5 Ways to Save on Car Repairs

Owning a car is much more expensive than you might have thought as a teenager. In high school, you drove the “kid’s car” and filled up a few times, and in college you hardly drove at all because your roommates had nicer cars. But the costs of owning a car start to build once it becomes a necessity instead of a luxury. Car payments, insurance, gas, and repairs add up fast—sometimes too fast for the budget. Unfortunately, some of these costs are unavoidable, like monthly payments or how much gas you use to commute back and forth to work.

Other costs are somewhat negotiable. It may not seem that car repairs are one of these, but in many situations the costs of repair can be prevented or, at the very least, reduced.

Prevent and Protect

It might be a pain in your side to take your car into the shop every 3,000 miles (or however often your owner’s manual suggests) to get that oil change taken care of, but it will be worth it. Your car might not give you problems if you wait until 3,500 miles to change the oil, but that doesn’t mean that your car isn’t being damaged internally. And even if your car seems to be in fine condition, it’s always better to prevent than repair.
Make a habit of taking your car into the shop regularly just to get a quick check-up and make sure that everything is working properly. It might cost you a few dollars to have the mechanics look it over, but you’ll save money in the long run if you can catch major problems before they happen.

Don’t Procrastinate

Small and simple repairs can turn into nightmares if they are not treated promptly. It might seem that you’re saving yourself time and money by putting off repairs like a small oil leak or the laundry list of minor problems the mechanic gives you when you go in for a larger repair, but the exact opposite is true. Small, relatively inexpensive problems will turn into much more extensive, expensive repairs they longer you put them off.
When the mechanic reads you that list of maintenance items, take care of everything you can while you’re there. If your budget won’t let you fix everything they recommend, take note of what you didn’t have them do and figure it into the budget over the next few months. The sooner they get done, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding larger-scale problems.

Choose the Right Mechanic

Don’t settle for the nearest auto shop out of convenience. It can be hard to find a mechanic you know and trust, but take the time to look around. Once you’ve found a business that you feel treats you fairly, make yourself a regular customer. If they get to know your face and car, they might be more willing to offer you deals and advice.

Finding a trustworthy mechanic will not only reduce expenses—it will reduce stress. Knowing you always take your car to the same auto repair shop in Vancouver, even if the drive is farther than the place around the block, will save you the stress of wondering if the mechanics are going to treat you and your car fairly.

Buy Discount Parts

Many car shops will let you bring your own parts in to fix car problems. Find out your repair shop’s policy before you green light the repair. If you can bring in the parts yourself, all you’ll have to pay for at the shop is the labor. There will be a cost for the parts, of course, but you can usually find them cheaper than the high prices a repair shop often charges.

You can often find cheap parts at discount auto stores, online retailers, and salvage yards. If you’re getting body work done on your car, check salvage yards first for bumpers, side mirrors, and even doors or hoods. Go online to find engine parts and belts. Do your research, and with a little bit of extra time you’ll be able to keep the budget balanced and your car in good condition.

Do Simple Work Yourself

Even if you’re not car savvy, it will be worth it to take the time to learn how to do some simple maintenance. Replacing windshield wiper blades, doing oil changes, replacing air filters, and filling your fluids are all easy enough to do once you know how. Find a friend who knows what they’re doing and ask them to give you a few pointers—the money you save will more than compensate for the time and effort you spend doing your own repairs.

Author Bio: Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. In addition to spending time with her husband and daughters, she loves being outdoors, playing sports, and finding ways to be financially savvy. In her spare time, she blogs for companies like Minit-Tune in Vancouver.

7 Tips To Cut Costs For Your Budget

Life would be so much easier if money grew on trees. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and that means that most of us have to budget our finances in order to make ends meet. But budgeting doesn’t have to be a grueling task that sends you into financial despair. There are plenty of simple tricks you can learn that will help you cut down your budget, leaving you with more money to spend or save.

Know Your Limits

The first thing you need to do is know your income per month. That’s your limit. Even if you own credit cards and use them regularly, don’t calculate the credit cards into your limit, because you have to pay those cards off eventually, and that money will come out of your income. So start your budget with your income.

Calculate the Necessary Expenses

Now you need to calculate your expenses. Only worry about the necessary expenses for now—the expenses that are fixed, because you pay roughly the same amount every month. These expenses will include things like rent, utilities, credit cards, loans, cell phone bills, insurance plans, and internet use. They will also be the biggest drain on your budget, so this is where you will need to focus the most on trying to reduce.

Bundle Your Plans

Look at your necessary expenses, and see if there’s a way you can combine any of them. If you have multiple types of insurance, like auto, home, and health, see if there’s a way to bundle them all into one plan at one company, rather than three separate plans at three different companies. Another easy one to bundle is your phone, TV, and internet. The biggest wireless phone providers also carry plans for internet and TV, and it’s cheaper to bundle everything under one plan than to carry multiple plans.

