Monthly Archives August 2009

Envirofone or Mazuma Mobile?

What an excellent idea. Recycle your old phones for cash!

I had three of them lying around and I thought I’d see who offered the best deal.

I started with the two most advertised options because I’ve been brainwashed into thinking everything I see on television is true.

But then thanks to Google and competitive advertising I came across a few providers offering the same service so I thought to myself, ‘right, who’s going to give me the most money for these wastes of (drawer) space?’

I may have spent more time than necessary trying to find out and it’s possible that if I had been working I could have earned more in the time it took to find an extra £1 her or there.

On top of which I’ve written this but if it helps, why not…

I have looked into the following mobile phone buying companies:

Envirofone, Mazuma Mobile, Mopay, Fone Bank, GreenTecMobile Phone Xchange.

The phones I have are: Nokia 7250, Nokia 6233 & Motorola Pebl (U6)

And here’s what I found:

Company / Phone
Nokia 7250 Motorola Pebl Nokia 6233 Total
envirofone £2.12 £3.06 £28.67 £33.85
Mazuma Mobile £3 £3 £30 £36
Mobile Phone Xchange £No listing £No listing £31 £31 (1)
Fone Bank £4 £4 £32 £40
Mopay £4 £5.85 £30 £39.85
GreenTec £No listing £6.11 £32.74 £38.86 (2)

At first glance it looks as though Fone Bank are the leaders but GreenTec come a very close 3rd with only 2 of the phones.

To maximize on he potential value of my phones, if I sell 2 to GreenTec and one to Mopay or Fone Bank I’ll actually make £42.86

What this suggests is if you want to make the most money you can from your old phones it pays to shop around a bit.

Or you could use one of the comparison websites set up to find who offers the most for your phone and of the few I’ve seen the best so far is but, they don’t include GreenTec which could offer the most!

Top tips for choosing a breakdown cover policy

Have you ever driven past a car broken down by the side of the road with the bonnet up and a rather flustered person looking into the engine?

The answer to this question is most likely to be yes.

Now think back to the last time you saw someone broken down and try to remember what your first thought was. If I had breakdown cover, I know mine would be ‘I wonder if they have breakdown cover’.

If I didn’t have breakdown cover, my first thought would probably be, ‘that’s going to be an expensive day for that driver’.

Breakdown cover can prove to be worth its weight in gold in the event of a breakdown and has the potential to save you a lot of money if you ever do break down.

Therefore, I thought I’d bring you some top tips to consider when you look for your next breakdown cover policy.

1. Think about where and when you are most likely to need your breakdown cover.

If you only drive your car around the town in which you live, you would probably look for basic to comprehensive cover. If you drive further afield on a regular basis, you might be better off with a comprehensive to premium policy.

2. Look for any discounts the provider is offering. Some offer online discounts of around 30-40% and this could prove useful in reducing the price of your policy.

3. Remember that even the most basic of breakdown cover policies will usually be better than having no policy at all.

According to the RAC, the average cost of a call-out charge for a private recovery levied by an independent recovery contractor is £50. You will then be charged around £1.50 per return mile (the independent recovery contractor will charge you per mile from when they leave the depot until they get back to the depot) to be towed. This would result in a cost of £188.13 for one call out and to be towed 10 miles (use a breakdown cover calculator to test this out). When you consider that basic breakdown cover policies start from as little as £25 a year, you can really see why having some breakdown cover will likely be better than having none at all.

How to Protect your PIN

Thanks to the introduction of Chip and PIN your debit and credit cards are “much less likely to be used fraudulently in the UK” according to Apacs, the UK payments association.

However, in order for Chip and PIN to be successful, we all need to continue to look after our PINs to keep them out of the hands of fraudsters because they are the key to your money if your cards are stolen.

As it is so important to your day-to-day finances, here are some tips on how to keep your PIN safe.

Keeping your PIN secret

• When you receive your PIN through the post memorise it and destroy the notification as soon as you can. If the automatically-generated PIN sent to you is hard to remember, change it to something you can remember more easily. You can do this at a cash machine.
• Never tell ANYONE your PIN, even bank staff. Nobody should know your PIN but you. If you receive an email or telephone call which asks you to confirm your debit or credit card PIN number, DO NOT give it as it is information that you will never be asked for.
• Don’t keep your PIN saved as a number in your mobile phone.
• Don’t write your PIN down anywhere.
• Whenever you enter your PIN use your other hand or even your body to hide the number entry from any hidden cameras or fraudsters’ prying eyes.
• If you suspect that someone has seen or learnt your PIN, change it as soon as possible. You can do this at a cash machine.

Protecting your PIN when shopping

• NEVER let your debit or credit card out of your sight when you are making a payment. Some fraudsters will try to ‘skim’ your card in a machine hidden out of view that will record your card details before it is put in the real card machine.
• Shield your PIN using your spare hand or body to keep it hidden from prying eyes or hidden cameras.

