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How to Play Online Bingo

POSTED ON June 12th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

Bingo has long been a game of choice for the British public, but it is now easier than ever to play our favourite game, thanks to the advent of online bingo. Here are some helpful tips about how it works and how to get started.

Online bingo uses a random number generator to select numbers, so you know it’s completely fair. Playing on the internet is just as simple as in person, perhaps even easier – the ‘auto-daub’ option means that your numbers are automatically crossed off as they’re called, so you don’t have to.

If you’re worried about online bingo not being social enough, then think again. Online bingo is probably more social than regular bingo, because you can chat away as much as you like with other players online even during the game. A friendly atmosphere is guaranteed on most online bingo websites and anyone breaking the rules (the chat etiquette) will be removed from the conversation by the CH (chat host).

There are a few different types of online bingo, but the most common in the UK is 90 ball bingo. The 90 ball bingo card has three lines with five numbers and five blank spaces, with nine columns. You can usually buy cards in six ticket bundles covering all numbers between 1 and 90. There are three winners for each game – one line, two lines and bingo (otherwise known as Full House).

If you’re lucky enough, you can win more than once in each game. To win one line, you are the first player to fill one line on your card; to win two lines, you are the first player to fill two lines on your card; and to win bingo you must be the first to mark all the numbers on your card. When someone calls bingo, the game is over. If more than one person wins at the same time, the prize is split. The prize is made up of the ticket payments from all those playing, so the more people you play against, the more money you could win.

Online bingo is effortless as the computer software will check your cards for you and claim your winnings, so you can just kick back and chat to your online bingo friends. A great place to play 90 ball bingo or ‘British Bingo’ is BingoStreet.

Another type of bingo is 75 ball bingo, which is much more commonly played in the USA and Canada. Instead of numbers between 1 and 90, the numbers only range up to 75. The grid is five by five squares and the middle square is blank. The words letter B-I-N-G-O are across the top of the card and you must match the numbers and letters accordingly, e.g. B1. To win you must match the pattern on the card, which will be signified on the screen. Alternatively if you cover your whole board before someone else calls Bingo, you will win.

The best thing about online bingo is how easy it is and the fact you can do it from your own home, but rest assured that it is also very secure. By sure to use a reputable company that you recognise to make sure your payment details are safe.

Three simple meals – and how to make them twice as good

POSTED ON May 29th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

 

There’s a tendency with cooking (and you can partly blame the dramatic mood and expectant tone of Masterchef for this trend) to feel as if you have to overly complicate the process. It seems as if, because cooking is venerated as an art by the people who claim to be the experts of it on TV, we have to throw in a dozen spices, source rare and often expensive ingredients, and cook our meals using strange and confusing methods.

But good cuisine has always been as much about simply, lovingly cooked food. French cuisine, so often claimed to be the greatest cuisine in the world, uses few ingredients; Italian food, and often British and Indian food, are the same. The key ingredient is often that allusive thing: thought.

As long as the food is thoughtfully cooked, it can have three ingredients and taste as good (generally, better) as one with ten. So here are three classic recipes, plus a few tips on how to turn them from boring ‘it’s the middle of the week what can we eat’ fare, into beautiful dishes in their own right.

Spaghetti Bolognese

A staple in British houses, there are some very quick ways to change the style of Spaghetti Bolognese and give it a completely different taste.

Go for the original recipe

Pellegrino Artusi is maybe the first person to have written down a recipe for spag bol, that stomach-expanding refuge of the student, the busy family, and the hungover. In 1891 he set out that the sauce (never mind the spaghetti) should be made from the following:

 

  • veal filet
  • pancetta
  • butter
  • onion
  • carrot

The veal and pancetta meat (minced up), along with the onion and carrot, were to be cooked in the butter, making the sauce thick, and the vegetables flavoursome with the juices of the meat.

