Personal Finance. Money. Investing.

Nevertheless, the task of finding the platform to launch your business can be quite overwhelming. This is where Shopify excels, providing entrepreneurs with a user-friendly experience and various innovative features. One such feature that has gained popularity is Shopify’s print-on-demand (POD) service. Let’s explore what distinguishes Shopify in the POD industry.

Understanding Shopify’s print-on-demand

Printing on demand represents a business model that empowers entrepreneurs to create and sell products without inventory management. Instead, products are shipped directly to customers upon order placement. Shopify’s print-on-demand service seamlessly integrates this model into stores.

Unmatched Integration Capabilities

A critical factor differentiating Shopify’s print-on-demand offering lies in its integration capabilities. Unlike platforms requiring external integration services to connect with POD providers, Shopify offers built-in integrations with leading POD apps. This enables merchants to synchronize their stores with POD providers effortlessly, thereby streamlining their operations.

The POD apps on Shopify’s platform are exceptional, showcasing their commitment to providing the experience for merchants. Unlike platforms with fewer options, Shopify offers a wide range of top-notch POD apps, each with unique features and advantages.

Quality Printing and Finishing Options

Printing and finishing quality is crucial in the POD industry, and Shopify understands this well. That's why they have partnered with POD providers who excel in delivering printing capabilities. This ensures that every product sold through Shopify’s POD service meets or exceeds customer expectations in terms of quality.

The integration with printing-on-demand (POD) providers enables merchants to access a range of printing techniques, such as direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, dye sublimation, and screen printing. This flexibility ensures that merchants can offer customers a selection of products featuring high-quality prints.

Advanced Order and Inventory Management

Managing orders and inventory can be a task for e-commerce businesses. However, Shopify’s print-on-demand service simplifies this process through its order and inventory management features.

The order details are seamlessly transmitted to the chosen POD app whenever an order is placed on a Shopify store. The app then takes care of fulfilling the order and handling shipping. This automation saves merchants time and effort, allowing them to focus on growing their business.

In addition to streamlining the ordering process, Shopify’s POD service keeps track of inventory levels in time. This ensures that merchants are always aware of stock availability. Customer satisfaction is maintained by preventing overselling and avoiding situations where orders need to be cancelled due to stock or backorders.

Fast and Reliable Order Fulfilment Service

When it comes to meeting customer expectations in e-commerce, reliable order fulfilment is crucial. Fortunately, Shopify’s POD service excels in this aspect through its integration with top-tier POD providers.

The printing apps offered on Shopify utilize their network of printing facilities and logistics partners, enabling order fulfilment regardless of the merchant or customer's location. By partnering with print providers, merchants can reduce shipping times and costs by providing a customer experience.

Outstanding Customer Support

Running a business can be challenging for new entrepreneurs. To address this, Shopify provides customer support through live chat, email, and phone support. Whether merchants need assistance setting up their store, integrating a printing app, or resolving issues, Shopify’s support team is readily available to help.

Moreover, many of the printing apps on Shopify also offer support to their users. This ensures that merchants have access to expert guidance and troubleshooting whenever required.


Shopify’s print-on-demand innovation has revolutionized the e-commerce industry by simplifying the process of launching businesses for entrepreneurs. With its integration capabilities, quality printing and finishing options, advanced order and inventory management features, fast and reliable order fulfilment services, and exceptional customer support, Shopify stands out from other platforms in the print-on-demand market.

By utilizing Shopify’s print-on-demand service, business owners can concentrate on developing designs and expanding their ventures while entrusting the responsibilities of printing order fulfilment and customer support to professionals. Begin your path with Shopify now and become part of the flourishing community of POD businesses.

Paul Naha-Biswas, founder and CEO of Sixley, shares some of the outcomes of the 2008 recession and how a similar economic downturn could lead to greater innovation and success in UK businesses.

On 12 August, the worst-kept secret in the country came out, and the UK entered a recession for the first time in eleven years.

Few were surprised by the news. In the months preceding the announcement, the economy went through a period of unprecedented disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, culminating in GDP plummeting by 20.4% within the first three months of the year.

But, while the ‘R’ word might send a shiver down the spine of most businesses, it may surprise you to learn that many of the household brands we use today were formed in the last global financial crisis (GFC). Uber and Airbnb were just two businesses founded during the 2008 crash and used the recession as an opportunity to innovate within their sector.

So, with this in mind, what lessons can businesses learn from the last financial crash and where are the opportunities for innovation this time around?

Lessons from the 2008 financial crash 

In the last recession, the consumer businesses that did well were those that offered services or goods at a far lower cost than pre-GFC.

As budgets tightened, people were increasingly prepared to change their consumer behaviour and explore new digital-first businesses to save money. As a result, we saw a significant rise in casual dining and low-cost retail – such as Boohoo – and also a spike in digital businesses, such as Airbnb and Uber that, through their use of lateral business models, brought quality services to people at a much lower price than competitors. Who could have imagined before 2008 that you could book a whole apartment for less than a hotel room or get driven around town for half the cost of a black cab?

In the last recession, the consumer businesses that did well were those that offered services or goods at a far lower cost than pre-GFC.

How COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviour  

A similar trend is emerging during the COVID-19 recession, with Britons cutting back hard on their spending – both out of worry and due to a lack of spending opportunities.

