Tag Archives: personal finance

mortgage application

Top Tips to Prepare financially for a Mortgage Application

Follow these Top Tip to Prepare yourself financially for a Mortgage Application

The process of applying for a mortgage can be daunting, but if you approach it with knowledge about your current financial situation and are fully prepared for what they will be looking for then it will be much more likely that your application will be accepted. The rules have changed with mortgage applications the last one I did was two years ago and it was extremely time consuming and fairly painful. All I wanted to do was change the term of our mortgage and 2 hours later after examining every cost going through my bank account it was finally agreed.

Time

The first thing to say is that you will most likely need a good amount of time to prepare for your mortgage application. You will need to prepare your financial health well in advance of any mortgage application. I mean at least a year, particularly if you find any issues that need to be repaired.

Check your credit score

A really important part of the mortgage process is your credit score. This needs to be in order for the application to be accepted. This can be checked for free at the big credit agencies Equifax and Experian. If your credit score (a rating between 0 and 999) looks low ( the agency will give you a traffic light rating if its high or low), then you need to order your credit report. All the agencies have a free 30-day trial of the detailed credit report, just order it and then cancel before the 30 days is up.

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Pocket Money – Should you give it to your children?




Pocket Money – The debate

Sometimes a debate gets going on my Facebook page which promotes a huge response with everyone keen to give their views and feedback. A few months back there was a discussion about pockets money so I wanted to share some of the discussion on here. Read on for some ideas or maybe to see if what you do is similar to others.

We currently do not give pocket money; our boys are 9,7 and 4. I started off the debate as I was not sure if pocket money was the right thing to do or not. I discovered there is a wide range of viewpoints out there amongst you readers.

Press findings about a gender gap in Pocket Money!

I had also read in the press that a gender gap was already appearing with boys getting more pocket money than girls and that £6 was the average amount of pocket money. I was interested to see if this was true.

Mrs Mummypenny Facebook Discussion

24 people commented to tell me what they did with pocket money and their family. Ages ranged from little ones 4,5,6 all the way up to teenagers. Most people gave money to their children. 4 out of the 24 didn’t give pocket money, mostly quoting that they couldn’t afford it.

Of the 20 who did give money it was mostly given in return for doing jobs in the house. Here are a few comments

Facebook Comments

AH says: – My older 2 boys which are 7&5 get 20p per job they do around the house and an extra £1 each day they are good they have those tins you need to open with a can opener so they don’t actually get their money it goes in a tin as they want to save up for something they really want my 7yr old wants an Xbox and my 5yr old wants a Wii u console so they have to earn it.

AS says: – My two eldest aged 14 and 15 have £10 pw, and two youngest £5 each per week, all have to save 25% of what they earn, and they love seeing the achievement of saving.

SH says: – No pocket money but earn money through jobs and achievements etc. usually increments of 20p boy 9, girl 5, boy 2. The two older will be using their money to buy their sweets at the cinema today. Works for us….




HL says: – I pay £20 a month into each of my boy’s bank accounts as pocket money. They are 4 and 6 years old. I will do the same for my 6-month-old daughter once I get an account set up for her. It means if they see something they want they can use that money rather than I pay for it.

KD: – I’m a Foster carer and have 2 boys both aged £15 and I HAVE to give them a minimum of £10 per week. On that basis, there is a chore chart, the rest of us have to go out and earn our money so they need to learn it’s the same for them. They take bin out / bring it in, load / unload dishwasher, lay/clear table and keep their rooms tidy. This is on a rota basis to give it a bit of variety!

Its seems that most under 10 are getting around £5 for their chores or pocket money with the teenagers earning more like £10.

It’s great seeing lots of financial responsibility for our children with it mostly being earned rather than given.

What Will I do?

I want to formalise what I do with the boys. It’s important to install a sense of responsibility and there being a consequence to their actions of helping with jobs. Maybe £5 per week in return for 5 jobs like keeping bedroom tidy, putting away clean clothes, emptying dishwasher, putting out recycling and cleaning football boots. There is a regular requirement for football things like boots, water bottles, shin pads etc. so this money can help go towards paying for them.

Financial education is so important to children. I have written my top tips for ideas on how to broach the subject with children here. I also featured in The Times with the same information.

ScottishPower Launches PowerUp – A new product in the Energy Market




Mrs Mummypenny’s Specialist Subject – Gas & Electricity

I write about Gas & Electricity bills often. It’s an essential bill that we all have to pay and most of us pay too much for it. Far too many of us stick with the same company, slip onto variable deal and end up paying extortionate amounts of money for our energy usage. I am passionate about explaining how simple it is to switch from company to company, telling you the possibilities of how much money can be saved. And how much can be saved through simple changes to household routines.

