- Jasmine: People who were told to think about their own mortality were more receptive to the idea of having cosmetic surgery than those who weren't (11th Jun 2013 - 18:05)
- Jasmine: @mcrcommuter Good point - it usually gets passed on to us (11th Jun 2013 - 17:49)
- Jasmine: @ajmajid Yes. I don't understand young people taking up smoking - makes no sense! (11th Jun 2013 - 17:48)
- Jasmine: effects of passive smoking on children costs the NHS £23m a year by causing 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions. (11th Jun 2013 - 17:41)
- Jasmine: RT @EdConwaySky: The financial nitroglycerine buried under the Bank of England. Quick blog: http://t.co/P18zbR4KtQ (11th Jun 2013 - 15:50)
- Jasmine: @pinkiejones Actually yes, they probably are! (11th Jun 2013 - 15:00)
- Jasmine: @iansearle lol! (11th Jun 2013 - 15:00)
- Jasmine: @photostrada Sadly, yes! (11th Jun 2013 - 13:28)
- Jasmine: @will_becker True! (11th Jun 2013 - 13:27)
- Jasmine: @pensionschamp Interesting! (11th Jun 2013 - 12:29)
- Jasmine: @neiljamesh Certainly looks like it± (11th Jun 2013 - 12:28)
- Jasmine: @emmalporter Yes, prob too expensive too (11th Jun 2013 - 12:27)
- Jasmine: 10% of secondary pupils think tomatoes grow underground (11th Jun 2013 - 12:27)
- Jasmine: 29% of primary school pupils think cheese comes from plants; 1 in 5 think main ingredient in fish fingers is chicken; (11th Jun 2013 - 12:27)
- Jasmine: @pensionschamp I wonder! (11th Jun 2013 - 11:57)
- Jasmine: @pensionschamp Good point! I'm slipping - yes, ultimately it will cost us! (11th Jun 2013 - 11:56)
- Jasmine: Not one office in the Shard is being rented; its only occupants are a restaurant and a viewing gallery (72 storeys empty) (11th Jun 2013 - 11:55)
- Jasmine: RT @liamdutton: A wet few days lie ahead as areas of low pressure form an orderly queue to the SW of the UK - http://t.co/iTGWklTamm (11th Jun 2013 - 11:55)
- Jasmine: Around 50 per cent of all whiplash claims arising from car crashes are fraudulent - costs the industry £1 billion a year (11th Jun 2013 - 11:50)
- Jasmine: RT @scaryduck: Vladimir Putin's getting a divorce. I think that's all his midlife crisis boxes ticked http://t.co/0tUQUpMRzF (7th Jun 2013 - 08:35)
10 questions you must face about your finances
Are you really on top of your finances? Do you know everything you need to know? Have you done everything you need to do? Read on to find out which areas of your finances you need to be thinking about and how to deal with them.
- Do you have a plan?
- Do you know your net value?
- Do you know how much your debts really cost?
- Are you prepared for the unexpected?
- Do you know what your monthly incomings and outgoings are?
- Are you protected from fraud?
- Do you know how inflation affects your savings?
- Are you putting enough aside for your future?
- Are you spreading your investments?
- Do you know how to minimise your tax bill?
Sit back, close your eyes and daydream. What do you want to do with your life in the next year, five years, 20 years? Write down a list of aims – perhaps you want to have a baby, take a year off to see the world, pay off your mortgage early or set up your own business.
Once you have a list of what you want to do and when you want to do it, you need to work out how much each aim is going to cost you. You might get a shock if you think you want to do something next year that could cost you £20,000. How long will it take you to save the money? Could you sell something to fund it?
Also, when would you like to retire? Do you know how much you have already saved towards it? Making sure you’re putting enough away to be able to retire when you want to is so important if you want to be able to finish work when you choose and enjoy your retirement comfortably.
Meeting your goals is almost impossible without a plan, so put pen to paper and set yourself some targets.
Your net worth is how much money you are left with when you take away your debts and borrowing from your assets.
For instance, if you have a house worth £250,000, a car worth £10,000, a pension worth £20,000 and savings amounting to £5,000 – but if your mortgage costs £200,000, you have a car loan of £8,500 and credit card debts of £3,000, then you’re really worth £73,500 rather than £285,000! It’s a sobering thought.
Once you know what your actual net worth is you can be much clearer about how much you need to invest for your future.
Remember that paying off all your debts will eat into your assets, so you’ll need to account for that when you make your plan. It might be depressing to start off with, but it is essential to know your real financial worth.
Be honest with yourself about the interest you’re paying on your credit card, car finance, loan or mortgage. It’s never as simple as just paying what you owe and you can end up throwing money away by just paying off interest, rather than the actual debts themselves.
Why not look at some of your old statements and add up the interest you’ve paid in the last year. It will make you sick to see how much cash you’ve just thrown into the pockets of the credit companies.
If you can’t pay off your debts in one fell swoop, at least switch them to lower interest rates if you can. For credit card debts, look into getting a 0% balance transfer credit card that you can load all your existing debt onto and gradually pay it off without building up any more interest.
Or it may be better to go for a low lifetime balance transfer card where you pay the same interest rate until the whole thing is paid off.
Could you be getting a better deal on your mortgage? See if you can save with our comparison service here.
It’s extremely important to have a back-up plan for anything that may occur unexpectedly, like redundancy or the death of a spouse. If you suddenly lost your income, how long could you last on your savings? It’s a nasty thought but we all need to be prepared, and a savings safety net is the best way.
