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How to be happy

6 months ago by vfiebelmann

How to be happy

“Happiness is not out there, it is within you” – Anonymous

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash


Over 60% of viewsbankers told us that they feel happy most of the time, with 30% feeling either sad or grumpy more often than not.

Happiness isn’t something that just happens to you, and you don’t learn how to be happy at school. From a young age we’re conditioned to set goals and aim high, always seeking further success, and yet this way of thinking is more likely to make us more miserable.

Behavioural experts have spent lots of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). We know that the level of happiness can impact, and sometimes predict, general health and longevity.

Being happy and fulfilled is not easy, and it requires a lot of work on your part to prioritise rather than chase happiness.


Here’s what some of our members had to say when we asked about their general mood:

“Each day can bring various emotions on how one is feeling that day.I try to be positive and don't let trivial things get to me. A happy person a happy life.”

“Always happy. Stay positive and positive will things will happen.”

“Depends who I am with. They can make it better or worse.”


So how can we become happier?

Happiness comes from within. It’s time we learn how to tame negative thought patterns and take a new approach to life.


1. Recognise what makes YOU happy

You are responsible for your happiness. It’s time to make a list of all the things that make you happy. Whether that is sitting in the garden with a book, meeting up with friends, watching a movie or going for a walk. Whatever it is, it is important to prioritise your time to fit these activities into your life.


2. Conquer negative thinking

It is natural to tend to have negative thoughts, but there are lots of ways to combat these, starting with having more compassion for yourself. You need to treat yourself like you would a friend. Don’t be afraid to challenge your thought process, make a list of the things bothering you and understand whether it realistic.


3. Get up and get moving

There is considerable evidence that physical activity is directly linked to psychological health. Even just going for a quick 15-minute walk can lift your mood.


4. Be kind and practice optimism

In a poll we asked if we could all do more to make other people happy. A massive 96% said yes. Thinking positively and surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. Remember, optimism is infectious.


Here’s what some of our members do to boost their mood:

“When I'm feeling like I can't be bothered, I put on my 60s CDs, and that brightens my mood. I even enjoy dancing about when I do the house work. That's magic!!!”

“Great thoughts to try. Just been listening to Little Wing by the late great Jimi Hendrix. Nice and loud.”

 

What do you do to be happy? We’d love to hear your experiences. Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Online or instore: how do you like to shop?

7 months ago by vfiebelmann

Online or instore: how do you like to shop?

The way we like to shop has changed considerably over the years. Mainly because retailers have made it so easy for us to shop for almost anything wherever we want, whenever we want.

According to Smart Insights, the top reasons consumers give for online shopping include:

  • Ability to shop 24/7
  • Ability to compare prices
  • Online sale/better prices
  • To save time

You can see that convenience and price still remain big drivers when it comes to shopping online.

In a survey conducted by Retail Maxim, respondents were asked how much of their shopping they do online. Interestingly, 257 out 922 respondents voted less than 10% of their time. This is closely followed by 208 out of 922 voting the option of 25% to 50% of their time. 

This could suggest that the picture that has been painted about our buying habits isn’t necessarily true. Some of us clearly do still like to shop instore instead of online.

However, according to the BBC, ‘sales figures show that retailers with good online shopping operations continue to do well.’ With the main reason being fast delivery, and sometimes same-day delivery options.

With this in mind, we decided to ask you in a recent poll whether you prefer to shop online or instore. 47.4% told us that you prefer to shop online, with 43.3% that prefer to shop instore and a small 9.3% selecting neither.

Here’s what some of you had to say:

“Groceries, mostly in store with a few exceptions, everything else online”

“In store...can’t be bothered waiting for delivery and then having to return something”

“Far easier and convenient to shop in-store. Allows you to get an idea of size, material etc .”

“In store because you can see and feel what you're buying but online is easier and I'm turning more and more to online shopping now.”

I think most of us have mixed feelings when it comes to our shopping habits, but it is clear that as consumers we still like to go instore to do our shopping.

