Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ashley Park Financial Solutions on new Paym Software

Ashley Park Financial Solutions were intrigued by a recent article describing new mobile software that will allow users to transfer money quickly and easily using nothing more than a telephone number. The service, known as Paym (pronounced “pay ‘em”) will be made available to 30 million people when it goes live on the 29th of April.

People who bank with TSB, Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Halifax amongst others, will be able to register their mobile numbers from today in anticipation of the full service at the end of the month. They can then transfer cash payments to their contacts without needing to know their bank details.

Users wishing to receive payments must actively register their number alongside the current account that they wish to use. Users only wishing to send money do not have to register for Pym, but their bank must be taking part in the scheme. You will be asked to confirm the name of the recipient and the amount you want to transfer before going ahead.

The software has been developed following research carried out by the Payments Council, who found that on average, people rack up around £256 in informal loans and IOUs amongst their family, friends and acquaintances. Annually this adds up to a whopping £12.6 billion!

This research is based on the idea that adults in the UK are lending just under £5 every week to someone they know. This could be for a sandwich, bus fare or a can of pop. These amounts tend to add up over time and we never see the returns. With Paym, recipients will immediately be able to pay back their lenders.

While it is mostly intended to aid small payments, users will be able to transfer at least £250 a day if they want to. It is up to the banks themselves whether they want to place a higher cap on day to day payments.

People can find out more about registering for Paym by visiting or ask their bank or building society. Here at Ashley Park Financial Solutions we think this is a great idea and the perfect means of getting your money back without nagging friends or feeling awkward.

If you’re worried about money, check out our website for our full range of services. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

How Much Is Your Toaster Costing You?

At Ashley Park Financial Solutions, we;re all about saving money. Take a look around your home - the chances are that every room will be crammed with electrical appliances. From the TV and set top box in your living room, to games consoles for the children, cooker in the kitchen, alarm clock in the bedroom, the list is almost endless.

The cost of buying the appliance is only half the story, the amount of electricity each item gobbles up can make a significant difference to how much you have to pay out to your energy supplier. And there's a whole lot more being wasted just by leaving your appliances on standby. 

Experts now believe as much as 16% of electricity used is from appliances on standby, a total of £86 on an annual bill of £530. This means that by simply getting better at switching things off, it should be possible to slice a sixth off your electricity bill.

As well as measuring the cost of not switching appliances off, researchers investigated how much every item cost to run per year, based on average costs. The study took into account 250 households and was based on an electricity cost of 14.5p per kWh.

So, what did the study reveal to be the most expensive electrical item to run?

You could be forgiven for thinking that a large item such as a freezer, which is left running permanently, would eat up the most electricity. However, in actual fact a luxury item which costs a lot of money to purchase is also one of the biggest culprits for hiking up the bill.

A plasma flat screen TV might look fabulous but the running costs will leave a dent in your bank balance. Calculations suggest that a plasma TV costs a whopping £96 per year to run, a third more than an upright fridge freezer, which came in at £62. It also costs more than three times the running cost of an LCD TV which costs just £29 per year, or more than five times more than an old-style CRT TV, which is just £17 to run per year. And though you might well complain about the amount of time the children spend on their games console, studies have shown the running costs were between just £6 and £9 per annum.

The second piece of equipment that has the most expensive running costs is a dehumidifier, which cost £76 per year to run, far more than an oven and a hob, which works out at just £46, despite being an essential item of equipment used on most days.

Smaller electrical items such as clock radios and hairdryers eat up just £3 per year each. Hair straighteners and baby monitors were amongst the cheapest appliances to run, costing £1 apiece per annum.

And the humble toaster? Well, for a years’ worth of golden brown deliciously tasty toast, you can expect to pay £3.18.

Understanding how you can cut back on your utility bill expenditure can be very helpful if you are struggling to keep up with ever increasing household bills.

However, if you are finding it harder to keep up with all your monthly bills, it could be worth seeking professional help.

