In uncertainty lies opportunities

Post-Brexit shockwaves continue to reverberate around the UK market, and the economic path ahead remains fraught with uncertainty. However, amidst a perfect storm of capital outflows, damaged market confidence and record-low interest rates (now downgraded to 0.25%), there lies real opportunities for the beating heart of UK enterprise… SMEs.

The combined annual turnover of SMEs in 2015 was £1.8 trillion – almost half all private sector turnover in the UK – and total employment in SMEs was 15.6 million (60% of the UK private sector). Even in spite of Brexit, we believe UK small business is booming and a key driving force to stimulate investor demand and economic growth. However with the wave of uncertainty that has ensued and more caution sweeping the market, there is a greater need than ever for cash hungry businesses to seek alternative methods to engage customers and raise the financing they need. So we’ve designed a special ‘Brexit Protection Toolkit’, providing businesses with the necessary support and marketing to help navigate these choppy waters.

Despite the adverse effects post-referendum, there are still great positives for many of the UK’s SMEs. Life after Brexit means all of us in the alternative finance sector can export British business like never before, and as such a weakened sterling brings with it several advantages – for instance, increased opportunities to find international investors, due to the lower exchange rate. The foreign exchange swing also makes exports more competitive, resulting in a greater demand which opens up advantages for those businesses which can shift from selling to foreign market, mainly online where 3.2bn consumers can be accessed.

However, to capitalize on these tailwinds, the right support, resource and financing is key – and critical for small business. Our Brexit protection toolkit affords all the benefits of running a campaign on the platform, to offer businesses the best support and reassurance to keep afloat the market turbulence and stay on track to achieve long-term financial gains.

Transparent, flexible financing to suit your needs – Our ‘Revenue Loan’

By offering five types of finance, Crowd2Fund can help businesses to reach their goal even if their revenues are lower than normal. This presents a vital lifeline for businesses at a time when traditional revenue streams may be hamstrung, offset from lack of confidence or customer traction.

Our Revenue Loan product allows businesses in a slow month to pay less, meaning there are no early repayment fees. Through the Revenue Loan business owners have access to a viable alternative to easily and affordably bolster their bank account, thereby insuring the company against any potential slowdown in today’s economic environment. Having the resource and capital in place means your business can be well placed to attract the team of private investors you have open to you on the platform. With our Revenue Loan and Brexit Protection toolkit, we look to set in motion a virtuous cycle of stability and growth, to help each business achieve their short and long-term goals.

Build a team of private investors and get your working capital requirements  – IF ISA

Additionally, as one of the few peer-to-peer lending platforms capable of offering the innovative IFISA product, businesses can borrow up to £1m whilst benefitting from the public’s existing trust in ISAs. With currently over £400 billion invested in ISAs in the UK, the IF ISA represents a substantial share of the UK investment market and allows Crowd2Fund to attract a large crowd of private investors – and we extend this value add on to the business which list on our platform. The IF ISA provides the opportunity for businesses to build a strong investor network, putting in place the foundations for further, longer-term financing. As well as setting up your company for growth, we want to help each business owner secure their future, whilst giving them both the autonomy and the network to do so themselves.

The ability to establish your very own investor network and to provide a reliable, effective source to service working capital requirements of businesses will put your business in a strong position despite the current market conditions.

People, people, people – win the right customers cost-effectively

As part of our toolkit, we are also offering a free brand video and bespoke marketing plan for every business which lists on the platform. It’s one thing to have access to investment; it’s another to have the right investor. The added plus we are working hard to equip businesses with is the ability to gain investment from the very people that will champion your brand, and to then have sufficient tools to market their offering to them. Your customers can become your investors and your investors your customers. Our toolkit is designed to help companies build brand loyalty at a time when it’s needed most. With the right people on board and, more importantly, with skin in the game, our toolkit can help businesses affront the challenges that lie ahead from a position of strength.

Irrespective of post-Brexit concerns, UK SMEs still remain the lifeblood of our economy and trade worldwide. The road ahead is paved with opportunities for small businesses and, with our toolkit, we can help to put business owners firmly in the driving seat.