According to Smart Insights, the top reasons consumers prefer to shop instore include:

  • I want to see/touch item first
  • I want to try the item on
  • Concerned products look different
  • Delivery takes too long

Time will tell how shopping behaviours will change in the UK. Clearly, the online retail market will only get stronger, but will shopping instore ever phase out?

What do you think the future of shopping will look like? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Are you getting enough sleep?

7 months ago by vfiebelmann

Are you getting enough sleep?

A new study reveals that Brits get an average of just six hours and 19 minutes of sleep a night.

A hectic life (and work) schedule combined with the stresses of everyday life, are just some of the reasons for not getting a good night’s sleep. No wonder we’re always tired.

The survey revealed that of 2,000 UK adults, 38% revealed that they never achieve 8 hours of sleep.

Similarly, we asked you in a recent poll whether you get your 8 hours of sleep every night. A massive 42.5% told us that you do not achieve that, with 40.0% stating that you sometimes achieve this.

And just 17.5% said that they do get their 8 hours of sleep at night.


Here are some of the comments the poll received:

“Never!!! Usually 5 hours is a good night for me”

“I'm happy if I get 6, prefer 7, 8 is a luxury. Poor time management...too much late night surfing.”

“Hardly ever. Wonderful when I do.”

“5 maybe 6 at most... Mind full of work mostly”


As a nation we are not getting enough sleep

It is clear that as a nation, we are not getting enough sleep. Lack of exercise, excessive use of technology and eating late at night all contribute to the struggles of falling and staying asleep.

This is bad news for us, as sleep deprivation can have big impacts on our brain functioning. Not only do we work less efficiently when we’re tired, but it can affect our memory as well as our emotional well-being.

According to the NHS, continued lack of sleep can ‘affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes’.

So getting a good night's sleep is crucial to us. 


Here are 5 ways sleep can boost your health:

  1. It can help with weight loss  
  2. It can boost your immunity
  3. It can help boost your emotional well-being
  4. It can help prevent diabetes
  5. It can help ward of heart disease


If you’re not getting enough sleep, there is only one way to combat this – get some proper sleep. It won’t happen instantly, and is definitely easier said than done, but it is possible.

 

Are you getting enough sleep? Why not? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Social media and technology: how much is too much?

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”Anne Lamott

Technology is a wonderful thing. And it really has got many benefits that continue to add value to our lives.

That being said, there is no denying that the world has developed a somewhat ‘unhealthy’ relationship with it.

In a study conducted by the IPA, adults spend nearly 8 hours a day consuming media.

According to eMarketer, in 2017 adults in the UK spent an average of 1 hour and 59 minutes a day on their mobile phones alone. This number is expected to grow to an average time of 2 hours and 14 minutes a day by 2019.

Young people in particular spend more than a third of their leisure time on devices, according to analysis by the ONS.

These are big numbers. But I’m pretty sure we don’t need statistics to tell us that we are too attached to our technology.

In a recent poll, we asked you whether you could ‘unplug’ for one whole day. Interestingly, 61.1% of you said that you could, with 25.9% saying maybe and 13% saying you could not.

Here are some of the comments the poll received:

“I’d really struggle! I work from home so need the Internet, no net, no wages! Plus my husband works away, would hate not to be able to speak to him for a whole day. I could obviously do it, but would really dislike it”.

“I think it would be easier than we think and also very liberating.

“When I do it's so liberating, love it, but it's very hard to switch off willingly.”

“It would be really hard to switch off.”

But are we spending too much time online?

If we now look at the numbers when it comes down to internet usage, according to a 2018 report published by WeAreSocial, the UK spends an average of 5 hours and 51 minutes a day online. Of that number, we spend 1 hour and 54 minutes a day on social media alone.

In a poll, we asked you what your preferred social media platform was. 54.6% of you said it was Facebook, with 21.5% preferring WhatsApp. 11.9% choose Instagram as their favourite and 9.4% choosing Twitter. Snapchat came bottom with only 2.6% of you selecting that as your preferred social media network.

Facebook still dominates the battle of the social media platforms, with almost 2.7 billion active users around the world at the start of 2018.

Unfortunately, mass consumption of social media can have negative effects on our mental health and well-being.

