Working Out The Best Car Finance Option For You

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Car finance isn’t for everyone but it can be useful to those who need it. I’ve spoken before about our experiences with car finance and why we had to opt for it – we were borrowing someone else’s car after ours completely broke down and Steve needed a car for work but didn’t have enough in savings to buy outright. We managed to find the perfect car for our needs – a big family car with plenty of boot space that was cheap and easy to run and got Steve to work and us around when needed – for affordable repayments.

It can be so tough trying to work out which is the best deal for your personal needs though which is why I wanted to introduce you to the Motorparks’ Interactive Car Finance Calculator. Asking you questions such as the cost of the vehicle, the deposit amount, the length of the loan and the interest rate, it works out the total to pay and how many payments that would be. It really aids you in finding the right deal for you – after all, you need to make sure that the repayments are affordable and that the car is perfect for you. There is no point opting for a car that doesn’t suit your needs but is affordable or one that does suit your needs but isn’t affordable, is there?

The car finance calculator also works well alongside the motoring costs calculator. This calculator helps you to find out both the fuel costs and running costs of any vehicle that has caught your eye. If you use the motoring costs calculator and find your perfect car then you can quickly use the car finance calculator to see if it works for you. Great, right?

Car finance totally saved our bacon a couple of years ago – if we hadn’t managed to get a car then Steve wouldn’t have been able to get to work and would have lost his job. It really came along at the right time for us and whilst not everyone is a fan, I am. This is why I think these tools are so great. Would you ever use them – or in fact, have you used them before?

Bad Credit Scores: What Can You Do?


Credit scores are often the bane of peoples lives. That number that will say whether you can get that mortgage or phone contract or that credit card. A lot of us have had bad credit scores in the past and managed to get ourselves back into the good scores. Others are still trying to get out of their bad range. But what exactly can you do to improve your credit score?

There are a variety of ways to boost your credit score. Steve and I have tried some of these in the past and they’ve worked for us, others we haven’t tried but know people who have. Its all about finding what works for you – and your credit score.

Check you are on the electoral roll

It sounds silly but this is one thing people forget to do and if you’re not, how are they meant to know who you are and where you are?

Consider a credit rebuilder credit card but stop applying for credit elsewhere on other things

A credit rebuilder credit card can be very handy in helping to boost up your score. Steve has one and keeps on time with his payments which has seen his score get better and better. However just because you’ve applied for a credit card and its helping you to build up your credit score, don’t keep applying for credit as your score goes up as you could still bring it down again.

If you must apply for credit for emergency reasons…

This is simply if you absolutely must – say for instance your car completely broke down and was scrapped and you needed to get a car – and quickly – to be able to get to work and pay your rent and bills. You know that you won’t be accepted by some leasing companies and are reluctant to get credit whilst building up your score but know you need to. Perhaps consider a bad credit car leasing company such as CVS Ltd. It is worth remembering that by leasing a car with CVS Ltd it wont help improve your credit score, but they are happy to write a reference for customers should they require one at the end of their leasing term.

Applying to CVS also does not have a negative effect on your credit score – the company works on affordability and traceability and not on a credit reference check. Once a customer has been approved by their own underwriters, it is at that point that they will do a credit reference check as per the regulations from the FCA.


Never be late with payments

It sounds silly but keeping to at least the minimum payments on your account is a surefire way to cease a bad credit score. You don’t want a default on your account.

Cancel unused credit

Not using a credit card or a store card? If there’s nothing on it, cancel it! Why keep it open if not in use? Also if the remaining payment on it is small, pay that off and cancel. It will be much better for your score.

Challenge any unfair inclusions

If you feel like something is unfair, challenge it. Steve looked at his credit report a few years back and found something on his file that was paid off years ago in full. Yet it said that he owed them and was in default. After getting in contact with them, it turned out they’d made a mistake their end and he had indeed cancelled it and paid the remainder in full so there shouldn’t have been a default. It took a couple of months for it to disappear off his report but it finally did – if he hadn’t checked his report, who knew how long that unfair inclusion would have been on his account?

