Here is our usual monthly list of the top 10 read articles on in September – there are some surprising entries!

1. Change in ISA allowances in Budget 2009

The changes announced in the Budget in respect of increases in the ISA allowances come into effect on 6th October for those over age 50 before the end of the current tax year – can invest up to £10,200 into a Stocks and Shares ISA. Woo hoo!!!

2. New Tax Year – New ISA Allowance

More detail on the changing ISA allowances.

3. Download a Free 2010 Yearplanner

I have put together a great little yearplanner for 2010 – it can be downloaded in A4 (landscape) or larger A3 (printed on 2 sheets of A4 for those without an A3 sized printer!). Feel free to send copies to friends, family and colleagues at work.

4. 19 Essential Money Tips for Students

With the start of the University/College/School term upon us here is a great article which might help a few students who are struggling through on their limited finances.

5.  Pay Yourself First

One of the first principles spoken of in the great book “The Richest Man in Babylon” is the need to pay yourself first – the principle here is to take a fixed percentage off your take-home pay and keep that money for yourself forever – then your lifestyle will change itself to allow you to live on the remainder. Get a copy of this book – a truly great read. It could be the most valuable £4.99 you ever invest!

6. Cashflow Forecasting – Planning Income and Expenditure

Here is a really helpful little spreadsheet which will allow you to plan your income and expenditure on a monthly basis – you will be able to see exactly where your money goes to each month – allowing you to make changes in your expenditure – a great tool for “what if” scenarios – what if I stopped eating out, what if I increased income by £200 per month etc.

7. Personal Pension Minimum retirement age increasing to 55 from 6th April 2010

Those people who will be over 50 before 5th April 2010 and were planning to retire in the next 5 years may have to take some urgent action between now and then – in the worst case scenario you may have to continue working for another 5 years!

8. Wear a uniform to work – here’s some free money!

If you have to wash your own work uniform you could be entitled to some money from the taxman – read the article for more information.

9. Get Money for your Old Mobile Phone

Did you know you can sell old mobile phones – I recently sold my old Sony Ericsson K800i and got £28 for it – worth checking out what yours might get you – see the article.

10. 10 Great Reasons for Writing a Will

Everyone needs and should have a Will – it saves so many problems in the event of your death – and let’s face it the only two certainties in life are death and taxes! Read the article now – you might be surprised.

And finally……

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Thousands of students will be leaving home and heading off to places new, far afield, in search of education and trying to avoid poverty.

Here are 19 tips which helped me through Uni on a tight budget.

1. Which bank should I open a student account with?

Find out which bank has a branch close to campus – it can be useful to bank with the local branch as they will generally be more understanding of student needs – remember they are trying to capture you as a lifelong customer (it’s a dog eat dog world out there!), although in this day and age of cash machines and internet banking it might be more important to you to choose the bank which is offering the best “enticement” to bank with them.

In an article I will be writing next week I will compare and comment on the student offerings of the various banks – be sure to subscribe to ensure you receive a copy once published.

2. Make a budget and stick to it!

Ensure your money doesn’t run out before the end of term – you might like to use our income and expenditure spreadsheet to plan how your money will be coming in and going out (!).

3. Do I need a credit card?

Many institutions will be offering you a credit card which can be tempting – we’ve all been there! The thought of a £1,000 or more credit facility can be very tempting – but remember, that it’s not really a credit card – it’s a debt card and unless you pay off the balance in time, each and every month, you will start paying interest – then that great bargain you saw whilst out shopping will not be such a great bargain once the interest starts accruing.

Did you know you can get a prepaid credit card – these allow you to add money to them – either online from your bank account or through a Post Office – I have one for travelling and it is a Mastercard – ensuring it can be accepted at all places where Visa and Mastercard are accepted. There is no possibility of incurring any interest or debt with these and are a wise choice for students as parents can top them up at home for you as well with the money normally being available almost instantly if credited at certain retail outlets – ideal for those emergency situations.

4. Set aside your rent before you do anything else!

Once you have your funds in place, whether that be a student loan or money which you have saved personally, set aside your rent for the term or academic year in a savings account to ensure your don’t spend it elsewhere – many students, myself included, had to go cap in hand to their folks asking for a “loan” a couple of weeks before the end of term.

