Did you know that you can choose to give up some of your salary in exchange for non-cash benefits? This is called salary sacrifice, or sal sac for short.  

Non-cash benefits are perks or rewards provided by your employer. They’re offered instead of giving you the equivalent amount in cash. For example: pension contributions, childcare vouchers, gym memberships, or company cars.

These kinds of non-cash benefits have tax advantages. They’re provided ‘in kind’, which just means they’re given as goods or services rather than as cash.

How this works is that instead of getting the full amount in cash, part of your salary goes towards things like pension contributions, childcare vouchers, electric vehicles, financial coaching or other perks. 

This money is taken from your gross pay before it’s taxed by HMRC. So by doing this, you might pay less income tax and National Insurance because your taxable earnings (gross pay minus salary sacrifice) is lower.

Your employer helps set up the agreement and adjusts your salary accordingly. You’ll have a written agreement with your employer that explains the details of the sacrifice and the benefits you’ll receive. 

So despite its slightly terrifying name, salary sacrifice is actually a really handy way to access your workplace benefits. 

One thing to keep in mind is that some means-tested benefits or tax credits might be affected because your salary is lower.

Once you start a salary sacrifice agreement, it usually lasts for a specific period and can’t be easily changed until the end date. So make sure you check the terms of any salary sacrifice scheme with your employer before making any decisions. And take the time to think about how it will affect your overall salary, pension contributions, benefits, and future entitlements. If you need to, you can seek advice from a financial coach or financial adviser.

Some things to think about with salary sacrifice

  • Take a minute to think about the impact on your take-home pay and understand how it will affect your actual earnings before committing to it. 
  • You’ll also want to think about the effect it will have on your budget and money goals if your overall take-home pay will be lower due to salary sacrifice.
  • If you’re eligible for or currently receive any means-tested benefits, you’ll want to check to see if your eligibility would be affected if your take-home pay decreased. 
  • If you’re thinking about buying a house and planning to put in a mortgage application, you’ll want to see if a reduction in your gross earnings will mean that you miss out on a good mortgage rate or the mortgage product that you want. 
  • Because you usually sign up for a benefit for a certain period of time, make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of time that you’re signing up for. 
  • Check to see the impact this could have on your pension contributions and retirement savings. 
  • Make sure you know the value of the non-cash benefits, and whether they’re relevant to you and your situation or not. 
  • Be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of any salary sacrifice scheme before signing on. 
  • Make sure you know how flexible the salary sacrifice agreement that you’re signing up for is. For example, can you easily make changes like cut the agreement short or extend it? If you sign up for 12 months but start to regret it after 3, you might be locked into paying for the next 9 months. 
  • If you need money advice before making a decision, you can talk to a financial coach or financial adviser.
  • If you’re unsure about anything at all, ask your employer’s HR department – they’re there to help! 

Payday – that day of the month when we have the chance to get closer to our money goals. But let’s be honest – how many of us actually look at our payslips? And when we do, can we understand what they’re telling us?

Let’s make checking your payslip the first thing you do at the end of the month. Why? Well it helps you track your monthly income and see if you’ve been paid the right amount. Mistakes sometimes do happen, so it’s good to check each month and make sure all your details are correct.

Payslip formats can vary slightly, but we’ll cover the most common items. 

Your name: Your full name is mentioned on the payslip.

National Insurance (NI) number: This is your unique ID for National Insurance purposes.

Why is your NI number there?

  1. For verification – It helps confirm your contributions to the National Insurance system. 
  2. For compliance – This makes sure the right amount of NI contributions are deducted based on your earnings. 
  3. For record-keeping – It acts as a record of your NI contributions for benefits and your State Pension. 
  4. For reporting –  It allows accurate reporting to HMRC.
  5. Personal identification – It helps identify you uniquely for employment-related matters.

Employer’s name and address: This is the company you work for.

