PPI: are you missing out on compensation?

I find it a bit surprising that the whole PPI thing is still going on. This is a scandal that seems to have been around for ever. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t heard of it, PPI is payment protection insurance. If you took out a loan, mortgage or credit card in the past then there’s a chanc...
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Kids in a sweet shop: how to keep control of spending

The boy is off to senior school in September. He will be walking to and from school past a chip shop, several sweet shops, a bakery and numerous cafes. The boy and his friends have already planned how they are going to gorge themselves on carbs on the way home: so much so that one of his friends has...
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Teaching an old dog new tricks: five ways YOU can learn a new skill

I haven’t taken an exam since I graduated many years ago. Nor have I studied for any qualifications (bar the odd shorthand or typing exam, most of which I failed) since. Wary of letting my brain atrophy, I’m thinking about taking a course starting in the autumn. As yet, I can’t decide whether I want...
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Reasons to be cheerful part 1: pensions and gin

Good news seldom comes in brown envelopes. But I got a welcome missive this week from the Department of Work & Pensions: the result of my state pension forecast I requested a few weeks ago. Apparently, I am due the full state pension of £159.55 a week (I assume this will rise over time) from my ...
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Why loyalty cards aren't worth the bother

There’s a really irritating advert for Nationwide on TV at the moment which involves a woman rabbiting on (vaguely in rhyme) about how she learnt about loyalty from her granny etc. To me loyalty is about what you owe to particular friends, family members and lovers. It doesn’t involve commercial con...
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Five reasons why you should sort your mortgage out NOW

When I first took out a mortgage back in the 1990s I opted for a fixed rate at 7.75% and it looked – and indeed was – a great deal. Today, of course, that looks ridiculously expensive but then interest rates have been really low for ten years. That, however, doesn’t mean you should assume your mortg...
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No Sky broadband: will I be compensated?

I was one of the estimated 32,000 Sky broadband customers in the south east who lost their service for 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday. Apparently this was due to a workman cutting accidentally through the cables miles from here. This was a return to the dark ages: no internet – how could I chec...
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Home insurance: worth five minutes research

My house insurance is up for renewal. A few things first: I live in one of the safest postcodes in the country, in a conventionally-built house not near water or other hazards, with good locks and with the house occupied day and night. And I’ve not claimed on home insurance for going on 20 years at ...
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When to fake it... and when not to

I am a self-confessed tightwad. But I am also by nature a rule-follower and if someone – or some company – tells me to do something (and plasters on the threats for not doing it) I do it. But for some things, it’s just not worth it. Take my printer, for example. It didn’t cost me a great deal – it w...
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State pension: what will I get?

My head is no longer in the sand – I am going to get a state pension forecast. And so should you. Here’s why and how. Most women have fractured work records, often thanks to breaks from paid employment to care for children or elderly relatives. And this can mean that they won’t get the full state pe...
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How to fill the kids' summer holiday break on the cheap

It feels like a throwback to an earlier age but there is still a summer season – racing at Ascot, Wimbledon, the Summer Exhibition, Henley Regatta and ending up with the Last Night of the Proms. It’s a festival of posh frocks, sport and copious quantities of alcohol – and demanding similarly large a...
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Festival finance: wet wipes yes, credit card no for Glastonbury 2017

I am glad I have a few years yet before the boy wants to go off to a festival: time enough, perhaps, for a bit of aversion therapy. I don’t rate my chances. It seems almost compulsory for teenagers to risk Weil’s disease/dysentery/drug or alcohol poisoning while ‘enjoying’ standing in a field miles ...
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I wish there was an NHS for pets

We have three cats. They are amazingly healthy at the moment but they are ageing, with the oldest about to celebrate her tenth birthday. And old cats equals more visits to the vets. I don’t have them insured – and indeed, were I to try to get cover for the older, late middle-aged, two, it would be r...
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Rock on: how an electric guitar will secure my future

I have made an important investment in my future. I have bought my 11 year old son an electric guitar. To be accurate, I have bought him a three quarter size electric bass guitar (yes, I know the picture is of a lead guitar but you get the idea) with an amp and it cost me £120 with postage. Bargain....
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Mortgages: how your home can save you money

Here’s one money matter that makes no sense: having savings and a mortgage. Why would you want cash festering in a savings account when you will be paying far more interest on your mortgage than you can earn on your nest egg? But, then again, it is human nature to want some cash sitting around for t...
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School uniform: a hard lesson in economics?

There’s only a few weeks left of the school term and the boy is looking very scruffy. The knees on his school trousers are close to collapse – thanks to slide-tackling in lunchtime football games. His school trainers are disintegrating. His school shoes are too small: it takes an effort to get them ...
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Rising food prices: blame the cows

  Here’s a shocking figure. A survey by The Grocer magazine, reported in the Times, says that the cost of supermarket own-brand butter has increased by up to 53% over the year as wholesale costs rise 80% due to small farmers stopping dairy production – while apparently the popularity of Great B...
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Treasured possessions: what would you save?

Apparently half of all Britons say that storing valuables at home is the safest option. The research by Metro Bank is that we mostly choose obvious places to stash the family treasures that wouldn’t outwit the dumbest burglar – such as drawers, safes and the wardrobe. Some are more inventive and lea...
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In debt? We’ll drink to that

  A friend of mine – she’s about my age – has just paid off her mortgage. It’s a great feeling when you know that your house really is all yours. I don’t have debt – frankly, I can’t afford to: after all, I would have to repay it. But apparently, my friend and I are bucking the trend. A report ...
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Economy - not gastronomy

The boy is away on a school trip this week. Of course I miss him – and with the horrific incidence in Manchester, the distance between us hurts: at times like this, you want to hold your nearest and dearest close. But the house is amazingly tidy and quiet; the books are in their cases, the stationer...
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