5. Fresher’s fair – beware of “joining societies” syndrome

Freshers fair is a bustling hive of activity – all the societies and clubs will be vying for your membership – we all thought it would be a good idea to join plenty of clubs and societies – “a discount if you join today!” – only to never attend a single event – beware – choose carefully!

6. Pay your Bills on Time

For many it will be the first time they have had to manage their own finances – ensure that your mobile phone, gas, water etc bills are all paid on time – you don’t want to receive red letters and be charged fines for missing payments – you probably don’t have enough money as it is!

7. Try not to use a car

Many students feel the need to use a car whilst at University – not only are they expensive to run but they also affect the environment and cause local congestion in the University city in which you live.

  • Walk if possible
  • Live on a bus route – most cities have excellent transport facilities to and from University campuses
  • If you must use a car try car sharing – sharing the petrol and cutting down on the congestion

8. Earn some money

Most students I knew had to supplement their income by working, either during term time or after the end of term in the holidays. Make sure that any work you do does not interfere with your studying – that’s what you’re at University for! You can earn £6,475 in the current tax year (up to 6th April 2010) without having to pay any income tax – ensure your employer gives you the correct tax code.

9. Start your Own Business

Today there are more opportunities for students to earn a living on the side – selling stuff on Ebay, car boot sales, writing a blog and earning an income from advertising (not easy) – be creative – you don’t need to stack shelves in a supermarket!

10. If in trouble ask for help

If you have money problems speak to someone about it – parents, friends, Student Union (they will have excellent staff who can really help you sort things out) – the worst possible thing you can do is stick your head in the sand and ignore an issue – it won’t go away and will most likely get even worse.

11. Avoid fraud

Be wary of any offer which looks too good to be true – it often will be! There are a lot of scumbags out there trying to take your money off you – just be careful.

12. Don’t carry lots of cash

There is no need to carry lots of cash with you – you might drop or lose your wallet or purse, or even worse. Get a pre-paid credit card – it can be cancelled and be replaced – cash can’t

13. Get contents insurance

Many specialist insurance companies offer policies ideally suited for students. You may not think you need insurance but consider how much it would cost for your replace that laptop or that hifi, that nice new LCD flatscreen. Policies are not expensive and are strongly recommended – it’s a sad fact that student accommodation can get burgled – we were but thankfully we were insured.

14. Shopping around can save you money!

You don’t need me to tell you that buying the latest DVD etc in the shops cannot be improved on by shopping online – make sure you shop around to get the best deal going – there is no need to pay top dollar for any purchase – and as a student you will have plenty of free time to shop around and plan ahead for birthday and christmas presents.

15. Student Card – Use It!

Many retailers in University towns will offer discounts to students – your Student Union will probably issue you with a list of local traders – use them – save money.

16. Student Nights

Many clubs will offer student nights – usually in the week – when I went to Uni back in the early 90’s it was free entry and £1 a pint! Cheaper than drinking in the local pubs and clubs.

17. Don’t hang out with frivolous people!

“Keeping up with the Jones’s” when you are at University and it is fair to say that some students will have considerably more money than you – it’s difficult to keep up a champagne lifestyle on a tap-water income! Choose your friends wisely – you will probably spend the next 3 years trying to shake off the friends you make in the first 3 weeks anyway!

18. Buy One Get One Free!

Take your time in the supermarket – there are some great offers if you look. Learn to cook – there are loads of simple recipes online for students – here’s a site I just found – it can be fun to cook your own food – pre-packed meals are boring and if you cook too much save some for later or invite some friends over.

19. Avoid getting into trouble – get a TV License

If you live away from home you may need to ensure there is a TV licence in place. Visit the TV Licensing website to find out about your own particular circumstances.

Please share your own hints and tips by adding a comment below.

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Interesting article –

Check out this article over at – the most expensive and cheapest University towns

The following is a list of the top 10 read articles in August.

1. Pay Yourself First – the first step in wealth creation

This article discusses the need to save from income before spending it! This is a form of deferred consumption and by saving first and then spending what is left you can build a solid foundation to your financial future.

