All about SALE - Top 5

Who doesn't love sales? I know I do. The rush of the discounts, the eye-catching display in the windows, the screaming placards announcing Up to 60, 70, 80% off! Oh bliss! 

So, this new post is about SALE!! Personally, I wait for these Autumn/Winter, Fall Summer, Spring/Summer sales. Why? Because you get everything cheaper, duh! The same coat that you saw in Zara for £39.99, will be made available to you for half the price at £19.59. Who cares if you need it or not. It just feels right at that price. Those shoes, oh well, "I already have a rack full of shoes," you argue with yourself, but when you see that 70% off sign, the same pair just starts to feel like a necessity. If you share these sentiments, don't feel bad, or feel alone. I'm 100% with you in this. (Like a soul sister, if that helps!) 

So, I thought of sharing this exciting news of current sales that are going on at some of my favourite brands. However, a disclaimer first: Although various brands and their products are mentioned and featured in this post I have not been paid by any of these brands to write this article and will not be receiving any payment for the publishing of this article. Please do not feel I am pushing any form of marketing upon you - the reader – instead I am just sharing what I think is a good bargain. Everything you read in this article are my own words and are not in any way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned below.

Now, let’s start with my absolute favourite - House of Fraser. It is my 'go to' shop for absolutely everything. Starting from apparels to shoes; kitchenware to home accessories; make-up to electricals - you will find everything under one roof. And how amazing will that be if all that you need is put up on a clearance sale? Yes, House of Fraser is offering up to 70% off clearance sale on dresses, dining & glassware and up to 50% off on knitwear, bags & luggage. There is also a 20-50% off on shoes, boots, beauty products and accessories. Kids, don't ya feel left out. There is a massive up to 60% off on kids clothing, toys and nursery goods. 

Here's how you can reach House of Fraser 

Next comes my second best favourite - Marks & Spenser. Have you noticed how they have gone all chic and cool and colourful, over the past 2-3 years? It's no longer the shop for dull and boring people (no offence). M&S has had a makeover and how! The store is currently offering a flat 20% off on knitwear and dresses and skirts. However, if you love M&S, I would strongly recommend signing up at their website for latest offers. They almost fortnightly do a one-day online sale, offering various discounts to their online customers. And trust me, it is worth registering. 

Here's how you can reach Marks & Spenser

In my top 5, the third position is taken by H&M. Their products are cool, hip, interesting and most of all affordable. So, it comes as an even greater joy when H&M puts a sale. Check out their cool jumpers, currently on up to 70% off. Their dresses too are on sale, making them a catch. Kids - again, you guys can have the coolest accessories starting from just £2. 

Here's how you can reach H&M

Now, moving on from clothes to shoes. I absolutely adore stuff from schuh. From slick slip-ons to trainers to boots to sandals, you can be sure to find an interesting display of collection. They also do bags (love their duffel bags), caps, bum bags and shoe care products. They are running an up to 80% off in their store on shoes, boots, uggs and trainers. Hey students, you are in for a treat. You guys get an additional 10% discount :) 

Here's how you can reach schuh

And last, but not the least, Office. They always have the most awesome collection ever, however the price is always on the higher side (for me at least!). So, I can't wait for the time when they put their collection on sale. Coz, that is the only time that I can afford to buy anything from that store (ironic, isn't it). So Office has a 70% off going on on selected boots, whereas there is an up to 50% off on spring styles. Mens smart shoes are £35 and under, whereas you can get your hands on a Vans pair for £25. 

Here's how you can reach office

Have I missed any of your favourite brands that are on sale? Let me know. I will add them to my list. Maybe pay them a visit too :) 

The beats of the ghatam

TH Vinayakram

Rhythm has always been a quintessential facet of Indian classical music, including the Carnatic tradition. In the contemporary generation of percussionists, perhaps no other individual has mastered the intricacies of the ghatam to the degree that Padma Shri TH Vinayakram, affectionately known as Vikku, has.

A Grammy award-winning artiste, Vinayakram gained worldwide recognition with his virtuoso work with the ghatam. I got an opportunity to meet Vinayakram and his son Selvaganesh, at the World Percussion Festival, where he performed with his group Sapthaakshara. Excerpts from a quick chat with Selva:  

"Our main criterion, whenever we perform, is to engage the audience through our music. We ask them to participate by making them give us a dhun or a beat, which we improvise on and present a jugalbandi," says V Selvaganesh. 

Selvaganesh earned worldwide recognition as a percussionist through tours with English guitarist John McLaughlin's group Shakti, of which his father was also a member. In his opinion, fusion music is an experiment, while percussion is an art. "Youngsters today are more focused on fusion music. Fusion is not bad, but the problem is that they get into fusion music before getting enough exposure or experience in that one form of music they want to experiment with," says Selvaganesh, who also performs as a part of Sapthaakshara. 

