Friday 26th January

TOP MONEY STORIES - 22~26 JANUARY 2007

Monday 22 January 

The Morning After the Shopping Spree Before

The festive season, all those Christmas presents and the Boxing Day sales meant that retailers enjoyed their best December for 3 years. But whilst strong retail sales growth is definitely good for the UK economy, such determined spending might be less good news for the individual consumer, potentially waking up on New Year’s Day facing a large credit card bill, and, now that interest rates have risen to 5.25%, higher monthly interest payments and a longer time to pay back what they’ve borrowed.

Make sure if you have spent of your credit card in the festive frenzy that you are paying off the full amount if at all possible, not just the minimum. If you don’t you end up paying heavily and suddenly the bargains don’t look so good. For example, if you picked up a TV in the sales for £500 on an average credit card (rate 17%) and only pay the minimum it will take you nearly 10 years to pay off and cost you around £360 in interest in the process!

So next time the sales come round, hold off and hang back. December’s eagerness to buy meant that shops didn’t have to offer mega discounts to shift their stock. Waiting before you buy could mean both better bargains and a smaller credit card bill.

Tuesday 23 January

How to retire in comfort: Save

A survey of finance directors from 100 large companies found that over half were aware that their staff pension schemes weren’t actually going to be able to pay out enough to allow employees to retire in comfort. High interest rates means that now is a great time to start saving to supplement your state/employee pension and be able to enjoy your retirement. Check out the Moneybasics sections on pensions and saving for more information.

Wednesday 24 January

Global Growth looks good

Thinking big for a moment, the World Economic Forum opened in Davos, Switzerland with a general air of optimism. The experts predicted that 2007 will be another good year for the global economy, with China and India continuing to grow, and fears of a slowdown in the US subside.

Thursday 25 January

Will congestion charges go nationwide?

Congestion charging is now a familiar idea in London but now Manchester City Council plans to introduce a system of road charges for drivers around the city, in response to fears that increasing congestion would impede economic growth. If successful, it is anticipated that other cities will follow suit. So even if you’re not a Mancunian, it might may to think now about becoming less dependent on your car as a means of transport – maybe try out public transport, or cycling to work.

Top tip:

Work out how much cycling to work would save you each week – and think of all that exercise! Then work out how much that could save you per month. If the figures look good, and the ride is physically possible, now (the last week of the sales) is a great time to look for bikes at bargain prices!