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www.smartpound.com. Lots of bargains
Live in a London Borough and are over 60 or Disabled?. Get in touch with http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14305.aspx and apply for a free Oyster Card (Freedom card) to travel overground or underground. I don't live in London but my local travel card works a treat on the buses there
http://www.supersavvyme.co.uk/tag/coupon Just register with Supersavvyme to print off loads of money off vouchers for the big stores
January 2013. I was pleased I swapped from Eon to Co-op Energy. I saved at least £20 a month and their prices did not rise when all the big company's did. I even got a surprise payment from Eon, who had charged me for leaving. They found they shouldn't have.
October 2012. Can't believe it is a year since I posted my last comment on this. But it probably WOULD be wise to make a comparison if you feel that your prices will go up a lot. Again, you may be able to get a fix. Even if you are on a contract it is sometimes worth paying to break it. I did so when I felt that I would get a better deal with Coop Energy (fron E-On) as a result of joining a group via the Which magazine. So far it seems to have been worth it.
To fix or not to fix ? It is all a gamble and, either way, you may finish up kicking yourself. BUT... for once there is a forecast that gas prices may not be higher in 2012 and may even fall. It all depends on the forward purchasing of the energy suppliers. And due to an exceptionally warm Autumn (and due to the state of industry in a recession) in the UK and in Europe the storage capacity is full to overflowing for once. So the importers are not buying and the price is dropping. But it didn't stop the big companies putting up the prices, late in 2012. But from 2013 onwards... who can say ?
This is such a complicated issue that it is best to seek the guidance of an independent comparison site, for instance UKPower. You can try it, now, from this page :
Other comparison site can be found at
on this subject.
I joined other 'Which' Readers to search for a better deal and signed up for Coopenergy. I am saving at least £20 a month and their price has NOT gone up with the rest..
If you want to compare bills for commercial/business energy prices, use Utility-Exchange
Saga signed up with a company which is offering a free economy package for water and electricity to over 70s. See http://www.littlefoot.co.uk/saga
Energy prices vary quite a lot between suppliers. But it is not just a question of changing supplier, which can be a bit of a nuisance. You should first find out if your supplier has a cheaper rate. With my last deal I found that if I used direct debit, had on line bills and agreed to stay with them for a while my total discount was 27.3%! The majority of this (19.3%)was because I was willing to handle the account on line. This included telling them my meter readings and printing my bills. But it is well worth it for the company, as it avoids them having to send out a meter reader every quarter (and him having to come back a couple of times) Unfortunately deals like this come to an end. Even so, when it did I immediately found a better arrangement with my supplier than the one they had put me on. You really have to keep an eye on it - just like saving accounts.
For a bit of fun (!) I decided to check my energy bill. They don't make it easy and there is no way you can believe someone who knocks on your door and tries to convince you to change. I had to multiply my gas reading by 11 to get Kwh then divide one of their annual figures by 4... then take away the number they first thought of.......OMG.
Another site that helps people at home or with their business to save on their energy costs is electricityprices that provides all the up to date and latest tariffs on offer from all the major energy companies in the UK.
Examples of saving. My Mondeo car battery was on its last legs and you can't risk being stuck this weather. So I shopped around for a 3 year guarantee battery. Halfords were talking about £90+ and, although Quickfit price was around £70 they wanted to charge me for disposal. Well, if they don't get paid for scrap lead I would be surprised. Euro Car Parts would deliver a little known make for £65 or an Exide for £70. Battery Megastore was only £42 delivered (unknown make). In the end I paid £55 delivered from CarParts4less for an Exide. Next, I needed a battery for a Fiesta. As I needed it quickly I got a two year guaranteed (little known) make from a local shop for £40. I should have planned it better. A 4 year guaranteed Bosch from http://www.carparts4less.co.uk/car-battery is only £34.99 delivered.
Daily Mirror ideas : The Davis- Carr family were paid a surprise £100,000 by Youtube because their video " harlie bit my finger" after millions watched it
Sell your CDs and DVDs on line via www.musicmagpie.co.uk
Sell your old mobile phone via www.mazumamobile.com
Get paid for your opinions on productions. See www.panelbase.net
Sell photographs www.picturenation.co.uk
Competitions. See www.compersnews.com But beware, every time you give sites your email you are inviting spam as they may sell your address on. It might be best to set up a separate email address for such activities.
A long time ago I appealed against my rating band and won. I have been paying less ever since. If you want to try to do the same take a look at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/council-tax-bands-change You may even get a rebate for the last few years.
