6 Totally Manageable Ways to Save Money as a Family

Written by Karen Bryan

When you have a child, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much extra cash you need to dedicate to your expenses each month. Most consumers around the UK today are already scrambling to make their cash go further. Bring a kid into the mix, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

The good news is that if you’re committed to living a more frugal lifestyle, there are plenty of things you can do to get more control over your cash.

Here, we’re going to look at some easy ways that you can save money as a family, without trying to accomplish too much, too fast.

Organise your Food Shopping

How much unused food do you throw away each month? If the answer is more than “nothing,” it’s time to get more control over your shopping habits. Start by creating a list of items you need before you go to the supermarket each week and take an envelope with you that includes only the money you need for those items. This will prevent you from accidentally overspending when you’re tempted by a treat at the checkout counter.

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Travelodge Aberdeen Central Review

Written by Karen Bryan

I stayed at the Travelodge Aberdeen Central for three nights (Friday to Monday) in mid June 2019. I booked the room during a 35% off stays for three nights promotion during April 2019. I paid £80 for the three nights, on the non-refundable Saver rate. I thought that this was a good price for a weekend stay.

I checked in a few minutes after the earliest check in time of 3pm. I was fortunate to be allocated a room on the top (fourth floor) at the side of the hotel away from the road junction. The view was over the roof of the adjacent Trinity Centre. I could see the North Sea on the horizon.

Unusually for Travelodges, the room had two chairs. This is good if there are two people in the room, so one person doesn’t have to sit on the bed.

The room was a good size and had a large desk area. There was plenty of space for the kettle and my Chromebook.

The bathroom was also a reasonable size, with a bath. Many newer, city centre hotels only have showers.

I wasn’t disturbed by any interior or exterior noise on any of the three nights of my stay. This is unusual for a city centre location.

In summary, I thought that Travelodge Aberdeen Central offered great value for money for comfortable accommodation right in the heart of the city.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Explained

Written by Karen Bryan

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), one of the four venture capital schemes, was established by the UK government in 1994, to encourage investors to help early-stage businesses and start-ups to secure the finances they need in order to grow.

This scheme is extremely beneficial for both parties involved. For investors, the EIS offers substantial tax relief benefits, which they would not have secured unless investing in a small, early-stage business under the scheme. For SMEs, the EIS allows them to gain the necessary funds to kick-start their business.

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How to Save a Lot of Money on a Mortgage or Remortgage

Written by Karen Bryan

Imagine you are looking to buy your first house but don’t know where to turn for a mortgage. Your estate agent recommends a high street bank or your local building society. A friend suggests you turn to a mortgage broker instead. What do you do?

There are plenty of good reasons to go directly to lenders in search of a mortgage. The same is true for re-mortgages. But when you are talking specifically about financial considerations, mortgage brokers tend to come out on top for one simple reason: they can save you a lot of money.

Your bank or building society may only offer one mortgage or remortgage deal. If they offer two or three, that would be a lot. But visit that mortgage broker on the other side of town and you are likely to hear different story. If this mortgage broker suggests he/she can look at a dozen different deals, you suddenly have more choices to work with.

Why Mortgages Cost Money

To understand how a mortgage broker can save you a lot of money, it is important that you realise just why mortgages cost you something. Remember that all forms of borrowing come with costs included. If you are borrowing £100,000 to buy a house, you will pay interest on that money. But that’s not all. There are also costs associated with underwriting a loan, processing it, managing payments, etc. You pay all of those costs.

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Tips to Value Your Property

Written by Karen Bryan

Wondering what a house you want to buy or already own is worth? Well, the simpler answer is that: The residence is worth what a buyer will be willing to pay to acquire it. The more detailed answer is that its value will be determined by the prevailing market conditions. Price may also be affected by whether you are asking a county tax assessor, realtor, or a financial lender.

Learning how to calculate the value of your property with trained professionals and online tools prepares you to refinance, sell, buy, or even tap into your available home equity options.

According to Property Price Advice, you can use the following 4 ways to value your property:

1. Using Online Valuation Tools

A quick search online on “how much is my home worth?” will reveal dozens of house value estimators. In fact, a recent survey in the US found that 22% of homeowners who established the value of their properties used online value estimators.

Professionally, the tools are known as AVM or automated valuation models. The tools are typically availed by real estate websites and lenders. They try to predict the value of your home based on recent listing prices and sales in your region.

