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    Subscription - Subscription “Traps” – How to avoid getting Locked in

    Subscription “Traps” – How to avoid getting Locked in

    According to the UK’s Consumer Minister, Margot James, 40 million British adults subscribe to at least one product or service. From mobile phone contracts, to monthly goodie boxes, subscription services have become a ubiquitous part of life for many of us – and an incredibly profitable one for providers. Monthly subscriptions can be convenient, useful, and fair, but this isn’t always the case. An increasing number of consumers are falling into so-called “subscription traps”. The effects of these traps can be devastating.


    What are Subscription Traps?
    What are Subscription Traps - Subscription “Traps” – How to avoid getting Locked in
    A subscription trap describes a situation in which a consumer is locked into a subscription contract against their will. This is usually because of misleading information – for example an apparently free trial which actually obliges you to pay for the good or service for a time when the trial is over. Citizens Advice has found that consumers reporting this kind of trap to them were paying an average of £160 over the course of three months for unwanted goods or services. Companies sometimes trap consumers by making it difficult or time-consuming to end their contract. One company reported to Citizens Advice required a whole six months’ notice for customers choosing to cancel their subscription. Another unhappy consumer told Citizens Advice that they attempted to cancel a subscription after being made redundant. The company in question demanded sensitive documents as evidence – including a p45 – before they would agree.


    The Effects
    The Effects - Subscription “Traps” – How to avoid getting Locked in
    Being forced to pay through the nose for goods and services you don’t actually want can have a huge impact. The providers of subscription services sometimes require customers to sign up for CPAs – continuous payment authorities. This gives the company the legal right to change the amount, and timing, of a customer’s payments without giving them any prior notice. Worryingly, Citizens Advice found in a 2016 survey that only 21% of UK adults knew the difference between CPAs and Direct Debits. A further 84% of respondents in this survey admitted to agreeing to a subscription without realising it in the past.

    All this can have a knock-on effect on people’s personal finances. Signing up to a “free trial” only to find yourself paying through the nose down the road can leave consumers short when it comes to paying important bills. With some contracts taking so long to cancel, you could be left short for months. In some cases, this kind of trap can force people to borrow money to cover their essential expenses, leading to problems with debt which can easily spiral out of hand. As fees and interest mount up over months, the situation can be extremely stressful and frustrating. Help is out there, though, and you can find out more about managing debt today. Clearly, these subscription traps can affect anyone, but there is plenty you can do to stay safe and avoid unexpected payments.


    Tips for avoiding Subscription Traps
    Tips for avoiding Subscription Traps - Subscription “Traps” – How to avoid getting Locked in
    Philip Hammond’s autumn 2017 budget has promised to crack down on companies manipulating consumers into costly subscriptions with unclear terms. There is also plenty you can do as a consumer to keep yourself safe from this kind of subscription.

    • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

    This is the number one rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding poor purchases, and subscription purchases are no different. If an offer seems unreasonably good, be suspicious! Check the terms and conditions thoroughly, and if in doubt, avoid the subscription altogether.

    • Read the Small Print

    Some companies selling costly subscriptions which are difficult to cancel count on customers not noticing the small print for their profits. It can be tedious, but find the small print, and read it! If you are unsure about how the subscription works, it might be worth contacting the customer support team, or simply avoiding the service.

    • Be cautious when providing Bank Details

    Make sure you research the company first – online reviews can be a valuable resource for this. Also be sure to note whether your subscription will be paid by Direct Debit or CPA – the latter can be hugely expensive, as noted earlier, so ensure you are absolutely clear on the terms of the contract.

    If you find yourself trapped

    If you find yourself locked into an unwanted subscription, there are still steps you can take to resolve the issue.

    • You can challenge unfair Terms and Conditions

    If the company is based in the UK, you as a consumer have the power to challenge unfair contracts. Contact the company directly first to see if they can resolve your complaint – they may agree to reimburse you. If this is unsuccessful, you could consider contacting the firm’s trade body, or Citizens Advice.

    • Follow the Cancellation Policy

    If you wish to cancel a subscription, don’t wait. Look closely at the company’s cancellation policy and ensure you follow it to the letter. Some companies might try to trip you up by requiring you to cancel your subscription through a specific channel – make sure you do to stop making payments as soon as possible.

    Making Your Money Work for You - Making Your Money Work for You

    Making Your Money Work for You

    There are times when making ends meet is difficult, leaving many perplexed as to what the solution is. Fortunately, there are several ways of ensuring that your money is working for you. The process may require you to catty out a little research and make some changes, but the benefits available means that it’s a worthwhile avenue to explore.


    Make Your Credit Card Pay You
    Make Your Credit Card Pay You - Making Your Money Work for You
    While many of us will see a credit card as the gateway to debt, used in the right way they can reward us. There are a series of credit cards that offer customers a proportion of what they have spent in cash back. To ensure that you’re reaping the rewards, it can be a good idea to set up a Direct Debit to pay the card in full each month.

