Making and Saving Money with a Computer

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Before shopping for a computer, check out www.promotioncodes.org.uk
(donated to my charity) to save yourself some money with a promo code

Great savings can be made on rail fares by booking in advance, whether on line or by the old method.
e.g.The fare from London the Manchester 'Anytime' ticket can be as much as 160.00 (each way) The best advance deal on one day was a mere 12.50!  Even the popular Trainline agency charges a fee, whereas Redspottedhanky and Travelsupermarket do not. If all the discounted tickets have gone it may be worth looking at whether there are any first class ones left. There are also various Railcards for 30. There are Student, Family and Senior Railcards.   Travel by rail with a child under 16 ?.Friends and Family Rail ticket, 30 for the year. Typically you will save 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on children's fares (off peak).
For walk on fares you could look into http://splitticket.moneysavingexpert.com/ Splitting does not necessarily mean you have to get off the train..
http://www.cheaptraintickets.info/cheap-train-tickets-guide/  is an excellent guide to how to save money on train tickets.  
I did a search for someone for off peak return Birmingham to Penzance. I used www.raileasy.co.uk and got the price down considerably. Providing the person has a senior railcard It can pay for itself in the one journey

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.

Bargains of the week  (can change rapidly)

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 

ENERGY PRICES
To fix or not to fix ? It is all a gamble and, either way, you may finish up kicking yourself.  

This is such a complicated issue that it is best to seek the guidance of an AgeUK recommended comparison site . But bear in mind that many comparison sites make their living from the commission they get when you change. I went along with one suggestion that I would save cash.  I didn't and the company was so disorganised I never got a bill and I couldn't find out on line.


Energy prices vary quite a lot between suppliers. But it is not just a question of changing supplier, which can be 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.

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Examples of saving. My car battery was on its last legs and you can't risk being stuck. So I shopped around for a 3 year guaranteed 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 was only 34.99 delivered. Mind you, when the Exide failed within the guarantee I was very disappointed with Carparts4less when they failed to replace it. As with many guarantees, they hope you give up and go away. I am still sore about that. They lost a future customer.  

http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/. This is a great site for comparing and saving at supermarkets.  You can create lists and they will tell you where the cheapest is. As we all know supermarkets have 'lost leaders' to get you in the shop. 4 pints of milk varies from 89p to 1.45

Daily Mirror ideas : The Davis-Carr family were paid a surprise 100,000 by Youtube because their video "Charlie bit my finger" was so popular.
Sell your CDs, DVDs (and vinyl) 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.  MoneysavingsExpert says "Council tax bands were last valued 20 YEARS ago. 400,000 homes still may be in wrong band from 1st April 1991 - check, challenge & get 1,000s back!

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 am now 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.

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).

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)    

Haggling to save money

I often use a Paypal account both to buy and to sell things.  It seems secure and the currency becomes irrelevant.  They now say you can send people money as long as they have an email address.  See https://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/sendmoney/index.htm as to how to do this

Getting cheaper car insurance.  A useful article can be found at http://www.topcashback.co.uk/blog/get-moneyback-and-get-cheap-car-insurance Your existing insurer has no incentive to make your next quote lower. They don't pay for loyalty. They have a great incentive to offer NEW customers a lower quote (and hope you will continue with them for years).  I went through Quidco, got hundreds off and a promise of 60 cashback.

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.

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 imagine 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 battery.  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 !

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 https://www.gov.uk/ Don't be too put off by the scary stories of web scams. Just 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 than 7.

If you have problems with purchases there are a number of other sites to help :

https://www.gov.uk/
www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk
www.scotcourts.gov.uk
www.courtsni.gov.uk
www.courts.ie
www.legalservices.gov.uk
www.citizensadvice.org.uk
www.moneyclaim.gov.uk
www.ispa.org.uk
www.otelo.org.uk
www.cisas.org.uk  
www.consumercomplaints.org.uk

http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/  Is a government site which enables you to find tradesmen in your area
There are a number of Ombudsman services, aimed at helping people get what they should.  Financial (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk  0800 0234567 - really!) Consumers e.g. Energy, TV, Broadband (www.ombudsman-service.org.uk)  Property management, letting and estate agents (ww.tpos.co.uk 01722 333306) 

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 or 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 saved by searching around.

Look at the difference in Car Insurance on this list:.  These prices will have changed.  Please check.

Car Insurance quotes on Go Compare

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 here

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.

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/ 

Printers
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). Then get refilled cartridges for economy

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.

Software
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. Linux, a different Operating System is free.  But my policy has always been 'stick with the mainstream'.  In the end it is less trouble.

Warranties
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.

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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 site such as 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.

(New item) In addition to eBay there are other ways to sell Books, CDs DVDs and Games e.g. www.Ziffit.com, MusicMagpie, Zapper.co.uk, Momox.co.uk They get you to scan or type in the bar codes on the items, and, if you like what they offer, you box them up and either take them to a local CollectPlus shop or print their address label. And, for a wider range of 'techie' items try Computer Exchange (Cex: https://uk.webuy.com/). You get a higher price if you accept a voucher for later purchases.

The latest craze on Ebay 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"!  But be careful. The only time I have been scammed was on Freecycle.  Don't fall for the one where you are asked to pay for delivery.

Any other way to make a bit of cash ?  Having a website, 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 many '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.  But be careful with sites that might sell your details to others.

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. 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. 

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