03 Dec 2018  New research by Royal London reveals that 5.4 million adults without a will in the UK would not know where to begin if they were to write one.

Worryingly, the data also shows that 59% of parents either do not have a will, or have one that is out of date. It is especially important for parents to have an up to date will so that if the worst were to happen, their children would be brought up by who they choose.

The research also found that since writing a will three in ten (31%) experienced a significant life event such as marriage or having a baby, yet more than half (53%) have not updated their will. Many people do not realise that if they were to marry, any previous will is automatically invalidated and is no longer of any value, so it’s vital that wills are reviewed and kept up to date.

More than half (54%) of the adult population do not have a will. Of those who do not have  a will one in four (24%) admitted they have no intention of making one, compared to a third (34%) who said that an illness would encourage them to do so.

Support from a solicitor

Using the services of a solicitor is the most popular way of writing a will, with two thirds (68%) using legal assistance. The majority of people who had a will described the process of writing a will as being ‘quick’ (85%) and ‘easy’ (90%).

Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson for Royal London, said:

“It is incredibly important to have a will, not just to protect your finances but to make sure vital decisions, such as who will look after your children, are noted. Once you have a will, you should update it after any significant life events that could affect your financial situation, such as getting married, divorced or starting a family. Taking these important steps allows you to have peace of mind knowing that when you’re gone your wishes will be met.”

28 Nov 2018 More than 3.5 million (71 per cent) self-employed people feel discriminated against by mortgage lenders and nearly a million (20 per cent) think they would be refused a mortgage if they applied for one simply because they are self-employed.

The shock findings are from research among people who are sole traders, contractors, or running a business with up to nine employees, and suggest widespread dissatisfaction with the way self-employed people are treated when they apply for a mortgage.

The figures, which are part of a special report – The self-employed economy; an opportunity for brokers and lenders – by The Mortgage Lender show 1 million (21 per cent) self-employed people had reconsidered their employment situation because of the uncertainty of securing a mortgage.

More than 4 million (63 per cent) believe mortgage lenders have a responsibility to provide a better level of support to self-employed, contract workers and business owners.

Of those who have applied for a mortgage 45 per cent found it difficult to provide the information required by the lender to assess their application.

And 26 per cent of self-employed homeowners say they would live in another property if they were treated the same as an employed person when applying for a mortgage.

There are 4.86 million self-employed individuals in the UK, accounting for 15.1 per cent of the working population, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Mortgage Lender deputy chief executive Peter Beaumont said: “It’s time the mortgage industry woke up to the fact the world is changing. The growth in self-employment since the financial crash has been one of the defining characteristics of the UK’s recovery.

“For such a large segment of the homeowning population to feel they will be discriminated against when they apply for a mortgage is shocking and unfair. As a sector we’ve quite happily lent to married employed people when statistics show at least half of those couples are going to split up. “

“Self-employed people are creating employment opportunities and form the backbone of our economy at a time when many large employers are finding it difficult to sustain their business models and levels of employment. It’s important lenders recognise this reality and support entrepreneurs to live in the home they can afford.

“It’s something that we at The Mortgage Lender have recognised, people are moving from employed careers to self-employment or they get divorced and that is real life now – that’s why we’re the real life lender, we recognise life doesn’t move in a straight line,” said Beaumont.

28 Nov 2018  Under-40s are switched-on to regular saving but are failing to focus on their pensions, new research  from The Nottingham Building Society shows. Its independent nationwide study found less than half (46%) of 18 to 40-year-olds have started pensions despite being disciplined and regular savers.

The Nottingham’s study found just 10% of under-40s are not saving or investing each month outside of pensions and on average are putting away around £370 a month.

By contrast pension savers under 40 are investing an average £230 a month. Many are also overestimating how much the State Pension is worth with one in four believing it will pay £10,000 or more a year despite the maximum currently available being £8,546.

The under-40s are more likely to have savings accounts or cash ISAs which they can take money out of easily rather than pensions which they cannot, research shows. Around 78% of under-40s have savings accounts while 51% have cash ISAs.

The main reason for not saving into a pension is focusing on paying off debt in the short-term with 22% saying they want to get out of the red before investing for retirement while one in five say they prefer to spend their money.

The table below shows how the savings habits break down among the under-40s with younger savers the least likely to have pensions but still nearly as likely to have other cash savings as older groups.

