I discovered an excellent article today by Martin Lewis, laying out the facts behind student loans – how they work and how they are repaid. There are a number of common misconceptions about student loans, and this article sets out all the information you would need to understand if you were considering going to university (or sending one of your children). Topics covered include:

  • If you take a low paying job after graduation, you’ll only repay a small amount of the loan (or none of it!)
  • Monthly repayments under the new loan system are lower than under the previous system
  • Your monthly repayments are the same, no matter how high your tuition fees are
  • You only start repaying once you leave university and start earning
  • You will still be able to get a mortgage

To learn more about all of these and more, check out Student Loans Mythbusting.

You can see how much your student loan will cost each month, and how long it will take to repay, by using the tool on our sister site Loan Tutor.

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None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

Over at Money.co.uk they’ve recently published an article about how singles can cut their costs, or even earn a little extra income. It’s full of useful tips – some of which you may already be doing but others you might not have thought about.

While looking for a new job or getting a pay rise can be a great way of increasing your disposable income each month, saving on bills is just as effective and is often easier! If you’d like to read more, check out 10 Easy Steps to Cut The Cost Of Single Living

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Over on our sister site Employed and Self Employed, we now have a Limited Company Tax Calculator. If you are self employed through a limited company (as many people, like IT contractors, can be), then your tax is worked out differently from if you are just plain-old self employed. The limited company pays you a salary, which is typically quite small, and the rest of the company’s profits are paid to you in dividends (after the company has paid corporation tax), which are taxed at different rates from other income. The following graph shows you a comparison of how much income you get to take home as self employed or with a limited company (click on the image for a larger version).

Limited Company vs Self Employed comparison

Click the image for a larger, interactive version

As you can see, in this example (with typical values entered), the limited company approach allows you to take home more of your income. However, this does come at a cost – more paperwork is required for limited companies, including registering with Companies House and having your books prepared by an accountant. Accountant’s fees might eat up a significant amount of the difference in take-home, so it might not be worth switching from one to another. If you’re interested in being self employed as a limited company, speak to an accountant to find out if it is right for you.

To start performing tax calculations, check out the limited company tax calculator over at Employed and Self Employed.

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I know a number of you use The Salary Calculator to compare two salaries – for example, if you are looking for a new job or are going for a promotion. To make this easier for you, the Two Salaries Comparison Calculator has been created, which allows you to enter two salaries (along with all your details about tax code, pensions and so on) and see what a difference it will make to you over the year, and each month. You can compare each deduction, such as tax and National Insurance, and see how they affect the take home pay for the old and new salaries.

Get started comparing salaries over here!

Later today, the Chancellor will deliver his 2014 Budget to parliament, setting out his plans for the next few years. The Budget is the Chancellor’s opportunity to explain his policies and how they will affect the economy as a whole, and also what differences will be felt by ordinary members of the public.

He is likely to make much of the fact that the tax-free personal allowance (how much you can earn without paying income tax) has increased to £10,000 from April 2014, a coalition pledge delivered 1 year early. There is also talk that he might announce plans to raise the threshold for 40% tax (the amount at which you start paying income tax at 40% rather than 20%) in future years. This would probably lower the tax paid by those in middle management positions, say, and those in more senior roles.

The income tax and National Insurance rates which will take effect from 6th April 2014 have already been applied to The Salary Calculator, so you can easily see how your take home pay will be affected by the new tax year. You can also view a side-by-side comparison of 2013 and 2014 so you can see where the differences come from.

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