Maryland income tax relief will wait until at least next year

Hogan, a Republican, made his remarks as he prepared to sign nearly 200 bills into law while flanked by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, both Democrats.

I know that President Miller wants to provide across-the-board income tax cuts, and provide help for small businesses. I know that Speaker Busch wants to give tax relief to struggling low-income families, Hogan said. Well, I agree with both of them. So I say: Next year, guys, lets get them all done.

30-year FRM rated hit 3-year low

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How to Fix Social Security? Expand It

Below is an adapted excerpt from Expand Social Security Now! How To Ensure Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve by Steven Hill, published by Beacon Press on May 10, 2016.

Increasing numbers of workers now find themselves on shaky ground, turned into freelancers, temps, contractors, and part timers. Even many professional jobs are experiencing this precarious shift. Within a decade, it’s been estimated that nearly half of the 145 million working Americans could be impacted, turned into so-called “independent workers” with little job security, insufficient safety-net supports, and poor wages. 

Add to that new anti-worker methods such as “just-in-time” scheduling and the steamroller of automation, robots, and artificial intelligence already replacing millions of workers and projected to “obsolesce” millions more, and suddenly things don’t look so economically set for a lot of Americans.

Now an insidious mash-up of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street greed has thrust upon us the latest economic trend: the so-called “sharing economy,” with companies that offer short-term freelancer employment with low pay, no safety net, and a need to be in constant job search mode, looking for the next gig. One Uber driver with whom I spoke laughed bitterly when I mentioned the term “sharing economy.” “More like the ‘share the crumbs’ economy,” he said.

It’s an alarming transformation. The US middle class, one of America’s greatest inventions and a gift to the world, is in danger. The future is anything but secure. Set to replace the crumbling New Deal society is a darker world in which workers can be hired and fired by the touch of an app–turned on and off like a water spigot.

These changes mark one of the great social and economic transformations of the postwar era. A seismic shake to the supportive edifice for American workers has cracked and is beginning to crumble for all but the better-off. Not since the Great Depression have we been so in need of a system of retirement security that acts as both a buffer for individuals and families from the sudden shocks of economic downturns and bursting asset bubbles, but that also acts as an automatic stabilizer and stimulus capable of steadying the broader macroeconomy. At the very time when Americans most need a stable retirement system, it is more threatened than ever.

So yes, our economy is changing, and yes, Social Security must change with the times. But the change that must occur is not cutting it back, quite the contrary. We have to expand Social Security and create a robust, single-pillar retirement system for every worker, one that is portable from job to job. And one that functions even for those workers who have multiple employers.

So the safety net has to work for these new types of workers, and for many different classifications of workers. That’s what the need is, and an expanded Social Security could best provide the retirement portion of this new kind of safety net for this new kind of economy. No other system or method–not 401(k)s, IRAs, the remnants of company pensions, the loopholes of tax deductions and deferrals, or any other current method, even if scaled up–are capable of playing this role. Only Social Security can do it. And yet Social Security’s payout to each individual is so meager that, unless it is expanded, it will not be robust enough to play this central role as the nation’s de facto national retirement system.

 

Social Security Plus–the Only Solution Left Untried

Winston Churchill allegedly once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing–after they have tried everything else.” We’ve tried just about everything else to create a secure retirement system for seniors, and to stabilize this part of the consumer demand that drives our economy. What we haven’t yet tried is Social Security Plus.

Late 19th-century German leader Otto von Bismarck first pioneered the idea of old-age government pensions, and it has since become a staple around the world. A universal social support system, whether in Europe, Canada, Japan, or Australia, is guided by a philosophy that values the creation of “social insurance” that helps individuals and families prepare for their future, including retirement. In fact, the various social insurance systems force individuals to prepare, paycheck by paycheck, by deducting from workers and businesses the funds necessary to better secure their futures. Universal social insurance means everyone pools their money, which is a crucial step that allows better planning and the creation of more efficient and less expensive support systems. Consequently, European systems of health care, child care, senior care, housing, and education cost much less per capita compared to US systems, because the efficiencies that can be designed into universal systems make them much more economical and cost-effective.

