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Turn Rail travel into a direct route to savings

Rail is one of the oldest and most established forms of travel in all of Europe, and the UK is no exception. Iron tracks connected and solidified empires into nations over hundreds of years, facilitating trade, travel, and commerce.

Today it’s still a common form of transportation, and like all forms of travel, you can save money on it if you know how.

Many of us take the train to and from the cities we work in, but not all of them purchase monthly tickets. In many cases a monthly train ticket can be a significant savings over paying daily. For those taking longer rail trips, the same rule applies.

Likewise, international is much like international air or water transit. Planning ahead, and bringing some beverages or food along can mean the difference between truly enjoying the trip you planned on taking, or spending considerably more than you had budgeted for.

Another consideration when looking into rail travel versus other forms is the cost of an overnight rail travel versus the cost of a hotel room between destinations. Interrailing in Europe is one popular way of travelling, giving pass holders the ability to traverse the whole of Europe over extended time periods.

Quite often rail travel can be a much less expensive alternative to road or air. It’s also more comfortable than a coach or plane.

Do you travel by rail? If so, what are your tips for saving money on rail travel expenses?

Little tips to reduce the expense of flying

Flying almost always requires the use of someone else’s wings, at least for those of us who don’t have our own jets. That means considering what the carrier you’ve chosen to fly with is offering, and where you can cut those costs down. Many times you’d be surprised at the discounts you can get when flying, but it can be a minefield!

First, always try and deal directly with the airline, or a travel agent first. In the case of the airline, you’ll usually get better rates by asking for them. With a travel agent, you might spend a few pennies more on your ticket, but they’ll do the legwork, and again, usually get you a better rate.

This is because airlines have modernised. Rather than pay fees to online sites like Expedia and Orbitz, they’re keeping those fees for themselves and dealing directly with customers often passing on the savings too.

In fact, some of them will only give you half of the frequent flier miles if you go through discount sites. Also, many airlines don’t even participate in sites like Expedia and Orbitz – instead dealing directly with their clients.

Once you’re checked in through customs, another great way to save is to purchase any drinks you think you’ll want in the duty free shop. They’ll cost much less than beverages on the plane, and you won’t have to worry that they might not have your beverage of choice.

The same could be said for food too although for longer trips and a hot meal, you'll probably have to bite the bullet and buy on board.

How about you? What are your secrets to saving when you fly? Do you use one airline consistently or do you shop around? Who's offering the best deals today? Tell us below, or start a new thread. :)

Motoring Cash Tips / Money Saving Along the Highways
« on: March 11, 2014, 03:55:52 PM »
Money Saving Along the Highways

If you can manage to avoid traffic, or at least avoid the worst of it, then there’s really nothing quite like the open road. This is especially true once you get out of the city, as the UK’s got her fair share of lovely, particularly if you’re motoring, and even more so if you’ve saved money along the way.

To do that, it’s important to map your travel routes, and plan when and where you’ll be stopping along the way for supplies or other necessities. If you’ll be long in any one place, or stopping off to picnic, then you’ll need to consider those options as well.

A little bread from your local shop, along with some spread, or a wheel of cheese, and perhaps a few sausages can make a lovely meal at a picnic stop or roadside venue. There are of course roadside cafes and motorway eateries, but these are likely to be priced way over the top and definitely be on the more expensive side of the equation.

Pack a big flask of tea or coffee too, and don't forget the little ones - plenty of water and juices to keep them hydrated and happy!

By preparing things in advance, you won’t need to stop as long or as often. That means you’ll be able to just enjoy your motoring, driving sedately and saving fuel and wear and tear as you do, whereas rushed and manic driving will use more fuel and of course expose you to more risk.

Once you’ve arrived at any planned stops, proper planning means that you'll be able to spend more time there too. Since you’ll have packed your own kit from home, there won’t be any need to worry over the higher prices roadside shops generally have over the discount markets you can find at home.

Happy Travels!

What about you? Are there any tips or tricks you can share with us for saving while motoring?

Bus and Coach Travel Tips / Beat traffic with Bus and Coach Travel
« on: March 11, 2014, 03:46:26 PM »
Beat traffic with Bus and Coach Travel

Thankfully, the old days of uncomfortable and unpleasant bus and coach travel have largely gone by the wayside. These days, if you’re planning travel in either form, both the roads and the transport available to traverse them with have significantly improved in terms of comfort and amenities.

