Archive for January, 2022

Energy prices on the rise

by Madaline Dunn

News of rising energy prices will come as another financial knock to many people across the UK after what has been a turbulent two years. The cost of living is set to increase once again following a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies.

In October, around 15 million homes saw their bills up 12%. Unfortunately, the situation is only likely to worsen, with industry leaders calling for government intervention to help tackle the “national crisis”.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through:

  • How much you can expect costs to rise by
  • The causes of the price hike
  • Whether there’s anything you can do to navigate this

How much will costs rise?

In the UK, the trade body Energy UK has released some bleak forecasts regarding energy bills, outlining that they could rise by 50% by springtime, which will ultimately hit low-income households and small businesses the hardest.

As a result, reports say that the energy bill for the average household could increase by £600 by April – and looking forward, next year, bills could reach £2,200-a-year on average.

Of course, with other rising living costs, this is concerning news for many. Alex Belsham-Harris, of Citizens Advice, says that already people are feeling the pinch. He added: “With major hikes to energy bills from April and other costs of living rising, the quickest and easiest way for the government to provide direct support for those hardest hit will be through the benefits system.”

What’s causing the hike?

Energy costs are on the rise for a number of reasons. Wholesale energy prices have surged as economies emerge from the pandemic, with demand increasing and fewer exports. Last year’s cold winter in Europe also played a part. So, there has been a range of technical and geopolitical issues at play. Since 2020, energy prices have risen by 250%, and in August, they rose further by a staggering 70%. This has led to more than 20 domestic suppliers going bust as the price cap prevented companies from charging consumers more to deal with this.

Although Ofgem’s price cap has limited energy suppliers in regards to how much they charge, this is to move in April and could reach £1,995-a-year per household.

What can you do?

It can be stressful thinking about the prospect of rising energy prices, and it’s understandable to have concerns and questions.

Some important information to remember is that if you’re struggling to keep up with payments, don’t put your head in the sand. Reach out to your supplier as soon as possible. Suppliers can help set up an affordable payment plan if you feel things are spiralling – they may even pass on the details of charities that can help you with your financial burden.

That said, if you feel as though the situation has advanced beyond that, it may be time to reach out to a debt adviser to help you navigate missed payments and the like.

Likewise, it’s worth noting that if your provider is one of the unlucky ones caught up in the crisis and goes bust, and you have credit on your account, it won’t be lost. Instead, your balance will be transferred to your new energy supplier – the same goes for any debt on your account; it will be passed on.

Of course, there are ways you can use energy more efficiently, too, to keep your bills lower. Simple things like not leaving appliances on standby and switching off lights when they’re not needed can have a big impact. Switching to low energy light bulbs can keep costs lower, too, as can using draft excluders and investing in better insulation and double glazing – although the latter may not be financially viable options for everyone.

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Wednesday, January 26th, 2022 Economy No Comments

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.

New year, new you: Rethinking finances in 2022

by Madaline Dunn

2022 is finally here, and after what has been a difficult financial time for many, you may be looking for ways that you can improve your finances, especially following the splurge of the festive season.

Thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions each year, with finances often being a key focus. However, at the same time, many who make financial New Year’s resolutions find them hard to stick to. Often this is because the resolutions people make are inflexible, extreme and ill-thought-out.

At The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through some top tips that can send you on your way to a more secure and safe financial future and outline some resolutions that are easier to stick to. In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Ways to build your credit
  • How to build up an emergency fund
  • How remortgaging can be helpful
  • How to tackle debt
  • How to become more financially literate
  • How to set your sights on a new job

How to build your credit

When it comes to building credit, it may not be something you thought about until you decide you want to finance a car or perhaps buy a house. The credit system essentially gives lenders information about you and your finances, and if your credit score isn’t great, this could affect your ability to, for example, buy your dream house, or may mean you’re faced with pretty rubbish interest rates.

You can start building your credit in simple ways, such as getting a credit card. After making this decision, ensuring you pay it off in full each month will help to boost your credit score. Likewise, it’s also important to use only a small percentage of your credit limit, say up to 25%, to keep your score high. The same goes for if you have an overdraft; staying far below the limit and paying it off shows your responsibility when it comes to finances.