Here is a run-down of how social media can impact us:

  • It’s addictive, and people can undergo a type of withdrawal and fear of ‘missing out’
  • It can trigger more sadness and social isolation, as humans are social beings
  • It causes us to compare our lives with others – this can be extremely unhealthy for our mental well-being as we are constantly making judgements of how our lives compare to our friends
  • It can lead to jealousy and obsession

Of course, technology and social media is a brilliant tool for all of us. It allows us to connect to loved ones across the world. It is a great way to stay connected to what’s going on around us, as well as a great way to access information and support forums on many issues such as mental health, food and nutrition and so on. But it is important to know how much is ‘too much’ and how to switch off.

So how can we unplug and find space?

  1. Start your day right, and try committing to not turning on technology during your first waking hour
  2. Designate time to access social media platforms, but don’t allow it to steal your time
  3. Ensure you take time to power-down during the day. Do some gardening, go for a walk or pick up a book – choose something that works for you
  4. Remove distractions when you are taking your power-down time. Maybe go sit in a quiet room, or switch your phone off
  5. Take regular breaks from devices, particularly if you work on a computer all day

 

What are your thoughts on our technology and social media usage? Do you think we spend too much time on it? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Top money saving tips

7 months ago by vfiebelmann

Top money saving tips

 

Whether it’s bargain hunting or making smart financial decisions, here are some top tips to help ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible and saving some money in the process. 

 

1. Bargain hunting

Everybody loves a bargain, but this is where it usually ends. Getting the best price is about taking the time to look, and most of us just don’t have that time. However, it’s not as tricky as you’d think, you just need to know how to do it. Sites like Hot Bargains are great for finding the latest deals and freebies.

There are lots of other tips to help you find the best deals online, including the trick of abandoning your shopping basket to get yourself a discount code and signing up to newsletters.

Also, don’t forget the power of loyalty cards. A whole host of major retailers and supermarkets reward their customers by allowing them to collect points. These points can usually be converted into money-off vouchers in store which can prove to be a great way to save on your shop

 

2. Travel & commuting

There are big savings to be made on travel – you just need to know where to look.

If you are a regular train user, Trainline is a brilliant site which allows you to book cheap tickets in a very quick and easy way. The more in advance you book, the more savings you make. But on average, you can save 43% when you book UK rail in advance.

Not only can you make massive savings through Trainline, but you’ll also benefit from 2for1 deals to major London attractions when you book your train tickets.

There are lots of other bargains to be had including travel via Eurostar and getting cheaper car insurance.

 

3. Entertainment

We know that it can get very expensive when it comes to going out – particularly when you have a family. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to have fun without having to pay full whack.

Many restaurants offer online promotions – for example, Pizza Express regularly run 2for1 offers on main courses. You’ll also be able to find voucher codes and deals in the newspaper, so be sure to check there too.

 

4. Food & shopping

This is a big one. And I’m sure a lot of you would agree that food is one of, maybe even the biggest, monthly outgoing. The Office for National Statistics revealed that the average amount spent by each family in 2016/17 was £536.80 per week.

Whether you’re eating in, eating out or grabbing yourself a coffee in the morning – there are lots of ways to save money.

Buying supermarket-own brands can positively impact your spend – and in a lot of cases you’ll find that you won’t even need to compromise on taste, just on brand.

As I mentioned previously, make sure that you sign up to reward schemes so that you can collect points that you’ll be able to use in store at a later date. Major retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s are great at rewarding customers with money off vouchers.

And finally, keep your food fresh for longer and don’t be wasteful. Freezing leftovers will save you money AND time. Ensure you store food properly and check dates so that you don’t get caught out.

 

Are you a master of saving money? We’d love to hear your top tips today. Let us know in the comments below.

 

Nearly two out of five take more than £500 in cash on trips abroad

Research carried out by Viewsbank for Consumer Intelligence revealed that holidaymakers that were heading abroad over the Easter holiday were risking their spending money by relying on cash, which would not be covered by their travel insurance.

The study revealed that nearly two out of five (38%) take more than £500 of cash on holiday, however, analysis of leading travel insurance policies found that most only provide cover for lost of stole cash to a maximum of £250 and have excesses of up to £100.

