The global finance chief of Starbucks Troy Alstead announced that the company “looks forward” to paying more tax after it was revealed that it had paid just £8.6 million this week despite earnings of £398 million the previous year. A quarter of the chain’s 600 UK cafés are said to be running at a loss, this allegedly due to overly aggressive expansion in the early days of the chain’s arrival in the UK. The UK division of the company has to pay a 6pc royalty charge to the Starbucks regional headquarters in the Netherlands, which is considered very high within the industry as it is more than what most companies charge franchises.

Starbucks’s tax-related issues aside, in September it was reported that coffee has increased in price by a fifth in the last two years following speculators hoarding last year’s harvest and driving it up as a result.

So what can you do if you’re a fancy coffee aficionado but finding yourself a little out of pocket as a result of your habit? Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your caffeine cravings but still save money.

  • Go for something smaller – If you always go for a big old cup of coffee, why not opt for something a little less big? While it might not give you such a high dose of caffeine in one go as a larger size would, it’s certain to save you a not insignificant amount if you’re a regular consumer of coffee.
  • Cut back on the cakes – Although you could argue that you can’t coffee like that made at certain chains anywhere else, their cake, biscuit and other baked good offerings are often somewhat more replaceable. While most coffeehouses will frown on your bringing in food from elsewhere (some will allow it if you purchases a drink, however), you can always buy your snack – and eat it – elsewhere.
  • Get a loyalty card – If you really must continue to maintain your coffee purchasing habits more or less as they are, it may be worth getting a loyalty card if your favourite coffeehouse chain has one. This way you should at least be able to get something back for all the money you spend there.
  • Try somewhere else – Perhaps one of the most obvious options but a sensible one nonetheless. While you might not want to go to a bare basics café, independent coffee houses that aren’t part of big franchises can be a great find. Usually cheaper than the latter and offering their own unique selection of coffees, teas and cakes (often homemade), there’s definitely not harm in trying one out.

For many people, going on holiday is one of life’s little luxuries. If you are lucky then you might go on holiday once every year. For many however a holiday every two to three years or even less frequent is all that can be budgeted for.

A holiday can be very important to relieve stress and recharge your batteries so that when you come back you are ready to get on with the rigours of everyday life. When looking to book a holiday it is obviously very important to get a good deal so that you have more money to potentially use when you are at your destination. Hopefully these money saving tips will help.

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Price Comparison

It’s very important to get quotes from a range of sources. Your local travel agent will be very helpful in trying to get you the best price, just be mindful that some of the travel agents are owned by the larger tour operators and may be inclined to push their own products first. Once you have been given a quote do not book there and then, take the quote home and then phone the tour operator direct to see if they have any discounts for direct customers. It is also worthwhile trying to build the holiday itinerary yourself. Get a price direct from the airline and hotel to compare. Many companies these days have price matching policies and will try to match any price you have whether your price is from one of their competitors or if you have tailor-made it yourself. As long as all of the components of the holiday are the same they will be keen to get your business.

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Going All Inclusive

If you have children it may be cost effective to go All Inclusive. This way all of your food and drink will be paid for and unlimited ice lollies will obviously please the kids too! All Inclusive hotels tend to cater better for families so there should be plenty of facilities and activities for the kids leaving you to relax by the pool.

Out in Resort

When out in resort make sure you ask the price of things such as taxi rides before you get in. You may end up going the long way round to your destination and being overcharged. Activities and excursions are often cheaper when bought in packages therefore it’s always good practice to plan ahead what you will be doing during your stay.

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Advantages of using a Credit Card abroad

So long as you know your limit and have the funds back home to cover the expenditure it may also be beneficial to use your credit card for all purchases whilst you are away. Using your credit card removes the anxiety of carrying around lots of cash or travellers cheques. It will be also covered if the unfortunate happens and you lose your wallet. Your credit card company may also have an awards or points scheme for every time you use the card so you can happily build up reward points safe in the knowledge that you have the funds at home to pay the balance on your return.

In the summer of 2012, London will be the focus of the world’s attention, due to the 2012 Olympoiad being held in the Uk’s capital. With more than 300 events in 26 different sports, there is likely to be something for everyone to enjoy, even those who may not usually consider themselves to be fans. The search for Olympic tickets has been a difficult one for many, thanks to the millions of applications that have been received, and it’s a sad fact that a vast number of people will end up disappointed. As the old saying goes, you can’t fit a quart into a pint pot, so their failure to obtain tickets is perhaps not a great surprise.

