Gareth from the Office: Saving tips to beat the VAT hit

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WITH the New Year comes a new beginning.

Some people see it as a chance to make changes and become more focused to improve their lives.

The government, however, has seen it as a chance to change our spending habits. On January 4 Value Added Tax rose from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent meaning that the cost of many of our luxury items will have gone up. Terrific. As if the government doesn’t take enough of my money.

Now what does a rise in VAT mean exactly? Well VAT is a tax added to many of our luxury items, things we don’t necessarily need to buy but choose to.

For example petrol. Now you may say that petrol is necessary otherwise we wouldn’t be able to drive our cars.

That may be the case but the car is the luxury, so the petrol that runs it, you guessed it, is a luxury.

George Osborne, the man holding the country’s purse strings, has said the increase will substantially ease the problems we are suffering as a result of the the recession.

Now there’s a word that has been hanging over our heads for a couple of years or so. Recession. I have patiently been waiting for the day this country is out of its financial slump but thus far it hasn’t emerged.

If we have a chance to get out of this trouble we as a country find ourselves in should we not take it?

I would love to sit here and say ‘let’s tax things that I don’t enjoy’ like cigarettes but that would be the same as a tax on another ‘drug’ I particularly enjoy, alcohol. And I will refrain from being a hypocrite if you don’t mind.

But there are ways you can help ease the pressure on personal finances as we’re constantly reminded. Use your bicycle or walk to work rather than using your car. If you are going to use it, how about sharing with someone else?

And only buy things that you really need to buy. I’m not saying don’t buy necessities, we all need to be fed and clothed, but think about cheaper options, and you can still save money, if you try hard enough.

If the recession were to last another two years and you squirrelled away just £10 a week, which you wouldn’t really miss, you could save £1,000.

I’m not trying to sound like a parent just yet, but one day I hope to be one and I don’t want the choices I make now to have a long-term effect on me or my future family.

The recession won’t last forever. One day this country will be back to its glorious best and the recession will be a thing of the past, until the next time.