“Vaping” has become an increasingly popular alternative to tobacco cigarettes. The main difference between the two is that an electronic cigarette does not contain tobacco or the burning of paper, while more traditional cigarettes do both. This article will give a quick guide to keep you informed on the e-cigarettes vs. tobacco debate and help you to make a decision if you’re considering a transition from one to the other.
One often-overlooked part of the debate is the social aspect of smoking. While shows and commercials used to allude to the appeal of a sort of elite smokers society, bans on smoking in public places in some parts of the US have made it difficult for smokers to enjoy a night out with friends. Plus, society at large tends to take a negative view on traditional smoking, which could influence who you date, where you go and even whether or not you get a job. E-cigarettes have largely been touted as less intrusive to others and have helped smokers feel more socially accepted, due in part because they don’t have that tobacco smell or smoke.
Safety is another area up for debate. Most side with the e-cigarettes here, since there isn’t an open flame. Lit cigarettes were among the leading causes of fire in the U.S. and various countries around the world. Since e-cigarettes can’t burn you, your clothes or your furniture, they help keep more than just your house safe.
“Vaping” gets its name from more than just the inhalation of vapor. Naturally, what goes in, must come out. Instead of a pungent smoke, e-cigarettes release a vapor which doesn’t have the same cloying smell. E-cigs cigs don’t use the same chemicals and they also avoid tar, so the smell isn’t nearly as strong and doesn’t have the same ability to stick to clothes, furniture and wallpaper.
The appearance of electronic cigarettes can be as similar or as different to tobacco cigarettes as each individual desires. Early models had an almost identical image, while lately the cylindrical, more technological-looking e-cigs have become more popular. There are benefits to both looks. If you’re having a hard time transitioning or want the same look and feel, go for the e-cigs that look like the originals, right down to the glowing red end and the brown and white décor. However, if you want to show that you are smoking an e-cigarette, which can be smoked in more places in some cases, try one of the newer-looking models.
The choice between electronic cigarettes or tobacco ones is really one of personal taste. Each individual will have their reasons for choosing one or the other, but it’s clear that there are quite a few perks associated with making the change to e-cigarettes. The best way, of course, is to give an e-cigarette a try and find out for yourself.
The pace of telephone technology amazes me. Only 30 years ago you were the exception if you carried a “cell phone.” Now you can do pretty much anything on your phone. You can check the weather, do your grocery shopping online, have a business meeting seeing your client’s face on video without having to travel eight time zones, and even dictate a text so the phone writes it for you when it gets too complicated to thumb it. The pace of change has been fast and has dramatically changed how we use technology.
Well guess what? I’ve just been introduced to another app that’s been added to the list, allowing you to manage your rental properties on your smartphone as well. The mobile Landlord app from Direct Line for Business helps you stay on top of every aspect of managing a rental property.
New landlord clients always told me that the process of becoming a landlord was overwhelming. It can be, if you aren’t organized. There are lots of things to remember, your tenants may be needier than expected, asking you to come over every time a window doesn’t close properly, and some of the most basic tasks may skip your mind, such as the furnace’s annual inspection before winter, creating hefty bills you could have avoided.
That’s where the Mobile Landlord app comes in.
It helps you keep all the important information about your rental in one convenient place: your phone. No more browsing all around for that paper rental agreement, or having to wait until you come home to contact your tenants, it is all there with you all the time.
Here’s How It Works
You can get the Mobile Landlord app on iTunes, it is free to download and install in just a few clicks.
You will be offered a quick tour of the areas the app covers.
Once you reach the home screen, the property tab will ask you to register up to five rental properties, complete with their name, address, the name and contact details of your tenants, how long they are renting and other details of the tenancy (such as the rent amount). You can also add important contact details, such as the repairman, the maintenance company of the building, the neighbors for when you are on holidays and have an emergency, or the council’s.
