Hatching a plan for Easter Egg alternatives

I’ve just shelled out £10 for an Easter egg: but I wish I hadn’t. Junior is not that bothered about chocolate. He’d rather have a smoky bacon crisp egg (sadly unavailable). That inevitably means I will have to help him eat the egg, which are calories I hardly need. It does seem as if the whole Easte...
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Should you be switching to save?

Some good news at last: inflation fell last month from 3% down to 2.7% thanks mainly to lower petrol prices. Falling inflation means there’s less pressure on the Bank of England to put interest rates up – so that’s good news for mortgage borrowers. And what could be better than paying less for food?...
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Food waste: my guilty secret

Throwing away edible food is bad news. Sustainability charity Wrap says UK households throw away about 7.3 million tonnes of food a year. I’m ashamed to say quite a bit of that comes from our house. A big part of the problem is there are only two of us (bar the cats) and we have vastly different tas...
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Pensions: feel the fear and do it anyway

Until I hit my forties, I didn’t take pensions seriously. When I was young there was an element of resentment about my employer deducting my contributions every month – I could think of better uses for the money then. Now I’m just relieved that I was made to contribute, even though I’m in a closed d...
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Mothers' Day: when cash is better than chocolates or flowers

So what will you get on Sunday? Breakfast in bed? Chocolates? Flowers? I’m not expecting anything and that’s fine: we never did Mother’s Day when I was a child so I’ve not come to expect it and cynically, think it’s another Hallmark Holiday – one promoted by the greetings card industries. But if you...
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Any birthday party ideas for the child who has outgrown them?

Marking junior’s birthday used to be fairly easy. In the past I’ve shelled out for the usual laser quest/Trampolining/football skills/circus games parties. All have been pretty expensive – around £200 for the Trampolining or laser quest, I think. But now the game’s changed. Junior is 12 on Friday an...
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Life expectancy falls: so why is state pension age increasing?

Here’s a cheery fact: apparently, we are not all living longer. Those fun-loving guys at the Continuous Mortality Institute - part of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries – say that life expectancy improvements between 2011 and 2017 were “significantly lower” than any other recent six year period....
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New rules on credit cards: millions could pay less

Even though my finances are often under strain, it has been many years – possibly going on for 15 – since I had an outstanding debt on a credit card. And long may that continue. Unless you’ve got a 0% deal on your card, then if you don’t pay off the bill in full you’re going to be hit by a huge amou...
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Is contactless really safe?

What a cool job Victoria Cleland has. She’s the chief cashier of the Bank of England and as such, her signature is on bank notes. She’s just been interviewed in The Guardian ( here’s the link ) just as the old tenners go out of circulation. Understandably, she’s a fan of cash – as am I. She is also ...
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Code breaking: what does your tax code mean?

I always open brown envelopes from HMRC expecting the worse. This morning I got my tax code notice for the 2018-19 tax year. Your tax code is important because it’s used by your employer(s) and/or pension providers to work out how much tax to take off your pay or pension – so if it’s wrong you could...
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Tax-free childcare: now for those with older kids too

Childcare is expensive: but if it’s good quality care, then it’s worth paying for. For most parents, the cost of childcare falls the older the children get. But that doesn’t mean it stops. If you’re a working parent then you know the difficulty of arranging enough play dates, courses and the lot to ...
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Why civil partnerships should be extended to mixed sex couples: it’s all about tax and benefits

St Valentine’s Day is probably not a big event in your diary (though your teenager might feel differently). But, frankly, if you are living together in unwedded bliss and your beloved pops the question today, then say yes: if for no other reason than being married means you get tax and benefits brea...
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Savings: did I get it wrong?

Interest rates are going up. This is bad news for borrowers and good news for savers. Not this saver, though. And not all borrowers either. Here’s why. This week the Bank of England warned base will go up sooner rather than later: possibly, experts say, as early as May. Base rate is used by banks to...
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Credit cards: a small victory for me

I did it. I have managed a whole month without using my credit card once. This came about after I got a big (for me) bill after Christmas which I paid off in full at the end of last month. I decided that the small amount of benefit I got from using my card for spending – gift vouchers – wasn’t worth...
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Travel insurance: more important than remembering to pack your bikini?

There’s an interesting question on our new forum about holiday insurance: should we bother with it if going on holiday to Europe? As Britons currently can get an EHIC which allows you to get the same level of free treatment as those in the European country you’re visiting, then it’s a valid question...
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Interest-only mortgages: why you need to act now

Here’s a warning if you’ve an interest only mortgage. One day, you’ll going to have to pay back the original capital you borrowed. If you haven’t got a savings plan in place to cover that, you could be facing a big bill when your mortgage matures. Interest-only mortgages are when you simply pay the ...
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This isn’t a mortgage it’s a Marks and Spencer mortgage

Who would have thought it? After being roundly castigated for selling two slices of cauliflower for £2 (and withdrawing them from sale shortly after) Marks & Sparks is now offering good value on something even more mundane than winter vegetables. For the first time, it’s offering mortgages – and...
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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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