Monthly Archives: September 2015

Money-saving tips for dog owners

canstockphoto12853549Owning a dog is something that can bring fantastic benefits to you, your family and friends. Not only do you receive unconditional love and affection from a pet who is rightly known as “man’s best friend”, but you also have no excuse for missing out on getting some extra exercise.

Although a healthy dog will be relatively low maintenance, there are some essential costs and outlays that can’t be avoided. However, there are ways that a savvy dog owner can save money by using a few tried and tested tips.

Initial outlay

The first bill that a dog owner will have to pay will depend on how you choose your new pet. Buying an in-demand breed from an award-winning bloodline can mean laying out hundreds of pounds, whereas choosing a dog from a rescue centre will be far cheaper, with the costs often only including medical and administration fees.

Buying bedding, food and drink bowls and other essentials such as a collar and lead can be as expensive or as cost-effective as you like. An old laundry basket lined with worn-out jumpers or blankets can make a perfectly safe and secure bed for a puppy, and even old plates or china can be used for feeding times.


Choosing the right breed can mean taking many different things into account. Smaller dogs generally not only need less exercise but can also be far cheaper to feed in terms of the actual amounts of food that you need to buy.

When it comes to feeding your dog, you must do your homework, as giving your dog a balanced diet is as important as it is for a human. If you get the right mix of ingredients and nutrients, not only will you have a happy dog but it will also be a healthy one, saving you money in the long run.

Medical bills

A healthy dog won’t need to go to the vet often, but in the first place, vaccinations are important. Also, no matter how well behaved your dog is or how good you are at controlling it, there are few dogs who don’t get involved in high jinks of one kind or another that results in a trip to the vet at some point. All this means that you should consider taking out a veterinary insurance policy for your dog as vets bills can be expensive.

Most people have a stock of everyday medical items in a drawer or cupboard around the home and you can make sure you look after your dog in a similar way. Bob Martin is a great place to look in order to build up those essentials that can keep your dog in tip top condition and avoid everyday problems.

Common sense

Being a dog owner is like anything else in life; if you don’t make plans and approach things in a careful fashion, you can end up spending more than you bargained for. However, with a little planning, you can take advantage of all the various tips and tricks that will save you money without having any negative impact on your dog.

Tax for contractors explained

When you set up your contracting business, you have an awful lot of things to think about: developing your business plan, getting financial backing where appropriate, and developing and servicing a client base. As a contractor, one of the most important parts of running your own business is getting your taxes right.

If you are working on a contract basis between different organizations, then your tax situation can become quite complex to deal with. Here are some of the liabilities you will have to face up to if you set up as a limited company as opposed to an umbrella company – more on umbrella companies shortly.

Value added tax

If your turnover annually is £82,000 or more (it often changes in each government budget), you must register for VAT, though if it’s less, you could register for the Flat Rate VAT scheme, which could save you money if you’re a first year business. There can be hefty penalties if you don’t register but should and if you are late to pay your VAT.

Corporation tax

You pay this on your annual profits. You accountant will register your company for the tax, prepare your accounts and submit them. You need to pay your CT within nine months of the company’s year-end.

National insurance

You will be liable to pay NICs (National Insurance Contributions) on all salaries you pay your staff. You will have to pay it for yourself as well, depending on the level of your salary. You could choose to pay a salary below the threshold of contributions and make it up with dividends.

Dividend tax

If your company pays you a dividend and the income is less than the higher rate of income tax, you don’t pay tax on it, nor do you pay NICs.

Income tax

As an individual limited company contractor, you need to complete a self-assessment form every year, with the return being submitted each year by January 31. It’s possible, dependent on your circumstances, that you could have to make payments on account towards your tax liability in the current year.

Umbrella companies

These are very useful vehicles for contractors dealing with many other issues in their business. Essentially you become an employee of the umbrella company and are taxed exactly as if you were a traditional employee. You can make deductions for the fee for the umbrella company as well as aspects such as pension contributions. The rest of your income is then taxed at standard Pay As You Earn (PAYE) calculations. You’ll also have to pay NICs on that income.

Payroll will be processed on your behalf by your umbrella provider, and all deductions will show on the pay slip. It takes a lot of administrative work away from you and gives you more time to dedicate to building up and developing your business.

An umbrella company can also supply all necessary insurances and full statutory employment rights.

Planning for the future

Tax is a tricky business and it’s easy to get things wrong accidentally, leaving you open to penalties. Using the professional services of an umbrella company can remove that burden of worry.

Tackling substance abuse in a small business in order to improve profitability

Employee substance abuse is nothing new. Some people misuse alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs every day. The effects of substance abuse can on the workplace is being understood more and more. Many jobs these days require employees to be bright, alert and have fast reflexes. If someone has been abusing substances and tries to do their job, there is a chance that a serious accident could happen, or at the very least, that the job will be performed inaccurately and below standard.

What is employee substance abuse? 

Employee substance abuse is when an employee misuses either legal or illegal drugs or alcohol in their own private time or while at work. This can cause many issues within your workplace and can cause problems in many areas such as:

  • Reduced productivity and performance from hangovers or the after effects of substance use
  • Having sick days frequently due to substance abuse
  • Lack of attention and concentration due to preoccupation with getting and using substances while at the workplace
  • Committing crimes by selling or buying illegal drugs while at work
  • Stress and anxiety from the abuse of substances by an employee’s love one
  • Health and safety risks

All these issues can affect health and safety, productivity, efficiency and profit within your small business. If people are working with dangerous equipment that requires them to be highly concentrated, there is a huge risk to health and safety regulations being carried out by that person. They are more likely to cost the company money through sick days and will slow down the rate of productivity within your business, therefore affecting profit margins.

How can employers avoid substance abuse in the workplace? 

As an employer, you can try to avoid substance abuse in the workplace by carrying out regular drug testing on your employees. Employers and their staff can work together to create a clear policy in regards to what behaviour at the work place will and will not be accepted. By creating an Employee Assistance Programme, employers can help any member of staff who needs help to avoid or recover from substance abuse.

Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace

Drug and alcohol testing can be part of your health and safety policy as well as a duty of care to your employees. There are several ways the test can be carried out such as with an oral fluid lab test, urine or hair sample. This is then sent for laboratory testing at an audited and accredited laboratory where the results will be found. The advantages of drug testing in the workplace is that it is clear for all staff within the company that drug or alcohol abuse will not be tolerated behaviour for health and safety reasons, the wellbeing of other employees and the cost to your company.

It is important to tackle substance abuse within the workplace and clearly communicate with your employees regarding this matter, as well as offering them help and support should they need it.