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App feature 4: Save on your bills
Binyamin Ghaffar: Digital Marketing Apprentice
January 15, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve launched a new feature in our OpenMoney app which will help you find cheaper deals on your broadband, energy and mobile bills and save more of your hard-earned money!

According to our latest Advice Gap report, 25% of people asked said one of the main causes of financial difficulties within households is one off payments and unexpectedly high bills. With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Decision Tech, part of Moneysupermarket Group, to provide customers with the ability to save money on their bills and switch energy, mobile and broadband providers in the simplest way possible.  

How it works

Energy

To provide you with the best energy deals, we first look at your transactions to identify any recurring payments to your current supplier. Once we’ve found out who your current energy supplier is, we then ask you for your home address - this is to make sure that we provide you with an accurate and up-to-date quote from the energy suppliers. Once we have all this info, we’ll show you a quick quote that shows you how much you could be saving by switching supplier!

If you're ready to go ahead with your switch, you can do this all within the OpenMoney app with just a few clicks. The switching process is all handled by your new supplier which means all the hard work is done for you. All that’s left for you to do is sit back and relax, knowing you've just saved some cash.

Broadband and mobile

That's right we're not just talking about your energy bills here! Our app also can show you the best broadband and mobile deals currently available on the market. Simply enter your postcode to see the best broadband deals, or tell us the model of mobile phone you're interested in and we'll show you the best offers on the market.

As with all switches, you need to be aware of early exit fees in your current contracts if they are fixed term. For example, if you’ve got a fixed-term broadband contract for 12 months and you’re 10 months in, make sure you understand the costs of leaving, if there are any! If you’re on a rolling contract then you should be free to switch suppliers and start saving right away. For more tips on what to consider when thinking about switching broadband provider, read our blog here.

Saving on your bills made simple  

 Our recommendations for switching will give you the detail on all the important bits such as how much you’ll save across the year and the Trustpilot ratings of each supplier, so you know you’re getting a good service as well as a good deal! You can also get your quotes sent to your email if you want to take some time before deciding if switching is right for you.

If you’ve recently switched your energy suppliers, we’re still able to recommend cheaper deals. You can set up a simple savings alert within the app, and we'll let you know when we've found deals to match your bill saving goals.

How to switch your bills

To find our new bill switching feature just follow a few simple steps:  

• Head over to the OpenMoney app. If you’re a new customer, you'll need to create an account and connect your bank accounts.  

• Once in our app, click the ‘Advice’ tab at the bottom of the screen and you’ll be directed to a page where you’re able to see personalised advice on your finances.

• Scroll down to our ‘Bills’ section

• Click 'Find out more' to see how much you could save on your bills, all in just a few clicks.

We're here to help you make the most of your money and our newest app feature is another way we're making good on that promise! To see how much you could save on your energy bills, download the OpenMoney app today on both iOS and Android.

App feature 3: Subscription checker
Binyamin Ghaffar: Digital Marketing Apprentice
December 18, 2020

According to YouGov, half of Brits (47%) get caught out when signing up for free trials as they forgot or were unable to cancel their subscriptions. This totalled a whopping £800m in 2019. We’ve all done it before – signing up to a service to get something for free and you promise yourself you’ll cancel it before the trial ends, but then life gets in the way!

We all love the services that a subscription provides such as binge-watching programmes on Netflix or listening to your favourite music on Spotify, however we don’t tend to think about whether we get enough value from the service. Some subscriptions are just not worth their money, especially if you aren’t using it as much as you had hoped. That’s why we launched the subscription checker in our app! This new feature will help you decide which subscriptions to cancel based on how often you use the services.

How our subscription checker works

We first analyse your bank accounts to see if there’s any recurring payments and subscriptions to the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and many more. The app will then ask you some simple questions in relation to how often you use these services - never, a little or a lot. Once done, our app will quickly calculate how much you can save by cancelling the subscriptions you never use or only use every so often.  

How we can help you save more of your money

We understand that many people subscribe to paid services and then forget to cancel them. Subscription services also seem cheap at first as you’re billed monthly, however those subscriptions can start to add up quickly – check out these super subscribers who spend hundreds on subscriptions a month. But not to worry! Our app does all the hard work for you in suggesting which subscription services you should keep and which ones you shouldn’t depending on how much you use them.  

Finally, we’ll calculate the amount of money you could save on a yearly basis if you decide to cancel the subscriptions you rarely use!  

How to find the subscription functionality within the app

To use this feature, you would first need to log in or sign up to the OpenMoney app. Once completed, you would then need to make sure that you have connected your current accounts and credit cards to the app. This will help the app search for any paid subscriptions you currently have and will gather them all into one place in our advice section.  

Once you’re in the app you would then need to head over to the advice section which can be found at the bottom of your screen. In the advice section you’ll be able to find the subscriptions feature (look for the little pig and his chalkboard!). To find out more about the advice section and the advice we provide in the app, you can read more about it in our blog here.

If you haven’t already downloaded our app, you can do so here on both iOS and Android to test out this new feature for yourself!

