Clearing Debt As Quickly As Possible

I’ve talked about my experiences with debt before and whilst I am still in some debt (aiming to get rid of it asap), I have managed to clear some. I’m here today to talk about how you too can clear your debt quickly and start living the lifestyle you truly want to lead. I’m not quite there yet but hopefully, following my own tips as I have already been doing, I’ll get there very soon.

Set A Budget

It sounds so simple but setting a budget really does help you to locate where you are going wrong. I know that I could definitely put a little more towards debt if I set a proper budget so that is what I am aiming to do every month – know exactly where every single penny is going. Focus on making sure your four walls are paid for – rent or mortgage and council tax. Then work out the rest of your bills, food, travel/transport and then any expenses that you incur each month but aren’t actually required. We have both Virgin and Netflix – we will be keeping Netflix but cutting Virgin down as much as we can so our budget will be designed to reflect this.

Look Into Other Options

If you’ve already given some of the basic debt free ideas a go and are still struggling, then it might be time to consider other options. Debt can be so crippling and we all aim for financial freedom so there are often other things you can do. I know of people who’ve sold their properties to pay off debt and then bought something new with the remaining funds that is better suited to their budget.

Some people have done this to stop house repossession – their debts were too high to maintain on income alone and they faced losing their home, selling it was their only remaining option. There are companies who will buy houses for cash – the main benefit is that it is a quick sale that reduces estate agency fees. Whilst this option isn’t for everyone, it is useful to know there are other options for those with fairly high debts apart from the usual bankruptcy or IVA options.

Artem Bali
Cut Back On Unnecessary Spending

Further to my point above about setting a budget, it is important to cut back on unnecessary spending. I’ve already mentioned that while we will be keeping Netflix (we use it a lot!), we will be cutting back on our Virgin package as much as we can.

We are also quite far into our phone contracts with Three and have noticed that we are using nowhere near the amount of data – we are going to speak to them to see if we can reduce our package slightly and in turn reduce our bill.

The only other ‘unnecessary’ spending we have is Steve’s golf and darts and going out to eat. We are already reducing the amount we go out to eat and Steve is changing the golf club he is a member at, saving £££ every month.

Increase Your Income

Something I have been trying to do in recent months is increase my income and this has been working well for me. I’ve almost paid all my bills for the month and then have no more bills until the 8th of next month so any payments made to me from today onwards until the 2nd of next month (when all my monthly invoices tend to get paid by) will be getting thrown towards debt.

I have been doing this by offering extras to my existing clients, taking on new clients thanks to word of mouth from my existing clients (my clients are the best), taking on higher paid work on the blog, pitching more on the freelance side of things and generally pushing myself a little more. It is working in my favour and I am starting to see those numbers go down and down.

 

Have you ever been in debt? How did you clear it? Or are you still in debt and aiming to clear it as soon as possible? I’d love to hear your tips about clearing debt as quickly as possible.

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My Money Goals For The Year Ahead

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A few years back I shared my money resolutions for the year ahead. Whilst I didn’t quite manage them all, I thought it was a great idea for an updated post where I could talk about my money goals for the year ahead. Let me know if you have any money goals for this year too.

Get debt free or as close to debt free as possible

This has been a goal for a few years now but hasn’t quite come to fruition, due to different circumstances that have come into play over the last few years. We’ve suffered from loss, depression and a whole lot more and my finances definitely took a hit. My finances definitely seem to be getting better now. Something I have considered is taking out a small loan such as one from iLoans to wipe out a few of my debts in one go, making sure I have only one repayment to make rather than a few different ones. It doesn’t make sense to be paying multiple people multiple payments when I could just do one.

Increase my income

I took on quite a few more clients last year and am hoping to take on a few more this year. I currently VA for a number of bloggers and also ghostwrite for a number of different clients too. I also do ad-hoc work for people and then do work on this blog and my others too. I’m hoping I can increase my income exponentially this year and am considering raising my rates a little too.

I’m hoping to find a long term writing commitment at some point this year. I did get contacted about writing for a magazine at the beginning of the year but it unfortunately fell through. I’d love to find something similar this year.

Michael Longmire
Build up my savings

Some may find it silly to build up savings whilst still in debt but where would I be if something major happened and I didn’t have the finances to sort it? A buffer in my savings account would be great for such occasions and I’d like to see a positive number in my savings account once again.

I once had a nice little savings pot but over the years, this has been used for various different things such as bills when I’ve been on maternity leave or Steve was off sick – I need to get my savings account looking healthy again.