    Although there are benefits available via the cash back scene, there will be interest charged on any balance carried over each month. As such, it can end up costing you more, so the focus is on using your credit card in the right way.

    If your current credit card doesn’t offer such a service, then why not visit a comparison site to see what options are available.


    Make Use of Cash Incentives Offered by Banks
    Make Use of Cash Incentives Offered by Banks - Making Your Money Work for You
    Banks offering hard cash for simply transferring your current and savings account may seem too good to be true, but it’s an incentive that’s offered by many financial institutions. Some may feel a little guilty about taking advantage of such an offer if they weren’t looking to change banks, but remember, these cash incentives are in place for a reason, and that’s to win over new customers.

    Of course, there will be stipulations. It’s often the case that you need to have a certain amount coming in, as well as some regular payments. However, if you’re able to meet these requirements, then you could be well-placed to receive some money. Who knows, you may find your new bank is more convenient than your current choice.


    Try and Pay Your Debt with Savings
    Try and Pay Your Debt with Savings - Making Your Money Work for You
    While putting savings aside is always a good idea, it can be advisable to focus on your debt first. This is because the interest placed on loans and credit cards exceeds the interest yielded when the cash is held in a savings account, meaning you’re paying more in interest as a result. Putting the money towards reducing your debt not only reduces your outgoing, but ensures that you’re taking full advantage of the savings account moving forward.


    Take Advantage of a Good Credit Score
    Take Advantage of a Good Credit Score - Making Your Money Work for You
    Having a good credit score means having more choice when it comes to loans and credit cards. One of the more popular choices is a credit card that offers customers 0 percent borrowing. If you can make each monthly payment in full, you can use a credit card for most of tour purchases, allowing your money to earn more interest as it sits in your account.


    Become Familiar with Investing Your Money
    Become Familiar with Investing Your Money - Making Your Money Work for You
    While investing in stocks and shares can be seen as an opportunity for the few, there are plenty of options available to the masses, regardless of how wealthy they are. If you’re new to the world of stocks and shares and don’t want to jump in at the deep end, then why not make use of one of the many apps available, which will allow you to invest some virtual currency before parting with your hard-earned cash.

    There are also services available that round of your purchases to the nearest pound, and then use the remaining money towards your investment.

    Of course, there is an element of risk associated with investing, so it’s not a platform that will suit everyone. However, if you’re able to navigate the arena, then you may find that you can make a passive income without much effort.


    Make Money with the Things You Buy
    Make Money with the Things You Buy - Making Your Money Work for You
    It’s not unusual for us to make a series of purchases throughout the year. When making us buy something online, it’s normal for us to head to our favourite online store. However, you could be missing out on some savings.

    There are several online platforms that look to reward visitors by offering a slew of benefits. In some instances, it may be a reduction in price, other instances may see you receive cash back for the purchases you make. Of course, there may be some items that you can’t purchase via such platforms, by making a list and carrying out a search is certainly worthy of your time.


    Try to Pay More of Your Mortgage Each Month
    Try to Pay More of Your Mortgage Each Month - Making Your Money Work for You
    While mortgage payments can be one of the more excessive financial commitments, looking to pay off more than we can yield several benefits. In the first instance, you’re paying off your mortgage faster. There’s also the fact that you’re not going to pay any interest on the amount you overpay.


    Ensure Your Taking Advantage of Employee Benefits
    Ensure Your Taking Advantage of Employee Benefits - Making Your Money Work for You
    When starting a new role, taking in all the information can mean we’re left a little bewildered. However, it’s worth conversing with the human resources department to see what benefits are in place, and whether there’s anything you’re missing out on.

    For example, many employers will offer their staff a pension scheme, and will contribute towards it. While this is focusing on the future, ensuring you have a plan in place when you retire ensures that your money is working in the best way.

    It’s important to note that ensuring your money works in the best way can mean staying ahead of the game. The little changes you make along the way can mean that your money is working harder for you and your financial future, but it can all unwind should you take your eye off the ball.

    An Age Old Question - An Age Old Question: Stocks or Houses?

    An Age Old Question: Stocks or Houses?

    Since the first house was sold, and the first stock was traded, people have debated which is the better investment: stocks or houses. House Prices are argued to be reliable, with very notable and shocking exception, but stocks are seen to have bigger returns. But which has done better over the  years?

    Lessons from History
    Lessons from History - An Age Old Question: Stocks or Houses?
    Generally, it has been proved that from 1955 to now, housing can be seen as having outperformed stocks as the average UK house has gone from 30 times the FTSE All-Share, to being 50 times the FTSE All-Share. But, that is only relevant if you invested in property and only property in 1955, while a friend invested in stocks and only stocks in 1955, and then you both sat on it for over 60 years. In that case, you would now be the richer, of two very rich people. Investments are usually faster paced than that, with buying and selling of both stocks and property happening all the time.

    In fact, if you were to travel back in time and use this knowledge to orchestrate the biggest possible profit by 2017, you would need to swap between the two as advantageously as possible, rather than putting all your faith in one. This would mean you should invest in housing until the early 1970s, then switch to stocks, and back to property in the late 90s/early 2000s until the global financial crisis. You could even analyse it closer than that to know exactly, year-by-year, what the best investments would be.