How to Break up with Buy Now Pay Later
Alice Tapper - Guest Blogger & Financial Campaigner
November 26, 2020

Buy Now Pay Later; that enticing checkout service that allows you to have your stuff ASAP but pay for it later. For those who “wanna cop some new gear but can’t wait until payday”, as JD Sports puts it. It's the financial equivalent of having your cake and eating it, right? Well not quite. Whilst these increasingly popular services can be useful for some, they can also be an unhelpful gateway into over-spending and problem debt. Not so good. So, if you've found yourself thinking it's time for a change, here's how to exit that toxic relationship and start fresh:

Acceptance    

First off, recognise that the spending wasn't healthy. Be honest with yourself: are you spending more than you would if BNPL wasn't available? Are you feeling stressed about money? Are you unsure of how much you've spent? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, now's the time for a new beginning.

Go cold turkey

Yes, it'll suck for a while, especially if you're used to those late night shopping mood boosts. But the pay off is freedom from financial stress, which will feel way better than that new bikini ever could.

Block and delete

You know the drill: to resist temptation, cut off communication. Unsubscribe from promo emails and unfollow the most tempting accounts on social. If there's a website you find particularly hard to stay away from, install a plug-in like Icebox to stop you in your tracks. Just like with a real ex, if you don't have their number, you can't text them.

Recognise your emotions

Now it's time to figure out why you were spending more than you wanted to in the first place. Shopping can be emotional, so try to figure out what those online purchases were really about. Were you bored? Longing for a change? Dealing with an actual break up? When you identify what's really going on for you, it'll be easier to replace the shopping with something more meaningful.

Find a rebound

But in a healthy way. It might be Ben and Jerry’s for a bit but there are lots of ways to do self-care that are totally free. When you're feeling tempted, put your phone down and take a minute. Maybe it's as simple as FaceTiming your mum or going for a run. Figure out what gives you a similar boost. 

Get closure

Alright, now that you've done all that work, make a plan to put unhealthy habits in the past. If you've recently purchased stuff that you can still return, do that. Then make a realistic plan to pay off your remaining balance ASAP. Make a note of when payments are due by putting a reminder in your calendar, so you don’t accidentally miss any.

Set boundaries

Remember, Boohoo doesn't give a **** about your budget. You're the only one who can give your money purpose and decide how to spend it. Try making a budget. It's a great way to feel confident about what you do with your money, while still allowing you to buy the nice things you want.

A caveat

Credit products aren't all bad as long as they're used responsibly. For bigger ticket items that are a necessity for your work or life (think: laptop, car) it can be a good option as it allows you to split the cost into manageable amounts. It's always preferable to pay outright than take on debt, so do that if you can. If you do decide to go for BNPL, make sure you can keep up with the payments and that you make them on time. Also, check the fine print for hidden fees and interest that might get you in trouble down the road.

Alice Tapper is a financial campaigner. She launched the #regulateBuyNowPayLater in June which has since led to investigations by both the FCA and ASA. 

Our Campaign Against Buy Now Pay Later Schemes
Anthony Morrow - Co Founder of OpenMoney
November 24, 2020

As a business, we can see the effects that the cultural climate and global events are having on people's financial situations and spending habits.  

When we conducted research for our Advice Gap Report earlier this year, we learned the nation’s finances were in a precarious position before the prolonged effects of COVID. With the change in millions of people's financial situations, an increase in online shopping habits due to lockdown, and Christmas just around the corner, there’s a serious worry that more people than ever will be turning to Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services like Klarna, Clearpay and Afterpay.

We believe consumers are being continuously lured into gift-wrapped debt traps as a result of a lack of regulation around these increasingly popular services, that are celebrated by brands online, and irresponsibly encouraged by influencers on social media.

Our co-founder, Anthony Morrow, launched OpenMoney to change the financial service industry for the better by offering the accessible, affordable advice and direction consumers need to move forward with their finances, and to empower consumers to make more informed decisions about services just like BNPL.

As a result of always putting the consumer first and being pretty vocal about his views, Anthony was awarded the Consumer Champion of the Year Award at the 2020 MoneyAge Awards. We caught up with him for a virtual chat about his views on consumer debt and Buy Now Pay Later schemes, his personal mission, and how he sees us here at OpenMoney making a difference.

OpenMoney: Congratulations on your big win, we’re all really proud of you! What does winning this award mean to you?
Anthony Morrow: I think, as with most awards, it’s always great to have your work or efforts recognised but they aren’t the reason that we do what we do at OpenMoney. There are so many great businesses and people out there trying to improve outcomes for customers, it’s simply flattering to be considered one of them.

OM: Our research has shown that 40% of people asked, are worried about how they’ll afford Christmas this year, and over 50% feel pressured to spend more because it’s been a tough year. Do you think schemes such as BNPL are taking advantage of the situation?
AM:
I’m not a fan of BNPL because I think they are focused on the worst parts of customer manipulation – material aspiration and fear of missing out. These are powerful devices to use when convincing people to spend money they don’t have. As we’ve seen over last couple of decades, and the rise in short-term debt, it causes lots of problems for people. These schemes were bad news before the pandemic and now they just feel dangerously inappropriate.  