By consolidating debts such as credit cards, catalogue accounts, overdrafts and payday loans into one easier to manage monthly repayment, you could have a little more in your pocket to cover the costs of sky rocketing utility bills. If you're struggling with money troubles, contact Ashley Park Financial Solutions for details of our services. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Ashley Park Financial Solutions on IVAs

IVA: Getting rid of interest, bank charges and annoying creditor phone calls.

At Ashley ParkFinancial Solutions, we know that debt is common-place in the modern world. From student loans, to bills, to payday loans, credit cards and mortgage payments, debt is something we might all face at some point. Knowing the extent and gravity of your debt situation and how to manage it is the first step towards clearing it.

With the growing number of student loan debts and the increase in short-term “pay day loans”, serious debt issues are rising quickly. Many people don’t know how to deal with the situation and simply ignore the consequences and the constant stream of creditor phone calls. But it’s important to be aware that there are a number of debt solutions and help available – the weight of mounting debt needn’t be a life-changing occurrence.

One of the many ways to manage debt – where repayments cannot be met -  is through an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), which, in essence, gives you some space and time to make reduced payments towards your debt without the added pressures of increasing interest, account charges and contact with pushy creditors.

More Information on IVAs
·         - Setting up an IVA is beneficial both to you and your creditors as it is relatively inexpensive compared to a bankruptcy petition. 

·         - They spread a reduced debt over a certain amount of time (normally 5 years).

·         - They cover unsecured debts from personal loans, credit cards, store cards, overdrafts, bank charges, medical bills, VAT and those from Inland Revenue.

·         - You only make a single payment each month including any fees payable.

·        - Your credit rating will be affected in the short term and may be affected in the medium and long term.

·         - Up to 70% of your debt can be written off and all interest and charges  frozen subject to your Creditors approval.

·         - Homeowners may be required to release equity in their property in the final year of the IVA.

 - Although an IVA offers a much needed respite and way out of debt, there are still certain criteria that users must meet, including debts over £7000 or more, proof of employment or regular income, and debts that are unsecured (listed above).

For more advice, information, and details about debt management, and in particular, about Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) and other debt solutions, Ashley ParkFinancial Solutions are always happy to help.

Call 0800 043 3535 or visit now. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Money Saving Tips for Over-60s

Saving money at any age can be tough, but if you’re on the brink of leaving work or have already retired, it can feel like there’s a lot more pressure to save for your old age. Here at Ashley Park Financial Solutions we understand the worries that can come towards the end of your working life and beyond. So we decided to give you some top tips to help you along the way.

Pensions can be complicated if you’re not sure what you’re signing up to. If you’ve saved into a pension throughout your working life, you’ll more than likely have to purchase an annuity. You trade in your pension lump sum for a regular income that usually lasts for the rest of your life. It’s always best to shop around before you buy an annuity, to find the best rates of return for you. If you’re not sure, you should speak to an Independent Financial Adviser, who can tell you where your money is best placed.

Pension Credits
If you’re claiming a weekly individual state pension, you may be entitled to a pension credit top-up. Millions of pensioners on low incomes are entitled to this but don’t claim it because they’re unaware of it. If your total income is under £137 a week, it’s likely that you’re eligible; you can call the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 to check.

Pension Boosts
Claiming a state pension doesn’t mean that you’re not in control of your income; there simple are ways to improve your returns that can make a big difference. For example, if you have any outstanding National Insurance payments, then it’s certainly worth paying a few hundred pounds as it can add thousands onto your pension packet over the years. And, if you’re in a position to do it, deferral of a state pension is a good idea. Your future weekly income increases by 1% for every five weeks you delay.

Travel Insurance
When you leave work, you may well decide that you’d like to spend some of your later years seeing the world. Pensioners can secure travel insurance for as little as £23 a year for Europe and £35 worldwide. As you get older, these prices will go up, so be sure to shop around.

You should also be sure to get a free European Health Insurance Card, which will afford you treatment in state-run hospitals at the same price the locals pay. Click here for more information.  

