Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Free Financial Planning & Money Workshop

Every Thursday, I’ll be offering a free Financial Planning & Money Workshop every Thursday 7-8 pm.

It takes place at Lawn Community Centre in Swindon.
Starts on Thursday 19 October.

Map Link to Lawn Community Centre

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Northern Rock Mortgages: Hidden costs

Northern Rock have been advertising a Fixed Rate Remortgage at 4.49% for 2 years.

Sounds not bad….but look at the small print.
“There’s a product fee of 1.5% of the loan payable for setting up this mortgage. Other fees will also apply” .

This means on a mortgage of £150 000, you pay £2 250. There is also a booking fee of £75.

Plus they don’t pay your legal or valuation Fees. Any good remortgage deal will do this

Conclusion: Avoid

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free DVD Rental

Want to rent some DVDs for free? Most of the big DVD rental companies operating by post are operating free trials.

You can get up to a month free….but remember to cancel before the end of the period…otherwise you’ll start paying.

There is a list at

Note that many of the sites are powered by Screen Select or Love Film….you’ll only get one free rental period if you sign up to any companies.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Cheaper Train Tickets

It’s well known that train fares are over priced.
However you can reduce prices by buying 2 more tickets.
If poosible split up your journey into a series of cheap day returns.

For example the normal return fare to London from Swindon is £37!
With 2 tickets, cost is £23.50

I bought a cheap day return Swindon to Didcot £6.90
Then a cheap day return Didcot to London £16.60

You can purchase your tickets online at

Also look out for bargain single tickets eg Swindon to Didcot £2.50

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

BBC Radio Swindon Travel Money

Going on holiday can be expensive, however here are some tips to make your money go furrther abroad.

Cash vs Credit cards vs Traveller’s Cheques

Traveller’s cheques are safe & secure but the exchange rateis poor compared to the other two


In the UK, most places now offer to buy back your unused notes.

Two places which offer competive rates are the Post office and Marks & Spencer. You can order currency at sub Post offices & the money will be there the next day

Credit Cards

In theory credit cards, should offer the best deal however only really with a couple of cards

The best card to use is probably Nationwide’s. There is no charge for using it abroad. Most cards will charge you 2.75% of the amount .

Saga for the over 50s offers a % charge in Europe but 1% outside Europe

If you withdraw it cash using a credit card, standard charges are 2% with a minimum of £2.

Note: if you have a Nationwide Flexaccount Debit card, there are no charges for purchases or for making cash withdrawls.

BBC Radio Swindon II: Travel Insurance

Why do I need it?

What hapens if you lose your baggage or need medical treatment....

Golden Rule
don’t get it from your travel operator!

Usually 2 choices single trip insurance or annual insurance
Annual starts to become the best buy when you make more than 2 trips a year.

Costs can vary according also to where you are going eg more in the USA because of expensive medical bills.

Who offer the best deals?

Go to a broker/price comparison site eg

European health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Replaces E111, get free or discounted medical treatment in any EU country + Switzerland
Get from Post Offices, Tel: 0845 606 2030 or Department of Health Website

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Beware of Free Gifts!

Many financial organisations are offering refer a friend scheme to get new customers. Typically this involves a £20 from Marks & Spencer.

However products are not always very competitive

Eg Priveledge Insurance offer vaious inducements such as the chance to win a butler for the day, a pair tickets for Premiership or Scottish Premier League match or £500 to spend with a personal shopper.

The Telegraph quotes the folowing example

  • Cover for a 56-year-old female driver with five years' no
  • claims bonus
  • Living in south east London.
  • Driving a Ford Ka
Budget insurance are £50 cheaper, with a premium of £157.50
Privilege's £206.85.
With 12 Insurers offering lower rates than Priveledge

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Endowments: BBC Swindon Feature

Prudential anounced on Tuesay 9 May they are introducing a 6 month deadline for complaints about mis-sold endowments.

110 000 could be affected.

However there was recent courtcase brought by Friends Provident policyholder, who had earlier set a cut off point. The client won £1 500 in compensation although because the hearing took place in a county court, it will not create a legal precedent.

Zurich also put out a letter dated 2nd February 2006, advising customers they had to make a claim before 1st Febraury 2006!

