Sunday, 21 September 2008
The HBOS crunch

A few months ago I made the assumption that banking share prices couldn't go any lower I had seen HBOS share values plummet from a high of £10 a share in October 2007 to about £2.60 a share. This in my mind was the best time to buy, I had assumed they may go a bit lower but when they came back they would be at their highest ever, right? Well I wasn't far off the mark, after I had purchased some HBOS shares and they went up to around £3.40 on some days (not bad hey?). I had decided I was in this for the long term and that if I waited it out by the end of the credit crunch we would have some really high valued HBOS shares at around £9 a share which would have made for a great investment. Unfortunately the fall of Lehman Brothers bank appeared to have scared the hell out of anyone investing in anything that had a high exposure to mortgage investments. The share values of HBOS tumbled by as much as 48% at one time and then it was announced they would be bought out by Lloyds TSB at a paltry  £2.40 a share....damn..

I had assumed because HBOS was such a giant, that there would be no risk of them going bust. They had been around for so many years and were a well known brand, how wrong  was I? It made me think that almost nothing was safe. Looking at various online money web sites and forums some are saying the best place for your money is under your pillow or in gold bullion. While they may be joking you can't help but feel they have a point there. Ironically enough a lot of people have started to put their savings into Northern Rock, the only financial institution in the UK where your money is100% guaranteed by the treasury and the government.

posted on Sunday, 21 September 2008 13:01:42 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 06 October 2007
Your friend the ISA

I am by no means a money saving expert, in fact I can sometimes be a little naughty splashing money onto a credit card every now and again to purchase a really "must have" gadget. However most of the time I like to make credit cards work for me as per my last article Making money off your credit card using 0% cards.

One of the things that gets me when I talk to younger (and some of my older) friends is what they do with their savings. There seems to be a common theme that goes a long the lines of "Oh I don't earn enough money to worry about a proper savings account". These very same people will have a standard savings account you get from your high street bank which pays a very low rate of interest and on top of that the bank will also be paying the Inland Revenue tax on your behalf off the interest before you get it. While at the same time that so called "paltry" amount could be placed inside a MINI cash ISA and be earning 5% interest tax free!

When I explain the above there is still a reluctance as they seem to think an ISA is some kind of a special shares thing they need to sign up for. Its only when I explain that just about anyone can open an ISA account and that it can be treated as just a normal bank account except for the following rules.

  • You can only deposit £3,000 in a cash ISA each year
  • If you saved £1,000 and then withdrew it you would only be able to put £2,000 back into that ISA within the tax year.
  • If you have £3,000 in your cash ISA by the end of the financial year you can place a further £3,000 when you get to the next tax year.

I don't think enough people make use of these convenient financial products.

For more financial tips take a look at Money Saving Expert

posted on Saturday, 06 October 2007 13:20:08 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Saturday, 15 September 2007
Northern Rock

Its rather unfortunate that what started off as a request for emergency funding from the Bank of England by Northern Rock has escalated into a mass withdraw of funds by its customers. What is more interesting is that if this information had not been made public the bank may have survived and the act of all its customers withdrawing their cash will effectively lead to a further fall in the cost of the banks shares and a possible take over by a rival bank.

An unfortunate side effect of the above is that people are starting to worry about the integrity of their banks. The real problem now is that the media is adding to the panic by showing people pictures of queues outside banks.

posted on Saturday, 15 September 2007 10:37:23 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Thursday, 13 September 2007
The good times gone bad?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the times of easily available loans would keep on going but like all things they must eventually come to an end.

We already know that Barclays bank had had to borrow money from the Bank of England at its emergency rate twice and if you are a worried Barclays customer you can look at this questions and answers section to find out more. Now one of the largest mortgage lenders in the UK, Northern Rock is applying to the Bank of England "for emergency financial support".  

There's been a lot of gloomy talk about a recession on the cards and so far we have had it pretty cushy with low interest rates which are steadily increasing to try and beat inflation, hopefully this would bring the price of houses down. Sadly that hasn't been the case and when ever there is talk of house prices coming down people seem to rush out there and try and buy more houses pushing them straight up again. Well that's my theory anyway, because where I am the property prices haven't come down at all and this is probably because loans and mortgages are so easily available with very little security attached to them. Are we heading for a similar scenario of what happened in the US when 22 mortgage lenders went bust over bad loans?

posted on Thursday, 13 September 2007 21:44:52 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

 Monday, 14 May 2007
Making money off your credit card

No this isn't another scam, its something I have read on the Fool.co.uk and have done myself for quite a long time.

Basically there are many 0% interest free credit cards out there trying to lure people who ring up large credit card bills over to them. If you are clever you can make the most out of this introductory rate, as long as your are strict with your finances.

Here's one example of what I do.

  • Get yourself a good credit card with a 0% interest free rate on purchases and balance transfers for a year or more (if you can get it)
  • If like me, your work pays for your travel expenses, start putting all of your travel expenses on your credit card.
  • When your work pays back your expenses, place these in a separate high interest savings account or a cash ISA.
  • When your 0% interest rate ends, pay off the balance in full and keep the interest you have earned and if you want, start the whole thing over again.

Now the above works really well as long as you:

  • Are not tempted to use your card for any other expense. This card is only for expenses nothing else!
  • Make a note of when your 0% interest rate ends so you are not suddenly stung for interest payments. If you use Outlook or some other email organizing program you can put a date reminder in here so you don't forget.

Good luck and if you have any similar tips I would love to hear from you!

posted on Monday, 14 May 2007 20:57:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [1]