Appliances Not Built to Last

Written by Karen Bryan

When we moved to Stirling last year, I purchased a Russell Hobbs kettle and a Sharp microwave. I didn’t go for the cheapest products.

I liked the shape of the Russell Hobbs kettle, plus you could boil as little as a cupful of water. Also, the silver finish matched for our toaster.

As we do a lot of cooking in our microwave versus just heating up food, we need a large, powerful microwave. I did a bit of research. The Sharp microwave fitted the bill and received good reviews.

Well around 18 months after purchase, both appliances broke. The microwave turntable stopped rotating. The kettle didn’t come on when the on button was pushed down.

Read the rest of this entry »

The True Cost of Car Hire

Written by Karen Bryan

Hiring a car should carry a danger to your wealth warning. There are so many possible trip wires which trigger extra payments e.g. insurance excess of hundreds of pounds, daily fees for an additional driver and being charged a refuelling fee if you don’t adhere to the fuel policy.

My husband was researched car hire for his trip to Greece. He was pickin up a rental car at Thessaloniki Airport.

He thought that he had found a reasonable quote for 8 days hire which included insurance excess cover, an additional driver and a fair fuel policy. However, as he arrives at Thessaloniki Airport at 22.00, he was going to be charged an out-of-hours fee of 26 Euro at the car hire office, as the opening hours of the Autounion car hire office are 07.30 to 21.00.

In my opinion, the airport offices of car rental firms should be open 24 hours a day. Lots of flights are scheduled for arrival after 21.00. There’s a fair chance of flights due in before 21.00 being late. Also, it can take more than one hour to disembark from the plane, pick up your luggage at the carousel and get through passport control.

Changes to Scotrail Club 50

Written by Karen Bryan

Scotrail like to trumpet their offer of a £17 flat return fare within Scotland to members of the Scotrail Club 50. This perk is now going to be available three times a year. It was twice a year until now.

Whilst it is a good offer, it’s pretty rare for me to make long trips by train within Scotland. Most of my rail usage is off peak day returns from Stirling to Glasgow, which cost around £7 (after the 20% Scotrail Club 50 discount).

But another Scotrail Club 50 perk of a free small bottle of water or a carton of orange juice and a sweet treat, has now been ditched. It has been replaced with a 50% discount on hot or cold drinks.

I doubt if I will renew my annual membership of Club 50 when it expires next March. As I will 60 years old in April next year, I will be able to buy a Senior Citizen’s Railcard which will give me a 33% discount on all rail fares. The Senior Citizen’s Railcard costs £30, double the price of the £15 charged for the Scotrail Club 50. But I reckon that I will more than the recoup that additional £15 bu the larger discount offered.

Review of Travelodge Ayr

Written by Karen Bryan

Over the years I have been a fan of Travelodge. They generally offer rooms of a reasonable standard at competitive prices.

Their room prices were lower in the past. Around ten years, I used to be able to regularly book rooms for £15 and even £9 during their sales. The cheapest room were always on the Saver non-refundable rate.

However, Travelodge prices have crept up over the years. It’s quite hard to find room priced under £30 a night, even if your stay is during low season and you book well in advance on the Saver rate.

I was keen to go down to Ayrshire to visit Dumfries House, the Burns Museum and a textile exhibition at the Maclaurin Gallery. It was too much to fit in one day, so I looked for a reasonably price hotel room. I thought that Sunday would be the cheapest night on which to stay.

I searched for a room one week before my proposed stay.

I found a room at Travelodge Ayr for £35 a night on the flexible rate, meaning that I could cancel free of charge until noon on my day of arrival.

Read the rest of this entry »

Renewing My Car Insurance With Direct Line

Written by Karen Bryan

Last year I took out our car insurance with Direct Line. They offered the lowest price of £234 which included no claims protection, a guaranteed hire car and a zero voluntary excess. I didn’t require breakdown cover as that is included as a benefit of my Nationwide Flex Plus current account.