For example, the United States spends over 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)–about $2.9 trillion, or $9,255 per person–on a decentralized hodgepodge health-care system that is very expensive to administer and operate. Even after the improvements of Obamacare, health care still doesn’t cover about 11 percent of the US population. But European nations spend about 6 percent to 12 percent of GDP (depending on the country) and cover 100 percent of their populations. Americans also spend at least six times more per capita for child care (depending on the country), and while university tuition is skyrocketing in the United States, in most European nations it is still quite inexpensive, only a few hundred dollars per year.

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency publishes a brochure that captures the prevailing philosophy: “Social insurance is founded on the idea of people helping each other through a kind of social safety net, which is in place from birth to retirement.” Netherlands Labor Party leader Wouter Bos has argued that Europe’s social state is based on “enlightened self-interest” since “we all run the same risks, so we might as well collectively insure ourselves against those risks.” This is a philosophy with broad agreement across the political spectrum; even conservatives and the so-called far right agree, forming the basis for a “European consensus.”

So enacting a version of Social Security Plus is not as untested as it may at first appear. In many nations around the world, more comprehensive social support systems aid families and individuals and cushion vulnerable populations against economic dislocation. Nevertheless, in the United States we continue stumbling forward with our more ad hoc, decentralized, and inefficient systems, in which some people get the support they need and others don’t. And the support systems are so poorly designed that the national price tag is often exorbitantly expensive. The more deregulated US system is known for allowing individuals to keep more of their paycheck–presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush were famous for declaring, “We let you keep your own money”–and leaves it up to Americans’ discretion whether to prepare for the long run by saving money and handling the costs of retirement, or to spend it all in the short run.

But in an age of globalized capitalism and increasing economic insecurity, benefits like an adequate retirement, as well as health care, child care, sick leave, education, housing, and more, are no longer discretionary–they are necessary in order to enjoy a basic level of security and comfort. What this points to is that in today’s insecure age, a middle-class standard of living is not only about income levels or economic growth rates, but also about adequate support institutions and social insurance for individuals and families.

Japan, Canada, and countries in Europe and elsewhere have already established various vehicles to ensure their health, productivity, and quality of life that will serve them well in the new, high-tech economy. While all of these nations, like the United States, rely on powerful capitalist engines as the core wealth generator of their economies, the presence of a more robust social insurance infrastructure is the reason that these other nations have a higher level of economic security for their people than does the United States. The US is the outlier among developed nations; our “ownership society” should be called an “on-your-own” society because many people are truly left on their own.

The security of social insurance in turn stimulates consumer spending, which in turn creates jobs, which in turn acts as an automatic stabilizer during downturns. It unleashes a virtuous feedback loop, based on these necessary components of a modern capitalist economy today. A more comprehensive social insurance system allows these other countries to achieve one of America’s chief principles, namely, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” with results that are vastly different from the American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” society. Expanding Social Security would be an important step toward providing for all Americans the type of efficiencies that modern capitalist economies need in order to provide retirement security.

One can anticipate various objections, criticisms, and even fear of creating a Social Security Plus system. “It has never been tried before” (at least not in the United States), “it’s socialism” (even though 70 percent of Republicans support Social Security), “it’s already going bankrupt” (nonsense), and “where would we find the money?” (how about from all the hundreds of billions of dollars in tax loopholes that predominantly favor wealthier Americans?). Already there exists a concerted and well-funded effort to convince Americans that Social Security is broken and that we need to cut it back and even privatize it “in order to save it.” So I’m very aware that some Americans, both leaders and everyday citizens who have grown so suspicious of government, will reject out of hand the notion of doubling the monthly benefit.

But what can’t be denied is that the “three-legged stool” of retirement security in the United States has become wobbly and unstable. Two of the legs–private, employer-based retirement plans, and private savings based on homeownership–have nearly collapsed. Combine that with vast increases in inequality, flat wages, and a decline in personal savings in the years even before the Great Recession, and Social Security is now the only leg standing for tens of millions of Americans. An expansion of Social Security–one of the most successful and popular government programs in US history–into a more robust retirement system that doubles the current payout to individuals would build upon the most stable components of the current system.