On a second tab called “reminders,” you can enter any alert concerning your rental property, like a prospective tenant’s visit, a plumber coming over, or a bill that needs to be paid by a certain date.
Finally, the last tab of the Mobile Landlord app is called knowledge centre, and offers an array of small articles directed towards landlords who want to have more information about certain aspects of their rental investment. The articles offer tips about maximizing your rental income, minimizing your costs, the rental trends, and much more.
In just a few clicks, you can locate the people you need, calculate the yield of your investment, and enter a reminder for the next time you need to pay the house a visit.
With all the time you just saved by automating part of your property management, you can use the free time read the third tab’s articles, learn more about investing and make the most of your rental property.
You cannot turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper lately without being bombarded by people telling us to claim back PPI. Many of them do not however, take the time to explain exactly what PPI is, why it has affected so many of us or why it is important that we try and claim it back.
What is PPI?
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is a type of insurance provided by money lenders when you take out a loan, credit card or mortgage. Its purpose is to provide financial cover should you become ill, injured, unemployed or redundant. Should you be unlucky enough to fall victim to one of these circumstances, PPI should be able to meet the remaining payments you owe your lender until you can return to work.
Why Is PPI a Bad Thing?
Given that its function is to protect us, it may seem odd that the press is branding PPI as a bad thing. The fact is; it is not a bad thing if the recipient has asked for PPI. The reason for all the outcry is that in many cases, the individual borrowing money was not made awarethat they were purchasing PPI or the terms of the agreement were unfair or poorly explained. In a time where most people have to be keeping a tight rein on their spending;millions of people having splashed out hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds on unwanted PPI suddenly makes all the fuss seem justified.
Who Can Claim?
Various companies have emerged to try and help people claim back miss-sold PPI. In their efforts, they have outlined exactly what PPI is and who is entitled to try and claim it back. Generally, situations where people can claim back PPI include:
- Customers who were not made aware that they were paying PPI.
- PPI policies that were not utilised.
- Cases where PPI was made compulsory.
- PPI policies that ignored existing health issues.
- Policies that did not provide cover for the unemployed.
- Cases where the PPI cover did not last for the entire length of the loan.
Should I get Help?
With so many organisations offering helpto claim back PPI, you may ask what exactly it is that they do. If youopt to have someone help, you often just need to fill out a claims form with basic info about yourself and then sit back and wait. At most you may have to sign a pre-prepared form they send or speak briefly to one of their advisors on the phone but you will not have to contact your bank or lender personally and can let the claims company do all the leg work. Being experts and knowing all the correct protocol, your chances of a successful claim are arguably greater but most of these companies offer a ‘no win, no fee’ payment system where if they cannot get your money back, you do not have to pay them a penny.
Can I do it myself?
People who decide to make claims often automatically assume they need to use a claims company but it is possible to do it alone. When the whole point of the PPI scandal is that consumers have paid out money they did not want to; some would argue that paying out more money to try and get other money back seems somewhat backwards. With some wanting as much as 30% of your settlement from a successful claim; boycotting the middleman and making the claim yourself is definitely a viable option.
You would need to dig out your paperwork and check the details of your policy to see if you qualify, then contact your lender directly, via phone or letter, requesting a refund. If your bank rejects you, the next step involves contacting an ombudsmen; the official, free service for resolving financial disputes.
Going it alone is without doubt the more time consuming of the two options but allows the greatest monetary reward upon victory but whichever route you decide to take, PPI is considered one of the nastiest hidden charges to hit the public in recent times and making a claim is definitely worth it.
Have you ever thought about retiring overseas? It is a dream for many to enjoy their golden years under a sunnier climate, in a cheaper country, or closer to family (in the case of foreign workers). Before you take the plunge and pack your bags, you should think about several aspects of your overseas retirement.
