2021

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

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.

How to navigate pension scams

by Madaline Dunn

Pension scams are on the rise. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), over £2 million has been lost to pension scammers in the last year, with victims, on average, losing out on £50,949. This number is double what it was in 2020. That said, small pots and big pots are being targeted, with victims being conned out of £1,000 to £500,000.

Of course, it’s incredibly worrying that such a nefarious scam has seen such an increase. Savers work hard their whole lives to make sure that they’re set for their golden days.

In response to this concerning trend, the government recently announced anti-pension scam plans to safeguard savers.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through what the government’s Fraud Action Plan is, what it means for you and some steps you can take to protect yourself from pension scams.

This article will explain:

  • Latest statistics from the FCA
  • What the Fraud Action Plan contains
  • Tips to protect yourself against fraud

A warning from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

According to the FCA, pension scams have become increasingly common due to the pension freedoms introduced in 2015. This gave people much more flexibility around their investments; however, this flexibility also brought with it risk.

Now, the FCA says that pension holders were nine times more likely to accept pension advice from someone online than someone in person. Savers were also five times more likely to be attracted to a free online pension review by a stranger than one offered by a stranger in the pub. Worryingly, out of those surveyed, 28% were aware that this kind of offer was typically the sign of a scam.

As a result, Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, suggests that pension holders should challenge themselves and “flip the context”. “Imagine a stranger in a pub offering free pension advice and then telling you to put those savings into something they were selling. It is difficult imagining anyone saying yes to that,” he said.

According to Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, men aged 55 and over “who can access their retirement pot flexibly” are one of the main targets for this kind of scam. Of course, the current climate caused by Coronavirus has made people more vulnerable to pension scams too.

The Fraud Action Plan

The UK government recently admitted that it needs to do more to protect people from pension scams. So, it will soon publish its Fraud Action Plan 2022-2025, which will seek to bolster consumer protections by eliminating fraudulent infrastructure.

Reportedly, more emphasis will be placed on tackling ‘secondary scammers’ who go after those who have already been scammed, and the government will also pursue greater gathering and sharing of data relating to pension scams.

Tips to protect yourself

While you may think that you’re too savvy to be at risk of a pension scam, scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the tactics they use to trap victims.

The FCA has warned that overconfidence on the part of consumers puts people at risk. So, it’s always best to make sure that you take some steps to safeguard yourself.

Look out for red flags – As outlined above, those offering free reviews are unlikely to be legitimate advisors, equally those who promise you ‘high returns’ are likely to be pulling a fast one.

Keep yourself informed – In line with the UK’s pension rules, you typically can’t unlock your pension until you’re 55. So, if you’re promised an early cash release, it’s likely that this is a scam. Get in touch with the Pensions Advisory Service if you have any questions or concerns. Pension Wise is another service that can help you stay in the loop.

Be wary of cold calls – Back in January 2019, the government banned cold calling regarding pensions. So, unless you have given your pension provider prior permission to call you, ignore calls and texts regarding your pension because those who get in touch are likely to be scammers.

Take your time – Those who pile on the pressure or give you a limited time offer will likely be scammers. It’s important to take the time to research a provider to make sure everything is above board. Always check the Financial Services Register before making a decision.

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Monday, August 23rd, 2021 Pensions No Comments

The best credit card deals out there in 2021

by Madaline Dunn

When it comes to the world of credit cards, there are lots of benefits. A credit card helps boost your credit rating, offers you protection and freebies, and gives you some financial wriggle room.

That said, it can be hard to know where to start, and often people have lots of burning questions that need answering. It’s also important to stay informed about charges and fees.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll make sure that you’re up-to-date with all the latest credit card deals out there in 2021. Keep reading to find out more.

Reasons you could benefit from a credit card

To some, credit cards can seem intimidating, and many believe it only leads to debt, but they can be helpful in some circumstances. Credit cards can help you with your finances and assist you with building a good credit report. If your credit is in the red, and you’re looking to make a big investment like a house or car, a credit card can push it into the green.

