The Alternative Guide to Property Investment - Review

Review: The Alternative Guide to Property Investment by Frazer Fearnhead

Today I’m reviewing a guide to property crowdfunding that has just been published by Frazer Fearnhead. The full title is The Alternative Guide to Property Investment: How to Build Your Property Portfolio via the New Property Crowdfunding Platforms.

The book is available in both hard copy and Kindle e-book form. I bought the e-book version, partly because (I admit it) I’m a cheapskate, but also because I wanted to get my hands on it as quickly as possible.

For those who may not know, Frazer is the founder and managing director of The House Crowd, one of the UK’s leading property crowdfunding platforms. In his book, he explains what property crowdfunding is and the pros and cons compared with other forms of investment. The book is organized in twenty-three main chapters (most of them quite short), as follows:

  1. Why Invest in Property at All?
  2. How Much Diversification is Sensible?
  3. Why Property Investment is the Best Vehicle to Supplement Your Pension
  4. Establishing Your Own Investment Criteria
  5. Capital Growth vs Cash Flow
  6. Residential vs Commercial
  7. How to Beat the Averages and Give Yourself the Best Chance of Making a Successful Property Investment
  8. The UK Property Market – 2017 and Beyond
  9. Passive Property Investment
  10. A Brief History of the Alternative Finance Industry
  11. All About Equity Crowdfunding
  12. How Does Property Crowdfunding Compare with Traditional Property Investment?
  13. All About Peer-to-Peer Secured Lending
  14. Commonly Asked Questions About Property Crowdfunding
  15. Comparison: Equity Crowdfunding vs Peer-to-Peer
  16. What Returns Can You Expect?
  17. Taxation
  18. How to Decide Whether Crowdfunding is Right for You
  19. Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Property Crowdfunding Platform
  20. Using Your Pension to Invest via Crowdfunding
  21. Crowdfunding Your Own Property Deals
  22. FCA Regulated Companies
  23. In Conclusion




My Review

The Alternative Guide to Property Investment is well written and neatly presented, with illustrations where relevant. It covers most things someone new to property crowdfunding would want to know. As I have been investing this way for several years (using The House Crowd and other platforms such as Property Partner and Crowdlords) quite a lot of the information was familiar to me already. Nonetheless, it is valuable to get Frazer’s perspective as one of the pioneers of property crowdfunding, and there is plenty of food for thought even for seasoned property investors.

Clearly, as the MD of The House Crowd, Frazer has a vested interest in promoting the attractions of property crowdfunding. Nonetheless, he gives a balanced view of the pros and cons and is not afraid to state that it does carry a degree of risk. I agree though with his view that people should not automatically rule it out because of this. While property crowdfunding is not as safe as putting your money in a bank savings account, the potential returns are much higher. And a variety of safeguards exist, including the fact that most property crowdfunding (except for the most speculative development projects) is secured by bricks and mortar. But of course, you should only invest in property crowdfunding as part of a balanced portfolio.

Another aspect of this book I liked is that it explains the range of investment opportunities now available in property crowdfunding. These include equity crowdfunding – the original and most familiar form of property crowdfunding – where investors purchase shares in a property and receive a proportion of the rent paid as well as capital appreciation when the property is sold. But the book also covers secured lending – an increasingly popular option – where investors provide cash to property owners and get the capital and interest back at the end of the loan period (typically 6 to 12 months). And finally, the book discusses property development projects, which offer greater potential profits but also involve bigger risks.

Another important topic covered in the book is taxation, and specifically how property crowdfunding can be used to make the most of your tax-free allowances. The latter include savings interest, dividends, and capital gains. This is a feature of property crowdfunding that can be highly advantageous for investors.

If you are new to property crowdfunding, The Alternative Guide to Property Investment will provide a concise and easily digestible introduction to this field, from someone who really does know this business inside and out. The asking price is modest, and all profits from sales are going to the charity Lifeshare who work with the homeless and vulnerable in Manchester (where Frazer was born).

If you have any comments about The Alternative Guide to Property Investment (or property crowdfunding more generally) please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them. You might also enjoy reading my earlier post How to Profit from Property Crowdfunding, which sets out the basics of how property crowdfunding works.

Disclosure: I have a range of investments with The House Crowd and other property crowdfunding platforms, including development loans, secured lending and equity crowdfunding. I am also a shareholder in The House Crowd. I firmly believe that property crowdfunding can be a worthwhile addition to any investor’s portfolio, and have put my own money where my mouth is!

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The Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel - A Great Place to Stay in North Wales

The Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel – A Great Place to Stay in North Wales

I have just got back from a long weekend in North Wales. I stayed at the Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel in Talsarnau (near Harlech). It’s a place I’ve been visiting regularly for around twenty years now, and I always feel relaxed and reinvigorated after staying there.