The president and Congress, in their budgetary duties, and the US Federal Reserve bank in its financial oversight capacity, have all the levers they need to ensure financial viability. This is a matter of politics, not economics. It is clear that the best way to stabilize and strengthen the retirement system, as well as the broader national economy itself, is to expand Social Security, bringing the American retirement system more in line with those in other developed societies. This can be accomplished by making the Social Security payroll tax fairer and more universally applied, by eliminating deductions for businesses that provide retirement plans (since that would be unnecessary with Social Security Plus), and by rolling back or limiting various tax-favored loopholes and deductions that massively favor wealthier Americans. Multiple mechanisms and plans are possible toward those goals.

More broadly, the United States must begin to view universal social insurance as a critical pillar of support for Americans and their families, as well as for US businesses that currently miss out on the competitive advantages that would come if retirement and health-care systems were not substantially employer-based. The United States was once noted for its capacity for economic, political, and social innovation; in the aftermath of World War II, we created a land of broadly shared prosperity and opportunity, and starting in the 1960s began extending access to racial minorities, women, the LGBT community, and more. We have to rediscover our genius for that kind of innovation. We have to recognize that it is possible to create an affordable retirement system that is both decent and stable. This is not rocket science; it’s a matter of political will, not a failure of design.

Retirement experts like Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman, in their best-selling “advice” book Get What’s Yours: The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security, have provided a nice handbook on how to boost your Social Security benefit, using clever schemes like “file and suspend,” “spousal benefits,” and other brainy ploys. But wouldn’t it be better to have a retirement system that provides adequate income for seniors without having an accountant’s insider knowledge of the byzantine rules and tricks? The enormous gap between what is needed and what is being proposed by the politicians and professionals is glaring evidence that we need a completely new and pragmatic approach.

We don’t need to cut Social Security, or trim it, or pare it back, or privatize it, or raise the retirement age, or use chained CPI (consumer price index) to reduce the annual cost-of-living allowance. Even maintaining the status quo is woefully inadequate at this point. We need to expand Social Security, and we need to do it now. That is the only sensible solution to the retirement crisis. And we have a roadmap for how to get there: Tax fairness equals retirement security, which equals economic stability.

Any movement that seeks to enact expansion of Social Security must link that to a call for tax fairness, since that is the most salient source of the revenue needed to pay for the Plus system. By re-allocating federal tax and expenditure priorities that currently provide huge financial advantages to a small number of better-off people and concentrating them instead on the vast majority of Americans, we can create a retirement system that will work for all of us, instead of some of us.

The creation of expanded Social Security Plus would provide a secure and comfortable retirement for every American, and contribute greatly toward a solid foundation from which to build a strong and vibrant 21st-century economy. Our retirees, our families, our businesses, and our communities deserve no less.

Reprinted with permission from Beacon Press.

Business Partner Can Fast-Track Investment Property Purchases

Business Partner Can Fast-Track Investment Property Purchases

Buy A Rental Property With Lower Upfront Costs

Real estate investments have several advantages over other investment vehicles – including preferential tax treatment, leverage, and a hedge against inflation.

But it usually takes a bigger sum to purchase rental property than it does to buy a mutual fund or stock. And completing your first investment purchase can be challenging.

Fortunately, rental property mortgage rates are very low.

Rock-bottom rates reduce the monthly payment on a property, making it more feasible to rent it out at a profit.

The initial barriers can be overcome more easily by finding a partner to go in on a rental property purchase with you. There is no requirement that you be related or that any previous relationship exists. You can buy a home with anyone you would otherwise feel comfortable going into business with.

Your upfront costs will be lower, and your partner could help you qualify for the loan more easily.

Click to see todays rates (May 29th, 2016)
Investment Property Downpayment Requirements

Most programs require a minimum 15 percent downpayment for a single home with a fixed-rate mortgage. Downpayment requirements are higher for other situations.

  • 1 unit fixed-rate investment property purchase downpayment: 15%
  • 1 unit adustable-rate investment property purchase downpayment: 25%
  • 2-4 unit fixed-rate investment property purchase downpayment: 25%
  • 2-4 unit adjustable-rate investment property purchase downpayment: 35%

Downpayments under 20 percent will trigger a private mortgage insurance (PMI) requirement. The mortgage insurance provider will review the loan for approval, which is a separate approval process from the lenders.

