How to save cash on your mobile phone

Mr HTSC recently changed mobile phone operator and mobile phone and it didn’t cost him a fortune. Here’s a comparison of the operator plans, both of these are sim only, month by month contracts. Once we’ve gone over this, we’ll get onto the actual phone.

Old plan

Minutes 500
Messages 500
Data 250MB
Cost Per Month £10

New plan

The new contract is with The Peoples Operator and is a rolling month by month contract.

Minutes 750
Messages Unlimited
Data 1.5GB
Cost Per Month £4.99

Now the comparison isn’t that difficult, not only does the new plan increase the number of minutes, texts and data, Mr HTSC gets all this for HALF  the price of the old plan.

As is customary on HTSC, let’s take a quick look at the numbers over a period of 1 year (cost per month x 12).

Old plan £120
New plan £60

And there we have it, Mr HTSC has saved himself £60 per year for 5 minutes work.

So you might be asking, how do I find these offers myself? Well Mr HTSC found this gem on the MoneySavingExpert website, within about 5 minutes of deciding it was time for a change. So it really didn’t take long to find.

As for the handset, having looked around at number of different models and deciding an iPhone is just too expensive, the only other option was to go for a Android device. Now, there are some interesting deals being offered by some of the big operators but Mr HTSC wanted to buy the phone out right, so after looking at few models, the Huawei Y6 2017 was purchased from Amazon.

It’s a great phone, with a battery life of around 4 days. I’m sure you could get more out of it if you didn’t occasionally look at nonsense on the internet. It is 4G compatible and comes with the ability to insert a micro SD card to increase the 16GB storage already available. The price for the phone is £99.95. Although £99.95 sounds like a lot, if you spread that out over the next 12 months, that’s £8.25 per month.

Time for a  comparison with a deal from one of the big mobile operators (freshly screen grabbed) for the iPhone X on a similar minutes, texts and data package.

A very costly mobile phone plan!

Here are the numbers in black and white.

Up Front Cost Monthly Cost Total after 2 years
Huawei Y6 + TPO sim only plan £99.95 (cost of buying the phone out right) £4.99 £219.71
iPhone X + Airtime plan £99.99 £62.00 £1587.99

After 2 years, which the iPhone X plan is over, the difference between the two is a whopping £1368.24. Now I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t need a phone which will take over £1000 of my hard earned cash out of my wallet unnecessarily.

Net Worth Update – February 2018

So it’s time to check up on whether HTSC’s net worth has increased or decreased in February 2018. I’m going to leave the previous years net worth numbers in these updates so we can see that (hopefully) everything is headed in the right direction. 

The HTSC portfolio can be found here and a round up of 2017 can be found here.

Remember only percentage values are being used as it makes no difference to you what the HTSC net worth target is.

Net Worth

Month Net Worth %
2017 2018
January 5.21 6.30
February 5.39 6.33
March 5.85
April 6.09
May 6.39
June 6.52
July 6.62
August 6.86
September 7.01
October 5.85
November 5.97
December 6.23

Again it’s the same story as January, the net worth increased (yay!) but not by much (boo!).

The reason that it hasn’t increased by much this month is because there was a sharp drop in the value of stock markets all over the globe. This meant that the ISA and SIPP in the HTSC portfolio dropped in value. Don’t worry, Mr HTSC hasn’t gone all frivolous and started spending money on items he doesn’t need.

In the January update, I promised you a sexy graph, sadly it isn’t as sexy as I’d like it to be but it’s a graph non the less.

Graph 1 – Net worth increase. As you can see, the bloody thing has flat lined so far in 2018.

No one said making your spare cash work harder for you was going to be plain sailing. There are going to be ups and downs. It’s about holding on tight and breathing slowly when everything is heading south. Shamelessly pilfered from Berkshire Hathaway’s latest annual report  (page 11) are these few lines of wisdom (pulled from Kipling’s If ) to bare in mind when things aren’t going well.

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . .
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting . . .
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim . . .
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”

Stay safe and warm folks! Over and out from a very snowy Scottish Borders.



