Your Quick Guide To ISA Accounts

Many people either don’t know what an ISA account is or they believe that it’s a complex process when it comes to saving. Here is your quick guide to ISA accounts and how they can benefit you.

ISA accounts can help your savings grow.

What is an ISA account?

In a nutshell, an ISA account is a savings or investment account that is tax-free. You can save up to £20,000 per year (2020/21) in one type of ISA or a combination of ISA accounts. You earn interest on your savings, or in the case of a stocks and shares ISA, you earn profits.

Lifetime ISA Account

A Lifetime ISA allows you to save up to £4,000 a year as a lump sum or pay as you go.

The great perk about Lifetime ISA’s is that the state contributes 25% on top of your savings, and this is before interest and growth. This bonus will be contributed to your account until your 50, and will be paid monthly. The maximum bonus that can be earned overall is £33,000.

For example, if you save £2000, the state will add a £500 bonus. If you save the maximum of £4000 the state will add a £1000 bonus, the maximum contribution that can be earned.

Cash ISA Account

Cash ISA accounts are basically saving accounts where you pay no tax on the interest you earn. There are a variety of types from instant access to regular savers, and the interest you earn doesn’t count towards your personal savings allowance.

Stocks and Shares ISA Account

A Stocks and Shares ISA account allows you to invest funds into company stocks and shares. They are often managed by online brokers or platforms, fund management groups or fund supermarket.

The price of stocks and shares fluctuate.

The benefits of this ISA are:

* You pay no capital gains tax on profits made from share price increases.

* You pay no tax on interest earned on bonds.

* You pay no tax on dividend income.

There are usually fees associated with opening and holding a Stocks and Shares ISA, and some companies may charge for making changes to investments, or withdrawing funds.

It’s also important to remember that with any form of investing, capital is at risk. If you’re new to the investing world, be sure to do your research before opening a Stocks and Shares ISA account.

Junior ISA Account

A Junior ISA Account is a tax free account that encourages families to save towards their child’s future. You are able to save up to £9000 per year (2020/21) and the money will be available on your child’s 18th birthday when the money becomes there’s in a standard ISA account.

Savings can be split between two types of Junior ISA accounts:

Cash Junior ISA account – you simply deposit cash into a savings account that will always be tax-free. Your money is secure and you gain interest on any savings you have.

Stocks and Shares Junior ISA account – your returns depend on the performance of the stocks and shares you have invested in.

Junior ISA accounts can help you save towards your child’s future.

Having an ISA account is a good way to capitalise on your savings for the long-term. You can save towards your retirement or give family members a head start in life. Whatever your reason may be, take advantage of the tax-free benefits to get more value for your hard earned money.

T K Williams-Nelson

Top Tips For First-Time Buyers

Looking for your first home can be an intense experience. With so many things to think about, people often don’t know where to start and even when they do, it’s difficult to remember everything they need to know. Here are six quick tips that can help you on your way to securing your first property with the least amount of stress possible.

  1. The More You Save The Better

So many people assume that you need a 20% deposit to even be considered for a mortgage. This is a myth. You will need between 5%-20% deposit to be accepted for a mortgage. Saving more than 5% will give you access to more affordable mortgages on the market.

2. Budget For Other Costs

There are various other costs that need be considered when purchasing a property:

  • Survey costs
  • Removal costs
  • Stamp duty
  • Building insurance
  • Solicitors fees
  • Interior design/decorating
  • Mortgage payments
  • Valuation fees

3. Consider Home-Buying Schemes

Home-buyer schemes can be a great way to get your foot on the property ladder. The most popular schemes are:

  • Shared Ownership Scheme
  • Help to Buy Scheme
  • Right to Buy Scheme
You need between 5%-20% for a deposit to secure a mortgage.

4. Use Mortgage Comparison Tools

Mortgage comparison tools are there to find you the best deals for your circumstances, and to save you time doing it. Popular mortgage comparison tools include:

  • Money Supermarket
  • Compare the Market
  • Money Saving Expert

5. Leasehold vs Freehold

Purchasing a freehold property means that you own the property and the land that the property is built on, whereas purchasing a leasehold property means that you own the property but not the land that the property is built on. Essentially, with a leasehold property you are renting from the freeholder for a period of time that could be years, decades or centuries.