Most people now go with minced beef, and do without the pancetta – sometimes even the carrot, a key component of Italian pasta dishes. But the smokiness of the pancetta (and it’s easy to find as well as quick to cook, and pretty cheap) plus the crunchiness of the carrots, gives spaghetti Bolognese a whole different flavour.

Use a different kind of pasta

Sure, pasta mostly looks like it would taste the same, even if it comes in interesting shapes, sizes and colours. But (even if it is, in essence, pretty similar to taste) those different shapes and sizes make for whole different textures and ways of eating a meal. Think of the difference between a messy affair like spaghetti Bolognese compared with a meal that’s based on the compact, round tubes we call penne.

So, if you’re in a fix with a spag bol but want to make it taste a little different, why not reach to the back of the cupboard, pick out a different packet, and make penne, gornito or fettuccini Bolognese?

Shepherd’s pie

 

Another delectable comfort food, Shepherds Pie is up there with the greatest. The beauty of it, that you can use up the leftovers of things people always have lying around – potatoes and onions, mainly, but meat too – is matched with the simplicity of its making and cooking. Just fry the meat and veg while the potatoes boil, stick the whole thing in a dish and cover it in gravy; top it off with the potato, drained and mashed, and sit back and have a drink while it gurgles wonderfully in the oven.

Properly brown the meat

But, truth be told, the whole thing can get a bit sloppy, too watery, a little too flavourless. This is always a problem when you’re cooking minced meat; if it’s in a shepherd’s pie or a Spaghetti Bolognese. The Brilliant Kenji Lopez, of Serious Eats, put it this way: “it’s impossible to properly brown a pot of ground beef…. As soon as you start cooking it, liquid starts pooling in the bottom of the pot, completely submerging the meat and leaving it to gurgle and stew in its own gray-brown juices.”

It’s that liquid that gives the meal its diluted flavour. But how to solve the problem? Lopez’s solution is this: buy meat that’s not already minced, brown it off in the pan (you’ll get hardly any liquid if it’s a joint) then, once it’s browned, chop it down to the minced size. That way, you end up with a truly flavoursome dish.

But if that seems too much, go for the quick, budget option: once the minced meat starts to release liquid, drain the pan of 90% of that juice. Voila: gorgeous, flavourful meat, and a beautiful shepherd’s pie.

Go for a Cumberland

A simple change, but a different meal: make the dish exactly as you would for shepherd’s pie, but instead of topping it with mashed potato, use breadcrumbs.

Chicken Curry

A good chicken curry can be hard to come by. That’s mostly because, while the actual cooking time is pretty quick, the food really needs time to stew, so that the flavours of the respective ingredients can mingle and mix.

This is quick and easy to do. Before you cut up the chicken breasts, score them, and put them in a bowl. Add the spices, plus the sauce, and leave overnight. The meal will improve twofold: guarantee it.

 

Planning your budget for a holiday in Florida

POSTED ON May 14th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a wonderful place to spend time together as a family, and you’ll be giving your children an experience they always remember. The good news is that, with a little savvy financial planning, that world-famous Disney magic doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Once you’ve found the best tickets to suit your needs at the best price, there are still things you can do to keep costs low once you arrive to start your Florida holiday. Before you even get on the plane, work out how much you realistically have to spend, and stick to it.

Everyone in your party will have to accept that you won’t physically be able to do absolutely everything. Try and do too much and you could just end up exhausted: remember the idea is to have a fun-packed break!

By ensuring you arrive at the parks as early as you can bear to, you will be able to maximise each day by beating the queues and getting the most from your tickets.

When planning your budget, you of course need to factor in all those extra costs. These can include things like parking and petrol costs, if you are determined to hire a car. (Bear in mind that there’s also a trolley bus which runs all day between parks, leaving every 20 minutes which could be the cheapest option.)

Get a realistic feel for distances between the various parks and your accommodation using an online aerial map website before your departure. If you do hire a car, satnav may not be included so if you already have one it could be cheaper to download the US map software before leaving, and take your console with you.

