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Personal Lines Perspective | March 2022

Home | Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring

It’s never too early to start preparing your garden for spring. While waiting for warmer months can be tempting, preparing early ensures your garden will be in the best shape once spring arrives. Consider the following tips:

  • Clean and tidy up. Taking time to tidy up the garden now will pay dividends later. Collect fallen dead leaves and stalks that can harbour disease and infect plants if left. Cut back any plants you haven’t tidied already. If you’ve left herbaceous perennials over the winter to act as shelter for wildlife, now is the time to cut back dead stems to ground level.
  • Pull out weeds. It’s important to clear the borders of moss and weeds to prevent them from taking over in spring. If left, they can restrict the growth of your plants. Remove them by hand while the ground is still soft from winter, or use a weed killer.
  • Plan your summer-flowering bulbs. Plan ahead so you can enjoy a summer garden fully in bloom. Order the bulbs you plan to plant in early spring. Also, review what you already have. An ideal time to dig and divide any perennials growing beyond where you would like them is before new growth begins. Consider moving perennials to a new location, but water them well in their new home.
  • Take care of the lawn. Fallen leaves can smother new lawn growth. Rake the garden to remove dead leaves and grass but don’t rake when the soil is soft and muddy, or you risk pulling up healthy grass crowns. Patch any bare spots on the lawn with grass seed. Don’t forget to use an edging tool to remove stray grass from any garden beds.
  • Get rid of pests. Check underneath leaves for bugs and flies. Some species can be brushed off, but others will need a specialist’s pest treatment.
  • Get your tools in order. Take stock of your garden tools so you have everything ready for spring. Fix or replace anything broken and sharpen existing tools.

Life | Money Tops to Consider as Cost of Living Rises

The UK’s cost of living escalated in December as inflation jumped to its highest level in almost 30 years, 5.4 per cent. Coupled with the planned hike in National Insurance and rising energy costs, it’s a financially difficult time for many. Consider these tips to keep your finances in check:

  • Pay down debts. Total your current borrowing and set up a payment plan, focusing first on debts with the highest interest rate. Overpay to clear debts quicker, if possible.
  • Switch credit cards. Switching to an interest-free balance transfer card ensures any payments go towards the debt rather than the interest. Alternatively, consider consolidating your debts into a personal loan.
  • Shop around. If you’re out of a contract, shopping for new broadband, TV and mobile phone deals can allow for savings. Likewise, review larger utilities, including your mortgage. Switching from a variable to a fixed interest rate can often reduce your monthly instalments.
  • Set a budget. Draw up a budget and stick to it. Once you’re back on track, start building a savings buffer for emergencies.

Motor | Protecting Vehicles from Theft

Vehicle theft is a problem to be aware of. In England and Wales, nearly 90,000 motor vehicles were stolen in 2020/21, according to database company Statista. Furthermore, according to the Office for National Statistics, 72 percent of stolen vehicles are never returned to their owners. Don’t let your vehicle become a statistic; follow our theft prevention tips:

  • Lock your vehicle. Leaving your vehicle unlocked makes it an easy target for the opportunist thief. Lock your vehicle, even when filling up or parked on your drive. Additionally, lock your doors when driving in slow traffic to help deter vehicle hijackers.
  • Park responsibly. Find a parking place that’s well-lit and open to public view. Choose car parks covered by CCTV or approved for safer parking by Park Mark. Car parks with height-restricted entrances can help prevent your vehicle from being seized by illegal tow trucks and removal systems.
  • Don’t display belongings. Leaving valuables on show could tempt a thief to break in. Avoid car vandalism by taking your belongings with you. If your work vehicle carries tools, use paint pens to mark them with the company name, a deterrent to thieves, who won’t be able to sell them easily.
  • Fend off techno-thieves. With more keyless cars, thieves are using increasingly sophisticated methods to gain entry. Keyless car fobs emit a radio signal. In a ‘relay attack’, one criminal uses a device to retrieve the car signal from the key inside a home, relaying it to an accomplice standing by the vehicle. To prevent relay theft, store keys out of range, ideally in an aluminium or signal blocking box. When carrying your fob, consider a signal blocking bag like a faraday pouch.
  • Install a tracker. GPS tracking devices help to recover a stolen vehicle by showing real-time vehicle location. Certain trackers even come with additional features like the ability to remotely disable the vehicle’s ignition.

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