It's yet another bank holiday and as usual, I'll be sharing my tips on saving and investing in the UK
Remember, I am not a financial advisor.

I am a woman who just likes to optimise available opportunities and share what I learn
Also remember that my expertise is in Cloud and Data Security.

I apply the principles of understanding Data and trends to my finances.

If something does not make sense to me, I don’t do it (even when my financial advisor advocates for it)
I believe if something is too complicated for me to understand, I won’t know when I am being taken advantage of
So any savings or investment strategy that cannot be explained in ways I can understand it is not worth my time.

Yes, I am happy to miss out on being a billionaire because I don’t understand how Swiss Golden or One Coin works 🤷‍♀️
However, I will say make sure you track your spending religiously and actively work to reduce them if you find any category unreasonable.

I will also not teach you how to spot trends. That's what financial advisors are for
Now that you know what I will not do, here’s what I’ll do...
I will show you how I:

- Put plans in place to increase my income
- Save on bills
- Take advantage of tax benefits & keep up with changes
- Invest in different products
- Reduce impulsive spends
- Use tools to help automate savings, investments & track spending
My personal financial plan strategy is based on 2 things:
1. Jack Bogle’s writings and investment policies.

To learn more, buy and read his book here: - 
The only advise I’d give is:

Treat yourself like you’re a company. Identify ways to increase revenue, compound interest on savings and reduce cost
For context, my personal finance commandments:

1. 30% of my gross income goes into paying myself first. This money is distributed across my emergency fund, savings account, and mid-long term investment accounts
2. Buy Insurance, contribute to pension to the max allowed and create a will that is periodically reviewed and updated
3. Don’t buy a property just because you are in a rush to own a home.

Renting has a lot of benefits.

Explore them and use them to your advantage so you always have money to save and invest.

This goes for cars and other things perceived as assets
4. Take out a Credit Card to stagger payment of essential expenses. This gives me a headroom of 30 days to pay my bills instead of paying them immediately using my debit card...
...Sort of like a credit line facility that is available to companies.

It means I can earn some money in my savings account & use the savings to pay my debt. The trick is to make sure you pay your credit card bill in full via Direct Debit and don’t withdraw cash on credit cards
5. Get a financial advisor. As soon as I was able to afford this, I put an one on retainer. I can’t rave enough about @aardvark_acc, my advisors...
...If you cannot get one yet, identify tax advantages in all situations by signing up to Google Alerts on any changes HMRC makes or following @Monevator and subscribe to their website 
Now that you know you are reading advice from a novice, I'll breakdown my tips into:

1. Earnings

2. Debts

3. Savings

4. Investments
1. Earnings:

It's difficult to implement any personal financial plan if you cannot accurately predict your income and outgoings...
...Treat your life like it's an actual business.

To calculate your income, identify the:

- deductions your employer or HMRC makes from your gross income; and

- tax reliefs you are entitled to
A. Income: You need to be transparent with yourself about how much you earn before deductions.

Then classify those deductions

This helps you identify if you can reduce what’s being deducted by either paying the deductions upfront or staggering the payment over a period of time
If you have only one source of income, spend time doing a risk assessment on this
For example, I currently have one source of regular income and it is deliberate because I need to put in the hours into being a specialist so I can command a higher income
Having a side hustle is distracting to that objective especially as I may expend so much energy into side hustles that may push me into a higher tax bracket with no added benefit
The more experience and expertise I gain, the higher the chance of having additional income from speaking opportunities and writing about product management, data & cloud security
To mitigate any risk (i.e. loss of income because I can’t work etc.), I’ve taken out income protection insurance.

I’ll talk more about this.
For you, the opposite may be the case. You may be able to juggle 3 businesses or jobs without sacrificing productivity.

Identify what works for you, optimise it, get insurance and stick to it
B. Deductions: This is what remains in your bank account after taxes and other deductions are made from your gross income.

