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The Harrington Brooks Blog

News, comment and views from the team at Harrington Brooks.

Money Saving Tips about Baking from our Resident Expert

Posted by Kevin O'Donnell on

Rebecca Stott is our Senior Complaints Officer and has a massive baking habit, so when we wanted real life money saving tips from a person in the know, we asked Rebecca, our resident baking expert for her top tips. Here’s what she recommended:

baking expert 2.fw

rebecca list 2.fw

Check out our Twitter and Facebook #MoneySavingTips for more great ideas.

Wallet warning: Only buy it if you need it, even if it’s on offer!

Summer Sandcastle Snaps Competition

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Competiton

As the Summer sun continues to shine one lucky winner could be enjoying a day out worth £250 courtesy of us. We want you to send us pictures, through either our twitter or facebook pages, of your summer sandcastle creation.

The best entry will get a day out of their choosing up to the value of £250. So this could be a trip to a theme park for the family, a day out at the zoo or even a trip to the seaside with a nice meal thrown in.

Here’s what to do…

Step 1 – build your Summer Sandcastle. You don’t even have to go to the beach to do it, all you need is sand, water and somewhere to build.

Step 2 – Once you’re finished, take a picture and post it to either our facebook or twitter accounts – while you’re there remember to follow and like us!

Step 3 – Don’t keep it to yourself. Share your competition entry with your friends on facebook and twitter. Deadline for entries close at 00.00 on Monday 14th September.

Post your pics at www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

Good Luck!

Terms and Conditions: Summer Sandcastle Snaps Competition

Social media competition to win a fun day out of the winner’s choice worth up to £250.

Prize:

We’re giving one social media user the chance to win a day out of their choice, subject to a maximum spend / cost of £250 per prize per day. As long as the cost of the day out is not greater than £250 per prize per day, the winner is eligible to choose any day out they wish. This means that they may choose a day out for 1, 2 or 4 persons, in the UK, Europe, with or without travel costs as an example.

If their choice could be deemed unsafe on a health or safety level, we may require the winner and participants to sign a disclaimer or take out the relevant insurance as part of the prize.

How to enter
To enter the competition, participants must provide a snap of their best sandcastle creation from this summer ‘15, provide a comment, like the page or post then share and retweet.

1. Opens on Tuesday 25th August 2015 and ends at 00.00 on Monday 14th September 2015.

2. To enter the competition, entrants must provide a snap of their best sandcastle creation from this summer ‘15, provide a comment, like the page or post then share and retweet through either www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

3. An independent third party will be asked to pick a winner on Monday 21st September 2015.

4. The winner will be notified via social media by Wednesday 23rd September 2015.

5. The winning entry must comply with the terms and conditions.

6. The winner will receive the prize, as described above.

7. The prize is as stated, is not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.

8. If the winner fails to respond / contact us by 00:00 on Wednesday 30th September or fails to claim his/her prize or if a winner fails to comply with these terms and conditions, such winner will be considered to have forfeited the prize.

9. The winning creation image and winner’s details will be published on all One Advice Group social media accounts and website(s). No entry may contain unlawful, obscene or objectionable material.

10. Employees of The One Advice Group directly involved with this competition and their immediate families or those living in the same household of each such employee are not eligible to enter this prize.

11. This competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom. Entrants must be over 16 years of age. Winners may be asked to verify their creations through photographs or other means.

12. The entrant agrees that The One Advice Group shall not be liable for any claims, costs, liabilities, damages, expenses and losses arising out of:

  • the entrant’s participation in the competition;
  • technical failures of any kind including but not limited to problems or delays arising from software or equipment malfunctions or computer viruses;
  • any events outside The One Advice Groups reasonable control. Nothing in this clause shall be construed to exclude or limit The One Advice Groups liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence or any other liability which by law cannot be excluded or limited.

13. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law and the Parties submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

14. The promoter of this competition is The One Advice Group, which incorporates Harrington Brooks (Accountants) Ltd, Jackson House, Sibson Road, Sale, Manchester M33 7RR.

 

 

Money Saving Tips for…Date Night

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

In a busy world it can sometimes be hard to spend time with a loved one. So when it comes round to ‘date night’ you’ll always want to make sure it’s time well spent. Here are a couple of great ways to help you enjoy precious time whilst making your money go further.

