10 Top Tips to ask your builder

10 Top Tips to ask your builder

Improving the energy efficiency of your home whilst you are having other work done is a great way to save money and make your house more comfortable to live in. Did you know that better insulated properties stay warmer in winter?
The Energy Saving Trust is here to help you identify the right measures and inform you about the benefits. If you need further information about the advice that your builder is giving you, we are on hand to give you free, impartial advice. We also have a grants information database which you can complete to find out about grants in your area; simply visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or call 0800 512 012 for more details.

1. Lofty ambitions: If you’re having an extension or loft conversion ask your builder to check your loft insulation. Did you know that loft insulation can cost as only £250 with a government subsidy to install and could save you up to £205 per year? That means it pays for itself in 1-2 years. As they’re already onsite, installing it then instead of coming back will save you money on labour costs. If you have less than 270mm insulation, you need a top up.

2. Is your house draughty? This easy to install measure is cheap and could save around £30 per year. All you need is tube of flexible filler or some draught proofing stripes from the DIY store! Look for draughts around windows and doors, light fittings and other service areas.

3. Under the boardwalk: If your builder’s pulling up floorboards or re-laying floors, it would be a great time to install underfloor insulation. This sits underneath the floorboards and makes sure rooms stay warm in winter and less draughty. It will cost around £90 for materials and the householder could save around £50 a year depending on how many rooms it can be installed in.

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Easy Ways to Confront your Holiday Credit Card Debt

The holidays are over now. It’s the time to step into reality, the mundane world. It’s time to contemplate what you achieved and sacrificed in your vacation. What you have earned are the blissful memories of the moments you spent with your family that you will cherish for the rest of your life. But to gain this you’ve sacrificed your hard-earned money.

Now as the holiday credit card statements are arriving in the mail, you are now in anxiety and facing the stern reality of drowning in credit card debt. Now to find a reliable solution to your misfortune, you need not to consult a debt settlement professional or an Attorney. To help tackle this Holiday debt crisis and to lead a debt free 2011,  keep in mind the following tips:

Tips for Getting Out of Holiday Debt


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Ten Travel Insurance Top Tips

Always consider a family policy.

Quite often you will find that you save money overall, and most of the policies will let the people covered travel individually as well. One thing that should be checked, though, is that children under 18 travelling on their own may not be covered.

Increase your excess to reduce your premium.

Statistically, you are unlikely to claim upon your travel insurance, and while we do not advocate travelling without it, you can reduce your overall premium by increasing the excess payable – you can make some quite big savings doing this, but make sure you can cover the payment should you need to!

Get an excess Waiver

If you’ve just got that sinking feeling before you leave, and you think you might have to claim on your cover, an excess waiver can be added to most policies for around £20, meaning you won’t have to pay your excess should a claim be made.

Think ahead.

Many companies will sell you a multi-trip policy that will cover you, for a set period of time (12 months is standard). If you make three or more trips in that period you will often save large amounts of money, or if you book a lot of last minute trips, it is good to know that you are covered from the outset.

Don’t skimp on medical cover.

Don’t even waste your time looking for policies with under £1m of medical cover – outside Europe you should be looking at over £2m of cover – Being ill in another country can work out to be very expensive if the worst comes to the worst. Also, don’t forget that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) isn’t necessarily a complete alternative.

Ditch the things you don’t need.

It’s always worth checking what is covered by your bank or credit card provider. Quite often you will find that your luggage and/or personal belongings are covered by one of the organisations listed above, and opting out of these extras can save you nearly 90%.

Check what is and isn’t covered.

Want to go scuba diving while you’re away? Or skiing? These, and many other, activities are quite often not included in standard travel insurance policies, as they are classed as “Hazardous Pastimes”. Often an additional premium is payable to include these (And similar) activities.

Make sure you read your policy details carefully.

Some policies can have an upper age limit as low as 40; if you turn 41 while on your trip and you need to make a claim, you will find that the policy will often not pay out. As soon as you receive your documents, read through every section and ensure you understand it all – any problems or questions, do not hesitate to contact your provider.

Always declare pre-existing medical conditions.

