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Alvin Hall Q&A: Your business or your life?

Alvin Hall, financial adviser, author and media personality, tells us why, in business, you to need know your ‘nut’; make your business sexy and prepare for the unexpected. Your Business: Alvin, you’ve had a number of successes throughout your career including your BBC series Your Money or Your Life and your highly acclaimed literature, but where did your career begin? Alvin Hall: I’ve had several careers. ...

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How to shop smart

With job insecurity on the up, before handing over our cash or credit cards we're stopping, thinking, and asking ourselves do I really need this, and can I really afford it? So far, so sensible, but there's no need to embrace frugality with too much fervour - with a little shopping savvy it's possible to make some seriously smart savings and still afford the odd treat too... Cash back credit cards This is s ...

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Making your hard-earned money grow

If you're disheartened by the measly interest rates offered by most banks on savings due to the Bank of England base rate being at a historic low, it's good to know there are ways of getting a decent return on your cash. Before you look at investment options though, it may be wise to consider paying off any debts you have. Interest accrued on credit card balances and personal loans could well cost you more ...

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Travel on a budget

With the current economic climate, holidays are the last thing on most of our minds. But when times are tough getting away from it all can be more important than ever. And it needn’t cost the earth. Long-haul flights are surprisingly cheap and the pound still goes a fair distance in certain countries. Doing it on a shoestring is all about embracing your spirit of adventure. ESCAPE TO THE SUN FOR ...

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Sell your home without moving

Losing your job can be a shocking and stressful experience, especially if you haven’t been given much warning. For some, there will be an offer of a redundancy package. This can ease the panic if there is money to tide you over for the next couple of months. But for others, being made redundant will impact straightaway, as the funds to pay even the most important creditors, like the mortgage, are simp ...

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Turn old clothes into cash

Many women are guilty of wearing just 20% of what's in their wardrobes, according to the recycling charity, Traid (www.traid.org.uk). But these unused or forgotten clothes could earn you extra cash. Even if you think an old dress is horrible, it might appeal to someone else. And the simplest way to cash in on your unwanted clothes is through the web. Go online There are several online trading sites or commu ...

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Alvin’s quick credit crunch quiz

Q: What’s the point of putting it in the bank if the interest rate is almost zero? You put it in the bank because banks do pay you a little interest rate and a little interest is better than losing money. Look for a safe bank vehicle that will give you a reasonable return. Making a little is better than losing a lot. Q: Is it still worth saving even in these difficult times? Yes, cash is your friend d ...

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Three people who’ve turned their lives around

'I had to change my ways to clear my debts' Carol Pritchard, 35, is a magazine journalist who lives in London. She was £12,000 in debt but with a bit of dedication managed to wipe the lot. 'My spiral of debt started when I took out a £7,000 loan to pay for an MA course and then on top of that I started paying for everything on credit cards without, if I'm honest, keeping track. I wasn't making m ...

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Who’s winning the jobs war?

In the first three months of this year the number of people out of work rose to 2.22 million. And many experts believe the unemployment rate is certain to get worse. But as BT reported an annual loss of £134 million and announced a further 15,000 job cuts, supermarket giant Sainsbury's posted an 11.3% hike in profits to £543 million. Its 120,000 staff will share a bonus pot of £60 million. ...

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Entertain without spending a fortune

Times may be tough but that's when you need your friends the most, so why not treat yourself - and them - to a night in? And before you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of spending loads of cash on food and booze, our guide will show you it really is possible to have a great night of fun - without breaking your budget. Taking pot luck An American concept, Potluck Supper (or lunch) is when all the ...

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Simple guide to budgeting

If you regularly find yourself counting coppers at the end of a month, you know it's time to work out a budget - but a realistic one you can stick to, without giving up the things you love. Why budget? It might not sound like much fun but there are many good reasons to do it. Planning a budget makes you aware of what you can and can't afford, so you're less likely to waste money. It also makes you consider ...

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Make your job work for you

With redundancy figures set to rise and more employees being forced to cut hours and salaries, it does make you feel grateful if you are still employed in this current economic climate. But some companies are taking advantage of this gratitude and not offering any added extras to employees in a bid to save money. It’s up to you to make sure you get what you deserve. Bite the bullet Everyone should be ...

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Be credit card savvy

The vast majority of people have one or more credit cards in their wallet and, if used wisely, these can prove very beneficial. However, to make a profit, credit card providers generally rely on those customers who are oblivious to the rate of interest they pay on card purchases and who make only minimum monthly repayments. Here's how to use plastic wisely.. * Having more than one card isn't a problem if yo ...

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Cut £££s and help the environment

Don’t see red • Leaving appliances on standby is a pure waste of money – they continue to eat up energy. • Switch off your TV, phone charger, and other gadgets, at the wall. Keep it cool • Fridges use about 15% of your total household power, so it’s vital yours works efficiently. • Clean the coils- if they’re dusty or covered in grime they can’t work effecti ...

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Fab meals for four

Scrumptious meals for under £10 Ricotta, tomato and chorizo puff pastry pizza Ready-made puff pastry is a good alternative to normal bread-based pizza or ready-made pizza bases that tend to be thick and stodgy 2 x 23cm discs puff pastry, rolled 1cm thick 325g ricotta cheese or cream cheese 90ml double cream 1tbsp pesto (optional) 2 free-range eggs, beaten 55g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 125g ball ...

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Celebs feeling the pinch

Find out how celebrities are dealing with the credit crunch. Gordon Ramsay's mounting debt He's used to helping other chefs with their business problems on Ch4's popular Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares show, but Gordon now faces troubles of his own. His company, Gordon Ramsay Holdings, has been taken to court over unpaid debts three times in a month. He's sold his restaurants in Los Angeles, Paris and Prague, a ...

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Discover your inner recessionista

Recession or not, there's no reason to sacrifice your sense of style. All it takes is a bit of thrift, a dash of creativity and an eye for the truly fabulous. Forget the latest 'it' bag, or 'must-have' designer shoe, modern fashionistas are now customising last year's cast-offs, creating their very own masterpieces and unearthing gems in their local charity shops. Make-do-and-mend In these more sober times ...

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Worried about repossession?

Sale-and-rent-back is a relatively new property transaction in which firms buy your home (usually below the market rate) and allow you to stay on as tenants. The obvious benefit is being able to stay in your home, in an area you know, where your children go to school. While this sounds like an attractive option, some unscrupulous companies have been deliberately targeting vulnerable people – offering ...

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Guide to buying and selling

Most of us have been sitting out the recession, hoping that the housing market will start to move again. But for some, life events may mean that moving house is a must, or it could be the perfect opportunity to pick up a great bargain. With the market favouring buyers, now might be the time to grab the best deal for your money Buying property At the moment, the market is better than it has been for buyers f ...

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Alvin’s quick credit crunch quiz

Q: What’s the point of putting it in the bank if the interest rate is almost zero? You put it in the bank because banks do pay you a little interest rate and a little interest is better than losing money. Look for a safe bank vehicle that will give you a reasonable return. Making a little is better than losing a lot. Q: Is it still worth saving even in these difficult times? Yes, cash is your friend d ...

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