In the UK, the main income deductions are:
i. Income tax deductions are:
- 0% on earnings up to £12,500;
- 20% on btw £12,501 & £50,000; 40% on btw £50,001 to £150,000;and 45% tax on over £150,001).
For this tax year, go to to identify your deductions for the year.

Income tax applies to all money you earn (from your salary, side hustle, rental property, dividends, annual bonus, tips, benefits in kind, etc)
ii. National Insurance Tax: This is deducted from your gross pay and entitles you to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension and Maternity Allowance.
It is only deducted if you earn more than the standard Personal Allowance for the tax year (£12,500).

Track this closely because you get tax refunds if you’ve contributed more NI than you should have in a tax year
iv. Pension Contributions: I will talk more about this when I get to the investment section.

But it’s wise to deduct this using the max allowed.
C. Tax Relief and Allowances: These reduce the amount of income tax you are liable for in a year.

They include:
i. Expenses related to business trips.

Here is a list of occupations that can deduct a flat rate allowance
iii. Work from home expenses if you are not wfh voluntarily(telephone, lighting, heating)
iv. Marriage allowance - if you are married or in a civil partnership and earn less than the personal allowance, you can transfer £1,250 of your unused personal allowance to your partner if they are a basic rate taxpayer.
D. Essential expenses:

- Council Tax (If you live alone, you are entitled to 25% discount)

- Rental Payments

- Communication (Phone, Internet bill)

- Utility Bills (Water, Electricity, Heating)
Now that you have an idea of:

- what deductions can be made from your gross income;

- essential expenses;

- tax reliefs you may be entitled to;

Write these down and identify if you can afford to save.
You are an adult and I won’t tell you what to cut back on.

I’d only tell you to identify if you can earn more to enjoy the items on your list so you can afford to save
We’ve talked about earnings and expenses. I’ll move on to debts.

I separated this from expenditure because in some cases, it’s prudent to save to pay a debt.

In other cases, it makes sense to pay certain debts off as soon as possible
i. Payday loans: If you have never taken a payday loan, don’t. Especially if you want a mortgage.

Mortgage lenders typically don’t lend to people who have payday loans. If you have already taken one out, prioritise and pay them back ASAP.
Not only are they expensive debts, they adversely affect your credit rating.

If you are struggling with paying off expenses, there are many free advisers in the UK who help you find a way to manage your cash flow problems
2. Debts: I separated this from expenditure because in some cases, it’s prudent to save to pay a debt.

In other cases, it makes sense to pay debts off as soon as possible.

One of the main reasons UK residents have enormous debts is taking out credit card debts/payday loans
a. Payday loans: If you have never taken a payday loan, don’t.

Especially if you want a mortgage.

Mortgage lenders typically don’t lend to people who have payday loans
If you have already taken one out, prioritise and pay them back ASAP.

Not only are they expensive debts, they adversely affect your credit rating.
C. Savings - now that you’ve identified if you can afford to save. I’ll talk about:

- Different types of savings accounts you should have and why

- Tax benefits of savings

- Tools you can use to automate savings

- Apps to view all your accounts in one place
Savings accounts I recommend for short term savings:

a. Emergency savings account -

This is money you put aside in a non current account that accrues some sort of interest and you can access the money immediately without any penalty charges
Examples of this instant access emergency savings accounts with no Account Fees and their Annual Equivalent Rate (AER):

- @marcus_uk Marcus by Goldman Sachs (variable rate of 1.05% AER)

- Direct Saver account from NS&I - variable rate of 1.00% 
b. Regular Savings Account - Slightly higher interest rates but saving towards a goal and notice period given before withdrawal.

If you have a current account, check if your bank provides this.

Examples of these:
@HalifaxBank - Regular saver account paying 2.00% AER 12 months after opening the account
b. Fixed Rate Bonds Account: These pay you a set amount of money when you leave it untouched.

The longer the money stays in the bond, the higher the return.

You are charged a penalty fee for accessing the savings before the end of the term.

