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When it comes to making money to give you and your family a safety blanket in the future, investing is a great way to do it. Whether you choose to go for stocks and shares or you take the plunge and buy a house to rent out, there are lots of options. But anywhere where there is money there are also fraudsters, and you need to be on your guard to defend against possible investment traps. Here’s how to do it.

The wrong asset class

Before exploring some of the more sinister traps you might face when investing, it’s worth pointing out first that sometimes the trap may be staring you right in the face. If you’re thinking of making an investment in a particular asset class, you need to first be sure that you’re choosing the right one. Falling into the trap of choosing a particular asset class when it isn’t actually right for you is surprisingly common – and best guarded against.

Take the example of buying a property to rent out to tenants. Often, this is seen as a wise investment due to several tropes about the property market, such as “Bricks and mortar are valuable” or “Property prices never go down”. But if you’re looking for a hands-off investment, it’s actually a bad idea as it often requires considerable time and cash spent on maintenance, renovations and more. Perhaps a tracker fund or other low-time investment would work better. For that reason, you should always thoroughly investigate any investment opportunity before you proceed with it in order to ensure that it’s the right one for your needs.

Fraud and crime

Once you’ve found your preferred asset class and you know it is right for you, the next step is to do your research before going ahead. First off, it’s worth checking out your broker. As this OctaFX review shows, there are plenty of good brokers out there. But there are unfortunately still some unscrupulous providers who are out to defraud you of your cash.

Before you proceed with a broker or other investment opportunity, you should always check that it is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Don’t forget that if an opportunity to make an investment looks too good to be true, sadly it probably is – meaning that you should think twice before you proceed with it. If you’re in doubt at any stage, ask the broker or provider to give you some more information about what the investment entails: if they are willing to provide accurate, backed-up and neutral information which doesn’t promise the earth, you’re more likely to be on solid ground.

The world of investment is a tricky one. It’s one that can provide great wealth while also running the risk of cons and fraud. By thinking carefully about what asset class you need and whether fraud and crime are risks, you’ll be able to defend yourself against the problems that this industry can pose.

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Credit: Wikimedia

Gambling has become more and more popular in recent years, with more than half the UK population betting regularly. While it’s a lot of fun placing a bet, if you approach it in the wrong way you could lose money and find yourself in a downward spiral. From setting a betting limit to staying away from heated conversations, this is how to stay in control and keep having fun while you’re gambling.

Recommended reading: Five smart ways to handle a sudden windfall

Set a betting limit before you sit at a table & keep to it limit

Whether you chose to gamble at a land casino or online casino, the first thing you must do to stay on top of things when gambling is to set a betting limit. Taking this approach will make sure you don’t spend more money than you’re comfortable doing and can focus on the fun of playing a casino game.

Bankroll management is one of the things that allows professional gamblers to make a living from gambling. While I’m not suggesting you should take setting a betting limit as the first step towards a career in betting, knowing that even the pros do it shows how important it is to bet within your limits. Some top bankroll management tips include:

  • Setting a limit that you can afford – don’t go into debt
  • Restricting your betting sessions – make it a fun past time, not an essential
  • Withdrawing your winnings – helps to draw a line under each session
  • Don’t chase losses – decide how much you’re willing to lose and let any losses go
Play games that you’re confident in & know the rules for

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it much fun playing a game where I’m the only one who doesn’t really understand what’s going on. It makes me self-conscious and causes me to make bad decisions, leaving a sour taste in my mouth once I’ve finished playing. You should look at gambling in the same way and keep things fun by sticking to playing games you know the rules for.

There are a lot of different games you can play at a casino – baccarat, blackjack, poker, roulette and more. Each has its own rules and you can find game guides on casino review sites or tutorial videos that explain how you can play. Two key things to remember when getting acquainted with the rules of your chosen game are:

  • Differences between online and land-based casino betting – online casinos often help you to keep to the rules by carrying out tasks for you (such as adding the ante in poker)
  • Know the betting conventions – you don’t want to bet bigger or smaller than you’re able to at certain moments, so get an understanding of the amounts you can and should bet
Don’t get involved in any heated table discussions

Some online RPGs (role-playing games) are renowned for their fierce discussions between gamers. While it can be enjoyable to speak to your fellow players (you may make new friends) getting involved in heated discussions at a gambling table is a big no-no. Not only do you risk losing focus on your game and then your bankroll, but you could also get banned from the casino.

