Top money stories - Mon
05th November- Fri 10th November 2007

Top Tip:

Half of the UK population now shops online. Shopping via the Internet in many circumstances can offer price discounts and help you to save time. Looking at a couple of price comparison websites is helpful to get an idea of how much something costs and what the best deals are. Even if you decide to have a look in the sales on high street shops, you should still check out a couple of price comparison websites beforehand. These will help you to know if that jacket or handbag that’s been reduced by £25 really is a good long-term investment with a healthy saving or not.

Shopping online is a whole different ballgame compared to high street shopping. It is important that you understand your online rights, as well as responsibilities. Legally, in most circumstances, sellers must specify a breakdown of costs, provide contract details and online the process that buyers need to go through to cancel an order. This week the Trading Standards Institute, drawing on detailed research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), found many Internet shoppers lack knowledge about their rights as online buyers. Online shoppers must also be wary of fraud – particularly e-mails from fraudsters that masquerade as e-mails from reputable organisations. Go to http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/ to find out more about your rights and about shopping online.

The Financial week that was...

Monday 05th November

Number of insolvencies fall – There was a 3% fall in personal insolvencies – the number of people declared bankrupt or taking out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) – during the third quarter of 2007, according to figures from the government’s Insolvency Service. This equated to 26,072 personal insolvencies over the last three months. While falling numbers of personal insolvency is undoubtedly positive news, many analysts have urged caution over the figures as they argue that the effects of five interest rates rises over the past year and stricter lending criteria have yet to be completely felt.

Five million risk invalidating motor insurance – Five million workers are at risk of invalidating their car insurance by using their cars for business use. While most policies typically provide cover for drivers going to and from work, they usually fail to cover other work use. It is important to know the extent of your motor insurance and to upgrade your insurance to include business use if it is essential to use your car for other work purposes.

Tuesday 06th November

Credit cards costs rise – Moneyfacts.co.uk, a financial information provider, revealed that in the past two months there have been more than 125 separate fee and rate rises.

While using a credit card can be a convenient way to shop, it is important to understand that there are many different fees to pay when you use a credit card. For example, if you chose to withdraw money using your credit card there is handling charge that is usually, as a minimum, £1.50. Additionally, if you miss a payment on your credit card you are likely to be given a penalty charge of £12. With all these costs, it is important to think carefully before using a credit card. Make sure you understand all the charges and fees of using credit cards by going to How Much does a Credit Card Cost?

Thursday 8th November

Interest Rates Kept at 5.75% - The Bank of England, as widely expected, chose to keep interest rates at 5.75%. The Bank of England gave no explanation why they made their decision. However, with oil prices rising to almost US$100 a barrel and food prices rising too – the price of a loaf of bread has just hit an all time high – it is likely that inflationary pressures stopped the Bank of England cutting interest rates. Interest rates have now been on hold since July 2007.

Unpredictability of housing market re-emphasised – HBOS’s Halifax house price survey found that there was a 0.6% fall in house prices over the month of October. This falls in contrast to the 1.1% rise reported by Halifax earlier this month. This result serves to re-emphasise the current volatility of the housing market. With the housing market still extremely unpredictable, it is worthwhile consulting an independent financial advisor become taking out a mortgage and using the Moneybasics Mortgage Calculator to see how much you are able to reasonably borrow.

Friday 9th November

8 out of 10 would switch banks if they were made to pay for their current account – A survey by Which?, a consumer group, has found that many people would exercise their power as consumers and consider switching if their bank introduced annual or monthly fees.