Until now energy products were always the same, no matter whom you use as your supplier. A pay monthly model, based on an estimate of your usage. You might pay £80 per month and readings taken will determine how much you have used, it’s important to provide regular readings. You will end up with a credit or a debit at the end of a period of time. It’s a strange model as you never quite know if you are paying the correct monthly money.

A new PowerUp Pay as you go product

So I was intrigued to hear about the new ScottishPower product, a first to the market which flips the gas & electricity pricing on its head. They have developed a new product that runs on the pay as you go model. A model very similar to the mobile phone market which I am very used to from my previous work at EE. There are no standing charges payable, so if you don’t use any energy on a day you won’t be charged. And you will be sent a warning if your credit is soon to run out. Check out this handy YouTube video for a great demonstration.

17-10-16-scottishpower-powerup-family

You can pay up front for your energy usage on a daily, weekly, monthly or 6-monthly usage basis. The longer you pay upfront the cheaper the energy becomes, The PowerUp payment method will offer customers a daily charge of between £2.10 and £2.50; some of the most competitive prices available in the Here are some examples of the pricing.

PowerUp Example

The PowerUp prices, based on GB averages for OFGEM typical Dual Fuel consumption, are:

Package **Annualised Price ** Price per Day

DayPay      £913                           £2.50
1 Month     £840                          £2.30
3 Month    £803                          £2.20
6 Month    £767                           £2.10

* Based on daily average consumption for OFGEM typical annual consumption of 12,500kWh gas and 3,100kWh electricity, based on available Power Up package prices at launch. Includes VAT.
** Based on launch package prices for the full 12-month term. Package prices subject to change. Includes VAT.
Saving Money on Energy

I am a keen energy switcher and change every year, no fail, swapping to a new company if my current provider is no longer the cheapest. This product feels like great value and is something that would give you control over your spending. It is almost like the traditional meter model but with more competitive prices from Scottish Power rather than more expensive.

The app is really powerful and will give you great control over your energy costs. I have just looked at my last energy bill and have seen that we used 500 kWh of electricity, and the OFGEM average is 258kWh so I am wondering what on earth is happening but cannot access any information as I don’t have an app to review usage or a smart meter yet. New blog post coming on that investigation!

17-10-16-scottishpower-powerup-app-details

With energy we need to get our head around controlling our usage rather than the cost every month. We need to follow usage savings tips such as these

  • Before leaving the house switch off all things unnecessarily using energy
  • Boil the kettle with only the amount of water you need for drinks you are making
  • Use a shower timer and spend just 5 minutes in the shower
  • Do not leave phones/tablets charging over-night and do not leave chargers plugged in.
  • Try to restrict use of the tumble dryer, one of th emost expensive energy users.

Existing ScottishPower Customers at the Moment

A quote from ScottishPower “Importantly, we also want to ensure that all of our customers are offered our best products and our best prices. That’s why in the first instance we are launching PowerUp to our existing customers, all of whom can switch tariffs for free at any time.”

ScottishPower is currently reviewing when PowerUp will be made available to the wider market.

PowerUp: buy, track, save. How it works:

  • Customers can buy days of gas and electricity via the mobile app – from one to 180 days.
  • ‘Days’ are based on a personalised forecast of how much energy an individual customer requires. ScottishPower uses detailed consumption history to calculate daily usage based on the time of the year.
  • There is no ‘standing charge’ for customers paying via PowerUp.
  • Customers can track how much energy they use, to see when they next need to PowerUp. Customers can view past and forecast consumption to help them better understand their energy spend.
  • If an existing customer wants to sign-up to PowerUp, they simply visit www.scottishpower.co.uk/powerup. It’s a quick and straightforward process, with detailed information and videos to show customers how to use and make the most of PowerUp.
  • The PowerUp app is available for download for iPhone, iPad and Android

This is a collaborative post between ScottishPower & Mrs Mummypenny



5 Frugal Things Post 5 – My Week of Money Saving

Here I am back again for my 5 Frugal things post 5. I believe I am creating a habit here having managed to write this post 5 weeks in a row. Its nice as it encourages me to reflect on the successes from the week with what I have been up and how I have saved money along the way.

