Introduction to Offset Mortgages

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offset mortgage

Do you despair of the low interest rates your savings are attracting and wish you could put them somewhere where they will work harder for you? Then offset mortgages may be a consideration.

What are offset mortgages?

This is a mortgage product which is unlike the more traditional home loans, as any savings you have can be used to offset the mortgage balance – thereby saving you on mortgage interest charges.

For example, if you have a mortgage of £250,000 and savings of £60,000 (which, with some providers, can include any ISAs you have), the actual mortgage balance that you may typically be charged interest on will be £190,000 – giving you the chance to potentially save thousands of pounds over the mortgage term.

Benefits

Apart from the obvious interest-saving benefits on your mortgage, there are additional benefits associated with your savings themselves:

Not only this, but your savings are not locked in to your mortgage account. If you make overpayments on a traditional mortgage, you are not always able to get the money back if you need it.

With offset mortgage accounts, you can access your savings anytime you want, without restriction.

The need to knows

  • All your savings accounts and the offset mortgage need to be with the same provider
  • Some providers will take in to account your current bank account balance, too (as long as the bank account is with them)
  • Offset mortgages can either be fixed rate or variable rate – the standard variable rate on an offset mortgage tends to be slightly higher than it would be if you had a traditional mortgage. This means you need to make sure that, overall, having an offset mortgage is still the most cost-effective option for you, by looking at how much your savings would earn away from an offset mortgage etc.

How is my monthly repayment amount calculated?

The monthly repayment amount will either be based on the outstanding balance as it is (so, in effect, you are overpaying each month, allowing you to repay your mortgage quicker).

OR

It will be based on the outstanding mortgage balance less the savings amount – thereby giving you lower monthly repayments.

Are offset mortgages for everyone?

While anyone can apply for an offset mortgage, they may not always offer the most appropriate mortgage solution. That is why it is important to seek specialist advice from a mortgage expert who can look at your own unique financial circumstances and see what mortgage product most suits your requirements.

Tips to Help You Protect Your Kids Online

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In the past, most parents complained about their kids spending too much time in front of the TV. They wanted their kids to go out and play or focus on their studies instead of ‘getting their brains fried’ by spending so much time in front of the tube.

Today the problem is quite different. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s study showed that the younger generation is spending an average of 75 hours a week tethered to technology. This includes an average of two and a half hours on music, five hours on movies and TV and at least three hours on video games and the internet. Only an average of 38 minutes was spent on good old fashioned reading.

While some parents may think that having their children safely in the house is enough for them, spending so much time online exposes children to a different type of danger. A survey showed that one in five internet users aged 10 – 17 had reported receiving unwanted sexual solicitation from online predators. More than 4500 such cases are reported to the police annually. Some of these cases have resulted in the sexual abuse of these unsuspecting children.

How to protect your child

  1. Discuss online safety with them

Discussing online safety with your children from an early age is key to ensuring their online safety. While you may way want to keep an eye on your child, you can’t be with them the whole day. The fact is that children gain access to the internet at school, on their phones and at other places that you may not know of. Highlighting the importance of online safety and how they can protect themselves, e.g. using passwords and keeping private information private, will go a long way in helping to keep them safe even when they are not under your watchful eyes.

  1. Use parental controls

There are various parental controls that internet browsers provide. Set up security safeguards as well as content filters for violence, sex, nudity and strong language to help control the content that your children have access to while online. An easy option is to use browsers that have been developed specifically for use by children.

  1. Understand the signs that your child may be at risk

Knowing and understanding the signs that your child may be at risk will help you take action early and prevent a disaster. Some of the signs include:

  • Spending a large amount of time online especially during the night

Children who spend a great deal of time online are at greater risk of falling victim to online sexual predators. Such children are more likely to try and make friends online through chat rooms or explore sexually explicit websites. Using the internet in the evening is even more risky since many predators go to work during the day and spend the evening lurking the internet searching for children to lure.

  • They have pornography on their computers

Check your child’s computer for pornography. Predators often supply the children they are trying to lure with pornography. Be sure to check their browsing history as well.