The Which Endowment site is the best starting point for those thinking about claiming compensation.

For a good series of articles see the Guardian.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Lizard Needs New Lair

The title refers to a story featuring myself & clients Picture Lizard in the Swindon Evening Advertiser this week

The full story can be found here.

Thanks to Leigh at the Advertiser.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

AP meets the BBC

Was interviewed on BBC Radio Swindon today by Graham Seaman.

We talked about marketing & the financial aspects of running a small business

For listeners, here is a link to the
10 Ways to Get Richer in 2006 feature.

Many thanks to Graham, Kelly & Annie at the BBC.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Insurance Homepage

Insurance is for security & peace of mind.

One person in couple have a big debt....
Can you pay off the mortgage?...Will the lender reposses the house?

What happens if you lose your job?

What about if you can;t work because of illness?

4.2m Homes with no Life Cover

What is Home Insurance?

Reduce Home Insurance Premiums

Cost of Wedding....& Insurance

Beware of Free Gifts

Related: Mortgages Homepage

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Best Equity ISAs?

The Independent asked some leading IFAs (Independent Financial Advisers) about their fund selection earlier in the year
Here are their results.

The Investco Perpetual Fund had very impressive growth of 156.5% over the last three years.

UK Funds

  • Invesco Perpetual U.K. Aggressive
  • Liontrust First Growth
  • Artemis Alpha
  • M&G U.K. Select
  • Rensburgh U.K. Select Growth

Overseas Funds

  • Legg Mason Japan Equity
  • Legg Mason U.S. Equity
  • Morrant Wright Japan Income
  • Baillie Gifford Japan
  • Artemis European Growth

Thanks to Rob Lewis

ISA Deadline 5 April.
Use your Allowance or Lose It!

Maximising ISA Potential

You can invest up to £7 000 in a Maxi ISA.

Additionally you have the potential for much higher returns than a Cash ISA.

Normally the money is invested in a number of funds. Typically it will be a mixture of Corporate Bonds & FTSE 100 Shares.

It is something you will need advice on, an IFA should be able to help

ISA Deadline 5 April. Use your Allowance or Lose It!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Best Cash ISA...?

Every bank/building society is after your money with all kinds of claims for their cash ISAs.

What is the best ISA?

Let’s lay down some basic criteria

1 Guaranteed rates, not just for the weeks leading up to the Isa deadline
2 Easy access, you can get at you money if necessary

Currently it’s Alliance & Leicester @ 5.2%

Minimum opening amount £1
Rate guarenteed 0.7% above the Bank of England Base Rate

A&L Website

Also: there is a special promotion for their Award Winning Current Account
Do it though an IFA and get a £25 cash bonus!

ISA Deadline 5 April. Use your Allowance or Lose It!

Friday, March 24, 2006

ISA Deadline: 5th April 2006

Don't forget the ISA deadline of 5th April.
You can invest up to £3 000 in a cash ISA or £7 000 in a share ISA.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Beer Bargain

Tesco are offering 4 cans of Extra Value Bitter for 99p.

It is nice, better than Tetley's & their “Best Bitter”. (It is not Royal Duch Post in disguise)

Drink responsibly!

Cheaper Broadband

Want to get Cheaper Broadband?

There are a few price comparison sitesThe most useful one I found was Simply Switch. You insert your postcode and your requirements.

For technical information on the different providers/ISPs go to

I won’t recommend any company as prices & specifications change all the time. (This site does not have sponsored click throughs & blanket recommendations!)

Although if you’ve got 2 PCs, Wanadoo’s £17.99 Wirless & Talk offer is currently good value. If readers have any suggestions or comments please click on the comments icon.

Tags: , , , ,
Related: Save £2 500 pa on your Mortgage, Slash your Fuel Bills, Lower your Credit Card Bill

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Money Saving March

Rob Lewis has a great set of ideas in his Money Saving March feature.

So far he’s looked at tax, mortgages & insurance.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What are Self Certified Mortgages?

A self certified mortgage is where you declare your income for mortgages purposes without the usual employer references.

It’s useful for self employed people or those who can not provide all the paper work initially. (they can not confirm their income until the year’s accounts are done).

