10 Ways To Save So You Can Invest In 2015

The New Year brings a chance for reflection, renewal and a determined approach to the 12 months ahead. Now that most of those resolutions have lapsed, it’s time to start seriously organising your affairs for better financial health in 2015. With many people still finding their feet after Christmas and New Year, the time for making cutbacks is most definitely now. But that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish your standard of living, and with a few simple changes you can be well on your way to saving so you can have more money to invest in a more prosperous future.

Try A Few More Layers (Yes, Really).

It’s amazing what a warm, woolly jumper can do for helping deflect those early-year chills. Sure, it’s cold outside, but by opting for a few extra layers, you can control just how much heating you use. Switching the heating on even an hour later ever day can mount up into a serious saving over time, leaving you with more money to play with when the warmer months come round. If you’re serious about preparing to invest in 2015, this can be a good way to shave a few pounds off the edges.

Tackle That Stubborn Credit Card

Credit cards are in all probability your most expensive form of finance. Don’t fall for the trap of just paying the minimum amount every month – attack the balance if you want to reduce the overall principal, and the resultant interest you will have to pay. Alternatively, look for a 0% balance transfer offer and you can move your principal elsewhere, helping you save on the excess interest charges for any balance while you get your affairs in order for the year ahead.

Do Compare Prices

Price comparison websites can be extremely helpful in spotting inefficiencies in your current spending, and identifying opportunities for savings across your key utility bills. If you are looking to save to invest, the best types of savings are structural – those that mean you’re paying less month on month. If you haven’t done so in a while, get online and start comparing. You might just find it’s cheaper to survive than you think.

Other Ideas For Saving

– Find online coupon codes and vouchers
– Do food shopping in one store (think loyalty points)
– Search cashback deals for big purchases
– Cancel unnecessary commitments, e.g. that unused gym membership.
– Walk more (saves fuel costs, and improves your health)
– Buy for next Christmas early for extra discounts
– Cut down on alcohol

Freeing up unnecessary spending for investment is a great way to set your finances on the right course in the New Year, and start you on your journey to more controlled financial management. You don’t have to radically change your lifestyle to make small savings here and there, which when invested can quickly add up to something more substantial, and provide you with recurring benefits from there onwards. For more tips on saving money, and structuring your finances in a more effective way, visit us at ukhomeandpersonalloans.co.uk.

Infographic: Starting the New Year on the Right Foot

Starting the New Year on the Right Foot is a Infographic produced by UKHomeAndPersonalLoans.co.uk

Never Invest on a Whim

Have you ever come across someone who tells you they make investments according to their ‘gut feelings’? They might even tell you about the time they felt certain a particular stock was going to do well, and what do you know, they were right. They’ll probably wax lyrical about that particular success… and yet you’ll never hear about all the times they acted on their gut feelings and went spectacularly wrong.

In reality, gut feelings are fine when you’re doing something that won’t have a dreadful outcome if it all goes wrong. Maybe you’ll follow your gut feeling when you spot a TV dinner that looks pretty good for example. You’ve only got to rustle up a sandwich if you get it wrong and the real thing tastes horrible. Get it wrong with your investments though and you could be counting the cost for a long time to come.

Never make hasty decisions

Hasty decisions can be dangerous. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’. The same thing could apply to investing too. Not all investments are as easy to get out of as they are to get into. Furthermore you could end up losing money. Say you invest in a ‘hot stock’ for example because you think (or read, or heard) that it could get hotter still. If it doesn’t, if it actually takes a nosedive before you can get your money back out, you will lose money because you acted hastily.

This is why it always pays to take your time when it comes to making any kind of investment decisions. If someone is eager for you to take advantage of a particular investment – more eager than you are, for example – ask yourself why that would be the case. Why should they be more eager than you? What are they getting out of it?

Take the time to think about your own financial needs before doing anything else. Consider the investment you are looking into as well. Find out all you can about it. If someone has recommended it to you ask why this is the case. Are they benefiting in some way if you take it on? Everything you invest in should be chosen because it is right for you, your needs and your goals. These are really the only investments you should ever consider.

