RoosterMoney, the pocket money app, reveals that kids are spending more online since the lockdown began, with the major shift being towards games such as Roblox and Fortnite. RoosterMoney’s ‘Pocket Money Index’ for the lockdown period also shows:

  • average weekly pocket money for 4-14 year olds is £4.60
  • an impressive 40% of pocket money is being saved
  • 70% of the top 10 chores involve helping clean the house

Top 10 places for kids to spend their pocket money during lockdown:

(compared to the 3 months prior)

  1. Roblox (+3)
  2. Fortnite (+10)
  3. Books & Mags (-2)
  4. Lego (+1)
  5. Sweet & Chocs (-3)
  6. Xbox (+4)
  7. Minecraft (+9)
  8. Toys (-5)
  9. Apps (-1)
  10. PlayStation (-1)

Top 10 chores kids are doing to earn their money during lockdown:

(70% of chores involve cleaning around the house)

  1. Clean bedroom
  2. Make the bed
  3. Do the laundry
  4. Clear the table
  5. Look after pets
  6. Set the table
  7. Empty dishwasher
  8. Homework
  9. Load the dishwasher
  10. Take out the bins

Research shows that our money habits are formed as early as 7, and that parents are the best facilitators of this in the early years*. So, while we are all stuck at home, there may be practical reasons to engage more with chore routines and spend more online, as well as ample opportunity to turn those activities into money lessons.

Will Carmichael, RoosterMoney CEO says:

“Now more than ever, building financial capability into our kids is so incredibly important. The current pandemic and the financial impact of the crisis have the potential to affect us for a generation – perhaps several. Having confidence with money, building positive habits around saving and learning to make considered spending choices will be something that sticks with kids for life.

Whilst being at home is a challenging time it’s also a brilliant opportunity to teach your kids about the value of money! It’s good to see the pocket money economy is still strong, with chore routines being embraced and kids adapting their spending habits to their new environment.”

Trying to figure out which projects you can do without planning permission can be a bit of a minefield, but don’t panic. As a rule of thumb, most structural changes are subject to building regulations, but some ‘bigger’ renovation projects can be done without planning permission if you adhere to the set size regulations.

Whether you’re building a new structure or making changes to an existing one, you’ll most likely need to submit an architectural drawing of the proposed project and get approval from the local authorities. To clear up the confusion, Comparethemarket.com have teamed up with a range of experts to create a tool that helps you work out which projects require planning permission and what to leave to the professionals.

To be on the safe side, leave any hard wiring and installations to a certified professional. However, if you’re plugging into a socket or wiring into a spur, this can normally be done by any competent amateur. For all other electrical work, you should get it carried out by a trader approved through an appropriate scheme, such as NICEIC. Chris King, Head of Home at Comparethemarket.com, says: “Anything involving gas is generally best left to certified engineers due to the significant damage which could be caused if you get it wrong.”

Here are five renovations you can do without planning permission.

Adding a porch
You don’t need to apply for planning permission when building a porch if it’s no more than 3 metres above ground level and if  the ground floor doesn’t exceed 3 square metres. You also have to make sure that no part of the porch is within 2 metres of any boundary of the house or a highway.

However, if you take the front door of the property out the porch, the porch becomes part of the property and would be subject to building regulations and possibly planning permission.

Adding a conservatory
Planning permissions are not necessary when building a conservatory if you adhere to the strict size regulations. The conservatory should cover less than half of the land surrounding the home, and should not be higher than the highest point of the roof. If the property is a single storey, make sure the conservatory is no higher than 4 metres.

Adding a shed or summer house
Building regulations do not normally apply to outbuildings, such as an outdoors office or summer house, if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and the building is not used for sleeping. The same rules apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages.

However, if the building is between 15 and 30 square metres and doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation, you could get away with no planning permission. To make sure you get it right, it’s always best to check each individual project with the local authorities as architectural drawings may need to be submitted.

