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The Harrington Brooks Blog

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

Save money when you’re at work

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Could you actually save money whilst you’re at work? If you think about it, saving money in the workplace is pretty easy, especially if you follow our top tips that could mount up to save you £££’s over the course of a year.

how to save money when you go to work

Make your own sandwiches or take your leftovers

If you’re spending £3 a day at a sandwich shop or in the canteen that’s an average spend of £60 per month. But, if you make your own lunch or take in leftovers, you could halve your monthly lunch bill at work, saving over £300 a year. Wow!

It’s also worth planning ahead and buying bread and sandwich fillings to store in advance. This will also help you avoid those last minute dashes to the convenience store that charges extra because it’s local and open late.

If you buy your lunch from the same place regularly, why not try to negotiate a deal, the worst they can say is no!

Park the car for free

If you pay to park while at work you could explore the possibility of finding free roadside parking. It may take a bit of time exploring and you’ll need to do some research, but the results could save you pounds.

Something to think about: Check your insurance policy as the premium may increase if you’re parking outside of a secure car park.

Childcare Vouchers

If you have a child who goes to nursery or requires the services of a childminder then you should seriously consider Childcare vouchers. They are a tax efficient way of paying for childcare and could save hundreds of pounds each year. A lot of workplaces will include this among the range of benefits offered and if you are unsure, just ask. To see if you’re better off with Childcare vouchers check out this easy to use gov.uk site.

Car share

If you drive in to work then why not try car sharing or offer your colleagues a lift to and from work. Be upfront about what you want their contribution to be per trip or per week to save any awkward conversations later.

Something to think about: How might car share affect my insurance? As long as any contributions go towards covering your running costs and you’re not making a profit from the car share arrangement, your insurance should still cover you; but it’s worth checking.

Ditch Starbucks, Costa and Nero

While some people couldn’t live without a tea or coffee, it’s worth totting up how much you spend on your caffeine fix with a barista each morning. If you’re spending £2 a day then that’s a tenner each week. Multiply that by 11 months and you’ll have spent around £440 in a year – just on coffee! (PS: we’ve assumed you have 20 days off the coffee on holiday).

And if you simply can’t do without? Then try alternating one day at the baristas’ and the next on instant or buy a smaller cup.

Charge your phone at work (using a USB cable)

If it’s OK to do so, and please check first, charge up your phone at work. To fully charge an average smartphone each day for a year costs around £0.35p. While this may seem to be peanuts it’s worth multiplying this by the number of phones used in your house. If it saves your household a pound each year at least it’s a start!

Are you paying more than the going rate?

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Most of us know when we’re being ripped off but it can be hard to tell. There are times when you’re blissfully unaware that the price you’re paying for something is just ridiculously high. So we’ve compiled a list of products and services where you might not realise you’re paying more than the going rate.

Cut costs and don't get ripped off

Cinema popcorn vs Supermarket popcorn

We’ve all done it; gone to the cinema for a cheap night out and ended up spending more than we bargained for. The average cost at the cinema is normally upwards of £4 for a small bag. If you buy it as part of a combo then the price comes down a little bit, but not by much.

But popcorn is relatively cheap when bought from the supermarket, costing on average no more than £2 for microwave or ready-made popcorn.

So our advice is; try to avoid buying snacks at the cinema, or eat beforehand or buy it in advance from the supermarket.

Just to add: A large bag of sweet popcorn at an Odeon cinema contains 1005 calories or 502.5 if you’re sharing with your Valentine!

Petrol Prices  – local v motorway service station

We all have to buy it if we’re running a car and it’s probably one of the biggest costs you’ll face if you drive. In 2014 The RAC published figures saying that fuel prices were 10p more at motorway service stations than the national average and could cost up to £8 more when filling up a tank.

However there is some good news as the Department for Transport is planning a trial this year which will involve motorway signs that will advertise the petrol prices before you get to the service station. This will hopefully lead to increased competition and cheaper fuel costs. Details on the trial can be found here.

Something to think about: Plan your journey carefully. If you need to plan for petrol stops consider stopping off at supermarkets where petrol is normally cheaper.

Coke from the fridge vs coke from a pub / restaurant

Eating out is usually enjoyable when you manage to get some free time.  Incase you didn’t know, the biggest mark-up and profit that most restaurants have is on drinks. Take a glass of coke for example. A multipack of 10 cans, which is just over 3 litres, from Home Bargains will cost £3 compared to £2 for around 250-300mls in a pub. The same could be said for alcoholic drinks as well – remember that you’re also paying for things like serving, replacing glasses and storage.