  1. My £50 challenge started this week, so both hubby and I are only allowed to spend £50 each for the whole week. This covers things like nights out, coffees, lunch, general spending. I 16-10-16-5-frugal-things-post-5-stylist-livehave failed this week, as I have spent £90, as I had too much planned in. But this included drinks wed night locally, Dinner/drinks in London Thursday. Friday was Stylist Live in London (pictured here after a free Lancome make up session) where we ate freebies and collected free products all day. Saturday was Thai dinner with a friend in Stevenage. Next week is less busy and less costly.
  2. On Thursday in London I had dinner with my uni friends. We don’t meet up very often so it was lovely to meet up and catch up on life. We used Bookatable to arrange a dinner at M restaurant in the city. The deal was £36 for 3 courses of yummy food and unlimited prosecco. A great deal for food and drink in London town, but it didn’t help my £50 a week budget challenge:-(
  3. I attended the Yankee candle Christmas showcase on Thursday as well. The limited edition candles were 16-10-16-5-frugal-things-post-5-yankee-candlesamazing, particularly All is Bright which smelt of beautiful orange and grapefruit. I got a lovely goodie bag with a candle that will be a perfect Christmas pressie for my sister. I walked from Kings Cross to Soho to save £3 tube fare. A beautiful walk through north/central London.
  4. I bought a flask from Tesco whilst doing a mystery shop. I earned £10 for the mystery shop and then paid £5 for a flask This flask will save oodles of money at the many football games we attend. No more paying for drinks at games as we can take our own. We have got our money back within a week. And it so lovely and warming by the side of the freezing football pitch.
  5. I filmed a YouTube video of some bargain Aldi goodies that I was sent. Regular readers will know I do quite a few Aldi reviews. There are some bargain products available and it means that all of our Halloween decorations will be free. Check out my video and see if there is anything you fancy. We go all American in this household and decorate the place like crazy so there are lots of bits here to help out with that!

I’m linking up with  CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

First Steps to Clarity & Focus with Experian & The School of Life

First Steps

I have mentioned a few times on my blog and social channels that my life is in transition at the moment. It’s that time of year where I get itchy feet and I have the most motivation to change things. So a fabulous event with Experian and the School of Life to discuss first steps could not have come at a better time.

Experian are one of the big credit agencies and have taken a huge first step and are now offering checks on your credit score for free. Now there is nothing stopping you from checking out your score to see how it might be affecting you ability to obtain credit.

Transition

So back to transition. 2 weeks ago I had a lot of uncertainty in my life. About the direction of Mrs Mummypenny, about our financial circumstances, about where to live, a few family & friend issues. I didn’t really know where to turn or how to focus.

10-10-16-first-steps-gherkinI am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. So the Experian event came along at the perfect time and for the reason to help me out. Possibly a bit of law of attraction going on there;-) It was a lovely lunch at the top of the Gherkin in my old stomping ground near Liverpool Street. There was a few bloggers and some lovely peeps from Experian. All of us10-10-16-first-steps-selfie-with-shard were in a place where we wanted to start first steps into something new. The views were perfect, the food and wine was beautiful and the company was incredibly inspiring.

John Paul Flintoff from the School of Life was our ‘thought provoker’ and leader. He has written a book called ‘How to Change the World’, which says quite a lot about the kind of person he is. He put us all at ease and asked us to discuss what we wanted from the day, what were our goals and fears. We discussed vulnerability and feeling the fear. As we went around the table there were incredible stories of loss, bravery and ultimately 10-10-16-first-steps-tower-of-londoninspiration. And I am not 100% sure how it was done but I left with a clear plan for my first steps within 24 hours and then further first steps for that week, month and future.

What Have I Achieved – Mrs Mummypenny

With Mrs Mummypenny I have been spreading myself too thinly. It’s not just the running of the blog and social media, it’s also the help I give to other bloggers setting up and small businesses who need some marketing/promotional support. It’s the groups I run and events that flow from those groups. It’s the deals I am brokering on behalf of other blogger. It’s all the technical improvements and changes I 10-10-16-first-steps-day-1-after-eventlearn and do myself on the blog. There even more and it’s all too much for one person. So things have to be dropped.

The event gave me the courage to drop lots of things. The very next day I cancelled 4 meetings. And I am now solely focussed on 3 things. And everything I do for the business will be in order to achieve those objective, including this post!

Organised House = Organised Mind

My friend Jane Batts has always said this and tells me a lot that my house is too cluttered. She even mentioned it on her radio show on SG1 radio!!! Before the event I had already de-cluttered the baby stuff, amassed from 3 babies. All of which has gone to my wonderful friends Becky & Dave who welcomed the beautiful Aimee to the world last week.

I have sorted out my office, paperwork, and items to sell. The desk is tidy and my office is a nice place to work. I have created an inspiration board, full of pretty pictures and quotes. And lots of things are listed for sale.

I have gone through mine and the children’s clothes and worked out what can be sold and what can be given to charity.

I have organised the huge pile of toys into neat storage boxes. The living room is now a more welcoming place to relax in.10-10-16-first-steps-declutter-toys

Finances – The Good

I have faced the truth. I have collated a cash flow position and know exactly how much debt we have and worked out our plan. And even better we, hubby and I have talked about it. I have prepared a budget and have sent it to Faith from Much more with less blog to tear it apart.

