Spending Tesco Clubcard Vouchers with Hotels.com

Written by Karen Bryan

I decided to look into spending my Tesco Clubcard vouchers with Reward Partners.

The Reward Partner which appealed to me most was Hotels.com, as I could triple the value of my vouchers by spending on Hotels.com.

The first thing which I noticed was that you can have to pay any taxes and fees listed on the booking price on Hotels.com. Once you click on the book tab for a hotel, the total to pay is listed in two parts, the price for the number of nights booked, plus the taxes and fees.

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Coach Tickets Are Expensive

Written by Karen Bryan

I bagged a room on a Sunday night for only £17.50 at the Travelodge Inverness Centre hotel in the Travelodge 50% off promotion, which ran in December 2017.

I could have paid slightly less for the room by opting for the non-refundable Saver rate. However, thinking about the unpredictability of the Scottish weather, I decided to book a flexible rate room, which allowed me to cancel free of charge until noon on the day of arrival.

As I didn’t fancy driving up the A9 from Stirling to Inverness in February, so decided that I would travel by train, taking advantage of the Scotrail Club 50 £17 return fare.

The first train from Stirling to Inverness on a Sunday morning, departing at 10.10 required a change in Perth. I’d much rather take a direct train. The last time I had to change in Perth, on the return journey from Kyle of Lochalsh to Stirling. I just made the connection by running from platform to platform.

My husband suggested looking at coaches from Stirling to Inverness, in the the hope of finding a direct coach. There was only one direct coach, a National Express coach, departing from Stirling at 8am. That was a bit early for me. But I ruled it out when I looked at the £20.50 price for a single ticket on the coach.

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Three Pieces of Equipment for Your Home Garage That Will Save You Money in the Long Run

Written by Karen Bryan

The cost of running, maintaining and repairing vehicles these days can be really expensive. However, one way to reduce the cost is to do some of the work yourself. If you have a home garage, did you know you can save a lot of money in the long term by investing in various pieces of equipment?

Here, you’ll discover three pieces of equipment for your home garage that will save you money in the long run.
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Selling Your Art on the Not on the High Street Website

Written by Karen Bryan

Over the last couple of years, I’ve created a number of original pieces of art. I have  experimented with different media. I’ve painted with watercolours and acrylics, made collages with felt, metallic paper, fake jewels and even my own hair, and attended screen printing and ceramics evening classes at my local college.

But I have had an issue with what to do with my pieces. The walls of our flat are full. I don’t really want to fob things off onto my family and friends. I feel that would put them under pressure to display my work, even if they don’t particularly like it.

My Spiralling Out of Control mosaic

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What a Hassle to Open an Account With The Family Building Society

Written by Karen Bryan

I was attracted to the Family Building Society’s 2 Year Tracker Rate Bond Issue 1, which paid an interest rate of 2.06%. This is a variable rate, which tracks at 1.56% above the Bank of England Base Rate. The minimum investment is £5,000.

The interest rate of 2.06% paid on Issue 1 of the Family Building Society) matched the best buy two year fixed rate bonds. As I expect the Bank of England Base Rate to increase during the next two years, I am hoping to earn more interest by opting for the Family Building Society Tracker Bond, as opposed to a two year fixed rate bond. Time will tell.

Update 8 February 2018 – The current Issue 2 Tracker Bond pays a lower rate of 1.92%, tracking at 1.42% above the Bank of England Base Rate.

It said on the Family Building Society website that you could open the Tracker Bond online, making the deposit by debit card.

It only took a few minutes to complete the Tracker Bond online application form,which included details of the current account into which I would receive any payments from the Family Building Society.

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Review of Broth3rs Italian Restaurant, Perth, Scotland

Written by Karen Bryan

I had lunch at the Broth3rs Italian restaurant in Perth (Scotland) on a Thursday in late January 2016. I’d noticed the three course set lunch menu for £8, when walking past the restaurant the last time that I was in Perth.

I thought that the interior of Broth3rs was spacious and welcoming.

There were three choices for starters; melon, soup or potato skins.I opted for the potato skins, which were good. The potato was thinly sliced and not greasy.

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Review of Funding Circle

Written by Demetrius Vouyiouklis

I joined Funding Circle (FC), an online peer-to-peer lending platform where investors lend funds directly to small businesses, in October 2017. I started with a small sum, to ensure the lending pathway worked correctly, then fed different amounts, as they became available, into the FC system at various times over the next few months.

I quickly realised that there was a pattern: first of all, once transferred from my bank account, my money did not appear into my FC account for at least 48h and it then took approximately 1 week for £500 to be fully invested – both these delays meant that my money was not starting to work as quickly as I would have liked it to and that I should not invest more than about £500/week.

FC offered me 2 risk-types of investment setting, cautious (Conservative in FC parlance) and more adventurous (Balanced, according to FC), with projected returns of about 4.5 and 6.0%, respectively. Although I initially chose the cautious option, I soon went over to the more adventurous option, thinking that I was taking risks anyway (not being Financial Services Compensation Scheme covered and lending to riskier-than-average types of businesses) for a potentially better return, so why not go all the way.

It has taken me a while to realise that the reason for the slow uptake of my deposited funds (approximately £500 per week) could be related to FC spreading my risk in amounts (Loan Parts) of, on average, £30 to different businesses, so that my total risk to a single business does not exceed 0.5-1%. This was in agreement with my own trickle-feeding strategy.

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Why Using an Online Estate Agent Might be the Most Cost-Effective Way to Buy or Sell Your House

Written by Karen Bryan

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell property this year, one place you might want to turn to is an online estate agent.

Long gone are the days where high street estate agencies ruled the roost. Thanks to the internet, buyers and sellers can now benefit not only from the convenience of online real estate services, but from the lower costs too. Here, you’ll discover why using an online estate agent might be the most cost-effective way to buy or sell your house.

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Check If Your Premium Bank Account Offers Breakdown Cover When Buying Car Insurance

Written by Karen Bryan

We’ve held M&S Premier Motor Insurance for a few years during the last decade. It offered a good level of cover including a zero voluntary excess, RAC European breakdown cover and a courtesy car, at a competitive price.

The M&S car insurance wasn’t quite so good once they dropped the Keycare cover. But I did still opt for the M&S cover last year.

However, when I received the renewal quote from M&S Bank this year, the premium looked on the high side. I was aware that I didn’t really require the RAC European breakdown cover included in the M&S Premier car insurance, as breakdown cover is offered as a perk from the Nationwide Flex Plus Current Account. I also thought that I need to squeeze the most value from my Nationwide premium current account as the monthly fee has now increased from £10 to £13.

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Odeon Silver Cinema Review

Written by Karen Bryan

The Odeon Silver Cinema is a great deal for movie fans aged 55 and over. It only costs £3 for a ticket, plus you get a free hot drink and biscuits.

I attended the Odeon Silver Cinema at the Lothian Road location in Edinburgh, Unfortunately there isn’t an Odeon cimema in my hometown of Stirling.

A the Lothian Road Odeon, the Silver Screen times are 11am and 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I opted for the 2pm screening on a Thursday, as I wanted to see ‘The Final Portrait’ about the Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti.

The featured films did seem to be the same as the films at general screenings. The same film appears around three times in the Odeon Silver Cinema programme.

You can buy the £3 ticket at a machine by the entrance to the cinema or you can buy your ticket online in advance. However, if you’d don’t make an advance purchase, it’s as well to buy your ticket at the kiosk on the lower ground floor, as that’s where you claim your free hot drink.

There were a few seats so I was able to sit down to drink my cup of tea. I had a chat with the couple sitting next to me.

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