<p>My brother now wants us to change to being joint tenants, but I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do</p><p><strong>Q</strong> When my mother died, my brother and I inherited a property which we currently own as tenants in common. But my brother now wants us to change to being joint tenants. He’s getting divorced and thinks that becoming joint tenants will mean that if he dies, his ex-wife won’t get a share of the property as she currently would under the terms of his will as would his two children.</p><p> I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do and worry about how it would affect my share in the property which I intend to leave to my husband if I die before him. My brother is putting me under immense pressure. <strong>NN</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/tenancy-inherited-house-joint-tenants">Continue reading...</a>

Should I change the tenancy on an inherited house to suit my brother?

Dec 11, 2017 10:53

My brother now wants us to change to being joint tenants, but I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do

Q When my mother died, my brother and I inherited a property which we currently own as tenants in common. But my brother now wants us to change to being joint tenants. He’s getting divorced and thinks that becoming joint tenants will mean that if he dies, his ex-wife won’t get a share of the property as she currently would under the terms of his will as would his two children.

I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do and worry about how it would affect my share in the property which I intend to leave to my husband if I die before him. My brother is putting me under immense pressure. NN

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<p>Property website says 2% price falls in London will be offset by increase in value of homes elsewhere</p><p>Rightmove is predicting that house prices across England and Wales will rise by 1% in 2018, but there will be a further decline in London. </p><p> In its annual report on the market, the property website predicts that 2% price falls in the capital will be more than offset by an increase in the value of small and medium-priced homes around the country. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/rightmove-predicts-1-rise-in-uk-house-prices-in-2018">Continue reading...</a>

Rightmove predicts 1% rise in UK house prices in 2018

Dec 11, 2017 7:00

Property website says 2% price falls in London will be offset by increase in value of homes elsewhere

Rightmove is predicting that house prices across England and Wales will rise by 1% in 2018, but there will be a further decline in London.

In its annual report on the market, the property website predicts that 2% price falls in the capital will be more than offset by an increase in the value of small and medium-priced homes around the country.

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Crucial welfare payment will be turned into a loan from 2018, affecting 124,000 individuals who rely on it<p>Thousands of hard-up older people are being given a stark choice: sign up to a “second mortgage” with the government, or lose some of the financial help you receive.</p><p>In a little-noticed move, the government is axing a benefit that has been around since 1948 and has thrown a lifeline to many people on low incomes. “<a href="https://www.gov.uk/support-for-mortgage-interest" title="">Support for mortgage interest</a>” (SMI) helps financially constrained homeowners with their mortgage payments – some of them might otherwise be at risk of being repossessed. But from April 2018, SMI will no longer be paid as a free benefit. Instead, the government is offering to loan people the money, which will have to be repaid later with interest.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/09/support-mortgage-interest-benefit-axed-reposession">Continue reading...</a>

Low-income households at risk as mortgage support benefit is axed

Dec 9, 2017 14:21

Crucial welfare payment will be turned into a loan from 2018, affecting 124,000 individuals who rely on it

Thousands of hard-up older people are being given a stark choice: sign up to a “second mortgage” with the government, or lose some of the financial help you receive.

In a little-noticed move, the government is axing a benefit that has been around since 1948 and has thrown a lifeline to many people on low incomes. “Support for mortgage interest” (SMI) helps financially constrained homeowners with their mortgage payments – some of them might otherwise be at risk of being repossessed. But from April 2018, SMI will no longer be paid as a free benefit. Instead, the government is offering to loan people the money, which will have to be repaid later with interest.

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<p>Forget lounging around on the sofa: many landlords have turned shared space into more bedrooms – and it has helped drive up prices</p><p>The huge shared living space, the lavender walls and the college-dorm chic; most of us can picture Monica and Chandler’s apartment in Friends, the 1990s TV series no doubt being re-run on some channel right now. I preferred This Life, the flatmates drama which defined the 1990s in a rather more British way. But you couldn’t make either of them today. Or, for that matter, The Liver Birds, Men Behaving Badly or even Not Going Out.</p><p>Why? Lodgers can no longer lounge around together on some dog-eared sofa because living rooms simply no longer exist in many rented properties. When a landlord sees a living room or a dining room, what they see is enhanced rental yield. Why have shared spaces and shared experiences, when the room can be turned into another bedroom? The tenants can pop a chicken korma ready-meal into a microwave and eat it in their bedrooms. It doesn’t make for good TV drama – but it’s certainly very profitable.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2017/dec/09/renting-living-room-landlords-bedrooms-prices">Continue reading...</a>

Renting: why are we seeing the death of the living room? | Patrick Collinson

Dec 9, 2017 7:00

Forget lounging around on the sofa: many landlords have turned shared space into more bedrooms – and it has helped drive up prices

The huge shared living space, the lavender walls and the college-dorm chic; most of us can picture Monica and Chandler’s apartment in Friends, the 1990s TV series no doubt being re-run on some channel right now. I preferred This Life, the flatmates drama which defined the 1990s in a rather more British way. But you couldn’t make either of them today. Or, for that matter, The Liver Birds, Men Behaving Badly or even Not Going Out.

Why? Lodgers can no longer lounge around together on some dog-eared sofa because living rooms simply no longer exist in many rented properties. When a landlord sees a living room or a dining room, what they see is enhanced rental yield. Why have shared spaces and shared experiences, when the room can be turned into another bedroom? The tenants can pop a chicken korma ready-meal into a microwave and eat it in their bedrooms. It doesn’t make for good TV drama – but it’s certainly very profitable.

Continue reading...

