Personal Finance January 29, 2015
Evolution Money Ltd is proud and delighted to announce they have won the prestigious award for Best Adverse Secured Loan Product of the Year 2014 at this year’s Loan Talk Secured Loan Awards. Further cementing their strong name, as a specialist niche lender in the second charge sector.
Gathering together the industry’s elite from across the country, the respected annual event took place on Thursday 15 January 2015 at London’s 8 Northumberland Avenue and highlights the previous year’s industry successes and accomplishments.
Rhian Roberts, Head of Evolution Money Broker Division commented ‘What an accolade for Evolution Money, the award for Best Adverse Secured Product 2014 is an honour indeed. It was a tough category with some very well established competition and we are totally overwhelmed by the level of continued support we receive from our brokers. The award nomination talked about the extensive stress testing and affordability checks we do which allow us to operate in this sector.
This impressive triumph recognises Evolution Money’s comprehensive choice of secured loan products designed to suit differing customer needs and requirements, along with highlighting the company’s ongoing successful growth and reputation within the Secured Loan industry.
Winners were decided by Loan Talk’s dual panel of lender and broker experts, which you can see on the Loan Talk website . Here you will also find more information about the other successful companies who won awards at the Loan Talk Secured Loan Awards 2014.Read more
Personal Finance September 26, 2014
Peer-to-peer lending platform, Zopa.com, took to the streets of London this week to hand out cash-laden ‘money trees’ in a bid to encourage Brits to grow their money through peer-to-peer lending and safeguard their future.
Setting up a money tree market stall in London Victoria train station, Zopa’s market trader handed out the ‘money trees’ complete with £10 notes and Zopa.com vouchers worth £10, redeemable when lenders make their first investment through the platform.
Giles Andrews, CEO and Co-founder of Zopa.com commented:
“With the money trees we wanted to put a smile on the faces of busy commuters. It is not every day you encounter someone wanting to give you money on your way to work. The money tree campaign is all about encouraging Brits to plant a seed with Zopa and watch their money grow.”
“With Zopa, you can lend as little as £10 to get started, so it really is open to everyone. You will get a much higher rate of interest than you would with a bank so it really is a no-brainer. By making your money work harder through Zopa, lenders can look forward to a brighter future.”
Zopa.com created a video showing the bemused commuters reactions to the Zopa market stall and money trees, which can be viewed HERE.
Peer-vestment on the up
Recently named one of Britain’s fastest-growing private technology companies[i], Zopa.com currently has over 57,000 lenders earning 5.2% interest on their investment. The average lent is around £5,500.
“We have a wide variety of lenders from all walks of life. From professional investors and financiers, to young families putting a little away each month. We want to encourage people to be savvy savers and safeguard a more comfortable future for themselves.”
Last month the company announced it has loaned more than $1billion since its launch in 2005. The platform currently has more than 63,000 borrowers in the UK. The company has the lowest default rate of any UK bank or peer-to-peer lender.
For more information on Zopa please visit www.zopa.com.
This week Merlin Cycles launched its new road bike with what they claim to be “The best road bike for under £300”. That’s a mighty big claim but with carbon forks, Mavic wheels, full Shimano Claris gears AND a cracking paint job, you can see why they’re getting all excited – and you even get pedals!
You normally can’t expect much for £300 but Merlin have delivered their PR7 to look and function like a bike that costs twice the price. The sophisticated aluminium frame paired with a carbon fork and built up with Shimano gears; this bike is a real testament to how technology that was previously found on much more expensive machines ends up ‘trickling down’ to bikes at the more affordable end of things.
The frame is the heart of any bike and it’s here where the PR7 really impresses. A light and stiff aluminium frameset with shaping that’s rarely seen on entry level bikes. The individually designed tubes combine to give the frame impressive stiffness and efficiency under power.
The carbon fibre fork up front is a real bonus, something you rarely if ever see on a bike at this price. Often the first thing that gets replaced on entry level bikes is the harsh metal fork. Having a carbon fibre fork up front helps to reduce the small vibrations – or buzz – that can otherwise be transmitted through to the rider’s hands. So it should be a comfy bike as well as a nippy one.
It’s not just a great riding bike, it’s a good looking bike too. Merlin have done a great job with the paintjob and the decals too. Merlin’s designers claim: “We wanted to make a bike that looks the part and doesn’t look cheap sub £300 shouldn’t mean sub-standard looks”.
Merlin Cycles say: “We have a history in designing excellent road bikes and although this is one of the lower priced ones, it’s also definitely one of our favourites.”
Above all the PR7 is a simple and reliable machine. The Shimano Claris gear system offers crisp and quick indexed gear shifting – all that it takes to switch gears is a quick sideways flick on the paddles that lie flush with the brake levers.
The bike has with a broad range of gearing that’s capable of steep climbs as well as flat-out sprints. So you can just as easily use the PR7 for short speedy journeys, such as commutes and you can just as easily spin away on long recreational rides at the weekend.
The Merlin Performance PR7 Road bike is available right now for the amazing price of £299.99. Order online directly from www.merlincycles.com or call in to Merlin Cycles’ newly expanded retail store in Chorley, Lancashire.