In the midst of a difficult recession, many of those who have managed to purchase tickets have been questioning whether they can justify the expense. Anyone who has been struggling to make ends meet will understandably debate whether buying them should even be an option in the current economic climate. For some who tried to “game” the allocation system and apply for hundreds of tickets, at least one has had a nasty shock with the cost exceeding the credit limit on his credit card.

Making savings or making memories?

While this is perfectly understandable, it should be pointed out that the Olympic Games only comes around every four years. Therefore, the cost of the tickets may be seen as something of a one-off expense. London last hosted the event in 1948, so this could almost be described as a once in a lifetime experience. As always, the bottom line is that the word ‘affordable’ is in the eye of the beholder. While some people are struggling to get by, there are plenty of others who can justify the expense with ease. If you are fortunate enough to obtain Olympic tickets, whether they’re for the athletics final or a preliminary round of the volleyball, you have to make the decision on whether you’re prepared to pay for them.

In many of the events, there is a sliding scale of ticket prices, so no-one has to pay the highest costs if they don’t want to. The lower end prices are actually extremely affordable for most people, even those on a tight budget, so as a one-off spectacular, the expense could surely be worthwhile. Whether seating or views are up to the “budget” prices remains to be seen however. The Games were under heavy pressure to make a certain number of seats “affordable” although not every event featured tickest at the lowest price bracket.

With the rather ludicrous restriction on brand usage though (I probably even shouldn’t be mentioning the word “London Olympics” and am certainly not allowed to upload any photographs I happen to take of the ne event I’ve got tickets to, being able to witness the games in person is possibly one of the only ways to keep a lasting memory of the whole event.

Tube station platform Getting to and from work can be surprisingly expensive, especially if you’re attempting to stretch the pounds. If   you’re having a particularly tight month, you may want to temporarily rethink your transport arrangements, or  perhaps even make more permanent changes in order to save money in the long term. With less money availble from wage increases and ever-increasing transport costs, more people than ever are seeing their monhtly wages eroded by the simple act of getting in to work to earn a living! Even well-off households can pay over four thousands punds a year on an Annual Season Ticket from a commuter-belt area to get into London, as for people with bad credit issues, it’s even more difficult. So what sort of things can you do to try and make sure your saving money on your daily commute to and from work?

  • Car Pool

The cost of owning, insuring and running a car can get pretty high, especially with today’s fuel prices being what they are. In order to attempt to bypass this problem, many people share cars to and from work, pitching in with fuel costs and thus saving money overall. However, care should be taken to use different drivers and cars so that one person doesn’t get stuck as the designated driver all the time.

  • Get a Travel Pass

A bus or rail pass can really help you save money if you use one of these methods of transport to get to work every day. Offering great savings, you can also often get additional discounts if you fall into one of a number of specific categories. Remember to always fill in a query/cliam form if there are delays – a recent survey fund that rail companies were making huge savings by not having to compensate travellers for delayed journeys!

  • Walk

Provided where you work isn’t too far out of the way, you could try walking. Walking is great exercise (although admittedly less fun in bad weather), and is probably one of the cheapest methods of transport available since it’s absolutely free. Additionally, if you can’t bear walking both ways then you can always just try walking one way.

Cycling to work

  • Cycle

While cycling does require you to make an initial investment in the form of a bike, they aren’t that expensive (and certainly not compared to cars or a lifetime of train tickets). Much like walking, bikes are great exercise, and can get you further than you might get on foot without getting worn out. Bikes do require the occasional bit of maintenance, but again this pales in comparison to that of other road-faring vehicles.

  • Sleepover!

Why not sleep over in your office? You may laugh, but a surprising number of workplaces have taken to offering quiet, comfortable areas and even proper beds for their employees to sleep in should they decide to have a particularly late one. Whether it’s a power nap half way through the day or a full night’s kip, napping at work has actually been shown to be rather beneficial (and, of course, by not having to travel anywhere at all you save money).

Pet cat

Image source: petforums.co.uk

Earlier this month, the UK headlines revealed that the country’s GDP has dropped for two consecutive quarters, meaning the UK is once again in official recession status. This means the majority of people have no choice but to tighten their belts and spend less on the things that aren’t essential.

