If you are trying to save for your retirement, or just for a rainy day, it can be difficult to understand what your options are and what is best for you. Should you get an ISA (Individual Savings Account), or a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension)? What are the pros and cons of each, and why might you open a savings account instead?

Fortunately, Hargreaves Lansdown have created a series of guides intended to help you make the most of your savings – the guides are free to download, all they ask is that you provide some registration details. If you would like to know more about investing for the future and the tax benefits of doing so, try their introduction to SIPPs, or the beginner’s guide to ISAs.

Also of interest to readers of The Salary Calculator might be the calculators on Hargreaves Lansdown’s site which can help you plan for your retirement.

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With just a few days to go until the “Brexit” referendum, many people are trying to work out whether they (or the UK as a whole) will be better off remaining in the EU, or leaving it behind. Although a lot of people have opinions on the matter, unfortunately know one knows for sure what would happen if the UK left the EU (or indeed, what would happen if it remained).

For those who are still thinking about it, there is a useful article on the excellent Money Saving Expert website which does a good job of laying out the facts for you to consider: How to vote in the EU referendum

If you know what your vote is going to be, but you’re interested in knowing what the polls are saying about everyone else’s vote, The Economist has a poll tracker which shows you how the opinion polls have changed over time, and also allows you to see how the votes split by demographic such as young / old, male / female.

Whatever you think about Britain’s membership of the EU, this is one of the most important decisions we will make as a nation. It is important that you have your say – which means please make sure you vote on polling day!

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Economy, Stock Market No Comments

Tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his annual budget to the Houses of Parliament. We have already heard about some possible announcements (such as the introduction of a scheme to help people increase their savings), and we have been told that there will be no changes to pension tax relief (which looked likely, for a while).

From 6th April, the new tax year means changes to tax-free personal allowances, tax thresholds and the like. The Salary Calculator has been updated with the latest values so you can see what your payslip will look like from April onwards. The personal allowance has been increased to £11,000 per year, which will reduce the tax due for most people. There are changes to National Insurance this year, too – since it is no longer possible for a pension to be “contracted-out” (earning a reduction in NI contributions), those of you who had one of these pensions will be paying the full NI contributions from 6th April.

If you would like to see how these changes will affect you, head over to The Salary Calculator to see what difference it will make to your payslip!

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The Salary Calculator has been updated with the latest tax rates, which take effect from 6th April 2016 – so you can now see how the changes will affect you. Just head over to The Salary Calculator – 2016 take home pay calculator, enter your details and remember to choose the “2016/17” tax year in the drop-down box.

The tax-free personal allowance has been increased by £400, which will reduce the amount of tax most people pay. However, from April 2016 those who have been paying into a pension scheme which is “contracted out” of the additional state pension will find that their National Insurance contributions go up. This is because from April it will no longer be possible to contract out of the pension, so the National Insurance reduction that this gave you no longer applies.

You can try out the 2015 and 2016 take home comparison calculator and see side-by-side how your payslip is likely to change in the new tax year.

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Today I came across something I hadn’t considered before, but I think it’s a good idea. The BBC business website has an article they describe as a “Money Calendar”, which offers month-by-month tips to help you sort out your finances during the year. Some of the tips are simple forward planning (like saving up for Christmas earlier in the year), others are suggestions which have specific relevance to the month in question (like summer activities in July).

I think there are some great tips and points to consider in this article, in some cases with links to more detailed information if you want to explore further. At a time of year when we’re all trying to get our finances sorted out, why not take a look and see if it gives you any useful pointers?

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