September 26, 2015

Transferring money abroad

I’ve recently been asked to transfer money abroad (a donation) for a family member undertaking some charity work.

I was surprised to learn that there was no “Just Giving” (or similar) service to use to take payments and in fact I would have to use a bank transfer in order to donate. This provides a number of challenges:

1) Massive one off fees

I only wanted to send £20 – in the case of my bank there is a £9.50 one off charge to make the transfer.

3) Margin on currency exchange

Most banks will take a cut for transferring your currency into the local currency of the country you are sending money to.

2) Time to transfer

Transferring outside of the Eurozone can take upwards of 12 working days – a shocking amount of time by today’s standards.

With remittance payments at an all time high (India alone receives $70 billion a year) this is clearly a lucrative area for financial institutions.

Fortunately there are many International Foreign Currency Services that make sending money abroad much more efficient both in terms of cost and speed. In fact, services like World First don’t even charge a transfer fee if the amount is under £1,000.

I don’t send money abroad often but i’ll certainly investigate these services further as I can only see their popularity growing.

This situation raises the bigger question of how banks are being disrupted in almost every area. From crowdsourced loans, to cheaper direct debit providers to stock trading mobile apps like Robinhood, it really feels like the beginning of a shift in power to digital, customer focused organisations away from incumbent behemoths that have been slow to improve with the times.

It’s not always their fault. Banks are under heavy scrutiny and have so many legacy systems in place that innovation must feel like having a major surgery. It makes me wonder why more banks don’t just acquire disruptive companies as soon as they have momentum and run them as standalone units. Perhaps we’ll start to see more of this in the coming years as the “fintech” epoch begins pumping out billion-dollar companies.


March 19, 2015

UsefulStats

Just launched the website UsefulStats.com – please check it out!

Carl


October 12, 2014

How to win at poker, when you are bad at poker

I am famously bad at gambling. When you think about… who isn’t? The house always win as they say.

I spent my youth playing 1c/2c blinds on various online casinos, winning very little but losing very little too. At one point, my friends and I decided to try and game the system by all joining the same poker table and using voice communications to know what each others’ hands were. Needless to say, this was a total waste of time.

Like all things, you will only get better at them with time and dedication. A friend of mine got a vitamin D deficiency due to playing online poker too much. He made a fair amount of money, but he looked awful by the end of it. If you are looking to maintain your health, sanity and social life and still want to play, the best thing to do is to leverage offers that casinos put online.

I tend to use comparison websites like onlinepokerrealmoney.co.uk to quickly identify which casinos are running offers and have good feedback. Keeping up to date on new sites and promotions is a critical way to make your poker playing profitable when you have limited time to invest in playing.


August 27, 2014

Why are online Pokies so addictive?

Why are online Pokies so addictive?

When I was 18, it seemed that poker was the national pastime for anyone who just hit legal gaming age. It’s not that surprising when you consider poker is competitive, gives you the chance to earn money, and also requires an element of cunning. At the end of the day, it’s a game, and it’s fun to play with friends over a few drinks. But I always wondered what the allure of online poker is vs. its real world grandfather – could sitting in a dark room playing four tables at the same time on 24-inch monitor for 8 hours a day really be worthwhile?

Well, the answer is yes.

I have three acquaintances that have gone on to make a living from online poker – with around a million in earnings in the last five years – which is more money than a lot of people take home in a life time.

Now although Poker can be extremely lucrative, it also has a steep learning curve and is quite difficult to get good at. Enter Pokies (Slot machine games).

Online Pokies & Slot Games

In my opinion, one of the most exciting ways to use your remaining change in an online casino is playing the Pokie games.

Fun, interactive, visually appealing and simple to use, online Pokies are digital versions of the slot machine games you find in the casino or at the local bar. With some pokies, you have the ability to win upwards of $500K which is no small sum.

How popular are Pokies really?

I used to play these games when I had a couple of dollars remaining credit in my account and wanted to try my luck at winning big with little to no effort. Every now and again, I would come out with a few hundred dollars profit from minutes of playtime so Pokies are an attractive proposition. Australia’s online pokies are really popular – with a bunch my expat friends regularly ending a night’s poker session with some time playing Pokies.

Having checked out a few places like www.pokiesstop.com.au to find online pokies & slots websites – I’m certainly going to give them another go as they are fun, easy to use and provide a lot of money-making potential.


Broccoli Crunch

I just wanted to introduce you to an amazing meal I discovered at whole foods.

- Broccoli
- Bacon
- Cashew nuts
- Small bit of sugar
- Dried Cranberries
- Mayonaise

Steam some broccoli for about three minutes and put it to one side.

