Balancing your budget whilst you can

Jan 31, 2021 | Wealth | 0 comments

A lot of the work I do with families is around balancing their money whilst still being able to afford things they want. These discussions have provided useful advice which I can pass on – share the knowledge, make life better!

Clothes Shopping – Savvy shoppers know the value of timing and picking key pieces of a season’s look – charity shops are not the only places for a classic bargain these days – most store chains have worthwhile discounts at the three ‘season sales’ each year – mix and match with ‘close to time’ bargains from Ebay (make your search specific!), get into bartering mode on Vinted and check out end of line stock on sites like Zalando and Isawitfirst – often, signing up to these sites gets you an initial 10-25% off your first sale and you can always unsubscribe later!

Pay debts a tenner at a time – For a debt on a store card or credit card, its often easier to find a small amount on a weekly basis than it is to find a larger amount on a monthly basis – you can even set up a standing order for £5 or £10 per week to pay a creditor in this regular  – this way, it easier to find, you don’t notice its gone from your weekly or monthly money and it puts you fully in control – plus before you know it, your debt will be a far bit slimmer than it was before

Food shop – we all like to keep a food budget down but did you know that not only is vegetarian food better for you, it’s often cheaper! If you prefer your quick cook burgers and nuggets, check out the Linda McCartney, Quorn or No Bull vegetarian ranges in Iceland, Lidl and Aldi – you can supplement these with all your usual, the kids will love them and they have half the fat of meat burgers and dippers. Takeaway? Signing up to sites like Uber Eats, Just eat and others, you will regularly get offers and discount codes straight to your inbox. Pizza? Make good use of your ‘Buy1get1free’ or 50% extra, then freeze the second one for next time. These days, I use a weekly order from Go Fresh (£35 for a whole week’s worth of meals for 2)and supplement the dishes with chickpeas, lentils, whatever I have in the cupboard really – I prepare and freeze the extra meals and find that over the course of two or three weeks I’ve probably for enough left over for an extra week, taking my weekly food budget to about £30 a week for 2

Save your ‘going out money’ – how much WOULD you have spent on going out over the last 12 months?? How much on average would you spend on preparing for each night out? , the hair, the makeup, the treatments,  a new outfit, the taxi fare, the drinks, the food, the travel home? Whatever that average cost is each month, NOW is the time to put that money away each month in a high interest savings, ISA or even under your mattress …think of that glorious holiday you could spend it on in 2022

If your employer requires you to work at home, you can – and always have been able to – claim for increased costs due to working from home, eg, heating and electricity.

Clearly, right now many firms have closed workplaces and that means that lots of us are temporarily required to work from home, even if it’s just for part of the week. You are eligible to claim if you’ve had increased costs due to it. You can, in simple terms, claim a rate of £6 a week.

If your employer won’t pay expenses for your extra costs due to necessary working from home, but you have them, then you can ask for the amount to be deducted from your taxable income. To make the process easy, HMRC says that claims in line with the employers’ payment (ie, for £6 a week) will not need to justify that figure – meaning you won’t need to keep receipts or prove information. Tax relief of £6 a week equates to a gain of £1.20 a week for a basic 20% rate taxpayer, £2.40 a week for a higher 40% rate taxpayer.

If you believe you have higher increased costs than £6 a week, you can claim more, but you will need evidence of the cost increases.

What if you’re only working at home part-time?

HMRC has confirmed that as long as you are required to work at home and have additional expenses due to it, even if…

– It is only working from home part-time

– Others are going into work

– You are only needed to work at home, say, one day in five and were in the office the rest of the week

If you both work from home, can you both claim it?

The working-from-home tax relief is an individual benefit. So if you’ve had an increase in costs because you’re required to work from home, you can claim it individually but both make a claim

How to claim the tax relief

To process these claims, in October 2020, HMRC set up a new dedicated working-from-home micro service that will automatically apply the whole 2020/21 tax year’s relief via your tax code – making claiming the whole amount very easy. Anyone making a claim for this tax year, who hasn’t already put in a claim, can use it.

You’ll need to have your Government Gateway ID to do it. If you don’t have one, you can create one as part of the process;

You won’t receive a cheque for this money –  It’s done by altering your tax code and should be changed within a couple of days, the result being less tax taken off each month for the rest of the year, meaning you’ll take home more money.

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