Extra Cash
If you decide you’d like to make a few extra pounds during your retirement, then you have every right to try. House-sitting might be something to consider. You can look after homes for people while their at work, particularly if they have pets and make a bit of extra cash every week.

You may also be able to claim cash from your home by installing loft or cavity wall insulation. For more information, visit the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

Seems like an odd suggestion, but university isn’t just for fresh-faced teenagers! If you don’t already have a degree and would like to study for one, your tuition fees will be paid for you. They’re only repayable if you earn over £21,000 or more a year. So no need to worry about making repayments!

If you're struggling with money issues, visit the Ashley Park Financial Solutions website for our full range of services. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Ashley Park Financial Solutions: Ways to Save on Travel

In the modern age of commuter travel and migration from home towns, transport is an important part of our lives. It can however be an extremely expensive commodity. Ashley Park Financial Solutions have compiled a few top tips to help you get a great deal on your chosen mode of transport.

Train travel
You can save literally hundreds of pounds on train travel by booking in advance. If you know you have a trip coming up, aim to book exactly 12 weeks in advance. This is when the tickets go on sale for your date of travel. You should also split your journey and pay the cost of 2 singles, rather than one full return.

There are tons of companies online offering cheap rail travel when you book in advance. In particular, offers great online discounts. Be aware though that there are many other canny travellers who will be looking for these discounts, so speed and planning are key!

You may also want to try split-ticketing. If, for example, you’re travelling from London to Newcastle, you could break your journey at Grantham and Leeds and get separate tickets for each part of the journey. You can potentially save hundreds of pounds with this method and it’s perfectly legal – just make sure the train actually stops at the stations you’re breaking the ticket at!

Car Travel
If you’re in the market for a new motor, you should strongly consider purchasing a nearly-new car, rather than a brand new one. Look at car’s that are around a year old, then head to the showroom and tell them you’re looking for a nearly-new car with most of the original warranty still intact. Be prepared to haggle on the price they give you. You can save thousands of pounds buying this way.

You can also save money by reviewing your driving habits. A few easy changes can make your fuel consumption much more efficient. Driving smoothly and changing gear when you reach 2500 revs per minute in a petrol car and 2000 in diesel. If you cut your motorway speed from 85mph to 70mph you can save almost a litre of petrol every 20 miles. Add that up over a year and it’s a saving of almost £100!

Bike Travel
Thanks to the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme, you can now purchase a bicycle sans tax. Speak to the HR department at work to find out if your company has opted in. You can easily save around £100 on the price of a £250 bike. A more expensive bike can offer considerable savings. You also need to make sure that you purchase your bike from a store that is participating in the scheme. Click here for more information on that.

Hopefully you’ve got some great ideas for ways to save now and can start cutting your bills right away! You can follow us on Twitter for regular tips and updates.

If you’re struggling to cope with money worries, visit the Ashley Park Financial Solutions website for the full range of our services. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

How To Get A Cheap Holiday With A Unique Twist

Summer – us Brits love it! Well, we love it when we actually get to enjoy glorious sunshine on a beautiful summer’s day. With the warm weather fast approaching, AshleyPark Financial Solutions have decided to give you a few tips for ways to find a cheap holiday.

Over the last few years you could easily confuse our summer wardrobe with our winter one – big coats, wellies and umbrellas – the weather has certainly not been on our side.

Although the British tourist board fought valiantly to endorse holidaying on our own fair isle, the sun worshipers that we are headed for the nearest cheapest deal for a dose of sun, sea and sangria!

 However, what happens when funds are low and we can’t afford to get away to exotic destination?

Well, house swapping has been around for decades but, until recently, it was a niche market. The economic climate has changed all of that, forcing many families to reconsider their options in order to have a holiday without breaking the bank.

The scheme involves allowing a stranger to stay in your home for a weekend, week or fortnight and in return, you stay in their home during the same period. There is no cost involved – other than the plane tickets – and both parties agree in advance what will be included in the price. For example, you may negotiate to borrow each other's cars, but if you are uncomfortable with that arrangement, you simply have to specify what is excluded.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, you might be wondering how you get started and no, you don't have to find random strangers yourself to swap homes with! There are several agencies who offer the service, the majority of which charge a membership to join. However, in many cases, the fee is just nominal and charities such as the National Childbirth Trust even have a house swap scheme, which has been running since 1976.

