Are you prepared for those surprises?

Planning your earnings well ahead is key

I’ll start with a story. The three hour long phone conversation between myself and the bank adviser who had taken my phone call to discuss credit card enquiries. She was so patient, she educated me thoroughly on how credit cards worked, the best strategies for their use, avoidance of debt etc. You see, I had never owned a credit card. Things like a credit limit, my monthly repayments, were all foreign to me. In fact, but for shared nuggets of wisdom, I thought credit cards were the devil and to be avoided at all costs. I had no idea what a credit rating was or how you acquired that.
I tell another story, taxation and I. In my first month working in the UK, my salary was very handsome. Having relocated from Nigeria, it would have been challenging to earn that much back home from clinical practice alone. I was quite pleased. The second month was similar, I smiled all the way to the bank. Then came the third month. My salary had reduced. I was somewhat confused, if anything, I was working harder and more hours as well. I was now fully on the on call rota. I took it in my stride, not wanting to rock the boat. It was only a few hundred pounds after all. With the next salary an additional few hundred pounds had disappeared. I thought to myself, it’s time to act otherwise I won’t earn any money in a couple of months. I approached the finance department and learnt about taxation. Now please remember that I am primarily a doctor so if I get the terminology wrong, bear with me. This is what happens as I understand it. You have no taxation or earning history when you first arrive in the UK, so you’re not taxed in the first few months as you haven’t hit the minimum wage to warrant taxation. As you work longer you start to hit those targets and the taxation reflects that until you reach a cap for that financial year and then your salary stabilises. I know this now and now advice others to plan their financial decisions wisely bearing this in mind.

There are other things as well, such as being aware of your ability to drive in the UK with an international license before you get your UK licence. With this knowledge, I must also mention how to choose a driving instructor. Resist the urge to find someone online if you can and find someone who is tried, tested and true. Another thing that can help smoothen the transition is spending less on accommodation. If it’s right for your situation, then shared accommodation can be very financially prudent. If you’re able to share in hospital accommodation, it gets better as it probably means you get to save on transportation. That being said, hospital accommodation can work out more expensive than other accommodation depending on the area so do your research.

You might wonder at the seeming emphasis on savings. There are big spends coming along if you’re going to settle down here. Things like courses, exams, mortgages, cars, childcare, relocation costs and deposits for accommodation when you change jobs (this is a nearly definite eventuality). Being aware that these things will eat at your disposable income can help you plan your earnings very early on.

I will deliver podcasts in the near future where a financial adviser answers questions. If you have specific questions, please email me or leave a comment. Otherwise, watch this space.

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