It is important that you know exactly what you are getting into when purchasing a leasehold property. If the lease is nearing its expiry date, then you have the option to either sell your property or renew the lease which will come at a substantial cost.

6. Do You Own Research

Never just rely on what you are told by an estate agent. It’s essential that you do your own research from comparing mortgage rates to learning more about the location of your potential property. The more you know about the buying process the more prepared you will be when you finally get the keys to your first home.

Make your first home your own.

Buying your first home is a great experience when you know what you need to do. By following these quick tips, you can avoid unexpected expenses and think about how you will make your new home your own.

T K Williams-Nelson

Why Millenials Should Be Thinking About Pensions And Later Life

When you think about pensions, you think about retiring somewhere nice to settle down. For millennial’s on the other hand, retirement age can sometimes seem like a lifetime away. Young adults are settling into new careers and making plans for the near future. The reality is that once we start working, we should start thinking about how we can start securing our futures as early as possible. Here is an overview about what pensions are available and why millenials should consider contributing to one.

Start thinking about retirement early.

What is a pension?

In a nutshell, a pension is the process of saving money towards your retirement. The type of pension that you can get depends on your circumstances, and is considered a long-term investment until you retire.

Why should millenials think about their pensions?

  • The future is more unpredictable than ever – The current pandemic has made it clear that the future is unpredictable as new legislation has been introduced to control the spread of Covid-19. None of us know what the future has in store for us, so putting money away for your retirement whilst you can is great way to ensure that you’re prepared for what could happen in later life.
  • The average living cost for a pensioner is more than you think – Research shows that the average living costs for a pensioner in the UK is £11, 200 per year. The average pensioner would need approximately £215 a week to cover basic costs such as food, clothes, travel and heating. As a millenial, you have more opportunities and resources than the generations before you. There is a greater chance of you maximising your retirement fund with the various forms of pensions available to you in addition to other savings.
  • A pension combined with a Lifetime ISA can help you achieve a comfortable retirement – A Lifetime ISA allows you to save for your first home or later life if you’re over 18 but under 40. You can deposit up to £4000 each year until you are 50 years old, and the government will add a 25% bonus to your savings (up to £1000 per year). A Lifetime ISA coupled with a pension that you start paying into before you’re 30 years old can increase your retirement fund and your quality of life when you finally settle down.

The main types of pensions available are:

  1. Workplace Pension
  2. Individual Pension
  3. State Pension

Workplace Pension

A workplace pension is a scheme that is set up by your employer. A percentage of your wages is paid into the pension scheme, and your employer makes contributions to the scheme too. Your employer must enrol you into a pension scheme if:

  • You’re between the age of 22 and State Pension age
  • You work in the UK
  • You’re earning over £10,000 a year

There are two types of workplace pensions:

  • Defined contribution – this type of pension is based on how much money has been paid in.
  • Defined benefit – this type of pension is based on your salary when you retire, and how long you have worked for that employer.

Individual Pension

There are various types of individual pensions including personal pensions, stakeholder pensions and self-invested personal pensions. These types of pensions allow you to pay in when you want to, and what you get back largely depends on how well your investments are doing.

State Pension

A State Pension is provided by the government and is calculated based on your National Insurance record. The more qualifying years you have on your National Insurance record, the more State Pension you will receive. You need at least 10 qualifying years to be eligible for State Pension.

The State Pension age in the UK is currently 65, however this is eligible to change. The Gov.uk website provides a free pension age calculator which lets you know the exact age that you will qualify or your pension based on your birth date.

Having a pension is entirely your choice. Many millenials aren’t thinking that far ahead, but for those who are, take advantage of what is available. The schemes in place can help you settle down the way you want to when that time comes.

T K Williams-Nelson

What You Should Know About The UK Recession

As the government announced that the UK was in a recession after a GDP fall of 20.4% during the pandemic, the public expressed confusion and uncertainty as everyone began to wonder how the recession will impact their daily lives. This article breaks down what a recession is and how you will be affected in a simple way.