Many people find at some point in their lives that having a plan is the best way to move forward financially. A plan enables you to work out where you need to be in the future, and how you should stand financially when you get there. A plan is also in direct contrast to acting on a whim. While you can plan ahead and still not achieve your aims, the chances of not getting the results you want are far higher when you have no plan at all. This is why you should steer well clear of whims of all kinds, for now and for the future.

Apple is investing in Solar Energy!

 

Tim Cook: New solar farm will be Apple’s ‘biggest and boldest project ever’ – ZDNet

ReutersTim Cook: New solar farm will be Apple’s ‘biggest and boldest project ever’ZDNetCook touted this solar farm would be able to produce enough power for almost 60,000 California homes, or translated another way, enough energy to fuel Apple’s new …

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California Flats Solar Project

agreements with Apple Computers buying 130MW to power its California operations. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has contracted for 150MW. Solar power in California

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Apple’s $848M, 25-year solar agreement is the largest of its …

Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:47:00 -0800

Apple’s landmark solar power deal, announced by CEO Tim Cook this week, is a long-term sustainable energy solution that should generate enough to power essentially all of the company’s California operations, including …

Read more …Apple to Open Massive $850M Solar Farm in Monterey …

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:21:14 -0800

During today’s Goldman Sachs conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple is planning its “boldest, biggest, most ambitious project,” yet in the form of a 1,300 acre solar farm in Monterey County, California.

Read more …Apple’s data center in NC to build largest private solar arrays in nation

Apple hopes the solar farms and fuel cell installation being built near its plant in Maiden will provide 60 percent of the power needed to run its massive da…

Read more …Apple is greening the cloud with this massive solar array

Apple, which once drew fire from campaigners for working conditions in China and heavy reliance on fossil fuels, is now leading other technology companies in…

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Changing Your Investment Plans

No matter how well you plan your financial future, life can throw up some challenges and alterations that could lead you to consider making changes. For example you might assume you are retiring at the normal age of 67. However you might fall ill and be forced to retire earlier. Conversely you might end up working for yourself and be able to sell your business to retire at 50. Some people manage to do it, even if they are few and far between.

The point is you could find you plan for one thing when in actual fact something completely different happens between now and then. This doesn’t have to be something bad – it just means you might need to adjust your investment plans at one or more points in your life.

Recognising when your needs might change

This is the first step in the process. Most of the time you’ll recognise a change in circumstances. For example maybe you’ve saved for the last 15 years thinking your kid will go to college and actually they land a great job right out of school and never go. Another example could be you’ve saved for a few years with the intention of going on a world cruise when you retire. However when you get to retirement age you find you’d rather explore closer to home instead. There are all kinds of other examples you could give in this situation.

As you can see, not all situations might demand a change in the way you invest. If you’ve built up a nice block of savings that was intended for your kid’s college fund, maybe you can save it for their wedding instead. In a more general sense you may have been saving for your retirement and you had specific plans for when that time came. Now though your plans have changed. However it doesn’t mean your savings or investments have to change. You can still use that cash to fund a different kind of retirement. You might even elect to use some of it to help you set up your own business.

Knowing what changes to make financially

Clearly there are situations in which you may not need to make any changes at all to the way you’ve been saving. However if those changes are big – as in you’ve gotten divorced for example – you will clearly need to prepare for some significant changes in your life. As such you’ll need to think about how your finances will change and how big those changes might be.

In a post we issued a couple of weeks back we mentioned the idea of seeing a financial advisor. If you find your investment plans need to change in some way – whether this is a positive or negative change – you should consider whether seeing an advisor could help you get the results you want. You may find you can make better decisions when you have the advantage of more knowledge to go on.

How to Create an Investment Plan

Do you have an investment plan? If not, are you planning to create one in the near future? The answer to one of those two questions should be yes, otherwise you should accept your financial future will be largely left exposed to what may or may not occur in your life.

