Finance tips are as easily sought as opinions on social media. So much so that you might find yourself fielding the advances of those who wish to furnish you with their plans for your money saving/accumulating at the same rate you try to deflect prospecting PPI claims firms. However, when you’re happy to further your interest in your own time, you’ll be relieved to learn that there are a veritable smorgasbord of alternative means by which you might harvest an astute investment. Or at the very least, live better within your financial means.

And the best bit about the advice which follows is, that you don’t need to splash the cash in the short term before you can start saving it in the medium to longer term. Save for the one suggestion that is; namely insulating your home better. But don’t worry about that, as it’ll be worth it in the long run, trust us. Also don’t forget; if your finances are already at stretching point (and by that we mean you’re maxed out on your credit cards, bank of Mum and Dad has refused to lend any more funds and your employer still won’t grant you that pay rise they’ve been promising you for as long as you can remember), how about a payday loan lender? Those guys are there to help when the chips are really down and are well worth speaking to before pushing on with any solutions which require initial expenditure; however large or small.

Back to the business of saving you money though, and below we take a quick look at just 6 ways you can achieve this, as part and parcel of our invaluable finance tips for 2018.

Insulate to Accumulate

Nobody was necessarily thinking about how they were planning to heat their home better a few weeks ago; not when we were basking in record-breaking summer temperatures. However now the evenings are drawing in, thoughts inevitably turn to the winter months which lie ahead. And more over how to reduce the inevitably extortionate heating bills which will quickly follow. By ensuring your home is winter-proofed (courtesy of getting the loft and cavity walls filled with that foam-y stuff which stops the heat from escaping), you won’t end up forking out hand over fist when the next quarterly bill drops through your letter box just before Christmas.

A Change is as Good as a Rest – With banks actively encouraging people to switch account providers, 2018 really is the time to consider swapping one for another. Especially when there’s a cash incentive involved which could bag you up to £200. All the big high street banks are playing their parts in this game of current account musical chairs right now, including the likes of NatWest, HSBC and M&S Bank, together with their solely online rivals, First Direct and Santander. What have you got to lose?

Switch One on, Turn the Other Off – On the subject of mixing things up a little, the same logic applies to many other areas of your life. For instance switching TV, mobile phone and broadband providers means you could reduce your monthly outgoing in a few clicks of a mouse. Shopping around has always proved beneficial when it comes to insurance lines, yet there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy the same savings when applying the same principle to your most important service providers in 2018.

Look after the Pennies and the Pounds will Look after Themselves – It may sound a bit old school, but sometimes you have to go back to the future. Yes, we’re talking about putting all your spare change in a piggy bank and saving it for a rainy day. Don’t snigger. You’d be surprised at just how much money you can accumulate doing this over the space of a few months. Then, should you have an unforeseen problem with your car or the washing machine decides to pack up without giving you any notice, then voila. Remember, literally, every penny helps.

Try and grow your money – Investing can be a great way to enjoy greater finances further down the road. Forex is one such way, where you trade currencies using strategies – you’ll want to do your research though, since there is plenty of risk at play. Visit ForexTradingExpert for tips and advice. Other areas of investment include stocks, shares, and investment trusts.

Phone Shopping – No, not the dreaded visiting of a phone shop (and warding off praying mantis-like salesfolk), but rather the downloading of any of the increasing number of dedicated supermarket cashback apps. The likes of Shopmium and Checkoutsmart offer a range of useful freebies and enticing cashback offers, plus they’re user-friendly and you can start making savings in minutes. Same rule of thumb applies to refund kings, TopCashback and Quidco ClickSnap; albeit based on you scanning a barcode and snapping (and sending) them a photo of the receipt beforehand.

Smart Saving – Speaking of smartphones, don’t forget to check out specific apps designed so that you can keep tabs on your personal finances on a day-to-day basis, at the swipe of a screen. Take Money Dashboard for example, one of a new breed of phone apps which allows you manage your money whilst on the go. Oh, and did we mention the best bit? That it’s completely free to download and use?? Simply – and safely – sync the app to your bank account, and as soon as any transaction occurs it’s flagged up on your dashboard display.


