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The UK is struggling to save; what are the implications?

study found in 2018 that one in four adults have no savings. Many residents in the UK wish that they had cash to save, however high monthly outgoings and debt clearance seem to take priority. Saving for the little curveballs that life throws your way is a good way to maintain a sound mind, but poor money management and large monthly payments can get in the way. So is this issue localised to the UK, or is the struggle to save an international issue?

Across the pond

Households in the US are currently able to save 6.5% of their disposable income, down from the previous figure of 7.3% after estimates were made by Trading Economics. However, earlier in 2018 a report was made, finding that 40% of US adults don’t have enough savings to cover a $400 (est £307) emergency.

The current UK savings figure sits at 4.8%, one of the lowest since records began in 1963. The Office for National Statistics has come up with an even lower figure of 3.9%, which actually is the lowest recorded. Further to this, a report was also made by the Financial Conduct Authority in 2017 that millions of UK residents would find it difficult to pay an unexpected bill of £50 at the end of the month, and little has changed since then.

Closer to home

In France and Germany, the savings ratio sits at 15.25% and 10.9% respectively, that’s triple the UK’s value for France and over double for Germany! The Managing Director of Sparkasse bank points to cultural ideals as the main influencers for the high German saving rate, saying that: “Saving is seen as the morally right thing to do. It is more than simple financial strategy.” This stance seems typical for the country that’s home to the first ever savings bank, opening in Hamburg in 1778.

Why do we not save as much as we used to?

The idea of saving for a rainy day in the UK may not be totally lost but for many, the rainy days are happening as we speak. Another reason relates to the tendency of UK households to borrow more money in order to maintain lifestyle choices. For all quarters in 2018, households were net borrowers, drawing on loans and savings to fund spending and investment decisions.

Comments have been made referring to current Brexit uncertainty as a reason for the change, alongside rising rental prices and increased costs of living. Whether this new change in spending and saving is wholly due to current cultural or economic factors is yet to be confirmed. Another case has been made for poor interest rates making it a less lucrative option for savers to save.

Be it cultural or economic, it is undeniable that the country has lost faith in the ethos of saving their pennies. In the end, as more and more studies come to light, it seems that only time will tell.

Sources
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/expenditure/bulletins/familyspendingintheuk/financialyearending2018
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-adults-savings-none-quarter-debt-cost-living-emergencies-survey-results-a8265111.html
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/budget-and-spending/2018/09/26/how-much-average-household-has-savings/37917401/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46986579
https://www.ft.com/content/c8772236-2b93-11e8-a34a-7e7563b0b0f4

The perks of saving into a junior ISA

There are so many factors for a parent to consider in doing their best to make sure their children are prepared for the world when they reach adulthood. A lot of those things will be out of your control, but one thing you can consider that could make a real difference is investing into a Junior ISA. If you start early you could accumulate a pot of over £40,000; that’s a birthday present that no 18 year old would be disappointed with.

Entering adulthood with that level of finances comes with life changing opportunities and great freedom of choice. Depending on their priorities, your child could put down a deposit on a property, start a business, pay for training or tuition fees, or even travel the world to their heart’s content.

On April 6th 2019, the amount that can be saved annually into a Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund account will increase from £4,260 to £4,368. Just like an adult ISA, your contributions are free from both income and capital gains tax and often come with relatively high interest rates. For example, Coventry Building Society offer an adult ISA with an interest rate of 2.3% per annum, whereas their equivalent Junior Cash ISA comes with a 3.6% per annum interest rate. Junior ISAs are easy to set up and easy to manage: as long as the child lives in the UK and is under the age of 18, their parent or legal guardian can open the ISA on their behalf. On their 18th birthday, the account will become an adult ISA and the child will gain access to the funds.

Both Junior Cash ISAs and Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs are available, and you can even opt for both, but your annual limit will remain the same across both ISAs. When making that decision there are a few considerations to make; cash investments over a long period of time are unlikely to overtake the cost of inflation but come at a lower risk than their stocks and shares equivalent. With a Junior ISA, however, you can benefit from a long term investment horizon. Although the stock market comes with a level of volatility, you can ride out some of the dips and peaks over a long period. Combined with good diversification, it’s possible to mitigate a fair amount of risk.

Taking a look at potential gains, had you invested £100 a month into the stock market for the last 18 years, figures from investment platform Charles Stanley suggests that a basic UK tracker fund would have built you a pot worth £39,313. In comparison, had you saved the same amount into cash accounts, you’d be closer to £24,000, a considerable difference of nearly £16,000.