Creating an investment plan need not be overly-complex. It should begin by assessing what goals you have in life. You are likely to have several of these, some of which might be relatively short-term goals while others might be long-term ones. The best part of doing this is that you’ll know when you need the money you invest.

For instance if you have 30 years to go until you retire, it will be a long-term goal to save a certain amount before you get there. However if you only have five years to go until retirement, this will be a short-term goal to consider. This doesn’t just apply to retirement either – it applies to every type of goal you may have in mind. As such it is not enough to have a goal to focus on; you should also know when that goal needs to be achieved by.

Once you have a rough plan in mind in this way, you should consider how much risk you want to take on. Investments that involve a greater degree of risk may operate more successfully over a longer period of time. Stocks are a great example of this. You wouldn’t generally invest in stocks for a year or two, since there is a much greater chance you could lose money if this was the case. However if you are able to invest in stocks over a period of 10 or even 20 years, you would stand an excellent chance of making a good profit on your investment over that period of time. The stock market tends to have real ups and downs, but over the longer term they are smoothed out far more than would otherwise be the case.

One important factor to bear in mind when you are considering an investment plan is the amount of risk you would personally be happy to accept. Some people are naturally far more risk-averse than others. This is no bad thing – the most important thing is to make sure you choose those investments that suit you best in this area. While it is true a higher degree of risk can bring greater rewards, there is no guarantee of this. Therefore if you are unhappy with a particular amount of risk it is probably best to back away from those investments that surpass your level of comfort in this area.

As you can see, creating an investment plan doesn’t need to be a major exercise. It could merely be a case of setting a few goals and asking a few questions of yourself before proceeding. Providing you check back with it every now and then there is a good chance you will achieve greater success with a plan than you would without.

Practical Reasons to Check Your Savings on a Regular Basis

Plenty of people have gone through the process of comparing savings accounts in order to find the one that offers the most in interest. However once they’ve grabbed the best deal on the market, they forget all about that account until they have the need to withdraw some of the cash.

While this is understandable it’s not always the best way to go about things. Here are three reasons why you need to keep more regular tabs on your money, wherever you’ve got it tucked away.

How much interest are you earning?

Newly-issued accounts tend to have the best rates of interest (and the highest degree of visibility in the marketplace). Is it any wonder there are plenty of savings accounts out there with minimal interest rates that are gathering dust because their owners have forgotten about them?

Even if you haven’t forgotten about your savings you may not be aware of the current rate of interest available on it. Maybe it’s time you checked to see how much you’re getting for being loyal to a particular provider.

Are there better deals out there today?

In most cases the answer will be yes. Unless you have only just opened a savings account at a good rate, there are bound to be other accounts out there that have better interest rates. Don’t delay taking advantage of them, especially if you’ve had your existing account for quite a while.

You can compare pretty easily online thanks to a number of comparison websites. However you should check any providers that aren’t included on these sites individually to gain a proper picture.

Are they still serving the purpose they were intended for?

We open savings accounts for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes you might feel you want to take advantage of a particularly good deal. Other times you may want to set one up to enable you to save for a long-term goal. There could be a myriad of other reasons why you’ve set up a savings account in the past too.

However it is worth checking periodically to make sure the aims you had in mind when opening that account are still being met by it. For example, maybe you had a certain account because it provided a bonus if you didn’t make any withdrawals in the first five years (just as an example). If that’s not working for you anymore, you may want to change to a different account.

As you can see there are several things to consider here. It makes sense to ensure you keep an eye on that savings account you have, just to ensure it does still tick all the boxes you had in mind for it when you opened it. In some cases you might be okay with an account for a few years, while in others you may want to move on pretty quickly. The key is to know which applies in your case, and to keep tabs on what is going on at all times.

Should You Use a Financial Advisor or Planner?