Getting others into saving that hard earned cash

So, you’ve done your reading and you’re fully on board with taking a good hard look at your financial position and want to get going. However, you happen to be in a relationship where your partner may have no idea what you’ve been up to (creating budgets, thinking of what can be cut out or down from your monthly spending and generally just being eager to swing that cash saving sword like a ninja) but you’re not sure how to approach the subject. Well Mr HTSC can offer you one solution (it’s not sexy in any way, shape or form) but it might just work.

I present to you, the HowToSaveCash’s (let’s not work till we’re nearly dead) plan. Yes, it’s a presentation, everyone’s favourite way of sharing info 😉

I recommend hitting the full screen button on the slideshow.

I actually went through this with Mrs HTSC as she had many, many concerns regarding the investing side of this plan. However, I believe fear and/or concern usually comes from not knowing, so with a little time and this presentation, those concerns were eased (not completely gone but being more informed helped).

Now a presentation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When I proposed this to Mrs HTSC, she showed about as much enthusiasm for this as being told she was going to have to sit there and watch paint dry for 20 minutes. But the end result was worth it, she even said that it “wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be”. Which in my mind, is a result.

I did aim this at someone who really isn’t interested in finance so it might seem overly simplified but it’s a start and sometimes that’s all you need to get the ball rolling.

Net Worth Update – January 2018

So it’s time to check up on whether HTSC’s net worth has increased or decreased in January 2018. I’m going to leave the previous years net worth numbers in these updates so we can see that (hopefully) everything is headed in the right direction. 

The HTSC portfolio can be found here and a round up of 2017 can be found here.

Remember only percentage values are being used as it makes no difference to you what the HTSC net worth target is.

Net Worth

Month Net Worth %
2017 2018
January 5.21 6.30
February 5.39
March 5.85
April 6.09
May 6.39
June 6.52
July 6.62
August 6.86
September 7.01
October 5.85
November 5.97
December 6.23

As we can see, the net worth increased (yay!) but not by much (boo!).

As discussed in the 2017 Net Worth Review, there is a ‘big picture’ at play here, so as long as by the end of the year we’re close to or passed 2.84% (which the HTSC household is already) then the HTSC plan is still on target.

Sadly with only being one month into the new year, there’s nothing to show on a sexy graph. Hopefully you’ll be able to forgive me and return for the February update, as that will contain a sexy graph or two.

How to save cash on your home energy

If you happen to be renting or a home owner, one outgoing (hopefully you’ve got your SSBS together) you’re not going to get out of paying for are utilities (gas/electric/water).  I must admit, this isn’t the most exciting topic but this is definitely worth your time, as its going to save you from parting with more of your hard earned cash than you need to. This will only apply if you’re on a standard meter for your gas and electric, so not a prepaid meter or an economy 7 meter.

The Basics

You’ll have an energy supplier (i.e British Gas, EDF, Ovo, Scottish Power) who provide the gas and electric to the house/flat. You will have a gas and electric meter, this allows the utility company to calculate how much energy you’ve used and how much you owe them. If you don’t already, I highly recommend you submit meter reading(s) each month to make sure the bills are not wildly inaccurate.

So what do you need to look out for when wanting to get the best deal possible? Here are costs to look out for:

  • Electricity – Standing Charge (this is a fixed cost per day)
  • Electricity – Unit Rate (this is the price per kWh used)
  • Gas – Standing Charge (this is a fixed cost per day)
  • Gas – Unit Rate (this the price per kWh used)

These are likely to be a little hard to find (the supplier doesn’t really want you knowing this) and if you’re finding it too difficult to find these for a given supplier, ditch the supplier and choose one who is open about the amount they charge.

Here’s the tariff example from Bulb, the current supplier of energy to the HTSC household.

As we can see, Bulb clearly show you their tariff information. Lets take another example from a different supplier and work out the difference.

Supplier: Scottish Power

Tariff Name: Online Fix and Save January 2019 v2

Tariff breakdown can be found here (they don’t make is easy for you). These are for the monthly direct debit payments for the ScottishPower supply area.