  • Receiving calls or gifts from adults
  • Your child switches windows quickly when you walk in

Be sure to protect your child as you subscribe to internet service providers. Check what security options your internet service provider offers to further enhance your child’s safety. Visit http://internetbundle.net/ for more.

 

Tips for Protecting Your Fridge

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With so many appliances likely to be installed and in more or less constant use in the majority of homes, it is clearly important to protect the ones on which normal domestic life depends.

One of the popular defences against breakdowns, for instance, is appliance insurance – supplied by the likes of KAPUT and others.

But there is still a lot you might do to head off those break downs in the first place.

Let’s take the humble fridge as an example. Most homes will have one and some householders may have had the foresight of arranging fridge insurance, but there are still many ways you might help to look after it so that it gives you trouble-free service:

Thermostat

  • the thermostat keeps your fridge working at the correct temperature – too cold and things will start to freeze, too warm and food starts to go off;
  • make sure to keep it at the right setting, if necessary, taking the temperature yourself with a thermometer in a glass of water and check that the reading is between 1ºC and 5ºC;

Cooling coils

  • you have probably noticed the cooling coils at the back of your fridge – they attract the dust, it builds up over time, reducing their effectiveness, and this makes the fridge have to work harder than ever;
  • you might want to get into the habit of using your vacuum cleaner on a regular basis to get rid of any such build-up of dust;

Shelves

  • overloading glass shelves might cause them to break;
  • wire shelving might help the air to circulate more freely, says consumer group Which?, but these do little to stem spillages from finding their way into more inaccessible places;
  • since spillages are the source of the kind of bad smells and odours your fridge might produce, be sure to mop them up and thoroughly clean after any such event;

Freezer box

  • if the freezer compartment becomes encrusted with ice, this means your fridge is working less efficiently, consumes more electricity than is necessary and may shorten its effective working life;
  • once ice has built up more than, say, half an inch thick, be sure to defrost the compartment;

Door seals

  • the seals around the door attract dirt and mould – dirt and mould distorts the profile of the seal, making the fridge work less efficiently by letting the cold air to escape;
  • regular cleaning helps to keep the all-important seals working properly;

Drain

  • self-defrosting fridges have a drainage hole at the back of the unit and the water is usually collected in a tray where the heat of the motor helps the moisture to evaporate;
  • if the drainage hole becomes blocked by spilt food let’s say, the smell may become terrible and even represent a health hazard;
  • with nowhere else to go, the water might drain straight down on to your floor, damaging any floor surface or covering;
  • the message is clear – help to keep the drainage channel clean and free from any blockages caused by spilt food.

Simple cleaning and maintenance routines, therefore, may help to keep your fridge odour-free, doing its job more efficiently and for a longer working life.

Top Tips to Find a Reliable Locksmith

Locksmiths are helpful professionals who can help in a variety of circumstances. Maybe you’ve locked yourself out of your house or car, or have come home to broken locks. You may have even just purchased a new home and are wondering about the best way to begin securing your home. A locksmith can help in all these situations and more, but getting a reliable locksmith is extremely important.

top tips to find a reliable locksmith

Photo by stevepb, CC0 1.0

Ensuring your blacksmith is trustworthy should be your utmost concern. Especially in desperate times, like when you’re locked out of your home or vehicle, some people may try to take advantage of you by providing shoddy service and overcharging. Worse yet, locksmiths are in unique positions to steal from you if they’re not reliable. Thankfully, there are ethical and competent locksmiths everywhere, you just need to find them. Here are our tips on finding a trustworthy locksmith to work on your hard-earned property:

Make Sure They Are Insured

Locksmiths have insurance to protect their equipment and your property. In case your door is damaged during installation, or the locksmith loses a tool in your garage, insurance will cover the difference. Not only does this take a load off your mind, it speaks to the professionalism of the locksmith. They are willing to take responsibility for anything that may go wrong during a job, and that’s the sign of an honest work partner.