Rather than be uninsured or take out minimal coverage that won’t protect you when you need it, be money smart with your automobile, home, life, and other insurance coverage. There are ways you can get maximum protection at minimal cost to you, which leaves you with extra cash to use on other things. Unless you’re an insurance agent yourself, you probably don’t know all the tricks of the trade. Here are a few that will reduce your premiums without sacrificing protection.

Seek Professional Advice

You aren’t an insurance agent, are you? No problem! A local insurance agency has the experienced staff to sit down with you and talk about – well – your life. The agent can discuss coverage options for each policy you need, and he or she can tap you into discounts offered by the carriers through the agency. That’s right. Carriers offer special discounts through agents that they don’t offer to customers who eliminate the middle person. You may realize additional savings through an agent.

Combine Policies Where You Can

Part of what the agent can help you with is combining your insurance policies where you can for added savings. Why pay for auto insurance from one company, home insurance from another, a life insurance policy from a third company, and your business insurance from yet someone else? If you add up all your premiums, you’ll be surprised how much money this costs you each month. Carriers love to cover all your needs, and they’ll offer you significant savings to do so.

Pay Your Premiums All at Once

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Those four separate payments each month are cumbersome, so combining your coverage will make life much easier when you write one check for everything. Did you know, however, that if you pay your annual premiums in one lump sum you save even more money? It might be tempting to pay throughout the year because monthly payments seem more manageable, but paying all at once frees up extra cash later that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Don’t Go Crazy With Other Expenses

One way to curtail your insurance expenses is to control what you have to insure. You might want a Lamborghini (and who doesn’t), but do you know how much money you will spend to insure it? You might also want that top-of-line home entertainment system, but are you ready to pay the additional home coverage to protect it? The more you have to insure, the more your insurance will cost you, so don’t go bananas. Live within your means to keep your expenses down.

Find Cost-Cutters

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Finally, certain things might reduce your insurance coverage costs because insurance companies love them. For example, a home security system complete with fire and carbon monoxide protection reduces your chances of theft, fire, or other damage, and the insurance company may reduce your home premiums. Buy your vehicles instead of leasing them to reduce your auto premiums. Discuss life insurance as part of a benefits package with your boss.

You don’t have to go to the poorhouse to get proper insurance. There are plenty of ways to insure your life and all that is in it with the coverage you need. You just need to do a little groundwork and reap its monetary benefits.


While purchasing a second home is a dream of many, the reality is that it isn’t a decision that can (or should) be made lightly. It can make financial and logistical sense, but only if you ask yourself some serious questions.

Here are eight things to think about before taking the exciting (but slightly overwhelming) leap, and buying a holiday villa.

1. Can I afford it?

Despite popular opinion, real estate is not a liquid investment. You can’t presume or even count on the fact that you will be in a position to sell your holiday villa for a profit or even break-even — especially in your first few years of ownership.

There are definitely specific locales that are more likely to increase in value than others, Cassia at The Fields in Dubai being one of them. But it is up to you to do your research and speak with knowledgeable real estate professionals in your desired area.

2. Have I calculated all the costs?

When asking yourself whether or not you can actually afford a holiday villa, it is crucial that you keep in mind all of the costs. The price tag on the property is only a part (a hefty chunk, but still just a portion) of what you will need to spend.

Calculate the cost of utilities, HOA or condo fees, property taxes, insurance and the cost of furnishing a new home even down to the forks, candles, and rugs.

Bear in mind that if you are buying a holiday villa in a resort area, you and your family may also want skis, snowboards, kayaks, water toys or other gear. Oh, and don’t forget the travel costs to get there and back!

3. How often am I going to be able to visit?

Speaking of travel costs, another area where you need to be realistic is when it comes to how often you are genuinely going to be able to visit.

It should go without saying that your holiday villa should be in a destination that you love and want to return to often (have you seen the Meydan Villas in Dubai or holiday villas in Thassos, Greece?)!

That being said, take into account the price of roundtrip travel, your ability to get time off work or your children out of school, and the length of travel time and the time differences.

