Five Ways To A Wealthier 2009

Posted on: 12 January 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

We highlight ways to save on holidays, healthcare and transport.


Welcome to 2009 - a year that seems certain to be less than wonderful. Job losses are rising and income from savings and investments plunging, but you can take practical steps to prepare for the difficulties ahead.

We highlight ways to save on holidays, healthcare and transport - and how to boost your income and make the most of an upturn in your career prospects when it comes.

Holiday On The Cheap

Sterling's weakness and the increasing cost of air travel are deterring many of us from going abroad.

A fifth of those who holidayed abroad last year plan to save money by sticking with a UK break this year, according to Visit Britain. Others will switch from traditional destinations such as Spain to locations including North Africa and Turkey, areas not in the eurozone where the pound goes further.

Others are trading down from hotels to caravans and camping.

Julie Darroch of Cumbria Tourism, which covers the Lake District, says “Campsites and self-catering operators in the Lakes had a boom year in 2008, with bookings up 25%. We are expecting a repeat this year.”

Another low-cost holiday option is a house swap. Caroline Connolly runs house exchange agency homelink.org.uk.

It has 1,200 UK members, who each pay £115 a year, and 13,500 members internationally. “If you're tied to the school year, it can be a cheap way of taking a break because there are no price rises in the holidays,” she says.

Take A Second Job

Six in ten workers have considered a second job to make ends meet. One of the most popular roles is as a home rep or consultant.

Avon, the largest door to-door cosmetic sales firm, with 170,000 reps, reports a big rise in interest. Expect an initial outlay of about £100 to get a starter kit and to cover the cost of basic training.

Reps are then responsible for organising functions or parties, usually through friends and family. Commission earned on sales is typically 20 to 30%.

Invest In Yourself & Your Career

Two thirds of workers feel that learning a new skill will make them more secure in their jobs, according to the Government's Learning & Skills Council, responsible for job training.

LSC chairman Chris Banks says, “Employees with transferable skills are often seen as the biggest assets. A small investment in learning new skills will leave you better prepared.”

The cheapest option is to take advantage of the training available through your employer. Paying for yourself can be expensive, though there can be subsidies and training bursaries through the sector skills councils.

The website of the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils - www.sscalliance.org has links to each industry. You can also get free guidance from the national Careers Advice Service on 0800 100900.

Career development loans (CDLs) are alternative sources of finance. These Government-backed loans apply to those studying on approved courses. There is no interest to pay while you are studying or retraining.

Repayments start one month after a course finishes and can be deferred for up to another 17 months if you are struggling to find work.

The loans are available through Barclays, Cooperative Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Cycle To Work

More than 3m people regularly cycle to work, according to Sainsbury's Insurance, with saving money being one of the biggest motivators.

Cyclescheme is one of the biggest providers of bicycles under the Government's Cycle to Work initiative. It helps employers provide discounted bikes to their staff through interest-free loans.

Repayments are taken out of an employee's pay, typically over 12 months. This makes the purchase cheap and tax-efficient. Cyclists can choose their bike and accessories, such as a lock and helmet, usually up to a value of £1,000.

Sarah Ellwood of Cyclescheme - www.cyclescheme.co.uk - in Bath, Somerset, says the scheme has provided 45,000 bikes for workers in the past four years.

"Employees win because repayments come out of gross salary," she says. "Employers can claim back the VAT, meaning savings equivalent to about 50% of the bike's retail price. Plus employers get relief on National Insurance."

Bikes bought through Cycle to Work belong to the employer until the loan is repaid. Workers might have to pay the balance in full if they lose their job. It is usually possible to add insurance for a bike to existing home contents policies. Cover costs from £2.85 a month for a £300 bike.

Visit www.bikeforall.net, www.cyclesolutions.co.uk and www.faircarebenefits.co.uk. For more information about Cycle to Work, go to the Department for Transport website at www.dft.gov.uk.

Cut Back On Private Healthcare

One way of ensuring your eyes and teeth are checked often is to store up benefits through a health plan, where members can claim for different types of treatment up to fixed, annual maximums sums.

Monthly contributions are small - about £10 - and payouts are comparatively low, too. The plan is nothing like private medical insurance - it merely pays toward the costs of care.

Cash plan applicants don't need medicals before signing up, but plans will not usually cover existing medical conditions. With some schemes, including HSF's, premiums will never rise, regardless of claims, though the amount of cover offered under each heading won't rise either.

Have you cut back on your outgoings during the credit crunch? Do you have any money saving tips to pass on?

If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

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