Consumer Goods

A guide to ‘Buy Now, Pay Later,’ deals, the dangers and safeguards

by Madaline Dunn

In recent years, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ deals (BNPL) have become increasingly popular and were particularly boosted by the pandemic, which created a significant increase in online shopping. Data from the FCA recently revealed that in 2020, the use of BNPL nearly quadrupled and is now at £2.7bn.

These deals offer buyers the option to pay for their purchase over a period of time, rather than all at once, and have been dubbed by some as “the future of millennial finance.” However, while this once niche form of credit has benefits, it’s not without its dangers. More and more people are raising concerns that it encourages unsustainable spending, leaving many with debts they can’t pay off. 

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll help you understand:

  • The ins and outs of BNPL
  • Why BNPL deals can be dangerous
  • The safeguards out there to protect you from harm 

What is ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’?

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) agreements allow buyers to purchase items on credit and pay for them later down the line, typically through interest-free instalments. For many, this seems like a relatively hassle-free payment method and has been primarily adopted by the under 30’s demographic.

There are a few different types of BNPL deals, the first works on the basis of a buyer splitting their payments into segments, typically with an upfront payment. Following the first payment, the buyer agrees for the provider to take the rest of the money over an agreed period of time. 

Another example of a BNPL deal works by the buyer delaying their payment for purchase for a set number of days, usually between 14-30 days.

The final form of BNPL involves arranging a formal payment plan at the point of purchase, and the buyer may have to pay interest and may have their means-tested.

Some examples of BNPL providers include Clearpay, Laybuy and Klarn, the biggest provider.

Speaking about the draw of BNPL to The Guardian, one BNPL investor said: “It increases the basket size, and it also reduces dropped baskets.”

Why are BNPL deals dangerous? 

Of course, as with anything, there are drawbacks to BNPL deals, and they have the potential to put consumers at significant risk.

Speaking about the dangers associated with BNPL deals, Sue Anderson from StepChange, a debt charity, said: “Buy now, pay later services don’t give individuals enough time or protection to stop, pause and understand the consequences of their purchase. Sometimes this even means people end up using BNPL at the online checkout without actually realising they have signed up.”

She added: “Second, affordability checks are only used by some BNPL lenders, and protections against taking out multiple BNPL loans are lacking. Finally, due to a lack of regulation, it’s not clear whether these services are treating customers fairly and in a way that is consistent with other credit products.”

Meanwhile, Citizens Advice likened BNPL deals to “quicksand” in that they’re “easy to slip into” but “very difficult to get out of”.

Of course, BNPL deals don’t take into consideration circumstance changes either.

This year, in response to these concerns, the government announced this area would be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) due to the risk posed to consumers. Now a consultation is underway to assess how to navigate the regulation issue.

What safeguards are out there to protect buyers from harm?

For a long time, personal finance experts have called for regulation around BNPL deals, and now it appears the government is finally taking heed with their consultation.

Going forward, the government is proposing that BNPL users should have the ability to take complaints to the independent Financial Ombudsman Service. On top of this, the government has also proposed that advertising and promotions relating to BNPL should be regulated by, for example, the Advertising Standards Authority or the Committees of Advertising Practice.

Moreover, the government says that statutory protection should be outlined under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Further protections have been suggested in the form of compulsory credit checks so that those who wish to take on BNPL products can afford to do so. 

The consultation ends at the beginning of next year, so it’s unlikely we’ll see any immediate changes. That said, in the meantime, when encountering BNPL products, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I afford the repayments?
  • Are there better options out there regarding borrowing?
  • Am I interested in buying this item because of the BNPL offer?

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021 Consumer Goods, Economy No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

UK expenses: From grocery shopping and travel to days out

by Madaline Dunn

When it comes to day-to-day expenses, prices can vary widely depending on where you’re located in the UK. The North-South price divide is indeed true, too, and the further you go up North, typically, the cheaper things get.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through the sort of prices you can expect to pay across the country at supermarkets, restaurants and pubs and where you can go for a cheap day out. We’ll cover:

  • A comparison of UK supermarket prices
  • Dining out across the UK
  • Price differences for activities
  • Travel costs contrasts

The UK Supermarket comparison

Across the UK, the price of your groceries will change depending on which supermarket you decide to shop at. There’s a pretty wide range to choose from, too.

Nimblefins analysis of ONS data also reveals that, on average, a UK household spends £3,312 on groceries a year, but where can you find the cheapest trolley?

Which? found Lidl is the cheapest supermarket in the UK. For 23 essential items, a Lidl shopping trolley comes in at £24.11, while not far behind, an Aldi trolley comes in at £24.54. The location with the most Lidls is London, which has a whopping 72 supermarkets. Elsewhere, Sheffield, London, Cardiff and Liverpool are the cities with the most Aldi stores.

Meanwhile, Asda sits at third place, with a trolley of 23 essential items costing £25.22. Fourth is Morrisons, where 23 essential items cost £27.14.