With the cost of living crisis showing no sign of abating, despite the recent better economic news, we’re all focussing on how we can save money. Although the government have claimed that UK pay is rising in real terms, it’s yet to feel that way in our wallets, and more of us than ever are looking at our weekly outgoings to see where we can cut costs.
How to start saving
The infographic below shows how you can break down your day to day living costs to find areas where you can trim your expenses. While short term loans from responsible and transparent lenders such as MYJAR are useful alternatives to expensive credit cards in an emergency, getting a grip on your total spending is the only way to achieve financial stability.
Clear your debts
Your first priority should be to clear debts that are costing you huge amounts in interest. Credit cards are a useful way of paying for goods and services, but if you’re struggling to pay off the balance every month, the resulting interest payments will be killing any hope you have of escaping debt. Consider a small loan instead.
Use price comparison sites to cut costs
You can potentially cut the cost of many of your bills by using price comparison sites to find better deals than those you are currently on. Check if you can get better deals on your fuel bills, insurance, mobile phone and home broadband.
Food shopping tips
Save money on food shopping by purchasing own-brand products, trying markets for cheaper fruit and veg, and using store discount cards and vouchers. Make sure you write a shopping list before you head to the supermarket and then stick to it while you’re there, avoiding the tempting delights of things you don’t need.
There are a few basic tips to get you started, but check out the infographic below for lots of great money saving tips.
With energy prices on the rise, many clients of food banks are turning down food that requires the use of a cooker or oven. Food banks across the UK are offering a line of “kettle boxes” – containers of food that doesn’t require heating – to clients that can’t afford to use cookers and other kitchen equipment.
The Trussell Trust charity has started offering the boxes, which only contain food that can be prepared by adding boiling water. “Kettle boxes” typically contain Pot Noodles, instant soup, instant mashed potatoes and other meals that can be cooked with minimal ingredients and energy.
Other offerings include “cold boxes”, which contain three days’ worth of tinned food and products that can be eaten without requiring hot water. The boxes do not meet the trust’s standard nutritional guidelines, but are offered due to the rising number of clients that simply cannot afford to pay for energy.
Over the last year, many food bank clients have turned away rice, pasta, and other offerings that needed to be heated during preparation. Many of these clients claim that they simply don’t have enough credit on their electrical meters to be able to afford them, or that they had been cut off by a gas supplier due to non-payment.
Morecambe Bay food bank volunteer Annette Smith said that she was “absolutely astonished” by the problems many clients face, and that many volunteers at local food banks were “really upset” by the limited access that many families have to basic utilities such as electricity or gas.
The cold boxes offered by the charity contain items such as long-life milk, breakfast cereal, corned beef, fruit juice, peanut butter, and other long-lasting ingredients that require minimal preparation. Clients that request the cold boxes are referred to help agencies that provide financial assistance.Read more
Some commuters could spend almost £5,000 per year travelling to and from work, a new campaign from shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh claims. Rail fares will increase by 2.8% this Thursday in order to reduce the government’s commitment to subsidising rail transportation.
The government currently pays approximately 32% of railway expenses, picking up the bill for the majority of travellers. However, ministers are believed to have set an overall goal of 25%, with measures such as increased fares aimed at increasing the amount of rail expenses picked up by consumers and reducing government costs.
It has also invested £16 billion in upgrades and maintenance in the country’s rail network, further increasing its need to increase revenues. While economists have praised the government’s attempts to increase railway revenues, consumers are upset at the lack of transparency and protection regarding price increases.
The fare increases are not uniform, with certain tickets increasing in price to a far greater extent than others. Season tickets and off-peak rail tickets now cost 3.2% more than in 2012, while rail fares as a whole have increased in price by 2.8% for most of the country.
Commuters with annual season tickets for certain routes could now pay as much as £5,000 per year on public transportation. The Milton Keynes – London route is now priced at £4,772 per year – a 3.3% increase that’s typical of the new pricing scheme.
Some rail commuters have voiced their disappointment as the price increase, noting that the idea behind the government controlling rail prices was to prevent fare hikes from occurring. Analysts have noted that large fare increases affect regions that lack alternative forms of travel.
Despite the fare increases, many analysts believe that rail transportation is still a far better option than travelling by private car. Thomas Ableman of Chiltern Railways is supportive of the price increases, claiming that travelling by rail is still “good value for money” for most commuters.Read more
Economic think tank the Resolution Foundation believes that millions of households could face “perilous” debt levels as interest rates increase. The group suggests that a large increase will occur in the number of people spending more than half of their income on mortgage and credit card debt repayments.
More than 600,000 individuals currently spend more than half of their disposable income on repaying debts, according to the Resolution Foundation. If interest rates increase to 3%, this number could almost double, reaching 1.1 million by the start of 2018 and 2 million if rates continue to increase to 5 per cent.
Almost all of the 600,000 people spending more than half of their income on debts are repaying mortgages, which make up the bulk of UK household debt. Even with a “rosy view” of future economic development, the number of households exposed to serious debt will double, claims senior economist Matthew Whittaker.
