A Better Deal for Borrowers

Written by Karen Bryan

£1 coin stack1 150x150 A Better Deal for BorrowersThe personal loan market is an interesting place at the moment. Lenders have been lowering rates, offering great deals to consumers. However, behind the headline offer things might not be so straightforward. Many lenders, including HSBC and Sainsburys often restrict their best offers to existing customers, leaving the rest of the market wanting and a lack of flexibility and transparency can leave borrowers wishing they’d shopped around.

New player in the loans market Hitachi Personal Finance (HPF)has just launched its best ever rate of 4% available for loans between £7,500 and £10,000 over two to five years, and it’s rate is open to everyone. The business launched last year and as a relatively new entrant in the loans market, it has been able to offer something different combining low rates and a unique approach to customer service.
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It’s a Pity That New £1m Savings Protection Won’t Cover All Savings

Written by Karen Bryan

£20 and £10 notes diagon al 500 150x150 Its a Pity That New £1m Savings Protection Wont Cover All SavingsWhen I read the headline that the Bank of England is proposing to protect savings of up to £1m, I thought great. The current Financial Services Compensation Scheme only covers savings of up to £85,000 per institution.

However, once I started to read the article it transpired that the £1m protection was only for short-term deposits (up to 6 months) such as inheritance or proceeds from a house sale.

Although the present £85,000 sounds like it would cover the majority of savers, it’s not that generous. Someone who had been putting aside the maximum into tax-free Cash ISAs and the earlier TESSAs every year, would have amassed well over £100,000 by now. It’d be good to have the option to leave that as a lump sum if you find a good rate of interest at one institution.

There’s also the confusion caused by the fact that some financial institutions share the £85,000 FSCS between several brands, e.g. AA, Aviva, Bank of Scotland,  BM Savings, Halifax, Intelligent Finance and Saga all share £85,000 protection.

I am crossing my fingers that the £85,000 FSCS cover is increased when it’s next reviewed in December 2015.

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Do Multi-Appliance Warranties Offer Value for Money?

Written by Karen Bryan

washing machine control panel Do Multi Appliance Warranties Offer Value for Money?Within three months of replacing our broken fridge/freezer, our washing machine packed in.  Spending £540 on two appliances got me wondering if we should buy a multi-appliance warranty.

A warranty for these two appliances cost around £10 a month. However, most of the policies had excesses and only covered appliances up to eight years old.

Our previous fridge freezer lasted for almost 15 years and our washing machine for 9 years, so neither would have been covered by the warranty.

Paying £10 a month for a 8 years warranty cover on these two appliances would cost £960 (£120 x 8). That’s looking like poor value, especially considering that as both our appliances lasted for more than 8 years, we’d have paid out for the warranty and still have had to pay £540 for replacements.

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Nationwide Drops the Rate on Its Loyalty Saver

Written by Karen Bryan

nationwide logo blue card 300x101 Nationwide Drops the Rate on Its Loyalty SaverI was disappointed that the rate of interest paid on the Nationwide Loyalty Saver dropped on 1 October 2014. As I’ve been a member for more than 15 years, I was previously earning a rate of 1.7% on a balance of up to £50,000. The rate has dropped to 1.5% for 15 years membership.

Now I could earn the same rate of interest of 1.5% on an Saga Telephone Saver (Issue 14), as I’m aged over 50.

As the interest rate paid on the Nationwide Loyalty Saver for 5 years membership is now 1.4%, this can be matched by the open-to-all Post Office Online Saver account.

It’s looking as though loyalty no longer pays with the Nationwide.

Nationwide will probably bleat that competitive pressures forced it to drop the rate of interest paid on its Loyalty Saver. I think that they should just ditch this so-called exclusive account, exactly what they did with their best buy Regular Saver ISA on 1 August 2014. That’ a more honest approach, than implying that long-standing customers will be rewarded with a higher rate of interest.

Rates of interest correct on 5 October 2014.

Update 15 October 2014 – The BM Savings Online Extra (Issue 14) pays 1.6%, made up of 1.1% fixed rate bonus for 12 months and underlying variable rate of 0.5%. That’s a higher rate then the 1.5% paid by the Nationawide Loyalty Saver to members of 15 years.

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My Money Podcast #95

Written by Karen Bryan

The My Money Podcast #95 summarises the Help Me To Save articles below.

Subscribe to the My Money Podcast from Help Me To Save in itunes

Why I’m Glad I Bought an Annuity – Despite forthcoming changes to personal pensions, I’m happy with my decision to buy an annuity on my 55th birthday earlier this year.

Save Money By Regularly Reviewing Services – With paperless bills and payment by direct debit, it’s easy to lose track of living expenses.

Inclusion of Peer-to-Peer Lending into NISAs – From next year, tax-free NISAs will be extended to include peer-to-peer lending.

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Saving Time and Cutting Bills By Researching Online

Written by Karen Bryan

laptop Saving Time and Cutting Bills By Researching OnlineTell the average person you want to save money on the bills but don’t know how, and they’ll probably tell you ‘Go online,’ which you’ll no doubt have worked out for yourself. True, a quick bit of research online can you can save money in a jiffy, but where should you look?

Turn to the Bloggers

Blogs are always a good place to look, since often they’ll be able to give insider tips on their niche. If you’re looking to save money on household bills, mummy blogs are a good place to have a look around. As well as tips on childcare and tales of the adventures of their family, mummy bloggers also provide tips on managing the household budget, including saving money on shopping and utilities bills. Another good niche is financial blogs (like this one, of course), which not only discuss aspects of finance such as investment and how to make money, but also on how to save it, for instance, on things such as credit card bills. To boot, blog entries are normally fairly short, so you can quickly glean the information and get saving.
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Need for Mandatory Maximum Time for Transfer of Funds When Buying an Annuity

Written by Karen Bryan

£10 and £20 notes 240 150x150 Need for Mandatory Maximum Time for Transfer of Funds When Buying an AnnuityAfter experiencing the disparity of the times taken for the transfer of personal pensions funds to an annuity provider, I think that there’s a case for the introduction of a mandatory maximum transfer time for open market options (when you don’t buy your annuity from the company with whom you hold your personal pension pot).

I had personal pension posts with two companies. My annuity broker, Annuity Line, sent out transfer request forms to Standard Life and Aviva, received by both firms on 29 April 2014. My annuity provider, Partnership Assurance, had received the funds from Standard Life on 2 May. However, it took until 13 May for the funds to arrive from Aviva.

The 13 May was the day before the rate guarantee from Partnership Assurance expired.

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Review of Boots Electronic Allergy Relief Device

Written by Karen Bryan

boots electronic allergy relief device 150x150 Review of Boots Electronic Allergy Relief DeviceI suffered from some rather intense bouts of hay fever  in late June and early July 2014. I found that the usual one a day antihistamine tablet wasn’t having the desired effect. This, in addition to the fact that even an anti-drowsiness antihistamine makes me feel dopey, prompted me into looking at other possible remedies.

I read up on light therapy, where a low-level red light is emitted to reduce the sensitivity of the nose. At first, I was rather sceptical. However, the Boots Electronic Allergy Relief Device scored 3.8 out of 5 in reviews, it cost £15 and had a two-year guarantee.

I had a ‘£1 off when you spend £5 on healthcare vouchers’, one of the offers when I scanned my Boots Loyalty Card at the in-store kiosk, which reduced the price for the device to £14.

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Inclusion of Peer-to-peer Lending into NISAs

Written by Karen Bryan

Online peer-to-peer lender Zopa have produced a useful guide about Peer-To-Peer NISAs.

ZOPA PeerToPeer COVER 465x375 Inclusion of Peer to peer Lending into NISAs

Earlier this year, the UK Chancellor announced a big shake up to the tax-free ISAs regime, dubbed New ISAs (NISAs).

From July 2014, the annual subscription limit was increased to £15,000 and transfers either way between Cash and Stocks ISAs were permitted. Another change, due to be implemented in early 2015, was the inclusion of peer-to-peer lending into NISAs.

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Review of Newcastle Building Society’s MaximISA

Written by Karen Bryan

newcastle bs Review of Newcastle Building Societys MaximISAWhen I was researching the Newcastle Building Society Big Home Saver Account, I noticed that the Newcastle offer a ‘MaximISA’ which allows you to split your annual New Individual Savings Accounts (NISA) allowance between different Newcastle accounts. As an example, you could split your annual £15,000 allowance, putting £5,000 into an instant access account, £4,000 into a fixed rate account and deposit £500 a month (totalling £6,000) into a monthly saver account.

Under Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue (HMRC) regulations you can only open one Cash NISA in each tax year. However as long as you split your allowance between accounts with the same provider, HMRC consider this to be one Cash NISA.

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