Both the US and Europe’s economies are officially in recession. Here in the UK, inflation is at 7% (forecast to rise to 10% in the coming months), with fuel, energy, and food prices being the major concerns for most people. In an effort to curb inflation, the Bank of England is gradually increasing interest rates, meaning the cost of borrowing is going up too. Investors have noted stock markets globally tumbling, and cryptocurrencies have recently experienced the most dramatic of falls. Did I mention we have an ongoing war in Europe too? It all feels quite dystopian. Especially if you’re aged 30 or younger: meaning you were below 18 years of age at the time of the Great Financial Crisis (2008) and therefore haven’t experienced anything like this in your adult life up to now.
Things are getting tough out there. Inflation is at 4.9% (the highest it’s been in 14 years) and energy prices, in particular, have increased dramatically. They are set to increase again in April and, for many families in the UK right now, money is tight! If you have found yourself in an unfortunate situation where there is now less money coming in than what is going out, then you may be considering options for how best to borrow money to tie you over. Indeed, perhaps you have an emergency payment to make, such as a new washing machine or a repair to your car. If you don’t have enough money to pay for such an expense then you will need access to some form of credit.
Fledgling investors typically have lots of questions, and sometimes a little anxiety. They may have heard investing provides better returns but when it comes to taking the first steps, people often feel overwhelmed, and unsure where to start. Given that investing isn’t taught in schools, all the investing jargon, and the wide range of investing strategies, it’s no wonder some people develop a sort of “investiphobia”.
I’ve not written an investing-related post for a while. I try to share thoughts and ideas related to investing more on my Instagram page these days. But it’s sometimes useful to write these things down and so please find below a “brain dump” summarising my high-level thoughts about investing as we approach the end of the year…
Most cyclists are obsessed with speed. Cycling speed is affected by a number of factors, including aerodynamics, power, and weight. When it comes to weight, carbon fibre is amongst the lightest of materials from which to build a bike. It’s also easier to form obscure shapes from carbon fibre for the purposes of improved aerodynamics (versus, say, aluminium). Furthermore, carbon bikes are arguably smoother to ride, thanks to the material’s slightly shock-absorbing properties. For these reasons, carbon fibre bikes have become highly desirable.
An entry-level carbon bike starts at £1,000 ($1,350 USD). A pro carbon bike can cost as much as £30,000 ($40,000 USD).
Most of us have experienced times in life when cash is tight, we Brits refer to this as “being skint”. During such times, there is nothing worse than a large, unexpected bill landing in your lap. Trying to work out how to pay for, say, your car or washing machine to be repaired can be super stressful. Similarly, turning down social opportunities because you don’t have a way to pay for it at that moment can be tough. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Both of these scenarios may lead someone to need to borrow money (aka taking out credit). And many different factors will bear on one’s options in this area, major variables being employment status and credit score.
The UK government has released its red, amber and green list of countries for travel to and from the UK from 17th May 2021. The green list (for which the requirements are the least severe) is currently rather short. Many holiday-starved, would-be travellers will note that Portgual is amongst the few European holiday destinations on the list and may now have their eyes set on an Algarve beach for this summer. But what are the testing requirements for travel to and from Portugal?
Organic food is produce that is farmed without the use of pesticides and man-made fertilisers. Put simply, organic food is the most natural food you can buy. Research shows that organic food can be better for us (since it contains higher levels of certain nutrients), and organic farming better for the environment. The benefits of eating organic may go even further. One study has shown that individuals eating a diet of mostly organic food have a lower risk of developing cancer.
Whilst the appetite for organic food is on the rise (64% of British people purchased organic vegetables in an average month according to this 2017 study), with the UK market for organic food now worth £2.3bn, many people feel like they simply can’t afford to buy organic. So is the perception that buying organic groceries is far more expensive than non-organic food a myth, or is there truth in it?
Whether we like it or not, our lives are becoming increasingly digital. As a result, our dependency on software is growing by the day. No wonder both consumers and businesses are increasingly looking at how to save money on software. Meanwhile, software companies are reaping the rewards of this burgeoning market (expected to be worth $650bn by 2025). Make no mistake, the software market is growing at a rate of knots and that’s partly thanks to the rise of subscriptions.
Years ago, you could buy a perpetual license for a piece of software and own it forever. If you wanted to upgrade to a new version, that was up to you. Nowadays, most modern software providers don’t offer lifetime licenses at all. Subscriptions are the new, preferred billing model for which to sell software. This is the new age of “software as a service” (SaaS), pioneered by the likes of Adobe about a decade ago now.
SaaS has become the new norm and, with it, both consumers’ and businesses’ software spends have increased. But are there ways to cut your software costs?
When I was 19 (back in 2010), my Grandad past away and left me his Peugeot 106 in his will. I had passed my driving test a year prior and was really pleased to own my first car! Imagine my disappointment therefore when I entered my local insurance brokerage (insurance comparison sites were not so big back then) and got told it would cost £3,000 to insure my £500 car for the year. I simply couldn’t afford that! So I opted instead to insure my Peugeot for a month, used it as much as I could that summer and, sadly, had to sell my wheels after that. I haven’t checked but I hope that insurance companies have found cheaper ways to insure teenage drivers these days.