Whenever I gamble online or at a land casino, I try and keep chatter to a minimum. If another gambler is having a friendly word I’ll politely end the conversation as quickly as possible. Of course, you could ignore the other players but taking that line could rile someone up and cause them to get angry with you. My advice for staying cool at the table is:

  • Give the table a once over before you sit down to play – see if there are any players who seem as though they might cause problems
  • If you’re drinking alcohol then do so in moderation – you’ll be able to stay in control of what you say and how you react to other gamblers

Gambling at an online casino, land casino, or in your home is a lot of fun when you do it in the right way. While bankroll management, knowing the rules, and picking the right table go a long way to making sure you gamble safely, one thing you always need to keep in mind is that you’re there to have fun. If you visit a casino with the intention of making money you’ll set yourself up for disappointment if you have a losing session. So keep things breezy and you’ll have a great time!  

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With smartphones now an integral part of our lives, it’s no wonder the major networks and manufacturers are finding ways to hit us with ever-increasing bills. Cutting phones from our lives altogether may not be realistic, but there are lots of ways to reduce the cost that comes with them. Here are a few steps to get you started: 

Resist the latest model 

For most of us, the urge to rush out and get hold of the latest all-singing, all-dancing phone is fuelled by habit and social pressure alone, rather than an actual need. Considering how often a new model is released, how little they offer in the way of new features, and how pricey they are, it’s a habit worth breaking. 

If your current device is still in perfect working order, hold off. Even a few months can see a significant fall in prices. Better yet, opt for a recently ‘outdated’ model. They look and perform almost identically to the newest handsets, but will be considerably cheaper. 

Take out a SIM only deal If you’re happy to hold onto your current phone, SIM only deals are perfect. With a regular deal, you pay for your services (minutes, texts, data, etc.) as well as the hire purchase of a new device. With a SIM only deal, you can use the card in your existing phone, eliminating the extra cost. With the option to compare deals easily online, there is ample opportunity to make some big monthly savings. 

Get to know your contract 

It’s important to choose a contract that suits your needs, lifestyle and budget. If you want consistency, a fixed two-year contract could be ideal, for example. If, however, you have a fluctuating income and can’t guarantee your future financial situation, a rolling monthly deal with no long-term commitment could be better. On the other hand, those who keep their phone use to a minimum and have a tighter budget to work with should explore the perks of a pay-as-you-go deal. 

Also keep in mind that advertised prices are rarely the best available. Never be afraid to compare, switch and haggle to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. 

Sell old devices 

When the time does come to get a new handset, you can sell your old one privately, or look into one of the many companies that buy phones so they can recycle or refurbish them. Why clog up a drawer somewhere, or have it end up in landfill, when it could make you some cash? Recent models that have been well looked after can fetch hundreds of pounds. 

Get insured 

It’s been said before, but being frugal isn’t about not spending money, it’s about spending money wisely. We all know someone who is forever leaving their phone on the bus, dropping it down the toilet, or smashing its screen. If you are that person, getting covered is an investment that could save you a lot in the long-run. 

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In Britain, the financial services industry is believed to be worth around £120 billion per year to the economy. It’s a major industry, and many people have a stake in it through their workplace pension or other mainstream product. But when it comes to going above and beyond the standard investment routes and making a significant financial decision with a large amount of cash, professional investment advice is certainly needed. This article will explore exactly where you can find this information.

Independent financial advisers

For many people, heading into the investment world is a difficult decision that requires face-to-face,
professional advice. Perhaps you’re thinking about investing your cash into a buy-to-let property, but you’re not entirely sure how mortgage interest rates work or how they might affect the value of your asset. On the other hand, maybe you want to distribute your money across asset classes, but you can’t quite split up the required proportions on your own. By heading to a regulated and preferably local independent financial advisory (or IFA) armed with all information about your circumstances, you’ll be able to get tailored advice. While this advice might be charged for, it will pay off in the long run as it will mean a reduced risk of falling victim to fraud – and, hopefully, a more profitable investment strategy.

On the internet

As with anything in life, there are always going to be bad apples – and unfortunately, there are some people on the web who would look to sell you dodgy advice, perhaps for their own personal gain or due to their involvement in a fraudulent scheme. But by sticking to online advice providers who are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), it’s possible to get cost-effective advice without having to leave your home. And remember: if you’re looking for a broker, reading reviews – including this DEGIRO review – from those who have used that broker before is a smart move.