As tempting as it is to not mention an existing medical problem in order to keep the price of your policy down, the last thing you want is to be affected by that condition while you’re away, as by not declaring it you invalidate your policy.

Shop around.

Using the advice given above, you should be able to decrease the cost of your cover considerably, however it’s always best to compare travel insurance policies to make sure you’re getting the best (and cheapest) possible cover.

Slash your petrol costs

Drivers are set for more pain at the pump so finding out how you can control your fuel consumption and cut the cost of running your car is desired.

Use the Internet for cheap petrol prices

Use a service like Petrolprices.com to find the best priced fuel in your local area. Petrolprices.com compares 1,000’s of petrol stations every day and updates the prices daily.

Use a Sat Nav

sat nav save money
Plan your route before leaving with a mapping service like Multimap or Google Maps and then you must use a satellite navigation during your journey. Don’t waste petrol by going the long way, wrong way or getting caught in traffic.

Aim to Drive efficiently

You can slash petrol consumption by up to 25% by driving more efficiently. Drive at an appropriate speed and anticipate traffic flow – not only does this increase safety, it should lead to a reduction in braking and accelerating, saving you money on fuel costs and reducing CO2 emissions.

Avoid Revving your engine

lewis hamilton
lewis hamilton

lewis hamilton

Modern car engines are designed to be efficient from the moment they’re switched on, so revving up like Lewis Hamilton wastes fuel and increases engine wear.

The best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it – if you’re likely to be idle for more than two minutes, simply switch off the engine.

When accelerating, change gear as early as possible: a vehicle traveling at 35mph in third gear uses 25% more fuel than at the same speed in fifth gear.

The best time to change up a gear is 2500rpm for a petrol car and 2000rpm for a diesel. The more revs you use the harder you are working your engine.

Beware of AC

Fuel efficiency is reduced by up to 10% for air conditioning and by 4% for cars with climate control, so only use it when it’s really necessary – and for best performance, only when you are driving at more than 40mph.

About half of the energy used to drive a car is used to fight aerodynamic drag – so you should also avoid opening your window on a motorway & remove any unnecessary items like  roof racks.

Reduce your car use

Most of all car journeys are for less than a few miles but these are the most fuel-inefficient journeys – a cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel. Walk, cycle or catch public transport instead. Also combining shorter trips can also help you save time and fuel.

Try a local car club

If you live in a city then it could pay to join a car club instead of owning your own set of wheels. Membership gets you pay-as-you-go access to cars all over the UK.

The Best Car Clubs in the UK

Top 50 Money Tips Online

1 Become more informed – read the money pages of newspapers and by watching or listening to finance programmes.

2 Try to pay off debts with the highest interest first – continue paying the minimum on your other debts and ensure priority bills such as the mortgage and council tax are paid. This way your debts will be paid off faster.

3 If you are offered optional insurance to cover your payments, consider whether it is suitable or even necessary – you may already have cover from an existing policy.

4 Don’t be persuaded to take out credit if you can afford to pay for goods outright.

5 Be wary of interest-free deals on new products. They are only interest-free if you pay them off within the agreed time period.

6 Scrutinise your weekly shopping. Are there less expensive brands or money-saving offers you could take advantage of?

7 Remember to look at your budget every time your circumstances change. Use any spare money to pay off debts – you are paying more interest on your debts than you are earning on your savings.

8 Undergo regular saving health checks. Don’t put your money away and completely forget about it. Check that your account is performing well, and keep alert for new products, which might pay better rates of return.


9 Don’t panic! And don’t ignore the problem, it won’t go away.

10 Don’t take out more credit – you’ll only get yourself in worse trouble.

11 Talk to your creditors and let them know you are having problems.

12 Always obtain independent professional advice on debt.

13 Some people use one of the debt-management companies who make payments on their behalf. Be careful, as they will charge an extra fee for their time and, if they are late with your repayments, it’s you who is responsible, not them.

14 Before you think of putting cash aside, try to clear credit card debt, overdrafts, personal loans or other short-term borrowings. It’s no use starting to save if your gains are being wiped out by the interest rate you are paying to borrow money.

15 You will find it easier to pay off your debts if you keep control of your monthly outgoings. Keep a record for a month of everything you spend.

