Rebecca Goodman

I am an award-winning freelance journalist with more than 10 years’ experience working for online and print consumer publications in the personal finance sector. I now regularly write for The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, and The Telegraph. I also regularly take on corporate content projects and in my spare time set up my own successful baking blog and social media network. 

The real price of friendship

We’ve all been there, out for dinner with a group of friends and someone orders the most expensive thing on the menu. You, however, still have three days until payday and are looking at just a side salad. When it comes time to settle-up, do you become ‘that person’ and ask if everyone can pay exactly what they owe? Or do you just reach for the credit card and agree to split the bill for the sake of keeping the peace? Managing money is hard but when you throw friends and social situations in

UK house prices rise to another record high of £258,204 in April, Halifax reports

House prices are expected to remain on the same upwards trajectory for the next few months largely thanks to the extension to stamp duty which is not due to return to pre-pandemic levels until October. Separate data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shows that property transactions for March were at their highest ever levels of 190,980, a rise of 32.2% from February. Between January and March this year, transactions were also 31.2% higher than for the three months at the end of 2020. Why have h

How National Insurance Works

You can pay National Insurance (NI) through your wages or via a self-assessment tax return and the amount you need to pay depends on factors including the type of work you do. National Insurance is paid by both employees in a pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) system and self-employed workers. The amount of National Insurance you need to pay depends upon which system you’re in, how much you earn, and your personal circumstances. Not everyone has to pay National Insurance and some people are exempt, so it’

What is Universal Credit and How Can I Apply?

Universal Credit is the means-tested benefit system paid monthly to those with low or no income. It was first introduced in 2013 and gradually rolled out across the UK, replacing six previous benefits for workers with low incomes, those who have lost jobs, and those who are unable to work. It is paid monthly (twice monthly to some in Scotland) and is means-tested, so the amount of money you receive will depend on things like your wages, how many hours you work, and if you have any existing sav

Bank of England holds interest rates at 0.1% in March 2021 |

What the MPC announced this week What has happened with the base rate? What do Bank of England interest rates mean for borrowers and savers? When are rates expected to rise? “There was an expectation in the market of negative bank rate (it was priced in), but the BofE has managed to steer clear of doing that as financial institutions were not operationally ready for it until August 2021. By that point though the economy will be in a much better place, so it will not be needed.” What is the

Government-backed 95% mortgage deals launched |

The new scheme means more lenders are accepting borrowers with just a 5% deposit, but it comes as house prices reach record highs - forcing new buyers to take an even bigger step to reach the first rung on the property ladder. So will the new scheme actually have a meaningful impact on those struggling to afford their first home and are the deals worth grabbing before they run out in December or is it better to hold out for a bigger deposit and a standard mortgage? We take a closer look. It wi

Women won’t benefit from flexible working until childcare costs fall

Trillions of US dollars were set officially aside this week to help boost the post-Covid economy by lowering childcare costs. Just like they are in the US, childcare fees are one of the biggest expenses for UK parents or carers with young children. Childcare costs are up 2 per cent in the past year, to an average of £263 a week for a full-time place and £138 a week for part-time care, according to the Money Advice Service. That’s around £14,000 a year for just one child in full-time care, alth

YOLO and FOMO: how your mindset affects your money

The world has become a lot smaller in the last year, and while YOLO and FOMO used to be about the latest restaurant openings, sunny beach holidays, or relaxing spa weekends, they’re now the newest cook-at-home meal boxes, banana bread challenges, and the next jigsaw puzzle to get through. YOLO, in case you don’t know, stands for “You Only Live Once”, while FOMO is an acronym for “Fear of Missing Out”. Think of it as a mindset – a way to rationalise your spending – especially impulse purchases c

How to cash in on this summer’s staycation boom

Demand for staycation accommodation is predicted to massively outstrip supply – so if you’ve ever considered making some extra money from renting your home out, is now the time to do it? It could be a great opportunity to make some extra cash, which could help offset some of the economic consequences of the worst recession on record. Research from Vanquis Bank showed that in Manchester, for example, property owners could make an annual average of £7,124 from renting out a private room in a home

Why getting married still offers a boost to your finances

It is a rare case, but one that highlights the different ways unmarried couples are still treated by the law, especially when it comes to the sticky matter of their finances. One way to eradicate this situation is to have a will in place, but despite a surge in demand for wills in the past year, around 40 per cent of UK adults do not have one. “It’s particularly important for unmarried couples to write wills, as dying without a will means the law will decide what happens to your assets. In Eng

Is the pandemic destroying your pension pot?