<p>A year after the housebuilder admitted it had pushed people into unfinished homes, they are still struggling with serious defects in their properties<br></p><p>Bovis Homes, one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, faces a potential class-action lawsuit from a group of buyers who accuse it of selling houses riddled with defects.</p><p>Puneet Verma bought a five-bedroom house with his wife for £485,000 in Milton Keynes two years ago but says he still has a list of 120 snags. He is now consulting two law firms, Leigh Day and Slater &amp; Gordon, about taking group action.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/09/bovis-homebuyers-class-action-lawsuit-property-defects">Continue reading...</a>

Angry homebuyers plan class-action lawsuit against Bovis

Dec 9, 2017 7:00

A year after the housebuilder admitted it had pushed people into unfinished homes, they are still struggling with serious defects in their properties

Bovis Homes, one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, faces a potential class-action lawsuit from a group of buyers who accuse it of selling houses riddled with defects.

Puneet Verma bought a five-bedroom house with his wife for £485,000 in Milton Keynes two years ago but says he still has a list of 120 snags. He is now consulting two law firms, Leigh Day and Slater & Gordon, about taking group action.

Continue reading...

<p>Wannabe investors on taster session hear plenty of buzzwords – but few secrets from the Liverpool legend himself </p><p>Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It is playing as we file into the Stephenson suite in the basement of the Hilton London Euston. Thirteen of us have come here to learn the secrets of investing from the former Liverpool and England footballer and – we’re told - “property magnate” Robbie Fowler.<br></p><p><a href="http://rf-london.localspecific.com/">Adverts</a> for the <a href="http://www.property-academy.com/">Robbie Fowler Property Academy</a> picture Fowler and promise wannabe investors they will learn how to “build a property portfolio without the need of a footballer’s salary”. Fowler became so well known for his reputed property empire that during his spell at Manchester City, fans used to sing “We all live in a Robbie Fowler home” to the tune of Yellow Submarine. The former striker, however, is not going to be sharing any of his personal insight. He isn’t here. The adverts point out in the small print: “Robbie Fowler will not attend these events.”</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/08/just-the-keeper-to-beat-property-academy-for-wannabe-robbie-fowlers">Continue reading...</a>

Own goal? Robbie Fowler doesn't appear at his own property academy

Dec 8, 2017 19:04

Wannabe investors on taster session hear plenty of buzzwords – but few secrets from the Liverpool legend himself

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It is playing as we file into the Stephenson suite in the basement of the Hilton London Euston. Thirteen of us have come here to learn the secrets of investing from the former Liverpool and England footballer and – we’re told - “property magnate” Robbie Fowler.

Adverts for the Robbie Fowler Property Academy picture Fowler and promise wannabe investors they will learn how to “build a property portfolio without the need of a footballer’s salary”. Fowler became so well known for his reputed property empire that during his spell at Manchester City, fans used to sing “We all live in a Robbie Fowler home” to the tune of Yellow Submarine. The former striker, however, is not going to be sharing any of his personal insight. He isn’t here. The adverts point out in the small print: “Robbie Fowler will not attend these events.”

Continue reading...

<p>Every street is an architectural delight</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> I’m a sucker for a bit of Romanesque architecture. Even the prospect of a half-ruined tower and a crumbled jamb is enough to drag me several score miles off my beaten track. I’m easily distracted. And so I come to Kelso. Like those in its neighbouring border market towns, <a href="https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/kelso-abbey/">Kelso’s abbey</a> is a shadow of its 12th-century self, when it was the richest, mightiest monastery in the region. But even the fragments left behind still define the town, though the abbey has competition these days. This is a mighty fine town, a lovely little place squished where the rivers Tweed and Teviot say how d’you do. Every street is an architectural delight. The town hall has grand columns leaping over the cobbles on the Square. And the town has not one but two stately homes in tow. If you think <a href="http://www.mellerstain.com/">Mellerstain House</a> is fancy-pantsy, have a gawp at vast <a href="https://www.floorscastle.com/visit-us/">Floors Castle</a>, possibly the turrety-est stately home in the nation, and definitely not a castle. Those battlements couldn’t withstand the big bad wolf, let alone marauding Northumbrians across the border.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> Not cheap for hereabouts.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/08/lets-move-to-kelso-roxburghshire-property-tom-dyckhoff">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Kelso, Roxburghshire: this is a mighty fine town

Dec 8, 2017 16:30

Every street is an architectural delight

What’s going for it? I’m a sucker for a bit of Romanesque architecture. Even the prospect of a half-ruined tower and a crumbled jamb is enough to drag me several score miles off my beaten track. I’m easily distracted. And so I come to Kelso. Like those in its neighbouring border market towns, Kelso’s abbey is a shadow of its 12th-century self, when it was the richest, mightiest monastery in the region. But even the fragments left behind still define the town, though the abbey has competition these days. This is a mighty fine town, a lovely little place squished where the rivers Tweed and Teviot say how d’you do. Every street is an architectural delight. The town hall has grand columns leaping over the cobbles on the Square. And the town has not one but two stately homes in tow. If you think Mellerstain House is fancy-pantsy, have a gawp at vast Floors Castle, possibly the turrety-est stately home in the nation, and definitely not a castle. Those battlements couldn’t withstand the big bad wolf, let alone marauding Northumbrians across the border.

The case against Not cheap for hereabouts.