Of course, with the low prices these forms of travel offer, it can be hard to save a few pennies, but it’s not impossible. Both bus and coach travel usually offer seasonal and regional discounts, which is perhaps the best way to save money. Also, a proper coach will usually provide drinks and snacks to passengers, and stop off along the way so that passengers can grab a bite to eat.  Packing a lunch instead of paying for roadside food is another place you can save a little money too.

That said, perhaps the largest area people who regularly travel by bus or coach tend to overlook when saving money is that of proper planning. Due to the number of passengers served, these forms of transportation usually adhere to rigid schedules. Being late or missing the bus can be very costly if it ends up costing cab fare to make up the difference. Therefore it’s always a good idea to avoid taking the late bus or coach when connecting stops.

Share your tips with us below. We’d love to hear from you, especially if it means we’ll be able to save a little more the next time we’re taking a bus or coach.

Crossing the Water on a Budget - Trip Considerations Before You Leave

Water travel is a bit different than most other forms of travel. This has to do with the fact that, especially as concerns cruises, you can’t exactly get a drink or a meal anywhere other than the ship. That means that whatever happens to be on the menu, at whatever that price happens to be, is most likely what you’re going to be partaking of.

If you don’t like something, there will of course always be other options, but they can be frighteningly expensive in comparison to what you’d otherwise have access to on land.

In fact, the single largest complaint of budget conscientious water travelers is the unexpected cost of items that aren’t included in the cruise prices.

While most cruises do offer meal plans and packages, as a general rule, the average package does not include snacks or beverages during off times. A couple can easily end up spending 20£ a day on those, which adds a whopping £140 to a seven day cruise. Throw in alcoholic beverages, and that figure can easily triple to £400  or more.

That means you might save more by upgrading your travel package than you’d save by not doing so. You’d also do well to consider the cost of basic remedies that might not be available on ship, such as aspirin, and antacids if you’re prone to indigestion.

Of course, many of the better packages will factor things like these in and won't always nickle and dime you in to stumping up more from their captive audiences. But ask questions first, it'll save a sore wallet or purse on the other side!

Holiday money saving tips / Travel Planning To Save Money
« on: March 11, 2014, 03:35:57 PM »
Travel Planning To Save

For most of us, taking a holiday means forgetting about pretty much everything that isn’t holiday related, and just relaxing. Of course, if you’re worried about how far the money you’ve got for said holiday is going to stretch, relaxing can be a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Hopefully we can help by recommending a few things you can do that’ll reduce some of your expenses while you’re away.

The first thing you’ll want to do is plan your trip. Now, for many people, that simply means picking out where they want to go, and then arranging transport and accommodation. While it’s true that those actions do form the bulk of one’s Holiday framework, there’s a great deal more that goes into the actual planning.

Some of the many things to consider are:

Where and how are you going to be eating?

It sounds trivial at first but for a family of four this will really add up - Weigh up all the options - is that £40 per night reduction for room only worth it? Or will that extra bit for full board actually end up saving you cash?

What sort of local transportation are you going to be using?

Will you need to get around whilst there? Will it be more cost effective to hire a car? Or can you rely on the local transport infrastructure?

Will bank machines be available, or other forms of cash machines and such?

Most places take Visa and Mastercard these days but not all. Be sure to fully research the places that you'll be visiting. Weigh up the pros and cons of cash versus credit for instance. What will your bank charge for using your card abroad? What special provisions will you need to make? How much commission will the travel agent be charging for your foreign currency? Perhaps it's cheaper to convert it whilst abroad - research such questions on places like Tripadvisor and see what others have said.

Are you going to have phone and / or Internet access?

Roaming charges can add £££'s to your phone bill giving you a nasty shock on your return. Check with your provider and see if they sell bolt ons. Or buy a prepaid SIM. There are a lot of options out there, so don't get caught. Many cities and resorts these days also offer free WiFi. Don't get whacked by extortionate internet charges either. We've heard stories of people being charged £25 per day for room Wifi. Don't be a sucker.

Pack with Prudence

The last thing you’re going to want to do is to pack smart. As a general rule, that’s going to mean considering all the items you’re likely to use while away that you’d already have at home. Depending on where you’re going and how you plan to get there, some of that may change.

Over time we'll be adding more information and additional sections giving more specific tips on how to save money for each type of trip you might take. This will of course take some time. We’d love to hear your own comments, tips, or suggestions for saving money on holiday travel in the meantime.

