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Wisely using a credit card

Credit cards are incredibly useful. If you need to make an urgent purchase, but your salary isn’t likely to hit your current account until next week, pop the purchase on a credit card and pay it off later. A credit card is also handy if you travel, as credit cards are universally accepted whereas debit cards are not. But, whilst credit cards are essential in many instances, unless you use them responsibly, you could end up in serious financial hot water.
Consumer debt is soaring, which is causing the government some concern. Interest rates are low and people are spending as much now as they did just before the 2008 recession. UK Banks are being warned to increase their capital reserves in response to rising levels of consumer spending, amid fears the debt bubble could burst.
Credit card debt in March 2017 hit £67 Billion. This is no small amount. But, whilst too much debt is bad for us, unbridled spending is the problem, not credit cards. When used wisely, credit cards offer numerous benefits and can actually improve your credit rating. However, it is all down to how you wield your plastic. 

Select the Right Card Owning the right credit card is important. Most credit card companies offer great introductory deals. By taking care of these deals, you can enjoy interest-free credit, rewards, and cash back on purchases. For example, say you are planning a trip to visit family in Canada next year. By researching rewards credit cards, you could discover that one company has a tempting introductory deal with free air miles, which would let you upgrade to a Business Class seat on an Air Canada flight. So, you get to save money and enjoy a nice perk at the same time!

Rewards Vs. Cash Back Deals For most people, a rewards credit card is a better option, as you would need to spend a lot of money to make a 1% rewards perk pay dividends. Look for a rewards scheme that fits your lifestyle and maximise your bonus rewards by using your credit card for all household spending. If, however, you regularly spend more than £1,000 each month on household spending and extras, look at cash back deals and weigh up whether this is going to earn you more money.

Pay Off the Balance in Full It should go without saying that paying off your balance in full is important. Credit card APRs can be punitive and if you only ever pay the minimum amount on your outstanding balance, you won’t make a dent in your debt. To avoid any missed payments, set up a monthly Direct Debit to clear the balance and keep a close eye on your credit card spending. It’s OK to use a credit card to pay for essential purchases, but it’s not OK to go crazy in the nearest Designer Outlet.

Treat your credit card with the respect it deserves and it won’t turn around and bite you on the behind at an inopportune moment.

Have an affordable social life

Can you have a great social life without spending too much? As everyone knows, socializing is great - until you look at your account at the end of the month and realize you don’t have the budget to meet your lifestyle. The good news is that you don’t have to cut yourself off from the outside world in order to save money. Here are some tips for cutting down on the spending without cutting out fun.
Budget Know your figures when you’re looking at cutting down on your spending. How much do you need to cut down by? What do you want to do with the money – do you want to save it for a property, a new car or pay off debt? Put into place a plan – perhaps when you get paid, put some money directly into a savings account so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Change things up You don’t always need to go out to see your friends. What about inviting them to your house? Have a movie night or maybe a Chinese takeaway evening – whatever you enjoy, you can do it just as well at home.
Avoid impulse buys Wonga suggest a few useful tips on how to cut down on social spending. Check it out here. Consider carefully before you make a purchase. Remember: needs vs. wants. If it helps you to avoid spendy situations, don’t go to shopping. How about stopping indulgences for a month? Such as: dinners out or girl’s night out.
Phone bills Ensure you have the best phone package. Compare your phone package online and look at how much data you need. If you use your phone a lot on the go, make sure you log into free Wi-Fi networks if you can. Also, use messaging services like WhatsApp rather than sending text messages. Consider calling your phone company and trying to negotiate a better deal. The Simple Dollar say that it’s useful to come armed with comparable deals from other providers - state that another provider has this particular deal and ask if they can then adjust your price to one of their packages to match it.
Vacations Wonga ZA also suggest holidaying close to home. Find great local deals for ‘day trips’ that don’t require pricey accommodation. If you do want to go a little further afield, last minute deals are a good place to look. Get great savings by booking closer to the date. Use online search engines to compare packages. Do the same for currency exchange… good deals can be had there too.

Catnip... who knew?

Described by botanist and taxonomist Linnaeus in 1753 as “flowers in a stalked, interrupted spike,” Nepeta cataria is cultivated as a perennial ornamental that likes full sun. Not only pretty, like many botanicals, catnip has multiple applications.
The magic elixir from catnip is terpenoid nepetalactone, which is the main chemical constituent of plant’s essential oil, extracted by steam distillation.
Cat fun: Catnip is well known for it’s behavioural effects on cats – domestic and wild. Cats love it! They like to roll in it, lick it and chew it. Consuming the plant has a drowsy effect, along with purring and drooling. Fun catnip fact: Not all cats like catnip. Roughly a third are not affected by it. The behaviour is thought to be hereditary.
Easy to care for perennial: It attracts butterflies and is drought tolerant.
Biological control: It repels aphids and squash bugs – the compound iridodial, extracted from catnip oil, attracts lacewings, which eat aphids and mites. It keeps away some mosquitoes, cockroaches and termites – in the garden. Catnip is also deer-resistant.
Culinary use: Catnip can be brewed to produce an herbal tea, used as a culinary herb, or be smoked in the form of herbal cigarettes. It has also be used in fruit table wines.
Medical application: Tinctures, infusions and poultices can be made from the dried leaves and flowers of catnip, which has been used to treat many ailments, including intestinal cramps, diarrhea, colds and indigestion.

Summer is here... get out of the gym!