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<p>It’s quite possibly the best place I have ever been</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> You do know, don’t you, that when I write these columns, I don’t always want to actually move to the places? Is that like me pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz? Whitby is the real deal. I <em>really</em> want to move to Whitby. Really really really really. If only there was a market demand for middle-aged architectural historians with a love of Kate Bush and Kraftwerk at the Whitby jobcentre. This town is close to my heart. Quite possibly the best place I have ever been, so don’t you lot be mean about it in the online comments. Why? Behold, my list. Red pantiles. The best fish and chips (see below). A&nbsp;lighthouse in the shape of a gigantic classical column! The north-eastishness of it. The fact that it points towards Norway. Old lanes. Lovely tackiness. The moors. The most wonderful of beaches. Oh, crikey, St Mary’s church! I could go on. Go on then. Dracula, the Goths in autumn, ooh, and that old sweet shop on...</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> If I must. It really is quite an effort to get to, unless you live in Scarborough. But sometimes the best things require a little effort. Pricier than its surroundings.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/01/lets-move-to-whitby-north-yorkshire">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Whitby, North Yorkshire: it’s the real deal

Dec 1, 2017 16:30

It’s quite possibly the best place I have ever been

What’s going for it? You do know, don’t you, that when I write these columns, I don’t always want to actually move to the places? Is that like me pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz? Whitby is the real deal. I really want to move to Whitby. Really really really really. If only there was a market demand for middle-aged architectural historians with a love of Kate Bush and Kraftwerk at the Whitby jobcentre. This town is close to my heart. Quite possibly the best place I have ever been, so don’t you lot be mean about it in the online comments. Why? Behold, my list. Red pantiles. The best fish and chips (see below). A lighthouse in the shape of a gigantic classical column! The north-eastishness of it. The fact that it points towards Norway. Old lanes. Lovely tackiness. The moors. The most wonderful of beaches. Oh, crikey, St Mary’s church! I could go on. Go on then. Dracula, the Goths in autumn, ooh, and that old sweet shop on...

The case against If I must. It really is quite an effort to get to, unless you live in Scarborough. But sometimes the best things require a little effort. Pricier than its surroundings.

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<p>This isolated city near the Welsh border has a fine bone structure and hidden treasures</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> There’s a marvellous carving in Hereford Cathedral of actual pigs in actual blankets. Pigs in blankets! I wish I could show it to you. I mention this only to demonstrate that Hereford is a city that hides many treasures. First, it is a city, although it does sometimes betray a whiff of provincialism. Nonetheless, its relative isolation out towards the Welsh border, and the independent character and wealth that have grown over the centuries, have given the city a fine – if not beautiful – bone structure of civic architecture in ruddy stone. Recent decades, though, have not been quite so kind to Hereford: ring roads, economic sagginess and ill-advised paving schemes or public art, many attempts have been made to “improve” the city; they have not. There are glimmers of revival, though, the barest inklings of an understanding of its fine, unique character: the cattle it has bred for centuries, say, or the hidden beauty of some of its streets. Hereford’s heyday, I feel, is yet to come.</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/may/05/lets-move-to-blaenafon-gwent">Let’s move to Blaenafon, Gwent: ‘Money and hard work have spruced it up’</a> </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/24/lets-move-to-hereford-tom-dyckhoff">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Hereford: ‘Its heyday is yet to come’

Nov 24, 2017 16:30

This isolated city near the Welsh border has a fine bone structure and hidden treasures

What’s going for it? There’s a marvellous carving in Hereford Cathedral of actual pigs in actual blankets. Pigs in blankets! I wish I could show it to you. I mention this only to demonstrate that Hereford is a city that hides many treasures. First, it is a city, although it does sometimes betray a whiff of provincialism. Nonetheless, its relative isolation out towards the Welsh border, and the independent character and wealth that have grown over the centuries, have given the city a fine – if not beautiful – bone structure of civic architecture in ruddy stone. Recent decades, though, have not been quite so kind to Hereford: ring roads, economic sagginess and ill-advised paving schemes or public art, many attempts have been made to “improve” the city; they have not. There are glimmers of revival, though, the barest inklings of an understanding of its fine, unique character: the cattle it has bred for centuries, say, or the hidden beauty of some of its streets. Hereford’s heyday, I feel, is yet to come.

Related: Let’s move to Blaenafon, Gwent: ‘Money and hard work have spruced it up’

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<p>Almost implausibly perfect, its film-star beauty never fades</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> If you have a sense of deja vu in Stamford, it’s probably because you have deja vu-ed these streets before. Film crews after that Merrie-Olde-Englande-before-factories-and-uppity-plebs-ruined-everything look are 10 a&nbsp;penny here. The industrial revolution bypassed <a href="http://www.visitlincolnshire.com/content/stamford">Stamford</a> when local nob the Marquess of Exeter lobbied for the railway to go via Peterborough instead. In the 1960s they got a bypass, declared Stamford England’s first conservation area, and listed 600 buildings. Today, this is our Finest Historic Stone Town. You can’t move for heritage trails, plaques and costumed extras in bustles. True, the 21st century has seeped in; there is a Holland &amp; Barrett, a bus station, and fine <a href="https://www.stamfordartscentre.com/">arts centre</a> (though, sadly, the Greggs shut last year), but even new executive homes look as if they’re expecting the Dowager Countess of Grantham for tea.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> One can tire of honey-hued stone, of perfection. One can even miss Greggs.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/17/lets-move-to-stamford-lincolnshire">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Stamford, Lincolnshire: it’s a real-life Jane Austen set

Nov 17, 2017 16:30

Almost implausibly perfect, its film-star beauty never fades

What’s going for it? If you have a sense of deja vu in Stamford, it’s probably because you have deja vu-ed these streets before. Film crews after that Merrie-Olde-Englande-before-factories-and-uppity-plebs-ruined-everything look are 10 a penny here. The industrial revolution bypassed Stamford when local nob the Marquess of Exeter lobbied for the railway to go via Peterborough instead. In the 1960s they got a bypass, declared Stamford England’s first conservation area, and listed 600 buildings. Today, this is our Finest Historic Stone Town. You can’t move for heritage trails, plaques and costumed extras in bustles. True, the 21st century has seeped in; there is a Holland & Barrett, a bus station, and fine arts centre (though, sadly, the Greggs shut last year), but even new executive homes look as if they’re expecting the Dowager Countess of Grantham for tea.