One thing to remember is that a recession was inevitable. As shops were forced to close for over three months, there was little to no consumer spending which resulted in a sharp decline in economic activity.

What is a recession?

In a nutshell, a recession refers to a general decline in economic activity. In this case, the decline in economic activity is directly associated with the government restrictions that were implemented at the beginning of our lockdown. The fall of 20.4% represents the second quarter of the year (April-June), and this is compared to the first quarter of the year (January-March). Shops were still open and consumers were still spending during the first two months of the year. Once the lockdown was implemented, it was guaranteed that economic activity would drastically decline because people were physically unable to spend their money as they usually would.

How is the 2008 recession different from the 2020 recession?

Many people fear that the 2020 recession will be a repeat of the great recession in 2008. No one can accurately predict how the Covid-19 outbreak will impact the economy years from now as we still stand in such an unpredictable position, however what is evident is there is a big difference between these two recessions.

The 2008 recession was a period of consecutive negative growth which resulted in a steep rise in unemployment and financially impacted businesses in the form of increased costs and less revenue.

When the government eased restrictions in June, the economy saw a monthly GDP rise of 8.7% which is a positive sign that once government restrictions are eased further, consumer spending will increase even more. Although we are technically in a recession, it is very much different from the recession of 2008.

How will the recession impact daily lives?

Unemployment has increased during the pandemic as many small businesses have closed down and larger businesses have had to make job cuts to compensate for their losses. This may make it difficult to find work but not impossible. Many companies are still looking for people to fill new roles that have been developed due to the outbreak.

People may be more cautious when it comes to spending, however if the government continue to ease restrictions it is likely that this will become better over time. With winter on the horizon, it’s difficult to predict if there will be an increase in Covid-19 cases resulting in a second lockdown, or if we will be leaving the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

T K Williams-Nelson

Source: Daily Mail

The Process Of Cashback Credit Cards Explained

What is cashback?

When you make a purchase, cashback is the process of receiving a percentage of that purchase back as a form of incentive. You can earn cashback on purchases including fuel, supermarkets and certain retail stores. This is mainly a feature of credit cards, but some current accounts have adopted the same feature. For this article we will focus on credit cards.

You can get cashback for fuel, in stores and supermarkets.

How does cashback work?

Each time you use your credit card you earn a percentage of your purchase back in the form of cashback. For example, if your credit card offers 3% cashback and you spend £300, you will earn £9 cashback. For those who use credit cards frequently, cashback could be a great way to get more for your money. For anyone considering getting a credit card that offers cashback, these are the things you need to know.

  1. Cashback can be paid monthly or annually. If you want to keep your card for a short period of time, then a card that offers a monthly release of your cashback would be most ideal for you. If you plan to keep your credit card long-term, then a credit card that offer an annual release of your cashback could be a substantial sum.
  2. Many cashback credit cards will apply your cashback to your credit card statement, however some cards give you the option to receive your cashback directly so you can spend it.
  3. A cashback credit card will be beneficial for you if you pay off your credit card bill in full each month. In a nutshell, you’re being rewarded for money you intended to spend anyway.
  4. You can still each cashback on purchases if you don’t pay your credit card bill in full each month, however the cashback earned is usually less than the interest charged on your overall debt.
  5. It’s important to be cautious of credit card providers that may up sell cashback credit cards with the promise of earning a significant amount when purchasing fuel or doing shopping. If you didn’t intend to apply for a cashback credit card and you’re comfortable with your spending routine there’s no need to change that with the hope of making extra money.
  6. Some cashback card providers charge a fee for the card itself. This fee could be up to £30 depending on the features of your card. If you are considering applying for cashback credit card, it is essential that you read the fine print of your agreement to be sure that you are happy and to avoid unexpected surprises.
Pay off your balance in full each month to benefit from cashback.

Debt management should be a priority to maintain financial stability and to improve your credit score. Lenders often refer to your credit score when applying for mortgages, credit cards or loans as a guide to how you manage your money.

New starter guides will be coming soon covering topics from mortgages to pensions. If you want to know more about a specific topic you can submit your questions below:

Simple Ways To Save Money During A Pandemic

As we slowly emerge from our lockdowns across the world, the idea of trying to save money during a pandemic seems impossible. That’s far from the case. Many people have lost their jobs and businesses are having to adapt swiftly. It’s good to remember that saving money doesn’t necessarily mean transferring lump sums into a savings account.