Friends and family

Investing can often seem to a newbie like a somewhat esoteric pursuit, and there’s no doubting that only a small number of Brits will have investment portfolios and the knowledge required to maintain them. But you might be surprised to know just how many members of your personal family and social circles are involved in investments. Discreetly asking people you suspect might be investors, especially older people, can pay off, as they are often willing to give the benefit of their accumulated advice for free.

Investing is a scary task, especially if you’re responsible for a large sum of cash that you’re hoping to grow without suffering big losses. But it’s definitely possible to get the advice you need to take sensible decisions – whether that’s from a professional, the web or a personal contact. While it’s always important to remember that advice does not constitute a guarantee of performance, what is guaranteed is that your investment choices will be much more well-informed if you take one of these steps.

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Starting your student life in a new place is difficult enough on its own, but when it’s far away from home, things can get even more challenging. It’s not just about the feeling of being lonely and isolated. You must also deal with more limited resources, as help will typically not be as close as you’re used to. If you’re not prepared, you can suddenly find yourself facing a myriad of issues. And the moving process is often the first real challenge that most students have to overcome.

Plan Ahead

This might sound like a cliché, but it’s the simplest, yet most effective thing you can do to simplify your move. Make a list of things you want to take with you, don’t just decide on the go. If you’re bringing more items along, sort them into labelled boxes for easy access. You might have to make more than one trip – know which things you want to bring first, so that you can start your new life with minimal interruptions.

Use Available Services

There’s more help available around you than you might think. Investing a little into the right kinds of services can go a long way towards making the whole process simpler and more manageable. Moving companies can assist you with more than the basic transportation itself, for example. They will often have a lot of experience with logistics, which will come in handy. However, it is important to remember that you don’t have to bring everything into your new place all in one go. Sometimes putting things aside in a storage facility for a short period of time can simplify the whole process. Just make sure that you go with a reliable company that’s been around for a while, otherwise you risk dealing with even more complications.

Stock up on Some Basics

You’ll have a lot of shopping to do once you’ve moved in, and it can easily eat into your time. Prevent this by making sure that you’re well stocked on some of the important basics in advance. Get some non-perishable foods and build up a nice supply of them. This will depend on your storage capabilities of course, but if you can afford the space to get a few bags of rice, potatoes, and a larger bag of flour, you can easily spare yourself some bigger trips to the store once you’re settled in.

If someone is helping you out with a car, you could ask them for help with this first round of shopping as well. This can help you shop around freely without having to limit yourself in any way, or having to come back to the store multiple times.

Learn the Area

You’ll of course have plenty of time for exploring the area and learning what’s what once you’re all settled in, but it can’t hurt to do a little scouting beforehand. That way, you’ll know some points of interest and won’t waste any time exploring the wrong parts of your neighbourhood on your first day. And you should definitely take the time to look around and possibly meet some new people once you’re done unpacking. This will make your transition into your new living place much easier, and as a student, you’ll probably benefit from establishing some social connections early on.

Above all though – don’t panic! This might seem like a scary prospect, but it’s something most people go through in their lives, and it’s a great learning experience. You’ll finally see what it’s like to deal with life on your own, and what kinds of problems you can expect to face later on as you get older.

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If you want to climb as high as you can up your chosen career ladder, you have to remain productive throughout each working day. You have to hit the ground running as soon as you clock in of a morning, and you have to retain that enthusiasm right the way through to when you leave the office of an evening. Doing so will see you produce more work of higher quality, meaning it will ultimately help you to stand out from other applicants when positions and promotions become available.

To see what you can do to remain productive throughout each and every working day, make sure to read on.

Completely switch off during your break

If you’re serious about remaining productive throughout each working day, you can’t be taking working lunches. You have to allow yourself some time, preferably halfway through your shift, to unwind. Doing so will see you hit your mind’s natural refresh button and it will renew your enthusiasm to work.

In this instance, you’re going to want to find a pastime that allows you to switch off from your work completely. It could be anything, from playing the slot games on Unibet to reading a fantasy novel; the point is, you need to find something that stops you thinking about your workload for half an hour. If you do, when you return to your desk after your break, you’ll feel more than ready to throw yourself back into your tasks and work productively once again.

Prepare yourself for the day ahead before you leave home

In order to start each working day off on the right foot, you need to prepare yourself for the day ahead while you’re still at home. Doing so will get you in the right frame of mind with regards to your workload before you embark on it. Ultimately, this means that you will cut out all of the mistakes that are easy to make while you are mentally fatigued and unprepared.