The case against One can tire of honey-hued stone, of perfection. One can even miss Greggs.

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<p>We need to know if we’ll have to change our mortgage to a buy-to-let, even if we don’t plan to make a profit</p><p> </p><p><br></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/04/we-have-a-new-mortgage-and-would-like-to-travel-for-a-year-can-we-do-it">Continue reading...</a>

We have a new mortgage and would like to travel for a year. Can we do it?

Dec 4, 2017 7:00

We need to know if we’ll have to change our mortgage to a buy-to-let, even if we don’t plan to make a profit


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<p>We don’t know how two buyers of different status affect the application</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> I own the house I live in and want to help my son buy a flat. If we get a joint mortgage, what rate of stamp duty will apply given that he doesn’t currently have a property? <strong tabindex="-1">SG</strong></p><p><strong>A</strong> If you get a joint mortgage with your son and become the joint owner of the flat, your son will not be able to claim the first-time buyer’s stamp duty land tax (SDLT) relief announced in last week’s budget, and the higher rate – which is the standard rate plus 3% – will apply to the whole of the purchase price.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/27/will-son-get-first-time-buyer-stamp-duty-relief-joint-mortgage">Continue reading...</a>

Will my son get first-time buyer stamp duty relief if we get a joint mortgage?

Nov 27, 2017 15:07

We don’t know how two buyers of different status affect the application

Q I own the house I live in and want to help my son buy a flat. If we get a joint mortgage, what rate of stamp duty will apply given that he doesn’t currently have a property? SG

A If you get a joint mortgage with your son and become the joint owner of the flat, your son will not be able to claim the first-time buyer’s stamp duty land tax (SDLT) relief announced in last week’s budget, and the higher rate – which is the standard rate plus 3% – will apply to the whole of the purchase price.

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<p>My parents-in-law might move nearer us, but one of them requires nursing home care and we don’t know the rules around paying for it</p><p><strong>Q</strong> My parents-in-law live in a town about 50 minutes away from my husband and I. My father-in-law requires nursing care in a home, and as they have assets in excess of the £23,500 limit they will have to pay for his nursing home care.</p><p>I thought one way around the distance we would have to travel regularly to support them both, would be to have him admitted to a home near us, and for my mother-in-law to sell up and buy a property near to us as well.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/20/should-proceeds-of-property-sale-be-used-pay-care-home-care">Continue reading...</a>

Should the proceeds of a property sale be used to pay for care home care?

Nov 20, 2017 11:30

My parents-in-law might move nearer us, but one of them requires nursing home care and we don’t know the rules around paying for it

Q My parents-in-law live in a town about 50 minutes away from my husband and I. My father-in-law requires nursing care in a home, and as they have assets in excess of the £23,500 limit they will have to pay for his nursing home care.

I thought one way around the distance we would have to travel regularly to support them both, would be to have him admitted to a home near us, and for my mother-in-law to sell up and buy a property near to us as well.

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<p>We might need it at short notice but want the best return possible</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> We have just accepted an offer on our house from a cash buyer and plan to move into rental accommodation until we find a house of our own to buy, hopefully once the market picks up again in the spring.</p><p>We hope to have a cash lump sum of around £160,000 after paying off our mortgage. This will form a deposit for the purchase, but may sit for several months until we need it. Do you have any advice for how we can get the best return on this until we find our next home? <strong>KL</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/13/where-best-to-keep-house-deposit-money-short-notice-best-return">Continue reading...</a>

Where is best to keep our house deposit money?

Nov 13, 2017 12:30

We might need it at short notice but want the best return possible

Q We have just accepted an offer on our house from a cash buyer and plan to move into rental accommodation until we find a house of our own to buy, hopefully once the market picks up again in the spring.

We hope to have a cash lump sum of around £160,000 after paying off our mortgage. This will form a deposit for the purchase, but may sit for several months until we need it. Do you have any advice for how we can get the best return on this until we find our next home? KL

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<p>We can’t work out if it would be cost-effective or not</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> There has been a lot in money advice columns recently about remortgaging now to secure a low interest rate, and my husband and I are really confused.</p><p>Our outstanding fixed-rate mortgage is £165,000 on a property valued at £280,000. This deal ends in two years, so we would have to pay an early redemption charge of about £6,000 if we remortgaged. Our current rate is 3.89% and we have 21 years remaining on the full term of the mortgage.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/06/should-we-pay-penalty-remortgage-rates-low">Continue reading...</a>

Should we pay a penalty and remortgage while rates are low?

Nov 6, 2017 11:47

We can’t work out if it would be cost-effective or not

Q There has been a lot in money advice columns recently about remortgaging now to secure a low interest rate, and my husband and I are really confused.

Our outstanding fixed-rate mortgage is £165,000 on a property valued at £280,000. This deal ends in two years, so we would have to pay an early redemption charge of about £6,000 if we remortgaged. Our current rate is 3.89% and we have 21 years remaining on the full term of the mortgage.

