Do you struggle to make ends meet and live from payslip to payslip constantly?
Then you are probably wondering how on earth you can save anything when you have nothing spare in the first place. The problem is your situation is never likely to change unless you do something about it and start putting away those pennies. The key to success here is making the most out of available discounts.
It’s official, next generation mobile chip and PIN machines have landed in the UK. For the past 6 months or so it has been possible for UK small businesses to accept card payments using a smartphone and lightweight card reader. With the mobile chip and PIN machines now available that process will be quicker, easier and safer. Read More
Updated on November 24, 2015
Child psychologists say it is important for children to understand the cost of what they want and relate it to their income, whether in the form of gifts, pocket money or payment for chores.
Rather than hand out regular pocket money, some prefer to offer rewards for household tasks Read More
Money Supermarket have issued a challenge to bloggers to find 30 ways to save £1, a perfect blog post for us we thought ! Here are our top tips for saving a £1 or more, in fact many can save you a lot more. Let us know your top tips.
1. Visit your local market.
Your local market can be a great source of cheap fruit and vegetables that you can buy in bulk for the week ahead. You may also be surprised to find great deals on other household goods.
2. Poundland isn’t just for toiletries.
You can find a great selection of sensibly priced goods. We find the cereal bars and dried fruit and nuts to be great value and make great paly time snacks.
The cost of child care is makes expensive for both parents to work in some families, while others may be paying more than they need to.
The points below should assist you in not paying more than you have to
Take the long view
According to the Daycare Trust, the average cost of 25 hours’ care in a nursery for a child under two is £103. However, in England, once your child is three, they are entitled to a state-funded nursery place, which can help dramatically with costs. You can use this entitlement to get a place in a nursery attached to a state primary school, which will usually offer either morning or afternoon sessions.
If this does not fit in with your working patterns, you may be able to use your entitlement at a private nursery that offers longer days, and top it up with your own money for the extra time.
Get your entitlement
As well as the nursery grant mentioned above, some families are eligible for more help with child care. Some families will be eligible for free nursery places from two years old from September 2013, in a scheme that is expected to be rolled out nationally from 2014. The 20pc most deprived families in an area will be entitled to the places. Working tax credits are another source of help for those on low incomes who need to pay for child care. Help is available for working parents of up to 70pc towards the costs of child care up to a maximum of £175 per week for one child and £300 per week for two or more children.
The actual amount you receive will depend on your income and your child care costs. If you are single parent you must work 16 hours or more per week to be eligible for the credit. The child care you use must be registered. To find out if you might be eligible, visit the gov.uk website, which has a calculator.
Know your options
Some child care is cheaper than others. At the top of the expense scale come professional nannies and some expensive day nurseries. If your nanny is Ofsted-registered you can use vouchers to pay him or her, which can help the cost. However, not all are, and because you employ him or her you will be liable for tax and for any maternity pay.
Childminders, who are self-employed and look after your children in their own home instead of yours, are often cheaper still.
Vouchers for it
For those whose income is too high to be eligible for tax credits, child care vouchers can help with the cost. These vouchers are taken out of your income before tax and National Insurance, and can then be used to pay for Ofsted-registered child care.
Savings from the vouchers can be large – the maximum a basic-rate taxpayer can save is £930 a year. If you have been in a child care voucher scheme since before April 2011 and are a higher or additional-rate taxpayer you can save even more, £1,225 and £1,516 respectively.
Newer entrants to voucher schemes face a tougher regime. Basic-rate taxpayers are allowed to buy £243 worth of vouchers every month, but higher and additional-rate taxpayers can take less (£124 and £97 respectively), which limits their gains. The maximum annual gains for new entrants paying higher or additional-rate tax are £620 and £600 a year respectively.
Once you have received the vouchers, you can use them to pay for any Ofsted-registered child care for children up to 15, including some summer holiday clubs. You can also set them against some independent school costs, including boarding school fees. Not all employers offer the vouchers, but if yours doesn’t you could try putting the option to them.