TYPE OF ACCOUNT 18 to 24-year-olds 25 to 34-year-olds 35 to 40-year-olds AVERAGE
Savings account 77% 80% 76% 78%
Cash ISA 30% 54% 57% 51%
Pensions 21% 51% 52% 46%
Equity ISA 13% 30% 22% 25%
Shares 9% 25% 18% 20%
Other stock market accounts 8% 17% 12% 14%

The Nottingham is supporting savers with a range of accounts including the Lifetime ISA (LISA) which helps under-40s save for their first home or for later life. Around 47% of under-40s surveyed said they had heard of the LISA and two out of five say they will probably or definitely open one in the next two years.


The Nottingham’s Director of Member Services Tina Hayton Banks, commented
: “It’s refreshing to hear so many under-40s have developed a savings habit and are disciplined about putting away money each month but disappointing that they’re clearly not as committed to pensions.

“With an aging population that sees people living longer, many will experience a retirement shortfall if they don’t pro-actively prepare whilst they are young and this generation will need to do more due to rising house prices and changes in state pensions.

“At The Nottingham, we are committed to supporting and rewarding members who plan for their financial futures and although retirement may seem a long way off, the earlier you start saving for retirement the better. Products like LISA have been great for kick-starting that savings habit or putting retirement planning on the agenda for the younger generation. From ensuring they’re getting the right advice to knowing and understanding all the options available to them, The Nottingham is proud to be supporting savers in our heartlands and beyond.”

Savers are eligible for up to £1,000 of cash bonuses every year through Lifetime ISAs and The Nottingham is one of just three providers to offer the Cash LISA. As well as the 25% bonus, The Nottingham will pay 1.00% AER interest tax free, on the savings balance every year.

26 Nov 2018 A third of Brits have knowingly given remote computer access to someone without performing basic checks to ensure they aren’t being scammed, research from Nationwide Building Society shows.

The poll of more than 2,000 people also highlights that while fraud prevention education is working, one in eight (13%) would give full login details to someone impersonating their bank or building society, if asked to via a phone call, email or text.

Remote access scams are hinged on convincing the victim that they have a computer or internet issue, with scammers claiming to be calling on behalf of well-known companies, including broadband providers and financial services providers. The caller will request remote access to ‘resolve the problem’ and then either download malware that will allow them to monitor use of the computer in the future, or instruct the victim to log on to their internet bank in order to help process a refund, therefore potentially giving them access to the victims’ online banking.

Nationwide commissioned the research to highlight the ways fraudsters are targeting people.  The poll reveals that some 32 per cent of people have allowed remote users access to their computer to help with an IT or broadband issue without challenging who they were. However, 18 per cent have ended such calls and checked independently who the caller was before going ahead with the caller’s request.

The poll found that men are potentially more willing to put themselves at risk, with more men reporting they had gone straight ahead with this type of call (35%), compared with women (29%).

The research also covered password scams.  Even though no financial services provider would ever ask a customer to tell them their full password, card reader passcode or text authorisation code, fraudsters do manage to convince people that that they should provide this information in full. Nationwide’s research showed that while one in eight (13%) would hand over this vital information if requested, the message about passcode security is getting through to people, as more than eight in ten (83%) stated they would not provide these security details in full.  The research also found that there are significant differences across the UK.

Older generations are much more likely to heed advice, with 96 per cent of those aged 55 and above saying they would refuse to hand over their security details in full. This compares with 68 per cent of 25-34-year-olds stating the same (in fact, this is the age group most likely to hand their details over, with 25 per cent admitting they would).

Stuart Skinner, Nationwide’s Director of Fraud, said: “Giving anyone remote access to your computer is risky without making checks first and even if you are convinced about who you are speaking to, there’s no reason to log onto your internet bank account to process a promised refund.

“We’d like to remind people that no financial services provider would ever call, email or text to ask for your full login or other password or security code details.  It’s vitally important people are sure of who they are dealing with and that they are legitimate.”

Nationwide’s Tips:

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into allowing remote access – be sure who you are dealing with and never log onto your internet bank account whilst giving remote access.
  2. No genuine financial services provider would ever call, text or email to ask you to provide your full password/passcode details or to move money to a ‘safe’ account.
  3. Nationwide offers fraud awareness events in branches across the country – visit your local branch to find out more.

21 Nov 2018 Nothing beats the feeling of walking through the door of your dream home, but buying a house is not only stressful, it’s expensive too. Especially when you factor in those hidden fees and costs that you just don’t think about when house hunting for the first time.

Of course, there’s the deposit, mortgage payments and estate agents fees to think about, but what about finding out the boiler is broken once you move in? Or realising you need to pay just shy of £1,000 for a homebuyer’s report? Once you add moving day costs, like hiring a van and buying sturdy cardboard boxes, it really does all add up.

