Monthly Archives June 2007

Less Than a Week to Beat the Rate Rise

From Yahoo Financial News interest rates are set to rise by 25pct to 5.75 on Thursday.

They are expected to reach 6.00% by the end of 2007.

..it’s just as well I switched my mortgage from a variable rate tracker to a 2 year fixed rate product. My mortgage will now stay at 5.44% for the next 2 years.

I can’t imagine rates will drop over the next two years so I will have to shop around in a couple of years for the best rate but in the meantime I stand to save by comparison to the tracker mortgage I have just left behind.

And lucky me, I am friends with a mortgage advisor and have not been charged a fee…!

Doesn’t sound fair but I do occasionally recommend them to friends… 

I think I was lucky to get this rate too. The mortgage market has been fluctuating like crazy over the last few months. I was offered a better rate about a week before but when I finally had time to look at it, the offer had been withdrawn!

 

A Truly Nobel Gesture

As you may or may not know Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts with micro credits (or microloans or microfinance) in Bangladesh.

Providing small cash loans to people in thirld world countries enabling them to start their own small business.

Now you can follow in the footsteps of Muhammad Yunus and make a real difference to the world.

This has got to be one of the best ways to help under privileged people in third world countries, giving them the opportunity to work themselves out of poverty.

The website www.kiva.org makes it all possible. You lend whatever you can towards a persons target amount and when the person reaches their goal and starts to make a profit, your loan is repaid. You will even recieve status reports on how your investment is going.

You will be paid no interest and there is no guarantee that you will ever get your money back, even though chances are high:

So far, Kiva has experienced a 100% repayment rate on all businesses with completed loan terms.

“Prior to Kiva, our Field Partners have historically experienced a >96% repayment rate with the poor they serve.

In the past 30 years, over 100 million of the world’s poor have received a micro-loan and demonstrated a >95% repayment rate. ”

You can lend from USD 25 upwards with a credit card or bank transfer through PayPal.

Visit www.kiva.org and find a project you’d like to invest in!

Fake Students Elligible for Loans

This is old news (as in the story came out last month) but I’ve only just found the article.

Apparently around 1600 students enrolled across the UK don’t exist.

Fraudsters enrol then use their fake status to obtain student loans.

One such fraudster borrowed over £65,000 using 17 fake identities!

“The government-owned Student Loans Company will not say how much money it has lost in this single fraud but investigators say the figure could reach £1.2m. ”

Read the full story

 

Time for a New Postcode

In the last week two things have happened in the last week that suggest to me my neighbourhood is in decline.

Earlier this week I walked out of my front door only to notice across the road in the childrens park/play area were a small number of caravans, a few dogs and some makeshift washing lines. Lovely!

Luckily, within a few days they had been moved on.

This afternoon on returning home I noticed a friends car parked near my place which may not seem unusual but I wasn’t expecting them and I hadn’t seen them for some time.

Turns out they were actually visiting a house near mine because it belonged to their mother and within 1 week of her renting it out, it had been turned into a cannabis factory!

It’s now going to cost her £1000 to put the electrical wiring back as it should be because the would-be botanists had spliced into the mains.

 

Quick Loan Round-Up

Some recent shifts in interest rates have led to a shuffling in the order of unsecured personal loans available online through affiliate programs.

The current standings (correct as at 20/06/2007 – information sourced direct from the lenders websites).

Ordered by typical APR:

Moneyback Bank Loan – 6.2%

Alliance & Leicester – 6.4%

Halifax – 6.4%

Bank of Scotland – 6.4%

Liverpool Victoria – 6.7%

AA – 6.8%

Sainsbury’s – 6.9%

Tesco – 6.9%

Virgin – 7.3%

Marks & Spencer – 7.4%

Eskimo Loans – 7.9%

Consumers wishing to find out more about each of these loans can find links to all of the above products > here

 

Right Royal Mail

The Royal Mail recently attempted to post an item to me that was too large to fit through the letter box. I don’t actually recall hearing the doorbell, I just found one of those little red notes on my doormat telling me someone had tried to deliver a package.

I happened to notice the opening times had changed at my local collection depot to what first of all seemed like more sensible times.

They used to be open during more or less office hours and they are now open from 6am to 12pm then from 5pm to 7pm. 