Pay period: The timeframe you’re being paid for, like the start and end dates (because working for free is volunteering!)

Payment date: AKA payday – everyone’s favourite day of the month.

Tax code: Your tax code determines the amount of income tax taken from your earnings.

Why is your tax code there?

  1. For tax calculations – It helps figure out the right amount of tax to deduct from your wages.
  2. To show your personal allowance – It takes into account the money you can earn tax-free. This is called your Personal Allowance.
  3. For transparency – You could use it as a record to work out how much you should be taxed.
  4. To follow the rules – It helps everyone stay in line with the tax rules and reporting requirements of HMRC. 

Gross pay: This is the total you earned before any deductions are taken into account. This includes normal salary, hours worked, overtime and any bonuses you received in the pay period. 

Statutory payments: This is a separate listing, generally in the Gross Pay section, if you’re eligible for payments like sick pay or maternity pay.

Salary Sacrifice deductions: This might sound slightly terrifying but really isn’t Because these deductions are taken out before you’re taxed, using salary sacrifice for workplace benefits like pensions, healthcare or money coaching (wink wink) means the salary on which you’re taxed is lowered. So you have less tax to pay – win!

These can be seen either in the Gross Pay or Deductions section of the payslip. These lower your overall earnings on which you need to pay tax. So you’ll pay less taxes!


A deduction is an amount subtracted from your gross pay. They’re made to cover various obligations and contributions to HMRC and other external organisations. Many common deductions include: income tax, National Insurance contributions, workplace pension contributions, student loan repayments, and other voluntary deductions like union fees or court-ordered payments.

Deductions can be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the nature of the deduction. They reduce the gross pay, resulting in a lower net pay, which is the amount you actually receive in your bank account. 

What are the main types of deductions?

  1. Income tax: The tax taken from your earnings based on your tax code and income.
  2. National Insurance contributions: These are deductions for state benefits like the NHS, your State Pension and Maternity Allowance. 
  3. Pension contributions: This is the amount taken if you’re in a workplace pension scheme. 
  4. Student loan repayments: These are deductions that are taken if you have a student loan.
  5. Other deductions: These are any extra amounts taken, like union fees or court-ordered payments.

Net pay: This is the amount you receive after taxes and other deductions. More commonly known as your take-home pay. 

Year-to-date (YTD) figures: This is the cumulative totals of your earnings, tax, and deductions for the current tax year. BTW, the tax year runs from the 6th of April to the 5th of April the following year.

Employer contributions: These are the contributions made by your employer, such as towards your pension.

Tax and National Insurance breakdown: This is a detailed breakdown of tax and NI contributions.

P60: This isn’t on your payslip, but you may get it at the end of the tax year. It summarises your earnings and deductions for the whole year and is often needed for tax purposes. 

The new year is the perfect time to reflect on your money wins from the previous year, and think about your money goals and new money habits for the next 12 months.

This 30-minute webinar will help you manage your money roadmap for the year ahead. You’ll learn how to set goals and start new habits in a way that helps you stick to them. We’ll make sure you’re on track with your finances, whatever your money goals. 

Boring…daunting…difficult… It’s time to forget everything you’ve thought about budgeting. We’re here to sort it out together.

In this 30-minute session, we walk you through how to reset your budget. We’ll set you up for success so you can cut back on the things that don’t matter and spend more on the things that spark joy.

Really simply…budgeting is just balancing what comes in and what goes out (so you’re not spending more than you have).

When you have a budget, you get to decide where your money goes, and spend less on what doesn’t matter and more on what brings you joy.

Having a budget is one of the keys to making sure you’re on track to achieve your money goals.

Read on for more on budgeting.

Budgeting might seem confusing at first, but don’t let this stop you from doing it. If the word ‘budget’ feels off-putting, reframe it and call it your spending plan. 

That’s all a budget is after all – a plan for where your money goes. 

It all boils down to two things: 

1) balancing what’s coming in and going out 

2) feeling clear on where your money is going

Why should I budget?

