Alexis Conran is reviewing websites that encourage sharing to ease your spending and championing the voucher vulture culture that's sweeping Britain.
He's also got tips on encouraging minors to become more money mindful and the little book of big scams that could save you a fortune...
Tip of the week
- Stop spending - start sharing. This involves sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or hiring goods instead of buying them!
- Try Whipcar.com or Liftshare.com which is a neighbour to neighbour car club that allows owners to hire their vehicles out without endangering their own insurance because the website provides cover.
- Fashion lovers should visit girlmeetsdress.com, wishwantwear.com, kennedypurple.com, that-dress.net and cinderella-me.co.uk where you can choose from thousands of designer dresses to wear for just one night.
Get your children saving!
NatWest is hoping to encourage more youngsters to start saving for the future by bringing back their piggy banks with a children's competition to design a new member for the famous family.Research shows that 85% of mums and dads think it's important that children understand the benefits of saving cash and a third have encouraged their kids to set up their own savings account.
- Children are taxed in the same way as an adult, which means each child can earn up to £8,105 tax-free each tax year.
- But, in the majority of instances, children only use a fraction of their allowance so their savings interest will be tax-free.
- You can make sure that any interest is paid without the tax being automatically deducted by filling out an Inland Revenue R85 form available from your bank or building society.
*Be aware that if a child receives more than £100 interest in a year from money given by a parent, the income will be taxed at the parents' rate of tax.
- Be aware that if a child receives more than £100 interest in a year from money given by a parent, the income will be taxed at the parents' rate of tax.
- If money comes from two parents, the interest limit is doubled to £200. This rule doesn't apply to grandparents, aunts, uncles or other friends and family.
- There is no legal age limit at which you can open a bank account but a bank manager can decide whether to allow a child or young person to open an account.
- There are restrictions on opening certain kinds of account, for example, as a young person you are not normally legally responsible for your debts so you are unlikely to be granted an overdraft.
- If you are under 18, it is a criminal offence for anyone to send you material inviting you to borrow money or obtain goods or services on credit or hire purchase.
- However, if you are over 14 but under 18, you can enter into a credit or hire purchase agreement if an adult acts as your guarantor.
Saving options for your children
- Junior ISA - Pros: They are tax-efficient and, unlike standard children's savings accounts, any investments from parents are not subject to income tax on income over £100 per annum.
Cons: Money is locked into the Junior ISA and can't be withdrawn until the child reaches 18. NB: The guardian is in charge of the money until the child is 16. At this point they have the opportunity to take charge of these decisions if they want to - but the money is still untouchable until they hit 18.
- Regular savings - Pros: Some decent interest rates and having an account gives a child the discipline to save monthly and gradually build up a nest egg. Cons: Must pay in every month with most of these accounts and often withdrawals incur a penalty.
- Cash savings notice accounts and bonds - Pros: Rates higher than Instant Access accounts and you can save more than in a regular saver or Junior ISA annual allowance. Cons: No access to money for the term of the bond or a fixed number of days notice must be given to access your cash on a notice account.
There's no shame in vouchers
New research by a respected voucher website has revealed that consumers don't just want to shop with a discount, they expect to. There are great deals out there as thousands of websites and companies have sprung up all over the web, some of which are fakes so do be careful.
The main types of sites fall into four categories
- Codes and discounts - My Voucher Codes / Voucher Cloud App / Eat 241
- Discount sites - Achica / Cocosa / Net A Porter
- Group buying sites - Groupon / Living Social / Wowcher
- Cashback - Quidco / TopCashBack
Enjoy the savings but be alert to fraudsters!
- Only use the reputable websites and be mindful of any offers that seem to good to be true.
- Don't be afraid to ring a company or shop first to check that they accept the voucher.
- Facebook users should pay particular attention to scams offering Supermarket vouchers as in recent months there are been a number of fake links promising free vouchers.
The little book of scams
- Every year the British public loses billions of pounds to 'scammers', who bombard people with online, mail, door-to-door and telephone scams.
- Earlier this year the Metropolitan Police Service's Specialist and Economic Crime Directorate produced a comprehensive fraud prevention booklet entitled, The Little Book of Big Scams.
- The guide explains some of the most common scams in existence, ranging from the simple to the sophisticated and provides the reader with essential advice to reduce the chances of them being parted from their money.
- A hard copy of the booklet can be obtained by contacting Operation Sterling officers at New Scotland Yard.