Tremeifion is owned and run by a couple named Barbara and Kevin. Barbara is an amazing vegetarian cook. Even if (like me) you’re not a strict vegetarian, it is certainly no hardship to eat the delicious food she prepares, using many ingredients from the hotel’s own gardens.

Tremeifion has amazing views across the estuary towards the Italianate resort of Portmeirion (famously the location of cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner) and beyond that to the Lleyn Peninsula. There are often beautiful sunsets that you can watch from the conservatory or dining room in the evening. Here is a photo I took of one, although it’s hard to do justice to it with a mobile phone camera.

The hotel is in a quiet, peaceful location. It’s on a hill just above the village of Talsarnau. There is one pub in Talsarnau and not a lot else. It’s definitely not a place you would visit for the night life! But it’s a wonderful place for relaxing and chilling out.

Here are a few more interesting things about Tremeifion…

  • The owners have a dog themselves and welcome guests’ dogs, as long as they are well behaved.
  • They don’t have television (no reception) but guests are welcome to watch DVDs in the lounge if they wish.
  • It is a small hotel with only three rooms that are regularly used, so you do tend to get to know your fellow guests quite well. On my latest visit I met two ladies who I only discovered as I was leaving were former members of the England women’s cricket team. Hello, Laura and Lucy!
  • Although the village, Talsarnau, is small, it does have its own railway station, which is on the scenic Cambrian line. Trains run to Harlech, Barmouth and beyond in one direction, and to Criccieth and Pwllheli in the other. On my latest visit I bought a one-day ranger ticket using my Senior Railcard for around £8 and enjoyed wonderful views of the coast and countryside travelling up and down the line.
  • As from this year Barbara is only providing full evening meals at the weekend (Friday and Saturday nights), although guests can stay from Thursday and leave on Sunday if they wish. Full cooked breakfasts (different every day) are of course on offer every day during your stay.
  • If you arrive on Thursday you could always dine on Thursday night at Portmeirion, which is only 10-15 minutes away by car.
  • It is possible at certain times of year to book the whole hotel on a self-catering basis. The owners are also building a yurt in a secluded part of the three-acre gardens. This should be a stunning place to stay once it is open.

You can find out much more about Tremeifion on the hotel website. If you end up visiting yourself, do say hello to Barbara and Kevin from me. Check out the visitors book as well to get some idea how often I visit the place!

And of course, if there is anything you would like to ask me about Tremeifion, please do post it below.

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12 Great Ways to Save Money on Amazon

12 Great Ways to Save Money on Amazon!

I admit I’m a bit of an Amazon addict. I love their huge range of products and the fact that you can read reviews of the products concerned from actual buyers. I’ve always found their customer service first rate as well.

Prices on Amazon are generally competitive, but over the years I’ve discovered a variety of ways to ensure you get the best value for money from them. So here are my top twelve tips for saving money on Amazon…

      1. Always search for the product you are thinking of ordering on eBay as well. Often you will find the same product there, and sometimes cheaper as well. Of course, you will want to check that the eBay seller has good feedback and the delivery charges are reasonable.
      2. If you’re going with Amazon, getting free delivery has become trickier in recent months. In general, though, if your total order value is over £20, delivery is free of charge. If you’re just under the £20 threshold, it can make sense to buy a small item to bring it to the magic £20. Before I joined Amazon Prime (see below) I often bought a pen for this purpose. I can always use more pens!
      3. If you can’t find a small item for the right price, visit Filler Checker. At this website you can enter whatever price you require to bring your order up to the free delivery threshold, and it will then display items you can add to your order to achieve this.
      4. You might also want to think about signing up with Amazon Prime. This service requires the payment of an annual fee, but for this you get free next-day delivery of millions of products on Amazon (and same day delivery in some major cities). There is a growing range of additional benefits for Prime members as well, including instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, free borrowing of thousands of e-books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and secure, unlimited photo storage with anywhere access. If you’re a regular Amazon customer it’s well worth considering Amazon Prime, especially as you can try it free for 30 days.
      5. Prices on Amazon go up and down to a surprising extent. Only last week I was looking at a snazzy digital radio for under £50. I went back the next day and found it had gone up to over £100! To keep track of the price of any item you are interested in, you can sign up at the oddly named Camel Camel Camel and they will notify you by email if and when the price of your chosen product falls below a certain level.
      6. If you’re unsure whether a particular product is good value or not, Camel Camel Camel can tell you that as well. Enter any product details and it will show you the price that particular product has been selling at on Amazon over the preceding weeks and months. You can also install their ‘Camelizer’ browser extension (Chrome and Firefox) to view the price history of any item on Amazon.
      7. Check out the Today’s Deals link at the top of most Amazon pages. Items listed here include ‘Deal of the Day’ and ‘Warehouse Deals’. The latter are pre-owned and refurbished items, and you can pick up some real bargains.
      8. If there is something you buy regularly – e.g. vitamin pills or nappies – you may be able to save money by placing a regular order using Subscribe and Save. Subscribers typically get a 5% discount on the usual selling price, and you can of course cancel at any time.
      9. Check on cashback sites such as Quidco and Top Cashback to see if you can get cash back on your Amazon purchase by clicking through a link on the platform in question. Cashback tends to be available on specific categories of product rather than across the board, but if you’re thinking of buying a large product it’s always worth checking whether cashback may be available for it. See my recent blog post about cashback sites for more information.
      10. And even if you’ve earned cashback on Quidco or Top Cashback from purchases at other stores, you may be able to take your cashback in the form of Amazon vouchers. Typically you get a few percent more this way than if you ask for money.
      11. Lots of market research and survey sites also offer Amazon vouchers as a payment option. People for Research is one that I have done well from myself.
      12. Leave reviews of the products you buy on Amazon. Not only is this public-spirited, it may lead to an invitation to become a Vine Voice (as I am) and get products free in exchange for reviewing them. See my earlier blog post for more information about reviewing for Amazon Vine.