That said, a new supermarket chain, Mere, is set to launch in the UK, and founders claim that it could be up to 30% cheaper than competitors Lidl and Aldi.

Contrastingly, the most expensive supermarket in the UK is Waitrose, where a trolley with 23 items is priced at £32.20, over £8 more expensive than Lidl. Ocado, the online supermarket, is the second most costly at £30.33.

London is also home to the most Waitrose stores in the UK, with a total of 54 stores.

Dining out and drinks across the UK

In the UK, the average household spends £1,716 on restaurants and takeaways each year. That said, UK inflation recently saw its biggest increase on record in August 2021, meaning food and drink are getting even pricier. So, where can you find the cheapest places to eat out and buy drinks?

Sheffield is the most affordable city to buy a pint, according to research from Numbeo, costing £3.36. Liverpool and Leicester offer similar prices, with a pint costing £3.47 and £3.66 respectively.

Unsurprisingly, some of the most expensive pints can be found in London, where a pint will see you part with nearly £6 (£5.60). Meanwhile, Bristol pints cost £4.76 on average, and you’ll pay around £4.72 a pint in Norwich.

If you’re looking for a cheap bite to eat, on average, the most affordable place to buy a 12’’ Margherita pizza is Belfast, costing just £5.99. London, again, is the most expensive place comparatively, costing £10.99.

Meanwhile, for those looking to taste the finer things in life on a budget, the Michelin Cornerstone in Hackney, London, will set you back just £21.50 pp, and outside of London, the Coach in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, which cost you £23 pp.

Dundee offers the cheapest night out for those hitting the town, costing around just £25.35 on average. Cardiff and Swansea are also cheap options at just £27.33 and £27.35 per night, respectively. London and Oxford are much more expensive, ​​at £49.66 and £42.30 on average a night.

The cost of activities

It may be confusing to understand why there’s such a difference in price for activities like going to the cinema or joining a gym depending on where you live, but typically these price differences are due to rent and running costs varying regionally.

If you’re a fitness enthusiast trying to review where the cheapest places to workout are, up north in Newcastle, you can find a gym membership for just £16. This jumps up considerably the further you move down south.

Cinema prices vary widely, too. In Bradford, an adult ticket costs just £6.74, but this doubles if you move further south. In Wandsworth, for example, an adult ticket soars to £13.74.

Travel expenses

Travelling across the UK can be pretty expensive, especially if you choose to travel by train. These days, choosing the train costs 50% more than flying by plane!

According to Nimblefins, on average, a UK household spends around £1,100 a year (£94 a month) on public transport.

Here, London again tops the list of the most expensive places regarding public transport. Deutsche Bank’s 2019 survey found that transportation costs £150 a month for a travel card for zones 1-3. However, London prices are lower for buses, and a single hopper ticket will cost just £1.55. Elsewhere in the UK, a single ticket for a 20-minute journey from Middleton to Manchester city centre will set you back £4.50.

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Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 Consumer Goods, Economy No Comments

Money calendar

by Admin

Today I came across something I hadn’t considered before, but I think it’s a good idea. The BBC business website has an article they describe as a “Money Calendar”, which offers month-by-month tips to help you sort out your finances during the year. Some of the tips are simple forward planning (like saving up for Christmas earlier in the year), others are suggestions which have specific relevance to the month in question (like summer activities in July).

I think there are some great tips and points to consider in this article, in some cases with links to more detailed information if you want to explore further. At a time of year when we’re all trying to get our finances sorted out, why not take a look and see if it gives you any useful pointers?

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 Consumer Goods No Comments

Easily find gifts for him

by Admin

[Sponsored Post]

Although it’s not my usual topic of blog post, I thought this website might be of use to readers of The Salary Calculator blog – not just because I think it can help save a bit of money in the lead up to Christmas. Inspire A Gift has been created to help you find gifts for him – whether that’s your boyfriend, husband, dad, brother or a friend. By using your answers to a fun personality quiz to get an idea of the guy you’re buying for, Inspire A Gift will recommend presents specific to the person on your mind. Whether this is for Christmas, birthday, or just because – Inspire A Gift can help you find the perfect gift.

If the quiz doesn’t find the perfect gift (or if he’s already got everything that is recommended!), you can also browse all the gift recommendations according to personality type. If you think this could help you get started (or finished!) on your Christmas shopping, check out the Inspire A Gift personality quiz!

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 Consumer Goods No Comments

Your total tax bill for the year is…

by Admin

Although The Salary Calculator helps you to see how much of your salary gets eaten up by income tax, National Insurance and other deductions, there are other ways in which the government gets its hands on your money. There’s council tax, for example. VAT on goods and services. And fuel duty on petrol and diesel.

The guys and girls at Money Sense, run by paydayloan.co.uk, have created an interactive tool that lets you see how much more tax you pay during the year through other means. Try out their tax calculator and see what percentage of your income goes to the government in one form or another.

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