Fry up some bacon – about 4 rashers will do. Once done, chop it up.

Put some cashew nuts in a pot with a tablespoon of water and a little bit of sugar – throw in some cayenne if you have it too. Boil it until the cashew nuts look golden.

Mix all of the above in a salad bowl, squirt in some mayo and scatter the cranberries throughout.

End product:


August 26, 2014

Are online casino bonuses becoming more difficult to capitalise on?

No Premier League season is complete without placing a few bets on the big games, putting 50p down on the occasional multiplier or getting that feeling of “why me?” when you lose a large sum due to an own goal by an otherwise world-class centre back.

With football now back on the TV, I’m exploring different betting websites and keeping my eyes pealed for any offers I can leverage to multiply my potential earnings.

Back in the day I managed to make a grand or so in a relatively short space of time by using a conservative betting strategy: capitalising on the sign-on bonuses that most casinos give you and only betting on games that have a decent chance of going your way (Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal to win for example). At the same time I used to have an occasional flutter in the online casino rooms, blackjack specificially, using the traditional basic strategy which worked surprisingly well and at the very least, guaranteed quick results rather than having to wait for an upcoming football match to take place.

I’ve written previously about online casinos trying to make the game more exciting and ostensibly fair by adopting live casino video streams and I’m looking forward to other innovations that are on the horizon for this year.

I’m also exploring international casinos. It seems that interest in online casinos in Canada and other English speaking countries is huge since legalisation changed 5 years ago making it easier for these casinos to grow. Comparison sites like www.online-casinos-canada.ca are great tools to see what Canadian casinos have on offer vs. the usual suspects in the UK and there are opportunities with large bonuses, free iPads and other benefits.

I thought by this age I would have stopped gambling online – but earning quick cash from playing online casino games does not get old


May 14, 2013

Traditional City Break vs. Holiday in the Sun

I have never been a big “holiday” person, simply because I have an irrational fear of taking my foot off the gas.

For that reason, between 2004 and 2010 I didn’t go on holiday at all (despite having been on multiple family holidays/school trips etc. throughout my childhood).

Since 2010 I have travelled over 10 times to destinations ranging from Australia, to Palo Alto to Barcelona. A lot of the trips I’ve taken have been work related, so perhaps don’t count as a holiday, but I’m now opening up to the idea of taking some time off now and again. I think this is partly due to having amassed 39 days of holiday leave from work this year, due to continually carrying over unused days.

I am still not comfortable with the idea of a long holiday (i.e. longer than 4/5 days) so right now I am focused on city breaks and short weekend getaways.

I’m now on the lookout for a holiday destination for later this year, perhaps August/September, and I’m wondering whether it’s worth going for a cheap break at a traditionally “Brits abroad” area like Tenerife (simply because I’ve never been there before).

It looks like the rates are pretty good. If I fly to Tenerife with Monarch Airlines I can get a flight for around £50-60 – which is essentially what I spend on food on a weekend in London – so this kind of price will certainly allow me to up the budget for an opulent hotel.

The big question in my mind is whether I’d prefer a traditional city break to somewhere like Berlin, over a relaxation focused holiday in the sun…


May 11, 2013

I built a metronome

I’ve spent the last day or so working on a metronome for guitarists .

It includes the ability to automatically increase speed after a set time which is particularly useful if you’re trying to build your chops.

Let me know what you think!


March 18, 2013

Why is everyone moving to Australia?

Australia is a place that many graduates tend to explore as part of a gap year the summer after university. But what i’ve noticed since joining the working world is that a good proportion of people (particularly in the media industry) want to move there on a permanent basis.

There are numerous benefits to moving australia. Generally speaking, salaries are substantially higher due to industries being a few years behind the UK/US (outweighing any increases in tax). You can certainly save money for a deposit within 1-2 years of living in Australia.

Of course, the weather is a big selling point for the sun starved UK workforce as well as a vastly superior quality of life.

Housing in London is terrible. Unless you’re a millionaire you will essentially live in squalor. There’s no surprise that this drives many Londoners to move down under.

I’ve been looking at some property in australia and for what you would buy a 1 bed studio in a dangerous part of town for in London, you can live in an incredible flat with gorgeous views of a harbour in Sydney. The big question I have is whether it’s worth investing in property in Australia and managing a portfolio from the UK?

If it wasn’t for the huntsman spiders… I may have considered a move myself…


July 29, 2012

The launch of GuitarSmash

I’ve just launched a new website called GuitarSmash – www.guitarsmash.com.

Essentially it’s a place to share awesome guitar solos and get rated by visitors to the website.

Many of you will remember Hotornot.com, I’ve taken this concept and made it guitar orientated – hopefully you find the site interesting!!


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