List Your Needs and Wants

Once you have your necessary expenses sorted out, you can take a look at everything else you spend money on per month. Prioritize these items by making two lists: your needs and your wants.

Your needs list will include everything that you cannot live without, like food and toilet paper. Your wants list will be everything else, from ice cream to video games. You can even break your wants list down even further, separating what you really want from what you would like to have. Use these lists when budgeting the rest of your finances. Plan first for the needs list, and then whatever is left can be used for a few items on the want list.

Use the Credit Card Perks

Make sure the credit cards you use benefit you. Find credit cards with rewards and perks that interest you, and then use those cards in the ways that reward you the most. This might be store bucks, a gift card, or a discount on gas. Whatever the perks, they are rewards you should take advantage of.

Make Shopping Lists

Before you go to any store, make a list of what you need, whether it’s for grocery items or clothing. Know exactly what you need before you enter the store. That way, you won’t get distracted by other items, or purchase products you don’t need. You can also cut costs even further by bargain shopping. You don’t need a particular kind of Dijon mustard when a generic store brand will do. Compare prices, and buy the cheapest you can find.

Save a Little Each Month

If you don’t have a savings account, open one. Then, set aside a certain percent each month to put in the savings account. It doesn’t have to be much—5% will suffice. If you want to put in a little extra on certain months, go ahead, but make sure you put at least the percentage you’ve stated. It may take a while for the savings account to grow, but after a while you’ll have a hefty amount in there you can use for an emergency, or possibly even a vacation.

With these simple tips and tricks, you can become a budgeting pro, always having the money you need when you need it—you won’t even have to plant a money tree.

Author byline:

Edson Senna is a business student. He enjoys applying what he has learned by writing about investing, finance, entrepreneurship, and other business-related topics. He also loves to learn about new software that helps businesses, like a business rules engine.

3 Ways To Reduce Impulsive Spending

It’s a problem that most people have. By the time we are fully grown adults with real careers, we’ve tried it all: savings accounts, setting aside money ahead of time for priorities, tracking our expenses via checkbooks or online banking, piggy banks, you name it. Sometimes it works, but too many times, it doesn’t. When the money is technically available to you, and there’s something you really want, you make up another excuse for why you deserve it. Or else you just have a hard time looking at the big picture, and a few nights at the bar turns into a major dent in your finances. It happens to the best of us. Nevertheless, there are a few tricks of the trade floating around out there that have helped many people start saving money. Here are a few good ones that might help you:

Limit Your Accounts

When you have multiple accounts, you’ll typically spend more money on a regular basis because you’re not fully aware of the total amount of money you have, and that provides a little subconscious comfort to you because you’re not seeing that total number drop down as you spend more and more, but only a number that represents a fraction of your money. The same concept goes with keeping cash on you all the time.

Think Twice Before Making Big Purchases

Studies show that for most people, the feeling of wanting something brings more happiness to them than actually having it. So before you spend half your paycheck on something you don’t actually need, wait a day or two and then decide if it’s really worth it. Consider the alternate things you could do with that money. Think about the years to come; will you still love it just as much next year? If you still think you should get it after all that, then go for it.

Budget Your Money!

Most people know about this one, but don’t actually do it. Start by thinking about the top five things you spend your money on. Do some math and try to figure out the approximate monthly amount you spend on each of those things. Or better yet, get a detailed bank statement. You’ll probably find that one or two of those things are a bit out of control. What do you want that number to be? Try setting a budget for each of those categories, and then one for miscellaneous purchases.

For the budget that you think will be most difficult for you to stick to, try this: take that money out of your account and put it in a labeled envelope. Keep the envelope in your room and take cash from it very sparingly. Using only cash will make you much more conscious of just how much you are spending, and keeping it at home will give you less of a chance to be impulsive with it. For more tips on staying on budget speak with an accountant or financial adviser

LBS Tax is a local tax accountant service that has begun a series of helpful articles to help the public better handle their financials.

Energy Bill Breakdown: What Costs The Most?

Introduction

Incandescent light bulb
Incandescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As energy bills continue to rise, we’re all starting to look a lot more closely at our habits in the home. Turning off lights, switching appliances off at the wall and waiting to run the dishwasher once it’s full are all ways in which a lot of people are making a conscious effort to lower their bills.

Although you may get a breakdown on your bill about peak and off peak expenditure, have you ever really stopped to think about what exactly makes up the amount you spend on energy? Considering the amount it costs to boil a kettle or have a light on for half an hour may make you think twice the next time you boil too much water or leave lights on in a room that isn’t occupied.

What costs the most?

Research conducted by All About Money has shown exactly which appliances cost the most to run in the home. The results may surprise you:

The Bathroom

The most expensive appliance to run is the electric shower, which uses energy to heat and pump the water. It’s the main reason why the bathroom topped the poll for the most expensive room to run in the whole house, equalling £25.51 per month. Light bulbs and an electric toothbrush were also taken into account for the bathroom, but even though the cost for this room was high, the electric toothbrush was actually found to be the cheapest appliance in the whole house, costing just £0.00001 per use.

