9 Summertime Family Activities That Won’t Break the Bank

Whether you have an annual savings plan in place for the summer holidays or you just make it up as you go along, one thing’s for sure: summer plus children equals a lot of money! That’s why, today, we’re providing you with some money saving tips – so you can have a summer to remember without breaking the bank.

1. Take a walk

You can do this one without needing to spend any money at all. Whether you’re country, coast or city-based, you shouldn’t need to look too far to find an appealing walking route. Choose your distance based on the age of your children and pack a picnic so there’s no need to shell out for food. Make sure you’re all wearing sensible shoes, have plenty of drinks to hand and know where the nearest toilets are along all aspects of your route.

2. Library trips

A quick search of your local libraries will tell you what sorts of events are on when, and you’ll find that these are most often free. From play groups to book readings and singalongs, generally speaking, there’s always something happening in a local library – and it’s a great chance to check out some books for summer bedtime reading with the kids.

3. Visiting the swimming baths

If your local leisure centre has a swimming pool, you might find that, during the school holidays, they offer discounts on swimming sessions for youngsters – although it’s worth checking this out in advance so you’re not surprised by the cost when you arrive! Sessions generally last an hour, so don’t expect this to be an all-day event.

4. Cinema trips

Granted, this one can be pricey – especially if you have more than one child – but there are ways to save money here. Look out for discount codes and offers, and buy your tickets in advance when possible. For snacks, avoid costly cinema popcorn and fizzy drinks and stop off at a budget-friendly supermarket first. Give each child a spending limit and allow them to use their money to purchase their favourite snack and a drink. They’ll love the chance to get involved and your pocket will love the savings!

5. Museum days

If you’re keen to turn a family day out into an educational adventure, museums are a great place to start. Look out for exhibitions, as these will often be free – and for those that aren’t, discount sites like Wowcher and Groupon may have family deals that you can make use of. Put simply, it’s well worth having a browse ahead of your visit.

6. Playing in the park

Another freebie, the UK has parks in abundance – so if you don’t have one within walking distance, it should only be a short car or bus journey away. From feeding the ducks to enjoying the jungle gym, the park can provide hours of fun. Be sure to pack a picnic to avoid pricey onsite cafés, but maybe keep enough change to one side for the ice cream van!

7. Visiting a farm

Regardless of their age, your young ones are guaranteed to enjoy a trip out to a farm. Depending on where is local to you, your little ones might be able to enjoy a tractor ride and feeding the animals. This is a great opportunity to snap some family pics and get your children involved with nature for little to no cost.

8. Camping in the garden

The summer provides the perfect opportunity for a camping trip – but this can be expensive and challenging with children. Camping out in the garden is the perfect alternative to this, allowing you to enjoy a night under the stars without forking out for site fees and petrol to get to your destination. The best thing about this is that, if the kids become unsettled, you can all just head inside!

9. Playing board games

As long as you already have these tucked away in a cupboard somewhere, this activity doesn’t have to cost a thing. If you do need to add to your games collection, scour local charity shops for some bargains – then you can lay them all out on a rainy day, pass out snacks and enjoy hours of fun.

Beyond the activities themselves, it’s worth considering some budgeting tips for transport and eating out. You’ll find plenty of discount codes and offers online, so have a look around and choose somewhere you know you can grab a bargain!

For more tips on budgeting, saving money and more, keep an eye on our blog – where we regularly post helpful tips and advice for aspiring money savers.

Fashion & Finances: How to Save Money & the Planet

With fast fashion giant Boohoo – among others – hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, it’s clear that the world’s environmental consciousness is starting to branch out beyond concerns over plastic bottles and straws.

With this in mind, today, we’re bringing you some money saving tips – so that you can enjoy sustainable fashion on a budget and do your bit for the planet.

Scour charity shops

A great place to start your foray into the world of sustainable fashion, charity shops can be clothing goldmines – if you have the patience to put in the groundwork. Here you’ll find pre-worn items that still have plenty of wear left in them, and sometimes items even still have the labels on!

