Take Aways From The Heatwave

This week the UK saw its hottest temperatures since records began. An average July used to see temperatures topping at 23 degrees Celsius but this week we peaked just above 40 degrees, which would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. Working in such hot conditions without air conditioning was really difficult. If this is going to be the new norm, we have to change the way we do things.

With meteorologists now predicting a further ‘heat dome’ over Europe in August and the extension of hot weather into September (which has been apparent for the past few years), the time has come to think carefully about how we ready ourselves for such hot weather.

My thoughts…

Yes, in Southern Europe they are used to having very hot days, but they are also closed during peak sunshine hours for a siesta. As well as this, their homes are painted white colours to reflect the sun and have shutters on the outside of their windows to block out the damaging rays. Air conditioning is part of their strategy too. In Britain our homes are designed to trap hot air. We have double glazed windows and extra insulation which make things worse.

Governments need to start thinking about working conditions during such hot periods. Perhaps they will consider:

– funding air conditioning for key workers and hospitals as well as subsidising this for low income households

– making affordable shutters an option to darken houses during hot days and reduce internal temperatures

– adapting school days to suit the weather (perhaps starting earlier and closing at midday or having a siesta)

However…

I notice that President Biden has set aside 2 billion dollars for air conditioning and sun protection. This is great but I hope he and other governments are putting even more money into finding ways to counter the effects of global warming.

The following things need addressing right away:

– ensuring all power stations use renewable energy supplies such as wind, hydro or solar

– funding a better network of trains and buses to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads

-taxing and discouraging frequent flying and overuse of aeroplanes

– widespread tree planting schemes and re-wilding

Hopefully some lessons have been learned from this week’s heatwave. It would be sad to see no changes taking place, given this massive wake up call. We all know that climate change will become more of a problem over the next few decades. We really need to act now to protect our homes, our health and our crops. Thank you for reading my article. If you enjoyed it, please consider following my blog for similar future content.

Buying A Car In Tough Times

Collaborative post(AD) – All opinions and comments are my own.

I am looking for a new car because mine is getting old and starting to cost more to keep going. Right now I am awaiting my annual service and expect a hefty bill as I know my suspension is very clunky and my air-con needs cleaning and refilling. During an energy crisis, we are all having to make difficult decisions about where to put our hard earned cash. Buying a car may be a better option than constantly fixing an older model.

Where to start?

Now I never said it had to be a new car! There are two popular options when it comes to getting a new auto. Some take loan cars which they can swap in after three years. Many prefer to buy a second hand car, using finance, on reasonable terms. This article on Bloomberg highlights used cars as the favoured option for thousands of drivers. Who can blame them?

My last car was a Ford and had been used by a previous owner. It gave me six years of stability whereas my previous ‘new bought’ cars gave me no end of problems with problematic gear boxes and struggling batteries. There is a lot to be said for second hand cars which have been lovingly cared for.

For my US readers…

Trying to work out how much you can afford to spend on a car is tricky. There are a lot of factors to take into account and you need to make sure you are not stretching your finances too far. This is especially important right now, during an economic crisis where energy prices are surging.

Also, when thinking about getting a new car, you have to have unexpected expenses in the back of your head. Let’s face it, you can drive it off the forecourt and soon find yourself inadvertently driving over a nail or having to swerve to avoid a chicken crossing the road.

Unforeseen costs include:

– tyre repairs or new tyres

– broken exhausts

– minor repairs or touch ups to paint work

– oil leeks

– suspension problems

– battery issues

– electrical faults

Now I have come across a really good website which is used to calculate how much you can afford to spend on a new car. It provides a really easy-to-use calculator to estimate car payments where you can input the price of car you want or work backwards by selecting the monthly amount you are prepared to pay for your loan.

Photo from my iPad.

I played around with various US sites and can honestly say this is one of the most flexible sites with so many options. You can soon hone in on the aspects you need to tightly control, such as down payment size or monthly payments upper limit.

There is also a fun arcade where you can play games related to driving such as the Cars Lightening Speed game which I found fun and unexpected on a calculator website. I love refreshing touches like this.

For my UK readers:

Working out affordability in the UK, I have tried many websites and actually found a bank calculator most useful. After playing around with a few, I can truly recommend Halifax car payment calculator which is very user friendly and organised. Although it leans towards that particular bank, it is really clear, easy to play around with and straight forward.

Summary

My car is costing me a lot all of a sudden, due to some really badly maintained roads near me, which are ruining my suspension, amongst other things. We are all on the same boat when it comes to financial demands caused by international energy shortages and rising inflation.

I am no financial expert but can truly recommend using a good online calculator to work out your car affordability. This is the best way to begin your journey to finding a new car.

