ICAEW on Personal Finance

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1 ICAEW on Personal Finance Living away from home for the first time Jack decided he didn t want to go to university after finishing his A-levels. Instead he applied for a Higher Apprenticeship within a small accountancy firm. They offered a day-release course at college to study for the ICAEW CFAB. Jack was absolutely ecstatic when he found out he got the job and couldn t wait to get started. However, his employer was based too far from home for him to commute daily, so Jack rented a flat in the city where he worked. This was a challenge as he now had to consider the costs of living independently away from his parents. As a trainee, his initial salary at a small firm was relatively low, and although he knew that it would increase as he progressed through his training, it was important that he kept living costs down wherever possible. Jack also switched his bank account to have access to a bank near where he now lived. When he moved into his new flat one of Jack s main concerns was to ensure that he had all the insurance that he needed, and his new friends at work proved really helpful in providing this advice to him.

2 Costs of living independently When you move into accommodation of your own for the first time, you will face many costs that you may have previously taken for granted. If you are going to make this move smoothly then two actions will be of major benefit to you. 1. Save up money before you make the move. This will help you to meet those unexpected costs and help you avoid having to borrow money to meet payments. 2. Get organised and draw up a budget so that you anticipate when you will have to pay for something rather than a bill coming as a surprise. What costs can I expect? Some of the costs you will face will be unavoidable and must be paid. That does not mean that you can t do anything to reduce them but you will have to pay them. The following costs fall into this category. Rent whether you have your first job or you are a student at university, you must pay for somewhere to live. Expect to pay a minimum of 250 per month rising to 400 per month depending on where you live. Electricity and/or gas needed for your heating, for cooking and for any washing facilities. Council tax paid to your local council to pay for bin collections and maintenance of local roads, among other things. TV licence compulsory if you have a TV and no licence you are breaking the law! Water and sewerage rates paid for the provision of water and toilet facilities where you live. Apart from tuition fees, rent is the biggest cost faced by students and is on average over 3,750 per year. (Santander research September 2013). Try to save up six months worth of living expenses before you move into accommodation on your own. The following costs will also have to be paid but you have far more control over them. Food you have to eat but there are plenty of ways to keep these costs down, like shopping around for better deals using vouchers and discounts etc. Household and toiletries don t forget you ll have to buy things like toilet rolls, toothpaste and washing up liquid. Insurance there are many different types of insurance to consider eg, for your mobile, your laptop, your bike or for all the contents of your flat. This is usually paid annually but you may be able to pay by monthly instalments. Clothes do consider that you may need extra clothes for work or for forthcoming interviews. Furniture you can rent flats that are furnished or unfurnished. Even if you rent a furnished one there may still be some extra little items that you would like eg, a TV stand, bedside light or comfy chair. Broadband and telephone depending on what package you go for you may not need a landline and instead just use your mobile. It s likely that you will need internet access so make sure the package gives you what you need. Transport depending on how far you are from work or university this could be very little if you walk there and back, or may involve buying a season ticket for a bus. Remember that if you have a car some costs are unavoidable car insurance, tax and MOT test. Health if you require a prescription from the doctor, a visit to the dentist or a visit to the optician then do expect to pay for these. Books, equipment, printing and photocopying if you are going to university it s likely that you will need to pay for these; the amounts will vary depending on your course. Laundry you need to wash your clothes and if your flat does not have a washing machine then you may have to make a trip to the nearest launderette. Entertainment and socialising after paying all these costs have you got any money left to enjoy yourself? If you are well organised then yes, but also remember that you do not have to spend a great deal to have a good time with your friends!