Consumer spending fell by 36.5% in April compared with the same month last year, which followed a 6% drop in March. During the same period, spending on travel nearly halved, and outlay on pubs, clubs, and bars dropped by 97%.

However, the unique circumstances of COVID-19 have created a new trend in consumer behaviour that wasn’t apparent in the GFC. The Government lockdowns actioned around the world has shown businesses how much of our economy can shift online. And the longer restrictions go on for, the less likely it is that businesses will return completely to their post-COVID-19 setup.

With more people staying at home, there will be increased demand for digital, online services and more opportunities for businesses to innovate. Take Hopin, a virtual events company, for example, the brand spotted a gap in the market created by everyone staying inside during the pandemic and raised over $170 million from investors and built up a $2 billion+ valuation since lockdown began, despite only being founded in 2019.

Hopin isn’t the only business success story from COVID-19 and with the pandemic likely to bring about permanent changes in consumer behaviour, there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to establish businesses that will disrupt their sector in a similar way to how Uber and Airbnb did in 2008.

The availability of excellent talent  

However, increased consumer demand for digital services, isn’t the only reason why now is an opportune moment for innovation.

In the GFC, labour turnover fell significantly – from 18% of the workforce in 2006 to a low of 10% in 2013 – as workers looked to hold onto secure jobs and employers put a pause on recruitment.


Once again, a similar trend is emerging, with employment opportunities falling by 62% across the UK in the three months to June compared to the same quarter last year.

While this isn’t the ideal situation for jobseekers, businesses now have a huge and diverse talent pool to choose from. For example, start-up founders can bring in highly experienced, motivated employees without having to poach or hire on full-time contracts, something that many start-ups may otherwise struggle to afford.

And there’s promising signs that current prospects for jobseekers will change soon. Following news that two potentially effective vaccines will be rolled out in the new year, shares in businesses skyrocketed on newfound optimism suggesting they will bounce back. Similarly, in the aftermath of the GFC, spend on recruitment agencies bottomed out at 75% of pre-2008 levels before eventually exceeding pre-recession levels by 2013/14.

The great American writer Mark Twain once said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes, and, in this instance, the saying rings true. Although the circumstances may be different, the COVID-19 recession, like the GFC, has opened new markets that businesses, if they are fast enough, can take advantage of. With a swell of excellent, experienced candidates available and changing consumer behaviour, the environment is perfect for new start-ups to emerge and become this decade’s Airbnb and Uber.

The data collected shows that consumer debt amongst those on low incomes is growing at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008.

This is specifically the case for low-income households. Overall debt levels have remained the same prior to the financial crisis (approximately 15% of total income) but for the poorest households, the level of consumer debt was approximately 62% of total income.

This represents a rise of 9% between 2016 and 2019 which is also higher than prior to 2008.

High-income households also affected by growing debt

Households with higher levels of income have also been impacted by growing consumer debt and are representing a higher amount of debt overall.

However, this is more likely to include mortgage debt and this is usually not the case for low income households.

In addition, those with mortgage debt are more likely to benefit from high levels of competition with mortgage lenders. This is alongside the fact that mortgage rates have remained low since 2017.

Consequently, falling mortgage costs means that overall debt has reduced for many high-income families, and something that many low-income households have not been able to benefit from.


Higher rates on different types of debt

Mortgage rates have remained reasonably low but other kinds of debt have increased. This has notably been the case when it comes to credit card debt and borrowing from direct lenders in the last two years. For example, the average credit card annual percentage rate has risen by 2.1% since 2017.

The research has also revealed that there has also been an increase in the number of low-to-middle income households with no savings.

This poses a concern, as it means that low-income households with no savings are more likely to be reliant on high-cost financial products including credit cards, overdrafts and rent-to-own products, and are also more susceptible to financial shocks if they occur.

Kathleen Henehan, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain is a long way from the levels of debt that drove the financial crisis, despite repeated claims to the contrary. Falling mortgage costs have also reduced the costs of debt for many, mainly higher income families. However, the use of often high-cost consumer credit has risen over the past decade, particularly among low-income households.

“Access to new credit can be hugely beneficial for low-income families, but with many also reporting that they have no savings to fall back on, these high debt repayment pressures are a sign of stretched living standards.

“The risk is that this leaves them far too exposed to future financial shocks, reinforcing the need for policy makers to focus on the living standards of those on low and middle incomes.”

Situations where we find ourselves falling behind in our payments, not enough money to put into our savings, or a lack of spending money at the end of each week or month is a tough situation to find ourselves in. It can make us feel trapped in a cycle where we do not feel we’re able to get out.

Thankfully, this could not be further from the truth. Financial slumps are stressful, but they aren’t the end of the world. There are many ways to help yourself overcome tough times related to money. I will help you with tips on saving, job related financial support and other helpful advice so you can reach financial independence and feel unburdened by money.

Here are 10 tips to get you out of that financial slump:

Live modestly

One of the biggest problems that people have when trying to save money or get out of a financial hole is that they live beyond their means. Eating out at restaurants or ordering takeout often, buying gifts or other products that they simply do not need, and just generally spending more than they can keep up with. Living lavishly when you should be putting down a portion of your check to savings is a good way to not get out of that slump. Try to consider what types of products you buy and start finding cheaper alternatives. No name brand groceries or hygiene products are a good start. From there you can even consider making reusable products.

