I was looking for cheap accommodation, to extend a one night hosted trip to London for an event organised by a finance company. I had a look at Expedia Secret Saver Hotels one week before my proposed stay, to see if I could find any bargains.
When I saw a three star hotel in the Ealing/Chiswick area, including breakfast at £38 for two nights, it sounded too good to be true. I thought that the price might leap up when I clicked through to book, but it stayed at £38. Once I’d paid, the hotel was revealed as the Holiday Inn Express London Park Royal.
I’ve stayed at several Holiday Inn Express hotels and found the rooms to be of a good standard for a budget chain. I checked the price for the Holiday Inn Express London Park Royal on both the Holiday Inn website and the HotelsCombined price comparison site, and the price was £136 for two nights. I was surprised, as you usually find the lowest prices on Holiday Inn’s own website. I knew from a quick look at the map that there wasn’t much to do in the area close to the hotel, but planned to visit Ealing one day.
The hotel is located next to North Acton Tube station on the Central Line, which lies on the Zone 2/3 boundary.
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Can You Make a Quick Profit from a Pension? – I examine how non and low earners over the age of 55 may be able to take advantage of tax relief on pension contributions and access their pension pot without paying any income tax.
Cash ISAs Not Looking Alluring This Year – Although the new tax year starting on 6 April 2015 brings an annual tax-free Cash ISA allowance of £15,240, I’m not planning to open a new Cash ISA savings account soon.
Normally in late March/early April I’m on the lookout for the highest fixed rate Cash ISA, in order to put in the full ISA allowance at the start of the new tax year on 6 April. I’ve always gone for fixed rate accounts in order to get the highest rate of interest and I’ve been happy to tie up the money for up to three years.
However, this year it’s different.
We’re thinking of moving home, so I don’t want to tie up any money long-term. The penalties for early withdrawal or closure of fixed rate Cash ISAs, often at least 120 days loss of interest, would mean that an instant access account would yield a higher rate, once the penalty was deducted from the fixed rate account.
When I decided to spend £240 on a Sony Xperia Z Ultra phablet (a mobile phone with a large screen), I thought it wise to take out mobile phone insurance.
The best option appeared to be to open a Nationwide Flex Plus Current Account, which for a £10 monthly fee offers various insurance policies including both lost and damaged mobile phones. However, as you earn 3% interest on balances up to £2,500, you can use the interest to offset some of the monthly fee. The gross interest earned if you keep £2,500 in the account is £6.25, which is £5 after deduction of basic rate income tax.
Around four months after purchasing the phablet, I managed to drop it in soapy water with the charging flap open, in a train toilet after a food spill. This happened on my way to London, which was very inconvenient, as it was painful using my old phone to check emails, upload photos etc during my stay in London.
Driving is a vital skill. It makes your life more convenient and it also opens up more job opportunities. However, it comes at a cost. From study materials to lessons and exams, you are sure to find yourself raiding the piggy bank. Don’t fear though, there are some ways to lessen the cost and here are five tips to help.
Get Free Study Materials
Instead of purchasing driving booklets and study materials, look for free sources first. You may have a friend or family member who has been through the same process and has a study guide that you can borrow. Another alternative would be to visit government websites or websites with free mock theory tests where you can practice. This is a cheaper alternative than purchasing expensive books and software.
Managing your money means different things to different people. To manage your money well will depend on your goal, whether that’s simply living within your means or repaying your debts.
Set Up a Budget
A budget is the place to start to help you get your money sorted. It is a record of the money you have coming in, and the money you’re spending. Writing it down will help you see where your money is going, and just this alone will help you feel more in control of your money. There are budget planners available all over the internet, such as this one here. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the biggest attractions of saving into a pension is you can get tax relief on the payments. You can put up to £3,600 gross (after tax relief) into a pension, even if you have no earnings. If you wish to attract tax relief on higher pension payments, you need to be working and then you can get tax relief on earnings of up to £40,000 per annum.
With the changes to pension access starting on 6 April 2015, it’ll be possible to take your whole pension pot as cash. You will be able to take 25% as a tax-free lump sum, but the remaining 75% will be taxable, if your total income is above the annual personal allowance (that’s the amount of income per year that you can have before being liable to pay income tax).
The Halifax £125 Switching Bonus – For applications made by 5 April 2015, new and existing Halifax current account holders can earn a £125 incentive for switching another existing current account to the Halifax.
I was under the impression that, in order to qualify for a switching bonus, you had to open a new current account with a provider offering the incentive.
However, for applications received by 5 April 2015, the Halifax is paying a £125 switching incentive to existing and new holders of their standard, Reward and Ultimate Reward current accounts, who switch another current account into their Halifax current account.
When I was invited to an Experian event in London which involved an overnight stay, I thought that I’d like to extend my time in the capital. However, that was dependent on finding accommodation in London that was reasonably priced, which is sometimes quite a feat.
As I’ve previously used lastminute.com’s Top Secret Hotels, where the name of the discounted hotel is only revealed once you’ve made the non-refundable booking, I had a look there. There was nothing promising in the search results.
I thought that I’d try the similar Expedia Secret Saver Hotels. I was amazed to find a three star hotel in the Ealing/Chiswick area for £19 a night including breakfast, for a Saturday and Sunday stay. The location didn’t deter me, as I like to explore London off the beaten track.