Keeping an eye on your household bills and setting up a direct debit is also a good way to make sure your credit score doesn’t dip into the red.

Building up an emergency fund

The last two years have certainly taken a toll on many people’s finances, and in the New Year, many may be looking to prepare and safeguard against future turmoil. Each month, if you can afford it, it can be a good idea to put away a percentage of your income for a rainy day.

According to WalletHub, working towards building up an emergency fund “should be one of the first orders of business for any financial makeover.”

The best way to start is by setting out clear goals and working out what you can realistically save. This amount will vary depending on your financial situation and type of occupation.

That said, once you’ve settled on a figure you feel comfortable with, it’s important to put this money aside in an account that enables instant access, so when you need your emergency fund the most, you’re not faced with lots of red tape and barriers. When choosing your account, it’s best to take a look at what’s out there on the market, and compare and contrast. There are a number of comparison websites that can help you out here, including Compare the Market, Money Supermarket, and GoCompare.

Remortgaging in the New Year

Remortgaging in the New Year can be a great way to save money. If, for example, your deal is coming to its end, your home’s value has increased, or you want a better rate, this could be a good move for you.

According to Norton Finance, the average household can save £400 each year through remortgaging. That said, it’s important to take into consideration whether remortgaging is the right decision for you. If, for example, your financial situation has recently changed, or perhaps you’ve experienced credit issues, or if you’re already on a good rate, this may not be the move for you.

Tackling your debt

Confronting one’s debt can feel daunting, and often it can feel easier to bury your head in the sand. However, the New Year is a great opportunity to set out a plan to face your debt head-on.

Starting to pay off your credit card debt is a great step towards better financial health, and of course, becoming debt-free can be incredibly liberating. This can be done in small chunks to make it manageable.

Elsewhere, when paying off your debt, make sure to prioritise what needs to be paid off first. Consolidating your debt can be helpful here, too, if you have different loans and credit card balances. If you’re unsure about how to go about this, speaking to financial experts can be a great way of accessing guidance.

Become more financially literate

Becoming more financially literate can make a world of difference to your life. Research shows that, in fact, few people are financially literate (just one in three in the UK).

Better financial literacy can help you to set better financial goals, invest your money more wisely, and save more efficiently. Whether it’s checking out the latest finance podcast, hitting the books or using financial management tools, accessing this kind of knowledge can place more control in your hands, help you avoid debt, and keep an eye out for risky investments and fraud.

There are some great podcasts out there that can help you on your way to becoming more financially savvy, including BiggerPockets Money, Future Rich, and Money 101, which provide down-to-earth, accessible guidance and top tips, making finances less intimidating.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to get your nose stuck into some books, Money: A Users Guide – Laura Whateley, Real Life Money: An Honest Guide to Taking Control of Your Finances by Clare Seal, and Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grown-Up’ y Sam Beckbessinger, may help to give you a fresh perspective on finances.

Seeking out a better paying job

The New Year is the perfect opportunity to seek out a fresh start job-wise. You may be aware that you’ve got as far as you can in your current role, and perhaps you’re not receiving the kind of wage packet that your skills entitle to you. Say goodbye to rubbish pay in the New Year, and take on the adventure of a new job. Reports even show that January is the best time of year to lookout for a new job!

That said, when looking for a new job, it’s also important to take into consideration a few different factors. Look inwards, and ask yourself why you’re seeking a new role, what kind of skills you have to bring to a new role, and what jobs do you expect to be eligible for. It’s always great to be ambitious and strive for something new and exciting, but be sure that you’re realistic in your approach, too.

Take a look at your CV and resume, ensure they’re up-to-date and in tip-top condition. This will allow you to put your best foot forward. Branch out on Linkedin, too. Connections are never a bad thing, and networking can even help you access a contact that could lead to you landing your dream job. Of course, practice interview tips as well, especially if it’s been a while since you last did an interview! This way you’ll be able to speak confidently about your abilities, experience and accomplishments and win over your interviewer.

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Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 Economy 2 Comments

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