The five savings lessons you MUST learn now

It’s been a long time but at last there has been some good news for savers. Even though base rate has not changed thanks to increased competition there are now some good deals out there. And now is a good time to get your savings strategy in place in time for 2019: here are five ways to ensure you’r...
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Be safe sending cash for Christmas

Unless you’ve got a turbo-charged sleigh, enabling you to make last-minute deliveries anywhere in the world, then the easiest Christmas present for friends and relatives overseas is cash. Indeed, it’s probably a good option for anyone you’re not going to see over the Christmas period even if they ar...
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How to save money on breakdown cover

Along with the rest of the country at least part of our Christmas holiday will be spent chugging up and down motorways visiting friends and relations. My car is a boring reliable Japanese tank but this time last year it refused to start - embarrassingly enough in the school car park. After that, I b...
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What to do with unwanted – or faulty – Christmas presents

Christmas is all about giving. But what happens if the gift you so lovingly bought doesn’t work – or the recipient really doesn’t like it? These are two separate problems governed by different rules. And consumer rights law is jolly complicated. It depends how you bought something – and how long it ...
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How to save money on a City break

Junior and I are off to Edinburgh for a few days before Christmas. We’re going to see the pandas at the zoo. I bet they will be hiding the day we go. We’re also going to do a bit of sightseeing. And we’ll tick off another Wagamama off our list: it will be the furthest north by a margin. The last tim...
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What’s your savings grace?

I was in the building society the other day, paying in a tiny amount of money in a futile attempt to replace some of the £1,800 I withdrew to pay for the new boiler. Next to me were a couple, probably in their sixties or seventies. They were signing up their savings into a three year fixed rate bond...
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Black Friday: a bit of a grey area?

Only six weeks left until Christmas. As yet, I have bought junior two tiny stocking fillers and not a single present for anyone else. He is my major concern – and expense. While he would like endless iTunes or Xbox vouchers, I feel the need to get him something he can actually unwrap. Currently, I’m...
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Would you warrant it?

October was a bad month for appliances in our house. The dishwasher conked out – it was just 14 months old. Then the boiler died – just when the weather changed. When the boy’s Xbox started playing up I suspected poltergeists, but fortunately it fixed itself. The dishwasher was still under the two y...
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Would YOU share your finances with your partner?

Possibly the most controversial wedding vow (after obey, which surely no bride says any longer) is the bit where you promise to stick together ‘for richer or poorer’. There’s little more likely to widen the faults in a marriage than flaky finance, after all. Being married, or being in a committed re...
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Should YOU buy Premium Bonds for children?

You’d be forgiven for thinking nothing of any interest happened in the Budget this week and to an extent you’d be right. But hidden away in the details there was something: from March next year, anyone will be able to buy Premium Bonds for children. Currently, only parents and grandparents can buy t...
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Freezing point: why I’m getting a new boiler

Talk about bad timing. Sunday was freezing cold here – it’s still pretty nippy now. So, of course, our boiler has given up the ghost. We have our gas fire on the whole time and there’s also an electric heater – but that’s really expensive to run. And the immersion heater is inefficient – we went for...
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How to make money buying Christmas presents

There is less than two months to go until Christmas. For those of you with huge families and lots of friends (unlike me, I’m glad – and sad – to say) that means buying lots of expensive presents. That is, unless you’re sensible enough to arrange non-buying treaties with family members – the usual on...
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How to find YOUR missing millions

The only thing of real value I’ve ever lost is my wedding ring. I vaguely remember taking it off – I think I was going to do something messy or involving noxious liquids – but I can’t find it. I’m sure one day it will turn up underneath the fridge or somewhere. And if it doesn’t, then it’s sad – but...
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Your best banking option? The bank of grandma and granddad

Sadly, my son has no grandparents left. But the memory of his grandmother – the only one of his grandparents he even met – who died two and a half years ago remains fresh. And not just emotionally: the inheritance has come in useful getting us through some financially challenging times as well as pr...
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Is it goodbye to cash machines?

Our last bank closed in the spring. This week, the last remaining external cash machine was shut down. I live in a smallish town that’s a big tourist spot. Now on a Sunday there is nowhere for anyone to get cash in the high street. There are internal cash machines in the Nationwide branch and in a s...
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Have I got my head in the clouds over clutter?

I hate clutter. I’m a regular at the local tip and periodically donate piles of paperbacks/toys and clothes to charity. The downside is, of course, that I later wish I still had something I’ve given away and end up buying it again: this happens fairly regularly with books. I also chuck paperwork. An...
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Are YOU sitting on a mortgage time bomb?

If you’ve got a mortgage and you always make your monthly repayments, then you probably think that when your home loan matures, you own your house and have nothing else to pay. And yes, for most of us – those who have repayment mortgages - that’s the way it works. But if you’re one of the estimated ...
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Old boiler? I hope it’s on the mend…

My boiler is being temperamental at the moment. It comes on, but then after a couple of hours switches itself off. I’ve tried putting the thermostat up to tropical levels to get it to work but no joy. While it is getting colder, at least we’re not knocking ice off the inside of windows at the moment...
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Is Marcus savings account a damp squi(d)b?

Savers have had it hard for the past ten years. With inflation higher than the rates on most savings accounts you are losing money. So why bother? The answer is that most of us only feel comfortable with cash sitting in a savings account. I have (dwindling) cash savings and thank goodness for that, ...
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Get your Christmas (credit) cards now…

Let’s be clear on one thing. Borrowing money to pay for Christmas presents isn’t a good idea if you pay interest on that debt. But actually, credit cards can make Christmas cheaper as long as you have the right card. Given that it’s less than three months to Christmas, if you want a new credit card ...
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