Identification

Especially during a lock-out, both the locksmith and the property owner should be prepared to identify themselves. You will want to make sure the locksmith is exactly who you are paying for (grab a business card if you can), and they will want to confirm that you are the rightful property owner. Providing their own identification and asking for yours is the sign of an ethical locksmith.

Road-side Assistance

Some road-side assistance providers offer locksmith services, and add an extra level of insurance to your job. If you’re locked outside your vehicle, call road-side assistance first to see if they can send you someone from their list of trusted specialists.

Look Locally

Local locksmiths offer many benefits, but one of the most important is expedience. You can use the internet, for instance searching ‘Vegas Locksmith‘ if you’re in Nevada, or by visiting the online YellowPages. If you must use a long-distance locksmith, beware of additional fees.

Of course, visiting their brick-and-mortar store is the best option, but not always available to those in emergency situations.

Ask For an Estimate

Don’t forget to ask about the cost! All the costs, including the pesky travel fees mentioned above. If you think the estimate is high, don’t be afraid to shop around. Just remember that it’s always better to pay more for a professional and proven locksmith than for someone without the right credentials.

Ask or Research Their Credentials

Your locksmith should be licensed or registered with your state (where applicable) before you consider using them. If the information isn’t displayed on their website or in the advertisement, be sure to ask even before asking for an estimate.

If Something Goes Wrong

If, despite your best efforts at selecting the most qualified locksmith, something goes wrong with your job, act quickly and call the company directly to resolve your issue. As we mentioned, reputable locksmiths will have insurance to cover any damages or losses caused during their work, but the claims may be time-sensitive.

Just because being a locksmith provides the opportunity to take advantage of people doesn’t mean all locksmiths are bad people- in fact, many are just hard working individuals with a love for their craft. Be smart and use our tips to pick a trustworthy and reliable locksmith for your next security issue.

What is a prepaid funeral plan?

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A prepaid funeral plan is just that – something which allows you not only to plan every last detail of your funeral, but also to pay for it well in advance.

Even though the event itself might be many years hence, it may never be too early to start making your funeral plan. Do it now and it is something you do not have to think about later. Pay for it now and you may also beat the inexorable process of inflation, when it is likely to cost you considerably more in the future.

How do they work?

Prepaid funeral plans work on a very simple and straight forward principle – they allow you to:

  • plan your funeral now, whilst age is on your side and you have all your faculties for deciding just how you want the occasion to go; and
  • pay for it now, at today’s prices, before the steadily rising costs of arranging a funeral make it considerably more expensive at some future date.

According to an investigation by the BBC in October 2015, as many as one in ten people who have left their funeral planning until the very last minute, now find it difficult for them or their family to pay the expenses – currently costing an average of £3,700, but rising at four times the rate of inflation.

Prepayment offers a way of steering clear of any such predicament.

Is my money safe?

You might have entirely reasonable fears about paying for something that may not be needed until many years in the future.

Your local funeral directors, for instance, might offer a prepaid funeral plan – you are able to make all the arrangements with a firm you know and trust and are able to budget certainly for the expenditure in future. But what if the firm becomes insolvent in the meantime? The money you have paid over may be seriously at risk.

National providers

Fully aware of that natural worry, there are national providers who take steps to ensure that the money you have paid remains entirely safe and ready for use when the time comes.

This is achieved by one of two ways and may involve you paying a single lump sum or a number of equal instalments:

  • the latter is likely to be in the form of a life insurance policy which pays out an agreed sum whenever you die and the funeral arrangements need to be made;
  • alternatively, your lump sum may be paid into a trust fund, with its security guaranteed by trustees.

Whether a trust fund or a life insurance policy, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sets out rules which the provider must follow in order to ensure the security of the monies you have prepaid.

Providers of such schemes may also be members of the industry’s own representative organisation, the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA), which maintains a code of conduct and practice, again designed to enhance the security of customers’ money and to provide financial support in the event of one of its members becoming insolvent.