Did you know that, if your surface water (off your roof) goes to a soakaway in the garden instead of the public drain you are likely to get a discount from your water company ? I didn't until this year and will be getting £37 knocked off the annual bill. Shame the company didn't tell me 45 years ago. I would have saved over £1600. OFWAT ought to have a go at them on this one.
May 2012 Dog 'chipping' is in the news. It is possible to get it done FREE at http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ if you can find a local branch (they have a map).
Aug 2011 HAGGLING ! Excellent article on saving money by haggling at MoneySavings Expert They got feedback from people who had tried to get reductions by saying they would leave a service. The success rate was Sky (78%), The AA (73%), RAC 59%, all the mobile phone companies, Admiral, BT and TalkTalk. In another article people got vast amounts off articles in Shops including Comet, Halfords (£200 off a Sat Nav!) and even John Lewis (£200 off a stove)
Aug 2011 If you regularly travel it is worth looking https://www.liftshare.com/uk/ Hundreds of lifts offered. Just type in your town. You may be able to OFFER a lift, too.
Aug 2011 I often use a Paypal account both to buy and to sell things. I seems secure and the currency becomes irrelevant. They now say you can send people money as long as they have ab email address. See https://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/sendmoney/index.htm as to how to do this
June 2011 Free solar energy ? An advert in Saga magazine by www.Homesun.com indicates that, for selected houses, they will provide free solar panels. You must have a south facing roof with 20m2 space, be south of Hull and are more than 500m from the sea. The scheme is backed by Michael Fish (retired weather forecaster). He would like one himself but is living in a conservation area ! It all seems too good to be true but worth enquiring if you think you qualify. I know the government is backing such schemes. I would like to hear from anyone who gets this done.
Getting cheaper car insurance. A useful article can be found at http://www.topcashback.co.uk/blog/get-moneyback-and-get-cheap-car-insurance
I find the type of plug that automatically turns off ALL my PC equipment when I turn off the PC very useful. I have another for the TV, set top box, VCR and DVD setup. No more standby lights all night. I got mine from Eon.
Years ago I challenged the council tax band I was allocated and got it reduced. MoneysavingsExpert is saying that "Council tax bands last valued 20 YEARS ago. 400,000 homes still may be in wrong band from 1 April 1991 - check, challenge & get £1,000s back!
Beware of sites that tell you you can make hundreds of pounds a week for a few hours work. Always do a search on such sites and see what others say. Most of them are making a good living out of selling their system to YOU ! So, do your research before sending off any cash.
I have to admit that I buy quite a lot on line e.g. computer accessories, printing ink and even our last two cars. I often seem to finish up on Amazon, Ebay or Ebuyer sites because my Google search has led me there. Some of the prices make it difficult to imaging how the seller can make a profit, as the delivery charges are often very small or none at all. For instance I wanted a charger for a Canon camera. I paid under £10 for a well made item sent from Hong Kong. Surprisingly it came with an additional chargeable battery and an adapter so I could charge it in the car !
After the car scrappage scheme, which benefited the motor industry and numerous people who could afford a new car, why not a Household Windows Scrappage scheme for the even greater number of people who would benefit from double glazing but hitherto felt that, on balance, it would take years to recoup the high cost? Well, there IS a petition to No 10 which is going well.
I really do recommend that people sign up to get regular emails from the Money Savings Expert at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/site/money-tips-email-faqs
You have quite a lot of protection whilst buying on line under the Distance
Selling Regulations . See
be too put off by the scary stories of web scams but be careful. The
most secure website addresses start with Https and show a gold padlock on
the bottom line. But if you, click on the padlock and it doesn't give details
it is just a fake icon - nothing more!
Did you realise that you have a little MORE protection under the Distant Selling Regulations (DSR) In fact you can return anything within 7 days just because you don't want it, without incurring cost. Recently Apple had to stop charging for collecting items because the charge was contrary to the DSR.