Once you have paid off your debts, the next essential step is to set up your own ‘self-insurance’. This is a savings safety-net – a lump of money that you accumulate in a savings account (ideally instant access) so you can dip into it if an emergency occurs.
Ideally you need to set aside enough money to cover you for the equivalent of six months income, but failing that three months at the very least. Work out how much you can afford to set aside, get it in an account and do not touch it except in an emergency.
It’s still a good idea to protect yourself against accident or sickness that would stop you working with income protection insurance. If you have a home, you should consider taking out Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance, which would also pay out if you are out of work through illness or redundancy.
If you have a family, another ‘safety-net’ you’ll need is life insurance. Think about how your family would cope without a breadwinner to keep it going. A good life insurance policy is not necessarily the cheapest, but the best one to suit your needs. We’ll help you make an informed decision with our guide here.
If you don’t, you haven’t a hope of keeping on top of your money. Knowing how much money you’ve got coming in, and how much you have to spend each month is all there really is to setting an effective budget. If your income is erratic, try and work out an average monthly income figure for yourself.
It might be boring, but taking time to scan through recent bank statements is an extremely useful task. It’s likely you’ll find something on there that you don’t know you’re paying for or that you don’t need to be paying for.
If you don’t use the benefits on your bank account, change it. And if you can get a cheaper deal on your utility bills elsewhere, then switch them! There is absolutely no point in paying for things you don’t use, so take the time to research and find a better option.
You could consider changing;
You could save up to £538 a year by changing your gas and electricity suppliers, you could make £50-100 just by switching your bank account and you can save £100s by getting cheaper broadband and phone packages.
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Fraud is on the rise, particularly through the internet, and everyone has to be on their guard. You can’t be expected to know every one of the latest scams but you can do some things regularly to protect yourself from most attacks:
- Check your bank account and credit card bills. Make sure you check your bank account, ideally at least once a week. Go through the whole list of transactions on your credit card bill and question any that you don’t recognise. The quicker you find the problem, the sooner you can be reimbursed.
- Check your credit file to make sure no one has stolen your identity. Sign up for free to CreditExpert so that you can see what has been written about you and correct any mistakes or fraudulent claims. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft before it’s helpful to pay the monthly fee so that you can keep an eye on your record at all times.
- Never click on links that are sent to you by email or through Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites if you are not completely sure it is genuine. This goes for emails apparently from friends as well as banks.
- Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are more and more scams masquerading as proper businesses offering to cancel your debts or help you make money in your spare time. Check with Moneymagpie first before you sign up to anything.
Inflation can seriously eat into the value of your savings and investments – it currently stands at 2.7%.
Say you have £100 in a savings account that pays 2% interest. That would mean your £100 would grow to £102 (not taking into account any applicable taxes) over the year. But because inflation is at 2.7%, you’re savings are being eroded and you would actually be losing money in real terms.
Take into account 2.7% inflation and your money would be worth less than when you started: your £102 would only get you £99.25 worth of goods.
So if you leave your money in a savings account that doesn’t match inflation – and many don’t – you will be losing out. If you want a real return on your money you can consider investing in the stock market, and we’ll show you a simple low-cost way to do it – with index-tracking funds.
You can even avoid the banks all together and use a social lending site like Zopa or YES-Secure instead – they offer returns of about 5–8% – far better than any savings account. Find out more about how social lending sites work here.
If you would rather stick with a good old-fashioned savings account, at least get the best rate on offer.
If you’re relying on receiving a state pension to get you through your retirement – don’t! It works out to roughly £5,000 a year – which simply isn’t enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement on.
If you are offered a company pension, go for it. It can often mean free money from your employers so grab it with both hands.
If you’re self-employed, or you don’t get a pension from your company, look into setting up a cheap, easy stakeholder pension. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, set up a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP).
The big advantage of pensions is the tax benefit – the fact that the government puts in the tax you would have paid on any money you contribute.
However, pensions aren’t the only way to save for your future and you certainly shouldn’t solely rely on them. There are also shares (wrapped in ISAs to avoid tax), corporate bonds and property for a start. Find out about more easy ways to supplement your pension here.
The important thing, though, is that you put enough away each month/year to build up a nice pot of money to keep you going. As a general rule of thumb, to work out how much of your wage your should be saving to put towards your retirement, you should halve your age and use this as a percentage.
So if you’re 25, 12.5% of your salary should be saved or put into investments. Whereas if you’re 50, you should save 25% of your salary – obviously catering for the reduced amount of time you have left to save before reaching retirement age.
To give you something to aim for, if you were to retire today and you wanted to have an income roughly equivalent to the national average wage (about £23,000), you would need to have around £400,000 saved up. Scary huh?
When it comes to investing for your future, one of the most important things you must do is to spread your money across at least two or more different asset classes.
By asset class, we mean property, pensions, stock market, bonds etc. Basically, with investments, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket and rely on one type to bring you a return because no one knows what might happen tomorrow.
Just make sure that you keep an eye on your investments (just once or twice a year will do) and top them up where you can so that you are on target to have enough to retire on.
As a nation we waste a staggering £10 billion a year by paying tax we could avoid. Now, there is a big difference between evading tax and avoiding it.
Tax evasion is illegal – you’re trying to wriggle out of paying tax you actually owe. But avoidance isn’t – it’s sensible and it simply means moving your money into places and products that are exempt from tax, or aren’t subject to as much tax.
There are plenty of straightforward ways to cut your tax wastage, including fully utilitsing your ISA allowance, spreading your investments with your spouse to make the most of your increased income tax and captial gains threshold, making a will and loads more.
If you think you need to cut the amount of tax you pay, you’ll find all the information you need here.