With this latest hike in the saving allowance, it’s time to make the most of Junior ISAs and prepare to swap bedtime reading from Peter Rabbit and Hungry Caterpillar to stories of how a stocks and shares portfolio can secure your child’s future.

Sources
http://www.cityam.com/273196/saving-into-junior-isa-great-way-new-parents-invest-their

the longevity challenge and how to tackle it

In the UK, we are faced with the challenge of an ageing population. Many of us will live longer than we might have expected. Already, 2.4% of the population is aged over 85. Because of improvements in healthcare and nutrition, this figure only looks set to rise.

The Office of National Statistics currently estimates that 10.1% of men and 14.8% of women born in 1981 will live to 100. A demographic shift to an older population brings unprecedented change to the way the country would operate, from the healthcare system to the world of work.

In addition, a long life and subsequently a long retirement, bring challenges of their own from a personal financial planning perspective.

Firstly, it means you have to sustain yourself from your retirement ‘nest egg’ of cash savings, investments and pensions. You need to ensure that you draw from this at a sustainable rate so you don’t run the risk of outliving your money.

Secondly, there’s the question of funding long term care. If we live longer, the chance that we will one day need to fund some sort of care increases. Alzheimer’s Research UK report that the risk of developing dementia rises from one in 14 over the age of 65 to one in six over the age of 80.

Of course, there are many different types of care, ranging from full time care to occasional care at home, with a variety of cost levels. All require some level of personal funding.

The amount you pay depends on the level of need and the amount of assets you have, with your local council funding the rest. This means that it’s definitely something that you need to take into account in your financial planning.

Having the income in later life to sustain long term care really does require detailed planning. Because of the widespread shift from annuities to drawdown, working out a sustainable rate at which to withdraw from your ‘nest egg’ is essential.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ sustainable rate at which to draw from your pensions and savings. Every person has their own requirements, savings, liabilities and views on what risks are acceptable.

There are some things which you will be able to more accurately plan when working out the sustainable rate to draw from your pension. These include your portfolio asset allocation, the impact of fees and charges and the risk level of your investments. Speaking with your financial adviser will help you on your way to working out the right withdrawal rate for you.

There are, however, some unknowns. These include the chance of developing a health condition later in life and exactly how long you’ll live. It is best to withdraw leaving plenty of room for these to change unexpectedly, improving your chances of having a financial cushion to cope with what life throws at you.

Sources

Prevalence by age in the UK


https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/overviewoftheukpopulation/july2017

Defining and evidencing Sustainable Withdrawal rates

Kids off to Uni? Congratulations – but have you been saving enough?

The Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that the average total debt incurred by today’s university students over the duration of their studies will amount to £51,000. This figure comes as those in higher education saw the interest rate on student loans rise to 6.3% in September. Total student debt in the UK has now risen to £105 billion as of March 2018, a figure £30 billion higher than the nation’s total credit card debt.

The rising cost of higher education perhaps makes it unsurprising that 40% of parents are now beginning to save towards future university costs before their children have even been born, with one in five hoping to have saved £2,000 by the time the baby arrives. Frustratingly, however, around two thirds of those who are saving are doing so by simply placing the funds in an ordinary savings account, meaning their money is earning them very little in interest.

An alternative option to consider is a Junior ISA (JISA) in the child’s name, which they can then access when they turn 18. The account currently allows £4,128 to be saved every year, and the best rate market rate for a cash JISA offers 3.25%. Saving the maximum amount at that rate for ten years would result in a nest egg of £49,427 tax free to cover university fees with plenty left over for other expenses.

Whilst a cash JISA offers dependability, a stocks and shares JISA is also worth considering as the potential reward on your investment can be higher. Both types of JISA can be opened at the same time with the allowance shared between them, so spreading your savings between the two can pay off in the long run.

Using your pension to save towards your child’s university education is also an option, thanks to the pension freedoms of recent years. With the ability to take a lump sum to put towards fees and other costs when you turn 55, pensions offer a tax-efficient way of putting away for both your child’s future and your own. This is an option which needs careful planning, however, as you’ll need to make sure you have enough for your retirement before paying for your child’s education.

