Not Necessarily Financial: Our Top 12 Life Hacks
Not Necessarily Financial: Our Top 12 Life Hacks
We’re not just about financial planning. Our holistic approach aims to help you achieve your goals: both financial and personal. As part of our ‘Not Necessarily Financial’ page on our website, we wanted to provide you with some useful resources to save you time and money, giving you more flexibility to go out and enjoy the things you love.
I don’t know about you, but life is becoming increasingly busy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m filling my time with productive business activities, unforgettable family moments and exciting, if not sometimes testing, sport related challenges; but I still have ‘life admin’ to tackle. If you’ve read my book, ‘the Dream Retirement’, you’ll know that I manage my time very effectively, and split my week into very specific categories. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE. But what if I could save myself even more time? And maybe a little money to boot?
Technology is moving at a faster rate than we have ever seen. But rather than shirk it, or fear it, embracing it will often make your life easier. The most precious gift you can give someone is time, so make sure that you bestow this upon your loved ones and yourselves whenever you can. To help with this, I’ve compiled my Top 12 Life Hacks: A series of online tools that will minimise your ‘life admin’, connect you more with the people around you, and save you money.
I don’t usually like to kick things off on a morbid note, but this first tool is really important if you’re going through a bereavement. Emotionally, this is a difficult time for anyone, so the last thing you need is the headache of having to call countless authorities, compile mountains of letters or make personal visits to the people who need to be made aware of your loss.
Brought to you by the government (they can get some things right) is Tell Us Once, where you can report a death to most Government organisations in one go. You will need to go online to do this, and require details such as the deceased’s National Insurance Number, address and date of birth. Once you’ve entered the information, Tell Us Once will notify HMRC, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Passport Office, the DVLA, the local council and public-sector pension schemes.
This will not only save you a huge amount of time and heartache, but it will also ensure that unexpected bills don’t appear on your doorstep and that any benefits are paid quickly to the correct people.
- Doodle- www.doodle.com
As I said earlier, life just seems to be getting busier and busier; not just for me, but for my friends too. I believe that it’s really important to stay in touch with your peers- after all, surrounding yourself with the people you love and having fun are the ingredients of life that make it worth living.
Trying to get all of my friends together, and agreeing on what we’re going to do, can sometimes feel like a full-time job! We all have so many different commitments and interests that setting a date is becoming increasingly difficult.
But rather than sending hundreds of emails and making hours’ worth of calls, I’ve discovered ‘Doddle’. This nifty tool allows groups of busy friends to propose, vote on and schedule dates and times to meet up. It’s helped me to see more of my friends and do things we all enjoy, plus I’ve saved a huge amount of time trying to organise our get-togethers!
- Drop.io (www.drop.io)
Once I’ve shared some incredible times with my friends, it’s great to keep the memories going by looking back over photos and videos of our fun times together. Whilst Facebook is a great mechanism for this, I’ve discovered an even better way of sharing our digital media.
Drop.io is a platform where you can upload pretty much anything – pictures, documents, audio/video – and share them with anyone, who can comment and collaborate within seconds. This means that me and my friends can build an online album of all of our memories and view them from wherever in the world we may be.
Like other cloud storage platforms, for example Drobox, this tool can also be used for business. This means that my team can also send me articles of interest, ideas they have for the company or designs that we can use in our marketing. We can all collaborate on these files too, so they can evolve and be developed without us all having to be in the same place at the same time.
- Seatwave (www.seatwave.com)
I love going to see live music, theatre and comedy shows. I don’t know if it’s being in the same room as my favourite celebrity, or the atmosphere that these professional gigs create, but I really enjoy spending my free time in this way.
But, from time to time, one of life’s unexpected moments comes into play and I have to cancel my plans. This can often mean that I not only have to forego my attendance, but face losing the money I’ve spent on my ticket (which, as you may know, can be rather pricey!)
Historically, I’ve asked around my friends to see if anyone would like to buy my ticket and go in my place, but this has had varying results. More often than not, it’s been unsuccessful and I’ve been out of pocket.
But Seatwave has helped me to find a buyer for my ticket and made sure that I don’t lose my money. Seatwave is an online marketplace, which lets fans buy and sell event tickets safely and easily. It’s really good to know that someone else will have the opportunity to see my favourite artist, and that I’m not having to pay for that privilege!
- Say No to 0870 (www.saynoto0870.com)
On the same money-saving vein, let’s talk about 0870 numbers. It really grinds my gears when I have to make a call to my utility provider, bank or holiday company and they give me their over-priced 0870 number. The money they make from these calls is scandalous, and I feel it’s unfair to penalise their customers by inflicting these costs.
But surely we’re lumbered with this trend and have to accept that we are going to have to pay to ask a simple question? Well, no, we’re not.
Say No To 0870 is a money-saving gem, which lists the geographical phone numbers of well-known companies, taking a hefty chunk off your call charges. This means that you can call the local or national office, rather than an international call centre. It’s a small check to make, but will save you money over the long-term. It’s especially handy if you run a business and your team ring 0870 numbers on a daily basis.
- Which? (www.which.co.uk)
The next tool on the list is a name you’ve probably heard of. Which? Is a well marketed service, synonymous with the ‘free guides’ they produce, which can help you save money and learn valuable skills. Whether you’re looking for PC How-To Guides, or the best deal on a new car, Which? Can help.
Which? Is a trusted, independent consumer website that reviews everything and anything to give buyers a better deal. Before you make your next big purchase, I would strongly encourage you to visit Which? First to see if you could save money, but secondly because it’s also a valuable resource if you want to learn about the latest technology, how to grow fruit and vegetables, or where to travel in the UK- the list is endless!
