Monthly Archives January 2011

Money Saving Shopping Apps

As the world tightens its belt for a frugal year ahead in 2011, shopping aficionados will be looking for ways to get the most out of their budget, which means being a little wily when it comes to finding a bargain. The proliferation of mobile internet means there’s all manner of handy apps that can help cut the costs and guarantee savings – here’s a guide to the must have money saving shopping apps.

Moneydance

Stay on top of your finances and check before indulging in that ‘big buy’ – a personal money management tool, the Moneydance mobile app allows users access to finances on the move, with information on account balances, transactions and receipts.

eBay

Make sure you’re on hand to bag that bargain with the eBay mobile app – access your account, track and watch items and increase your bids.

XE Currency

Stay on top of your international purchases with this essential foreign currency convertor – perfect for travelling abroad and haggling on eBay.

Google Goggles
Visual search is the new big thing – if you see something you love, take a picture and search via Google Goggles, which will return relevant search results, meaning you can search for best prices online before committing on the high street.

Vouchercloud

Save money wherever you are with Voucher Cloud – the app uses Geolocation to find available discounts and promotions in relation to your current location.

Foursquare

The social contender of 2010 – more than a simple Geolocation tool, Foursquare allows users to earn loyalty points by visiting participating outlets and is expected to revolution the social/retail sphere in the coming years.

Redlaser

A barcode scanner app, which allows users to scan any bar code on any item and find out where the product is sold and for how much – the perfect bargain hunter accessory.

Vogue

Cutting edge trends from the shopping and fashion bible are now available on your phone – the app transfers the magazine into handheld format and introduces video and interactive design. Whilst it won’t ‘save’ you money, it can offer excellent inspiration on your way to the high street or car boot sale.

Bad Credit, Bad Driver?

Credit ratings and car insurance, two staples of modern life and two things that cause many people no end of worry! And, just to add to that worry, insurance companies are now using your credit score to help determine the cost of your car insurance!

Which means that you could be a model driver, with no claims or convictions and may never even have had so much as a parking ticket, but if you mess up your balance transfers or miss a couple of credit card payments shortly before renewing your car insurance, you could find yourself paying an inflated price for your premium!

The fuzzy logic behind this is an assumption that if you’re careful with your money you’re careful with your car…and, conversely, if you’re reckless with your money you’ll be reckless with your car!

This is a system that has been in place in the USA for some time now and the assertion that a reckless spender is a reckless driver is one that was supported by Donald Hanson of the National Association of Independent Insurers.

Mr Hanson said: “Research indicates that people who manage their personal finances responsibly tend to manage other important aspects of their life with that same level of responsibility and that would include being responsible behind the wheel of their car or being responsible in maintaining their home.”

So, according to Mr Hanson, if you have a bad credit score you’re a rubbish driver and you live in a slum!

And, as usual, where America leads the UK follows and so many people that are already in financial difficulty are finding that they’re being squeezed for even more money by this, seemingly arbitrary, pricing system.

But this system is already in place so it’s worth knowing factors that can affect your credit score so you can avoid having it adversely affected.

Below are a few factors that can have an effect on your credit rating, some being more obvious than others:

  • Missing or making making late payments on credit card bills, finance arrangements, utility bills or mortgage payments (in the past only missed payments were noted but now it’s late payments too).
  • Being close to the limit on your credit cards or overdrafts.
  • Having a short credit or no previous credit history.
  • Applying for a number of credit lines in a short space of time.
  • Not having a variety of credit lines, for example, installment loans (fixed payments such as car finance) and revolving loans (unsecured borrowing such as credit cards).
  • Declaring bankruptcy. 

So if any of the above relate to your current circumstances then you could be further penalized by your insurance company issuing you with a higher premium.

But there is a fairly simple, if not failsafe, way around this…buying your car insurance online.

Many companies that advertise and broker do not undertake credit checks as part of their online service so, if you buy car insurance via a comparison website, there’s a good chance that your credit score will not be factored into the price of your premium.

The failsafe, though potentially less straightforward, way around this is to maintain a healthy credit score and not run up unsustainable levels of debt!

In any case, it’s always a good idea to keep your finances in check and buying car insurance online is often the easier option!

Article by Les Roberts, car insurance and finance writer at Moneysupermarket.com

Nearly in the News

There’s a really handy feature of the BBC News website whereby readers can submit comments about a given story and share their experiences (it’s only available for a short while after a story is published so you have to be quick).

I recently read a story about MBNA hiking interest rates and as I would be most pleased if MBNA collapsed and all the senior staff ended up shouldering massive debts, I thought I’d make a comment about my experiences.

Shortly after I had an email from a reporter at the BBC asking me to get in touch. I had a few things to do before I had a chance to respond but I did and later that day I had a phone call from the reporter who asked me a few questions about my experience and if I would mind being interviewed. She told me the story may run later or another BBC show may pick up on it and ask me to comment.

I have to admit to being quite keen to share my experience of the way MBNA conduct business but alas the call never came.

Then yesterday, another call from the BBC! This time is was only because my experience was relating to debt and they wanted to ask me about my attitude towards debt and if it had changed since the financial crisis and the ongoing effects thereof, such as the recent VAT rise etc.

I happily exchanged information and I was once again asked if I’d mind recording something later for the news. It was explained to me that I didn’t quite tick all of the boxes in terms of what the model they had in kind but if they didn’t speak to anyone who was a closer fit they would be back in touch.

Alas, once again the call did not come.

But, on a positive note, I am now much more likely to submit a comment again if I read a story that has either affected me or I have some knowledge of because I now know there is a chance I may be able to contribute in some way.

So get involved, have your say.