Some credit cards also enable free borrowing and purchase protection, as well as offering reward deals so that you can earn free money too.

That said, it’s important to be aware that you shouldn’t rely on credit cards to borrow money, especially if you don’t have the funds for repayments. Plus, when the interest-free period ends, you can be faced with some pretty significant charges. Credit cards also have varying levels of APR, which refers to the rate at which you’ll be charged for borrowing. So, make sure you don’t get caught out by the small print!

Santander All in One Credit Card

Arguably, the biggest plus of this credit card offer is that cardholders can benefit from 26 months interest-free on balance transfers. Other benefits include a 0.5% cashback on all purchases and no foreign transaction fees.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and the card does have a £3 monthly charge, which works out to £36 a year. Another disadvantage of this card is that you will also be charged transaction fees if you withdraw money – interest applies here too. Moreover, it has an APR of 23.7%.

To be eligible for this card, you must have an income of at least £7,500 a year and be 18 or over.

Aqua Advance Credit Card

This card is excellent for people who are looking to build credit and requires no credit rating. It has an initial APR of 34.9%, but customers who stick with this card will be rewarded through staggered APR reduction. After 12 months, if you keep up with payments and stay within your limit, your rate could be reduced by 5% each year. This means that the APR can go as low as 19.9%.

This card also offers access to the Aqua Credit Checker, allowing you to view your credit rating and its improvement.

Other benefits include credit limits of between £250-£1,200 and no extra charges for purchasing abroad.

To be eligible for this card, you must fulfil a specific criterion. Applicants must be over 18 with a permanent address. Additionally, you must have a current UK bank or building society account and must not have been registered as bankrupt in the last 18 months. Equally, you cannot have any ongoing bankruptcy proceedings against you.

Finally, eligibility also depends on not receiving a County Court Judgement (CCJ) in the past 12 months. You also cannot already have an Aqua card or have an Aqua, marbles, opus, Fluid card taken out in the last 12 months.

American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card 

This is a great card for those looking to get a little more bang for their buck with no annual fee. It offers a 5% cashback on all purchases up to £100 for the first three months. This does, however, decrease over time.

That said, it’s important to note that you need to spend £3000 or more to access cashback offers, and unfortunately, it’s not available for those with a bad credit history. It has an APR of 22.2%,

To be a successful applicant for this card, you must be aged 18 or over and have a clean slate regarding debt. Applicants must also have a permanent UK address and a current UK bank or building society account.

M&S Shopping Plus Credit Card

For those looking for a credit card to spread the cost of large purchases, this is the perfect one for you. With no annual fee, it also boasts a 20-month interest-free period of new purchases. That’s right, no interest at all for 20 months! Accompanying this, the card also offers cardholders an 18-month interest-free period for balance transfers. That said, this only applies within the first 90 days. Also, remember if you opt for this card, you must pay off your balance before the interest-free period ends.

As with everything, there are pros and cons to this card, and the reward points you earn through this card are only available in the form of M&S vouchers. So, this isn’t necessarily a great deal for everyone. It also has an APR of 21.9%.

Eligibility for this card requires that applicants are over the age of 18 and UK residents.

Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card

This is a great travel card for those who want to earn as they spend abroad. With a 0% foreign transaction fee and no annual fee, this is a pretty attractive deal. This card also offers 0.25% cashback on all spending and savings on live events with Barclaycard Entertainment.

However, compared with other credit cards, a 0.25% cashback rate isn’t the best deal and it does not offer a balance transfer option. It also has a 22.9% APR variable.

Applicants must be aged 21 or over, have a personal income of £20,000 or above, and have had a permanent UK address for at least two years. Those looking to get in on this deal must also have at least four years of managing credit, make payments on time and be able to afford repayments.

Lastly, applicants must not have had Individual Voluntary Agreements, CCJs, and must not have declared bankruptcy in the last six years.

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Monday, July 5th, 2021 Economy, Savings No Comments

The FCA ends price-walking

by Madaline Dunn

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is introducing new rules to tackle “price-walking,” which sees consumers pay more and more for insurance each year despite no increase in risk.

