just take your business elsewhere.

How should you pay?

Understanding finance and different payment methods is often an area in which customers fall short – a full understanding of how you’re going to be spending your money is important, so it pays to be clued up. These are the most common methods:

Cash – Few people buy new cars with cash, but if you can and do the car is yours and there are no repayments to factor into your monthly budget. With the incentives car dealers receive to sell finance packages, cash is no longer the bargaining tool it once was – so if you’re thinking of securing finance prior to car shopping so it appears you have cash, don’t – you can end up with less favourable interest rates compared to what a dealer can offer.

Personal Contract Plan – A ‘PCP’ usually involves paying a deposit and then a fixed monthly amount over a 3 or 4-year term. After that time, you have some options: You can pay the remainder of the price off and own the car, you can get a new car for another deposit and a similar payment – or you can hand the car back and walk away. You’ll be limited to set number of miles and may have to pay additional charges if you exceed these – so calculate carefully.

Hire Purchase – This is ‘traditional’ finance – the price of the car is broken into monthly instalments, interest applied and an agreement put into place. The monthly cost can be greater than a PCP – but at the end of the term you own the car, regardless of the mileage you’ve done or any other car related factor.

If you’re not sure, take time to think

Buying a car is different for everyone. It pays to take all the information you’re given away and consider it carefully against your personal requirements and finances before making a final decision. It’s easy to be led by your heart – but it’s important it makes sense and suits your pocket.

Meal Time Saving Tips – All You Need To Know

Meal Time Saving Tips – All You Need To Know

The average family spends more than £50 per week at the supermarket. That’s £2600 per year. Nothing to sneeze at by any measure. If there’s a bright spot, however, it’s that food costs are typically some of the most flexible of our essential expenditures. All that’s really needed to reduce the amount we spend on meals is a little imagination, a bit of flexibility and a willingness to try new things. These kind of saving can also help if money is tight. With so many people having credit card debt and many other types of debt to pay off every penny counts.

In this post we’ve compiled some of our favourite meal time saving tips.

Reassessing Your Approach

People tend to have a straightforward relationship with food, especially when it comes to meals prepared at home. They go to the supermarket, peruse the aisles for things that look good, wind up cooking the meals they always cook and leave leftovers in the fridge until they’re no longer edible and need to be tossed. We’re going to suggest you reassess this approach and then put some or (ideally) all of the following tips into practice. We’re confident that if you do you’ll save money and eat better.

  • Buy in Quantity – If you have a large freezer always buy larger quantities of meat. For instance buy whole chickens instead of individual parts (legs, breasts etc). In fact buy 3 chickens and freeze 2 for later use (just make sure you use them). Buy a 10kg bag of rice instead of a 1 or 2kg bag. Buying in quantity is slightly different than buying in ‘bulk’ but we make the distinction because not everyone has access to one of those fancy-schmancy supermarkets where bulk is all the rage and the cashiers smell of patchouli oil.

 

  • Plan Out Your Meals for the Week – By knowing what you’re going to be cooking you can do a more targeted shop when you finally get to the supermarket. If you shop without purpose you’re bound to pick up items that will languish in the vegetable draw until they’re soggy and black. When you know what your meals are going to be there’s less chance of purchasing items you’ll never use.

 

  • Practicality: Thy Name is Slow Cooker – The slow cooker will let you get the most out of less expensive cuts of meat like roasts and bottom rounds. If you don’t have a slow cooker you should invest in one pronto. They’ll turn those once tough pieces of meat into something that will melt in your mouth.

 

  • Increase Your Veggie Consumption – Meat is typically the most expense item in any recipe. If you swap out meats for plant based proteins once or twice a week you’ll enjoy significant food savings and be doing yourself a massive diet-based health favour at the same time.

 

  • Show Your Leftovers Some Respect – Leftovers rock if you give them half a chance. Most of the time that leftovers fall flat it’s because they’ve been incorrectly stored. Instead of just gathering a bunch of leftovers onto a plate and then covering it loosely with tin foil and putting it in the fridge, invest in some of those nifty airtight plastic storage containers. This will keep the food fresh as can be for days.

 

  • Don’t Cook Too Much Food – Hey everyone loves to present a bountiful table but sometimes it’s just a waste of food. Cook only enough for the people you know are going to be at the table and if someone else shows up, augment the meal with some of those nice fresh leftovers from your new airtight storage containers.