This year, I received an automatic renewal letter from Direct Line informing me that the premium had gone up to £253.

I did a search on a couple of price comparison websites to see if I could beat that price. I did find a price of £237 for the same level of cover.

Read the rest of this entry »

Further Cut to Nationwide Flex Plus Account Benefits

Written by Karen Bryan

The cull of benefits for Nationwide Flex Plus current account holders continues.

The recent hike in the monthly fee from to £10 to £13 is to be followed by detrimental changes to the annual worldwide family travel insurance.

From 1 January 2019, the insurance will be only offered to customers aged under 70, versus the current benefit of coverage for customers aged under 75.

Holders of a Nationwide Flex Plus current account aged 70+ plus will then have to pay an additional £75 a year for annual travel insurance, versus the current £50 annual fees for those aged 75+.

Whilst this change does not affect me at present, I feel that older people are unfairly treated  by travel insurance products. These age limits don’t factor in an individual’s health. I know some 80 year olds who enjoy better health than 60 year olds.

In my opinion charging older people more for travel insurance, regardless of their personal health, may mean that older people are deterred from travelling.

5 Work From Home Jobs That Can Make A Lucrative Income

Written by Karen Bryan

Have you ever sat at your desk at your 9 to 5, staring longingly out of the window and wishing you didn’t have to be there? Have you ever trudged begrudgingly through the rain, feeling the droplets hit your umbrella as the wind blows it inside-out? Have you ever sat in a cramped, warm conference room, being lectured by your manager on your sales figures and desperately wanting to give them a piece of your mind?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, then working from home might be more to your tastes. When you work from home, you can watch the snow pile up outside your window and know you don’t have to make the arduous trek into your office. You can watch those engaged in the rat race as they scurry from train station to train station, sipping your coffee and knowing you don’t need to work for another hour or so if you don’t want to. There are plenty of reasons to work from home, but how do you achieve it? What jobs can you possibly do from the comfort of your own home and still make a tidy packet? Read on to find out…

Read the rest of this entry »

How To Cut Down On Long Distance Moving Costs

Written by Karen Bryan

Moving is difficult – not just emotionally but financially as well. Sure, bidding farewell to your old hometown can bring little tears to your eyes but thinking about moving costs will definitely make those tears bigger. It’s just that costly to move out of an old home.

That is, if you don’t have a trick under your sleeve.

Lucky for you, today we’re not just going to teach you one trick; we’ll be teaching you three. Moving out doesn’t have to be too painful on your pocket. I mean, you’re already carrying emotional baggage with you because of the relocation and all. The last thing you need is to worry about how on earth you’re going to pay for the move. You certainly don’t have the option to carry everything on a backpack (or, do you?) so the best course of action you can take is to simply follow our advice.
Read the rest of this entry »

Review of Premier Inn Dundee Monifieth

Written by Karen Bryan

I stayed at the Premier Inn Dundee Monifieth on a Friday night in early September 2018. I booked the room around three weeks before my stay. The room cost £31 on the non-refundable advance booking Saver rate. It’s unusual to find reasonably priced accommodation on a Friday night, even if you book months in advance.

The hotel is located just off the main road between Dundee and Arbroath. Premier Inn Monifieth and the adjacent Brewer’s Fayre share a car park. When I arrived around 6pm, there were still plenty of parking spaces available.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review of UK National Art Pass

Written by Karen Bryan

A National Art Pass offers free or discounted admission to many art related venues and special exhibitions in the UK. In Scotland, where I live, there are 21 galleries and museums which offer free entry to National Art Pass holders.

I’d been thinking about buying a National Art Pass for some time. The standard adult price is £67. If you sign up to pay by direct debit, you receive a 25% discount on the price for your first year of membership, bring the price down to just over £50.

If you have family or friends who would regularly visit art venues with you, there is an option to add Plus One for an additional payment of £38. It’s good that it’s not another named person on your membership, so you could take different people with you.
Read the rest of this entry »