Budget yourself

Budgeting yourself ties in nicely to the first tip. Make a spending plan for each week or month and try to stick to it. You might go over it every once in a while, but that is okay. It’s just important to know that you have a solid plan that is written down for you to follow. Knowing where your money is going is a good way to know how to stop spending too much.


Loans are a good way to get yourself back on your feet and give you time to sort out what you need to be caught up on financially. If your finances are hard to come by, you are looking for work without steady employment, or if you need loans for bad credit, they can help give you a new start so you can work at becoming financially stable again. Racking up debt is tough, especially on your credit score because of spending, but loans can be flexible to help any situation.

Get a side job

Finding a job that you can work on the side can help you put a little extra money in your pocket, and your savings. Many side jobs are easy compliments to our day job and can be done on flexible schedules. Delivery driving, driving with a ridesharing app, freelance writing. All great options to help you!

Seek financial advice

Getting help from qualified financial advisors and professionals is a good place to seek out some assistance as well. If you have tough questions about specific financial issues, it never hurts to ask the trained pros. They do this kind of work for a living and they have likely seen problems similar to yours, or worse. Their expertise can help you get out of that financial slump.

Enjoy the small goals

Even celebrating a small milestone like reducing your spending on a weekly limit is a good goal. These smaller goals are worth celebrating too. Sometimes we feel like if we do not see huge change right away, that nothing is getting changed at all. This isn’t true and can harm your progress when you don’t recognize the effort you’re making. Didn’t spend $5 on a snack at lunch, go ahead and celebrate. You’re building good habits with small progress.


Give yourself time

Celebrating the little goals is important, and giving yourself time to build up to the bigger financial goals is a valuable lesson too. We sometimes want to do it all at once, but consider how long it takes to get out of debt or build up our savings. Don’t get down on yourself because you haven’t seen progress immediately. You will, it just takes time.

Freeze your spending

You can try spending less, but in some cases, a spending freeze can help. Giving yourself a deadline for not spending any money at all (except for necessities) will show you how much you waste on needless products.

Build an emergency fund

Unpredicted accidents or emergencies can derail your progress. Try to build up a little savings fund of about $1000 or more so you don’t get caught off guard by any surprise problems. Something like a car repair or home repair will throw off your progress if you aren’t prepared. An emergency fund is a good way to avoid that problem as it is a small enough savings goal to reach that won’t feel like more obligations.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Be committed

Lastly, nothing hurts someone’s chances of becoming financially independent more than their own lack of willingness to commit to it. Going into the process of getting yourself out of a financial slump requires time, persistence, perseverance, goal making, and the understanding that it is not an easy task. This isn’t meant to scare you off either, it is entirely possible, but you need to know that it will take some serious mental willpower.

Getting out a financial slump is a tough place to be, but it is doable. Using some of these tips, like budgeting, making a plan, reducing your spending habits, or getting help through a loan or financial professional can help you make it to where you want to be. The goal is financial independence, and it will take some time and effort, but stay committed and you will be living a life free of monetary burden soon enough.

According to Mark Judd, VP, HCM Product Strategy, EMEA at Workday, embracing technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence, payroll professionals can ditch processes, create more enhanced payroll services, and get closer to their employees.

Up to 97% of employers believe that employee expectations of their workplace experiences are changing, according to Aon’s 2019 Benefits and Trends Survey. Workers increasingly expect their employers to deliver seamless, personalised and human services, which mirror those they receive in their personal lives. This has prompted businesses to re-examine all the ways they interact with employees, with arguably the most important interaction being payroll.

Personalised pay

For years, companies took a one-size-fits-all approach to the services they delivered to employees. However, staff now expect smarter and more contextual interactions with their employers. Personalised payroll, adapted to the wants and needs of different employees, is a prime example.

An increasingly popular form of personalisation in payroll is on-demand pay. Through on-demand pay schemes, employers can offer staff greater flexibility over when they’re paid and offer the chance to access a percentage of their pay at the end of each day or week, for example. This increases employees’ ability to handle unexpected payments and can help them to better manage their finances. This could be highly valuable to employees, given that over 50 percent of young Britons currently live “hand to mouth”, according to research from Perkbox.

By personalising pay, businesses can recognise each employee’s situation and needs, enhance their experience and improve loyalty across the workforce.

Feedback loop

Feedback is key to successfully personalising pay arrangements and wider payroll functions. Not only does it help businesses to improve their services, but it also boosts employee engagement. After all, employees have come to expect their feedback to be heard and incorporated into process updates, in the same way, it would be in their personal lives as consumers.

Regular focus groups and routine employee surveys are great ways to gather feedback, and particularly effective if workers can contribute on their mobile devices. By connecting this feedback with the payroll team and wider HR function, organisations can make sure the voice of the employee is present when operational decisions are made.


Providing education

Employees often request assistance in understanding their payslips and pay structure. In fact, over a quarter of respondents to the CIPP’s 2019 Future of Payroll survey reported an increase in the volume of payroll enquiries they received. A part of payroll’s function should be to educate the workforce on how payroll works. From promoting the payroll calendar to an understanding of payslips and the inner workings of pay, this will help employees across the workforce to get the most out of this function.