Tip – aim to start saving 10% of net income each and every month – it won’t be easy at first but your budget and lifestyle will adapt over time.

2. Get Money for your Old Mobile Phone

Many of us have old mobile handsets lying around – did you know you can sell yours online – here is an article discussing this – I recently sold my old Sony Ericsson K800i and received £28.00.

3. New Tax New ISA Allowance – ISA 2009/2010

In just over a months time the ISA allowance for over 50’s increases to £10,200, with the allowance increasing for the remainder of the population on 6th April 2010.

4. Cashflow forecasting – income and expenditure spreadsheet

Our free income and expenditure spreadsheet remains as popular as ever and we are receiving some great feedback from people who are using it – thanks!

5. Investment Bonds – an introduction

An investment bond can be a shrewd financial planning tool as well as an investment vehicle.

6. It’s not how much you save but how long

This article discusses how, over time, money make money – with interest earned on a savings account itself earning interest. The longer you can save for the more money you will build up – start saving as young as possible.

7. Non-taxpayers – ensure you receive your bank and building society interest without tax deducted

Completing a simple form can ensure that non-taxpayers, both young and old don’t pay unnecessary income tax on the interest they receive on their savings accounts. With interest rates as low as they are at present every penny counts so ensure you’re registered to receive your interest gross if applicable.

8. Personal Finance Blogroll

A list of the other personal finance blogs I visit on a regular basis – makes for some interesting reading!

9. Retirement is an Income not an Age

Many have fallen into the trap that retirement occurs at a particular age. Unfortunately for most of the population this occurs simply because they haven’t secured sufficient income to retire earlier. By targeting a specific income and going for that it is possible to retire early. In a forthcoming article on “goal setting” we will discuss how this can be achieved.

10. Buy a Financial Calculator

If you’re serious about planning your own finances I strongly recommend buying a good financial calculator – ideal for calculating rates of return, how much to save on a regular basis to build a certain sized fund etc.

And finally……

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Anyone who is committed to increasing their personal wealth would be strongly recommended to buy a financial calculator.

I bought my first financial calculator when I was at University some 18 years ago, it was a Hewlett Packlard 10B Business Calculator, and I still use it today. The model has been updated now – Hewlett Packard 10BII – but the new model still offers the same great facilities I have come to know and love.

It carries out all the normal calculations you would expect of a scientific calculator, but also provides the ability to calculate the following:

Growth of a set level of regular savings, given amount, rate of interest and term in years is known
Net Present Value (of a range of regular inflows of cash)
Internal Rate of Return
Compound Interest Calculations
Time Value of Money

For example, if I save £100 per month, for 25 years, at 6% interest this calculator will calculate the future value of my savings (the answer is £69,299!). If I change this to 26 years, the answer is now £74,807 – an additional £5,508 for investing for another 12 months!!!

For retirement planning, say I have identified that I need a pot of £360,000 in 23 years time to retire on the income I need to live in retirement, I can calculate how much I need to invest on an annual or monthly basis, assuming any rate of return, to hit the target.

The third calculation I like to use the calculator for is calculating how long money will last for, for example, I have £10,000 today and I wish to draw £250 per month from it. Based on an interest rate of 4%, my calculator shows me that my money will last for 43 months.

Here’s the manual (4.0MB) for my Hewlett Packard calculator – it shows all the different calculations you can do with a financial calculator.

Buy a financial calculator from Amazon.

Related articles:

Rule of 72 – Time Value of Money

It’s Not How Much you Save, But How Long


When considering whether to move to a new employer, many feel that it is important to ensure that they maximise the amount of increase in income that they achieve.

Many would not consider moving to a new job for just £1,000 or £2,000 extra per year.

But it is the point of this article that a small increase in income can make a BIG difference.

When we consider the normal income and expenditure profile for a family we can roughly divide it’s expenditure into “fixed” and “variable”. An example of a fixed expense would be a rent or mortgage payment. It is generally fixed in relation to an increase in income – if you earn an extra £2,000 per year then generally you may stay living in the same property. A “variable” expense on the other hand is an expense which does or can change with income – for example – entertainment – if you’re earning more you may have a tendency to go out for meals, cinema, holidays more, therefore spending more on entertainment as your income rises.