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You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps<p>Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/24/factsheet-buying-home-property">Continue reading...</a>

Factsheet: Buying a home

Nov 24, 2014 14:10

You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps

Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:

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'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax<p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2007/oct/25/state.pensions">State pensions</a><br><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/sep/11/taxcredits.familyfinance">Tax credits</a></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/20/money-factsheets-benefits-loans-interest-rates-buying-house-insurance-pensions-savings">Continue reading...</a>

Money factsheets: How to organise your finances

Nov 20, 2013 12:35

'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax

State pensions
Tax credits

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<p>Toast the good life in this unusual property with stone walls, vaulted ceilings – and a wine press in the kitchen</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/dec/08/italian-former-winery-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Italian former winery – in pictures

Dec 8, 2017 7:00

Toast the good life in this unusual property with stone walls, vaulted ceilings – and a wine press in the kitchen

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<p>Treat yourself with these properties close to festive shopping opportunities, from Birmingham to Vienna </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/dec/07/homes-near-christmas-markets-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Homes near Christmas markets – in pictures

Dec 7, 2017 11:32

Treat yourself with these properties close to festive shopping opportunities, from Birmingham to Vienna

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<p>Filled with taxidermy, communist posters and art, this house owned by the Godzilla director is definitely a blockbuster</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/dec/04/hollywood-directors-london-home-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Hollywood film director's London home – in pictures

Dec 4, 2017 10:51

Filled with taxidermy, communist posters and art, this house owned by the Godzilla director is definitely a blockbuster

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<p>You’ll need cork bark, moss, nylon fishing line and a little manual dexterity: the results will be thrilling</p><p>A few months ago I began experimenting with a traditional southeast Asian technique for mounting living plants on slabs of timber to be hung like pictures on a wall. A novel way to display houseplants that naturally grow on trees in the wild, I thought, and sort of a playful protest to the newly on-trend revival of taxidermy. Instead of a dead animal, why not mount a living plant? Surprisingly, many of you on social media have asked for a “how to” on my “plantidermy”, so here it is.</p><p>This is a sort of a playful version of taxidermy. Instead of a dead animal, why not mount a&nbsp;living plant?</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/10/how-to-make-amazing-living-plant-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

How to make amazing living plant pictures

Dec 10, 2017 6:00

You’ll need cork bark, moss, nylon fishing line and a little manual dexterity: the results will be thrilling

A few months ago I began experimenting with a traditional southeast Asian technique for mounting living plants on slabs of timber to be hung like pictures on a wall. A novel way to display houseplants that naturally grow on trees in the wild, I thought, and sort of a playful protest to the newly on-trend revival of taxidermy. Instead of a dead animal, why not mount a living plant? Surprisingly, many of you on social media have asked for a “how to” on my “plantidermy”, so here it is.

This is a sort of a playful version of taxidermy. Instead of a dead animal, why not mount a living plant?

Continue reading...

<p>Escaping the capital for rural Hereford, offers the chance to bring a wonderful old farm back to life</p><p>There were moments when Adriaan Koppens doubted the wisdom of restoring a rundown farm in Herefordshire. Winter nights were the worst as gales whistled down from the Welsh mountains and branches rattled against the caravan where he sheltered during the project. But the next day, when the clouds lifted, revealing frosted hawthorns and sheep-speckled fields, Koppens remembered why he and his partner, Stéphane Girod, an economist, had chosen to leave London: “This is a special place. Because it’s been isolated for centuries it still feels unspoilt, not overgentrified.”<br></p><p>Trading city comforts for the Welsh borders was never going to be easy. But Koppens, a Dutch-born art historian, had taken on a particular challenge. The 18th-century house and its ramshackle outbuildings needed a new lease of life. So did the surrounding landscape: the softly spoken Koppens becomes animated when he reveals how he has gradually transformed the 70-acre setting, near Hay-on-Wye. “We’ve planted over 6,500 trees with the Forestry Commission, and repaired the hedgerows. It’s been rewarding to see wildlife returning: kites, pine martens, buzzards. In spring you can hear cuckoos, which is rare now.”</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/10/upper-house-luxury-spa-hereford-old-farm-country-retreat">Continue reading...</a>

Barns, beams and a French bulldog on the Welsh borders

Dec 10, 2017 6:00

Escaping the capital for rural Hereford, offers the chance to bring a wonderful old farm back to life

There were moments when Adriaan Koppens doubted the wisdom of restoring a rundown farm in Herefordshire. Winter nights were the worst as gales whistled down from the Welsh mountains and branches rattled against the caravan where he sheltered during the project. But the next day, when the clouds lifted, revealing frosted hawthorns and sheep-speckled fields, Koppens remembered why he and his partner, Stéphane Girod, an economist, had chosen to leave London: “This is a special place. Because it’s been isolated for centuries it still feels unspoilt, not overgentrified.”

Trading city comforts for the Welsh borders was never going to be easy. But Koppens, a Dutch-born art historian, had taken on a particular challenge. The 18th-century house and its ramshackle outbuildings needed a new lease of life. So did the surrounding landscape: the softly spoken Koppens becomes animated when he reveals how he has gradually transformed the 70-acre setting, near Hay-on-Wye. “We’ve planted over 6,500 trees with the Forestry Commission, and repaired the hedgerows. It’s been rewarding to see wildlife returning: kites, pine martens, buzzards. In spring you can hear cuckoos, which is rare now.”

Continue reading...

<p>Our gardening expert on how to select and grow the perfect crab apple tree</p><p>They hang like lanterns or Christmas baubles, a&nbsp;whole tree heavily laden with fruit when all else is bare. Where many crab apples have lost their fruit by November, a&nbsp;few species and cultivars will hold on to theirs well into the new year.</p><p>If you nibble one – and a nibble is often all you can do as many are the size of cherries – you’ll find they are tannin rich, stripping your mouth of moisture, though sometimes they have beautiful flavours beneath that. It takes many cold nights and sharp frosts before these apples soften and become desirable to birds, hence why they persist on trees deep into winter.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/09/how-to-grow-crab-apple-trees">Continue reading...</a>

How to grow crab apple trees | Alys Fowler

Dec 9, 2017 10:59

Our gardening expert on how to select and grow the perfect crab apple tree

They hang like lanterns or Christmas baubles, a whole tree heavily laden with fruit when all else is bare. Where many crab apples have lost their fruit by November, a few species and cultivars will hold on to theirs well into the new year.