- @nsandihelp NS&I income bonds: Minimum investment of £500 with 1.16% AER

- @_ScottishBS Scottish Building Society: Minimum investment of £500 with 1.00% AER
c. High Interest Savings Account - Check if your current bank offers this.

If not, open an account with:
@firstdirect, @HSBC_UK
or @MandSBank as they offer 2.75% AER fixed

With these accounts, you can’t skip monthly payments or make withdrawals without a penalty
d. Cash ISAs - These are Interest Savings Accounts where the interests accrued are exempt from tax.

For this tax year (20/21) you can save 20k exempt from Income and CGT.

If you find that you can afford to save more money in this tax year, consider the following options:
Other types of ISAs include:

- Stocks & shares ISAs

- Innovative finance ISAs

- Lifetime ISAs
I personally split my ISA allowance across these options making sure I don't exceed 20k per annum (tax exempt allowance).

Most of it goes int Stocks & Shares ISAs and Lifetime ISAs
When I discuss investments, I'll show you how to optimise your ISA allowance
D. Investments

I'll divide these into:

a. Low risk

b. Medium risk

c. High risk
a. Low Risk

- Workplace savings scheme: If you are PAYE, you can optimise SAYE (Save as you earn) and Share Incentive Plans.

SAYE - Speak to HR about if you are eligible for this. It allows you save £500 a month for 3-5 years
At the end of the term, a tax free bonus is added to your savings.

This helps you be tax efficient and earn money that’s free from the clutches of the tax man in the following ways:

i. If you continue making payments in SAYE, you don’t pay tax on bonuses
ii. You can opt to receive the bonus as cash or buy shares in your company with the bonus.

iii. If you buy shares, you won’t pay Income Tax or NI contributions on the profit you make
iv. The only tax you pay is Capital Gains Tax (CGT) if your CG is over the annual exempt for the tax year.

The exception to this is if you put this profit in an ISA or a pension within three months of maturity.
b. Medium Risk:

Disclaimer - I am very familiar with @Vanguard_UK and I use them as my main investment vehicle.

It’s a fund run for the benefits of its investors and it is the most cost effective fund for passive investment based on my research.
I also use @thenutmegteam for mixed investment assets; and

@freetrade for stock investing
I don’t use active investment management funds because I personally think the fees outweigh the benefits. I am open to having this view changed
The reason I focus on the cost effectiveness of this fund is because of the compound interest.

For example, I put my money in Vanguard for 20 years at 0.2% costs, 4% of my earnings goes into fees and costs.
On the other hands, other funds I have compared charge 1.3% and it means over 20 years, I will pay 26% of my earnings on costs.
I also track index funds on @Monevator and my extra money goes into passive investment bucket they recommend on their online comparison table:
For stocks, I invest in the following provided by @Vanguard_UK:

- FTSE U.K. All Share Index Unit

- FTSE Developed World ex-U.K. Equity Index Fund - Accumulation


Search for these on: 
For intermediate term bonds, I invest in:


- U.K. Government Bond Index Fund - Accumulation

Search for these on: 
For Inflation Protected funds, I invest in:

- U.K. Inflation-Linked Gilt Index Fund - Gross Accumulation

- Global Bond Index Fund - Hedged Accumulation
All in one fund: Vanguard provides 5 of these but I invest in the LifeStrategy® 80% Equity Fund - Accumulation
ii. Venture Capital Trusts: They are quite expensive and very risky as these funds invest in earl life & small businesses and as we know, many of these go bust.
You get a 30% tax relief for investing. You don’t pay tax on dividends and any gain you make when you sell them are exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

Best to invest after exhausting your ISA allowance for the tax year.
There are quite a number available but plan for the next tax year as many are closed to investments this year. My fave are:

- @AlbionVC: They invest in seed to Series B tech companies

- @Pembroke_VCT: They invest in consumer brands
iii. Shares, Stocks & ETFs: I use @freetrade for this because it provides free stock and ETF trading.

