Lifetime ISA: a lifeline for freelancers

If you’re self-employed, you might have let out a little cheer on Wednesday after the Chancellor announced the forthcoming budget.

For once, savers are being rewarded. In particular, young savers. And as copywriting is (so I’ve heard) a young person’s game, this should come as welcome news.

But young people are also renowned for not saving, and I’m interested to see if this stems to freelancers.

Common sense

As a self-employed person, I would find it incredibly hard to operate without savings. Projects come and go and there’s no reliability in the same way as with full-time employment.

Once you embark on a career path comprised of ups and downs, it’s common sense to put a little away in the fruitful months to help you through the barren ones.

For me, saving is inbuilt from childhood. But as I’ve followed my path into freelancing, I truly appreciate the value of having a safety net to catch me –  for example if work became thin on the ground, or I needed to move flats and had to pay 6 month’s rent up front (when self-employed, it’s hard to get a property otherwise).

Lifetime ISA: a lifeline

Interest rates have been somewhat dismal in the past eight years since the recession kicked in. But the government’s proposed Lifetime ISA could well provide lifeblood to those ailing savings.

For those who weren’t paying attention, the Lifetime ISA is specifically for young people (anyone under 40 – thank you George!). It pays a handsome 25% interest rate on deposits up to £4000 per year and you can use it for a mortgage or your retirement. They’d rather you kept it in until you were 60; however, they’re looking into ways you might be able to take money out and repay it.

Either way, this is good news for freelancers, especially those just embarking on self-employment who will be earning a very modest wage.

Freelancing: the disadvantages

Like everyone, we benefit from the increase in the personal allowance, but not from employer sick schemes, bonuses, wage rises, holiday pay, and the recent pension auto-enrolment with employers forced to pay in for employees. All this is left up to us.

And because our wage can be considerably lower than most full-time jobs, especially when just starting out, cash ISAs don’t do much for us with their dwindling rates at a stagnant 1%.

The Lifetime ISA, however, will reward those who can’t afford to save a huge amount with a very generous rate, making the future look not quite so gloomy.

You do the maths

If you could save just £50 a month, you’d earn £150 in a year from the government; pay in the max of £4000 a year and you’d get £1000.

That money then goes on to accrue year on year, giving you a firm foundation for retirement. This new ISA also promises to be easier to manage than a pension, and more transparent.

Save for your future today

If you’re a freelancer who doesn’t have savings, now might be a good time to start paying some interest, in order to get some back in return.

The Lifetime ISA doesn’t come into effect until April 2017, but in the meantime, you could start saving in a high-interest current account (see TSB or Santander), which will give you regular rewards on your cash, helping you accrue some capital for when it does come into effect.

Take it from me and my own experience, it’s always worthwhile having a little money in the bank because you never know when you might need it.

 

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5 proofing hacks for your business

Your copy needs to be spot on if you’re going to impress. There’s a lot of competition out there, and while customers won’t always reward you for getting it right, they will punish you for silly errors.

That includes spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Since you don’t know who might be reading your words, it’s also important to fact-check and ensure your copy doesn’t break any laws.

That’s why I’m going to share my top 5 quick and easy proofing hacks to make sure you get it right.

  1. Grammarly

Grammarly is an essential free tool to download. It helps flag up any common errors in spelling and missing words, and is clever at spotting punctuation and grammar errors, even teaching you as you go! It installs on your browser, in MS Word and on your PC for use on many different platforms. Grammarly also offers a year-long premium option, providing even more fixes and a plagiarism checker.

  1. Spell checks

While it’s OK to use MS Word spellchecker, don’t rely on it. It misses many an obvious mistake, and there are plenty of free spell checkers on the Web. My favourite is on Google Docs. How often does Google correct your search results and know what you want? Well, the Google Docs spell checker checks your words against the plethora of information on the Web. That makes it good at spotting errors in references, names, place names and even some international words and phrasing in addition to the usual spelling mistakes.

  1. Plagiarism software

Ensure you don’t fall foul of plagiarism laws by always running your copy through a plagiarism scanner. Grammarly premium offers this service or you can find a free one on the Web, such as this from Small SEO Tools. If you reuse product descriptions or content from the Web, make sure you rewrite it so it’s 100% unique. Otherwise, your search rankings will be lowered and you could even face a copyright suit. A surefire way to avoid this is to pay a copywriter to write your content for you. They’ll get it spot on and you get copy tailored to your business’ needs.

  1. Oxford Dictionaries Online

Consult a dictionary. Yes, some things you can’t get a robot to do! But don’t dismiss these humble reference tools. Oxford Dictionaries Online has a vast store of UK, US and world dictionaries to check spellings, pronunciation, similar words (synonyms) and encyclopaedic entries for notable persons and events. If you’re not sure how to spell a word, start typing and it will pop up. This site is especially useful for showing you how to use a word or phrase in a sentence and different spellings for US or UK English. Sites like Wikipedia are also invaluable, but always check their sources before citing ‘facts’.

  1. PerfectIt

Go pro and invest in PerfectIt – proofreading software that has an add-in built for MS Word. This software can run many tests on your work, including commonly misspelt words, inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation, formatting errors, and you can even specify your preferred spellings and punctuation use. Plus, once you’ve paid, it never expires! Even better, you can also try before you buy with a 30-day free trial.

It’s best practice to run your copy through as many proofing tools as you can, to ensure your content is up to scratch.

A supplement not a substitute

However, this is not only a timely procedure, it also isn’t 100% effective. Unfortunately, robots can’t catch everything and, in some cases, they even make suggestions that are incorrect – causing potential embarrassment.

These tools are a supplement not a substitute for accurate proofreading and need to be used with caution. You’d be surprised what kind of obvious errors slip through these filters, which can cost you big business.

Get perfect, tailor-made copy

So to get it right first time, it’s best to employ a proofreader or professional copywriter to ensure you don’t make these costly errors.

If you work with me, we can come up with the best solution for your needs. Perhaps you simply need another pair of eyes to spot any errors, you already have some content you’d like rewriting, or you want some copy creating from scratch.

Contact me today and we’ll get across everything you need to say in the best way possible.