Not only will Which? Save you money, but their free guides will also help you to keep you mind active, develop new skills and learn more about the world around you. If you are retired, these qualities are key to your mental wellbeing, so even more reason to take a look at this invaluable website.
- Evernote (www.evernote.com )
If I want to achieve anything, I must make a list. I want to make sure that not only do I cover everything I need, but also that it gets done! At work, I use a purpose-built time planner for this, as do all of my team, but at home I’ve found a really useful website called ‘Evernote’.
Evernote is an infinite notebook that lets you store and search for things like shopping lists, travel plans and wedding checklists all for free. You can of course use an Excel or Word document to do this too, but I really like the fact that all of my lists are in one place and not split over several documents. Having these lists online also means that I can’t lose them if my computer crashes, or I accidentally delete them!
Planning your time is crucial, especially in this busy age we live in, but even better than that is to really focus your time by plotting out exactly what you need to do. This will make your time more productive and efficient.
- Split Your Ticket (www.splityourticket.co.uk )
At least 3 times per month I use the train, ordinarily to get to London. Over the 15 years or so that I’ve made the journey from Rutland to London, I’ve seen a rapid rise in prices. I don’t want to use this as a platform to talk about privatisation of the railways, but I do want to tell you that these increasing costs really get my goat!
Roughly one third of my business is conducted in the Capital, so travel for me is a necessity and I often cannot be selective about the times of day I make the commute. However, the ever-increasing cost of using the train did make me question if I should change my business model. But, I love seeing my clients in London, so I didn’t really want to have to do that.
Thankfully, a friend of mine recommended ‘Split Your Ticket’. This clever tool allows you to pay for your train ticket in cheap chunks while still staying on the same train. For example, if I were going from Kettering to London, I might buy a single from Kettering to Bedford and then another single from Bedford to London. It’s the exact same train, but costs me far less money!
So next time you’re planning a train journey, for work or pleasure, take a look at ‘Split Your Ticket’: you can then spend the money you’ve saved on something enjoyable when you reach your destination!
- Adviceguide (www.adviceguide.org.uk)
As a financial planner, I will always recommend seeking professional help from the experts. There will be certain times in your life where you need guidance, and getting the right help can save you huge amounts of money; for example, an accountant can help with your tax, a solicitor with divorce or a financial planner with investment growth and risk.
But your health is also something that could be hugely improved through professional expertise. Nutritionists, personal trainers and mental wellness coaches can all play a significant role in helping you to live out a rich, healthy and long life.
Adviceguide is your one-stop shop for all of the experts I’ve touched upon. Whether you need to know how to legally change your name or what exercises can help alleviate arthritis, this website, provided by Citizens Advice, will point you towards people in the know, for free.
- Camel, Camel, Camel (https://uk.camelcamelcamel.com/)
Amazon, the online wonder-shop, has become my first point of call for a host of things I need in my life. From bike pumps to birthday balloons, Amazon already saves me time by having everything I want in one place. But am I always getting the best price?
If you are a regular Amazon user, you may have started to notice that next to the price of your item, Amazon shows you how much cheaper (or more expensive) it was previously. It’s a very canny sales device to show you how much you’ve saved, but is this always accurate, or could you get it even cheaper?
Camel, Camel, Camel (slightly absurd name I agree) shows you the price history of anything on Amazon and alerts you when the price drops. You can even upload your entire Amazon wish list directly, so your alerts are personalised to your needs.
If you are a habitual Amazon shopper, this tool could save you large sums of money over the course of a year, so it’s well worth a look.
- Stickk (www.stickk.com)
You can’t get anywhere in life without a goal. In my business, as well as my personal life, I set myself regular goals to help me get to where I want to be. I also constantly monitor these goals, to make sure I’m on track. Since I’ve started to do this, I’ve achieved far more than I could have hoped: My business has grown year on year, I’ve lost 3 stone and I’m actually happier in my life than ever before.
But sticking to goals can be very hard, especially if you’re trying to complete them alone. Motivation and dedication will always naturally fade, so it’s important to have something in your life to keep you on track.
If you’re struggling to stick to your goals, Stickk is your new best friend. This clever tool makes use of commitment contracts to empower you to better your lifestyle. It constantly reminds you of where you want to be, how you’ve planned to get there and shows you what progress you’re making. It might sound like having a constant nagging in your ear, but trust me, it works!
- Fitday (www.fitday.com )
In conjunction with goals, it only seems right that I talk specifically about your health-oriented aims. As I said in the last point, my goal-tracking strategy has helped me to lose weight, lead a healthier lifestyle and actually feel (maybe look- you tell me) 10 years younger.
When you start a ‘health-kick’ you will often feel like you can take on the world: you push yourself at the gym, you eat lots of green food that you’ve never heard of and you tell anyone who’ll listen how amazing you feel. Sadly, that enthusiasm can quickly evaporate and you’re back to crying into a tub of chocolate fudge ice-cream.
But that won’t be you anymore. Thanks to the Fitday website, you will be able to track your diet and weight loss through a journal, which will constantly remind you of how well you’re doing. Writing down your achievements will subconsciously make you want to achieve more. If you don’t continue to contribute to your journal, you will feel guilty. It’s a good guilt, as it’ll keep you on track!
Fitday also gives you access to a personal dietician and a plethora of free articles on nutrition and weight loss, to inspire your journey and give you some guidance, tips and address some common concerns.
If you are serious about creating a healthier and longer life, Fitday will be by your side, making sure that happens.