The facts are this and let’s start with the good. We are extremely fortunate (being born in the 70’s, buying 1st house at 23 and having well paid jobs whole life) that we own a house and have a significant portion of equity. 60% of the value of our house is equity. This is a huge chunk of money locked into the house not in our pockets available to spend. Good and bad is availability point.

I have a great credit score, investigated at the lunch with Experian. A very positive result for any future lending decisions. I also have 40k in pension pots that I have uncovered during my recent pensions post analysis.

Mrs Mummypenny is earning okay money after trading for 1 year. The money really started to flow in in the past 3-4 months. September has been my best month ever and between us we are now earning just about enough to cover the bills. I need to grow the business by a fair chunk to reach my target of 5k per month. I am aiming to get to 5k by December:-)

Faith pulled my budget apart and have found an additional amount of £2k per year that can be stripped out of my spending. My budget was okay, it just needed someone external to look at it logically and offer ideas.

Finances – The Not So Good

It feels good to face facts and come up with solutions for if the worst happens.

Currently we have 0% credit card debt of 11k. This is basically a result of 2 holidays this year, and a little hangover from house extension 3 years ago. We have 6k in liquid cash (savings accounts/shares). The debt is currently being paid off by £400 per month.

Also we need to renegotiate our mortgage next July as we come to the end of a fixed period.

My concerns are about the lack of liquid cash for if and when anything out of the norm happens. And do we focus on paying off the debt or so we postpone it to when we have more income available?

Bearing in mind that we are stuck in a catch 22 situation with the mortgage. We cannot release any money from the house as we only have 1 year of books, thus not enough joint household income to borrow the mortgage we have left on the house.

So the decision is to strip back everything possible from our budget and be frugal for a few months, including no savings, no charity donations, no takeaways, no big nights out. The debt is 0% interest and it stays like that for another 18 months, so we are not going to overly worry about it. We are just going to pay the minimum payments for the short term.

I am feeling stressed as we don’t have enough of a disaster fund, I am not comfortable with 6k. So this is our priority to build up to more like 10-15k. Once Mrs Mummypenny is earning more I can repay the 0% credit card debts.

Next year when we need to re-mortgage First Direct have said we can roll over to a new fixed deal with no financial checks.

If something unexpected happens we have options. First Direct will lend us some money on a really great rate of 3%. I could get a small business loan. We own our car so we might sell it and lease another car instead which could also help with petrol costs if we get a much more efficient car. To know that we have options is an amazing feeling.

So many First Steps

So you can see I have taken so many first steps in the space of 2 weeks. I am feeling happier, more focussed and more in control. And this relates to every aspect of life from business to family to friends to finances. Transition is good, bring it on.

You too can take first step, what is your dream, what would like to do next? Do you have something positive you want to start or do you have an issue you need to face and resolve.

If you need any financial help why not drop me an email on Lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk. I have budget templates to help out and have a wealth of posts to help you to save lot of money and make money too. Don’t let finances hold you back from your dreams and happiness. Take a first step.

This post was written in collaboration with Experian. I was not paid for this post but did attend the lunch event in London all expenses covered.

5 Frugal Things post 1 – Mrs Mummypenny has done this week

5 Frugal Things post 1

This is the first time I have written this type of post. It is an interesting exercise that might actually make me think more about what I spend. I thought I was pretty good and even keep a spending diary..see my write up. I think this post will give me a chance to reward myself for spending sensibly. And I will add it to the linky being hosted on Mums Savvy Savings.

  1. I made a huge saucepan of bolognese sauce last Friday night for dinner with my buddy Emma the coupon queen who stayed for the weekend. I doubled up on all the ingredients from Aldi, 2 packs of mince, onions, kale, courgettes, tomatoes, tomato soup(which Emma thought was hilarious!). Plus all the regular herbs and spices from the cupboard (balsamic vinegar, veg stock, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic, ground cumin, worcester sauce). This was dinner for us, plus I made enough for 4 more portions of bolognese that I froze. I will turn it into cottage pie next week to feed the family.
  2. Emma and I attended the #SHOMOs UK Money Blogger awards on Saturday where we both shortlisted for 3 awards each. Up against each other in 2 of them!! I couldn’t walk far due to recovery from gall bladder operation 5 days prior, so we got an Uber from Kings Cross to Tower Bridge. My first experience with Uber and I was most impressed. It was a 30-minute drive by Uber and I found a voucher code for £15 which covered the journey. I used this code VCUK15. Get the Uber app, sign in and add this code to the promotions tab for your free credit.
  3. 13-9-16-networking-andy-webbThe SHOMO awards were so much fun. I have written about them here, I learnt so much and loved catching up with my fabulous community. We got a fabulous goody bag, including lots of thing that I actually needed to buy like a selfie stick and a new phone charger bank. Saving me at least £20 there Emma Drew;-) There was also lots of spare food at the end so I might have stashed a load of it at the end of the evening to take home. A few twix’s went into my bag and a packet of olives, oh and 3 cupcakes!!
  4. This week has been another post-op recovery week at home, and not going out means spending no money. Not even on Amazon. In addition our Tesco credit card expired, this is the card I use for all regular daily spending and it gets paid off in full. With us not having that card meant we didn’t spend money unless it was essentials like petrol. I am thinking of switching my daily spend credit card at the moment. I am not sure that this credit card works savings wise anymore given the changes to Clubcard boost. Cashback credit cards where you pay off the balance every day might be the answer. I will investigate and update you.
  5. I am reading a book, Moneys Big Secret by Tom Church this week (which I promised to read 2 months ago!). I am very nearly finished and I have to say its making me think differently again about money. In relation to the amount I spend and how to reduce it down. He recommends a 3*£30 diet where you spend only £30 per week per adult for 3 weeks on everything except mortgage, essential bill and commute costs. This increases to £90 per week if you have 2 adults (£30 each) and 3 children (£10 each). Interesting experiment that I think I may give a go. It will be challenge particularly if you look at my spending diary post where I spent £1000 in 2 weeks. Why not read the book and give it a go, a really interesting read particularly if you are in any sort of debt

These are my 5 things. Not bad for a week of post gall bladder removal. Going to aim for more next week. MMPxx

Compare the Market – New Simples Product

Compare the Market – Making Life Easier/simpler/less hassle.

I love a new time saving and hassle removal bit of technology. So I was very intrigued to learn more about the new Compare the market Simples proposition. Just before holiday I was invited to my favourite bit of London, Shoreditch (check out this amazing graffitti!) 16-8-16 shoreditch compare the marketto spend a few hours understanding and then reviewing the product. It’s in test mode (beta) at the moment with a few gremlins being ironed out, and I got to have a go at testing and breaking it! I am a good tester of technology. I used to do it a lot at EE, one day when we launched the new website we all did an over-nighter, spending 12 hours tearing the website apart trying to break every page, process and purchase journey!

What…Homework??!!

I had a bit of homework before attending the workshop. I had to dig out all my insurance document for home, car and travel insurance. I have all 3 somewhere. As you can see from this picture my filing is not at its best. And it took me some time to locate the insurance docs. Although handily I did find car insurance docs from 3 years ago;-)

16-8-16 Insurance filing boxes compare the market 16-8-16 Insurance filing mess compare the market

My insurance documents were located, either in paper or email format. And I had to recall without cheating and looking who my insurers were and how much I paid for the premium. Um this wasn’t easy…and I had only just renewed them all!!

Recalling my Insurance Companies & Premiums Paid

For my home insurance I knew it was renewed in March, but could not remember who with. It cost around £200 I thought. My travel insurance had just been renewed with Debenhams insurance and I knew that cost around £40 for annual policy. Car insurance, I thought it was Admiral costing £220. Renewed in March.

I got most of it wrong LOL. It just goes to show insurance is one of those things that you have to have, but you go through that process sometimes automatically, and particularly me, recall nothing about it. I find insurance renewal a boring task!! Boring but I never auto-renew and spend some time searching for a better deal to save some cash.

Simples from Compare the Market

The Simples app is ‘simply’ described as a cloud/virtual based holding place for all your insurance documents. And its uses clever technology, artificial intelligence, to pull out the key details and gives you a handy summary of key information.

You upload the information either scanning it in or sending it via email. Easy or rather simples.

The clever stuff – Car

I loved the summary pages, it gave me the policy number, renewal date, premium paid. What’s included and what’s not included. It also told me my insurance Debenhams was £283 (but I know I got £65 cash back when I took out the policy). SO I remembered the price but not the insurer. We have a Ford SMax BTW. And live in Hertfordshire. 10 years no claims discount for you to compare:-)

It also told me how many days until MOT due, as its checks with DVLA database. Clever stuff. And it shows the telephone number if you need to call them.

I also gave me a defaqto rating, a rating of how strong the policy is. My policy has been rated as just 2/5 stars. This didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy, I’m guessing my policy is low because it doesn’t include legal and breakdown cover? I fed this back to the team, the lack of warm & fuzzy feeling and lack of understanding what defaqto meant.