This move follows a super-complaint made by Citizens Advice to the Competition and Markets Authority back in 2018.

But, how exactly does this mean, and how will these changes affect your personal finances?

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll make sure you have all the information you need to discover how these changes will affect you!

This article will explain:

  • What price-walking is
  • Why the FCA stepped in
  • What the changes mean
  • How to launch a complaint against an insurance firm
  • Responses from across the industry

What is “price-walking”?

Price-walking, otherwise known as the loyalty penalty, refers to the phenomenon where insurance companies charge long-standing customers more to renew their cover while new customers receive cheaper premiums.

According to the FCA, customers lose out on £1.2bn a year due to what Citizens Advice has called a “systematic scam”.

Why has the FCA stepped in?

Back in February 2021, the FCA released its Final Report on general insurance pricing practices. In this report, the regulatory body outlined that general insurance markets must deliver “good outcomes” for all consumers, but that it had found that this is not the case due to price-walking.

One example used to demonstrate this is that while new customers for building insurance pay just £130, customers who have been with the same provider for five or more years pay £238.

Ultimately, it outlined that the practice “distorts competition” while increasing costs for both customers and firms, with higher overall prices for customers. It also highlighted that many insurance firms are not transparent about their price-walking practices.

What do the changes mean?

On 28 May, the FCA published its collection of new pricing practices rules, which primarily placed a prohibition on price-walking for home and motor insurance.

Other changes include giving customers easier methods of cancelling the automatic renewal of their policy and making sure insurance firms do more to “consider how they offer fair value to their customers.

Commenting on the changes, Sheldon Mills from the FCA said: “These measures will put an end to the very high prices paid by many loyal customers. Consumers can still benefit from shopping around or negotiating with their current provider, but won’t be charged more at renewal just for being an existing customer”.

The changes will come into effect from 1 January 2022, and insurance firms will be required to report data to the FCA for improved supervision.

How to launch a complaint against an insurance provider

As a customer, if you become aware that your insurance provider is continuing with a banned practice, you must first complain to the firm directly.

Following this, the firm must respond to your complaint within eight weeks or explain why further investigation is required.

If the firm does not remedy the situation, you can then take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. This must be done within six months of the final response from the firm. Citizens Advice can also provide a helping hand.

The last resort is taking the firm to court.

How has the industry responded?

The announcement of the rule changes has been welcomed across the board. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said that it means firms will no longer be able to offer “unsustainably low-priced deals” to their customers.

Insuretech UK, meanwhile, said that the practice of price-walking has “damaged” customer trust in insurance products and “undermined the credibility” of the industry and voiced support for the changes.

Elsewhere, Rodney Bonnard, UK head of insurance at EY, said that the ban on price-walking points to a “new era of transparency”.

Finally, Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said that price-walking had been particularly harmful to individuals on low-income and noted that the organisation was “pleased” to see the FCA set the bar “so high”.

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Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 Insurance No Comments

Welcome to 2021!

by Admin

Well. 2020 was quite a year, for all of us, and unfortunately Covid-19 is still with us even as we go into 2021. Most of our plans that we made a year ago had to be rearranged or abandoned altogether, for reasons out of our control. New Year’s resolutions for a promotion or a new career were replaced by simply trying to make ends meet while on furlough or through redundancy.

I have had to adjust my expectations for 2020, as I’m sure most of you have too. It would be easy to be disappointed by all the things we have missed out on – but I think we should congratulate ourselves for coming this far! We have reasons to be optimistic as 2021 begins – vaccines for coronavirus, of course, and the possibility of being able to return to our favourite activities from before the pandemic. But also, the changes that the pandemic forced upon us, such as reduced business travel and easier working from home (for some), might continue even when Covid is no longer a concern.

So I would encourage you to look forward with optimism rather than backward with disappointment. Things will still be difficult at the start of 2021, but as the year goes on, things should gradually improve – and that’s worth waiting for!

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Friday, January 1st, 2021 Jobs No Comments

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