Preparing for a winter road trip

Preparing for a winter road trip

With Christmas in touching distance and 2018 drawing to a close, we’re in the middle of winter weather, bringing wet, windy and icy conditions across the country. During the festive season, many people hit the roads to travel short and long distances to visit friends and relatives all over the country. With this in mind, traffic is inevitably increased, meaning busier roads and the increased risk of bad weather. For anyone travelling over the Christmas period, it’s important to stay as safe as possible on the roads, by following a few simple steps and making sure your car is in the best condition possible. To help with this process, we’ve put together a few areas you should be focusing on, if you’re planning a winter road trip.

Look after your tyres

Your vehicles tyres are one of the most important parts of your car and can reduce the risk of a collision, during the winter weather. Looking after the tyres on your vehicle is extremely important. You should be paying close attention to any damage or wear and tear which could potentially affect how your vehicle drives on the road. The winter months usually mean one thing and that’s bad weather conditions. With rain, snow and ice hitting the roads, stopping distances need to be increased and your tyres need to be in the best condition to help aid this. If your tyres have been on your car for a while or they look damaged, it’s best to get them replaced. With companies like TyrePlus, you can have tyres fitted at your home via their mobile fitting service; meaning it shouldn’t be something you put off.

Don’t forget the simple checks!

With all the excitement of Christmas and visiting friends and family; it’s easy to forget about the checks you should be carrying out on your vehicle, especially the obvious ones. Making sure the oil and screen wash are topped up are checks which should be carried out on a regular basis anyway; but it’s even more important during the winter months. With bad weather conditions comes reduced visibility, meaning it’s important to be able to clear your windscreen at all times. Without oil your car’s engine will slowly start to shut down, which can cause significant damage and can be extremely costly. We all know how important it is to check the oil level on a regular basis and the last thing you want to happen, is to be stuck at the side of the road waiting for a recovery truck to take your car away; all because you forgot to check the oil level.

Making the most of the Christmas holidays…

For many of us Christmas is the best time of the year. Whether you have to travel or not, spending time with family and friends is what makes the festive period so special. If you are planning on travelling by car over the holidays then it’s important to remember all of the checks to carry out on your vehicle before you set off; especially because there’s an increased risk of bad weather conditions. Making sure your car is in working order means your journey will run as smooth as possible and you shouldn’t find yourself waiting for a mechanic to come out and fix your vehicle.

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What is the Right Age to Apply for a Loan?

Although legally you will not be allowed a loan until you are over the age of eighteen years, there are no other legal restrictions as to when you can borrow money. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to borrowing money at different stages of your life. If you can delay your borrowing, then it might be wise to do so in some cases or do it as soon as possible in other, depending on your age and your life situation.

Age is not really relevant here when it comes to people looking to apply for a loan, but more the stage of life that you are at, which can tend to follow a general pattern with regards to age, but not everyone fits the mould. Therefore it is better to look at the important factors to consider at different stages of your life.

Salary/job security – if you are taking on a loan, particularly a substantial one, then you need to be confident that you will be able to repay it. You will need to not only be paid enough to cover the cost of those repayments but you will need to be confident that you will have this income available to you for the duration of the loan. As we get older and more experienced, we will often have a higher salary and so be able to take on higher value debt. We may also find that our job gets more secure as we become more knowledgeable and therefore more valuable to the company that we work for.

Marriage/partner – When we meet someone and settle down together it means that we then have two incomes. This means that we are far more able to afford loans. Therefore it could be a good time to take them out and pay for things that we need such as a home, furniture and cars. It is best to try to repay the loans as soon as possible, particularly if they have high interest as this will make them a lot cheaper.

Children – once we have children things start getting expensive. It may be that only one parent is working, one is working full-time and the other part-time or both are working part-time. This will put pressure on the finances as the income is going to go down. Even if both parents continue to work there will be the expense of child care on top of the costs of a child. Preparing for a new baby can be quite expensive but children tend to get more expensive as they get older and eat more, grow and need more clothing and want more things to entertain them. So if you have children it is worth calculating really carefully whether it is the right time for a loan and assume that your expenses will go up.

Savings – it is easy to think that having savings is a good indicator that we are ready to take on a loan. We have some money to fall back on and therefore will be able to manage those repayments. While this is perfectly true, it is far wiser to spend those savings on the item that you are getting the loan to pay for, if you can afford it. This will save a lot of money. This is because the loan costs money and you will be saving all of this money by not getting one. You will be losing out on any interest that you were getting on the savings but this will normally be a lot lower than what you would pay out for a loan. You can compare the interest rates to get a quick idea, although loans will tend to have additional costs as well as the interest rate. So put aside each month the amount that you would pay on loan repayments and you will soon have enough money accumulated to take out a loan. Obviously, if you are buying a house you will need a loan as saving up that much would take a very long time but for smaller loans, this idea can work very well.

Caring for parents/relatives – as our parents get older it may fall on us to care for them or for other people who cannot manage on their own. This can mean that we have to give up work or that we do not have time to do extra work such as overtime and therefore it could possibly cause a reduction in income. If someone is being paid to care for them, it may be that you will need to pay them if your parent or relative does not have the money to. It is hard to think of older relatives needing to be cared for, but these days it is really important to factor in that expense.

