Review of the Madbid Auction Site

Written by Karen Bryan

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auction gavel Review of the Madbid Auction SiteI was attracted to the Madbid website when I was researching for a new mobile phone. I’d heard of people buying high end mobile phones for an average of an 80% discount on Madbid.

Madbid is a penny auction site. This means that the price goes up by one pence every time a bid is made. There no reserve price and the bid goes on until the timer hits zero and no further bids have been made.

Now, the first thing that you need to know about Madbid, is that you pay to make a bid in their auctions. In order to bid, you need to buy credits. A credit usually costs around 10p. The minimum spend is £27.99, giving you 275 credits. If you pay £49.99 you get 500 credits.

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To What Extent Do Fundamental Factors Influence the Financial Markets?

Written by Karen Bryan

£1 coin stack2 150x150 To What Extent Do Fundamental Factors Influence the Financial Markets?You might have often questioned whether fundamental factors have a direct impact on the sway of the market needle. Of course, it’s clear that technical indicators can show you something about the past behavior of a given market, but what of geopolitical and socioeconomic factors? The answer to that question has serious implications for anybody looking to implement better investment strategies.

Do We Only Require Technical Analysis to Make Informed Investments?

If you’ve not heard the term technical analysis before, don’t worry. In essence, technical analysis comprises the charting and mathematical tools investors have at their disposal to measure the trend of a market. A good example of this could be the standard deviation of the past 12 months of a given stock or share in a particular asset. If the standard deviation is low, then you might predict that the asset is relatively riskless, and therefore safe to invest in (though you can never be sure!).

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Why Should Taxpayers Subsidise Low Wages?

Written by Karen Bryan

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£5 notes 150x150 Why Should Taxpayers Subsidise Low Wages?When I read that low paid workers in the UK are paid £28 billion a year in benefits, I saw it as further evidence that the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour for those aged 21+ is far too low. Employers should be forced to pay a living wage, which is currently £8.80 per hour in London and £7.65 in the rest of the UK.

Why should the taxpayer have to top-up wages of low paid workers, shouldn’t their employers pay them a decent rate?

When you add the cost of administering benefits and the £28 billion spent on in-work benefits, having a higher minimum wage would save the taxpayer a fortune.

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Could a Modular GIA Buy You That New House?

Written by Karen Bryan

shtland house by loch Could a Modular GIA Buy You That New House?Whether you’re old or young, it’s hard to escape the constant poke from people around you giving you advice on your pension. Many people have dreams about what they’re going to do with their retirement funds – whether it’s buying that dream holiday home, investing your money into your favorite hobby, or renewing your vows – it all costs money, and you’ll need to ensure that the pension plan you do eventually take out is enough to give you the lifestyle that you want.

You might therefore assume that a straightforward privately owned pension – in addition to the state pension you receive – will be enough to get you through those golden years. But actually, there could be better solutions available that you’ve never even heard of. One potential one is the Modular GIA, and in this article, we explore whether it could help you to have the pension pot you need to invest in your dreams.

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My Money Podcast #97

Written by Karen Bryan

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The My Money Podcast #97 discusses the articles below.

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Is the Purpose of a Pension Changing? – It appears to me that a personal pension is becoming more of an instant access savings account for the over 55s than an income for the rest of their lives.

Will Citizens Advice Be Ready to Give Pension Advice by April 2015? – Citizens Advice have been selected to provide the free pension guidance for over 55s, but will they be able to cope?

Would You Buy Motor Insurance Based on Cashback and Vouchers? – According to a recent survey a whopping 46% of interviewees said that cashback or discount vouchers was the most important factor in choosing a motor insurance policy.

Lenovo VAT Refund May Not Offer Best Deal - While getting the VAT back on selected Lenovo models sounds great, but it may not offer the lowest price.

 

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Will Citizen Advice Bureau Be Ready to Give Pension Advice by April 2015?

Written by Karen Bryan

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citizens advice bureau 150x150 Will Citizen Advice Bureau Be Ready to Give Pension Advice by April 2015?I read that the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) had been chosen to deliver the face-to-face free advice under the UK Government’s pension guidance guarantee. The Government has pledged £20m to pay towards independent pension advice for people.

