Dreaming of moving abroad? Here’s the reality.

While the UK has been blessed with perfect weather for the past few weeks, somehow the sun is always brighter aboard: which is why this weekend marks the peak exodus of Brits to foreign holiday resorts. Because while eating fish & chips watching the English Channel is great, it doesn’t really co...
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Would YOU fix your mortgage for 10 years?

Ten years is a long time if you’re buying a home. Although more homebuyers are taking out mortgages with 30-plus year terms, most still are on 25 year terms. So if you fixed for 10 years, that’s 40% of your homeloan term at a guaranteed rate. Fixed rate mortgages are, I think, often a good idea – pa...
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Why YOU could be missing out on tax giveaways

Paying tax is annoying. Paying more tax than you need to is really annoying. Honestly, it’s easy to save tax: it’s usually a question of a quick emailed form. Here are some breaks you might not be claiming – and why you and your family should. 1. Granny’s own tax break . This is not a discount on We...
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Home insurance: five minutes research, 30% discount.

Is there anyone out there who automatically renews their household insurance? Surely there can’t be. My home insurance renewal has just come through. Last year it was £99.68 (fortunately the new rules mean insurers have to tell you what your previous premium was). This year they want £134.40. Bear i...
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Cheap airport car parking: is it worth it?

In just over a month’s time, we are off on holiday. It is expensive but worth it: I know the weather here is lovely now but I never feel as if I’m on holiday unless I leave the country. The downside is the seventh circle of hell – also known as Gatwick Airport in August. I hate the place: the queues...
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Why we need to teach school kids about money NOW

What are your kids doing at school at the moment? Mine seems to be playing a lot of rounders but not much else. It was the same when I was young: you don’t really do anything at school in the few weeks before the summer break. So why not fill the time with something actually useful: a skill that arg...
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Lessons for parents on student loans

‘A’ level results are due on 16th August. If your child is planning to go to university in the autumn you will soon hear from the Student Loans Company. They will need information from parents to support their child’s application for student loans. As many parents will have studied in the halcyon da...
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Veterinary costs: a pain the purse

Our eldest cat Maisie is adorable. She’s zero trouble (unlike the other two) and as well as being supermodel-level in the beauty stakes, she has the nicest temperament. One morning this week she came in from the garden limping. There was no obvious sign of injury and she didn’t seem that upset by it...
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Top tips for fighting wolves on the web

My computer is an essential part of my life. It’s on every waking hour. I do much of my shopping and nearly all my financial transactions are online. I use it to keep in (tenuous) touch with long-standing friends. My son would probably leave home if the broadband wasn’t working. Without it, we’d be ...
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Spare us the Facebook holiday photos – and stop the burglars

Do you remember having to go to Boots to pick up your holiday snaps? You handed your roll of film in then a few days later, got the prints complete with all the duff shots which you binned straight away. How great is it that you can now take photos with a phone and delete dodgy ones straight away. A...
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Prom dresses: how NOT to end up overspending

In a few weeks’ time, hordes of teenagers will be going to Prom parties – and that means a load of hassle and expense for parents. And it’s not just post-GCSE and A level students who may soon need formal wear. My 12 year old was invited to a school formal dinner because he was in the football team....
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Splash the cash to improve your home - or move?

Like most Britons, my most valuable possession is my home. Since I bought it seven years ago, it’s gone up in value by about 60% - which sounds great, but had we stayed in our London house then it would be far higher. I did spend money on it when we moved in – the artex had to (expensively) go and t...
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How to save £££s on your car insurance

I am a middle aged woman, live in the countryside and own a boring, elderly Japanese car. I’ve only had one tiny shunt – around 15 years ago – and I don’t drive many miles. Still, my car cover costs more than £200 a year: add on road tax at £230 a year plus MOTs, services and being a car owner is ex...
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How to save £300 on your energy bills.

Is your hairdryer costing you more than the kids’ PlayStation? Here’s a fun way to spend a few minutes – and learn something at the same time. There’s an online game from home interiors company Hillarys here . You have to rank household appliances according to how much they cost over a year. Some fu...
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How to track down your missing pension millions

There is a tonne of missing money sitting in forgotten pensions. If you do one money making thing this year, then you owe it to yourself to make sure you know where all your past pensions are. Research from Aegon found that while 64% of us have multiple pension pots, 22% (potentially more than 7 mil...
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A loaf for £15: why we need to teach our children about money

Childhood innocence is all very touching but not when it comes to money. Halifax has just surveyed a group of eight to 15 year olds about money with frankly depressing results. According to those interviewed, a loaf of bread costs £15 and an average car, £67,000. They also thought a teacher earns £1...
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How to make your garden grow – without overspending

The Chelsea Flower Show is in full bloom this week. It’s fabulous for inspiring gardening ideas – but possibly wallet-damaging for a skinted gardener. I love gardening but I am rubbish at it. I can’t even grow mint, unbelievably. Last year I shelled out for new turf for the back garden. Half of it i...
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How to have a great wedding – even if you’re not a Royal

The nuptials of Meg ‘n Harry have hardly been without drama – what with her ailing father and the chips on her half-sister’s shoulders. But at least the couple haven’t had to worry about the cost. I read somewhere that her dress alone could cost £100,000: you can get a house for that up north. When ...
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Climb every pension mountain

Here’s a nice, big figure to spoil your Wednesday. The typical person will have to save £260,000 just to have a basic income in retirement. And that basic income is just £9,000 on top of the state pension which if you qualify for the full one is currently worth about £8,500 a year. So that’s a total...
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Generation rent: older than you might think

It’s been more than 25 years since I rented a home. And while it wasn’t great living with falling-to-pieces sofas and dodgy decor, I do miss the lack of responsibility. If you own a house, you have to worry about – and pay – for maintenance. But I bet many of those who have no choice but to rent wou...
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