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Don’t forget your discount

Paying for a meal using a coupon may not be romantic, but it will leave you with a bit more cash if done carefully, and your dinning partner need never know. Have a hunt around and see if you can find a discount code on the restaurant’s website, twitter or a money saving website. Some eateries also have a loyalty card which give you discounts each time you eat. It’s always worth having a look. Restaurants are normally quieter during midweek periods, so you might want to consider eating at off peak times when there tends to be more offers available.

Try eBay or Gumtree for cheap cinema vouchers

Team tip: Microwave some popcorn at home and take it with you! At Tesco, Butterkist Sweet Microwave Popcorn 3 x 70g pack is currently on offer for £1.50.

Team tip: Microwave some popcorn at home and take it with you! At Tesco, a Butterkist Sweet Microwave Popcorn 3 x 70g pack is currently on offer for £1.50.

The trend of giving vouchers for gifts is fast becoming the norm. But not everyone likes vouchers or can get around to using them. In this instance what you’ll find is people end up putting them on Ebay rather than leaving them to expire. You can save a bit of cash compared to the regular admission price – though any savings here may be cancelled out when you buy a £27 bag of popcorn.

Ordering through Just Eat may cost more for the takeaway date night

If you use the Just Eat app remember; they charge some restaurants between 10 – 20% of the total bill when you order. So the prices via Just Eat may be more compared to ordering direct from the takeaway. In this instance contact the restaurant directly to see if you can get the same meal cheaper direct. It may just pay for a dessert!

Compare the cost of a Supermarket Date Night in

A lot of supermarkets nowadays have dine-in deals where you can pick up a takeaway style meal (and drink) to cook or warm up at home. All you have to do is put it in the oven or microwave and you’re done. The added benefits include not needing to wait for delivery, it’s convenient and you can stash the loyalty points for next time you shop.

Buy, borrow and recycle romantic movies

Think Titanic, The Notebook, Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle and Die Hard. Ok, maybe not Die Hard. Put the phones away, get some popcorn and wine and pick up brownie points. Netflix and Amazon prime offer free trials so you can save money on movie rental costs and many supermarkets are likely to have one of these titles for less than a fiver. Why not browse your local second hand, charity or entertainment stores such as CEX or Cash Generator as they’re sure to sell them as well. And once you’re finished with them you could even sell them back to make some cash or swap them with your friends or family to make the savings go round.

Take advantage of happy hour

Happy smile, happy wallet. If you’re thinking of taking a loved one to a bar then consider the advantages of happy hour. A lot of these promotions usually take place during quiet periods for bars. If you want to make your money go further than this is the perfect time to do it.

Free exhibitions

Whilst it’s not necessarily something you’d normally do, getting down to a local art gallery or museum can save a bit of cash and add some culture to proceedings. You never know what you might find there.

Babysitting

So babysitting isn’t an ideal way to spend date night. But offering to look after someone else’s kids in exchange for their babysitting services can save you cash.  The average cost of a teenage babysitter for an evening will probably set you back around £15, which easily covers the cost of a main or at least two starters.

Have a picnic

This can even work during colder days and nights if you’re willing to picnic at home. Yeah why not?! Lay out a table cloth in your front room and prepare some simple treats you can share while you chat and chill out.

And when it’s nice outside, make a couple of sandwiches, or pick up some nibbles, and drive out to field, park or river with a couple of drinks to enjoy, especially if you can find a sunset.

Avoid being tempted by expensive treats and it becomes an inexpensive option, and remember, it’s the thought that counts.

If you’re in to saving money you may want to read our tips on carsshopping and water usage.

New review on financial advice to be launched

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The Financial Conduct Authority and HM Treasury are to conduct a review on financial advice for customers.

The Financial Advice Market Review will review how advice could work better for consumers.

The review will look at issues that customers might experience when getting advice on the following:

  • investments, savings, pensions, and retirement income products (including annuities)
  • mortgages (including Help to Buy and equity release) and consumer credit
  • general insurance

“Making sure that our financial services sector supports working people at every stage of their lives is a key part of our long term plan.”

“That’s why we’ve launched a major new review to explore what more can be done to make sure consumers can access high quality and affordable advice so they can make informed decisions with their hard-earned money.”

Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The UK government also plans to review the free and impartial financial advice sector. This includes services provided by the Money Advice Service and will take place at the end of the year.

The Financial Advice Market Review will consider all types of retail financial products including pensions, savings, mortgages, and insurance, and will report back ahead of the 2016 Budget.

