Summer has arrived, and so it’s time to grab yourself a great holiday deal and get away from it all for a week or two. There’s a whole host of stunning places to visit, from Cretan sunshine to Provencal relaxation you can unwind in luxury and comfort this summer. Just take a look at our blog below to see more.
Ever popular, the island of Crete is the largest of the Greek isles and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean. With stunning sunshine and golden coasts it’s not hard to see why it’s a sure-fire hit with holidaymakers; whether you’re a family, a couple, or going solo you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more on the island. The best way to experience the island at your own pace – which, after all, is exactly what you want, is to book a villa with Freelance Holidays (www.freelance-holidays.co.uk/). With great rates and nearly three decades of specialising in Cretan and Mediterranean villa rentals it really is the best way to take in everything the island has to offer. That includes the stunning botanical gardens, the history museum in the capital Heraklion, and the world famous Aquaworld Aquarium (www.aquaworld-crete.com).
The south of France is stunning all year round, but in the heat of the summer sunshine it is truly in a class of its own. Steeped in history and bathed in golden sun it’s the perfect escape to the continent. Leave behind your prefab meals and whisk yourself away to the glorious colour of the Provencal market, and swap that £5 bottle of plonk for some of the most exquisite wines amidst the vineyards. Famed for its luxury and opulence, you may think that leaving a holiday to Provence this late to book will have cost you your chance, but with a little digging there’s some great offers to be had. Check out Affinity Villas France (www.affinity-holidays-france.com/last-minute-deals) to get between 6-10 nights for up to 8 people for between 1400-2000 euros! With such fantastic deals available you can still enjoy the Provencal sunshine in a matter of weeks!
Tuscany is renowned for its popularity with tourists, but has successfully avoided becoming saturated over the years. Its popularity has not affected its local charm or historical roots, and with a week or two there it’s easy to see why Tuscany is just so popular. The Guardian has a great travel page detailing some of the best places to visit and things to do in Tuscany (www.guardian.co.uk/travel/tuscany), but regardless of your choices you simply must visit the Duomo – the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. No matter how you see Florence, the Tuscan capital, you’ll never have seen it like this; overlooking the entire city as the sun is just beginning to set is one of the most beautiful vistas you will ever be likely to encounter. To book your Tuscan retreat, head to To Tuscany (www.to-tuscany.com) for the very best in specialist advice and local knowledge in combination with some great prices. There’s over 400 to choose from so you’re sure to find something to your taste!
Get away from it all this summer with a holiday so far removed from the hustle and bustle you’ll never want to leave. Crete, Provence and Tuscany are all waiting for you to show you just what surprises await, so book your holiday today and you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been accused of being a work-o-holic. Truth be told I just enjoy travelling with my work. After a good few trips away, leaving the home and dog behind, I’ve learnt that nothing helps you focus on the job better than knowing all of your home life is taken care of. Having the opportunity to shoot off abroad at a few days notice requires a safety net for other aspects of life.
Speaking from personal experience, taking precautionary measures to protect your hard earned belongings is essential for peace of mind. The last thing you need is to be worried about returning home to a turned over mess with half of your belongings missing. It is well worth investing in a decent security system. An alarm that alerts the Police and other key holders is enough for me although the company I went with go as far as CCTV installation. You can find the company I used at http://www.247securitysolutions.co.uk/cctv.php and they can better inform you of the kind of system your home might need. Also making sure friends and neighbours have a spare set of keys to pop by occasionally to either water plants or just to check everything is fine can be just as effective as an alarm system.
Having home and content insurance is a necessity. There is nothing more effective for your peace of mind to know you’re covered for almost any eventuality. You can’t predict the future, so you should insure against it. I suggest looking on http://www.comparethemarket.com/home-insurance/ for buildings and contents insurance. Having insurance can really make it easier to clear worry from your mind. Although the idea of replacing those items of sentimental value isn’t much better it does help to know deep down that they will fulfil the same purpose.