So having considered this, we can see that all people have “fixed costs” and “variable costs” of living. The difference between total expenditure and total income is therefore what we like to think of as “disposable income”.

Having assessed your income and expenditure (see this article on cashflow forecasting) you will arrive at a figure for your “disposable income”.

For example, say your monthly take home pay, after tax and national insurance is £2,000, you have fixed costs of £1,200 per month and variable costs of £500 per month.

This gives total expenses of £1,700 per month and a disposable income of £300 per month.

Now let’s say for arguments sake that you could move to another job which earns you just another £100 per month after tax (£1,200 per year). Many would not consider taking this course of action, yet when we consider this in relation to your “disposable income” you have now seen an increase in your “disposable income” of £100 per month, from £300 to £400 – a 33% increase in disposable income!!!

This is an example of “leverage” where a small change in one variable results in a large change in another variable.

Now you might not get very excited about an additional £100 per month, but what if it was an extra £250, £500, or even £1,000 per month – what could you do with that additional income? I’m sure you could let your imagination run wild on this one.

Could you move to another job for an increase in income, or do something in your free time to earn more money????

It occurred to me recently with all this talk about the need to raise retirement age in the UK due to our ageing population, that many people have got it wrong.

They are thinking of “retirement” as an age, yet in reality it should be an income – when you have sufficient assets to provide you with enough income to replace that which you earn working the 9 to 5, then you are in a position to “retire”.

The overall goal for financial planning in the current day and age must surely be to try and attain “financial independence” in our own lifetimes. To this end, we should endeavour to accumulate sufficient assets around us to provide enough income to enable us not to have to work for a living.

So with this in mind, give consideration to the amount of “income” you would need to retire today – do you really need the full amount of your take-home pay or, with careful planning and spending, could you live on less than you currently receive.

I guess the answer to this must be “yes” – with retirement comes one of the greatest assets we can ever attain – the asset of time.

With time on your side, you can plan your life and expenditure better – you have time to browse for bargains at the supermarket, to shop around for a better deal on your house or car insurance, to cook your own meals instead of buying “expensive” pre-prepared ones.

Start by analysing your income and expenditure – read this article – cashflow forecasting – planning income and expenditure.

The following is a list of the top ten articles visited in June 2009.

1. Pay Yourself First – the first step in wealth creation

Those who save first then spend invariably end up better off than those who spend first and save what is left.

2. New Tax Year – New ISA Allowance

Increase in ISA allowance following the start of the new 2009/2010 tax year on 6th April 2009.

3. Changes in ISA Allowance – Budget 2009

How the ISA allowance will increase to £10,200 for those aged over 50 on 6th October 2009 and for the rest of the population on 6th April 2010.

4. Cashflow Forecasting – Planning Income and Expenditure

A budget and cashflow planning article with a useful Excel spreadsheet to download and share with friends and family.

5. Investment Bonds – An Introduction

The various ways in which this life assurance based investment vehicle can help with your financial planning.

6. Non-taxpayers – earn interest without income tax deducted

How completing a simple form can stop non-taxpayers paying unnecessary tax on their bank and building society interest to the taxman!

7. Critical illness cover v income protection

How these two different types of protection product can be used to compliment each other.

8. Will writing – an introduction

What is a will and why are they important?

9. 10 Great Reasons for Writing a Will

A must-read article for all those serious about financial planning and protecting their families and loved ones.

And, finally…………..

10. The Rule of 72 – The Time Value of Money

A great little rule for making quick calculations


Historically, cashflow forecasting was a method used by business owners, managers and accountants to analyse income and expenditure over a set period of time. By analysing inflows and outflows of cash for each period, e.g. each month, they were able to see what strains they would have on cash at any one time – e.g. was there any particular month or months where they needed to draw on other sources of cash.

Similarly, the use of a spreadsheet allowed the business manager to perform a number of “what if” scenarios – “what if” price increased 10%, “what if” this loan was repaid early.

Cashflow Forecasts and Personal Financial Planning

These same principles can be applied to your own personal finances. We all tend to have the same regular inflows and outflows of cash – e.g. if you’re in a salaried position then your net take home pay will tend to be the same each and every month. It is the irregular payments that can cause problems, for example car insurance premiums paid on an annual basis, payment for holidays etc.

