Monthly Archives: November 2016

Tea In A Spray

According to the UK Tea and Infusions Association, 165 million cups of tea are drunk daily in the UK. In August 2016, Yumcha Drinks launched No More Tea Bags, a pre-brewed tea that eliminates the use of teabags, and is instead dispensed from an aluminium spray can.

Tea drinkers spray a small amount of the concentrated tea liquid into their cup and add hot water and milk. The benefits are said to include an end to “under-brewed or stewed” tea, not having to dispose of used tea bags, and an easy way to control the strength of the tea.

Needless to say, the UK food and drink business  is worth billions. And if there are still innovations taking place in a sector as well established as tea, there have to be opportunities in virtually any product sector.


Earn 6%-7% on your savings

If you have savings, you’ll be painfully aware that interest rates are depressingly low. In fact it’s difficult to get much more than a 1% return in a bank or building society deposit account. I was in exactly the same position myself, which is why I started investigating peer-to peer lending a few months ago. It was something of a revelation.

Peer to peer lending cuts out the middle man by lending cash direct to the people that need it, rather than filtering it (and all the profit) through a bank. It sounds risky, but  in my view, the power of numbers ensure that it really isn’t. What the reputable peer to peer lending companies do, is take your cash and divide it up amongst hundreds of loans, so you never have your cash exposed to a small number of borrowers. In any event, the peer to peer lenders apply the same stringent lending criteria as banks, so default rates tend to be very low and are freely available to view.

The end result is that you’re able to secure a return that is many times that offered via traditional routes, but without any significant risk. Most of my cash is now lent out at  between 6% and 7% so I’m getting over six times the return I was getting in the bank. Put another way, if you have £10,000 to invest, you can get the same return as someone who has £70,000.

I’ve experimented with accounts with a number of companies, and all have been excellent. Which would I recommend if you’d like to dip your toe? Well Zopa is probably the biggest and longest established and very easy to deal with. You get started with just a few pounds, although I’m really writing this for people who have a significant sum sitting in a  deposit account earning peanuts.

I’ve posted a link at the end of this article. If you decide to give Zopa a try, use this link and when you deposit £2,000 or more you’ll get a £50 bonus added to your account. For transparency, I’ll get the same added to mine. I should add that if you’re on the other side of the fence and looking for a loan, the company have an excellent reputation for both rates and customer service on that side as well. You can use the same link for that, and receive a bonus payment.

If you have any questions about Zopa or peer to peer lending in general, just ask. I’m by no means an expert, but I have a fair amount invested with several companies now and might be able to help.

Good Gym

Driving to work this morning, I heard about GoodGym.  The organisation have just set up their  second site in Sheffield (the first is in London) and  it offers something different for people who have a social conscience and want to get fit.

The founder came up with the idea after watching all the pointless energy being expended in gyms. Where Good Gym is different is that it organises  members in a way that combines running with work in the community. So, for example, members might meet in the town centre and then run to an old persons house and tidy up their garden, or run to a school and shovel up all the fallen leaves. The idea is to channel the calorie burn into something useful.

Good Gym is a non profit organisation, but the concept may provide a mental springboard. How else might you make exercise both healthy and useful to others?


Money From Books

Did you know that some hardback books bought recently from High Street stores can be resold for up to 30 times their original price? The secret is to pick up a first edition of a book which subsequently wins an industry prize. According to, you could have bought the first edition of all 15 Man Booker prize winning books for £262.85. They would now be worth £2,345. Getting the books signed makes them worth even more. But even unsigned copies can bring big profits. A first edition of 2009 winner Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel would be worth £600 today. Back in 2009, you’d have paid £18.99 for it.

The key is research. Develop an eye for which books are likely to be nominated, and it’s possible to build a profitable portfolio. As with any investments, some won’t bear fruit, but it can certainly be an interesting and lucrative pastime, with very little risk.