If you nibble one – and a nibble is often all you can do as many are the size of cherries – you’ll find they are tannin rich, stripping your mouth of moisture, though sometimes they have beautiful flavours beneath that. It takes many cold nights and sharp frosts before these apples soften and become desirable to birds, hence why they persist on trees deep into winter.

Continue reading...

<p>From candles to kimonos, chutney to crayons, Guardian Australia brings you ideas for presents with principles</p><p>This article contains <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/info/2017/nov/01/reader-information-on-affiliate-links">affiliate links</a> to products. Our journalism is independent and is never written to promote these products although we may earn a small commission if a reader makes a purchase.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ng-interactive/2017/dec/09/the-good-christmas-gift-guide-36-picks-for-ethical-giving">Continue reading...</a>

The good Christmas gift guide: 36 picks for ethical giving

Dec 8, 2017 21:00

From candles to kimonos, chutney to crayons, Guardian Australia brings you ideas for presents with principles

This article contains affiliate links to products. Our journalism is independent and is never written to promote these products although we may earn a small commission if a reader makes a purchase.

Continue reading...

<p>From unfinished homes to bank errors, which gaffes have made your blood boil? Consumer champion Anna Tims picks the prize failures</p><p>As you read this, some of your fellow Britons will be considering remortgaging to pay a utilities bill that demands a four-figure sum because their supplier confused imperial meter readings with metric. Except they won’t qualify for a loan because their credit rating has been wrecked by a phantom £5 default on a bank account they closed 10 years ago. And they will be unable to get the default rectified because the bank can’t get access to the account. And in any case, they have no phone to ring on since telecoms have yet to be installed on their year-old housing estate and their mobile service provider inadvertently gave their number to someone else.</p><p>It’s tempting to take the next flight out to escape the torment of corporate Britain, but before you book, be aware that paying for a ticket does not guarantee that you will be airborne. The pilot’s holiday rota might have been messed up, or a weird glitch in your travel agent’s computer might have printed your surname twice and invalidated your ticket or cancelled your booking without letting you know.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/worst-consumer-service-errors-of-2017">Continue reading...</a>

Top of the flops: the year’s worst customer service errors

Dec 11, 2017 8:09

From unfinished homes to bank errors, which gaffes have made your blood boil? Consumer champion Anna Tims picks the prize failures

As you read this, some of your fellow Britons will be considering remortgaging to pay a utilities bill that demands a four-figure sum because their supplier confused imperial meter readings with metric. Except they won’t qualify for a loan because their credit rating has been wrecked by a phantom £5 default on a bank account they closed 10 years ago. And they will be unable to get the default rectified because the bank can’t get access to the account. And in any case, they have no phone to ring on since telecoms have yet to be installed on their year-old housing estate and their mobile service provider inadvertently gave their number to someone else.

It’s tempting to take the next flight out to escape the torment of corporate Britain, but before you book, be aware that paying for a ticket does not guarantee that you will be airborne. The pilot’s holiday rota might have been messed up, or a weird glitch in your travel agent’s computer might have printed your surname twice and invalidated your ticket or cancelled your booking without letting you know.

Continue reading...

Fraudsters have found a new way to target young people, with some losing all their funds in the first few weeks of term<p>When Alison Dean received a text from her bank, the Co-operative, asking whether she had just made a £999 purchase – asking her to call the bank if she hadn’t – she did what many of us would have done, and dialled the number in the message.</p><p>After all, the text had clearly come from the bank – it was listed on her handset amid previously sent texts that the PhD student knew had come from the Co-op – and she was well used to getting such messages from the bank.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/09/text-bank-student-loan-money">Continue reading...</a>

Text alert: the ‘bank’ message that cost a student £5,400 of her loan money

Dec 9, 2017 7:00

Fraudsters have found a new way to target young people, with some losing all their funds in the first few weeks of term

When Alison Dean received a text from her bank, the Co-operative, asking whether she had just made a £999 purchase – asking her to call the bank if she hadn’t – she did what many of us would have done, and dialled the number in the message.

After all, the text had clearly come from the bank – it was listed on her handset amid previously sent texts that the PhD student knew had come from the Co-op – and she was well used to getting such messages from the bank.

Continue reading...

<p>I want to retire as soon as I can, but friends say the minimum realistic spend for a decent life is £20,000 a year</p><p><strong>Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.</strong></p><p><strong>This week’s question:</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2017/dec/09/how-much-do-you-need-to-live-on-in-retirement">Continue reading...</a>

How much do you need to live on in retirement?

Dec 9, 2017 7:00

I want to retire as soon as I can, but friends say the minimum realistic spend for a decent life is £20,000 a year

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

Continue reading...

As soon as I entered my details on a price comparison site, the nuisance calls started<p><strong>Two weeks ago you featured a letter from a reader getting calls from claims firms asking about an accident. Two years ago I had a minor accident in Spain. No UK company (repairer, recovery, hospital) was involved. All contact took place on my wife’s mobile.</strong></p><p><strong>Months later, back in the UK, I went on several price comparison websites to get insurance quotes and, as part of that, had to reveal I had been involved in an accident. I also gave my mobile number. Almost immediately afterwards the claims calls started, asking whether I had been involved in a crash? </strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/nuisance-calls-price-comparison-sites-selling-personal-details">Continue reading...</a>

Surely it’s no accident that claims firms have got my phone number

Dec 11, 2017 7:00

As soon as I entered my details on a price comparison site, the nuisance calls started

Two weeks ago you featured a letter from a reader getting calls from claims firms asking about an accident. Two years ago I had a minor accident in Spain. No UK company (repairer, recovery, hospital) was involved. All contact took place on my wife’s mobile.