Have you ever had a bad credit score? How have you been working to improve it?


How to keep a balanced perspective when running a business

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Running a business is a far cry from a regular 9-5 job. When you’re heading up a company, you can’t simply switch off when the clock strikes a certain hour. The chances are, you’ll rack up long hours and you might struggle to relax even when you’re away from the office. So, to avoid burnout, it’s crucial that you take steps to control your stress levels and keep a balanced perspective. The following suggestions may help you to achieve this.

Learn to let go

If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to oversee all aspects of your company. However, micromanaging your business can be a mistake. On a blog post on his website, founder and chairman of the Cobra Group of Companies Chris Niarchos points out that this approach can compromise your ability to focus on strategic planning and it can lead to a spike in your stress levels. This is why it’s so important to learn to delegate. Giving certain tasks to trusted members of your team will free up more of your time and it should reduce the sense of pressure you feel.

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Look after your health

All too often, entrepreneurs let their health take a back seat. As a company owner, you might find that long days mean you struggle to get enough sleep, while a packed schedule could prevent you from getting sufficient exercise. You might also turn to snack foods and caffeine fixes throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. All of this is bad news for your wellbeing, and it can mean you wind up feeling run down and unable to cope. In contrast, by giving your body a break and taking better care of your health, you can increase your fitness and make yourself more robust mentally. Simple things, like making an effort to go to bed half an hour earlier each night and taking some time out during the day to hit the gym or go for a walk, swim or cycle, could improve your health. Even replacing your office biscuits with a bowl of fruit could give you a much-needed boost.

As well as being positive for your long-term wellbeing, taking steps like these should give you more energy to cope with the strains associated with running a business.

 Set aside some downtime

When you’re under pressure to meet deadlines, it’s not easy to take time out. However, if you don’t clear spaces in your schedule to relax and spend time with your family and friends, it can be hard to keep a healthy perspective. Making time to do things you enjoy, even when you’re busy, should give you an energy boost and it can be a great way to clear your head. Whether you book a mini-break or simply set aside an evening to relax at home with your family, some downtime can work wonders to rebalance your perspective.

Debt Management: How to Deal With Your Creditors


It can be difficult to come to terms with existing debt. When certain spending habits become ingrained, they can spiral out of control. You might not even realise that your financial situation is problematic. Acknowledging the warning signs is essential. If you have numerous credit cards, if you dread your monthly statement and if you are struggling to pay back the bare minimum, you might have a problem.

Accepting the reality of your situation isn’t easy. People in debt often feel they have failed in some way. Despite this, if your debt is too overpowering to deal with yourself, you will need to reassess your situation. It is important that you are proactive. Get to know your debt management options. Seek professional help and know how to deal with your creditors.

If you want to avoid bankruptcy and gain control over your finances, it is essential that you are well informed. We have collected all relevant information in one post, to facilitate your research and help you on your way.



Get (and remain) on good terms with your creditors

The best way forward is to prioritise communication with your creditors. Keep in regular contact and be honest about your situation. Never be afraid to contact your creditors. They might appear to be intimidating figures, but they are just people who have lent you money. If you fall out of contact with them for any reason, they will assume the worst and likely begin legal action against you. This is something you want to avoid at all costs. It is best for your own mental health to discuss the situation with your creditors. This way, you’ll have the greatest chance of arriving at a solution to suit everyone.


What to discuss with your creditors

Clarify how much money you owe and who you owe it to. Once you have a number, find out which debts are priority debts. These will be the debts you will aim to pay off first. Priority debts are more urgent, as they carry higher consequences for nonpayment. Priority debts include mortgages, council tax debts and rent arrears. If you aren’t in the financial position to repay your non-priority creditors, you will need to carefully consider your decisions going forward.

Next, get to know what your non-priority debts are. These will be things such as unsecured loans, credit card debts, store cards and overdrafts.