For those able to do so, it may also be worth speaking to your own parents about helping towards their grandchildren’s university costs. Rather than leaving money to a grandchild in their will, a grandparent might consider gifting towards fees and other expenses or placing the money in a trust, reducing their inheritance tax liability and allowing their grandchild to benefit from their legacy when they really need it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/parents-university-fees-saving-children-born-student-loans-college-fund-tuition-51000-a7895951.htmlhttps://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/04/student-loan-interest-rates-expected-to-rise-in-september—but-dont-panic/researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01079/SN01079.pdfhttps://www.moneyexpert.com/debt/uk-personal-debt-levels-continue-rise/

 

Agent Million visits London and Dorset this October

Summer travels may be over, however NS&I’s Agents Million continue their tours, spreading
news of £1 million jackpot wins to two lucky Premium Bond holders in London and Dorset.

October’s first jackpot winner, a man from Inner London, becomes the 51st jackpot winner in
the whole of London. His winning Bond was purchased in February 2016 when he
purchased the maximum investment of £50,000 (Bond number: 267FW537456).

Another man, this time from Dorset, has also hit the jackpot, winning the £1 million from a
£25 prize that was won in October 2010’s draw and reinvested into his total Premium Bonds
holding (Bond number: 173HT264915). He has £19,725 invested and becomes the ninth
jackpot winner in the county since the jackpot was introduced in 1994.  Agent Million last
visited the region in April 2018.

The pair become the 395th and 396th winners of the £1 million jackpot prize.

Jill Waters, Retail Director at NS&I, said:
“Re-investing Premium Bond prizes can be a great way of saving and it has paid off this
month for Dorset’s jackpot winner, scooping the £1 million jackpot from a £25 reinvested
prize. While the London winners’ savings habit has proved particularly fruitful, winning the
top prize just over two and a half years after investing.”

Customers can opt to have their prizes paid directly into their bank account, or to have their
prizes automatically reinvested into their Premium Bonds account, as long as the total
holding is below the maximum threshold of £50,000. More information about these options is
available on nsandi.com.

Do you have an unclaimed prize?
There are over 1.5 million unclaimed prizes worth just over £60 million.
In Inner London, there are over 119,000 unclaimed prizes worth nearly £4.8 million. These
prizes date back to June 1960, with a prize of £100. The highest unclaimed prize in the
region is £50,000, having been won in May 2016. The customer has £9,175 invested in
Premium Bonds and the winning Bond number is 33XT435809. There is also one £25,000
prize and four prizes of £10,000 waiting to be claimed.

In Dorset, there are over 18,000 unclaimed prizes worth £672,000. These prizes date back
to February 1964 with a prize of £25. There are also 17 prizes worth £1,000 each in the
region, with seven of these being won by customers with less than £10 invested in Premium
Bonds.

October 2018 prize draw breakdown

Value of prize & number of prizes

£1,00,000  – 2
£100,000 – 5
£50,000 – 10
£25,000 – 20
£10,000 – 49
£5,000 – 99
£1,000 – 1,795
£500 – 5,385
£100 – 24,622
£50 – 24,622
£25 – 3,083,096

Total prize fund value
£89,743,200
Total number of prizes
3,139,705

In the October 2018 draw, a total of 3,139,705 prizes worth £89,743,200 will be paid out.
There were 76,922,736,910 eligible Bonds for the draw.

Since the first draw in June 1957, ERNIE has drawn 416 million winning prizes, to the value of around
£18.7 billion.

Customers can find out if they have been successful in this month’s draw by downloading
the prize checker app for free from the App Store or Google Play, or visit the prize checker
at nsandi.com. The results are published in full on Tuesday 2 October.

Some Premium Bond Facts

1. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
2. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of
savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital
security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
3. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.40% and the odds of each
individual Bond number winning any prize are 24,500 to 1.
4. Customers can buy Premium Bonds online at nsandi.com and over the phone by
calling 08085 007 007. This is a freephone number and calls to it from the UK are
free from both landlines and mobiles. Calls may be recorded. Customers can also
buy by post. Existing customers can also buy by bank transfer and standing order
and each investment must be at least £50 for bank transfers and standing orders.
5. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is
available on the website at nsandi.com. Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the
conversation on Facebook: Premium Bonds made by ERNIE

are children’s pensions as good as they seem?

Pensions for children? Surely that’s taking planning ahead to a whole new level?

Nonetheless, if you can afford it, putting money aside in to a pension for your children or grandchildren can be a sensible option.

Under the current rules, you can put £2,880 a year into a junior self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or stakeholder pension, on their behalf. Even though the child won’t be a taxpayer, 20% is added to the amount in tax relief, up to £3,600 per annum. If you think about it, that can result in quite a significant amount over the years, taking compound growth into consideration.