Difference between using an online estate agent against a traditional

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When you sell your house, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best value for money possible. Traditional estate agents have been around for a long time, but they can take advantage of this fact in order to squeeze more out of you. Alternatively, opting for an online estate agent makes everything a lot clearer and simpler, and will leave you with a bit more cash in your pocket at the end of the process.

High street estate agents typically charge an additional fee once your sale has been completed- usually around 1.6% of the price you’ve sold at. This means that you’ll be more out of pocket the more your property is worth. They will also typically charge you extra for things such as property assessments and valuations, so you’re being forced to pay up before your house is even put on the market. On the other hand, we only charge a single fee of £595 for the entire selling process, so you can rest assured that everything is settled before we begin. We won’t charge you a penny for assessing your house, as it all comes as standard, and we’ll even produce floor plans for your property.

Selling with a traditional estate agent also limits the number of potential buyers who will see your property for sale. Many of them are tied in with OnTheMarket, meaning they aren’t allowed to advertise your property on other popular portals such as Zoopla or Rightmove. On the other hand, we don’t face any such restrictions, and are therefore free to post your property on all of the sites where it will get seen the most. The more sites your property is on, the more likely the right buyer will come along sooner.

Traditional agents are also stuck in the model of showing potential buyers around properties themselves. While they might have picked up a few techniques for persuading people, they often won’t have the necessary local knowledge needed to answer buyers’ questions- and that could mean losing out on a sale. We, however, believe that you are the best person to show people around your own property- and research has backed that up. People feel more comfortable viewing a property if the owner is present, and it allows you to show them the human side of the house which could be the key to making a sale

.Lastly, one of the most common tactics which traditional agents use to sell properties can actually put people off. Their usual tactic is to start a bidding war in order to make themselves more money on commission, but all this does in the long run is put off people who might have bought there and then, but think they won’t be able to afford it. Selling online eliminates this problem, and will help to sell your property sooner. We are proud to say that we achieve an average selling price of 99% of our customers’ ideal amount- that’s a whole 3% more than the industry average. By selling with us, not only will you be saving yourself money, but you’ll be making more in the first place than if you’d gone with a traditional agent.

 

Which Dog is Right for Your Family?

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Dogs are wonderful animals. Most of my friends have them, and they are clearly very much part of the family and greatly loved.

The other day I was thinking about what kind of dog would be right for us and started to do some research. After all, taking on a dog is a big commitment. Most breeds live for between 14 and 18 years, so you want to be sure that your furry friend is right for you.

Here is a roundup of what I found out.

Size

One of the most important considerations is how big your dog will be when it is fully-grown. If you are not a big fan of large dogs, you do not want to end up bringing home a St Bernard or Great Dane cross, by mistake. You need to have enough space for your dog and family to live happily together. If you live in a flat, or travel a lot, toy or medium sized dogs will be more practical.

Activity levels

You also need to consider how active your dog is going to be. How many times a day will he or she have to be walked, and how far?

Taking care of active breeds, like collies, potentially takes up a lot of time. You have to be prepared to go out in all weathers and take them for long walks to keep them happy and healthy.

If you like some of the more active breeds, but are not so keen on the level of exercise they need consider adopting an older dog. Generally, once these dogs reach the age of 10 or 11they start to slow down. At that point, the amount of exercise they need begins to tail off, which makes taking care of them much easier. However, they will still need more walking than your average dog, so if you are a natural couch potato go for a little Yorkie instead.

Character

Every breed has its own characteristics, so you need to bear this in mind when choosing a dog. If you want a calm, tranquil dog, something like a Basset Hound or a Bergamasco would be perfect.

On the other hand, want a dog to be a companion to your children, a Labrador or Labradoodle would be a great option. They are friendly, playful, confident and gentle dogs that love to play.

Your dog needs to fit in with your lifestyle. For example, if you travel a lot you do not want a nervous dog, that can’t sit still in the car.

This fun ‘what dog breed are you?’ quiz will help you to narrow down your options, and do so quickly.

