Monday, 6 December 2010

Have You Ever Failed In Business?

I have. Many of my business ventures never made money. Am I a failure? Sure, It's a numbers game. On average, about 1 out of every 4 of my business ventures makes any significant money. But when it does, it's an automated income stream.

When a project turns out to be a loser, dump it and move on to another one, don't take it personally... it's all a part of the game. Keep developing different project ideas until finally you come across yet another winner.

Repeat it like a mantra: business is a numbers game. Eventually you'll hit a winner. And as you get more experienced, your ratio of winner to loser projects will improve as well.

Everybody is different, and there is nothing out there that works for everyone. "One size fits all" can surely fit, but what kind of fit will you get with it?

No business has any guarantees - entrepreneurs take risks. Sometimes they reap the rewards, other times they fail. That's the REALITY of being in business for yourself.

If you gave up after your first business failure, here’s a Proven And Tested System That Makes Money The First Week – How about a JOB? (Just Over Broke)

Those who want guarantees should take a job. As long as you keep the job, you'll get a guaranteed paycheck. "It works for anyone, pulls income within the first week, and yes, it's proven and tested". But do you want to do that? That's bad karma, you know.

To Your Success, let’s have a drink.
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Friday, 3 December 2010

Managing debt - Realistic guidance to help you manage debt

Developing an action plan to help manage debt
Once you’re in debt, getting out of it can seem like an impossible task. And yes, sticking your head in the sand might be tempting but it won't make the problem go away. Here we try to explains how to get out of debt now and make sure you manage your money in the future.

Take steps to deal with your debt
If you have any existing debts or your borrowing is getting out of control, there’s no better time to tackle this situation than right now. With an action plan and determination, being debt-free can become a reality. Follow these steps to help deal with your debt:
List your debts
The first step is to take stock of everything. Think of it as a financial M.O.T. By writing down all your debts, large and small, you can get a clearer picture of what you owe - it’s time well spent.
Prioritise your debts
Make sure you have your recent bank statements and credit card bills to hand. As you're making your list of debts, write down the interest rate you're being charged for each and then prioritise with the highest first.
Move existing debts from expensive interest rates to lower rates
Once you've worked out which debts are costing you the most, you might want to think about transferring any store cards and high-interest credit cards to lower interest credit cards or a personal loan. Just make sure you watch out for any balance transfer fees with credit cards.
Talk to your creditors
Don't put off talking to the people you owe money to - this includes your bank. They will help you, which may seem strange, but it is actually in their interest to do so. Plus, by letting them know as soon as possible that you’re struggling to make your repayments, they may be able to help you manage them better.
Check if you're better off saving or repaying your debts
Some people like to have some savings even when they’re in debt. Check whether you're actually better off saving first or whether it's better to repay your debts.

To do this, compare the interest rate you're paying on what you owe with what you stand to make on any savings. Remember, you may pay tax on the interest you earn on savings.
Consider a personal loan
One way to approach your debts could be to put them all together in a single personal loan. Not only could doing this make your repayments more manageable by spreading them out over a longer period of time, but it could also help you stay on budget. But, remember, taking out a personal loan could mean it takes longer to pay off your debt and could cost you more in the long run. You’ll also need to be sure you don't rack up any more debt while you’re paying off this loan.
Set the date
There's nothing like a deadline to help keep you on track. Once you've worked out how much debt you owe, you'll have a good idea of how long it will take you to clear that debt. Set yourself a realistic deadline and commit to paying off what you owe by then.

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Money-Saving Tips – and Some More

The three-for-two trick
Now, there's a lot to be said for buy-one-get-one-free deals, especially if they pass the 'Do I really need this?' test. Then there's three-for-twos; a particularly cynical way of stores to entice shoppers to buy an extra item they would not otherwise buy. The 'offer' is always priced into the deal so do your sums and shop around.
Saving: It's a principle at stake here
Buy clothes and presents in the sales

So you need a new suit and the one you like comes in at a cool £300. Wait! The chances are that you can pick it up in the sale – and there's always a sale just around the corner – for £150. The same applies for birthday and Christmas presents. Buy in bulk in the sales and you not only save money, but you enjoy stress-free pre-Christmases and no last-minute birthday worries. 
The Christmas lottery
Instead of trying to buy a present for every relative in your family, consider getting together beforehand and picking one name from the hat. You then buy one thoughtful gift for that one person rather than attempting to please everyone at considerable cost. Everyone gets a present, everyone saves money.
The National Lottery – it won't be you!

