All posts by bigfatblogger

How Accurate is a PPI Claim Calculator?

With a final deadline implemented recently, a fresh wave of people who have yet to claim a PPI refund has started looking into the claims process. One thing that many people want to know at the outset is how much their claim could be worth, and this may well affect how you proceed with your claim. PPI claim calculators promise an easy way to estimate the value of your refund before you speak to a single person about making a claim, but how far can you trust them to give you an accurate figure?

Estimating Your Refund With an Online Calculator

A PPI claim calculator certainly offers one advantage, in that it allows you to get an idea of the value of your claim before you take any further steps and before you speak to a human being about it. This eliminates the danger that you might feel pressured, whether the person you are speaking to intends it or not, to take your claim forward with a particular company because you have contacted them for an estimate. For many people, this alone is a good reason to use a PPI calculator as long as it is not so inaccurate as to be useless.

However, this does not actually do anything to answer the question of how accurate these calculators are. Well individual tools may vary, but on the whole they are certainly not inaccurate enough to make them useless. There is a fixed process for calculating the value of a PPI refund so, and online PPI calculators use this same formula. As long as you have accurate information to put into them, such as the value of the missold policy and relevant dates, the calculator should output a reasonably good indication of what you are due.

The Limitations of a PPI Calculator

Even so, you should certainly bear in mind that PPI Calculators do have their limitations. Some kinds of policy are more complicated to calculate than others, and to make the calculators quicker, easier, and more user-friendly there might be some level of simplification used. On top of this, PPI calculators simply lack the human touch and the expertise that is needed to consider the nuances and subtleties of many individual cases.

An online calculator can be a very useful tool and can give you a good indication of what you could be owed. At the end of the day, however, the figure should not be taken as gospel and talking to a human being will always give you a more accurate estimate. If you intend to make your claim through a PPI claims company, the next step is to select a claims handler and speak to them about the value of your refund.

How to Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is difficult and stressful. The after effects can leave you with a low credit rating, meaning it will take years to recover and start making use of credit lines and mortgages again. Before you proceed with bankruptcy, try these tactics to get your financial life in order.

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Settle or Negotiate Debts

Talk to creditors and see if they are willing to settle your debts for a fraction of the cost. This works like debt consolidation, but saves you money. If possible, get a debt consolidation loan to combine all your debts into a single manageable payment, so you can handle it budget wise.

Sell Your Assets

Your assets and valuables could be at risk in a bankruptcy claim anyway, so consider selling some things to help dig your way out of debt. Do you have a second vehicle you can part with? Do you have other valuables? Meet with an appraiser for high value items. Sell other items online or at a local flea market.

Borrow Money from Family

Though it means swallowing your pride to do it, if it will save you from filing bankruptcy, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If it means keeping your home, it is worth risking the strain on the relationship.

Sacrifice

Sit down and look at your budget. See what you’re actually spending compared to what the budget says you are. Make cuts where you can, even if it means you have to make more meals at home, or get a friend to cut your hair for you. Shop secondhand stores for clothes and shoes. Rent movies instead of seeing them in the theater. These sacrifices are short term and the savings can go a long way toward repaying your debt.

 

Credit Card Tricks that Can Save You Money

Most people think of credit cards as a financial disaster, but when used correctly, they can save you money.

Play the Statement Cycle to Your Advantage

Make a charge on your credit card the day after your statement closes. You’ll always have 20 to 25 days after the statement closes to pay off the balance without interest. But, charging the day after the statement closes will get you an additional month to pay the balance off interest free.

Use a 0% Interest Rate Balance Transfer to Save Money

Have you racked up a high balance on one of your credit cards and now you’re stuck paying a tremendous amount of interest? Look for a 0% interest rate balance transfer introductory offer. This can help you save money on the overall credit card debt, because you’ll stop paying interest.

A word of caution: If you haven’t kept the account open long, it can hurt your credit score to close it. A good bit of your score is calculated by the age of your accounts. Don’t bite if you don’t think you can pay the balance off in full before the interest rate on the new card kicks in. It will defeat the purpose; so keep a close eye on the terms and conditions of the new card before you apply.