However, to meet staff expectations, for both education and seamless services, there needs to be a shift to digital payroll platforms. For instance, modern payroll technology can allow employees to access information about how they are paid and find answers to commonly asked questions. This, alongside process automation, helps free up payroll professionals so that they can spend time working with people to resolve more complex queries.

Embracing technology

Technology has a big role to play in the consumerisation of payroll. Complex, legacy systems that currently take several days to process payments and keep the employee at a distance will be consigned to the past. They will be replaced with simpler, less labour-intensive systems that take a more holistic view of the employee and their needs.

Solutions, such as machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain and digital credentialing, will also create new opportunities for employers to increase process efficiencies and improve compliance management, so they can focus more on employee experiences.

Feedback is key to successfully personalising pay arrangements and wider payroll functions. Not only does it help businesses to improve their services, but it also boosts employee engagement.

The consumerisation of payroll

In a competitive job market where it’s difficult to retain talent, businesses should understand how each employee interaction impacts the overall experience and what can be done to improve it. No interaction is more important than the way a company pays its employees. Understanding the needs of each individual and giving them greater flexibility and control over how they’re paid can turn something that was once transactional, into something that feels a bit more personal.

That may be true, but the rest of the 99.99% of things are quite heavy on the bank account. Between bills, school, food, children, girlfriends, wives, entertainment, and subscriptions, how can anyone keep accurate track of their money? Personal finance is the collective term used for managing your money at home. It encompasses everything from diapers to government bonds. Here are steps one must take to ensure that every cent is accounted for.

Seek Advice

Seeking advice is an invaluable tool for any person that wants to keep their personal financial plan on the straight and narrow. Find an expert you can extract information from and mold your strategies around these insights. If you don’t have access to a professional financial planner, is a great tool to keep you up to date on trends and news. Big-time search engines also have their financial sections you can look at. The idea is to get a strong feel of how successful people work with their money.

Set Goals

Every person needs goals. A person without goals is probably not going anywhere. Same goes with money. Money is a means--a proof of value. What you do with it determines your wealth. Having a financial plan is crucial to this. Figure out what your goals are. Do you want that new motorcycle? Do you want to save enough to pay for your child’s college? Do you want to take copy-cat selfies in Bali with friends? None of these things can be responsibly done on a whim. Determine a series of goals and attach timelines to them. Have a short, medium, and long term goal. Short is within the year. Short is that vacation mentioned earlier and whatever other purchases you may take on. Medium has a range of five to ten years. Medium is that motorcycle and your eye on that nice apartment in the city. Long term is looking towards the horizon towards retirement. Having a solid plan to stay afloat during your unemployed golden years is always a good idea.

Set Up A Budget

Your primary tool to accomplish what you want financially is the budget. Your budget is a set guideline as to how much you’re allowing yourself to spend within a given time frame. It can be simple or it can be complicated. Like most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle. The Goldilocks quotient of any good budget means that you’ll be aware and somewhat challenged by the boundaries, yet not completely restricted. Ease of use still plays a factor in a financial plan. It’s not all about spending as little as possible. It’s about understanding your habits, curtailing the unnecessary ones, and rewarding the good ones.


Create Safety Nets For When You Splurge

The tendency for anyone under an extremely strict budget is to accrue a feeling of entitlement. “I’ve been so good with my money, I deserve a night out.” This is dangerous. Anything you feel like you “deserve” is absolutely undeserved in the world of personal finance. That attitude primes you to go overboard and splurge way too much. Set up systems that ensure that you don’t go completely off the rails. A very common and highly effective way to do this is to squirrel away money without you even knowing. Have a relatively small percentage of your paycheck go to a savings account in a bank separate from where you have your checking account. Lose the account number. Lose the pin number. Lose everything pertaining to said account and just forget about it. This means you won’t feel the hit of this savings strategy, and you’ll have something to fall back on in case overdraft fees are in your immediate future. Make it as inconvenient as possible. That means that the only way to access that money is to physically go to a branch, wait in line, and retrieve it in person.

Pay Off Debt

Pay off your debt. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket, if you’re in debt, someone else owns that cash. Make an effort to pay off all your debt within a certain time frame. Let's say in your early years you took on a lot of debt to get life going the way you wanted it to. Pay extra on all of them, focussing on the ones with higher interest rates. Once the high-interest rate loans are paid off, pay that same amount total, but towards the other loans. For example, if you have three loans that each cost you $100 a month, pay that same $300 total towards the remaining two when one of them is paid off. This ensures that you pay off your debt as quickly as possible. It’s called the debt-paydown snowball effect.


Lastly, invest. Start investing and getting good at it as soon as you can. You have tons of options ranging from bonds to stocks, to real estate. The sooner you get into the investing game, the more you’ll focus on your long term goals and retirement. It’s never too early to start, but due to the nature of these plans, there is such a  thing as too late. You just have to choose the right one and tailor your plans around it. But be careful. There if you delve in stocks and bonds, there is a gambling aspect that is sewn into the system itself. Your goal is to buy low and sell high, of loan out big to get an even bigger return. Due to the fluctuations in the market, this may not work in your favor. But if you do it right, you’re looking at a lifelong habit of making significant passive income.