Budgeting is actually the best habit you can get into to help you achieve your financial goals, big and small. 

This is because:

  • It helps you figure out what’s important to you
  • It forces you to map out your goals, decide where to put your money, and keep track of your progress.
  • The result of these steps is that you achieve your goals
  • It helps you make sure you’re not spending money you don’t have and getting into debt
  • It helps with feeling in control and on top of things

Things to keep in mind when budgeting

  1. Your budget is about balance

It’s about balancing money coming into your account and money going out of your account.

But it’s also about balancing ‘Present You’ and ‘Future You’. Because the money you make each month has to pay for ‘Present You’ and ‘Future You’.

There’s going to be a time in the future where you don’t earn a salary. But you’re still going to have things that you need and want. 

How do we pay for those things? We pay for them with the money we earn now. (Or else we pay for them on credit, which, in general, we want to avoid.)

So your budget is there to make sure you enjoy yourself in your present but also in your future.

  1. Your budget is what you choose to do with your money. 

So it’s your chance to choose things that make you happy. When you think about your budget or you look at your budget, remind yourself why you’ve made the choices you’ve made. Studies show that if you know and visualise what you’re saving for, it’s easier and more motivating to save. When you remember your “why,” it helps you stay on track. 

  1. Your budget isn’t a diet, it’s a spending plan.

It’s easy to get hung up on the word “budget.” It feels like a bunch of rules. It feels restrictive. It feels like there’s no way we can stick to it. 

When we fail at budgeting it’s because we restrict ourselves too much. It’s like telling ourselves we aren’t going to eat any chocolate, and feeling guilty when we eat the whole bar.

Guilt isn’t the goal of budgeting.

The real goal is to choose to spend your money on things that bring you happiness or are really valuable to you, now and in the future.

Your budget tells you what you get to spend money on.

And that’s a lot more exciting to think about than all the places you have to cut back.

Your budget doesn’t tell you where not to spend, it tells you where you can spend.

  1. Your budget should help you spend mindfully.

In a nutshell, this is just being aware of what you’re spending on and taking a moment to think before you spend.

Where we get into trouble sometimes with budgeting is not being aware of our spending. 

There’s lots of things you can use to help you spend mindfully:

  • The act of creating a budget itself will force you to think more about your money
  • Using budgeting and banking apps that let you see your spending against your budget in real time
  • Adding a notification on your phone every time a charge hits your card
  • Writing a note on your card that reminds you to think twice before spending

These four principles will change how you approach budgeting, and your mindset around it. And this will help you follow through, stick to your budget and smash your money goals.

So how do I get started?

We’ve broken budgeting down into 6 simple steps – anyone can follow these 6 steps to set up a basic budgeting system. 

  1. Track

First you’ll make a list of your fixed monthly expenses. 

This will be your rent or mortgage payments, utility bills like electricity, water, phone, and internet, and subscriptions like Netflix. Don’t forget things that you might pay less often, and work out their monthly cost. Once you have your list, you’ll easily see if there’s anything you can cut back on, especially if you don’t use it. 

After your fixed monthly expenses, it’s useful to check your variable expenses. For example groceries and dining out, clothing, entertainment, and home and car maintenance. An easy way to do this is to check your last three months of bank statements.

So in the end you’ll have the following categories:

  • Fixed expenses – these are costs that largely stay the same. Basically this category is everything that is predictable and recurring on a monthly or annual basis.
  • Variable expenses – these are costs that can vary or be unpredictable each month. It doesn’t mean they aren’t essential or necessary. It just means they can be a bit more difficult to budget for without tracking them. 

We also recommend you budget separately for Holiday expenses – this is because holiday spending is often a big portion of people’s expenses, and can be difficult to predict and plan for.

  1. Divide 

Do you have just 1 bank account? We want to encourage you to have at least 2. 

