During my recent trip to London I tried out using contactless payment, whereby you swipe your debit or credit card on the card reader at ticket barriers or when you enter a bus. You don’t need to physically insert the card into the machine and enter a PIN.
I’d previously used a Transport for London (Tfl) Oyster Card when travelling around London, which also allows you to swipe your card at the reader. The downside of the Oyster Card was that I had to log into my online account and top it up before each trip. I was never sure exactly how much credit to add. Using contactless avoids the need for top up, you pay as you go, so you don’t have unused credit sitting on my Oyster Card for months.
It sounds like an intuitive idea. There are master traders around the world, making tons of money. If you copy their investments, you can take advantage of what they know. It makes almost too much sense – surely there’s a downside?
I decided to finally take my own advice to unleash my creativity. I’ve attended some free art workshops over the years, which I really enjoyed. But I made excuses about being too busy with my online publishing business, plus not wanting to spend the money on materials.
I discovered that, supposedly needing to spend a lot of money to get started, is a myth.
Based on my experience, here are my tips on how you can start creating art for under £10.
£4: Gouache Tempera Paints – Set of 12 including free paintbrush on Amazon
I liked the colour selection in this set. I think that having at least one decent brush is essential for starting to paint. A cheap and nasty brush, like the one which came with the Home Bargains watercolour set below, is really useless. It can make you think that you will never be able to paint.
What words spring to mind when you think about debt? Stress? Complexity? Costliness? It doesn’t need to be that way. It’s hardly a secret that we are living in some of the toughest financial times of the modern era; times where formalities such as home and car ownership that our parents and grandparents used to enjoy instead make way for extortionate rents and debilitating living costs.
Traditional, and indeed affordable credit, isn’t getting any easier to get our hands on either, with banks continually finding new ways to make the process more inefficient, expensive and riddled with obstacles, despite base rates being entrenched at an all-time low and technological advances soaring at unprecedented highs.
I recently applied for a Virgin All Round Credit Card which offers 24 months 0% on both purchases and balance transfers (there is a 1% balance transfer fee for transfers made in the first 60 days). I plan to only use the card for purchases, as I don’t like paying balance transfer fees.
I read that one of the perks of being a Virgin Money customer is access to Virgin Money Lounges, currently located in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Manchester and London. The website says that the lounges offer comfy seats, free WiFi, hot and cold drinks, fruits, snacks and customer toilets.
I decided to try out the Virgin Money Lounge in Edinburgh. It’s located in St Andrew’s Square, just up from Princes Street.
Initially, I wondered if I’d made a mistake with the address, as from the other side of the street I couldn’t see any mention of Virgin Money on the building. I could only see signs for Rathbone investment consultants in all the windows on the ground floor. However, upon entering the building, there were signs for the Virgin Money Lounge, located on the first floor.
The TSB Classic Current Account is now even better. In addition to the 5% rate of interest on balances up to £2,000, and the fixed rate of 5% on the TSB Monthly Saver, you can also earn 5% cashback on the first £100 of contactless payments per month, until 31 December 2016.
Contactless payments are when your debit or credit card is swiped, rather than inserted into the payment machine and your PIN entered to authorise payments. Your debit or credit card needs to have the contactless symbol, displayed to the left here.
This TSB Current Account cashback is a great bonus on everyday spending. I plan to go for the full £100 spending limit every month. It shouldn’t be too hard, as the contactless limit was increased from £20 to £3o on 1 September 2015. I must remember to ask before paying if I can use contactless, as not all retailers have the required equipment. It’ll be hard to break the habit of inserting my card in the machine to pay.
When running your own business, it’s hard to have the time and skills required to perform all the necessary business functions yourself.
One way to cope with this dilemma is to outsource some of these tasks.
My approach to deciding which business functions you should outsource would be to look at your own skill set to ascertain which functions you are most competent to perform yourself and the cost of outsourcing all functions. Then examine if you should outsource the functions which either you can’t do yourself, or are relatively cheap to outsource.
I’m an online publisher with two websites. Europe a la Carte, a European travel website. and Help Me To Save, a personal finance and lifestyle website. Below, I’ve looked at the various business functions, my skills and the cost of outsourcing.
Tesco Bank pay a variable rate of 3% interest on their current account, but that’s only on balances up to £3,000. Whereas, you can earn a variable rate of 3% on balances between £3,000 to £20,000 in the Santander 123 Current Account.