OM:  How important is education when it comes to avoiding these services and money issues in general?
AM:
Whilst greater understanding and education would be brilliant, sadly we are at a place where financial literacy is at really low levels. Solving this is not going to happen overnight and will take generations to put right. There are always plenty of words saying that personal finance should feature on the school curriculum. What would be much better, and far more easily achieved, is if those industries could behave in a way that reflected their concerns around literacy levels!

There are too many examples where products and services are developed where the customer takes full responsibility for making informed choices which, everyone knows, is a nonsense state of affairs. This is just companies passing risk to the customer, who they acknowledge have low levels of financial understanding, whilst retaining the profit.

Remember that the debt industry will spend billions of pounds a year advertising their products in very sophisticated ways, with increasingly granular data; it is no contest really.

OM: How do you see OpenMoney making a difference?
AM:
OpenMoney was set up specifically to address this problem, and that people with little money have few options on where to go if they want advice on what to do with their money. We think financial advice can not only provide better future outcomes for customers but more importantly, prevent bad decisions being made. These bad decisions can lead to terrible outcomes that can affect a person's life for years. If we can help more people avoid these problems, that would be a big success for us.

OM: What would be your one key piece of advice to the 75% of people we asked, who will be using credit cards, store cards and BNPL schemes to pay for Christmas?
AM:
It’s so important to be very clear how any debt you take on is going to be paid, no matter how tempting it is to get that item you really want after what has been a shocking year. Understand how much you’re really paying for the item as well, because interest can mean spending far more than you think especially on short-term loans and credit cards.

Our advice would always be to save up and buy that item without using debt. Not only will it save you money that you can put towards something else, but you will feel much better having actually done it. Set yourself goals – small or large – and stick to them. Bask in that smug feeling that you’ve achieved your goals and that you did so without the worry of owing someone money.

OM: And finally… do you have a few words for BNPL schemes? (Words that we can publish please!)
AM:
Don’t follow the paths of credit card companies, peer-to-peer or payday lenders, and chase inappropriate customers for the sake of growth targets. All of these industries had genuine positive use cases for the few, but ended up targeting the many which has not got themselves into trouble, but millions of customers as well. We have record levels of personal debt in this country heading into an unprecedented period of uncertainty – don’t make people's lives worse by tempting them with expensive and targeted campaigns.

We're launching our #YouOnlyPayOnce (#YOPO) campaign to tackle Buy Now Pay Later schemes. We want to help protect consumers and empower them to make more informed decisions about what's being described as ‘gateway debt'.

You can read more on our #YOPO campaign here. Keep your eyes peeled for us taking on the services that we feel play an instrumental part in the consumer debt problem in the UK.

How can advice help you make the most of your pension?
Hayley Millhouse - Managing Director of OpenMoney
November 19, 2020

Do you know what type of pension you have? You’re not alone if not! Our 2020 Advice Gap Report revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of British adults are unaware of the type of pension that their employers are contributing to on their behalf [1]. It’s never too early (or late!) to take stock of your current pensions and plans for retirement.  A good place to start would be to track down the pensions you have in your name, which you can read all about in our blog, here.

Once you have the full picture of where your money is, you may be thinking about consolidating your various pension pots into one, you can read more about the benefits of consolidation here. When you get to this point, it is so important to seek regulated financial advice. There are lots of things you wouldn’t do without the guidance of an expert, for example fixing your car, so why should transferring your pension be any different?

Although it might be a good idea to consolidate your different pots into one place in order to keep track of them, provide better investment options, and potentially save on fees, it can be a complex and often irreversible decision. By taking advice, you can ensure you understand the implications of all the choices available and be confident that you’re making the right decision for you.

Transferring to another provider without advice could leave you at risk of losing potentially lucrative pension benefits with a current provider or switching to a product with higher fees. We take all of these factors into consideration when advising customers on their next steps for their pension. We actually advise a quarter of our customers going through our review process not to transfer! This is usually due to their existing pension offering valuable benefits, or that their current provider is already meeting their needs and providing good value for money.

Our Advice Gap Report also found that one in five people have more than one type of pension, which could include all types of pension such as a personal pension, final salary pension, a defined contribution work pension etc. This is totally normal as people can have a number of jobs through their working life, and may build up several pension pots from different employers. The current upheaval in the jobs market is likely to fuel this trend, so taking control of your retirement planning, to ensure you have enough money later in life, is more important than ever.

At OpenMoney, we offer a free pension transfer review, where we will check whether transferring is the best choice for you. We have been able to save customers over £30,000 in fees over the remaining life of their pensions by switching, and they also benefitted from the option to link all of their other finances via our app to get a complete picture of their financial situation. This shows just how important it is to get advice! There’s no obligation to act on  our advice, it is your pension, your decision and you are in control.

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