Saving money doesn't have to be a task you carry out alone. Surprisingly, your boss may be able to shoulder some of the effort with you. Read on to find out about some of the great workplace arrangements on offer...
Many workplaces offer help with your daily expenses. Sometimes, a company car can deliver savings in the long-term, particularly if they come with fuel benefits. You can use HMRC's car benefit calculator to make sure that the income tax company cars are liable for (as a benefit in kind) doesn't outweigh your gains.
If public transport is your usual way to work, then season ticket loans may be for you. These are essentially an advance on your pay, or an interest-free loan, which you can use to buy a monthly/annual season ticket. To record your savings, use a budget planner to help keep track and carefully set them aside into your ISA, savings account or investment vehicle.
Workplace saving schemes
Schemes like the government's National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) help companies meet their obligation to provide a workplace pension. Ask HR what your pension options are (many companies contribute when you put aside a portion of your pay), but also keep your eyes peeled for additional savings plans - a number of investment companies are now offering interesting options.
Firms like Mercer are encouraging employers to shake up their benefits package and deliver their employees contributory schemes that include ISAs, savings and pension schemes. As well as potential employer support, you'd get the benefit of the investment professionals who usually only serve larger clients.
Employee share schemes
Sometimes called Save As You Earn (SAYE), Sharesave or Savings Related Share Option Schemes, HMRC figures cited in The Daily Telegraph estimate that 2 million employees across 1,300 companies currently participate in such schemes.
These schemes involve your company setting aside an agreed amount (up to £500) from your pay each month for three to five years. You're then given the option to buy shares at a pre-agreed, discounted price. If the share price has risen you make an instant profit, if not, you get your money back. It's a risk-free investment.
Some companies offer alternatives called Share Incentive Plans (SIPs), which allow employees to invest a sum from their gross salary: so you save cash by avoiding tax, but don't get the price reduction. Better SIPs will match employee share purchases, so do establish whether your company runs a generous scheme. But remember to check your tax liabilities too.
Group purchases and other benefits
The key of course is always knowing what's available. Other common employee benefits that can generate savings are:
- Secure parking: cuts parking costs, and can reduce car insurance premiums. Always check with your insurer
- Gym memberships: they're free, and regular exercise can cut life insurance premiums
- Local discounts: some HR departments cultivate links with local businesses. If your whole company eats lunch somewhere, see if they can secure a discount
- Insurance packages: like with investment packages, group buying insurance through your company or union can save substantial sums
Whatever the savings may be, ensure you take advantage, and factor them into your budget to maximise your saving plan.
Posted by Marc Murphy, Marketing Manager at Money Dashboard.