I hope you find the list above helpful. If you have any other tips for saving money on Amazon, please do share them below!

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Two More REasons for Matched Betrtors to Sign Up with Profit Accumulator

Two More Reasons for Matched Bettors to Sign Up With Profit Accumulator

I’ve talked about matched betting a few times on Pounds and Sense. It’s one of my favourite methods for making a sideline income.

For those who may not know, matched betting is a risk-free money-making method that involves (legally) taking advantage of bookmaker special offers. By this means you can generate a guaranteed profit for no risk, regardless of how the event/s you are betting on pan out. You can read my post about how matched betting works here, and my post about why I believe matched betting is particularly suitable for over-sixties here.

Although it’s not essential to subscribe to a matched betting advisory service, if you are new to betting in particular it is highly advisable. The service I recommend is Profit Accumulator.

About Profit Accumulator

Profit Accumulator is a membership website that provides in-depth tutorials on how to apply matched betting strategies to make money. They also provide special “oddsmatching” software to find suitable bets and calculators to work out the necessary stakes (which is of course crucial).

Profit Accumulator have also just added two new services to their Platinum Membership. Previously these were only available to people playing an extra fee of around £15 a month for Platinum Plus membership (in addition to the normal Platinum members’ fee). The services in question are Acca Catcher and Match Catcher.

These two services are both aimed predominantly at people who have completed at least some of the introductory offers and are now looking to diversify their matched betting income.

Acca Catcher is designed to help members profit from refund offers on accumulators. In these you select four or more events to bet on and all must result as predicted for the bets to succeed. Some bookmakers have an offer where if one leg of your accumulator fails they refund your stakes. By carefully calculating your stakes you may be able to guarantee a set profit however your bet turns out. Acca Catcher takes you step by step through finding and exploiting such opportunities, showing you exactly how much to stake and when.

Match Catcher is software that helps users capitalize on horse racing refunds. Again, some bookies offer refunds if a horse you bet on comes second (sometimes third as well). If you can get a close match between the back price and the lay price of such a horse, you can stake in such a way that you only make a very small loss whatever the outcome, and in addition get the refund when your chosen horse comes second or third. With racing refunds you won’t win every time, but overall you will make a steady profit.

At the time of writing Profit Accumulator Platinum Membership costs £17.99 a month, including these two additional services. You can also take out an initial free trial membership which includes two offers that should make you up to £45 in tax-free profits.

In my view if you are looking for a tax-free way to supplement your income, matched betting via Profit Accumulator is well worth considering. You can make over £1000 quite easily by doing the bookmaker welcome offers. After that there are so-called reload offers made by bookmakers to existing clients, and you can now also use Match Catcher and Acca Catcher to help you take advantage of racing refunds and accumulator offers.

If you have any questions about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

Note: As per my disclosure statement, I should like to make clear that as well as being a member of Profit Accumulator I am also an affiliate for them. If you join and become a paying member after following any of the links in this post, I will receive a commission for introducing you. This does not affect in any way the cost of the service to you or what you receive for your money.

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How to Boost Your ISA by up to £250!

How to Boost Your ISA by up to £250!

At the time of writing there is just over a week to the end of the 2016/17 ISA season. That is all the time you have left to make use of this year’s allowance of £15,240 before it is gone forever.

If you haven’t already used your allowance – and you have money available to invest, of course – it is therefore essential to take action now. Investing via an ISA means that any profits you make will be free of UK Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. And you won’t even have to declare it on your tax return, which if you’re anything like me will be a welcome simplification…

You can of course put your money into a cash ISA, but the rates of return on such accounts are currently derisory, and basic rate taxpayers now have a £1000 tax-free savings allowance anyway. The argument for investing in a cash ISA is therefore weak for most people, although if you think interest rates are likely to rise significantly in future there might still be a case for using one. Count me out, though 🙂

That leaves stocks and shares ISAs (and the new IFISAs, if you can find one). For most people this is likely to be the favoured choice at the moment. So in this post I wanted to reveal a way you can get a cash boost of up to £250 if you plan to invest in one of these.