According to mortgage insurance provider MGIC, a $250,000 loan would require PMI of $120 per month with 15% down and a 740 credit score.

If each partner can contribute at least ten percent of the purchase price, your costs drop. But a sub-20% downpayment is not a deal breaker.

Cash Requirements After Closing

In addition to your down payment and closing costs, you and your partner will need reserves.

“Reserves” are savings that are available to pay your mortgage if your income is temporarily interrupted.

Reserves are measured in months. For example, your mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) come to $1,000 a month. You will have $2,500 in savings after you make your downpayment and closing costs. In this case you would have 2.5 months of reserves.

Reserve requirements are typically between six and twelve months for investment properties. If your rental property will cost you $1,500 per month, you could need at least $9,000 after closing to qualify.

It makes sense to open a special property account into which both partners hold the money needed to purchase and maintain the rental. You might want to require both of your signatures to withdraw from this account. Just make sure you keep a paper trail for any funds being deposited, so you can prove the source of any large deposits into the account.

Click to see todays rates (May 29th, 2016)
Can You Use Future Rental Income To Qualify?

Ideally, your incomes are sufficient to qualify without the subject property rental income. If this is not the case, though, you may still qualify using the property’s income potential.

If it’s currently rented, you’ll supply a copy of the lease to the lender. If it’s not currently rented, the appraiser will complete a rental schedule, known as Fannie Mae Form 1007 or Freddie Mac Form 1000. This form compares the home to similar rentals in the area to arrive at an estimated future rent.

The lender will reduce the estimated or actual monthly rent by 25 percent. This is because, as a rule, lenders assume the property will be vacant 25 percent of the time.

The lender then adds that amount to your income to help offset the future cost of the rental property.

For instance, the home will cost $1,500 per month in principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Estimated rent is $1,200 per month.

The lender will add $900 per month to your income. For qualification purposes, the new property will add only $600 per month to the applicants total debt load.

One More Piece Of Rental Buying Advice

While no longer required for most mortgage programs, you might want to purchase a landlord insurance policy. This covers the perils of ordinary homeowners insurance, plus extra liability coverage and rent income interruption coverage.

Finally, it’s smart to require your tenants to protect their belongings with renter’s insurance. This insurance is very affordable and covers the renters personal property if it is damaged or stolen.

What Are Todays Mortgage Rates?

Owning an investment property is a good wealth-building strategy. Doing so with a business partner can make the initial purchase and ongoing management easier.

Get a rate quote for your rental property purchase mortgage. Todays rates are low, making owning a rental property a real possibility for first-time and repeat home investors.

Click to see todays rates (May 29th, 2016)

Terry McLaughlin: There are unintended consequences of well-intentioned legislators

On April 4, Gov. Brown signed legislation increasing California’s hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2022. Labor experts are already warning that such a wage hike could lead to higher prices, more automation, and a drop in employment.

James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, said such a wage hike is likely to lead to a reduction in employment, especially for manufacturing companies that sell products across state lines. Those businesses do not have the opportunity to raise prices, and they employ approximately 1.6 million Californians — 37 percent of whom make less than $15 per hour.

“A lot of those jobs will move to other states and countries,” Sherk said. He also warned that in the fast food and hospitality industries, consumers can expect to see price increases to compensate for increased labor costs.

A Grass Valley restauranteur opined that the government is creating a domino effect that can only ignite inflation. The cost of food production will rise, beginning at the source with farmers, all the way up through the staff that prepares and serves the meals to consumers, and the only viable option in order to remain open for business is to increase menu prices.

This restaurant has already removed two of its most expensive items from the menu, as the prices would have had to be increased to an unacceptable level. If customers eat out less frequently due to higher costs, then staff would have to be reduced to reflect this decline in business. This restauranteur was particularly concerned about senior citizens in our community who are living on a fixed income and who will very likely see the cost of all consumer goods, not just food, increase. Social Security benefits are certainly not increasing at the same rate, nor is the interest rate earned on personal savings accounts.

Many businesses are already turning to automation as a way to cut down on labor costs. Self-checkouts are replacing cashiers in supermarkets and customers can place orders through kiosks in some restaurants. As reported by Forbes in February, a minimum wage increase in Seattle went into effect in April 2015. As a consequence, Seattle job losses from April to December 2015 were the worst over any nine-month period since the recession of 2009.

