2019-02-17T11:48:40Z https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/feed/atom/ WordPress https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/favicon.png Suliman <![CDATA[Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Shares]]> http://utilitysxprt.dev.onpressidium.com/?p=8242 2018-12-04T11:04:15Z 2018-12-04T10:33:24Z A beginner’s guide to investing in shares DISCLAIMER: Our publications do not offer investment advice and nothing in them should be construed as investment advice. Our publications simply provide information and education on a given subject. If you’re looking for investment advice, please get in contact with a financial advisor or broker. Investing in shares […]

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A beginner’s guide to investing in shares

DISCLAIMER: Our publications do not offer investment advice and nothing in them should be construed as investment advice. Our publications simply provide information and education on a given subject. If you’re looking for investment advice, please get in contact with a financial advisor or broker.

Investing in shares is an alternative way to generate income from your savings. It is important to remember that like many types of investments, this can go up or down. There is the possibility of making money or losing money, make sure to carry out your own research before you start. In this guide we will look at a number of things to consider before deciding if share investing is for you. First, we need to define ‘shares’.

Shares are part of a company that board members decide to sell in order to raise capital. The capital revenue raised will be invested back into the company. Shares of public companies can be sold in the stock exchange market. The price of these stocks are determined by how valuable a company is at any given time.

What is your target?

The two most popular reasons to invest are:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet 1. Generate a regular income

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet 2. Build capital over a period of time

As an example, if you are a retired pensioner and want to increase the amount of money you have available to spend each month, you should be investing for income. If your aim is to save for retirement or have the money to make a large purchase in years to come, you should consider investing for capital growth.

How much time do you have?

When you are deciding to invest in shares, you should be looking at a minimum of 5 years. If you are unable to wait this long, or need access to this money within that time period, you should consider alternative options such as a short term investment or a savings account.

How much risk can you take?

This is the most influential part of investing and will dictate the decisions you make. If you are investing in shares, your capital will increase and decrease according to market performance.

If you can’t manage seeing your money fall in value, you should reconsider your choice of investing in shares and stocks as this may not be the right choice for you. Alternatively, there are options available if you see yourself as more risk averse. Generally speaking, more risk = more potential reward.

How to manage risk:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet Stop orders: You set the bid value and the broker will automatically offload shares if they drop below a certain level. This allows you to remove yourself from trading before share prices drop further, potentially avoiding a larger loss.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet Trailing stop orders: Updated daily to track share price movement and limit a potential loss to a level you are comfortable with.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet Put options: Reduce the risk of buying too high or selling too low, these guarantee the price at which you are able to buy and sell shares.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet Call options: Guarantee the price at which you are able to buy an asset for a fixed duration period.

How much are you able to invest?

Calculate how much money you have available to invest, and if you can afford to lose it or not. Before proceeding, think about other expenditure you may have right now or in the foreseeable future, make sure your commitments are taken care of. Consider if you prefer to invest a large amount from the start of slowly invest smaller amounts over time.

What options do you have?

After you have decided that investing in shares is the right option for you and you have a clear investment goal, it’s time to consider your options. Your goal is to buy shares when they are at a lower price, and sell shares when their value has increased to a higher price. This is how you will make money.

How much does it cost to invest?

The main fee you will come across is the dealing fee. You will be charged this from a stock broker when doing business. If you are trading online, the dealing fee can be much lower, although it is important to remember that you may not receive advice from a broker on the decisions you make.

Investing in funds instead of shares will usually come with an initial fee and a yearly management charge by the manager of the fund. These fees will differ, but are generally based on the percentage of the amount you are investing.

Alternative options

Investing in shares isn’t the only option available to you. It is important to consider what your alternative investment options are before you start buying shares. Here are some of the most popular alternative options to think about:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-pink-bullet Savings accounts

beginners-guide-investing-shares-pink-bullet Property investment

beginners-guide-investing-shares-pink-bullet Pension investment

How to invest in shares

To invest in shares, you will need a stock broker. There are a number of different ways you can use the services of a broker. Here are a few examples:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet You can ask them to advise you

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet You can ask them to make decisions for you

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet You can ask them to make trades for you with no advice

The option you select will depend on how much experience you already have, and if you require advice. To buy shares, here are the three main types of brokers available:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet Advisory stockbrokers: They will offer you advice on the share deals you want to make. They can help you manage your portfolio and will stay in regular contact to make sure you are on track. You will be paying a minimum 1% to 2% for their service.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet Discretionary stockbrokers: They will make investments on your behalf and carry out portfolio decisions for you. They will likely charge an increased fee compared to advisory stockbrokers.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-blue-bullet Execution only stockbrokers: They will take action on your trades but will not give you any advice. This can be a good option if you are more experienced and do not want to pay for further advice. Their services are also available online.

Creating an investment plan

When you are creating your investment plan, think about what shares you wish to invest in. Here a few things to consider:

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet What sector are you investing in? Consider a section you have knowledge and/or experience in.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet What markets should you invest in? It may not be the best option to go ‘all in’ on one market, you may choose multiple markets to spread your risk.

beginners-guide-investing-shares-green-bullet Your strategy will depend on your goals (growth vs income), and what level of risk you are willing to take

Before you start investing, it can be useful to use a ‘test account’ to familiarise yourself with the platform before you commit any money. Many online brokers will offer this option for free.

If you found this guide to be helpful, subscribe to our blog for all the latest information and guides.

You may also wish to save money on your car insurance your home insurance, as well as your home energy bills.

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Suliman <![CDATA[A Used Caravan Buyer’s Guide]]> http://utilitysxprt.dev.onpressidium.com/?p=7953 2018-11-29T14:56:06Z 2018-11-29T14:50:58Z A Used Caravan Buyer’s Guide If you are planning a summer adventure and want to prioritise comfort, investing in a caravan may be the right choice. It does not have to be a costly endeavour, you can choose from a wide range of used caravans. This will help you save money and still provide the […]

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A Used Caravan Buyer’s Guide

If you are planning a summer adventure and want to prioritise comfort, investing in a caravan may be the right choice. It does not have to be a costly endeavour, you can choose from a wide range of used caravans. This will help you save money and still provide the experience you are pursuing.

This guide is for anyone looking to purchase a used caravan or camper van.

To caravan or to camper van

The first decision you will have will be to decide between a caravan or a camper van. There isn’t a clear-cut winner as to which is the better option. Ultimately, it will depend on what type of holiday or experience you are searching for.

A camper van will likely be a more suitable option if you plan to tour a wide area or travel to a number of different camp sites. This will also require minimal effort on your part when you arrive at your destination.

Alternatively, if you are planning on staying at the same place for a number of weeks, a caravan may prove to be a more cost-effective choice. This comes with an additional benefit, you have the option to separate the car from the caravan. This makes it more flexible when travelling to specific locations on your holiday by setting the caravan as a ‘base’.

We compare all the leading caravan insurance providers, get a free no obligation quote within minutes.

Choosing the right size

A larger caravan offers more spacious freedom. Easier access to washing facilities and kitchens with additional equipment can be a positive. It’s easier to converse with family and friends with this level of comfort.

You will need a much larger and more powerful vehicle to move a larger caravan, travelling on the road and at camp sites can also be challenging. Check the maximum weight limitations before choosing, consider how powerful your vehicle will need to be to tow it.

Carry out your own research

Carry out as much research as you can about any caravan before buying. Think about how much caravan insurance will cost, common problems experienced by campers, and the style or layout that would best suit you.

It’s a good idea to speak to a caravan dealer, a specialist advisor will be able to answer any questions you have along with providing useful tips and expert advice on what to look out for and what to avoid.