The idea of contributing to a pension may tie in well with your sense of responsibility towards the next generation. You may feel sorry for the youngsters of today with their university fees to pay back and a seemingly impossible property ladder to climb.

However, on the downside a children’s pension can be quite frustrating for the recipient. The money is tied up until their mid fifties. This means that although the amount is steadily growing with no temptation to dip into it, it may not be much consolation for a twenty-five year old desperately trying to find the deposit for a house. Instead of making their financial future easier, you may have, in fact, impeded it.

There are other alternatives which will also give you the benefit of compound growth and help you to maximise tax relief, such as using our own ISA allowances and then gifting the money later. These may have more direct impact if the money is to help pay for a wedding, repay a student loan or enable them to buy a house or start a business.

Pension contributions are often referred to as ‘free money’ because of the the tax relief. In addition, 25% of the lump sum when the recipient comes to take their pension is tax free but it is equally important to remember that 75% of any withdrawals will be taxable. Another consideration is that children’s pensions have the lowest rate of tax relief but once in employment, your children may be higher rate taxpayers so would have benefited from higher rate relief.

One thing is for sure and that is that the rules around pensions and withdrawal rates are frequently changing. Given the extended timeframe involved, it’s likely that the regulations around accessing a pension pot will have altered considerably by the time a child of today reaches pension age. Their fund will have had time to grow handsomely, though. As with most things, it all comes down to a question of personal preference for you and your family.

Sources
https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2018/05/09/danger-of-children-s-pensions-laid-bare/
https://www.bestinvest.co.uk/news/are-pensions-for-children-bonkers-or-brilliant
https://www.moneywise.co.uk/pensions/managing-your-pension/start-pension-your-child

one for the kids? – if they’re saving for a home,check they’re making the most of the lifetime ISA

If you’re saving for a home through a Help To Buy ISA or know someone who is, it’s worth being aware of a planning opportunity which could boost your savings by an additional £1,100. But anyone hoping to take advantage of this opportunity needs to be quick, as it will only be available for just under four months more.

Any savings in a Help To Buy ISA which are transferred to the new Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018 will benefit from a top up of 25% from the government. The opportunity has arisen thanks to the Help To Buy ISA small print relating to the transfer of money saved before the launch of the Lifetime ISA on 6th April 2017.

Lifetime ISAs have an annual limit of £4,000, which includes money transferred from another savings account. However, money transferred from a Help To Buy ISA within the first twelve months of Lifetime ISAs becoming available does not count towards the contribution limit for the 2017-2018 tax year. As such, any money transferred into the Lifetime ISA from the Help To Buy ISA will be boosted by the government top-up, potentially resulting in hundreds of pounds being added to your savings.

For example, someone who had saved the £4,400 maximum amount into a Help To Buy ISA before April 2017 could transfer this into a Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018. As this wouldn’t contribute to their limit, they could then save a further £4,000 into the Lifetime ISA for a total of £8,400. The 25% bonus would then be added to the entire £8,400 in April next year, giving an additional £2,100. In any other year, the maximum top-up which could be earned from the Lifetime ISA would be £1,000.

So If you know anyone using a Help To Buy ISA to save towards a first home, transferring money to a Lifetime ISA to enjoy an additional top-up of up to £1,100 in April next year could make collecting the keys to their own place happen a little bit sooner.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/savings/use-isa-loophole-now-1100-savings-boost/

Theresa May calls surprise early election

During a surprise announcement outside Downing Street on the morning of 18th April, Theresa May set the date of the next UK general election as the 8th June 2017, almost three full years before the previously expected date of May 2020.

Delivering the statement revealing the move, Mrs May said that the early general election would further deliver the ‘certainty, stability and strong leadership’, which she said the Conservative party had offered since the referendum on Britain’s EU membership. The Prime Minister elaborated to say that, ‘the country was coming together, but Westminster was not’, a reference to the fact that, despite the referendum result, the Conservatives still face opposition within Parliament on what so-called ‘Brexit’ should look like, or even whether it should still take place at all.

The Prime Minister addressed this point directly, saying that she was ‘not prepared’ to let those who oppose Brexit ‘endanger the security of millions of working people across the country. What they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home.’ Mrs May went on to say that, ‘we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this [a general election] done whilst the European Union agrees its negotiating position.’

Addressing the fact that she had previously said the next general election would not be before the May 2020 date, Mrs May said that she had ‘only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.’ The Prime Minister said that she now felt that a general election was ‘the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead… and to seek your support for the decisions I must take.’

