I’m Not Impressed by Waitrose

Written by Karen Bryan

As Halifax Cashback Extras was offering 10% cashback on shopping at Waitrose, I decided to go to do some food shopping in Waitrose. I was also attracted by the free coffee on offer to customers who are members of  the myWaitrose loyalty club. Plus I wanted to have a look around the adjacent TK Maxx.

Now I am aware that Waitrose doesn’t promote itself as a cheap supermarket, its focus is on quality and customer service. But I expect to find some basic items such as a 4 pint carton of milk at the standard supermarket price of £1.

I was incredulous at the prices in Waitrose. The cheapest peanut butter was well over £1,  I can buy it in Tesco for 65p. The cheapest pack of 24 breakfast wheat biscuits were also well over £1, I can buy them in Tesco for  75p.

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How the SEPA Payments Initiative Is Transforming European Business Transactions

Written by Karen Bryan

Financial transactions are an integral element of an economic system, be it of a highly developed country or a state that is struggling to make ends meet. One can’t do enough when it comes to refining the world of transactions; there is always room for improvement and always a capacity to innovate. The European Union recently took an initiative to revolutionise the region’s payment system by introducing the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). The change is still ongoing when it comes to the payment procedures via mobile and online payments, but has been implemented completely when it comes to Credit Transfer and Direct Debit systems.

The introduction of the Euro enabled the citizens of the European region and the businesses in it to make payments in cash all across the euro area by use of only one currency. SEPA is an attempt to enable them to be able to make cashless payments across the European region by using only one payment account, without having to take care of a separate set of conditions based on the location as long as it’s within Europe.

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Hike in Nationwide FlexPlus Account Monthly Fee

Written by Karen Bryan

I was annoyed to read that the present £10 monthly fee charged on the Nationwide FlexPlus current account is to be hiked by 30% to £13 a month from 21 September 2017.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Nationwide are ditching the current 12 month extended warranty available on many household electrical items costing more than £50. For me, this was one of the most valuable benefits of having a Nationwide FlexPlus current account.

So it’s pay more to receive less from the Nationwide FlexPlus current account.

I feel that there has a been a steady stream of bad news from financial providers in the last year. There have been dramatic reductions in the rate of interest paid on accounts e.g. the 3% interest paid on balances of up to £20,000 in the Santander 123 Current Account halved to 1.5%. That was an annual loss of interest of £300 if you held the full £20,000 in the account.

When you factor in that inflation (measured by CPI) is close to 3%, savings earning less than this rate are losing their spending power. As far as I can see, that is almost all savings accounts, except some monthly saver accounts in which the maximum balance is usually only a few thousand pounds.

The only saving grace for my finances is that my annuity is linked to inflation, as measured by the generally higher RPI, so at least it is maintaining its spending power.

Using BT SmartTalk On Your Mobile Phone

Written by Karen Bryan

I’d vaguely heard of the BT SmartTalk app, which enables you to use your BT landline inclusive minutes on your mobile phone.

At present, I have 2,500 minutes a month on my TalkMobile X-Large 30 Day SIM. So I wasn’t sure how useful BT SmartTalk would be, as your mobile phone has to be connected to the internet before you can use BT SmartTalk.

I decided to try decided to try BT SmartTalk for two reasons.

Firstly, the fact that 0845 and 0870 numbers are included in my BT Anytime Calls package, so I’d be able to call them free of charge using BT SmartTalk. Whereas, I would have to pay for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers on the TalkMobile plan.

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Why Discount Vouchers Are Better Than Cashback

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently purchased a fridge freezer on the AO.com website. The price was £279. A0.com were offering £30 cashback on the model of Hisense fridge freezer which I decided to purchase.

I always prefer discount codes to cashback. As long as the discount code is valid, the money off is guaranteed at the point of purchase. Whereas, with cashback, you can never be sure that you will receive the cashback.

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Beware of Sending Long Texts on TalkMobile

Written by Karen Bryan

I set up a maximum £1 additional spend limit on my TalkMobile X-Large 30 Day SIM account.

I wasn’t anticipating spending any more than the £15 a month, as the package included 2,500 minutes, 5,000 texts and 15GB of data.

There wasn’t an option to set the additional spend to zero, which would have been my preferred option.

However, one month I was charged 60p for two picture messages. I couldn’t understand this, as I don’t even know how to send a picture message, but I didn’t get around to querying it.