Adding a loft conversion
Unless you live in a designated area, like a national park or World Heritage Sites, loft conversions do not need planning permission as long as the conversion is no higher than the highest part of the roof and made in a similar material to the rest of the house.

If you live in a terraced house, the conversion has a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres of additional roof space or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses. Make sure the roof enlargement doesn’t overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.

Putting up a fence
You will only need planning permission to put up a fence if it’s over 1 metre high next to any highway used by vehicles or the footpath or if it’s over 2 metres high elsewhere. You would also need planning permission if your house is a listed building or in the curtilage of a listed building or if the fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage.

Need to take down a fence? No planning permission is needed, unless the fence is in a conservation area.

Chris King warns homeowners about the possible consequences of not doing enough research on your builders: “Make sure you’ve checked their reputation and they have the right liability insurance in place should they damage your property. Most home insurance policies don’t cover poor or faulty workmanship so if the work carried out is poor or unfinished, it’s likely your home insurance wouldn’t be able to step in and come to the rescue.”

Today marks the start of a further three-week lockdown across the UK. This will be a challenging time for many households, with families contending with financial concerns, loneliness due to isolation and periods of extreme boredom due to the restrictions. Whether you’re ensuring better budgeting for the day-to-day, or strengthening your long-term finances once the lockdown lifts now is an important time to assess your personal finances.

To help, Alistair Thom, Managing Director at Freesat (the free-to-air satellite TV provider) has these tips to help consumers slash their TV bills and get them through the extended lockdown period.

 “During this unprecedented period, it’s well worth taking the time to audit your finances. Under normal circumstances, a pay-tv subscription for over-50s households may seem like a necessary, albeit expensive, monthly outgoing. However, amid increased financial pressure linked to the current coronavirus climate, it’s worth reconsidering whether spending up to £115.99 per month is viable, particularly when there are quality options without any ongoing costs . It’s also worth considering the channels you are actually watching.  You might have an expensive TV-package but are mainly tuned to Sky News for daily coronavirus updates, catching up on Spooks on BBC iPlayer or just getting lost in a movie for some escapism. These options are all available, subscription-free, via products like a Freesat TV box.” 

  1. At home comforts

As we adjust to more time in the house, now is the perfect moment to take advantage of the wide range of content available – including special programmes broadcasters will offer. While some of this may not be brand new content, many will relish the fact that old-time favourites are likely to make a reappearance on our screens in the next few weeks.

  1. Understand your outgoings

For many people, being vigilant over their expenses and ensuring budgeting is considered will be key during this time. In fact, 54% of people don’t know how much they spend on their TV subscriptions each month and those who do are forking out an average £44.50 a month – that adds up to £534 every year! Try and track what you’re spending, as the true cost of your TV payments could be hidden among your other expenses.

  1. Watch what you’re watching

The truth is nobody really watches and enjoys absolutely “everything”. In fact, over 90% of what gets watched on television comes from free to air TV, so it pays to understand what you are watching.  Quite often you’re really paying to watch only one or two programmes. Free to air can offer a huge range of channels combined with On Demand services and if you want to stick with a couple of favourite channels, you’re not missing out financially.

  1. Consider your contract

If you’re not ready to ditch your pay-TV company just yet, at least ensure you’re regularly checking your contract. For those looking for the best deal, it’s wise to wait until your contract is up for renewal before trying to negotiate a better rate that’s more appropriate to your usage – remember you shouldn’t be penalised for your customer loyalty.

  1. Find alternative ways of getting to the content you want

Some people are not aware that there are pay as you go alternatives to let you watch the paid for programmes you want, so it’s worth investigating the right combination of services that works for you.

Lenders have provided over 1.2 million mortgage payment holidays to households whose finances have been impacted by Covid-19, UK Finance has revealed today.

On 17 March, just under a month ago, mortgage lenders announced they would support customers facing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 crisis. Three weeks later, by Wednesday 8 April, over 1.2 million mortgage borrowers had been offered a payment holiday by their lender.