Be aware of the Duty regulations if you are importing things from outside
the EU and the VAT regulations even within it. Duty and VAT are only charged
if the total cost to you is over £18. If you are getting the goods as
a gift this is raised to £36. Duty is charged at a (varying) percentage
of the total cost to you but will not be collected if it amounts to less
Sept 08 Magazine PCPro asked their subscribers about their favourite online retailers. These were the results :
If you have problems with purchases there are a number of other sites to help :
http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ Is a government site which enables you to find tradesmen in your area
Friday Ad Newsfeed http://www.friday-ad.co.uk/Class/120/ParentClass/5007/Category/7/Name/Computers/Web/rssFeeds.rss
SAVING MONEY ON COMPUTER and other PURCHASES
I always put a few words about an item such as External Hard Disk into a Google Search (for the UK) and see where it leads. Often it is to "comparison" sites such as www.pricerunner.co.uk, where the cheapest prices can be found. It sometimes leads to sites such as Amazon, which is not just for books. But it also might lead to auction sites such as Ebay. There is even a site which shows very cheap items which are in their last few minutes of an auction such as http://www.lastminute-auction.com/uk/. Believe me, pounds can be save by searching around.
Look at the difference in Car Insurance on this list:
There is not a better site for advice on money saving than www.moneysavingsexpert.com Sign up to it and save money. I did,
To see my page on Computer Fairs : Click
Previous Bargains of the week (may no longer be current) included :
VOUCHERS and promotional codes are the in thing these days with many companies vying for your business by offering money off and 2 for 1 deals.
Latest MS Works Suite (8.5) for £7.95 inc. post www.amazon.co.uk. Word processor, spreadsheet, Calendar, database, spellchecker, Powerpoint Viewer and Share Files with Word and Excel
Cheap ink (69p for Canon) and blank CDs and DVD http://www.ukdvdr.co.uk/shop/home.php
Buying a PC
Although I do a lot of computing I try to keep my hobby within reasonable cost bounds, not buying things I don't really need. Prices can also vary greatly in the technology field and paying less does not necessarily mean getting poorer quality. I have a page on this subject at Help32.
For price comparisons on many items look at www.pricerunner.co.uk or www.kelkoo.co.uk http://www.shopzilla.co.uk/ or Uswitch
If you are keen to upgrade have a look at site such as www.ebuyer.co.uk Put the items in 'Cost order' to see the cheapest. Beware that some of these items might not work with an old machine and it is essential to look at the 'specification' of what they require in the way of computer speed, memory, hard disk space and which Windows. Often it can be something like 'Minimum 400Mhz (chip), 32Mb memory, 16Mb hard disk space and Windows 98SE'. So beware.
Because of mass production newer memory is often cheaper than the older type (another reason not to hang on to an old machine) But you must check that you have the right type for your PC. (www.crucial.com) The latest memory won't (physically) fit into old machines. How much memory do you need? Windows XP demands a minimum of 128Mb but. these days I am recommending at least 512Mb. This is due to the fact that one needs so many additional programs such as anti virus etc and they need to work at the same time as you are doing other things. Also, if you have a cheaper machine it will inevitably be grabbing some memory just to work the screen graphics. Vista needs at least 1Gb, preferably 2 Gb and a Windows 7 machine will normally arrive with 2, 3 or 4Gb.
You can get a good printer/scanner for £40 these days. It may cost you £50 the first time the ink runs out (after a month) but that is a fact. Investigate running costs carefully.
If you only expect to print (lots of) black correspondence go for a cheap laser printer for around £50 (Samsung).
The hoary old question. Should you buy 'clone' cartridges ? Many printer companies don't allow such a thing and refills are the only alternative to new ones. The ink business is scandalous. How they can sell you a plastic box with a little coloured water for £25, I don't know. But, if they are selling printers for £30, I suppose they have to make their money up somehow. Just don't get caught. But it is difficult to find a new printer these days that is not onto that scam, so you may have no alternative. For ink I have often used www.choicestationery.co.uk and found them reliable and reasonable. If you use HP or Lexmark cartridges some companies will give you something off your empties, providing you haven't already refilled them.
Cheaper original HP cartridges www.phoenixdirect.co.uk or w2w.com (around a fiver off shop prices and free delivery and massive savings on clone cartridges) Get 'em now before Epson takes every importer to court - oh yes, they are ! Or just try Ebay for immediate buys.
Even cheaper ink (69p for Canon) and blank CDs and DVD http://www.ukdvdr.co.uk/shop/home.php
Batteries. Cameras, wireless mice and keyboards, MP3 players. They all eat batteries. You need to get rechargeables with as high a mHh rating as possible. AAs should be at least 2000 mHa. Good prices, post paid from http://www.gadgetbatteries.co.uk/
Cables and Consumables This is where the big stores make some money. £15 for a USB cable that would cost a fifth of that at a fair or some cheap shops. £30 a hundred for CDR's which would cost £10 via the net. Shop around.