Finding your dog

There are always plenty of puppies for sale in Lancashire. This county is home to all kinds of breeders, so it is a great part of the UK to find the dog of your dreams. If you want an older dog, check out your local shelter. They always have plenty of choice.

What to do when you’re Not Expecting

ID-100365811For some women, becoming pregnant is enviously easy. It feels like all they need is the mere thought of becoming pregnant and *poof!* within a few months, they are prized with the beautiful experience of pregnancy and motherhood.

Unfortunately, we’re not all built the same way and for some women and couples, becoming pregnant can feel like an impossible challenge. After years of attempting to do so naturally, many couples face the reality: pregnancy cannot be achieved without the help of professionals.

So what do you when you’re just ‘not expecting’? Let’s delve into the world of in vitro fertilization (IVF), how it works, and how it can help what feels impossible – become possible.

What is IVF?

IVF is the medical process of fertilization of an egg by combining the egg with sperm in a laboratory dish, which is then transferred as an embryo to the uterus. This process increases the likelihood of a successful pregnancy as it’s done in a controlled environment and can decrease the challenges present to the couple.

Who gets IVF?

IVF is never the first step in treatment of infertility. It’s generally only used in cases were other options have been unsuccessful in causing a successful pregnancy. This is largely in part because it can be a long process that includes hormone treatment and a financial investment.

IVF is recommended for fertility problems like blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, sperm issues, when other fertility drugs have not helped, problems with ovulation and when trying to conceive unsuccessfully for over 2 years without any explainable reason. Additionally, in cases where women have problems with their ovaries or eggs and cannot become pregnant using their own sex cells, there’s a possibility of doing IVF through egg donation.

How much does IVF cost?

The price of IVF depends on numerous factors, including the country, the number of attempts and whether health insurance covers the costs. For example, in England, IVF can cost about £5000 per cycle, including medication and treatment. Depending on the number of cycles necessary to reach a successful pregnancy, a couple can spend tens of thousands of pounds in their attempts.

Other countries provide lower costs for the same treatment, and cater to people from across the world. Invimed, for example, provides savings of up to 60% for IVF treatment in their clinics in Poland. These type of clinics focus on providing affordable IVF to UK citizens. Getting treatment overseas can be a smart idea – we wrote a simple guide about IVF treatments abroad to help in this process.

What is the IVF process?

A simplified breakdown of the process is like so: the first step will involve injecting hormones to produce multiple eggs per month. Eggs are then removed, mixed with sperm and remain carefully observed in the clinic. One the embryos are ready, the doctor will transfer one or more to the uterus. A successful pregnancy should result in a positive pregnancy test about two weeks later.

If IVF is a topic of interest to you, make sure to discuss it in great detail with your doctor or clinic.

IVF with Egg Donation (abroad) – what to start with?

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One of the reason of couple’s inability to successfully conceive a child is a female infertility. The female factor results among others from absent or low-quality egg cells. The usual recommendation for this type of infertility is an In Vitro Fertilization procedure with use of donor egg. It is a great opportunity for infertile couples to have the offspring. In this situation it is good not to narrow down your perspective in terms of treatment and place of procedure in order to make an informed decision.

Other countries as a place for In Vitro Fertilization with egg donation are definitely worth considering due to differences between various clinics in different countries. Thanks to the diversity of possible IVF destinations prospective parents have wide range of options regarding fertility clinics and their offer. Especially after the recognition of local IVF facilities does not result in finding suitable localization. Often problems with getting desirable treatment or restrictions about it might push somebody into looking for more acceptable facility. Also there is a number of reasons why getting IVF with donor egg abroad might be more convenient.

IVF laws

There are different sets of rules about having In Vitro Fertilization with egg donation in different countries. Depending on what are the specified requirements of a patient or individual situation she is in there are opportunities and limitations due to domestic legal regulations. There is a wide spectrum of legal rules for ranging from whether it is possible to use third party cells, through what is the formal status of a patient or a couple in terms of possibility of treatment ending with how many embryos can be produced in one cycle. Those are the details to be cautious about but they can create a chance for prospective parents with limited opportunities in their own country.