Retiring – once we retire then we usually see a reduction in our income. Even if we have paid into a pension scheme we usually have a smaller income. This means that we need to be very careful about what we are spending and therefore taking out a loan, where will need to make repayments, may not be a good idea. You may also find that that lenders will be reluctant to allow a retired person to have a loan because they will be concerned that they will have enough income to pay it.

Conclusion

So as you can see choosing when to take out a loan is not easy. There are things at many life stages which could mean that the time is not right. You will also need to think about the future and whether you will be able to afford the loan repayments for the necessary amount of time. Although we should not be scared of debt and it can be very useful for us, it is something that we do need to consider very carefully. It is wise to spend time calculating whether your current financial situation will be able to cope and thinking about how well it will cope in the future as well and this should help you to be able to make the right decision for you.

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Five Tips on Reducing Your Utility Bills

Five Tips on Reducing Your Utility Bills

Everyone who owns a home or rents a home has to pay for utilities. Sometimes they are included in the rent and if this is the case, then you will not be able to control how much you are charged. If you want to reduce how much you pay, you may have to just move to somewhere cheaper or find a place where they are not included. You could try some of the tips below, but it is unlikely to make a significant difference unless everyone in the apartment block does them. Even then, the landlord may still charge the same rent despite the fact that the utilities are now cheaper. If you are interested in using less water or energy for environmental reasons, you may think that it is worth doing these things regardless of there being a risk that you will not save any money.

Use energy saving appliances

These days it is much easier to see what the energy rating is on various appliances. Although you may not know what the rating is for the appliances that you already own, when you buy know ones, particularly white goods, there will be a rating on it. This will allow you to compare different brands and models and choose one that is the best. Although energy ratings are meant to help the environment, it will also allow you to see which will be cheaper to run. This that use less energy will be cheaper as well as greener.

It can therefore be tempting, if you can afford it, to ditch all of your appliances and replace them with efficient ones. This can make you feel greener and that you are saving money, but actually may not be the case. Each appliance not only has a lot of raw materials to make it, which has an environmental cost, the old appliances also have to be disposed of. If you sell them or give them away and someone else uses them, this will minimise waste but they will eventually have to be broken down somehow.

Also, cost wise, it is likely to be a lot more expensive. If you calculate the money saving of running a more efficient appliance you will see that it is minimal compared with the cost of buying a new one. Paying $500 for a new item which lasts 20 years will not justify the energy saving of a dollar a week. It can be card be hard to calculate exactly how much you will save and how long you will need an item before you start saving money compared to keeping the old one.

It can therefore be wiser to only replace items that are broken down but when you do replace them then look for something which is really energy efficient.

Turn appliances off when not using them

It makes much more sense to use the appliances you have already less often and this could save a lot of money as well as energy. Just switching off a TV set, rather than putting it on standby can save a lot of money and if you do this with every appliance it can really add up. So switch off those computers, don’t leave items charging unnecessarily and remember to turn out the light as you leave a room.

Making these very small changes can really add up to make a difference and you will find that you will soon get into the habit of doing it. It is wise to try to get your family doing it as well, although this can be a lot more difficult than just doing it yourself!

It is a good exercise to walk around your apartment or house and find every item which uses electricity and think about whether it could be switched off or if not, whether there would be times when it could be switched off.

Use windows/drapes/blinds/clothing to help with temperature control

Keeping ourselves warm or cool can cost a lot of money. Whether we are using air conditioners, fans or heating they all cost a lot of money to use. It can be wise to try different ways of keeping your home a comfortable temperature without using them.

Dressing appropriately is a good way to start. Make sure that you have lots of warm layers of clothing if you are feeling chilly. Alternatively, have light and loose clothing for when it is warm. Drinking warm or chilled drinks and eating hot or cold meals, depending on the climate can make a difference as well.

If you have a lot of windows then they can make a big difference. Sunlight can pour in a warm a room, which is great in cooler climate, but if things are getting too hot you should pull the drapes or close blinds to block that heat out. In cooler climates make sure that you make use of the warmth of the sun by opening those drapes and blinds to let it come in and warm the room.

Minimise water usage

If you have a water meter then you will pay for each bit of water that you use. This means that by using less you will save money. By showering instead of bathing you can save money, as long as you are not in there too long. Make sure that you have no leaks or dripping faucets. Use water efficient appliances, but remember the tips above about replacing appliances and make sure that it will either save you money in the short term or that you only replace appliances as they break down. Think hard before using hosepipes and if you are washing a car use a bucket of water and water the garden with a watering can to stop you using more than is needed.

Compare prices

Comparing prices of utility suppliers can really make a difference to how much you are paying. It can be tempting to stick with the same supplier all of the time. It is certainly easier and you may feel some loyalty towards them. However, you need to make sure that you are not paying significantly more money for this. It could be well worth seeing whether you can switch to a different supplier and save some money. You can often compare prices online and so it is relatively easy to find out whether it is worth your while changing.

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