Months later, back in the UK, I went on several price comparison websites to get insurance quotes and, as part of that, had to reveal I had been involved in an accident. I also gave my mobile number. Almost immediately afterwards the claims calls started, asking whether I had been involved in a crash?

Continue reading...

<p>Big six also warn investment in energy sector is in jeopardy if firms are not allowed to challenge level at which bills are capped</p><p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/12/may-energy-price-cap-ofgem-electricity-gas-tariffs">Theresa May’s price cap on energy bills</a> risks damaging her government’s hopes of installing millions more smart meters in homes, two of the UK’s biggest energy companies have warned.</p><p>In evidence submitted to the business, energy and industrial strategy committee , British Gas owner Centrica said: “We believe the price cap will damage the rollout of smart meters and may reduce the total number of meters installed.”</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/energy-firms-say-price-cap-on-bills-could-hit-uk-roll-out-of-smart-meters">Continue reading...</a>

Energy firms say price cap on bills could hit UK roll-out of smart meters

Dec 11, 2017 10:32

Big six also warn investment in energy sector is in jeopardy if firms are not allowed to challenge level at which bills are capped

Theresa May’s price cap on energy bills risks damaging her government’s hopes of installing millions more smart meters in homes, two of the UK’s biggest energy companies have warned.

In evidence submitted to the business, energy and industrial strategy committee , British Gas owner Centrica said: “We believe the price cap will damage the rollout of smart meters and may reduce the total number of meters installed.”

Continue reading...

<p>The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings lists the UK’s highest salaried careers. If you fancy one of the Top 10 jobs, we have tips on how to do it<br></p><p>Have you got one of the best paid jobs in the UK? <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/oct/26/weekly-uk-earnings-rose-2015-biggest-increase-since-financial-crash">The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016</a>, and we’ve looked at the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country and what you need to do to get one of them. </p><p>To obtain the data, the ONS surveyed a random sample of 1% of all the workers who carry out each occupation, using 2015/2016 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax records. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/oct/31/highest-paid-jobs-2016-ons-annual-survey-hours-earnings">Continue reading...</a>

What are the highest paid jobs of 2016 in the UK?

Oct 31, 2016 14:10

The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings lists the UK’s highest salaried careers. If you fancy one of the Top 10 jobs, we have tips on how to do it

Have you got one of the best paid jobs in the UK? The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016, and we’ve looked at the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country and what you need to do to get one of them.

To obtain the data, the ONS surveyed a random sample of 1% of all the workers who carry out each occupation, using 2015/2016 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax records.

Continue reading...

I sold them via LocalBitcoins, but HSBC kept blocking my account<p><strong>When my girlfriend became pregnant I decided to sell my bitcoins to decorate a nursery. I auctioned them via localbitcoins. You put your coins into an escrow account, wait for an offer and, when the buyer has paid by Bacs, you release the coins. The buyers are verified by email, telephone and an official ID. </strong></p><p><strong>After a couple of days I had an offer. The buyer transferred the funds into my HSBC bank account; I released the coins. The same buyer made another purchase of £530. </strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/26/sell-bitcoins-hsbc-block-account">Continue reading...</a>

Virtual reality hit when I tried to cash in my bitcoins

July 26, 2017 7:00

I sold them via LocalBitcoins, but HSBC kept blocking my account

When my girlfriend became pregnant I decided to sell my bitcoins to decorate a nursery. I auctioned them via localbitcoins. You put your coins into an escrow account, wait for an offer and, when the buyer has paid by Bacs, you release the coins. The buyers are verified by email, telephone and an official ID.

After a couple of days I had an offer. The buyer transferred the funds into my HSBC bank account; I released the coins. The same buyer made another purchase of £530.

Continue reading...

<p>Workers will hit peak productivity at 11 o’clock this morning, according to a two-year study – but most will start flaking some time after lunch</p><p><strong>Name:</strong> 11am Monday.</p><p><strong>Time:</strong> Um, 11am Monday.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2017/dec/11/why-11am-on-monday-will-be-your-most-productive-moment-all-week">Continue reading...</a>

Why 11am on Monday will be your most productive moment all week

Dec 11, 2017 6:00

Workers will hit peak productivity at 11 o’clock this morning, according to a two-year study – but most will start flaking some time after lunch

Name: 11am Monday.

Time: Um, 11am Monday.

Continue reading...

<p>Three-year deal offers 2.15% for an investment of £500 to £1m</p><p>There was some rare good news for savers this week after National Savings &amp; Investments reintroduced its popular one- and three-year Guaranteed Growth/Income Bonds last offered back in 2009.</p><p>NS&amp;I, the government’s savings arm,&nbsp;says its one-year Guaranteed Growth Bond will pay an interest rate of 1.50%, while the three-year deal will earn 2.20%.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/09/national-savings-investments-growth-bond-higher-rates">Continue reading...</a>

Savings rates on the up, as NS&I relaunches growth bonds

Dec 9, 2017 14:20

Three-year deal offers 2.15% for an investment of £500 to £1m

There was some rare good news for savers this week after National Savings & Investments reintroduced its popular one- and three-year Guaranteed Growth/Income Bonds last offered back in 2009.