The method in question is to use a cashback platform such as Top Cashback or Quidco. I wrote about cashback platforms in this blog post a while ago. Basically, the platforms rebate the commission they receive from ‘introducing’ you to a company if you click via a link on the platform. Obviously, you need to sign up for an account with the cashback platform itself before doing this. I highly recommend signing up with both Quidco and Top Cashback, even if you aren’t planning to invest in an ISA currently.



So What’s On Offer Right Now?

On Top Cashback one of the best offers comes from Fidelity. If you put £5000 or more into their Stocks and Shares ISA, you can get £105 cashback. You have to be a new customer and remain invested for a minimum of three months to get the cashback.

If you invest in a Shepherds Friendly Stocks and Shares ISA, an even more generous £126 cashback is on offer for a minimum £5000 investment. And you can earn as much as £210 if you set up monthly deposits instead, though to get the full amount you must put in £900 a month or more. Again, you must remain invested for a minimum of three months to receive the cashback.

Another offer on Top Cashback that’s well worth a look comes from the investment platform Nutmeg. They are currently offering a generous £200 cashback to anyone investing a lump sum of £5000 or more or an initial investment of £500 and monthly payments of at least £100. You will need to move rapidly on this, though, as this offer ends today. I expect there will still be an offer available tomorrow but it probably won’t be as generous. I am, incidentally, a fan of Nutmeg myself, and will be writing about their investment service soon.

Over on Quidco there are also some great offers. With Scottish Friendly you can get up to £215 cashback when you invest in their My Moneybuilder ISA. To get the maximum you have to invest at least £1000 a month, though.

Nutmeg are also on Quidco. Their current offering is £150 with the same conditions as Top Cashback (see above). At present, then, Top Cashback offers slightly more cashback on Nutmeg than Quidco, but this can change by the day, so it’s important to check and compare both.

Finally, Shepherds Friendly are on Quidco too. Currently £150 cashback is on offer there for a minimum £5000 investment. And you can earn up to a chart-topping £250 if you set up monthly deposits, although to get the full amount you must invest £900 a month or more.

Obviously you shouldn’t invest in an ISA purely for the cashback on offer, but if you are thinking of doing so anyway it makes sense to do it through a cashback site and get the benefit of the extra money available.

Good luck, and if you have any comments or queries, please do leave them below.

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Earn a Sideline Income as a TV or Movie Extra

Earn a Sideline Income as a TV or Movie Extra

Today I’m featuring an opportunity that won’t make you rich, but can certainly generate a useful sideline or even full-time income, and provide a lot of fun into the bargain.

As an extra, you’ll make some money, get a chance to see how movies and TV shows are made, and even become immortalized on screen.

This is something I have personal experience of. At one time I belonged to an amateur theatre company, and through that got the chance to take part in various productions, including a fire safety video for British Gas (I played the good guy who got up and left his desk the moment the alarm went off). I also had a small role in a cult horror film. I was in two scenes, and in the second met a gory end at the hands of a deranged gardener!

In principle, almost anyone can become an extra, and that clearly includes older people as well as young. It will help if you live near a film or TV studio, or a popular location for filming. Many gigs are for a single day, but occasionally they can go on for a week or longer. Some extras in long-running TV serials continue to work on the show over a period of years.

You don’t need to have gone to stage school to be an extra, and you definitely don’t have to be ultra-attractive. Indeed, that can be a drawback. Extras are generally required for crowd scenes or to provide background, e.g. as the main actors hold a conversation in a bar. In most cases extras are expected to look average and normal (for whatever may be the setting), so they won’t distract viewers from the stars.

Depending on their appearance, extras may also be asked to stand in for the main actors, e.g. in long shots or (conversely) in certain close-ups. This type of work pays better than simply appearing in crowd scenes.

One thing you do need as an extra is stamina. The work can involve a lot of waiting around, sometimes in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, or in the open air exposed to the weather. You may be required to stand, sit, or repeat some motion for hours on end, until the director is finally satisfied with the shot. A typical working day is 10–12 hours, and on a music video it can be even longer.



How To Get Work

It’s possible to get work applying directly to TV and film production companies, but most people get into this business by joining a casting agency such as Universal Extras.

In common with other agencies, Universal Extras charges a registration fee, but this is quite modest. The cost in their case is £25.00 plus VAT for two years, or £30.00 plus VAT for four years. Full-time students can join for free, however.

Although anyone can register as a would-be extra, there are certain minimum requirements you must fulfil. Clearly you will need to have free time available during the week, so this opportunity is not suitable for those in full-time work. You will also need to be punctual and reliable. Flexibility is important too, as shoots can start very early and finish late. And you will need to be courteous and considerate to everyone involved in the production. Leading actors and actresses can get away with being prima donnas, extras can’t!