Know Your Rewards Program

The terms and conditions of credit card rewards programs vary greatly depending on issuer. Know what purchases get you the best rewards. If you earn more rewards for gas and groceries, use that card for gas and groceries. You’re budgeting for those purchases anyway, so you can pay the balance off in full every month, and capitalize on the rewards, whether it is cash back or travel points.

Don’t have rewards program? Keep balances low while paying your bills on time and you’ll eventually reach a point where you will qualify.

Health Savings Accounts: What You Need to Know

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are like personal savings accounts, expect the money in them is meant to be used for health expenses. You control the money, and money you put into the plan is not taxed. To be eligible for this type of account, you must have a high-deductible health insurance plan.

These accounts were created to help control health care costs. The idea is people will spend healthcare money more wisely if they’re using their own money. As a bonus, health care providers will be motivated to reduce their rates in order to compete for business.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • You decide how much money to set aside for savings.
  • You can shop around to get the best deal.
  • If your employer contributes to your account, the money is yours even if you switch jobs.
  • Unused money at the end of the year rolls over for next year.
  • You don’t pay taxes on the money going into the account.
  • Since illness is unpredictable, it can be hard to budget accordingly.
  • Health care cost and quality information may be hard to find.
  • People who are older or sicker may have a harder time saving money.
  • Pressure to save money in the account may keep you from seeking medical help when you need it.
  • If HSA money is used for non-medical expenses, you will have to pay taxes on it.

Who can setup a plan?

You can set up an HSA through your employer. If your company does not offer this, you can setup one up through your own bank. You must be under age 65 and carry a high-deductible insurance plan. If you are married and your spouse uses your insurance as a secondary plan, he or she must also be enrolled in a high deductible plan. Your insurance must be your only health insurance plan, but having dental, vision, or disability insurance does not disqualify you from an HSA.

Money Saving Tips for the Average Homeowner

Do you own a home? If so, you know just how expensive this can be. In addition to monthly loan payments, you have to concern yourself with everything from utilities to maintenance.

Although you are sure to be faced with many expenses as a homeowner, the benefits you receive in return are well worth it.

With all this in mind, there are ways for you to save money as a homeowner. You just need to know which adjustments to make.

Three Bits of Advice

Here are three ways the average homeowner can save money, without making any drastic changes:

  • Focus on your utility bills. For example, you can save by simply using less water and turning the lights out when you leave a room. Along with this, you can compare providers to ensure that you are getting the best rate for the utilities you use.
  • Don’t get behind on maintenance. When you let a small problem go, it will turn into a major issue sooner rather than later. If your home requires a repair, do it yourself or hire a professional. Either way, make sure it gets done as soon as possible.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. Let’s face it: you are spending a lot of money heating and cooling your home. With this technology, you may be surprised to find that you can save a lot of money no matter what time of the year it may be.save-money-house

If you own a home and are frustrated with how much you are spending every month, the three bits of advice above may be able to put you on the right track. Why continue to spend more than you have to?

When you focus on these areas, you will find yourself saving more and more with each passing month. And that is what you want, right?

Cost Cutting Clothes Shopping

While clothes are essential, those outrageously overpriced designer jeans aren’t. It is quite easy to get carried away when you go shopping for clothes, especially if you consider yourself a “fashionista”. Believe it or not, there are actually ways that you can be a budget-conscious clothing shopper – and still look good.

Interested in learning how to cut your clothing expenses? Read on for some money saving tips:

Saving Money on Clothing

Shop Sales. Sales are a clothes shopper’s best friend. Why pay full price for something when you can likely find it on sale someplace? Keep an eye out for sales at your favorite shops and take full advantage. Some stores offer fantastic savings at specific times of the year, like around holidays.

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Shop Ahead. While you might need to shop in season for some items, there are staple clothing items that will always be in fashion. For example, basic jeans and T-shirts are always in vogue, so why not shop for them at the end of the season? At the end of the summer, for example, stock up on basic tees when they are on super sales and wear them next summer. You’ll not only save money but you’ll be ahead of your shopping game.

Many stores offer coupons for their preferred shoppers. Sign up to be on a mailing list and you’ll receive tons of coupons, which will allow you to save a lot of money.

Don’t Charge. Whatever you do, don’t get suckered into one of those store credit cards. While it may seem like they are offering you a great deal with extra savings when you sign up, at the end of the day, you’ll actually spend more. Store credit cards tend to have ridiculously high fees, which will make that $40 shirt that you save 10% on cost double what you spent when you pay it off.

