Thursday, 28 August 2008


We all know that when your debts are overwhelming the first thing you need to do is stop all unnecessary spending, but what happens when you’ve done that and still can’t manage loan or credit card repayments and pay for the basics?

The first thing to remember is – do not panic. Easier said than done – but at this point it is important to think clearly and not jump into more trouble. For example do not be tempted by those TV adverts that offer you an “easy” way to consolidate your debts – these loans will cost you far more in the long run, even though their “low” monthly repayments seem attractive. These companies are commercial and do not have your interests at heart.

When things have got so bad that your income won’t cover your utility, mortgage or rent bills and food and your minimum loan or credit card repayments, you need professional, impartial help. There are 2 main providers of this help; the Citizens Advice Bureau and the National Debt Line and the links below will set you on the road to a solution:

National Debt Line
just click the appropriate area (Scotland or England/Wales) on the left and take time to read or download all the advice.
Citizens Advice Bureau
this is the home page of the Citizens Advice Bureau and mainly, shows how and where to get advice and gives contact details.
Citizen Advice Bureau's advice site
this is the CAB’s advice guide site. Just click on one of the links on the left of the home page for a comprehensive range of advice to show you how to deal with your debts.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Your car’s MOT test is expensive enough at £53.10, without adding in the cost of possible repairs, so learning to do even the simplest of pre MOT checks yourself will probably save you money. Even simple things like a worn wiper blade or blown brake light bulb will be expensive if your car fails on them and your mechanic decides to “help you out” by doing the work necessary to pass your vehicle and billing you for it. He will buy a wiper blade or bulb for you at trade price and then charge you more than you would pay at a spares shop, plus the labour costs to “fit” it and this could be anything from £25 - £100 plus per hour! If you keep your car serviced regularly, hopefully, it should pass on the under bonnet and under vehicle tests. So, whilst this list is not exhaustive, a few minutes spent doing your own simple checks may just alert you to any problems before your car is tested.

So here are 18 pre MOT checks you should try to carry out:

  1. Check the shock absorbers by bouncing the car in each corner. If it wobbles then you may need new ones.
  2. Check your wheels are not damaged and inspect the condition of your tyres – there should be no splits, cuts or bulges. At least 75% of the tread should be 1.6mm deep – this is the legal minimum, but in practice you would replace them before they got this bad. Check your tyre pressures.
  3. Look around your vehicle for any signs of serious rust deterioration – especially in important areas like suspension mountings and sills etc.
  4. Inspect all wiper blades for splits and any perishing or detaching.
  5. Check that all lights and indicators work (don’t forget your rear number plate light) and get someone to check your brake lights while you depress the brake pedal.
  6. Make sure the brake pedal rubber is in good condition.
  7. Make sure the car does not smoke excessively while running.
  8. Make sure your number plates (back and front) are securely fixed on, clean, not obscured by anything, or faded. The letters and numbers must be correctly formed and with the correct spacing. The vehicle Identification Number (VIN) must permanently fixed and clearly readable. You will often find it under the bonnet or on a door pillar.
  9. Check that all doors close properly and catches are in working order (both from inside the car and outside).
  10. Make sure that boot or tailgate catches are in working order.
  11. Inside the car, check that all your seat belts are in perfect working order (check the actual webbing and that they fasten properly).
  12. Check that your windscreen wipers and washers (rear as well if you have them) are in working order.
  13. Beep your horn to make sure it works.
  14. Check footbrake, steering wheel and handbrake for any excessive play.
  15. Look closely over your windscreen for chips and cracks.
  16. If you have axle stands and know how to safely use them you could put your car up and check underneath for any exhaust system problems and any fuel leaks.
  17. If you know how to, you could also check for play in the wheel bearings or suspension joints.
  18. Thoroughly clean the car inside and out (and underneath) – not only does it give a good impression, but a tester can refuse to test a dirty vehicle.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, 10 August 2008


The OU has a selection of free online courses on its website which are open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Its introductory 8-hour course, Personal Finance: debt and borrowing in its wider context, is well done and very informative. In my opinion it is (like all the OU’s work) excellent.

There are also free courses in Art, Computing, Law, Education, Business, Health, Modern languages, Mathematics, Science, Society and Technology.

Take a look here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


This site, will claim back money on your behalf if your train is late. Just register once with the site, enter the details of your season ticket and then when you need to, log in and enter the details of your late trains – they do the rest!

Get some of themoney back that you spent on your season ticket!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, 2 August 2008


Yes - it really is only 145 days to Christmas! This means that if you haven't started saving, buying and planning yet - you'd better get going. Here's some tips:
  • the charity shops are fairly quiet in my neighbourhood at the moment - so I'm looking for really new quality children's books for nieces and nephews. You can find them (especially board books) but you have to be fussy and check every page looking for marks or tears.
  • my plum tree is bearing fruit now - I may just start to make jam, put it in pretty jars and add it to gift hampers for those older relatives who always say they don't want (or need) anything!
  • a few sportswear shops seem to be having their everlasting summer "sales"- I've already bought several packs of reduced (but heavy quality) sports socks for my sons' Christmas stockings!
  • the supermarket just had some luxury hand wash on a buy one get one one free offer and I just couldn't resist - of course I know I shouldn't, but I'm keeping one for me!
  • Check your supermarket and chemist regularly for BOGOFs on things like shower and hair gel - all good stocking fillers.
  • I've just been to a charity shop that sells a range of new jewellery, key charms and hair ornaments and saw that they have the whole range reduced to half price - bearing in mind they were very reasonable to begin with, these are really great bargains for presents.
  • Lastly, don't get fed up and think it's miserable to have to watch the pennies - Christmas is just 2 days before which we spend too much, during which we eat too much and after which we wish we hadn't!
Merry Christmas Shopping!

Stumble Upon Toolbar