Getting into the savings habit

We’ve all been told it’s good to save, but what exactly are you saving for and where should you save it? We explore why it’s a good idea to save regularly from a young age, and show the saving options available to you.

Why bother saving?

There are three main reasons for saving regularly:

  • For emergencies – to make sure there’s money available if something unexpected happens, like your car breaking down.
  • To fund luxuries – this might include a holiday or buying a new car, or things such as a tablet, computer or new phone.
  • To live comfortably in the future – although it might seem very far away, once you stop working your income will go down and you’ll probably have to rely on money you’ve saved to keep up your standard of living.

How to save

If you ever have any money left over at the end of the week or month that you don’t need for essentials, try to save it. Think about saving once you’ve paid your main bills.

If you find that you can do this, then try to save at least 5% of your income – the more you’re able to save, the better.

Example: Jason earns £320 a week. Once he’s paid for all of his essentials he’s left with £95. Jason works out that 5% of his income is £16 and puts this into a savings account every week. This means he then has £79 (£95 minus £16) to spend on non-essentials like going out. Over a year, Jason will have put £832 into his savings.

Where to save

If you pay your money into a bank or building society, they’ll pay you interest on it – see it as a reward for allowing them to look after your money. Every bank or building society has a range of different savings products and each of them pays different interest rates.

The two most common savings products are:

ISA (Individual Savings Account)

These are very popular as they are a tax-free way of saving or investing – no Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax is payable on money saved or invested within an ISA (sometimes called NISA). On many other savings products you would pay tax on the income you earn and might be liable for Capital Gains Tax on any profits from your investments.

From April 2016 you can save £15,240 until the end of the current tax year in April 2017. You can save in cash, invest in stocks and shares, or a mixture of the two.

Flexible ISAs

From April 2016, ISA providers can offer a flexible facility which will let you withdraw and replace money from your ISA, provided it is done within the same tax year. Not all ISA’s will let you do this and you should check with your ISA provider that your ISA has this function. This flexibility is currently not available for Junior ISAs or the Help to Buy ISAs.

Don’t forget ISA transfers are still required to move money from previous years ISA subscriptions.

Help To Buy ISA

A new ISA was introduced to help first time buyers save towards the cost of buying their first home in autumn 2015. Savers can make an initial deposit of £1,000 when they open a Help to Buy ISA and then receive £50 for every £200 saved up to a maximum of £12,000. The tax break is capped at £3,000.

You’ll can earn tax free interest on your savings as with a standard ISA. These new ISAs are limited to one per person rather than one per house. You can’t contribute to a Cash ISA in the same tax year.

Junior ISA

Junior ISAs, with different limits and some different rules, are available to under 18-year-olds. Parents and guardians are able to open these accounts and make savings on behalf of their children, and young people in care will receive a government contribution into their Junior ISA.

From April 2015 anyone with money in a CTF can transfer it to a Junior ISA.

Savings account

Nearly all banks and building societies offer savings accounts that pay some interest, and they all have slightly different features. There are usually no limits on how much you can save in these each year, and often the more money you put in, the higher the interest rate you receive.

If you’ve used up your saving allowance on your ISA, you may want to open a savings account for any extra money you can save.

How to find the best savings account

There are lots of things to look out for in a savings account to make sure it meets your needs, such as:

  • the amount of interest paid
  • the minimum amount of money you have to put in (either to open the account, or each month)
  • how quickly you can take out your money if you need to

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