How to play credit cards at Christmas without going into the red

Overspending at Christmas can result in a debt hangover in the New Year. A hefty credit card bill could spoil January – and even the months after if you don’t clear the debt. But there are sensible ways to plan your spending at Christmas. For starters, you need to make sure you’re using the best pay...
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The five top savings deals: how to make the most of your cash.

It’s been a long time since savers had anything to be happy about. Last week’s increase in base rate may hardly be a reason to crack out the party poppers – it was only 0.25% after all – but at least it’s heading in the right way for savers (although mortgage borrowers will be less happy). But of co...
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Early Black Friday: can you save money on Christmas presents?

Thanksgiving Day used to be stateside-only celebration, where families gathered together to give thanks in memory (probably) of the 1619 safe arrival of 38 English settlers in Virginia as well as the gathering in of the harvest. Today, it’s not just about turkey and cranberries but shopping. The day...
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Is it time to celebrate the rate rise – or is it a damp squib?

The Bank of England yesterday decided to increase base rate – the first upward move for 10 years. But it’s hardly time to light the sky up with celebratory fireworks, is it? After all, the Bank has just done what we all thought it would. And remember, it’s only gone up from 0.25% to 0.5%: it’s just ...
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How to get money back from overpaid energy

Having emptied the boy’s money box and excavated the sides of the sofa (a home just for elderly biros,sadly) I’m into tracking down forgotten cash. More serious amounts of money than a few coins would be nice – how about £928 million? That’s the total amount that comparison site GoCompare Energy est...
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Why you should switch bank accounts

Do as I say not as I do is the kind of irritating phrase adults used to say when I was young. But it fits here. That’s because it totally makes sense to switch your bank account to get a better deal and free cash. Yet I have no intention of doing so. Here’s the sensible option – and why I won’t be f...
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What do you do when a burglar alarm sounds?

We had our peace disturbed the other evening by the shrieking of a neighbour’s burglar alarm. I think that the man had probably been faffing around with the electrics – he seems always to be up a ladder or DIY-ing. Often the conclusion seems to result in a professional called in to remedy his mistak...
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What happens when electronic payments go wrong?

I do love getting flowers: but not these ones pictured here. Nice though they are, they weren’t meant for me – and I paid for them. I thought I was being very sensible, getting ahead and ordering flowers for an old friend several weeks ago. Then on Wednesday (the day before her birthday) I got the c...
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Rising inflation: is it good news for you?

  Inflation is running high. In the year to September, prices were 3% up on a year ago – making it the highest annual rise for around five years. Apparently, it was down to higher food and fuel prices as well as more expensive theatre tickets. And the increase would have been even higher had it...
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How to save money on half-term holidays

We’re not going away for half term. In idle moments I do dream about a short break to a nice European city – I fancy Copenhagen or Vienna. But the boy doesn’t do culture. He wants to spend half term in bed or playing football or Fifa. Well, at least that’s cheap. However we did go away in the summer...
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Identity theft: are you at risk?

Can interests and talents shown when young point to our children’s future careers? I jolly well hope not. The boy has just been caught forging my signature in his homework book. While I find this hilarious (I used to forge my parent’s signatures too and even sunk to altering my school reports) I do ...
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How much is your make up bag worth?

I’m really not making this up. Apparently the typical woman spends more than £18,000 over her lifetime on slap and the average make up bag contains £197 worth of stuff. The research (from FalseEyelashes.co.uk) says that British women shell out nearly £500 a year on cosmetics. And apparently Mrs or M...
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Mortgages: is it too late to bag a bargain?

  Here’s hoping that if you wanted to remortgage you took notice of our recent calls to action because it now looks as if mortgage rates are going up. Which, given that there’s no change in base rate you might think a bit odd. But here’s the rub: while base rate (which is set by the Bank of Eng...
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Stub it out in Stoptober and save money

I'm not a fan of public health campaigns: all these 5k runs, giving up booze/eating five (or is it ten?) plates of cabbage a day etc. To be honest, this far into civilisation we all know what is good and bad for us, don't we? And we don't want some patronising celeb telling us what to do either. But...
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Saving for your children: how to build up a nest egg

NS&I Children’s Bonus Bonds are no more. From this month, there are no new bonds being sold as NS&I, the government’s savings bank, concentrates its attentions on its new Junior Isa. These bonds first went on sale in the last century and pay a fixed rate of interest over a five year period w...
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Challenger banks: are they a good home for savings?

It’s not much fun being a saver at the moment, what with rates failing to keep pace with inflation. But apparently there are more savings accounts now on offer since November 2012. And all this is down to a new breed of banks entering the market – the challenger banks. This all sounds a bit pugilist...
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Debt: how to move from red to black

I am – obviously enough – not well off. But I am never in debt. I do have a credit card but I pay it off in full every month – even if it means dipping into savings. This does make financial sense but it also helps with my peace of mind: I have a real fear of debt. I’ve know people over the years wh...
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How to save money on shopping

I hate trying things on in shops – the easy way to make yourself really miserable is trying on a dress in a tiny changing room when you’ve got odd socks on and haven’t shaved your legs. And the mirrors are like those in old fashioned amusement arcades. Buying make up is out because I have a real fea...
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Inflation: Guess who is footing the bill?

I knew I was right. Last month I shelled out more than £50 for a pair of kid’s shoes: far more than in previous years. Now it’s official: shoe prices are spiralling out of control. Inflation has gone up from 2.6% to 2.9% - the highest rate for more than five years. And this was down to the rising co...
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Would you credit card it? Only 108 shopping days until Christmas..

No sooner has your summer holiday tan faded but it’s time to think about Christmas – at least, the retailers would like you to. Department stores have had Christmas decorations departments open for ages. Of course this is totally insane. Your summer holiday spending has probably only just popped up ...
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