The Feb. 18, 2014 nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report stated, “Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay … But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who become jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall.”

In January, Gov. Brown himself said “raise the minimum wage too much and you put a lot of poor people out of work. There won’t be a lot of jobs.” According to Brown’s own budget summary for 2016, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost the state of California $4 billion annually by 2021. Additionally, the state warned that not only would such a wage hike return the state budget to annual deficits, but it would also exacerbate a recession and add to job losses. Despite his own statement, and the caution recommended by his own budget summary, Brown passed this legislation.

Adding to the costs associated with a minimum wage increase, California has also legislated that employers provide all employees with at least three days of paid sick leave, and the state is moving forward with a bill which will give employees three days off per year with full pay to attend the school activities of their children.

State Senator Connie Leyva has introduced SB 878, the “Restrictive Scheduling Bill,” which would require employers, specifically restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers, to post a three-week work schedule. Any changes made to that schedule with less than seven days notice would require mandatory “modification pay” (in addition to regular pay) as well as potential fines. This bill does not take into consideration any of the issues that could cause the need for a change in staffing – such as the weather, cancellation of large group events, or even employee emergencies.

Regardless, the Senate Labor Industrial Relations Committee passed this bill 4 to 1 and moved it to the next step in the legislative process. The previously mentioned restauranteur said the government “is trying to ‘law’ us out of business!”

Is it any wonder that the business environment in California, which is becoming more inhospitable each day, is causing major employers to leave our state? Toyota is moving 4,000 jobs from California, Kentucky and New York to Plano, Texas. Carl’s Jr is moving their headquarters from California to Nashville, Tennessee, after the CEO of their parent company said, “while the US Government makes life needlessly miserable for businesses, California is exponentially worse.”

Trying to legislate “fairness” in the marketplace rarely brings positive results. Raising the minimum wage for low-wage workers feels like a good and compassionate concept. But we should not be creating laws and regulations purely because they feel good — we need to be asking if they do good. Once again, the citizens and workers of California will find themselves suffering from the unintended consequences of well-intentioned legislators.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.

Trying to legislate “fairness” in the marketplace rarely brings positive results … we should not be creating laws and regulations purely because they feel good – we need to be asking if they do good.

Marshall International Painting Event 2016

You’re invited to take part in a town changing event in Marshal, Illinois. June 22 – 26th as the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce proudly presents an International Mural Painting Event the Wall Dog Project!

More information

  • Visit their Website
  • Visit their Facebook page

Watch as 16 murals come to life and transform the walls of Marshall’s historic buildings into beautiful murals depicting the rich history and traditions of Marshall.

Each day there is fun for everyone from movie’s, a 5K, a market fair, art amp; wine, live music, a kids corner and more!

See history in the making during Marshall Illinois Wall Dogs Project.

Marshall Mural Themes amp; Locations

1). Dr. George Mitchell sponsored by Yargus Manufacturing will be at the Marshall Mutual Building (602 Archer Ave)

2). Clark County Band Stand sponsored by the City of Marshall will be going at the Lake Wealth Building (107 S. 6th St.)

3). Gypsy Queens ½ sponsored by Marshall Township will be going at Moe’s Package Liquor (117 S. 7th St.)

4). James Jones/Handy Writer Colony ½ sponsored by the Jones Literary Society is going at Family Restaurant (701 Archer Ave.)

5). Darwin Ferry currently does not have a sponsor is going at Clover Field Market (13566 Hwy 1)

6). Candy Kitchen is sponsored by Marshall Rotary Club, is going at Kirchners Building Center (303 S. 6th St.)

7). Illinois Farming/Agriculture is sponsored by Forsythe Family Farms is going at The Country Kitchen (710 Archer Ave)

8). Mill Creek is not currently sponsored; going in the alley of the Marshall Advocate Building (610 Archer Ave.)

9). Marshall Lions is sponsored by the Class of 1964, Location is still being discussed

10). Harlan Hall is sponsored by Ken amp; Kay Smith and is going at the Dollar General (613 Locust St.)