Retiring overseas, things to consider
Where will you retire? The list of heavenly destinations is long, but what country suits you most? Will you speak the language or be willing to learn? Make a list of your priorities, such as proximity to an airport, a supermarket, a library, the need for a car, and so on. What are your non negotiable? How far off the beaten paths do you want to live? You may be looking for some sun but can you bear real heat for months at a time? How about immigration or banking?
You can find lots of expat forums to inquire about the cost of living, renting or buying a place, healthcare, food, domestic help and other expenses. Remember to consider the time difference with the UK if you want to keep in touch by phone on a regular basis, as well as the cost of a flight if you would like to come back once in a while.
The cost of local products can be very low overseas compared to the UK, while other things like internet service, imported foods, healthcare… could be higher. You need to determine the overall budget to make sure it fits your pension allowance. Once you take into account the cost of flights, some European countries may actually end up cheaper than places like Turkey or Egypt.
Talking to a few people who already live there can be enlightening, as they will have an in-depth knowledge of the area, something that is difficult to get if you visit for a week while on holiday. Ask about the seasons, the political situation, the health system… and how expats blend into the local community.
Local expats are also a good source to tell you where to get a first flat or house, the neighborhoods to avoid and the price you should expect to pay. Having a temporary home for the first few months allows you to search for the perfect place without stress. You could ship your belongings, generally with a tax exemption if you are a resident in your new country, or just bring the minimum with you and furnish your new place locally.
A few UK credit cards will let you withdraw money abroad without a commission, apply for one of those before you leave so you can get money while you set up a bank account in your new country.
The next step to consider is how to get the best value of your pension pot.
Transferring your pension abroad with a QROPS
QROPS means Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme. It is a pension scheme approved by HM Revenue and Customs, that allows you to transfer your pension benefits overseas without any penalty. For this you need to decide to retire abroad, in a country of the UE or any other country that has a double taxation agreement with the UK, like Thailand, the USA or Zimbabwe. You can receive part of your pension as a lump sum, but 70% of the nest egg need to be invested to produce a lifetime allowance. To be worth the move, you would need a pension nest egg of over £25,000.
Qrops information is available online, to make sure you get the most of your UK pension. This is a popular scheme for expats since your pension pot will not be taxed under UK law, but in your country of residence. There are also no lifetime allowance caps or age limit to purchase an annuity. Your UK pension scheme administrator will take care of the transfer and make sure it complies with HMRC requirements. This scheme does not apply to your state pension.
Have you ever considered retiring abroad? Which country has your preference?
The car you choose to drive affects the amount of money you pay each month in insurance premiums.
Car insurance is mandatory rather than voluntary – if you want to drive you must have at least a basic third-party policy from an insurer such as 123.ie, otherwise you are breaking the law.
This is to protect other drivers and anyone else who may be injured or have property damaged as a result of your driving. Insurance can be costly, particularly as a new driver when you haven’t yet been able to build up any no-claims bonuses.
To avoid spending more than you can afford on insurance premiums you need to be a little bit savvy about the type of car you drive. You may want a great big powerful engine, but will end up paying somewhere in the region of three times as much money each month for it, and usually for the privilege of sitting in slow-moving traffic for hours on end anyway!
The smaller a car engine the lower the insurance premiums tend to be. A 1.0, 1.1 or 1.2 litre engine will usually fall into one of the lower insurance brackets.
Other features insurers look out for are low mileage, a good safety rating, the cost of repairs, parts and maintenance and the additional safety features that are fitted, as well as the initial cost of buying the car new and the age of the vehicle.
Cars such as the Chevrolet Spark, Fiat Panda and Punto, Ford Fiesta and Ka and the Skoda Fabia range have small engines and perform well in safety tests. Parts are usually relatively cheap and they are quick to repair in most cases.
All these factors significantly reduce the amount of insurance you will have to pay. As you gain more driving experience, you personally build up a better profile with insurance companies.
Your first car needs to get you from A to B – wait a few years before investing in a bigger, more powerful machine and you will save yourself a small fortune.