Seems logical because people can pick their undelivered post up on the way to work or on the way home.

The only problem is, in the previous brief windows of opportunity the place used to get absolutely mobbed with people queuing out of the door and across the car park.

More people are likely to try and pick up their mail on the way home than bright and early in the morning which leaves just 2hrs between 5pm and 7pm. It’s going to be bedlam.

The place always seems short staffed, no one ever answers the phone and items of post are often ‘misplaced’.

This is a sure indication of the continued decline of the Royal Mail and it’s only going to get worse.

The Royal Mail has just lost the Amazon delivery contract worth £8million/year and staff are currently considering a strike over pay and working conditions.

It doesn’t look good.

Persistence Pays Off – Your Unexpected Interest Costs

After reading a misleading advert regarding an M&S credit card offer, a UK consumer withdrew a number of Euros expecting to pay no interest until January 2008.

Turns out the offer was for ‘brand new customers only’ and their subsequent statement revealed £20 worth of interest.

Several calls and appeals later, M&S finally repaid the interest but not without trying to dodge the issue first.

Read the full story at thisismoney.co.uk

Who’s Responsible for Recycling?

I live in Southampton, UK. It’s not a small city and collectively we must produce tons of waste every hour and yet when I asked my local council for a glass bin (a plastic box some councils provide for people to put their glass in which gets taken away on a specific day and recycled. There have even been NATIONAL adverts about them and the benefits of glass recycling) I was told ‘we don’t provide them in Southampton’.

Seriously?? What’s worse is the council representative even told me I could just put my glass in the non-recyclable bin. Naturally I asked if glass would still be sorted and recycled if I did this and I was told ‘No’.

So why would I do that? Why, when there is talk of people being fined for not recycling correctly, are councils encouraging this?

Seems to me that the only way to recycle my glass properly is to take it to the nearest bottle bank and do it myself. I don’t mind, the sound of breaking glass is good for the soul!

In my opinion, as far as being responsible for recycling is concerned, anyone that has the time and the inclination is a good place to start.

And if we are all honest with ourselves, given a choice of two bins (one for recyclable and the other for non-recyclable), who doesn’t have the time to do their bit? If you had two bins, you would have to be an idiot to intentionally put rubbish in the wrong bin.

I may speak strongly on this matter but we’ve only got one planet to choose from so if this one spirals into an environmental catastrophe, where are you going to move to? Are you going to hop on the nearest space ship and fly off to colonize a new world?

The pressure is on and if you watch too many documentaries you could be misled into believing it’s already to late… That being the case, what’s the point in trying to fix it…? But you don’t know for sure. You don’t have all the answers so why take a chance?

It’s like smoking. If you knew 100% that the next cigarette would be the one that gives you fatal lung cancer, would you smoke it?

Think about the ‘The Butterfly Affect’? The phrase is taken from a famous short story by Ray Bradbury (A Sound of Thunder) about time travellers  going back in time to hunt dinosaurs that are just about to die from natural causes (so no disruption to what was going to happen anyway) The hunters move along an ‘anti-gravity’ path so they don’t affect their surroundings.

One hunter gets delusional and strays from the path. When the hunters return to their own time the entire world has changed and only then does the wandering time traveller discover a dead butterfly in the sole of his shoe…..

The actions of one can affect the lives of many. (It’s not just a corny movie catchphrase, it’s been proven throughout history!)

With this in mind, we are all responsible and we all must take action. It may mean we have to do even more with our already precious time. It may mean we have to make a little more effort and spend a few more minutes on our feet each day but if you think about it seriously, the pro outweighs the con by a massive margin. Doesn’t it.

If you try, noone can EVER say you didn’t…….

Google, Google, Google….

I’m not going to harp on about this because it’s known by webmasters around the world as ‘one of those things’, but one of my sites has suddenly dropped from ranking between 8th and 10th on Google to around 40th for a popular search phrase.

I could rant on about this because yes, it makes my blood boil when things like this happen. Maybe because they are totally out of my control, or maybe because it suddenly removes a bit of extra income I was just getting used to….

Nonetheless it smarts and I just wanted to take the time to say to anyone else this has happened to, I feel your pain…

Just remember, death and taxes (and maybe a nurse if you’re lucky…).