08/03/2014 Your Money


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Now on BBC News, it's time for this week's Your Money with Declan Curry.


Hello and welcome to Your Money, your weekly guide to making the most


of your cash, here every weekend on BBC News television and available


all week on the BBC iPlayer. Five years of low interest rates.


Savings expert Anna Bowes is here with tips on how to get more for our


savings. All aboard! Nigel Cassidy looks at


the new essential guide to travelling across Europe by train.


And teaching school children about the dangers of loan sharks. The man


from Trading Standards will tell us what adults should know, too.


So how do we make our money work harder for us? Millions of people


rely on the interest their savings earn at the bank to make ends meet


and they've been getting next to nothing from their bank accounts for


the last five years. Record low interest rates have cost savers ?117


billion in lost interest over the last five years, according to the


campaign group Save Our Savers. How does that affect you? If you had ten


grand in life savings in the bank, you used to get ?240 a year in


interest. Now you get ?100. Here's one reason the banks don't have to


try too hard to get our money. After the big debt binge, we're saving


again. The typical household saves just over 5% of their income every


month. Savings expert Anna Bowes is here from the website


savingschampion.co.uk. Welcome. Making your money work


harder, that means what? You need to look for the best rates that are


available, whatever those might be. Check they all appropriate for you


is if you are locking them for the long-term, you will need access and


that will cost you. You need to keep an eye on those rates because they


do change. It is not a one-off thing, it is not about finding the


best rate and relaxing, it is about watching like a hawk. If it is a


fixed rate and a fixed term, it will remain the same. If it is variable,


it will go up and down. Since 2012, or 2013, there have been several


rate cuts. Even though there has been no official change to the


interest rate, the interest rate has been cut for savers? Yes, and they


may not be forthcoming in telling you. You need to be vigilant. We


have a rate tracker service. You put in the name of the account and we


will tell you what the rate is that you are earning and we will e-mail


you when that changes and tells you what you could be earning elsewhere.


There are accounts that have a special bonus when you sign up,


which are tempting, but then that runs out. There are fewer of those


at the moment and is a conditional bonus so if you have an easy access


account, but if you make three or four withdrawals, the rate plummets.


One way to earn more interest is to look at high interest current


accounts. Santander is paying 3% but you have to do is put a certain


amount in and have two direct debits. That is interesting about


current accounts, but now they are back in vogue. They have made it


easy to switch current accounts as well. Is there a penalty if you move


money from one account to another, if your account has its rate cut,


and you move to another, could you be penalised? If it is a fixed rate,


you will not be able to move at all, they'll be heavy penalties was the


if you do not have enough interest to cover that cost, they will take


it from the capital. Check the terms and conditions. Earning more


interest is one thing that another way to make your money work harder


is to pay less tax because the less tax you pay, the more you keep for


yourself. It is ice -- ISA season at the moment. Perhaps put more money


in those. Thank you. The regular poll on interest rates and what we


think will happen to them, suggests that people think that interest


rates will rise this year by not by much all very quickly. Not that what


we think matters. The only people that matter when it comes to


interest rates are the nine people of the Bank of England who set


borrowing costs. If you own a flat, but you pay a


service charge for the upkeep of the building, this might interest you.


The competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the


service charges that some homeowners have to pay and the service they get


for that money. The OFT reckons around five million people in


England and Wales own the leasehold of their flat or house, but not the


freehold, and have to pay that freeholder a regular fee. Rogue


freeholders, or their agents, have been accused of overcharging, doing


bad repair work, or not doing the work at all.


If you prefer to pay that service charge or any other bill by cheque,


the Government wants your ideas on how to make that quicker and easier


to do. Here's one suggestion - banks should process photos of cheque


rather than the actual slips of paper themselves. You've got a month


to tell the Government what you think by sending a letter to or


emailing the Treasury. Details on the Government website gov.uk.