If all that sounds like you, you can fill in an application on the agency’s website. You will be asked to complete a profile questionnaire, including basic information such as height and weight and contact details. You will also be asked about any special skills or experience you may have, from horse-riding to fencing, piano-playing to juggling. Clearly if you have any such talents they may lead to additional work, but don’t claim skills you don’t have, as you WILL get found out!

The other thing you will be expected to provide is photos. As a minimum you will be asked for head-and-shoulders and full body shots. These are clearly very important, as they will be used by casting directors when choosing extras for their productions. It is therefore important that the quality is as high as possible, so it’s best to use a high-quality DSLR camera. Some agencies will not accept photos taken on mobile phones. And they definitely don’t want selfies!

Once you are registered with an agency they will keep your details (and photos) on file, and contact you when an opportunity matching your description comes in. You will then receive a call sheet from the production office and told when and where to report.

Universal Extras, mentioned above, is one of the best-known UK agencies, but there are of course others you can apply to as well. Three other possibilities are Studio Extras, Film Extras , and Star Now.

  • If you’re outside the UK, your best bet is to search online for “film extras” plus the name of your country and/or nearest big city. In the US, by far the best-known agency is Central Casting, which has offices in New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles. You can find out more (and apply) via their website at CentralCasting.com.

On the Day

Your call sheet will tell you what time to arrive on the shoot and whom you should report to (on a film set this will typically be the 2nd Assistant Director or extras captain). On day shoots a 7 am start is not unusual.

When you arrive you will meet your contact and be given your “chit” or “salary voucher”. You will be required to fill this in and keep it with you at all times, to ensure you are paid everything that is due to you.

Before filming begins, you will be shown to the rest area where you’ll stay when you’re not on set. This is a good place to relax, read a book and meet other extras before your shoot. A runner or Assistant Director (AD) will come and collect you when you are needed for a scene.

According to the type of production you are taking part in (fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, period drama, etc.) you may be required to visit various departments before filming starts, such as costume, make-up and/or weaponry.

Once on set for your scene you will normally be directed by an AD. They’ll tell you what they expect and give you an opportunity to rehearse before filming starts. Once they’re happy that you and your fellow extras are capable of doing what they want, rehearsing will stop and the main actors will be brought on.

Once everyone is on set and in place the AD will usually shout “Background Action!” This means that you start doing exactly what you have been rehearsing. “Action!” will then be shouted to give the main actors their cue to start.

At the end of the scene the director will call “Cut!” or just “Thanks, everyone!” to let you know that the scene and filming has ended. Don’t stop acting until you hear these words. More often than not the scene will be repeated several times until the director is happy with the outcome.

Here are a few more things to avoid while on set…

  • Rushing up and talking to the actors
  • Asking anyone for an autograph
  • Taking photos (cameras and mobile phones are normally banned on set)
  • Staring at the main actors
  • Staring into the camera

Remember that the actors are there to do a job, like you, so they need to avoid distractions.

At the end of filming a scene, you will be taken back to the rest area until you are needed again. You may be asked to take part in many shots such as close-ups, long shots and mid-shots.

At the end of the day do not leave until you have been signed out and completed the necessary paperwork to ensure you get paid. And don’t forget to return all props and costumes given to you!



What Does It Pay?

Rates of pay vary depending on the type of work, but they are governed by nationally negotiated agreements.

The Film Artistes Association (FAA), for example, stipulates a daily basic rate for extras of £84 for a nine-hour working day including an hour for lunch. That is clearly not a fortune, but the basic rate may be supplemented in various ways.

For example, if your role requires a change of clothes or a haircut, you will be entitled to an extra £12.50. If you get wet in a scene involving mock rain, there is a £19 additional payment. And if you have to fire a gun or say a word such as “Hi!” that entitles you to an extra £25 in your pay cheque.

You will be paid even if, for one reason or another, your services are not required on the day. In addition, cooked meals are normally provided free of charge, including breakfast for early calls. A common source of conversation among extras is the quality of the catering!

Earnings can also be boosted in some cases by a “buyout”. This is a one-off lump sum paid to extras in lieu of royalties. In a few cases royalties may still be paid, which means you get a further fee every time the film, TV show or advertisement is aired. Royalty deals for extras are not nearly as common as they used to be, however.

You will normally receive payment four to six weeks after the shoot. Extras are regarded as self-employed, so no deductions are made for tax and National Insurance. Assuming you are hired via an agency they will take their cut, however. This is typically 15 percent of earnings, and there may be VAT to pay on this as well.

Closing Thoughts

If you have never considered being a film or TV extra before, I hope in this post to have whetted your appetite. As I said at the start, you are unlikely to make a fortune this way, but you can get a lot of fun and satisfaction from it.

In my view this is also an excellent sideline for home-based entrepreneurs, who often lead a rather solitary life. Being an extra will not only boost your income, in my experience it is great for meeting new and interesting people, and getting away from the computer for a while!

A few extras have been “discovered” this way and gone on to become genuine stars in their own right, but the great majority simply enjoy the work and the extra money it brings in. You will also have the fun of seeing yourself in films or TV shows, and pointing out the scenes you are in to your awestruck (or not) family and friends.

And finally, if you’re too shy to appear in front of the camera yourself, you can still make good money by allowing your home to be used as a location.

It’s a wrap, then!

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12 reasons Matched Betting is a Great Sideline for Over Sixties!

12 Reasons Matched Betting is a Great Sideline for Over Sixties!

Pounds and Sense aims to cover financial matters from an over 60s perspective. So today I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite moneymaking sidelines (or side hustles in the modern parlance) matched betting, and why I believe it is ideally suited to people in our age group.

I spoke about matched betting in this post a few weeks ago. To recap, it is a way of making risk-free cash by taking advantage of bookmaker special offers and promotions.

I have been matched betting on and off since last September and my total earnings to date stand at around £2000. I know for a fact that there are people making this amount every month using this method!

Here then are 12 reasons why I believe matched betting is something anyone in our age group should at least look into…

1. Older people typically have some time available during the day (as well as evenings and weekends). This is ideal for matched betting, as to take advantage of some opportunities you need to be around during the daytime.

2. Matched betting is tax-free, as it is regarded as a form of gambling (although done properly it isn’t). It won’t therefore generate any additional tax liability for you, or affect your eligibility for means-tested benefits.

3. Matched betting income cannot be taken into account by banks or building societies if you are applying for a mortgage. That can be a problem for younger people, but it won’t typically worry older folk.

4. Most older people are careful with their money and avoid taking needless risks with it. Other things being equal, they are less likely to be tempted from matched betting into gambling. Of course, if you have ever had a gambling problem in the past, it is probably best to avoid this particular activity.

5. Most older people have at least some savings. That is important, as you do need a small amount of capital to start matched betting. This money is not actually at risk, but it is needed to do the offers, and you can withdraw it at any time. If you have no savings at all, however, matched betting will be difficult for you.

6. Online bookmakers typically perform credit checks before allowing you to open an account. As an older person you are likely to have a long credit record, which will reassure them. Younger people sometimes find themselves being asked to jump through various additional hoops before they can open an account.

7. Also, my experience is that bookmakers tend to be less suspicious of older punters. If you are over 60 you will probably not fit the normal profile for someone doing this. That means you are less likely to have your account restricted (or gubbed, as we say) if they suspect you are matched betting. Matched betting is not illegal, incidentally, but bookmakers don’t really like it. They much prefer ‘mug punters’ who bet recreationally and lose money steadily to them!

8. Hopefully as an older person you will have a degree of financial security. That means you won’t be totally stressed out over potentially losing a pound or two if you make a mistake. That’s important, as you need to be focused and relaxed when matched betting. It’s not rocket science, but it does require care and concentration.

9. And likewise, if you will excuse a further generalization, as an older person you will likely be punctilious about following the instructions from matched betting services (if you belong to one). And neither are you likely to be tempted to go ‘off piste’, at least until you have gained more experience.

10. As an older person, you will probably be accustomed to keeping financial records. This again is essential for a matched bettor, to keep track of your profits and where they currently are.

11. You don’t have to do matched betting every day. If you have family commitments, part-time or temporary jobs, holidays, medical procedures or just want to take a break from it for a while, it’s very easy to put it on hold and come back later.

12. And finally,  matched betting is a great (and enjoyable) way of keeping your brain active, with the bonus that you are making money as well 🙂

Getting Started

So how do you get started as a matched bettor? Unless you are already an experienced punter with a good understanding of the mathematics involved, I highly recommend joining a matched betting advisory service. They set out everything you need to know with step-by-step instructions, and also provide software tools with advice on how to use them. You can sign up and use these services even if you have never placed a bet in your life before.

The service I use myself and recommend for beginners is Profit Accumulator. This is a dedicated matched betting advisory service. You can join free initially and they will provide details of two offers you can take advantage of straight away. These should make you around £45 in net profit. If you wish to proceed further, you can then pay to become a Platinum member and get access to their full range of offers and services.

A further advantage of joining Profit Accumulator is that you get access to the members-only forum, where you can get any questions you may have answered by more experienced members and/or the team behind PA.

I will be covering other aspects of matched betting in future posts, so please do sign up in the right-hand column to be notified when the blog is updated (you can also follow PAS on social media and Bloglovin). And if you think matched betting may be for you, do click through to the Profit Accumulator website to see what they offer and sign up for the free trial.

As ever, if you have any questions or comments about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below.