Food Shopping / Don't go shopping on an empty stomach
« on: March 11, 2014, 03:20:44 PM »
If you’re hungry, best eat before shopping

If you haven’t eaten recently, don’t go food shopping until you’ve had a bite to eat.

If you do, your hungry little mind will have you buying every sort of thing that appeals to it, with no care for cost. Even if you’re quite strong willed, and we’ve no doubt that you are, modern marketing is going to be working against you every step of the way.

Because you’re hungry, you aren’t going to be thinking clearly. The mind is going to be focused on food, and since sterling’s not edible, your finances are going to be completely off the radar.

You’ll find that small purchases you’d normally pass on are going to be filling your basket, such as 5-minute rice instead of the usual 45-minute sort. By the time you get out of the store, you’re quite likely to have a stone or more worth of junk you’d normally not have purchased.

To avoid this, and to save your money, make sure you have a good meal before you go shopping. Also, make a list. Think about what you’re going to cook, and take care of the necessary bits and bobs in advance. If you put it off, you’ll end up in the store, hungry, and picking up a bunch of things you really don’t need.

How about you? Does planning your meals and shopping on a full stomach help, or do you take a different approach? Let us know.

Yoga, for the home!

Budgets and budgeting are all about balance, and nowhere is it more important to establish them than in the home. This is because your home is the nexus of everything you do. You leave from home to go work or play, and when you finish, you come back to your home. If it’s not financially in order, you’ll end up applying band-aids to every other part of your life until you right things.

With that in mind, here are four of our top tips to keep things right and tight:

1. Be your own butler. This means more than just cleaning up. It means taking a good look at things in your home, appreciating their use and value, and getting rid of anything that isn’t adding value to your living space.

2. Look at things like an accountant. Sometimes it might be easier to spend 6 hours fixing that toilet problem, but if you’re financially stable, you’ll find that paying a professional to come take care of the job in an hour will save you six hours – which is usually worth a lot more than what you’ll have paid the repairman (or woman).

3. Balance your expenses against your salary, and do it in terms of priority items. For example, always pay our rent first, but don’t rent something that’s costing you more than 25% of your monthly take home pay. Also, don’t spend more than 25% of your pay on transportation. The remaining 50% goes to utilities and medical.

4. The last thing you will think about is your entertainment, and really, it should only be about 10% to 15% of your take home pay. Invest the rest, or put it in savings if you’re not comfortable investing.

What about your home? How do you budget?

Keeping the lights on is more important than keeping up with the neighbors

Money Saving Tips for energy and water around the home

Just when you though your home was all set and ready to go, with a lovely budget that would make father proud and mother stop worrying, those pesky energy and utility costs jump out at you. Often, one has to wonder how such bills can be so high, particularly if you’re single, but that’s because most people start out not really knowing what goes into the utility payments – because they never had to pay them.

Now that it’s you paying the bills, the best piece of advice is to heed those oft said words from mum and dad. They’ve likely told you to turn off lights, don’t run the water, close the door, and stop watching so much television for the better part of your life. Ironically, those are all the best ways to cut down costs.

In light of this sage advice, our three top tips are:

If it isn't needed then turn it off

1. Electronics: Never turn on the television just to have background sound. Either turn it on and sit down to watch something, or leave it off. In fact, don’t turn on anything electronic that you don’t need – this includes your computer and Wi-Fi router too.

Fill your kettle with just enough water needed. A full kettle will burn electric and take a whole lot longer too.

2. Heat: In the winter, turn the heat down at night, and if possible, buy a thermostat that lets you time when the heat comes on and off. By shutting it off all night and in the first part of the weekdays, you’ll not be heating an empty house. By the time the end of the week rolls around, you’ll have saved about 114 hours of heating your home out of the 168 hours per week you’d normally be heating your home. That’s a reduction of almost 70%.

Shut the doors and keep the heat in. Do you really need to heat the whole house? If your doors and windows haven't been insulated then consider looking in to it. You could save a packet.

Loft Insulation - Is your loft insulated? Check out the options available and make use of them. Don't let that heat escape through the roof!

3. Water: Turn off that water! Don’t run the shower when you’re not actually in it, and don’t run it unless you’re getting wet or rinsing off. You can soap up with the water off, and then turn the water back on to rinse off.

Baths consume at least twice as much as a shower - do you really need to have that bath?

Fix that leaky tap! A leaking tap is like money down the drain - get it repaired and save yourself money.

