If the NHS is sick, do I need medical insurance?

Ask Britons what they are proud of and what beats the Queen, the beautiful countryside/heritage? The good old NHS. But this national treasure is crumbling, the victim of years of badly applied sticking plasters rather than proper investment. The BBC (another institution loved by Britons but less so ...
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Premium bonds: worth a punt?

National Savings & Investments, the government’s own savings bank, is safe, steady and unexciting. Correct? Well, possibly – that is, unless you’ve got Premium Bonds. Think: you could win £1 million! And you don’t need to risk your stake – you can get your money back at any time. What could poss...
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Saving on energy bills: it's an obsession

Obviously I have too much time on my hands but I’ve become somewhat obsessed with a little gizmo. When my smart meter was fitted last year the nice man who did it gave me this gadget which shows how much gas and electricity we're using. It sets a daily target which is 10% below the level it was last...
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Good grief: not a change for the better

I was widowed nearly eight years ago when our son was just three. Yes, tragic, I know. I’m over it now – time, therapy and just plain getting on with it, really. When my husband died I got a Bereavement Payment from the government – £2,000. Sensibly it went towards the funeral. But what was more use...
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Free cash machine but for how long?

A bunch of banking bigwigs are having a pow-wow in London today – and what they decide could have a noticeable effect on my day-to-day finances. Here’s why. The special committee is discussing what are called interchange fees on cash machine withdrawals. These charges are levied on your bank every t...
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HSBC bank branch closures: why it matters

I think we’re getting another card shop: or maybe a hairdressers, charity shop or estate agents. Since we moved down here six years ago, the number of banks in the high street has halved. What was Barclays is now an estate agent and the old HSBC branch is empty: no doubt it will soon be selling scen...
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How to save money on birthday cards

The first three months of the year is peak kids’ birthdays down here. And, with birthdays, comes parties and with parties, massive expense for the parents of the party boy/girl. The cost for attendees’ parents is obviously less, but it can still mount up. For the first party of the year, I sneakily ...
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Brexit: the boy's got the blues

After ‘accidentally’ breaking the boy’s copy of Now 95, I can now listen to the Today programme on the school run. Having an angry Welshman harangue a politician keeps me on my toes on the country roads. And there’s an extra advantage: the 10 year old has by osmosis picked up a reasonable grasp of c...
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Snow joke: it's in my DNA

Two inches of snow: brilliant. Yes, our road is icy but I have a four wheel drive car. And the school is open. Shame I have to have heating on, but the cats sharpen their claws every time I approach the thermostat to turn it down. I do love cold weather. And now I know why: it’s in my genes Like mos...
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My dream: life without a landline

I have no idea why I’m being targeted by, I imagine, fraudsters over the last few weeks. But it’s getting beyond a joke: I had three calls by lunchtime yesterday. Here’s what happens. My landline phone rings – this is unusual as most people call me on the mobile. I pick it up (well, it could be some...
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Merry Christmas to all!

We're taking a break over the festive period - back on Monday 9 January. Seasons greetings!
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All I want for Christmas... is to sort out my gas and electricity bill

Wouldn’t it be lovely if 2017 was the year it all tilted in our favour? I am all for personal responsibility when it comes to matters financial but really, sometimes it all seems skewed in the wrong way. Take, for example, my gas and electricity bill. I did get a massive refund from the last bill – ...
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Why credit card debt could spoil your Christmas

Counter-intuitively, the less money I have, the more I dislike credit. My model of living – low income but low expenditure – works because I don’t have debts. And that includes credit card debt. This is partly because I am not organised or sophisticated enough to run my credit cards efficiently, so ...
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Would you warrant(y) it?

 Here’s a mystery. We have lived in this house for nearly six years. I don’t have an Indesit washing machine. I don’t have a warranty. And my name most definitely isn’t Mr Occupier. But this week I received the letter from Domestic & General. I was going to ignore it (I think I got one...
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Trains, cars, coaches... or maybe sledges?

We are going away for Christmas. Not, sadly, the Bahamas but Cambridgeshire. In the spirit of saving money and the planet and possibly a few grey hairs, I idly wondered whether it would be possible to do the journey by train without having to sell an organ or two to pay for it. The National Rail web...
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If I don't think about my pension, will it go away?

I am in total denial over my pension provision. And I bet you are too. Apparently a quarter of workers who could be saving into a pension offering by their employer choose not to. This is because they’ve opted out of auto-enrolment into their pension scheme. Most of those who’ve chosen not to save i...
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In the Black on Friday

 So, in the spirit of Black Friday, I decided today would be the day to save money. First, I emailed off my claim for a delayed train journey – the train driver was so insistent in his announcements that passengers should claim for the 40-odd minute delay due to some signalling cock-up that it ...
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Sky's the limit?

Should I stay or should I go? I’m trying to decide. For many years, I’ve had broadband, TV and home phone all with Sky. But frankly I am getting a bit fed up with the constant adverts offering bargain subscriptions when my last monthly bill was nearly £90. We have no extra Sky channels and I don’t l...
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It's for the kids, innit?

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of Christmas. But I do try. I like decorating the tree and even quite enjoy buying presents although I feel a bit queasy about the expense involved. I mean, it’s not as if children these days are short of things – the days of just getting bought things for your birthda...
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Where's my fairy godmother?

Next week I have a posh evening do to go to. I hate going out at night – particularly at this time of year (too cold) and in London (last train home to the sticks known accurately as the vomit comet). But duty calls. And I know I’ll enjoy it when I get there. Problem is Cinderella here does not have...
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