So before you get carried away putting in an offer on a home that could leave you out of pocket, here are five hidden costs first-time buyers should be aware of. And, if you want to find out exactly how much your new home could cost you, use Totally Money’s new interactive home buying tool.

1. Stamp duty land tax

Stamp duty isn’t a problem for everyone – homes under £125,000 won’t incur it, and prices up to £500,000 for first-time buyers will be reduced or negated. But if you’re buying a more expensive home, or not your first, it can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

2. Fixing leaks, cracks and rewiring electrics

Small faults with a property are easy to overlook when you’re buying it. But once you’re in, it’s natural to want to get the place just right – but with average costs of £180 for fixing leaks and cracks, and as much as £2,750 for rewiring electrics, it can be a real shock.

3. Homebuyer’s report

Even if you don’t want a full building survey, a homebuyer’s report can identify a lot of potential issues with a property – but it’ll still put you out a massive £786 on average.

4. Solicitor costs

When buying your home with the help of a solicitor, their costs can be between £850 – £1,500, which is a sizeable fee to pay as you enter your new property.

5. Moving day costs

Boxes, a removals company to help you pack up and shift your stuff, taking a day off work unpaid to wait for the broadband to be installed, moving day costs can often the most hidden of all. Plan ahead by asking family and friends to help you move, or buying boxes in bulk, and you could save yourself a small fortune.

15 Nov 2018 New research from Charter Savings Bank reveals that those in their 30s are the savviest savers, setting aside 58% of their disposable monthly income each month – 16 percentage points more than the national average of 42%.

The average monthly disposable income for a 30-something is £486 (after paying bills), and the amount saved each month is £280. They have a higher disposable income on average than the UK as a whole which comes in at £452.

But their disciplined approach to saving means they save nearly 50% more than the national average of £191 a month.

Charter Savings Bank’s study found big differences in the disposable income of men, at nearly £600, compared with women at just over £300, with women saving £134 a month compared with men saving £252.

The research found 11% of adults have never opened a savings account – the equivalent of around 5.7 million people. The number of non-savers rises to 20% among those in their 20s.

UK adults can perhaps be a bit more disciplined – just a tenth (10%) save a set amount of money each month which they don’t touch.

The average size of a savings pot in the UK is £23,629. Those in their 70s have the most, at £44,542, while those in their 20s have just £5,440. There is a big gender savings gap with men having £12,000 more in savings than women at £29,549 compared to £17,611.

The table shows how saving breaks down across the decades – people in their 70s save the lowest proportion of their income but have the highest disposable income, while those in their 50s and 60s save just 35% of disposable income.

 Age breakdown of saving habits

Age Group Monthly disposable income Average saved each month Average saved each year % of disposable income saved each month Average total savings
20s £361 £191 £2,290 53% £5,440
30s £486 £280 £3,364 58% £10,212
40s £488 £213 £2,557 44% £20,675
50s £389 £136 £1,634 35% £30.105
60s £457 £159 £1,904 35% £39,968
70s £506 £145 £1,735 29% £44,542
UK £452 £190 £2,291 42% £23,629

The main reason to save for all age groups is having cash for an emergency – but this becomes more important with age, with 63% of people in their 70s saving for a rainy day compared to 44% of people in their 30s. It’s not all about worries though – holidays are the second key factor for saving for people in their 40s, 60s and 70s. Long term financial security is the second most important factor for people in their 20s, while 30-somethings want short term financial security.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “It’s interesting to see that, no matter what age we are, a potential emergency is our primary motivator for setting money aside. Beyond that, everyone will have different priorities for how much they can afford to save and what they are saving for, depending on what stage of life they’re at.

“The important thing is to try and save as much as you can afford to, from as early an age as possible, and seek out the best rates possible. It may not seem worth putting a small sum away each month, but it’s a brilliant habit to get into, plus that money soon grows.”

15 Nov 2018 Across the UK there are currently 14.8 million renters and new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Home Insurance indicates that over half, 8.4 million of them are leaving themselves unprotected by not having home contents insurance in place.

Of those renters who do have contents insurance, less than one in five (16%) take the time to compare the cost of different providers and then switch if they find a better offer. Homeowners are more proactive with one in five (22%) comparing the costs of providers and switching to a better deal.(1)

Homeowners are also savvier when it comes to finding ways to save on their building and contents insurance, with over half (54%) of those  with home or contents insurance having already or considering installing safety features to save money on their premium.