The action taken by lenders means that one in nine mortgages in the UK are now subject to a payment holiday, helping households across the country through this difficult time. For the average mortgage holder, the payment holiday amounts to £260 per month of suspended interest payments, with many benefitting from the option of extending the scheme for up to three months.

The number of mortgage payment holidays in place more than tripled in the two weeks between 25 March and 8 April, growing from 392,130 to 1,240,680. This is an increase of nearly 850,000 or an average of around 61,000 payment holidays being granted by lenders each day.

Commenting, Stephen Jones, UK Finance CEO, said:

“Mortgage lenders have been working tirelessly to help homeowners get through this challenging period. The industry has pulled out all the stops in recent weeks to give an unprecedented number of customers a payment holiday, and we stand ready to help more over the coming months.

“We understand that the current crisis is having a significant impact on household finances for people across the country. Lenders have a number of options available to help, and payment holidays aren’t always the right solution for everyone. We would therefore encourage any mortgage customers concerned about their financial situation to check with their lender so they can find out more information on the support available and how to apply.”

The results of TotallyMoney’s Financial Awareness Survey 2020 reveals that myths surrounding interest payments, credit limits and how often you need to use your card are clouding the judgement of UK consumers.

One shocking statistic shows that over half of UK adults (54%) didn’t know that paying off an outstanding balance in full each month may be good for their credit rating.

Equally concerning is that almost two fifths of people (37%) wrongly believe that by making minimum monthly repayments, interest is waived.

Surprisingly, the presence of these finance industry misconceptions and half-truths aren’t new, but their effects prolong credit confusion for consumers across the UK.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of finance experts TotallyMoney, said: “Credit myths have a habit of tripping up both new and experienced credit users.

“Second-hand advice and outdated information fan the flames of these financial fables. They cause people to miss out on credit opportunities they’re entitled to or, worse still, result in consumers being burnt by unnecessary costs because of bad credit knowledge.

“Breaking the cycle of these credit myths means putting accurate information into the hands of consumers, which takes time. At TotallyMoney, our mission is to improve the UK’s credit score. A large part of this is tackling these long-standing myths so our customers have the knowledge they need to move on up to a better financial future.”

Putting an end to financial fables

Myth 1: Credit limits are there to be used, so it’s OK to max out my card

Why people believe it: Lenders make financial assessments to set the limits. They must be happy for me to use the full credit amount, or they wouldn’t have set that limit.

The facts: Lenders watch how you spend your credit. How you use it contributes to your credit score. Maxing out cards or going close to the limit may suggest a heavy reliance on credit for everyday living, which increases the risk of racking up debts you can’t repay. Avoid this by keeping the balance on your card to under 25% of your total limit.

The findings: Only 18% of adults knew that keeping your balance below 25% of your limit may improve your credit score.

Myth 2: Interest isn’t added if I make monthly minimum repayments

Why people believe it: The banks are happy with this minimum amount, so if I pay what they ask I’ll avoid extra interest.

The facts: Interest is only waived during interest-free offers or by clearing your balance in full, every month.

The findings: Almost two fifths of people (37%) thought interest wouldn’t be added if minimum payments were made each month.

Myth 3: My credit score doesn’t influence the credit deals or offers that are available to me

Why people believe it: Score changes can be so minor that lenders won’t notice. It makes little difference. They’ll either lend to me or they won’t.

The facts: A high credit score shows lenders you’re trustworthy. The more they trust you, the more favourable the offers and products.

The findings: Shockingly, only a third of people (34%) realised that a higher credit score leads to better deals.

Myth 4: Borrowing on a credit card and debit card give me the same protections

Why people believe it: Debit cards look and work the same as credit cards, therefore they have the same protections and there’s no benefit to using one over the other.

The facts: Credit card payments are protected by Section 75. This entitles you to reimbursement for payments between £100 and £30,000 if a purchase isn’t successfully completed. Debit card payments aren’t protected by Section 75 so if something goes wrong (like a company goes bust) your money is lost.

The findings: Well over half of people (60%) had no idea they were entitled to purchase protection by using their credit card.