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Lights, Camera, Profit!

Lights, Camera, Profit! How to Make Money Offering Your Home as a TV or Film Location

Today I’m discussing an opportunity with the potential to generate a lot of money for little effort. As you will gather, that is allowing your home to be used as a location for film, TV or still photography.

Of course, this opportunity won’t be suitable for everyone. You need to live somewhere with characteristics or features that might be in demand by a production company. But, as I’ll be explaining, you definitely don’t need to live in a stately home. A huge range of properties is required, so wherever you live there’s a chance it could be the perfect location for an upcoming project.

I’ll put my cards on the table and admit that I haven’t any direct experience of doing this myself. Some friends who live in a perfectly normal suburban semi did, though. Their house was chosen for filming a toilet roll commercial. As well as a generous fee for two days’ filming, they received several large boxes of premium toilet rolls for their trouble!

What Homes Are Required?

All sorts of properties may be of interest, although those meeting the following criteria are in most demand…

  • Good accessibility and parking – film-makers in particular may have trucks and lorries that need to be parked near-by.
  • Large rooms and through lounges – around a dozen crew members plus their equipment are likely to be in the house at any time, so there must be enough space for them as well as the actors.
  • Unusual features – traditional stone fireplaces, spiral staircases, farmhouse-style kitchens, extra-large bathrooms, and so on.
  • Not too many narrow stairs and hallways, and not too close to main roads, busy railway lines or aircraft flight-paths.
  • Homes with a particular “look” – a typical English country cottage, for example, or a 1970s-style bachelor pad!
  • In addition, homes within the M25 are likely to generate more interest, as most production companies are based in and around London.

Earnings can range from a few hundred pounds for an ordinary house or flat, up to £5,000 or more for an unusual (e.g. ultra-modern/architect-designed) home. Other things being equal, film-makers tend to pay better than TV companies.

As mentioned above, there is also a demand for properties for still photography (typically featuring the latest designs or fashions). For this type of opportunity, it helps to have a larger house, ideally with attractive gardens as well.



How to Apply

The Location Partnership is one agency that is always keen to hear from people willing to offer their homes for filming. It is free to register with them, and all they ask initially is that you take some photos of your property (interior and exterior) and send them with a completed registration form.

If your property is used, The Location Partnership will negotiate the fee for you and provide a contract and any other advice you might need to ensure a successful shoot. They charge a 20 percent commission (+VAT) of the final fee paid to you by the production company.

Two other agencies you can also try are Location Works and JJ Media.

Follow Electric Cinema Too!

The Electric Cinema in Birmingham is owned by the son of a friend of mine. They have a film-making offshoot called Electric Flix, which sometimes needs locations. Here’s an example ad from last year which shows that even run-down properties can be in demand…

Our production company Electric Flix is in production with our second feature film. We need a Midlands based house to shoot in for three days and will pay up to £800 for the right location.

We are looking for a terraced or modest semi-detached house. Ideally it will have a drive to park a vehicle (or space outside to park) and the hallway leading to the kitchen or another large room. Rooms needed for filming are hallway, kitchen or other ground floor large room and a decent sized bedroom.

The house should be sparsely furnished – or even empty. A student house or a run down property would be preferred over anything recently renovated. The house is needed for filming October 16th-19th October.

If you would like to put your house forward please email xxxxxxxx with photos of the house (exterior, hallway, bedroom and kitchen/large room), along with your contact details including mobile, confirmation that this house would be free on the dates stated, and you have permission to offer it up as a location.

I have blanked out the email address as this ad is no longer current. However, you can follow them on Facebook where they posted this (and also learn about the latest films they are showing!).

Good luck, and I hope to see your home in a film or TV show sometime soon 🙂

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Save Big Money on Rail Travel Every Year with Railcards

Save Big Money On Rail Travel Every Year With Railcards

At the age of 61 I just got my first Senior Railcard.

I must admit I hadn’t realised I was even eligible for a Senior Railcard – I assumed you had to be over 65 for this and/or receiving a pension. That’s definitely not the case, though. As long as you are 60 or above, that’s all that’s necessary.

I already saved most of the cost of my card within a month visiting a friend who was in hospital in Birmingham (now safely home, I’m glad to say). So in this post I thought I’d say a bit about Senior Railcards and railcards more generally. If you ever travel by train, they can generate big savings for you over the course of a year.



Senior Railcard

The Senior Railcard (which I now have) costs £30 a year, or you can save yourself £20 by paying £70 for three years.

Once you have your card, you can save a third on most types of ticket, including standard and off-peak, single and return. One thing you can’t do, though, is use them to get a discount on season tickets. You are also barred from using them between two stations in London and the South-East during morning peak time. A full list showing when you can and can’t use your Senior Railcard can be found here.

If you really feel like travelling in style, you can also use your railcard to get a third off a first class ticket. That would almost certainly cover the cost of the card in one trip!

