Saturday, May 28, 2011

Be in the Driving seat with your Vehicle Finance

The humble automobile symbolizes different things to different people. For some, it’s a luxury item, while others depend on it on a daily basis. Whether you use it to commute to work and back, ferry the family around or simply get out and about on your own, owning a car has never been as important in society.

Unfortunately, being a driver comes at a hefty price. Paying for driving lessons is just the start of the financial outlay because after passing your test and getting a license, you have to buy a car, tax it, get it insured and then become a regular visitor to your local gas station. Then you jump on a treadmill of taxing and insuring it every year, as well chopping and changing cars altogether when necessary.

With all these expenses, coupled with the maintenance costs (and many households have more than one car), it’s easy to see how quickly you can find yourself burdened with mounting debt – and all this while you’re also trying to manage your other outgoings.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you realize your own financial limitations well before you purchase a car. Only you know what you can and can’t afford, and that kind of logic should extend well beyond vehicle ownership.

It’s common for people to take out loans to get a car, especially first-time buyers, but just make sure you’re fully aware of the terms and conditions of the repayment scheme and that you always read the small print.

Make sure the loan itself is from a reputable organization and that the APR is in line with what you’d reasonably expect to pay. Of course, look around and negotiate for the best deal possible and when you do receive the loan, break down the repayment scheme so that you know exactly what needs to be paid and when.

Getting into the annual cycle of buying tax and insurance will take some getting used to at first, but after a while you’ll come up with ways of making sure the renewal forms don’t catch you by surprise. If you can afford to pay up front for things like motor insurance, then do so - quite often, you’ll be eligible for a discount if you do. If not, set up a direct debit or a scheme when you pay a certain amount every week or month, and then you can virtually forget all about it.

Filling up your car is another expense to think about. Car sharing to and from work may be a way of addressing this if you live near any work colleagues. Other than that, avoid high acceleration and braking, make sure your tyres are pumped to the correct pressure level and stick to speed limits.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Managing your mortgage and household bills wisely

Opening the mailbox is a bittersweet experience for most of us. Nowadays, it seems that we only receive bills, bills and more bills through the post as opposed to birthday cards, love letters or gifts. It’s easy to get snowed under with the details of what needs paying and when, and before long you could be faced with the prospect of going into arrears.

Juggling the demands of running a house, keeping down a regular job and generally looking after yourself, family members and loved ones is tricky act to maintain. However, be pragmatic and it’ll become easier to keep on top of your outgoings. You may even be able to reduce some of them, which would in turn make life in general that little bit more comfortable.

When it comes to prioritizing your monthly bills, keeping a roof over your head is imperative, especially if you’re a homeowner. You risk having your home repossessed if you fail to keep up with mortgage payments, and chances are high that you’ll also be rejected if you try and borrow money in the future because your credit rating will be poor.

Being turned out onto the street may just be the start of a downward spiral that could ultimately have disastrous consequences, so it’s important to be aware (if you’re not already) of the worst-case scenarios in order to motivate yourself to stay out of financial difficulties.

Budgeting is essential. Evaluate your income carefully and compare it with where your money is being spent on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis. This will highlight whether or not you’re living beyond your means, and if it turns out that you are, you can start saving almost immediately.

Saving and cutting down on any ‘luxury’ items, like cable TV and dining out, will really make a difference, so if you can realistically live without them then do so. Food bills can also be lowered if you have the time and space to grow your own fruit and vegetables. It’s cheap to do and immensely rewarding. Being forward thinking and responsible with your finances may mean making sacrifices like this along the way, so be prepared and always keep in mind your end goal and how you’ll feel when you reach it.

You can also make savings by ringing around and surfing the net to get discounts on any other big drains on your resources. Home insurance is one such expense that can be instantly slashed. Use a key phrase like ‘moneysupermarket best home insurance deals’ or something similar when you’re surfing the net for deals – it’s likely to save you hundreds of dollars every year.

If the reminders and final reminders continue to stack up despite making changes and cutbacks, then it’s almost inevitable that you’ll search for a quick-fix method, like loading up the credit card or taking out a loan. The perils and pitfalls of going down either of these high-APR routes are obvious, so make sure you avoid them at all costs. If you’re really struggling to pay the mortgage, talk to your lender – they’ll probably be much more sympathetic than you think.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keep full control of your Vacation Expenses

Going on vacation doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Sure, we’d all like to be able to splash the cash and live the life of luxury during our getaways, but the reality is that the pressure is on for many to avoid getting saddled with debt when we get home.

Sticking it all on the credit card and hoping for the best is a decision that could come back to haunt you at a later date, so be responsible and realistic about the funds you have available. There are also several ways in which you can make it stretch that a little bit further and keep costs down.

This is where the Internet comes into play, as a few hours surfing the web can lead to extensive savings. Virtually everything that goes into making a trip away possible will be available to buy online and most probably at a discounted rate. There really are bargains galore to be had.

Everything from accommodation and flights, to booking airport parking, car hire and travel insurance are likely to be considerably cheaper if you take the time to shop around on the web and purchase well in advance. Of course, sometimes it pays to leave it to the last minute as you may get cut-price deals, but it’s risky to do so.

The later you leave it to book certain services – like parking at the airport – the more you’ll be expected to stump up. It’s advisable, then, to check out price comparison websites, which will save you valuable time and money when it comes to putting together the real nuts and bolts of your holiday.

Once you’ve decided on when and where you want to go then start to think about which travel insurance policy suits you best. There are plenty to choose from and if you travel quite a lot then it may be worth investing in annual cover. On the best travel insurance deals will protect yourself and your family at an affordable price.