Gone are the days where things were primarily cash or check. It’s all card and recurring payments. It’s absolutely necessary for one to be on top of their money. Being financially responsible means the difference between knowing when you’re in the red and somehow finding yourself deep in it. Financial responsibility is the key to getting ahead of the game and making sure that you can live a good, happy, worry-free life for years to come. That is the essence of good personal finance.

What if we told you that you didn’t need to? There are lots of simple and easy ways to create a little breathing room without impinging on your quality of life – you just need some help working out what they are! Here are a few handy ideas to get you started.

Sell the stuff you’re not using

We’ve all looked around at some point and realised that we need a clear out, and whether it’s your wardrobe that’s bursting at the seams or your old TV gathering dust in the attic, it’s possible that there’s some money to be made. While we’re all for supporting charitable causes and donating to your nearest thrift store, take a long, hard look at what you’re throwing out before it finds its way into a plastic bag. Maybe those jeans don’t fit you anymore, but would somebody buy them if you uploaded them to Depop? Your television is missing a remote, but might somebody want it if you priced it cheaply and advertised it on Facebook Marketplace? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and no matter how little it’s worth, anything you move on equates to extra money in your pocket.

Make your home more energy efficient

Next up, it’s time to think about making your home more eco-friendly. Going green has many benefits, primarily for the environment, but it makes sense from a financial as well as an altruistic perspective. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to make it happen. One of the simplest is to replace your lightbulbs with LEDs, which could purportedly save you around £240 per year on your energy bills. Air sealing your home will help too, decreasing your energy outlay by roughly 20 percent per month, as will turning the temperature on your water heater down a fraction. These might be small steps, but they could add up to some pretty significant savings. Remember, the less energy you use, the lower your bills will be.

Switch to pay-as-you-go or a SIM-only plan

Most of us spend a significant amount on our monthly phone bill, but is this really necessary? While you probably took out a contract to get the most up-to-date phone, lots of us stick with the same deal even when we have a perfectly useable handset and the option to terminate the original agreement. While it’s true that you could upgrade, ask yourself whether you really need to do so in the instant. If not, take our advice and contact your provider to end your contract. Once this is done, opt for pay-as-you-go or a sim-only plan instead, and you’ll find that you could save a tidy sum each month. There are so many good deals out there that you won’t even have to settle for fewer minutes or a less attractive overall plan.

Buy in bulk

We said that this article would help you to spend less, so asking you to shell out more than you normally would perhaps seem counterproductive. However, although a lot of people are deterred by the thought of a higher initial outlay, buying in bulk can save you a vast amount of money, and it requires no real sacrifice at all. If you’re wondering where you can do it, wholesalers like Costco are an obvious option, but there are also plenty of places online, from Amazon to British Cornershop. This article is particularly handy, and offers some great tips for getting to grips with it all.

Cancel your gym membership and take up jogging

The reality is that most people who have a gym membership are not getting their money’s worth. While you might go once or even twice a week as a rule, there are also periods where you’re too busy to visit at all, so perhaps it’s time to find a more cost-efficient alternative. Our advice is to cancel your membership and take up a free outdoor activity instead. Jogging is an obvious choice, but if it’s not to your taste, there are plenty of other free ways to exercise, from extending your daily dog walk to taking advantage of your local tennis courts or following yoga tutorials on YouTube. All of the above are free, fun, and will keep you fit to boot.

Keep an eye out for special offers and discounts

We promised that every method included on this list would give you the chance to save money without making your life miserable, and here is a perfect case in point. Instead of telling you not to spend at all, we simply suggest that you look for special offers and discount options before you buy. Imagine, for an instant, that you want to indulge in a little online gambling. Rather than going to the first provider you stumble upon, we’d recommend using an online directory site like Oddschecker to see what offers are out there. Similarly, if you want to purchase a new pair of jeans, we’d urge you to see what sales are on before paying full price for something you could get significantly cheaper.

Unplug your electrics when you’re not using them

We told you these solutions would be simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t come much easier than this one: make sure that you’re unplugging each of your devices when you’re not using them. Although most will consume only a small amount of energy when they’re in standby mode, this still drives up your monthly bill, and you simply don’t need to be paying the excess. An Xbox 360, for example, would add roughly 15 kilowatt-hours to your total if you were to leave it plugged in on standby for a month, so a small step like this really can make a difference. From your coffee machine to your phone charger and laptop, don’t have them plugged in unless it’s absolutely necessary.

When it comes to saving money, there are so many ways to do it, and lots of them require little to no effort to accomplish. Far from impinging on your life or forcing you to stay indoors and be miserable, they can even come with their own unique benefits, from helping to make your home more eco-friendly through to encouraging you to declutter. Isn’t it worth giving them a go to see how much you could save?

Of course, there are the traditional ways of saving such as budgeting and setting aside a certain amount of funds each month. But, without overly restricting your leisure activities, what everyday changes can you make to spend less?

1. Spend less on your energy bill

Make small everyday changes to lower the cost of your energy bill.

Did you know that 4% of your energy bill is attributed to cooking? Work on lowering this if you can. Your oven stays warm for a long time after you’ve switched it off. Try turning it off 10 minutes before you’re finished cooking to save on energy.

Instead of turning your thermostat up during the colder months, layer up instead to save on pennies! Switching down by just one degree Celsius can save you £85 per year — it all adds up. When it comes to showering, cutting your shower time down to 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes can save you £98 per year — less singing and faster washing!