Protecting your PIN at the cash machine

• While at the cash machine, be aware of who is around you. If there is someone near you behaving in a suspicious way or just generally making you feel uncomfortable, cancel the transaction, take your debit or credit card and leave the machine.
• Look out for signs that the cash machine you are using has been tampered with. If you suspect that it has been messed with, DON’T use it and report the issue to the corresponding bank immediately.
• Never accept help from strangers when at a cash machine.
• Don’t allow anyone to distract you while at the cash point.


NEW credit card calculators on

You can now take control of your credit card finances with the three new calculators just launched on

All three of our new calculators are easy to use and will display your results in writing, as a graph and in a table, giving you the information you need to know what to do next.

We have also updated our Balance Transfer Calculator so it now has the functionality to allow you to input more than one existing card balance when working out how much you’d save by moving your debt.

It’s only by using credit card calculators such as these that you can really get a true idea of how much it could cost you if you don’t manage your balances properly.

Credit Card payoff calculator –

Use this great new tool to see how long it will take you to pay off your current credit card balance and also to set a repayment plan if you want to clear the balance in a set number of months. You can also set a desired monthly payment and work out how long it will take to pay off your credit card balance based on how much you can afford each month.

Balance transfer vs low rate credit card calculator –

Last year saw the launch of low rate credit cards which offer a low admin fee and a low typical APR of around 6-8% on your credit card balance for a set amount of time. However, along with the launch of this new type of credit card came the question of whether it is cheaper to use a low rate credit card or a balance transfer credit card. This calculator has been designed to answer that question for you.

Minimum repayment credit card calculator –

Did you know that paying off just the minimum repayments towards a balance of £2,000 on a credit card charging 15.9% would take 29 years and four months to pay off (2% minimum repayments) and cost you an extra £2,997.83 in interest fees? This handy credit card tool will show you the true cost of making minimum repayments and how long it will take you to clear your debt. You can also play around with it a bit and see what a big difference it makes if you increase your monthly repayments slightly.

What if House Prices Don’t Keep Falling?

Everybody loves a good crisis. People tend to confabulate, conflate, deliberate and speculate as things develop and numerous points of view emerge.

The current house price crash is no different.

It is without doubt a crisis and there are a variety of opinions on the future of house prices.

The general feeling is that prices will continue to fall and there could still be quite a way to go before they bottom out.

But what if this isn’t the case?

The argument for a continued decline in prices is based on graphs of former house price crashes and graphs about the price to earnings ratio, both of which do suggest things don’t look good.

Coupled with the overall picture of the global economy it is fairly safe to say a robust recovery is still some way off but are there any factors that could prevent house prices from plummeting any further?

There has been recent news to suggest prices have crept up in some areas already but such ‘blips’ are common during an overall decline.

There is still a huge demand for houses but buyers have been and are still being stifled by uncertainty and a large proportion of UK homeowners are now either in negative equity, close to negative equity or stuck with a high ‘loan to value’ mortgage and unable to move.

But rates are low and according to recent news they could stay low for many years.

So for people with low loan to value mortgages there is a very real opportunity to upsize and still have manageable monthly repayments.

A fortunate few new buyers with big enough deposits are able to shop around for bargains.

But will the numbers add up to enough prospective buys to prevent prices from falling?

What would happen if house prices do stop falling?

The affordability ratio had been skewed for several years toward the high end before the bubble burst and people were still clambering over each other to buy so is the affordability ratio really a determining factor in the direction of house prices?

Bipolar Economic Thinking

The Bank of England recently warned that economic recovery could be slow.

That much is not in dispute. The banks and government of the UK have seen to that (thanks by the way).

But when and how a recovery will take place is still very uncertain and I’m not an expert on the subject so I can’t answer the question of why it is uncertain.

B of E thinking behind future economic growth is saying: GDP growth could be anywhere between -1% and 5.5% by the end of 2012.

The UK economy could still be declining in 3 years time? Did I read that right?

Or, it could be growing at a healthy rate of 5.5%

So which is it and why is the thinking so vague?

What else lies beneath the murky waters of debt, house prices, unemployment, increasing interest rates, low consumer confidence and quantitative easing that could yet bite the UK’s backside while it attempts to paddle to the safety of the shore and begin the slow trudge out of the wet sand onto a bright sunny beach of a future?

Well isn’t that lot enough?

The fact is we are still in the middle of a very big mess.

Some banks are back to paying huge bonuses and the FSA has decided to step back from the argument. Why? It’s vulgar of banks to charge their customers high interest rates (compared to the base rate of 0.5%) and bank charges so they can continue to live the life of Riley and ‘re-balance their books’.

Why are customers suffering and the executives grinning when the banks got themselves into this mess?

And why is the regulatory body not doing enough about it?