How to Avoid Running Into Credit Card Debt

Credit cards are a way to run into debt. This is because it is very easy to incur debt when there seems to be no limit for spending. To make sure that you do not go into debt, you need to take care of your credit card bills. Here are some ways to avoid a credit card debt.

CREATE AN EMERGENCY FUND

You need to create an emergency fund to avoid spending money through a credit card. Generally people only spend money from a credit card for unforeseen contingencies. Having an emergency fund prevents you from overspending using a credit card.

PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD BALANCE ON TIME

Make sure you pay your balance in time rather than carrying it over to another month. You can ensure that you do not have a big credit card debt at the end of the months that follow. Carrying over the debt and spending money you cannot afford is not a smart plan if you want to save money.

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AVOID MAKING BALANCE TRANSFERS

You should not transfer your balance to another card unless there is a rate of interest which is lower than the credit card. Too many balance transfers can result in a heavy debt.

AVOID USING CASH ADVANCES

Cash advances can be avoided rather than used. Instead, have budget so that unanticipated expenditure can be met through this. This prevents the cash advances from being used as a way to tackle expenses.

MAKE SURE YOU COMPREHEND CREDIT CARD TERMS

Understanding the rate of interest which is charged and the processing fee are very important prerequisites to avoid overspending using your credit card. Therefore, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your credit card fully.

Investment Traps to be Cautious Of

If you are an investor, you must protect your investment so that it could run smoothly and you will be successful. Investors must be aware about things that might not be good for their investments. It is imporant to be aware and not regret knowing some common dangers in investing.
• Paying too much in charges

If you want more money to be added to your investment’s value, you have to note the charges. A minimun charge wouldn’t hurt and it will give you more returns in the end. Always compare and check if you get more from the charges you are paying.

• Poor Administration
Make sure that you are good enough at managing your own investments. This is one key to a successful investment. When you learn to manage the money you put in, and you can track the flow and its progress, you will never have a hard time when you make some changes because you are hands on enough to know every detail of your different investments.

• Not taking risks
When you want to beat the inflation, then you have to make enough risks for the sake of your investment. An investor should be a risk-taker in times when the inflation rate is doing no good. The money that you have invested should be able to keep up the pacing of the inflation rate.

• Too many Investments in the same sector
As investors, you should take note that there is a tendency where investments would encounter a rough road. It is too risky to put many investments in the same sector ,like the banking industry, you can never be sure about its stability, so it’s better to invest in different sectors to reduce any problem on your portfolio.

• Paying too much tax
It’s important to pay lesser tax for your investment so that you can have money added in return. The government has offered ISA (Individual saving accounts) and pension, as tax breaks. ISA doesn’t have extra charges on some funds though they do have annual limits on how much you can put in each tax year. For 2013-14 this was £11,520- and up to £5,760 of this allowance can be saved in a cash ISA. When you are flexible, with ISA your capital can also be withdrawn anytime you want.

Think of these things before you invest and always take charge with you investments the best way possible.

Saving for Retirement

Most people realize the importance of saving money for retirement. However, some don’t take the steps necessary to save as much as they truly need. Does this sound familiar?

If you are not doing your part in saving enough for your future, there is no better time than now to get started.

Easy Ways to Save

Are you under the impression that it is challenging to save for retirement? Believe it or not, you can get on the right track soon enough if you follow some basic advice:

  • Automate your savings
  • Set goals
  • Don’t touch this money until you retire

When you automate your savings, you know that the appropriate amount of money is being put towards your retirement. You never have to worry about making contributions on your own, because this is taken care of for you.

Have you set any goals related to your retirement? If not, this is a big mistake. You need to sit down, look at your situation, and set both short and long term goals. This will make you feel better about your future.

Are you the type who will try to take money from a retirement account before you actually retire? Join the club. As tempting as this may be, you have to stay away from doing so. The more money you have in your retirement accounts, and the longer the money is in there, the more interest you are going to earn.

With these three bits of advice guiding you, you will find it much easier to save more for retirement. If you are young, this may not be something you want to think about. But remember, the money you save today will allow you to live a better life down the road – and there is nothing more important than that.

