As our TaxAction 2016 campaign gathers pace, we drop in on a typical affluent household somewhere in Englandâ¦ and catch them in the middle of some very odd behaviour.
Sally calls from the kitchen.
âBRYCE! The bin bag needs changing!â
Bryce, in the study upstairs, is losing a fight with a self-assembly filing cabinet. âMaybe you could do it?â
âOh, justâ¦ crunch it down or something.â
âI crunched it down yesterday,â Sally tells him. âNow thereâs egg shells spilling onto my shoes and Iâve nowhere to put the potato peelings.â
âOkayâ¦ Give me five minutes.â
Sally huffs. âHow can a small family generate so much rubbish? I mean where does it come from?â
âWell this, for instanceâ¦â Sally pulls out a wad of cash, damp with coffee grounds. âHereâs around a hundred and twenty quid from our savings and current accounts. Why on earth did we throw that away?â
Bryce drops his screwdriver. âSeriously?â
âVerissimo. Can you remember chucking that in the bin? Iâm sure I didnât.â
Bryce comes down. âDonât think that was me.â
âHmm. Still, there it is, taking up bin space. And what about this?â Sally fishes out another big bundle of ten pound notes. âThis must be from when our stock market investments went up last year. I thought you said you wanted to keep that money?â
âI did, I did!â Bryce insists. âBut I was busy, I couldnât find a good place to put it, and the bin was there, soâ¦â
âTch.â Sally rolls her eyes. âSo wasteful. And look at all this stuff, bursting the bin liner! There must be thousands and thousands of pounds here.â
Bryce looks even more sheepish. âOh yeahâ¦ I think thatâs some money I was going to save for our retirement.â
âOh, how thoughtful, darling! Whatâs it doing in my bin?â
âWellâ¦â Bryce blows out his cheeks. âI thought Iâd keep it a while. In case we needed the cash now. But then I put it down, and got distracted, and the bin was thereâ¦â
âYes, I think Iâm beginning to understand,â says Sally. âSo youâre telling me you threw away piles of money meant for our savings, our investments and our pensions just because you couldnât be bothered to find anywhere better to keep it?â
âNo! No. Sort of. Yes.â Bryce rallies. âBut it wasnât just me. You did it too! Half that money is yours.â
Sally ties up the rubbish sack with the screwed-up money inside.
âWell, itâs done now,â she sighs. âAnd I do need to use this bin. Will you at least take the bag out for me?â
Bryce does so.
âYou know, I was thinking,â he remarks, as he comes back in. âOur house must be worth quite a bit now. And weâve still got lots of savings, even though we threw out so much.â
âWell,â says Bryce. âWhen we die, should we leave it all to our kids?â
Sally stirs the sautÃ© pan. âIâm sure theyâd love that. But I donât knowâ¦ Weâre very busy. It might be easier to chuck about fifty grand of it away. What do you think?â
âYeah, that would be simpler,â says Bryce. âThereâs just one problem with that.â
âWeâre gonna need a bigger bin.â
âNot a problem,â Sally smiles. âThereâs a sale on in town.â
Of course you wouldnât do the same as Sally and Bryce â or would you? The truth is, youâre probably making similar mistakes right now. Collectively UK taxpayers will waste Â£4.6 billion this year by not making better use of the tax allowances available to everyone â such as saving into ISAs, contributing into a pension and planning for inheritance tax. ItÂ amounts to just throwing money away.
To find out how easy it is to keepÂ more for yourself, check out our new Tax Waste Trimmer. It gives you a breakdown of all the areas where you may be losing money needlessly. For even more insights on this, check out our TaxAction homepage.
If youâre keen to improve your overall tax efficiency, why not raise it as a question on MoneyFlex? MoneyFlex is our new Q&A community where you can ask questions of financial advisers free of charge, and browse other peopleâs questions too. Click over there now and check it out!