Who’s the seller?

Make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate seller. Caravans that are purchased from a dealer will likely be priced a little higher, although you will benefit from a warranty and some legal protection if any issues arise.

If you contact a private seller, ask them about the caravan directly. This will give you an opportunity to ask any questions and fully inspect it before parting with your money. It is essential that you are able to view the caravan before buying, whether this be on a business premises from a dealer or at the seller’s home address if it is a private sale.

Double check

It is important to double check the following:

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet Check for any damp

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet Check that doors and windows are operating correctly

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet Check the condition of the chassis and running gear

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet Check if the gas and electrics are fully working

The small things

It can be quite costly to customise the caravan you have just purchased with all the accessories you want. It can be a good idea to purchase a caravan or camper van that has these included already. Even if you have to pay a little extra, it can save you money in the future. Here are a few things to look out for:

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet Battery chargers

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet Gas bottles

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet Electrical connections

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet Hitch locks

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet External batteries

used-caravan-buyers-guide-blue-bullet Television equipment

The history

Ideally, you should look to see if it has a formal service history, this can include previous receipts or invoices for work carried out. Find out as much as you can. If the current owner has a copy of the original handbook, this could indicate that the caravan or camper van has been well maintained.

Ask the seller about how much use the caravan has, what distance it has travelled, be cautious of caravans that have been static for very long periods of time. It can be difficult to get an accurate age for the caravan, a HPI check will confirm its age if it is a newer model.

HPI checks

If the caravan was manufactured after 1992, it will be registered on the CRIS (Caravan Registration Identification Scheme). We strongly recommend that you carry out this check, this will provide you with further information such as:

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet The true identity of the caravan or camper van

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet If there is any outstanding finance

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet If it has been reported as stolen

used-caravan-buyers-guide-pink-bullet Previous record of insurance write off

Finally, after you have carried out all the necessary research and made all the appropriate checks, we hope you enjoy your next adventure.

Utility Saving Expert compares all the leading caravan insurance providers for you. It’s quick and simple to get an online quote within minutes.

You can also compare the following using our site: car insurance cover, home energy tariffs and home insurance policies.

For more guides and helpful tips, subscribe to our blog for all the latest updates.

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Suliman <![CDATA[How to Plan your Student Finance]]> http://utilitysxprt.dev.onpressidium.com/?p=7809 2018-11-16T14:33:35Z 2018-11-16T14:32:56Z How to Plan your Student Finance Are you starting or returning to university this September? Planning your finances correctly is essential to having an overall great experience. We will look at how to manage the money situation without taking on additional stress that comes from bad planning and decisions. Whether you are studying from home […]

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How to Plan your Student Finance

Are you starting or returning to university this September? Planning your finances correctly is essential to having an overall great experience. We will look at how to manage the money situation without taking on additional stress that comes from bad planning and decisions.

Whether you are studying from home or living away from home, your university journey will require much more financially independent choices. We’ll help you make the right ones. Many companies will offer you a whole variety of specialised accounts, cards and other financial incentives. These products and services aren’t the most interesting topic to discuss but good decisions will lead to additional balance and freedom.

Creating a budget

Planning and following an income and expenditure sheet will ensure you are not spending more than your income each month. This will help you manage your budget for each month or term.

Think about what your priority expenditure consists of and give yourself some disposable income for personal or social endeavours. Remember to have an emergency fund to give you some breathing room. Avoid unnecessary expensive items that you can live without.

Student loans, bursaries and grants

Students have the option to take out student loans to help them pay for university fees and the associated living costs. It is important to understand how these loans work.

Higher education courses will generally cost just over £9,000 per year, these will be paid directly to your place of study, whether it’s a college or university. You may also have access to a maintenance loan, usually up to around £11,000 per year, this will help you cover your living costs.

This amount is based on where you are located within the country and if you are living at home or away from home. Right now, you only have to start making repayments to your student loan once you are earning £21,000+ per year.

Student bank accounts

Banks will offer their own incentives to convince you to choose them, they will hope that you continue as a customer with them for the rest of your life. Look for interest free overdrafts or other helpful extras like an NUS Extra card or a student rail card.

We recommend comparing what each bank can offer you and choose what features and perks will be most helpful to you while studying.

Student credit cards

It would be better to avoid credit cards if you can manage without them. Credit card debt can increase if you’re not careful and if you’re on a course that lasts 3 or more years, this may make the situation difficult later on.

If you can manage them responsibly and can exercise self-control, they do have their benefits. For example, you can get additional protection on the purchase of goods and services. Other benefits include, lower interest rates over a shorter time period and access to additional funds in an emergency.

Alternative loans

Avoid these unless you require them for something specific and have a plan in place to repay them as soon as possible.

The amount owed will only increase with the added interest. Stay away from payday loans, they have extremely high interest rates and are unsustainable if you cannot pay them very quickly.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance can protect you from damage, loss or theft. Compare contents insurance policies to ensure you’re getting the best value, check the policy terms and conditions so you know what exclusions and restrictions will apply.

If you are renting, you will not need buildings cover, the landlord will be responsible for this.

Student employment and tax

If you’re able to find a flexible part time job whilst in higher education, this can help your financial situation. Try to find a balance between the time you spend recreationally, working, and most importantly studying. You’re only required to contribute towards tax and national insurance if your income exceeds the following:

plan-student-finance-green-bullet Earning more than £958 per month for tax

plan-student-finance-green-bullet Earning more than £157 per week for national insurance

Monthly bills

Most of your bills will likely be included within your rent if you are residing in halls of residence. Some bills may be included within your rent for student houses, check with your landlord. This should make budgeting easier.

If some bills are not included within your rent and you’re living with other students or tenants in a private property, calculate how these bills will be divided beforehand to avoid any disputes later on.

Household utilities

You will have to pay for gas, electricity and water if it isn’t already included within your accommodation rent. Use a smart meter reading to make sure you’re not paying for more than your usage.

Internet, telephone and TV

Have a look for student tailored services, even if they sometimes cost more per month, the savings may be worth it if you’re able to agree to a 9 month contract rather than a 12 or 18 month contract.

This will mean that you won’t have to pay for usage for a period you’re not in the residence.

TV license

If you watch live TV, whether it’s on a television, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, you will have to pay a TV license.

If you live away from home, you will need your own separate license. You will only require one license if you are living in shared accommodation as this will cover the whole property. You can get a refund for the period you are not in the accommodation e.g. during summer break.

Council tax

If you and everyone else within the property are full-time students, you will be exempt from paying council tax.

It is very important that you apply for this council tax exemption. You can do this by requesting an exemption letter from your higher education institution and present this to the local council, alternatively, you can also apply online.

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Suliman <![CDATA[9 Steps to Managing Debts of any Size]]> http://utilitysxprt.dev.onpressidium.com/?p=7547 2018-12-05T09:26:36Z 2018-11-14T09:56:19Z 9 steps to managing debts of any size Everyone who has even a small amount of debt will have to find a way to manage this debt. You have to try to keep up your monthly repayments to make sure things do not get out of your control. If you have a much larger amount […]

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9 steps to managing debts of any size

Everyone who has even a small amount of debt will have to find a way to manage this debt. You have to try to keep up your monthly repayments to make sure things do not get out of your control. If you have a much larger amount of debt, this requires a greater effort when repaying whilst also balancing different types and levels of debt you may or may not be currently repaying. Utility Saving Expert has put together the following guide to help managing debts of any size. Check out our 9 steps to managing debts of any size below:

Speak to a specialist money advisor for free advice and guidance today at Refresh Debt Services.