Clever Stuff – Travel

My travel policy also with Debenhams shows all the included people my family. I have a 3/5-star rating for policy. A bit better than car. This policy cost £42 per year (including USA). Chatting to the other personal finance experts in the room I have a great deal here. An annual policy is a great idea if you do maybe 2 or more trips abroad. We tend to have 1 family holiday, 1 holiday by ourselves as couple and maybe another with our girl or boy mates for golf/ibiza etc.

Clever Stuff – Home

My home policy is with Towergate (not sure who they are??) and looking through the details again it’s a bit of a rubbish policy. It has a lot of exclusions. I went for cheap here and it’s not good. So I will review this properly. As a comparison though its contents and buildings, includes accidental, and is for a 4 bed semi detached house in Hertfordshire.

Peace of Mind

I have set up reminders so I get a text when all policies are up for renewal. And I feel very much empowered that I now know more about my insurance policies, costs and inclusions. Anything that gives me peace of mind and removes hassle is a winner for me.

Give it a go yourself

Why not have a go yourself. Sign up to an account and add in your insurance documents.16-8-16 alexandre meerkat compare the market

  1. Visit simples.uk.com
  2. Sign up for Simples with your Comparethemarket.com login
  3. Add a car, travel and/or home insurance policy
  4. Use the text message chat widget to speak to and ask questions of your policy

This post is a collaborative post with Compare the Market. Meerkats were involved, but were not hurt in the process;-)

How to simplify Financial Admin – The Mrs Mummypenny Way

So financial admin, a job we all love to hate yes?? But alas there are a few admin jobs that are a must and if you get it right you can save yourself lots of money. A bit of simple planning and organisation will help you to prepare for the future and likely remove some stress and worry. A few interesting stats

  • 40% of UK adults put off organising their day-to-day budget
  • More time is spent organising music collections than planning pensions
  • 10% of adults don’t review their finances at all
  • Of those adults who have lost their pension details, a fifth prefer to live in blissful ignorance

My recommendations for the Key Financial Admin Jobs

  1. I still get lots of bills/paperwork items in the post even in these ‘digital’ times. I always open my letters every 12-5-16 mrs mummypenny filing pilesday just in case it’s a cheque;-) Of course it very rarely is but is sometimes something that needs to be sorted out quickly. So the life lesson here is don’t shove all the unopened post into a drawer! Set aside some time once a month if you bear it, or once every 3 months if not;-) to go through all the post/paperwork bits that have arrived. And get reading and filing. Here is my spare room at the moment.  With piles of paperwork relating to

 

  • Mrs Mummypenny Paperwork
  • Credit card statements
  • Household Bills
  • Receipts/Instruction manuals
  • Personal Tax/Employment stuff
  • Current Account/Joint account details
  • Savings/Pensions details
  • Mortgage Details

Each pile of stuff then gets files in a storage box for when its needed. The other handy benefit of doing this job             every12-5-16 mrsm mummypenny filing box month/few months is that it allows to check on a few of the             following financial admin jobs.

  1. Creating a budget. Its very important to know exactly where your money is going every month and that you have enough income to cover your expenditure. Write down a list/create an excel spreadsheet of all your incomings and outgoings. If you need an excel template I have a great one, Email me for a copy. Look through your bank statement for all of your direct debits, credit card charges for your regular costs. It should all be fresh in your head if you have just done your filing.

Have a good look at all of the outgoings and really think do you need that TV subscription to Netflix or that TV             insurance policy? Cancel the stuff you don’t need. Also there are likely to be costs that can be reduced. Is that               Sky subscription costing way too much? Can you bear to cancel it? If not call them to threaten you are leaving               them, most likely they will offer you a discount. Same goes with your broadband & mobile phone. If your                       contract is up get on the phone and get that bill reduced:-)

Definitely check your utility costs, do a quick comparison check on a site like Uswitch to check you are with the           best provider on the best tariff. The first time I did this I save £50 per month!! I urge everyone to do this once a            year.

  1. Check your debt position regularly. Take a look at the paperwork for your latest credit card bills/loans statements/HP agreements and work out how much you owe. It’s a great exercise to carry out and will make you want to do something about it. It is something I do every 6 months. Maybe you are a super lucky person and maybe the only debt you have is a mortgage…that’s not many people I suspect.

Anyhow add it up and look at the number written down, if it scares you, you need to do something about it. Are           there credit cards with a monthly interest rate that you can swop to a 0% card? There are so many great deals               around where you can do a balance transfer. Maybe there is a HP agreement on something that is due to end                 soon? Result there is some cash soon to be freed up. If you are in a difficult debt position and do not know                     where to go, please talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau or take a look at Debt camel.

  1. Add up all your savings pots to hopefully balance out the debts bit above. If you have debt with interest charges swop your savings to pay off your debt. If your debt is low interest/interest free leave things as they are.