One Advice Group Keep Giving to Local Charities

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The One Advice Group, of which Harrington Brooks is a part of, has donated computers and food hampers to local organisations as part of its ongoing work in the local community.

The Group has donated 12 computers to Get Online Wythenshawe to help residents enjoy the benefits of the internet, and three to Tree of Life Wythenshawe, which works with local partners to create  sustainable resources to improve the health and wellbeing for people in Wythenshawe.

The Group’s employees have also donated clothes and shoes to the charity which helps those in need throughout the local area.

As one of the biggest employers in the local area the Group has felt a strong identity with the local region, and the donations are a part of the Group’s sustained corporate and social responsibility programme, which has included charity events, school visits and separate donations to assist the local community.

“We are honoured to be making these computer donations to Get Online Wythenshawe and Tree of Life today. The charities are doing excellent work in helping to forge an ever stronger sense of community spirit in our local area, be it through connecting people to the online world or by helping to maintain the health and wellbeing of local residents. These computers will allow the charities to continue doing what they do best – serving the people of Wythenshawe to ensure that they are able to play an active part in the local community.”

Matthew Cheetham, One Advice CEO

“Our organisation is doing great work in bringing residents into the online world. We are very grateful for this donation from the One Advice Group. Its generosity will mean that we are able to provide more local residents with the equipment they need to use the internet, a tool that has become so important in our daily lives.”

Mark Bowker, Digital Inclusion Officer, Get Online Wythenshawe

“We cannot thank the One Advice Group enough for these donations. The new computers will allow us to get on and help the people in and around Wythenshawe with adequate IT systems to support our work. It is great to see that a company as large as the One Advice Group has a strong local focus and has remained true to its roots.”

Carys Roberts, Income and Partnership Manager, Tree of Life Centre

Money Saving Tips for…Baking

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

It’s the return of the Great British Bake Off on TV this week. If this gives you the urge to bake then we can help with a number of tips that may save you money.

 woman_baking

Make the most of your oven – bake in bulk

Rather than baking one type of cake while the oven is on try to bake two or three and use the heat efficiently. Heating a fan assisted oven for an hour can cost anything from 30p upwards.  Baking multiple items while the oven is on could save cash each time.

Turn the oven off 10 minutes early and use the existing heat in the oven

If an oven costs 30p to heat per hour then let’s say it costs 5p for every 10 minutes.  Get more from the heat in your oven by switching it off 10 minutes before the scheduled cooking time. If you keep the door closed and use the existing heat to bake your food you’ll save cash and the oven will cool down quicker too. 

Eat before you bake

It’s a risk that every baker has to live with. If you eat, or drink a pint of water, before you bake you’ll be less likely to eat half the ingredients while you’re cooking. So you can save the ingredients you’ve bought and not have to buy them again at a later date.

Grow your own food

To save costs you could grow your own ingredients. Strawberries and mint leaves are just a couple of things you could easily grow in your back garden. Notcutts have an online shop and stores nationwide which stock a range of seeds that you can plant and grow.

Use coupons and plan carefully

When planning your ‘bake’ shop remember to plan carefully. Make sure you prepare so that you’re not having to take another trip to the supermarket. If you’ve not baked in a while, and are picking up ingredients you wouldn’t normally buy, chances are that you’ll be presented with a coupon assuming you’re buying at one of the big four supermarkets with a loyalty card. Keep it and take advantage the next time you shop.

Don’t confuse best before and use by

Some people still get the two confused. Any food which is marked ‘Best Before’ can still be used past the date stated – so you don’t need to throw it away. It may however not be as fresh as when you bought it. Anything with a ‘Use By’ date shouldn’t be used past the date marked on the pack.

Discount stores for the finishing touches

We love the discount stores for pretty much everything they sell. And for master bakers everywhere you can pick up cases, baking trays, decorations and more to help add finishing touches to the things you bake.  Think Wilko’s, Home Bargains and Poundland. 

Don’t throw away anything you ruin

Don’t throw it away. If the bake has gone a bit sour or perhaps overdone don’t assume it’s completely lost. It can always be fed to the birds or the ducks depending on what it is. 

Freeze what you don’t use and save for later

Now and again you may find that you’ve cooked just a little too much. Or you’ve still got ingredients left over that you don’t want to throw away. An easy solution is to freeze, where possible, the leftover ingredients to use or eat again. 