About the role of technology in music, Selvaganesh says, "Technology has played both a good and a bad part when it comes to classical music. The bad part is that anything and everything is now available online; people have stopped coming to concerts or purchasing CDs. The good part, however, is that it has helped widen the reach of our music. People are becoming aware and the concept of virtual classes is gaining popularity." However, he adds a note of caution, saying, "No matter how advanced we become, the internet or technology cannot replace the knowledge that a guru can give you. The presence and guidance of a guru is essential, especially in learning the ghatam." 


What is a credit score?

What you pay for a mortgage, your car insurance, even your mobile phone contract, most likely depends on three-digits you probably don't even know…

Thank you for your recent application to XYZ Bank. Unfortunately, after careful review of your application, we must decline your request at this time.
Do these words follow you whenever you apply for credit cards, or try to get car insurance? How about when you apply for home loan or car loan? Are you having nightmares about your financial future trying to understand a three-digit number called credit score and how it is calculated?

Well, let us start by telling you that your credit score is something that can either cost or save you thousands of pounds. However for that to happen, you must understand the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of a credit score. Read on…

What is a credit score?
Say you are planning to buy a home, and for that you approach a bank for loan. As a responsible lender, the bank would want to make sure that you can comfortably afford to manage any new borrowing. Of course, they would also try to make some money off of you. To do so, they would need to evaluate all the relevant information regarding your financial behaviour at their disposal. This is where the credit score comes in. It provides them with all your credit history and helps them to assess the chances that you will be able to repay what you owe.

Simply put, a credit score is a tool used by banks to determine your eligibility for credit cards and loans and by insurance companies to determine if you are a good credit risk. Most of the times, landlords and potential employers also take this information into account, while finalising a probable candidate. Hence, if there is any three-digit numbers that hold so much power, it is this number.
Divided into categories, ranging from very poor (0-560) to fair (721-880) to excellent (961-999), your credit score defines your financial worthiness. People with a high score are generally seen as lower risk, and are therefore more likely to be granted credit - and most likely at better rates.

How is it calculated?  
Contrary to popular notion, your personal or professional information such as age, race, marital status, income and employment don't affect the score. However, there are a number of key components that can either make or break your credit score. Here are the five major ones:

Payment history: Making payments boosts your score, while missing payments destroys it.
Amounts owed: Debt can hurt your score, though installment loans (like student loans) are actually beneficial if you keep up with your payments.

Length of credit history: Old accounts earn more trust, whereas new accounts are regarded with suspicion. This means that a late payment on a two-year-old account will hurt your score more than if you’d had the card for two decades.
Types of credit used: Different kinds of credit impact your score in different ways. For instance, a credit card from a national bank carries more weight than one from a department store.

New credit: Multiple requests for credit, including credit inquiries and number of recently opened accounts in a short period of time mean you are a greater risk.
Apart from this, your electoral roll information and court records are also taken into account while calculating your credit score.

There are three major credit bureaus in UK - Equifax, Experian and CallCredit - which issue credit scores. These commercial organisations compile all information about you and supply that to a lender when you apply for credit. Since each pulls information from a slightly different network of lenders to compile its own report, the scores mostly vary from bureau to bureau.

Where can I find my credit score?
You have a statutory right to get your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, each year, for a nominal fee of £2. You can even opt for a free 30-day trial with either Equifax or Experian and check your credit score online. Bookmark these links for future use:

Useful advice
With identity theft becoming the buzz word in today’s Digital age, you should check your credit report regularly and report inconsistencies immediately. Elements on your credit report that don’t belong to you or mistakes such as wrong name or an old address, happen more often than you might think and can have adverse effects on your credit score.

While applying for loans or insurance, your score can mean the difference between a reasonable or outrageous interest rate, as well as the difference between an affordable or unbearable insurance rate, so take it very seriously.
Always check your credit report/ score after rejection so that you don’t fall into the nightmare scenario of the rejection spiral. Once rejected, go through your report carefully for errors and get them corrected, else you will be vetoed, again, not because of any error, but because of ‘recent searches’. 

Even though a credit score is derived from your financial history, it works towards predicting your future financial behaviour. So while, a poor history counts against you, having little or no credit history is equally bad, as it makes predictions less certain.
Never pay for a credit repair company. If you see these advertised, avoid them. If you are struggling and need personalised, professional help, see a non-profit debt counselling agency like Citizens Advice Bureau, Civil Legal Advice or StepChange Debt Charity.

And finally, instead of obsessing about your credit score, understand that good spending will be rewarded and bad spending will be penalised. Be logical, sometimes frugal and be smart. Learn the important elements – such as pay on time, keep your debts low, eliminate discrepancies and stick with your old bank and credit cards – and develop habits that will keep your credit score high for years to come. It is that simple.