Standing Charge Per kWh
Electric 32.88p 15.164p
Gas 32.88p 3.616p

Now we’ve got our prices lets look at a month’s worth of energy usage. Lets take the month of December as it’s probably one of the most expensive.

First off, the number of days in December = 31, next is the energy used for the month of December.

Energy kWh Used
Electricity 248
Gas 1947

Now for the incredibly complicated maths (just kidding). We multiple the standing charge for each supplier by 31 and the unit prices are multiplied by the number of kWhs used.

So for the electricity from Bulb we have the following calculations:

Standing Charge

31 * 0.2456 = 7.61

kWh Used

248 * 0.12257 = 30.40

Standing Charge kWh Used
– Electricity £7.61 £30.40
– Gas £7.61 £48.09
Sub Total £15.23 £78.49
Total   £93.72
Scottish Power
– Electricity £10.19 £37.61
– Gas £10.19 £70.40
Sub Total £20.39 £108.01
Total £128.40

Hopefully you’ve homed in on the totals and can see that in this comparison, Bulb comes out cheaper by a whopping £34.68! Now just think, it’s the same gas and electricity that is coming through your wires and gas pipes regardless of supplier so why pay more than you have to?

As I’ve mentioned Bulb are the supplier of energy to the HTSC household and do a fantastic job of providing green energy to other homes across the UK. They provide 100% renewable electricity, which gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when switching on a light. You’ll get £50 credit if you sign up and switch to Bulb from here, who can say no to free energy?!

If this all seems too much, no problem, there are services like uSwitch – Gas & Electricity who allow you to search for the cheapest deal with minimal information, just your home address, the type of meter(s) you have and how much you spend/use energy wise each month. If you see a deal you like on there, they also provide a service where they take care of informing your current supplier that you want to move to a new supplier, which means you have to do even less!!!

See, I told you it would be worth your time. Just think, if you can save £34.68 in one month, what could you save over a year?



2017 Net Worth Review

Having recently put up the HTSC portfolio, which can be found here, I thought I’d start sharing the progress the HTSC household is making on reaching their net worth target. 

Remember only percentage values are being used as it makes no difference to you what the HTSC net worth target is.


Month Net Worth %
January 5.21
February 5.39
March 5.85
April 6.09
May 6.39
June 6.52
July 6.62
August 6.86
September 7.01
October 5.85
November 5.97
December 6.23

OK, tables are not the most visually pleasing way to show data so here are a couple of sexy graphs.

Graph 1 – 2017 Monthly net worth increase and slight decrease.

As we can see the HTSC net worth was happily heading north until September came along. The drop is due to purchasing a house, something the HTSC clan won’t be doing again any time soon, so there shouldn’t be another dip as large as this in the future.


Graph 2 – 2017 Net worth relative to target.

Some people relish seeing the bigger picture and some people just don’t. Mr HTSC is a ‘wants to see the big picture’ kind of chap, regardless of how depressing it might look. Case in point, the grey line in graph 2 is the HTSC net worth and the yellow line at the top is our goal. To say we’ve got a way to go is a slight understatement but who doesn’t like a challenge eh?

You might be asking, why doesn’t this scare Mr HTSC to death? Well here’s why (yep, another graph)

Graph 3 – The big picture

According to graph 3, we should be hitting our net worth goal around 2043, now this might seem like a long time into the future, and it is. But power is knowing and now we’ve got this big picture, if we think that waiting until 2043 is too far into the future, we alter the plan accordingly. Whether that’s by saving and investing more or generating more income per month.

The data behind the graph can be seen below. You’ll notice the HTSC prediction was to have a net worth of 6% around 2022. So we’re already ahead having achieved that in 2017.