The odds of winning the Lotto jackpot are stacked 14m to 1 against each ticket. Some highly organised syndicates buy 14,000 tickets a week, which reduces the odds to 1,000 to 1 - but that's no guarantee of a win. For the rest of us, the difference to the odds between buying, say, 10 tickets and one is so insignificant that you should limit yourself to the one and save the extra money in a Cash mini Isa. (Individual Savings Account, a no TAX savings incentive by the UK gov’t.)
Use your Isa allowances

If you're not already aware, you can save up to £3,000 a year in a tax-free savings account called an Isa (for the more financially savvy there's also a stocks and shares Isa). It means you don't pay any tax on the interest accrued so, if you have spare cash in your current account, this is the difference between earning next to no interest and up to £150 a year.
Claim your benefits and tax credits
There was once a certain stigma in Britain attached to claiming benefits. Well, not any more. The Government has put benefits at the heart of the family budget and it's your money so make sure you're claiming it. That includes Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit  and other employee-related tax benefits.
How saving £50 a month now can save you £120 next year

Do you pay your insurance premiums by monthly instalments? If you do, then consider this: you are probably being charged a premium of between 15% and 20% for the privilege. In other words, if your home and car insurance bill for the year is £600, you're paying up to £120 a year in interest by paying monthly. If you are in a position this year to save up for next year's premiums in advance, you can save money by paying the whole lot in one go.
Do you need all those TV channels?

Britain is switching to digital-only television and time is running out for you to choose your new digital TV provider. The choice is already bewildering and with telephone-based services now being launched it's going to get more complicated. Packages range from full the monty, including every sports and movie channel costing around £50 a month, down to Freeview, which is free. Choose wisely. 
Bin the ready meals 

If TV chefs such as Ainsley Harriott can knock up a meal from a bag of random groceries including an aubergine and a packet of sultanas – so can you. Ready meals may be convenient, but preparing your own food saves money. A visit to your library will reveal scores of books dedicated to cooking proper meals in minutes. 
Take up a money-saving hobby

Hobbies not only open your mind to new experiences but they also take up your time – important if you would otherwise spend it in the pub drinking away your hard-earned money. If a painting takes 20 hours to complete, and you normally get through a pint an hour. That's a saving of a least 40 quid a picture. Think about it. Get painting. Go fishing. 
Avoid the payment protection racket

Banks and other lenders are selling expensive insurance policies to cover loan repayments to people who don't need it. Don't be a victim of the hard-sell.
Avoid extended warranties 

Electrical goods are more reliable than ever. If your new radio won't last three years perhaps it's not worth buying in the first place. Think about it: how many times has your fridge broken down in the last five years? And do you really need the hassle of claiming for repairs to a £15 toaster? 
Shop online

The internet is gradually taking over. Online grocery shopping is getting better all the time and there are plenty of comparison websites to help find the best prices for bigger items. Give it a try, unless of course you like fighting your way through supermarket crowds. 
The Citizen's Advice Bureau is your friend

If your debts are out of control please seek help immediately from your local CAB – their advisers can help you work out a sensible strategy to get you back on your feet. 
Saving: It could save your life

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Save this article or send it to a friend
Send these money-saving tips to a friend or save it for yourself for later.

Money Savings Tips – Here’s some more

Learn to say 'no'
It's easy to capitulate to the demands of a screaming child in a packed Woolworths on a Saturday afternoon. But don't do it. Similarly, how often does a 'swift half' after work turn into a £40 drinking session? Saying 'no' a few times a year will do wonders for your bank account. 
Don't pay full price for theatre or theme park tickets 
If you are prepared to tolerate the unwieldy website and hit-and-miss customer service, regularly boasts some amazing deals for London's theatres and the nation's theme parks. At the time of writing you can see top West End show The Producers plus a two-course meal for less than £20 a head, a saving of £60 per person, and tickets for Chessington World of Adventures cost from £12, a saving of nearly £50 for a day out for a family of four. 
Beat the ticket touts

Ticket touts earn their living by getting hold of tickets that are 'otherwise unavailable'. Well, here's the news: they are available to everyone when they first go on sale. You just need to know when they go on sale. Simply sign up to for the free ticket alert newsletters from the main agents to ensure that you're first in the queue. 
Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses

Trying to keep up appearances is little more than a costly illness. Remember, you cannot judge someone by what they have because you don't know how they got it. Chances are they're in more debt than you are. 
Trade down your car

So, you bought an American sports utility vehicle (SUV) that nets 15 miles to the gallon on a whim. Obviously we're all very impressed – especially by the personalised number plate. But can you honestly justify the ongoing expense? If not, get rid of it. Then visit a car supermarket, where you can choose from thousands of cars at knock-down prices. If you're a true money saver, consider an ex-rental model which you can pick up for a fraction of the cost of a new one. 
Ask yourself: do I really need this? 

Imagine the scenario. It's lunchtime and you've got an hour to kill. You find yourself in a department store and there's a sale on. You pick up a beautifully packaged selection of barbecue tools and associated garden paraphernalia. And it's half price. Now, stop! Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Exactly. Now, put it down and walk away.
Walk/cycle to the station/work

It maybe a bit of hippie notion to many people but it's free. 
Get off the station before your usual stop and walk

We may be creatures of habit but isn't it worth tinkering with the routine if it's costing more than £50 a month in unnecessary fares?
Cut down your drinking

A few beers after work a few nights a week is a financially debilitating state of affairs. Set limits and stick to them.
Pack up smoking

Never mind the health implications, the guilt and the smell, your 20-a-day habit is costing you nearly £2,000 a year. Pack it in.
Cancel your gym membership

If you pay your £40 a month by direct debit and you use the gym three times a week, great. If not, cancel your membership immediately. You'll soon save enough to buy your own bike and, if you're so inclined, a rowing machine. Consider running home from work three times a week. It's free. 
Use your library

The local library is a mecca for the money saver. You'll never need to buy another cookbook, guidebook or lifestyle manual again and if you can bear to wait a few weeks in the queue for the latest blockbuster, you never need to buy books again. CDs and videos are great value too. 

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Money-Saving Tips – Here’s more part 1

Sell your clutter on eBay
Take this quick test: You're at home. Open a cupboard. Look inside. If it's full of clothes you haven't worn, or 'good ideas a the time' you haven't used, for, let's say, three years - you don't need them. So why not sell them to someone else who does? Ebay, the online auction house, has opened individual sellers to a world of buyers. And you can flog anything for the cost of a small commission. Tip: you may want to buy a few items first to build up your rating as a respectable eBayer before you start selling. 
Use your talent to earn extra cash
Let's face it, if you're not a pop star by the time you reach your 20s you're never going to be. But you may be able to use your talent as a guitarist to teach other wannabes the rudiments of the 12-bar blues. 
Income: It's not unreasonable to charge £20 an hour

Do DIY (Do It Yourself)
We're a nation of obsessive DIYers and for around £100 you can take a course at your local adult education college to improve the skills needed to tackle most household repairs. If the college runs plumbing courses you could soon be on track to wiping out costly call-out charges and extra insurance policies once and for all.
Shop around for the cheapest household insurance

Unless you drive – car insurance is mandatory - you don't need insurance. But it's strongly advisable. Can you afford to foot the bill if your house burns down? Probably not. Similarly, can you afford to pay over the odds for the same policy available elsewhere because you can't be bothered to shop around? Possibly, but it's not advisable. The internet has made finding cheaper insurance easy and you can compare hundreds of policies in minutes.

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Don't automatically renew annual travel insurance
If your annual holiday insurance policy is about to expire and you don't have a holiday booked, DON'T renew the policy. You're handing your money over to cover an eventuality that won't happen. You wouldn't have car insurance if you didn't own a car. Simply restart the cover again the next time you book a trip. 
Choose cheaper breakdown insurance

The breakdown sector is dominated by big names such as the AA and RAC. But being towed home if your car breaks down is just another form of insurance like any other and there are scores of cheaper alternatives. 
Are you paying too much for your life insurance? 

We're living longer. As a result the cost of insuring the unthinkable is getting cheaper all the time. If you were sold a policy when you took out or mortgage you may have been under too much stress to shop around. You could be missing a trick.