Keep your fridge frost free

And if you’re using your freezer make sure that it’s working efficiently so that you’re not spending more money than you need to. Unless you’ve got a frost free freezer make sure you defrost your fridge at least once or twice a year. 

Buy in-season produce

Any fruits or ingredients that you buy out of season (in the UK) will cost more compared to when they are in season. Buying a mango or strawberries in the winter will probably cost more compared to the spring or summer. So bake wisely or seasonally depending on what you and the family like to bake. 

Use the right pan for the right hob

Just so you’re not wasting energy make sure you use the right size pan for the right size hob. Using a wok on a small hob will take longer. Using a large hob for a small pan won’t heat the pan effectively either. Otherwise you’ll be wasting money.

 

If you’re in to all things money saving you may want to check out our tips on saving cash with cars, shopping and water usage.

Harrington Brooks Quarterly Comment – July 2015

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The Harrington Brooks Quarterly Comment is released today.

The last quarter has seen some key landmarks including an election, budget address and changes announced to the current benefits cap.

More recently this week the Insolvency Service released figures that underlined the strength in the economy with total personal insolvencies in England and Wales at a near 10 year low. This accounts for bankruptcies, IVAs and DROs.

With all this to consider we review the financial outlook for customers and what potentially lies ahead.

The Harrington Brooks full quarterly comment is available to view now.

Interest rate rise potentially on the cards for 2016

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The Bank of England have potentially earmarked January 2016 when interest rates could be set to rise.

The current rate of 0.5% has been in effect since March 2009, meaning the standard variable rate (SVR) for most mortgage providers is around the 4.99 mark based on a report last October.

As a standard variable or tracker rate is usually a set percentage higher than the base rate, then an increase is likely to be reflected in your mortgage payment.

When is the interest rate going to rise?

The Bank of England normally doesn’t increase rates during the festive season. Analysis over the last 20 years has seen interest rate decreases during December, but no increases.

So as the interest rate during December wouldn’t change from the previous month (i.e. November), the earliest we could expect to see this is in either November 2015 or January/ February 2016.

“ In my view, the decision as to when to start such a process of adjustment will likely come into sharper relief around the turn of this year.”

Mark Carney, Bank of England governor

How much are interest rates going to increase?

As recovery continues it seems likely that rates will increase by 0.25% to begin with. Any further increases are likely to be based on how the economy performs .

“It would not seem unreasonable to me to expect that once normalisation begins, interest rate increases would proceed slowly and rise to a level in the medium term that is perhaps about half as high as historical averages.”

Mark Carney, Bank of England governor

Over the last 20 years the average interest rate would be in the region of 4%. If we work on this figure then we could be looking at an increase of up to 2% in the years to come.

What will an interest rate increase cost on my mortgage?

Let’s assume that the next rise, discussed as needing to ‘proceed slowly’, will be a rise of 0.25%. So the interest rate will be 0.75%. Here’s what it will do to your mortgage payment:

Based on an average SVR being 4.5% increasing to 4.75.

Value 4.5% 4.75% 5%
100,000 £556 £570 £585
150,000 £833 £855 £877
200,000 1,111 £1,140 £1,170
250,000 £1,389 £1,425 £1,462

 

While some lenders may absorb the increase others may only increase a small amount whilst selected lenders may increase your payment by the full rate change.

While the rate rise might be good for savers you should remember to save and make provisions for an increase later in the year. If you’re renting then your Landlord may also be faced with these costs which could ultimately be passed on to you.

If you’re currently worried about your finances, have unsecured debts from personal borrowing and would like to speak confidentially to an advisor who can talk to you about the benefits and considerations of a range of debt solutions and personal insolvency solutions, then please get in touch by calling 0800 048 1764. You can also visit harringtonbrooks.co.uk to request a call back at a time to suit you. By requesting a call, you are under no obligation to use our services. Harrington Brooks provide solutions to customers living in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Should you choose to undertake a plan or arrangement, there may be consequences to consider, including restrictions on future expenditure, lending and on your ability to obtain further or future credit. Fees, terms and conditions apply. For further information and advice please visit www.harringtonbrooks.co.uk.

The services that we provide may be available at no cost from other government and charity based providers. Further information can be obtained from the Money Advice Service at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/where-to-go-to-get-free-debt-advice

 

Martin Wheatley to stand down as FCA Chief Executive

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today announced that Martin Wheatley is to stand down as Chief Executive with effect from September 2015.