  1. How much do you owe and who is it owed to?
  2. Paying your monthly bills on time
  3. Create a calendar for monthly bill payments
  4. Make the minimum payment each month
  5. Prioritising which debts will be paid first
  6. Paying off collections and charges
  7. Create an emergency fund as a backup
  8. Plan your monthly expenses with a budget
  9. Recognise that you may need help

Step 1: How much do you owe and who is it owed to

First things first, make a list of all your debts. This should include who the creditor is, the amount of debt owed, monthly repayment amount, and what date it’s due by. It may be helpful to use a credit check service to confirm who the creditor is and what amount is owed. We recommend using a spreadsheet to do this, although a pen and paper will be just fine.

Once you have completed this, it will be much easier to see the big picture when you have this information in front of you. Don’t just create this list as a one-off. Remember to refer to this list regularly. As you are making repayments to any debts, remember to update the list accordingly to keep track of what’s remaining.

Step 2: Paying your monthly bills on time

By making a late payment, you will make it more difficult to repay any debt. This is because the creditor will likely apply additional fees and charges. If you consecutively miss two or more payments, the interest rate and/or financial charges will likely increase.

If you have access to a digital calendar on your smartphone or computer, it can be useful to enter this information in so you receive a reminder a few days before your next payment is due. In the event that you do miss a payment, do not wait until the following month, contact your creditor and pay as soon as you are able to do so, this can help you avoid being reported to a credit bureau organisation.

Step 3: Create a calendar for monthly bill payments

It can be useful to create a calendar for monthly bill repayments.

This will help you calculate which bill you should pay with each pay check you receive. Enter the bill payment amount alongside each date. Remember to include the date on which you are given your pay check. If you are paid on a different date each month, create a separate calendar for each month.

Step 4: Make the minimum payment each month

Make sure you are at least meeting the minimum repayment requirement each month if you are unable to pay any more than this.

If you are only making the minimum repayment, this doesn’t help you pay your debt with any real progress, however, it prevents your debt from increasing and your account won’t incur any additional fees and charges. If you miss payments, your account may end up in a default status and it can become much more difficult to catch up.

Step 5: Prioritising which debts will be paid first

Try to target which debts have the highest interest rates first, often, these will likely be credit cards. Prioritise which credit card has the highest interest rate as this will be costing you more. Use your debt list spreadsheet your created in step 1 to rank the order in which you want to repay each debt.

You can use a combination of different strategies such as paying the highest interest rate debts and those with the lowest outstanding balance first.

Step 6: Paying off collections and charges

When you have a limited amount of money that will be used for repaying a debt, try to put your efforts towards keeping any other accounts in good standing. Do not neglect any positive accounts for those of which you have previously defaulted on, as these will have likely affected your credit rating already.

Only target defaulted accounts when you can afford to do so. Remember, any account in default will likely be chased by your creditor or debt collection agencies until the account is brought up to date.

Step 7: Create an emergency fund as a backup

Once you feel that you are at a stage where you can comfortably manage any debts, it is of utmost importance to create some savings. Without any savings, you will have to go back into debt to cover the costs of any emergency or unexpected expenses.

Firstly, start small and slowly build up a small emergency fund, this doesn’t have to be the largest amount. £1,000 is a good amount to begin with and should suffice. It can be tempting to spend any savings you have built up over time, but remember that these additional funds can give you peace of mind and save you money in the future.

Secondly, once you have your initial emergency fund, set a goal to increase this over time. Ultimately, it can be very reassuring once you have built up six months of living expenses. Many financial experts believe that six months is what most people should aim for, although it can only benefit you if you go beyond this amount.

Step 8: Plan your monthly expenses with a budget

Having a monthly budget will ensure you have enough money to manage your income and expenditure correctly. Planning in advance is the key to managing your money correctly.

This will allow you to take the necessary steps if it looks like you’re going to be short of funds on any given month. A budget will allow you to allocate any disposable income correctly once you have covered your priority expenses. Any disposable income could go towards repaying debts faster or creating some savings as discussed in Step 7.

Step 9: Recognise that you may need help

If you are still finding it difficult to manage any debts on top of your monthly bills, it may be a good idea to speak to a specialist advisor. There are a number of charities and debt consolidation companies that can give you expert advice on what would be the most suitable solution going forward.

It is very important to remember that there are both advantages and disadvantages to any wider financial solution available, consider any option carefully before you make a decision.

For more information on personal finance, check out Utility Saving Expert’s blog.

Here are a few guides you may also find helpful

8 Useful ways to save money
Utility Saving Expert’s Guide to Managing Money

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Suliman <![CDATA[A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Horse]]> http://utilitysxprt.dev.onpressidium.com/?p=6092 2018-10-18T09:31:01Z 2018-10-18T09:31:01Z First and foremost, before we continue, buying a horse involves a huge financial commitment and the decision needs to be considered carefully before proceeding. After you have carried out all the necessary research and made your decision that you wish to own a horse or pony, continue reading for further information on what you need […]

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First and foremost, before we continue, buying a horse involves a huge financial commitment and the decision needs to be considered carefully before proceeding.

After you have carried out all the necessary research and made your decision that you wish to own a horse or pony, continue reading for further information on what you need to consider when owning your first horse. Owning your very own horse can be an amazing experience but it comes with its own challenges. The following guide gives an insight to first time horse owners.

Outside space for your new horse

The first thing to find is an outside space for your horse. This spacious area will be used for relaxation, exercise and grazing. Many horses love grass fields and the outdoors during the day. You don’t want to leave your horse outside for extended periods though. Regular exercise will keep your horse healthy and prevent it from becoming overweight. When looking for a vast open space, think about how much it will cost you. It’s recommended to get your horse in a field with other horses, this is because they will enjoy the company as they are herd animals.

Indoor space for your new horse

It is equally important to find the correct shelter for your horse. The majority of liveries will include the relevant shelter. A stable provides good shelter. As stated previously, consult your budget to see what options are available.

Essential stable equipment

Once you have your horse’s accommodation sorted, this area will need to be maintained with the necessary tools. Here’s a list of things you will need:

  • Feeding buckets and hay nets: these will ensure your horse is well fed
  • Pitch forks: An essential tool to help clean the stable
  • Stable broom: Used to clean smaller bedding areas
  • Wheelbarrow: Transporting grass and hay etc, this will help to reduce the number of trips around the stable
  • Manure fork: The prongs of this type of fork are much closer compared to a general fork which is wider.

Moving your horse around

A used horse trailer is a good option that will help you save money. A new trailer can cost between £3,000 and £6,000 on average. If you decide to purchase a used horse trailer, consider the following:

  • Is it in full working order
  • No evidence of rotting or rust of any kind
  • 0% chance of a roof leak
  • Ensure tyres are in excellent condition

Grooming your horse

By now, you will have everything you require to accommodate and transport your horse. Here is a list of items that will be needed to take good care of your horse:

  • Grooming gear: This will help you make sure your horse’s coat is kept in excellent condition. Make sure you have a body brush, curry comb, hoof pick, and mane comb.
  • Halter and lead rope: This is used to lead your horse in any direction. Look for one that is adjustable.
  • Stable rug: This is helpful during the cold winter months. This will give them additional protection from lower temperatures and keep them nice and warm.

