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Six ways to give your self a pay-rise in 2016

If you're finding it hard to make your personal finances go further, you're not alone. 35% of people we surveyed* told us they had reduced the amount they regularly saved over the past 12 months . Hardly surprising when you consider that:

Despite this, you probably realise it's sensible to continue saving what you can, in order to secure the future you want for you and your family.

We've identified 6 ways to help you continue to make savings throughout 2016.

1. Stop overpaying for your energy

A significant percentage of household income is spent on energy. Last year the average annual UK electricity bill was £584, and the average provisional gas bill £715 (Department of Energy and Climate Change, December 2015).

Many people choose to pay their energy bills quarterly, by direct debit. If you opt for this method, a fixed amount of money is usually deducted from your bank account, based on your suppliers estimate of how much energy they think you will use throughout the year.

However, research published by GoCompare.com in November 2015 revealed that of those people paying for their energy by direct debit:
  • 61% were in credit with their suppliers
  • 25% were owed over £100
  • only 13% had asked for a refund

So, it's worth checking with your supplier to see if you are in credit. If you are, ask for a refund so that your money sits in your bank account, and not with your energy suppliers.

Moving forward, you may want to consider a variable direct debit, giving you the option to pay exactly what you owe, rather than an estimated amount.

There is further good news on the energy front, with smart meters being rolled out to every home across the UK:

"In-home displays and mobile phone applications will provide customers with near real-time, accurate information on their energy consumption and the financial cost of this, helping them to better understand and budget for their energy use." Energy UK

  • How quickly you get a smart meter will depend on your supplier(s). You can check the timetable for smart meter rollout across the UK online, but it's worth knowing that some energy companies are allowing you to register your interest in having a smart meter installed sooner:
  • "Ask your supplier - we'll all be offered a smart meter by 2020. Contact yours directly to see if you can get a smart meter fitted now." Smart Energy GB

    Finally, if you're an NHS professional or medical student, you are eligible to join the NHS Energy Club - giving access to unique tariffs on gas and electricity

    2. Take full advantage of your professional status

    Your professional status may mean that you qualify for a range of unique discounts on goods and services.

    Teaching professionals: There's no shortage of companies willing to offer teachers unique discounts. So do your homework and find out what you're entitled to. Here are some examples to give you a head start:

    • The STA Travel discount card allows you to benefit from thousands of discounts on flights, hotels, and restaurants at home and abroad
    • If you're a member of a Union such as NASUWT or NUT, you can get a range of discounts from car, health, home, lifestyle, holiday, and travel retailers
    • The Apple Store for Education offer discounts on Mac and iPad products for teachers and lecturers, as well as parents buying equipment for university students

    Legal professionals: If you're a member of The Law Society, you can benefit from a range of specialist offers that benefit both your personal and professional life (from tailoring, to specialist legal software).

    Medical professionals and students: The Health Service Discounts website offers a range of discounted goods and services to NHS employees and trainees - including travel, shopping, motoring, broadband, and utilities.

    So, if you haven't done so already, make time to familiarise yourself with the offers open to your profession in 2016.

    Regardless of where you work, you can make your hard earned cash go further each month by using cash back sites such as Quidco and TopCashback.

    3. Take full advantage of your employee benefits

    Your employer may also offer a range of benefits designed to save you money such as:
    • Childcare vouchers - which could save you £100's per year, depending on your individual circumstances. Use the online calculator to see if you could benefit
    • Travel to work season ticket loans - designed to help you spread the cost of your commute into work

    4. Tax reductions for married couples and civil partners

    Marriage allowance was introduced in the 2015/16 tax year - allowing some married couples and civil partners to benefit from an annual tax reduction of up to £212.

    Around 4 million married couples and civil partners born after 6 April 1935 are eligible. You can find out whether you qualify, and how to apply via https://www.gov.uk/marriageallowance.

    5. Claim tax relief on your professional expenses

    If you need to pay for specialist items in order to do your job, you may be able to claim tax relief on them. You can claim for work related expenses including:
    • uniforms
    • equipment
    • travel and overnight stays
    • professional fees and subscriptions
    • costs associated with working at home


    You can claim within 4 years of the end of the tax year in which you spent the money, as long as you have records of any expenses incurred.

    6. Make your savings work as hard as you do

    Once you have identified what you can afford to save, it's important to make that money work as hard as possible.

    Keeping money in cash savings is often considered as low risk. But low risk, doesn't mean no risk - and that's partly due to inflation. Simply put, inflation is a measure of how much you can buy with your money, or what it is 'worth' in real terms (£1 today, for example, buys you much less than it would have 50 years ago).

    Inflation rates (based on the Consumer Price Index) are currently very low, with the Bank of England predicting average annual inflation to rise to 1.2% by Q4 2016 (with a longer term target of 2%).

    For the purposes of this illustration, let's assume that the rate of inflation is 2% (based on the Bank of England long term target). If you put £10,000 into a bank account with 0% interest, in real terms it would be worth:

    News_Insight_savings

    So, unless you put your cash into a savings account where the interest earned outperforms inflation, its value could decrease in real terms.

    Take time to download the free eGuide we've put together to help you understand more about savings and investments: 'Selecting the right savings account: 3 essential considerations' It's available for you to access today.

    Selecting the right savings account - download the pdf now

    *ISA purchase survey conducted by Wesleyan Assurance, February 2016.

    'WESLEYAN’ is a trading name of the Wesleyan Group of companies.

    Wesleyan Assurance Society and Wesleyan Bank Ltd are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd, Wesleyan Unit Trust Managers Ltd, Practice Plan Ltd and DPAS Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Advice about investments, insurance and mortgages is provided by Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd.

    Click for more information about the Wesleyan group of companies.

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