For families needing a pushchair for more than a few days, save on the costs of hiring a buggy by taking a light model, or even buying an inexpensive one from somewhere like Wal-Mart when you get to America.

Likely to split up once you hit the parks? Keep in touch with walkie talkies rather than playing sky-high overseas mobile costs. You can’t legally use a British-built model in the States, but you can find them cheaply when you’re in Florida, and with some villas they are included in the rental package.

You can also save money by stocking up on snacks and drinks more affordably from local supermarkets, rather than buying these things in the parks. Once you’re in the parks, keep an eye out for coupon booklets which provide savings on shops, restaurants and attractions. Places like International Drive Orlando and Flamingo World also offer discount coupons which you can print off and take with you.

Another tip for planners is the Walt Disney World guide book, available to buy online, which has maps of the parks and information on what to see once you arrive.

Finally, Florida is a beautiful state, and, if you can drag the kids away from the big theme parks, and experience some of the area’s natural geography, you’re in for a treat. Many of the lovely state parks, such as World Heritage Site the Everglades, charge just a few dollars to get into.

So if you and your family have your sights set on a holiday in Florida this summer, get planning and start saving now. It can all be a lot more affordable than you thought.

 

Towel Radiators 101

POSTED ON May 1st  - POSTED IN Advertorials

If you’re considering a re-design of your bathroom or perhaps simply adding a wall-mounted radiator to the smallest room in the house, then a towel radiator is the ideal addition.

 

While radiators continue to fulfil a very practical and functional need within the home, these essential items are on longer simply a dull item stuck to a wall.

 

Contemporary radiators have been designed with elegance and fashion in mind. All that and they provide instant heat, too – simply perfect for warming your towel while you bath or shower and for drying off the damp cloth afterwards.

 

So if you are planning to install a new bathroom suite, installing a heated radiator should also form an essential part of your design. The right choice of radiator will not only complement the fixtures and fittings you choose but will indeed enhance the space. And if you are simply looking to provide more heat or comfort into the bathroom, then towel radiators are the way to do it.

 

Having selected your bathroom suite, now’s the time to pick the right radiator to complete the new look. And you will find a quite staggering choice of radiators, with styles that range from classic to vintage to contemporary to designer, flat or curved, slimline, wide or tall.

 

Classic towel radiators are instantly recognisable, often in stainless steel or white, and providing several shelves on which to hang towels or even clothes to warm. Designer styles combine functionality with the funky – picture one with flat panels in a high-quality chrome-plated finish that would look quite sensational alongside an ultra-contemporary bathroom suite.

 

Maybe you’ve been seduced by a cast-iron, claw-footed bath and want the perfect towel radiator to complete the vintage look of your bathroom. Go for a Victorian style that offers simplicity and a classic look combined with efficient water heating.

 

Visit your local DIY store to examine in detail the sort of radiators that are available. While it always helps to have an idea of what you’re looking for to finish off your bathroom, you certainly won’t be short of inspiration once you arrive on the showroom floor and you’re sure to find the expert staff willing to provide explanations and ideas.

 

It should go without saying but is always worth repeating that you should only use a professional to install any sort of heating device to ensure safety and minimise risk. Make sure you engage a central heating professional or plumber who can ensure that your new radiator works in perfect harmony with the rest of the system.

 

Ask for a guarantee that the work has been done to industry and safety standards so any potential issues or problems can be dealt with quickly without costing you money. For extra peace of mind, an annual service contract with a reputable company will ensure that your central heating system continues to function efficiently all year round.

 

Whatever kind of radiator you choose for your bathroom, you’ll find it always provides a warm welcome.

 

About Screwfix:

 

Screwfix is the UK’s largest direct and online supplier of trade tools, accessories and hardware products. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, we despatch tens of thousands of parcels every week for next day and weekend delivery to tradesmen, handymen and serious DIY enthusiasts all over the UK.

 

Click here to view the full range of towel radiators from Screwfix.