They also rely on public records like tax assessments, ownership deeds, and property transfers. However, it is important to consider talking to a local realtor to gain more insight into the valuation process, even after using an online valuation tool.

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The Digital Strategy Debate: Should I utilise SEO or PPC for my blog?

Written by Karen Bryan

With more and more bloggers on the rise, it is hard to stand out from the digital crowd. In order to allow potential like-minded readers to find your blog, you may have to rely on more than just creative and authentic content, but also to aim to show up on Google searches.

The higher your blog is to rank on Google’s Search Engine Results Page for a particular keyword. This can be achieved by using search engine optimisation (SEO), a long-term strategy, or pay-per-click (PPC), a quick strategy.

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Boots Advantage Card Treats for Over 60s

Written by Karen Bryan

In true Help Me To Save fashion, I have been on the look out for ways to save money now that I am 60. As I live in Scotland, I have a free bus pass, officially named a National Entitlement Card (NEC). I also shelled out £70 to purchase a Senior Railcard, which gives me one third off most UK rail tickets.

When I was loading a bonus 200 Boots Advantage points to my card, I noticed that Boots offer additional rewards to the over 60s. So I took a look at the benefits.

The main perk appears to be that you receive 10 points per £1 spent on Boots branded products, as opposed to the standard 4 points per £1 spent on almost all purchases at Boots. If you buy a lot of Boots own products then having the Over 60s Rewards could potentially more than double the number of points that you can collect.

I think it would be more straightforward and transparent if Boots offered the additional points on all purchases, perhaps a slightly lower rate e.g. 6-8 extra points for every £1 spent.

To apply to join the Boots Advantage Over 60s Rewards, I logged into my account and pressed the join button. This generated a bar code which I had to print out and take to a Boots store along with ID to complete the application process. I was able to use my bus pass as ID.

I don’t shop that much in Boots. I find that most toiletries are cheaper in shops such as Savers, Superdrug and Semi-Chem. However ,it is good to earn some additional points in the Boots Advantage Treats for over 60s loyalty scheme.

I’ve had a Boots Advantage Card for years and have amassed around £31 worth of points. Quite a few of these points have been earned through bonus points vouchers. I’ve never been influenced into buying anything at Boots in order to earm Advantage Points.

Applying for an Over 60s Bus Pass in Scotland

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently celebrated my 60th birthday. As I live in Scotland, that meant that I was eligible for a National Entitlement Card (NEC), commonly referred to as an over 60s Bus Pass. This smartcard offers the holder free bus travel throughout Scotland.

It’s a good idea to apply for your NEC a couple of weeks before your 60th birthday, as it takes an average of ten working days to process your application.

We live in Stirling, so I had to pick up an NEC application form at Stirling bus station. You need to make the application in person. So that I could complete the form at the bus station as soon as I picked up the form, I had read up in advance that I would need a recent passport style photo and two forms of ID to make the application.

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Review of Honey Coupon Finder Extension

Written by Karen Bryan

You can save some serious cash by using coupons or voucher codes when shopping online. I’ve saved up to 20% by using coupons and voucher codes.

But, it can be such a pain finding the valid coupon code which offers the highest discount. It was so frustrating finding a code, which when entered on the retailer’s website, wouldn’t work.

Honey is a Chrome browser extension (a software application) which automatically searches for valid coupons and voucher codes when you are shopping online.

However, you need to be aware what data any browser extension can access and what will happen to that data.

I’ve found the Honey extension to be a boon. It does find a valid coupon or voucher code most of the time. I still do a quick search online to check if I can find a better coupon. On the occasions when I have found a code and added it to on the shopping cart page, a Honey pop-up message comes up asking if I’d like to share the code with other Honey users.

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I’m Impressed by Transport for London (TfL)

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently spent a week on London. I was so impressed by Transport for London (TfL). I chose accommodation located in a central location to facilitate getting around.

My studio was in North Gower Street, close to Euston railway station. I was also close to three Tube stations; Euston, Euston Square and Warren Street . Plus, there were lots of bus stops within a five minute walk.

I travelled outside the central Zone on three days 1 e.g., to Eltham Palace in south east London and to Willesden in north west London. I used the Tube, buses, Overground and National Rail. I never waited for more than five minutes, even on a Sunday.

For six days of travel in London, I paid £42, which was such good value for money. I travelled during both peak and off-peak times of day.

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