Mr Wheatley will continue to act as an adviser to the FCA Board until January 2016 with a particular emphasis on the implementation of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, which he co-chaired.

John Griffith-Jones, Chairman of the FCA said:

“Martin has done an outstanding job as Chief Executive setting up and leading the FCA over the last four years. We owe him a lot and I and my Board would like to thank him for his great efforts in setting up the organisation and for the contribution he has made to putting conduct so firmly at the top of the financial services agenda.

“We all wish Martin well and I am pleased that we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and expertise over the next few months.”

Martin Wheatley said:

“I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved together in building the FCA over the last four years. I know that the organisation will build on that strong start and work so that the financial services industry continues to thrive.”

Mr Griffith-Jones also announced that Tracey McDermott will be taking over as Acting Chief Executive from September 12 while the search for a permanent Chief Executive takes place.

“I am pleased that we are able to call on someone of Tracey’s ability and stature to take up the post of Acting Chief Executive. I am grateful to her for taking on this role and I know she will do a great job.”

Wheatley has previously held roles at the Securities and Futures Commission and the London Stock Exchange before becoming Managing Director of the Financial Services Authority before it was split in to the The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in 2012.

 

Summer days out on a budget

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

You don’t need to have a mountain of cash to have a great day out. The summer holiday season can be great for a day out and everyone can enjoy the sun when it decides to shine. We’ve got a couple of handy tips and ways to find somewhere, or do something, when you’re trying to save cash.

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Rent university halls of residence

During the summer university students have to go home. Leaving a few hundred rooms spare, and available, to rent. If you’re looking at a city break on a budget it’s worth seeing if you could save. Visiting the relevant university website in your chosen city should point you in the right direction to find somewhere. You’ll expect to pay upwards of about £60 per night for a single room.

Rent a spare room

Alternatively take a trip to spareroom.co.uk where you can enquire about renting a spare room for a few days. Again this may be cheaper than a hotel but you’ve got the added ‘mystery’ of staying in a random stranger’s house. If that’s a bit off-putting hunt through your facebook friends in another city and see if they’re willing to let you stay. When we’ve had an initial look there are rooms which can be rented for as little as £100 per week – but this will differ by location and distance from the relevant city centre.

Camping

If you’re looking at places to go then try pitchup.com. The site covers most of the UK and finds campsites where you can take your own tent or helps you look for caravan sites. Some of the headline offers feature £16 per night to pitch up your own tent on the Welsh coast and from £18 on a farm in Somerset. If you’d rather not travel then you could always pitch up in the back garden.

National Trust venues

There are plenty of places you could go within the National Trust stable of venues. The beauty is that they can be enjoyed on a budget depending on where you go. At most venues you’ll be required to pay for parking but thereafter you can enjoy some of  the wildlife, open grounds and more. The prices will differ from each venue. Expect to pay between three to £10 pounds for all day parking. For entry in to other areas such as exotic gardens, stables or any indoor grounds you may need to pay more.

Let’s go to the beach

Whilst there are many beaches in the UK you could visit it can be hard getting all the detail you need about where to park, the policy on dogs and when the tide is due in. As there are loads we could mention a handy place to start is the Good Beach Guide. All you need to remember is your sun cream.

Visit England

As we’re always recommending our customers to be smarter with their money it can be hard – especially if you’re thinking about having a break or taking a holiday. If you’re thinking about a break or a day out on a budget take a look at the Visit England website.

There’s a section dedicated to free and low cost attractions which include some real gems that the kids will also enjoy.

A couple of things to remember that might help…

 241 theme park offers – you’ll save, but you’ll also need to spend

Whilst 241 offers for places like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park are great, just remember that you’ll have additional costs to pay for on top of the ticket such as petrol, food, parking and any fast track tickets if you don’t want to queue up for an hour for the big rides. Whilst taking your own food in to these places is normally allowed it can be hard to carry all day – and prices for food once you’re in can be expensive.  So what may look to be a headline saving offer could cost more overall.

Picnics

It’s pretty straightforward. Find a local park, pick a sunny day, grab some books or something to keep you entertained and do it. A trip to your local pound shop is a decent source of games and stuff you might need for a game of rounders or cricket as well.

Use Ebay to find cheap tickets

While there are plenty of places on the web to find 241 tickets for venues it may be worth taking a trip to Ebay or other auction/ swap sites to find cheaper tickets. They may be date restricted but it’s always worth having a peek.