Why I Think the 0% Rate of Income Tax on Savings is Unfair

Written by Karen Bryan

hmrevenueThe 10% starting rate of income tax on savings is being abolished. From 6 April 2015, if your total income from all sources including wages, benefits, pensions and interest on savings is less than your personal allowance plus £5,000, you can register to receive tax-free interest from your savings account(s).

To give an example, the personal allowance is £10,600 for the tax year starting on 6 April 2015 – 5 April 2016 and you earn £5,600 from a part-time job, £5,000 from a pension and £5,000 from interest on your savings. That’d come to a total income of £15,600 which is equal to your personal allowance (£10,600) plus £5,000, meaning that you could register to receive your savings account(s) interest tax-free.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Why I’m Looking into Starting Another Pension

Written by Karen Bryan

£1 coin symbolI really thought that after buying an annuity following my 55th birthday in Spring 2014, I was done with personal pensions.

However, the new freedoms to access your pension pot, due to start on 6 April 2015, have got me thinking about starting a new pension.

I need to pay another four years National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2015 in order to make up the 35 years required to be eligible for a full State Pension. If I work and pay National Insurance for the next four years, that takes me to the age of 60. There is an option to pay voluntary NICs to make up missing years, but they cost a lot more than Class 2 NICs for the self-employed.

Assuming I work until I’m 60 and have then paid enough to receive a full State Pension, I’d still have six years to wait before I’ll receive my State Pension. If by the age of 60, I want to stop work and have built up a small pension pot over the next four years, I could use that pension pot to top-up my annuity income for that six-year gap.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Getting a Credit Report from Experian CreditExpert

Written by Karen Bryan

experian logoI was offered a 12 month free trial of Experian CreditExpert so that I could try out the service. However, everyone is offered a 30 day free trial. After this period the price is £14.99 a month.

I signed up to Experian CreditExpert online, but I had to wait almost a week to receive a PIN in order to access my report.

I was alerted that my free trial period had already started. In my opinion, the free trial should start on the day which you enter the PIN, because until that time, you can’t see any useful information on your account.

After entering the PIN, I was able to see my full credit report, which gave an Experian Credit Score out of 100 and a rating band (there are five bands ranging from very poor to excellent). It’s important to bear in mind that every financial organisation will score you differently.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Clydesdale Bank Should Make It Easier to Find Penalty Charges for Early Closure of Fixed Rate ISA

Written by Karen Bryan

clydesdale bank logoWith the new ISA season starting in a few weeks, I’m on the lookout for high rate cash ISAs. My ears pricked up when I saw that the Clydesdale Bank is offering a two-year fixed rate Cash ISA paying 2.1%.

I always like to check the penalty charges for making withdrawals and/or closing this type of account, as you never know if your financial circumstances could change and you need access to savings.

I went to the Clydesdale Bank website and after a few clicks managed to find the page with information about the product. Sure enough it said that, if you wanted to make early withdrawals from the Clydesdale fixed rate Cash ISA, the account would be closed and there would be an early withdrawal charge based on the number of days to maturity. Instead of listing the charges there and then, it said that you had to look at the terms and conditions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

A Quick Guide to Pension Investment Options

Written by Karen Bryan

£10 note fanIt’s never too early to begin investing in your pension, but chances are that if you start investing at 30, you’ll have very different goals by 60. Your life will experience many changes as the years progress, and these mean that it’s important to regularly review not only how much you’re putting aside, but also where it’s going. Aside from anything else, most people feel the need to reduce the risks surrounding their fund as retirement draws ever closer and the chance to fix any mistakes shrinks to a much smaller window.

If it’s time to review your investment choices, then read on…

Pension Investment Choices: Are They Down to You?

The level of influence you will have over your investment choices will be heavily impacted by the type of pension you have.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

HotelsCombined: A Free Quick and Easy Way to Find the Best Prices for Hotels

Written by Karen Bryan

I’m sure that you want to find the best price for a hotel when you’re booking accommodation for a short trip or holiday. Why pay more than you have to?

However, you probably don’t want to spend ages trawling through loads of websites looking for the lowest price.

hotelscombined screen

The solution is use the HotelsCombined price comparison site. It’s free to use, as  there are no fees or mark-ups charged for the service. It’s a quick and easy way to find the best hotel prices.

HotelsCombined offer a ‘Best Price Guarantee’, You need to make a claim within 24 hours of making the booking.  The lower rate must be on a website which does not participate in the HotelsCombined process and must still be available during the claim validation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

My Money Podcast #107

Written by Karen Bryan

The My Money Podcast #107 features the recent articles listed below.

Subscribe to the My Money Podcast from Help Me To Save in itunes

Share Button

First Direct Regular Saver Account Pays 6% Interest

Written by Karen Bryan

first direct regular saverI’ve been aware of the First Direct Regular Saver account, which pays a fixed rate of 6% for 12 months, for some time. You can save between £25 – £300 a month. As you had to hold a First Direct current account in order to access the regular saver account, I’d been put off.

Before opening a First Direct Regular Saver account you should be certain that you won’t need to withdraw money from this account, as you can’t make partial withdrawals. If you close the account, the rate of interest paid will be reduced to that paid on the standard savings account, currently a paltry 0.05%.

You can vary the amount which you pay in every month. If you don’t save £300 in any given month, you can carry over any unused subscription to the following months. It’s best to put as much as possible into the account as early as possible during the 12 month period to maximise the interest earned.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Making the Most of Your Stocks and Shares ISA Allowance for 2015

Written by Karen Bryan

uk notesThere are many benefits to opening a stocks and share ISA. Firstly, you don’t have to pay any tax on the capital gains made from your investments as they go up in value. Secondly, you don’t have to pay any tax on interest on bonds meaning you get to keep any returns earned there too. Thirdly, income earned on any shares investments is taxed at just 10 per cent which is a significant saving for higher and additional-rate taxpayers who would otherwise have to pay higher rates of 32.5 per cent 37.5 per cent respectively.

While some people take a DIY approach to investing and choose where best to place their money through meticulous research, others prefer a little help to build up a high-yielding portfolio and make the most of their annual ISA allowance (£15,000 for the tax year 2014-15, rising to £15,240 for the ta year 2015-16).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

Snubbed for Credit: What are the Reasons?

Written by Karen Bryan

creditcardblueThe first thing to do after having a credit application turned down is to make sure you understand why it happened. After being turned down, the loan or credit card company can tell you if you were refused because of a credit check and which of the credit reference agencies was used. If you think there’s been a mistake, you can ask the credit reference agency to correct your file straight away. You should do this in writing, and the agency will then have 28 days in which to act. The relevant item will be given a ‘disputed’ label while an investigation is ongoing.

If you’re turned down, definitely don’t keep applying for more and more cards and loans to see if you are successful. All applications, if you are successful or not, will be recorded on your file and can cause even more damage to your credit rating. If you still need to borrow, ensure you find a loan or credit card that you are likely to be accepted for. Secured loans may be the best option if you have a property, as you are more likely to get one of these even if your credit rating is poor, or you may need one of the self-employed loans that are available, for example from Evolution Money.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share Button

The MON£Y SAV£R free monthly newsletter from Help Me To Save helps you -

  • Save more money
  • Spend less
  • Live well

Take control of your money now