Our advice: Try water, or even a jug of tap water as a possible alternative.

iPhone vs regular phone

So there’s a reason why the iPhone is the most popular phone on the planet. With its sleek design and easy to use functionality it’s easy to see why most people have one. Alternatively you could buy a device with the same functionality but for a fraction of the cost.

The current range of Android devices more than match Apple’s offering. There is also the added bonus of SD card memory, on selected models, which Apple don’t offer.  Windows mobile also has Cortana which is a rival to Siri on the iPhone. So it’s well worth considering next time you upgrade.

As of February 2016, a 16GB iPhone 6 will cost £459 outright. A 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 would cost £399. Remember that these costs that are spread out over the course of your contract so you’ll end up paying more.

Our advice: Consider an alternative to the iPhone unless you can haggle down the cost of your next contract.

Main dealer car service vs independent garage service

For most cars, it’s a good idea to get your car serviced at least once a year. If you do some research online you’ll be able to find a number of garages near you. Whilst the labour costs may not be that much higher at a main dealer, compared to independent garages, the costs increase as any repairs or replacements are done using genuine manufacturer parts.

Our advice: Ask around for recommended local independent garages or alternatively have a look at the Good Garages Scheme to find a reliable mechanic near you.

As a guide on what you get from a service you can check out the Kwik-fit and Halfords websites for a breakdown on what to expect.

Four killer reasons why Netflix can save you money

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

For most of us streaming is all the rage. So here are four reasons why Netflix can save you and your family money and be a source of great entertainment.

watching_tablet_shutterstock_361413587

You save time and money

If you were to watch 20 episodes of your favourite show, which lasts half an hour, with a three minute ad break you would end up watching an extra hour of television (this doesn’t account for the adverts before the show).

Did you know that the average cost to power a television per hour is between 2-3p. It may not seem that much, but if you end up watching 50 hours of adverts over the space of a few months this would cost £1.50. And you could save even more by doing this if you watch on a tablet or phone.

It’s cheaper than Sky Movies

If you‘ve got Virgin or Sky then you’ll know how expensive it can be to subscribe to the movie channel each month. Using the regular price of £37 per month as a starting point (based on the Sky website as of Dec 2015), a typical half price deal would be £18.50 per month.

Over a year, this works out as £222 per year for sky movies but Netflix is £6.99 a month from 2016 so the cost over a year is £83.88. That’s a saving of £138.

Avoid pester power

The beauty of Netflix and on demand services is that they avoid the hassle of having to plough through a number of adverts. If you have a child that watches kids TV you’ll see an endless stream of adverts for toys, gadgets and the latest must haves. Before you know it, it’s likely that there’ll be at least one item which your little angel will ask for.

As Netflix currently streams shows such as Peppa Pig, PAW Patrol and Pokemon you don’t need to worry about their exposure to adverts, also helping to avoid that dreaded question, “Can I have one of those?”

Split the cost of the subscription

Netflix, unlike Sky Movies, lets two people access movies simultaneously on a TV device in two different locations (although membership is normally sold on an individual household basis). So with this in mind you could make further savings and split your subscription costs in half.

 

If you liked these tips read our money saving guides on driving, shopping and beauty.

 

#HBFlipOut Competition

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Happy Pancake Day everybody! It’s so cheap and easy to make delicious pancakes, why not have a go. Send the picture to us and include the hashtag #HBFlipOut on your picture for a chance to win a £50 voucher. Easy peasy!

It’s free to enter, simply follow Harrington Brooks on Facebook and/or Twitter, send us your best pancake picture and include the hashtag #HBFlipOut. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date 14.02.2016 at 00:00. A winner will be chosen at random in an independent draw which will be held on 15.02.2016.

If you win, what will you spend your £50 on? We’ll send you a £50 voucher for the shop of your choice. So you could buy a bath full of chocolate, a week’s shopping, a brand new set of pans or a trip to the cinema.

Here’s what to do…

Step 1 – Use eggs, milk and flour to make the perfect pancake and take a photograph.

Step 2 – Decide what you’d spend your £50 voucher on if you win. Follow Harrington Brooks on Facebook and/or Twitter and send your best pancake pictures to us with the hashtag #HBFlipOut.

Here are the links you need to get started www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

Step 3 – Don’t keep it to yourself and remember to send your entries before the closing date on Sunday February 14th 2016. Good luck and happy flipping.

Terms and Conditions: #HBFlipOut Pancake Day

Social media competition to win a voucher of the winner’s choice up to the value of £50.

