Million Money
Your guide to successful money management. A UK finance blog.

Is it Worth Buying a Bicycle?

There are many people buying bicycles these days. They do have many positives but will they give you good value for money?

Check out prices

Bicycles vary in price a lot. If you want a top of the range, electric assisted folding mountain bike then you can pay thousands of pounds but you can also pick up a second hand basic model for very little money. It is therefore important to take a look at what all of your options are and how they differ in price as you will then be able to consider what you can afford. Think about whether you have any money available to spend or whether you will need to borrow money to pay for it. If you have to borrow money, look at the cost of the loan and think about whether it is worth paying that extra money. It is wise to consider whether you will use lots of functions or whether a basic model will be enough. If you are just taking up cycling then it can be a good idea to consider whether it might be a good idea to start with something cheaper and then decide whether it is worth paying out more money once you have tried it out for a while.

Will you save money on journeys?

If you are buying the bike to save money on journeys to work, for example, then it is worth calculating whether you will save a significant amount of money. Firstly, calculate how much a journey roughly costs you now. This will be easier if you use public transport, but you should also be able to roughly work out petrol costs if you use a car. Then think about how often you will cycle. You may only cycle if it is dry warm weather or you may plan on doing it every day. Either way, work out how many journeys you expect to make. Then work out how many journeys you will have to take to pay for the bike. For example, if you paid £1,000 for the bike and your normal train fare is £10 then you will need to cycle to work 100 times to cover the cost of the bike and then use it more to make it worthwhile.

Owning a bike can save you a fortune on your journey.

Will you get lots of use out of it?

If you will not use it for work then you will need to think about what else you will use it for and whether you will get lots of use out of it to make it worth buying. It might be for fitness, for example. This is very important, we should be keeping fit for our health, and cycling is one way that you can keep fit. Remember though, it is not high impact exercise, so will not help the boys in all ways, but it is certainly better than doing no exercise at all.

It is good to think hard about every item you buy as to whether you will get good value for money from it. If it is something that you know you will use a lot, then spending more money can be more worthwhile. If you are not sure whether you will use it much, then you will be taking more of a gamble on the item. In this case it can be wise to spend less money on it and then you will not be risking so much money if you decide that you do not want to ride it that often. It might even be a good idea to see if you can borrow a bike form someone to try out first. You may find that you have friends or family members that have a bike they do not use much that they will be willing to let you try out.

How to Make Gifts more Affordable

All of us will give people gifts from time to time. This is a really nice thing to do and can enjoyable for the giver as well as the receiver. However, gifts will often cost money and this means that it can sometimes be the case that we cannot afford them or have to go without other things in order to enjoy them. There are things we can do though, which should help us to more easily afford gifts.

Regift things

Sometimes we received gifts that we do not use. This could be clothes that are the wrong size, toiletries with a small we do not like, food we are not keen on or things like this. The best thing to do with items like this is to hold on to them and then regift them to others. They will never know that you did not buy them and it will also mean that the item is not wasted but someone will enjoy it. You can do the same with wrapping paper, where, if you are careful with it, you can reuse paper from items you have been given. You can also reuse gift bags, ribbons and cut up cards to make gift tags. There are many things that you can do which could help to keep costs down.

Make gifts

Some people save money by making gifts. If you have a hobby where you make things, then giving these items away will mean that you can have fun making them and not spend any more money on gifts as you are giving them away. You could also make food items such as cakes, cookies, jam or preserves. If you save pretty jars then these look great with home made items in.

Buy in sales / second hand

If you are well prepared and shop well in advance, then you will have time to check out sales and second hand shops to see what they have available. You will be able to search through their stock and see if they have anything appropriate and then return when they have new stock to look again. Often a second hand shop will restock regularly and so it is worth looking often. They will also often have new or ‘as new’ items that you will be able to buy and recipient will never know that it is not a new item.

Buy one item rather than several

These days people tend to buy lots of gifts rather than just one. However, research does show that people tend to remember what they got better if they only get one thing. So do not feel the need to give lots of items, just give the one item and they will hopefully remember it.

Spread the cost

If you are finding gifts expensive, then try to spread the cost by saving a bit of money towards then each month. You may have a cluster of birthdays, anniversaries or a lot to buy at Christmas and find it hard to manage. If you can save a bit of money each month then you will have more available to spend when it comes to buying the gifts which should help you out.

It is a good idea to also have a look online for ideas. You will find there are plenty of hints and tips for budget gift giving. It can still be fun to choose a lovely gift and give a person something you know that they will love but not have to worry about where you will find the money from to pay for it. It can be hard if you have to get them something you feel is not right due to budget constraints but with planning, this should not need to be the case at all.

Ways to Pick the Best Bank

We all use a bank if we have a current account, savings account of a loan. However, there are many different banks to choose from. Some of us will always use the same one and some of us might use several. However, it is still wise to make sure that we are using the best bank.

Unfortunately, we cannot just name on bank that is the best and all use it. We all have different requirements with regards to what we are looking for in a bank and therefore this is one of the reasons why we all choose to use different ones. Therefore, it is a good idea to think about what you would like in your perfect bank and then you will be able to see which bank fits your requirements the best.

Cheap

The cost of banking is important. If we have a current account then we might use the overdraft facility and this will cost us money. We might have a savings account and want one that pays good interest. With a no guarantor loan, we will want the fees and interest to be low. This means that it is important for us to compare those things across different banks in order for us to decide which has a cost that we feel is reasonable. It is good to note who is the best with regards to cost and interest, but there will be likely to be other factors that will be important to us as well.