Here are four ways to save more during a pandemic:

Start a small change emergency fund

I’ve always been an advocate for people saving their small change because it really does add up as time goes on. Creating a small emergency fund can help you with unexpected expenses that can come up when isolating. Think of those times you’ve had to run to the corner shop for essentials. Saving your small change after you’ve done your weekly shop or when you have spent a money note can come in handy when you really need it.

Slash your subscriptions

We’re all guilty for having one too many subscriptions that we don’t need. More than £2 billion is spent on subscriptions every year in the UK and over 60% of people have subscribed to Amazon Prime alone (Finder, 2020). Cancelling subscriptions that you don’t use frequently can save you some extra money during these uncertain times, and you may find that you didn’t need that subscription after all. We also know that there’s just some things we can’t let go.

£2 billion a year is spent on subscriptions in the UK

Cut back on electricity use

During the pandemic, we have all been home more than usual. The average electricity bill for a UK resident in 2019 was £58 a month (Davis, 2019). This was before we were isolated for over three months causing us to burn much more. With the slow easing of the lockdown and people returning to work, there is more opportunity to save money on utilities such as electric. By turning off appliances that aren’t in use often, you can consistently cut your electric bill during a pandemic and after.

The average monthly electricity bill was £58 in 2019

Try cooking your favourite foods more

If this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that there are many of us are chefs in the kitchen. According to the Independent, more than a fifth of the UK were cooking every meal from scratch during quarantine compared to one in eight before the lockdown (Hughes, 2020). A study of almost 2,000 adults highlighted that cooking became a new found favourite for the nation. Now that pubs and restaurants are re-opening, and more takeaways are becoming available for delivery, it can be tempting to go on a spending spree. Try creating a more balanced eating habit where you substitute your favourite takeaways for some of your new home recipes.

Cooking from scratch can save you more than you think

2020 has been a challenging year for us all, and it is significant to note that it will take time for people to get back on track. That is okay. Tailor your saving methods to your lifestyle, and don’t forget to treat yourself from time to time.

T K Williams-Nelson

Supporting Black Initiatives With Wordplay Poetry

It has been a frustrating time for the black community over the last few months. In addition to the pandemic, the death of George Floyd on the 25th May revived a movement that has always been present. A movement that has paved the way for where we all stand today.

Wordplay is a poetry platform that wants to make a change for the long-term. The first Art is Expression online event in support of Black Lives Matter was launched on the 28th June, and it is back as a monthly event to not only provide you with brilliant poets, but to raise funds for great causes. Donations from the first event were donated to black charities including the Black Curriculum and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

The platform has now launched a Gofundme page to promote and support black initiatives including providing stationery to children in need, supporting food banks in predominantly black and ethnic minority areas and providing feminine products to the most vulnerable just to name a few.

Wordplay aim to do as much as they can regardless of how much they raise, but every little helps. Please support in any way you can here: gf.me/u/yk8zdv

Wordplay Poetry has set up a Gofundme page to promote black initiatives.

The next Art is Expression poetry event will be on the 30th August with special guests and open mic slots available for poets. Follow @wordplaypoetry to keep up to date with their work and great poetry content!

Donate: gf.me/u/yk8zdv

T K Williams-Nelson

Where Will You Eat Out To Help Out In August?

The government has announced a scheme to boost the economy after pubs and restaurants were forced to close for months due to Covid-19. From the 3rd August-31st August participating establishments will be offering 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks, but here’s the fine print:

  • Each customer will receive a £10 maximum discount
  • The discount will be active on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only
  • No voucher is needed
  • The discount can be used in conjunction with other special offers
  • You can use the discount as many times as you like
  • There is no minimum spend
  • The discount cannot be used against alcoholic beverages or service charges
  • All customers in a group of any size can use the discount

Many people have found love in cooking during quarantine, and the government has highlighted that they will be doing more to tackle the high rates of obesity, so where is this move coming from?