Steps homeowners are taking to save money on their home insurance:

Actions consumers are willing to take to reduce the price of their home insurance premium(1) Percentage of UK homeowners(1)
Fit a secure lock 37%
Install a burglar alarm 28%
Install security lights 23%
Install a CCTV system 14%
Install a doorbell camera 12%

Karen Hogg, Head of Insurance at Sainsbury’s Bank said: “It’s worrying to see that more than half of renters don’t have contents insurance, so they wouldn’t be compensated for the loss of their possessions if the worst were to happen.

“While homeowners are more proactive in comparing prices and switching, many people who do have contents insurance, could be missing out on a better deal as only 16% shop around when renewing their home insurance.”

The supermarket bank warns that insurers are unlikely to share how much of a saving will be achieved by adding additional home security, but that it goes without saying that homeowners who can prove they’re taking due care of their property will usually be priced more favourably. Securing your property in this way will therefore not only deter thieves, but will also save you money in the long run.

Five tips for securing your home:

  • Lights, camera, alarm: Installing safety features can help to protect your home from potential intruders, as well as saving you money on your home insurance.
  • Take time to compare insurers: It may seem like a chore to spend time comparing what different home insurance providers are offering, however in the long term it could help you save money. Make sure the provider you choose covers everything you need, such as student cover for children living away from home.
  • Search for an offer: Look for a provider who is offering a benefit or deal to the consumer. Sainsbury’s Bank gives customers double Nectar points on their shopping and fuel, as well as a discount for Nectar card holders.
  • Love thy neighbour: Making friends with your neighbours can prove to be a smart move. Having a trusty friend to keep an eye on your home when you’re not in could benefit you greatly. For prolonged stays away from home you could also ask a friend or family member to house sit, which can be particularly useful if you have furry friends that will need taking care of while you’re away.
  • Know what’s in your home: When the time comes for taking out your insurance policy, take the time to walk round each room to make sure you know exactly what’s there and needs to be included in your cover. For further information on Sainsbury’s Bank home insurance, underwritten by a carefully selected range of insurers, call 0345 266 1603, visit www.sainsburysbank.co.uk or pick up a leaflet in store.

12 Nov 2018 Millions of gas and electricity customers who have overpaid their bills are owed on average £84.80 by their supplier, according to new research by weflip, the automatic energy switching service.

The research reveals that 51% of UK households have overpaid their energy by on average, £84.80, while 12% of customers have made overpayments in excess of £100.  Collectively, it means energy companies are benefiting from a whopping £1.17bn of their customers’ money.

Paying by direct debit (DD) is the most convenient ways for most householders to settle their energy bills. DD payments spread the cost evenly across the year, and most energy companies offer a discount for customers paying in this way.  However, energy suppliers base DD payments on their estimate of a customer’s usage over the year.  Customers’ actual usage may differ significantly.  Overpayments arise when providers overestimate usage and set DD payments at a higher rate than the energy is consumed.

There are several options open to customers who find themselves in credit with their energy supplier.  But, before contacting their provider they will need to take an up-to-date meter reading.

Customers can leave the overpayment on their account to offset against future bills, 44% of the customers surveyed take this approach. Or they can ask their supplier to adjust their direct debit payment in line with their actual consumption.  Just over a fifth (21%) of people surveyed had asked for their DD to be reduced.

Customers are also entitled to ask their energy provider, at any time, for a refund (just 12% of the survey participants had requested overpayments to be refunded).  Providers must refund credits whenever they are asked to, unless there are reasonable grounds not to do so.

Alternatively, customers who hold a positive credit balance can wait until their account comes up for its annual review.  Energy suppliers are obliged to review DD accounts once a year, but some do it more frequently.  The purpose of the review is to check whether payments need to be adjusted depending on usage.  Refund policies for the big six energy providers (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) can be found on Ofgem’s website.

Commenting on the research, Amanda Cumine from weflip, said, “Direct debits take the faff out of paying utility bills, but the way they are calculated can leave many customers out of pocket.  While some people will be happy to carry a small surplus to offset higher winter bills, millions more would rather the money was sitting in their bank account rather than that of their energy provider.

“Suppliers calculate customers’ bills by estimating their annual energy consumption then dividing this into 12 equal monthly payments. However, energy usage can change with seasonal variations in the weather or if your domestic situation alters. While providers are required to automatically refund a surplus, they may only do this at the anniversary of your contract and if you provide a meter reading.

“If your account is significantly in credit you should always request a refund as soon as possible and ask your supplier to review your DD payment based on your actual usage.”

07 Nov 2018   A comprehensive new study by RoosterMoney, the pocket money tracking app, has revealed that kids have been saving 30% of their pocket money so far this year. An encouraging sign compared to the Money Charity’s latest stats showing that the average household is now only saving 4.4% of post-tax income, down from 5.2% last year.

