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How you can spend less and buy more; YOUR MONEY.

AA right to purchase company shares normally lapses on the day employment ceases. However, in some cases, depending on the contractual basis on which the share option scheme has been established, there may be a right to purchase for a period after the employment ends. This is subject to the employer agreeing. To request a free "Investor's Guide" and with any questions you would like answered please contact me at Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd, Northumbria House, 21/23 Brenkley Way, Blezard Business Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 6DS. Website

Telephone 0191 217 3340 or email Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

THIS year brought financial challenges for many of us. Financial adviser Alok Dhanda offers some tips on how to make or save money this Christmas.

1 Make your own presents. Take the example of simpler times and experiment with chutneys, jam and cakes - not only will they taste delicious and give you a chance to showcase your creative and culinary talents, but they'll save you a fortune. People really appreciate homemade goods so don't assume you have to spend a lot of money to find the perfect gift.

2 If you're buying books for loved ones this Christmas, there's still time to visit for some excellent offers. You can often get 'like new' versions for a fraction of the price you'd pay in shops and with a bit of price comparison you can pick up some ideal bargains.

3 If you'd like to avoid the last-minute Christmas crowds, go to for a comprehensive website of the latest bargain offers and unusual gifts for Christmas. This online shopping can work out to be much cheaper than the high street.

4 Don't overlook charity shops such as Oxfam in your hunt for the ideal gift - there are some real hidden gems to be found and you'll be helping a good cause at the same time as saving a lot of money.

5 If you're looking for a break away on a budget over the holiday period, organise a festive 'booze cruise' with friends. Whilst abroad you can pick up some great deals on alcohol - French supermarkets such as Carrefour in particular offer better deals than the UK so stock up on high quality goods.

6 At the moment, gold is at the highest price it's ever been, so it's an excellent time to sell old, unwanted pieces of jewellery. The money raised can come in very handy at this time of year.

7 Make your own decorations. Not only is this cheaper than rushing to the shops, but it's a great family activity where you can get the children involved.

8 If you're too short of time to create your own decorations, try, which offers an array of Christmas lights and decorations at cheaper prices than you'll find in the high street.

9 For a completely free, environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional Christmas card, send your friends and family an e-card. The website offers a range of creative designs to choose from and it won't cost you a penny.

10 Take this opportunity to have a Christmas clear-out before 2010 gets here. Have a look in your loft and cupboards for any unwanted goods that you can take to a car boot sale. Blaydon, Gateshead, and Chester-le-Street, County Durham, hold particularly good car boot sales, so take your old things along and see how much you can sell.

11 If the financial stress of 2009 has left you with a range of huge credit card bills, spend some time researching 0% balance transfer deals.

You can compare credit cards online to find the best deal for you. Virgin for example has a great deal at the moment, offering 0% on balance transfers for 16 months. You can save hundreds of pounds in interest payments by doing this simple exercise.

12 If you're finding it difficult to control your debts, approach your bank to see if it is possible to consolidate your debts into one loan.

An independent financial adviser can help you review your finances so that you can make a fresh start in 2010.

For further information on how Alok can help you with your personal or business planning needs, contact Dhanda Financial, 52 Dean Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1PG, telephone 0191 255 8960, email or visit Q&A YOUR money queries are answered by PETER RUTHERFORD, senior director of Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd, Chartered Financial Planners.

QI have heard that you can invest in other people's life insurance policies and that they give steady returns. I do not understand how they work. Could you explain please? AThere are funds that invest in what are known as life settlements where the insured sells their life insurance policy to the fund and the fund receives the death benefit when the insured individual dies. This is often used by those who are perhaps terminally ill and wish to pay for additional treatment. The main market is in America but there are funds that can be bought by UK residents. A number of these funds appear to have produced steady returns provided that the actuarial models used are working. The danger is that the model is inaccurate and this can reduce returns. There is also the issue which is an ethical one; whether it is right to make money out of someone's death. This could be argued either way.

It is also possible to buy individual policies but you increase the risk of a delayed payout.

QAfter the recent Pre-Budget Report I know that most of many taxes are being raised. However, I did not read anything about Capital Gains Tax and would like to realise a gain on one of my investments. How do I stand? AThe Chancellor mentioned nothing about Capital Gains Tax in the Pre-Budget Report which was considered to be a bit of a surprise. That said, CGT announcements are usually left until the Budget itself.

The situation is that you will pay a flat rate of tax at 18% on any gain over and above your individual allowance. This is pounds 10,100 in the 2009/2010 tax year. You can take off the cost of purchasing the asset and any associated fees in buying and selling it. This will then leave you your profit.

In the past there were such things as indexation and taper relief but since April 6, 2008 these reliefs no longer apply. I have assumed that your investment does not qualify for entrepreneurs' relief which is in place for the benefit of smaller businesses and their owners.

QI have been told that I will be losing my job at the end of January. I have been with the company for a while and have been contributing to a share option scheme. Will I still be able to do so after my employment ends?


FESTIVE SPENDING Alok Dhanda has tips on easing the burden.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2009
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