It is clear that businesses across the world have been impacted by the pandemic, and the scheme will provide a significant jump start to the UK hospitality industry. Limiting the scheme to three days a week for one month only allows us to enjoy the benefits of saving money whilst we get to indulge. Gyms re-opening gives people more opportunity to exercise and create a more balanced lifestyle.

Participating establishments include:

  • Burger King
  • Byron
  • Costa Coffee
  • Deep Blue Fish and Chips
  • EAT
  • Frankie & Benny’s
  • Fullers
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Harvester
  • Itsu
  • LEON
  • McDonald’s
  • Nando’s
  • Patisserie Valerie
  • Pizza Express
  • Pizza Hut
  • Pret A Manger
  • Starbucks
  • TGI Friday’s
  • The Real Greek
  • Turtle Bay
  • Wagamama
  • Wasabi
  • YO Sushi
  • Zizzi

And many more of your favourites!

It’s been a tough time for everyone, and this scheme aims to boost the economy but also to reduce the anxiety that may come with re-integrating back into the society we used to know. We may need to maintain social distancing and wear masks in public places, but for those who have suffered with mental health problems due to isolation, this could be a great way to lift spirits and save money doing it.

T K Williams-Nelson

Five Ways To Improve Your SEO Without Breaking The Bank

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing traffic to a website through the use of relevant keywords. The better your SEO, the higher your ranking on search engines such as Google.

Companies spends tons of money trying to improve or maintain a good ranking on search engines by posting SEO articles and ensuring their website is SEO-friendly.

Not all businesses and freelancers have this type of money to spend, so here are five ways to improve your SEO without breaking the bank.

1. Avoid keyword stuffing when writing SEO articles. Many people assume that this will be helpful, but Google penalises articles, and content that are filled with too many keywords.

Avoid keyword stuffing

2. Use primary keywords at the beginning of SEO articles, and secondary keywords in the middle and towards the end of your article.

3. You can identify the best keywords to use in SEO articles or on your website by using a keyword tracker. There are free keyword tracker tools available online.

4. You can post your articles to article directories or blogs that relate to your business or project. This can help boost traffic to your website, however this may be available at a cost.

Post your articles to directories and blogs

5. When using keywords on your website, be sure to include them in headlines, page descriptions and product descriptions. Avoiding keyword stuffing also applies.

SEO articles provide great business for freelance writers and digital marketers. Learn how to start making money on your terms with:

How to Become A Freelancer & Start Making Money on Your Own Terms

T K Williams-Nelson

How to Become a Successful Copywriter

Copywriting is a high income skill that is always in demand. Companies need copy for a range of purposes from marketing to digital content.

If you’re seeking to start a career as a copywriter, here are five things you need to know to make your copy a cut above the rest.

Companies need you for social media marketing

1. Write for your audience

Always keep in mind who your target audience is as you’re writing your copy. Think about how they would react to your copy and what actions they are most likely to take after reading it.

Do your research. There’s nothing wrong with looking at past examples of the copy your trying to write as a guide. Make sure you know everything you need to know to get through to your audience.

2. Spelling and grammar is everything

Your writing is a representation of you. It’s important to remember that spell check software is never 100% reliable. Proofreading your copy for errors is essential.

For long copy, proofread one section at a time to ensure you don’t miss anything. Only use a spell check software as a tool.

Follow advertising guidelines on all projects

3. Follow industry guidelines

There can be significant consequences for companies that breach advertising guidelines in the form of inaccurate or inappropriate marketing. Make sure you’re familiar with both broadcast and non-broadcast codes to ensure your work complies with the rules.

4. Keep it interesting

Some clients may want you to work on longer copy. A good copywriter can adapt their writing to the project and still keep it engaging. It’s okay to deviate from the rules sometimes. Vary your sentence structures, use relatable adjectives and add images where possible.

You can find free images to use for your blog posts online via Unsplash and Pexels.

How can you make your copy stand out?

5. Avoid unnecessary jargon

Most copy requires you to engage readers from the beginning and keep them engaged throughout. Always make the key points of your copy clear, and avoid any unnecessary jargon. You’ll often have a word limit, and each word in every copy is valuable.

Learn how to start making money on your own terms as a freelance copywriter here.

T K Williams-Nelson