Myth 5: I must use my card every month

Why people believe it: Lenders want you to use your card, so if they see you’re not making purchases they’ll take it away.

The facts: It’s your card and your credit to use as fleetingly as you want. You don’t have to use it every month. Plus, remaining under 25% of your limit month after month can boost your credit score.

The findings: A huge 59% of adults wrongly believe that to keep a card you had to use it every month.

Myth 6: I should choose a card based on the APR

Why people believe it: APR relates to interest. High APR means paying more interest, which no one wants. Plus, APR is always shown in credit adverts so it must be important.

The facts: If you regularly leave a balance on your credit card and it doesn’t have an interest-free offer on it, then a high APR means you’ll pay more interest on whatever’s left over. But, credit best practice means repaying your balance in full, every month so you never incur interest. If you do this, how high the APR is doesn’t matter. Instead, look for the credit card benefits that suit your needs, such as a balance transfer offer or 0% interest term.

The findings: When quizzed on APR, 38% of people believed this figure was the most important thing to look at before applying for a card.

Myth 7: I’m more likely to be approved for a card from my bank than any other lender

Why people believe it: My bank already knows me and my financial position, so they’re more likely to approve my credit application.

The facts: Banks don’t consider this. If anything, being an existing customer could work against you because they don’t need to win you over. Shopping around is worth it. Other lenders wanting to entice you to become their customer could give you more favourable terms.

With as much as 60% of the UK workforce now potentially working from home in a response to the global pandemic, data experts at home energy saving assistant Loop has shared simple steps to help reduce energy usage and make sure your home is as efficient as possible to avoid unwelcome bill increases.

Beware the Phantom Load

Some appliances need to be left on all the time (like a fridge or freezer) or kept on standby (like a smart speaker) but many appliances are left on that don’t need to be. This background electricity use is known as “Phantom Load”, because of the way in which energy is invisibly drained without users necessarily knowing about it.

Understanding the Phantom Load lurking in your home and what’s contributing towards it is important, as homeowners can often make simple changes that can lead to significant savings. With more people at home following government advice, Loop is urging homeowners to look around their home to identify any appliances that could be switched off.

Analysis of Loop data found the average UK household could be wasting up to £140 unnecessarily through their Phantom Load, while in some homes this could be as much as £450. These figures could increase with more people working from home.

Across the UK that means that just switching things off could collectively save households almost £4bn.

Some of the biggest energy-wasting culprits in British homes include faulty set-top boxes, which could cost more than £75 if left on standby for a year, and unused fridges or freezers which could be adding an extra £50 to your energy bill every year. With many now using office equipment at home, leaving desktop computers on around-the-clock could add £40 to your bills.

Top tip: Turning off your laptop or desktop when you’re finished for the day also helps to draw a clear line between work time and family time, something all remote workers should practice while working from home. 

Steve Buckley, Head of Data Science at Loop, explains:

“Spending more time at home usually equates to higher energy bills. However, we’ve seen that even making simple changes can make a big difference to your wallet.”

“Phantom Load is not to be underestimated and there are some obvious culprits to look out for. By going around each room in your house to see what’s on standby, you can drastically reduce your energy waste and spend. However, Phantom Load is different in every household, and not every cause of wasted energy is obvious.”

“But for many people it’s not just about saving money – using less energy is also about helping to tackle climate change. The nation’s awareness of the impact of carbon emissions is growing by the day, and most people want to do something to stop it.”

Below are Loop’s tips for keeping on top of your usage while working from home:

Turn your central heating thermostat down by 1 degree 

Turning the temperature down by just 1 degree could save you up to £80 and reduce your home’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 320kg, all without you even noticing.

Move sofas away from radiators

If you’ve got the heating on for longer while you’re working from home, make sure you move any sofas away from radiators to ensure heat can circulate properly.

Reduce your Phantom Load

Some appliances need to be left on all the time (like a fridge or freezer) or kept on standby (like a smart speaker) but many appliances are left on that don’t need to be. This background electricity use is known as “Phantom Load”, because of the way in which energy is invisibly drained without users necessarily knowing about it.

