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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 January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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