The other day, my employer had WEALTH at work pay us a visit allowing us to discuss financial planning for the future. During the discussion that mainly centred around ISA’s and Mortgages, routine ways of saving money when shopping online was also discussed. Pretty much everyone used sites such as uSwitch and CompareTheMarket, but I was surprised at the number of people who either hadn’t heard of, or didn’t use QuidCo.
A little naive, but I thought EVERYONE had a QuidCo account?
What is QuidCo?
If you shop online, QuidCo is a website that allows you to earn a few extra £’s simply by visiting and shopping your normal way, using your regular online retailers.
The average QuidCo member can earn £280 a year. It doesn’t cost you a penny, to join and for a limited time when you open an account here (http://www.quidco.com/free250/) you will automatically get a credit of £2.50 to help start you off.
How does QuidCo work?
The easiest way to think of it is comparing it to the old door to door Avon sales people.
QuidCo get paid a percentage or set fee of any sales generated by people clicking on their links from retailers such as M&S, Mothercare and Boots. This “commission” is paid to QuidCo by the retailer who then give the customer a cut.
Gods Gift For Parents
New and old parents alike, know that little ones cost an absolute fortune so every little helps. QuidCo is great for parents as they have a whole host of baby related retailers all offering great cash-back incentives whether it be;
Clothing (Debenhams 5%, George 3%%)
Essentials (Mothercare 5%, Kiddicare 5%)
Nursery (Argos 5%, Mamas & Papas 5%)
Toys (Smyths Toys 3%, Toys R Us 3%)
Check your credit score
Easy Way To Make £14
As an example, for ANYONE to make £14 takes only a few minutes of there time and three simple steps.
For an additional £5, request a 30 day free trial with Experian and give your credit rating a good going over. Checking your credit status helps to ensure nothing fraudulent has been recorded against you, but also means you can make sure that any previous loans and credit cards correctly show as paid off.
Make sure you make a note in your calendar to cancel before the end of your free trial to save any reoccurring charges.
Pay £1 for a Which? 30 day trial and you’ll be credited with £7.50. While a member of Which? it’s great to make full use of when researching anything from prams and car seats, to the baby monitors or DAB radios.
Again, like all free trials, simply make a note in your calendar to cancel before the end of your free trial.
Boom! £14 in your pocket!
How Much Can You Make
It all depends on your shopping habits how much you’re likely to make in cash-back deals but QuidCo say the average person can make £280 per year in cash-back.
If you do a fair bit of online shopping then its a no brainer. Already this year we’ve accumulated nearly £250 in cash-back, although not all of it has been confirmed.
We’ve generated this by going about our usual online shopping but always using the QuidCo website. We also applied for a Nutmeg ISA, something we were always going to do, but used the QuidCo link to get an extra £100.
Now QuidCo works in-store for a number of retailers too meaning if you prefer shopping out and about you can still take advantage. Mothercare, for example, offers 3% cash-back if you buy in store using your registered debit card.
Finally I got my grown up savings head on and, using Savings Champion, moved a few I’s that over the course of the next 12 months, will provide us with an additional £430 in tax free interest compared to what we would have received if we’d left it with NatWest.
Whilst doing this, I also looked into what options were available for us to invest on behalf of Little G-Man. After much deliberation we’ve decided to go with a Junior Cash ISA rather than a normal savings account and it wasn’t as much a straight forward decision we’d imagined.
Little G-Mans Junior ISA
Different to a childs saving account, Junior ISAs are tax free (up to £4,080 per year) and wholly in the child’s name meaning no matter how dire your personal finances are, you as a parent can’t get at it.
The whole ISA thing is aimed at saving you having to pay tax on any interest earned, which makes you wonder if they’re worth it for children, after all Little G-Man wont be paying tax until he earns £10,600 per year whether through wages or interest.
Ideally we wanted to invest longer term for him and so maybe, hopefully, he wont withdraw his ISA the day he turns 18 which would make the ISA wrapper pretty pointless and a regular child saver account would have been just as good if not better.
If ever we find ourselves with a hefty lump sum, our next option would be a Children’s Bond with NS&I where again under 16’s can save a further £3,000 without paying tax on the interest earned and possibly look at NS&I premium bonds as another alternative.
Junior ISA Rules
Until the age of 16, we as parents are entirely in charge of picking the provider, the type of junior ISA (cash or shares) and paying money in. However, ANYONE is allowed to put money into the account – even grandparents 😉
Like a regular ISA, a Junior ISA can be moved from one provider to another and converted from a Cash to Share ISA (and vice-versa). Once Little G-Man turns 16, he can take charge of these decisions himself, but the money is still untouchable until he reaches 18.