It’s user friendly and relatively easy for a novice to pick up
In summary:

- Emergency funds, short term saving goals with money kept in an account you can easily access without penalties.

- Save a maximum of 85k with one financial institution at a time so you can optimise the protection provided by the FSCS
- Make sure you know why you are saving - it helps you continually save even when you are tempted to impulsively buy the latest gadget or whatever
- Dividend income is taxed at a different rate from savings interest

- You have a tax-free Dividend Allowance of £2,000

- Married couples & civil partners can split any taxable dividend income they receive between them & reduce tax liability by up to £650 (or 32.5%) per year
E. Pensions

These are a type of investments but I deliberately set them aside.

I'll talk about:

- Employee sponsored pensions

- Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)
a. Employer sponsored pension: If your employer matches your pension contributions, you really want to get on their pension scheme
What this means is if you earn 30k pa and your employer matches 5% pension contributions, you can contribute £1500 per annum and your employer will contribute £1500.

This gives you 3k in your pension fund.

Speak to HR if you don’t understand the scheme.
b. Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP): UK investors can hold funds or ETFs in this wrapper. This can be automated.

I recommend SIPPs from:

- @Vanguard_UK

- @pensionbee

- @thenutmegteam
The important differences between ISAs and pensions are:

- withdrawals from ISAs are not taxed because you’ve already paid income tax on the money that goes into ISAs.

Withdrawals from pensions are taxed because you pay no tax to save into a pension fund;
- ISAs are subject to inheritance tax at 40%.
Most pensions are exempt from inheritance tax if you die before your 75th birthday;
- You can’t keep putting money in ISAs if you move abroad. You can keep putting money in Pension funds if you move abroad.
- You can get your money anytime from ISAs. You can’t withdraw anytime from pension funds (or you pay such high penalties it makes no sense to withdraw)
I advocate putting as much as possible in your pension fund because by the time you want to withdraw from it, your tax liabilities will be reduced and you may end up 0 -20% on any amount you take out. That’s still a win.
F. Protections:

You've identified you can afford to save and where to save your money.

Here's a list of protections you should get alongside:
a. Income insurance. This is the most important insurance cover IMO.

As many of us overwork and are doing a lot of disservice to our bodies.

When you inevitably breakdown, you really don’t want to worry about lack of income...
......especially when you know you won’t survive on your savings or sick pay from employer.

Providers pay you a percentage of your salary if you are made redundant or unable to work
b. Critical Illness insurance - If you are diagnosed with a longterm illness that affects your ability to work, this pays out a lump sum (as long as the illness is covered by your provider)
c. Life Insurance - If you have dependents, you definitely need this.

It doesn’t cover illness or disability so make sure that your policy contains a “terminal benefit clause” incase you're diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Your dependents get a tax free lump sum if you die
d. Home insurance. For renters, make sure your landlord has taken out building insurance (their responsibility) and you can take out content insurance to cover.

Always negotiate with insurance provider and never auto renew.
e. Travel Insurance for any trips you book. If you're travelling more than 2ce a year, annual insurance works out cheaper.

Read your contract for loopholes (with some providers drinking invalidates your cover, treatment in private hospitals, gadgets & phones may be excluded)
You are in charge of your life and need to know how much you need to survive so you improve your chances of earning more and manage your money better
The first step is to create a budget for yourself. Yes, it's boring but it's essential and it helps you:
- stay out of unplanned debts
- identify areas you can save on
- feel more in control of your life
The second step is to identify if you can afford to save, then save.

My rule of thumb for savings:

find legal and efficient shelter from tax on interests, dividends and capital gains.
The third step is to track your income, expenditure and savings.

I use these apps to track all my finances in one place:

- @emma_finance
- @moneydashboard

They help you categorise and analyse your spending habits
To automate savings, I use @Get_Chip. They don't provide interest but it's a good way to automate saving in an emergency fund
If you need a current account that is easy to open, categorises your spend and keeps you within budget, open an account with @monzo
You can follow @toyinldr.
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