 

  • Cook Down the Pantry – While this sounds like the title of a Country and Western song it’s actually an approach to food consumption wherein you challenge yourself to create meals using only what you have on hand. Chances are you’ve got the makings for several good meals sitting on your pantry shelf and in the back of your freezer. Put them to use once a month or so in order to save money and keep your food stocks fresh.

 

  • Shop Sale Items – Something is always on sale. Before you get into the real meat of your list (pun intended) go check out the loss leaders to see what the supermarket would like to move. You’re likely to find at least some items that dovetail nicely with your meal plan and others that are close enough that you can just tweak a meal or two to make them fit. Always take advantage of sale items with long shelf lives like mustard, as long as those items are things you actually eat. If you hate mustard then obviously you’ll want to give it a pass.

 

  • Eggies! – Now that we know eggs aren’t liable to kill you as easily as was previously thought we need to put them to good use. Eggs are a kind of miracle food really. Veggie omelets are a winner any time of day, egg sandwiches are a great little snack and a hard-boiled egg added to your salad provides a welcome shot of protein while being low in calories. There are few foods that are as versatile and affordable.

 

  • Don’t Shop Hungry – An awful lot of what winds up being eventually tossed from the refrigerator started its relationship with you as an impulse purchase. And most impulse purchases are the result of shopping when you’re hungry. If need be eat a banana or a poached egg on toast before shopping. The tiny bit you spend on that snack could save you big on impulse purchases you would just wind up throwing away.

 

  • Discount Cards! – Most supermarkets offer discount cards for their regular customers. If you shop in the same supermarket every week and you don’t have one you’re throwing money away.

 

Saving money on meals isn’t rocket science. But it can help you become more financially independent.  It’s common sense and careful planning. It’s tossing out your set in stone way of doing things and looking at meals from a practical point of view. If you follow the above tips there’s a good chance you’ll not only save money, but you’ll have a more interesting and well balanced diet as well.

11 Great Tips for Travelling on a Budget This Summer!

11 Great Tips for Travelling on a Budget This Summer!

Summer holidays can be wonderful; sun, beautiful locations, a break from day to day life – but your finances can put a squeeze on the enjoyment. You can also check out some of this ultimate list of money saving tips for 2017 that will help you save more for that summer holiday. Consider these 11 great money saving tips for your travels to maximise your enjoyment while you’re away!

  1. Mobile costs

You’re likely to have heard horror stories about people who have used their mobiles abroad and returned home to find astronomical bills, mobile providers are more transparent about costs now – but it still pays to be careful. If you’re going abroad let your provider know, they can almost always provide an add-on that will save you a fortune. Don’t leave it to chance!

  1. Transport options

If you’re heading for an airport or holidaying in the UK there’s a good chance you’re going to need to book parking, train-tickets or taxi rides. Consider your options carefully, the car might look the best bet until you add airport parking charges on top – and the train can be very expensive unless you book early. Consider the most budget -friendly options such as the coach – you’ll get there on time and it’s a big money saver.

  1. Flying? Look at indirect routes

Flying direct might be the hassle-free way of doing things – but if you can deal with a change or a wait for a couple of hours then flying with a stop-off can really reduce the cost of your flights – sometimes up to £100 per person. If you’re booking online make sure you’ve unticked the ‘direct flights only’ box, or if you’re talking to a travel agent let them know you’re keen to keep the price down and see what they can suggest.

  1. Change your money early!

If you’re going abroad try as hard as possible to avoid changing money at the airport or using cash machines abroad. At airports you’re likely to be charged a ridiculous exchange rate – this is the price you pay for not planning, and it can be a big one.

  1. Watch those bag weights!

Be honest! What do you really need to take? The temptation is to pack for all eventualities, but most people come back from holidays having worn less than half of what they’ve packed. Checking in hold luggage can really bump the cost of flights up – so if you can stick to your carry-on allowance you’re going to be making a big saving. Don’t forget that any children flying with you can take a carry-on bag too, share all the space, you’re likely to have at least one person who travels light!

When you’ve loaded those carry-on bags check, check and check again that you’re within the weight limits. You can get a luggage scale for a few pounds and the cost for checking a bag into the hold on the day can make your eyes water, so don’t leave it to chance.

  1. Wear and re-wear

It’s understandable that with the sun beating down you’ll want a fresh clothes for the following day – but rather than taking your risks with luggage weights – pack some travel wash. For a couple of pounds you can do a quick hand-wash of the clothes you’ve worn during the day – and if you’re somewhere warm, they’ll be dry in no time.