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Book Early Low-cost airlines have created a market in holidays for people prepared to fly to any destination provided it's cheap. You can benefit from this too. Just remember, only a few seats on each flight are sold at bargain-basement prices and once they're sold, the prices rise. So book early.
Book your own 'package' holiday online

The popularity of High Street travel agents is waning as more and more people warm to the benefits of researching and putting together their own holidays on the internet. If your holiday consists of flights, accommodation, transfers and possibly car hire, then take this test. Order a brochure from a leading holiday company and work out the price of your holiday including all the complicated supplements. Now go online and, starting with the flights, try to put the same package together. 

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Money-Savings Tips - Top 10

Money Saving Tips – Top 10
There are plenty of simple ways to make significant savings on your regular spending that could clear the debt many times over in less than a year.
Here are top 10 money-saving tips.
1. Change your attitude to your mortgage
The most expensive item you are ever likely to buy is your home. If you're not in the privileged position to pay cash, make sure the loan you use to finance it is the best available. For example, if you are paying your lender's full standard variable rate (SVR) you are probably paying hundreds of pounds a year more than you need to.

There are thousands of deals to choose from and while it is vital to check the small print for hidden catches, this is a relatively easy way to save a lot of money. Remember: loyalty to your bank benefits your bank, not you. Even better, if you can afford to make overpayments on your mortgage, you'll clear your debt several years early and make massive savings. For example, if you borrow £100,000 at 6% over 25 years, you'll pay it back at £643 a month. The total charge for credit will be £93,000. But if you can overpay by £100 a month you'll clear the loan in less than 19 years, giving you 6 years of mortgage-free living and saving a staggering £25,000 in interest. 
2. Clear your credit card debt

One of the golden rules of financial planning is to clear your most expensive debts first, in other words your credit cards. OK, credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for goods and services but if you can't clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative. Do the sums: a credit card debt (APR15%) of £2,200 over three years will cost £545 in interest. A loan at 6% will cost £209. A saving of £336.
3. Cut the cost of your fuel bills 

As the global demand for power threatens to outstrip supply, prices are rising. But that doesn't mean you need to be ripped off. The domestic market for fuel is a competitive one and you can change supplier with a few clicks of the mouse. Your new supplier will take care of the formalities - you just pay less every month. 
4. Consider installing a water meter

We take our tap water for granted. And why not? The companies behind the supply exist to make a profit, we pay them to supply water and have every right to expect it to flow from our taps. But if it doesn't rain, supply runs dry and the price goes up. So you may want to consider the possibility of installing a meter. If you have a big home with few occupants you may be surprised to learn you could halve your annual bill. 
5. Cut your home phone bills 

BT may seem to behave like a monopoly but it most definitely is not one. If you must use your phone there are scores of cheaper alternatives from cable companies that package your telephone, television and even broadband internet access to low-cost dial-up services that give you access to cheaper calls using your existing BT line. 
6. Consider a pay-as-you go mobile

Ask yourself this: is your mobile phone absolutely necessary? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself whether you really need all those minutes and texts that come as part of your package. If you hand over £50 a month to your mobile phone company, that's £600 a year – or around £1,000 of your gross salary. But you can buy a pay-as-you-go phone for as little as £30 and only pay for the odd call as and when you need to. 
7. Make a shopping list

Food shopping forms a significant part of our monthly outgoings and the supermarket is where the bulk of the money is spent. Tesco takes £1 in every £8 spent by UK shoppers. But be warned, stores spend a small fortune studying ways of making us part with more of our money than we would otherwise intend to. Have you ever wondered why your favourite song is playing in the background as you navigate the aisles? Have you even noticed the background music? Possibly not, but you will have noticed at the checkout that the bill is often more than expected. To circumvent this, simply make a shopping list. Dig out the cookery books, plan a few meals and only buy what you need.
8. When was the last time you went to the market? 

One way to beat the supermarkets - that is, to eat healthily for less - is to use your local market stall. Lower overheads should mean lower prices. At the time of writing, cherries were on sale in Asda for £2.99 for 400g, the equivalent at the local market was going for just over £1. 
9. Consider own-brand goods

You can buy a tin of Asda own-brand baked beans for 14p and a loaf bread at Asda, Tesco or Sainsbury's for 19p. Enough said. 
10. Don't buy designer labels

Celebrities are given expensive clothes to wear. You're not. At the end of the day, and let's face it you may only wear the outfit once, can you justify paying hundreds of pounds over the odds because a top designer has had his or her name sewn on the label? And can you honestly say you can tell the difference at a distance between a £600 designer bag and a £9.99 one from the market? Think about it.

