Targeting Property

Property is not something that just anyone can think about investing in. For one thing it is an extremely expensive option and fraught with pitfalls that has left a great many people facing bankruptcy. The recent property market crash saw millions of pounds in investments lost and is a timely reminder that it is not for everyone.

With that being said if you know what you are doing, get the right advice and have the money to make it possible, property investment can be very worthwhile.

Many people believe that getting on board before the property market fully recovers will allow you to pick up some real bargains and have a property portfolio that will be worth a fortune when the market turns the corner and begins to pick up again.

Of course, for some, the investment in your own home is important enough and while it may be many years before you see a return on that investment it is just as important to know your stuff. Getting advice before committing to a new home can be easy if you know where to look but can help you avoid paying over the odds.

If property investment is not for you or you feel you are just not ready yet to make that financial commitment you have the option of speaking to letting agents that will be able to help you. It is a great way of finding out what kind of home suits your needs best as well.

Targeting Your Electric Bill

Where would we be without our old friend electric? We certainly wouldn’t be posting this blog all about it for starters. As quickly as Benjamin Franklin came back indoors with his kite, electricity providers have been there to make sure you don’t get any juice for free. One of our pet peeves is finding out we’ve been billed too much. If you’re unsure about your electric bill or even how to deal with your providers here’s three top tips to get the most from your electric bill.

1.Check yourself before you wreck yourself
If your bill comes in and you go straight away to pay it you’re a fool. Go and check your meter. Make sure the total on the bill exactly matches your meter. If not then phone your provider straight away and let them know. When you do this not only will the time to pay your bill be extended but you’ll not need to do anything until the new bill is posted.

2.Go Compare
Now this can be a bit of a problem if you’re living in a newly built apartment block as sometimes electric providers get contracts to be the only supplier for the building. If you find out you can switch providers then go shopping. You’d do the same thing if you can grab a cheap offer from a TV or internet provider. If you inform your supplier you’re thinking of switching you can bet to get a call from their retention team offering you an incentive to stay.

3.Don’t go prepay
You might have done it when you were a student but we’re warning you never to get a prepay meter. Most will have a higher rate for usage. If you have one ask for your provider to provide a proper contracted meter. It’ll make paying your bill more manageable if you’re living in shared accommodation and it’ll mean you never have to feel the pain of a shower going cold first thing on a Monday morning.

Bills are the kind of things you need to think about when buying a new property and this link to Hove estate agent could help you get the help you need.

Targeting Housing Benefit

Previously we talked about the changes universal credit is going to bring for millions across the UK. In that post we mentioned how other benefits were also being changed. It’s unclear which are for the better and which are worse but one change that has gained a lot of notoriety is the adjustments to housing benefit. The most important aspect of this is the famously dubbed ‘bedroom tax’. This change has seen outrage amongst millions across the country. We’ve set our sights on explaining the frustration around the subject and how it might affect you.

So what is being taxed?
What you have to first realize is that the tax isn’t actually a tax but the removal of an allowance. The ‘spare room subsidy’ that was in place meant that anyone who was a social sector tenant and lived somewhere with the help of a housing association was financially assisted when living in a home where the number of bedrooms was greater than the tenants living there. So if you had a council home with a spare bedroom you could get money to help towards your rent.

What’s the argument?
If someone rented privately they wouldn’t receive this subsidy. This led to the argument that someone claiming benefits was better able to afford their rent than someone working full time. If this was the outlying message to get across, then the £26 billion used for this subsidy can be seen as unfair for some. Removing this subsidy was seen as an encouragement to get people to move in to homes that would be more suitable size wise.

What was the effect of the change?
Housing charities have become very critical of this by stating that millions would be affected, leading to more rent arrears and in some extreme cases people facing homelessness. The government underplayed this by saying less than half a million people will really be affected. Mostly what has changed is the way in which people will receive their housing benefit. Families can be reassessed and if deemed to have too much living space their benefit could be reduced (the average reduction is 14% for 1 room, 25% for 2 or more).

How much is the reduction?
This reduction would amount to families getting roughly £15 less every week unless they move somewhere smaller. Charities argue this is good in thought but not in practice. Finding a smaller home can’t be done immediately and the change wasn’t thought out with plans in place to help claimants relocate.