The Kitchen

The kitchen accounted for the second most expensive room in the house, which is understandable when you consider the amount of appliances which are run in this room. The study included a washing machine, dishwasher, fridge/freezer, kettle, fan oven, vacuum cleaner, toaster, microwave, iron, lights, extractor fan and grill in this room. Although a whopping 12 items a run from this room, they still contributed around £10 less to the energy bill than the electric shower alone. The fan oven cost the most over the course of the month, adding £5.63 to the energy bill. The light bulb cost the least, only contributing 1p.

The Living Room

Next on the list comes the living room, adding £4.76 to the utility bill. The appliances found in here are mostly low-cost, with the plasma TV being the most expensive at £1.59, followed by the desktop PC at 90p and the games console at 86p. Ensuring that your television and PC are shut down properly and switched off at the mains when they’re not being used should help with the cost they add to the bill.

The Bedroom

The last, and cheapest, room researched was the bedroom. Phone chargers, a hairdryer, laptop, alarm clocks, lights and LCD TV are all accounted for here, yet this room contributes just £2.22 to the total monthly cost of energy for the house. Again, the television accounted for the most expense, adding 82p to the bill, with the hairdryer coming in second place with 75p.

In each room, the cheapest thing to run were actually the light bulbs, with standard bulbs costing 1p a month and energy saving bulbs amounting to just £0.002. Turning off lights in rooms that aren’t occupied is still a wise thing to do, but cutting down on showers, the amount of TV you watch and the amount of time spent on the computer will have the biggest effect on your bills.

Author Bio: Coral Pearce Mariner contributes some very resourceful articles for Guarantor Loans Online. For more top money saving tips visit their website or follow them on Twitter @UKCreditLoans

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Top Websites To Compare Utility Prices In The UK

English: L6 D Electricity transmission tower, ...
English: L6 D Electricity transmission tower, near Aust, England, UK. Deutsch: L6 D Elektrizitäts-Freileitungsmast in der Nähe der englischen Stadt Aust Français : Pylône électrique de modèle L6 D près de Aust, en Angleterre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even if you think you are paying fairly competitive rates for your gas and electricity, it is always still worth comparing utility prices online. Many people end up being quite surprised by how much money they can save when they compare utility prices on the Web. Recent research suggests that the average customer can expect to save around £80 per year. Currently, many people are paying more than they should.
There are many popular websites out there which can help you to find the cheapest utility services available in your area but following are five of the most popular.

1. Comparethemarket.com
You may well have seen this one advertised on the television by the animated meerkat. Like many of the comparison websites, this one helps to find you a better deal on all sorts of services ranging from insurance to household utilities. You can use the online search function to compare utility prices and find a better deal on your gas and electricity. You can also enter details about your most recent bill and then get an estimate in moments of how much money you can expect to save. Unlike some of the other utility price comparison services online, you can also get your gas and electricity quotes separately here. Information provided is up-to-date and, for the most part, quite accurate.

2. Confused.com
Confused.com originally started out as an online service for people to compare car insurance costs but it has since diversified and expanded to become one of the UK’s most popular price comparison websites. It offers everything you need on gas and electricity prices as well as an abundance of other useful cost comparison services. Confused.com claims on its front page that some people can expect to save up to £440 by changing to a new gas and electricity supplier. As with other similar sites, you can search for the availability of utility providers in your area by entering your postcode. You will also be required to enter your email address when you carry out a search. If you prefer not to provide your email address at this point, you will need to use a different service.

3. Moneyexpert.com
Moneyexpert.com allows you to compare gas and electricity prices all over the UK. It also provides information on things like personal finance and insurance. It is one of the best established price comparison services in the United Kingdom. In order to get started on your way to get accurate gas and electricity costs, you will need to have some information handy regarding your most recent utility bills. After spending a few minutes filing in some forms, you will be able to review the quotes. The site also offers a £25 cashback incentive for anyone who uses their service to switch to a new gas and electricity provider.

4. Moneysupermarket.com
Moneysupermarket.com is another popular UK-based website for comparing energy prices around the country. Again, it also provides pages for comparing the prices many other types of product and service. This website also offers a useful additional informational resource including articles advising you about other ways to save money on your utility bills. To get started, you simply need to enter a postcode and choose whether you want to search for electricity suppliers, gas suppliers or both. The forms may like a little too much at first, but don’t forget that the requirement for more information also means that you should get more accurate and relevant results. This service also allows you to choose between different tariff types such as capped, fixed price and variable rate.

5. uSwitch.com
This site covers both the United Kingdom and Ireland and, unlike most of the previously mentioned sites, it also offers special information specifically for businesses. To get started, provide your postcode and email address and choose whether or not you want to receive promotions or other updates in your mail. You will then need to spend a few minutes to complete a basic questionnaire. This will help the service to provide you with the most relevant information for your particular situation and requirements. You will be able to review results using conveniently presented comparison charts accompanied by customer ratings and reviews.

