Tag Archives: budget

What the budget means for me… and possibly you

Mug of hot chocolate
First of all it’s important to understand that, for this piece, I am going to make a gross generalisation. I am going to assume that most of my readers are female in their 20s or 30s and like to consume the odd glass of wine, tall skinny latte and meal out. Oh and also that shopping rates highly on their list of hobbies too. Basically I am going to assume that most of my reader’s are like me!

Please accept my apologies if you don’t happen to fall into this particular demographic. But also, please bear with me. You see I want to talk about the budget, and well, the budget means different things to different people. The UK’s pensioners appear to have drawn the short straw this year and whilst I feel empathy for them, in a very Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ style curiosity. I want to know how the budget will affect me and my contemporaries.

Whether you work to live, or live to work, chances are you’re still on countdown to each payday like the rest of us. Yesterday the Government pledged to increase the Personal Allowance by £1000 from April 2013. Apparently 24 million people who earn below £100,000 (most of us then) will benefit from what is being touted as ‘the largest ever increase in the Personal Allowance’. Put simply, less tax means more take home, which means more spending money. Oops, I mean money to save. Hurrah!

And, if you’re struggling to find a new job, the Government are looking to invest in businesses, which should hopefully create new jobs and help to keep businesses afloat. Admittedly working within the offshore centre for trading Chinese currency, or taking up a job on the new oil field – might not be your career option of choice.  But the suits are also looking to link Public Sector pay to local situations, cut Corporation Tax, provide Tax Credits for businesses and pass low-interest rates onto small businesses through the National Loan Scheme. To quote a well-known supermarket: “every little helps”!

One thing’s for sure. If future budgets go the same way as this one, it looks as though the only way we’re going to be retiring early (or possibly even at today’s retirement age) is by saving our hard-earned cash now.

Shopping bags

If the Government manages to realise its aim of ensuring the ‘fastest broadband’ for 90% of the UK population, those Net-a-porter/ASOS splurges are going to be a helluva lot easier. What’s not to love? Mr O has also retained VAT exemptions on food, children’s clothes, books and newspapers. I’d prefer VAT-free handbags, but if I can’t get that then I’ll take ‘no tax on books’ as a close second. Then there’s the extended Sunday trading hours during the Olympics to look forward to. Wonder if there’s a gold medal for retail therapy?!

Woah! Now hold on a moment. I know I got hitched last year, but I’ve been too scared by others birth stories (and retelling of stories from One Born Every Minute, which I refuse to watch) to sprog up just yet. Child Benefit will be withdrawn from families where one parent earns more than £60,000. Seems fair enough to me to be honest. Although concerns me as to whether they’ll get rid of this altogether in the future?

Car Interior

Girl Racer
OK, so the Government haven’t really added any extra tax to fuel. But the 3p rise is going ahead in August as planned. Car Tax will increase in line with  inflation (with the exception of hauliers). On the plus side there’s talk about more investment in transport in London (erm, hello Politicians I know this is difficult to believe, but there is a world outside of London?!). The people in power will also be looking to invest in roads (not sure that people will be able to drive on them mind), railways (hurrah) and clean energy (yay).


Girls Night Out
There’s been no extra duty added to alcohol at this stage (Yay! Crack open the rose etc…), but the government will shortly be publishing its strategy on alcohol pricing. So make the most of those affordable glasses of vino whilst you can! The rate of duty on tobacco has increased by 37p. I’m a non-smoker, so I’m quite happy about this, best not to get me started on that topic….

All in all, this budget has worked out very favourably for me and Mr Love of my Life. Although I can’t help but wonder that whilst we’re the winners at present, how long is it before the tables are turned and we become the scapegoats as pensioners have been in this year’s budget?

What are your views on this year’s budget? Will it leave you better or worse off?


What Babe Did Next


Thursday nights ain't what they used to be

I want to be able to regale you with tales of how I celebrated my new-found freedom with a magnum of champagne,  coupled with dancing ’til dawn. But with the exception of, what can only be described as, ‘a bit of a bop’ to an old Gods Kitchen CD whilst cooking tea, there have been no celebrations as yet.

This is partly because:

a.) Whilst I can see the exit sign, the end is a long way off yet – I’ve still got 81 working days to go at my current ‘day job’. Not that I’m counting, you understand.

b.) Whilst this is all terribly exciting; it’s also shit scary. On the one hand the fact that Love of my Life and I are investing in such a lovely, homely property makes me all the more determined to succeed. On the other hand it makes a voice in my head go ‘Eeeek! What about the rather large mortgage’.