To register your home on the site, you need to take photos so any prospective guest will know exactly what your property looks like and where it is. If successful, you will need to be prepared to clear some of your personal belongings away temporarily, to make space for your guests' stuff when they arrive.

UK home insurers as a general rule are very supportive of the initiative, as it prevents properties being left unoccupied during the holiday season, but the majority will ask to be kept informed.

This could be a totally new holidaying experience for you – you could end up somewhere you ordinarily wouldn’t have chosen as a holiday destination and love it!

The best idea is to stick with affordable destinations if you’re desperate to get away – just make sure that you can really afford it.

If you have any money worries, please visit the Ashley Park Financial Solutions website for our full range of services. For regular updates, follow us on Twitter

Friday, 14 February 2014

Ashley Park Financial Solutions on Swap Parties

In the current climate, keeping fashion fresh can be costly. But never fear! These days it’s perfectly acceptable to hold what’s known as a Swap Party. Swap Parties are a great way to mix and mingle with friends and loved ones, and acquire a few new numbers for your wardrobe. Ashley Park Financial Solutions are here with the lowdown on how to host your own!

Decide on a date
Make sure you start planning well in advance. If you don’t let people know in good time, you might end up on your lonesome, surrounded by bags of your own clothes! It’s a good idea to create a Facebook event, especially if you’re going to invite a lot of people. They will be automatically reminded of it as the time draws nearer, and you can keep all the details in one place. This is an especially good idea if you’re inviting lots of people from different friendship groups – they have the opportunity to converse with one another on the group page and maybe even swap fashion tips!

Who to Invite
Get a good mix of people with fairly similar fashion tastes so no one is going to go home empty handed. And bear in mind that people come in all different shapes and sizes! If you invite a shorter person to a party made up entirely of taller people, they probably won’t feel great and vice versa.

Make value tickets
While the main purpose of the event is to swap clothing, you may not want to part with something that was once very expensive, in exchange for a cheaper item. Make value stickers with rough estimates of how much the item is worth and suggest that your guests do the same thing.

Designate value spots
There should be three types: inexpensive; mid-price and expensive. You can sort your garments into these categories and ask your guests to do the same before they arrive.

Arrange the room
Obviously you don’t have to turn your living room into a stylish boutique, but it’s fun to create an atmosphere. If you can get your hands on some clothing racks that would really help to organise the clothes. You can also utilise coffee tables as folding spaces for trousers and bulky sweaters.

Remind your guests to bring along some carrier or tote bags for taking their items home – this will save you from having to rush around finding a bag for everyone at the end of the party!

You might want to prepare for snacks for everyone to enjoy, but obviously the aim of the game is to save money, so don’t go too overboard. You can advise people to eat before they come. Snacks to start are a great way to mix and mingle though, so if you’re inviting lots of people who don’t know one another it’s usually a good plan to offer something.

Make Suggestions
As host, you can pick out items and suggest them to your guests. This will help to get things started if people are a little shy to get going!

At the end

When everyone is swapped out and has headed home, you’re left with your pick of the spoils. You may already have acquired a ton of great new clothes, but there’s nothing to stop you from picking out something else – this could be the perfect time to try a new style! After that you can head the leftover items to a local charity shop and be satisfied that you’ve done a good deed. 

So there you have it! Remember, if you throw a great swap party, you're bound to be invited to others - make it an annual event and you could make some huge yearly savings on your clothing budget! 

If you're struggling with money worries, visit the Ashley Park Financial Solutions website, where you'll find our full range of services. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Money Saving Tips for Expectant Parents

Ashley Park Financial Solutions: What to expect when you're expecting:

Finding out you’re going to be a parent can hit you like a freight train. Suddenly there are a million concerns and one of them is how you’re going to pay for everything once your little one comes into this world. Ashley Park Financial Solutions reckon it's best for expectant parents to start saving as soon as possible.