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Bank Account - What is it?

Bank accounts are designed to suit your day-to-day needs. This type of account is ideal for handling regular income such as your salary and any benefits you might receive. It also lets you manage your outgoings, e.g. paying bills.

There are various types of bank accounts, so you need to look at your financial needs and habits to make sure you choose the one that's right for you.
The following are the typical accounts:
Basic Accounts
Added Value Accounts
Accounts for Young people
Student Accounts
Graduate AccountJoint Accounts
Accounts to meet your religious needs
What should I look for when choosing a bank account?
It really depends on what you need but there’s a bank account out there for everyone. A good way to work out the one that's right for you is to think about how you’ll use your account and what you need it to do.

When looking for your bank account, compare the following:
Interest rates
Different banks and types of bank accounts offer different interest rates. Find out the rate and how long it will last. An introductory rate may sound good but might not last long.
Overdraft facility
It can be useful to have a safety net in case the unexpected happens. Different accounts will have differently sized overdrafts available. It’s worth remembering, though, that interest rates on an overdraft are usually higher than those for personal loans.  Remember to watch for any fees if you go over your agreed overdraft limit, and check the terms and conditions for interest rates and charges.
We all get caught out from time to time with an unexpected bill or expense or if we don't receive an expected payment on time. If you're worried this might happen, make sure you find out if there are any charges that will apply if you do go overdrawn or over your agreed overdraft limit.

Some accounts even charge for paying on your debit card, cash withdrawals, standing orders and direct debits, so it’s worth finding this out in advance as you could be stuck paying a fee you hadn't expected.
Features and benefits
For a monthly fee, some banks offer a range of added value or packaged accounts that give you access to certain features and benefits. These can include things like mobile phone and travel insurance, car breakdown cover and card protection. Before you choose an account, ask yourself if you’d make the most of any of these benefits. In many cases, the value of the different benefits will far outweigh the cost of the fee.

Student accounts are well known for offering freebies. Just work out if their benefit is worthwhile, or whether you really need them anyway.
Sometimes you might need money quickly, and swapping money from one account to another could prove more complicated than you expected. Check how easy it will be to transfer money and how long it will take, particularly if you are making transfers between accounts held with different banks.
Customer service
Your bank needs to be available when and in a way that suits you. That may mean a 24-hour phone service, a local branch where you can speak to someone in person, online or mobile banking.
For the times when you do need to see someone in person, it’s a good idea to make sure there's a branch near you, whether that’s near home or work.
Cash machines
Although it’s usually free, it’s worth finding out if you will get charged to take out your money from a cash machine. Some machines may charge you, but they will always tell you and give you the option to cancel without charge. You should also check where you can use your card as some banks only let you withdraw cash at certain cash machines.
Your money abroad
Some banks charge you to use cash machines abroad, so you should think about alternative ways of making sure you have access to cash when you're abroad. On a short trip, you might want to take all your money as cash (but always keep it secure). For longer stays, travellers' cheques might be a better option.
New to the UK
If you’re moving to the UK or have just moved, you may find it’s easier to have a UK-based account. There are accounts designed with you in mind, with specific features that you’ll benefit from while you’re here. Some banks may also offer you 0% on currency exchanges.

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Family money: How to manage it and how to protect it

Your children
Raising a family can be one of the most satisfying things you do in life, but it’s never easy. One of the biggest challenges you'll face is trying to keep your family finances on an even keel. Here are some key issues you should consider when preparing your children for their future, protecting your partner and your home, and taking care of your parents.
Financial planning for your children's future
Taking your children on the journey from birth to the age of 21 is going to be expensive. In fact, it’s estimated that it costs a family an average of £194,000 along the way – including an average of £53,818 spent on childcare and £50,240 on a state education and a typical three-year university degree course (source: Liverpool Victoria 2009).