To really get yourself ready for the day ahead, you should resolve to have a stationary breakfast every single day. Basically, don’t attempt to stuff it down in between red lights! As stated on WebMD, if you don’t fuel up in the morning, you will feel zapped of energy as the day goes on. This kind of fatigue will do nothing for your productivity, so make sure you’re having more than a slice of toast when you do eat. If you have to get up early to get both a full and relaxing breakfast, then so be it!

Put several productivity practices into practice

If you want to work efficiently, you need to put several productivity practices into practice throughout each working day. As stated on Inc., these practices include:

  • Moving around every 60 minutes
  • Creating some accountability for yourself
  • Refraining from multitasking
  • Choosing three core-activities and giving them precedence

In order to remain productive throughout each and every working day, and ultimately reap the rewards of doing so, you must take heed of all the advice listed above. Doing so could finally get you that promotion you’ve long dreamed of.

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There’s a good chance that you know somebody, or have heard about somebody who has managed to pay for a trolley filled with items with the loose change found in the bottom of their bag. No, it’s not magic, but the clever concept of couponing. Signing up for mailing lists, joining couponing websites, and scouring the papers is a great way to save money on the items you really want and need. Here are some hints and tips to make your cash go even further.

Know where to look

Do you know where to look for coupons? Newspapers, magazines and existing products often carry money-off vouchers, while contacting manufacturers directly can also yield fantastic results. Perhaps the best place to find coupons and discount codes is online, via retailers, money-saving websites, and specialist coupon websites and apps. When you know what you’re looking for, always check online to see if you can find a discount code or coupon first.

Sign up for newsletters and apps

The couponing world has gone digital, and it’s so much easier to save when those deals are coming directly to your phone or inbox. Clipping coupons is still very much a “thing”, but further your chances of getting a discount by downloading your favourite shops’ apps, signing up for newsletters, or taking out a discount card. Some of the best coupons are reserved for loyal customers, while some offers only work in conjunction with a discount card. You can still choose which deals apply to you.

Don’t use every coupon you come across

Using coupons is a fantastic way of saving money on the things we regularly buy, or really need – but how many times have you gone out of your way to make a purchase purely because you had a coupon? The thing about coupons is that they only save us money when we’re buying the things we need – otherwise we’re paying out for the sake of a tempting deal. Save extra cash by clipping or downloading coupons that correspond with the things you needed to buy anyway.

Sign up for a couponing site

Couponing sites can be a great way to ensure that you’re seeing the best and most relevant deals for your spending habits. Simply enter your preferences and prepare to view discounts for the products, and from the retailers you have specified. An account paid for via Wedosavings direct debit simplifies the whole concept of clipping coupons, gathering discount codes and hoarding vouchers, sending out the deals that matter the most to you. What’s more, you’ll be alerted each time your favourite stores have promotions and sales, via a message or an email sent while you shop.

Make sure you know what you’re doing

Make sure that you understand what your coupons entitle you to, and whether they can be used in conjunction with other deals and discounts. You should also use your coupons in the right order – a 20% off coupon should always be used before one for £10 off if you’re to maximise those savings.

The philosophy of couponing can seem intimidating at first, but it really is so simple to make huge savings with online codes and paper vouchers.

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Whether you’re an existing business owner looking for a new location for your business, or you’re just starting up in the world of business; there are many factors you should think about before you choose a new office space. The first factor which springs to mind is how much the building will cost. Whether you purchase the office outright or rent on a monthly basis, some offices can be a lot more expensive than others, for a whole number of reasons.

If it’s the first time you’ve had to look for an office space and your company is relatively small, then it’s usually a fairly straightforward process in terms of the factors you need to consider. For existing business owners, not only do you have to take your business into consideration, but also the staff who’ve worked for you in previous locations and relocating to new premises will affect them.

If you’re looking to relocate your business and want to know how to look after both your company and staff, here are some areas you may want to take into consideration.

What’s the appearance of the building like?

It’s important than when you go to view a new office space, you pay close attention to its appearance and overall quality. Most businesses prefer to be based in newer buildings, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better. It’s more likely that older buildings will potentially need a touch of maintenance work being carried out so make sure you ask about this during your viewing appointment. Whether your building is old or new, if it has been left empty for a while then it’s worth hiring in professionals such as Real Cleaning, who can provide an industrial clean for the office, prior to your company moving in.