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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. unsplash.com/photos/ZhEnFcHO0es

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 | www.keeneonsaving.co.uk

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 | www.keeneonsaving.co.uk

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

What Can I Do With My Old Books?

Old books. We all have them. We sometimes want to get rid of them. But what can we do with them?

I have more than enough books to contend with and a very embarrassing to-be-read pile. But I also have those books I know and love and will keep forever. But what about those books that you’ve read once or twice but no longer need in your life? Those books that are just taking up valuable space. Here are my top suggestions:

Donate them

There are plenty of places to donate your old books. Charity shops, local events (we have a little coffee morning ‘Pop-In’ in my village where you can give your old stuff – I’ve bought many an old book here!).

Sell them

There are plenty of places you can sell your old books – but you may not get much for them. Car boot sales, Facebook selling pages, Ebay and book specific websites such as WeBuyBooks are the best places, although you may only get pennies.

What Can I Do With My Old Books | Tips | www.keeneonsaving.co.uk

Get them valued

You never know, you could be hiding a rare first edition in there. Obviously this would require checking through the books first but should you come across a rare first edition of a book, you could be quids in.

Give them away

If your family and friends are anything like mine, then they will always love and appreciate books that are new to them. Half of my collection have been given to me over the years by my family and friends and I guess that most of theirs have been too. That way you can always borrow one back if you decide you really want to read it again.

Make art

I actually don’t agree with this one at all as I hate people even writing in books and defacing them let alone this. But people make these wonderful pieces of artwork out of old, unwanted books. Much as I appreciate the beauty, it is something I could never do to my old books.

 

What do you do with any books you no longer want?

Making Money Blogging | Can It Be Done?

Plenty of people think that making money blogging is impossible or somehow taboo. However, given half the chance they would probably give it a go too.

Making Money Blogging | It Can Be Done & How To Do It | www.keeneonsaving.co.uk

That being said, plenty of people come into blogging thinking they will be making mega bucks straight away and that simply isn’t the case. You need a variety of different things to even start to see that money roll in and it can be a hard slog to get there.

Your Own Domain

This isn’t exactly a necessity but it definitely helps and you definitely get taken more seriously. Either buy a domain via Blogger or use self hosted WordPress. WordPress.com itself has some strict rules about monetisation whereas self hosted WordPress (like this blog here) give a lot more freedom. You can simply use Blogger without buying a domain but if you are contacted about your Domain Authority, you wouldn’t be able to give a genuine result as the results would be impacted by the Blogger score itself. My Blogger blog with its own domain has a DA of around 38 whereas someone I know on a Blogger blog with the blogspot.co.uk URL found they had 70+ and were celebrating, thinking it would get them lots of work. But it isn’t a true score as Blogger itself is the domain, not your blog and the high score will take from that.

You May Need To Spend Money To Make Money

Following on from buying your own domain, you may need to spend a little in the short term to benefit you in the long term. Making money blogging can be a long and arduous task so it is essential to make sure you have all the best tools to hand.

Put The Time In

Focus on creating content and making your site look the part, If you want to be making money blogging, you need to look the part and so does your blog. Make sure it looks professional, has great quality content and has your contact details readily available. Research the best tools you will need for blogging and sign up to social media as these will be instrumental to driving traffic to your blog. This will take time but it is so worth it.

Content Is King

This phrase does get bandied around quite a lot but it couldn’t be more true. If you are serious about making money blogging, you need to have quality content that people want to keep coming back to. The odd post every couple of months, a badly written post with little to no research or plagiarised posts are never going to earn you any money. You need to put the hard work in and make sure that you have something for people to come back for.

Traffic Is The Key

Plenty of ways of monetisation rely on your traffic. Adsense, affiliate links etc. These all need decent traffic and people clicking through on them to actually make you an income. If you have 10 people checking out your site once and not coming back due to no quality content, you can’t seriously expect them to want to click on your ads or affiliate links – they have no incentive to.