Many people take great comfort in pets but it would seem that these furry friends might soon become a commodity that only the rich can afford to keep; at least that’s what the latest press release from Cats Protection – a feline charity based in East Sussex – suggests.

Cats Protection logo

Image credit: fulwood.com

“The recession has been disastrous for the UK’s pets and, following the latest news of the UK entering a double dip recession, sadly the situation for cats shows no signs of improving”,  said the charity’s Chief Executive Peter Hepburn. These three points taken from the Cats Protection press release support Hepburn’s concern:

  • The number of people looking to adopt a cat fell by 31% (5,016 (2009) to 3,471 (2011));
  • People wanting to give up a cat for adoption meanwhile increased by 14% (8,308 (2009) to 9,459 (2011)) and
  • There was a 7% increase in the number of people reporting stray cats  (6,924 (2009) to 7,426 (2011)).

These statistics were determined from the calls made to the charity’s main 03000 12 12 12 helpline number only, meaning the cat-astrophe could be even greater than these figures suggests, since each of the organisation’s 260 individual cat adoption centres receives hundreds of direct calls each year also.

It is hardly surprising that people are struggling to meet the costs of cats during these economically difficult times. A person struggling to meet their monthly electricity bill is hardly going to welcome the expenses of pet food and veterinary bills!

Would you go without in order to feed your pet? Would you be more inclined to adopt a cat if the economy was in a better state? Tell us in the comments below. 

You can read Cats Protection’s full press release here.

An increasing number of people are falling into the bad credit bracket as the costs of living continue to grow. It is all too easy to panic when you’re classified as being ‘in the red’ but there a number of steps that can be taken to alleviate some of the stress that comes with an adverse credit score.

This infographic – sourced from budgetable.com – offers five great tips for those with a poor credit rating:

The Bad Credit Survival Guide

Athletics track Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Docklands area of London became one of the most rundown in the whole country. The decline of the capital’s river-borne industry had a devastating effect on unemployment levels, and the subsequent lack of investment in the region merely made the situation worse. It was a depressing part of a world-renowned international business hub, and something had to be done.
The 1980s redevelopment of the Docklands area transformed huge chunks of the vicinity into high-tech centres of cutting edge commerce, and within a decade it was hard to even imagine some of the squalor that had once existed. The stunning Canary Wharf development includes One Canada Square, once the tallest building in London, and stands as a monument to the optimism of the whole project.
In 2005, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2012 Games to London, and a whole new period of investment and construction was set in motion. The new stadium is located in Stratford, in the east of the city and close to Docklands, and it will welcome crowds of up to 80,000 when the sporting fiesta gets under way. There are also several other venues nearby which have been specially built for the event, including the Aquatics Centre, the Velopark and the Riverbank Arena.
In the seven years since London’s bid was declared a successful one, there has been the usual debate raging over whether hosting the Olympics is a benefit or a curse. Perhaps predictably, opinions are polarized about the issue, and almost everyone seems to have strong convictions about why they’re in the right. Leaving that to one side, the most common divide seems to be about whether the investment will be a temporary cash injection for the benefit of visitors or whether it will be of long-term value to the whole area.
The organising committee has been quick to point out that a significant proportion of the money being invested is spent on lasting projects that will provide new infrastructures. They point to new homes, educational facilities, sporting amenities and transport networks as evidence of the positives. And although there are plenty of cynics that won’t be in hearty agreement, it has to be said the construction work, and the subsequent supply industries, has provided vast numbers of employment opportunities in a traditionally depressed part of the city.
On the negative side, the cost of the Olympic Games is huge, and if there aren’t as many long-term advantages to be seen afterwards there will be an enormous outcry. The previous legacies of Olympic developments have also left a bitter taste in hosting country’s mouths; the Barcelona Olympic development has been left to ruin following Spain’s financial crisis and even the Sydney Olympic facilities (dubbed one of the best Olympic Games) were built in such an isolated brownfield area (with no main transport links) that they were left largely unattended after the Olympiad had finished, tying up large sums of cash for maintenance and potential redevlopment.

Criticisms also have abounded for th etransport links; Atlanta was nagtively reviewed for it’s over-commercialism and the insufficient public transport fopr the crowds. With London barely able to cope with the daily rush hour and businesses being urged to close doors throughout the period (a vain hope in an economic crisis), it is less than clear which end of the budget column the UK will end up in as a result of the 2012 London games.