Flushing the toilet - Do you really need to use that full flush every time? Consider flushing less or installing one of those cisterns that have both full and half flush options.

Washing Machines - Think twice before washing that solitary shirt, socks and pants alone - wait until you have a full load and make the most of both the water and energy you use.

These are our top tips – what are your’s?

Not planning for Unemployment can turn a bad situation into a disaster

Unemployment is a lot like a car accident. No matter how careful you are, and no matter how good or safe of a driver you may be, sooner or later someone else’s mistakes could cause you to have a nasty accident. So, just as you’d wear your seat belt in a car, observe speed limits, and possibly even take safe driver courses, you should also take some precautions with regard to your work life and the ever present possibility of losing your job.

Take Steps To Prepare for the Worst and The Best

For starters, make a budget that eliminates all but your basic necessities, and any expenses related to your work. Test drive that budget for a week, and see where you can cut down on costs. You might just surprise yourself on how little you can survive on!

Next, take a hard look at your pension. In most cases that’s money you can’t touch until you retire. If you’re saving too much, you might find yourself between jobs, trying in vain to reach into an inaccessible pension fund. Instead, save up six months worth of your full salary as a safety net in case you lose your job.

Now that you know how much you need to earn in order to survive, and you’ve got some savings, you can look at jobs that will provide you with enough income to survive on. For some, that might mean flipping burgers, but it beats begging for change or chasing dog ends in the park. Whatever it is, make sure you always keep your C.V. up to date, but not jammed in the printer of your current employer.

Keep an eye on the company and look out for other opportunities that are out there - work on your networking skills and build up a good network of friends and colleagues. Use networking sites like Linkedin or Facebook groups to keep up to speed on what's going on in your sphere of work. Build up your profiles, and show the world your expertise in your field, be it through a blog on the comments that you share. Remember that you and the skills you bring to the party are your biggest asset!

By planning how you would live if you lost your job, you can be prepared to take action, should anything ever happen. Being prepared will put you ahead of most other people in the market – and in cases where many people are losing their job, rather than fretting over budgets and cutting costs, you’ll be the one focused and ready to get new work elsewhere.

We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions too. Let us know below.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail..

Redundancy planning is an unfortunate, but essential part of any career plan. Sooner or later technologies will change, and when that happens, if the only thing you have going for you is experience, you might just become redundant.

To help prepare for this sort of thing, it’s a good idea to take the following five steps:

Redundancy Insurance

1. Look into redundancy insurance. The earlier you get it, the less it’s going to cost you over the span of your career. Then balance the cost of insurance against what you’d have if you just set aside that much sterling each month. Go with whichever one is better.

Save for a Rainy Day

2. Work up to saving at least six months worth of salary so that you can be prepared, should the worst happen, and you be declared redundant.

Become Employment and Benefit Savvy

3. Make sure you’re aware of your benefits. In many cases you could qualify for £5,000 and more in benefits, should you be become redundant.

Build Yourself Into An Asset

4. Stay ahead of the curve. Educate yourself, and record the costs of that education. By being proactive, your spending a little extra time now to save yourself from spending a lot of extra time later looking for a job or rushing through classes to catch up. If you’re on top now, then stay there.

Don't Rest On Your Laurels

5. Don’t get lazy. Make sure you keep a network of people you know, who appreciate your value as a professional, and know enough about your work ethic to be spokespersons for your ability.

These are just small steps, but they can mean the difference between working your way into a comfortable retirement, or an uphill battle just when you thought you were about to retire.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Let us know!

Employment / Saving money at work starts before you’re even employed
« on: March 11, 2014, 02:18:08 PM »
Saving money at work starts before you’re even employed

Most people see their job or career as a means of earning income and paying the bills, but in reality it can be one of the places we waste the most money! There are a lot of reasons for this, but as they’re usually so different from person to person, most people never notice them.

Here are some things to consider before accepting a new job.

Commuting Costs

1. What kind of commute will you have, and how much will that cost in terms of time and sterling? A difference of just 30 minutes each way works out to about 250 lost hours over the course of 50 weeks of work. That’s more than 30 extra days of potential ‘work’ that you’re wasting.

Weigh these up..

Job Benefits and Extras

2. Are there any work related benefits one job offers over another, like fitness club memberships, special pension plans, or a particular holiday scheme that’s more attractive? Starting a pension early is a great way to make up for a less than amazing salary, and the long term savings are invaluable.

Count those little things...

