Budgeting

Am I Paying Too Much for my Phone?

It can be a good idea to always question yourself about whether you are paying too much for your phone. This is because phone companies will charge a lot of money for phones and it is possible that you are paying more than necessary. You may also find that you have been met by very good salespeople in the mobile phone shop and been sold something which is more expensive than you need. Lastly, you might want to get things because your friends and family have them even if they are not quite right for you. It can therefore be a really good idea to make sure you are not paying too much by going through this process:

What features do I Need?

IT is important to start by thinking about what features you need for your phone. This is not what you would like but just what you need. Think about what you use a lot – things that you can only do on your phone. For example, think about whether you have a PC or laptop and can use that instead for certain things. Consider whether the things that you use it for are really necessary or whether you can go without them. Come up with a list of things you need. Think about things you need with regards to what you are paying monthly – i.e. calls, texts and data but also think about your actual phone. You may not be thinking of changing your phone right now, but it can be useful to also think about what you need from a phone. This is because new phones can be really expensive and they will often have many more features than you will actually need. It can be tempting to get all these amazing things and then we end up hardly using them and just reverting back to using the things that we used on our old phone. Therefore, it can be a good idea to make two lists. One list should say what it is that you need in your contract and one that is what you need on your phone. Then you are in a position to start looking for the right things to suit you.

How do Providers Compare?

It can be a good idea to compare the different providers so that you can find one that will give you everything that you need at the best price. It is a good idea to do this research yourself rather than rely on a shop to help you. Often the salesmen will be very good and are likely to try to push you into buying something that you do not need. So, go to various providers websites and compare their prices to see which will be the cheapest for you. Then you should look at the different phones and compare them, but more importantly, think about whether you really need a new phone or whether you can manage with the one that you have already.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it is worth it. You will find that you could potentially save a significant amount of money each month if you switch to a provider that has just what you need rather than giving you more than you need. Those savings could really add up over the years and so it is well worth having a look and seeing how much you can save each month and then adding that up to see how much you can save in a year. It could certainly make you realise that your calculations and research were well worth it.

Cashback

Are Cash Back Websites Worth Using?

There are quite a few cash back websites available now and whether you are deciding whether to use one or already do use one, it can be worth thinking about whether they are worth it or not. There are advantages and disadvantages of using them and it is worth considering these before you make up your mind fully.

Advantages

  • When you make a purchase and use the link on the cash back site, you will get some money back. This means that if you are buying online (and sometimes offline) then you will get a bit of cashback, which will eventually make its way to your bank account.
  • You may be able to get discounts that other shoppers do not get because they are offered through the cashback site.
  • It only takes a few extra clicks of a mouse and you will be able to get some money back on the items that you buy.

Disadvantages

  • The amount of cashback that you get is very small. Although it is better than nothing, it will not be a great deal. It is better to think of it as a small bonus rather than a discount.
  • Sometimes the purchase does not track properly and you do not get paid your cash back at all.
  • The cash back will take a long time to reach you – it could take months before you get it and sometimes even longer. This is because the cahs back company has to claim it back from the retailer first and that will take some time.
  • You may spend more money than you intended to because you know that you are getting cashback. Problem is with this is that the cashback amounts tend to be very small percentages.
  • You may feel that you are justified in shopping lots more often because you can get cash back on your purchases. It could mean that you end up buying lots of things that you do not need and spending money needlessly and cluttering up your home with things.
  • The cashback sites want you to buy things and so they will entice you into spending money which you may not be able to afford to spend.

It is wise to be really careful with these sites. You want to make sure that you are only buying items that you were planning on buying anyway even without the offer of cashback. It can be very tempting to think that because you are making money from the purchases that you are making, that you should buy as much as possible to make more money. However, it is so important to remember that this is actually not the case at all. You will be paying out more money every time you buy something and only getting a very small proportion of it back. So do not fall into this trap. Also, if the purchase does not track properly, perhaps because you do not click through correctly or there is another error, then you may not even get the money. Therefore, this will make things even worse.

The sites are therefore really only good for people who have good self-discipline and will only buy things that they really need and benefit from getting the cashback. For people that don’t need much of an excuse for buying more than they need then it can encourage them to spend more money than they can afford. So, you will need to think about whether you feel that this sort of site will be right for you or not. You will know but you will nee dto be honest with yourself.

Education

Can I Afford to Study?

If you want to do a course, then you might be wondering to your self whether you can actually afford it. It is good to think through a series of steps in order to calculate this accurately and then you will know for sure whether it is the right thing for you to do.

Find out how Much the Course Costs

You will need to start by finding out how much the course will cost. Although there are a few free courses, it is likely that you will need to pay for the course that you have in mind. Make sure that you not only find out how much the course actually costs but also if there are any other costs, such as course materials that you will have to buy, travel costs to get there and any trips or things like that which you may also need to pay for. Add this all up and then you will have a point to start at.

Check for any Grants, Loans etc that you are Entitled it

Next it is worth checking to see whether you are entitled to any grants, bursaries or student loans, even if just for £100 a week to help with the cost of the course. It is well worth asking the course organisers as they may be well aware of what might be available. It is also worth searching online and doing your own research to find out everything you can about funding.

It’s important to consider lost wages whilst studying.

Consider Lost Wages

If you will be studying instead of working, then you will need to factor in the cost of lost wages as well. Of course, if you are studying in your free time then this will not be a problem, but it might be that you have decided to work less hours in order to study and this will of course, have an impact on how much you will earn and this will be an additional cost of the course.