Ensure my National Insurance payments are up to date

There is a way of checking online to see if you are missing any payments towards your National Insurance contributions. I have been lucky enough to be in employment or self employment for the majority of the time since I was 16 but there was a spot in 2010 where I suffered some unemployment. I checked and I owe a small amount that needs to be paid before 2022. I could go without paying it as its only a small amount from my pension but I’d rather it be completely up to date.

 

How To Cut Costs on Mobile Data

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The means by which we can connect and keep in touch with our friends and family are increasing and developing every day. It seems like a new app is released every week, claiming to be the next big thing in the social media world – a way to comment and upload and like everything all the time. And on top of this, we travel more, and I for one know how difficult navigation can be at the best of times, never mind in a new and unfamiliar location. So out comes trusty Google Maps. 

Yet none of this is without cost. Everything you do online, even downloading a new app itself, requires an internet connection, and for that, you have to have the data allowance that makes that connection possible.

Chances are, no matter what kind of mobile phone contract or SIM you are using, the data you are allowed to use has some kind of cap. Any that don’t have a cap are classed as unlimited, and though this may sound attractive it does come at a price. If you exceed the cap in place, the excess charges are vast. In short, if you’re looking to cut your costs, data is definitely the place to start!  

Priscilla Du Preez

How You Can Cut Costs

So how can you ensure you use less data allowance and reduce the risk of overspending?

  • Keep an eye on anything you download. Downloading something means to pull it from the internet onto your phone – taking up precious data. Movie streaming, in particular, will drain your data allowance, so it is best to keep this at a minimum when you are not on Wi-Fi!
  • With all this focus on data (3G and 4G) on your mobile phone, we haven’t yet discussed WiFi. WiFi is the saving grace of internet usage, allowing you to go online without cutting into your data allowance, thus saving the data for a time when you really need it (for example, when you’re lost on that winding road in Switzerland with no map and no WiFi!) Free WiFi is becoming increasingly common in public areas from cafes to libraries and should be wholly taken advantage of whenever possible. But remember, public Wi-Fi isn’t always the most secure.
  • Switch off automatic updates, for example, mail refresh and news stories on push notifications. These are unnecessary when you’re not using them, and a complete waste of data.
  • App refresh is another unnecessary tool that you can definitely do without. Take Instagram for example, app refresh means that your Instagram feed is constantly updating itself even when you’re not directly using the app, resulting in data usage to make changes that you don’t even know are being made. Go into your phone settings and turn off the App Refresh option.
  • Data roaming is the one other area where people slip up all too often. If your contract or allowance doesn’t include free data roaming, the expenses for browsing online while abroad are eye-wateringly extravagant. To be on the safe side, unless you are 100% sure that data roaming is included in your existing fees (all EU countries should be free to roam), head into Settings and switch data roaming off. It’s highly likely that your holiday destination will have WiFi of some sort, so you won’t be offline for long…

Opting for the right contract or package will inform the amount of data you have at your fingertips. If data is the main call for your mobile phone usage, then it is probably best for you to steer away from Pay-As-You-Go. Though an excellent option for those hoping to watch what they spend and keep a tight lid on their allowance, this is not a cost-effective way to get a large data allowance as pay as you go is more suited for light usage and you will find you drain your PAYG top-up extremely quickly.

In this case, we recommend SIM-only or a traditional contract with a large existing network. The contract is where you will be best placed to find a deal that offers, if not unlimited, then at least a very high data package, though this does come with a price tag. If you do apply for a contract, don’t be afraid to try haggling and I recommend employing certain techniques in ensuring you get the best deal, including shopping around and bringing comparison costs up with your network. If data allowance is your priority, then ensuring that this is the focal point of your contract will be important to ensure you get the right deal.

Why You Need To Diversify Your Portfolio

If you’re working on a portfolio then the biggest weapon you have in your armoury is your salary or wage. It comes in on a regular basis and you can use it to buy more stocks, or put it into your savings account. You can also hit up Golden Eagle Coins to add another few bars or coins.

Your second-biggest weapon is a good diversification strategy.

What is diversification?

In order to have a good diversification strategy you need to understand what it actually is. You don’t diversify just so that your portfolio looks more colourful and exciting, you do it to manage your risk. A well-diversified portfolio has many different classes of assets in it – futures, stocks, mutuals and metals. This sort of portfolio will, over time, offer better returns and lower risks than the individual elements in it; a clear case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Why you really need to diversify

Too many people don’t make the effort to diversify even though they know it’s a good thing in principle. You need to break down the reasons further.

