Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Penny Bazaar at Marks and Spencer

In celebration of its 125th birthday, M&S is holding a three-day Penny Bazaar from Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 May.

This will involve 20 different products on sale at just 1p each, subject to availability. If you want to bag a penny bargain it would be sensible to turn up early, as stocks are expected to sell out quickly.

The number of items per customer is limited to five, and items in the 1p sale include purses, scarves, knickers, ties, five different jewellery sets, leather luggage tags, mugs, tea towels, cufflinks, socks, leather passport holders, retro sweets and drinks, beach balls and beach toys.

Who can doubt the good value of items for a penny? However, some items are likely to be bigger bargains than others. The more expensive items such as purses, jewellery sets and ties are likely to be the ones to watch.

The Penny Bazaar is available in all M&S main chain stores across the UK.

Sterling latest

What about the pound?

On 12 January we wrote that the pound could recover against the euro in time for the summer holidays. We wrote again on 11 March and things had got worse: it was worth 1.086 euros and $1.38.

So, where are we now?

The pound is now worth 1.1344 euros and $1.5306. That's a change in the pound's favour of 4.46% and 10.91% respectively.

It's nice to report an improvement. There may be more to come.

FTSE 100 latest

You turn your back for five minutes and look what happens!

We last looked at the FTSE 100 on 9 March, when it was down to 3,530.73.

Here we are, over two months later, and the FTSE 100 has risen to 4,446.45 - an increase of nearly 26%. If only we'd known!

Although we may have missed that turnaround, now might still be a good time to invest. Got any spare funds, anyone?

Please note that this is for discussion only, and nothing in this blog constitutes advice.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Beat the recession - tax tips

Barclays and the Daily Telegraph are combining to produce a Financial Planning guide in a four-page pull-out guide with the paper on Saturday 2nd May.

Here are few tips already provided under the title of "don't pay too much tax":

1. If you are giving money to charity, as a UK taxpayer you can use the Gift Aid scheme. The charity should be able to provide you with a form and you can claim tax back when you file your annual tax return.

2. There is an age allowance trap in the UK tax system which means that people over 65 with an income of more than £22,900 are taxed at 30% on earnings from this to £29,000. A financial adviser should be able to help you avoid this tax.

3. Couples have a tax-free personal allowance of more than £6,000 each. You can save on tax payments by transferring assets (money!) to the spouse with the lowest tax rate.

See for more.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Mad About Bargains

Here's a fun website packed with bargains.
It is a website for bargain-hunters to share information, and they don't mark or rate the contributions in any way - they're just listed - and you are invited to judge for yourself the value of the contributions.

Here are some recent examples:

***Massive Savings - 45% on Home Insurance***
***With Free Buildings Insurance and More Benefits!!***

***Better Than Half Price Digital Camera***
***Was £178 Now only £69 at Jessops***

***Marks & Sparks 30% Off Online Sale***

***Annual Travel Insurance for family of 4 only £29***
***What a Bargain!***

Try it for yourself at Mad About Bargains.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Was there any joy in the budget?

The 2009 budget has come and gone. With the recession and the economic problems of the country, there wasn't much hope of hand-outs from the Chancellor. But was there any good news?

Broadband help

The broadband industry will be able to use a possible £250m underspent by the BBC on its digital switchover to bring broadband to the whole of Britain. This could benefit many people unable to afford broadband at the moment.

ISA limit increased

Savers have had a rough year, but there was some good news in the budget in that the tax-free ISA savings limit was increased to £10,200 per year (£5,100 into a cash ISA). The change comes in on 6 April 2010 - or 6 October 2009 for over 50s. But has anyone got any money to save?

Stamp duty

The stamp duty holiday will continue until the end of the year - beyond the original September deadline. This may help homebuyers, and the property market is showing some signs of picking up.


The budget indicated that the government will guarantee a job or meaningful work-related activity to long-term unemployed people between 18 and 25 years of age. The aim is to "ensure no young people are left behind".

There was nothing here to help anyone "find their fortune", but these days small mercies are welcome.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

What the stamp dealer said...

Today I took a break from work to see our local stamp dealer in his shop at Apsley, hoping he'd see something in my collection to make him sit up - and pay me something! I was even prepared for a bit of bargaining.

His dubious eyes - and keen nose - perused my collection so lovingly nurtured in my formative years.

"Bit musty," he ventured politely. "People don't use mothballs anymore, do they? Best to put it on the window sill in the sun to get rid of the smell. You might want to pass it on to someone in the family..."

"Isn't there anything of some value amongst all this?" I enquired longingly,

"I'm very sorry," he said. "Look," he added informatively, "This is what I am doing now, sorting out this collection of old stamps from Malta - all pre 1918..."

Anyway, at least I tried... maybe my grandchildren will be pleased one day that I didn't have to part with the collection - number one grandchild is due in September!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Could car scrappage help you buy a new car?

Plans in the budget tomorrow will announce that owners of older cars are to be offered cash to trade up to 'greener' cars.

Chancellor Alistair Darling is hoping that the move will help the recovery of Britain's motor industry as well as cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Details are still being finalised, especially as 86% of cars sold in Britain are made abroad.

Still, the scheme might help you if you have an older cara and are looking for a new one. Grants of up to £5,000 could be offered to people buying electric cars in the future. Britain is one of the few major European countries still without a car scrappage scheme, and the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has been calling for a scheme after the recession brought a slump in new car sales.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 offers a wealth of ways to save money.

When you shop online Voucher Codes are a great way to save money. Also known as promotional codes, e-vouchers or discount codes, these are simply codes which enable you to get a discount / money off the listed retail price of many goods, at a range of different online UK retailers.

The vouchers can sometimes be short term offers of just a few days, so you have to keeo on the ball. It is always worth checking with the website before you buy so you don't miss any offers.