Horse Tack

Horse tack is an all-encompassing term used to describe the items that will be used to assist you in riding your horse. Here is a list of examples:

  • A bridle is the riding head collar, typically made from leather
  • Girth and cinch, this is used to strap on the saddle
  • Horse boots
  • Martingale, this is strapped from the girth to the head piece
  • Reins
  • Saddle blanket
  • Saddle pad
  • Stirrups

Horse riding clothing

There are many different types of horse riding clothing, below we have covered the essentials that you will need for comfort and more importantly, your safety:

  • Breeches: These are leggings making it comfortable for you and your horse
  • Body protector: This will help you in the event of falling from your horse and provide additional protection
  • Riding helmet: A must have to protect your own head, likely the most important piece of safety gear needed
  • Riding boots: Ensure these are heeled to provide extra grip when riding

Horse Insurance

You will want to make sure you have the right cover after pursuing this new endeavour. When you consider how much you have already spent, you will come to the conclusion that horse insurance is a must have. Horse insurance can help with veterinary bills, a third party incident, illness and injury to your horse. This will help you cover the financial costs should the unexpected happen. In simple terms, horse insurance can cover the following:

  • Accidents, illnesses and injuries
  • Equipment
  • Horse liability
  • Loss of use
  • Trailers and horsebox – see horsebox insurance
  • Vet bills

Without horse insurance, you will not receive any financial assistance should you have an unforeseen circumstance. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the right type and level of cover in place. As an example, you will need rider insurance, if you wish to ride your horse. It is advisable to consider liability insurance, this will cover you if your horse damages property or causes injury to someone else. Vet bills can be very expensive when compared to standard pet insurance used for cats and dogs.

Utility Saving Expert compares all the leading insurance providers. It’s quick and simple to get an online quote within minutes.

Transporting your horse

Need to transport your horse? Compare cheap horsebox insurance quotes today

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Chris <![CDATA[Utility Saving Expert’s Guide to Managing Money]]> https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/?p=4720 2018-12-05T09:29:28Z 2018-08-01T15:15:09Z Taking the first steps in managing your money in a better way can really benefit you in the long term.

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Taking the first steps in managing your money in a better way can really benefit you in the long term. There are a few simple and easy steps that can make it easier for you to save thousands of pounds every year and always stay on top of your bills. Any additional disposable income can go towards repaying debts, saving for a rainy day, or even towards your next car or property. We have created a helpful guide on how to manage your finances, this will help your money go further than before.

Set up a budget

The first step can be challenging but requires very little effort, it’s to make the conscious decision to take control of your finances. Creating a budget is a great way to get an overview of your monthly income and expenditure. There are a number of benefits to having a budget in place, here are a few examples:

• Less likely to be affected by an unexpected cost
• Able to identify an area where you can make a saving
• Less likely to find yourself taking on debt
• More likely to have a good credit score
• More likely to be accepted for a loan or mortgage from different lenders
• Able to save for a big purchase such as a new car or holiday

What you will need

You will need to calculate your monthly income and expenditure. Things like mortgage or rent, council tax, household bills, travel costs, food and housekeeping, and clothing etc will all come under this. Try to gather as much information as possible at this stage. Payslips, bank statements and online access to your bank account will help you with this. We recommend creating a spreadsheet when collecting this data, alternatively you can write it down on paper. Most banks will have online tools to help you with this, there are also a number of mobile apps available to smartphone users that can simplify the process.

More than 50% of UK households have a regular budget. This can give them peace of mind knowing how much they are actually spending, many say it helps them feel better about their life in general.

Budget on the right track

If your weekly or monthly outgoings are higher than your income, you must find areas in which you can reduce your costs. This can even be as simple as cancelling a gym membership that is not in use, or taking lunch from home to work. Keep an eye out on what you spend daily on if paying by cash, check your bank statements if you use a credit or debit card to pay for things. Try to involve your family members when creating a budget, working together to plan how much spending money is available will help make a big difference.

Reduce and review

Household bills take up a large proportion of our income for most of us. You can save hundreds of pounds by choosing a better mortgage rate at the time of re-mortgaging, switching to a cheaper energy supplier and finding more competitive home and car insurance. It is a good idea to review your budget regularly, as it can be difficult to predict what may happen in the future. Household bills can increase and your income may even change, if your income is reduced, consider what things you can cut back on, if it increases, it’s a good idea to take this as an opportunity to save more.

Paying off debts

If you have any debts with loans or credit cards, it makes financial sense to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Here’s a checklist of some different debts:

• Rent arrears
• Repossessed cars or properties
• Personal loans
• Pay day loans
• Credit cards and store cards
• Catalogues
• Overdraft (fees and charges may apply)
• Utility bills (gas, electricity, water)
Council Tax arrears
• Debt collection agencies

Try not to break any agreement terms, if you are prioritising higher interest rate debts first, make sure you at least pay the minimum amount on any other debts. If you have missed any repayments and are finding things difficult, it’s a good idea to get expert advice from a debt charity as soon as possible.

Saving goals

It is easier to save money if you set a goal for yourself. Sometimes it can be challenging and difficult staying motivated, but if you know what you want to achieve and how long it will take to get there, this can help you stay on the right track. One of the most effective methods to saving money is by paying into a savings account regularly. Some financial experts recommend having at least 3 to 6 months of expenses as savings in the event of unforeseen circumstances e.g. losing a job or unable to work due to health reasons. It’s not a problem if you are unable to save money straight away, you can still get to that point in the future by having it as a set target.

Once you have enough in your emergency fund, here’s a few of the most popular saving goals you may wish to consider:

• Buying a car from a motor trader without a loan
• Going on a holiday
• Paying down a deposit for your first home
• Having additional money for maternity or paternity leave

As your savings grow over time, you can even put more money towards a pension for more comfort in later life. You may even wish to create an investment plan depending on what goals you wish to achieve and within what timeframe you wish to accomplish them.

For more useful tips on managing money, please subscribe to the Utility Saving Expert blog.

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Chris <![CDATA[8 Useful ways to save money]]> https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/?p=4568 2018-07-31T15:42:50Z 2018-07-31T15:21:21Z Most people would agree that the more money you have the better, we would all like to earn more money but it can be equally beneficial to save money.

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Most people would agree that the more money you have the better, we would all like to earn more money but it can be equally beneficial to save money. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place to help you with your finances. It is possible to dramatically increase the amount of money you have left to spend on the more important things in life by taking that first step in order to get your finances sorted. Here’s a list of 8 ways Utility Saving Expert recommends to maximise how far your money can go:

Transferring your debt
It’s possible to transfer debt to a credit card with a 0% balance transfer, this can be helpful if you have large interest payments on loans and credit cards and may make financial sense in the long term. 0% balance transfer credit cards will not charge you any interest on any debt transferred for a specific period. This allows you to pay back the money with no additional costs. Make sure you try to pay off any balances before the promotion period ends as the interest rate will likely increase dramatically at that moment in time.

Arrange a free overdraft
Depending on who you bank with, some will charge customers higher fees for any unplanned overdrafts. If it is likely that you go into your overdraft regularly, it will be beneficial to switch to a bank that provides a free authorised overdraft limit.

Tax bill reduction
You are able to claim against any tax relief you are eligible for, this can help you hold onto a larger amount of your money. Not everyone is aware of the different tax reliefs available to them such as AIA (annual investment allowance), rent a room relief and PETs (potentially exempt transfers). These can help you save money.

Price comparison websites
A price comparison website such as Utility Saving Expert allows you to instantly compare many different products and services to ensure you are getting the best value. If you’re looking to compare energy tariffs, car insurance or even specialist insurance products such as motor trade insurance, Utility Saving Expert will help you find something that meets your needs at the most competitive price.

Supermarket loyalty cards
Many supermarkets, retail stores or restaurants reward customers every time they make a purchase and allow them to save points to a loyalty card, giving them access to discounts and various promotions. Supermarket loyalty cards are the most useful because you will shop there regularly and these points can be built up quickly over time.