Make sure you keep your Phantom Load low by turning items off when they’re not in use, such as laptops and desktops you are using to work from home. Household appliances like multi-room speakers and digital TV boxes can also contribute to rising costs, so switching things off at the plug when they’re not in use is a must.

Swap to LED bulbs

If you’re at home it’s reasonable to expect your lights will be on more often, so there’s even more reason to swap to LEDs.  If you replace all of the bulbs in your home with LEDs, then for an initial outlay of around £100 for an average house, you’ll save about £35 a year on your energy bill.

Switch your supplier or tariff

If you’re not sure which energy tariff you’re on, or when it’s due to come to an end, now could be the perfect time to check you’re still on the cheapest deal. If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff for over a year, there’s a chance you could be on a pricey standard variable tariff, so use an energy-saving assistant like Loop or head to a compare deals to find a cheaper option. There is no easier way to save hundreds of pounds!

With almost half of consumers reporting to have never switched, the UK could save more than £8 billion in 2020 by switching to a cheaper energy tariff at the right time.

Keep calm and make a cuppa

Whether you’re still in the office or working from home, a morning cuppa is likely to be top of your to-do list, but make sure you only fill the kettle with the water that you need. The savings are around £6 a year, but every penny counts!

New research from advisory firm HUB Financial Solutions reveals that half of homeowners over the age
of 65 have never checked whether they are entitled to State Benefits in addition to their State Pension.

The survey of more than 1,000 people found that 48% of homeowners had never checked if they could
be entitled to financial help, while a quarter (24%) last checked more than one year ago.

In comparison, renters were far more likely to have checked their eligibility with three in 10 (29%)
reviewing the situation within the past 12 months. Only one in seven (14%) of those renting their home
said they had never checked.

A significant proportion (29%) of homeowners explicitly stated that they thought the value of their home
meant they would not qualify for additional support, while seven in 10 (70%) said they thought their
income would probably disqualify them from receiving extra benefits.

“It is important that people do not automatically assume that owning their home means they are not
entitled to State support,” said Simon Gray, Managing Director of HUB Financial Solutions.

“Benefits are in place to help people in all sorts of situations, whether they are having to care for a
spouse or other relative, suffering from an illness or disability of their own, or entitled to a reduction in
their Council Tax. Many people are missing out on benefits they are entitled to receive and that extra
income could make a big difference.”

Overall, the research found that 54% of renters were claiming State Benefits, five times the proportion of
homeowners, where just one in 10 (11%) were receiving extra financial support.

Research earlier this year showed the true cost to pensioner homeowners in not claiming their full
Benefits entitlement. Nearly half (46%) were not claiming any benefits despite being entitled to and a
further one in five (18%) were not claiming their full entitlement with the average household missing out
on an extra £1,614 a year.

The latest research from Caxton, the international payments and foreign exchange firm, reveals that only just over half (54%) of UK holidaymakers have travel insurance in place at the time of booking their trip.

Caxton found that 32% per cent of those surveyed admitted they didn’t purchase travel cover until between 2 months and one week before they jet off, with one in eight (13%) taking a flyer and travelling without any cover in place.

Alana Parsons, Chief Operating Officer at Caxton comments: “The Coronavirus outbreak highlights why it’s important to have a safety net in place – it may seem like a non-essential additional expense but it’s at times like these that insurance comes into its own and people appreciate the value it can offer.

“Insuring at the time of booking should be the default position for travellers – the upfront cost is often fairly small when compared with the potential financial loss if something unexpected occurs, forcing you to rejig your holiday plans.”

“If you’re a frequent traveller an annual multi trip policy is a cost effective way of ensuring you’re always covered and is an essential part of your travel kit ‘must haves’ along with your passport and travel money card.”

A new report out today from GoCompare Car Insurance has revealed that the cost of getting a young driver on the road has fallen to £6,071.00.

The combined cost of a new young motorist learning to drive, buying, taxing and then insuring their first car has fallen by £775.00 in the last year from £6,846.00 to £6,071.00.

