If you're planning to save money, it pays to be aware of the options available to you. Whether you have a specific goal in mind or want to protect yourself against an unexpected financial burden, it's never too early to begin planning for the future.
Financial organisations offer a wide range of savings products and selecting the right one can be difficult and confusing. You want the highest possible return - without losing too much to tax. Fortunately, many savings plans carry significant tax breaks, meaning the eventual returns you enjoy are protected from the tax man and go directly to you.
What type of savings account should I choose?
Depending on how much you are planning to save, or how much time you're able or willing to invest in your plan, you'll want to consider which type of product suits you best. If you're new to the market, it's worth taking in the advantages and disadvantages to each particular strategy:
ISAs: Individual Savings Accounts are extremely popular ways of saving and avoiding tax. With potentially very favourable rates of interest, the ISA account lets you save and enjoy relatively easy access to your money. One drawback of the ISA is the subscription limit, which restricts the amount of money you may contribute to the account per year.
Savings Certificates: backed by the Treasury's investment body National Savings and Investments (NS&I), savings certificates allow a certain amount of money to be invested in terms of two, three or five years. The security of the investment and potential for growth varies, but the cash you invest grows tax-free. Although you may withdraw your money at any point without loss, for maximum returns, it's necessary to maintain the investment until the end of the term.
Personal Pension Plans: saving money for your retirement is never a bad idea and offers the additional incentive that the money you put away will receive tax relief. When you eventually retire, you'll also be entitled to a tax-free lump sum. The details of individual pension plans can differ greatly, and it's worth bearing in mind that you won't have access to the money you contribute until a pre-determined retirement date.
Premium Bonds: another NS&I product, premium bonds are lottery savings - the money you contribute to your bond is guaranteed, but the interest it generates goes into a lottery. If you are selected, you stand to win a cash prize which increases depending on how much you have invested. Premium Bonds have become less popular recently as the value of the prizes has decreased. However, they remain a fun way to save money and any prizes you win are tax free.
Finding out more...
There are so many tax free products offered by financial organisations that it's a good idea to talk to a professional. Financial advisors will be able to look at your individual situation and help you select the strategy that best suits your means. Don't jump into the first attractive option - a better offer may be just around the corner!
If you would like to learn more about tax free savings, or any savings and investment opportunity, please visit the following sites: