Balancing your checkbook

Just the thought of balancing your checkbook is enough to scare many people off. If people don’t know how to do it, it sounds too hard and too scary, so people don’t even try. But by not balancing your checkbook each month you are missing out on the ability to keep track of your finances and avoid spending money you don’t have and ending up in debt. Luckily, if you are one of those people without checkbook balancing skills, there is still hope for you. It isn’t a particularly challenging thing to do and you can learn how to do it quickly. Here are the basics to get you started:

The first (and really the only) thing you need to remember is that every time you spend or receive money you need to write it down. Your checkbook probably came with a ledger right in it, but if you don’t have checks or you can’t find the ledger you can pick one up for a few dollars at a stationery store (or if you are more technologically inclined, there are all sorts of software programs which can help you).

At the beginning of the month when you get paid, write down the amount and money you have received. This is your starting point. Now, every time you spend money, be sure to write it down in the same place. If you are carrying your ledger with you then you can do it right at the time you spend the money. Otherwise, many people just put the receipts in their purse or pocket and then stick them on a drawer so that they can record them in the ledger once a week or so.

At the end of the month, all you do is add up all the money you have spent, add up all the money you have deposited into the account, subtract the money spent from the money deposited and you are left with what you should have left over. Now you check that against the balance in your bank account and, if you haven’t forgotten anything or made a mistake, they should match. If they don’t you can usually figure out what you have forgotten quite easily.

Balancing your checkbook is as easy as that. By doing it regularly and effectively you will have a much better idea of your financial health and you won’t spend money you don’t have. It also makes budgeting a breeze, because you have already done the hard part – figure out what you spend and how you spend it.

Holiday Prep That Doesn’t Drain your Finances – Who Knew

Let’s get honest in this guide: you want to do just about everything you can for your family, and there’s really nothing wrong with that at all. The truth is that there are just going to be things in life that you want to bring to your children in order to really make sure that they’re okay. It’s completely up to you to figure out how you’re going to handle these matters. We can lay down a foundation, but it’s going to depend on the type of willpower that you actually have. Some people are faced with this problem and they just can’t see a world where they aren’t rushing around to please everyone but themselves. Were’ not saying that your family isn’t important. In fact, we’re saying that your family is so important that it’s time to stop fulfilling any and every request that comes in. This takes away from your ability to take care of your family, and who really wants to deal with that when they don’t have to? Who really wants to feel like everything is bearing down on them? Who really wants to think the worst of everyone that they come across? We certainly don’t think that’s any way to live, honestly. You should be looking for a higher level of power in your financial life. That’s the way to take care of your family for a lifetime.

You can still have a great holiday season, as long as you’re willing to think about the best approach to move forward. Here’s a few suggestions you might be able to use right now.

Holiday Prep

First and foremost, you should have a hard budget and stick to it. Not everyone is going to benefit from getting on a small budget, because then you’re tempted to break it in order to please people still. The part about budgeting that people often miss is that it’s not there to punish you. It’s not there to make you feel small. It’s not there to make you think that everyone is against you. It’s just there to make sure that you are doing exactly what you need to do, and nothing more than that. You want to write down exactly how much you’re going to spend on things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some people are completely lost in terms of what they’re going to do, and that’s a real shame. It all goes back to the budget. You can indeed set up a healthy budget that doesn’t hurt anyone. Why should everything in life have to be about pain in order to make sense?

If you have children, chances are good that you want to shower them with exactly what they want for Christmas, even if it’s not things that you can easily and readily afford. There’s nothing wrong with being able to give your children the best of everything, but not at the cost of their future. If you’re the type of family that spends big on the holidays and then grumbles all the way through to February and March about not having enough money, then you definitely have a deep financial issue that needs to be fixed. You cannot give other humans in your life affection through gifting. You can give them things that they’ll remember without breaking the bank, and that’s good enough for everyone.

This is where a good financial blueprint comes in, because it’s not just about the holiday season. You have to make your money last year round. You probably want to do big things in your life, like buying a bigger house or even starting with your first one if you’re not on the property ladder yet. But sit down and look at all of your finances, including your expenses. When you can’t pare anything else down, you might want to think about anything you can do to bring in more money. You might be surprised at just how many things that might be.

Don’t give into fear, panic, and anguish. You don’t have to compare your holiday season to anyone else’s. This is a time for family, friendship, giving, community and charity. Some of the best things in life are free, after all!

8 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Bills

Saving money on bills is becoming more and more important as the UK continues to experience tough economic times. While the methods we are about to discuss may seem to profit relatively insignificant savings; when added together you could find the pressure on your household budget easing.

Here are 10 easy ways to reduce the cost of your bills:

1.    Relax your driving style

By gradually accelerating and braking smoothly you could find your fuel consumption decreasing by as much as 10MPG. So if your car has a 10 gallon tank, you could find yourself getting 100 more miles per fill up than previously.

2.    Carry out basic car maintenance

To further increase your MPG ensure that your car is as fuel efficient as possible. Firstly, check your tyre pressure; deflated tyres increase drag and therefore decrease fuel efficiency. Next, remove any unnecessary weight you may be carrying; this also increases drag and therefore puts more pressure on the engine to drive the vehicle. Simple maintenance such as regular oil changes, air filter and spark plug replacements will go a long way to ensuring your vehicle is running as smoothly as possible.


3.    Fill oil tank in the summer

Heating oil usage increases dramatically in winter months which means this is when everyone is looking to fill up their tank. Prices will be at their lowest in the summer months which makes this a great time to fill up your tank.

4.    Get an energy monitor

Reading endless articles regarding how to save money around the house isn’t always that fun or even that insightful. By getting an energy monitor you can see exactly what is using the most energy and act accordingly. Monitors themselves can cost as little as £20 which will soon be repaid in the savings you make on energy bills.

5.    Don’t over-fill the kettle

According to a report by the Energy Saving Trust, us Brits waste £68million each year overfilling our kettles! If you’re only making 2 cups of tea – don’t fill up the kettle. The more water you put in the longer it takes to boil and the more energy there is required.

6.    Bundle landline, broadband at TV bills

If you’re paying for your landline, broadband and satellite TV bills separately then you could be spending more than you need to. By grouping the bill you could find yourself saving in excess of £10 per month or £120 annually.

7.    Fully load dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer

The majority of energy used by dishwashers and washing machines is simply heating the water which is why it is important that you only ever use them when they are full. By reducing your washing heat from 40C to 30C you’ll use 30% less energy.

8.    Unplug devices

Many recent devices such as TVs, PCs and DVD Players have a default standby setting which means even if you have turned them off using a remote or power button they only go onto standby and consequently still use energy. By turning the device off at the mains or unplugging it altogether you’ll ensure you never waste energy.


Many of the tips mentioned require no formal implementation and instead require simple lifestyle changes. Leaving post-it notes on devices to remind you to turn them off or unplug them should help to start with, however it will soon be second nature and you’ll be able to disregard them.

This article has been written by Jason Scott on behalf of Guarantor Loans Online.

State Pension Woes Hitting Women the Hardest

The new reforms in the pension laws aren’t doing women as well as they had hoped. The groups worst hit by the state pension reforms would be the women that have taken early retirement in order to take care of family members. This flies in the face of the earlier hopes by lawmakers to actually get these women more money, not less.

The state pension will be around 144 a week, flat rate. Some women actually will do better under the new rules than others, but it doesn’t look as good for people as they assumed in the beginning.

The women in question that are missing out will be born between 4/1952 and 7/1953. The trouble is that these women are going to reach the age for state pension well before the changes take effect. Men born between these dates will reach the age required after the change takes effect.

State Pension uk

Tom McPhail, a pensions export from Hargreaves Lansdown, commented that there will be plenty of people that miss out because the old system is just too expensive to continue with. The Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb, is trying to balance all parties and feels as if things are moving in the right direction. He feels that the women affected will be better off in the long run since they will be able to draw their pension before a man who is the same age.

However, many women are outraged that the amounts just aren’t matching up.

Critics of the outrage say that it’s better to draw now, and if they don’t wish to do that they will need to work longer before retirement to get the state pension raised by the new legislation.

We think that if you can get away with not relying on the state pension, all to the better. Check out some of our other guides for ways that you can build the state pension. Good luck!

Reclaim a mis-sold PPI now – find out how much you can get back

Payment Protection Insurance, which is intended to cover a consumers debt repayments in times they become unable to due to sickness, accident, or unemployment, has been discovered to have been mis-sold to potentially millions of financial borrowers several years ago. Due to the discovery of such fiasco, a lot of people have started lining up banks sending in requests to have their policies and their accounts reviewed for a potential compensation.
PPI claims have flooded offices of financial institutions nationwide. In fact, a great majority of these claims have already succeeded.

But how has PPI been mis-sold and how can people make PPI claims? Let’s all have a look at the basics.

First of all PPI has been intended as an add-on policy for both the consumer and the bank’s protection. It prevents the debt from piling up on the consumer’s end while it also protects the bank from potential loss due to unpaid credit. But it just happened that profit-oriented institutions and their staff found ways to cheat people by applying sales tactics that breached regulations.


Credit-takers were made to believe that PPI was a compulsory product and applications are never going to be approved without it. There are instances where people were just forced into buying the product without being told the very important information about it. Some were also ineligible – under 18 or over 65, with pre-existing medical condition, and not employed full time, but were still signed up to the policy.

PPI’s cost can also skyrocket and most people do not know about it. In cases of policies applied to credit cards, the premium amount depends on how much balance is due. In loans and other lump sum agreements, the policy can cost thousands of pounds. These details were not often discussed to consumers.
If you want to find out how much you have paid to PPI and for how long, you can start by looking at your statements and your loan agreement forms. These documents contain reference to the policy. Also, an insurance policy certificate should follow through following the sale; whether you were aware you signed up to it or it was automatically added to your account. All pieces of information should be there.

When you’ve got all these details together and you want to make a PPI claim just as others did, write to your bank about it. Tell them that you wish to get your payments back on the policy premium and whatever amount of interest it rolled from when you had it.

Attach the relevant documents you collected to your letter and let the bank facilitate a review for 6 to 8 weeks. During this time your best option will be to wait for the notification. The decision that your bank will make about your claim depends on the validity of the case and the evidence presented. They will also have to refer to other pertinent information about your account in their database.

If they fail to communicate with you, you have every reason to follow up or lodge a complaint against them at the Financial Ombudsman Service. The FOS specialises in resolving financial disputes between banks and consumers, especially PPI claims. You can lodge the same complaint if you feel that the bank’s decision was done in bad discretion.

And while there has been no set deadline yet as to how far back PPI claims can be made, you’d best do it now so you can get your money back in weeks. There are cases though that claims were made for policies dating to ten years back. It isn’t conclusive but the earlier you act to resolve a mis-sold PPI policy, the bigger chances you get at claiming your money back.

Can Women Get Out of Debt Like Men Do


It seems like a sexist question, but before you beat us up — understand where we’re coming from. There is a need for specialized discussions about personal finance, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We figure that it’s all fair game if you’re willing to truly change your life. Why wouldn’t you want to take matters into your own hands, when you can really have the resolution that you’ve always wanted? Getting out of debt isn’t something that’s easy, for anyone. But we believe with the right information, the right tools and definitely the right resources, all things are possible.

The Real Problem

The real problem is two-fold: time and information. A lot of women feel pushed out of the personal finance discussion, because so many resources are geared towards men. Women are expected to focus on motherhood and supporting their partners. This is something that used to be “just fine” with a lot of women, but they’re starting to really want their own space. They’re starting to really want their own claims. That is something that really does make a difference. Why wouldn’t you want to actually get things done if you could? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to focus on a better financial life for your family?

Are Women Really Different From Men, Financially

Some really do argue that women aren’t different from men in terms of finances, but we see time and time again that this isn’t the case. The truth is that women aren’t offered the same personal finance information. They also tend to be a lot more conservative than men, fearing losing everything. This comes from a lack of information, in our opinion.

It’s 2013 — we figure that it’s safe for women to finally embrace both sides of the equation — being a good caretaker as well as being financially savvy. Why wouldn’t you want to explore both sides if you could get away with it?

