Business: Royal Mail Postage Price Increase

April 5th, 2010 by Richard Bairwell No comments »

Following on from my previous post about where my money goes, I thought it’ll be worth reminding people that tomorrow (Tuesday the 6th of April) Royal Mail* postage prices increase (* = Royal Mail is a “private company” wholly owned by the UK Government).

Rate New price Old price
1st Class Letter (up to 100g) 41p 39p
2nd Class Letter (up to 100g) 32p 30p
1st Class Large Letter (up to 100g) 66p 61p
2nd Class Large Letter (up to 100g) 51p 47p
1st Class Packet of 101-250g 172p 162p
2st Class Packet of 101-250g 151p 141p
1st Class Packet of 251-500g 224p 214p
2st Class Packet of 251-500g 195p 185p

If you are sending more than 1,000 letters on a single day, you can get a discount of 1.5% – if you are sending over 20,000 you get 5.5%. However, if you are sending around 100,000 letters in a batch and they are presorted then the cost is just 15.85p: but if you are sending that many letters you have an option not to use Royal Mail (you can use UKMail etc): however, the small business person and normal consumers don’t have that option and have to pay Royal Mail’s ever increasing prices.

Where does my money go? (or how much does the Government make from me)

April 5th, 2010 by Richard Bairwell 2 comments »

I’ve done a breakdown on my income and expenditure and it’s scary how much of my money (39.72% or 39.72p per pound) is going directly to the Government in Taxes.

Here’s the full breakdown (in pence per pound) of where my money goes.

I’ve bolded the money which goes to one government department or another.

  • 26.01p Income Tax: yes, I’m a “higher rate” tax payer, but I am working in Central London so costs are higher: see rent!. Don’t forget, that to pay me my employer needs to collect money from their customers which they have to pay VAT on to the government along with business rates etc
  • 20.83p rent: don’t forget that the people I’m renting this house from will need to then pay income tax on this
  • 14.17p savings
  • 6.22p National Insurance
  • 4.17p food shopping
  • 3.69p takeouts/evening meals/other hot meals
  • 3.33p Personal pension contributions (as the pension I’m supposedly paying for through National Insurance will be minimal)
  • 3.15p lunches (ouch – I’ll have to reduce this!)
  • 2.54p Council Tax
  • 2.50p web hosting server rental
  • 2.40p Oyster (London Underground) Card
  • 2.06p Gas and electricity (the property we are living in is currently poorly insulated, but we are moving soon)
  • 1.77p on VAT including:
    • 0.72p (17.5%) on my mobile phone bill
    • 0.65p (17.5%) on takeouts/evening meals/other hot meals
    • 0.10p (5% VAT) on gas and electricity
    • 0.09p (17.5%) on Internet access
    • 0.06p (17.5%) on Sky television subscription
    • 0.06p (17.5%) on £20 worth of VATable shopping each month (mainly cat food)
    • 0.05p (17.5%) on clothing
    • 0.02p (5% VAT) on Insurance Premium on Car insurance
    • 0.01p (17.5%) on Car MOT
    • 0.01p (5% VAT) on Insurance Premium on Life Insurance
  • 0.60p Mobile phone bill
  • 0.50p Internet access
  • 0.43p Fuel tax and VAT on Fuel
  • 0.40p car insurance
  • 0.33p Sky TV subscription
  • 0.28p domain name registrations
  • 0.28p clothing
  • 0.27p Water bill
  • 0.24p Petrol costs (excludes fuel tax and VAT – see 0.43p above: yep, we pay nearly double the amount of the fuel in taxes here in the UK!)
  • 0.24p life insurance
  • 0.20p TV Licence
  • 0.17p Car Tax
  • 0.06p MOT
  • 0.04p Car breakdown cover

Yes, I’ve included the following as “government contributions” – but that’s because the money goes either directly to a government department (such as TfL) or goes to a subsidiary wholly owned by the government. It’s up to you if you want to include these figures in your own “breakdown”:
* 0.20p per pound TV Licence: Should go towards funding the BBC – but £1.01 of that goes towards “Digital Switchover” costs and that 5.2% of it goes towards collecting the licence fee – and the current Labour government has made mention that they want to use the money to fund other causes. I actually think the BBC does a quite good job (and an excellent job for news), but I do disagree with the way the licence fee is managed by the government (who sets amount the licence fee is charged at and then routes the money to the BBC which is wholly owned by the government…).
* 6.22p per pound National Insurance contributions: These are not, technically, a tax (you can recognise the taxes by the word “Tax”)- but you can’t get away from not paying it and the money goes into the general government pot – I’m actually ignoring the fact here that my employer, to employ me, has to pay the same again in Employers National Insurance contributions.
* 2.40p per pound Oyster Card: This money goes towards me travelling on the “good to really bad depending on the day/time” London Underground system. This money actually goes to Transport For London – which is a government department controlling transport across the London area. Yes, I know it falls under the remit of the Mayor of London – but note the part of TfL’s web address: domain names are only available for the government to register…

Assumptions made:
* Out of the 260 Monday-Friday days, we have 13 bank holidays and I take 20 days holiday – leaving 227 working days that I’ve got to travel each way on the ‘Tube and have lunch.
* I travel 4,500 miles per year (currently not possible due to a broken car – but it’s roughly what we managed last year) and petrol costs at the pump 114.9p per litre and I get 49mpg – giving me 417.87 litres of fuel used per year.