Once you have the full picture of your true debt, you can begin making a plan. You could decide to go forward with a Debt Management Plan (DMP). DMPs are an informal, flexible and non-legally binding debt management option.There is no legal process involved, and it can be organised by you and your creditors. During this time, you will decide a reasonable monthly repayment sum. Eventually, all your debt will be repaid at a schedule agreeable to you and your creditors.

The process will involve you creating a ‘statement of affairs’ to send to your creditors. This will show all the pertinent financial details including your income, expenditure, assets and dependents. Be as honest as possible with this document. If your creditors believe you are lying to them, they will be unlikely to cooperate.


Know your rights and what creditors can (and can’t) do

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the rights of creditors. It is important to know what creditors can and can’t legally do. For example, they can ring you, and they can send you letters requesting their money. They can also send collectors, but it is important to know that these are not bailiffs and, as such, they have no legal power to enter your home. If they don’t receive payment, they will likely continue to add interest to your debt. They can also apply for a County Court Judgement to recoup their money.

Despite their right to contact you, it should not cross the line of harassment. You should not be receiving phone calls at every hour of the day and night. You can even request that they only contact you via mail, although avoiding correspondence is a bad idea. Ignoring your problem will make things much worse.

Creditors can’t break data protection laws. They can’t speak to your friends or family without notifying you and getting your permission. Importantly, they can’t add excessive interest to your debt or increase the rate of interest due to missed payments. Above all, they can’t be abusive or threatening.


What to do if you can’t reach an agreement with your creditors

If you haven’t been able to see eye to eye with your creditors, then it might be time to seek professional help. Get in touch with a debt management professional. They have access to modern insolvency software  or debt management software that will take your unique situation into account. This individual will then be able to advise on a relevant course of action. This doesn’t necessarily entail bankruptcy. In fact, bankruptcy should be considered a last resort.

There are a number of debt management options out there, some of which are formal and some of which are more informal. Their suitability will depend on you and your circumstances. It is important to remember that no debt is insurmountable. There is always someone willing to help you, and it is never too soon to turn your life around.


How Can You Save Money When Purchasing A Vehicle?

Vehicles are usually a necessity in our daily lives. While some people can get by walking everywhere if they have all amenities close by, many of us rely on our cars to get us to work, take us to the shops or go to various appointments. Living in a village, we do have our GP surgery, vets and dentist close by but Steve’s work, the local hospital, bigger supermarkets and certain other amenities are quite a way away so a car is essential for us for our day to day activities.

A photo by Robert Haverly.

But purchasing a new vehicle can be pricey. How can we save money when purchasing a vehicle? Here are some tips:

Buy used

A fancy new car is the dream but sometimes our budgets just don’t allow this. Buying used can be so much cheaper on the wallet and sometimes can make it a little easier to find what you are looking for. We were looking for something specific last time we got a car and couldn’t find one new that managed to tick every box – buying used solved that problem. Motorparks offer some fab used cars for sale on their site.

Consider finance if buying new

Finance isn’t for everyone – you need to make sure its something you can afford and won’t fall back on. However some companies currently have sales on the new 66 plate Ford’s with some great finance deals which guarantee you some savings – and a great warranty too! There are similar deals running on the new Mazda’s too.

Know what you want

Going in knowing what you want is essential to ensure savings. It doesn’t mean knowing exactly what make, model, registration, fuel type etc but having a good idea of what suits you and your budget before you look around reduces the chance of you opting for something more out of your price range because you weren’t sure what you needed.

We knew when we bought our last car that it needed to be spacious (as we often take family out) with a large boot. We were looking for diesel rather than petrol and affordable monthly payments. Something that would be cheap to run but reliable. We didn’t exactly know what make or model we wanted – and weren’t particularly fussy – but having a general idea meant we didn’t go into the dealership blind and end up paying much more than we knew we could afford.

Do you have any tips for saving money when buying a vehicle? Do you prefer buying new or used?

