Top money stories - January 28th - 1st February 2008

Top Tip:

While gambling is not an activity that the Moneybasics team tends to recommend at the best of times, the news this week from that those who use their credit cards gambling online are charged high rates of interest makes online gambling an even worse proposition.

Most credit card providers now take the use of a credit card for online gambling transactions to be a ‘cash advance’ – which is usually charged an extremely high interest rate.

Additionally, interest on gambling transactions usually is incurred straight away, instead of the usual 56 days’ interest free period which is available on other purchases.

If you decide to gamble online, never use your credit card.

The financial week that was...

Monday 28th January

Almost half a million mortgage owners have missed a payment in the last six months – A study by has found that 463,000 people have missed at least one mortgage payment over the last six months – about 4% of all people with outstanding mortgages.

House prices fall in January – Hometrack research has shown that house prices in January fell by 0.3%; house prices fell for the fourth consecutive month. Nevertheless, it has to be noted that this fails to take into account the usual slowing in the property market around this time of year. Furthermore, the number of properties put up for sale has also been distorted by the introduction of mandatory Home Information Packs (HIPs). These two factors have combined to paint a potentially unfair picture of the housing market, possibly making it seem worse than it actually is.

If you are thinking about the options available regarding housing, find out more in the Setting Up a Home page.

Tuesday 29th January

FSA warns of financial trouble ahead – The Financial Services Authority (FSA), the UK financial services watchdog, has warned that a “significant minority” may face financial hardship in 2008 because of borrowing beyond their means.

However, the FSA stressed that their report, the Financial Risk Outlook, was not about predicting doom and gloom for the economy, but about helping consumers become aware of the risks we all are facing. There is no reason for the report to send alarm bells ringing. But it should certainly serve to highlight the importance of being prudent in the present circumstances. Make sure you understand about Borrowing Money, it could help you avoid being one of the “significant minority” that the FSA has warned about.

Housing spending increases, food spending decreases – As a proportion of household income, the British public now spends twice as much on housing and half as much on food as we did 50 years ago.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show just how much our spending has changed in 50 years. For more information about the survey, click here.

Have a look at our Tips to Reduce Spending to find out how you can change your spending patterns for the better.

Thursday 31st January

Consumer confidence rises – Research by Gfk NOP into consumer confidence found that there was a rise in January, up from December’s 12 year low. High consumer confidence is a regular feature of a healthy economy. The fact that it has increased, albeit it is still at a low level, is a positive sign.

Prepared for Moneybasics by Jason Taylor, Advocacy Officer (Credit Action).