3 Keeping living costs down Living on your own can be expensive but there are also many opportunities to keep your costs down to a minimum. Those who put the following suggestions into practice will end up with more money to save or to spend on socialising each month. Consider all those costs of living independently that were previously identified. Rent probably the hardest one to get reduced but try negotiating with your landlord if you feel it is too much; the worst they can do is say no! Electricity and/or gas there are many comparison websites you can use to see if your supplier is the cheapest available, so be sure to do your research. Reduce your bills by saving energy, for example using low-energy light bulbs, switching off lights and appliances when you leave a room, not leaving electrical appliances on standby. Your bill will also be less if you pay by direct debit from your bank account. Council tax if you live on your own, you are entitled to a 25% discount so make sure the local council knows your situation. TV licence unfortunately you cannot change this one, it is a fixed fee wherever you live. Water and sewerage rates if you are economical in your use of water then consider having a water meter installed if you do not already have one. Many older properties don t have these and the charges are then based on estimates which could be much higher than you should be paying. Food take advantage of supermarket bulk buys and freeze what you don t want until later. If you don t want to freeze items then consider shopping with a friend to split bulk buys (and the cost). Use the many voucher sites that are available on the internet and try your best to use the cheaper supermarkets and pound shops wherever possible. It s a good idea to try to cook for yourself as often as possible. Remember cutting back on a couple of coffees a week from cafés and coffee shops will save you hundreds of pounds each year. Household and toiletries as with food, try to avoid the more expensive well-known brands. Insurance if you get your possessions insured make sure you have valued them correctly so that you are not over-insured and paying more than you should be. Clothes if you are a student then many shops will give you a discount if you show your student union card. To get cheaper clothes which are still current and stylish, look on markets. Charity shops and are both excellent sources of good quality second-hand clothes. Furniture as with clothes, think about charity shops and the internet for good quality secondhand items. However, if you are lucky enough to have one near to you, real bargains can be gained by buying from an auction or on a website such as freecycle. Broadband and telephone check your use of the telephone and broadband to ensure that you get the package that is best suited to your needs. It may well be that you don t need a landline telephone if your mobile package gives you enough free minutes. Transport whenever possible, look for the travel pass/card that gets your fares reduced. Also try walking or cycling whenever possible. Health if your pay for a prescription you may well be able to claim the money back so make sure you know where to get the necessary forms from. Books, equipment, printing and photocopying wherever possible borrow books from the library. If you have to buy your books, use a book comparison website to see where the cheapest price is. Also consider sharing a book with a friend to keep the cost down or there may well be second-hand editions available to buy online. Laundry if you have a washing machine in your flat always try to wash a full load to save on electricity and wash at a time when electricity is often cheaper ie, during the night. Entertainment and socialising after making all the savings above you now have more money in your pocket but there are still savings to be made. Plenty of food chains give two-for-one offers on meals look on voucher websites or more general ones like 25% of students shop in charity shops or use reuse/ recycling sites. (Research by Santander September 2013). Set yourself a target for reducing your weekly spending if you meet or exceed your target, treat yourself (but for less than the amount you have saved!).

4 Bank accounts If you don t have one already then you should be looking to open a bank account as soon as possible. If you are going to university you will need an account to receive your student loan and if you are entering employment, you will need an account for your salary to be paid into. There are many advantages to having a bank account. Paying for products is much easier. Banks give their customers a lot of free advice about financial issues. You can get discounts off certain payments (eg, energy tariffs) if you pay directly from your bank account by direct debit. Your money is safer than if you kept it lying around at home. Avoids the need to carry large amounts of cash around with you. When you are choosing your bank account, it is a good idea to look for who is offering the best deal at the time. If you are a student the bank offering the largest interest-free overdraft or free railcard could be the one you want. If you are entering employment and do not expect to go overdrawn you may instead want an account that pays you interest each year. Whatever account you end up with you will save money if you follow these tips. Only use cash machines that do not charge you to take cash from your account. Wherever possible pay for bills by direct debit. This makes budgeting easier, you know exactly what is going out of your account each month, and you will often get a discount. Try to always pay for products using a debit card and not a credit card. This ensures you only buy items you have the money to pay for. Always keep receipts and check them off against your statements (either paper ones or online). This will help to spot any fraudulent activity in your account. Never be afraid to change your bank account if another one is offering a better deal. 55% of bank account holders have never switched their accounts. Many still have the account set up for them by their parents. ( Which research 2012). If you are an impulsive spender, try using only cash and leave your debit card at home when you go out.

5 Insurance In simple terms Insurance is a payment made to protect you against unexpected events. Most insurance is optional and for most people only two are compulsory. 1. National Insurance totally different to all other insurance in that this is paid to the government. It is taken straight off your pay by your employer and amounts to 12% of your pay, once you earn a certain amount. The money is taken so that you are entitled to certain benefits, including a state pension when you retire. 2. Car insurance if you intend to drive a car this is a legal requirement and you will be prosecuted if found to be driving without insurance. There are different types but third party insurance is the legal minimum. This means if you have an accident causing damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property your insurance company will pay for the damage. It doesn t cover any other costs like repair to your own vehicle. For young people the main optional type of insurance they would consider paying for is contents insurance. Contents insurance covers your possessions in the event that they are damaged, lost or stolen. If you pay for this insurance then the company that you insure with will pay the value of your possession(s) should anything happen to them. One in every three students becomes a victim of crime. (Crimestoppers 2013). There are different types of contents insurance. Some firms specialise in just insuring specific items like your mobile phone, your laptop or your bicycle while others will offer to insure all your contents. Before you decide whether to insure you need to check certain things. Are you already insured? If you are a student staying in halls of residence it may well be that the university has already insured your contents for you and the cost is part of the rent you pay them for your accommodation. You should also check whether your parents own contents insurance policy covers your possessions under the contents away from home section. Know what your possessions are worth and do not insure them for more, or less, than their value. Most insurance policies have an excess which means you will have to pay out the first part of any loss. Check carefully what this amount is. Check the wording of an insurance policy very carefully, particularly to see if there are limits on certain items and whether you are covered against accidental damage. You may have to pay more if you want such cover in place. When you actually start to buy your own property you will also want to pay for buildings insurance which protects you in the event of damage to the actual property that you are buying. Young people of student age have an average of three invaluable gadgets. Check with an insurance company if they have gadget insurance as many now do! Figures are correct as of December 2013 ICAEW /14

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