This lets you keep different buckets of money for different things. For example a bills account and an everyday spending account. You’ll have a greater awareness of your expenses. And it helps you see what money you actually have left for discretionary spending. 

Your emergency fund should be kept in a separate account. This money is usually 3 to 6 months’ worth of salary and is for urgent, unexpected expenses. So, emergencies. If you must dip into it to cover an emergency, make room in your budget to build it up again. 

When you have different accounts or different pots, you can easily see how far along you are with your saving goals, and how much money you have left to spend.

  1. Balance

This is where we prioritise and trim to start getting out of debt and then funding more of your future life.

You’ll probably want to do this the first time you set up your budget.

You may find that you’ve been spending more in some categories than you’d like.

But we also know that budgeting is something that’s ongoing. 

So this step also comes in when something happens that causes you to re-evaluate your balance. 

For example: 

  • A new goal or
  • A life milestone
  • Or, an unexpected increase in a fixed expense
  1. Automate

Automate the important stuff. Make sure all of the most important expenses, including your contributions to savings, investments and pensions, are automated. 

If you have a financial goal that’s really important to you, whether it’s paying off debt or saving for a house, prioritising it will help you achieve it. If you put money away into a separate account as soon as you get paid, you won’t be tempted to spend it. And the temptation is real. 

An easy way to do this is to set up standing orders to your different accounts or pots. 

  1. Friction

In our modern world, there’s a huge sense of immediacy. Everything is designed to be fast, easy and convenient, especially parting with your hard-earned cash. But convenience is something that you pay for – whether to have access to, like Amazon Prime, or making that impulse purchase you don’t really need. 

So it pays to add some friction to make spending money a bit harder. 

Some great tips include:

  • Deleting your payment details from online shopping sites – having to put your details in each time can be a great deterrent for impulse spending
  • Having a separate account for your day-to-day spending
  • Have a 48 hour rule – if you see something you feel compelled to buy, wait 48 hours and then see if you’re still thinking about it. This will tell you whether you really want it or if it’s just an impulse purchase. 
  1. Review

Budgeting isn’t something you do just once and never do again. 

The beauty of setting up a budget is that most of the effort happens in the beginning. From there on it’s just a question of checking in regularly to make sure you’re on track to reach your financial goals. 

If you are, then you can celebrate! And if you aren’t then you can take a look at the things you can change and make some tweaks. 

Setting aside some time once a month to look back and review your budget is what we’d suggest as a minimum to make sure you’re on track. But checking in weekly or halfway through the month is really helpful. 

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Did I spend more than I earned this month?
  • Are there any expenses I can cut down or remove?
  • Have I bought anything this month that doesn’t make me happy? If so, how could I improve that for next time?

So now you have all you need to get started and budget successfully.

So you’ve created your shiny new budget, and you’ve been plugging away at it, but for some reason, something just doesn’t feel right for you. 

This isn’t a reason to give up – absolutely not!

There are so many different budgeting methods out there that you’re guaranteed to find the one that’s right for you. 

You can find a way that feels easy to do and easy to stick to. 

Here are a few: 

  1. The zero-based budgeting way 

Every pound you use has a purpose. With this method you allocate all of your money towards something, whether that’s your bills or savings. At the end of the month, your income minus your expenses equals zero.

  1. The 80/20 way

Just like it sounds, you keep your spending to 80% of your income and you save 20%.

This straightforward method is very simple and works as long as you are prioritising saving first. 

  1. The cash envelope way

This method is very hands on as you’re dealing with cold hard cash. You label different envelopes with your spending categories such as food and bills. You then put the cash that you need in each envelope for the month. 

Once this money’s been spent, that’s it for the month. There are various apps that use something similar. Monzo, for example, has ‘pots’ for money.

Some people feel that this works for them as they find they spend less if they are handling actual bills and coins rather than a debit or credit card.