Travelling across Europe by train. For some, it's a happy if somewhat


distant memory. For others, it's a dream yet to be realised. Small


spanner in the works - Thomas Cook stopped publishing the European Rail


Timetable last summer. Well, now it's been brought back by one of the


people who used to gather all the facts and figures. Here's Nigel


Cassidy on the book that takes the strain out of using the train.


Thomas Cook may have ditched the role ways for the plane but for


generations of interrailers, the train was the only way to travel.


With all of the time stacked into your backpack, the world was your


oyster. These guides have been out for 140 years, breaking only for


World War II. You can find routes that work on only certain days and


avoid missing that last connection. The hardest part is deciding where


to go. Take Estonia, in the old Soviet Union, where the train is the


preferred means of transport. There is a lot to see from these new


trains. Keeping up-to-date with routes and times from every corner


of Europe is a task best suited to true rail enthusiasts who gain


satisfaction from enabling people to find and plan journeys like this


from their armchairs. John Potter was so upset that the potential loss


of the timetable, he spent redundancy cash and remortgaged his


house to continue his life's work. This book has 50,000 trained


journeys in. Each two pages takes several days to compile. It takes


three months to finish off. In each figure here, it is compiled by


hand. Every single page compiled by hand. One man who is pleased to see


the Time tells bag is Marc Smith, a one-time senior rail manager who


runs a website for people who want to use trains to get where they are


going. The Internet is great but doing repeated specific enquiries


online is sometimes like looking at a light scale map down the wrong end


of a telescope. It is easier and nicer to have it laid out for you in


printed form in a book like this. The Paris to Moscow express runs


three times a week in winter, five times a week in summer. If you


looked online at the wrong day, the might not find it at all but it is


easy to find in here. Finding connections on the move can be


tricky and data roaming is expensive. For those yearning for


the romance of train travel, the book might be the answer.


Schoolchildren in England are to get lessons, warning them about the cost


and dangers of loan sharks. They'll get their info from a branch of


Trading Standards called the Illegal Money Lending Team. Tony Quigley


runs that across the whole of England. He's in Birmingham.


Welcome to Your Money. This is about money management and debt. What are


you telling children about the loan sharks? It starts off really at the


very basic level about what money is about and needs and wants. As the


plans are rolled out to older children, then we start seeing more


sinister tales about real-life events where victims of loan sharks


tell their story. You go into the detail about the costs of loan


sharks and some of the unsavoury approaches that they may use to get


their money back. Definitely. It tells real-life stories and some of


the stories that are in there are quite horrific. Mike borrowed ?250


from a loan shark when he was 17 and he worked out that he was still


paying him at 36 years of age and he paid him in the region of ?90,000.


What you are dealing with there is just extortion. The problem is that


people who use loan sharks tend to do it because they have nowhere else


to go, they do not feel they have an alternative. From our perspective,


the lesson plans will talk about the differences between a day loans and


credit unions, for example. And also savings but we start off with the


emotional side of money as well as where money comes from and what we


use money for. But we are hoping that even if we just stop one person


from using a loan shark in a later generation, then this will have been


worthwhile. For the benefit of adults who are watching now, if you


are in trouble with a loan shark, what should you do? First, you


should contact us. We have a national hotline where you can


report it through the Internet. You can speak to one of the


investigators because we know that loan sharks really a private


pressure to people and one judge summed it up when he said, " being


in the clutches of an loan shark is like murder of the soul. " The irony


of this is that we take the money from the ill gotten gains from loan


sharks through the proceeds of crime and we use that money to put that


back into this education programme so that it is loan sharks who are


paying to try and stop the next generation from using loan sharks.


Thank you very much. That's all from Your Money for this


week. News about savings, mortgages, pensions, loans, spending and saving


are on the Your Money pages on the BBC's website - bbc.co.uk/money


Thanks for watching this week. You can also follow on Twitter. More


next week. Hope we'll have your company then.


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