12-5-16 piggy bankI have short-term easy access savings and longer term savings. I would advise to have both. I have easy access cash ISA where I will let my spare cash sit, trying to earn a little bit of interest. Unfortunately, interest rates are poor at the moment but do try to maximise where you put your money. I also have an account where I transfer a set amount every month. This is an account where if I make no withdrawals for 12 months I get a nice           interest bonus. I am 2 months away from getting a 6% bonus which should be worth around £100. I have a few shares staying locked away until they make some profit;-) I also invest £25 per month into a shares ISA. I                     started this 16 years ago and recently cashed in my ISA to help with a house extension and cashed in £5000.                Worth it for £25 a month. I also pay small amounts into Child Trust Funds for my children.

  1. Proper long term savings are your pension. I was not surprised to read that 58% of us don’t review their pensions at all and, of those that do check their private pensions, the average is only once every nine months. Of those adults who have lost their pension details, a fifth (20%) seem unconcerned, preferring to live in blissful ignorance! It is a complicated subject that not a lot of us know much about, including me. All I will say on this is, if like me, you have a few pension pots from different companies you have worked for then keep a record of everything. If you have lost your details then go to https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details this government link that will help you find it:-) If you don’t have a pension or any other form of longer savings, then get some financial advice from your local friendly financial advisor. Or take a look at a great website like Moneytothemasses who specialises in pensions advice.

Jamie Jenkins, pension expert at Standard Life Savings commented, “Despite the resurgence of vinyl, most music collections will be of limited long term value when it comes to funding retirement. It’s easy to put off things you don’t enjoy but keeping on top of both day-to-day budgeting and longer term savings will help you relax, knowing things are under control for the future. More people than ever  have access to a pension through their workplace, and technology is making it easy for people to regularly review their savings online, so there’s no better time than now to get organised.”

Standard Life Savings has put together a book of useful tips and guidance, crowdsourced from consumers and financial experts (including Mrs Mummypenny!), aimed at helping people make the most of their money and get their finances in order. You can view the ‘The Little Guide to Financial Admin’ along with other tips and calculators to help you plan your financial future http://www.standardlife.co.uk/c1/news-and-blog/little-guide-financial-admin/ That’s not all, I will have x copies of the book in paperback version to give away to my wonderful readers. Competition details will be posted on 15th May 2016. Look out for it.

This post was written in collaboration with Standard Life Savings.

Project Extension is complete!! The building surveyor form the council signed it off today:-)

Yippee we are finally done. All work is completed, the estate agents have been in to value and the building surveyors have signed everything off today.

We started work way back on October 14th I think was the date. 7 months on the final touches are made to the outside.

The new lawn

This was once the mudbath, but is now all flat and pretty and turfed. It has remained untouched by football boot and ball until this weekend. The turf has taken, rooted into the ground so the 3 boys can go mad. Hubby is excitedly searching online for a new lawn mower! And our decisions to make consist of do we put the trampoline back up or do we just have 2 goals?

So the kitchen is complete with brightly coloured Joseph Joseph accessories in place. I love them and couldn’t resist them. But savvy savers you’ll be pleased to hear (as they’re fairly pricy) I bought them on a John Lewis price promise weekend and got 10% off my utensils, washing up bowl, kitchen roll holder and bowl stacking set. I also used my gift vouchers to purchase. I am lucky at work to have a scheme where I can chose to receive some of my salary in gift vouchers at a discounted rate -9%. Total saving of 19%.

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So we love our new kitchen, it has a lovely breakfast bar with 3 purple, my favourite colour, bar stools. The boys love sitting up there to eat their (obviously!) breakfast. We added a TV on the wall by the breakfast bar, and the area is all open plan into the dining room and then into the living room. Our kitchen was done on an incredible budget, hubby knew a kitchen manufacturer from his bathroom business. They were also able to supply the oven, induction hob, hood and fitted dishwasher. The work top came from a local company called Howdens. We didn’t go for granite, due to cost, we went for laminate. Price differential of £800 versus £3000! And the flooring is karndean equivalent sourced from our local flooring guy Roy Saunders in Knebworth village. The flooring is a laminate type floor that clicks together in sections to look like wood. Is very hard wearing. The flooring runs through the whole downstairs hall, lounge, kitchen diner. And was quite a bargain at £1000. The biggest expense, I felt was the glass splashback, which looks amazing and really makes the kitchen. That cost £1000. Purchased from Stevenage Glass. We like to keep trade local and with smaller businesses.