  1. The 50/30/20 way

This is similar to the 80/20 method in that you still save 20% of your income but the remaining 80% is split into ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. So 50% goes towards ‘needs’ – that’s your fixed spending such as your mortgage. And 30% goes towards your ‘wants’, the nice to haves like eating out and shopping. 

What pops into your mind when you think about budgeting? For many people, the knee-jerk reaction is “immediately no.” 

But, getting a handle on your money is the first step towards achieving your financial goals! Whether that’s buying a house, going on the fancy 5 star holiday of your dreams or running away to volunteer at a sloth sanctuary. 

We can let you in on a little secret though…it doesn’t have to be hard if you follow a few core principles. 

  1. It sounds so simple, but you need to know what money you have coming in and going out of your account each month. 

Keeping track of what’s coming in might be easy, but do a spending review so you can see where your money is really going. Look back over 3 months worth of bank accounts and credit card statements. This will give you a good idea of your general spending. 

Then break down your fixed spending (for example bills or your mortgage) and your variable spending (this will be the non-essential items). Doing this will show you where you could be making some changes. 

  1. Then decide on the goals that you want to work towards. Knowing your ‘why’ can be a big motivator in saving money. For example, it’s a lot more exciting to feel like you’re saving towards a beach holiday in Ibiza with your friends to celebrate your 30th than just ‘Savings.’
  1. Think through how you’re going to budget. This needs to be a plan that you can stick to and one that feels straightforward. You might have to try a few different methods to find the one that’s just right! 
  • if you’re a spreadsheet fan then use something like Excel to help you
  • if spreadsheets make your head spin, use an app!
  1. Lastly, review and adjust on a regular basis to make sure that you stay on track. You don’t want your budget to feel too restrictive or you’ll feel like you’re not enjoying your life and you’ll want to give up. So be sure to make room in your budget for the little luxuries that bring you joy. This part of your budget is your ‘fun budget,’ so have fun with it!

Budgeting definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 

We’ve all had our fair share of budgeting fails. But with a few tweaks, those can turn into wins. And by the end you might even find that you don’t hate budgeting all that much after all. 

Budgeting is really useful if you: 

  • Regularly overspend
  • Always wonder exactly where your money went 
  • Have a specific goal or event that you want to save for

A budget can help with all of these.  

It sounds fancy, but when you’re budgeting, you’re just keeping track of the money you have coming in (your income) and going out (your expenses). 

Understanding your spending habits is important with budgeting. 

Once you know your money habits, you can create a plan of how you want to use your money instead. 

You can then adapt what you spend each month or year to fit in with your plan.

Think of it as being the CEO of your finances.

It shouldn’t make you feel restricted or that you can’t spend money. Having a budget can actually help you spend less on things you don’t like and more on the things that spark joy. 

Budgeting is a way of making your financial goals and big life events a reality. 

It’s the best tool you can use to set you up for success with your money.

If you think about all of the big and exciting things you want to do in your life as your destination – and your financial plan is the map that shows you how to get there – then your budget is the road that takes you there. 

Setting up a budget allows you to take control of how you’re spending your money and what you’re spending it on.

In order to do the things you dream of, it’s important to financially plan for them. And a budget is what helps you to reach your financial goals. 

By setting up a budget you can decide how you want your money to be working harder for you. You can prioritise where your money is going. And you can use it to forecast the months that you might be spending more money, and make sure you’re prepared. 

A budget enables you to: 

  • Keep your spending on track
  • Avoid debt by planning ahead
  • Afford unexpected items that come up as you can budget for them 

By doing this you’ll be able to make financial decisions based on the resources you have. You’ll also be able to put money aside for the future and any unexpected challenges that may come up. And you’ll have better financial wellbeing overall as you’re being more mindful of where your money’s going. 

Having a budget means you can be more proactive than reactive about your money. This’ll help you feel in control of your money. And the best part is it helps you spend less on what you don’t like and more on what really brings you joy.