Non-essential direct debits
Check your bank statements regularly to make sure you don’t miss any unnecessary direct debits. This only takes a few minutes but can help you stop paying for products or services that you no longer need, these can sometimes go unnoticed for months. It’s a good idea to access your bank account online at least once a week to see where your money is going.

Getting the best mobile phone deal
It can be difficult finding the right mobile phone deal, especially because there are so many different phones and price plans to choose from. Mobile network providers are not always helpful in offering existing customers the best deal available to them. It’s a good idea to check your online account for information on your monthly data and minutes usage. This can help you upgrade to a better tariff if you’re a heavy user or lower your price plan at renewal if your consumption is low. Often, sim only deals will provide the best value for money.

Plan expenditure in advance
Sometimes you can save money by paying your car insurance premium or gym membership annually rather than monthly. It’s a good idea to see what discounts may be available if you choose to pay in advance. Also, there are many products that will cost less in specific months. If you are planning a large purchase, it’s a good idea to research when that product will likely be discounted. Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Boxing Day sales are a good opportunity to save money.

If you would like further tips on how to save money, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest tips and advice.

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Chris <![CDATA[The Ultimate Guide to Business Insurance]]> https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/?p=4429 2018-11-12T12:41:51Z 2018-07-26T10:24:26Z Ultimate Guide to Business Insurance A business insurance policy will protect you during normal business activities for losses such as compensation claims made against you. Generally this cover will include public liability insurance, employers’ liability insurance, and professional indemnity insurance. The following guide covers various aspects of business insurance, to ensure you have the right […]

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Ultimate Guide to Business Insurance

A business insurance policy will protect you during normal business activities for losses such as compensation claims made against you.

Generally this cover will include public liability insurance, employers’ liability insurance, and professional indemnity insurance.

The following guide covers various aspects of business insurance, to ensure you have the right knowledge before taking out a new policy.

Is business insurance necessary?

Business insurance will protect you against everyday associated risks that come with the nature of operating your business.

Insurance will be able to cover you against accidents, damage, theft, mistakes and legal fees, but the type of cover you require will depend on how your business operates and what type of business it is. If you work from home, you may also require business insurance. Your particular business will determine the type of insurance you need.

You should consider public liability insurance if you have clients visit your property, this will cover you against anyone suffering an injury whilst they visit. Professional indemnity insurance will be important if you’re offering a professional service, advice, handling intellectual property (IP) and/or client/customer data.

Online businesses have their own challenges and risks, again, you will require insurance that will meet these unique needs. Stock cover will protect your inventory against damage and theft for things you sell online. Tool insurance is similar, this will also cover you against damage and theft for your specialist business tools.

Professional indemnity insurance will protect you against a financial loss suffered by one of your clients due to your online service. As a sole trader, you may need tradesman insurance but employers’ liability insurance may not be needed.

Is It a legal requirement to have business insurance?

Your specific business will allow you to understand if you are legally required to have a business insurance policy.

For most businesses that have staff, employers’ liability insurance will be a legal requirement. Professional indemnity insurance may be a legal requirement to satisfy regulatory and governing bodies.

UK Law Business Insurance requirements

Employers’ liability insurance is the only legal requirement under UK law for most business that employ staff, whether it be on a permanent or casual basis. In order to operate, you may find that some regulators require you to have other specific types of insurance.

Accountants, some health care professionals, and solicitors are required by law to have professional indemnity insurance in place. In some instances, you may not be able to sign some contracts without having the necessary insurance in place beforehand.

Before you take on any work, check to see if any of your new or existing clients require you to have a specific insurance policy and make sure you have that business cover in place.

It’s a good idea to take out a policy regardless if it is a compulsory requirement or not for your business. Business insurance can cover you against accidents, damage, theft, mistakes and even legal fees. This will keep your business running in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

Types of business insurance

The type of business insurance you will need depends on the nature of your business.

Professional indemnity insurance covers your business if you are offering advice, employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement for most business with staff employed permanently or casually, public liability insurance will cover you if you are interacting with members of the public.

Looking for the best business energy tariff? Get a quick no obligation quote right now.

What insurance do I need for my business?

Consider the type of work you carry out and any risks associated with it, what will you need to be covered for? An upset client may feel you’ve been negligent and may pursue a compensation claim. There may be a chance that a member of the public could have an accidental injury by your business and may also want to make a compensation claim. Do you need to insure your buildings, business equipment, contents, or stock?

Here’s a list of popular types of business insurance and why you may need to be covered with them.

Public liability insurance

If your business is in contact with the public, public liability insurance is a very important consideration. It can protect you against injury or damage compensation claims made by clients, customers or suppliers, whether at your business premises or elsewhere.

Most builders, tradesmen, hairdressers, shops, and restaurants will look to take out this type of insurance. Look at your client contracts to make sure what level of public liability insurance will be required.

Professional indemnity insurance

If your business offers advice or a professional service to other clients or businesses, professional indemnity insurance can be very important. This can also cover you when dealing with intellectual property (IP) and/or client data.

Professional indemnity insurance can cover you against compensation and legal costs, if a client is at a loss and makes a claim against you through mistakes made in your work. Accountants, architects, and surveyors will want their members to have this in place, check to see which regulators and professional bodies require this.

Employers’ liability insurance

You will likely be required to have employers’ liability insurance if your business employs staff both permanently and on a casual basis. This can cover you if a member of staff suffers an injury, illness or damage due to their work and pursues a compensation claim against you.

Some businesses that only employ members of their family may be exempt from this legislation, take a look at the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) guidelines for further information.

Buildings insurance for business

Business buildings insurance should be a top priority if you have a separate premises such as an office, store, or even if you work from home.

Speak to your landlord to see what you are already covered for if you are leasing the premises.

Contents insurance for business

Your business tools and equipment can be covered against damage, loss, or theft under a business contents insurance policy.

This can cover the costs for repairs and replacements allowing your business to be operational as soon as possible.

Stock insurance

Stock insurance will cover you against damage or theft if you hold stock in storage or at your business premises.

Product liability insurance

If by mistake, you provide a faulty product, and a customer suffers illness or damage as a result, product liability insurance can protect you. Even if you did not manufacture the product, you can still potentially be held liable for any damages.

Personal accident insurance

In the event of serious injury or death caused by an accident, personal accident insurance can cover you. It may cover the costs of medical bills, hospitalisation or even loss of income. Most policies should cover you up to £10,000 for injury and £20,000 in the event of death.

Business interruption insurance

Disruption caused by an event such as fire or flooding to your business can be covered under business interruption insurance. This will provide you with the financial cover to get you operational as soon as possible.

If your contents are also insured, in the event of a fire destroying your business equipment such as computers and furniture, and as a result you suffer a loss of revenue, business interruption insurance can help you get up and running again.

Business legal protection insurance

Sometimes referred to as business legal expenses insurance; business legal protection insurance can provide protection against potential costs associated with legal action against or brought to your business. Commercial legal expenses may also be covered.

Motor Trade Insurance 

If you work in the motor trade, you will need to ensure you have sufficient Motor Trade insurance.

Motor Fleet Insurance

If you have more than one vehicle, you will need to ensure you have a business fleet insurance policy.

The cost of business insurance

This depends on a number of rating factors. What’s the nature of your work? Which type of insurance do you need? What level of cover do you require? The level of risk is always the key determining factor on how much you can expect to pay for your business insurance policy.

Utility Saving Expert offers policies from a number of leading providers at competitive prices. It’s simple and easy to get a quick online quote for your business insurance policy right away.