 

Your guide to finding the right car for you

POSTED ON April 23rd  - POSTED IN Advertorials

There are a great many cars on the market – from two seater hatchbacks and sports cars to 4×4 pick-ups and hybrids. Whilst a first look at the market can seem daunting, there are a few things you can do to narrow down the options that are available to you.

 

The first thing you need to do before assessing what cars are available on the market is to consider your budget. When doing so, be sure to look at insurance quotes and ensure that you are factoring this into the amount that you are looking to spend. Likewise, consider the fuel consumption you expect to receive from the type of vehicle you are looking for. For those on a smaller budget, the impact that insurance, road tax and fuel can have on the cost of a vehicle may be surprising so it is vital to conduct all of this research in advance.

 

When you have ascertained the amount you are looking to spend on a car, it is time to start looking at manufacturers and models. While much of this is down to personal preference, it is worth doing your homework. Certain manufacturers will fare better than others over time and this may not be aptly reflected in the price.

 

You will want to spare some thought for the way that you intend to use the vehicle as well. If most of your driving time is spent doing short, urban trips, consider something small and environmentally-friendly. If you live with your family in the country and expect to meet some tough terrain with an army of kids in the back, look towards something like the Ford Territory. The size and abilities of your vehicle ought to reflect its use; otherwise you could end up spending money on unnecessary features.

 

When you have determined the type of car you need, it is time to view them in the flesh. If you are looking at new cars, this is a far more straightforward process. You can test drive the car, decide whether the model is right for you and then specify the features which you feel would suit your needs.

 

For those looking at buying second-hand, it is not quite as simple as deciding on a model or manufacturer. As well as test driving vehicles, you will need to obtain the service history of the car. Any faults may not become apparent on your test drive so it is important to peruse the car’s documents thoroughly, checking for any discrepancies in its servicing and repairs.

 

When you have found the right car for you, be sure to compare prices. Whether you are buying from a dealer or from a private seller, there may be some leniency in the price. Needless to say, if you can pay a lower price than that asked, you should do all in your power to secure the deal.

 

Top Ways to Increase the Value of your Home by Spend

POSTED ON April 2nd  - POSTED IN Advertorials

Increasing the value of a property is something that occupies many of us from time to time, either because we are moving house or because we simply want to make the most of what we’ve got. Often, when you research how you can increase your home’s value, you will be presented with endless lists of renovations ideas, all of which cost a significant amount of money.

 

However, if you’ve not got a huge amount to spend but you still want to make a difference, what can you do? In order to help answer this question, this article looks at a few cheaper options you could consider to increase the value of your home. It’s broken down into price brackets so you can get some ideas according to your budget.

 

Tips for under £100

You’d be surprised just what you can do for under £100. For instance, you can get a tin of paint for less than £10, and wallpaper for an entire room often comes in at under £100. If you’re willing to do some decorating yourself, this means it’s a very cost effective way to increase your home’s value.

 

How much value you add to your home will depend on exactly what your improvements are; even though you might not add £1000s to the value if you’re only spending £100, it will still make a difference. You could also consider buying an hour’s session with an interior designer or home’s inspector to find out what other improvements you could make – this usually comes in at under £100 for their time.

 

Tips for £100-£200

If you are looking to spend a little bit more, there is even more you can do to improve your home’s value. For example, bathrooms are a good place to focus your energies as they are becoming more and more important in the modern house. Bathroom furniture is a good example of an easy way to improve the look of your room without breaking the bank.

 

You can get high quality cabinets and mirrors for around £150, and with a wide range of designs available, there should be plenty for you to choose from. Another budget idea to improve the value of your home is to undertake some landscaping in your garden. If you have the skills to do this yourself, you should be able to get a decent selection of plants for less than £200, which is a great way of adding value to a property.

 

Tips for £200-£500

In the £200-£500 bracket, even more choice opens up. One option is to use a cleaning service to give your home a thorough going over, as it’s amazing the difference a spring clean can make.

