Top money stories - 6th - 12th August 2007

Top Tip:

A month into the summer holidays, lots of people may be scratching their heads to think of ways to occupy the kids. There are lots of idea that costs lots of money but if you want to save the pennies then try to think of things that are fun, creative and cheap!

With the weather decidedly grey, why not try some baking? For the price of some very simple ingredients you can have a fun afternoon learning, working as a team and you’ll have a tasty treat to show for it!

The financial week that was . . .

You can tell we’re in the heart of summer as it’s been a quiet week financially. However the summer season does see a healthy number of surveys being released to give us an insight into the world of personal finance. Last Tuesday we learnt that 13% of gamblers borrow to fund their habit. By going into their overdraft, using loans, or credit cards, the one million people in the UK who gamble at least £50 a month are taking a big risk with their finances. Online gambling is a particular problem, with twice as many running up debts online as through bookmakers. If you have struggle with gambling then Gamcare is a charity that can help. (

Another survey, on Wednesday, showed that 92% of people don’t want to see banks introduce monthly charges for accounts. Currently most standard current accounts are ‘free’ but many people actually pay for their bank account in penalty charges. Some people argue that it would be fairer for everyone if there were monthly fees charged for bank accounts so that everybody knew up front what they were paying and those who were struggling didn’t end up effectively subsidising those doing ok. It seems likely that in the future we may see more bank accounts with fees for transactions as banks look to copy the model more generally used in the rest of Europe and the US.

To get the most out of your bank account it is important to make sure you avoid penalty fees. Keeping a budget will help you do this. Use the Moneybasics budget calculator to help you.

Wednesday also saw a building society announce it was closing 30 of its branches. This was coupled with figures showing that 11% of bank branches have closed in the last 5 years. As more people bank over the phone or on the internet there is less need for banks to have branches. You may want to consider how you do your banking. Banking online can make it easier to see exactly where you’re up to with your money at the click of a button. It also makes managing direct debits and payments much easier. For loads of information on banking and how it works see Moneybasics banking section.

Finally over the weekend the latest house price information was released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It will be no surprise to anyone to hear that house prices are up! However it is slightly surprising that even after five interest rate rises, prices in June showed an increase in the rate of growth from the previous month. June prices were up 12.1% year-on-year as opposed to 10.8% in May. Anyone thinking about taking on a mortgage should make sure they explore all the options and plan very carefully for their financial future. A good place to start would be

Prepared for Moneybasics by Chris Tapp