Managing your payday loan

Most of us have been in the situation when we're a bit more hard-up for cash than usual and an unexpected bill comes through the letterbox.

Payday loan companies are a great ally to have in these situations, but it's important to manage your loan appropriately to ensure you can pay it back on time.

Those who don't pay their loans back within the prescribed deadline could find themselves subjected to fines as well as extra interest. It's an easy way to find yourselves in a debt spiral that is very hard to climb out of.

Your payday loan

The first step to efficiently managing your payday loan is make sure you know how much money you have to give back and when. Most lenders allow customers the flexibility to choose their repayment date and will make it clear how much interest is due on their money. Keep these details somewhere safe.

Ideally you will have arranged to repay the money as soon as you have enough in the bank to do so. This way, you can avoid paying unnecessary interest.  

Avoiding penalties

If you find yourself unable to repay the loan on the specified date, it's not just additional interest that you will have to pay. Most payday loan contracts specify that the customer will be issued with a charge as well. That's the last thing that anyone who is already struggling pay their bills needs, so it really is important to be careful with your cash until the loan is paid off. It's worth double-checking that a payment is arriving either on or before the date of repayment. If not, it's likely to be financially worthwhile making alternative arrangements to ensure you do have the money to pay it back.

Customers can learn about the fines they face by reading the terms and conditions of their loan. It could substantially increase the odds of a customer needing to use a payday loan company at the end of the next month.

After the loan is paid back

Once the loan is paid back, it could be sensible to make a note of how much money you have left to play with until the next pay cheque comes in. If it's less than normal, then take the time to draw up a budget and ensure that you don't end up in a similar financial predicament at the end of the month again.    

Npower becomes third major energy company to announce price hike

A winter of discontent seems increasingly unavoidable for Brits, after NPower becomes the third major energy company to hike its prices this month.

The 10.4 per cent price hike, affecting more than three million customers, comes just days after rival companies SSE and British Gas announced similar price rises.

When British Gas announced a 9.2 per cent rise last week, prime minister David Cameron reacted by suggesting that British residents shopped around for a better deal. Yet, NPower's announcement adds to fears that the UK will experience a domino effect similar to last winter when all six major energy companies boosted prices.

Ann Robinson, who is director of consumer policy at price comparison website Uswitch, said that she feels for those who were already struggling to pay their household bills.

Speaking to standard.co.uk, she added: “Consumers will be going into winter with heavy hearts and lighter wallets. The fear is that even more will feel forced to turn down and switch off in an attempt to keep their energy bills under control.”

According to bbc.co.uk, SSE was the first major energy company to announce a price hike this year, making its customers aware of a 8.2 per cent rise in prices on October 10th. EDF, E.ON and Scottish Power have been tipped to up their prices soon.

Women more aware of family finances

Women are more clued up than men when it comes to the family finances, according to a new survey.

In a poll administered by gocompare.com, 44 per cent of women claimed that they knew exactly how much cash was in their bank accounts and on their credit cards, whilst just 36 men said the same.

The survey also revealed that couples tend to disagree when asked who is in charge of the family finances.

According to cleardebt.co.uk, 68 per cent of men said that they took charge of the finances, but 63 per cent of women said it was actually they who took on this task.

Less than a quarter of the survey's respondents said that they managed their finances jointly with a partner. Claire Peate, who is a customer insight manager at gocompare.com, believes it could be beneficial to do this.

Speaking to yourmoney.com, she said: “Managing household finances is a tricky job and it seems that men and women have different ideas about who takes the lead when it comes to balancing the books.”

“Managing the family finances together takes the pressure off relationships, and being open about any debts or upcoming bills will make life a lot easier, both financially and personally.”

Recession has had a lasting impact on spending attitudes

The recession has had a permanent impact on the way people manage their money, according to a new poll. 

In a survey conducted by the Futures Company, more than half of the respondents claimed that they will never spend money are freely as they did before the recession hit. What's more, 58 per cent of those questioned agreed that the recession has changed global consumer culture forever.

Some might argue that these changes are for the best. According to freshbusinessthinking.com, the poll indicated that consumers are half as likely to have unsecured debt as they were two years ago. Meanwhile, two thirds of the survey's respondents admit that they now think twice before making even the smallest purchases.

Those who are struggling to pay the bills may still need to rely on getting quick access to the cash using a pay day loan company.

In an interview with sourcewire.com, Futures Company director Andrew Curry agreed that the recession has had a lasting impact on consumer attitudes.

He said: “The experience of living through the economic crisis appears to have had a significant effect on the way people think about spending and saving. The signs are that this will cause a lasting shift in consumer sentiment.”

Money problems are biggest fear for Northern Ireland residents

Money problems are the biggest worry for residents in Northern Ireland, according to a new survey.

In the latest edition of the National Lottery Good Causes Poll, 49 per cent of Northern Irish people cited debt fears as their biggest personal woe.

Sinead Campbell, who is a money project manager for Advice NI, was far from surprised to hear of these results.

In an interview with belfasttelegraph.co.uk, she explained: “It has a knock-on effect onto personal lives, as well as mental and physical health. We have people coming in with worry on their faces, some break down in tears in their first interview or consultation.

“Some are out of their wits with worry, ready to hand back the keys to a house they can't afford and walk away. We can offer so many options so you know you don't have to face tough finances on your own.”

Thankfully, there are options out there for those struggling to pay their bills. For example, a payday loan can be used to get short-term access to the money needed to pay off overdue household charges.   

New figures released by Debt Action NI give a glimpse into the size of the country's personal debt problem. According to ballymenatimes.com, the charity has helped 200 clients with combined debts of

Fewer Scots going into bankruptcy

The amount of Scots going into bankruptcy has dramatically declined this financial year, according to new figures.