More than 2 million people were expected to head overseas for the Easter bank holiday. Banking and insurance research expert, Consumer Intelligence, believes that people should look at alternatives such as pre-paid travels cards, which will cost holidaymakers less if they are lost or stolen.

Andy Buller, Consumer Intelligence travel money expert said: “I’m constantly surprised by the amount of cash holidaymakers still choose to take out of the country given the decline in the use of cash at home.

Head over to Consumer Intelligence for the full article.

 

Did you go away over the Easter weekend? We'd love to hear if you prefer to carry cash on holiday. Let us know in the comments below.

A pet is for life: make sure it is right for you

Becoming a pet owner comes with lots of responsibilities AND lots of benefits. There are many things you need to consider before taking this step – how much time do you have? What is your financial situation? Is your accommodation suitable?

These are just some of the points to bear in mind, when choosing which pet is right for you.

Knowing the reasons for wanting to own a pet can be a good place to start. Perhaps you’re looking for a companion or you’ve always wanted a pet and now you are finally able to? Whatever the reason, make sure that it is for the right one.

Studies show that people who own a pet tend to be happier and healthier. This research also supports that the bond between humans and animals can have many psychological and physical health benefits.

In a recent poll, a massive 59% of you told us that you already own a pet, whilst 15% would like to own one and 26% do not own a pet.

There are many different types of pets. From cats and dogs to birds and reptiles. Finding the right pet is important, because you’ll see that not every animal is right for you.

So, for those who are currently in the middle of making this decision, here are pointers to help you make the right decision.

1. Do you have the time?

This is a big question, and you need to be 100% honest with yourself. Do you have the time that is needed to look after a pet? Particularly if you decide to go for a new-born.

If you’re at work 9 until 5, five days a week, you need to consider whether owning a pet is the right thing for you. There are certainly ways to get around this though – for example, you can get somebody reliable to check in on your pet whilst you are out, or you could potentially drop your pet off with a family member or friend.

Popular pets like dogs need a lot of care and attention, which can cause challenges to those that work full-time.

Less demanding pets like cats may suit you better if you work long hours every day, as they move around freely and can generally take care of themselves.

2. Can you afford it?

Not only do you need the time to care for a pet, but it can also be very expensive. You’ll need to buy them a bed or somewhere to sleep, food, veterinary treatments, pet insurance, toys and more. Depending on the animal, you may need to buy a cage or aquarium – so the costs do add up.

According to The People’s Dispensary Sick Animals (PDSA), the lifetime cost of owning a cat is around £17,000, while owning a dog has been estimated between £16,000 and £31,000 depending on the size of it.

3. Is your accommodation suitable?

Are you a homeowner with a garden or do you rent a flat? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself. Particularly if you’re looking to get a pet that requires outdoor space to move around.

4. A pet is for life

Finally, you need to consider the life expectancy of your potential new family member. Being a pet owner comes with responsibilities and requires commitment from you. On average, cats can live up to 15 years, whereas the average lifespan of a dog is between 8 and 15 years depending on the breed and size of the dog.

However, if you’re interested in a reptile as a pet, you could expect their lifespan to be between 40 and 60 years

Be sure you are 100% confident you can provide the right environment and care before taking this big step.

 

Are you a pet owner? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear.

 

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Top 7 ways to start working out

8 months ago by vfiebelmann

Top 7 ways to start working out

We’ve all been there: either fallen off – or have yet to jump on – the health and fitness bandwagon.

It can be tough to motivate yourself to hit the gym or get up early for a run, but it can be done.

Work, stress, lack of time and life in general can stand in the way of you living the lifestyle you want to live.

But with the right plan in place, and the right attitude, there are simple ways to incorporate exercise into your routine.
 

Here are our top ways to help you start working out, so that you can reap the benefits of exercise.
 

1. Understand your goals

Understanding ‘why’ you want to exercise is the best place to start. Not everyone does it for the same reason. So, knowing what your primary goal is will really help you motivate yourself to stay on track.