4. Am I interested in renting out my holiday villa?

If you aren’t going to be able to frequent the villa often enough to make the purchase advantageous, then consider renting out your unit. In addition to the monetary benefits, it will also ensure that your holiday villa isn’t sitting uninhabited for lengthy stretches of time.

However, if you do choose to rent out your holiday villa, you must be aware that this route will also come with expenses. For example, in between tenants, you will be required to pay for cleaning. You may also have to invest in advertising your villa, and possibly even for property management.

Furthermore, if your holiday villa is located in a resort, there is a good chance the resort will be required to take a percentage.

5. Am I even allowed to rent it out?

First things first, not all holiday villas can be rented out. With the growth of sites such as Airbnb, many condo associations and cities have set specific rules for rentals.

As mentioned previously, some resorts may also necessitate you to utilize their in-house programs, which will decide specifications for things such as interior furnishings and amenities.

If you are considering renting out your second home, make sure to research the specific rules of the community or neighborhood thoroughly prior to making an offer.

6. What is the realistic calculation of my return on investment?

For many people, owning a vacation home is part of their overall investment strategy. If this is the case for you, ensure that you are not being blindsided by the longing for a second place, and make sure it is actually a smart money move.

Sit down with your accountant or financial advisor, and estimate a realistic calculation of your returns, and then compare it against other uses of the same money.

7. How will I protect the villa when it is unoccupied?

The fact of the matter is that unoccupied homes invite unwelcome guests or intruders. For this reason, safeguard yourself and your belongings, and take steps to prevent your holiday villa from appearing uninhabited.

Your plan of action may include installing lights on timers, or asking friends or neighbors to come over, collect the mail, and park in your driveway. Brainstorm ways to make it not so visible that someone isn’t permanently home.

8. Do I have a foolproof plan for emergencies?

However, in the case of an emergency, you want to guarantee you have a plan of action. If you are unable to visit the villa regularly, identify someone who can.

Within the first couple of weeks of owning the home, introduce yourself to a hardworking and trustworthy handyman or better yet, a property manager who can arrange for any repairs quickly and safely.

After discussing these questions with your family, you will be in a sensible mindset to make the thrilling decision to add a second home to your family’s lifestyle!

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How to Stick to Your Retirement Savings Plan

It is one thing to plan for your retirement and another thing to be consistent in your efforts to save for your retirement. Many people find it difficult to contribute consistently to their retirement savings account. Making regular contributions to your retirement savings account is essential in order to ensure that you do not retire broke. If you are having trouble in sticking to your retirement savings plan, the following tips can help you out.

Start with a budget

3D illustration by Quince Media 

The first step of sticking to your retirement savings plan is to have a monthly budget. When you are in control of your money, you can focus on building your retirement fund or saving for your retirement goals. When you create a budget, do not forget to include miscellaneous expenses that may crop up once in a while. It is a good idea to build an emergency fund for such expenses. This will ensure that your retirement savings plan remains on track even in times of your sudden financial crisis.

Get into the habit of paying yourself first

Expenses tend to grow without any plan. But to successfully save for retirement you will need to develop a concrete plan. The plan is to pay yourself first. In other words, when you receive your paycheck, first contribute to your retirement savings account like an RRSP and then proceed to pay for your other expenses. If you do not make your retirement savings a priority, immediate financial expenses may make it impossible for you to pursue your retirement saving goals.

Opt for automatic transfers

Automatic transfers make the goal of paying yourself first an easy job. If your paycheck arrives on a set date, you can instruct your bank to make automatic transfers to your retirement saving vehicles like RRSPs. In this way, you can easily achieve your goal of sticking to your retirement savings schedule every month without bothering to transfer funds or write checks to do so. This is an easy and effective way to consistently build your wealth.

Reward yourself for achieving goals

It can be hard to keep yourself motivated to save for your retirement, which is usually decades away. The best way to keep yourself on track is to set small goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. For instance, you can set yourself a mini-goal of saving $10,000 in your retirement account within a certain period. Once you achieve the goal, reward yourself with a dinner at a favorite restaurant or go watch a movie to celebrate your success. Then set yourself the next mini-goal and continue on your retirement savings run.

This post contains sponsored links from Sun Life Financial.