TV: Have I Got News For You Filming

March 31st, 2010 by Richard Bairwell 1 comment »

Just a quick note as quite tired.

Today, we went to watch the filming of the first episode of the new series of Have I Got News For You (filmed at the ITV London Studios). The free tickets from Hattrick (HIGNFY’s production company) said that the doors open at 6.45pm : we were there for 4.30pm and were around 30/40th in the queue. By the time 6.30pm came round (and we had been standing in the cold wind and rain outside), the queue stretched out the “Audience Queue” area, past the side of the building, round the corner on the pavement and further still(!). Spoilers may be ahead…
» Read more: TV: Have I Got News For You Filming

Car Costs: Buy and replace or just hire?

March 21st, 2010 by Richard Bairwell No comments »

It appears our 9 year old Fiat Punto is on its way out – after buying it a new battery (£40) and putting it in, we checked it worked. White smoke started coming out the exhaust. We then checked the oil dipstick and it looked like chocolate milk – a sign the head gasket has allowed anti-freeze to enter the engine. Research on the internet showed a new head gasket would cost between £300 and £450, but since anti-freeze has already entered the engine, it might need to be stripped down which would cost a lot more.

So, we decided to see if it was economical to replace it with another car (2nd hand or brand new) or whether to use hire cars/car clubs: we make around 14 trips a year (6 trips to Yorkshire @ 200miles each way, 6 trips to Leicester @ 100 miles each way, 4 trips to see friends @ 40miles each year = 3920 miles total: say 4,000miles for “spare”) and we live close to London so it might be worth it…. Here’s our figures:

Yearly running costs for the car
Road Tax £130.00
Insurance £304.00
M.O.T. £50.00
Breakdown cover £30.00
Total fixed yearly costs
(exc Petrol and repairs)
Petrol on 4,000 miles a year based on 5.7litres/100km at 116.8p/litre [4000 miles= 6437km/100= 64.37*5.7litres= 367 litres per year * 116.8] £428.66
Repair costs (guestimated average) £250.00
Total costs £1,092.66

Ouch! But how much would it cost for a hire car for the same sort of period?

Well, the journeys to Yorkshire and Leicestershire are typically weekend ones, so we’ll need to hire a car on Saturday morning and returning it Monday morning (as car hire places usually close at 5pm on Sundays – if they are open at all – and that’ll be too early). Avis has cars at £75.47 per weekend. The friends trips are same day, during the week, and that’s £110.00 from Avis – although I found another local company offering car hire for a single day at £40.00 and Streetcar offers £49.50 – so we’ll say £50 for a day).

So that’s

6 * 2 (14) weekend trips @ £110 each £1,540
4 one day trips @ £50 each £200
Total hire costs £1,740
Petrol on 4,000 miles a year based on 5.7litres/100km at 116.8p/litre [4000 miles= 6437km/100= 64.37*5.7litres= 367 litres per year * 116.8] £428.66
Total costs £2168.66

Even without adding petrol on top (most hire car places want you to pay for the petrol as well) – it’s already more expensive then owning a car (even taking into account repair costs!).

If we were to buy a second hand car for £1,500 (we’re actually looking at a third of this) and taking into account this “capital expenditure” the prices per year would be:

Running costs Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Buying 2nd hand* 2592 3685 4777 5870 6963 8028 9121 10214 11306
Buying new car* 8902 9685 10617 11600 12583 13565 14548 15531 16513
Hiring a car 2168 4337 6505 8674 10843 13011 15180 17349 19517

* = Second Hand card purchase price estimated at £1,500
* = New Cars do not need an MOT for the first 3 years of their lives. We’re looking at a Toyota Aygo which costs £8,220 “on the road” price, is taxed at “B” rate (which is £20), does not need any tax paying for the first year (this is included in the “on the road price”) and includes 1 year breakdown cover. Repair costs are estimated at £50 for the first year, £100 for the next year and then £250 for each consecutive year.

So as long as the car lasts us more than 1.5 years, it is more economical for us to have a car that sits idle for over 91% of its life than it is just to hire cars “as and when needed”. Even buying a new car is cheaper than hiring over 7 years.

Quite shocking and saddening really….

Funny: Funny Linux Commands

March 10th, 2010 by Richard Bairwell 2 comments »

Shamelessly stolen from Frank Mash (or, as UK news organisations will probably argue, “this orphaned content found was at …”):

% cat “food in cans”
cat: can’t open food in cans

% nice man woman
No manual entry for woman.

% “How would you rate Quayle’s incompetence?
Unmatched “.

% Unmatched “.
Unmatched “.

% [Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
Missing ].

% ^How did the sex change operation go?^
Modifier failed.

% If I had a ( for every $ the Congress spent, what would I have?
Too many (‘s.

% make love
Make: Don’t know how to make love. Stop.

% sleep with me
bad character

% got a light?
No match.

% man: why did you get a divorce?
man:: Too many arguments.

% !:say, what is saccharine?
Bad substitute.

% %blow
%blow: No such job.

% \(-
(-: Command not found.

$ PATH=pretending! /usr/ucb/which sense
no sense in pretending!

$ drink matter
matter: cannot create

$ ddate
Today is Prickle-Prickle, the 69th day of Chaos in the YOLD 3176

and of course:

unzip ; strip ; touch ; grep ; finger ; mount ; fsck ; more ; yes ; umount ; sleep

Some of these work, some of these don’t – it all depends on your OS version. ddate does work on Centos.