NS&I, the government’s savings arm, says its one-year Guaranteed Growth Bond will pay an interest rate of 1.50%, while the three-year deal will earn 2.20%.

Continue reading...

Our hotel in Gran Canaria was engulfed by a forest fire, but the insurer refuses to reimburse us<p><strong>In September my partner and I went on holiday to Gran Canaria. On the second day, while we were out walking with only minimal belongings, our hotel was engulfed by a huge forest fire. We were unable to return as the police had closed the roads, or to contact the hotel by phone (the line was down). We managed to get through to the hotel group headquarters in Madrid, which told us to go to another hotel. They were unable to say if our luggage had survived the fire, and our plans had to change significantly.</strong></p><p><strong>As we had nothing with us we had to buy essentials – underwear, hairbrush, phone charger. After three days we got our smoky and dirty, but unharmed, luggage back. </strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/10/allianz-travel-insurance-claim-refused-forest-fire-gran-canaria">Continue reading...</a>

Burning issue with Allianz as it rejects modest claim for travel essentials

Dec 10, 2017 7:00

Our hotel in Gran Canaria was engulfed by a forest fire, but the insurer refuses to reimburse us

In September my partner and I went on holiday to Gran Canaria. On the second day, while we were out walking with only minimal belongings, our hotel was engulfed by a huge forest fire. We were unable to return as the police had closed the roads, or to contact the hotel by phone (the line was down). We managed to get through to the hotel group headquarters in Madrid, which told us to go to another hotel. They were unable to say if our luggage had survived the fire, and our plans had to change significantly.

As we had nothing with us we had to buy essentials – underwear, hairbrush, phone charger. After three days we got our smoky and dirty, but unharmed, luggage back.

Continue reading...

<p>Report by work and pensions select committee says legislative action is needed to keep savings safe from scammers</p><p>An influential parliamentary committee has called on the government to fast-forward legislation that would halt the use of cold-calling by scammers who target people’s retirement pension pots.</p><p>In its latest report on pension freedoms, published on Monday, the work and pensions select committee says the government needs to change legislative tack to swiftly outlaw unsolicited pensions sales calls.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/dec/11/protect-savers-from-cold-call-pension-by-law-mps-urge">Continue reading...</a>

Protect savers from cold-call pension fraud by law, MPs urge

Dec 11, 2017 6:00

Report by work and pensions select committee says legislative action is needed to keep savings safe from scammers

An influential parliamentary committee has called on the government to fast-forward legislation that would halt the use of cold-calling by scammers who target people’s retirement pension pots.

In its latest report on pension freedoms, published on Monday, the work and pensions select committee says the government needs to change legislative tack to swiftly outlaw unsolicited pensions sales calls.

Continue reading...

Demand is increasing, alongside criticism, so if you want to get involved in the cryptocurrency then awareness is key. Shane Hickey reports<p>The boss of JP Morgan was unequivocal about bitcoin at a recent conference in New York: the digital currency was only fit for drug dealers and would eventually blow up. “[It] isn’t going to work,” said Jamie&nbsp;Dimon. “You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that the people who are buying it are really&nbsp;smart.”</p><p>A few days after Dimon’s comments, the value of bitcoin plunged when the Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on it. It has been an eventful month, even in the context of a currency that is less than a decade old. Since the start of the year the value of a single bitcoin has gone from $1,000 (£750) to almost $5,000.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/01/will-bitcoin-ever-be-safe-investment-gamble">Continue reading...</a>

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble?

Oct 1, 2017 7:00

Demand is increasing, alongside criticism, so if you want to get involved in the cryptocurrency then awareness is key. Shane Hickey reports

The boss of JP Morgan was unequivocal about bitcoin at a recent conference in New York: the digital currency was only fit for drug dealers and would eventually blow up. “[It] isn’t going to work,” said Jamie Dimon. “You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that the people who are buying it are really smart.”

A few days after Dimon’s comments, the value of bitcoin plunged when the Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on it. It has been an eventful month, even in the context of a currency that is less than a decade old. Since the start of the year the value of a single bitcoin has gone from $1,000 (£750) to almost $5,000.

Continue reading...

My wife maintains it costs more to heat the house up from cold<p>Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it's up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday's paper. </p><p><strong>This week's question</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2012/dec/07/save-money-heating-on-off">Continue reading...</a>

Do we save money by turning our heating on and off?

Dec 7, 2012 23:00

My wife maintains it costs more to heat the house up from cold

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it's up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday's paper.

This week's question

Continue reading...

<p>Start small in a regular savings account or stock market fund and little by little you can build a tidy lump sum</p><p>Setting aside a sum every month is the most painless way to save for the future. And when it comes to stock market investing, a regular savings plan can help smooth out the highs and lows – which is important during times of turbulence such as the last month or two, when the FTSE 100 index fell more than 10% in six weeks.</p><p>Once you have set up your direct debit or standing order, your money should quietly roll up over the years and provide a handy sum when you need it. Many people decide to save regularly to create a nest-egg for a child or grandchild.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/07/regular-investing-whether-you-have-10-or-500-theres-a-place-for-you">Continue reading...</a>

Regular investing: whether you have £10 or £500 there’s a place for you

Nov 7, 2014 7:30

Start small in a regular savings account or stock market fund and little by little you can build a tidy lump sum

Setting aside a sum every month is the most painless way to save for the future. And when it comes to stock market investing, a regular savings plan can help smooth out the highs and lows – which is important during times of turbulence such as the last month or two, when the FTSE 100 index fell more than 10% in six weeks.

Once you have set up your direct debit or standing order, your money should quietly roll up over the years and provide a handy sum when you need it. Many people decide to save regularly to create a nest-egg for a child or grandchild.

Continue reading...

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