Weekly round-up of news about mortgages, savings, credit cards, bank accounts and pensions, plus helpful tips and advice. With Declan Curry.
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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.
Weekly round-up of news about mortgages, savings, credit cards, bank accounts and pensions. Helpful tips and advice on how to get the best deals, consumer rights and making your money work harder for you. With Declan Curry.