It’s no surprise that gym memberships rocket in January. Resolutions to shed the pounds in the new year are not uncommon, and gyms and fitness centres know full well that a high number of new members will find it hard to keep up their commitment beyond the end of the month, let alone the full year.
Even with introductory offers, gym membership can still be costly if you’re committed for a year upfront and are loathe to cancel.
Spending some time balancing out your income against your outgoings can be beneficial in the long run, and can also make you feel like you’re in control of your finances. And the start of the year is often a good time to think about if there are any costs you can do without – outgoings you may no longer need or use.
Besides gym membership, it might be satellite TV channels you never watch. An extended warranty you didn’t really need to buy. It can all add up! A budget calculator may help you work out if you could live without it.
Would a missed gym membership payment affect my credit report?
Neil Stone from our Social support team says: We’ve recently been contacted by a worried customer who was being chased by a debt collection agency over a missed gym membership payment and were concerned that it would impact their credit report. Continue reading
Commuters faced by increased train fares
Travelling by train to work hasn’t been a lot of fun for many of us so far this year, with industrial action, service problems and fare increases in many places all over the country.
The fare rises in the first week of January 2017 saw a nationwide average increase of 2.3%, with increases of 4.9% on some routes, such as the East Coast main line. In Britain as a whole, it is the highest fare rise since January 2014, when rail fares increased by 2.8 per cent.
Are season tickets value for money?
Looking at some of the most popular commuter routes, among the highest is an annual season ticket from Stevenage (home town of Lewis Hamilton, in Hertfordshire) to London is £3,612 which works out at 27p per minute. Continue reading
Ever wondered what some of the key credit card terms really mean? Here are our top ten.
- APR - The annual percentage rate is the price you pay each year for money you’ve borrowed, including interest and fees. The representative APR is an advertised rate that a minimum percentage of customers will pay, usually 51% of those accepted. If you’re not given the advertised rate, you’ll get a personal APR.
- Balance Transfer – This is when you choose to move credit card debt you already have to a lower or 0% interest credit card balance, usually for a transfer fee. With a 0% balance transfer deal you can potentially give yourself longer to pay off an existing credit card debt, without having to pay interest. This is as long as you make the minimum monthly payment and stick to any other Ts and Cs. More about balance transfer cards here
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To get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we asked some of our favourite finance and budgeting bloggers to tell us their best tips for how to budget for the year ahead.
Francesca from the super From Pennies To Pounds blog said: “Make sure you allow yourself some wriggle room in your budget for some fun things as this will make you much more likely to stick to your budget.”
For those who maybe haven’t got the credit history they’d like to have, the options for credit cards may be fewer.
But there are credit cards around which are aimed at helping you get your credit history back on track.
How do they work?
These no-frills cards are aimed at people who need to help build their credit history. They often have low credit limits to start with and a high APR, but paying off the bill each month can help show lenders that you’re reliable. Applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit score even more, so it’s an idea to choose a credit card you’re more likely to get, and one that suits your needs best.
It is quite common now to move credit card debt to another card to help give yourself more time to pay it off at a cheaper rate.
A balance transfer is when you choose to move your credit card debt to another card with a lower or 0% interest rate.
How do they work?
With a 0% balance transfer credit card you can potentially give yourself longer to pay off an existing credit card debt, without having to pay interest. Some 0% rates last for 3 months, some for up to 24 months, one or two even longer.
It can work almost like an interest-free loan, but only if you make sure you plan well and pay it back within the period of the 0% promotional rate, and as long as you make the minimum monthly payment, and stick to any other terms and conditions the card might have. If you don’t make the minimum monthly payment, or you miss the pay date entirely, you run the risk of losing the promotional 0% deal as well.
Here we take a look back at 2016 and some of the more significant things that may have affected our finances.
January We focused on our Millennial Me report, which found that 45% of Millennials manage to save at least a quarter of their disposable income each month, compared to just a third (34%) of 35-54 year olds.
February With a busy year of voting ahead, we focused on National Voter Registration Drive (1-7 Feb), which not only encourages young people to register to vote to increase their voice, but also to help boost their credit profile – as lenders use the information on your credit report to help confirm your identity which could help you when you apply for credit.
March March saw George Osborne’s final Budget as chancellor (though he didn’t know it at the time) , and the main points we focused on included changes to the personal allowance, spending cuts, changes to savings and infrastructure projects.
April Continue reading
Now is a good a time as any to clear out your financial clutter, especially with – for many – January’s salary feeling a long way off after the festive blowout.
So to get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we’ve got 5 simple tips.
1. Check out your ins and outs Even small changes can help you balancing your income against your outgoings, which can often help you feel more in control of your finances.
It can help you work out when to allow room for certain annual essentials, for example direct debits like a TV licence, one-off annual charges like home or car insurance, or things like birthdays or special events – as well as stopping outgoings you may no longer need or use, like a gym membership you forgot you had.
Where are the happiest, best-budgeting and biggest-spending areas in the UK at Christmas?
We can now reveal that Leicester is the country’s Christmas capital – the city where residents enjoy festive fun more than anywhere else in the UK.
Not content with being the home of this year’s surprise Premier League champions, Leicesterians are most likely to enjoy a merry Yuletide, with two thirds (66%) saying they get “a lot of enjoyment” out of Christmas.
How does the UK spend Christmas? – INTERACTIVE MAP
When it’s time for the New Year sales, shops and suppliers are extra keen for our custom.
And there could be some room for a bit of give and take, with shops probably having plentiful stock to shift in the face of the boom in online discounts.
There isn’t much that cannot be discounted, so it’s up to you to persuade them to do it. Remember that you have nothing to lose, as all retailers ultimately want your custom.
Four quick haggling tips:
- Before you venture into a shop, find out what the best price is online so you can ask the seller to match or better it. Doing your homework could help you get in a position where you can negotiate a happy middle ground. Continue reading