 

Also in this price bracket is the issue of loft insulation. This is something that all homes are recommended to have as it helps keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is also an investment that helps pay for itself before too long. You can find out more about it from the Energy Saving Trust, which offers a breakdown of the cost of insulation versus the savings you can expect to make.

 

Tips for £500-£1000

If you have got up to £1000 to spend and currently have a bathroom that only has a shower, one option to increase the value of your home would be to install a bath. This might not be possible in all properties due to issues of space, but baths are widely acknowledged to be a selling point if you ever come to sell your house.

 

You could also upgrade the appliances in your kitchen, as a modern room is a great eye-catcher and generally speaking, if you want to boost the value of your home, the kitchen is a good room to focus on. Just make sure that any replacements you buy are of good quality so you don’t accidentally do more harm than good.

 

Tips for £1000+

Finally, we come to the top bracket in our guide – ideas for people looking to spend £1000+. One option is to redo your bathroom completely. Bathroom suites can cost less than £1500 if you’re willing to install them yourself.

 

Alternatively, you could look at some eco-measures for your house, as these can make properties more attractive to buyers. For example, installing brown water systems such as reed beds is a good idea, and you could even investigate installing solar panels.

 

Also, if your home doesn’t currently have double glazing, you can normally install this on the average three-bedroomed house for around £2500-£3000, and it should save you a decent amount of money on your bills – making this another home improvement that should pay for itself over time as well as adding value to your property.

 

10 things to consider when buying a conservatory

POSTED ON April 2nd  - POSTED IN Advertorials

There is no question about it, providing you have sufficient space, building a conservatory is the perfect addition to any home in the UK. If it’s done right you can enjoy it for many years on any day of the year: it feels like you’re outside and inside both at the same time. Before taking the plunge there are a few things homeowners should consider:

 

Do you need planning permission?

Planning permission from the local authority is not usually required in England and Wales unless you’re making changes to a listed building or in a conservation area. The rule here is: don’t do anything until you have checked with the council.

 

Use quality traders!

The cheapest option might not be the best option considering the value of such an important investment. Talk to specialists that vet the companies in your area specialising in double glazed windows and conservatories. Also, make sure you know how long it will take to build.

 

Think about how you want to use it!

The size, style and layout of the space are important! Is it going to be an office or a dining room or an extension of the garden? You may want it to be everything and more so talk with the designers and installers before committing to a particular design.

 

What materials will you use?

The life span of your conservatory will be dramatically dependent on the materials used. PVC frames last the longest and are the most common; glazing can be made of polycarbonate or glass. To stop the greenhouse effect in the summer, think about using performance glass or solar reflective inserts in the polycarbonate.

 

You will need ventilation!

To stop condensation and the stifling effects of carbon dioxide building up you will need some way of letting air in. Opening a window will usually suffice in summer but not on a freezing winter’s night; consider adding a roof vent to allow air to circulate without creating too much of a draft.

 

Will you need air conditioning and heating?

Air conditioning is becoming more popular these days and can be a welcome asset on a hot summer’s day. Conditioners can also provide heat during the winter months without the need to fit radiators or under floor heating.

 

Do you want a personalised build?

Many double glazing specialists can supply a variety of finishing touches such as unique doors and window frames to really add a personal touch. Everything costs a bit extra than the standard option, but as with most things in this world, you get what you pay for.

 

Get some quotes!

Do some research and obtain a selection of good quotes that have all your specifications included. A good company should be able to foresee any problems by using years of experience to anticipate them, and include a surplus budget within their quote.

 

Ensure your conservatory comes with a guarantee!

Most installers should offer a ten year guarantee which is also backed up by an insurance policy. This contract should also be transferable to any new owners, should you decide to sell.

 

Is it safe?

Does your conservatory come with security features such as locking windows and multi lock doors? Ask you conservatory supplier what safety standards they use to keep intruders out.