And, so, because of reason b, I have spent the evening with a sobering pint of squash, a trusty spreadsheet and a lovely big calculator with the most amazing clickety buttons (I know, I need to get out more). Yes, it’s been time to do some number crunching and look where that skinny waist belt can be tightened a bit…

Spending cuts

Redundancy cover – considering amending to only cover Love of my Life, or cancelling completely

Electricity, gas, water, groceries – unfortunately I need to cook/wash/eat – but for the next few months I’ll need to try to do this a bit more economically

Contact Lens subscription – a possible luxury I could do without, if needs be

Train Fare – if I’m not commuting to the day job on a regular basis, this would be one less expense

Spending money/saving – wouldn’t happen – essentials only (eek!)

Fees for financial products – these are ordinarily offset by cash back offers, but if I’m not spending I won’t be earning cash back so another possible way of making my money stretch a weeny bit further

Lovefilm subscription – a luxury I can do without, we’ll just have to watch all the box-sets we’ve been given as Christmas presents over the years.

All-in-all I reckon these cost-saving measures could save us approximately (big calculator with clicky buttons time)… £3821.76 per annum, over two-and-a-half times my monthly take home, which leads me to wonder… how much does working cost…?!

Royal Wedding Inspiration

When Charles wed Diana back in the eighties, brides-to-be clamoured to emulate the Royal Wedding style. Question is what can us noughties nearly-weds take away from our generations fairy tale wedding?

Beauty on a budget
If the rumours are true Kate applied her own make up on the morning of the wedding. Granted, with a complexion like hers, if she went bare-faced we’d still all coo in admiration. Apparently the royal bride-to-be received lessons in applying her slap from top make up artist, Arabella Preston. I can’t imagine the make up lessons were cheap and personally I don’t trust myself with a mascara wand on the morning of my wedding. But if you’re already adept at blending foundation, then getting some advice from a make-up counter in one of the high street department stores could give you enough confidence to make like Kate for your big day. Saving face…and some money! After all the Duchess looked stunning.

Stay with your nearest and dearest on your last night of freedom
Kate spent the night at the ultra-swish Goring with her mother and sister the eve before she said ‘I do’. William joined Harry, Charles and Camilla at Clarence House for his last ‘single man’ supper. It doesn’t need to be grand. A plate of pasta and a stack of DVDs would do the trick. It’s the ‘being together’ which will really matter to you and your family. Electing your family to be attendants at the wedding (as William and Kate have done) is also a lovely touch – but only do this if you get along with your siblings (you don’t want any tension to ruin your big day).

Keep your dress a secret
A tunnel from your front door to your waiting wedding car to shield you from the paps is probably taking it a step too far, but try to ensure only those who need to see your dress before the big day do to ensure ultimate ‘wow-factor’ when you walk down the aisle.

Have a Schedule
Kate and Wills had a detailed programme of events for their day, so everyone knew where they needed to be and when. It’s unlikely you’ll need to be as precise as leaving for the ceremony at 10.51am, but having a timetable prevents that feeling of wedding boredom which guests can feel when they don’t know where they should be.

Own it
Make like Burger King and ‘have it your way’. Who would have thought tress in the Abbey would have worked, but they looked fabulous in a whimsical fairy tale kind of way. Also choose readings, hymns and music which mean something to you. Don’t worry what others say, if it’s your dream and in your budget… go for it. It’s your day.

Keep the flowers simple
With the exception of the trees, Kate carried a simple bouquet of ‘English country garden’ style flowers. Rumour has it they comprised Myrtle, Ivy, Sweet William (aww), Lily of the Valley and Hyacinth. The beautiful simplicity of the white blooms could be replicated with more cost-effective flower choices by most florists. Simple; yet stunning.

Kiss Appropriately
Kate and Wills balcony smooch might not have been the epitome of passion, but it was appropriate to the occasion and certainly wouldn’t embarrass the in-laws. Start practicing your ‘church tongue’ now!

Here’s to all those 2011 weddings!

How will the budget affect you?

According to the Budget Calculator on Sky News, Love of my Life and I will be over £400 per year better off post-budget.

Thanks Mr O.

Take a look for yourself…are you a budget winner or loser? xx

Babe’s View on the Budget 2011


If I were Chancellor - this would be my briefcase of choice (The Cambridge Satchel Company Fluorescent Satchel (Pink) Doverstreetmarket.com)

Today Mr Osborne dusted down his battered briefcase and let us in on his plans for the country’s financial future, here’s my take on the Budget 2011:

The Good

Tobacco duty increased by 2% above inflation. If you’re a smoker you’ll hate me for putting this under ‘the good’, but personally, I think anything which deters people from picking up the cancer sticks is a good move. Don’t want to give the government your hard-earned cash? Quit!