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Saving Money On Grooming

We all spend money on different things. Whilst we all have similar essentials to pay for (rent/mortgage, bills, groceries), some of us may fork out a little more for our hobbies, others for our pets, others for things such as grooming. But how can we maximise savings on these without compromising on quality?

Grooming can become very expensive and it can be difficult to find the best tools for the job for both a good price and a good standard of quality. Sometimes it seems you have to compromise on either one or the other. I myself now have scaled down the amount of products I buy and have switched from some higher end brands to more lower end brands – but this does leave me with more money to spend on my more luxurious grooming essentials that I just cannot compromise on.

This interesting guide to grooming is the authority on grooming and has been so helpful in finding both good quality grooming products that are also well priced so I don’t have to pay over the odds. They offer reviews of similar products so you can find the best one suited to you and they even tell you what purpose they best serve so you can pick one that suits all of your needs one hundred percent.

Whilst my beauty routine and costs may have scaled down over the years since having Jack, it is nice to know that I can still rely on being able to find out the best quality products available for my money so I can save money on grooming and use elsewhere if I need to.

Do you try to save money on the not-so-essentials in your life? What one thing won’t you compromise on?

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Find Out The Best Mobile Network For Your Budget

Finding the best mobile network for your budget can be difficult. Back when I first got a phone, I had a simple brick of a phone and was on PAYG with Vodafone. Once the money had gone, that was it. However my parents found this soon posed problems – what if my credit ran out and I was stuck somewhere with no way of getting home? If any of you remember 0800 REVERSE, I definitely used that a lot when I was younger.

Despite this, I stayed on PAYG when I moved to another provider due to a good deal they had on at the time. I soon got bored however and ended up in a contract with O2 and successfully renegotiated it every couple of years to ensure I was getting the best deal before finally jumping ship to another provider earlier this year.

What I required most was something that suited my needs and my budget. I needed something with enough minutes, texts and data that also didn’t cost the earth. I finally found what I required – and it came with a great handset too. But how can you find out what the best mobile network is for your budget? Perhaps this guide will help  – you can see what is best suited to both your needs and your budget.

We all have different requirements in life – some may need plenty of features and have plenty of budget, others may have the budget but don’t need much from their phone and others may have a limited budget but need more for their money – its all about finding the right things for them. Have you been struggling to find the best provider for your needs? I’m happy with my provider now but I was doing plenty of research of my own a few months ago to find the perfect plan for me – and I have finally found it.

So, tell me. What is the best mobile network for YOUR budget?

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The Cost Of Driving

I want to share with you an infographic today that looks at the cost of car ownership across the world taking into account new price, used price, popular models and insurance price.  Carfinance247 found that the UK is one of the world’s more expensive countries to be a motorist. The infographic looks at eight different countries. Did you expect these results?

the cost of driving 1 the cost of driving 2the cost of driving 3the cost of driving 4the cost of driving 5the cost of driving 6the cost of driving 8the cost of driving 9the cost of driving 10the cost of driving 11

The results are fascinating to see but I am not surprised to see the US, UK and Germany heading up the top. I didn’t realise Ford Fiesta would be the most commonly sold in the UK – I was totally expecting Ford Focus to be at the top. Were you surprised by any of the results?

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Entering Giveaways – Can They Really Boost Your Income?

Entering Giveaways – A Valid Source Of Income? I’m here today to answer that question.

I’ve been entering competitions here in the UK for a good four or five years now – and I wasn’t adverse to entering them before either, often encouraged by my father and grandmother. Giveaways and competitions are quite a bit different over here rather than the USA as we don’t have to pay tax on prize wins – which is quite lucky when you win something big!

Plenty of people have spoken about giveaways being a valid source with which to boost your income. I’m not so sure. Yes, it can definitely supplement your income. I managed to win £400 worth of saucepans and cookware just before we were moving into this house – that saved us plenty of ££ when we finally moved in. I’ve won an iPad which we had planned on buying anyway – so it is obvious to see that they can supplement your income in this way.

