Archive for June, 2009

Plans for The Salary Calculator to include pensions

Almost since The Salary Calculator was first created, people have been asking for it to include pension contributions. Pension contributions are typically a percentage of your salary each month, and are deducted before tax. I’m afraid pensions have not yet been added to the website but I do plan to add them in the near future.

When I first tried to add them I found that the calculation was not as simple as I expected – the more I investigated, the more unpredictable it seemed to be. However, looking back, I think that a more simple approach can be taken to include pension contributions in the calculation, and help you see a more accurate calculation of the take home pay.

I’ll be working on this in the next few weeks and months, and if you check back on the blog regularly you’ll be the first to know when it’s released!

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 About The Salary Calculator, Pensions 1 Comment

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The cost of Japanese goods

While we often look at foreign currency exchange rates with our minds on our holidays and how much the food will cost us abroad (see my previous post), they affect us in other ways when we are still at home.

A strong pound can affect British businesses, impacting their export sales as their products cost more abroad and therefore fewer people buy them. The opposite, of course, is true – a strong pound makes importing foreign goods cheaper, and a weak pound makes it more expensive. With so many consumer electronics made abroad, this affects us at home.

I’ve been watching the price of camera equipment, much of which is made in Japan. A year ago, there were more than 200 Yen to the pound, which meant that buyers over here could get a good deal on lenses and the like. However, compare this graph of the cost of a Canon lens with this graph of the pound vs. the Yen. As the pound dropped as low as 122 Yen, vendors in the UK have had to increase their prices almost £100 (on that lens – more expensive products have gone up more).

As the pound gathers strength, it is climbing back up against the Yen and the cost of consumer electronics will come back down. With the country still in a recession, retailers will be competing for sales and should therefore lower their prices as soon as the rates get more favourable – passing the savings on to us! I hope so, at least – I really want that lens.

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Consumer Goods, Foreign Currency No Comments

Holiday exchange rates

Like a lot of people, I’m keeping my eye on foreign exchange rates at the moment. Those people lucky enough to go on holiday abroad this year have been worrying about the weak pound ever since they booked the ferry! Fortunately, the pound has been getting stronger over the last few months and while it’s nowhere near the levels it was this time last year, it’s a significant improvement on 6 months ago, when it was pretty much £1 = €1.

It’s improved against the dollar, too – from $1.38 a few months ago to $1.65. Although most of us will be comparing this with the $2.00 rate that was stable for some time in 2008, it’s worth remembering that that was unusually high, and $1.70 or $1.80 is more like the standard value. Compared to this, $1.65 is not too bad.

While a strong pound is good news for holidaymakers, the British tourist industry often suffers as fewer people visit our shores, and those that do come spend less while they are here. Hopefully this summer will see an improvement on previous years as visitors from the US, the Eurozone and even Japan are all still getting a good deal on their pounds, and more natives stay at home to beat the exchange rate!

Although some people in the industry are negative, believing that economic uncertainty and unemployment will mean fewer people will be taking advantage of the tourist industry, the fact that the pound is still lower than it was last summer should pull visitors in from abroad and hopefully give the industry a shot in the arm.

Exchange rates can be monitored here.

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Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 Foreign Currency 2 Comments

New, higher tax rate

From April 2010, new tax rates will take effect. Most of us won’t be affected by the changes, as they only affect those with annual income in excess of £100,000.

The first change is the creation of a new income tax band for taxable income above £150,000, which will be taxed at a rate of 50%. This will make a significant difference to anyone who does earn this much as they currently are paying only 40% on this income.

The second change is a reduction of the personal allowance of £1 for every £2 your income is over £100,000. Your personal allowance is the amount you are allowed to earn without paying tax – by reducing this allowance the government are able to take more tax off your hands. In fact, I have calculated that whereas currently for every extra £2 you earn over £100,000 you take home £1.20, those of you lucky enough to be in this pay bracket will be taking home only £0.80 of that £2 from April 2010.

The Salary Calculator will be updated with these new rates early in 2010 when the details of personal allowances and other thresholds for that tax year are made available.

More details are available on the HMRC website here (PDF).

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Sunday, June 14th, 2009 Income Tax, Pay As You Earn 1 Comment

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