Year Net Worth
2014 0.30
2015 0.83
2016 1.43
2017 2.10
2018 2.84
2019 3.67
2020 4.58
2021 5.61
2022 6.75
2023 8.01
2024 9.42
2025 10.99
2026 12.73
2027 14.67
2028 16.82
2029 19.22
2030 21.88
2031 24.84
2032 28.13
2033 31.79
2034 35.86
2035 40.37
2036 45.39
2037 50.96
2038 57.15
2039 64.02
2040 71.66
2041 80.14
2042 89.55
2043 100.00

Hopefully, this has been useful and possibly even a prompt to put together a sexy graph or two yourself. I realise that finance can be a dry subject but it really doesn’t have to be, especially when it involves your future.

Happy graphin’!


OK so it’s time for HowToSaveCash to nail his colours to the mast and let you in on what the HTSC portfolio looks like. I’m going to update this page on a monthly basis as well as post monthly updates to show the progress the HTSC household is making on achieving their net worth goal. The portfolio will be in percentage values, as it makes absolutely no difference to you, dear reader, whether the HTSC goal is to have a net worth of £10, £100, £10,000, £100,000 or £1,000,000.

HTSC Portfolio – February 2018

Here’s a sexy pie chart which gives an overview of the portfolio.

Here’s the breakdown of what is in the portfolio.

Overall Percent
Cash 19
Stocks & Shares ISA  48
Fund Name Percent
Vanguard LifeStrategy 80% Equity  Fund – Accumulation 100
SIPP  25
Fund Name Percent
Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% Equity  Fund – Accumulation 100
Work Place Pension (Aviva) 6
Fund Name Percent
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila UK Equity Index Tracker S6 15
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila US Equity Index Tracker S6 40
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila European Equity Index Tracker S6 20
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila Pacific Rim Equity Index Tracker S6 5
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila Japanese Equity Index Tracker S6 10
Aviva Pensions BlackRock Aquila Over 15 Years Gilt Index Tracker S6 10
BrewDog Shares 2


The Aviva pension is an auto-enrollment work place pension that Mr HTSC was signed up for some time in 2016/2017. The funds in the pension are ones that have been manually selected since being enrolled. The default fund that was chosen was an actively managed, high fee fund which just doesn’t sit well with the ethos of saving cash, so it was changed for the 6 index funds listed above.

Yes, Mr HTSC invested in BrewDog some years ago and happens to benefit greatly from the discount received in their bars and online shop for being a share holder. Yes, I know, spending money on beer is not a basic need but hey, you have to live a little right? For those wanting to know more here’s a link Equity For Punks.


Wise Words: Talks from the world’s best investors

So you’ll be glad to know this post will be light on text and heavy on YouTube videos. For me, these videos provide some great advice on how to approach life and best of all, it’s free!

These videos have been chosen because not only are Mr Buffett and Mr Munger the most successful investing partnership there has ever been, they both seem to be good, honest and down to earth people. Their ability to explain complex issues in a simple way and do it with humility and humour, just cannot be beaten.

Warren Buffett – Even if you don’t watch the entire video, I highly recommend you watch/listen to the first 10 minutes. You never know, it may just change the way you approach life.

Charlie Munger – A great insight into the workings of another great mind. There’s a great life story from 16 minutes in.

Warren Buffett – A film released in 2017, I’m not sure it should be on YouTube but I’d recommend watching it whilst you can. It’s a great insight into the man behind the title ‘World’s Most Successful Investor’.


A quick search on YouTube will return even more videos of talks Mr Buffett and Mr Munger have given over the years. If you have the time I’d recommend you watch as many as possible. I mean why wouldn’t you, they are talking about their life experiences and lessons learnt from investing. If someone has learnt a valuable lesson, how great is it to learn from them and not have to make the mistake yourself? Happy viewing.

Ahh I’m drowning in ISAs

ISA (Individual Saving Account)

Up until about 5 years ago ISAs seemed pretty straight forward. There were 2 options (as far as I’m aware), there was either a Cash ISA, which your local bank or building society would offer or a Stocks and Shares ISA, which would be offered by brokerages. However, over the last 5 years it appears these ISAs have multiplied like rabbits and now it feels like untangling a bowl full of spaghetti when attempting to figure out which ISA right for what job.