How To Save Money in 2022

Money is something that we all work very hard to earn and hate to see go down the drain. For me, money is something I have had to learn to manage and over the years it hasn’t always been easy. Although this is not a saving money blog, I want to make sure I cover issues that are bothering most of us right now. We all need to keep an eye on our wallets as the cost of living rises.

Fifteen years ago I got hooked on an online casino game and racked up a massive credit card bill. For a long time I paid the price by working through my holidays and cutting back on everything until I got my finances in order.

These days I am a lot more organised when it comes to personal finance. Though I definitely do not claim to be an expert (Far from it!) I would like to share my findings and ask for your ideas in the comments. As the energy crisis hits and the cost of living is set to rise, we all need to find ways to get cover our costs.

Cutting Corners (Saving money by keeping a close eye)

Now it can be very hard to keep track of income and outgoings so I would suggest finding a way that suits you.

When I discovered that one of my direct debits had gone wrong and I was being overcharged by a utility provider every month, I made a drastic decision. Instead of having direct debits I cancelled every single one and asked for a monthly bill instead. Then on pay day I could glance over each bill and pay them individually.

Keeping a close eye on my outgoings like this made me feel more in control and enabled me to spot mistakes in billing, which I would otherwise never have noticed. Even my mortgage is paid like this and I can choose to overpay it if I feel as though I am having a flush month.

Saving money is hard

Have you ever seen a bit of money in the bank and then been itching to spend it frivolously? I have. It is one of the main reasons why saving money is so difficult. I used to put my extra cash in bank ISAs but every time I opened my banking app I could see that money staring at me, willing me to use it on something unnecessary.

Currently money doesn’t make much interest in savings accounts anyway, so it may be worth exploring other ways to store it. I have used an app called ‘Moneybox’ (a product I like but am not sponsored by) which has proven to be a safe place to keep my money and many of my friends have started to use it as well.

Moneybox allows you to store your money in a savings account which has a slightly higher interest rate than most banks and locks in your cash for either 45 or 90 days. In other words I have to think weeks ahead about taking money out and cannot just pull it out and spend it on a whim.

Saving money or investing?

While mentioning Moneybox I have to also say that you can buy and sell shares there easily, too. There are so many options, including allowing the app to invest your money for you, spread across low, medium or high risk investments. Personally I have grown comfortable investing but I feel as though this topic is too complex to include here in any great detail, so watch out for a future mention of this.

Another such form of investment is cryptocurrency which I have also started to use and profit from. It would be interesting to find out how many of you have already begun to use this trendy but volatile method of investing money. Again, I haven’t been using it long enough to speak with confidence about it, but I am keen to know how others are finding it. One of my friends made £1000 in a day but I can see how the same amount can be lost at the drop of a hat.

Stop paying for things that you don’t need

Chocolate is my weakness. I would save more money if it wasn’t for chocolate.

When you sign up to new services, you often forget about them or stop using them, whilst still paying for them monthly. Recently I looked closely at my bank statement and realised I was paying two lots of home insurance as I had searched for a cheaper provider and not bothered cancelling a previous one. I know that is a crazy example but these things happen.

I also noticed that I was paying for a membership of a group that I no longer have an interest in or time for. It is really easy to keep adding payments and signing up for apps and services without then remembering to get rid of them. One online newspaper that I was using had increased its cost by £4 a month without me knowing, and of course I hadn’t even read the thing for ages.

Put money to one side

My nan always said to me, ‘If you earn a bit more one month, spend half and keep half.’ I do this now. When I find that my income has gone up slightly or my costs are down in a particular month (such as February when council tax is not paid) I take half of that additional money and spoil myself with something I want. This can be a theatre ticket, a new book or even just some chocolate. Meanwhile, I pop the other half into my current favourite savings place.

In the past, when I didn’t trust myself with that money, I used to transfer it to my mum and ask her to give it back to me in summer when I most needed it or it could help me find a holiday. These days I am more settled and can exercise self control, so that extra cash will nearly always go straight into Moneybox or into a separate bank account that I keep without a card. Having no card for it means that I don’t think about using it and it can sit safely in a medium interest account.

Saving money is important

After being incredibly bad with money during my University years and early twenties, I have learned the importance of money saving the hard way. Hopefully, some of the thoughts I shared might resonate with you as you read this. I look forward to reading your comments about any money saving tips that you may have. My short list is not all encompassing but I tried to talk about the key things that have helped me.

Thank you for reading my blog post. Another recent post I wrote about money is Boost Your income – Side hustle suggestions which is where I discussed passive income and ideas for working additional jobs. If you enjoy my content, please consider following my blog and look out for new posts about books, entertainment and life hacks.