If you’re lucky enough to have family in the local area, they may pop into the house regularly and have a quick tidy and a clean if you’re on an extended trip. If you are truly living solo like me then I employ a firm to have a quick clean before I return home. The last things I want to do is get the duster and vacuum cleaner out after an 8 hour journey home. I use a local firm in my area and have become a vital part of my return home relaxation ritual. Check out their website: http://www.heavenscentcleaning.co.uk/
Last but not least, making sure your pet is taken care of is of is another thing to worry about for those with pets. Living on my own, my dog is the closest thing to family I have to rant to at the end of a tough working week. I don’t like the idea of abandoning him for days at a time while I’m called away on business trips. Again for both mine and my dogs peace of mind I use a local company to dog sit Harold while I’m away. Take a look at their website: http://www.petstay.net/ He’s always much more receptive and happier on my arrival home after he’s been properly looked after in my absence.
Taking a few measures while you’re away from home whether it’s on holiday or away on business can make the trip a lot easier. Hence the classic quote: ‘Fail to plan, and you plan to fail!’
I recently had a really nasty surprise when my annual car insurance renewal came through the post. Despite not having had a crash or windscreen repair, my car insurance had leapt up by £170 over last years’ policy premium. Over the last few years I hadn’t bothered to check if there was anyone who could provide cover for less because the premium was about the same as the previous year. This time however, I went on some of the online comparison sites, confused.com and compare the market.com (or as I prefer to call them, compare-the-confused-meerkat.com) and found a quote that was cheaper than last year. Result!
Having realised a good saving on car insurance was possible I decided to do the same for the home and contents insurance. This is where I came a little unstuck. I had no idea how much there was to filling out all the details – especially where house contents were concerned. I found a useful guide to contents insurance on The Home Insurance Guide website which highlighted some important considerations; although it was a little light on detail when discussing item valuation. Thankfully, Chris Knott has put a useful valuation tool online which helps you total the value of the contents of every room of the house. I’d recommend you check it out if you are about to get a quote for home contents insurance.
Whilst going from room to room I had realised I had made a serious omission from the previous contents insurance policy. I had not listed my Rolex Submariner watch as a separate item of value. It is important to get items like this included as a separate item on the contents policy. Not listing them can mean that they do not get full replacement value if the worst were to happen.
Getting an accurate value for my Rolex wasn’t as simple as just writing down what the new cost would be. Many quality items increase in value over time and watches are no exception. I paid a visit to my local quality watch service and repair agent, Martins of Glasgow. They’re not an ordinary high street jeweller, they offer servicing and repairs for quality time pieces like Rolex and Breitling. Not only did they provide me with a valuation for my watch, in the short time that they had the watch they gave it a free clean and polish up. It is absolutely pristine now.
I have taken photographs and submitted them to the insurance company along with serial numbers so that my watch is covered. Although I’ve added several items to the policy for special cover I’ve still ended up saving money on last year’s home insurance policy, so the couple of hours spent working it all out has paid off.
From now on I’m never going to assume that my policy renewal is probably a competitive one. It seems that the insurance companies offer great prices to new customers, but don’t bother so much with their existing customers. It seems loyalty doesn’t pay; in future I’m going to check around each year and make sure that I’m getting the best value for money on all my insurance.
Every now and again we all hit a money crisis at the worst possible time or when it is least convenient. I recently was buying an outfit online for my upcoming graduation and when I was proceeding to the check out my transaction failed! Confused as to why this was, for I was certain there was money in my account, a direct debit for an electricity bill had gone out and took ALL of my money as well as kindly sending me into an unplanned overdraft. Unplanned overdraft charges are ridiculous these days charging you anything from £5-£50 a day for your misfortune. It was all very traumatic at the time it happened, and I needed graduation clothes! When my friend suggested a money lending website Speedy Dosh, (click here for site) which give me money there and then, saving me from my unplanned overdraft AND giving me the money for my lovely graduation outfit! I was always somewhat dubious to lending money from these websites but Speedy Dosh was great and just took the money back on my next payday! A win-win situation some would say and I would agree. I thought I’d put together some advantages of this handy way to get money as well as some tips on how to do it without breaking the bank completely if careless!
- The money comes almost instantly. If you have an emergency and need money urgently this is the fastest way you will get money you don’t have but need. It does not take long for the money to be transferred to your account and it can literally save the day! In my case an unplanned overdraft is not something I could afford, especially not with the charges and by lending the money it pulled me out of the overdraft before any drastic charges were applied. Paying back the interest on the money I loaned was much less that what the total overdraft costs would have amounted to before my next payday.