Raising children can be an expensive business. Experts say that supporting a child until they’re 21 and ready to leave the nest will set you back a total of £201, 809 exactly. Estimates suggest that it costs £9,610 a year to feed, clothe and educate a child. It can be stressful to think about where you might get this extra cash, especially if this is an unexpected pregnancy, but where there's a will there's a way. 

You can start saving while you're pregnant. That way by the time your child is born you’ll be able to provide them with everything they need right from the get go.

Budgeting is definitely the way forward here. Everybody needs to budget at some point and it’s a great way to make sure you can save up some extra for your new arrival. Simply look at the money you have going in and coming out and think about where you can make cuts. Do you need to drive everywhere? Could you save on the food budget? For more tips, click here

It’s also worth checking out charity shops. The reality is that you don’t need to go out and buy designer threads for your baby - they really won't notice the difference! Charity shops check all their products so only the ones in decent condition make the shop floor and you can find some top quality bargains. 

You could also ask family and friends who already have children. Babies grow so quickly what fits them one month probably won't the next, so you're constantly updating their wardrobes. People you know will have gone through the same thing, which means they might be willing to give you their old stuff. It’s quite common actually, especially among family members and it saves a lot of money.

Think about making your own baby food. It’s surprisingly easy to do, just cook vegetables then toss them in a blender with a little liquid. You can cook a big batch and freeze it so you've got ready meals for weeks ahead of time. A lot cheaper than baby food!

If you're worried about money or mounting debts, give the team at Ashley Park Financial Solutions a call or check out our website for the full range of our services. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates and tips. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ashley Park Financial Solutions on Smart Energy Meters

Ashley Park Financial Solutions were pleased to see that new research from British Gas has shown that the UK public are getting on board with smart energy meters.
After conducting a survey of its smart meter customers, British Gas found that more than half of those asked are now saving money with these devices, with nearly two thirds of those surveyed saving up to £75 per year. The smart energy meters promote energy efficiency in the home. 
Nine out of ten customers said that they were taking simple daily steps to reduce their energy use. This could be down the the fact that customers can actually see their usage with a smart meter, which displays the cost of the energy currently being used.
The smart energy meter works with a simple traffic light system that serves to encourage people to turn down the amount of gas and electricity they're using where possible. The survey also found that 79% of people using a smart energy meter are now much more aware of their energy consumption..
British Gas are confident that these meters will inspire customers to make small changes, which will in turn make a huge difference to their bills.  
By 2020, smart meters will be install in all British homes, replacing  existing gas and electricity meters. Development of smart meters advanced rapidly in recent months and British Gas hope the will benefit customers greatly. Over a million meters have already been installed in homes and businesses free of charge. 
The new Hive smart thermostat is also being rolled out by British Gas, with more than ten thousand homes undergoing installation since it was launched in September. The thermostat can be linked to a mobile app so customers can control hot water and heating supplies from their phones. 
Ashley Park Financial Solutions think this is great, especially if it saves money! 

For more stories like this one, follow us one Twitter! And for a full range of our services, visit our website

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Money Saving Tips when Buying a Car

Here at Ashley Park Financial Solutions we know how difficult it can be to get around without your own car. But we also realise how expensive it can be to purchase and run a car, especially when money is tight. That’s why we’ve decided to bring you some money saving tips to help you save when you spend on a run-around.

Before you head out to make a purchase, be sure to do a bit of digging so you know what you’re dealing with. Look for cars that hold their value. For example, the Fiat 500 is one of the best new petrol cars for retaining value. A 69bhp 1.2l model in Sport trim is worth £6,275 after 3 years, which is an incredible 66.7% of its original £9,410 price tag. Lasting value is important in case you ever need to sell the car on yourself.

Most for your Money
You should also be aware of cars with good safety records and mileage per gallon. There’s not a lot of point in buying a car that will fall to bits or cost you twice as much in petrol. It’s a good idea to shop with a model in mind and a price that you’re willing to pay.