Get Out of Debt

The Rise of the Financial Blueprint

Your financial blueprint is really what will make all of the difference. This doesn’t have to be a very complicated document at all. It just needs to be something that you can write out and stick to. In essence, think of the financial blueprint as your roadmap to everything else. If you can focus on that roadmap, then everything honestly comes together quit nicely. On the other hand, if you start drifting away from that roadmap, that’s where a lot of your problems start. The best thing that you can honestly do is make sure that you have a clear understanding of what you want. What type of goals are you really shooting for? That’s going to make the difference when it’s finally time to get things moving forward.

The best part of this is that once you build your financial blueprint, you don’t really have to alter it too terribly much. Oh, every few years you’ll want to change things up. For example, we’re talking about getting out of debt. Once you’re out of debt, you’ll want to focus more on just staying out of debt and growing your money. Having a healthy current account tends to make for a much smoother financial life as well.

Getting Help With Your Financial Blueprint

If you need help with your financial blueprint, all you really need to do is reach out. Citizens Advice Bureau has plenty of nonprofit counselors standing by to help you. They can also refer you to other resources that you might not have thought about. This would be better than just assuming you don’t have any options to speak of, right? Absolutely.

Sometimes you can also just get an accountability friend — someone that you already know, like, and trust. When someone knows you, it gets harder to actually tell them that you will do something but you refuse. It makes a lot more sense to actually have someone that will correct you when you begin to veer off course.

Battling Emotions

Emotions are going to be the toughest part here. If you’ve already been in debt, you might feel that you just can’t get out of debt without facing other problems. This isn’t something that has to be that way at all. Getting out of debt opens so many doors, and you don’t have to be someone that is going to suffer needlessly. It might take a little longer than you thought, but you can get out of debt.

Making It Stick

The truth to making it stick for women is to continue to overcome those emotions. Emotions can turn a logical decision into one that you wish you had never made. The truth is that you just have to believe in yourself enough to make things happen. Otherwise you’ll just end up spinning your wheels and making life difficult on yourself.

The Road Ahead

Trying to get your financial life together is hard whether you’re a man or a woman, but women seem to struggle to pull it together. This doesn’t have to be this way at all. Women are more than capable of taking back their financial lives and getting out of debt just the way men do. However, the reality is that they’re going to have to approach the problem from a slightly different perspective in order to really win the day. If you’re a woman reading this, please understand — we’re not trying to put you down at all. Instead, we want to empower you to continue making great financial decisions. It’s a really tough world out there, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t move on to having the financial life that you’ve always wanted. Keep in mind that none of the changes we’ve suggested in here should be taken as overnight advice. That is, we’re not saying that your life will suddenly change for the better. We’re saying that it will take time but things can get better if you’re willing to put in the work. Stick by your accountability partners and you should be just fine. Why not give it a go today? You’ll truly be glad that you did!

What You Need To Tell Your Children About Money

What child doesn’t list their parents as their own personal heroes? Most kids are wired to look up to you, and that’s a good thing. You get to make a serious impact on the lives of your kids, and teaching them about finance is probably one of the top things that you can actually do. It’s better to make sure that you can give them great lessons now than watch them make heartbreaking decisions later. It’s not quite their fault, however — they simply haven’t been introduced to sound personal finance theory. They think that credit will be able to prop them up, so they keep doing it. They’re going off the lessons that they see from people around them. Now, we could all step back and demonize the credit industry at large, but remember; they’re supposed to be adults at that point. They have to know that credit is a tool, not a free for all party with no consequences. Despite what Hollywood says, you have to manage your credit responsibly.

If you’re nervous about talking to your kids about money, don’t worry — many parents are. You have to make sure that you’re being as encouraging as possible. You need to let your children know that money is very important. This flies in the face of what most people teach. They teach that money doesn’t really matter — it’s just paper. If you take this attitude with your kids, you can’t be surprised when they turn around and treat money like mere sheets of paper. You have to instill within them a healthy respect for money. that doesn’t mean that money has to be the end all, be all of everyone’s lives. However you do need to let them know that money plays a big role in our society. How we take care of our money makes a big difference in how we get to actually enjoy money later.