My favourite graphics manipulation program (Micrografx Picture Publisher) came off a magazine cover disk. Instead of paying nearly £££s for Microsoft's Office suite you can get Open Office for nothing. It is provided by Sun Microsystems which is almost as big a name as Microsoft. That said a basic MS Office suite can now be found at Ebuyer for under £60 or you can probably get by with an older one for a tenner off Ebay or. So look (and ask) around. For free Downloads see www.computeractive/downloads and Here There is no way round paying for Windows - unless it comes with your machine but even for that prices vary a lot. Linux, a different Operating System is free. But my policy has always been 'stick with the mainstream'. In the end it is less trouble.
DVD players, CD or DVD Writers ?
It all depends on what you want to do. I recommend a CD/DVD writer. Prices have fallen dramatically and most new machines include them. Some are 'Dual Layer', which will write 9Gb on a dual layer DVD disk.
15" used to be considered adequate but 17, 19 and 20" are nicer if you have room. TFT (flat) screens have come down a lot especially with new machines. Nice if you are cramped for space. You can now get a 19" widescreen for around £100. Screen prices vary quite a lot and, to some extent 'getting what you pay for' applies here. Most have lengthy on-site warranties these days so they must be pretty reliable. If you are strapped for cash there are loads of old monitors at boot sales or on Freecycle these days.
I never go for the extra warranty the commission-fired salesman offers me. Rarely good value. But, if you are housebound and are not into DIY computer fixing you may be wise to pay the fee. It is, once again, a question of what suits the individual.
Make Money from the net ?
Who are you kidding ? Well, I hear that thousands are giving up their full time jobs to buy and sell over the auctions site like www.ebay.co.uk. It is not difficult or especially fraught, despite the stories you hear. If you give anyone a rotten deal on Ebay you can be sure you will get a blazing report from your customer(s). One of the problems is delivery, especially of the larger items. So, unless you are near to a large conurbation (London?) you might be better to stick to more easily posted items. Another problem is the skill of today's participants, who regularly wait until the last second to outbid you for something. There is even last minute bidding software but, as someone said, if everyone gets automatic last minute bidding software and they compete you might finish up paying £50 for a Barbie Doll.
You can make money by helping with market research, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you are really hard up and have lots of time on your hands. I did try this with one company and after many hours of answering silly questions my total was £5, which they invited me to spend in their shop ! I just redeemed it to my Paypal account and resigned. You could save more with one swift purchase on the net.
The latest craze on E-bay is called 'flipping'. This where people buy and item which is 'all the rage' and sell it for much more. This can apply to concert tickets, art, fashion, even carrier bags ! For those people who are avid collectors or who 'need' to have the latest 'must have' item it seems that price is no object.
I am often amazed at the stuff that is being left at the local tip. A lot of it is to do with people's brief encounter with the world of exercise. Tons of hardly used equipment, from rowing machines to weightlifting items and then there are all those golf clubs. Either people have gone for the latest name or have given up the game altogether. But surely someone, somewhere, has just started to get the urge (however brief) and wants that stuff. Another great source is the ubiquitous Boot Sale. If you have an eye for a collector's item, from old camera equipment to Art Deco pottery, collectable toys or 78s there is a market out there. I saw some albums of old postcards the other day at a boot sale. Didn't enquire the price. Later, watching a 'Flog it' auction on TV a lady sold three albums that someone was about to throw away and got over £500 !
If you don't want to get mercenary about all this but care about the landfill problem in this throw away society you might be interested in joining www.freecycle.org which has branches all over the world. The first offer I got was for horse manure.... "bring your own wellies"!
Any other way to make a bit of cash ? I joined various sites such as Ask Jeeves and Amazon as an affiliate but have never received much. Google adverts (Adsense) are a different matter though, and they really do pay if people click on their ads. See those on this site. But to make much headway there you have to have a website and one which will attract a lot of interest. This site receives around 500 'page clicks' a day - it gets higher in the winter months. From that number, 2 - 5% click on an advert. The amount paid depends on the advertiser and can vary between a few pence to £2 - £3 per click. So, if you can work up a popular site, who knows ? Take a look at www.google.com/adsense
Market Research. Some organisations will pay you for answering question about products. Take a look at www.sarosresearch.com
http://www.magicfreebiesuk.co.uk/index.php Lists everything they find that is free and has links to several sites that pay for completing surveys for cash or vouchers.