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The bathroom moved location from the back of the house into the side of the house and new extension part. So we have nice big bathroom. Very boutique style. And we have a nice separate bath and shower. We also have a downstairs shower room which comes in very handy for early morning showers when you don’t want to wake up the boys, mud covered children as its right by the front door, and urgent wee stops for the boys as soon as they get in from school/football/childminders. My husbands day job is selling and designing bathroom layouts so you would maybe expect us to have a nice bathroom.

We are fortunate enough now to have 4 bedrooms, so the 3 boys get one each. We’ve now got 3 normal sized and one smaller one which will just about fit a single bed:-) And how can I forget, a domestic luxury of a utility room. A small room off the kitchen for the boiler, washing machine and tumble dryer. We can hide a lot of mess in there, with the ton of washing we do every week.

A few shoutouts on good deals I’ve got

http://www.bootskitchenappliances.com

We got our American Style fridge freezer from here, fantastic deal, £100ish cheaper than competition and I got £42 of Boots Advantage points, which reminds me I havn’t spent yet. A treat for me I think, or more realistically shower gel, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner for free:-).

Our sofa and dining table and chairs came from Made.com. A great direct to designer direct to retail store with some funky modern designs, very suited to our style. Prices were amazing, like 50% cheaper than John Lewis.

TV unit to match the gloss white kitchen and dining table from Ikea. Bargain price.

My purple barstools were a right bargain at £45 each from Dunelm.

Anything purchased online was of course bought via www.topcashback.co.uk.

We got wooden window blinds from Stevenage Market, there only one window blind shop there. 4 bedrooms and living room supplied and fitted. If you go say I recommended you:-)

And of course the flooring from Roy Saunders in Knebworth, he also sorted out the carpets for stairs and 2 new bedrooms.

I have a whole host of recommendations of builders, kitchen fitters, driveway man, garden landscaper, window fitter, plumber, electrician.the list goes on and on. I shall post another blog soon with all details of telephone numbers for local folk who need a recomendation.

So finally as estimate of the cost. So I know how much I took out the mortgage and how much came from savings..I think we spent around £70k. But our house has been valued at £110k more than 14th Oct when work commenced. So we’re happy. Glad we put all the work in and really happy with the finished product. Bring on the summer and all the entertaining we’ll be doing!

Please comment if you have any questions, happy to help as we have learnt so much about building work and extensions. And maybe one day soon we’ll do it again. I say we, but I actually mean hubby, he was one brilliant project manager. He solved every problem that appeared. He should do it for a living;-)..light bulb..ping!

No more extension posts:-)

 

 

Swopping Energy Providers – Follow this process, I just save £291 per year!!

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I have talked about this subject in the past…I have urged you all to swop at least once a year. But do I follow my own advice? Well I try to…but maybe not this time, I could offer excuses of lack of time and the house extension. But no I could have done this earlier…and I havn’t.

Alas bill shock time. We had our first bill from Npower about 6 weeks ago, the first since swopping energy providers Jan 2013 months ago (!!). Cheeky company I hear you say..it came with an apology for the time its taken to bill me along with a nasty complicated letter containing 3 different bills and a statement telling me I owed them £600. I re-read and read again the bill, surely not correct, but it appears the £56 per month I was paying for gas and electricity together was not enough. Especially after we increased the size of the house with our recent extension. Im annoyed no 1 that they have taken so long to tell me and no 2, that we have spent so much money on something pretty boring like gas/electricity.

They have estimated the new bill should be double the old. I’m not having this, so here are the steps I have taken. This whole process took me 15 minutes, including finding the bill:-)

1) Worked out my average annual usage. Npower are quoting that we use 3649 KWh of electricity at £621 and 10,409 KWh of gas at £537. Total cost of £1,158.

2) I’ve gone to www.uswitch.com to work out who is the best energy provider for us. Click on the compare gas & electricity button at the top of the homepage. Firstly enter your post code, email address and mobile number. Then answer some simple questions including your usage as I have written in point 1, but use your own bill;-). And uswitch will find a better deal for you.

3) My comparison has given me the following top 3 deals

First Utility Fixed rate for 15 months will save me…..£249 per year!!!

or Ovo Energy fixed rate will save me £230 per year

or Flow energy fixed for 16 months will save me £219 per year….

4) BEFORE you click on swop…check out the cash back options on http://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/lynnbeattie

First utility cash back of £42

Ovo Energy and Flow nothing.

5) Decision made, I’m swopping to First Utility but buying it through Topcashback. Total cash saved £249 plus £42 cashback = £291!!!! RESULT.

6) It took me maybe another 5 mins to fill in my details on the First Utility website and they will do everything to swop over energy providers.

Go on, everyone have a go. Pull out your annual usage, plug them into Uswitch. Whats the harm..you could save £291 like I’ve just done.