The Government’s pension guidance will be available to people with defined contribution (DC) and private sector defined benefit (DB) pension schemes.  DC schemes have no guarantees of pension income, while DB schemes guarantee a pension income (usually based on number of years of service and contributions).

That £20m won’t all go to CAB, as The Pensions Advisory Service (TAPS) will be responsible for delivering pension guidance over the phone, and an online advice service is being developed.

TAPS staff already specialise in giving advice on pensions. Whereas CAB staff deal with a whole raft of issues. I wonder if there is time and sufficient funding for CAB Staff to receive specific training in pensions?

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Lenovo Offer to Refund VAT May Not Be Best Deal

Written by Karen Bryan

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calculator 150x150 Lenovo Offer to Refund VAT May Not Be Best DealOne of our sons is looking to replace his laptop. When I read that Lenovo was offering to refund VAT on some models costing over £500 purchased from selected retailers by 5 December 2014, I decided to take a look.

If you buy one of the listed models from a participating retailer, you need to reclaim the VAT by completing an online form 21-51 days from the date on the invoice for the purchase. Your VAT refund should then arrive in your bank account within 30 days.  Just make sure that you adhere to all the refund terms and conditions.

Now wouldn’t it be so much simpler if the price you paid could be reduced at the point of sale.

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Would You Buy Motor Insurance Based on Cashback or Vouchers?

Written by Karen Bryan

bluecar Would You Buy Motor Insurance Based on Cashback or Vouchers?The findings of a survey of consumer attitudes to motor insurance providers conducted for Insurance Revolution made for interesting reading.

When people were asked if they thought the UK motor insurance industry was trustworthy, 39% were indifferent, 27% thought it was relatively trustworthy, while 24% thought it was relatively untrustworthy. My rating would be indifferent. It sounds as though motor insurance firms have some work to do in improving consumer perceptions.

When asked if they could get a better deal by going direct to an insurance company, 55% agreed, while 45% disagreed. I think that you can sometimes get a better deal by going direct. The best chance of getting a discount seems to be as a new customer. After doing research and getting cheaper quotes, I’ve also phoned our car insurance provider to ask then to reduce their renewal price. Sometimes they have reduced the price, other times they haven’t.

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Review of Dewitt Place Apartments in Chicago

Written by Karen Bryan

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I won two return flights with United from Edinburgh to Chicago in a business card prize draw. After some family discussions about who would be my travelling companion, our son Simon decided he’d like to come with me.

Chicago hotels looked pretty pricey for a one week stay, especially as we required a room with two beds.  After a good search on the HotelsCombined price comparison website, it seemed that the Dewitt Place Apartments, priced at $1,114 (approx £670 when the booking was made) on the booking.com site, offered a combination of a reasonable price, a central location and mainly positive reviews. It would’ve cost around £120 less for a seven night stay in a studio with one bed.

I had to pay a 50% deposit on booking, the remaining 50% being due on check-in. It was possible to cancel the booking with no penalties up to 7 days prior to the date of arrival.

dewitt apartments entrance Review of Dewitt Place Apartments in Chicago

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How to Get into the Property Market

Written by Karen Bryan

coincoversurface 150x150 How to Get into the Property MarketWith interest rates of less than 2% on some mortgages, this could be a good time to get into the property market. Buying a home could save you money in the long term compared to paying rent for the rest of you life.

But apart from finding the lowest rate of interest, how do you decide which mortgage is best suited to your requirements? Below is a short explanation of the different types of mortgages.

Variable Rate Mortgages

The amount that you pay may change according to the standard variable rate charged by your lender. Last time that we arranged a mortgage, we planned to pay it off within a couple of years from earnings. This meant that we ended up taking out a standard variable mortgage because of the flexibility to make overpayments and/or pay off the mortgage early. Although the variable rate meant that we paid a higher rate of interest than was available on other types of mortgage, the money that we saved by not paying interest over many years more than compensated.

Fixed Rate Mortgages

If you want to know exactly how much you’ll pay per month, fixed rate home loan repayments stay the same during the fixed rate period.  With an interest rate rise on the cards, this could be a good time to fix a low rate. Generally, the longer the period for which you fix, the higher the interest rate. There may be penalties if you wish to over pay or terminate the mortgage before the end of the fixed term.

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