 

Compare Utility Prices and Save Money on Your Bills

Utility bills are not getting any cheaper and they are among the biggest financial burdens of most people in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Particularly in times of economic hardship, people are finding it more important than ever to find ways to cut down on their outgoings and one of the most effective ways to do this is often to stich to a new utility company. A lot of people are paying more than they need to for their electricity and gas prices but, if you compare utility prices online, you may just be surprised by how much you can save.

An Introduction to Utility Comparison Services Online

Image representing uSwitch as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

The Web has become an essential part of many people’s lives in part because it can help us to save money on all sorts of things. Using certain online services allows you to compare prices of just about every type of product and service imaginable. To compare utility prices online, all you need is a little information such as your postcode and, preferably, a recent bill. The more information you can provide regarding your current suppliers and bills, the better idea you will get of how much money you should be able to save in the event that you make the switch to a new supplier.
These sites are not at all difficult to use and they typically require that you spend a few moments completing some forms to get the information that you need. Things to have handy include your postcode, telephone number, home address, email address and any information that you can find regarding your current utility providers. After providing these details on the utility comparison website, you will be presented with a list of quotes from companies and services available in your area. If you provided information about your current utility suppliers, you should even be able to find out straight away how much money you can expect to save should you switch over. Once you have chosen your preferred service, you should be able to initiate the switching process from the price comparison website. When the process is generally simple enough, you will usually need to wait a few days for the changes to take effect. If in doubt about anything, contact the utility company before committing.

How Much Can I Save?

It is hard to say how much you can save without actually getting a list of quotes from one of the utility price comparison websites. However, what is certain is that most people in the United Kingdom are paying more than they should for their utility companies. Some of the comparison websites might make claims that seem rather exaggerated, but you have nothing to lose by taking a look at which options are available in your area. Confused.com, one of the most popular comparison websites for comparing prices of everything from utility bills to car insurance premiums, states that it has helped around ten percent of its customers to save £440 per year – a very worthwhile saving for most people.
While you may well end up finding that it is time to switch to a new supplier, there are also other important considerations when it comes to slashing your utility bills. Switching can only save you so much – what it is mostly up to is yourself. Cut down on your outgoings by using your household appliances a little more sparingly. Don’t forget to turn off appliances when you are not using them rather than leaving them on standby to continue using a small amount of power. Upgrade your home’s lighting fixtures by installing energy-efficient lightbulbs and replace old appliances with newer and more efficient ones. All this will save you money in the longer term regardless of whether or not you switch to a new electricity supplier.

Some Services to Try Out

There’s certainly no shortage of comparison websites out there for you to compare utility prices but among the most well-known in the UK are comparethemarket.com, confused.com, moneyexpert.com moneysupermarket.com and uswitch.com. There are also other lesser known sites, some of which specialize in a particular niche such as green energy or energy for businesses. You can also sometimes compare prices on the websites of individual energy companies themselves.

Compare Utility Prices between Residential Solar Power and Traditional Solutions

solar panels
solar panels (Photo credit: spanginator)

Solar power is by far the most common form of renewable energy for the home. Among one of the most common concerns that people have today with regards to their outgoings is the increasing cost of energy bills. Some people have turned to solar power in the hope of saving money in the longer term by becoming less reliant on utility companies or even, in some cases, entirely self-reliant. In a country such as the United Kingdom, which is hardly known for its sunny climate, the thought of taking advantage of what solar power has to offer seems rather out of reach. Nonetheless, there are options available, all of which have the potential to save money in the longer term. If you are thinking of making the move to residential solar power, then the following tips and information will help you to compare utility prices between this and traditional solutions.

Which Options Are Available to Me?

As with just about anything else in life, the price ranges are enormous for solar power installations. However, the available options fall into only a couple of categories. Residential solar power installations may either be connected to the main electricity grid or completely stand-alone. The former allows you to sell any surplus electricity generated back into the grid, theoretically allowing you to actually make money from your solar power system. However, this typically requires a prohibitively expensive and large installation and, in the UK, it is rarely a practical solution.
Stand-alone systems are the other option and are particularly suitable in more secluded areas. Stand-alone systems are not connected to the electricity grid at all and, because of this, you will need to have your own batteries installed on site for storing the electricity generated. If you are looking to become completely self-reliant with regards to your electricity supply, you will probably still need an additional generator for when your solar panels cannot generate enough energy. Keep in mind that the average two- or three-bedroom home requires around five kilowatts to power all appliances including an electric oven. This demands a pretty large solar power system with an extensive bank of batteries. If you want to power an electric heating system and boiler, you will need a lot more even than this.
You can compare utility prices online for the various types of installations available. Using the price comparison websites for utility bills, you might also be able to get a better idea of how much money, if anything, you can save by making the move to solar power. For those who don’t mind doing some DIY, residential solar power can become a much more attractive option since do-it-yourself solar power kits typically present a far more affordable solution. A couple of good UK-based websites for helping you to get a better idea of the renewable energy market include comparemysolar.co.uk and theecoexperts.co.uk.