Is anyone exempt?
There are some exemptions to the tax. If you’re a foster parent you won’t be affected if the spare bedroom is unoccupied for less than a year. If a family member serves in the armed forces abroad their room will be seen as occupied. If you’re disabled you can have another room for your carer but if the carer is your partner then it won’t count. A couple in this circumstance can still apply for discretionary housing payment from the local authority. And if the home is occupied by a pensionable couple their benefit won’t be changed at all.

It can be quite a confusing thing to work out, especially for families where the children are students or if your home has been adjusted for a disabled family member to live in. What is certain though is that the ‘tax’ affects everyone and will continue to do so.

All of these points need to be looked at for people looking to move into the property market. You can get help from financial advisors to letting agents in Broadway that will be able to direct you towards the best possible actions for your individual situation.

Targeting Universal Credit

A few weeks the first phase of Universal Credit was rolled out across the UK. While it’s meant to get people out of the benefit cycle, the biggest overhaul the system since the 1940s is causing more headaches than the new ‘simplified system’ aims to help. We’re here of course to break down the most important factors of this new system and make it clear what the new Universal Credit is all about.

So what is it?
Universal Credit is a system aimed to get people out of living in a ‘benefit culture’. The plan was put in place by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith who has argued that too many people don’t see beyond a life without benefits. The new system aims to simplify a number of different benefits in to one central payment.

Why is it happening?
It is hoped that the new system will see billions of pounds saved of tax payers’ money every year. If there is only one payment in place, it will stop people from trying to claim from a number of avenues. This will eliminate people getting more benefits in fraudulent ways as well as reduce the number of clerical errors made.

How does it work?
If you’re receiving jobseeker’s allowance, support allowances, income support or tax credits these will now come as one solitary payment. You’ll be paid not fortnightly but monthly. This will go directly in to your bank account. If you’re a family then you won’t get a separate payment for each couple anymore but one combined amount. If you get an allowance for paying rent, this money now goes straight to your landlord as part of your payment. The idea behind all this is to get those on benefits looking after their money in the same way employed people do and create a better idea of financial responsibility.

Is it good or bad?
It all depends on your circumstance. If you aren’t facing any major changes to your lifestyle then your benefits shouldn’t change either. It’s predicted that the poorest families will see the biggest improvement while couples without children will see a negative impact on their benefits. It’s a change in the single digits though.

When will it affect me?
It all depends on where you live. The system isn’t rolled out cross country in one swoop but implemented in single stages from area to area. It started earlier this year in selected areas and will begin to really take effect starting next April. This is also the same time in which the scheme will begin in Northern Ireland. The whole process of change has a finish date of 2017 and will only begin to take affect when you have to announce changes (these include a new job or a new child).

It can be a worrying time for many families as benefits can and most likely will go down ever so slightly. At the same time other changes are taking place in the benefits system in areas like housing benefit that aim to create more stability. Everyone is eligible to the change and it will be a while before the effects of this can be labeled as a good or bad thing.

Targeting Your Broadband

There will be one burning question on your lips when you go over to a friend’s house. It’s the same question you’ll hope to seek answers to when you scan every notice on the wall of a restaurant. ‘What’s the password for the wifi?’ Everywhere we go we’re always looking for free wifi with the best coverage. You shouldn’t have to settle for subpar broadband at home though. That’s why we thought we’d share some tips with you on how to target the best broadband deals.

Bundle Up
Like sports? Enjoy on demand movies? Different providers try to entice new customers over with bundled packages including free/reduced sports and movie channels at a discounted price. It’s quite easy to try and get your provider in to offering you the same if you constantly state your loyalty in being with them.

Say Goodbye
If your provider already has a premium package you’d prefer to have but don’t want to pay, try and haggle your way in to it. Simply phone up and say you want to discontinue your service. You’ll usually be transferred to the retention phone team who will try their hardest to keep you there by offering you a number of different deals.

Speed Check
Simply search online for a broadband speed checker and see if what you’re getting is what your provider offered you. If you find out your speed isn’t up to scratch, search your postcode to see whether there’s a better alternative out there for you.

Targeting Your Phone Bill

It’s the corner piece of the room that is still the central means of contacting the outside world. The long trusted home phone still takes pride of place in our monthly bills and we often pay a premium on them without even knowing it. Phone packages can be the cheapest bill you have to pay if you make a few simple changes. We’ve got the best tips to help target your phone bill.

