How I was (nearly) a victim of internet shopping fraud

I do love a bargain but sometimes this can lead me into trouble. Last week I almost lost money. Here’s what happened – and how I escaped by the skin of my teeth. It is the boy’s birthday in a few weeks’ time. He wants games for his Xbox. These are expensive. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is £38 on Amazon;...
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Should we dump our cash Isas?

I have a cash Isa but frankly, I do wonder why I bother. I'm getting just 0.75% interest on it. And it seems I am not alone. According to Moneyfacts, the typical easy access cash Isa paid just 0.82% last year. Although rates have now increased a bit overall (fixed and variable) the typical Isa rate ...
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Where can you go on holiday without breaking the bank?

January is such an awful month: so now is the perfect time to consider this year’s holiday. For me it’s probably just dreaming. At the moment a day trip to Bognor is about all we could manage. But things could improve chez skinted. And what’s wrong with dreaming, after all? While now is meant to be ...
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In the red on Blue Monday

Blue Monday - which falls on 15 January this year - is meant to be the most depressing day of the year. There is a pseudo-scientific calculation on this (which wouldn’t stand up to any rigorous scrutiny) but basically it's a combination of bad weather/post-Christmas lows/broken resolutions and a mou...
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Free childcare: why aren't you claiming it?

Fortunately, my days of paying for childcare are long gone. When I lived in London and had a full time job, I was paying £200 a week for a childminder. As the childminder also seemed to go sick fairly regularly, meaning I had to take time off work – and if the boy even showed signs of sickness she w...
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New year, new savings resolution

The best resolutions are the ones you can keep beyond this month. In this house we’ve settled for junior making his bed every day and promising to try a new food once a week. I’ve gone for money saving ones, of course. That means planning meals, trying not to use the tumble dryer too much and cuttin...
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2017: it’s been quite a year…

This is the season for reflection – what was the past year like? What do I want to achieve next year? And it’s such a sentimental time of year even for hard-hearted cynics such as me. Our Christmas tree is adorned with ornaments created by junior such as the wonky angel shown here, made many years a...
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How to save money at Christmas

What is it about Christmas that makes you spend money like a toddler high on chocolate coins? Perhaps it says something about my rubbish parenting skills but when the school said kids could wear Christmas jumpers on Monday, did I refuse to shell out for some acrylic monstrosity that will get all of ...
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Money presents for kids: better than toys?

You may not be able to gift wrap a tenner. And it might not cause whoops of excitement on Christmas morning. But here’s an idea: why not buy a cheapo present and bung a bank note in as well? Children are mercenary little things and they like money. They will certainly like it more than ill-chosen th...
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Cash at Christmas: the perfect present for those far away

Cash is a brilliant present. Yes, it might be unimaginative but I would far rather have a crisp banknote than some present that I’ll hate – I’m being practical, if ungrateful here. But of course you cannot put bank notes in the post – particularly if you’re sending money to friends or relatives abro...
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How to winter-proof your home – and save money

Was it cold enough for you yesterday? Well, it’s going to get even chillier soon. Apparently this is all down to La Niña, a cyclical weather phenomenon less well known than her big brother El Nino but similar. So the long-term forecast seems to be that we’re in for a cold winter. Forewarned is forea...
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How to survive the office Christmas party

Over the next two weeks, restaurants, pubs and clubs will be no-go zones for normal outings: yes, it’s peak office Christmas party season. Don’t go near one of these any weekday evening until Christmas unless you really want to watch others getting drunk and being obnoxious. For those of us no longe...
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Why YOU should get breakdown cover

As far as my car is concerned, I have relied on keeping it on the road by having it annually serviced and MOT-d – as well as it being a solid, boring, Japanese-built tank. I didn’t have breakdown cover. I thought it was a waste of money. After what happened last week I do now. Said car refused to st...
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What the Budget means for you and your family

We’ve crunched the figures to bring busy mums the edited highlights of the Budget and how you’ll be affected. 1. Maybe not for you but for your offspring: with immediate effect stamp duty has been abolished for first-time buyers buying properties for £300,000 or less – and the first £300,000 of prop...
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Shop horror: why supermarket deals are often rubbish

Here’s an unusual money saving tip: ignore special offers: you will save money. Bogofs and twofers (buy one, get one free and two for the price of one) deals are often not worth it, nor are many simple money-off deals. And don’t take it from me. A report just out from Which? found that while 43% of ...
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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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