A report from Scotland's insolvency service Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB) has indicated that 8,838 Scots declared themselves bankrupt in 2012-13, which represents a 20 per cent dropped compared to the previous year.

According to heraldscotland.com, this is largely due to an increase in the amount of Scots repaying their debts through the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS). There was a 40 per cent increase in applications for this scheme in 2012-13.

In spite of these figures, debt still remains a fear for a significant portion of the Scottish population. These individuals may be comforted to know that there are options, such as a payday loan, that can help them if they are struggling to pay certain bills. 

Rosemary Winter-Scott, who is chief executive of AIB, believes that the Scottish debt problem is slowly moving in the right direction.

Speaking to stv.tv, she said: “The Annual Report for 2012-13, reflects another busy and exciting year across the whole organisation, with much progress made towards our vision to create an insolvency system that is part of a Financial Health Service through our considerable work on policy and legislative reform.”

More parents struggling to pay for school uniforms

The amount of parents struggling to pay for their children's school uniforms has more than tripled in some areas of the UK.

Liverpoolecho.co.uk reports that more than 370 families have turned to a local charity in order to be able to afford a new piece of uniform for their child in the last year. 

Volunteers from the charity Wirral Fuss (Free Uniforms for Secondary Schools) admit they have been reduced to tears by the tales of some of the families they have helped out.

Yet, in some parts of the country, there are no charities to help out struggling families. Many might turn to a payday loan company in order to access the funds needed for a new blazer, trousers or a PE kit.

Education minister David Laws has tackled the subject of expensive school uniforms in a speech at the 2013 Liberal Democrat Conference.

According to sky.com, he promised to urge schools to shun branded uniform and single supplier contracts so that parents would be able to have more choice of  where they bought certain items.

This increased competition could potentially remove at least

Getting through to pay day: tips for surviving on a wafer thin budget

Why do unexpected bills always seem to come at the worst time? There's never a good time to be hit with a charge you hadn't budgeted for, but it's even worse when it leaves you on a wafer thin budget up until pay day.

It can sometimes appear impossible to see a way to survive until your next pay cheque – but there are a number of tricks that have been coined to help people get through.

It might get a bit uncomfortable at times and certainly could involve a few sacrifices, but sometimes this is essential to make ends meet.

Here are a few changes you could try to help you make it through.

Food – Buy smart

Eating fast food and microwave meals is not only less healthy than cooking from scratch, it's often more expensive too. Take the time to write down a shopping list and buy a host of ingredients. You'll be surprised at the variety of meals you can cook and the amount of money you can save with just a few intelligent purchases.

Drink water or squash instead of soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. It's hard to underestimate the importance of consuming lots of water in terms of your health, but it could also be great for your wallet.

Travel – Ride a bike

Unless your name is Bradley Wiggins, some trips are going to be too long to take on two wheels. However, if you dust off your old mountain bike and use it for all of your short journeys, the savings will soon add up. It's a great form of exercise and will get easier the more you do it.

Social – Staying in can be fun too

There are plenty of fun hobbies that you can enjoy with friends and cost a lot less than a night out in the pub.

Why not invite friends round for a meal, a game of cards or to watch a film. If you've got kids, why not take them to meet another a group of their friends at their house.

There's probably loads of free tourist attractions you can enjoy near your neighbourhood as well. All it takes is a quick browse of the web to discover what's going on.

Bills – Don't mess around

There are some bills that you shouldn't leave unpaid. Core payments like rent, utility bills or car finance need to be kept up with or you could end up without some of life's basic needs, such as a warm home.

That's where pay day loan companies can really help. They can lend you the money needed to pay off essential bills which you can ill-afford to ignore. 

Once it's paid off, take the time to plan how you won't be left in a similar situation next month.     

Financial worries can scramble your brain

Money problems can scramble your brain making it harder to solve problems, according to new research.

Scientists in the United States have published the results of a test suggesting that being reminded of financial woes effectively reduces your IQ by the equivalent of 13 points.

The scientists came to their conclusion by asking a sample group to take an IQ test, which began with them revealing how much money they earned.

For some participants, the first question of the test was: “A person's car breaks down and they need $100 to fix it. Tell me what are the options they have available.” 

However, other participants were told that the person needs $1,500 to fix the car.  

According to npr.org, less wealthy participants who were told the person needs $1,500 tended to perform much worse on the IQ test that followed. The researchers believed this higher amount triggered thoughts of the participants' own financial worries.

Elder Shafir, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained: “Financial constraints capture a lot of your attention – then there's less bandwidth left to solve problems. Your cognitive ability starts to slow down, just like a computer.”

According to huffingtonpost.ca, the full study was published in the latest edition of the journal 'Science'.

Lenders may assess Facebook profiles to rate customers' creditworthiness

UK lenders could soon be checking their customers' Facebook profiles to assess their creditworthiness.

Telegraph.co.uk reports that this is already common practice amongst foreign lenders, some of which are due to set up shop in the UK before the end of the year.

These firms reportedly analyses potential customers' friend networks on Facebook. They use the results as an indicator of creditworthiness, assuming that people who are good with money tend to befriend each other. They also take shopping information shared on this social network into account.  

In an article for thisismoney.co.uk, financial journalist Adam Uren said he isn't surprised that lenders are going to these extreme measures to create an accurate customer profile.

He said: “It appears that lenders are increasingly expanding their horizons to get as much information as possible about their applicants, on top of information from credit reference agencies such as Experian, Equifix and Callcredit.

“Others will use payment information from eBay, Paypal and Amazon, while credit reference agencies themselves have been branching out, providing payment information from certain utilities providers.”

Despite the widespread practice, lenders are not allowed to conduct formal checks of a customer's social media contacts or directly contact them about a loan application without the customer's permission.