You’ll lower your risks

If you put all your investments into one company and then it goes to the wall or its flagship product is no longer in vogue, then you could have your investment wiped out in a matter of days.

If, however, you spread out your money between ten different companies, all in different industries or sectors, then even if one product is found to cause male pattern baldness, the other nine companies will buoy your portfolio up. If one of your other investments is in cures for baldness, then you might end up making more than you hoped for! Similarly, you don’t just diversify your on-paper stocks, you bring in some physical assets just in case the entire stock market gets a drubbing.

Steve Johnson

You also need to use different investment styles

You can’t just use one sort of investment strategy either. You need to look at both value and growth. The value is the basic strength of the company and its management. You need to see if the stock price is realistic and sustainable according to estimates of its real-world worth.

Then you look at growth, as in how much the company is likely to grow in terms of developments, new products and so on and how this growth will increase the value.

Then, you bring in a combination of growth and value investments to reap the benefits of both.

You get the benefits of overseas markets

Many people only ever invest in what’s familiar to them – they stick to their country, sector, industry or to old companies that have sentimental value to them. It’s great to support your local industries, of course, but you shouldn’t limit yourself as there’s lots of other opportunities out there.

By moving out of your comfort zone you can learn about other markets and industries, as well as other countries. This means that you’re not left floundering if your “old faithfuls” take a dive.

You’ll be protecting your investment

Now you see how diversifying helps to protect you against market dips and other adverse events, you’ll want to do it. Make sure you don’t just stick a pin in the stocks listings, though! Do your homework and take some advice before you buy anything.

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Do You Have A PPI Claim?

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Do you think you potentially have a PPI claim? Have you realised there is only eight months left to claim? Perhaps you aren’t sure if you have a claim as you aren’t too sure what it is?

The PPI claim deadline is the 29th of August 2019, a date set by the Financial Conduct Authority for people to claim any money back that they may be entitled to from mis-sold PPI.

So what is PPI?

PPI is Payment Protection Insurance, it is an insurance designed to cover loans or credit cards in the event of accident or sickness so you don’t miss out on repayments. However it has been widely mis-sold across the board with people either paying for pretty much worthless cover or in some instances, paying for it without even knowing they have it or agreeing to it!

The problem with the original ‘selling’ of this insurance is that those selling were incentivised to sell it whenever they could, leading to the vast amount of mis-selling. If you feel like you may have been mis-sold such a policy, you need to dig out your paperwork and file a claim. The worst they could say is no but you could find yourself owed thousands.

Believe you could be owed?

Now you know all about PPI and think you may be owed a claim, you will want to make sure you have all the paperwork to hand. It may be a little difficult if you don’t have the paperwork – after all, there is no time limit on how far back you can go to claim so you may not always have the paperwork left over from many years ago. It isn’t impossible to source the paperwork though and you could still then potentially file a claim.

If you believe you are eligible for a claim, you may want to know what sort of compensation you are entitled to. This PPI claims calculator can help you work out an estimate of what you may be eligible to receive. You simply need to input the type of PPI claim you have (loan/mortgage or credit card), what your monthly payments were, the payment time period and when the financial product was taken out. Once you have filled in all the details, it will calculate an amount for you.

Michael Longmire

So what do I do next?

Once you’ve found out what PPI is and know what compensation you could be entitled to, you will want to claim, right? But you have a very short time period to get it done in so you will want to get started right away! You can either do this yourself using templates, sending evidence to the bank in question with an explanation on how the insurance was mis-sold to you. Some were told it was compulsory – it wasn’t. Some had it added without their consent. Make sure you tell them exactly how it was mis-sold to you and you should receive an outcome from the bank within around eight weeks but they can sometimes take a little longer.

If you find the prospect of doing it yourself daunting, you can use a no win no fee PPI claims company to help you with your claim, such as Canary Claims. They will help you throughout the process and if your claim is unsuccessful, they won’t charge you a penny.

With the deadline looming, it is so important to check through your old paperwork and bank statements to see if you are entitled to a claim. If you aren’t, then you haven’t lost anything. If you are, however, then you want to receive the compensation you are entitled to before the deadline ends – otherwise you won’t be entitled to that money at all!

Good luck to those who are currently going through the claims process and if you aren’t but think you may be entitled to one, make sure to get started straight after Christmas, you don’t want to delay!