Today has been an absolute gift for headline writers and news reporters - World Markets Plunge, Recession Fears Spark Biggest Share Fall Since 9/11. They may as well be done with it and tell us the end of the world is nigh.
I've been following this 'unlawful bank charge' saga with great interest over the past year. From the windfalls of £10,000+ scooped by the lucky few, to the smaller wins won by the average joe. But today the test case gets underway. The Office of Fair Trading is taking on the likes of Abbey, Barclays, Clydesdale, HSBC, HBOS, Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide to get them to defend charging customers up to £35 for exceeding their overdraft limit, or bounced cheques.
Call me cynical, but the banks will win whatever the outcome.
There’s one annual chore I’ve really come to hate. Given the time of year you’re probably thinking tax returns or maybe the obligatory January detox. No, what I’m having a grumble about is getting my mobile phone upgraded.
The term ‘upgrade’ suggests that in return for another year with the same supplier I should land myself a better deal. Well, not so if my experience with O2 is anything to go by.
Now I accept I may not be O2’s typical customer – as far as I’m concerned, so long as I can text and chat on a phone that isn’t so small it gets lost in my cavernous handbag, I’m happy. I certainly don’t need it to go online, listen to music or work out how many calories are in my lunch.
Not a day goes by nowadays where some hack with an axe to grind bemoans the
'sorry state' of the UK property market. Headlines warn of an impending crash,
whilst weekend supplements advise homeowners of how to sell in a falling
market. Now I'm more inclined to read between the lines and try and make my own
mind up, rather than follow the sheep and prepare myself for armageddon.
Sure, house prices have been soaring at an astronomical rate over the past
few years. Back in 2000, average house prices according to the Halifax stood at
roughly £85,000 in 2000, now they stand at nearly £200,000.
So why has it happened?
The first few weeks of January can be a slow for news but thanks to the ongoing credit crunch any bit of financial news is still worthy of dissection and intense scrutiny. So here is my review of what was hot and what was not this week.
As a new user to Moneywise.co.uk, i would just like to add my 2 cents... I am currently serving in the Royal Navy and due to go away towards the end of the month for 8 whole long months. My wife and i have recently bought a new laptop after being without any form of computer for 18 months due to the pregnancy and birth of our son (who is now 1). We got rid of the study and made that into a nursery for our son and had no room for a pc and no time to use a laptop or pc once he was born. Now he is 1 and attending nursery full time, my wife and i started to look for broadband wireless deals without changing our phone line or sky tv to other companies to get a bundle. We sat down and went through a list of ISPs and got deals together.
In Google’s list of the most frequently searched words on its service last year, ‘stocks’ came fourth, while the names of three top banks also featured in the top 10. Intriguingly, ‘sex’ was well outside the top 10, as were ‘Paris Hilton’, ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Wii’.
Puzzled? Fair enough. But the internet hasn’t been taken over by investors and number crunchers with no concern for Brangelina, X Factor or the rest of the sinister celebrity vacuum – Google was referring only to its self-censored Chinese language service.
I love New Year not because it’s an excuse to go out until the early hours but because it’s an opportunity to start afresh and make changes in my life. It’s psychological – I would never dream of writing down my ambitions for the other 364 days in the year, but on 31 December you can normally find me scribbling down various lofty goals on a scrap of paper that is invariably lost before the clock hits midnight.
Most years, at least one of my resolutions is financial – for example, last year I wanted to buy my own house (which, I’m glad to report, I did) and take out a pension (ditto).
But in 2008 my financial resolutions are going to be set a little lower, although I know they will make a massive different in the long term.
Today I start to lok for a european fund to invest in so that I can retire at 55.
In case you’ve missed all the other signs, a quick glance at the headlines of most national newspapers should make the penny hit home. Yes, it’s Christmas, a time for over-indulging and celebrating with your family. It is also a pretty slow time for news and therefore papers fill up white space with seasonal stories about albino robins and turkey shortages.