Here are a number of tips to save money on your petrol bills
According to the RAC, a change in driving habits motorists could save an average of 8 per cent on fuel bills, which equates to £50 to £100 per year on average.
Manufacturers have long claimed that driving more slowly, between 50mph to 60mph, is most efficient – 55mph is industry-wide test speed for best fuel economy on a car.
Turn off air conditioning and open your windows to improve fuel efficiency by 8 per cent. Air conditioning uses up fuel, so making sure that it is correctly switched off could help you save.
Drivers should also avoid sharp acceleration or breaking when driving. By anticipating traffic flow you can reduce your consumption. Also, if your car has a ‘cruise control’ setting it can save fuel by using it on longer journeys – it helps iron out unnecessary accelerating and braking.
Finally, if you’re likely to be at a standstill for more than three minutes then switch off the engine.
Take off roof racks if they are not in use to reduce the weight of your car. The lighter your car is the less fuel it will use.
Ensuring your vehicles tyres are correctly inflated. Under inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving, which means your engine has to work harder, so more fuel is used.
Before you buy, you should consider the car’s fuel economy. The difference between a fuel efficient and not-so-efficient £10,000 car can be about £12 a week. You will also save more on car tax under the car disc rules.
How to buy the cheapest petrol
You can find the cheapest petrol station nearest to you by using sites such petrolprices.com which collates data from company fuel card networks.
Aim to fill up at least 50 miles before your tank is dry. That way there is no last minute panic to find cheap fuel.
Supermarket promotions are another way of cutting the cost of petrol. Usually they take the form of ‘spend £50 in store and get a voucher for 10p off per litre’.
Stakeholder pensions were launched in 2001 as a simple pension option with of minimum standards laid down by the government, which make this type of pension simple, cheap and accessible for those on lower incomes.
As with most other types of defined contribution pension, the money can be drawn from age 55 onwards with a tax-free lump sum of up to 25 per cent taken straight away and the remainder used to buy an annuity.
Anyone aged under 75 can pay into a stakeholder pension and you can invest up to £3,600 each year.
Money can be paid straight into a stakeholder pension by someone else on your behalf.
For example, parents or grandparents could save into a pension scheme for their children or grandchildren – a great way to ensure your child has some pension savings for when they reach retirement, or husbands can make payments for wives who are at home with the children.
Unlike other personal pension plans, stakeholder pensions are designed to incorporate a minimum set of standards which mean mean that stakeholders cannot faces charges of more than 1.5 per cent a year for the first 10 years, and 1 per a year after that – far less than many personal pensions charge today.
You receive tax relief on your contributions, even if you don’t pay tax. Tax relief is set at 20p in the pound for basic rate and non-taxpayers. This is collected and added to your savings by your pension company.
The tax relief forms part of your annual limit so you can pay in £2,880 a year, or £240 a month which is topped up to £3,600. Higher rate taxpayers can claim extra tax relief via their self-assessment forms.
Benefits for part-time savers
Stakeholder pension schemes cannot impose penalties on changing or stopping contributions, or on transferring to another scheme.
Stakeholder schemes are required to give the option of a default fund – something which many personal pension plans do not have to do.
This is a good option for investors who don’t feel confident about choosing which funds to invest in and is usually made up of low and low-to-medium risk investments.
Limited investment choice
You won’t have a great deal of freedom to choose what to invest in with a stakeholder pension, which means having to trust the judgement of your pension fund manager.
Additionally, because stakeholders are designed to be simple, they generally only include low and low to medium risk investments which means your potential returns are likely to be lower than those of other personal pension plans.
The best Stakeholder Pensions are those with the lowest charges which track a wide selection of funds, ideally with a good geographical spread.
- inexperienced investors who don’t want to make tough investment choices;
- those who can’t afford to make substantial monthly contributions or have inconsistent incomes;
- those who want simple, transparent charges.