Many of the families affected by onerous debts built them up during the pre-crisis period, during which interest rates were low and the cost of taking on debt was far from expensive. A large number of households borrowed heavily to manage the cost of property, which surged during the pre-crisis economic boom.
The number of households spending more than half of their income on repayments was 870,000 in 2007. The Resolution Foundation is concerned that unemployment and poor job growth could lead to a more serious credit crisis that traps millions of households in “debt peril”.
The Bank of England has confirmed that it will not raise interest rates until the job market improves. The bank has set a cut-off point of 7% unemployment as a target for considering an increase in interest rates. During the three months to October, the official UK unemployment rate fell to 7.4% – its lowest level since 2009.Read more
With the cost of living on the rise, more and more homeowners are struggling with surprising bills and unforeseen expenses. Credit limits are being pushed and, due to the massive rise in the cost of living in recent years, a large number of people are on a day-to-day schedule, unable to pay for anything beyond their next paycheque.
In tough times, the importance of emergency funds becomes ever more clear. Home finance experts call these funds ‘rainy day’ savings funds, and advise that everyone, whether homeowner or tenant, individual or family member, keep a small amount of savings ready for any surprising bills or sudden expenses.
Why is the rainy day fund so important? Several reasons. The first is that the labour market has, despite a few key improvements, remained turbulent and unpredictable over the past two years. Job security – once a concrete term – doesn’t mean quite the same thing that it did prior to the 2008 financial crisis and recession.
Because of this, planning for a financial rainy day isn’t just a good idea, it’s often far more of a necessity. Experts recommend keeping at least three months of personal expenses saved away in case you’re beset by surprise bills, with six months an even better option.
The growing cost of living is another reason for the importance of a ‘rainy day’ cash fund. Energy costs have risen over the past two years, making it more likely that an energy bill could surprise you and catch you financially off-guard. Keeping a fund on hand makes it easy for you to account for unexpectedly large utility bills.
Preparing for the worst is always a good financial plan, even if you expect the very best to happen. Whether three months or six, keeping a ‘rainy day’ fund puts you in the lead compared to other individuals and allows you to weather rocky financial weather without the stress and worry of a paycheque-to-paycheque planner.Read more
According to new figures from the Bank of England, household debt in the UK hit a record high in recent months. Individuals now owe in excess of £1.43 trillion – far more than at any other point in recent history. The total amount of household debt now exceeds the level recorded in September 2008, just after the financial crisis.
On average, each UK adult has approximately £26,489 in debt – a figure that’s made up of everything from credit card balances to home loans. It’s a startling amount – a figure equivalent to an entire year’s worth of income for many of the UK’s workers.
Want to avoid falling even further into the debt trap? As the country borrows more and more, a growing number of households are saying ‘no’ to the great temptation of borrowing and are reducing their debt using three simple strategies.
Keep track of savings
A lot of household debt is the result of poor money management, not a lack of cash or overly costly lifestyle. Keep good records of where you keep your money, what you spend it on, and when it comes in and goes out and you’ll be more aware of the reasons for your borrowing.
Double check your insurance
You might be paying for more than one form of insurance cover. If you buy a new car or consumer product, check to see if you receive coverage from the manufacturer or retailer. You could be spending more than you need to on insurance for items that are already protected.
Use your credit cards wisely
Credit cards might not be a blessing, but they certainly don’t need to become a curse for your personal finances. Use your credit cards wisely, and apply a common sense approach to whether or not you can really afford to buy something. If you can, use a credit card that gives you the best deal, not the longest repayment window.Read more
Advertising regulatory group Ofcom has claimed that British TV viewers saw close to 400,000 different ads for payday loans during 2012. The regulator claims that a total of 397,000 advertisements for payday loans and other high-interest lending service were broadcast on television during the last year – a new record.
The incredible amount of advertising for payday loan services was almost twice that of 2011, during which viewers saw almost 250,000 such ads. On average, adults saw 152 ads for high-interest loans during the past year, with children witnessing 70 ads on average.
The massive increase in payday loan advertising has worried many personal finance experts, who believe that the ads could have a strong negative influence on the level of consumer debt. The Financial Conduct Authority has stated that it may implement restrictions on the level of payday loan advertising on popular TV stations.
The FCA takes over as the main regulator of payday lending in April of 2014, and has planned its own set of restrictive measures for lenders. The government has taken a firm approach to tackling the problem of high-interest lending, promising to place a cap on payday loan interest rates and fees during the next two years.
Politicians are also planning crackdowns on the intrusive TV ads. Labour leader Ed Miliband claims that the advertisements are targeting children, and that they should be banned during children’s television programmes. He has also voiced his concerns about payday lenders “taking advantage of the cost of living crisis” to sell loans.
Payday loans have grown more popular in the past three years, with a large number of previously stable consumers turning to high-interest, short-term loans. One of the reasons for the massive increase in lending is a surge in the day-to-day cost of living in Britain, largely driven by fuel and energy prices.Read more