The amount you can earn before tax (your Personal Tax Allowance) will be increased by £630 from April 2012, so you can earn up to £8015 before you start paying. Great news, well, for most of us really as we’ll be paying less tax on those wages we’ve grafted for.


My 10% would go to Orangutan Appeal UK

Charity begins at home with a discount of 10% on inheritance tax for those leaving 10% of their estate to charity. As someone who regularly donates to charity I love the concept of this.

Private jet users will pay passenger duty for the first time – this is just in the good section because I like the thought of smug rich people having to pay more. Oh and also if it’s more expensive they may consider more environmentally friendly ways of travelling.

No more bumpy car journeys (hopefully) with £100m set aside for repairing potholes in England.

And as a daily commuter, my personal favourite? £200m support has been pledged for regional railways in England. Please, please make sure some of that money finds its way to LondonMidland.

The Bad

Those celebratory wedding drinks are going to be a bit costlier now with a 2% above inflation rise in excise on wine and beer.

Road tax will increase with inflation (although not on HGVs). With my environmental stance you might have thought I would like this, and I would, if the government ploughed the money they earn through Road tax directly into public transport. I used to live in London where the public transport system is exceptional, and whilst I don’t expect everywhere to be as accessible as the capital, as a daily train user I can see clear deficiencies within the public transport sector and totally ‘get’ why this isn’t a feasible alternative for many people.

The Largely Indifferent

1p per litre knocked off fuel duty at the pumps from 6pm today; Incremental ‘fuel escalator’ rise of 1p per litre above inflation scrapped until 2012; Planned April inflation rise on fuel delayed until next year

These should appear under the good you say? Ah well, I’m not so sure. The government is taking 1p off the ‘fuel duty’, but considering the North Sea oil firms need to fund the £2bn which these measures will cost, and the political unrest in the Middle East, it will be interesting to see if the petroleum companies actually pass on the saving, or keep those extra pennies for themselves.

The government seems to be looking into a way of merging Income Tax and National Insurance. Babe on a Budget I might be; economist I’m not. This leaves me baffled and in slight fear of an overly expensive review process, where in the end they decide it wouldn’t work (and possibly that ducks like water) anyway.

The top tax rate of 50% is going to remain, but the government will review how much income this raises. Oh to earn enough to have to pay 50% tax (Dream on Babe).


Council Tax to be frozen. I know what you’re thinking, this is good, oui? As a homeowner, yes, I’m chuffed that I’m not paying any more to my local council. However, given the recent local council budget cuts, if I suddenly find my refuse collection cut to fortnightly, or my local library closing down, I may just wonder if things would have been different if I’d paid a little bit more.


I'm leaving on a jet plane...

From a selfish perspective the fact that there’s no rise in air passenger duty this year is great. After all we’re off to Singapore and Malaysia for our Honeymoon and are planning some long-haul trips again next year before any Babe on a Budget/Love of my Life hybrids come onto the scene. However, from an environmental perspective perhaps not so good. At least if air travel is expensive people will think twice about it and find alternatives. Although I’ll admit, I really did want to put this into the good category!

The culinary heart of our love nest, the kitchen

The culinary heart of our love nest, the kitchen

The Government are planning on giving 10,000 first-time buyers a helping hand to purchase their first property = good. The fact that this is only for newly built homes is perhaps not so good if you had your eye on that idyllic country cottage. Apparently this scheme is also only set to last one year. The BBC explains the scheme more eloquently than I ever could…

Buyers must save a deposit worth 5% of their property’s value, with the government and housebuilders putting up 10% each through an equity loan, enabling people to qualify for 75% loan-to-value mortgage.

The equity loan would be interest-free for the first five years, with interest charged at 1.75% in year six, and at inflation plus 1% thereafter.

Firstly there is a the query as to whether a 75% loan-to-value mortgage is sensible, although, as a not too long ago first time buyer I’d say it’s bloomin’ difficult to have a better loan-to-value than that if you want your own place before you’re 40! I’m also left wondering about the ‘interest-free for the first five years and then be charged a small amount of interest after that’ point. Labour launched a similar scheme when we were looking to buy but we side-stepped it as realistically we would want to save enough to pay off the ‘loan’ at the end of the interest-free period and with all of the costs that come with a new home, plus a rollicking great monthly mortgage payment each month we weren’t sure if we’d be able to do that. I guess it depends on your circumstance though – this could work out really well for some people.

