Today is the last day that paper £10 notes are legal tender. If you ever needed an excuse to spend money, this is a good one: use up those Darwin tenners today because no-one will be accepting them from tomorrow.
But don’t worry if you do find some down the back of the sofa after the deadline has passed. You can donate them to charity or, for a good few months, you should be able to take them to your post office or local bank and have them exchanged for the new plastic Jane Austen notes.
If that doesn’t work, you can exchange them by person or post at the Bank of England itself. Obviously large amounts of notes might get lost in the mail so a trip to the counter at Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH could be preferable. It’s open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm but closed weekends and bank holidays. This is not a bank-robber’s charter: amounts over £1,000 will require some form of ID. For more information, see here.
“Bank of England banknotes retain their value for all time,” says the Bank, rather grandly but actually quite reassuringly. And while that may be true, the real worth of £10 doesn’t stay static. It’s scary to think that if you’d left the Charles Darwin tenner in a piggy bank since it was first issued in November 2000, it would now be worth just £6.17 in real terms today. Inflation – the increase in the cost of living – has wiped about a third off it in that time. No wonder your cappuccino is so much more expensive than it used to be.
If you’d squirrelled the Darwin tenner in the average savings account, you’d still only have £7.27. But if you were a clever clogs and had shoved it in the stock market, you’d have £14.90 and, more surprisingly, £15.25 from investing in government bonds, a lower risk option.
These figures are from M&G, an investment firm. Obviously they want you to invest but I think the message is sound: you are losing money in cash right now. Everybody needs an emergency cash fund but, beyond that, skinted minted mums should be considering regular (even small) investments over the long term. See our ten-point beginner's guide here.
Meanwhile, it’s worth checking the backs of drawers for £20 notes too. New plastic ones will be issued in 2020 when the artist JMW Turner will be the face of the new purple polymer. For those who prefer coins, the Royal Mint has launched a new collection of 10 pence coins. There are 26 in the series, one for every letter in the alphabet and each representing something quintessentially British such as English breakfast, a tea-pot and the Union Jack flag. Billed as a coin hunt, it's a great way to get kids involved swapping and collecting. More information here.