Few of us have extensive knowledge about any area of our finances. We look at what we can find in terms of a particular investment area and then make the best decision based on the limited knowledge we’ve been able to gather together.

It’s small wonder then that some people like to use the services of a financial advisor. This won’t apply to everyone of course – some may think using such a person means they’re giving up control of their own finances. Nothing could be further from the truth but it all depends on the individual and their own views on the matter.

So – should you use one or not?

How much do you know about a particular investment type?

If you are thinking about investing in a particular investment vehicle it makes sense to find out as much as you can about it before you do so. You might be acting on misleading information. Maybe you’ve got the wrong idea about how profitable a particular investment might be. Maybe you assume it will provide a certain level of risk when actually it could be far riskier than you think.

Knowing your limits and your comfort levels is a big part of the process when considering any investment possibility. This is an area a financial planner can help you with.

They will always know more than you

This is one of the biggest reasons why some people opt to use a financial planner. Most people can find out the basics about anything using the internet or a few well-chosen books. However beyond this few people would be able to spend time researching a particular investment so they could determine whether it was suitable for them or not.

As such a financial advisor could possibly provide useful in-depth information it would be very difficult to get hold of on your own. You may be able to discover more on your own if you had the time, but few of us would have the time or the energy to delve into the details for any given financial topic. The ever-changing nature of many investments also means whatever we do learn is likely to rapidly become out-of-date before we have the chance to use it.

This is essentially what we pay a financial planner for. While they don’t suit everyone at every stage of their lives, they will suit some people more than others. As such it might be worth considering whether you have an area of your financial life that could benefit from some expert advice at one point or another. If so, you could end up with the chance to make more money than you may have done otherwise.

Perhaps more importantly, you will go into an investment with your eyes wide open instead of simply hoping for the best. A planner may make it easier for you to identify whether an investment was potentially all you had hoped for… or nothing close to it after all.

Think Long If You Invest in the Stock Market

Stock market investing is not for everyone. However if you are considering investing some money in this area, it is worth giving it some serious thought before you actually do so.

The reason for this is simple. Some people view the stock market as a place where fast gains can be made. Now in theory this is true. If you chose a particular stock to buy and it happened to appreciate in value over the space of, say, a month, you could sell it for a good profit. However in reality that doesn’t happen that often. Even when it does few people are lucky enough to have bought at the low point and are ready to sell when it hits that good profit level.

That’s why the stock market is on the whole viewed as a long-term investment vehicle. Most experts will agree with this, even though it has been noted some people are increasingly looking at short-term investments. There is more to this story than you might think, however.

History says the overall trend is up

They say hindsight is an exact science and there is a good reason for that. We should therefore check out how the stock market has performed through the years too. This can give us plenty of information on how things pan out over time. And history tells us that on the whole the general trend for the value of the stock market is a good one – it continues to move in an upward direction for the most part.

Now of course there are dips and troughs in this market. We’ve all seen news headlines that have had an effect on the markets. We’ve also read about poor results attributed to a particular business which have led to that business’s stocks taking a nosedive. We’ve equally heard stories about a business that has gone from strength to strength, leading its stock value to do the same.

The point to remember though in all of this is that there will always be drops in value of the stock (or stocks) you hold. This is never going to be any different. So if you are considering investing in the stock market you need to consider whether you are happy with this. Will you worry when the value of the stocks you have dips? Will you wonder if you should cash in those stocks or hang onto them? How will you react if you see them take a serious nosedive? Would you hang onto them in the hope they will recover or cut your losses?

These are the questions you should at least be aware of prior to investing in the stock market. It is clearly not a market everyone will be happy investing in; however you may find if you think for the long-term you would be more settled in the ups and downs of this market. If this is the case, it could be worth looking at which stocks you would invest in.

Focusing on Your #1 Financial Priorities for January

So here we are again – a brand new year is in front of us. As is tradition, the excesses of the festive season are swiftly followed by the cutbacks – and sometimes the worries – of January. If you are now counting the cost of one too many splurges in December, now is the time to do something about it.

