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.