An insurer will calculate your premium based on a number of different factors, it is important to be as specific as possible to ensure you’re getting the right level and type of cover your business needs.

Similar to all types of insurance, it is calculated on the basis of how likely you are to claim and how much a claim would cost the insurer, a higher level of risk will equal a higher premium. Try to answer all questions as accurately as possible and select the right level of cover to ensure you are protected should you need to make a claim.

How much cover do I need?

In some cases your professional or regulatory body will specify what level of cover is required as standard. The amount of cover you need is dependent on the nature of your business.

It is a legal requirement to have a minimum of £5 million for an employers’ liability insurance policy for most businesses. Consider the amount of compensation you may have to pay if someone makes a claim against you. Think about the type of work you undertake and the size of your business contracts from a financial perspective.

Check the latest document version or handbook of your professional regulator or body, some will have a minimum standard requirement before allowing you to operate.

If you want to have buildings insurance for business, calculate how much it will likely cost for you to rebuild your premises from the ground up. If you wish to insure specialist equipment and business tools, how much would it cost for a replacement?

What about commercial insurance?

Business insurance may sometimes also be referred to as ‘commercial insurance’. It’s insurance designed to protect businesses from any potential risks they may face and give policy holders peace of mind. The two terms are interchangeable.

Let’s start by defining the term ‘commercial insurance’. In simple terms, commercial insurance is insurance that protects businesses. It can cover your business against any losses stemming from injury, damage to property or employee. The term is regularly used to identify core business insurance cover such as professional indemnity insurance, employers’ liability and public liability to name a few.

Utility Saving Expert offers commercial insurance policies from a number of leading providers at competitive prices. It’s simple and easy to get a quick quote online.

Getting business insurance before registering your business

You are able to purchase a business insurance policy before you start trading and even before registering your new business. When looking to take out a policy, you will not usually be required to supply your company registration number including any other business registration details.

Generally, the only business registration you need to complete would be a HMRC self-assessment tax system registration, when setting up a new business as a sole trader. If you are setting up a limited company, there is additional paperwork involved.

You are required to register your new business with Companies House (sometimes referred to as ‘incorporating’) and you will be supplied with a CRN (company registration number). Some businesses have the option to carry out this registration process online. If you are unsure about which business structure would be most suitable, there are many guides online that will cover the advantages and disadvantages for each type.

You do not need to register your business before purchasing a business insurance policy, although it is very important to meet the necessary legal criteria and have your business registered before you get started. Insurers will want further information including your type of trade, business address, projected or actual annual turnover. You may be asked about the structure of the business (e.g. limited company or sole trader). However, in most cases, it will not be necessary to supply other details of your business registration including your CRN (company registration number).

Ultimately, this will mean that you can go ahead and purchase your business insurance policy whilst the paperwork is being completed and/or processed when setting up the new business.

Business insurance without a trade license

You are able to take out a business insurance policy before you start trading, also, you may not yet have a trading license in place. Furthermore, if you start trading and your business does not have the required licenses in place, any claims you make may not be payable and your insurance policy might be invalid.

Please check your policy details for further clarification on what will not be covered under different conditions.

Trade licenses are not essential for every business. Certain types of businesses will require a license. A relevant licensing authority or local authority will typically issue these, remember to check what license your business may require before you start trading. If you begin trading without the right authorisation, you will be expected to stop trading immediately and may even face legal challenges that an insurance policy will not cover you for.

Some examples of business that need a trade license include but are not limited to: taxi drivers, pet stores, and market traders. The UK government’s website has a useful license finder tool that will allow you to check if a license is necessary for your business. It is important to remember that even if a license is not required for you to trade, you still need to make sure your business has been registered.

You need to register for self-assessment tax if you are a sole trader and you need to register with Companies House (also known as ‘incorporating’) if you are setting up a limited company. Companies House will supply you with a CRN (Company Registration Number).

Before your trade license has been issued, it may be possible for you to buy your business insurance policy. You can have your insurance in place before you start trading, as your insurer will not request your license details. However, you will be expected to comply with any regulations and laws as part of your policy agreement.

As a consequence, trading without the necessary license may invalidate your business policy and render it useless. This means that your insurer will have the right to refuse any claims you make. We strongly recommend that before you start trading, you have the required license and registration process finalised.

For further information on business insurance, please take a look at our blog.

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Chris <![CDATA[The Definitive Guide to Investing in Buy-to-Let Properties]]> https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/?p=4226 2018-07-26T10:07:57Z 2018-07-24T16:54:19Z This guide will cover the essential information for buy-to-let property investors. We will explore buy-to-let mortgages, what locations to target, rental income and the tax change reforms affecting investors and landlords.

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This guide will cover the essential information for buy-to-let property investors. We will explore buy-to-let mortgages, what locations to target, rental income and the tax change reforms affecting investors and landlords.

Buy-to-let property investments have become more difficult than previous years due to tax reforms for both buying a property as an investment and the rental income received. Even with these changes, the idea of investing in a property will still appeal to many people across the UK. The population’s trust in bricks and mortar far outweighs that of the stock market and investment funds. Low interest rates attract investors for buy-to-let properties because mortgages cost less, and returns on bank account savings provide very little in the current financial climate.

A 3% stamp duty charge takes away part of your investment combined with the loss of full mortgage interest tax relief. Interests rates are predicted to rise in the coming years as they have been at an all-time low for an extended period due to the uncertainty within the UK economy. As an example, if you were to purchase a £150,000 property, around £5,000 will be lost on stamp duty tax along with your rental income being taxed instead of your profit. Even with these changes, buy-to-let investments are still very popular. If you’re an existing landlord or looking to enter the property investor market, we have outlined ten essential tips in this guide for buy-to-let property investors and landlords.

I’m considering buy-to-let

If you have enough money for a large deposit, a buy-to-let property can be an attractive investment. Stock market fluctuations and low interest rates for savers only make that decision easier. After the 2008 financial crisis, the property market has slowly been on the rise and has given investors the opportunity to purchase a property with the hope that its value will gradually increase over time. Investors are looking at homes outside of London for a stronger return on investment (ROI) and because prices in the capital city are out of reach for most. Current mortgage rates from lenders are at a record low and make a good value proposition for anyone looking to buy. However, it is important to remember that current interest rates can increase at any moment in time, with this in mind, it may be useful to speak to a specialist advisor to see how your investment could be affected over a period of time.

Buy-to-let mortgage interest relief has been taken away and been replaced with a 20% tax credit. Furthermore, landlords have to pay an additional 3% stamp duty when purchasing a property under new legislation effective in April 2016. Fortunately, despite the potential rise in mortgage costs and tax reforms, there is a positive side. Inflation has meant that rent prices are rising, and a strong demand for tenants has contributed to this. As for any investment, there aren’t any guarantees for a buy-to-let property, this is suited to those who believe in bricks and mortar as opposed to the stock market and shares. Here are UtilitySavingExpert.com’s ten essential tips for buy-to-let property investors and landlords:

Research the buy-to-let property market

If you’re a newcomer to buy-to-let properties, what do you know about the market right now? Are you aware of the risks as well as the rewards? Your money may be more useful or perform better in a different market so it is important to know if you really want to enter into a buy-to-let investment, make sure it’s something that you really want. Previously, high interest rate savings accounts would better most types of investments but these are currently unavailable. Placing capital in a property means that the value could decrease so there is an associated risk.

This is in comparison to a potential 3% rate on a fixed rate savings account or up to a 5% annual return from an income-based investment fund. It is important to remember that returns from an investment trust, shares or investment in funds through an ISA will allow you to avoid tax on income and gain capital growth tax free. If you wish to sell as quick as possible, this option will also give you that flexibility. In contrast, you are unable to renovate and add additional value to an investment fund.