Rates can be higher than standard mortgages, except for remortgages where the person has a track record of repayments

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Swindon Credit Unions

If you are unemployed, have debts or County Court Judgements (CCJs) saving & borrowing money are fraught with problems.

Often the only people willing to loan money are unscrupulous & charge exstortionate rates of interest.

In most towns, there are now credit unions who can help & advise.

In Swindon there are 2, details can be found at Credit Unions in Swindon.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

4.2m Mortgages with No Life Cover

no life cover mortgagesAn estimated 4.2 million people with mortgages do not have life insurance to cover an estimated £217 billion of debt according to Sainsbury's Bank.

They also found those with 42% of those with mortgages have not reviewed their life assurance to look for savings and could be wasting money

Both figures are quite scary

February in Numbers

3 Remortgages in the same family arranged
1 Bank Heist in Kent & Money Laundering Attempt (not involved)
1 Mortgage Scandal involving Government Minister Tessa Jowel (not involved)
0 Interest Rate Changes by the Bank of England
4 Networking Events attended
100s of business cards collected
1 Massive Google Page Ranking (Thanks!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What is a Tracker Mortgage?

A Tracker Mortgage “tracks” (follows) the Bank of England Base Rate (BoEBR) usually plus a certain figure eg 0.5%.

At the moment the BoEBR is 4.5%, so you will pay 5% interest.

If the BoEBR falls to 4.0%, you pay 4.5%
If it rises to 5% you pay 5%.

How about a discounted tracker mortgage?

This is where for 2-5 years the interest rate will be a small fraction above the BoEBR.

After it will revert to a higher figure, usually the Standard Variable Rate (SVR, around 6.5% currently).

Note the caveats at the bottom of the page!

Tim Almond: DVDs & Money Off Coupons

IT Software consultant Tim Almond has suggested some really good consumer tips by email.

Find the best deal on a DVD across the world
Just make sure you are geared up for multiregion.

Search for coupons. Next time you are thinking of going to an online retailer.....Google for "storename +coupon". Sometimes, you can find something that can save £10 or £20 off an item.

He's also got a Swindon Dining Guide, for those of us lucky to live in the area

What is a Fixed Interest Mortgage?

A Fixed Interest Mortgage guarantees the mortgage interest rate for typically 2,3,5 years.

Currently (28/2/06) most rates are between 4.5 and 5%.

Attractions of Fixed Rate Mortgages

1 You know your mortgage repayments for 2,3,5 years
2 The rate won’t go up.
3 Good rates are available.

Disadvantages of Fixed Rate Mortgages

1 Normally pay a fee of £400-500.
2 Don’t benefit if rates go down.
3 Repayment goes up dramatically after the fixed period ends.
4 You’re caught in a constant cycle of remortgaging to get the benefits.
5 There are severe penalties for switching mortgage during the term.

Like any serious financial commitment it is recommended you take proper advice. Please note the caveats at the foot of the page.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kent Robbery: Money Laundering

Every time there is a major bank robbery, there is speculation how the money will be laundered.

The culprits of the recent bank robbery in Kent have already tried to place some of the money in the Portman Building Society. The staff alerted the police when a large amount of cash was deposited.

What the robbers are trying to do is give the money a legitimate source. This can be done by buying investments & surrendering the money early. The money is then routed through a complicated route of other financial institutions.

When make contact with a financial institution or adviser for the first time, you have to give 2 forms of identity. The reason….Money Laundering legislation.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Has Martin Lewis Jumped the Shark?


I had a full & frank discussion with Martin .
No prisoners taken.

I asked him about his relationship with certain financial organisations. He took the bait & went ballistic but we kissed & made up. A fan of his posted at 2am in the morning that I was despicable. All for being an Independent Financial Adviser who does not have any links with any financial providers!!

Strangely enough he didn't mention his book. Schoolboy error.

Thing I don't understand is how 2 very nice ladies I met recently in their late 20s said they really liked him!!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Well done Scotland. Sportsmanship

Well done to Scotland for beating England at Rugby 18-12.
I am Scottish & my mother has red hair!

England played well & were magnaminous in defeat.
The sportsmanship & comradery in Rugby put football to shame.

Note: Football is my first love.