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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Mistakes to Avoid As a New Investor

Written by Karen Bryan

Investing is something that many people partake in at some point, usually with the aim of increasing their capital, but sometimes as a new hobby. Starting out as an amateur investor is exciting, but it certainly does not come without its risks, which means every newbie should assess their current financial situation, create an investment plan and carry out lots of research beforehand.

Here, we discuss the common mistakes that many new investors make and how you can avoid them.

Investing before the time is right

This is perhaps the most common mistake that beginner investors make and almost always lands people in hot water. Investing before you are in a good financial position to do so is extremely risky and could mean you lose far more than you can afford to.

As such, sensible would-be investors will first assess their finances, including a full financial audit that outlines all ingoing and outgoing expenses. This will help them decide if there are any places where they can cut costs or make savings. Before investing, all major debts should be paid off, or at least be at a manageable level.

Carrying out such an audit allows us to decide whether now is the right time to invest, or if waiting is the more sensible option. If there is a significant amount of outstanding debt to pay off, then our financial obligations will simply outweigh any expected gains from our investments.

No risk tolerance is established

Investing is, of course, risky by nature, which is why everybody who is entering the sphere should be prepared to lose money. Risk will vary depending on the investment in question, with some carrying a high level of risk, and others being quite low-risk. This is where risk tolerance comes into play.

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Buying Separate Home Contents Insurance

Written by Karen Bryan

As we live in a flat, there is a common buildings insurance policy, which is arranged by the factor (property manager), we have to buy separate home insurance cover.

The premium that we pay for the buildings insurance for a top floor three bedroom flat is already higher than the joint buildings and contents insurance that we paid for our previous three bedroom detached house. This is partly due to the factor earning a commission on the block buildings insurance policy. Plus, the construction of the flat is non standard, as it has a rubber roof.

The block building insurance for our flat doesn’t even offer as good a level of cover as the joint buildings and insurance cover which I arranged for our previous home. The excess on the block policy is higher and the number of days during which the property can be left unoccupied is fewer.

Overall, I believe it is a good thing to common buildings insurance cover administered by the factor. when living a flat. One of my friends lived in a flat in Stirling where everyone in the block arranged their own insurance. She also lived in a top floor flat. When there was a leak in the roof and she had to organise an emergency repair, here insurance company would only pay for one sixth of the cost. Three of the neighbours never paid, leaving her seriously out of pocket.

The rubber roof in our current flat also means that I was only able to get three quotes for separate home contents insurance. Again, the price for home contents insurance is higher than the price of combined buildings and contents cover in the our previous home.

There also the complication of having to deal with two different insurance companies if we had a major incident at the flat which involved damage to the structure and the contents.

It seems crazy to be paying more than the twice the price for inferior cover to insure a flat than we paid to insure a detached house.

Boiler Insurance: What You Should Know

Written by Karen Bryan

After buying your new boiler, the next step is to purchase a suitable boiler cover plan. This means in the event of a boiler breakdown; the service provider will have an engineer diagnose the problem and fix it.

In addition, if your plan includes a servicing contract, then an engineer will service the boiler on annual basis to make sure it works well.

However, boiler covers come with different terms and conditions. Therefore, it’s important to carefully analyze all available options before settling on a final cover provider. This includes searching for the best value for money and speedy response in case of a breakdown.

Take a look at what you should look for in a boiler cover provider.

1. Choosing a Suitable Policy

By choosing a suitable policy, you’ll avoid spending too much money. First off, you must understand that the boiler cover you intend on purchasing will depend on your type of boiler.

Furthermore, your circumstances will also influence the type of policy you’ll choose. For example, does your boiler heat your house and your water? Is this is the case, you may want to add central heating in your cover to protect your radiators.

Nevertheless, be sure to look out for other extras included in the policy. For instance, other items which your home insurance covers such as drainage, pipes and electrical faults. Overlapping covers may cost you more.

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