How Much Financial Chaos Can Tiny Bugs Cause?

When it comes to meltdowns of the global financial system we tend to want to blame the bankers, the money hoarders, etc, etc. But what if an animal could bring down the banks? How big would it have to be? Godzilla? Cloverfield? Actually, a lot smaller than you realise.

So, let’s take a walk through the microscopic hall of infamy and see which mini mischief makers could be to blame for the next round of poverty. Continue reading

How To Add £80,000 To Your Pension Fund

Could your spending habits be killing your retirement dreams?

Ok, killing your retirement dreams is quite harsh so you can stop agonising. But, according to an article on Telegraph.co.uk, everyday people like you and I are burning a massive hole in our monthly budgets.

An interesting post by Rosie Murray-West, financial blogger for the news site, suggests that we’re wasting about £80,000 over the course of our lives. Where does the money go? Here’s a quick rundown of how we waste our money: Continue reading

3 Painfully Simple Ways You Lose Money Every Month

Losing money is painful but how much have you unknowingly paid out in the last year or so?

I can be quite forgetful but I’m not alone. With the day to day pressures of work and family it can be easy let money slip through your fingers. I recently did a audit of my finances and quickly realised that, over the past year, I’ve let about £1500 pounds simply ‘disappear’. Here are a few of the blackholes that sucked up my money and what I did to put my finances in order.

Expired Direct Debits

When it comes to making repeated payments, direct debits are fantastic. I have a number of them set up but I haven’t always tracked where my direct debits are going. Looking through my bank account, I notice my home insurance policy for my old mortgage was still being paid out even though the policy had been cancelled about 6 months prior. The grand total I’d unwittingly paid out was just under £500! In the current economic climate I dare anyone to say that losing that amount of money means nothing.

Solution

The first thing I did was to go through my paperwork and make sure that I no longer needed the insurance policy. Once confirmed, I simply deleted the direct debit. But it didn’t end there. I’d paid out quite a lot of money so it was time to see if I could claim it back. I called the insurance company and explained the situation. The lady on the phone was very helpful and took me through the process of getting a refund. Two weeks later the money was refunded to my bank account. It’s always worth chasing things like this up – if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Essential Repairs

Why is it so easy to let things get out of control. The phrase, “I’ll fix it tomorrow” recently cost me a lot of money. Abou 4 months ago I noticed water dripping from the ceiling in my living room. It wasn’t a huge amount and didn’t go anywhere near any of the power sockets or electrical goods. After a quick look round the attic I noticed a couple of tiles out of place. Instead of doing the sensible thing and caller the roofer straight away, I left it for about three days. Actually, I didn’t call him on third day. Instead, half of my living room ceiling came down. Cue a bill for £600 to put it right!

Solution

This one is pretty easy – get it fixed straight away. I know it’s easy to grumble about paying out a couple of hundred pounds for preventative work but it beats paying out £600 for repair work. If you’re considering claiming on your insurance – be careful – some insurers won’t pay up if they find that you already know of an existing problem and did nothing. To make matters worse, they could even revoke your insurance policy. This action on their part could leave a black mark against your name making it harder and more expensive to get cover from another provider. In the most extreme situations, you could find yourself liable for damages or injuries to other property or people.

Impulse Buying

This is one of the biggest money killers I’ve come across and I’m sure I’m not the only person guilty of it. Basically, it all boils down to being just a little bit greedy. I had a nice little 24 inch TV. Not flat screen, just a plain old box (remember those?). There was nothing wrong with it. The picture and sound quality were fine. The problem was that I’d seen a very nice flat screen television and I decided that it was a must have. I have to point out that this flat panel TV was nothing special – made by LG and only cost about £270 in the sale. So I bought it and send my trusty CRT to the charity shop. Was it worth it? Not really. I’d bought on impulse and ended up with a television with a bigger screen and some fancy connectors that I haven’t used to this day!