Lots of branches

There are some people that like the idea of being able to go to a bank branch. Some banks have branches across a lot of high streets, although some have closed branches lately. Therefore if you like the idea of having a branch to be able to go in to, you might want one that has lots as that means that there is a bigger chance that there will be one near to where you live that you will be able to go in to.

There are lots of things to consider when picking the best bank.

Telephone/online banking

Some people prefer the option of being able to do telephone or online banking. This can be much more convenient than having to go into a branch. It is also something that can be done outside of normal banking hours and so it is useful for those people that work at this time and so cannot get into a branch. Some people also like the fact that they feel more in control this way too as they are able to set up standing orders, BACS payments and transactions as well as check their balance online.

Good reputation

The reputation of a bank is important to a lot of people. They want to make sure that they bank will treat them well as a customer. If you have used a bank before you will know what you are like and it can often be tricky to trust a bank that you have not used before. You will be able to find out more about them though by asking others, reading reviews, going into your local branch and looking at their website. It is worth noting that there will always be someone that is not happy with a certain bank, but you should also be able to find people that are happy with them for some balance.

Good customer service

It is good to check that you will be well treated as a customer by the bank. Most places try to have good customer service but they do not always do things in the same way. Some will offer face to face services in branches some you will have to phone a call centre and others you chat to online or send a message or email. It is a good idea to think about what you are looking for and then you will be able to check to see whether you can find that service.

How to Keep Clothing Costs Down

We all need to buy clothes and they can be costly. This means that we can end up spending a lot of money on them and this might be more than we can afford or more than we would like to spend. However, there are some things that we can try that will help to keep the costs down.

Repair what you have

It can be tempting to throw away clothing if it gets a small hole in it. However, it is a worth remembering that you can darn a small hole and get more wear out of the clothes. Darning is not hard and as long as you take your time and use small stitches it can look very neat as well. There are tutorials online as well, where you can learn how to do it if you need some tips as well. You will need a sewing needle and some thread and you will be able to pick these up from a local haberdashery shop or even a larger supermarket. 

Consider second hand

Many people save a lot of money by buying second hand clothes. These are usually available to buy on most high streets and so they should be easy enough to find. If you want more choice you could look online as there are auction websites and car boot apps where you can buy this sort of thing and even social media for sale pages will have items like this for sale. Often the items look like new, or they may be unworn or just still in really great condition so you can get something that is as good as buying new, for a fraction of the cost.

Buy quality not quantity

Something else to be aware of is quality of clothing. If you buy really cheap clothing then it can be made from inferior quality materials that will wear out quickly. However, if you buy more expensive items they could be better quality and this could mean that you will not need to replace them more quickly. Of course, paying more does not always guarantee quality. Look out for big brands as they will charge more and may not be better quality.  You may also find that it is worth looking at the fabrics the items are made from as an indication of how long they might last.

Buy classic not trendy

If you buy clothing that is right on trend, then chances are that it will be out of fashion again by next season. This means that you may not want to wear it after that. If you choose more classic styles, then they are more likely to work for much longer and stay in fashion for a long time. Think classic cut jeans, t-shirts and jumper in neutral colours, for example. These will not go out of fashion and therefore they will last as long as the material holds up.

Swap Clothing

If you are lucky enough to have friends or family members that are the same size as us, then we might be able to swap clothing with them. This gets around the fact that we might be bored with items that we have and so this might mean that we will be able to have some new things without paying out any money. You may even be able to find websites where you can swap clothing as well.

It is a good idea to therefore think about whether you can try any of these things. It could mean that you will have clothes that last longer and in the long term will cost you less money.

Is it Worth Getting a Student Loan?

There are many parents that get worried about their children having a student loan. They feel that they will start their working life in debt, they might not get good value for money, they might waste three years studying when they could be working and they may struggle to repay it. While it shows good parenting if a parent is concerned about their child, it is worth having a good understanding of how student loans work first so that you can make sure that you are not unduly worrying.

Who gets the loan?

A student loan is available to cover two things. Every student is entitled to get enough money to cover the cost of their fees as long as they have not had a student loan previously or had a grant (which were given out in the days before loans). The second part of the loan is the maintenance loan which covers living expenses. This is means tested which means that it is based on parental income. The total income of the home that the student lives in will be the one that is used. All students will get some money, but those in homes with a lower income will get more than those in a home with a higher income.

How much is it?

Therefore, the amount that the loan is will depend on the amount awarded. Generally, the fees are £9250 a year for the course and the living expenses will vary. Often it is felt that even a full maintenance loan is not enough to cover all of the costs of paying rent, utilities, travel, books and food. This will partly depend on where the university is, although there is a London weighting added on for those students studying in London. Often students will need top-ups form parents or need to work or save up before they go to university so that they can afford it.

How is it repaid

Unlike a normal loan, this will not have to be repaid in regular instalments. However, once the student graduates they will need to repay the loan as part of their tax code. This works so that, only once they earn over a certain amount will they have to start paying it back, so it is means tested. There is a cap as well, so once they are earning enough, they will repay each month as part of their PAYE and so is repaid automatically before they receive the money. If they are self-employed it will have to be repaid when a tax payment is made once or twice a year so this will have to be factored in when putting money aside towards paying that tax bill.

Does it all need repaying?

It is also worth noting that after thirty years any remaining money owed is written off. This means that it will not need to be repaid any more. This means that if earnings have been low and therefore the repayments have not been made in full, then they will not have to be paid. In fact, many graduates do not ever repay everything they borrowed or any interest at all.

So, the loan can be the only way that many people can afford to go to university. It is means tested and repayments are as well. A degree can give you an opportunity to earn more money and progress your career and if you are able to earn more money then you will need to repay the course costs. However, if it does not enable you to earn more, then you will not have to repay it.