Ask Andy #41: Your money questions answered

My regular round-up of your personal finance questions.

I love hearing from you, whether it’s on the blog, social media, YouTube or email. Often you’re asking me questions about your finances, and I’m always glad to help if I have the time.

But I realised that my answers could also be useful to other followers. So I’ll be putting my responses to the best questions into regular articles here on the blog.

Keep reading for some of the questions I’ve been asked, plus the video live from this week with even more!

Watch the latest live Q&A

Most Tuesday evenings you’ll find me live on YouTube and Instagram answering your questions. It’s probably the best place to ask!

Here’s the latest video:

This week’s extra questions

If you’ve asked me a question elsewhere, you might find the answer below!

How much should I be saving?

How much should I be putting away in savings each month? Sorry I know it’s quite a broad question, but just sorta roughly? 500? More?

Samir, via Instagram

So broadly it’s as much as you can afford! Though you might want to put some of it into your pension (maxing any matching contributions from your employer) or even pay off part of a mortgage. But overall, aim to get a decent emergency fund as soon as you can (three to six months of expenses is ideal in case you can’t work for whatever reason). Here are some tips to help you autosave.

I can’t pay cash into Starling, should I switch?

Hi there Andy. I got my first card ever and I chose starling (thanks for your videos). And it’s been great so far. The app experience. And even the card looks great. Had a slight problem with google pay but the customer service of starling helped me and it was good. The only problem I have is depositing cash. I didn’t think I would be dealing with this much cash for the card and 2 of the closest post office near me aren’t really good just to deposit some money. Both of them do not have self service stations for depositing like they do in high street banks. And most of the time the queues are very long so it makes it very difficult. 

So my question is. Should I just move to a high street bank because of this and which high street bank would it be? My usage with the card is very light. No bills to pay or direct debits going on. It’s simply for spending but more of the time the money I get is cash. If you think I need to change to a high street bank, should I keep the starling one or just completely replace it?

Shakir, via email

So my tip here is to open an account at a bank with a branch near you and just use that for cash deposits. You can easily then move the money over to Starling via their app!

Andy’s YouTube

Watch new videos every week on the Andy Clever Cash channel, plus a regular live Q&A

Is it 20% or 25% extra added to my pension from tax relief?

So, I’ve recently opened a SIPP with PensionBee who add on 25% tax relief to any manual contributions I make to my pension. I’m a little confused, as when I’m reading online, it appears it should only be 20%?

I also have another SIPP I’m waiting to transfer into my PenaionBee one and they too claim back 25%?

I also have a workplace pension that I pay into via defined contribution where my pension is deducted off my final pay before I pay tax and then my employer pays in as well. So my gross pay, is after my pension contribution has been deducted. 

Are you able to assist me and keep me right? Should it be 20% tax relief or why am I getting 25%? Is it to do with my annual income or something?

Callum, via email

So perhaps what’s confusing you how much money you’re actually contributing?

Let’s say you’re signed up for a workplace pension. If your contribution was £100, you’d only pay £80 as 20% would be tax relief.

But with a private pension, if you added £80 upfront, to get to £100 you’d need to add 25%. In both cases the amount is £20.

Is the Virgin Money app ok?

Thanks for the info re the Virgin 1% savings rate, but the Trustpilot reviews of Virgin’s app are awful – 88% terrible & 4% poor. All the reviewers said steer well clear of this company. I’ve got the max in their current account & think I’ll have to go into one of their branches to try & change my postal address after I moved.

Ros, via email

Yeah I agree the app isn’t amazing (though it’s not the worst). But if you’re using it mainly for holding savings rather than everyday banking I think it’s decent enough and fast to transfer cash to and from. So I wouldn’t worry too much. Here’s my review from last year of all the main bank apps.

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

I don’t have any bills for direct debits?

Hi im new to this. So could you guide me to how i can open 2 direct debits. Im a student not currently paying for anything so what’s the best way to get the nation wide switch bonus

Abdul, via email

Not to worry as you can set them up without having bills. Here are a few options for new and fast Direct Debits, so hopefully it’ll help.

Which savings account is better?

Tandem is paying 0.77% on its app savings account. Chip is 0.7%, so which is better per annum Andy?

Trish, via email

The best rate is the one paying the highest interest. There’s also 0.8% now from Cynergy! And Virgin Money current account holders can get 1% on up to £25,000. Here are the latest rates.

So it would make sense to move money to the best rate. BUT it does depend on how much you have saved. Move £500 for a 0.3% increase and over a year you’ll get an extra £1.50 a year. Move £25,000 and it’s an extra £75. Here’s a video I made on this topic.

How to ask me questions

The best ways to get in touch is in the Andy Clever Cash Facebook community

Just post your question any time, or ask me live in my weekly Q&A each Tuesday (which is on Instagram and YouTube).

You can also comment on individual blogposts and videos or ask me questions via these channels:

I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer all questions but I’ll do my best. I tend to look once a week at all the messages, but it can take longer – so you might have to bear with me for a reply.

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