With no overcast skies or rain in the forecast, it's the perfect time to get outside. Whether you hike a canyon, run beach side, hit up an obstacle course or go for a catch-up walk with a favourite girlfriend around the neighbourhood, finding the perfect fitting footwear is key to enjoying your exercise. The better your shoes feel, the more exercise you will do! Of course, being outdoors is much cheaper than a gym membership, so Tightwad is a big fan.

Tips for an inexpensive honeymoon

After the long-awaited day of your wedding arrives, sometimes all you will be able to think about is escaping with your betrothed to a special destination. It doesn’t have to be fancy—every couple has their own preferences or a special spot to go – be it Vegas, an all-inclusive or a cozy campsite. The traditional practice of seeing off the bride and groom has changed; some couples stick around for the fun wedding activities, while others will put off their honeymoon altogether until their budget is more comfortable. Whatever the case may be, your honeymoon should be a relaxing getaway that doesn’t have you avoiding your mail upon your return. Consider these tips for a enjoyable, budget-friendly honeymoon.
Get a travel agent Save yourself the time and stress of flights, schedules and last-minute price drops. Instead, sit down with a travel agent with a list of must-haves for your vacation. The first thing on the list should be a mutually agreed upon budget which the agent should stick to no matter what. This ensures that the agent will find some options for your budget and understand what it is you are looking for. Find an agent in plenty of time so that they can find you a wider range of options in terms of location and price.
Have your honeymoon sponsored It’s really no surprise that many couples would prefer to have some financial help rather than receive yet another toaster as a wedding gift. If you and your partner would rather have some help with your honeymoon than receive traditional wedding gifts, then let that be known in your beautiful wedding invitations. This is a new approach to gift-giving, where the couple informs guests that they will be accepting gifts in the form of contributions to their honeymoon or specific event. This can be a fun and interactive option. If someone has sponsored an expensive dinner, take a photo of you at the meal and send it to the gift giver so they can see that their donation being appreciated.
Choose an off-season booking The earlier you decide on a honeymoon destination, the more likely you’ll be able to find good deals. Booking well in advance gives you the opportunity to browse an extensive list of options and, similarly, will give your travel agent more time if that is the route you choose to take. It’s also a good idea to book in the off-season when resorts and destinations are less likely to be full and more inexpensive as a result. There are lots of great destinations that are cheaper in the off-season, and there is a wide range throughout the year that can coincide with your honeymoon date. Even if you are set on a specific time, it’s not unusual for couples to wait to take a honeymoon. If this is what you’re willing to do to save, then it will be worth it.
Consider Airbnb If you have a very specific destination in mind, but you’d like to keep spending to a minimum, consider booking with Airbnb. This is an option that allows property owners to rent out their homes for a certain number of people and a specific number of days. It is generally up to the renters to bring their own food and entertainment, but this is a good option because you can find all kinds of properties in your ideal location at different prices.
Stay close to home Honeymoons don’t always have to be located across the world. A honeymoon is simply a place for the newly-married couple to get away and enjoy one another after what may have been a very hectic wedding schedule. If you want to have a low-budget honeymoon, consider looking at locations that are closer to home. This could be a small resort a few hours away, a campsite nearby or even a hotel with a spa included. Staying close to home means saving on flights, expensive meals and other expenses. Bring along some recipes ideal for a honeymoon that you can both make together and enjoy.
Ask about honeymoon packages It’s always worth a try. Some resorts and vacation spots will have honeymoon packages including room upgrades, spa packages and meals. Let them know when you’re booking that you will be on your honeymoon and see what they can offer.
Conclusion Your honeymoon should be a relaxing time for you and your partner. Don’t let worries about finances get in your way of a great time. There are all kinds of things that you can do to cut back on expenses, including finding ways to spend less on your wedding so you can splurge a little more on your trip.

Money saving solar security lights

Before you get overwhelmed with thoughts of solar panels, batteries and all sorts of techie stuff installed all over your roof at home, I am talking about smaller solar lights that you can easily incorporate into your life. These can range from security lights (which in my opinion are the most useful of all solar power lights available), string lights, spotlights and garden lights.
Out of all the variations of solar lights, the solar security light is my all time favorite. These lights have become more and more efficient and useful over the years, now including extra bright LEDs and longer lasting lithium batteries. Some would say solar lighting in general is a subpar alternative to wired lighting which in certain scenarios can be true, however, when it comes to providing an easily affordable added security to your home and surrounding area I believe solar security lights are much useful in many ways than regular wired lighting.
The easiest thing to consider is the installation process, Wiring into your home electrical system is not for everyone. Consider the alternative of having one light fixture that needs 3 days of sunlight to charge initially and then can be mounted anywhere with a simple set of screws or mounting tape and will last for at least a couple years. The downfall used to be that they weren’t as bright as wired lighting. That's not the case anymore, solar lights are now equipped with high efficient led bulbs that produce extremely bright light. There really is no downside of these lights.
Does the area you want to illuminate not get any sunlight? You can find light fixtures that have the solar panels separate from the actual light! What's this mean? It means you can mount the light in your shady backyard and then place the solar panel in a separate location where it can collect sunlight. They usually connect with a simple cord that plugs into each unit, and now you have light where you thought you couldn’t!
These lights can get pricey, but can be affordable, with an entry-level light for around $20USD. I can ensure you that once you have a light that you know will come on every time you walk up to your front door at night for $20 you will never go without again.
Blog Credit: The Solar Advantage