Chancellor Philip Hammond has just announced the final Spring Budget, and in it we saw investment in education (some controversial), money allocated towards the crisis in social care, increased NI on the self-employed and much more.
What you said
On Monday 6th March we asked our Twitter users to decide which of our choices they thought were the most important factors in the Budget – almost half our 4,265 respondents (47%) said social care, NHS and benefits were, with 25% saying national living wage and 22% income tax rates.
Among the most popular topics mentioned in ‘other’ were the state pension, defence and clamping down on tax havens, while by and large people accepted that tax rises would be needed as long as they could be ring-fenced for NHS and social care. Anyway, here’s a summary of what he said….
- The national living wage will rise to £7.50 per hour in April.
- Personal allowance (how much you can earn in a year before being taxed) will rise to £11,500 – the seventh consecutive annual rise, with a rise to £12,500 the target by 2020.
- Higher tax rate threshold will rise too from £43,000 to £45,000 (except in Scotland), with the aim being to reach £50,000 by 2020.
- However, there is more tax on the self-employed – an extra £145m to be raised by 2021-22
- National Insurance rises for the self-employed: class 4 NICs will increase to 10% in 2018, with a further 1% increase in 2019. Some experts say this goes contrary to the Government’s 2015 manifesto.
Did you know inflation in the UK reached a two-year high in December 2016? We look at how this could affect all of us.
With the weaker pound pushing up air fares and food prices, the cost of weekly shopping and jaunts abroad is on the up, not matter what your budget.
The Office For National Statistics estimates that a basket of goods and services that cost £100 in December 2015 would have cost £101.60 in December 2016. They put the rise down to “Price movements for the majority of the broad groups of goods and services.”
*Did you know: the most recent figures show that in 2014 the average food shop was £58.80, which would have meant an extra 50p a week in 2016 with these rises.* Continue reading
It’s no surprise that gym memberships rocket in January. Resolutions to shed the pounds in the new year are not uncommon, and gyms and fitness centres know full well that a high number of new members will find it hard to keep up their commitment beyond the end of the month, let alone the full year.
Even with introductory offers, gym membership can still be costly if you’re committed for a year upfront and are loathe to cancel.
Spending some time balancing out your income against your outgoings can be beneficial in the long run, and can also make you feel like you’re in control of your finances. And the start of the year is often a good time to think about if there are any costs you can do without – outgoings you may no longer need or use.
Besides gym membership, it might be satellite TV channels you never watch. An extended warranty you didn’t really need to buy. It can all add up! A budget calculator may help you work out if you could live without it.
Would a missed gym membership payment affect my credit report?
Neil Stone from our Social support team says: We’ve recently been contacted by a worried customer who was being chased by a debt collection agency over a missed gym membership payment and were concerned that it would impact their credit report. Continue reading
Commuters faced by increased train fares
Travelling by train to work hasn’t been a lot of fun for many of us so far this year, with industrial action, service problems and fare increases in many places all over the country.
The fare rises in the first week of January 2017 saw a nationwide average increase of 2.3%, with increases of 4.9% on some routes, such as the East Coast main line. In Britain as a whole, it is the highest fare rise since January 2014, when rail fares increased by 2.8 per cent.
Are season tickets value for money?
Looking at some of the most popular commuter routes, among the highest is an annual season ticket from Stevenage (home town of Lewis Hamilton, in Hertfordshire) to London is £3,612 which works out at 27p per minute. Continue reading
To get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we asked some of our favourite finance and budgeting bloggers to tell us their best tips for how to budget for the year ahead.
Francesca from the super From Pennies To Pounds blog said: “Make sure you allow yourself some wriggle room in your budget for some fun things as this will make you much more likely to stick to your budget.”
Here we take a look back at 2016 and some of the more significant things that may have affected our finances.
January We focused on our Millennial Me report, which found that 45% of Millennials manage to save at least a quarter of their disposable income each month, compared to just a third (34%) of 35-54 year olds.
February With a busy year of voting ahead, we focused on National Voter Registration Drive (1-7 Feb), which not only encourages young people to register to vote to increase their voice, but also to help boost their credit profile – as lenders use the information on your credit report to help confirm your identity which could help you when you apply for credit.
March March saw George Osborne’s final Budget as chancellor (though he didn’t know it at the time) , and the main points we focused on included changes to the personal allowance, spending cuts, changes to savings and infrastructure projects.
April Continue reading
Now is a good a time as any to clear out your financial clutter, especially with – for many – January’s salary feeling a long way off after the festive blowout.
So to get 2017 off to a bright new start and set yourself some achievable financial goals, we’ve got 5 simple tips.
1. Check out your ins and outs Even small changes can help you balancing your income against your outgoings, which can often help you feel more in control of your finances.
It can help you work out when to allow room for certain annual essentials, for example direct debits like a TV licence, one-off annual charges like home or car insurance, or things like birthdays or special events – as well as stopping outgoings you may no longer need or use, like a gym membership you forgot you had.
Where are the happiest, best-budgeting and biggest-spending areas in the UK at Christmas?
We can now reveal that Leicester is the country’s Christmas capital – the city where residents enjoy festive fun more than anywhere else in the UK.
Not content with being the home of this year’s surprise Premier League champions, Leicesterians are most likely to enjoy a merry Yuletide, with two thirds (66%) saying they get “a lot of enjoyment” out of Christmas.
How does the UK spend Christmas? – INTERACTIVE MAP
There’s nothing quite like the end of the year for taking stock of your finances, and budgeting for the year ahead.
So to help us out, we asked some of our favourite finance and budgeting bloggers to tell us the best financial advice they’d had this year.
Cass from family blog Diary Of A Frugal Family told us: “This year I’ve found out that changing energy suppliers is so much easier than I thought it would be.
I’d been putting it off for ages because I thought it would involve lots of time and energy for not very much return but it took me a total of about 10 minutes and I saved enough each month for a treat takeaway. ;-)”
Nicola, who runs budgeting blog The Frugal Cottage, has this to say: “When you invest, you are always going to take a risk. However, if you’re in it for the long term, then ignore the ups and downs that happen daily and enjoy the ride.”
And Francesca From Pennies To Pounds told us she’d learned this year that: “You can only squeeze so much out of your budget – earning more money should be one of the key focuses when you are paying off debt or working towards a financial goal.” Continue reading
“Christmas is a-coming, the geese are getting fat…” goes the old festive rhyme. The one thing that probably isn’t getting fat when it comes to Christmas, however, is your wallet.
Last year it was expected that households would spend, on average £796 on Christmas – with £596 going on gifts, £159 on food and drink and £41 on cards, trees and decorations.
Read more: Black Friday – what’s all that about?
Depending on the size of your family and friends, and on how generous you are, it’s quite possible that you spend more than this every Christmas. And this doesn’t even take into account the cost of going out, and the endless round of parties. Continue reading