- Choose wisely. Money lending websites are becoming extremely popular and there are a lot to choose from. Unfortunately there are people in the world who are going to scam you and take back far more than it’s worth to loan the money from them in the first place. I chose Speedy Dosh because their policy and terms were clear and the interest rate was much lower than some of the more popular websites. Be sure to shop around, read all their terms and conditions fully before making any decisions. If you don’t choose wisely you could end up with thousands of pounds of debt to these companies, making you far worse off than you were in the first place.
- No one needs to know. For some people, admitting that you’re stuck for cash and need a helping hand can be embarrassing, and by using a money lending website no one needs to know! This means no embarrassing phone calls to friends or family to ask for money, even though they know you only got paid a week or two ago. Everyone overspends, or spends on something they shouldn’t have now and again, but if we all didn’t get to treat ourselves once in a while we would all be miserable! Sometimes, people not knowing that you are having money problems are for the better, and it’s a knock to your pride you don’t need.
- Only loan what you can pay back. If you take a loan from a money lending website, knowing that you will not be able to pay it back is not a good idea. This only get’s you in more debt in the long run, and it will get out of control. When choosing the amount you are going to lend, ensure that your next pay check will cover it, and still leave you with money to get by for that week/month. DO NOT get carried away and lend more than you can give back. This is without a doubt the most important thing to remember when borrowing money from anywhere or anyone!
There is nothing wrong with borrowing/loaning money now and again just do not get carried away, and always be sure that you can pay it back. Click here for seven tips on borrowing money which give me a little more knowledge of the whole borrowing money topic or click here for a professional input and information on borrowing money from Citizens Advice. Borrowing money is not something to be ashamed off, we all need a little help now and again and especially for those of us who needed that perfect outfit for their graduation!
If you run any type of business hopefully you can understand how important it is to be able to manage finances effectively and how to make your budget last as long as possible – this is the ultimate goal. How businesses succeed financially is measured by the process of creating, moving and using money which affects growth. The impact finance has on businesses directly effects the productivity it can benefit from.
Managing money is crucial for every organization. From basic budgeting to complex bookkeeping it’s important to have the necessary people handling your accounts which is why many companies tend to outsource. Many businesses simply do not have the time and detailed knowledge to balance their expenditure so they look into resources like accountants and accountancy software to take the strain away.
According to a report I read in Accenture, the benefits of outsourcing are extremely positive for high performing businesses and it’s these benefits that allow more time for things like development on strategies. So for example, a commercial business owner may choose to look into accounting software services from the likes of Legal Accounts as its systems like Cloud software that can really speed matters of accounting up. People want to invest their time and develop on other areas rather than spending too much time on bookkeeping.
The advantages of using web based accountancy software are invaluable so here is a useful video which explains exactly what Cloud software is and how it would benefit your business as a web based accounting tool.
Finances can sometimes feel like the be all and end all of modern-day living as exchanging currency is what makes the world go round. Our lives are ever changing and there is an awful lot of responsibility involved to keep things in order – more importantly, to keep them running smoothly. Once we grow into adults, with this comes financial responsibilities like paying rent, bills and buying food but at a cost. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ which is true if you’re not rich and famous. So in order to plan ahead and minimize the stress that money can cause it’s crucial to introduce budgeting for each monthly pay day. Most people are paid monthly, but this is not the only payment arrangement that employers use – recruitment agencies tend to pay their staff weekly, whereas retail and cleaning work may involve a fortnightly pay packet.
For those who are paid monthly, it can seem like a mile away from the next amount of cash arriving into your bank account, especially for people who do not budget. I personally have never been any good at saving money and tend to adopt a ‘spend not save’ attitude. If like me you are a spender, there are some steps you can take to improve your financial circumstances which are bound to benefit your lifestyle, at least until next pay day arrives…
- Open a savings account. Although saving money each month might feel like you’re not working for much to spend on yourself, savings are actually an ideal safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances like if you’re boiler breaks, your car needs servicing or if you’re gas bill is higher than you anticipated – these are all valid examples of when you might need to dip into your savings. It may feel difficult if you’re not used to saving what you earn, but as time goes on you will adjust to putting aside a little each month. Have a look at this article on e-how which tells you the types of savings accounts you can choose from these days.