Stand Your Ground
When you’re actually at the garage, don’t feel badgered by the salesperson. If you know what you want you can stick to your guns without being dissuaded. And don’t be made to feel like a cheapskate! Some dealers will try to intimidate you into spending more, but don’t fall for it.

Deals and Trade-ins
Try to time your purchase to coincide with a showroom deal. Dealers often offer discounts on a quarterly basis to meet their targets. Aim towards late March or late December and you might just bag a bargain! If you’re hoping to trade in your current car, talk to several dealers then compare their offers. The best thing to do is consider the amount of money you’ll pay after the trade. This is the true cost of the deal.

Internet Brokers
For those of you that are clear about the make and model you want, internet purchasing can be an option. Internet car brokers bulk-buy popular models then pass part of the savings on to their customers. There are a number of online brokers including Honest John and Drive the Deal.

The main thing to bear in mind is that this is a big purchase and you should take a lot of time about making the right decision. If you have any other tips or advice, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below, or follow Ashley Park Financial Solutions on Twitter.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Keeping the Kids Busy For Free!

At Ashley Park Financial Solutions we know that with summer coming up, you’re going to have to find a way to keep the kids busy. However with rising prices this is easier said than done. So how can you keep the kids busy and happy this summer for free!

Being a parent is such a thankless job isn’t it? You’ve got so many commitments to meet that often it’s seems easier to leave the kids sat in front of the telly, just so you can get everything done. However when you do get time to spend with your kids, everything that really seems fun seems like a drain on the bank balance. A drain you don’t need when you’ve got a thousand other costs to think about.

But the great thing about kids is that they’re imaginative. The whole world can be amazing to them; all you have to do is tap into that innate awe and wonder. Why not try taking them on a nature walk? It’s free, and the natural beauty of the landscape is sure to have them awestruck in no time.

How about going one step further though. Get your kids to collect things from the nature walk; stray leaves, small twigs, pieces of bark etc. Then when you get home, find a few spare notepads and some glue (with kids you have to have glue in the house to keep it in one piece) and task them with making a scrapbook. Give them carte blanche to make any pattern they want and they’ll be occupied for hours.

Or if this isn’t for you, then why not try something tried and tested; the beach. The beach is 100% free, you can work their imaginations by helping them build various structures out of sand and the sea means you can even give them free swimming lessons. Talk about a bargain.

Of course we don’t all have that option; not everybody lives by the sea. So why not try to get your kids thinking instead. Take them to a museum. Most cities have museums these days which have something especially designed for kids and these museums tend to have days where you can get in for free; or at a heavy discount.

At Ashley Park Financial solutions we know your spare  time with your kids is precious; don’t let money get in the way of that, take advantage of these 100% free ways to keep your kids happy and occupied. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Drop in Cases of Retail Administration

New Year figures indicate a drop of 6% in the number of retail companies entering administration in 2013. There were 183 retail businesses that entered administration in 2013, which is the same figure as that of 2011. In 2012, 192 retailers went into administration. Ashley Park Financial Solutions are certainly glad to see things moving in the right direction.

There was, however an elevated number of retailers entering administration in the final quarter of the year, with 41 retailers in financial trouble compared with 37 for the same period in 2012.

The data was compiled by Deloitte, and their spokesperson has stated that this drop in cases of administration shows a rebalancing of the high street. He cited the losses of Blockbuster and Jessops and predicted that we are less likely to have major high street casualties like these again this year.

While it doesn’t necessarily mean that the demand for high street retail products is increasing, it does indicate that the retailers left standing can benefit from the gaps in the market. Christmas trade was reasonable, though Internet services still seemed preferable, with many shoppers opting to click and collect. January sales have so far been busy, with John Lewis reporting healthy sales.

According to the figures, there has been an overall drop in businesses entering administration this year from 1,833 to 1,629. The only sector that saw an increase in administrations was the health and social care sector. 

For money saving tips, recommendations or more stories like this, follow Ashley Park Financial Solutions on Twitter.