So, whether it's a new computer, tuition fees for university, a wedding or even a helping hand onto the property ladder, there are going to be some big expenses along the way. However, by thinking about each stage now, you can start planning and saving on a long-term basis.
Child benefit and tax credit
First things first. Are you claiming child benefit? Most parents are entitled to tax-free payments of £20.00 a week for the eldest child and £13.20 for each additional child. Make sure you claim as soon as your child is born – there’s usually a claim form in the ‘Bounty Packs’ that are given out on maternity wards. You may also be eligible for the Child Tax Credit scheme. This is a means-tested benefit for parents and those responsible for a child under 16.
Child Trust Fund
This is a government scheme designed to give children a head start in later life by offering you a tax-efficient way to invest in their future. Anyone can contribute up to a combined maximum of £1,200 a year. Every child born on or after 1 September 2002 is eligible for a voucher of at least £250 from the Government to open an account under its Child Trust Fund scheme (this amount increases to £500 if your family income is less than £13,480 a year).

When your child is given a great start like this, you’ll naturally want to put it to good use. Soon after you register for Child Benefit, the Government will send your child’s £250 Child Trust Fund voucher. Once you've received this voucher, you can apply to open your child’s Child Trust Fund account.

As soon as your account is opened, the voucher will be invested on your child's behalf and you can start contributing to the account to help save for your child's future. Once your child reaches 18, they will be able to access the investment. However, remember that like any investment, the value of this investment is not guaranteed and can go down as well as up.
Early years
All three- and four-year-olds are currently entitled to 12.5 hours of free education a week for 38 weeks of the year with a ‘registered provider’ such as a school, nursery playgroup or child minder (this will rise to 15 hours in 2010).
Childcare options
If you go back to work, you’re probably going to need to arrange childcare – make sure you always check references and qualifications of anyone who might be responsible for your child.

Here’s a breakdown of the services available and what they may cost you:

Nursery care
Many nurseries are only open during school term times. The average weekly cost in England for a child under two is £167, amounting to £8,684 a year for full-time care (source: Daycare Trust 2009).

This is usually the most flexible type of childcare. The average weekly cost in England for a child under two is £156 a week, amounting to over £8,000 a year (source: Daycare Trust 2009).

Daily nanny
This can be an expensive option, and, as you’ll be the employer, you’re responsible for paying National Insurance contributions and holiday entitlement. Expect to pay between £334 and £449 a week, including tax, depending on where you live, amounting to around £17,000 to £23,300 a year (these figures assume you're paying over 52 weeks).

Because of the tax and other deductions that are taken out of your pay, this would be equivalent to between £22,500 and £31,200 of your salary, depending on the rate of income tax you pay (source: Nursery World Salary Survey 2008).  You could consider sharing a nanny with other parents to reduce costs.

Childcare vouchers
When you go back to work, ask your employer about Childcare Vouchers. If your employer is in the Childcare Voucher scheme, you can buy the vouchers out of your pre-tax income. So, as a basic rate taxpayer, you could buy £1,000 worth of vouchers for about £700 – but be careful, they can affect your entitlement to tax credits.
Going back to work
As working parents, mothers and fathers are entitled to parental leave – a maximum of 13 weeks for every child up to the child’s fifth birthday, although your employer isn’t obliged to pay you when you take it. But your rights don’t stop at taking leave – you could also be entitled to the following:

Flexible working
You have the right to ask for a flexible working pattern while your child is under six or, if your child is disabled, up to the age of 18. Under the law, your employer is obliged to take your request seriously.

Working Tax Credit
If you work for 16 hours or more a week, you may qualify for Working Tax Credit, which is a credit payment for low earners. What’s more, you could reclaim up to 80% of your childcare costs.
Finding more room for a growing family
As your family grows, your living space might need to grow to keep everybody happy.

Buying for the first time
With a growing family, it may make sense to get on the property ladder and buy your own place.

As a rough guide, it costs 30% more to get an extra room when you move from a one to a two bedroom house, 33% more to move from a two to a three bedroom house and 49% more to move from a three to a four bedroom house (quoted from, June 2008). You also need to take into account the costs of buying and selling – such as estate agent fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax and moving costs.

Staying put
Instead of moving, you could extend your home or make some home improvements. Adding an extra room can increase the value of your property by £25,590. A new kitchen can add £7,666 and a loft conversion can add as much as £24,981 (source: Halifax, 2009). A further advance on your existing mortgage or a personal loan could fund this, which might be more affordable than moving home.

Saving for a move or extension
If you’re thinking of moving or building an extension, the sooner you start saving, the better.

