I recently attended an event to introduce Giffgaff’s financial service, Giffgaff Game Plan where I heard advice from some successful money bloggers. The Life Goals workshop included three topics: Bad Credit, Mortgages and Everyday Saving. I have made changes following the event which have changed our family finances for the better.
The first workshop I attended was Mortgages, where two mortgage brokers told us about how to get a mortgage.
Here are some of their tips, which could help if you are looking to buy a home soon:
- Talk to an advisor first and find out what you can borrow, and then find the house to match your budget.
- Make sure the advisor is registered with the FCA – the financial conduct authority.
- They will do an affordability test to see if your finances are in order and if you can afford a mortgage and a life.
- You need to keep an eye on your credit score. Giffgaff offer a free credit check on their gameplan website
- If you are looking for a house then get a mortgage in principle certificate, as it will make you more attractive to sellers and estate agents. It shows you are ready to buy the house with evidence of funds.
- When you are looking for a house with someone else, each make a list of things you want from a house before you start looking, so you know from the outset that one of you wants a big kitchen and the other wants a cosy reading nook, for example.
- If you find a house, then look to see when it was last sold, and how much it went for. Look at the street too.
- Remember the fees involved: advisor – product – lender – solicitor – search – removal – stamp duty.
The other workshop that I attended was Everyday Savings. I confess that I don’t usually think about saving money; I buy what I want to buy and don’t think about tomorrow. I don’t get in financial difficulty but I have nothing to fall back on if anything bad should happen!
This session was held by Eileen Adamson, a financial coach and PE teacher as well as money blogger from Scotland. She is passionate about encouraging people to talk about money and why it matters. She wants everyone to feel confident and in control of our money. Her session was very motivating and interactive with little games to help us along the way.
Not only did Eileen get us talking about what gets in the way of saving money and why it matters but what it means to us individually. It could be something as simple as retirement or dreams of going travelling or buying your own house. She explained that if you had a credit card with a maximum of £2,000 at 17.9% and you paid the minimum payment every month then it would take you 24 years to pay it off as well as paying an extra £2,580 in interest. But if you paid a fixed payment of £60 per month, it would take you 3 years and 9 months to pay it off with £698 interest. I was so surprised with these figures that it has encouraged me to save money.
After the event, I was so inspired that I have made some changes to my finances; let me share them with you!
- Meal plan! You can save up to £800 a year just from planning your meals. I have started meal planning, and not only are we eating more healthily, but it is also better for my pocket. I’ve also started doing online grocery shopping since I can easily become sidetracked in the supermarket and pop extra things in the trolley we don’t need (hello, new cardigan!).
- Haggling can save you up to £725 per year. Firstly, research on comparison sites for the best deals and then get in touch with your current provider via the online chat or email/phone. Make sure you remain polite. If you are unsure, just state you’ll think about it and try again in a week’s time. If that still doesn’t work you could always be passed through to the Retentions Team as they want to keep you. I really need to do this for Virgin!
- TopCashback and Quidco are affiliate marketing websites that give you a percentage of your money back when you buy something with online retailers. At the moment if you sign up using my link, you’ll get a £5 Zeek gift card too, as well as saving money every time you buy something you were going to buy anyway. So far I have earned £659.31 cashback! If you use Chrome as your main web browser when you’re buying things online, then install the TopCashback extension, as it will let you know every time you go on a site that offers cash back.
- Switch suppliers! The evening of the event I literally arrived home and jumped onto the Uswitch website (via topcashback!) I have saved £50 a month by changing to Bulb, and I get a good feeling whenever I think of them because they’re ethically better than nPower or anyone else. They supply 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas. You can get £50 credit for Bulb by joining via my link – I’ll get some money, too, when you join. I’ve also switched mortgage lenders and saved £120 a month. I used Trussle, which is a free online broker and was really easy. I used the email option for communication and it was as quick as I could manage to reply!
- Fiverr is a handy little website if you have some spare time and have a skill that’s worth sharing. It takes minutes to set up and you can earn money by simply sharing your talent with others.
- Simply analyse your spending. There are so many apps and websites but you could also write everything down. Thinking about my money has saved me about £50 a month because I was subscribing to different things (some of them identical!) and I don’t need them.
- Finally, Plum: Plum is a nifty little helper to get you to save money without you even noticing it. It links into your bank account, and analyses your spends. It skims off an amount that won’t cause you problems and pops it in a savings account. You can withdraw that money whenever you need to. Plum sends you a little message every day to tell you your bank account balance. It works via Facebook Messenger, which is a bit weird, but hey, so far it has saved me over £160, and I can tell you I had no intention of putting that on one side before I discovered Plum. If you want to try Plum then use this link (if 3 people use this link to sign up, I will earn £25 – you’ll get your own link to share!). It was super easy to set up and it has read-only access to your bank account.
I recommend checking out Giffgaff’s Game Plan as you can easily check your credit score, access your credit report, compare loans, credit cards and insurance, and learn some handy money tips from experts.