3 Key Benefits of a Personal Pension


Wondering what to do about your pension? You’re not alone. Many people are put off the idea of having their own personal pension, as the process can often seem overly complicated – but it doesn’t have to be. There are many articles and resources online that can help you along the process. For example, Nutmeg offer an online pension pot calculator that can help you plan and predict for your future goals.

Check out our three key benefits of having a personal pension, and start working on your future today.

  1. Simple and easy

If you are looking for a simple and easy pension that you don’t have to worry about, a stakeholder pension might be the best bet for you. These pension options are simple and straightforward, and can be drawn from age 55 onwards with a tax-free lump sum of up to 25% taken immediately.

If you are under age 75 you can pay into a stakeholder pension, and you can invest up to £3,600 each year.

  1. Low cost

It doesn’t cost that much at all to have your own personal pension – and this is particularly true with stakeholder pensions. These schemes don’t impose penalties if you change or stop contributions, or if you transfer to a different scheme.

As well as this, paying into a personal pension ensures you get tax relief. This is true even if you don’t pay tax. The tax relief forms part of your annual limit, and higher rate taxpayers can claim extra tax relief based on what they pay into their pensions.

  1. Smart investment

If you’re looking for a pension that has the potential to grow and you don’t mind taking on some risk, you may be more interested in a SIPP. Stakeholder pensions are designed to be simple, so as a result they include low to medium risk investments, meaning low returns as a result. However, a SIPP offers more flexibility, but with that comes more risk. If you are comfortable with that, then a SIPP could be a great option for you.

SIPPs can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to do you research on any potential SIPP before you decide where you want to put your money. However, as more low-cost SIPPs make their way onto the market, they are becoming an increasingly affordable option for those who are not interested in the low returns offered by stakeholder pensions.

No matter which pension option you choose, the security in knowing that you have a personal pension goes a long way towards ensuring that you are prepared for the future.

Saving Money While you Freelance Your Way to Financial Freedom


Chances are, if you are a creative person with an entrepreneurial spirit, you have thought about working for yourself as an independent contractor. You may have heard the success stories about making oodles of money in your PJs and thought “hey, if she can do it then I can too”.

However, you may have also heard the stories about freelancers being starving artists, jumping through hoops to find clients and being financially stressed. Those horror stories may have caused you to hesitate about taking a leap, but the desire to freelance is still heavy on your heart. I won’t lie to you, freelancing can be financially and emotionally tough, especially in the beginning. However, it can be equally rewarding.

The biggest pro about being a freelancer is that you get to be your own boss. You decide what clients to partner with and which hours to work. That type of freedom can allow you to be more present for your family and your other responsibilities. And, the biggest freelancing-con is the constant ebb and flow of the money you make. You see, there is no set salary when it comes to contracting. Some months the money you make will have you smiling from ear to ear while other months may have you skimming through the Wanted ads.

However, before you throw in the towel on freelancing, you need to give your efforts some time and find ways to save money while your build your clientele.

Ways to Save Money While you Freelance your Way to Financial Freedom:

  • Spend less: The most obvious way to save money while trying to make money is to simply spend less. You should clip coupons before you head out to the stores, look for rebates and deals and shop second hand for items such as clothing, home décor, and toys.
  • Be more energy efficient: Yes, being green can, in fact save you some green. You can save money on your electricity bill by switching to a different energy company. Visit LocalElectricityCompanies.com, type in your zip code and compare the rates of different local electricity companies. Additionally you can save money by switching to energy star appliances and more efficient light bulbs, using solar chargers and washing your clothing in cold water.
  • Downsize: Downsizing doesn’t have to be a bad thing, in fact, letting go of a few “wants” can make you realize that living without them isn’t so tough. Or, downsizing can inspire you to freelance in beast-mode so that you can upsize once again. You can downsize your tv package by getting rid of cable in favor of an online streaming service. You can drive less often and get rid of your landline and switch to a prepaid mobile plan with WIFI-only data.
  • Hustle: In the world of freelancing, hustling refers to the act of making extra money while searching for clients and working on projects. Hustling can make the ends meet in the drier months. You can hustle by selling your old usable items on online auction sites or yard sales. You can also micro-task by doing surveys and make a few extra bucks affiliate marketing on a free website that you created.

You should get the hang of freelancing after you have gotten through the first year. By then you will have learned how to better market yourself with your impressive portfolio, and you will know how to better manage your time so that you can work faster and make more money. Do not give up on your self-employment dreams, it might be a financial and emotional struggle at first but once you learn how to save money and make money at the same time, you will find balance and be on your way to financial freedom working for yourself.

The Pros and Cons of Exporting to Australia


The success of an export business depends as much on the products it sells as on the markets it relies on. The principle is nothing more than an extension of what happens for any shop on the high street, in the way their revenues are influenced by the fluctuations of our own economy and customer spending power.

When exporting, however, you have the unique privilege of being able to choose your own market and customers. In order to make the most of such privilege, it pays to choose an export market that’s both growing solidly and that’s not already extremely competitive in the sector you’re trying to break into, thus offering decent room for sales and expansion.

Among the top markets to watch for British businesses, today we will cover Australia, which holds some unique opportunities for UK-based companies, not only because of the common language.

As a business owner, the prospect of exporting to a country whose GDP growth never dropped below the 2 percent mark over the last five years is quite mouth-watering. As a British business owner in particular, it will be even more encouraging to know that UK exports to Australia grew by 80 percent since 2007.

But to make the most of such favourable conjuncture you should by no means underestimate the challenges posed by the Australian market.

UK Trade and Investment listed them quite clearly, referring to factors such as the huge distance between Britain and the Australian continent (approximately 24 hours), an 8 to 11-hour time difference as well as the expansiveness of doing business Down Under.

With regards to the distance, there are now very competitively priced services to send everything from containers to parcels and couriers to Australia, so this will be the least worrying factor once you have established a solid presence within the country.

As for the cost of doing business in Australia, the currency exchange rate can be a double-edged sword: the British Pound is currently very strong against the Australian Dollar (AUD) and it’s worth between 1.9 and 2 AUDs – the highest rate since 2009.

This means that you won’t be in a privileged position when exporting to the country, given the low prices Asian companies can afford to keep when selling their products.

So to break into this extremely healthy market you should rely on quality rather than quantity, and offer services that are not easily available elsewhere.

British businesses have the know-how that can take them far in any competitive market worldwide in the transports, energy, IT and e-commerce sectors, and Australia is the ideal place for forward-thinking companies to prosper.

British exports of apparel and clothing accessories grew by 700% between 2009 and 2012, so this should be your main focus if you’re thinking of opening up an e-commerce business selling on the Australian market.

Elsewhere, look for opportunities in the electronic equipment sector as well as exporting car accessories and medical and technical equipment, Australia being a major importer in all of these areas.

Regardless of the sector, you will find all of the advice you need by getting in touch with UKTI, which is the go-to source of advice for British companies who want to succeed Down Under.