 

Once you’ve considered all of these points you’ll be sure to find the conservatory that meets both your needs and expectations.

Re-charge your batteries on a mini-break

POSTED ON March 29th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

With the economy still in chaos and people struggling to meet daily living costs, holidays are sometimes seen as a bit of a luxury which is why more and more people are opting to take mini-breaks to short-haul destinations and cities.

Most people agree that well spent leisure time is beneficial to a person’s well-being and with so many airlines offering very competitive rates on flights to a variety of European destinations it’s the perfect time to get away from it all.  A mini-break is an affordable way to have a holiday, and you won’t have to take too much time out of your yearly holiday allowance to go on one.

Many time and cash poor professionals are opting to take a number of these short, rejuvenating holidays throughout the year, rather than taking one long holiday in the summer, and this way can spread the enjoyment, the benefits, and the cost.

Cities are always a popular choice and with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and 2012 Olympics fast approaching there’s never been a better time to visit London.

With Cheap flights to London departing from numerous UK and EU airports including Aberdeen, Jersey, Newquay, Paris, Isle of Man and Belfast City, to name but a few, more and more people are flocking to the capital to check out the iconic buildings, plethora of museums and legendary nightlife.

Apart from visiting the must-see attractions such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Houses of Parliament many people head to London for the spectacular theatre performances, and what better way to escape for the weekend than to come to one of the most exciting cities in the world, eat in a fabulous restaurant and see a star studded play or musical.

Two or three days away from the daily grind can be just what the doctor ordered and taking a few days out of your work schedule can be as invigorating as a week away in the sun, and less expensive, plus there are a host of things to see and do. Samuel Johnson famously wrote; “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” and with so much to see and do in this buzzing metropolis it’s easy to understand what he meant.

Another good example is Amsterdam; over 3 million tourists visit this laid back city each year and with its pretty walk ways, maze of medieval streets and laid back vibe it’s not hard to see why. Spend a weekend wandering the tow-paths and streets, check out the legendary café culture, and let those stresses and strains just melt away. And, if you’re a bit of a culture vulture you won’t be disappointed with the option of visiting the wonderful Van Gogh museum or the historically significant and moving Anne Frank House museum.

With Flights to Amsterdam and London being so competitively priced at the moment a mini-break, or city-break, is certainly the smart way to take a holiday, and although you may only be getting away for a couple of days, you’ll get a much needed change of scene, experience other cultures and create memories that will last a lifetime; priceless.

 

Growing into ERP?

POSTED ON March 20th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is a term that first came about around 1990, but even though it is decades old, it is arguably still not that well understood. However, it is definitely a concept worth getting to know as ERP can be a valuable tool for many different businesses, enabling them to improve their processes and make the way their company operates much more efficient.

 

This article looks at some important factors about ERP, including the types of company that might well benefit from it, what some of those benefits are, and factors to consider when you are choosing an ERP system for your business.

 

What types of company should use ERP?

If you run a very small company, you are unlikely to need a specific ERP software system because your business should be compact enough to take care of all its operations without one. However, there comes a point in the growth of any business where it needs to look again at how it operates and how all of its departments relate to one another.

 

After all, as a company grows and gains more employees working in an increasingly diverse range of areas, departments can grow apart from each other despite your best attempts to keep them communicating well. If everyone is working according to different departmental processes, for example, it will make it much harder to coordinate things on a company-wide basis.

 

If this concern sounds familiar to you then it is likely that you will benefit from ERP software. It doesn’t really matter what industry you work in – sometimes people think that ERP relates to either manufacturing or accounting. While it does incorporate these aspects of a business, it also covers everything else, from sales to marketing, HR, payroll software and CRM. This sort of system can benefit businesses in all industries, so if your company is growing and your current systems are no longer meeting your needs, it could be an investment worth considering.

 

Why is ERP beneficial?