How accessible is the premises for employees?

The chances are, if you’re looking for an office space then you’re more than likely to have a number of employees working for you. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure you take them into consideration when choosing a new location. It’s a given that most people have to travel a fair distance to get to work but you don’t want to make the journey excessively longer than usual, as this could start turning people away from your company. Also looking into local transport links and facilities within the surrounding area always a plus when you’re looking to recruit new people; as well as free onsite parking.

Is the building well equipped for clients?

The line of work your company is in may mean you don’t often invite clients to your office, but this isn’t often the case. If your office is often visited by clients for meetings and events, you want to make sure you have meeting rooms which are equipped to deal with these occasions. Making sure there are meeting rooms of a good size, which can also house phones, screens and furniture is a must, to ensure your office is fully equipped for any type of meeting.

Here are just a few factors you should take into consideration if you’re planning on moving into a new office space. It’s important you carefully consider all your options before selecting new premises, by following the points mentioned and a host of others.

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Being a single parent can be financially straining, especially during school holidays when you need to find activities to keep the kids entertained. Quite often you will see deals available for family tickets which offer big savings on days out, but are usually aimed at two parent families, meaning that single parent families miss out on these offers.

PayPlan have recently put together an infographic which highlights the true cost of family activities for single parents. While it may be free to go to the park or enjoy a day at the beach, there are some activities such as going to the cinema, the zoo and even going to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour that can all add up resulting in a costly day out. With 1 in 4 families in the UK being a single parent family, it would be great to see more companies offering deals that cater to this.

From the infographic, you can see that a trip to the cinema for a family with two parents and two children costs £19.50 per paying adult, whereas a single parent with two children would have to pay £32 in total. Likewise with a family ticket for Cadbury World, it would cost a family with two parents and two adults £24.80 and a single parent with two children £41.05. The results from the infographic show that in every instance, a single parent family will have to pay more than a two parent family.

As you can see, affording days out when you’re a single parent family can work out to be very expensive. The majority of companies who offer family deals seem to favour two parent families, meaning that single parent families are more likely to end up in debt if they try to afford these types of activities for their children. The research also shows that a third of children with a working single parent live in poverty, so it’s understandable that single parents have to use a payday lender or a foodbank.

If you are struggling with the financial costs of being a single parent or know someone who is, remember that there are professionals who can offer financial advice. Join in the conversation using the hashtag #CostOfSingleParenting.


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A poor credit score is often the biggest stumbling block when it comes to securing credit. Though improving your rating can feel like a daunting prospect, there are some simple steps you can take to start seeing progress sooner rather than later. Here are a few tips to get you started. 

Use your credit card responsibly 

Using a credit card at all might sound risky. You’re looking to improve your financial situation, not get into more debt, right? Well, charging small amounts onto an active card and paying it off quickly is actually one of the fastest ways to boost your credit rating. As long as you stay well below your spending limit and always meet the minimum charges on time, it shows prospective lenders that you can be trusted to budget sensibly and honour your repayments. 

Get registered 

Credit reference agencies carry out various checks to see how ‘safe’ it is to invest their money in someone. Having a registered home address and being listed on the electoral role are great ways to make yourself appear both visible and stable. It only takes a few minutes to sign up, and you can do so here.  

Pay off existing debts 

If you’ve got old debts hanging over you, you could look into getting a small loan. Like with a credit card, meeting your repayments promptly is a great way to prove yourself a reliable investment. By using the funds to pay off creditors, you can also reduce the financial strain you’re under, which reflects well on your credit score. 

Keep your credit report updated 

Any old or inactive accounts still listed as ‘open’ on your report could be needlessly dragging your rating down. It’s definitely worth reviewing your details regularly, keeping your information up-to-date.

Spread out your applications 

A mark appears on your report every time a search is carried out on you by a prospective lender. If lots of these show up within a short space of time, it makes it look as though you’re desperate for a quick hit of cash. This instantly implies you’re in bad financial standing, and will lower your credit score. Space out your applications instead, and your efforts will look sensible and considered. 

Carry out your own checks 

Before you send off a full credit application, check a lender’s terms and conditions online (some will even have a simplified eligibility checker). If it looks likely you won’t meet their requirements, don’t bother applying. The fewer searches and rejections on your report, the better. Apply instead to the lenders most aligned with your needs, and you maximise the chances of success.  

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