IVF costs

One of the biggest incentive of choosing IVF with egg donation in country other than your own are the costs of procedure. They may be few times lower in different infertility clinics due to financially more preferable terms of agreement with donor, generally different prices of health care and medical procedures as well as basic costs of living in different places. Also some fertility clinics in many countries are oriented toward foreign patients offering competitive prices or combined programs for a discount which make going abroad for IVF cheaper even including costs of travel and accomodation.

Other factors

There are other reasons why it might be better to choose facility abroad. The quality of the service, good reputation and high average efficacy there can exceed many times clinics that are the closest to home and may influence very positively the whole outcome of the treatment. Also last but not least going other places for IVF with egg donation may be amazing combination of holidays and procedure. Such ‘travel and treatment’ program allows reducing the stress and spend the time during preparation and procedure more pleasantly while gaining unforgettable experience.

Choosing and planning IVF abroad might seem at first a big undertaking. You need to decide on the best location and the most suitable clinic. The terms you need to take into account are IVF possibilities in the country, available facilities, their reputation and ratings, internal treatment conditions, total price of treatment, costs of accommodation and travel, success rates, available procedures, expecting lists etc. It might appear as difficult but it does not need to be like that.

In order to reduce the complexity of the process there are efficient tools created to facilitate the decision making and allowing to get to know all the possibilities. One of those tools is a service on www.eggdonationfriends.com – Best IVF Egg Donation Clinics Ranking making it available in an easy wat to compare countries and clinics providing all you need to chose the perfect place for you.

Things Every Woman Needs To Know About Laser Hair Removal

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Many women spend many nights and days wishing for a body free from unattractive and embarrassing hair.  In attempts to realise this dream they have went to a lot of effort and suffered a lot of pain because of it, from electric shavers to razor blades and the simply painful waxing and electrolysis.  However, all this effort and pain is wasted as the hair inevitably grows back.

It is likely that you recognise the situation above and if so, you should give proper consideration to one treatment that is better than the rest – ProSkin laser hair removal for women.

Not only is it essentially pain-free, but laser hair removal is also safe, efficient and quick.  Before arranging for any appointments for this treatment, you probably have a number of questions about it.  We have tried to answer what we believe to be the most common of these questions below.

Who Is Laser Hair Removal For?

Laser hair removal is best suited to women (and men) over the age of 18 who have long hair growth that is darker than skin tone.

What Does Laser Hair Removal Actually Do?

The laser light targets the melanin or colour in the hair and destroys the root.  This destroys and reduces further hair growth in any unwanted areas.  This can give you at least 85% hair reduction over a long period of time.

How Long Does Laser Hair Removal Take?

Most experts recommend 3 to 6 sessions of laser treatment for hair removal.  Treatments are generally carried out at intervals every 6 to 8 weeks for your body and 4 to 6 weeks for your face.  The amount of time each treatment can take depends on the area where the hair is being removed.   For instance, minor facial hair on the upper lip can be removed within just 10 minutes, whereas both legs or the whole of your back could take as long as 1 to 2 hours.

What Happens In-between Your Treatments?

Once you have had your treatment, it is recommended you do not have another session until at least 6 weeks later.  In this time you go through the fall out stage.  This usually lasts for 1 to 3 weeks after your treatment and it is the time when the unwanted hair starts to shed away and you are eventually left with a very smooth finish.  Although in a few weeks time, the hair starts to re-grow, it regrows finer and softer and each time it regrows it is reduced by at least 20%.

How Does Laser Treatment Feel?

It is understandable that you would want to know what it feels like.  The general consensus is that is a quite a mild sensation involving a sharp and short flash of heat for no longer than a second on your skin.

What Is The Recommended After Care For Laser Hair Removal?

It is general recommended that you should avoid any spa or holistic treatments such as steam rooms, saunas and very hot baths for at least 24 to 48 hours after a session.  Additionally, it is crucial that you also avoid sun beds and direct contact with the sun for at least 30 days following treatment.