Costs Involved and Conclusion
Installation costs are also high in most cases, even if you do opt for a do-it-yourself kit. For a fairly standard system providing approximately 1.6 kilowatts of power during peak operation, including installation costs, you should expect to spend at least £3000. This system will be enough to power most everyday appliances and lighting in a small home but only during ideal weather conditions and operation. When comparing prices online, you should be able to enter you power requirements in order to get a quote for the size and type of solar power installation you need for your home.
One of the other advantages of solar power when it comes to long-term costs is that these systems require relatively little maintenance. Since there are no moving parts involved, there are fewer things that can go wrong. For the most part, you just need to keep your solar panels clean and they will require minimal maintenance over the years. On occasion, however, you may need to replace the photovoltaic cells and the batteries if you have your own.
Solar power is certainly not for everyone. Many areas of the country simply do not receive enough sunlight to make a residential solar power installation practical or affordable in most cases. You will ideally need to have relatively reliable weather and long daylight hours for your solar panels to be able to generate a worthwhile amount of energy.

Compare Utility Prices from the UK’s Top Providers
If you are looking for a better deal on your utility bills, then you are certainly not the only one. Studies show that most people are paying somewhat more than they should be paying on their gas and electricity bills and the average home owner can generally expect to save a significant amount of money on their yearly outgoings by switching to a new supplier. In times of economic hardship and constantly increasing utility costs, it is even more important to find new ways to cut down on these expenditures. As usual, the best place to start is the Internet with its abundant resources allowing you to compare utility prices in the United Kingdom and everywhere else in the world.
How much you will be able to save by changing to a particular company largely depends on where you live and on your requirements. Rather than going directly to the utility company’s website to start with, check out some of the popular energy comparison websites such as confused.com, moneyexperts.com or uswitch.com among others. These sites will be able to give you a list of quotes from all services available in your area allowing you to quickly find out how much you can expect to save.

The following provides a brief overview of the ‘Big Six’ top energy providers in the UK.

British Gas EA07HVO
British Gas EA07HVO (Photo credit: didbygraham)

1. British Gas
British Gas is one of the oldest utility companies in the country. It is also the largest, providing gas or electricity or both to twenty-million home and business customers around the United Kingdom. British Gas belongs to Centrica Company of which Scottish Gas is also a subsidiary.
In spite of being the largest utility company in the country, a lot of people are paying more than they need to with British Gas. You can learn more about their tariffs from britishgas.com.
2. EDF Energy
A UK-based subsidiary of the French energy giant, EDF is the second-largest provider of gas and electricity in the United Kingdom. It provides its services to almost six-million people around the country. Much of its power is generated from nuclear power stations and other renewable energy resources. It operates a number of nuclear power stations around the country. France itself is the country most reliant in the world on nuclear power. EDF energy provides services for both homes and businesses of any size.
3. Npower
Npower is the third-biggest energy company in the UK, supplying around 6.5 domestic and corporate customers. It also one of the fastest growing utility companies in the country. Npower was originally a British company until being sold to the German company RWE in 2002 and its consequent rebranding. In addition to providing both gas and electricity services, Npower also offers maintenance and repair services for boilers and heating systems. The official website for the company is npower.co.uk.
4. E.ON UK
A subsidiary of the German-owned company, E.ON AG, the largest utility company in the world, E.ON UK is the United Kingdom’s fourth-largest energy provider. In addition to operating a number of traditional power plants such as coal, oil and gas, E.ON UK is also a major operator of onshore wind farms. E.ON UK was formerly a British company operating under the name of Powergen until its sale to Germany in 2002. You can learn more about the availability and cost of services in your area from eonenergy.com.
5. Scottish Power
Now a subsidiary of a major Spanish energy company, Scottish Power is the smallest energy company of the Big Six. In spite of its name, Scottish Power supplies energy not just to Scotland, but also to various other parts of the United Kingdom. Its networks also cover parts of Wales. The company operates various gas power stations and various renewable energy operations including a number of wind farms and several hydroelectric power stations in Scotland. You can learn more about the company and its services at scottishpower.co.uk.

How to Compare Utility Prices with the Energy Efficiency Rating

The energy efficiency rating can be found in countries across Europe. In the United Kingdom, it is included as part of the Home Information Pack with many houses and apartments available for sale or rent. For those looking to buy or rent a property, the energy efficiency rating provides a useful and fairly reliable way to compare utility prices for a particular residence. If you are on the lookout for a new home, you should familiarize yourself with energy efficiency certificates. You will also find a similar form of the energy efficiency rating on various new household appliances in shops. They can help you to get a better idea of how much a particular appliance will cost to run.