    The truth is, that it depends what moment in history you are in. Hindsight is 20:20, but at different times in history, both have had the advantage over the other. But, what about now? What should we be investing in today?

    Lessons for the Future
    Lessons for the Future - An Age Old Question: Stocks or Houses?
    After the financial crisis, UK houses were 75 times the level of the All-Share Index. But, since then, stocks have exploded and pushed this number down to 51. All-in-all, housing has underperformed. This leads us to believe the safest bet is to believe that this will continue. Stocks are set to continue to outperform housing, and, as such, they are the safest bet.

    However, the argument against this is the historical significance of the ’50 times’ ratio level. This interesting level has often been a turning point in this age-old battle between houses and stocks. The risk-taker may see this as a sign and want to begin divesting into houses if they believe in this turning point. If they are right, and it is true, in ten years or so housing could overtake stocks once again.

    But this is not the most sensible advice. Many numerical patterns such as this have been proven time and time again to be false indicators in the financial world. If they worked, then all our lives would be much much simpler. Believing in them can actually be quite dangerous, and crises have been triggered by less. Ultimately, currently the housing crisis and the unaffordability of housing in general makes it unlikely that housing will begin to outstrip stocks as a worthy investment any time soon.

    There is an argument to be made for a certain amount of stagnation or plateau for both of these indexes, however, as it is not seen as very likely that the ratio level will deplete significantly more than 50.

    There is an exception: London. London property prices are currently insane, as I am sure you know. They are vastly overpriced and this has led to property beating the All-Share unequivocally by a shocking 120 times. However, until recently, they were at 140. This slight fall is likely to be due to the London housing crisis reaching the upper most limits of madness. If house prices continue in this manner, even Russian Oligarchs will no longer want to live in the capital.

    But slowing growth, is not the same as lowering prices, and there is no real immediate reason for house prices in London to fall. It is likely that a plateau in growth will slowly lower the ratio, but not immediately benefit stocks. It is also important to remember that a dramatic crash in housing in a city such as London, is likely to also impact stocks.


    This leads us to a very boring conclusion. Stocks will continue to beat housing, by and large. But not in any dramatic way, and London will continue to be a stagnating exception, where growth slows, but doesn’t recede.

    Keep a weather eye on Threadneedle Street, however – a change in rates could change it all.

    A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    Real estate is often one of the top areas that a lot of people tend to be interested in investing at. There is a reason for this. The fact that it is expected to appreciate despite the usual slow-downs that the economy may suffer from makes it a lucrative investment choice for a lot of people. Many have seen it as a tried and proven means to create wealth. Here are some tips that one should follow if he wants to invest smartly.


    Know your financial goals and plan it

    Know your financial goals and plan it - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    Before you start buying the first property, it is important that you will first determine what your financial goals are. It is always going to be easier to work on them when you have them determined and then clearly outlined ahead of time. This is a very good opportunity for you to ensure that you will have a good idea of the specific path that you are supposed to take.


    Do not waste so much money on reading materials

    Do not waste so much money on reading materials - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    While it is a good thing that you will take the time to read and learn more about the investment path that you are hoping to take, it is important too that you will not end up spending a lot of money on them. All the money you will spend on these resources is going to be nothing if you are not able to properly apply what you have earned anyway.


    Look at several properties

    Look at several properties - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    The last thing you want is to go ahead and grab the very first property that you will find. That is one irresponsible move from any investor. There have been a lot of instances where investors opted to buy a property because they think that the place seems to look nice. There is more to buying a property other than just because it looks alright. Make sure to send enough time and to put a lot of work towards getting to know what is out there and what each of these properties is likely to bring back to you.

    Of course, you would not want to be in a situation where you are caught in an analysis paralysis. But do not make a mistake too of acting so hasty without even getting to know the property first. Make sure to allow yourself a wide variety of choices and then have them narrowed down based on what your specific goals and criteria are.


    Do not wait continually for a unicorn deal

    Do not wait continually for a unicorn deal - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    A lot of investors make the mistake of postponing their investment for way too long just because they seem to be still waiting for that sweet deal. Many investors, especial those that are fairly new in the market, tend to suffer from that syndrome of waiting for a better deal to come their way. This can easily backfire massively, and there is a very good chance that you will be getting a really good deal to just slip away as a result.


    Carry out a financial analysis thoroughly

    Carry out a financial analysis thoroughly - A Guide to Effective and Smart Business Investing

    Always make sure to take a close look at the present state of your finances. You want to be realistic. You will want to look around and find alternatives that you know are going to make a lot of sense. If you have already made your analysis before you are buying a property, make sure to never settle for one that seems to be at a way higher price than what you originally intended. Avoid those that seem to be less attractive than what you have initially aimed for. Also, be careful of those sellers that seem to overestimate their property values and at the same time be wary of those that seem to offer their units at way too low deal.

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