Your options are limited of course. You can’t return everything you bought in the run-up to Christmas. Gifts for other people and food items will be long since enjoyed and used, so you have to accept whatever you spent as fact. Now is the time to focus on how to pay for it all if you are dreading the January credit card bill that is about to fall through your letter box.

Here are some tips that should help you through this period.

Focus on housing costs first

Some bills are more important than others. The #1 priority for everyone should be paying your housing costs. Nothing else matters if you can’t keep a roof over your head. For most of us, this won’t be the reality we’re faced with. However if you know you’ve got financial problems, make sure you start with getting your mortgage or rental payments sorted out.

Cut out all unnecessary expenses

Be brutal in January. What could you honestly do without this month? Oftentimes the excess of food we tend to splurge on at Christmas is still hanging around now. Store cupboard items and other things with a long expiry date that didn’t get used over the festive season can be brought out now. They will help you reduce your shopping bill this month. Brown-bag your lunches, avoid the coffee shop at work, avoid the January sales, do whatever you can to reduce your outgoings this month.

Need a new card?

If you know you have a credit card bill looming at the end of the month, consider how realistic it is that you’ll clear the whole thing. If you don’t think you can, consider swapping the balance to a 0% interest deal to pay it off with the minimum of fees.

Keep up these great habits throughout 2015

If you wanted to start the New Year by saving instead of spending money, you can still start in the right way. Once you have taken care of your bills by trying to reduce outgoings as much as possible, you can focus on the months still to come. Think about putting away even a token amount of money each week – you’d be surprised how optimistic you’ll feel even by doing this. Small habits can easily translate into bigger savings as you go along.

Of course your first priority will be to make sure you can start the year in as good a financial shape as possible. So make sure you know exactly where you stand now January is here. The steps above will help you get to where you need to be.

New Year Savings and Investment Planning

Regardless of whether you managed to save and invest money throughout 2014 or not, this is the best time to sit down and review what you’d like to do in 2015. The New Year gives us all an opportunity to look back as well as to look forward. If you did invest this year you can consider whether you achieved what you wanted to achieve, and whether you’d like to make any changes for the New Year. If you didn’t save anything you can consider how to change your approach for 2015 to make sure things will be different this time.

Same again?

Let’s assume you had a monthly investment plan in place during 2014. How did it perform in the end? Did you get the returns you expected? Did you do better or worse than you thought might be the case?

If you look back and you are happy with what you achieved, you may be happy to continue in the same vein once again. This is the easiest path to follow, but it may not be the one that is suitable for you.

Did your plans for making savings in 2014 fall by the wayside?

It is quite possible this was the case for you. Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions that don’t last longer than a day or two. This is quite common, but when you want to make headway with your savings it can be disheartening not to achieve your aims. This is particularly acute at this time of the year, when you look back and think of what you might have achieved had you had the determination to keep up with your plans.

If you’re in this position, use what you learned last year to consider how you can move forward this time around. Think of it like this – last year you didn’t have any knowledge of the challenges you might face in trying to save and invest money. This time around you’ve already tried it once. What obstacles did you come across? What tripped you up? How would you do things differently this time around? You can use all this information to tackle some of the obstacles before you even reach them in 2015. Just think of the difference that could make.

Be prepared

Whatever path you took last time, you’ll know just how to approach saving in 2015 this time. You can also consider other aspects of your approach, such as the budget you work with each month. Are you earning more now than you were this time last year? Have you had any changes in other areas of your household budget? Check all your bills to see whether there are any new deals you can take advantage of.

By doing all this you can make sure you are able to get the best start to 2015. Making an effort now could make a huge difference to where you are financially come this time next year.

How to Invest Money by Avoiding Sales Fever

Many stores hold sales both before and after Christmas to try and lure shoppers in with the promise of great discounts and bargains. However this is not just a time of bargain shopping – it is also a time when you could potentially blow a lot of cash on things you don’t really need.