Prize:

We’re giving one social media user the chance to win a £50 voucher of their choice. There is one prize available. Disclaimers maybe required prior to the issuing of the prize e.g. in the instance that the requested voucher could be deemed unsafe on a health or safety level.

How to enter:

1. To enter and be eligible to win the competition, participants must follow Harrington Brooks on Facebook and/or Twitter and send in at least one picture of their pancake making efforts to us with the hashtag #HBFlipOut. Then share or retweet the competition. The closing date is midnight on 14.02.2016. Terms and conditions apply. 

2. The channels you must use are www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

3. The competition opens at 3pm on 02.02.2016 and closes at midnight on 14.02.2016.

4. A winner will be chosen at random in an independent draw which will be held on 15.02.2016

5. The winner will be notified via social media by 16.02.2016.

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

7. The winner will receive the prize, as described above and there is one prize only. The prize of a £50 voucher will be supplied for the retailer of the winner’s choice.

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

9. If the winner fails to respond / contact us by 00:00 on 16.03.2016 or if a winner fails to comply with these terms and conditions, such winner will be considered to have forfeited the prize.

10. The winner’s details and chosen £50 retail voucher will be published on all One Advice Group social media accounts and website(s). No entry may contain unlawful, obscene or objectionable material.

11. Promotion excludes The One Advice Group colleagues that are directly involved in the competition and their families or those living in the same household of each such employee.

12. This competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom. Entrants must be over 18 years of age. Winners may be asked to verify their age and address.

13. 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.

14. 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.

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

Wellbeing Treat Competition

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Will 2016 be lucky for you? Need a wellbeing treat to kick off your NY? If you want the answer to be yes and yes, then enter our first competition of the year to win a wellbeing treat of your choice worth up to £100.

It’s free to enter, simply share or retweet the competition on our Harrington Brooks Facebook and/or Twitter pages, then follow us and tell us how you’d treat yourself before the closing date of 29th January 2016. Terms & conditions apply. A winner will be chosen at random in an independent draw which will be held on 1st February 2016.

What wellbeing treat will you chose? A massage, health check or collection of fitness equipment? Quarterly membership to a gym, an exercise bike, some new sports gear or trainers?

Here’s what to do…

Step 1 – Chose a wellbeing treat you’d like to get your hands on and get ready to tell us in just a few well chosen words.

Step 2 – Don’t keep it to yourself. Share or retweet the competition on our Harrington Brooks Facebook and/or Twitter pages, then follow us and tell us how you’d treat yourself. The closing date is midnight on 29th January 2016 so don’t muck about. Good Luck!

Here are the links you need to get started www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

 

Terms and Conditions: £100 wellbeing treat

Social media competition to win a wellbeing treat of the winner’s choice up to the value of £100. The £100 will be provided to the winner as vouchers of their choice.

Prize:

We’re giving one social media user the chance to win a wellbeing treat of their choice, subject to a maximum spend / cost of £100. As long as the cost of the wellbeing treat is not greater than £100, the winner is eligible to choose any wellbeing treat they wish. There is one prize available.

Disclaimers may apply prior to the issuing of the prize e.g. in the instance that the requested treat could be deemed unsafe on a health or safety level

How to enter:

1. To enter and be eligible to win the competition, participants must tell us how they’d treat themselves, then share or retweet the competition on our Harrington Brooks Facebook and/or Twitter pages. They must also follow us before the closing date of 29th January 2016. Terms & conditions apply.

2. The channels you must use are www.facebook.com/harringtonbrooks or www.twitter.com/harringtonbks

3. The competition opens at 5pm on 21st January 2016 and closes at midnight on 29th January 2016.

4. A winner will be chosen at random in an independent draw which will be held on 1st February 2016.

5. The winner will be notified via social media by 2nd February 2016.

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

7. The winner will receive the prize, as described above and there is one prize only. The prize of £100 will be supplied in vouchers of the winner’s choice.

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

9. If the winner fails to respond / contact us by 00:00 on 1st March 2016 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.

10. The winner’s details and chosen wellbeing treat will be published on all One Advice Group social media accounts and website(s). No entry may contain unlawful, obscene or objectionable material.

11. 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.

12. 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 age and address.

13. 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 Group’s reasonable control. Nothing in this clause shall be construed to exclude or limit The One Advice Group’s liability for death or personal injury caused by negligence or any other liability which by law cannot be excluded or limited.

14. 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.