Career Progression and Advancement

3.   How are your chances for advancement in the company? Little room for upward mobility can quickly turn a high paying job into a financial dead end.

Take the long view...

Work Environment and Locality

4.   What sort of surroundings will you be working in? Being far from any kind of decently and low priced food means you’ll end up spending more time and money on eating than you might otherwise have spent. This is particularly true of companies that don’t at least offer an employee fridge.

Collectively, these things can add up to thousands over the year, making a high paying position not nearly as attractive as one might first assume.

We’d like to hear from you too. How do you save money with your work? What are your cash saving tips?

What’s the difference between a pension and savings?

A basic introduction to the difference between the two.

Most people know that they need to save money, but many of them assume that a pension counts as saving money, or that saving money counts as a pension. Despite being similar, the two are actually quite different.

We’ll give a quick overview of each.


Pensions are special funds that are either managed by the government, or by an independent fund manager. They come in many different varies, but generally share one thing in common. You can’t touch the money in one until you’ve reached retirement age. That means, if you’re planning to buy a house, a car, or even pay for higher education, important as funding your pension is, you may need to delay it a bit, or fund it a little less than you otherwise might.


Savings accounts are similar only in that they involve saving money for use at a later date. Instead of offering the benefits of a pension fund, with the limitations on withdrawals, most savings accounts have little or no withdrawal penalties, and can be drawn on at any time. However, they also usually have a much lower rate of return than a pension fund. Because of this, they’re best used as emergency accounts, or fund accounts to collect savings for large purchases, like a home, or a new car.

What about you? Do you keep just one type of pension or savings account, or more than one? Maybe you have some savings or pension tips that you'd like to share with our readers. Do feel free to comment below or start a fresh pension or savings thread yourself.

Happy Saving! :)

The Difference Between Banks and Building Societies

There’s sometimes a bit of confusion as to the difference between a bank and a building society. This confusion is only natural, as modern building societies closely mirror many of the services that banks offer, and regularly become banks or are purchased by them. So, what then is the real difference?

Well, historically, building societies were groups of people who joined forces to leverage the strength of their joint assets to enable members to construct or purchase a home. Once a member had their home, they were no longer part of that building society. Further, when the last member had his or her home, the society dissolved itself.

Fast forward to modern times, and rather than focusing on the benefits of member, most building societies are profit oriented. In this case, their rates and benefits are quite often comparable to those of banks. This shift from being beneficial to profitable began around 1980. Since that time fully two thirds of the entire UK building society assets have converted to or been purchased by banks. Needless to say there were also scandals involved, though this in no way implies that any building society is better or worse than another.

Rather, it’s to say that the charm of building societies is largely a thing of the past. Today’s banks offer many of the same things building societies provide, and in some cases, even more. Both banks and building society retail deposits are guaranteed by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) up to £85,000 , and both offer very similar products and rates.

We’d like to hear from you, and learn which banks or building societies you’ve had success or disappointment with. Please leave your opinions and experiences below or start a new thread.

Mortgage Saving Tips to save money on the biggest purchase of your life

Almost everyone will be spending far more on their mortgage than anything else in their life, unless you’re one of those lucky fellows with a jet and a McLaren. Outside of the rich, the average homeowner will want to look for ways to save on a mortgage.

This is best done long before you’re prepared to take out a mortgage, because it takes years to establish yourself as a financially responsible individual. Trying to do that six months before you apply for a mortgage will rarely do much, so here’s a few generalised things that we suggest.

1. Start borrowing as soon as you’re able to. With credit cards, always pay off 100% of what you charge each month. On installment loans, never miss a payment, and make sure any extra payments are always applied to the end of the loan (the principle) rather than added on as extra payments.

2. Build relationships with lenders. Don’t always shop around for the best car loan or credit card rate you can find. Instead, look for the best mortgage lender, and then get your auto loan and credit cards through them. Building the relationship will pay off when it comes time to get your mortgage, as they’ll already know who you are.

3. Don’t buy more home than you need. Every extra meter of home you buy costs at least twice as much as you agreed to pay once the loan and interest have been factored in. Plus, you’ll have more home to decorate, furnish, and maintain. If you are planning to have children, remember, they start out small. Most kids don’t need their own room, and would prefer to sleep with mum and dad for the first few years anyway. So, save your money now, and buy more home later, or build on to your existing home when you’re ready. Either way, you’ll save.

Do you have more mortgage tips? Do you agree or disagree?  Let us know below or start your own mortgage thread today!

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