Getting an all-inclusive deal may be cost effective as sometimes they can also include a number of leisure activities that you tend to have to pay extra for as well as food and drink. If you’re jetting off to a different country then get the best possible rate available when it comes to changing currency as you’re likely to get less for your money at places like the airport.

Depending on which company you’re planning to fly with, it may be beneficial to travel light. Some airlines pay to check in luggage and most will charge you extra if you go over your weight allowance so be careful about what you want to take with you.

Don’t be afraid to haggle in order to secure the best deal. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. The onus is on the company you’re dealing with to attract as much new business as possible so don’t be scared of walking away and going to a competitor if you think you’re not getting value for money.

Airports can be expensive places to buy food and drink so if you’re likely to have a few mouths to feed it may be best to take supplies with you. At least that’ll ensure your vacation doesn’t start by wasting valuable dollars in the airport terminal.

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High Time, You should keep your Electricity Bills low

The need to keep a close eye on personal finance has never been greater. These are tough times economically on a global scale, but one positive to emerge is that people are becoming more aware of what they can do to help themselves.

The easiest place to start cutting costs is in the home, and a common grievance is that high electricity prices are putting a strain on family budgets. However, you can make a few changes that will make sure value for money is guaranteed, along with lower electricity bills.

Switching energy suppliers or tariffs is a simple way of making instant savings. Quite often, households have been stuck paying too much on a certain tariff for too long. You get stuck in a rut and don’t even realize the cut-price deals that are readily available through price comparison websites. Log on and compare prices, compare tariffs and see what a difference can be made. Another way of earning a discount could be to get your gas and electricity from the same company, if you don’t already.

With a cheaper tariff in place it’s time to have a thorough check of your house to see what else can be done to slash your outgoings. This is where sound judgment is needed.

If you’ve finished with an appliance then turn it off at the mains and stop using the standby function. Switch lights off as well. These are a few basic good practices that should be followed at all times by all family members, young and old.

Equipment like a dishwasher, tumble dryer or washing machine are more efficient if a full load is inserted, although it may also be an idea to get rid of them entirely and wash the dishes manually or hang out clothes to dry.

How well your home is insulated could be a key factor in saving money. Grants are sometimes offered as incentives to properly insulate your loft, pipes and walls so check to see if this is applicable to you. Double-glazed doors and windows will also help to trap in the heat.

If possible, generating your own electricity could be an option as more and more households are opting to install solar panels. Look into the cost of getting an energy-saving boiler as well if you’re really intent on making changes. It may be expensive in the short term, but consider it an investment that will pay off in the long run and think of the environmental benefits. Not only would it be good for the planet, it’d be good for you as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Latest Market Commentary as on 11th May, 2011

I am pleased to provide the latest Pure FX market commentary. Detailing the main factors that have been affecting currency exchange rates recently.

Sterling overview

Sterling took a bit of a battering last month following a string of lopsided economic releases. Important sectors including Services and Manufacturing showed growth but both came in below market expectations – contributing to sterling’s fall against currencies including the euro.
In spite of this George Osborne had reason to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Britain returned to economic growth with GDP figures for the first quarter 2011 arriving at +0.5%. This indicates that Osborne’s budget cuts are working - stimulating growth while slashing Britain’s mammoth public deficit.

The Bank of England meanwhile decided to hold interest rates at 0.5%. This was forecast on the markets but has also contributed to sterling’s decline. Each month that the BoE holds interest rates is another month in which investors receive smaller returns – hence making the pound less attractive.

Sterling weakness is of course brilliant for people bringing funds back from the continent and elsewhere. As always for a more in-depth assessment of your particular currency feel free to speak to a currency dealer at Pure FX.


The euro remains the biggest climber in recent weeks in spite of a flood of negative headlines – gaining several percent against sterling. The single biggest reason for this climb has been the European Central Bank’s decision to raise interest rates to 1.25%. This prompted the markets to plough cash into the euro since higher interest rates mean better returns.

In fact this climb has only halted last week after the ECB’s decision to not increase rates, proving a great disappointment to investors that had factored in another rise.

In other EU news Portugal became the third euro member to seek a bailout – receiving €78bn from the ECB-IMF. This weekend meanwhile rumours have been rife that Greece could exit the euro. It hence seems the EU peripheral crisis could continue for months to come.

In GDP meanwhile the EMU expanded 2.0% in the first quarter 2011 – providing further fuel to the euro’s fire.

US dollar

In economic terms the US continued to resemble someone walking a tightrope in a strong breeze last month – just about keeping his balance.

The US expanded +0.45% in the first quarter 2011 according to recent data – positive but slow compared to 3.1% growth in Q4 2010. Important non-farm payroll figures meanwhile arrived strong – pointing to 244k new jobs last month – but at the same time unemployment rate increased +0.2% to 9.0%.

CA dollar

The election of a Conservative government in Canada last month should boost the loonie in coming months. New prime minister Stephen Harper is committed to cutting Canada’s national debt and safeguarding the nation’s credit rating – actions that should please the markets.

AU dollar

It’s been a strong month for the Australian dollar on several counts – and the forecast for coming months looks good too.

For one the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised its inflation forecast last month. This prompted investors to pick up Australian dollars in expectations of an interest rate rise. In addition RBA noted that strong demand from China and India for Australia’s natural resources is set to continue for years to come.

NZ dollar

The NZ dollar suffered last month on reports that migrant intake to New Zealand fell into negative figures for the first time in almost 3 years. This is owing to the earthquake that struck Christchurch two months ago – devastating the nation’s economic outlook and prompting potential migrants to look elsewhere.