The annual Pocket Money Index, based on a sample of over 11,000 4-14 year olds, shows that kids are on course to earn £225 in pocket money over the course of 2018 (an average of £4.32 a week).

Based on last year’s activity, kids can expect to receive £45 in cash gifts this Christmas, with the most likely benefactors being aunts & uncles as they beat grandparents to the title of most generous relatives this year, giving on average £13.79 vs £11.97 per visit.

Given the most popular things kids have been saving for lately, that money is likely to be spent on:

  1. Lego
  2. Phones
  3. Nintendo Switch
  4. Books
  5. Bikes

In the run up to Christmas, kids have also been earning extra pocket money by completing extra chores, the most lucrative of which have been:

  1. Washing the car (£2.30)
  2. Gardening (£1.24)
  3. Making Dinner (£0.86)
  4. Hoovering (£0.80)
  5. Cleaning the bathroom (£0.77)

The tooth fairy is also getting more generous offering £2.18 a tooth, compared to £1.99 last year.

10 year olds have proven the most entrepreneurial age group, as the most likely to boost their income by selling their old toys and clothes – averaging £13.64 per sale.

Of the 70.5% of their money that kids have been spending, the most common purchases are:

  1. Sweets
  2. Books & Magazines
  3. Lego
  4. Xbox games
  5. Apps

 

Will Carmichael, CEO of RoosterMoney, said:“Christmas is the perfect time to start talking to your kids about the value of money. Whether it’s thinking about the value of the things thereceive, or helping them decide how much of their Christmas money to save or spend. By getting youry  kids into some good saving habits now you can help ensure they develop healthy money habits for life.”

06 Nov 2018  More than one in 10 Brits moved home after being burgled, according to a study by home insurer Policy Expert

  • Over 2.7 million homes in the UK have been robbed in past year
  • Revealing the psychological impact of burglary, a third (32%) had difficulty sleeping after the crime took place and almost one in 10 (8%) admit they couldn’t be left alone in the property
  • The most common way burglars broke in was through a window (38%). Just under a third (29%) damaged a door, and one in seven (13%) tampered with the locks
  • While you’re more likely to be burgled when out of the house, a fifth (20%) admitted the incident happened when they were at home asleep
  • More than a quarter (28%) were at work, a fifth (18%) were out shopping or socialising, and one in six (15%) were on holiday, revealing the crucial need for effective home security

 

Adam Powell, Operations Director at Policy Expert, commented: “Burglary doesn’t just impact us financially, but takes a huge toll psychologically and emotionally. Protecting our homes and belongings is vital and there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a target for thieves. Installing a burglar alarm doesn’t just provide a visible deterrent, but if there is an attempted break in, it’s more likely to alert neighbours and passers-by. Some alarm systems are even set up to alert the police.

“Opting for enhanced locks, windows and doors, or installing CCTV may also reduce the chances of being burgled. Try and keep valuables, including keys and gadgets, out of sight, and investing in sensor-activated, external lighting for the garden and around the front of the home is a simple, and usually inexpensive, way to prevent thieves. 

“In addition, while it may be tempting to post about holidays on social media, this might inadvertently advertise that your home is unoccupied. Burglars will typically go for smaller, more expensive items such as watches or jewellery, so check your single item limit and if you have a valuable that exceeds that, inform your insurer. Ultimately you need to make sure you have the correct level of home insurance, so if the worst was to happen, you’ll be protected financially.”

Top tips from Policy Expert on protecting your home:

  1. Enlist the help of a housesitter or ask a trusted neighbour with a set of keys to check in on your house every now and again if you’re away for an extended period of time
  2. Install a timer to set lights inside your home to come on once it gets dark – choose a light in a visible room at the front of the house, not the hallway, as this will create the impression that someone is inside
  3. Invest in sensor-activated, external lighting for the garden and around the front of the home
  4. Install a burglar alarm – not only is this a visible deterrent, if someone does attempt to break in the alarm would alert neighbours and the police before any damage could be done
  5. Don’t leave curtains closed – during the day this makes it look like there’s no-one at home
  6. Make sure any outbuildings or sheds are locked and that any tools are hidden away – these could be used to break into your home
  7. Ensure any valuables are out of sight – remove the temptation and make sure these items cannot be seen from outside the house through the windows
  8. Never leave a spare key anywhere near the front door, for example under a doormat, flower pot – thieves know all the usual hiding places
  9. Similarly, don’t store house/car keys just inside your front door, as burglars could try to fish for the keys through the letterbox