Boosting your income is different. The only way I would say that competitions and giveaways boost your income are if you win cash or you sell your wins. I’m not sure about the US – it seems like it may be deemed okay to sell on wins there – David from Young Adult Money posted about making money from entering giveaways – but here in the UK, it is frowned upon by the ‘comping’ community – there are some people who enter for everything and sell it all, their Ebay pages full of a complete mismatch of new and unsealed items.

Entering Giveaways | Can They Really Boost Your Income? | Discussion |

I will admit I have sold the odd thing – a runners up prize that I don’t want or something we’ve had our use of (so sell it second hand) or something we just can’t get on with. I try not to do it too often though and only really enter for what I want or what I know those close to me would appreciate. I rarely find the time to sit there entering giveaways nowadays so I am very selective with what I enter – cash, vouchers, children’s prizes, wedding prizes – these are my main competitions of choice.

What do I think in conclusion?

Whilst cash wins and selling prizes can help you to boost your income, it isn’t a reliable income stream as you cannot ever be sure you will win that prize that you can then sell for £££. You would need to be entering hundreds of competitions a day to have any chance of winning enough cash or winning enough decent items to sell for a decent income.

If you are entering competitions to enrich your day to day life by entering for things you would love but can’t afford nor justify, then great. Competitions and giveaways are a great source for supplementing your income and treating yourself to items you probably couldn’t justify buying. So for those people that say entering giveaways really boost your income – I’d say no, they can’t. They can certainly supplement it and very occasionally boost it with a really good win – but overall, it just isn’t a reliable enough income stream.

Best Places To Find Budgeting Advice

Budgeting advice.. we all get given it, sometimes by people we don’t want to hear it from. But where exactly are the best places to find budgeting advice?

I’ve had my fair share of unwarranted budgeting advice given to me over the years. Normally by people who are budgeting worse than me! Whilst our household hasn’t exactly got a cast iron budget for everything, we do have averages and try to keep to them. There are obvious places like debt planners who help with budgeting but that isn’t what I mean. So where do I go for budgeting advice?

First things first, I would definitely check out the Budget Planner on MoneySavingExpert. I go through phases of using MSE but I have found it can be really helpful in assessing where I am going wrong. Whilst Steve has a fairly certain income every month (if there is any difference, it will be an increase from overtime rather than less money), I am self employed and working from home so my income isn’t concrete, much as I would like it to be. I always make enough to just about cover my share of the bills and then a little bit more but it can often be tight which means pulling tighter on the purse strings wherever possible. The MSE forums are also fantastic – speaking to like minded people and sharing budgeting tips is great!

A similar site that could be of use is The Money Shed. Again, I go through phases of using it but there are some really helpful people over there!

Another place I find useful for budgeting advice is Pinterest. It sounds crazy but you can find plenty of pins on the site leading to great articles about budgeting and moneysaving. I even have a dedicated board set up so I can pin all these helpful articles to read at a later date.

Best Places To Find Budgeting Advice | Information On Where You Can Educate Yourself Budget-Wise |

Another odd place that I find amazing budgeting advice is on various Facebook groups. Two such groups that I love for budgeting tips in regards to every aspect of life are FMFOAB Budget Matters and Frugal Homemaking & Living. I don’t necessarily check in every single day but I will read any posts that pop up on my newsfeed – and I’ve taken some amazing advice on board from these pages.

My Nan also offers me some budgeting advice – things she did in the 50’s, 60’s etc that worked for her. Of course some things aren’t going to be relevant to life today but she has given me food for thought over the years.

Finally, my last place to gather budgeting advice would be personal finance and money saving blogs. There are so many out there, all who offer a unique aspect on budgeting. I often find information on these blogs that I would never have thought to have taken on board. I’ve then tried them and had success with them. Find a few blogs that you love and subscribe to them – they will be very handy in the long run.

Where do you go for budgeting advice?

Linking up with Sarah Titus