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

How to redirect your mail – and avoid potential debt issues

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Redirect your mail and protect yourself from all manner of mishaps. “Redirect and Protect” is the slogan that the Royal Mail use with their redirect service and it describes why it’s useful to have a catch net for your mail. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to continue to receive your mail when you move.

How to redirect your mail

The service helps you pick up correspondence from companies that supply you services or look after your affairs which you may have forgotten to inform about your move

  • It can help you avoid missing important notifications and documents
  • It can help prevent someone stealing your identity by intercepting post going to your old address
  • And you’re more likely to get offers appropriate to home movers

You can redirect mail to any UK or overseas address for up to three, six or 12 months. There’s a charge for each different last name that you want to re-direct mail for – this may also apply if you’ve changed your name though marriage.

Customer feedback

Lots of our customers tell us that they are or have experienced issues with late payments, arrears and defaults because they didn’t know about them. Many didn’t have, or could afford, a redirect service which resulted in them unknowingly falling behind with correspondence and issues as mail had been sent to an old or wrong address. So we advise you to consider this to help you learn from others’ mistakes or misfortune. Defaults can affect your credit rating or, in a worst case scenario, lead to an unexpected visit from a bailiff.

If you’re in the process or considering a house move consider the costs and benefits of the redirect service and add it to your budget and to-do list where possible. Here are a few other useful points.

How do I re-direct my post?

You can do it online, by post or at your local post office. The easiest way we would recommend is by doing it online on the Royal Mail website – though the payment card will need to be registered with either your old or new address. You’ll need a proof of ID that contains the address such as a utility bill, bank or credit card statement if applying by post or at the Post Office.

How much does it cost to re-direct your mail?

It costs between £29.99 and £59.99 to re-direct your post in the UK depending on how long you need the re-direct to last. For overseas re-direction prices start from £99.99. (These costs are correct as of Jan 2016).

How long does post normally take through a mail re-direct?

Items are usually forwarded on first class. So post destined for your old address will arrive either one or two days later than normal. According to the Royal Mail it takes at least five days to set up a re-direct.

Why is getting your post re-directed a good idea?

Even if you manage to change your address companies may still use out-of-date data such as your address, when sending you statements, promotions or other correspondence. So you may continue to get mail at previous addresses. Making sure you are opening and reviewing your mail helps keep you up-to-date with your financial affairs.

Don’t rely on the resident of your old address to send mail back or update the supplier; anything you receive through the redirect service you should contact and inform them of your change of address.

Affects to your credit report

Not getting notifications about your finances can also leave you in the dark about your current financial position.

You may have a good credit score and pay your bills on time. But not knowing about an outstanding debt, and furthermore not paying it, could lead to a default if not addressed.

Any blemish on your credit report, through a late payment or default, may stop you getting access to better deals and rates on other financial products. .

It’s also worth remembering that a default or late payment will stay on your credit file for at least six years. This may affect your ability to get credit and related products during this period.

This would include loans, mortgages and credit cards – hence why it’s a good idea to get your mail re-directed when you move house.

Always ensure you change your address details with the following:

Bank and/or building society or credit union or other savings providers

Your workplace / employer

Social benefits (providers)

Driving licence

V5 logbook

Car insurance

Breakdown insurance

Home contents insurance

Life insurance

Mobile phone supplier

Gas/ Electric/ Water / Broadband

Pension

TV licence

Inland Revenue

The holder or keeper of your will, if you have one

Where can you re-direct your post?

You can set up a re-direct by post, in branch or at royalmail.com to UK and international addresses.

Source: royalmail.com – correct as of January 2016

Another year of glowing reviews from Harrington Brooks’ customers

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Valentine’s day is just around the corner. And once again we’re bowled over with the number of glowing reviews that our customers have posted online.

Review Centretrustpilot

 

People across the UK come to us for help and advice on debt management and insolvency solutions. We’re delighted that a large portion of our online reviews show a lot of love for the service we offer.

As it currently stands (January 2016) our average rating on Trustpilot is 9.6 out of 10 – this is based on over 1,500 reviews.

On Review Centre our average rating is 4.6 out of 5 – this is based on over 1200 reviews.

We’d like to say a big thank you for all our positive reviews. To see for yourself what our customers are saying simply visit our review pages on Trustpilot and Review Centre.

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 www.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 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

Money saving tips on…renting

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more than roughly thirty percent of your income on rent, but that rule doesn’t factor in all of your expenses, and usually, neither do affordability calculators – CheatSheet.com – Oct 2015

Save money renting

No matter how much you earn, spending roughly 30% on rent is a large proportion of expenditure every month, so if there are savings to be made, it can make a difference. If you want to save money on rent and be savvy with your landlord then here’s some quick tips to consider and share.