The following month, when I logged in to check how much data I had used, I saw that there was another 30p charge for a picture message. I contacted TalkMobile to try to get to the bottom of these additional charges.

Evidently, TalkMobile charge you for a picture message if you send a text comprising of more than 160 characters.

I found this strange as with both my other current provider Three, and my former provider BT Mobile, when I sent a text message which was  over 160 characters it was sent as two separate messages, thereby avoiding breaching the 160 character limit.

TalkMobile were unable to give me a reason why they didn’t split a longer text message into separate texts.

I can only assume that it is make a bit of extra revenue by charging unsuspecting customers who send an occasional long text message.


Recycling Has Become an Complicated Pain

Written by Karen Bryan

Recycling your rubbish has become such a pain. It was so much simpler when you had one black bin which was emptied every week.

Now with most bins being emptied every fortnight, or even every four weeks, if you miss a bin day e.g. you are away on holiday, your bin could be sitting umemptied for weeks. This isn’t ideal, especially with food waste in the Summer. Also if you are a large family, your bin is likely to be overflowing.

In Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland Council don’t even offer roadside recycling for glass. You are supposed to take it glass recycling points yourself.

Why am I paying so much in Council Tax to be told that all the rubbish won’t be collected from outside my home?

It’s confusing remembering what can go into your blue recycling bin in Berwick-upon-Tweed. You can put in thin cardboard .e.g. a cereal box, but not thick cardboard. I thought that all types of cardboard could be recycled.

I’ve never sure if all plastic wrapping can go into the recycling bin.

Tetra packs (used for long life milk and fruit juice cartons), can only be recycled in a few areas of the country, which doesn’t include Berwick upon Tweed.

What a palaver. And that’s living in a house where your bins are just outside the back door. What about living in a flat? Where are you going to find the space for several containers into which to place various categories of rubbish?

In some flats there are communal bins for some types of rubbish. Who is going to wheel out these bins on the correct bin days? Whereas if each flat only has one refuse bin, it is the responsibility of the occupier of each flat to take out their own bin weekly.

Then you have the expense to the local authority of buying different bin lorries for the different types of rubbish, plus buying all the different bins. Wouldn’t it be simpler to force food suppliers to use less packaging?

Why Are There So Many Different Types of Light Bulb?

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently bought a couple of table lamps. The assistant in the store offered me a twin pack of  the required 40W light bulbs for £3.

I thought that sounded a bit expensive. I thought that we’d either have some in our home store of light bulbs, or I’d be able to buy them for less in a discount store.

Well, my first attempt ended up with me buying the wrong 40W light bulbs in B&M Bargains.

I had another look at the type of light bulb required, a screw in golf ball, prior to heading for Poundland. I bought two light bulbs for £1, thinking that I was glad I hadn’t paid £3 for two light bulbs in the shop in which I purchased the table lamps. But no, I had bought that wrong light bulbs again.

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Review of the Intex Downy Raised Airbed

Written by Karen Bryan

I decided to buy a posh queen size airbed for guests. I didn’t want to buy another standard bed, as it would take up so much space. A good quality airbed seemed a sensible option, offering comfort, but requiring minimal storage facilities.

My husband did quite a bit of research online to find airbeds with good reviews. He came up with the Intex Downy Queen Raised Airbed model #64440, which had an inbuilt electric pump. This airbed received very good reviews.

I found it on eBay for £49 with free delivery. I contacted the supplier by email to ask about the warranty on the airbed. They replied quickly saying that there was a one year warranty, which excluded punctures. As I only planned to use the airbed indoors. versus on camping trips. I thought the chance of a puncture was minimal.

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6 Great Alternative Funding Options for Small Businesses

Written by Karen Bryan

If your business is in need of cash to get it through a lull or needs money to expand, the first thing you’ll probably think to do is head over to the bank and apply for a loan. However, that is not the only option available to you today. Here are six great alternative funding options for small businesses.

Online Lending

A growing number of websites allow you to apply for a loan online. They may be located in your city or on the other side of the world. Online lending sites may let you apply for a loan at a lower interest rate than is available in your country, a major attraction if you’re afraid interest rates will skyrocket after Brexit. You can find loans for Ltd companies at very reasonable rates online, and you should shop around online before applying for a business loan at a brick and mortar institution.

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