Archive for August, 2009

Pension contributions on The Salary Calculator

As I wrote a short while ago, for a long time people have been emailing and requesting that The Salary Calculator offer support for pension contributions. My excuse had always been that pension contributions aren’t as simple as they might seem, but now I have finally tackled the problem.

Deductions made at source for a company pension or other pension scheme are typically a percentage of your salary, and any contributions you make to the pension are not taxed. The complication comes when employers calculate what is called “pensionable pay” – it is a percentage of this that is deducted each paycheck. As you can see in this related article about pensions, this is not necessarily just your annual salary – each employer calculates it differently.

Therefore, the pension deductions which have been added to The Salary Calculator are an estimate. They may match exactly what your employer does, but probably they will not. However, this is an improvement to the calculator in that it can give you a better indication of what your take home pay will be after pension contributions than it could before.

The approach I’ve taken is to take the percentage you enter into the pension field and deduct that percentage from the standard annual salary (i.e. not including any overtime). Therefore, the calculator is assuming that your pensionable pay is the same as your annual salary. If your employer calculates it differently I’m afraid that this estimate won’t be accurate, but it should give you a good indication. Sorry I couldn’t make it more accurate! Get started on The Salary Calculator with pension contributions.

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 About The Salary Calculator, Pensions 33 Comments

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Pro-rata calculations

Recently, I’ve had a couple of requests from users of the site to have a pro-rata calculator on the site, so you can work out what your new pay would be if you go down to reduced hours or enter a job share of some sort. Unfortunately, I’ve not had time to make this new tool, but it is easy to use the existing calculator to work out your pro-rata pay.

For example, if you are working 20 hours a week instead of 37.5:

  1. If you know the hourly rate for the job, use the Hourly Rate Calculator, enter that rate and 20 hours – the calculator will show you the take home pay.
  2. If you just know the annual salary for 37.5 hours a week, first divide the salary by 37.5, then multiply it by 20. Enter this new salary into the normal calculator and it should give you the right information.

According to HMRC, tax, NI etc are all worked out the same whether you worked 37.5 hours to earn the money, or just 20 (or 1!). The above tricks can show you what you need to know until I have time to create a pro-rata calculator.

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Escaping from recession

Recently there have been some news reports of other countries such as France, Germany and Japan managing to get out of recession. What this means is that the total size of their economy, or GDP, has increased over the last quarter. Britain’s economy is still in decline, but since this is a global recession signs of recovery in other counties (especially those we trade closely with) is encouraging.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean very much for you and me. After a couple of quarters of stable growth, we should see loans and mortgages get easier to come by and unemployment start to fall – but right now I’m afraid that even if our economy stabilises or starts to grow again it will be very cautiously.

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Monday, August 17th, 2009 Economy 1 Comment

Negotiate a price when buying online

The recently-launched website Aroxo is helping consumers to save money and negotiate a good deal in the midst of the credit crunch. Capitalising on the fact that when money is tight, sellers are often willing to bargain with buyers to secure a sale, the founders of Aroxo launched a site to allow you to negotiate a price even when buying online.

The system works quite simply – sellers have registered a list of products they stock and their “normal” prices. Buyers then browse the site and find a product that they wish to buy. Instead of comparing prices, or competing in an auction, the buyer then enters the amount of money they would like to pay for the item. All the sellers of the item are notified of this intent to buy, and make offers to the buyer – the buyer then reviews the offers and can choose to accept any of them, or to negotiate further if they wish. The buyer doesn’t commit to a purchase with their first offer, so there is nothing to lose.

Because it takes time for the offers to be made by the sellers, this approach lacks the “instant purchase” appeal of normal shopping online – but if waiting a day or so can save you a lot of money then surely it’s worth it – and the chances of buyer’s remorse are lessened also. Aroxo is currently focused on consumer electronics but they have plans to expand into other markets, and if you planned to make such a purchase it could save you a significant amount in these tight times. However, don’t buy things you wouldn’t normally have bought just because you got a good deal – that’s not the way to save money!

More details are on the Aroxo website.

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Thursday, August 6th, 2009 Consumer Goods, Economy No Comments

A ray of hope?

There’s good news in the housing market, at least for the moment. This article by the BBC shows that for the fifth month in a row, The Nationwide have reported an increase in house prices compared to the previous month. House prices are still lower than they were this time last year, but are on their way back up.

A couple of notes of caution, however, before we start celebrating the recovery of the housing market and the economy as a whole. Firstly, as you can see from the chart in the BBC article, house prices are also tracked by The Halifax and they have yet to release their results for July. Their June figures were noticeably less positive than those from The Nationwide and so perhaps they will not show the same improvement in July. Secondly, it is unlikely that this rate of growth can continue. Although the housing market is recovering, the economy is much worse than it was 2 years ago, the last time we had growth like this – there are fewer people working and less money available for house purchases. After the initial “correction”, we should see the prices increase at a lower rate.

And this could be no bad thing – after all, one of the largest causes of the current economic climate was the “house price bubble”, hopefully we have all learned our lesson (I’m including lenders and borrowers in that statement) and will take things slower from now on. Lenders are reticent to lend their money to high-risk borrowers, having been stung recently, and if they are properly regulated it should help stop people from being tempted into buying something they can’t afford. These two further articles from the BBC tell us that lenders are relaxing a bit and allowing more mortgages to be taken out – which means more house sales, which increases demand and therefore the price of houses. When we get the right balance between lending to no one and lending to everyone, we should see stable growth in the housing market (which is a good foundation stone for economic recovery).

We may get out of this mess yet.

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Saturday, August 1st, 2009 Economy, Mortgages No Comments

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