George Osborne unveiling his 2015 budget is a good reminder for us to revise ours. One of the big changes announced by the Chancellor will benefit UK savers. This is great news - if you are in a position to save. This month, grab a calculator and see how you can make your money go further.
Adjust your budget - If your idea of savings is whatever fell our your pocket into the sofa, then consider the three C’s: cut back, cut costs and cut out.
Cut back – We all have a few luxuries in the budget, but are there some that you could reduce to save money? For example, a takeaway for two each week could cost you around £18. If you only went for a takeaway every other week, it would save you around £468 per year. Similarly reducing a £3.50 lunch out every day to just one day a week, you could save up to £728.
Cut costs – Some expenses you might find you can continue but at a cheaper cost. For example, switching to a cheaper energy provider, using restaurant discount vouchers when eating out or buying cheaper supermarket own-branded products.
Cut out - Often people have gym memberships or subscriptions that they are not using, or not getting enough value for money on. With the weather improving could you try running or cycling outside instead of forking out on a costly gym membership? Many people find that a few simple changes can make a real difference to the amount they have left over at the end of the month.
Savings - Savings are not just for a rainy day, but are very important for future needs. Setting some saving goals will help you to keep motivated, so make a list of future expenses both short- and long-term, such as car insurance, house improvements or University fees. Calculate how long you want to save for and how much you’d need each month, then set up a monthly standing order into a savings account.
Small things add up - From this April, personal allowance tax changes from the previous budget will come into effect meaning that most of us will see around an extra £10 in their pay cheque each month. Ok it’s a small addition, but why not make it go further by putting it into a savings account rather than letting it vanish into the black hole of your spending. If you did that now you could find yourself with an extra £90 for Christmas.
Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to when you are having sex or eating chocolate?...It’s true! According to scientific research activity in the brain shows a link between giving money to charity and experiencing pleasure.
Further studies have also discovered that people who spend more of their income on gifts to others and donations to charity are happier than those who spend more on themselves.
However, most of us just know instinctively that “giving is better than receiving,” and are already being generous in giving our money away to those in need. With this in mind, we have compiled some tips about how to make the most out of your giving:
Gift Aid it: If you pay tax then you can make your donations go even further through the government’s tax relief scheme.Gift aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give and it won’t cost you any extra. For example a £100 donation will be worth £125, so it’s definitely worth completing a gift aid declaration when you give.
Little and often: Giving a few pounds a month by Direct Debit is simple and can be less disruptive to your budget. Also for charities, having a steady stream of income is vital as it allows them to plan for the future.
Reduce your inheritance tax bill: Legacies are a fantastic way to ensure your money does something worthwhile after you’ve gone, instead of just going to the taxman! Giving to charity can actually reduce an inheritance tax bill that could otherwise claim a massive 40 per cent your estate above the threshold, see http://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax for more info.
Valuable volunteering: Time can be just as precious as money, so if you don’t have a lot of money, you could always consider volunteering at a charity near you. It’s also a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and can enhance your CV!
Maximise your event: Achieving a personal challenge is always rewarding, and even better when you can generate some cash for a good cause. If you are doing an event, why not ask local businesses to sponsor you? Websites like JustGiving.com are really easy ways to collect sponsorship - post them on social media websites for greater publicity.
Try Tamsin's quick cottage pie recipe out this weekend – a hearty and tasty dish that the whole family will love!
Tamsin says: 'This is one of my mum’s old staples. Frozen mince is a great way to be able to cook bolognese, chilli and cottage pie on a budget. Using vegetable soup may seem a bit of a cheat, but it makes this recipe really quick and tasty – perfect for busy family life!
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot or any other veg you need to use up, chopped (optional)
500g frozen beef mince
1 tin vegetable soup
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
800g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
50g grated cheese
Salt and pepper
Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes until soft and then add the carrots or other veg (if using). After a further 2 minutes, add the mince and fry until brown. Add the soup and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Use the soup tin to add a splash more water to the pan (this way you can swish it around and get all the soupy goodness out the tin!).
Leave to bubble away slowly while you prepare the mash.
Drain the potatoes and add the milk, butter, and some salt and pepper. Mash until fairly smooth.
Pour the pie filling into an overproof dish and carefully spoon the potato on top to cover the pie (I smooth it with a fork to give a pretty rough finish in order to get lots of nice crunchy bits!) If you're using cheese, sprinkle this over the top.
Bake at 200ºC for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Serve with some crunchy greens and enjoy!
*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing
Allow love to blossom - watch Ray and Patti’s story
Friday, 13 February 2015
Watch Ray and Patti's story to see how CAP lifted the weight of debt and gave them space to fall in love again.
Budget recipe binder – sausage hotpot
Friday, 30 January 2015
The weather's been pretty chilly of late, so here's a proper winter warmer for you all to enjoy!
This week's budget recipe: Claire's sausage hotpot
Claire, from our Communications team says, 'This is a budget favourite for me and my husband! Cut costs by buying tins and onions from the 'value' ranges, and leave more in your budget to buy better quality sausages if you can. It's really filling on its own, or you can bulk it up by serving with pasta, rice or bread. Enjoy!'
Preparation time: 5 mins, cooking time: 30 mins, serves 4.
Total cost = approx £3.32* (not including optional rice/pasta/bread)
8 pork sausages (or veggie sausages)
2 tins baked beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 400g tin kidney beans
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp mixed herbs
Heat the oil in a large pan.
Fry the onions until soft, then add the sausages and fry gently until browned. Keep stirring so the onions don't burn.
Add the baked beans, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and mixed herbs.
Stir well and season to taste with the black pepper.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5-10mins to thicken the sauce a little.
Cover the pan and simmer for 15-20mins or until the sausages are thoroughly cooked, stirring regularly.
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