Pensioners of the future could receive a £140 per week flat-rate state pension. Considering the maximum amount (not including any benefits) is currently set at £97.65 this is pretty good; but I’m convinced that by the time I’ve got my blue rinse there won’t be a state pension at all. I truly hope I’m proven wrong.

All-in-all I thought it was a bit of a non-event, although that’s just my personal opinion. What’s yours? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Wedding Day Budget? Something we Excel at, Naturally

Wedding_SpreadsheetAs you will no doubt know by now, myself and Love of my Life are spreadsheet aficionados. So it should come as no surprise that one of the first tasks we undertook when planning our wedding was to pull together our budget spreadsheet.

Geeky? Maybe. And at times it seemed useless. What was the point of having a long list of items, with their associated cost next to them, when we don’t have enough saved for even half of them. Luckily we persevered.

Our spreadsheet lists every single item or area which we’ll need to part with cash for (and in true OCD style similar items are grouped together and, er, colour coded). It was depressing and a tad worrying to see a figure of £16k sitting at the foot of the spreadsheet. Laughing at our puny bank balance in that evil, knowing way usually reserved for cartoon villains. On the plus side that included all of our proposed (pardon the pun) expenses for wedding AND honeymoon.

In my opinion plotting out what you plan on spending for all areas of the wedding is really important for a number of reasons…

1.) It makes you think about what’s really important for your big day and where you can compromise. For us the venue and food HAS to be right and we’ll pay more bucks for that, but we can compensate for that by spending less on venue decor and making stuff ourselves (do Hobbycraft do a loyalty card?!)

2.) It focuses your mind on what you need to save. Remember SMART goals? Knowing how much you need to make your dream day right for you allows you to pull into place your savings plan accordingly.

3.) It makes it easier for people who want to contribute. Family and friends are likely to want to support you on your special day, but them giving you money can be awkward. Perhaps they’re assuming you’re going to spend it on flowers but instead you opt for balloons. With a list of items to chose from they can see what you want and opt to contribute towards something tangible. Do, of course, check how much input they’re expecting on said item. If your mom offers to buy your dress you might want to check what her expectations are of the perfect gown in comparison to yours.

4.) It allows you to make rational purchases. It’s so easy to be swept along in the moment and up-sold items for your big day. You need to have an idea of what you’re prepared to pay for everything so you can decide whether to snap it up, or walk away and find if cheaper elsewhere. Hence why the £1200 gown which I tried on is not on order. Obviously there will be some occasions where you just fall in love with something and end up blowing the budget, but if you did that on every item? Eek.

5.) You get to feel super smug when you come in under budget. OK, it doesn’t happen often, but my god it’s a sweet feeling when it does.

So whilst a wedding should be a whole lotta heart, using your head for the money part could mean you start your married life, well, slightly more solvent. And who wants to be arguing over money?

Tweet what you spend – the results


Must stop buying cake

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that January saw me tweeting every time I parted with some of my hard-earned cash, but did it work? Hard to tell. I didn’t overspend as much last month which is a good sign and looking back on my tweets has proven a great way of seeing where my money is actually going.

The majority of my money went on ‘gifts and events’ throughout January. That is, paying out for accommodation, transport and random pink things for my best friends hen do next month, as well as buying birthday gifts and attending a maternity lunch. All worthwhile investments I’m sure you’ll agree?

I also spent a few pounds on eating out, £55.58 to be exact. To be fair in my ‘blow the budget’ days that could have gone on one meal, whereas now it’s split across several lunches and take outs. It has, however, highlighted to me that I need to be better at taking my lunch to work with me as those M&S lunches and Boots Meal Deals soon add up.

Keeping myself topped up with caffeine and cake has also seen me digging out the Radley on a regular basis. With around £20 spent on this over the past month. Not bad?! If I spent that each month, over the course of a year it would add up to £240 which is a lot to spend on a drink I can make in my own kitchen.

Another of my addictions appears to be glossy reading matter as £13.69 was spent on magazines and newspapers to keep me occupied on my daily commute. Maybe I should start picking up a free copy of the Metro each morning?

With a further £30 being spent on beauty products – about average, eh girls? There was also £3.95 spent on snacks.

Overall I think I’ve done pretty well, but I can’t help but feel that if I was more prepared and less prone to emotional spending I could be saving more and spending money on clothes, furniture and other things which have more longevity than the food and frivolities which I’m currently splashing my cash on.