So, what do our children really need to know about money? Quite a bit.


One, they need to learn that money is gained from providing value. Just hoping that they will go to a good school and pick up a good job afterwards isn’t enough anymore. If you haven’t noticed, our society is becoming more and more competitive for just about everything. Even basis jobs that seemed like they would be open to everyone are now being pickier about applicants. It’s a tough world out there, and your children need to know that. Encourage them to save as much money as possible. You can’t get anywhere fast without a healthy savings account. Even though they might not get a lot of interest from these accounts, they are going to help them out in case there’s a big emergency. Far too often, the emergencies that we think about just aren’t real emergencies. They’re emergencies because we didn’t take time to save. They’re emergencies because we just don’t have anything extra. There’s no reason to spend every single bit of a paycheck.

Yes, when you’re just starting out you might have to spend a lot more of your pay than you expect just on survival. But as time passes, you’re probably spending money on the things you like, rather than the things that you need. There’s something to be said about that. You have to make sure that you cover all of your bases rather than just going for the stuff that looks good. Five years from now, all of the extra clothes in the world won’t get you into the home of your dreams.

Speaking of dreams, you need to encourage your children to start thinking about their own goals and plans. The easier that they start, the more likely it is that they’ll meet their goals. Just as you need to teach them how to save and how to budget, you need to teach them how to grow their money. Do they have dreams about opening a business? A few side businesses where they can raise extra cash could be the best thing that ever happened to them. Make sure that you pinch off a little bit of money every month for the tax bill, and also for savings.

Instilling your children with a healthy sense of money means encouraging them to have fun. Far too often we try to go too strict and it ultimately backfires in the worst ways. We think that it won’t happen to our children, but the reality is that extra-strictness usually doesn’t end well at all.

You have to get yourself in a mentality where you can share this information without being too overprotective. Obviously the advice that you would give to a 6 year old is much different than what you would give to a 17 year old. As the parent, it will be up to you to figure out the way to proceed with your children.

Also, if your kids have any questions, you should make sure that they get answered. Even if you don’t know the answer, there’s the Internet available all of the time. It’s better to show your children that you can look up information rather than just assume that they don’t need to know that information.

This path will require a lot of honesty from you, and it might teach you a few things as well. Indeed, if your financial house isn’t in perfect order your kids will pick up on that. They will probably want to know why your bills are behind, or why you haven’t been saving as much as you should. Take it as healthy and honest criticism. Cleaning up your finances can make sure that you have things under control in a big way. Over time, your financial plans will change, and that’s okay. Share some of the experience with your children — they will benefit from it in the long run!

Salary Cut? Here’s How to Handle It.

When it comes to your job, there’s some good news: you didn’t get fired! You still have a job to come to work to day after day, which means that you’re still going to be able to give your family the life they deserve. People get really worried when their company starts making changes, but for the most part, you walked away without too many scratches or cuts…or did you?

You see, you might still have your job, but the company may have asked you to take less pay for the same amount of work. Of course, everyone knows that companies don’t just “ask” you to do anything — they’re telling you that you’re going to be taking a pay cut because it’s not feasible for them to pay you that higher paycheck anymore. Every business owner knows that one of the highest expenses is payroll. It costs money to make money and it costs money to pay the workers, and it costs even more money to manage their benefits and other human resources information that’s absolutely vital to promoting a good company culture. If you really want to make sure that you’re on the safe side of things, you might want to think about a future where your salary would be cut and how you would make sure that your family is still safe even with the decrease in pay.

best bad credit loan

First and foremost, if you have a spouse that isn’t working because you wanted them to stay home, it might be time for them to try to get a job. Sure, it’s nice to be able to start a business, but if you’ve got to actually dig down deep and get money quickly, you might have to have your spouse just take a job that pays some sort of income. It’s not fun and it’s certainly not anything we look forward to doing, but the last thing that you will want to find yourself being unable to pay the bills because you’re thinking about so many bills at one time hitting your account. That’s something that’s only going to stress you out and make it harder for you to focus on what matters.

You will need to make sure that you’re study your budget and that you can make changes. Yes, there are going to be essential services in there — we’re not asking you to give up your security system alarm if you really feel that it makes you keep safe.

You may need to even start thinking about buying different groceries than you’re used to. Yes, you can use coupons but you shouldn’t just use coupons to save money on things that you wouldn’t normally buy. Hunt for new deals or even ask the local grocery store to help you get bulk deals. Buying things in bulk can really save you a lot of money.

Overall, there are a lot of things to think about when it’s just a cut in pay and not an actual job loss. One concern that can’t be stressed enough is the need to find another job. Yes, you might really like your job. However, if you’ve already had one paycut, don’t think that your company will just keep it at just one. If they need to save more money, you could end up taking another cut or even lose another raise — that’s something that can make you feel like they don’t value you at all. Continue reading “Salary Cut? Here’s How to Handle It.”

Top Rip Off Products and Services in the UK – Be Wary!

Saving money is always a good thing, but there are just some products and services that are a no go. The financial services industry is very guilty in that they offer a lot of services that sound great — only to find that they really don’t do what they say they’re going to do. In order to avoid being scammed, it’s time to cut your costs and remove these items from your budget right away.

The first item to remove would have to be mobile phone insurance.

It’s great if you want to really make sure that you will be able to replace your phone quickly. However, you still have to make sure that you weigh the options here. You may be able to just add your mobile phone to your home and contents insurance, which could be cheaper than the 100 GBP on average that you’ll pay your mobile phone carrier for the same privilege.

If you have an older phone, you may also be able to just pick up a used phone with no fuss as well. Don’t forget to look through all of your options here!

Another financial product that we had to highlight here are store cards. These are offered to help you get a discount on your purchase at the shop, but the truth is that these cards have a very high interest rate. If you really need to buy on credit, getting a regular credit card is probably what you want to do instead.

The only time where you would want to get a store card is when you really have no other option for credit and you really need to rebuild your credit.

The next product up on the list is payment protection insurance. There was a major scandal of PPI recently, where thousands of UK consumers found themselves with worthless policies.

If you’re going to get these policies, you really want to make sure that you spend a lot of time — and we mean a lot of time! — looking through the fine print. The premiums can add quite a bit of money to any loan product. You may be better off with income protection insurance, which can help you in more ways than PPI can. Still, buyer beware! Continue reading “Top Rip Off Products and Services in the UK – Be Wary!”

Turn to PPI Claims Advice When You Feel Lost in a Sea of Decisions

If you’re stuck for choices when it comes to fighting PPI, we know exactly how you feel. It’s very hard to fight PPI when you feel lost, hurt, angry, or even confused. You want to get your PPI premiums back, but you also need to take care of everything else that’s in your life. These decisions aren’t really impossible, but you do need to figure them out as on as possible.

A lot of the trouble comes when people try to handle PPI on their own. They think that if they do it themselves they’re going to have the best outcome. That’s not necessarily true. These days, it’s better to get legal presentation in order to be taken seriously.

The lenders aren’t listening to individuals very much, as they know that they can roll over them with ease. When it comes down to it, are you really that good at being on the phone all day with large companies? Can you really negotiate for the money that you deserve? Are you serious about doing whatever it takes to get all of your money back — including from loans that you might have forgotten about?

PPI Claims Advice
Most people really don’t have the stomach to deal with PPI claims day in and day out — that’s what the solicitors are for, however. They have done this for a long time, so they have covered just about every circumstance that can come up, which means that you aren’t going to have to worry too much about anything.

There’s already enough things on your to do list these days to worry about, so why worry about one more thing? It’s better to really think about freeing yourself from as much as possible. Just as businesses delegate, you have to make sure that you delegate as well. Don’t get caught up in a lot of tricky details — that’s just going to upset you further. It’s going to ruin your day, and you deserve better than that.

There’s no need to give up when a quality company can give you PPI claims advice that works. They can also find more PPI loans than you might have realized were out there. That’s like finding extra money that you would have otherwise overlooked. Most solicitors work on a strict no win no fee basis, which means that it’s even easier to get a lawyer on your team as soon as possible. If you don’t win, there’s no fees to be paid in. Why wouldn’t you look into it? Good luck!