Understanding the Energy Efficiency Rating
You will be able to find energy efficiency ratings on everything from lightbulbs in the shops to advertisements for entire homes or business premises. Using the values provided on the certificates, you will be able to compare utility prices for a particular home or the running costs of a particular appliance. They are simple enough to understand for the most part and they are presented in much the same way in every country in the European Union and in certain other countries beyond.
The energy efficiency rating is presented in the form of a small diagram and two ratings are provided when referring to real estate. There is the current rating and the potential rating. The former is the one that you really need to pay attention to, particularly if you are only renting the property. The potential rating refers to the expected energy efficiency attainable by making certain modifications to the property such as adding attic installation or improving the performance and maintenance levels of certain appliances and heating installations. Energy efficiency ratings provided for individual appliances and other electronics only include the former.
For each rating, a figure from 1 to 100 is provided. This rating, in turn, falls into a particular group labelled A, B, C, D, E, F or G with ‘G’ being the least energy efficient group and ‘A’ being the highest. Of course, the higher the rating the lower you can expect your bills to be. Most of today’s new household appliances come into the more energy efficient categories.

Understanding the Environmental Impact Rating
Also part of the Home Information Pack is the environmental (CO2) impact rating. Again, there is both a current and potential rating assigned a score of 1-100 which, in turn, falls into a group labelled from A to G. Properties that fall into group ‘A’ are very environmentally-friendly and have minimal CO2 emissions while those falling into the highest category with a rating of 1-20 (Group G) are not environmentally-friendly. Unsurprisingly, the energy efficiency rating and environmental impact rating are typically closely related.

European Union Energy Labels
Across the European Union and in various other countries in Europe, you will come across the European Union Energy labels on new products ranging from everything from lightbulbs to fridges. These labels are useful for getting an estimate of how much the product will cost to operate. Just like the energy performance certificates provided with real estate, the energy labels provide a score for the energy efficiency of a particular product. Rather than providing an actual number, however, usually only a colour-coded group labelled A to G is provided. Additional information which is specific to the type of appliance will also be provided. Other statistics to look out for include operating noise level and energy consumption in kilowatt hours. From the latter, you can expect to get a fairly accurate idea of running costs.
In 2010, some changes were introduced with certain appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and freezers. For these, the groups are now labelled slightly differently. Instead of being labelled A to G, they are now labelled A+++, A++, A+, A, B, C and D with D-rated appliances being the least energy-efficient.

Author Bio: Author Sam Jones advises people wishing to compare utility prices to go to prices comparison website, uSwitch to find and switch to a cheaper supplier

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Common Shopping Mistakes That Cost You Money

There are many mistakes people make when grocery shopping that end up costing them so much extra money. Fortunately, once you know these mistakes, it’s not a big deal to rectify them and start saving money big time.

Don’t Impulse Buy

The biggest mistake most people make and most stores are counting on people to make is impulse buying – putting something in the cart because it caught your eye and not because you have any need for it or had planned on buying it, or because it was a good price – buying just because… well, why not? To make sure that you don’t do this common mistake, before you pick up anything, ask yourself “Why am I putting this in my cart? Will I regret spending money on this later?”

Pay Attention to Prices

The next biggest mistake shoppers make is that they don’t pay any attention to prices before picking up something from the shelf, or they glance at the price but don’t do any price comparing. Be observant. Notice how much things cost. Figure out how much it costs per ounce, and then price compare between that and similar products from different brands or with different sizing. If you’re not so picky about the brand, go with the item that’s cheapest per ounce instead of what catches your eye first. Typically, stores place the more expensive items at eye level specifically so you’ll notice them first – look up or down on the shelves to spot the cheaper items.

When you notice that a certain item is on sale and you were planning on purchasing it, do you immediately fill up your cart? Sometimes, a sale being advertised is even more expensive than a similar product not on sale. Don’t believe that just because something is being called a sale that it is actually a worthwhile buy. Price compare.

Doing all of your grocery shopping in one place can be problematic financially, especially if that shop is at a local mom and pop’s corner grocery store. The best frugal shopping method is to shop at a few different stores, stocking up on whatever is cheapest at each store, or at the very least, seeing what store is cheaper overall, and do your shopping there, instead of just at the most convenient store.

Leave the Kids at Home

Last but not least, going with children to the grocery store can be a big financial mistake. Many kids demand that mom buy this expensive item and that expensive item, and instead of getting what is cheaper, parents just buy the item the kid wants even if it’s not needed. And even if the kid doesn’t make demands, by having to focus your attention on childcare as well as shopping, you can’t give your full attention to being frugal and are more likely to make more than one of the aforementioned mistakes because you were too distracted or stressed to do otherwise. Best advice? Leave them at home.

Author Bio: Penny is a wife, mom, the face behind Penniless Parenting and a contributor to the CareOne Debt Relief Services blog. Visit CareOneCredit.com for more information.