Speaking directly to her political rivals, the Prime Minister said that she had a simple challenge to them: ‘this is your moment to show you mean it… let the people decide.’

Analysts were quick to point out that the election gives Mrs May the chance to increase her party’s majority in the House of Commons. The Conservative’s majority has been slim for some time now, which is causing Mrs May a level of discomfort when it comes to shaping Brexit. Though the general election does give her party the chance to make gains – against opposition which currently trails in the opinion polls – it also gives Labour and the Liberal Democrats the chance to shape their own arguments around Brexit. Many of the seats held by Labour, in particular, are still considered ‘safe’ seats which may limit the gains available to the Conservatives, though whether anything is truly ‘safe’ in political terms any more is a matter for some debate!

In the run up to the announcement, the pound fell against the dollar which helped the FTSE 100 to rise from losses made earlier in the day. After the announcement, however, the FTSE fell again, whilst the pound recovered, showing that not only is a week a long time in politics, but a fifteen minute announcement is a long time for the markets!

We will be sure to keep you fully informed of all of the details in the run up to the election and how the outcomes could impact you and your financial planning, both now and into the future.

Sources
http://citywire.co.uk/money/pound-falls-ahead-of-theresa-may-statement/a1008930?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Social
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39629603

what financial wellbeing means for your health

The latest Financial Wellness Index has revealed that people with very little savings and those who are struggling to pay their bills are also those who are suffering from poor health. Conversely, those enjoying good health are more likely to experience a higher level of financial wellness. The findings raise the question of whether working to improve your financial situation could have a positive impact on your health, or indeed whether a healthier lifestyle might also lead to healthier finances.

The Financial Wellness Index from Momentum UK is put together by the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol. It examines a number of fundamental elements of subjects’ financial lives, as well as the macroeconomic state of the UK, to generate the country’s overall Financial Wellness score out of 100.

The latest report has revealed that 17% of people who consider their health as being ‘poor’ have also missed at least one bill payment over the course of the last year, considerably more than the 5% of those who class their health as being ‘excellent’. Similarly, only 5% of those who have a healthy diet have missed a bill payment, compared to 11% of those who eat unhealthily.

The trend can also be seen in the amount of savings held by healthy and unhealthy people. 15% of people in poor health have no savings, compared to just 8% of those in excellent health. There are also considerably more unhealthy (29%) than healthy people (19%) with less than £100 put away. This in turn has an impact on standard of living, with 42% of people in poor health having to reduce their lifestyle expenses such as socialising and holidays, compared to just 23% of people in excellent health.

“The link between financial and physical health is strong in this year’s index, which is not wholly surprising when you start to analyse the similarities in behaviour needed to achieve both”, says Momentum UK’s managing director Samantha Seaton. “Whether you’re improving your fitness or trying to improve your financial picture, success will be found by taking small steps to achieving your longer-term goals”.

Sources
http://www.mindfulmoney.co.uk/mindful-news/new-research-finds-clear-link-between-healthy-living-and-financial-wellness/

ernie to get slimmer

Premium bonds celebrated their 60th anniversary last year; whilst they’ve remained popular throughout that time, it’s not hard to see that what they offer is closer to a lottery ticket than a viable investment opportunity. The chances of winning the jackpot is 26 million to one, and as all the interest generated in money invested goes to the prize fund you won’t see any return on your investment unless you’re one of the lucky few to bag a top prize.

However, they’re set to become even less attractive later this year, when the chances of winning the bigger prizes will become slimmer still. National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has announced that from May 2017, the estimated number of tax-free £100,000 prizes will fall from three per month to just two. The £25,000 prizes will also be reduced, going from eleven to nine each month. The amount of monthly £10,000, £5,000 and £1,000 prizes is also set to go down with the total prize fund shrinking from £69.5 million to £63.8 million.

The reductions are due to NS&I making cuts across a range of saving products to reflect market conditions. Direct ISA and Direct Saver accounts will see interest rates cut from 1% to 0.75% and 0.8% to 0.7% respectively at the same time.

Whilst a drop in the number of big prizes is undoubtedly a disappointment for savers, the changes do little to change the positives and negatives of premium bonds overall. As an investment opportunity they offer no guarantees but the fact that any money put in is backed by the treasury means your investment is fully protected.

It’s not all doom and gloom for NS&I products, however. Last November, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a new savings bond would become available in spring 2017, offering what was described as a “market-leading” rate of approximately 2.2%. The precise rate is set to be confirmed soon, and the three-year bond will be available for anyone over 16, allowing them to invest up to £3,000.

Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38893452