By entering your expected income and expenditure each month into a spreadsheet it is possible to see the monthly flows of cash that you expect to occur.

The spreadsheet which accompanies this article contains most areas the typical family might find in terms of income and expenditure.

To Download Cashflow Forecast

Download the cashflow forecast spreadsheet –

Excel 2003 version – cashflow_forecast.xls

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We will announce all changes, improvements and amendments to the spreadsheet through our newsletter – register for our newsletter.

Please feel free to pass copies of this spreadsheet to friends and family and add this page to favourites as the spreadsheet will be updated from time to time as


Please give us feedback on whether you found this spreadsheet useful or not and check out other downloads as they become available at our Download page.

Related Articles

I hope you find the cashflow forecast spreadsheet useful.

Download free Year Planner for 2010

As with all topics, it’s best to start at the beginning with the simple steps first.

Sorting out Your Finances

In order to make decisions about what steps to take with the various aspects of your personal financial planning it is important to take a “snapshot” of where you are at at this moment in time.

A plan is just that – a plan – you decide on where it is you want to “arrive”, consider your current “position” , weigh up the various methods of getting there and choose the path which seems most appropriate to your current family situation, income profile, future employment prospects.

Where am I now?

There are three basic areas which you need to give serious consideration to which will help you formulate in your mind the starting point for your journey through your personal finances!

1. What do I OWN?
2. What do I OWE?
3. Who owes ME?

This will create a snapshot of your current “ME” position. In terms of what do I OWN – do you own your own house (what is its value?), what savings do I have? What investments do I currently have?

Basically, you need to consider all assets, either tangible or intangible.

Is a car an asset or liability? In one respect it is an asset as it allows you to travel to and from work, allows you to earn a living, saves you TIME not having to walk.

But in another respect it is a liability – you need to buy it, service the car loan, put fuel in it, maintain it, insure and tax it, then after several years and £1,000’s of depreciation you have to swap it in for a newer car.

After you have made a list of all your assets you need then to consider all your liabilities – just how much do you owe, how much is it costing to owe that money (interest rate) and is the amount you owe rising or falling over time?

Finally also consider all amounts owed to you – who owes you money? What is the prospect of it being repaid?! This money owed to you is an asset.

Finally consider all the “intangible” assets you own – these are not physical items like cars, jewellery, shares in companies etc. These are the skills, qualifications, knowledge, contacts and relationships – for many people when they are starting out in life these “intangibles” are considerably more valuable than the “tangibles”. In an ideal world, over time in order to build your wealth you need to follow this formula: –

“intangibles” + time = “tangibles”

4. How much cash is left over each month?

When you first start out on your wealth-building path you will generally start with very few “tangible” assets – you have skills, qualifications, drive and determination, perseverance etc. but you have very little in terms of assets – cash, investments, etc.

There are two main ways to increase your personal wealth – earn more than you spend and grow what you already own. Don’t count on inheritances as they may never come – the cost of residential care for the elderly will wipe out the majority of inheritances in the current economic and demographic climate.

Budgeting – Needs and Wants

Most people, us included, will have a set monthly income and expenditure. Have you actually analysed what you have coming in and going out each month?

It would be wise therefore to sit down and go through bank statements, bills etc and work out exactly just what you have coming in each month and what you spend it on.

The title of this article is “Needs and Wants” – all our expenditure can be split between being either a “need” or a “want”.

Accommodation – a “need” for all of us – as is food, clothing, water, heat and light.

“Wants” – these are all the other things – we may “want” the top package from our satellite TV provider – but do we “need” it?

The goal here is to identify all those items which you buy on a monthly basis which are “wants” and not “needs” – for every transaction simply ask yourself “Do we need this or do we want this?”

If it’s a “want” – ask yourself – should I spend my money on this “want” now which will give me some short-term pleasure or should I save the money so I can have more “wants” tomorrow????

This article links into the other article – “Pay Yourself First”

Please let me know what you think? Have you sat down and gone through and identified where you are wasting money each month – an increasingly important activity for many people with the “credit crunch” and current economic climate.