2. Storing food properly

When we’re packing food away in the fridge or freezer, we usually don’t think about how it’s stored. But, the way that you put away your goods can have an impact on your energy bill.

If you pack your freezer more tightly, this keeps more of the cold air in when you open the door. This means that the appliance doesn’t have to work as hard to lower the temperature again. The same applies for the refrigerator too — a full fridge requires less energy to stay cool than one that’s empty. If you’re struggling to pack your fridge or freezer full, filling it with newspaper can do the job.

3. Save money booking holidays

Even when we’re trying to save money, we all deserve a holiday now and then! The good news is that you can save money by following a few top tips the next time you book a vacation.

Try and fly out on a Friday if you can, this can save you 18% on your airfare compared to if you flew out on a Sunday. Taking into consideration the average cost of a flight and the fact that the average Brit goes on holiday three times a year, you could save £85 annually by following this top tip.

Be calculative about when you book your holiday too. You can save £36 per year by booking your trip on a Monday as flights are 5% cheaper.

Consider packing more economically too. You can save £144 per year by only taking hand luggage on your flights. Squeeze more into your suitcase by rolling clothes and packing garments in your shoes.

4. Meal prepping

Being prepared when it comes to grocery shopping and planning lunches for the week can help save on cash.

Even making a shopping list before you head to the supermarket can help. In fact, 60% of people who take a shopping list to the supermarket said it saves them money. It stops you buying things that you don’t necessarily need and helps you stick to your budget.

Create a meal plan for the week too. This means that you’re only buying what you need and don’t need to spend money on unexpected lunches out. Statistics have shown that you can save an impressive £1,300 per year by preparing lunch at home rather than eating out during the week.

5. Eco-conscious coffee drinking

There are a few ways that you can be eco-conscious about your coffee drinking while saving money.

First of all, you can start by making your coffee at home when you can. You can save £507 per year by making your coffee at home instead of buying one each day from a retailer. If you prefer coffee from the store, why not take your own cup? This is helping the environment and you can save £150 per year as many high street retailers now offer 50p off coffee when you present your own cup.

Make the small changes above and watch your pennies turn into pounds this year! For more saving tips, check out True Potential Investor’s Life Hacks interactive.


Below Gemma Platt, Managing Executive for Vigilant Software, discusses with Finance Monthly how we can restore consumer trust in the age of disruptive banking using better compliance measures.

Atom Bank launched publicly in April 2016 and secured total funding of more than £200 million by the following year, specialising in savings accounts and mortgages. In April 2017, online bank Monzo had its UK banking licence restriction lifted, allowing it to offer current accounts for the first time. Tandem, Starling Bank, Loot and Revolut are more digitally led financial services brands that didn’t exist a handful of years ago.

Changing consumer behaviour

Meanwhile, research by Accenture has shown that customers’ physical interactions with traditional banks are decreasing; from 2015 to 2018, the number of consumers who visit branches at least once a month dropped from 52% to 32%. Over the same period, the number of consumers who use ATMs at least once a month dropped from 82% to 62% – a decline of nearly a quarter.

In many ways, these shifts are unsurprising. We live in an increasingly connected world. As mobile devices become more powerful, and the networks connecting them faster, banks can offer better functionality to customers anytime, anywhere. If the goal is to put customers first, to tailor services to suit them and to work with their daily patterns, digital technology is a great enabler.

However, just as the digital era is disrupting the ways in which consumers engage with their banks, it is also disrupting the trust those consumers have in their banks.

Wavering trust levels

Trust, as all financial organisations know, is the foundation of their relationship with customers. When trust fails, so do banks.

According to Accenture, consumer trust in banks has been rising steadily, and is now at its highest point since 2012. It seems likely that, following the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent recession, consumer relationships with their banks have stabilised.

However, at the same time, consumer concerns about cyber security and online fraud are on the increase. PwC research in 2017 suggested that a massive 85% of consumers would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices, and 71% said that they found companies’ privacy rules difficult to understand. This was before the introduction of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which has shifted the issue of personal data protection into mainstream consciousness.

Similarly, the Ping Identity 2018 Consumer Survey: Attitudes and Behaviour in a Post-Breach Era, which surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in the UK, US, France and Germany, found that one in five of them had fallen victim to a corporate data breach, and just over a third of those had suffered financial loss as a result. Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that 49% of consumers would not engage a service or application that had suffered a recent breach.

Where banks are digitally led, two areas of trust collide. Customers might have more faith that their banks are reliable, well run and unlikely to collapse, but are simultaneously more fearful of the wealth of risks and threats in the online world, from the theft of their personal data to viruses and malware that can attack their personal devices.

Where banks are digitally led, two areas of trust collide. Customers might have more faith that their banks are reliable, well run and unlikely to collapse, but are simultaneously more fearful of the wealth of risks and threats in the online world, from the theft of their personal data to viruses and malware that can attack their personal devices.

Furthermore, research into the security posture of banks and other financial services organisations suggests that consumers may be right. When the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 400 C-suite executives at major banks around the world last year, it found that just under half of respondents believed that a cyberattack would cause “at least one systemic bank failure in the next two years as the digital transformation of the banking industry continues to automate the sector”.