 

2. Sometimes we need even more motivation

It’s okay, we’ve definitely all been here too. Sometimes we need MORE motivation, so here are just some of the important and motivational reasons to make you want to exercise:


3. Set specific goals

We all know that we should exercise, but when it comes down to it, something always gets in the way.

Starting an exercise program can be daunting. The problem is, we simply don’t put the right strategies in place for it to be a success.

Here are some simple strategies to put into place:

  • Be specific: don’t set yourself a goal to ‘become fit’, instead set a specific goal you can track. For example, aim to exercise three times a week
  • Be realistic: if you’re new to this, don’t set a goal that you can’t achieve. Focus on the small achievements
  • Set short-term goals: be sure to set yourself short term goals to keep you motivated, instead of ‘run a marathon next year’


4. Set reminders

One of the biggest challenges facing us today is lack of time. A way around this is to schedule in time to exercise. Set reminders on your phone or add it into your calendar. And if you’re still struggling, take a look at: 10 Fitness Hacks For When You Don’t Have Time To Work Out.

 

5. Come up with a workout plan

Okay, so this sounds more complicated then it needs to be. Getting in shape is far easier, when you have a plan in place. Your weekly exercise routine should include resistance training to build/maintain muscle, along with some aerobic exercise to improve your cardiovascular health.

If you’re a little stuck, just have a quick Google where you’ll find lots of great websites that cover various different types of workout routines to suit your body shape and the results you want to achieve.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this latest trend, but high intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the best ways to get your aerobic exercise, so I’d strongly recommend joining in gym classes to help you improve your cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Most importantly, make sure you start off slow and gradually build yourself up. Nothing happens overnight.

 

6. Keep it simple

Make sure you keep things simple by eliminating things that might get in the way of your exercise plan. A really useful tactic to help you succeed is by adjusting your environment in ways that push you to exercise. For example:

  • Have your gym bag packed up and ready to go
  • Plan on doing an early morning workout? Have your gym clothes ready in front of you when you get up
  • Set reminders and alarms
  • Commit to a class, which you cannot miss

 

7. Last but not least, make sure you enjoy it

I think we can all agree, that sometimes the thought of exercise is just too much. But finding the right type of activity will make it far more likely to be something you stick with. In a poll, only 36.8% told us they enjoyed exercise, with 34.3% saying they sometimes enjoy it and 19.9% telling us that they do not enjoy exercise at all.

Enjoying the type of exercise you do is a big contributing factor to staying on track and achieving your goals.

 

Before starting any exercise program, always be sure to check with a doctor or health professional to ensure there is no reason you shouldn’t be exercising.

 

Do you find time to exercise? What are your biggest challenges? Let us know in the comments.

 

Do whiplash reforms mean savings for consumers?

Whiplash

In March, the Government published its Civil Liability Bill, which set out plans to alter the compensation payments due to those with whiplash injuries. The Government are indicating that this should amount to an average saving of around £35 on a yearly insurance premium.

Compensation for whiplash injuries that arise from car accidents has long been a controversial topic, and as we know, consumers tend to be very sceptical when it comes to insurance companies passing on savings.

With that in mind, we conducted a survey for Consumer Intelligence on Viewsbank, to assess consumer attitudes to the proposed changes, and the results weren’t surprising at all. In fact, we have asked similar questions before, back in November 2016 when the Ministry of Justice offered up plans to save motorists in the region of £40 per year on their insurance by reducing the number of whiplash claims. Motorists were sceptical back then too, with around two thirds believing that insurers would simply pocket the difference, and only 15% trusting all insurers to pass on savings to consumers.

This time around, and perhaps as expected, consumer attitudes have changed very little. Perhaps slightly surprisingly however, it would appear that consumers are actually slightly more sceptical of insurance companies than before, as the results indicate that 70% now believe that the majority of (50%) or all (20%) insurers will pocket the difference.

Do you expect insurers to pass on any savings from personal injury reform?

