Getting Financial Help – Some Handy Online Resources
Getting good financial advice can be tough. The fact that there are so many sources of information out there sometimes makes it difficult to find ones you trust. Financial rules and regulations can also be complex and even seem contradictory, making them even harder to digest.
However, there are also free, easily-accessible resources that give clear, reliable guidance on financial matters. We’ve compiled a handy list that brings the best of these resources together.
Loans and Credit
Money Advice Service
We are all likely to need some form of loan or credit during our life, from a credit card for making every day purchases to car loans. There are a whole range of credit options, as well as choices to make if you find yourself in debt. The Money Advice Service is an impartial body with a wealth of information on financial matters – their guide to personal loans is particularly helpful.
Money Supermarket has a whole section devoted to explaining different loan types, such as secured, unsecured, bridging loans, and peer-to-peer lending. If you are planning to borrow, the terms and amount lenders will be willing to give you may be affected by your credit score.
A mortgage is likely to be the biggest financial commitment most of us undertake in our lives and understanding the different options is crucial. uSwitch have created a comprehensive guide to mortgages including a glossary of terms and types of mortgage.
This is Money
For first time buyers This is Money offers advice on getting started and exploring your buying options.
The three main financial concerns of a prospective or current student are tuition fees, student loans and budgeting for living expenses. The government website has a whole section dedicated to student finance and their student finance calculator is also useful for finding out how much you can borrow to pay for your tuition and living costs - https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-calculator/
The UCAS website has a guide on managing your money and your debts as well as advice for students who need to balance a job with their studies.
Retirement and Estate Finance
If you are approaching pension age or just planning far ahead, there’s advice you can get on what income you can expect from the state. The State Pension Age Calculator is a tool that tells you when you qualify for your state pension based on age and gender – it also reveals at what age you can look forward to a free bus pass. The government has also launched an online application for a state pension forecast so you can calculate based on your national insurance contributions how much your state pension will be worth.
Which? Have created a comprehensive guide to private pensions for people that already have pensions they may want to switch, and for people starting from scratch.
For estate planning Age UK have a downloadable booklet that details why it is important to have a will, how to value your estate, and how to choose executors. There is also information on inheritance tax, which may by relevant even if you haven’t reached retirement age as it can be beneficial to think about inheritance in advance.
Funding a Business
Starting a business is an exciting opportunity that requires some important financial planning to make it successful.
On the Gov.uk website you can find practical advice on starting a company that includes on where to get funding.
This Guardian article features quotes from entrepreneurs on the best way to fund a new company and how to improve your chances of financial success.
This post on different funding alternatives from startups.co.uk outlines the different ways an existing business might look to take on new investment. This includes using overdraft extensions, invoice financing, business grants, and peer-to-peer lending as a way of improving cash flow.
Savings and Investments
Money Advice Service
Saving for the future or saving to buy something particular involves making your money work as hard as possible to generate the biggest return. If you’re just starting out as a saver it would be worth looking at The Money Advice Service’s guide to different types of savings account, while our handy budget calculator can help you to figure out how much you can put away each month.
Money Saving Expert
ISAs or Individual Savings Accounts are available to everyone in the UK and are a way to save without paying tax on the earnings. There are Cash ISAs, Junior ISAs for kids, and Help to Buy ISAs for prospective homeowners. There are also stocks and shares ISAs which invest your savings into shares, bond and funds. These are very different from most ISAs as is there is an element of risk and not necessarily tax-free – Money Saving Expert have a guide to how stocks and shares ISAs work that might help your decision.
If you are interested in learning more about investments, Which? have a beginner’s guide to investment with useful information on getting started.
A relatively new way of investing your money is crowdfunding – where companies take small amounts of investment from a lot of people, Shopify have created an Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding.
Paying Your Taxes
Among the most important advice you can get when it comes to finance is about paying taxes. The punishments for not paying tax can be harsh and ignorance of the rules or the complexity of them is not an excuse the HMRC will accept.
The government does have extensive information, including a series of tools and calculators that let you know exactly how much you should be paying and when.
Listen to Taxman
For a basic understanding of how much tax you will pay on your earnings as an employed person you can use Listen to Taxman’s tool.
Those who are self-employed may want to look at Which’s guide to self-employed tax returns to get to grip with the process, especially when and where they should pay.
Debt Management and Insolvency
If you have already taken out loans or used credit and need help managing them, the government has a section on paying off debts.
Money Saving Expert
If your debt problems have become serious then Money Saving Expert have a step-by step guide on how to deal with what they call a ‘debt crisis’ – which should help make the situation more manageable.
StepChange are a debt charity with a lot of useful information on the different types of debt solutions, distinguishing between insolvency, bankruptcy and administration.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also explain the concept of a Debt Management Plan (DMP) which can be useful if you find debts are starting to overwhelm you.