Solution

Calm the lizard! Many of our big purchases are based on impulse. It doesn’t matter how many times you write down the pros and cons you’ll probably still ending up buying your next big purchase because of some subconscious trigger. I’ve done it several times but, hopefully, I’m a little more savvy now. Once I’ve weighed up the cost, advantages, etc I stick to my guns. With this in mind, can anything go wrong? Yes; there’s always a crafty salesman waiting to pounce. Buy the bigger, more expensive model and get all these funky incentives… STOP! You’ve made your mind up. Don’t give in. If you don’t need it don’t buy it (or your wallet will end up a lot lighter).

Conclusion

I do like to think I’m pretty money savvy but, as you can see, it’s easy to get caught out. Whatever you do, however you do it, don’t do it!

Did Crazed Bird Watchers Steal My TV and Frozen Chicken?

Forget feeding the pigeons in the park. A trail of breadcrumbs could have a devastating effect.

Are Burglars Going To Rob Your TV and Your Sunday Lunch?

Whilst it’s fairly easy to forget the economic gloom and immerse yourself in an orgy of credit card-fueled shopping never forget that beady eyes are watching. Not the eyes of your feathered friends but those of burglars!

On average, a burglary costs about £3,400. The emotional trauma is bad enough but, to add insult to injury, the insurance companies will raise your insurance premium. It’s a little being arrested because you’ve just been beaten up by muggers! Continue reading

Easy Ways To Cripple Your Home Equity

Why do you want to remodel your home? Is it a vanity job or are you aiming to increase the value of your house. If you chose the second option then it’s time to look at the projects that will add little to no value to your house price.

We’ve been bombarded with television programmes showing us how to upgrade our des res but what really counts? Here’s a list of 6 areas not to upgrade if you want to save money. Continue reading

Life And Death Haggling On The African Plains

Shopping for a deal can be hard work. When it comes to buying very specific products it’s easy to exhaust your options for cutting costs using voucher codes.

So, where to next? Are there other ways to cut the cost of shopping for high end goods? Actually, yes and you’d be surprised how easy it is to bag a bargain. So what’s the secret? Is there a website that offers you all that you could ever need? Probably but I haven’t found it yet. Instead, why not try using the power of ‘Please’? Continue reading

Coffee Shop Employees Emptied My Bank Account

Unless you work on a farm in the middle of nowhere, your daily trudge to work is an advertisers dream. Every step of the way offers us a dizzying array of places to quench our thirst, grab a bargain or stop for something to eat. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? After all, some of you may work in a Starbucks or a cafe. The problem is that a lot of us are pretty much skint! Continue reading

12 Festive Hangovers of Christmas

Happy Santa

Ho, ho, oh no!

The winter chill gently taps at the window. In the living room, the open fire crackles as you bask in the luxuriant heat. What could go wrong on a day like this? Probably nothing but have you been storing up enough bad habits to give you a post-Christmas hangover of epic proportions? The money saving elves have been on a covert Reconnaissance mission. Guess what they found? 12 festive shockers that will freeze you to the core.

Payday Loans

Short of cash in the run up to Christmas? No problem; you can take out a payday loan to tide you over. There’s nothing wrong with a short term loan expect the interest rate. The realisation that many people can’t get a credit card, the loans companies leapt to ‘the rescue’. With interest rates of up to 4,000% you really do need to ask yourself if this is the best way to borrow money.

There’s Something Phishy About That Website!

Christmas is a time when we spend big. Sadly, the scammers know this. Phishing websites are out there, waiting like a shark in the depths ready to strike. Dramatic yes but so true. Scam emails hit your inbox every day. They promise everything from a stratospheric improvement in your sex life through fortunes in gold and hard cash courtesy of an, ‘Uncle Ahmed’ who named you as his sole beneficiary! Ignore those emails. Mark them as SPAM, set fire to them, etc but never, ever click a link.

If you do click a link don’t be tempted to enter your details into any site you are redirected to. Once the scammers have your personal details they’ll either empty your bank account or steal your identity and go on a spending spree. Oh and the bills will land on your doorstep!