And the net is remarkable for its worldwide spread. There is no way I could have sold 800 books on computing without it. Books have gone to the 'far corners'. And payment is easy via things like Paypal, which enables people to pay by card and enables YOU to transfer payments to and from your own bank. To set up an account just go to www.paypal.co.uk
You may be able to sell a skill over the net. After all, it doesn't matter where you are if you can transmit and receive your work over the net. This is particularly apt for people who do programming, design work, create websites or do accounting. But the list is endless.
So, how about it ? Become a home worker. That is the trend. There is no ageism and you do not have to be physically fit as long as you can work one of these wonderful machines.
Another site which might help : http://www.income-in-laterlife.com Practical Internet and 'real world' ideas to help people in later life supplement their income.
Extracted from Daily Telegraph. Are you paying too much Council Tax ?.
There are ways that you can cut your council tax bill - you may be paying too much because of an error in your valuation or you may be entitled to benefits.
Many people have successfully claimed against tax bills (including me!). In 2006-7 there were 27,130 appeals, of which 5,274 were considered by tribunals. Around one in eight of these were at least partly successful in reducing bills.
You should start by checking your property's banding, which you can do on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website at www.voa.gov.uk.
If you live in Scotland, then you should use the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) site at www.saa.gov.uk.
Since Wales has had a nationwide revaluation for its council tax system more recently than England or Scotland, mistakes are less likely.
When you enter your street name and postcode, the site comes up with all the properties with this postcode. So you could input your neighbours' street numbers to see how their homes are graded. If similar properties in your road are in a lower band, then you may have grounds to appeal.
Bear in mind however, that if a close neighbour is in a band that is higher than yours, there is a risk your band could actually increase, so make sure you do plenty of research before submitting a claim.
You can make a claim online on the Valuation Office Agency or the Scottish Assessors Association websites.
Alternatively, you can contact your local VOA office, which you can find by telephoning 0845 602 1507. The 'contact us' section of the SAA website has telephone details of Assessors throughout Scotland.
If you have moved home within the last six months, there is an official process to go through, but you can still apply if you've been in your current property for longer than this. If they decide that your challenge is not valid, you will be sent an 'invalidity notice'.
You can appeal against the decision, provided you act within four weeks of the date you receive it. If you win your case, then your band should be lowered and you should receive a rebate back to the year in which you moved to the property. Even if you find you are in the correct band, there may still be other ways of reducing steep council tax bills.
COUNCIL TAX : ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS OR A REDUCTION OF UP TO 25 PER CENT?
Latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) show that nearly five million people currently take up council tax benefit, which is available to those on low incomes, such as pensioners.
However, between 2.27m and 2.95m people who are entitled to don't claim the benefit, and are missing out on combined savings worth between £1.3 billion and £1.8 billion a year.
You may qualify for council tax benefit if you pay council tax and your household income and savings and investments are £16,000 or below. The amount your bills will be reduced by depends on circumstances such as your age, the ages and size of your family. Check HERE
If you have income or savings of over £16,000 you can't normally get council tax benefit, unless you're aged 60 or over and getting the 'guarantee credit' element of the pension credit.
If you share your home with one or more adults who cannot contribute towards the council tax, you might be able to get 'second adult rebate' but this person cannot be your spouse or partner.
The rebate for second adults on income support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit is 25 per cent off your bill. You may be able to get second adult rebate even if you don't normally get council tax benefit, but you can't get both.
Your income and savings will not affect second adult rebate, as it is based on the other person's circumstances. You can get a claim form for council tax benefit/second adult rebate from your local authority's Council Tax Benefit Office.
As well as council tax benefit, there are also council tax discounts available, which are not means-tested. Council tax is reduced by 25 per cent if you are living alone, or if you are living with anyone who is exempt from paying council tax, such as children under the age of 18 or students.
Those with severe mental impairment and some carers are also exempt. You will need to provide proof to support your claim for any of these reductions.
If you are disabled or someone that lives with you is disabled you may qualify for a reduction, but only if you can demonstrate that you are having to live in a larger property than you would otherwise have needed.
If your home is eligible, your bill will be reduced to that of a property in the next lower council tax band. Councils will only consider backdating an exemption if there is a good reason why you have not asked for it earlier and you can submit satisfactory proof of your entitlement.
Properties that are unoccupied may also be exempt. If for example, you are making structural alterations or repairs and aren't living there, you are exempt from paying council tax for up to 12 months.
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