11). Archer House/Dixie Hotel is sponsored by TRW amp; 100 Women Who Care Marshall is going at Title Max (102 W. Trefz Dr.)

12). Dog amp; Suds is sponsored by First Bank and Trust amp; Knights of Pythia’s, is going at Albright Vet Services (407 Archer Ave)

13). Veterans is sponsored by Pearce Funeral Home amp; Welsh Ag is going at the Frontier Building (211 S. 6th St.)

14). Rademaker/Double Cola is sponsored by the Descents of the Rademaker Family and the students of the 2015-2016 School Year, is going at the Omer Shawler Law Office (220 S. 6th St.)

15). Lincoln in Marshall/Guinnip Well has $1,000 towards it from the Guinnip Family, and is going at Knights of Pythia’s Building (507 Locust St.)

16). Marshall Glass Piece is sponsored by the Marshall Chamber of Commerce and will be placed at City Hall (201 S. Michigan St.)

17). Kids mural is sponsored by North American Lighting, is going at the Food and Clothing Bank/Clark County Fair Grounds Scout Building (810 N. 2nd St.)

How to beat record low savings rates

Savings rates have fallen to record lows following hundreds of rate cuts over recent months. 

Which? research reveals there were 1,440 rate cuts across the savings market last year – and a further 230 rates have dropped in 2016. 

Although low interest rates are welcomed by mortgage customers, savers are left with dwindling returns for their hard-earned cash.

However, there at still some attractive deals available for those who shop around.

Here, we highlight the best ways to make sure youre getting the most from your savings and investments.

Avoid zombie savings accounts

Many accounts on the market pay rock-bottom interest rates. First Directs Savings Account currently pays just 0.05% AER, while Santanders Easy Isa offers just 0.1% AER, and there are many more offering similarly poor returns. 

To ensure youre getting a competitive deal, its never been more important to keep an eye on the rate youre receiving, and to switch if necessary.

The Which? Money Compare savings and Isa tables let you search hundreds of savings accounts and Isas from providers large and small to find a great savings rate based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

Utilise your personal savings allowance

The new personal savings allowance (introduced in April) may make traditional savings accounts more appealing for millions of people. 

This is because basic-rate taxpayers will have no tax to pay on the first £1,000 of interest they earn in a single tax year. Higher-rate taxpayers will have no tax to pay on the first £500. 

At current rates, this means its now possible to deposit tens of thousands of pounds in a traditional savings account without paying tax on the interest this year.

Which? Money Compare table: instant-access savings accounts – hundreds of deals compared

Continue to bear cash Isas in mind 

Although the personal savings allowance seems generous while interest rates are low, this may not be the case when they start to rise.

Isas continue to provide a tax-free shelter for your savings, regardless of how much money you accumulate over time. We think they remain an attractive option, particularly if youre a higher-rate taxpayer or are likely to become one in the future. Your annual Isa allowance for 2016-17 is £15,240. 

Many Isas now offer increased flexibility, allowing you to withdraw funds and replace them without it affecting your annual allowance, as long as you do so in the same tax year.

Which? Money Compare table: instant-access cash Isas –  compare hundreds of Isas

Make the most of your current account  

Higher interest rates are available through current accounts paying interest on credit balance. 

For example, TSBs Plus account pays 5% AER on balances up to £2,000. Alternatively, Santanders 123 account pays 3% AER on balances between £3,000 and £20,000, although this account comes with a £5 monthly fee.   

Find out more: best bank accounts if you stay in credit – see our comparison tables  

Use regular savings accounts

As savings rates continue to fall, the regular savings market has seen an increase in rates, especially to deals made to run alongside a current account.

If you have a bank account with First Direct, HSBC or Marks and Spencer Bank, you may be eligible for their regular saver accounts, each paying 6% AER. Alternatively, Kent Reliance pays up to 4% AER on its Regular Savings account, which is open to all new customers. 

These accounts typically come with restrictions, including a cap on the amount you can pay in each month and a minimum monthly deposit. Some may not allow you to access your money for over a year. 

Which? Money Compare table: regular savings accounts – find a great deal

Consider investing your money  

If youre happy to take some risk with your money, investments offer the possibility of improved returns.