By turning your Saturday shopping trip to your favourite fashion retailers into a visit to your local charity shops, you can enjoy hours of browsing and trying on clothes – all while knowing you won’t be faced with a hefty price tag when you fall in love with something. By adding to your wardrobe with charity shop items, you can bag yourself some vintage clothing bargains, top up your savings pot, help the planet and support a local charity – what’s not to love about that?

Swap garments with friends

If you’re serious about finding out how to budget for your clothing but also want to do your bit for the planet, one of the best things you can do is stop buying from corporate retailers who mass-produce their clothing. So, rather than buying brand new clothes every time you want or need to, why not start by considering clothes swaps with friends?

You could turn this into an occasion every couple of months or even once a year, when your group of friends get together and showcase their pre-loved items. If everyone brings a handful of garments that they’re no longer interested in keeping, you should find that each person can leave with at least the makings of a new outfit – and it won’t have cost you or the environment a single thing!

Learn to repair your clothes

An age-old, tried and tested method of making your clothes last longer is simply to repair them yourself – and while you might think handmade alterations are a lost art, stats show that almost 1 million people have taken up sewing in recent years. If you’re tired of spending money on garments that don’t last as long as you think they should, this could be a great way to tighten the purse strings.

By learning to patch up your jeans, mend your jumper or turn your dresses into t-shirts, you can not only ensure your clothing lasts longer, but also adapt it to the style of the season without spending a penny. This also means fewer trips to the high street – meaning your bank balance will be benefiting from your new skills, and you can rest assured you’re having a welcome effect on Mother Nature, too.

If you want to take steps to reduce your fashion footprint, these tips are a great place to start – and the more people you can get on board with your savvy and sustainable way of living, the greater the impact you can have.

For more handy hints, budgeting tips and money saving advice, check out the Jolly Good Loans blog – where you’ll find regular posts that are designed to help you build a more stable financial future.

Stuck in the Red: What to Do When Your Debt Gets Too Much

Two people holding a pink piggy bank

From unforeseen emergencies to unemployment, racking up debt is easy to do – but accumulating too much can lead to other financial issues such as not being able to save money, missing bill payments and having to borrow more money to stay afloat. So, if you don’t know how much money you owe, your bills are often late or your finances are causing you to lose sleep, it’s likely you have more debt than you can handle – that’s why we’re here to help.

Today, we’re going to address how to manage debt when it all gets too much, helping you feel in control of your finances and helping you on your way to rebuilding your credit. No debt problems are unsolvable – although it might not be simple, the earlier you address these problems, the easier it is to tackle them.

Get free debt advice

Getting help with debt is the first step to finding out how to effectively manage debt. From online to telephone and face-to-face advice services, there is a free platform for everyone to confide in.

Finding ways to manage debts is always possible, even if you think you have no money. A debt adviser, for example, will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation, and will always be happy to talk to you, no matter how big or small your problem may be. Furthermore, a debt adviser is likely to suggest ways to deal with your debts that you might not know about – so speaking to one will make you feel less stressed and anxious and more in control of your life again.

Keep a budget

By keeping a budget, you’ll know exactly how much money you have coming in and how those funds are being spent. This is an important step in managing debt and building a successful financial future, as you’ll be able to get the most out of your money. A budget will give you a sense of control over your funds and is beneficial regardless of your economic standing.
From a notebook and pen to using a spreadsheet or financial software, analysing your spending can be tailored in whichever way you see fit.

Setting immediate goals to focus on today and long range goals which could span from weeks to decades means you can prioritise your financial goals accordingly. After determining your aims, calculate your income and expenses to obtain a clearer picture of how to achieve them. Then, it’s all about making sure you’re on track. Your expenses should never exceed your income, and if they do, adjustments need to be made accordingly.

Pay your bills on time each month

Late payments will make it harder to pay off your debt, as late fees will quickly add up. If you miss two payments in a row, your interest rate and finance charges will increase – subsequently, paying your bills on time is an effective way to stop the debt increasing.