If you’ve worked hard during 2014 to make sure you’ve been able to save up and invest money in places you’ve never done before, it can be very tempting to splurge once you get to Christmas. This is something we talked about last week. Yet it is also very easy to get pulled in by the many sales tactics that are used to ensure people come in and spend money – whether that’s online or offline.

If you know you’ll be tempted, perhaps the following things might be worth thinking about.

Do you really need it?

If you spot a bargain, take some time before you actually buy it. If you’re in a store, pick it up and carry it with you in case you do decide to buy it. But give yourself time to consider whether or not you really need it. Many sales play on people’s desire to feel like they’ve got a bargain. These techniques could work on you whether you like it or not, so try and cut down on the impulse buys by thinking practically instead.

Look at the actual cash

If you do spend in a store, look at the money you’d be spending instead of paying for items on a debit or credit card. Seeing the actual cash means you get a better idea of how much you’re parting with. It can be a good method of restricting what you buy or helping you realise you don’t need it in the first place.

Set the cash aside

If you successfully refrain from buying something, set the cash aside you would have spent on it. Invest it instead, or simply keep it in a jar for the time being. This will help you realise what you’ve saved. When the amount builds up you can always put it in a savings account.

Window shopping or no shopping at all?

Is it really possible only to window shop when you’re out and about and it’s sales time? Few of us could do this successfully. If you know you’ll be tempted, plan something nice to do at home instead. Maybe arrange a nice dinner with the family, or consider doing something that doesn’t involve going out.

The main thing to remember is that you do not have to participate in any sales before or after the festive season. While it can be good to get things if you are looking for affordable gifts, these sales can lead to unnecessary spending. If you have strict investment and savings plans, these can very easily be wrecked in a short space of time. Make sure you don’t wreck your plans as we ease into a New Year.

Tempted By a Last-Minute Raid on Your Savings?

You’re nearly there now. With less than ten days to go until Christmas is upon us once again, you may have planned and budgeted for this moment over much of the past year. Now you’re nearly there… and yet this eleventh hour, so to speak, can be more tempting than the rest of the year put together.

You may have had a savings plan in place since January as part of last year’s New Year’s Resolution. If you have, you’ve already gone through weeks and weeks of planning, saving and budgeting. You may well have saved up plenty in your savings or investment accounts over the past few months. Whatever your plans are for that cash, chances are those plans don’t include Christmas splurging. Ideally you’ve got a separate budget for that.

But then Christmas is actually – finally – just around the corner. Lights are twinkling, the festive trees are everywhere, people are caught up buying presents, and everyone is busy. It’s great to be in a position where you’re getting excited about the festive season and enjoying everything that comes with it. Yet one of the things that comes with it for many people is the stress of figuring out what to buy and how much to spend.

Again, planning can get you out of trouble here. However it’s still easy to be tempted to dip into those funds you’ve steadily been building up and investing over the past 12 months. When this happens you can wreck all that good work and those good intentions in moments. Especially if you happen to have a credit card handy.

If you’re in this situation now and temptation is beckoning in some way (regardless of whether it’s in the form of extra gifts, more food or simply ‘stuff’), take a moment to think. This is the best way to ensure you don’t spend January and beyond trying to put all your hard work back together again. It is incredibly easy to wreck your good intentions in moments if you’re not careful. Make sure this doesn’t happen by focusing on everything you have achieved financially during 2014. This should help ensure you don’t blow your hard work in a short space of time. Think about all the individual financial decisions you’ve made and the sacrifices you’ve made to get to where you are now. Think how hard it would be to start over from that same stage again. Do you really want to blow it?

Being able to keep a level head financially at this time of year is crucial. Those who don’t end up with a challenge come January. This challenge normally involves how they’re going to figure out how to pay their credit card bill and stay in the black at the same time. If you want to keep on going with your good efforts, let that temptation naturally dissipate now. Leave your savings and hard work untouched and celebrate the success of your resolution now. Then you can keep on going into 2015 too.