16 As you move into the black, start to set money aside each month and get used to the savings habit.

17 Always contact your bank if you think you are likely to go into the red. Going overdrawn without the advance agreement of your bank can be very expensive and the interest and fees will mount quickly.

18 Take advantage of the free temporary overdraft facility offered many banks and building societies in case you accidentally go into the red by a small amount.

19 Pay the most important bills like mortgage or rent, council tax, and gas and electricity first. Otherwise you will be in danger of losing your home, having your gas and electricity cut off, or ending up in court and possibly prison.

20 Think twice about taking out a loan to pay off all your debts. You may end up paying back a lot more than you borrowed and at very high interest rates. You may not be able to afford the repayments and the loan may be secured against your home, which you could then lose.

21 Bringing all your debts together under the discipline of a personal loan is one means of regaining control, only if the loan doesn’t increase your overall indebtedness.

22 Simplifying your finances by merging multiple debts into one big one doesn’t necessarily mean your monthly outgoings will be less. Make sure the interest rate on offer is lower than the ones you are currently paying.

24 Steer clear of the loan sharks and credit brokers in the classified ads.

25 Seek advice from your CAB. They will help you work out repayments and negotiate with your creditors, and also help you keep out of debt in the future.


26 First decide how much you want to borrow and for how long. The longest loans tend to be secured ones.

27 Get a range of quotes for your loan, then pick the cheapest rate – is it stand-alone or does it includes things like loan insurance. Look for a loan without early redemption penalties if there’s a chance you’ll be able to repay the loan early.

28 Lenders will push hard for insurance for the loan – condiser it if you’re in any doubt about being able to meet the repayments – it might put your mind at rest. Unfortunately it will also make the loan more expensive.

29 A good alternative to loan insurance is accident, sickness and unemployment insurance. This will protect your overall income, including the loan, if you can’t work.

30 If you find you can’t meet the repayments, contact your lender straightaway. Banks and building societies are usually willing to help and might freeze the loan for a while or extend the repayment period. In a worst case scenario, the lender could force you to sell something like your house if the loan is secured on it to pay back the loan.

31 Double-check the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line. Are you clear about what the monthly repayments will be? Are you aware of any restrictions and penalties?


32 Shop around for the latest deals. Many homeowners are paying over the odds for their mortgages and could potentially save money by replacing their existing home loan with a better deal.

33 Remortgaging is worth considering if you are paying a comparatively high rate on a standard repayment or “interest-only” mortgage and your loan is for less than 75% of the value of your home. The larger your mortgage the bigger the savings and the more worthwhile remortgaging is.

34 You could save around £60 a month on an average £50,000 interest-only mortgage, for example, by switching from a standard variable rate to a middle road fixed-rate deal, according to independent mortgage brokers John Charcol.

35 Beware if you are tied into a special fixed-rate or discounted deal with your existing lender where you would have to pay a hefty “redemption penalty” to end the arrangement, if you are considering moving lenders. This would reduce or even cancel out any savings you make.

Home Insurance

36. If you have a mortgage, you will have no choice but to have buildings insurance. Do not necessarily use your lender, as it might not be the best deal.

37 Shop around through brokers, the internet and individual companies – the amount you can pay for the same cover will vary widely.

38 Make sure you insure the rebuilding cost, not the value of your property.

39 Your mortgage lender can tell you how much to insure your property for when you take out your loan. Otherwise, ask a surveyor. Premiums will be lower for detached houses, and higher for terraced houses and flats.

40 You may get a discount if you buy combined building and contents insurance and also if your home meets your insurer’s security requirements, including specific types of window and door locks.

41 It might be a good idea to include an opt-out if the rates of your insurance are increased.

42 If you live in a postcode area with a high crime rate it’s worth investing in a good security system. Most insurers will offer you a discount if you have done this.


43 Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with any of a range of serious conditions, which include cancer, heart disease, strokes and multiple sclerosis.

44 When buying critical illness insurance you must decide how many conditions you want covered, and how much cover you need. You must also decide how long you want the policy to last and whether you want to include it as part of your life assurance. Most people opt to cover the cost of their outstanding mortgage loan, plus a bit more. Your policy should last at least as long as your mortgage.


