Category Archives: Finance

What the budget means for you the consumer

This wouldn’t be a finance blog if I didn’t mention this week’s Budget. If you tried to follow it on TV or on twitter, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused about what the overall outcome was for you.  Will you be better off or not? Well, in this short post, I’ll explain what the budget means for the consumer.

Press Association
Press Association

Savings: GOOD NEWS. The Government wants us to save, save, save for our future and is helping us do that by:

  • increasing the limit we can input into an ISA (tax-free savings account) each year to £20,000, up from £15,240.
  • introducing lifetime ISAs for people under 40, to save up to £4,000 a year. The Government will also top up the amount we input by 25% i.e. for every £4 you save, they will add £1.

Income tax: GOOD NEWS for low and high income rate payers here, as well as the self-employed as:

  • the tax-free personal allowance (the amount of earnings that you do not pay tax on) is being raised from £10,600 to £11,500. This will mean some people will no longer pay any income tax.
  • The 40% tax rate threshold is rising to include only those earning £45,000 and above.
  • Self-employed workers will no longer need to pay Class 2 National Insurance. This amounts to an annual tax cut of over £130.
  • E-bay-ers and AirBnB-ers (or micro-entrepreneurs) no longer need to file tax returns for this income if they earn less than £1,000 a year.

Insurance: BAD NEWS for all. Because we ALL need insurance.

  • The insurance premium tax (a tax on general insurance premiums, such as home insurance, car insurance and travel insurance) will increase by 0.5% to 10%.

Fun: GOOD NEWS for drivers and beer/spirit drinkers, BAD NEWS for sugar lovers, wine drinkers and smokers. No increases in the tax paid on:

  • Fuel
  • Beer, cider, and spirits (not wine boo – the tax will rise in line with inflation)
  • BUT tobacco duty will rise by 2 per cent above inflation
  • ALSO a tax will be applied to sugary drinks companies which could mean the increase in costs will be passed onto consumers as a price rise. Stock up on your coca cola now!
 And that’s it.  Overall, if you ask me what the budget means for the consumer, I think it’s a positive outcome.  What do you think?

How cashback sites work – an easy and fast way to make money

Update: Sign up with Quidco here and receive a further £5 cash bonus when you earn your first £5 cash back!

We all want to be careful with our money so that we can spend it on the things we enjoy but we have to eat and pay the bills, right?  Well, I’m about to tell you how to make money on these essential purchases so that you have more to spend on the finer points of life! Get ready for cash back!

A few years ago, I was Head of PR for one of the UK’s leading cashback sites. The concept of cashback was pretty new to me but I soon discovered it was a great service to promote because we were effectively giving our customers money for free!

How cashback sites work?

Any retailer or consumer-facing service provider that operates online wants web traffic, and most are willing to pay for it via advertising campaigns and customer incentives.  Cashback is one such method.  Cashback sites drive traffic to retailers’ sites and if a consumer then purchases something as part of that journey, the retailer pays the cashback site commission.  Cashback sites then pass the money in full to the consumer hence allowing them to make money on their purchase.  Typically, the cashback you can get is a percentage of your purchase (3-15%) but financial service providers and utility companies offer a lump sum of cashback, often as much as £100.

How do I make sure I get cashback on my purchases?

Whenever you want to buy something or open a bank account or switch utilities providers, start the journey by visiting a cashback site first. Then find the retailer/company you want and click through the offer on that page to get to the retailer’s site. Then when you make that purchase on that page, you should be entitled to cashback! It won’t be immediate, and it won’t be referenced on the retailer’s page but when you revisit the cashback site, you should be notified that your cashback has ‘tracked’.

It is not unheard of to earn as much as £1,000 in a year and there are many opportunities to earn cashback on free trials so you don’t even spend a single penny.

And it’s not just online cashback that these companies offer.  I assume you’re familiar with printable vouchers and voucher codes? Well cashback sites offer these too but the voucher code offers allow you to earn cashback on top(!) so you’ll often get a better deal here than you would from a  voucher code specialist.

Who are the main players?

I would say there are two main companies.


Quidco is the UK’s biggest.  It offers all of the services above as well as in-store cashback whereby you register your debit and credit cards on the website (don’t worry – it’s completely safe and follows legal standards) and then when you use that card to pay for your purchases in participating stores you earn cashback!  Quidco also has an app which notifies you of offers in your vicinity.

Also, at the moment if you sign up for Quidco with the link above, you’ll earn a £5 cash bonus  once you’ve earned your first £5 cashback. It’s easy!


TopCashback is closely behind Quidco in terms of member figures and often beats its rival on cashback rates.  Its app is also very similar. For more details on the apps, read this.

Which should I sign up to?

Personally, I’d sign up for both.  While Quidco gives you more opportunities to earn, Topcashback often offers slightly better rates. Each company negotiates their own deals with retailers and financial services providers so depending on when you’re looking to switch your insurance or buy your dad’s birthday present, it’s best to look at both for the best deal.  Both are free to join but Quidco retains the first £5 you earn.

To join Quidco, click here.  For TopCashback, click here.

What’s the catch?

Honestly, there really isn’t one. This is simply one of the benefits of living in such a highly competitive e-commerce world.  I guess the only challenge is remembering to go to a cash back site every time you buy online but once the money starts rolling in, it’ll become a top priority, I’m sure!

Clothing, cosmetics, music, groceries, travel, utilities, insurance, entertainment, tech…. it’s all there to make money on. Go give it a try.