Home Prices in London on the Rise

Real estate markets from one side of the world to the next, particularly in the UK and the United States, are beginning to see an uptick in activity. This is good news for many countries, especially those that have gone through a rough stretch over the past few years.

Home prices in London and the south are on the rise, with the Nationwide Building Society noting that prices in the city are increasing at 10 pc annually. While this may not sound like a big deal, when compared to the weakest region in the UK, the North, which is climbing at only 0.2 pc, it is easy to see just how robust this growth really is.

London Growth Fastest Since 2010

Believe it or not, the growth experienced by London at the present time is the fastest recorded since 2010. While this is good news for those who are looking to sell their home, it is important to note that those who are buying are in a different situation. The reason for this is simple: prices in the area are 8 pc higher than they were in 2007.

Here are some stats that you need to be aware of:

  • The average home price in London is £331,000
  • The average home price in the North is £117,000
  • The average home price in Northern Ireland is £109,000

As you can see, home prices in London are almost three times as much, on average, as those in Northern Ireland.

London is out in front in terms of growth, with the next fastest growing region being East Anglia with a 6.6 pc increase year over year.

For a real estate market that was down and out only five years ago, it is nice to see things picking up in London, as well as some of the other regions nearby.

Scams Continue to Plague PPI Mis-Selling Victims

Millions of customers throughout the United Kingdom have allegedly been mis-sold payment protection insurance by their banks. Many claims management companies have helped these customers get their money back. Unfortunately, a number of unscrupulous companies have also taken advantage of customers who have mis-purchased PPI. Customers will need to be aware of these scams and know how they can protect themselves.

PPI Scams Persist

Scam artists frequently offer services based around high profile events. The PPI scandal was the largest financial scandal the country has ever faced. Many criminals have offered services to target customers who may have purchased payment protection insurance.

These scams have been ongoing since the PPI scandal first emerged several years ago. They have grown exponentially as the crisis has gained more attention.

Office of Fair Trading Issues Warnings

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has recently stated that PPI scams are more prevalent than ever. They have shared profiles of some of the scams which they hope will protect customers. Here are some warning signs that OFT officials said customers should be aware of:

  • Scam artists often claim to be associated with the OFT, FOS or another reputable agency.
  • Many will pretend to be working with a legitimate PPI claims company.
  • Scam artists tend to be very secretive about what they do. They will typically call or email people and won’t share their real name.
  • They ask for money up front and promise to get compensation after the fact.

You will always need to be on your guard when you receive an unsolicited phone call, text message or email.

How to Protect Yourself

There are several things that you can do to avoid being scammed. Here are some tips you may want to follow:

  • Never share your banking or personal information over the phone or Internet.
  • Remember that the FOS, OFT and other agencies do not email or call people to request personal and banking information. Also, the OFT wants to remind people that it has no bearing to compensate people for PPI claims.
  • Only work with claims companies that have a physical location and verifiable business information.
  • Find out what the company’s track record is before asking them to file a claim on your behalf.

PPI scams will continue to persist as more people realize that they have been mis-sold PPI. Make sure that you are on your guard against them.

Saving for that Dreaded Rainy Day!

In saving money, a person is thinking of tomorrow and how they will be able to get by. It is due to a will to survive that keeps a person ever mindful and vigilant about what tomorrow brings which is unexpected. We can never tell what the future brings, so it is our due diligence that we prepare ourselves to be fit to deal with the unexpected. Saving money is a good example in how we prepare for what tomorrow brings.

In saving money, we are planning to be ready for any unexpected expenses that we might need to undergo. The first step of saving money is to know what you want to save for.

Planning

Saving money for something is a goal that you set for yourself as you put your money into a piggy bank or an actual bank. It can be viewed as an accomplishment when the time comes to buy it.

In planning to buy a certain thing, saving money opens your eyes to other monetary situations that you want to be equipped to handle when the time comes, if it comes. Saving money is a good habit that should be practiced by everybody as it shows that they are concerned about what tomorrow may bring. It also shows that they have the capacity to plan ahead of time as they are anticipating the worst and want to be ready for it. Time brings so many unexpected twists and turns that we can never predict so it is a good idea for you to be prepared.

Putting your money in a bank is a great idea as you do not have total control of your funds as you have to withdraw your money before it is available. It gives you a discipline in knowing what you need as compared to wanting and spending unnecessarily.