Then Calculate

Now you should be in a position to calculate if you can afford to study. Firstly, you have the figure or all the costs Then you know what help you might get and how much you will earn form work if you plan on working as well as studying. Then you will need to think hard about whether you will then have enough money. Consider what you will need to pay for while you are studying. For example, where will you live, will you need to pay rent or mortgage, what will the utilities cost, how will you afford food and things like this. If you are remaining in the home you are in, then you will easily know your costs and be able to work it out. If you are moving elsewhere, then you may have to estimate. It is well worth over estimating costs, if you are not quite sure what they will be, as you will then be completely sure that you are checking that you will have enough money.

If you figure out that you will not be able to afford then do not give up. There may be other options. You might be able to study part-time and work part-time. You might be able to delay studying and save up money until you can afford it. You might be able to find somewhere to live that will be cheaper so that you can go ahead. It is good to have a think through all of the options. Even if you can afford it, it can always be worth thinking about whether there are alternative things that you can try which will help make it more affordable.

Make Money

Can I Earn Money Online?

If you want more money, then you may consider that earning it would be a good solution. It can really help, but if you are limited to having to be at home, or do not want something permanent then you will be more restricted in what you can do. One solution could be to look for ways to earn online but you may wonder what you can do to earn money this way. There are lots of things that you can try out.

Freelancing

There is a lot of freelance work advertised online that you can do from home. This can be a great way to use skills that you have to earn money There are some well-known and trusted websites that potential employers go to in order to advertise what they have available. You will have to often put forward a CV or show examples of previous work that you have done and also apply for the job. This means that you will not necessarily get everything that you are interested in. You will have to bid against others and it may mean that you will have to charge relatively small amounts in order to compete with other people also looking for work. However, it can be a way to find work that is paid reasonably well and you could end up finding regular work. If you have a sought after skill, you could find that you will be able to charge more money as well.

Buying and Selling

There are websites such as eBay and Amazon where it is easy for anyone to sell things pretty easily. They are well known so you do not have to advertise and you can list lots of items for sale on there. You will just need to make sure that you pick items that will sell and by looking at what other items sell well on there. You will also need to make sure that you can find a wholesaler where you can get the items at a good enough price that you will be able to sell them at a profit. Remember to check what others are selling similar things for so that you can compete and think about what you will need to charge so that you can cover all of your costs. Remember to include your cost of stock, listing, banking, storage, postage and packaging.

YouTubing/blogging

Some people can make a lot of money out of doing this. They manage to get money through advertising, selling merchandise and affiliate links. It does take time though, no one will make lots of money immediately. It tends to be something that people start off doing as a hobby and something they do will make them stand out and become popular and they will then take off and make lots of money. It is something that could be worth a try, but if you want to make money right away then it is unlikely to be the right option.

Surveys

If you want something really easy then you could answer surveys to make money. There are a number of websites that offer payment for doing this and you can build up a fair bit of money if you use a selection of different websites to earn through. You will need to earn a minimum before they will pay out and for some companies this can be pretty high. You may also get screened out and not get paid for some surveys even after spending some time working through them. It can be fun though, for anyone that like giving their opinion and sharing information about themselves with others.

Pensions

Should I Use Pension Release?

There is now the option of releasing some money form your pension when you retire. If you are coming up to retirement, you may wonder whether using this option will be a good idea for you. There are pros and cons to doing this and it is a good idea to have a think about these to decide whether you think that the idea will work for you.

Advantages of Releasing Funds

  • If you leave the pension where it is, it will be used to buy an annuity and then you will be paid regular payments each month (normally). If the annuity does well and you live a long time then this can be very useful. However, if the stock market does not do well and the annuity does not make much money, this could impact the value or amount of payments you get. You will also lose out if you die quickly into retirement and will not get back all of the money that you have paid in. The advantage then in releasing funds is that you will get a chunk of that money back.
  • If you have a chunk of money out, you will be able to use it for all sorts of things. You could go on some big holidays, give it away to children or grandchildren or make some changes to your home. You could not do significant things with a small regular payment, so having a big chunk of money could be really useful.
  • If you have a lump sum of money and then invest it, it means that others can inherit it from you when you die, but if it is in a pension, then it could be lost or your spouse will get some of it and it may not all be used before they die.

Disadvantages of Releasing Funds

  • If you release a big chunk of money, it will mean that the monthly payments you receive will be smaller. This means that you may not be getting enough income to be able to cover your costs.
  • It could be the case that you spend the lump sum really quickly and you may regret it. It could disappear quite quickly if you have a few holidays and buy a few bits and pieces and you may wonder whether it was worth it or whether it would have been better left alone.
  • You may decide to put the lump sum into an account which earns interest and live off the interest. However, the interest rates might go very low and means your income is small or you might be tempted to spend bits of the money until it is all gone.

At a glance it can seem like an easy decision to make with regards to whether to use pension release. However, it is well worth thinking it through carefully. This is because you could find that you will not have all of the advantages that you thought or that there are more disadvantages than you thought. It is therefore worth thinking about what might suit you the best in your specific situation. Make sure you think about the future and what it might hold as well as the present. It is easy to plan for what you might do in the next few years and what might work best for you, but it is also very important to look much further into the future. No one can predict what might happen but it is good to have a think about what could potentially happen and what you could do now to help. Consider different scenarios and then you should be able to plan for those and make sure that you will have enough money to cope.