Advertorials

Once your content is on point and you have a decent amount of traffic, you may find people contacting you about sponsored posts and banner advertisements. These are definitely one of the better ways in regards to making money blogging and can earn you quite a bit of money. Banner advertising generally advertises a company in your sidebar for a set amount of time whereas sponsored posts are blog posts featuring a specific brand. Some readers can get funny about sponsored posts – plenty of people write them like reviews but if you can make them snappy and interesting, often people won’t mind. Becky at Blogging On The Side wrote a great post about how to write sponsored posts that aren’t reviews. I am currently contacted directly by PRs or SEOs or I use Izea.

Adsense/Affiliates

I touched briefly on them in a previous point but once you’ve got a steady flow of traffic, now add these in. Hopefully you will start to see a steady income grow from these. Make sure your Adsense adverts are placed where visitors can see them but where they aren’t too imposing that they will annoy your readers. Make sure your settings are set so relevant ads come up.

With affiliates, only include ones relevant to your content. If I was writing a post about balancing blogging as a work from home mum, I may link to the Blogging on the Side eBook. If writing about products on Amazon or Ebay, I would use my affiliate codes for those.

It can be fairly easy to make money blogging if you are prepared to put the time and effort in. If you follow the tips above, you could be well on your way. I still don’t earn a full time income from blogging – few do – but I top it up with freelance work. Some people do amazingly though. Check out income reports from A Pinch Of Yum and Blogging On The Side.


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
 

The List

My Positive Money Experiences

 

All too often I see personal finance blogs talking about the negative side of money but today I wanted to talk to you about the various positive money experiences I have had in the past. I’ve now been working and earning my own money for ten years (since the age of 16) and I have held various jobs in this time with varying pay packets and have made various financial decisions in the past too – some which people understand and some which others don’t. Here are my positive money experiences from the last ten years..

  • Getting my first job – Whilst I wasn’t always happy there once I had been working there for a few years, my first job was perfect when I first started. Earning my own money and not having to rely on the odd bit of babysitting here, pocket money there..it was great..and I loved it!
  • Getting my second job – No matter what people say about bar work, this job was probably my favourite job apart from the role I hold now. I got paid for working there but I also got tips, free food from the kitchen, a roof over my head on the late shift, drinks bought for me by the customers and I made plenty of new friends. With the two of these jobs I could pay my expenses with ease and still be able to enjoy myself.
  • Leaving my first job – People still don’t understand this but I was unhappy in this role and it meant I could pick up extra hours at the pub. With the two I was often working 7 days a week and sometimes 2 shifts a day – I have no idea how many hours I was working and I was tired and disheartened with the role. I got to leave to go a job I enjoyed much more and still earn pretty much the same amount of money.
  • Moving out – Moving out with Steve certainly led me to grow up as it meant I had so much more responsibility. This is something I am grateful for as I have now lived with Steve for over six years and I have friends who are only just moving out with no clue as to what their own place costs to run. Moving out as young as I did is certainly a positive money experience for me.
  • Getting our car on finance – This is probably one of my better financial decisions as we have already reaped the rewards in the year and a half since we did so. Choosing car finance for our newest car made the most sense to us. We had a car before which was going to cost too much to repair. However Steve needed a car for work and had to borrow his mum’s tiny little Peugeot for a while until we could sort our car out and get a new one. We desperately needed a car otherwise Steve couldn’t get to work – which would mean his wage wouldn’t be coming in. After Steve did some research, car finance seemed like the best option. We managed to get financed on a really good sized family car with plenty of room and it has been used every day since. It is something we will definitely be considering again in the future should we need another car and this is definitely one of our positive money experiences from the seven years we have been together.
  • Taken the plunge – After redundancy reared its head as an option for me in 2013 and armed with the knowledge that the only shift patterns available were those that weren’t of any use to me, I finally took the plunge and started freelance writing. I had already been blogging for two years and after a couple of months off, I felt refreshed and ready to start my new role, something I am still doing today and loving.
  • Hustling harder – Perhaps my most recent positive money experience and something I am keen to keep going. With me putting in more effort in both my freelance work and blogging and even working on my passive income and side hustles, I have seen my income rise and debts fall. If this year continues like this, it is going to be a good one.

What positive money experiences have you had over the years? Let me know in the comments below.

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