In other words, as banks rely on digital technology more and more, whether to offer customer-friendly mobile apps; to automate manual processes to streamline management and reduce costs; or to take advantage of new innovations such as AI, Cloud computing and the Internet of Things, they expose themselves to ever greater levels of cyber risk.

‘Always on’ compliance

Digital banks – whether challenger brands that have entirely bypassed physical premises, or traditional institutions that have branched out into highly functional apps and websites – are ‘always on’. And this is precisely how they need to see their approach to cyber security and compliance.

Traditional approaches to regulatory compliance – whether with frameworks for best practice such as ISO 27001 or legal requirements such as the GDPR – tend to involve organisations undergoing a single period of reviewing, updating their tools and processes accordingly, and creating a record for audit purposes. This is repeated perhaps once a year to demonstrate that compliance is being maintained.

However, in a dynamic, digitally driven world, compliance needs to be dynamic and digitally driven too. This means undertaking compliance checks more frequently and maintaining online dashboards that offer a real-time snapshot of the current compliance posture and are automatically updated when elements of the organisation’s digital infrastructure are changed. Banks have embraced digital technology to offer their customers something new; the next step is to use digital portals, dashboards and compliance management tools to ensure a next-generation approach to building trust.

While there are many things that we can do to try to save money when we make purchases or try to live frugally, there are also ways to keep better track of our finances. Maybe some of what we consider to be immutable expenses are actually a lot more flexible, or perhaps we have spent money somewhere that we can claim back. By restructuring our monthly plans, we are actually able to save money with very little effort. Here are two things we may have overlooked when crunching the numbers for that budget.

Claiming Money Back

Sometimes we end up spending for something but are actually due a lot of that money back. PPI is an infamous example of the way many people ended up spending money on something they didn’t need to. Another common area where people miss their opportunity to claim money back is air travel. Flightright offers air passengers online legal advice for claiming compensation for disruption to their travel stemming from things such as bad weather, strikes, flight cancellations and flight delays. This legal advice is easy to follow, transcends complex jargon, and 99% of cases have been successfully won in court. This works with airlines such as easyJet, which is referred to by some as Britain’s most unpunctual airline. What's more, train companies in the UK such as LNER, offer delay repay, which promises to refund the price of tickets if the train or its alternative was delayed by more than 30 minutes. Claiming money back when the services we expected haven’t been up to par isn’t just part of our consumer rights but could actually make a significant difference and can change an inconvenience into a welcome relief.

Claiming money back when the services we expected haven’t been up to par isn’t just part of our consumer rights but could actually make a significant difference and can change an inconvenience into a welcome relief.

Change Your Provider

It can often seem paralyzing: We sign up to a contract service and are forced to stay with them because shopping around and cancelling the contract seems too much hassle, or seems to incur additional fees. However, long-term contracts with necessary services such as internet providers, phone companies, energy providers and even banks may not be giving us the best deal; in fact, they may be costing us more than their competitors. How much you pay for a service depends on many factors, but shopping around and seeing what you should be paying could result in you clawing back a significant amount of your monthly budget. For instance, according to Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert, your energy bills could be cheaper if you investigate cheaper tariffs and other methods of making payments such as a direct debit. Even threatening to cancel or swap could sometimes shock your current provider into giving you a better service or cheaper deal, so it pays to go down that route as well.

How much you pay for a service depends on many factors, but shopping around and seeing what you should be paying could result in you clawing back a significant amount of your monthly budget.

By making sure that you recoup any unnecessary payments and collecting all money owed to you, you will find that you could be making greater savings each month. Similarly, by shopping around for all your providers and being savvy about it, you could be spending less each month. As a result, your outgoings are decreased with very little effort on your part.

This is according to a recent study by Meanwhile, separate data shows that, in total, there are just over 11 million mortgages across the country, with the combined value of the mortgage market coming in at £1.3 trillion. Here John Ellmore, Director at¸ discusses further the correlation between a lack of financial planning and subsequent mortgage troubles.

It’s a huge market, and for most people a mortgage will be the largest single debt they take on in their life. It is vital, therefore, that consumers are thorough and diligent in both finding the right mortgage product and making mortgage repayments.

Navigating the mortgage market

Returning to the aforementioned research by, not only did the survey uncover the types of debt people have, but it also offered insight into the ways Britons are managing their finances. And there were some concerning findings.

Most notably, two thirds (67%) of those in debt have no savings stored away to enable them to pay off debt if required, with men (73%) more likely than women (62%) to lack a financial safety net. Furthermore, nearly three in ten (29%) said they do not feel in control of their debt and have no plans of how they will pay it off.

In light of these figures, it is perhaps less surprising to note that 24% of people in debt said they lose sleep because of it.

When it comes to mortgages, planning and preparation are key. Indeed, with so many mortgages available – 4,214 new products were introduced into the residential mortgage market between 2016 and 2018 alone – choosing the most appropriate option can be challenging.

Importantly, this challenge starts with an individual understanding his or her personal finances.

Debt-to-income ratios

Essential within this planning phase is to know one’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. In short, this offers an indication of how much debt a person has in relation to their earnings – it is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by gross monthly income.

But many people are in the dark about DTI ratios; 44% of UK adults do not know what their debt-to-income ratio is, with 39% admitting to not understanding the term.