Before you move in

Think about what’s affordable and check if you qualify for Council Tax exemptions and discounts

Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to a discount on your council tax. You’re entitled to a single person discount if you’re living alone and there are provisions for people claiming certain benefits as well. One of the best places to research this is here.

Use the Zoopla app to see if you’re getting value for money

If you want to check out the local area and see what the prices are like then use the Zoopla app. You can also find details regarding what kind of people live there from reading habits, occupations and more.

Check if the local area has a high crime rate

Check out the crime statistics of an area you may be thinking about by using the police.uk website. All you need is the postcode to start a search. The higher the crime rate the more your car, home contents and other insurance could potentially cost. To find out what the change in your insurance costs could be, ask your current provider(s) to give you a quote.

Haggle your way in to saving money

Unless you want to rent in an area where there is more demand for rental property than there is housing supply, it’s worth negotiating to try and get cheaper rent. After all the worst any prospective landlord can do is say no. For each month the property is empty the landlord will still need to cover the mortgage so it’s in their interests to have an occupied property.

Try Freecylcle, Gumtree and Craigslist for home furnishings

If you’re moving in to a flat that isn’t furnished it can be costly getting new furniture. A great place to look is one of the freecycling, auction or exchange websites to get the best deals. Whilst it may be attractive to get a new sofa on finance, think carefully about affordability, suitability and what may happen if your circumstances change.

And as you move in, consider a few things …

Take photos in just in case you need proof later

Avoid disputes and losing your deposit by logging the condition of the property and its contents when you move in. If you need to report existing stains, dents, repairs or breakages that haven’t already been listed or recognised then do so before or as you move in. Don’t leave it until weeks or months afterwards. This should help you prove that damage or issues were present before you moved, for which you shouldn’t be held liable.

Check the meters and contact suppliers

Again take photos and a note of all the meter readings just so you can ensure you’re paying the right amount. This should also help you avoid paying the usage of previous tenants or any workmen who may have been in before you.

Switch to energy saving light bulbs

Even if it costs you to change the existing light bulbs, switching to energy saving options will make a difference especially if you’re there for six months or more.

Towards the end of your tenancy …

Consider this scenario. Once you’re in your rented pad, paying bills on time, the landlord may feel a sense of relief that the income and mortgage is being covered. If you can offer more income by way of a longer tenancy then you’re in a position to negotiate. Even a £15 a month reduction will save £75 in six months. It’s always worth checking the local rates in your area to see if you’re paying more or less than the going rate. Why not ask? The worst your landlord, or landlady can do is say no.

Start the year on a positive note with our fitness themed money saving tips

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

We can all find it hard to make time and to put money aside to keep fit, but there are many benefits to staying healthy and keeping fit, both for our bodies and minds. It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Every little bit of effort can help you attain your goals so we’ve put together a few ideas that might save you cash if you’re thinking of kick starting your get fit promise. You can do  it!

Keep fit on a budget

Find a fitness buddy

Lots of people find it easier to keep fit and keep going if they have a buddy to motivate them and be their second conscience. When you feel like dipping out, they’ll encourage you and vice versa. Try to pencil in joint workout sessions and arrange to meet at the gym or pool to reduce the chance of you not going or quitting. You’ll be less likely to dodge a session or miss a run if your friends are depending on you to work out with them.

Don’t spend on the latest sports fashion or kit

First of all check what you’ve already got, can re-purpose or lend before you buy any new fitness threads and don’t be tempted by the current collections. So what if you run in last season’s colour? Plenty of outlets including TK Maxx and Sports Direct stock sportswear lines that won’t break the bank. Shop savvy and have a good rummage in the sales, they are just as good for all your sporting needs. If you do spend, make your trainers your first consideration.

Run on grass – not the treadmill

Most treadmills that you run on will have a slight springy feel to them, it’s because this puts less pressure on your joints as you run, unlike concrete. For a reasonable alternative, rather than paying for a gym membership or buying a running machine, you could try jogging on grass. Compared to hard ground it puts less pressure on your knees.  Did you know that your muscles also need to work harder when you run in long grass?

Get in to the groove – before you splash the cash

Before you decide to join a gym, try exercising outdoors and in the house. Why? If you’re not motivated enough to do it in the house or take a run in the park then you’re not likely to do it if you’re paying £50 a month. If you can carry on for a couple of weeks or a month then it may be worth considering joining a gym – unless you enjoy exercising for free.