45 Term assurance offers you cover for a specified number of years. Because it is only for a fixed term, as opposed to the whole of your life, this makes it cheaper than conventional life insurance. The premiums quoted on term assurance policies can vary widely so it makes sense to get several quotes.

46 Care should be taken when considering whole of life policies: as opposed to term insurance, these last throughout your life so your dependants are guaranteed a payout. It can cost substantially more than term assurance. Some of these policies are reviewable – it is possible that after 10 years, your insurance company decides that either your premiums are going to have to go up, or you are going to have to accept a cut in the level of cover. However, they give you life cover, and they have a surrender value at any time (subject to cancelling the life cover).

Travel Insurance

47 When buying travel insurance, if you only go away for one or two weeks a year, then it is cheaper to just cover the time you are away rather than buy a standard package. Don’t pay for a fortnight’s cover if you only go abroad for 10 days in the year. If you travel abroad more than once a year it will cost you less to take out an annual travel insurance policy.

Motor Insurance tips online

48 The Internet can be useful for comparing motor insurance quotes. You might be able to save up to 30% by doing this.

49 If you have some cash put aside, agreeing to pay a larger excess will help cut your premiums.

50 Watch out for the future of car insurance – a pilot study will be underway from summer 2003 for a ‘pay-as-you-drive’ scheme. It will use the data from a ‘black box’ to establish the usage of the vehicle, and will then construct a monthly usage premium -similar to that of a utility or phone bill. However much you use, you will be billed for. This will be ideal for low mileage users or for the second family car. The scheme is planned to go live in 2005.

Important considerations for pet Insurance

Below, we’ve included a checklist of the key points you may want to clarify with the insurance company before you make your decision.

Things to consider when comparing pet insurance

  • Does the cost of the policy suit my budget?
  • Is the level of veterinary fee cover appropriate for me?
  • What are the excesses and how are they applied?
  • Will my insurance cover my pet for the whole of its life?
  • What additional benefits are important to me?

Pet insurance gives you peace of mind and can literally save you thousands of pounds for a few pounds a month.

Best Pet Insurance UK

Pet Insurance online tips

As a nation of animal lovers, when a pet becomes ill, it can be a very worrying and upsetting time.

You want the very best treatment for your pet, yet anxiety over their health can be made worse by the concern of high vets’ bills.

The average cost of a visit to the vet is over £130. With one in three pets needing veterinary treatment each year, pet insurance is clearly an important consideration and potentially a key way of saving money if things go wrong.

The 4 most important tips to consider when choosing pet insurance online are:

1. Medical benefits – Taking out a policy with sufficient medical benefit is vital. Always check the policy details and the limit of medical fees you’re actually covered for.

2. Limitations – Some pet insurance will have limitations written in the small print. These can quite often include time limits on when you can claim.

3. Life Long Cover – Look for pet insurance that you can renew year after year, even in the event of you making several claims. Some pet insurance will allow cover for life while others may stipulate a maximum age of 6- 8 years.

4. Liability – As with all insurance policies there are usually a number of differences to be found between the various insurance companies. You will generally find, though, that most insurers will offer some kind of liability in their pet insurance that protects you in cases where your pet has caused damage to property or, worse still, another person.

Best Pet Insurance UK

Travel Money Tips Online

  • travel
    Book Online Only.
    Booking online can save you time and money. Most travel operators offer discounts if you book online, as opposed to over the telephone or in a shop.
  • Book off-peak and mid-week if possible. Friday, Saturday and Sunday generally attract an additional supplement. You’ll also find that hotels and flights are much cheaper during the off-season, so try booking just before or just after a major holiday season.
  • Book flights well in advance. Typically, there will be cheap and expensive deals for each flight, and it is usually the case that the best bargains go on a first come, first served basis. 
  • Get the best currency rates. If you are using traditional currency it is important to look for the best rates. Avoid changing currencies at airports, ferries and hotels as they are unlikely to offer the best rates.
  • Try day trips. Day trips offer a unique opportunity to explore a new country, as well as providing a fantastic way to entertain the family.