Ways to Cut Your Energy Bills to Save Money

Ever increasing prices have caused many consumers to wonder how they can lower their energy bills and save money. British Gas is set to increase their prices by as much as 16% in November and Scottish and Southern energy plans to add an additional 9% to their costs. This leaves consumers with worries of how they are going to effectively and affordably warm their homes during the upcoming winter months. If you are looking for ways that you can cut your energy bills and save money, here are a few things that you can try:

Turn down the heat. By simply reducing your home’s temperatures by 1°C, you could save up to 10% off your energy costs. This could amount to as much as £60 each year. Lowering your hot water temperatures to 60°C could also help you to save.

Replace your old boiler. Your boiler makes up for about 60% of your total energy bill each year. Of course, having a new boiler installed can be expensive but if you consider how much you can save in the long run, the installation cost is well worth it. Choose a boiler that offers an A-rating so that you know you are getting a good energy savings. By replacing an older boiler with a new, energy efficient one you could save up to £300 in the first year alone.

Monitor your usage. If you are not keeping an eye on how much energy you are using, how can you possibly know if you are saving? By monitoring your meter you can carve as much as 10% off those monthly energy bills. You can also save by changing how you pay for your energy usage. By switching to a monthly direct debit instead of paying by cheque, you could save an additional 10% or more every month.

Change energy suppliers. Finally, you can switch suppliers and get the lowest cost possible for your usage. Whether you choose the cheapest mainstream supplier or you want to look beyond these providers, you can save as much as £300 per year by changing who supplies your energy. Spend some time researching various providers and make sure that you are on a relatively inexpensive tariff.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/oct/12/five-ways-cut-energy-bills

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Quality Over Quantity: Saving Money While Shopping

In an age where cheap disposal items are relatively common, it can be tough to argue between quality and quantity. Quantity saves you money now, while often having a shorter lifespan, whereas Quality offers a more significant lifespan in exchange for a heftier price tag.

When you’re living on a budget it can be difficult to ignore a cheaper cost even if you secretly know the product you’re buying will need replacing in a shorter time. This is perfectly natural to prefer the extra money now, rather than extra money later.

Saving Money Isn’t About Spending Less

It may seem like spending less is the best way to save some cash, but this is regularly not the case. The best example here is batteries. All batteries – no matter which brand – tend to fall into two categories. You have “cheap” batteries, and “good” batteries. The cheap batteries could be a quarter of the price of the good batteries, but when they only last a fifth of the time, which purchase is better?

By buying these “cheap battery” equivalents in clothes, furniture and technology, you could be saving money short term, only to end up spending much more money later.

Don’t Spend Less, Spend Smart.

Buying these things can be much more expensive, when a cheaper wardrobe can save you £300 it can be harder to opt for the more expensive option, even when you know that it’ll last twice as long.  But, the exact same rule applies: Why waste your time with a cheaper product that’ll break sooner?

Sometimes this is unavoidable, when something important breaks just before payday, the cheaper option is inevitable. A great rule of thumb is that if there’s anything that can wait you shouldn’t be looking to spend less, but to spend smart – waiting until a sale to pick up a quality item could save you even more money, picking up something that would usually be out of your price range, while the wait functions as a cooling off period.

Big Prices Don’t Mean Big Quality

With the internet, it’s never been easier to do your homework before a big purchase. 90% of products available for sale have been reviewed somewhere, so don’t be afraid to turn to Google to find out more about a product before you get out the cash.

From Cars to toasters, the internet has an answer for everything, and while not everyone has the same priorities from a purchase, a description of the products strengths and weaknesses might help you realise what your priorities are – and this could help you avoid spending money on things you don’t need.

Use Your Common Sense

Frankly, sometimes you buy things you just don’t need. If you’re shopping for a car and all you need is a Ford, it doesn’t matter if you can get a discount on a Ferrari. That’s the temptation you have to resist – While quality is usually better then quantity, sometimes the extra luxury is unnecessary.

Trying to judge between quality and quantity can be difficult. Remember to avoid the “cheap batteries” and buying what you need, researching so that you can buy something that meets your needs rather than what is cheapest.

About Writer | Amie is a savings and investment blogger writing for sites like Fair Investment Company. She specialises in investment plans and opportunities.  In her spare time she enjoys learning and developing her skills in being a personal finance coach,

Frugality – Some Rules of Thumb

The article tells you about how to become frugal and save considerably.

Everyone should be frugal to survive in today’s topsy-turvy economic situation. If you can’t save enough, you’re very likely to borrow money for meeting your financial obligations; and frugality is the best way of saving significant amount of money to meet up all financial requirements of your life. Some people believe that frugality means a life of scarcity; a life of deprivation. However, this is not true. Frugality is the way of living within your means. It ensures having enough bank balance with which you can manage the cash crunches of life.

