Are We A Take, Take, Take Society?

A nice picture of Amsterdam to take away the seriousness of my article.

There is a lot of News about income today. It is a very controversial topic that I have often found myself tiptoeing around. People are being bombarded with assertions about tax cuts, average earnings and shortfalls in household incomes. It is an interesting issue which can be very polarising but the basics are straight forward.

This article is about challenging the popular belief that:

“Society Owes Us”

I try to be optimistic and so will aim to represent my thoughts on this in a positive way. I have read articles and heard conversations recently where people have asserted that society owes us money.

Generally when people say this, it feels as though the speakers want everything on a plate and free. I regularly hear things like:

‘Benefits should be raised.’

‘We don’t get enough financial support.’

‘We are taxed way too much.’

‘If we go to work we lose some of our benefits. Let’s stay at home.’

OK I am paraphrasing but these are the general ideas that seem to be floating around.

I spoke to some university students about how they afford their studies and they have talked about loans and funding but rarely do I hear, ‘I work a part time job.’ In fact I have outright asked why students don’t work and they say they prefer to enjoy their spare time. Fair enough. Maybe.

Perhaps society has moved away from ‘Work Hard, Reap the Rewards’ but I really liked that work ethic.

Am I right to express my concern?

Hard to tell. I like people being comfortable and living their lives to the full. I also like fairness and equality. More than anything, I believe that hard work is important and fulfilling and should be something to aspire to.

So governments can’t win. If they raise taxes they can fund the NHS, education, environmental improvements and so on. If they cut taxes, they seem to have their fingers on the pulse but end up borrowing and causing the whole country to suffer. For me a tax cut would be great! However, is it going to lead to cuts in other services? Probably. Luxembourg has higher taxes than the UK but wonderful national provision for health, business and transport (free buses and trains). Their average wages are higher too.

When I was young…

I suppose it is just my personal experience but I welcomed my mum for teaching me the value of hard work. I had a chart on the fridge and every time I did a job (wash the car, hoover the stairs etc) I got 20p. These all added up to make my pocket money.

As soon as I was 13 I got a paper round and enjoyed earning money by delivering Sunday newspapers and weekly ones later as well. At 16 I started earning by working in the supermarket on Friday evenings, Saturdays and eventually Sundays too (until then shops were not allowed to open Sundays so when the Sunday trading laws came out I soaked up the double time wage).

Throughout my A-Levels I worked extra hours in the shop as much as I could and during the holidays. At Uni this carried on and I loved knowing that I was paying my own way. Nobody helped me. Where has that drive to work and earn and give something to society gone?

I also volunteered for charity roughly ten hours a week. But I am not showing off. Many of my friends and colleagues did as well. We paid our way and never expected any freebies. Heck- we even paid tax on our hard earned wages.

So anyway…

I suppose my point is this…

Yes people have disabilities which prevent them from working and health issues that make it more difficult. They should be fully supported by the system. But let’s face it there are thousands of people who choose not to work. They decided they are better off taking money from the state. I know this is true and research suggests it is widespread.

Recent data suggests over one million job vacancies in the UK. One million! Yet there are people out there who could be making a difference by filling these positions.

Where is my positivity?

I believe if we adopt a more GIVE than TAKE attitude to society we will prosper and our country will feel better. Work promotes health, mental wellbeing, feeling needed, accomplishment, wealth, happiness and achievement.

I feel like opening the floodgates now… What do you think about the subject?

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 Get Your Finances Under Control

Sponsored Post – All of the opinions and experiences in this post are my own.

Ten years ago my finances were a real mess. Without a doubt I was struggling, thanks to some poor decisions on my part. I had overspent on credit cards, mainly on holidays I couldn’t afford at the time, and paying it all back was creating massive difficulties for me. I learned my lesson the hard way and now seem to have everything sorted when it comes to finance – largely down to working hard and finding out how to fix my problems.

Are you finding that bills and charges are driving you into debt?

Appreciating the value of money is important.

Here are my thoughts on where to begin when trying to deal with debts and get your finances back under control:

1) Make a start – no excuses.

It is no use putting off till tomorrow what you could be doing today. I know it is depressing to be in the midst of financial trouble – believe me – but the sooner you start dealing with them, the better. My mum always takes notice of Martin Lewis for money saving tips and I have got used to watching his programme and checking his website. I wish I had someone like him to listen to or some online resources to call upon when I found myself drowning in debt.

However, Martin Lewis wasn’t widely known ten years ago, so I had to use my own resourcefulness to begin solving my debt problems. For me, it began with getting all of my statements and adding up the overall amount that I owed. Then I found the credit cards with the highest interest rates and wrote to them explaining my predicament. They helped me build a payment plan and even agreed to freeze my interest for a while as well. Reaching out really helped me a lot.

2) Use your common sense (easier said than done).

Again, it sounds obvious, but doing some research is vital when looking into ways of reducing a debt and improving a credit score. These days there is a wonderful site which lays out the various options you have available. Click here to discover some practical steps that you can take in order to consolidate your debts. This site is easy to use and full of answers to questions you possibly haven’t even thought of yet.

Common sense would also lead you to stop spending on credit cards. For me, this was something I had no control over as I had maxed them all out. It is easy to do. My friends were going on holidays and I wanted to join them, but didn’t have time to save up, so I whacked the vacations on my credit card until it was full. Then, stupidly, I got another one if I received an email offering me a new card. Of course, credit cards are always on the lookout for debtors to add to their lists.

What I am saying is that I needed someone to give me a reality check. We’ve all been there. My advice to anyone stuck in debt is to tell someone immediately and then stop spending and research your options.

3) Cut back on spending straight away

That is easy for me to say, right? For me, it meant saying no to holidays for a couple of years. It also meant going through my outgoings and getting rid of things that weren’t essential. Even today, I sit down once a year and work out what Media apps and services I am paying for (streaming services and online magazines). Often you forget just how many subscriptions you have. At the same time, memberships can sneakily increase in price.

Recently I cancelled a few subscriptions and one of them asked me why I was leaving. It was a newspaper app and I was pleasantly surprised when they offered to reduce their charge to one pound a month for a whole year. As I said before, getting in touch with companies is often a good way to negotiate a deal and form an understanding. This example was a small example of how one action reduced my subscription from £6.99 to £1 just a month. Maybe you could do that with some of your bills too.

Summary

If you are struggling with debt right now, please do not face it alone. Reach out to someone you trust and consider the suggestions I made in this post. When I got into debt, I spoke to my mum and she got me started on facing up to the situation and find out just how I could resolve it.

Hopefully you found this article helpful. It is a set of thoughts based on my own experience and I am in no way a professional but I have managed to get my own finances back on track and now have enough savings to deal with any unforeseen emergencies and to finance a few upcoming holidays.