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.