Fake charities

Christmas is a time for charity and the bad guys know it! Before your charitable mood kicks in do you checks. Does the collector have an official badge? If so, does the badge have their photo on it? If in doubt, keep your money firmly in your pocket. It’s sad to say but there are some unscrupulous types out there who will take advantage of your good nature.

Please Sell Me A Warranty I Don’t Need

What’s on your amours list? A new iPad? Coffee perculator? Some yet uninvented gadget that will change the world (I have very imaginative children)? In that case, you’re going to need a warranty. Or, are you? It doesn’t matter if you buy online or in a store just make sure you keep your receipt. If you can prove that your new toy broke through no fault of your own then you’re entitled to get it replaced, repaired or your money refunded for up to a year.

Facebook scammers

Not so long ago, the world of Facebook was a target for all kinds of underhand goings on. Realising their reputation was at stake, the company implemented strict new rules and security measures to beat the cheats.

Unfortunately, those cheeky scamming chappies have found a way round the restricitions. Currently, in Australia, new victims are being conned by dubious adverts shown on the social networking site. The latest dodgy deal claims to offer site users discount vouchers for the Anti Virus company Sophos.. As you may have guessed, there isn’t a discount to be had. When the advert is clicked the visitor is asked to share the destination page with their Facebook friends but you’ll never get your voucher! This tactic helps to drive customers towards sites offering surveys for which the scammer gets paid.

e-cards

During the early 2000’s e-cards saw a massive surge of popularity. Esitmates suggest that aoround 500 million e-cards are sent every year. There’s nothing wrong with sending an e-card but the scammers have polluted the world of festive greetings with their own dirty form of Christmas present: malware! When you click the link to see the card a website will attempt to download and install anything from malware to undesirable adverts. Be safe; hover your mouse over the link before you click and make sure the URL showing in your browser bar matches that of the, legitimate, sender.

One more tip to combat e-card related is to ensure your AntiVirus is installed and up to date (just don’t click on any of the Facebook links).

UPS Sent Me A Tracking Notification…

…how considerate of them. It’s nice to know that they’ve gone to the trouble of letting me know where my Christmas parcels are. Hold on! What parcels? They must have sent the email to the wrong person. No problem. I’ll simply click the link to the support desk and let them know (and, whilst your at it, why not just install some malware on your computer and let the world know?)

This underhand tactic is another way of getting malware to your computer or delivering you to a website that may not be family friendly! Same advice as I gave for e-cards applies: check the email address or URL in the toolbar against the one in the email.

Job Searches…

…at this time of the year? “Are you insane?”, you ask. No. There New Year is approaching fast and many of you could well be considering a new career or job. The perfect time to start looking is during the run up to Christmas and, guess what? Scammers know this. Their army coders and content writes will be crafting email propositions that are simply too good to be true. “House wife earns millions from her living room!”, “Turn your computer into a cash-spewing internet marketing monster in three easy steps”, etc, etc. Sadly, the ‘work from home’ market has taken a real bashing thanks to these scammers. Many of them simply want you to shell out on get rich quick schemes which will not get you rich quick, if at all.

As and added bonus, once you’ve paid for that crappy ‘keep me poor’ scam you’re likely to have your credit card details stolen as well.

Not So Genuine Bargains

Fake and stolen goods are big business. If you’re using sites like eBay then stay well away from one day auctions especially when run by new sellers with no feedback. Miss a trick and you could see yourself answer to the Old Bill (by which time the seller will be long gone). Look at it another way: why would someone from Latvia (sorry, first country that came to mind) being selling a laptop on the UK market place with free shipping?

One Step Weight Loss

This scam is more prevalent following Christmas but you still need to be on your guard. Early in the New Year you’ll probably start receiving SPAM emails the have a secret for your eyes only. What is the secret? Instant weight loss, of course. Scammers know that, following the festive season, most of us are, err, slightly more rotund. They’ll use those every trick in the book to convince you that it’s time to shed some weight. Ignore them. There are few ways to really lose weight (as Slimmingworlders.com) will tell you.

12 Christmas hangovers to avoid. Will you be waking up on Christmas day bellowing ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ or ‘Oh no, no, no’? Merry Christmas to you all!