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11 Ways Brexit Has Affected Online Shopping

11 Ways Brexit Has Affected Online Shopping

Uncertainty.

There is only one certain thing that has come from the Leave vote — it’s certainly uncertain what will happen next.

But just minutes after the Brexit vote, we did see changes. And almost all of those charges are great for online shoppers — especially those who are looking for terrific deals.

1. Your Pounds Buy Less Outside Britain

Immediately after the news broke that the Leave vote had won, the British pound fell dramatically in value. This means the pound isn’t as valuable as it previously was compared to other currencies.

Therefore, if you’re looking for great deals, don’t look outside of Great Britain. Your money will buy you less when you spend it in other countries, at least for right now. But there’s good news about the pound.

2. Bargains Abound

If you shop in the UK, those same pounds that have been devalued will buy you quite a bit more than you might expect. It’s not just the money in your bank account that has lost a bit of value. Prices have had the same reaction to the dropping pound.

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This means stores, especially faced with the uncertainty of Brexit, have adjusted some of their prices to account for the falling currency value. This is true of some brick and mortar stores, but even truer of online purchases. Online retailers can adjust to a currency downturn immediately, and they have.

Many of the best bargains are on UK websites you might not have shopped on previously because of high tariffs and taxes. Those tariffs and taxes don’t bite quite as much now and prices are falling.

3. Your Foreign Currency Buys More

If you’re living outside of the UK and working in a different currency than the pound, you’re in the best position of all. The pound has fallen against the dollar and other currencies, so shopping in dollars saves you even more.

This is, again, especially true for online shopping, as they have had the most dramatic price fluctuations as the pound has fallen. Seek out the British Amazon, for example, to find great deals on items priced in pounds.

Granted, there are often high tariff and shipping fees for online purchases, so be sure to include those costs into items you’re purchasing. Even with those tariffs, you’re still likely to come out ahead. But you can save even more if you’re outside of the UK by using a shipping company to buy up items and ship them for less.

4. Cheap Prices Are Short-Lived

Immediately after the Leave vote, the pound fell dramatically. It has continued falling for a bit, but is now showing signs of stabilizing as some of the uncertainly passes. There will be additional shocks to the currency system as the UK actually splits from the EU. This will be a rather drawn-out process, and it’s very likely that the currency will stabilize and begin to rise again.

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For savvy shoppers, this means that the online deals are great right now, but they may not stay that way in the long term. The longer the pound stays devalued, the longer the low prices stick around. But once the pound begins rising again, prices can be expected to go right up again, too.

5. Electronic Prices Will Rise

Not every item will drop in price during the Brexit uncertainty period. Electronics may actually become more expensive. Very few electronics are made in Britain, so companies outside of the UK must make some adjustments in their pricing in the UK to account for the fallen pound.

HP has recently raised prices in the UK 10 percent across the board to compensate for the weaker pound. Dell has made a similar move, raising prices to be sure the cost of manufacture and import are covered in the retail price. The best bargains here are not going to appear until the pound strengthens against foreign currencies again.

6. Digital Products Are The Best Buys

Of all of the online shopping deals to be had, the best are the digital products sold on UK websites. Selling physical items on websites still requires some form of inventory or controlled costs for moving tangible products.

Digital products, on the other hand, are not tied to shipping or holding costs. That means there are constant fluctuations in prices of music, digital books, software, game, and apps. Lately, the items that are sold in pounds have fallen, leaving plenty of bargains to be found on the UK versions of Amazon and Steam.

7. No Risk of Import Issues with Digital Purchases

Every physical purchase made online may be subjected to import taxes and duties. It’s a cost you have to factor into the online sales of actual items, but it’s completely non-applicable to digital products that are purchased in the UK.

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Immediately after the pound began falling, gamers and savvy online consumers switched their home counties to the UK on their App Store and websites like Steam. Terrific bargains have been found in digital products priced in pounds, and there is no risk of duties since the digital products are purchased and downloaded, not purchased and shipped.

8. Import Taxes Could Rise

Many of the best bargains for those living in the UK are going to be short-lived. As the UK moves forward in separating themselves from the EU, they can expect two things: inflation if the pound remains down and higher import taxes from the EU.

One benefit of being part of the EU was the elimination of import taxes between EU countries. With the UK no longer part of that legal entity, there will no longer be an EU trade agreement. It’s logical to assume that import taxes will return on items that are manufactured outside of the UK and shipped in. This will include everything from candy bars to electronics.

9. UK Shoppers May Pay More Down the Road

Import taxes aside, as the value of currency falls, deals are to be found immediately in the uncertainty. But prices won’t stay depressed for the long term. The devaluation of currency will eventually lead to a round of inflation where pounds go shorter distances in buying popular and everyday items.

For the savvy shopper, it makes sense to buy items now while prices are low rather than wait for better deals down the road. It’s very likely that those better deals simply won’t be forthcoming — at least not for a while. On the other hand, those shopping in the UK with stronger currencies other than the pound will be able to buy more now and potentially into the future as well.

10. Online Clothing Will Drop in Price

Leaving the EU may raise the price of some goods that are subject to import taxes and tariffs, but other items may fall a bit in price. A report in 2013 by the House of Commons library found that EU membership appears to increase the price of consumer items like clothing.

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It follows that being out of the European Union will lead to a drop in clothing prices as the UK will no longer be subject to the same requirements as other countries. This price drop will be seen first online as internet prices tend to be more responsive to sudden changes than brick and mortar stores with more fixed costs.

11. Powerful Vacuums Are an Option Again

In one rather amusing example, Brexit will actually free up some purchases for UK shoppers. As members of the EU, Britain was required to follow requirements of that entity. In 2014, the EU banned “powerful vacuums” over 1600 watts in a bid for the environment.

The restrictions are scheduled to tighten up in 2017 when vacuums over 900 watts are forbidden in the EU. Fortunately, if you’ve been in the UK dying for a Dyson or Miele, your time has come. There’s soon to be no rule blocking the most powerful vacuums for UK residents.

Likewise, if you smoke menthol cigarettes, you’ve dodged a bullet as well — those are to be banned by the EU in 2022.

While there is certainly uncertainty about the future of the EU and Britain, in the meantime there are bargains to be had! Prices may shift as currency valuations change and Britain formally splits from the European Union, but for now, at least, consumers are coming out ahead.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via hd.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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