Tips to frugality

Frugality helps a person to become financially smart and careful about spending hard-earned dollars. Here are some tips that can help you become frugal and go debt-free for rest of your life.

  • Creating a budget – First of all, you need to create a strict financial plan and stick to the plan. Compare your expenses to your income. Keep and organize all the bills category-wise like gas bills, utility bills, grocery bills, hotel bills etc. for at least 2-3 months. Now evaluate where you could reduce your expenses. Write down your monthly expenses by categories on a paper and keep cash in separate envelopes for separate purposes. Once the cash from an envelope is gone, you should avoid spending on that particular purpose in that particular month by taking out cash from another envelope. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable with the system, but subsequently you will be accustomed to it.
  • Finding coupons – Unless you collect coupons and use them properly, you can hardly save money. Try to collect coupons wherever possible. Collecting coupons, cutting the coupons out and using them accordingly are undoubtedly daunting and difficult. However, once you get used to it, you will rather find it interesting. You can visit online stores that offer printable coupons for free. Such websites also maintain database of current coupons and deals. You can compare the deals for more savings.
  • Shopping at thrift stores – Shop at local thrift stores for better bargains. You can also visit the local consignment stores for the same reason. Consignments stores often offer good quality items at competitive rates. If you’re looking for any particular item that you don’t find in a consignment store, you may ask them to get it for you. Once they find the item, they will contact you.
  • Learning to cook – Instead of eating out, you should learn to cook at home. By doing this, you can save several hundred dollars per month on your hotel expenses. Moreover, foods made at home are always healthier than foods bought from outside. You must start cooking at home, especially if you have small children. Preserved foods as well as outside foods are not good for the children. Not only regular foods, you can also try out cooking delicate dishes at your home. Internet is full of recipes; be it a Mexican dish, Italian dish, Thai dish or Indian dish, you will find the recipes of literally all cuisines on the Internet. Just write down the recipe and cook it at your home.

Always remember that money saved is money earned. Initiate following the frugality rules and you will start seeing the result within a month. After a couple of months, you’re much likely to see a considerable amount saved in your account.

Author’s Bio – Jonny Pean is a senior advisor at easyfinance.com. His writings help people save money and live a debt-free life.

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Budget Your Finances

With inflation rising and wages/salaries static (or even being cut), it is difficult to make your budget stretch to cover all your expenses. So here is some relevant help!

budget your finances

How to Budget Your Finances

by Themis Smirneos

Secure Your Financial Future by Budgeting Wisely

Anyone who wants to find financial stability and take control of their money needs to understand the importance of properly budgeting their finances. By developing a sound budget, you can establish the foundation you need to enjoy the sort of financial freedom you have always wanted. This article will show you what you need to do.

Your budget should track your monthly expenditures, including both fixed costs and variable ones. Fixed costs are the bills that you know you have to pay every month, such as rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. Variable costs are those that change from month to month, such as food, clothing, or entertainment. A sound budget needs to account for every expenditure that you make, so that you do not spend more than you realize.

You should set aside a certain percentage of your monthly income to go directly into savings. Depending on your personal goals and situation, this percentage can vary, but it is important to funnel a portion of your earnings directly to savings. If you can, you should set up automatic savings with your bank, so that a portion of each paycheck is automatically deposited into your savings account. This way, you will save money without having to think about it.

Categorizing your spending in your budget can make it easier to track and control your expenditures. When you just lump everything together into a single category, it makes it harder to understand exactly where your money is going. By separating your spending into categories, you can see at a glance if you are starting to spend too much on luxuries. You can also find areas where you may be able to cut back and reduce your spending to save money.

While cash, credit cards and debit cards all have their advantages and disadvantages, it is generally best to minimize your use of credit cards due to their high interest rates and penalties. Use cash for everyday purchases such as groceries, gas or other items. If you do not feel comfortable carrying cash, use a debit card instead. Reserve your credit card for emergencies or major purchases, such as furniture or airline tickets. Just make sure that you plan ahead so that you can pay the balance off in full at the end of the month.

If you are carrying a significant amount of debt, paying it off needs to be your top priority. If one of your debts has a high interest rate, focus your efforts on paying that down first. Set aside a portion of your income to use for paying down your debts quickly. Any extra money you have at the end of the month should go toward your debts. In the long run, the money you save on interest will more than make up for it.

If you never take control of your finances, you will never be able to plan for a successful future. If you want to be able to achieve your goals, you need to start taking the necessary steps today. Proper budgeting is a key part of a sound financial strategy, so use this advice to start doing so today.

In order to budget your finances wisely you have to start at an early age and be well eaducated on the topic.

Visit: http://www.squidoo.com/teaching-children-about-money-management for tips and strategeis that will help your family finances and practice Frugal Living.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Video: How to Budget Your Finances

Need some more help understanding how to Budget your Finances. This video has some great tips and practical advice on budgetting your finances.

What do you think? Add your comments if you have any tips on how to budget your finances.