I think all insurers would pocket the difference

20%

I think most insurers would pocket the difference

50%

I think most insurers would pass the savings on

22%

I trust my insurer to do this, but not the wider industry

8%

 

Those who do expect some sort of saving also expect it to be a fairly small one, with 70% of respondents predicting it to be £30 or less. This scepticism contradicts research by Consumer Intelligence showing that although average premiums have increased by 7.5% over the last year, they have fallen by 3.4% since September and are actually on the longest downward trajectory since records began. This just shows how much work is still needed to be put in by insurance companies in order to regain the trust of consumers. In fact, two thirds of consumers asked in the survey actually believe that their insurance premiums will rise in 2018.

Do you expect your premium to rise in 2018?

Yes

67%

No

14%

It depends on the government

7%

I don’t know

12%

 

What is clear from our survey though, is that most consumers don’t know that any of this is happening, however, the desire for whiplash payment reform is increasing.

Stuart Peters, Consumer Intelligence Head of Research explains: “There is a good news story in here for consumers, but they’re just not aware of it – therefore there’s a job for the industry to do.

“We found that almost one in two consumers feel whiplash payments are too high. At the same time, expectations have increased, with 20% of consumers hoping for at least £2,000 – almost twice the figure in 2016.

“These findings demonstrate why insurers have worked so hard on whiplash reform, in an attempt to hold premiums in check, but it seems that the majority of consumers are not receiving the message.”

More Ogden Changes

Consumers may also remember that the Government made some changes last year to the Ogden Rate, which is used to calculate pay-outs for personal injury claims. These changes last year massively increased costs to insurers, and therefore premiums in quite a few cases.

However, the Government has also announced that the Ogden rate will be looked at and altered again, and while the exact figure has yet to be decided, experts are suggesting that consumers could see and average reduction of around £50 on an annual policy, which coupled with the changes from the Civil Liability Bill could see consumers save around £85 or approximately 11% off an average policy.

Despite the above, our study found that only 3% of consumers were aware of this upcoming change, giving the insurance industry a massive opportunity to being generating some positive PR and making consumers aware of this. It’s clearly much needed, given that only 9% of consumers were aware that most of the industry has already pledged to pass on whiplash reform savings, while 21% didn’t believe that such a change would even happen.

Either way, it would appear that the insurance industry now has a golden opportunity to highlight these upcoming changes, something that would certainly help them regain some of that lost trust with consumers.

What do you think? Are you expecting to see a saving on your next car insurance renewal? Let us know in the comments.

 

British holidaymakers at risk by carrying more cash

 

A survey conducted for Consumer Intelligence by Viewsbank revealed that British holidaymakers are putting themselves at risk by carrying more cash than their insurance policies allow them.

Consumer Intelligence’s latest biannual survey shows that nearly 70% of travellers are carrying more than £250 in cash when they go abroad, despite most insurers not covering them for this.

The study also revealed that many major travel insurance providers cover only £200 of cash on their standard policies. The most generous provider was Direct Line, covering £500 worth of personal cash.

Insurance cover for those who have lost or stolen money while abroad differs. Travel insurers offer different exclusions and excesses for those carrying cash abroad, meaning that some could be in for a shock when they come to claim.

Despite the risks involved in taking money abroad, the Consumer Intelligence biannual survey showed that cash is still king for most holidaymakers. The most common amount of cash taken on holiday is between £250 and £499, with 30% of people taking this amount.

The second most popular amount of cash to take is between £500 and £999, with around 26% of respondents saying that they take this amount on holiday.

70% of this cash is purchased a few weeks before it is needed, meaning that lots of people are storing large amounts of travel money at home before going on holiday.

Andy Buller, Travel Money expert at Consumer Intelligence says:

“Our customer studies show that most travellers carry far more cash than their insurers would ever pay out on, if they were to lose it or have it stolen,” he said. “It's a risk that many don't consider, but travel money providers - especially those who also offer travel insurance, could use this as an opportunity to create loyalty by advising customers on safer ways to take money abroad such as prepaid cards, or additions to travel policies that would cover the additional cash that customers carry.

“Our surveys show that many customers feel little brand loyalty to their travel money providers, but information like this that would genuinely keep customers safer could keep them coming back for more."

Do you carry cash or use alternative payment methods whilst travelling abroad? Let us know in the comments.