One of the main benefits of using ERP software is that it is so comprehensive. It is heavily focused on business integration and making sure that all the different departments of your business work well together. This can be particularly useful if your company is based on more than one site but there is still a need to coordinate your work – you can all use the same ERP system to do this.

 

Another reason ERP software can be helpful is that it allows you to generate reports relating to your business. This can be useful for managers and other senior staff with responsibility for overseeing sections of the business. It enables them to keep track of progress, spot areas of weakness and generally keep up to date with the latest data associated with the company.

 

It can also have benefits in terms of communication. For instance, rather than having to go to each department separately to find out about their expenditure, the accounting department would instead be able to use the integrated systems to complete their work much more efficiently.

 

How should you choose an ERP system?

Now we come onto the topic of how you should go about choosing an appropriate ERP system for your business. The first thing to say is that there are different models available for different sizes of company, ranging from software that is suitable for mid-market businesses looking to connect different sections of their business, to software that is suitable for organisations operating on a global level.

 

This is one of the key issues to look at when choosing your ERP software – you need to choose a system that will be as easy to implement as possible and one that can be tailored to the needs of your business. For instance, look for a system that offers flexibility and the ability to choose your own reports and applications as well as offering a good set of standard services.

 

Also look at issues such as how many people will be using the system as different software has different user limits. One thing that all ERP systems have in common though, is the aim of connecting your organisation more effectively than it was connected before.

 

This is really the key test of an ERP system: if you think your business needs to be better connected so that you can gain a better understanding of it and work more efficiently, you are more than likely to benefit from ERP software. Carefully choosing the right system for your needs should further boost your chances of implementing the right solution for your business.

 

What to do before taking out a loan

POSTED ON March 14th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

We are constantly bombarded with routes out of debt these days. Between manageable monthly payments, consolidating your debt and loan offers it can be hard to know which way to turn.

 

Sometimes, taking out a loan can seem like the only option. If used properly, loans can be an excellent way of giving yourself some financial breathing space; however, there are a few things to consider before making the commitment. Loans should only really be considered if all other avenues have been exhausted and explored.

 

Before taking the plunge there are a number of things to ask yourself but firstly do some research and find out what kind of loan would best suit you and what sort of deals are available.

 

The best way to do this is to use a comparison site to explore your options. Compare unsecured loans with secured offerings and look into what sort of discounts and perks you can get with some loan companies. These sites can compare hundreds of loan providers in a matter of minutes and by filling in a few details and hitting the search button you can see your various options instantly.

 

Explore each loan offer and discuss what you think would be the best payment plan for you. The small print is important to consider and before making any decision, go through the conditions with a fine-tooth comb, you don’t want a nasty surprise a few months down the line.

 

Once you think you know the sort of loan you’re going to need and what it’ll take to use it in the correct manner don’t rush into anything; sit down and ask yourself the following questions.

 

Do I really need this money?

 

The key to this question is the word ‘need’. You may well want something costly and are considering a loan to help pay for it but do you need to make the purchase.

 

Necessary costs are things like repairs around the home, new goods that are essential to your life or work and medical bills. A new car or wardrobe are not necessary and therefore should be bought using spare cash or savings rather than a loan.

 

Can I afford to make the payments?

 

Work out a budget, factoring in monthly payments plus your incomings and outgoings.

 

If you can afford it then great, but if you’re too close to falling into more debt try and avoid taking out a loan. Stop payments and you’re in trouble and if you can only just afford them each month think about the little surprises life throws at us; you might need a bit of spare cash for something unexpected.

 

How long will it take me to pay it off?

 

The quicker you can pay off your loan and rid yourself of debt the better, so make sure you have an idea of how long it’s going to take. Setting yourself a goal to be debt-free is a great motivator too and helps to combat the temptation to miss a payment or spend more.

 

If you’ve answered all these questions honestly and thoroughly then you are in the perfect position to make a decision about taking out a loan. When used correctly loans are great but use them as a quick fix to your money woes without the proper consideration and you could be heading for financial meltdown.

 

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