Jan 09 2009

Savers: What Now?

Published by under Mortgages,Savings

Mortgage payers may be rubbing their hands in glee, but for savers 2009 looks like being a savage denunciation of their thrift.  For hard-pressed pensioners, 2009 may see many on the breadline as they are forced to spend their capital rather than live off their interest. (Do you remember interest? No? That was what you used to get for putting money in the bank)

If you had seen this coming and moved your money into Euro accounts or to bank abroad, then you will be happy rather than the other way round. You have done nicely in the past few months. For sterling bank customers, the past few months have seen the value of the money shrink by 20% which is a clear statement of what international investors think of UK Plc.

Many savers will be thinking about moving either their money, or themselves to foreign climes which is cheaper and actually offers some interest income to live off.

What to do? The obvious answer is to spend as little as possible which is what many are already doing. For many, fixed costs make up a larger and larger proportion of their weekly bill and whilst 2.5% of VAT might have helped, expect other taxes to slowly climb. Mostly it will be your children who pay off this government’s largesse.

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Feb 19 2008

Rats, Sinking Ship…

Published by under Community,Work

The news that the huge wave of immigration from Poland is reversing as Poles take their savings back to Poland and start buying homes and building businesses has that unmistakable whiff of rats leaving a sinking ship. Totally unfair of course as they built our Miller Homes for the past five years and kept our hotels manned and have now decided to return to their own homeland. They always said they would!

What comes next? Bulgarians might fill the gap of course and we can keep enlarging EU. Soon we might welcome Kazakhs or Tajiks from Northern Afghanistan.  Or we might even need to do our own menial jobs as well.

The government has spotted a likely contingent of workers in the form of the phalanx of workers on disability who supposedly cannot work (which include a large proportion of Glasgow’s workers).  They will now be retrained and returned to work. If the hotel receptionist looks at you a little strangely next time… now you know why

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Feb 19 2008

Gulp! 2012 Looks like it will be fun

Published by under Cashflow,Debt,Savings,Taxation

According to the government 2012 will be a year of plenty with the golden shower of the Olympic Games to sustain us; but not everyone is quite so sanguine with fool.co.uk leading the chorus of doomsayers who believe that life could get very hard for people living in the UK.

Lets not discuss the cost of the Olympics which is bound to grow beyond its already gargantuan 10 billion sterling and lets not quibble over the supposedly huge tourism benefits which I personally doubt. Sure it put Atlanta on the map back in 84 but wasn’t Atlanta alredy putting itself on the map by reinventing itself as a new style Southern town. In the case of London it is already an enormous tourism destination and is unlikely to grown any more. Look at other Olympics cities and you realise that they simply get left with a portfolio of oversized venues that nobody really wants to use.

The Fool have a come up with a list of depressing predictions about what the UK will look like in 2012 as far as personal finance is concerned that is enough to make anybody want to emigrate (by 2012 the imploding Spanish property market will have bottomed out so there might be a place to start)

  1. The average house will be worth £13,000 less in 2012 than today
  2.  Seven out of ten credit applications will be rejected
  3. House Price to Earnings ratio will improve for the first time since 1995
  4. Pensioners will be worse off in 2012 than in 1980
  5. Households face an £8,000 shortfall in their family budget in 2012

So the good news is that P/E for housebuyers will have improved: the bad news for houseowners is that is because houses will have fallen in value over the next five years. Points 4 and 5 are certainly the most distressing in real terms since we are talking about the potential impact that inflation and the ravening jaws of government taxation will have on our purse!

Is this a worse case scenario? Quite probably not as some commentators are suggesting in hushed tones that the UK will stagnate for ten years as the reality of global shifts become more apparent to our economy. Notably the move from Europe to the East which is only just beginning to consume and where savings ratios are very high. If that trend continues then when recession does come we can expect our economy to sink further and faster than elsewhere.

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Feb 18 2008

Save Money Don’t Shop at Supermarkets

Published by under Cashflow,Deals

All the discussion supermarkets and their prices seems to miss the point about what it costs to shop at supermarkets. Let’s start with “the facts”: supermarkets do drive down the cost of individual items in your shopping basket so shopping at a supermarket does on the face of it save you money!

But look at it from a psychological perspective instead: faced with the cornucopia of a supermarket consumers simply buy far too much with the result that the cost of shopping as a whole goes up. BOGOFs, special deals… you name it; the supermarkets tempt you to buy a little bit more of everything in bigger boxes and bags. Notionally you shop for the next few weeks but you can’t shop for fresh vegetables for the next few weeks so inevitably you are back in the aisles later in the week and so the cycle goes on of buying again when you dont really need it.

Does this argument stack up? Evidence from reports suggest the we throw away as much as 1/3 of all the food we buy, worth an estimated £8 billion per year and this figures is only for consumers and not business waste of food as well. We get it wrong in two ways: we buy too much so that it goes off in the fridge and we get our portions wrong, serving too much on the plate and then having to throw it away afterwards. The end result is 6.7 million tons of edible food disappearing to landfills and as it breaks down producing the equivalent of 20% of car use. In other words, if we got our shopping and serving right it would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 5 cars off the road.

More importantly it would save you money. However you can go a lot further than this by buying food with a plan and then buying better quality. Ironically buying cheap food does not necessarily save you money. Rather than buying chicken breasts, buy a whole chicken and then share over a number of meals. By the time you are finished with the carcass, it will be wrapped in newspaper and have provided you with sandwiches, risotto, soup and maybe a pie. It will also have provided all manner of fun in the kitchen and if you pour a glass of wine for you both, you will be chattering all the while and enjoying the social space of shared activity as well.

This is not a grumpy complaint about tescopoly but rather a celebration of “slow food” with a realisation that for every penny we save in a supermarket, we more than spend in waste and want not.

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