Month: November 2018

4 ways to save at Christmas without being a Scrooge…

With your Christmas preparations, starting soon is the key to saving money. If you leave your shopping to the last minute, not only do you have to face the 23rd December high street chaos, you’ll miss out on the excellent deals that many retailers offer early in the festive shopping season.

It’s incredibly easy to overspend at Christmas – doing your utmost to make savings where you can is the best way to avoid a festive hangover that lasts until that January paycheck finally arrives.

Here are our top four festive money saving tips:

Join a no-present pact

Do you ever find that your friends and relatives buy you Christmas gifts you don’t want? The sort that are used once on Christmas Day before being relegated to a dusty top shelf for a few years and then eventually given away to a charity shop?

We’re sure that most of us have been in this scenario at some point.

Joining a present pact is a great way of avoiding giving and receiving more than you need.

Not only will this save you money, it will also go a long way to reducing your environmental impact at a time where we buy and receive plenty that just ends up going to landfill. It can be a liberating revelation to admit to ourselves that others don’t really need ‘gimmicky’ Christmas gifts and neither do we.

Keep a Christmas present list

For people who don’t enter into your no-present pact, writing a list will give you a clear idea of what you need to buy. As well as avoiding traipsing through various shops by giving you a precise idea about exactly what you need, it means you won’t overspend by ‘panic-buying’ gifts at the last minute.

Brave Black Friday (and Cyber Monday)

Black Friday is a massive shopping event which this year falls on 23rd November. First implemented in the US, it became established in the UK in 2014. Despite its relatively recent history, you can find some truly incredible deals if you can brave the in-store queues and general bargain mania that this event famously provokes.

Cyber Monday follows on 26th November, when online retailers heavily discount their goods.

Some items sell out in seconds so it’s worth creating online accounts with your favourite shops in advance to save precious time.

Send your cards second class

Even small savings add up to make a difference. As the saying goes, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’.

A standard first-class stamp now costs 67p, whereas a second class stamp costs 9p less at 58p. If you send 50 cards out at Christmas, this will add up to a £4.50 saving. This might not sound much, but trimming your Christmas spendings down in plenty of places will add up to a substantial amount.

Whatever you’re buying this Christmas, being thrifty never hurts. Thinking carefully about your choices and starting early are the easiest ways to make savings.

5 key budget takeaways…

This year Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his autumn budget a few weeks earlier than usual. Normally the budget is released in mid-November, but this year he gave the budget on 29 October.

In the run up to Brexit, Hammond didn’t release any huge announcements. Perhaps he wants to leave plenty of room to accommodate for any Brexit inconveniences. However, there were some important takeaways.

UK growth projections altered
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility increased its projections for UK GDP growth. They raised next year’s forecast from the figure of 1.3% they gave in March to 1.6%. Because of bad spring weather, however, the 2018 growth forecast was downgraded to 1.3% from 1.5%.

Changes to income tax thresholds
This was arguably the announcement from the budget that will have the most tangible effect on people’s lives. In his speech Hammond himself referred to it as his ‘rabbit in the hat.’ The personal tax-free allowance will rise from £11,850 to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold from £46,350 to £50,000. These income tax thresholds were part of the Tories’ manifesto in the last election, a pledge they have fulfilled a year earlier than they originally said. (Scottish rates will be decided in the Scottish budget in December).

IR35 Changes
Changes to the tax rules for self-employed workers in larger private companies who are effectively working as full time staff are in fact the biggest new revenue raiser from the autumn Budget.
The Chancellor announced that companies with more than 250 employees will be responsible for checking that they are not disguising employment by contracting to so-called personal service firms.

Changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief
Before the budget, many expected Hammond to abolish Entrepreneurs’ Relief. It has remained but the qualification period has been extended from one year to two.

Changes also mean that shareholders must be entitled to at least 5 percent of the distributable profits and net assets, as well as 5 percent of the business and voting rights before sale.

Rejuvenation of Britain’s high streets
2018 has been a testing year for the high streets. Thousands of stores have shut, costing tens of thousands of jobs.

Smaller shops, with a rateable value of below £51,000 have had a third knocked off their business rates.

On top of this, Hammond announced a £675m ‘future high streets fund’ that councils can access to redevelop their high streets.

4 ways to live a happy retirement…

Retirement should be the time of your life. No more early alarm calls, no more commuting and no more carefully counting your holiday allocation. Instead, you have the freedom to do exactly as you please. Yet retirement might not always work out as the idyllic move to a cottage by the sea it’s billed to be. Some people, in fact, dread retirement and feel they’re being put out to grass. They fear they’ll miss the structure and companionship that work gives.

Think of it more as ‘change’ not ‘old age’

Retirement is automatically associated with old age in people’s minds. The very word conjures up images of people sitting around in retirement homes in their slippers, watching daytime T.V. But this is far from the truth. Old age, today, encompasses a vast span of years, from 65 to 100. There are many active retirees living life to the full. And if you think how much the average person’s life changes between 25 and 60, just think how many possibilities could lie ahead in the same timeframe. Going from work to retirement is a huge transition – yet people cope with many other major transitions during the course of their lives; having a baby, changing jobs, going through a divorce, moving house. The key is to use your resilience and strength from previous times of change to help as you move into retirement. Don’t see it as entering old age, see it more as a time of embracing life’s opportunities.

Don’t just be concerned about the money side of things

That may sound a curious thing to read in a financial newsletter. And pensions will form a key part of any more retirement planning. There’s also no denying that pensions can be complex so it’s important to find the right solution for your situation whether it’s taking an income or accessing a lump sum. But the financial side of things is much wider than just your pension. So take time to think about what your ideal lifestyle would look like. Think about some proper financial planning. What are your goals and ambitions for retirement? Are your current finances on track to help you reach them? The money is just an ends to enable you to live a happy retirement and find a new purpose.

Be clear in your mind what you really want to do

In today’s world, where such value is placed on career status, retirement can be seen as an end rather than a new beginning. But you don’t have to be in paid employment to be happy and fulfilled. You may, in fact, find you achieve far more satisfaction in life after work. Why not do something you’ve always wanted to but never had time to? Learn to play a musical instrument, take up a sport, sign up for some volunteering, enrol on a course, get involved in a conservation project, travel the world… This is your time to do as you please. Remember, you don’t have to be constantly busy – sit back and reflect on your true values.

Adopt a proactive mindset

You often hear stories of people becoming ill, or even dying, within months of stopping work – a cruel twist of fate after they’ve laboured hard for years, looking forward to their retirement. According to the Office for National Statistics, though, health and wellbeing do actually increase in retirement while depression and anxiety often fall. This is as people have more time to adopt a healthy lifestyle and find new sources of fulfilment and exercise. The key seems to be to make a determined effort to stay sharp, be proactive and keep stretching your boundaries. It may sound surprising but workaholics often love retirement as much as they loved their careers.