  1. Take a picnic!

We’re not suggesting that you pack a week’s shopping into your luggage! But taking some sandwiches with you to the airport can really save money. If you’ve ever eaten at an airport or on a plane you’ll know that the prices can be hugely inflated compared to what you would expect to pay elsewhere – in some instances a light lunch for a family of four can total upwards of £35.

You won’t be able to take bottles of fluid into departures – but you can take a couple of empty bottles that you can fill with water when you’re checked-in. Airports and planes are money making machines too – so be wary.

  1. Self-catering? Avoid unnecessary little costs.

Going self-catering can reduce the cost of your holiday from the outset, but it might mean spending on lots of things that you have sitting at home. It’s unlikely you’ll go through a full bag of coffee, tea, sugar and salt while you’re there – so take some with you.

  1. Book a car very carefully

There are often tempting offers on rental cars when you’re booking your holiday – but be warned, the costs can mount up incredibly when you’re trying to drive it away. If you’ve paid for the car upfront you’re still likely to need to pay for a full tank of fuel before you get the keys, on top of that, there can be additional insurances, mileage limits and road toll charges.

Research carefully and ask people about the experiences they’ve had, it’s not uncommon for unexpected rental charges to run into the hundreds.

  1. No car? Go by foot!

When you’re at your destination you can really trim back on costs by staying local and walking to where you’d like to go. Return tickets on a bus each day can mount up – it’s money that’s better in your pocket, and you’ll walk of any extra holiday calories you’ve been tempted by! If you’re staying in a city, walking can help you stumble across hidden treasures and amazing undiscovered places.

  1. Hungry? Take a few more steps!

As you stand marvelling at the beautiful view or site that stands before you you’ll probably catch the scent of a lovely coffee shop or restaurant strategically placed to draw you in at the most breath-taking points in your holiday. Resist and your wallet will thank you!

You’re almost always charged a hefty premium for eating or drinking in that prime location, so walk a few hundred metres and watch the prices drop significantly… Not sure if you’re in a ‘touristy’ café? If there’s pictures of the food on the menu they’re catering for people unable to read the language and the answer is probably yes!

  1. Check for apps!

Have a look for free money saving apps that are relevant for your location. Whether you’re in the UK or abroad there are thousands upon thousands of buy-one-get-one-free offers on meals, drinks, day out, attractions, museums and much more. Check some apps and see if there are deals in your planned location.

Enjoy your time!

Going on holiday is an ideal way to unwind, but don’t let worry about the spiralling cost ruin your enjoyment. It’s easy to get carried away, so keep a budget in mind to avoid worrying about debt when you return.

Resolving Your Debt Problems

Resolving Your Debt Problems

There is perhaps no situation more stressful than knowing that you have a personal debt problem. Tension is naturally high when the bills, mortgage, and bank notices start piling up. After all, you stand to lose everything you have ever worked for. This is why its imperative that you seen professional debt help and advice should issues arise. If you dont then not only your financial health will suffer, but potentially your physical health also which has been outlined in this article 7 ways debt can make you feel sick.

This article presents a few things you need to do if you ever find yourself in such a situation where your debts are getting out of control.

Keep Calm, Know Your Situation

The important thing to do in this situation is to not panic. You have to approach your debt problems with a level head, try and stay calm and seek advice for experts. There is a lot of help out there for people in these situations. You can also find lots of useful tips and help online.

Also dont be scared to speak to your family, its important that everyone knows your situation. If you’re struggling with work you may also want to make your manager or HR team aware of your current situation. As your employer may also be in the position to help you, whether it be giving you time off or offering additional support.

The first thing you need to do is get a concrete idea of the scope of your debt problem. Take time to review all relevant financial documents. This is crucial so that you can plan your strategy accordingly. This should also include all your existing income and expenditure, including secure and unsecured debts. Its also a good idea to have the contact deaths of each of your creditors at hand as if you apply for an IVA then these details would be required.

Stick to a Budget

Making a budget and sticking to it is the next crucial step. When crafting the budget, you should also ensure that you incorporate your debt repayment plan. Check out this article which includes a list of budgeting tips that can help you get back on your feet. Remember that overspending is how you got to this point in the first place. So, take care to avoid making the same mistake.

These two things are crucial if you want to solve your personal debt problems. So, make sure to remember them.