On turning 18
Once he hits 18 he can do with it what he wants, without our say. Ideally he’ll use the funds for a mortgage, car, wedding, university fees etc and the longer he keeps it, the more beneficial the ISA wrapper will be. But as he is legally the owner, he can if he wishes, blow it all on a booze fuelled holiday.
If he chooses to leave it where it is (which hopefully he will), it will automatically convert to a standard Adult ISA and continue to earn interest tax free.
So overall is a Junior worth it?
There’s no simple answer. It all depends on whether your child will be money savvy at 18 – something none of us will know. If YES, and they leave the money in an ISA for years to come then Junior ISAs are worth it for a longer term investment.
Also it depends on your attitude to risk and their age – the younger they are, the more likely investing in a stocks & share ISA will beat a cash ISA or standard saving account, as over longer periods the stock market tends to outperform cash.
What is this Savings Champion you mention?
Savings Champion is a free website that tracks the interest rates paid on bank and building society savings accounts.
How are Savings Champion different?
There are a number of other websites that allow you to compare accounts, however some of them are affiliated with Banks and therefore won’t show you ALL options available. Also, with these alternatives you have to be pro-active and check regularly yourself whereas Savings Champion do the hard work and check for you. Automatically. Every day.
How does it work?
You simply add your details, balance and account provider, and you’ll receive an email or website alert (as seen below) when there’s a better rate available with a link to apply immediately online.
The alerts show you the real monetary value of switching and we found that when told you could get “£286 more interest” rather than “an extra 2%”, it brought it home as to the importance of switching. The alerts are especially useful for those who have ISA’s as more often than not, after a year, the interest rate plummets and most folk don’t both switching to a new deal.
Savings Champion – Attention Needed
Anyone with a savings account, no matter how big or small, I’d recommend paying a quick visit to www.SavingsChampion.co.uk today and see if you can benefit.
Making a list and checking it twice – that’s exactly what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks!
I was never under any false illusion that babies were cheap, especially as I’m a god-father (twice) and have been very involved in their lives thus far. However, never did I realise that you could easily spend £5000 and have pretty much next to nothing to show for it!
I’ve therefore decided to take time out one day and dedicated it to checking our outgoings to see if there is anywhere we can reduce outgoings in preparation for Pancakes arrival, and J’s maternity leave.
Simple Money Saving Steps
Other areas we plan to save money include using the following website a LOT more often;
Notifyy – track the products you love and get notified when they go on sale.
CamelCamelCamel – a website where you can set up watch lists for Amazon products and get notified when they drop below your “ideal price”. Great for planning ahead for things like prams, bottles etc.
Online Sales – buying last season clothes, accessories and toys in retailers online sales.
eBay – we’ve already started looking especially at things such as maternity clothes.
So, with my eyes opened a little, the next few weeks I’ll be double checking our TV, broadband, mobiles, insurance and energy suppliers (amongst others) are some of the cheapest out there.
We only have the basic Sky package, partly due to being the type who watch a lot of movies or sport and partly due to the astronomical prices they expect people to pay. Annoyingly we can’t cut them out the equation as where we live, we don’t receive any TV signal at all and Virgin haven’t yet dug up our street.
Currently: BT Infinity 2
Currently on Fibre with BT and as work pay for 90% of the cost it doesn’t seem worth reducing it as it’ll save us less than £1 per month!
We both buy our own phones which means we can go on a SIM only deal and recently switched to Vodafone on their 12mth SIMO plan at £15.30. We chose this plan after using the Billmonitor service which goes through your previous bills and usage stats advises what you’re actually using in an average month. This great OFCOM website means we’re not paying for benefits that we would never use.
Currently: A mixture of companies
Like most, we already check comparison websites when it comes to car and home insurance renewals. On top of that, we sell those “cute toys” on eBay and recently got £50 for Brian Robot Toy. Every little helps! One thing we should look at is dual-car insurance as we’re both with LV= and I think this could save us an extra bob or two.
We tied into a deal 4 weeks before everyone started dropping their prices meaning that we’re paying over the top. There is a get-out-fee so we’ll have to sit tight until November, but on the flip side, any overpayments you make, earns 3% interest which is not only better than the 0% you get from other suppliers, but also better than most bank accounts!
We’re not ashamed to say we’ve been using Aldi for close to 8 years now. Granted, you can’t get everything you need for a weeks shop, but for basics they’re great prices and good quality food. After seeing the TV show Bargain Fever Britain we may take a look at Approved Food.