For travelling from Lichfield City (my nearest station) to University (the station for Birmingham University and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital), using my railcard cut the cost of a day return from about £9 to £6. Obviously, for longer journeys the savings would be even greater.

To use the card, you have to present it at the ticket office when buying your ticket. It is also available as an option on automatic ticket machines and when buying a ticket from websites (where this is possible). One important thing to remember is that you must have your Senior Railcard with you when travelling, as a ticket inspector may want to see it.

You can buy a Senior Railcard at any staffed railway station, or on the Senior Railcard website. I did the latter, and my card duly arrived by post two days later. Note that in order to buy a Senior Railcard online, you will need to enter your driving licence or passport number to prove your eligibility.

One other thing to note is that Senior Railcard holders are eligible for certain additional benefits as well, such as discounts on Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven Holidays. More information about this can be found here.



Other Railcards

If you aren’t over 60, there are still other railcards you may be eligible for. They are listed in the table below. In most cases holders of these cards get 1/3 off the normal fare. There may be some restrictions, e.g. you may not be allowed to use them in the morning rush hour (in London and the South-East especially).

Railcards

Name of CardPrice/yearTermsNotesApply online?
Senior Railcard£30Age 60 or overYes
Two Together£30Two adults of any ageMust travel after 09.30 on weekdaysYes
16-25 Railcard£30Age 16-25 or full-time mature student of any ageYes
Family & Friends£30Up to 4 adults and 4 childrenGives 1/3 off adult fares and 60% off children's faresYes
Network Railcard£3016 and overValid anywhere in the London and South-East regionYes
Disabled Persons£20Must have a disability and/or receive a disabled person's benefitAlso valid for an accompanying adultNo
HM Forces£17Must be a serving member of UK armed forces or reservist, or spouse/partner of one, or a dependantNo

For more information about any of these cards and links to apply (for those cards where online application is available), visit this page of the National Rail website.

If you have any comments or queries about this post, as ever, please do post them below.

See you on the train!

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Free Postcode Lottery

How I Won £614.53 on the Free Postcode Lottery!

A few weeks ago I posted about free online lotteries and why they are worth playing.

I mentioned then that Free Postcode Lottery was one of my favourite such sites, and that applies even more now. Last week I logged in as usual and saw my postcode staring back at me as the winner of the main draw 😮

I honestly thought for a moment that I was dreaming, but quickly realised that I wasn’t. I looked for and found the claim button (it wasn’t quite as prominent as I expected) and clicked on it. And that was it – I had just won the Free Postcode Lottery!

The prize fund that day was £1200 and FPL said there was one other registered player in my postcode area. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed when, a few hours later, that person put in their claim as well, meaning I would have to split the £1200 with them. Still, I’m really not complaining, as an extra £600 (tax-free) has come in very handy indeed as the winter bills pour in.

And if you’re wondering, the other £14.53 is my loyalty bonus. I accrued this through introducing other players and signing up for offers on the FPL site. When you win FPL, your loyalty bonus is added to your winnings. I only wish I’d signed up for a few more offers now 😀



More About Free Postcode Lottery

I’d been meaning to write a special post about FPL anyway, so I shall say a bit more about it now.

As mentioned, this is a free lottery site. There is nothing to pay and all prizes are funded by advertising. It is not to be confused with The People’s Postcode Lottery, which is advertised on TV and you have to pay for.

To be eligible for prizes on FPL, all you have to do is sign up on the website, including your postcode, email address and PayPal account details (any winnings are paid into this). You then have to return to the site every day to check whether your postcode has come up. If a prize isn’t claimed the fund rolls over to the next day. With the Main Draw, it currently goes up by £400 a day. The prize can easily rise to over £1000 if a few days go by without anyone claiming.

One thing I really like about FPL is that there are multiple draws, greatly boosting your chances of winning. As well as the Main Draw (which I was lucky enough to win) there is also a Survey Draw (where you may have to complete a survey to see the winning postcode) and a Video Draw (where you have to watch a music video). There are also Stackpot and Bonus Draws, with smaller prizes. And finally, there is a £50 gift card to be won every week by courtesy of the price comparison website Quidco. All six draws can be accessed via the tabs at the top of the page, as shown in the screen capture below.

Free Postcode Lottery

It only takes a few moments to check all the draws. Personally I use the Tab Alarm add-on in Firefox to open up FPL and all the other free lotteries I am registered with at the same time every day. That means they can all then be checked in five minutes or so. It also ensures that I don’t forget on the day my number comes up!

I know you will hear people say that “It’s a scam” or “Nobody ever wins”, but I am living proof that it’s not and they do! Please give Free Postcode Lottery a try, therefore, and sign up also with the other free prize lotteries listed in my earlier post.

Good luck, and if you have any comments or questions about Free Postcode Lottery, please do post them below.

 

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