Setting alerts and reminders on your smartphone a few days before your payment is due is a great way to stay ahead. Alternatively, create a monthly bill payment calendar to help you figure out which bills to pay with which paycheck.

If you miss a payment, don’t wait until the next due date to send it, as it could have already been reported to a credit bureau. Making the minimum payment will keep your debt from growing and keep your account in good standing, so ensure you prioritise these payments every month.

Check your options

Deciding on a debt solution is dependent on the type of debts you have, the amount of debt you have and how much money you can pay towards them. You could arrange a debt management plan by talking to your creditors.

Alternatively, consider taking out a debt consolidation loan to create a more manageable situation. The most obvious benefit is making one single payment, combining it into one monthly deadline. Debt consolidation loans also often come with low interest rates which prevents constant additional fees accumulating. By paying off debt payments efficiently, you’ll be in a position to achieve financial stability sooner – as getting your debt under control will mean you can start working on rebuilding your credit score, putting yourself in a better financial position by managing your debt.

Ultimately, a debt consolidation loan will reduce stress by focusing one payment in a manageable way, giving you extended time to pay the loan back so you can regain control over your finances.

For more tips on managing debt, budgeting and exploring your options, head over to the Jolly Good Loans blog to find out more.

New Year, New Rules: Changes to Expect This Tax Year

Last month saw the renewal of the UK tax year, and with that comes an array of new rates, thresholds and allowances. That’s why today, we’re here to help by breaking down any changes, both big and small, that might affect your personal and business finances this tax year.

Personal tax

Income tax thresholds have risen, with the amount you can earn per annum before paying income tax now capped at £12,500 (up from £11,850 in 2018). This means most people can look forward to a minor reduction of £130 in tax across the year, while high-earners with an annual income of over £50,000 will face the 40% higher rate tax (up from £46,350 in the previous year).

In Scotland, a whole range of changes to personal tax rates were announced following the Scottish Budget announcement back in December 2018. Primarily, this entailed the introduction of new tax bands and subsequent thresholds:

  • Starter rate (19%): £12,500 – £14,549 PA (up from £11,850 – £13,850)
  • Basic rate (20%): £14,550 – £24,944 PA (up from £13,851 – £24,000)
  • Intermediate (21%): £24,945 – £43,430 PA (up from £24,001 – £44,273)
  • Higher rate (41%): £43,431 – £150,000 PA (up from £44,274 – £150,000)
  • Additional rate (46%): Over £150,000 (Same as previous year)

Commercial perks

Benefits in kind (BIK) tax rates have increased as of 6th April, with taxable rates on company cars now being based on the levels of CO2 emissions emitted from the vehicle. HMRC has released this handy guide to help you work out what tax threshold your company vehicle falls under.

Elsewhere, taxation fees now apply to any personal fuel allowances on company vans at an increased rate as of April, with BIK on fuel for a van with personal use allowance rising to £3,430 (up from £3,350 in the previous tax year).

Student loans

The new tax year brings good news for students, with The Department for Education confirming a rise in the repayment thresholds for all student loans:

  • Plan 1 loan repayments will now commence once the loanee is earning £18,935 PA (up from £18,330)
  • Plan 2 loan repayments will commence following a salary of £25,725 PA (up from £25,000 the previous year)

Workplace & personal pensions

The tax-free total you can pay into a personal pension remains at £40,000 each tax year, although the lifetime allowance for pension savings has now increased to £1,055,000 (up from £1,030,000).

In auto-enrolment workplace pension schemes, the minimum pay-in amount required has also increased. As of April, employer and employee contributions must be at least 8% of the employee’s qualifying salary.

Corporation tax

Corporation tax (the payable rates on a business’s total profits) remains at 19% this year, however the UK government has announced plans to reduce this to 17% for the following 2020/21 tax year.

This comprehensive guide to financial changes this UK tax year will ensure you can stay on top of your outgoings and taxes, enabling you to sufficiently budget for all aspects of the year ahead. For additional budgeting tips and tricks, why not check out the rest of our blog?