Typically, you will have to commit tens of thousands of pounds and maybe even take out a mortgage when investing in a buy-to-let property. If house prices increase, it is possible to leverage this large gain against your mortgage, should they fall, your deposit takes a hit and the mortgage will stay the same. Investing in a property has been a smart decision for many people, in terms of any capital gains and generated income but it is paramount that you are able to acknowledge the potential advantages and disadvantages before entering. It is also a good idea to hear from other people’s experiences whether in person or online for helpful advice. The more research you carry out and the more knowledge you gain will benefit you and hopefully increase your chances of making the right investment decision.

Choosing the right location with good potential

A promising location means an area where people would like to reside, this will likely be for a number of different reasons. It does not necessarily mean the least or most expensive place. Is there a place in your town or city that has a specific appeal? If you commute, what are the transport links like? Where are the well performing primary and secondary schools located? Where do college and university students wish to live? You need to look for areas within the city or town that are within your budget and can be matched with the location that people utilising the above facilities can take advantage of. For example, a young family will want to live closer to a reputable school and an area that is considered safe, everything else may either be seen as additional or a bonus depending on their criteria.

Although simple, these questions are likely to be the biggest contributing factor for a successful buy-to-let investment. Generally, people are likely to invest in a property closer to where they live, this is based on them likely understanding the market better than anyone else and they can specify which type of property will be successful in a given location. It will also make it easier to check the property regularly and to make sure everything is in place correctly. If you are already a home-owner, it is worth considering a look at a different type of property and location as this exposure may open up new options.

Calculate the figures before you buy-to-let

It is a good idea to write down a list of different property prices and the amount of rent you will likely receive from each beforehand. Most buy-to-let mortgage lenders will demand a 25%+ upfront deposit and will generally want the rent to cover 125%+ of the monthly mortgage repayments. Usually, lower rate mortgage deals also come with much higher arrangement fees. It is a good idea to compare different mortgage lenders’ rates and arrangement fees to ensure you are getting the most competitive price. After looking at different mortgage rates and the rental income you are likely to receive from the property, you will then be able to calculate whether your new investment will be worth pursuing. Remember to factor in maintenance cost or the event of the property being empty for a number of months. There are many things to take into consideration, make sure you are aware on how much your mortgage repayments will differ if you’re on a tracker rate and budget with this in mind.

Compare to get the best buy-to-let mortgage

Do not ask for a mortgage from the first bank or building society you visit. It is best to compare a range of different products from a number of different lenders to ensure you are getting the most competitive deal. You can either use an online comparison site (we recommend using more than one) or speak to a qualified independent broker such as Simple Financial Planning. An experienced broker will be able to guide you through what deals are available to you and give you expert advice on which product is right for you, whether it be a fixed rate or tracker mortgage. Carrying out your own research will be helpful before speaking to a broker as it will be easier to identify what questions you need to be asking.

Who is your future tenant?

Think of the needs of your target tenant, rather than imagining yourself living in the property. Who are they and what are their requirements? If it’s a student, the property needs to be relatively easy to clean and focus on comfort rather than luxury. Young professionals may prefer modern furnishings with a minimal aesthetic style but not too complex. If you’re trying to target a family, they will likely have a lot of their own belongings such as furniture and will prefer an empty space that they can manage on their own. If you allow tenants to decorate, add pictures, remove unwanted furniture, it will make it feel more like a home. This is great news for landlords, as tenants will likely stay longer if they are able to make the home feel more welcoming.

If your tenant fails to pay the rent, it may be worth taking out insurance from a specialist provider beforehand, this may be covered in some landlord insurance policies or as a standalone product.

Target rental yield and factor in costs

Experts advise to target for income rather than short-term capital growth, even though you may expect house prices to rise in the long-term. Use the annual rent received as a percentage of the purchase price to compare the yield and property’s value. As an example, if a property gives you £12,000 worth of rent each year and the purchase price is £240,000, this has a 5% yield. For buy-to-let properties, rent should be seen as the key return.

Rent to property price yield will not be the return you receive if you are buying with a mortgage, also consider that you will also have maintenance costs, landlord expenses and tax that will take away from your return. The majority of buy-to-let mortgages are carried out on an interest only basis, meaning the amount you borrow will not be paid off over the time period, this may be tax efficient as you’re able to offset your mortgage payments against your tax bill, we strongly recommend that you speak to a specialist financial advisor before undertaking any type of property investment to understand all the advantages and disadvantages and how this may affect you in both the short and long term.

Previously, you were able to offset the entire mortgage cost against your tax bill, this is changing and it is estimated that by 2020, you will only receive a maximum 20% tax credit on any mortgage payments. If your rental income is substantially larger than your mortgage payments, this extra money can be used towards any further investments or even be saved for use in the event of an emergency, for example, if your property is empty for a longer duration than expected.

People will very rarely buy a property outright, so remember that there will be running and maintenance costs, agent fees, mortgage costs and these must be calculated in any return. After factoring in these costs, you may still wish to consider if a buy-to-let investment is still better than a trust or investment fund. Once you have calculated all over your costs, you will want any rental income to build up and increase over time, this can then be used for another deposit for any further investments or better yet, to pay off the mortgage in its entirety before or at the end of the term. Ultimately, this will allow you to benefit from both rental income received and you will hold the capital value of the property once the mortgage has been paid for in full.

Exploring the market and renovating

The city or town that you currently live in may not be the best investment option. Although most buy-to-let investors do look for properties closer to home. If you are purchasing a property closer to you, as an advantage, it will be much easier to monitor what’s going on, although you can always hire an agent to do this for you, if you do employ a letting agent, remember to factor these in to your maintenance costs.

Explore the market and carefully consider cities or towns that have good commuting routes, have a large university or an areas that are popular with families. Properties that need renovating may give you an opportunity to substantially increase your return on investment. It can sometimes be easier to get a better purchase price for buildings that haven’t aged well or properties that need renovation. If you are able to add value to a home in a short period of time, you could possibly see a quicker return on your invested capital, therefore also increasing your safety margin. Ensure that you have calculated any refurbishment costs on top of the purchase price before considering how profitable this method may be. Property developers calculate this by looking at purchase price + refurbishment costs + 20% = final value.

Negotiate the purchase price

You will have the same advantage as a first-time buyer when you are looking to negotiate a purchase price of a property, the more you can discount from the list price, the better. As a buy-to-let investor, you will most likely not be part of a connecting chain, meaning you are not relying on the sale of a property before you can purchase another. This will mean there is less risk for a seller of a property sale falling through, you can use this information to your advantage to try to negotiate a better price. You’re able to make a lower offer and won’t feel pressured into paying more than you need to.

Keeping a constant eye on the property market can make it easier to get a better purchase price when negotiating. For example, if properties on average are taking longer to sell and the market is more challenging, you should try to find out how long the seller has owned the property and why they’re looking to sell, this will allow you to reconsider how much you should be offering and how likely it will be accepted. If a property has been owned by an existing landlord for many years, they will likely want to generate a return on any capital gains and may be willing to accept a lower offer for a sale to go through compared to a family that wants the best price for them to be able to afford their new property, especially if it’s a young family looking to upgrade to a larger property.