The first port of call for investors should be a stocks and shares Isa, which is a tax-efficient account that lets you put money into different types of investment, such as unit trusts, open-ended investment companies (OEICs), investment trusts and corporate or government bonds. You can also buy individual company shares to put into an Isa.  

Before considering investments, you should make sure your finances are in order. As a minimum, your debts should be under control and you should have a significant amount of savings to fall back on.

You should only invest if youre prepared to take the risk that your investments can go down, as well as up, in value.

Find out more: the beginners guide to investment – all you need to get started as an investor

More on this… 

  • Learn how your savings options are affected by the new personal savings allowance
  • Find out how your account compares to the best on the market using our savings rates booster
  • Have your savings questions answered by calling the Which? Money Helpline

Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.

Retirement Planning: 3 Things Millennials Need to Know

The funny thing is, small amounts of money over time can make a good retirement. 

The Millennial generation is coming into its own. According to US Census estimates, Millennials have now passed Baby Boomers as the largest generation, with more than 75 million Americans falling into the 18-34 (as of 2015) age group.

With so many Millennials entering the workforce and advancing their careers, its time to start thinking about retirement. Yes — retirement is 30 or 40 years away for this generation, so isnt it a bit early to start planning? Absolutely not. The reality is, small steps taken now could make a bigger impact than bigger efforts closer to retirement.

And since now is exactly when Millennials should start taking steps to prepare for retirement, we asked three of our top retirement planning and investing contributors: What do Millennials need to know about retirement planning?

Heres what they had to say. 

Time is your biggest investing weapon. Use it or lose it
Selena Maranjian: One thing I wish Id known when I was as old as Millennials are today — in my 20s and early 30s — is how powerful my wealth-building ability was then, despite my relatively modest earnings at the time. Thats because even small invested sums can grow huge, if they have enough time, and Millennials have a lot of time.  

ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Tax relief, but no ‘partnership’ plan

Dear Editor,

Finance Minister Audley Shaw should be commended for crafting a revised tax relief plan that alleviates some of the hardships faced by taxpayers earning between $600,000 and $1.5 million. Leaving aside the obvious negative that there will be no relief for those below $600,000 as they currently pay no income tax but will be hit by the new taxes on energy, Mr Shaw was very light on the partnership aspect of the campaign promise Partnership for Prosperity.

This budget could have an immense impact on the local economy if the tax savings were spent on local goods and services. But merely wishing and exhorting Jamaicans to do so is not a plan. Its hot air. Mr Shaw and the new government needs to show the same creativity in coaxing, cajoling and even coercing consumers to spend locally, if the benefits of this tax relief package are to be maximized.

This concern is why some of the applause ringing in Mr Shaws ears may be coming from Brazilians doing the samba for their imminent female hair products bonanza. And whats that sucking sound I hear as the tax relief money flies out of Jamaica? Would that be Trinidadians salivating at the prospect of turning their few days of Carnival into a year-long Bacchanal, thanks to the patronage of tax-relieved Jamaicans buying even more of their products ? Lets hope not; back to the drawing board, Mr Shaw.

YOUR INVESTMENTS: Long-term wealth building vs having fun

I received a call a few weeks ago from someone who wanted to know if I can help him trade stocks. I told him that is part of what I do, and I would be happy to speak with him in more depth. He said he likes to trade 10 to 15 times a week, and he believes he can find a stock, let it go up 10 percent and then sell it for a profit. I told him I dont believe in this type of approach and that its a very bad way to build wealth.

Unfortunately, these types of calls are common. I cant tell you how many people I have met who have tried this strategy and ended up with huge losses. Why? Because it is very difficult to always be right, and since the gains being sought are small, one or two big losses become very hard to recover from.

The way to wealth

I recently met a very wealthy lady who had never used a financial adviser, choosing instead to do her own investing based on what she described as getting good tips and then doing my own research. She spoke about how much she enjoys trading the market. (It sounded to me more like a legalized way to gamble, but thats another story.) When I asked if she had achieved success in investing, she nodded and said: I have done okay, but not as good as the market.

After a bit more probing, she said she thought investing was easy (even though she had little success), she trusted her friends who gave the tips and didnt want to pay fees that a financial adviser would charge. So to save a few hundred or thousand dollars in fees, she ended up losing literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in portfolio growth over the last few years.