Staying Safe On The Roads

Whilst we all have our own budgets and stuff like that, safety is something we should never shirk on and is something that we should always be considering. When it comes to car safety and thus the safety of my family, of my children, money is no object. But just how safe are your cars? For instance, would you know when your car tyres need replacing?

Cox Motor Parts have created a fab infographic (read more about it here), talking about 10 warning signs that your car tyres need replacing. How many did you know?

Now I’m not the driver in our household but safety is paramount to me and I knew the majority of these. I must admit that I don’t think we change the tyre pressure as regularly as we should do which will be changing as of today and that I know of plenty of people who probably don’t even know half of these. So many of these things happen because people ‘don’t have the money’ to fix them – surely safety comes first?

It is important to have a budget but it is also super important to ensure the safety not only of yourself but your family, other road users and pedestrians too. Knowing what to look for when it comes to car safety is key to avoiding any unnecessary accidents. Why not pay the small amount to replace your tyres when they need replacing rather than run the risk of paying thousands if you have an accident or even paying with your life? It isn’t worth the risk. Get them checked.

How many of these did you know?

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Facing up to a retirement savings shortfall

When it comes to saving, a lot of people have good intentions. We might plan to squirrel away money into a savings account or make savvy investments, all with the intention of ensuring that we have an emergency fund in place.

Unfortunately, the actual process of saving isn’t always so easy; emergencies can deplete our funds, or we may simply not have enough disposable income to save effectively.  This means that savings aren’t always there when we need them, and it can be troubling to face a hole in our finances with nothing to fill the gap.

Retirees can feel this issue particularly acutely if they need savings to supplement their monthly income. Whether this income is from pensions or other sources, the fact remains that if savings are needed to keep topping up the pot, there may be problems when the fund runs dry.

Alternatively, pensioners may find that they simply haven’t saved enough to meet their needs. Either way, the concern is that many people with these issues may bury their head in the sand rather than seeking a solution.

If you’re retired and worried that you might be running your savings down too quickly, or you’re currently working but concerned you might not be putting aside enough money each month, then this is probably sounding a little too close to home.

Could your property bring you peace of mind?

Facing up to the fact that you’re having a savings shortfall, though sometimes uncomfortable, is an important first step towards finding a solution.

One such solution is equity release – a process which allows you to release some of the cash that is tied up in your home. Available to eligible applicants aged 55-95, equity release can be used to take a lump sum as well as, if desired, additional smaller amounts through use of a drawdown function. The most popular form of equity release is a lifetime mortgage, which is secured against your home.

Last year, the Financial Times suggested that the UK’s retirement savings may be falling short by around £11 billion each year, a concerning figure which suggests that people need to act sooner rather than later. Deciding that it’s time to take action is a good first step, but then it’s time to start fully investigating the available options.

Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. This means that it is important to be aware that there are other options too – such as downsizing – although, of course, this would mean leaving your current home.

If you’re considering equity release it is recommended that you read ‘is it right for you?’ carefully.

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Shining a light on the murky world of mattress buying

I recently found myself stumbling around a large, out-of-town homewares store, looking for somewhere to sleep. It wasn’t just because the store wore me out, but because I had entered the mindboggling world of mattress shopping!

When I read that we spend 25 years of our lives sleeping, I thought we’d better make those years as comfy as possible, and started to consider buying a new mattress. I hadn’t realised just how complicated this was going to be. Faced with multiple material options, pushy salespeople and surprisingly frequent ‘sale of the century’ offers, I left the shop feeling more confused than when I walked in, minus a mattress.

So I did what I always do when I’m looking for a really good deal, but don’t want to brave the sales, I settled down in the lounge with my laptop, and here’s what I learnt:

Don’t believe the sale sign

Just because a big red sign makes you think you’re getting a once-in-a-lifetime bargain, think twice. Often mattress retailers will run almost permanent ‘sales’ on stock, and although you feel like you’re getting a good deal, in fact they’ve just reduced their mark-up from 200% to 100%!

It seems that the only way to really get a transparently priced mattress is by cutting out these middle men (meaning the mattress shops and salespeople) entirely, and buying your mattress online.

For example, mattress retailer Bruno doesn’t even sell in shops, simply because they want to offer their mattresses for the fairest price possible. They design and produce the mattresses, sell them through their website and deliver them directly to customers, which means they can keep their prices 30 – 40% lower than high street retailers.

Know your materials in advance

If you do some basic preparation before you start shopping you can save yourself time and money. There are so many choices when it comes to mattress materials, so consider how you actually like your bed to feel before you begin to browse.

Do you really like the feeling of sinking into memory foam (which can be an expensive option) or does it just sound like a trendy choice? Perhaps you prefer the springy, fresh feeling of natural latex.

Are you happiest in a firm, supportive bed or do you like to sleep on a softer, squidgy surface? If you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you won’t risk falling into a trap of false promises and end up paying the price.

Convenience pays off

Don’t feel like you need to spend hours slogging around shops because you think you need to lie on 10 mattresses before you find the perfect one.

Online brands like Bruno understand that you can’t choose a bed based on a 5 minute lie down, and will give you a 101-night home trial, so you can test the mattress in the comfort of your own bedroom.

Add to that free delivery, a free returns policy if you decide to return the mattress within the trial period and a 10 year guarantee, and all the potential risk-factors of making an expensive online purchase are erased.

Also, forget trying to squeeze a 6ft mattress up a spiral staircase and keep an eye open for brands that deliver their mattress rolled up an in box – you can’t get much more convenient than that!

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