This needs to be addressed. Without understanding exactly how much debt one can responsibly handle, securing the right mortgage is extremely difficult.

Of course, a mortgage provider will undertake its own due diligence in ensuring a borrower’s income is sufficient for the terms of a particular mortgage. However, in truth, the lender will never be able to match the borrower’s granular insight into their finances.

Avoiding bad debt

Ultimately, despite the negative connotations that still surround the word, debt is an extremely valuable financial instrument. It enables people to pursue life goals otherwise out-of-reach. But we must recognise there are good debts and bad debts.

Good debts are both manageable and will provide value to the individual – mortgages are a prime example of this, assuming the amount borrowed can be repaid. Bad debts are those that cannot realistically be repaid or provide no value – taking on debt to pay-off other debt is a common example of this.

Mortgages, by and large, are good debts, but only when the monthly repayments can be made without being overly restrictive to a person’s financial situation. The first step is for consumers to ensure they know what their DTI ratio is – a task that takes just a few moments thanks to online DTI calculators.

Failure to do so could cause problems down the line. Illustrating this point, it is estimated around 88,000 mortgages in the UK are in arrears of 2.5% or more, while there are 52 mortgage possession claims made every day.

To avoid falling into this situation, borrowers must be sure they only take on good debt. Moreover, whenever possible they should set aside savings to help make repayments in case of cash flow issues or interest rate changes in the future.

Thorough preparation and careful management are at the heart of any successful financial strategy, and when it comes to mortgages these are essential in ensuring people navigate the market safely and only accrue debts in a safe, responsible manner.

Martin Lewis, founder of says: “Everyone should take time to manage and boost their credit score. It's no longer just about whether you can get mortgages, credit cards and loans, it can also affect mobile phone contracts, monthly car insurance, bank accounts and more.”

However, what happens when applicants realise that their credit score is at the lower end of the rating scale?

How do you improve it and how long will this take?

First, what could be impacting your credit score?

Several factors impact credit scores, each contributing to the score credit reference agencies provide applicants.

Not being on the electoral roll

It's pretty easy to rectify if you are not on the electoral register - all you have to do is register with your local council. Lenders like when applicants have an address that confirms where they are. So if you are not on the register, do so as soon as possible.

Taking out too much credit at once

If applicants make several credit applications simultaneously, this does not look great to credit lenders, almost appearing as desperate, suggesting to lenders that you’re relying heavily on credit to manage your finances.

Using too much of your available credit

For some credit lenders, their preference is for borrowers to not use more than 25% of their total credit limit at any one time. For example, if an existing borrower has a credit limit of £2,000, they should not have more than a £500 spend on the account.

Borrowers who wish to improve their credit scores will need to repay some of the used credit limits to sit under the 25% spend. This is not an exact science as other factors still come in to play yet those who adopt this approach, will see their credit score rise.

Having too much available credit

This may sound weird, yet having lots of empty credit cards can adversely impact a score. Newer lenders worry that if they lend to you, you could still take on more credit with your other empty credit cards, thus making it riskier for you to repay them.

The point here is, do you need all that available credit? Keep the ones you use to spend and repay on time regularly, and ditch the ones you no longer use at all. Old balance transfer credit cards are an obvious target for closure.

Having the ‘wrong’ credit

Whilst this may be controversial, those with loans and credit from high-interest payday loan lenders like Wonga, or whopping interest-rate APRs on so-called credit builder credit cards could see their credit scores take a plummet. Lenders see these as the only credit you can receive rather than traditional borrowing like from a bank.

No or little credit history

Again, this may sound counter-productive, yet those who have lower scores are also those that have never used or only borrowed a long time ago. For lenders, this means that they have little credit history of you as a borrower - and thus whether you are actually able to repay in the present.

You will need to demonstrate that you can manage credit over a few months before seeing any improvement. A tip is to get a small balance credit card and pay it off each month.

Debt, Bankruptcy's & County Court Judgements

Debt, bankruptcy's and CCJs will linger on your credit report for six years. There is definitely no short-term fix here - the only option is to ensure that in these six years you remain debt-free and maintain an excellent financial position. Finally, this will be reflected in your credit score, yet it won't happen until the six years are up.

Being financially linked to another person

Being financially tied to someone – something that usually occurs when you share a financial account, like a joint saving or current account, or even a mortgage; will impact your credit score.

Sadly it is a fact, many couples separate or divorce, and if their score is terrible, this will still impact yours. The tip here is to contact each credit reference agency and ask for this link to be removed. Next time your credit report is refreshed - the link should be removed.

How long will my credit score take to improve?

Each bank, building society, online lender, local authority and other relevant organisations have their own timescales for updating credit reference agencies with the latest information. It could be several weeks before applicants notice any changes in their credit report.

Improving credit scores is about ensuring that you make smart choices about your financial situation, and having the determination to see it through.

So, first, check what is impacting your score, and then ensure that you update every credit reference agency. Sadly, there’s no overnight fix but having a good credit score is worth the effort and will set you up for a stable financial future.

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Finance Monthly is a comprehensive website tailored for individuals seeking insights into the world of consumer finance and money management. It offers news, commentary, and in-depth analysis on topics crucial to personal financial management and decision-making. Whether you're interested in budgeting, investing, or understanding market trends, Finance Monthly provides valuable information to help you navigate the financial aspects of everyday life.
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