All About BT
The most confusing aspect of your phone package will be when your provider tells you that an additional cost is needed for a BT line. People end up thinking they’re getting a package with BT but its just that your provider will, like a lot of companies, use BT’s line service. It’s much cheaper for them than creating an entirely new network.

Cast Your Line
If your provider offers you the chance to pay for pesky line rental up front take it. A year long flat rate fee can save you money (usually £2/3 a month) and give you a better standing as a customer.

Bundling Up
Chances are your phone provider will also be the company giving you broadband and TV. If you’re getting these services from different companies you’ll be wasting a lot of money. Companies love to get customers attached to bundles as it helps their figures look great. If you can find one company offering a cheaper rate then change over.

Please Don’t Go
When you go to tell a provider you’re leaving expect to be transferred to the retention department. Providers want to keep you with them and the chances are you can haggle your way down to a cheaper package.

Reach For The Skype
What about eschewing the bill completely and getting free calls all the time? Any student or professional uses Skype to call each other at home or the office. You can either have a free conversation going online or even video chat for nothing. Many people now just use the service instead of ever using a landline phone.

Targeting Your Business Online

Every company has its own specialities. If you work for a company that offer an unbeatable service don’t you want to show it off to the world? Many small businesses struggle to get a foot on the ladder in terms of how to manage their presence online. In this post we’re going to target on getting any small company on good footing.

It takes more than just setting up a company website to be the best. You have to work with a number of factors to get a company noticed on a search engine. Google is the big dog of the search world and every company in the world competes to be the best in their respective field.

The action of working to get your site recognised is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s where you customise your website and its feature to make it easy for anyone to find. This includes everything from the layout, to the words displayed on the page to even the titles you get at the top of your browser.

The best way to figure out how someone will find your company is by carrying out some keyword research. You do this by thinking of terms potential customers use to find your service. The more applicable to your company the keywords are, the better the results for your site will be. Keywords can be quite competitive though. A lot of small businesses find themselves bidding for ads on Google that use their keywords. It can be very costly and consume a lot of time for you to check all your keywords and see the potential they can create.

That’s where a site we found comes in quite handy in the form of Accuranker. It’s a site where you can follow how your site ranks and looks after its performance. If you’re looking to get a high rank on Google then this is what you need. They constantly check how often keywords relating to your company are searched for. It helps save time by showing you which keywords help generate revenue.

You can focus your time on looking after the way the site works and let Accuranker work out how well you’re performing. One cheeky feature we like is the way you can track how competitor sites are doing. If a nearby company is using similar keywords Accuranker will let you know. You can then adapt your site to outperform the competition. It doesn’t matter what size your company is either as the site will let you track your keywords on a local level.

We think it’s a fantastic site and urge anyone out there with no idea how to get their company’s online presence boosted to give it a go. There’s still a chance to get a free 10 day trial by going here. We say give it a go even if you’re unsure just to see how well your site is doing and what little changes you can make to help your site.

Targeting Your MOT

For a lot of people their car is a second home. From the long range commuter to dad’s second job as a taxi driver for the kids, we spend a hell of a lot of time in them. So why is it that when we know our MOTs are coming up every year, we panic like fool a week before the test? It might just be a wash underneath that covers their MOT pre-checks, but for others a lack of preparation before your test can result in it being a big waste of money. To avoid having to get minor repairs in a short space of time and lose money on retests, we advise you set your sights on some of the following:

Light Up
You’ll be livid with yourself for not spotting one of the biggest mistakes motorists make. When you know you’re booked in for a test, go out and knock on all the car’s lights. After that jump on a few tyres to check suspension and then give the break a good seeing to. If you notice any slight difference then the person testing your car certainly will.

Trust The Council (for once)
Everyone usually gets their test done in a certified center. Not many go to their council’s own MOT center. They usually are the ones checking fire engines and council vehicles, but they do also take bookings from us civilians. They’re usually a lot more helpful too.

Don’t Blame Everyone
Getting your car to the center isn’t the only responsibility you have. Looking after your car is what you should be more interested in. Book your test in advance or else you’ll have the massive problem of an expired disc when trying to drive anywhere else but the center.