Insights from the UK and beyond
Financial website Unbiased.co.uk announced this week that as a nation we spent the first 83 days of the year working just to pay the interest on our debts. Personal loan levels increased to 11.4 billion pounds in 2008, up by over 1.6 billion pounds on the previous year and mortgage debt from equity release loans also increased by 6.5 billion pounds. Credit card debt, on the other hand, decreased by just over 4.9 billion pounds.
If you are struggling to pay off your debts, here are some useful online resources to help you out.
You can start by reading our top tips to help you beat debt problems. Budgeting properly is essential and you can use Unbiased.co.uk’s budget calculator to rein in your spending and borrowing and work out how much you will be left with each month to service your debt.
If you feel like you need expert financial advice then Unbiased’s website is the best place to find an independent financial adviser you can trust. You can also talk to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, a charity which offers free and confidential advice and support to anyone dealing with debt problems.
With ISA season coming to an end in less than a month, investors need to act sooner rather than later to make the most of the tax-free benefits on offer. You can notΒ carry your annual allowance of 7,200 pounds into the next tax year, so it is a simple case of βuse it or lose itβ.
But with interest rates plummeting to an all time low, returns on cash individual savings accounts are miserly. So are stocks and shares ISAs a better home for your money? Financial experts certainly seem to think so β and so it would appear do investors.
Losing your job can come as a massive shock, even if it is something you have been worrying about for months. The latest figures show that for the first time in over a decade the number of people out of work has risen above two million.
If you are one of them, you probably want to find a new job as quickly as possible. Here are a number of useful resources to help you.
Few people are more on the pensions money than Scottish Life’s Steve Bee. And he has some strong views in his latest “BeeHive” post following publication of our exclusive story on the soaring costs of setting up “personal accounts” — the government’s brainchild aimed at solving a looming pensions crisis.
Reality seems to be kicking in early on in the dream, says Bee, who finds the whole thing “really depressing”. A chink of light amid the gloom came in this week’s Budget, he says: the extension of the ability of pension fund managers to allow trivial commutation of small pension pots should make things easier and cheaper for occupational pension schemes. But, sadly, such rights are not to be extended to personal pension schemes, a move that only serves to “drive a horse and coaches through the whole idea of our having one simple set of pension rules for all types of pension scheme”.