What you need to know about money each week and what the news means for you, from the UK's best financial website.
How to get your finances on track at 40: From pensions to property, how to get where you want to be
Turning 40 is a milestone birthday – and perhaps the one that gets people thinking most about where they are at in life.
It’s an age that involves a lot of looking back and looking forwards and a fair amount of comparing yourself to where others are at.
But what do you need to think about in terms of your finances, from pensions, to property, investing and saving?
On this podcast – as a certain Georgie Frost turns 40 – Simon Lambert and her take the opportunity to have a look at the financial side of hitting the big 4-0.
It’s not just for those who are 40, it looks at people’s financial life in the decade around this age – and includes plenty of tips relevant to those who are much younger or older.
Plus, Simon takes us back in time to what Britain’s economy and finances were like 40 years ago in 1982. How much did a house cost? What did people earn? How high were interest rates? And was it better, worse or incomparable?
Are building societies and banks playing fair with savers?
Interest rates went up last month and banks and building societies have been busy upping mortgage rates, with Nationwide revealing a raft of rises this week.
But while Britain’s biggest society has got off the mark with mortgage rate rises – reflecting December’s Bank of England hike and money market expectations of another move up potentially as early as February – its savings rates remain on the floor.
The best easy access savings deal open to all from Nationwide pays just 0.01 per cent and the top no-strings easy access deal offered as a reward to the building society’s own members pays 0.35 per cent.
Nationwide isn’t alone, almost all its big building society and banking rivals have also been failing savers for years – and although they blame the low interest rate environment that doesn’t stop them making bumper profits and paying out blockbuster wages to top executives.
So, are they diddling savers or do they have any defence?
On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look at how and why banks and building societies have failed to meaningfully help savers ever since the financial crisis – and whether there is any hope that things will change?
They also discuss what savers can do about it and why an investment expert recommends savers think in three pots to help them cautiously invest for better returns.
Also on this week’s podcast, why buy-to-let investors don’t want to be called landlords any more, how to maximise Avios as we enter a potential sweet spot for picking them up, and how to get a pay rise this year.
And finally, what does the Fiesta being knocked out of the list of the best-selling cars tell us about the topsy-turvy pandemic inflation economy? A lot more than you might think, Simon explains.
From inflation to investing mistakes: Best of the This is Money podcast from 2021
It's safe to say 2021 has been an eventful one for the economy and personal finance – and our podcast has covered it all.
Georgie Frost takes a look back at some of the best bits of the show starring Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce, Tanya Jefferies and Helen Crane.
We talk about investing mistakes and what you can learn from them. How much a lifetime will cost? And what is behind the inflation surge that emerged in the last few months of the year?
There is a bit about house prices – naturally – and we chat over our £1bn underpaid state pension victory.
And we have a Dragon in the house. Simon catches up with new Dragons' Den star Steven Bartlett, who has a hugely successful podcast of his own.
He talks through his views on the traditional route to success and why it is outdated. Happy New Year!
Christmas isn't cancelled but what if your event is?
There was some good news this week, or at least the absence of more bad news: Christmas isn't cancelled.
In England at least, more Covid restrictions have been dodged for now.
This Christmas time people can enjoy meeting up with their friends and family without having to break any rules to do so - they just have to use their own judgement, an old-fashioned concept but one many are happy with.
But that doesn't mean that things haven't been cancelled left, right and centre, as the hospitality and entertainment industry once more bears the brunt of Covid.
So, what can be done to help pubs, restaurants, cafes, music venues, theatres etc? Has the Chancellor gone far enough with his latest rescue package? And what happens in terms of getting your money back if your event is cancelled or you have to skip it yourself?
On this week's podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert, look at the muddle that another year of having to cancel and postpone stuff has left people in.
Also on this week's podcast, the good news for the Treasury as more tax rolls in, but what's gone up and is it enough to tave off a wealth tax?
Plus, would you invest in fine wine... or even music? The team look at how to do both.
And finally, is a Christmas update on the PLSA retirement living standards research a cracker or a dud?
Merry Christmas from all of us at the This is Money podcast.
Christmas bonus: Simon’s ten supermarket wines for about a tenner that taste more expensive
Co-op: Château Millegrand Minervois - £10
Co-op: Château Joanin Castillon- £9
Co-op: Vavasour £10
Tesco: Finest Ribera Del Duero £12.50
Tesco: Finest Rioja Reserva - £8.50
Waitrose: Les Nivières Saumur Loire, France - £9.99
Waitrose: Beaujolais Villages - £7.99
Sainsbury's: Zweigelt - £9
Sainsbury's: Albarino - £7.50
Sainsbury's: Gruner Veltliner - £9
Was the Bank of England right to raise interest rates?
They finally did it! The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee raised the base rate from its emergency 0.1% level to 0.25%.
That came the day after inflation rocketed to 5.1 per cent - and is forecast to keep rising - and in the week that the International Monetary Fund warned the Bank of England against 'inaction bias'.
Markets were cheered by the rate rise and economists were broadly welcoming too, yet the general consensus is that it will make little difference to the inflation Britain is suffering.
So, why raise interest rates and was this the right move as the nation stares down the barrel of yet more (potentially overcooked) Covid disruption?
On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Tanya Jefferies and Simon Lambert delve into the rate rise, ask whether it was the right move but maybe for the wrong reason, and look at why inflation is soaring and when it may abate.
The team also discuss how this will affect ordinary people and whether it will add to the cost of living squeeze hitting everywhere from the petrol pump, to your heating and the supermarket aisles.
Tanya gives an update on delayed state pension cases and her investigations into this and whether the generation in their late 40s will have to wait longer to retire.
And finally, it’s nearly Christmas and frantic present buying is the order of the day, but if you were going to give a financial gift to a child would you give Premium Bonds, shares or bitcoin?
How can first-time buyers get on the property ladder as prices soar?
The greatest hurdle first-time buyers face after years of house prices rocketing far faster than wages is saving for a deposit.
A 10 per cent deposit on the average £273,000 home, according to Halifax’s index, would be £27,300 – roughly an entire year’s average salary.
That’s a tough gig to save while paying rent, bills, commuting costs, living expenses and trying to at least enjoy your 20s or 30s a little bit.
So what can prospective homeowners do to get that money? How long would it take to save and can the often-maligned Lifetime Isa be a real no-brainer of a booster here.
On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Helen Crane and Simon Lambert talk about trying to buy your first home, saving for a deposit, and whether new Bank of England rules designed to make mortgages easier to get could end up backfiring and sending prices even higher.
Those potential rule changes come about because problematically, if a first-time buyer could save that £27,300, they would then need to borrow £245,700 on a mortgage to buy the average home.
Even if they were able to find a bank or building society that would offer to lend them five times their salary, an individual first-time buyer would need to earn about £50,000 per year to qualify.
A shift to enabling first-time buyers to borrow more would bridge that gap, at the expense of huge mortgages, but could it just drive house price inflation.
Also on this week’s podcast, could a savings platform boost your rate, what a damning report into Ofgem’s role in energy supplier collapse said and in the year that is a gift that keeps on giving, Christmas present inflation.