Well if the conundrum of which ISA to open or contribute to this tax year has been keeping you up at night (and I’m taking a wild guess that it probably hasn’t), then don’t worry, we’ll go over what is currently available and when which ISA is best for what job. Now come on, together, we’ll get through this.

ISA Advantages

At the moment it’s simple, any gains on the money within an ISA (sometimes also referred to as a tax-wrapper, this isn’t someone who raps about tax) are currently protected from the tax man. There are other advantages which we’ll go over in the table below.

ISA Type Restrictions Best For Yearly Limit Benefits
Cash ISA Building up cash savings. 20,000 Interest earned on savings is not taxed.
Lifetime ISA Can only withdraw money for house purchase or retirement.

If using this for retirement savings, money cannot be withdrawn until age 60.

Saving for a house or retirement. 4,000 Government tops up amount by 25%. So you put in £4,000 and the Government will add £1,000.


Help to Buy ISA Can only be used for buying your first home. Saving for a house deposit.


Maximum of £200 per month contributions.

In the first month of opening you can deposit £1,200.

The Government will top up the ISA when the ISA is closed for purchasing a house. The government top up by 25% of what is in the ISA up to a maximum of £3,000.
Stocks and Shares ISA Building up a shares/bonds/funds portfolio. 20,000 Any gains in value of shares or bonds are tax free. As are the dividends or interest which is paid to you.
Innovative Finance ISA Peer-to-peer lending 20,000 The money earned from peer-to-peer lending is tax free.


Scenario: Saving for a house

So you’ve got two options here, either the Lifetime ISA or the Help to Buy ISA, which is going to be best for you? Well you’re reading a HTSC post so we’ll get to the example.


  • Saving for 3 years (36 months)
  • Maximum contributions are made
ISA Type Contributions Total Contributions Bonus Total
Help to Buy ISA 1,200 x 1 Month

200 x 35 Months

8,200 2,050 10,250
Lifetime ISA 4000 each tax year 12,000 3,000 15,000

If maximum contributions can be made, the Lifetime ISA is the one to go with and even if you cannot make the maximum, it’s still the Lifetime ISA and here’s why. The Lifetime ISA has an age limit of 50 for when the 25% bonus stops being paid, where as the Help to Buy ISA will only pay a maximum bonus of £3,000. So there’s no point in saving into the Help to Buy ISA once you’ve saved £12,000.

If you open a Lifetime ISA and contribute the same as you would have if you opened a Help to Buy ISA, the bonus and total will be the same. It’s just the Lifetime ISA allows you to save more and in turn earn a bigger top up.


Scenario: I’ve budgeted like a pro and I’m sat on spare cash I want to get to work

So you’re not happy with the Cash ISA return (of a pitiful 1%) and you’re happy to take on a little more excitement (read risk) in the hope of greater returns.

Now the Stocks and Shares ISA and the Innovative Finance ISA are not directly comparable as they are out there to satisfy different needs but here’s a quick rundown.

ISA Type Pros Cons
Stocks and Shares ISA Any gains in the value of shares and bonds bought is tax free.

Any dividends or interest paid is tax free.

There is an ongoing fee for having a Stocks and Shares ISA.
Innovative Finance ISA Any money received from peer-to-peer lending activities is tax free. There is an ongoing fee for having an Innovative Finance ISA.

Not many platforms currently offer this ISA.

The Innovative Finance ISA is the new kid on the block and it’s out there to satisfy the growing demand of people wanting to loan out their spare cash to other people or businesses. This is known as peer-to-peer lending or crowd funding. More information can be found here: MoneySavingExport – Peer-to-peer lending

There are not a lot of platforms out there that offer the Innovative Finance ISA but one list I’ve found is: 

So I hope that clears a few bits and pieces up and you’re able to determine which ISA is best for you. I’m sure in years to come there will be even more ISA options out there, which will no doubt add to the confusion but don’t be afraid, as we’ll tackle each ISA as it is released into the wild.

As always, please do further reading when it comes to finance. The topic of ISAs is a large one and cannot be fully understood by reading one blog post by a guy on the internet. Happy hunting!