In the last three months of 2020, 360,000 savers accessed their pension early, an increase of 10 per cent in the same period of 2019, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned. Between them, they took out £2.4bn early, up from £2.2bn in the same three months the previous year. The rules around early withdrawals from long-term savings pots changed in April 2015 when those aged 55 or over (rising to 57 in 2028) were first allowed to access money early from their pension pots without the eye-watering

Guide to life insurance

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to life cover and the policy you buy will be tailored to your needs and your family situation. Here are the most common types of life insurance policy you can choose from: This type of policy lets you choose for how long you want it to be in place and to specify a fixed amount of money for your insurer to pay out if you die within this term – and the payout will remain the same at whatever point you pass away during the term. For example, if you want

How to Open a Bank Account

You can open a current account quickly and easily with a form of ID and proof of your address. Opening a new current account online or using an app takes around 15 minutes. However, if that’s not possible for you, you can still open one in a branch or in some cases over the phone. And from basic to premium current accounts, there’s a wide range to choose from to help you start managing your money, organising your household bills and planning your future banking and savings goals. Here we e

How Overdrafts Work

When you open a current account you may be given an overdraft, which allows you to borrow from your bank if your balance drops to zero. All banks and building societies charge an annual interest rate on their overdrafts. Through October 2020, all banks had been told to offer customers the first £500 of their overdraft interest-free, if they were struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment, new rules require firms to offer tailored options for anyone who is struggling

How to Switch Your Current Account

If you aren’t happy with your current account or you have found a better deal elsewhere, switching is easy, and the entire process can take just seven working days. You can switch joint accounts as well, you just need each party to agree. The Current Account Switch Service (CASS) makes the process of switching from one account to another quick and straightforward. All you need to do is open a new account. The rest is organised between the banks. All direct debits or outstanding regular payment

Cheques: How to Write and Use Them

The number of cheques we use has fallen significantly over the past decade, although some people still use them to send gifts or pay bills. Cheques account for around 1% of payments in the UK, according to the most recent data from UK Finance, but if you need to write one it’s important you do it correctly so it’s not rejected by a bank. Here we explain what you need to know about writing a cheque, what happens if it bounces because there’s not enough money in the current account it’s drawing

Good for kids, good for the planet: the power of trees | OVO Energy

To celebrate our tree-planting news, we commissioned research into the link between kids’ wellbeing and nature. Here, our writer-in-residence, Rebecca Goodman, shares the findings – and reflects on what nature and trees mean for her and her daughter. There’s no getting away from it, the past 6 months have been a strange and testing time for most of us, wherever we live in the UK. Living in London with a child who learnt to walk in lockdown, I’ve spent a lot of it trying to find green spaces fo

8 best baby monitors for peace of mind, from video to audio models

Baby monitors allow you to keep an eye on your baby or toddler when you’re not in the same room with them, whether that’s by listening to the sounds they make or by watching and interacting with them via a video monitor. There is a baby monitor to suit every parenting style, whether you’re happy with just audio or you are more comfortable with something able to track elements such as the room temperature or even your baby’s breathing. While most offer night vision, two-way talking, and play a

Avoid the latest online scams | Boundless by CSMA

Don't be a victim of internet fraud – here, we explain what to look out for and how to protect your assets The coronavirus and the changes it has brought upon our personal finances, health and lifestyle has provided a perfect breeding ground for criminals looking to exploit people through fraud. With the UK spending more time on the internet, whether that’s for Zoom catch-ups with friends or for online banking or shopping, there has been a huge rise in online fraud. According to Action Fraud,
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