Review of Asda Money Products

Written by Karen Bryan

Asda Money offer a variety of financial products including credit cards, travel, home and car insurance.

Asda Money Credit Card

asda money credit cardIf you are a regular Asda shopper, you can earn 1% cashback on your Asda in-store and online shopping, plus on fuel purchases. If you spend £200 a month in an Asda supermarket and £100 a month on fuel, this would give you £36 in cashback per year. Not exactly a fortune, but a little bonus for spending that you’d be doing anyway.

It’s 0.5% cashback on all other purchases made with an Asda Money credit card. If you use your credit card to pay for as many things as possible, e.g. train tickets, household purchases, clothes and restaurants, this could add up over the year. But you do need to check if there is a fee for payment by credit card. Some travel companies charge a 2.5% credit card fee, so you’d be better to pay by debit card.

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Private House Sales: The Easy Way

Written by Karen Bryan

house for saleWhen you’re considering selling your home, you’ll have a lot of options to think through and work out which is the best option for you. You may have considered selling your home the traditional way through a high-street estate agent, but you’re curious about the rise of online property agents that present a lot of advantages over the traditional route.

Why Consider a Private Sale?

Instead of choosing an estate agent with off-putting fees to help you sell your property, going private gives you a lot more control over setting the price, who gets to see your adverts, your viewings, negotiating and processing the sale through the relevant legal parties like conveyancers and solicitors.

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Switching to GB Energy

Written by Karen Bryan

electric meterAs our one year EON Collective Fixed Price Energy tariff was due to end in early April. I started to look for the best energy deal.

Normally I look for the longest term fixed rate deal. That generally means that you initially pay a higher rate than the standard tariff, on the assumption that rising prices a year or so into the contract will mean that you are better off during the full term of the contract. It is a gamble, as it’s impossible to predict if prices will rise and by how much.

However, I didn’t feel comfortable being tied into a contract for a couple of years, when I wasn’t convinced that prices were keep rising. That sentiment, in addition paying exit fees if I spotted a better deal during the fixed price contract term, encouraged me to look at one year fixed rate deals.

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Review of Pelican Hotel and Restaurant London

Written by Karen Bryan

I stayed at the Pelican Hotel and Residence in Tooting in south London for three nights in late February 2016. I was looking for a reasonably priced hotel, located not too far from central London, that had good guest reviews, and cost under £40 a night for a single room.

The Pelican appeared to fit the bill. The lowest price I could find was through the Agoda hotel booking website at £110 for a single room for three nights. It was a lot more expensive to book directly with the hotel.

The Pelican Hotel and Residence sits in the south-west corner of the grounds of St George’s Hospital. I wonder if was originally a residence for hotel staff.

pelican hotel london exterior

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Problem with Class 2 National Insurance Contributions Section in Tax Return

Written by Karen Bryan

hmrevenueThe method of payment for Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) has changed. Previously Class 2 NICs were calculated on a weekly basis. I paid my Class 2 NICs every four weeks by direct debit.

If your earnings from self employment where below the Small Profits Threshold, then you could apply for exception from Class 2 NICs.

From the start of the current tax year on 6 April 2016, Class 2 NICs are to be calculated though self assessment when you fill out your tax return. If your earnings are below the Small Profits Threshold of £5,965, then you won’t have to pay Class 2 NICs. There will be no need to apply for an exemption.

If you wish to pay voluntary Class 2 NICs, to protect your entitlement to the UK State Pension, you will need to apply to do this on your self assessment form.

However, there appears to be a technical problem with the Class 2 NICs page on the self assessment form. When you try to enter that you wish to pay voluntary NICs, an error message is generated. When you click on the help icon, there’s a message that the requested help is not available.

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You Could Save £200 a Year on Your Energy Bills

Written by Karen Bryan

According to recent research by the Competition and Markets Authority, 70% of households are on their suppliers’ standard prices. Looking for a better energy deal for your gas and electricity could save you around £200 a year – maybe more if you’ve never switched.

The Be an Energy Shopper website is a good place to start the process of being an energy shopper. The website is run by Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), who regulate the companies which run the gas and electricity networks.

Go Energy Shopping website

If you want to find the best deal for your gas and electricity, you need to start by finding out how much gas and electricity you use, and the price that you are currently paying.

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No Alluring Cash ISAs for the New Tax Year

Written by Karen Bryan

£1 coin alternating stackAs the new tax year starts in the UK today, 6 April, I was on the lookout for the launch of any Cash ISAs paying a competitive rate.

So far zilch.

I thought that the Nationwide might launch their Regular Saver Cash ISA, which paid a variable rate of 2% last year.. But there’s no mention of it on their website.

If anything interest rates on many of the top paying Cash ISAs have dropped in the last couple of weeks.
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Review of Al Rayan Bank 120 Day Notice Cash ISA

Written by Karen Bryan

al rayan bankI was looking for a new home for the money from two maturing Cash ISAs. My Nationwide Regular Saver Cash ISA due to mature on 1 April 2016, and a fixed rate Halifax Cash ISA, due to mature in mid April 2016.

I’d decided that I do want to keep some money in tax-free Cash ISAs, despite the new £1,000 tax-free interest available to basic rate income taxpayers from 6 April 2016.

I was loath to tie up the combined money from the maturing Cash ISAs for two years in order to earn a fixed rate of around 2% in a Cash ISA account.

The Al Rayan Bank 120 Day Notice Cash ISA, paying an expected profit rate of 2%, seemed a good alternative. Al Rayan offers Sharia compliant accounts, which pay an expected profit rate instead of a guaranteed rate of interest. This is to satisfy the Muslim law which prohibits the payment of interest.

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Free Events at Virgin Money Lounges

Written by Karen Bryan

virgin money loungeIt’s worth checking out the free events at Virgin Money Lounges.

I was fortunate that the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody: Secrets from the Greatest Song of All Time’ event at the Virgin Money Lounge Eagle Place (situated close to Piccadilly Circus) coincided with my trip to London last month.

Peter Cook from the Academy of Rock interviewed engineer Barry Ainsworth, who had worked on recording of Queen’s classic track at Rockfield studios. Barry had worked with many well-known musicians including Deep Purple, The Kinks and Hawkwind.

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My Positive Experience With HMRC Web Chat

Written by Karen Bryan

hmrevenueIn mid February 2016, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) sent me my tax code for the tax year 6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017.

For some reason unknown to me, there was an allocation of almost £7,000 of my annual towards income from an employer for whom I hadn’t worked for more than seven years.

I though that I’d better contact HMRC to try to get the mistake sorted before the start of the new tax year. I’ve heard some horror stories about the length of time spent trying to get through to HMRC by phone.

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