If you’re saving for the shorter term, think about opening a Cash ISA. It’s a good idea to set up a standing order that automatically transfers money between your accounts. That way, you won't have to remember to make a transfer every month. By setting aside money every month, you’ll soon start to see a lump sum building up.

If you’re saving to move in more than a few years’ time, a Stocks and Shares ISA could be more suitable. It can be a tax-efficient investment, and, in the long term, stocks and shares usually produce a better return than a savings account.

If you choose a stocks and shares ISA, remember the value of your investment is not guaranteed and can go up and down depending on investment performance and currency exchange rates where a fund invests overseas. You might get back less than you’ve invested and there may be charges for early encashment. The information is based on current tax law and regulation and the value of any tax advantages will depend on your personal circumstances that may change. Tax rules can also change.
Beyond school
If you’re thinking about further education for your children, it’s best to start planning for it well in advance. Even with the most careful budgeting, students who started university in 2008 can expect to accumulate an average debt of over £17,500 by the time they graduate (source: Creditaction 2009).

Funding a student through a three-year university course costs over £34,000 (source: Liverpool Victoria, 2009).  But the good news is that graduates can earn substantially more than people without a degree. Over a working lifetime, the difference is estimated at around £100,000 (source: Directgov 2009). So, by saving for your children’s education as early as possible, you’ll help to ensure they get the best possible start in life.
More ways to save
Most banks offer a young savers account that you can open for young children in their name. It’s a great gift for your children, since it not only shows them the value of saving money but also gives them a head start on the road to financial security. You could even use it to set aside a regular amount for your children each month.
Teaching children money sense
Your child's education doesn't stop with what they learn in school. You need to help them learn how to cope with real-world problems, the main one being how to manage money. By showing them the value of good money habits while they're still under your care, you'll prepare them for the challenges and responsibilities they'll face along the way to independence.

Managing a budget
Getting pocket money can start children on the road to understanding the value of money. It teaches them whether to spend it all right away or save up for something special.

Pocketing the right amount
How much pocket money should you give them? According to research, the pocket money average in 2008 was £6.13 a week for 8 to 15-year-olds (source: Halifax 2009).

Encouraging children to earn their money
Earning some money from an early age can help build self-esteem and develop a sense of value. Think about asking your children to help with chores in return for pocket money – or suggest they get a paper round (it will keep them fit, as well!).

Sticking to the rules
Most children have a strong sense of what’s fair, so make sure you’re clear about what the pocket money is supposed to cover – it will also teach them something about budgeting. If you expect them to pay their way when they go out with friends, then say so upfront.

Paying their way
As children get older, the things they want, like new trainers or jeans, tend to get more expensive. By asking them for a contribution towards the cost of the things they want, you'll teach them about the cost of living and help them appreciate what they buy.

You should also get young drivers to pay their own motor insurance. Yes, it's expensive, but it’s better in the long run for your children to insure themselves and start building up their own no-claims bonus.

Spending their own money
For older children, part of growing up is the sense of achievement from being able to buy the rest of the family presents and shopping for themselves.

Making sure there’s payback time
If your children need to borrow money from you, make sure they pay it back. It helps them to learn about what they can and can’t afford. It can also teach them to control debt when they're out in the real world, managing their own money.
Encouraging children to have financial responsibility
Teaching children to save early on helps them understand the importance of taking personal responsibility. It can be as simple as starting them off with a piggy bank or a money box and encouraging them to put something away on a regular basis. Here are a few ways you can instill good financial habits in your children:

Saving for small savers
Many banks offer children under 16 their own savings account. These usually come with a competitive rate of interest that can be paid tax-free.

Bank accounts for children and young adults
As children grow up, there are bank accounts specifically designed for them. These accounts usually come with cash machine and debit cards, but don’t allow children to go overdrawn so they can learn about handling a current account without the risk of running up debt.

Planning for university
Once they’ve got that university place, it’s time to open a student account. Most student accounts offer an overdraft facility, a debit card and, subject to circumstances, a credit card to help them balance their finances.

Investment in a Child Trust Fund
A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a way to invest for your child’s future. There are different types of Child Trust Funds, including a cash deposit account and one that invests in stocks and shares. If you can afford to, keep topping it up – you, your family and friends can add a maximum of £1,200 a year between you (see 'Your children' in this guide for more details on Child Trust Funds).
Promoting good online habits
Make sure your children follow good online security practices. When they create a password for an email account or other online activities, make sure they choose one with a minimum of eight characters, in a combination of letters and numbers. And don't let them use a login name or obvious names or words such as 'Password' or 'Secret'.