The drop is attributed largely to young drivers spending less on buying their first car (£3,562.00 compared to £4,276.00 in 2018) and the average car insurance premium for a 17-year old driver falling from £1,852.00 in 2018 to £1,737.00 in 2019.

In fact, analysis of over 2.3m car insurance quotes generated by young drivers using GoCompare reveals that the average lowest car insurance premium for a 17-year old driver has fallen by nearly 50% from £3,392.00 in 2012 to £1,737.00 in 2019.

Lee Griffin, founder, and CEO of GoCompare said: “At around £6000 the cost of getting a new driver on the road is a substantial drain on teenagers’ and their family’s finances. Although buying the first car still accounts for the majority of the initial expense, the first car insurance premium can also cost into the thousands. Hence why so many parents are dipping into their own pockets to help their children out.

“However, the surprising good news is that the cost of insurance for new drivers has fallen substantially since 2012 as the average premium is nearly half what it was eight years ago. The introduction of telematics or ‘black box’ style insurance which utilises the latest technology to monitor drivers and reward safer driving has undoubtedly helped to lower costs.

New research from Charter Savings Bank shows shoppers are increasingly happy to pay more to cut back on plastic and boost sales of sustainable products.

Its nationwide study found customers are willing to pay 9% more on their weekly shop – equivalent to an extra £5.50 on the average household bill of £60.602 – to ensure more sustainable packaging is used.

Nearly half of all adults (46%) plan to buy more sustainable products this year with women (54%) more likely than men (38%) to place a greater focus on sustainability in their shopping in 2020. The research found just one in 20 adults (5%) saying they didn’t buy any sustainable products last year and won’t buy any this year.

The sustainability switch is supported by attitudes to reusable alternatives to everyday products such as coffee cups and water bottles with 48% of adults saying they are willing to pay more. That rises to 59% for people in their 20s.

However the commitment to sustainability is not total – research found shoppers are more likely to use reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups but are less interested in metal straws as the table below shows.

What do shoppers use the majority of the time?

Reusable/sustainable product vs Non sustainable alternative
Reusable shopping bag/bag for life: 83% vs Non reusable bag in shop: 7%
LED lightbulbs: 73% vs Non energy saving lightbulbs: 11%
Reusable grocery/vegetable bags: 55% vs Non reusable bag in shop (free): 18%
Reusable water bottle: 52% vs Bottled water: 20%
Local produce: 54% vs Cheaper imported fruit and veg: 30%
Face cloth (instead of wipes): 52% vs Face wipes (non-biodegradable): 15%
Rechargeable batteries: 49% vs Single use batteries: 33%
Biodegradable bin bags: 46% vs Non-biodegradable bin bags: 29%
Reusable coffee cup: 33% vs Single use cup: 17%
Metal straw: 17% vs Free one-use straw: 25%
Bamboo toothbrush: 12% vs Plastic toothbrush: 54%
Wooden razor: 9% vs Plastic razor: 48%
Biodegradable wipes: 33% vs Non-biodegradable wipes: 19%
Washable nappies: 8% vs Disposable nappies: 12%
Reusable sandwich wraps: 26% vs Cling film: 26%

 

Paul Whitlock, Group Managing Director, Savings said: “Sustainability is an important factor in purchasing considerations for all age groups – it’s not just millennials who care about the environment.

“Since we launched in 2015, we’ve taken steps to reduce the amount of waste we produce and to operate as sustainably as possible.

“Our new office is full of things to help us lower our impact on the environment. Removing single-use plastic cups and giving all our people reusable coffee cups is just one of the many positive changes we’ve made to be more sustainable.

“It’s vital that we all do our bit to become greener and help the environment and it’s encouraging to see that people are willing to spend more to see less plastic and packaging and aim to increase the number of sustainable products they buy this year. The good news is that it can also save money. Bags for life and reusable coffee cups and water bottles may cost a bit more than alternatives, but will save you money in the long-run.”