- List, list, list. Keeping a regular list of the things that need to take priority will not only help you to feel more organized but this will also put your mind at ease. Watch as those ticks add up and have the satisfaction of knowing that you have stuck to your plan each month. Having a list also allows you to think of the bigger picture and visualise those ‘big ticket’ items that you are working hard to save up for.
- If you struggle to budget, don’t panic. There are specialised money lending companies like Speedy Dosh for example, that can provide short term loans for those in a financial crisis. Often paying bills off sooner rather than later or having that extra £50 to help you travel to work can be a huge help. It is these small advances on wages that can allow you to address your immediate financial needs without the added stress of having to wait until the end of the month. There are no hidden charges either as these are always explained on the service provider’s website, making short term loans a simple benefit to choose if you are struggling to meet the demands of everyday living.
When it comes to personal finances, just remember to stay responsible, put some money aside for emergencies and concentrate on enjoying the rest!
There are online retailers selling just about any product you can think off. Whatever it is you’re looking for there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find it online and there’s an equally good chance that it will be significantly cheaper than the same product from a high street store.
This is especially true of household appliances. Smaller household appliances that can be posted easily such as kettles, blenders and toasters are sold by many popular online retailers such as Amazon.co.uk. Most online shops that stock these products run special offers on their household appliances and electrical equipment, so it’s not difficult to find the product you require for a bargain price. Many retailers also sell these useful everyday items cheaply in the hope that people browsing the site may purchase them on impulse. Even if you’re not likely to be compelled to buy a new designer kettle on the spur of the moment these are useful everyday appliances that we cannot do without, so it makes sense to buy them as cheaply as possible.
The only downside of buying these products online is that you have to wait for them to be delivered, which can be a pain if you want them sooner rather than later, particularly as large bulky items sometimes take longer to arrive. However, usually these are the kind of items you plan on buying in advance, so unless your kettle suddenly breaks down the same day you’re scheduled to host a WI meeting then you can get away with paying less online and waiting a little longer for the products to be delivered.
Booking holidays online can be as fast and simple as you decide to make it, but it is worth remembering that there is an almost infinite volume of information available on the internet and if you attempt to look at every website offering holidays in your chosen country you may never make it to the airport at all!
A good tip is to research among friends and family to find a website that others have used successfully to book a holiday online. This will help you to avoid spending hours on a website that seems to offer exactly what you require, only to find the price or details changed when you are halfway through the booking process. The simplest way to book a holiday online is to find a holiday broker that compiles package holidays from several companies, saving you the task of trawling many sites and short-listing holidays that interest you. By entering the dates when you wish to travel you will only be viewing holidays that are available when you are. This will also narrow the field and rescue you from viewing the details of every single hotel in the resort you have chosen to visit!
Once you have found the holiday that you want, you can expect the booking process to be simple, fast and secure. Look out for the padlock symbol when entering your personal and payment details, or ‘https’ in the address bar prefixing the website address. It is vital to ensure that all the details you enter are correct, as errors in passenger names may result in plane tickets being void for travel. Save each page with a booking reference and look out for email confirmation. Paper tickets are rarely issued now, so carefully check every email and print each ticket and voucher for the airline, transfer and accommodation. Don’t forget your travel insurance.
Online banking is the modern alternative to walking in the rain, in your lunch hour to queue in the local branch of your bank and waiting in line to make a transfer to your savings account or deposit a cheque to pay the gas bill. These transactions and more can now be carried out from your home PC, laptop or even your internet-enabled mobile phone.
Initially you must sign up with your bank for online banking. The bank will issue you with a log-on ID, password and possibly a card reader. Your ID and password should never be revealed to anyone or written down together in a way that anyone other than you could understand. The function of a card reader is to verify, before allowing access to your bank account, that you are the account holder, you have the bank card with you and know the Personal Identification Number for the card. Even if someone was to come across your PC with your online banking logged on they could not transfer money out of your account without the card, card reader and PIN.
When sign up is complete there are many transactions that can be carried out on online banking. You may transfer money between your accounts, make payments to companies or individuals, review your latest and older statements and apply for a credit card or loan. As cheques have become all but obsolete there are now very few occasions which call for a visit to the bank on the High Street. So next time Granny wants to give you money for your birthday – ask her to do a direct transfer into your account!