Also, encourage them to shop around for the best deals by pointing them towards price comparison sites.
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Student banking – advice to control your finances

As a student, a great way to control your finances is to get as much advice and support as possible. Of course, that means talking money and bank accounts, but it also means looking at your lifestyle, too.
There are so many different bank accounts and financial products available, it can be difficult to know the best one to pick when you're a student. Here are some things you should look out for:

Student accounts:
 These bank accounts are specifically designed for students, so often include an interest-free overdraft. They also commonly include gifts or discounts for things that students use a lot or just like. But it's important to also look beyond the freebies.

Credit cards:
 These can be a convenient way to manage your money when used appropriately. There's usually an interest free period, so if you can pay them off every month, that's great. They can also help spread the cost of expensive items.

 If you take out more money from your current account than you actually have in it, you will become overdrawn. If this happens and you do not have an overdraft facility on your account, you may be charged a fee. This is usually referred to as an unauthorised overdraft.

However, if your account has an overdraft facility on it, then you can agree an overdraft limit in advance with your bank. This authorised limit or agreed overdraft is the maximum amount you can take out, over and above what's already in your account.

As with an unauthorised overdraft, if you exceed your authorised limit, you may be charged a fee. Likewise, while your account is overdrawn, you'll usually be charged a set amount of interest on the amount you have borrowed until you pay it back. However, an agreed overdraft may give you some financial flexibility, so it's useful to have. Just make sure you stay within your agreed limit. Plus, with the mobile banking services offered by most banks today, you can set yourself upper and lower limits on your current account. When you reach these, you’ll be notified with a text alert, which could help you stay within your agreed overdraft limit.

Check your balance regularly:
 These days, banks offer you a wide variety of ways to check your balance, which can really help you stay on top of your finances. It’s worth checking if your bank offers ways for you to manage your money such as online, by phone or even via your mobile. Plus, you can check your balance at a Cashpoint ® machine, at the local branch of your bank or even the Post Office ®.
Good debt and bad debt
With the advent of government-sponsored debt in the form of student loans, it is now common for most students to have some debt. But the real danger of this is that students might begin to view all debts as the same, when in fact they aren't. That's why it's important to understand what's meant by the terms 'good debt' and 'bad debt'.

A good debt might include something like a student loan because the interest is so low, e.g. 1.5% p.a. Obviously, no one wants to be in debt, but with loans such as these, remember that you are investing in your future.

Bad debt is the kind you get with high interest loans or store cards where the interest could be anywhere from around 5% up to 30% a year. Don’t forget, if you have a credit card and you pay your balance off before the required date, you won’t be charged interest. Most credit cards offer up to 56 days interest-free, so check with your provider to find out how many days you'll receive.
Student loans
Student loans are among the cheapest form of long-term borrowing available. There are two different types of student loan. One covers tuition fees; the other is for help towards day-to-day living costs such as rent and travel. All eligible students can get the full Student Loan for Tuition Fees, and at least a partial Student Loan for Maintenance, regardless of their household income.

However, this changes depending on where you live, so it’s worth looking at the 'Related links' section on the right side of this page to find out how you’ll be affected. For example, if you’re fortunate enough to be Scottish and studying in Scotland, you don’t need to worry about tuition fees as you don’t pay them. And, if you're from England or Wales but studying in Scotland, your fees will be cheaper.

Remember that you won't have to start repaying student loans until you've left university and are earning more than £15,000 before deductions.
Graduate accounts
These are designed to ease you into your working life by still giving you student conditions, such as an interest-free overdraft, but phasing it out slowly as you begin to earn.

When trying to choose a graduate account, an important factor to consider is the length of time you'll be able to use the interest-free overdraft. This outweighs the introductory bonuses. And, make sure you think carefully before opting for a fee-paying graduate account that claims to give you ‘better’ interest-free overdraft deals. It may work out more expensive to pay a monthly fee, usually around £5-£10, than the no-fee accounts with the best 0% overdraft conditions. The exception is if you think you’ll use the additional benefits and that they are worth the extra cost.

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