Use a no frills gym

Puregym has experienced a large growth in the UK primarily down to its low maintenance approach and ‘pay as you go’ options. Check out http://www.payasugym.com/ and http://www.thegymgroup.com/ for locations in your area.

While the facilities and prices are good you may not get steam rooms, saunas and the other premium facilities that you may find at other chains. This is great if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a gym but want to keep fit and still be able to go when you like. If you don’t play, you don’t pay.

Consider having a short term gym membership

The profit made by most gyms comes from ‘sleeping dog’ customers. These are people who sign up for 12 or 18 months and then never go after their first few months. Whilst paying for a three month membership may seem more expensive on a per month basis, you won’t be tied in to a longer term contract which you may not use in six months time. This is a great way to test your commitment and to check if you’ve got the time to make it pay. It also gives you some flexibility in case your circumstances change.

Public swimming pools

There are council or community run facilities in most areas. Try http://www.swimming.org/poolfinder if you need help finding yours. This site also has a membership option that’s free to join and they’ll send you offers and promo codes to enjoy too. Swimming is a great way of keeping fit and if you’re on a water meter you don’t have to worry about how long you spend in the shower. Most pools advertise their public sessions online so why not give it a go.

Second hand weights – but beware of the delivery costs

Don’t pay the full RRP when you can get weights at a fraction of the cost at Craigslist, Shpock, Gumtree and Ebay. These are all prime places to find weights and other second hand gym equipment. Just remember that some items can be heavy and bulky so buy locally to avoid high delivery costs.

Use your own bodyweight

There are a range of exercises that don’t need you to buy anything. You can use your own bodyweight with push ups or planking for instance. I bet you’ve seen a few celebs post images of them bench pressing their kids too – give it a try, it’ll have you both giggling too.

Free fitness apps

There are a number of free fitness apps available that can help you keep fit. Things like step and calorie counters can help you keep track of how active you are and what you’ve been eating. There are also fitness apps which help you create a workout, aimed at saving you getting a programme drafted by a personal trainer. Have a look in your app store for ‘fitness apps’ or search within the health and fitness section. As a start take a look at Google Fit for Android, MSN Health and Fitness for Windows phone or HealthKit for iPhone. MyFitnessPal.com is also worth a mention.

Don’t forget to put any purchases you make on Ebay when you’re done with them, and make your money go round again.

5 top tips to deal with debt

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

There are many ways in which you could deal with being in debt. So we’ve pulled out five of the best tips which should help you when you’re trying to manage your finances.

 

If you’re worried about debt get financial advice

Most important of all? Get advice. If you’re uncertain or finding things difficult always seek advice. The earlier you can do it the more time you have to address any issues and potentially get out of debt quicker. There are plenty of avenues you could explore for this but make sure you use an authorised source of debt and financial advice – even if it isn’t through Harrington Brooks.

Open your mail and don’t ignore the phone

Regardless of how tough it may be don’t ignore the letters, e-mails and phone calls. Keeping track of your finances is important if you want to get them back on track. By monitoring your spending you can see where you may be overspending. You might even be getting charged more that you should be. So it’s always worth checking your bills and answering calls – as your bank may even be trying to warn you of potential fraud on your account.

Start budgeting

There are various budget planners and tools that you can use on your tablet or phone which will help you to plan your spending each month – just search in the app store. During some times of the year your budget may change (such as winter or summer). You could use any savings you make to budget on presents for Christmas or savings for a rainy day. Being in control of your finances will help you to budget better and hopefully avoid being in debt in the future. Most banks will also have a notification service that texts you if your account gets to a certain level. So it may be worth looking in to this to help you keep track of your spending.

Prioritise your debts

Some debts may seem more important than others because they shout louder than the rest. But you should be aware of which debts to pay first. Payments such as rent/ mortgage, utility bills (gas and electric) and council tax should be paid off first. By not paying these you could face serious consequences such as losing your home, having utilities cut off or even imprisonment. Then concentrate on the bills which are costing you most with interest and fees.

Create a savings buffer

The cost of some things such as fuel are getting lower. When this happens use any surplus cash you have and put it in an instant access savings account. Or if you get more cash through overtime or a windfall do the same. Having a financial buffer or savings will help you cope when there is an unexpected cost such as an MOT bill or boiler breakdown. You could even cut back on some luxuries such as takeaways and branded products to save pounds each year. If you manage to save £5 a month that’s £60 in a year saved.

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 www.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 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