Know the disadvantages of a buy-to-let investment

It is equally important to explore all the negative aspects of any buy-to-let property before proceeding. If property prices decrease, will you be able to continue with your investment? Although house prices are increasing right now, there has been a slowdown in growth recently and prices can fall at any moment in time. What will you do if interest rates rise? Yes, interest rates are very low in the current financial climate which is encouraging many to invest as they can comfortably cover their mortgage payments with rental income received but this can always change. It is important to calculate how much it would cost you with different interest rates, this is a useful exercise to plan for any unforeseen circumstances and calculate how much risk is involved. What happens if you’re unable to remortage? Calculate the different between any fixed rate mortgage and a standard variable rate for a number of years. As mentioned earlier, it may be useful to speak to both a broker and financial advisor to better help you understand the costs and what implications that will have on you in any market conditions.

Many buy-to-let investors will calculate a property being empty for 2 months per year, leaving them to factor in a buffer in any unforeseen circumstances. This also applies to areas that are very popular, properties can still be unoccupied for a multitude of reasons. It is important to have your own buffer before investing, this is to make sure you have the required funds available should you need to carry out any repairs such as a boiler replacement or a broken window. Often, landlord insurance will cover you for many building repairs, so it’s a good idea to see what you are and what you’re not covered for.

Please check tax legislation and make sure your knowledge is up to date before proceeding, rules and regulations are always changing, so it’s important that you know what you will have to pay for before investing in a buy-to-let property. Right now, there’s an additional 3% stamp duty charge and in the coming years any mortgage interest will not be able to be offset against rental income before income tax is calculated. A 20% tax credit will be applied.

Your role as a landlord

Purchasing a buy-to-let property as an investment is a huge undertaking. Will you use a letting agent or rent it out yourself?

Agents come with their own management fees, but will know which electrician or plumber to contact should things go wrong, it will be their responsibility to deal with any problems that the tenant may have. You do have the option to let the property yourself but you will need to account for any time given up on evenings and weekend to cover advertising, viewings and any repairs. You do not have to select a high street letting agency, there are independent agents that will be able to offer you a personalised service and may be priced more competitively. Speak to as many agents as possible and ask them what they’re able to offer.

If you decide to manage everything yourself, consider where you will advertise, online, newspapers, social media. How will you create tenancy agreements and do security checks, there are guides and templates you can use online. Looking after your tenants well will in return reward you well, as they may stay for longer periods if they have a great experience to begin with. It can be difficult in periods when the property is empty due to the loss of revenue, good tenants who wish to stay will allow you to avoid this and they may even recommend someone they know when they move out. If you want to go one step further, you can also help your tenants with energy comparison to help them find the cheapest energy tariffs. Build a good relationship with your tenants and new neighbours and make sure the property is well maintained. This will help you in your journey to being a great landlord.

This guide was written in July 2018 and will be updated as necessary.

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Chris <![CDATA[Life Assurance vs Life Insurance – What is the difference?]]> https://www.utilitysavingexpert.com/?p=3925 2018-11-12T17:00:45Z 2018-07-02T08:38:27Z The terms life assurance and life insurance are often used to mean the same thing, but actually, there is more of a difference than you may think.

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Life Assurance vs Life Insurance

The terms life assurance and life insurance are often used to mean the same thing, but actually, there is more of a difference than you may think. It is important to understand how the two differ to ensure you are obtaining the right type of cover to suit your specific needs.

life-insurance-life-assurance-blue-bullet Life insurance only covers you for a specified period, whereas life assurance cover is guaranteed.

When taking out life insurance you specify how long you want the policy to last, (the term). If you die during this period, your beneficiaries receive a pay out. If the term of the policy ends, however, no pay out is made and your life insurance simply expires.

Life assurance, however, lasts for the rest of your lifetime and guarantees a pay out when you die. This usually involves paying premiums for the rest of your life, but it does mean that the policy will never expire.

life-insurance-life-assurance-blue-bullet In short, life insurance pays out if you die, whereas life assurance pays out when you die.

There are various types of life insurance and life assurance and understanding them can help you decide which type of cover best meets your needs.

Types of Life Insurance

Level Term

Level term life insurance requires you to state your desired pay out amount (sum assured) and policy length. You then continue to make monthly payments (premiums) for the duration of the term. If you die during this period, your beneficiaries receive the fixed pay out amount as agreed at the start of the policy.

This type of policy is best suited for those who are looking to leave their loved ones an inheritance, cover a mortgage, as well as meet future living costs. Level term is usually more expensive than decreasing term as the pay out sum holds its value.

Decreasing Term

As with level term life insurance, decreasing term life insurance requires you to specify the policy term. The key difference here however, is that the pay out sum that is made to your beneficiaries decreases over time.

This type of cover is best suited to those looking to cover the cost of their repayment mortgage, as the pay out decreases in line with the outstanding mortgage balance. Decreasing term is usually the cheaper option out of the term based life insurance options because the risk to the insurer reduces over time.

Types of Life Assurance

Whole of Life

Whole of life insurance involves specifying the desired pay out amount, but the length of the policy lasts until you die. The important thing to consider with this type of policy is your age.

If you are young and in good health, because the premiums are to be made for the rest of your life, it could end up that you pay more into the policy than it will ever pay out. However, unlike term-based insurance, a pay out is guaranteed.

Over 50s Plan

Like whole of life insurance, an over 50s plan guarantees a pay out to your beneficiaries when you die. Again, you determine the pay out amount and your premiums are calculated based on that sum.

It is common for premium payments to be made until you die, however, in some instances a cut off age is put in place. For example, some insurers will only require you to make payments until the age of 90 but a pay out is still guaranteed if you die at any time after this.

A popular reason for people to take out an over 50s plan is to cover rising funeral costs. According to research undertaken by SunLife the average cost of a UK funeral is now £4,078.

Whole of life vs Over 50s

The key difference between an over 50s plan and a whole of life policy is the medical information required upon application.

A whole of life policy can be applied for at any age, but medical information and often a medical exam are required so that the cost of your premiums can reflect the risk you pose to the insurer.

Over 50’s plans, however, offer guaranteed acceptance between the ages of 50-85 but they do not require you to provide any medical information other than whether or not you are a smoker. This means that if you are older and/or in poor health, you are likely to benefit from this type of policy.

On average, for the same level of cover, a whole of life policy will be more cost effective provided you are in good health as the cost of your premiums is calculated based on the risk you pose to the insurer, whereas over 50s premiums need to cover the unknown risk due to lack of medical knowledge.

When is age an issue?

Generally speaking, the minimum age to take out life cover is 18, with the exception of an over 50s plan which only accepts those aged 50 or older. The maximum acceptance age varies from insurer to insurer so it is always worth getting in touch with an independent insurance broker regardless of your age to determine what options are available.

With regards to expiry age, most level and decreasing term policies will only cover you up to the age of 90. For example, if you are 30 and looking to take out level term cover, you will only be able to get a policy length of 60 years as opposed to 61 and so on.

Although decreasing term insurance tends to have the same condition, it is common that the length of term on these policies is shorter as it is usually set up to mimic the length of a mortgage term.

Whole of life and an over 50s plan don’t have an upper age limit. Therefore, regardless of the age you die, you will still be covered, hence the term life ‘assurance’.

It is also common for an over 50s plan to only require you to make payments up to the age of 90, whereas whole of life requires you to pay premiums for as long as you live.

This is where an over 50s plan could end up being the cheaper option. For example, if you were to take out a whole of life policy at the age of 65 at £10 per month and lived to the age of 105, in total you would have paid in £4,800. Whereas, if you took out an over 50s plan at the age of 65 at £15 a month, whilst more expensive on a monthly basis, because you are only required to make payments until the age of 90, you actually only pay in a total of £3,750.

In summary

When deciding on life assurance or life insurance, essentially it comes down to your budget, age, what it is you want to protect and how long you need cover for.

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