Best of the Money blog (2024)

Essential reads
  • Savings Guide:Savers have a rare opportunity - but it might be the last hurrah
  • Cheap Eats:Two Michelin-starred chef reveals his favourites in Birmingham
  • Women in Business:'We don't get invited to golf' - The women who coordinated pregnancies to start virtual cancer care business and raised £5m
  • Basically... What is income tax?
  • Money Problem: 'I hired a car via EasyJet but they are directing my complaint to someone else - what can I do?'
  • Best of the Money blog - an archive

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Best of the Money blog - an archive

The Money blog will return on Monday - meantime, why not scroll through some of our best and most popular features below...








Major retailer freezes school uniform prices again

John Lewis is keeping its school uniform prices frozen for the fourth year running.

The department store chain also offers parents an online school uniform checklist to help prepare for the start of the new year.

It also offers a free shoe-fitting service, while some of its newer school uniform products released in the last three years have not seen a price rise.

John Lewis school uniform buyer Cydney Ball said:"Our customers trust us as the one-stop-shop for all things back to school."


Cineworld wants to close roughly a quarter of its British sites

Cineworld is drawing up plans to axe dozens of British cinemas as part of a radical restructuring that would also include extensive rent cuts.

Sky News has learned that the company, which until last year was listed on the London Stock Exchange, is considering closing about a quarter of its roughly-100 British multiplexes.

Cineworld also wants to renegotiate rent agreements at a further 50 sites, with the remaining 25 untouched by the restructuring.

Sources said the proposals were expected to be formally outlined to creditors including landlords in the coming weeks.

Read the full story here...


England fans warned over buying cheap electronics during Euros

A safety charity has warned England fans against buying cheap electronics online amid a "blitz" of advertising.

Electrical Safety First is urging fans bombarded with ads for discounted goods "don't bring it home" in a new campaign to raise awareness of unregulated online marketplaces.

The charity have previously uncovered substandard and dangerous electrical products across major online marketplaces.

Examples of such include portable heaters posing a serious risk of electrocution, hair straighteners and hair dryers featuring illegal UK plugs and e-bike chargers that pose a fire risk.

"Football, and other global sporting events, are experiencing advertising blitzes by major online marketplaces across the globe, and at a time when millions of people are struggling with finances, we understand how appealing low-cost deals will be," said Electrical Safety First's chief executive Lesley Rudd.

"But it's important for fans to remember that they risk scoring an own goal if the deal they bag turns out to be a substandard or dangerous product.

"Substandard electronics can have serious consequences for your safety and an innocent purchase could put you and your family at risk."

The charity makes the following suggestions to consumers selecting electronics from online marketplaces:

  • Pay attention to the plug - if a product is listed with a foreign plug and travel adaptor, do not buy it.
  • Do not buy on price alone - not all bargains are worth it
  • Make sure you do your homework if you decide to buy products below high street retail prices.
  • Beware of a product with solely glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers are not verified.
  • Make sure you know where the supplier is based - a "" URL doesn't guarantee the website is UK-based.
  • If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary; many dodgy electrical goods are manufactured overseas.
  • Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol in the address bar of the website you are visiting. If you cannot see it, do not enter your payment details.


Spending on cars has risen three times faster than public transport since 2018

Consumer spending on car purchases has risen three times faster than for public transport journeys, new figures show.

Around £57.4bn was spent in the UK on new and used cars in 2023, up 6% on five years earlier, according to AA analysis of Office for National Statistics data.

By comparison, consumer spending on public transport - including rail, buses, flights and taxis - was £60.9bn, representing a 2% increase on five years ago.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens claimed the figures highlight how vital motoring was for people in the UK, as well as the country's finances.

He said: "These latest ONS figures underline the UK's reliance on cars and the huge amounts of money they generate for the economy - not to mention VAT on that spending, and other tax.

"Cars are not just necessary but essential on so many levels. Even if a significant amount of car use was transformed into take-up of public transport, the impact on the economy and other income generation would be dramatic.

"Just think how much councils would lose if a high percentage of cars stopped turning up to their car parks or needing parking permits, and getting fined.

"The key question is whether what consumers spend on cars would translate into income for public transport and cover the cost of infrastructure investment to enable that.

"It seems that getting travelling consumers to fork out for their own transport and its maintenance, and then tax the heck out of them, is a pretty good deal for the public purse."

Running a car also accounted for a large chunk of the £78.6bn spent on what is described as the operation of personal transport, with spending on fuel and lubricants up 20% since 2018 to £41.7bn.

New car purchases down

But despite the fact more consumers are spending money on cars than on public transport, the number of purchases of new cars by private buyers has declined for nine months in a row, new figures show.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 67,625 new cars were registered by private consumers in June, down 15.3% from 79,798 during the same month last year.

Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, said: "With average new car prices rising almost 40% over the last five years, it's clear cost is the culprit.

"Manufacturers are responding with discounts but they're failing to keep pace, which is forcing many buyers to opt for a used alternative.

"Whoever forms the next government needs to address electric car affordability and provide long-term stability for the market."

Environmental impact

Despite comments from the AA, the billions of pounds spent by consumers every year on cars is having a clear effect on UK roads - where overall traffic levels in 2023 were 2.2% higher than the previous year.

More cars on the roads means more air pollution, which is among the biggest environmental health risks facing people in the UK.

Burning petrol and diesel fuel creates harmful by products like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, while vehicles emit carbon dioxide, the most common human-caused greenhouse gas.

Even electric vehicles produce particulate matter from the friction between their tyres and the road.

Researchers from University College London estimated that 48,625 adults die prematurely each year in the UK due to particulate matter pollution.

Presently, 79% of the UK exceeds the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual mean guideline for safe fine particulate matter levels.


'Rip off' bar charges holidaymakers £690 for two drinks

A Greek restaurant has faced criticism for its "rip off" prices.

Holidaymakers have been warned to stay away from DK Oyster on the popular holiday island of Mykonos, which has received swathes of bad reviews onTripadvisor.

The restaurant, which describes itself as being an "oasis of ultimate luxury and extravagance", has an average star rating of two on the website - although, in the interests of balance, it has 4.8 on Google reviews.

Angry punters say they were lured into buying a drink at DK Oyster after being told the sunbeds were free, only for the prices for those drinks to be sky-high.

Among the latest to complain is Lori E, who said she returned home from her Greek holiday to see a charge of $876 (£690) for two drinks.

She wrote: "Total rip off! Make sure you get a receipt before leaving and check your credit card because they over charge.

"Was told beds were free to sit it if we order food or drink. No problem....ordered 2 drinks which we afterwards saw were 51 euros each.

"If that wasn't crazy enough we returned to the states and had a $876 charge on our account. FOR 2 DRINKS!!!"

The tourists are now trying to dispute the charge with their credit card company after never receiving a paper copy of a receipt.

Responding to the Tripadvisor review, DK Oyser said: "Our sunbeds come with minimum consumption, so we encourage all visitors to check the menus, before placing their orders.

"I would like to note that our menus are displayed on blackboards near the entrance, showing the prices of our food and drinks to keep our guests informed."

Other reviews claim DK Oyser charged them £253 for sea bass and £100 for a jumbo shrimp that "wasn't cooked properly".

DK Oyster has been contacted for comment.


Iceland launching new childrens range with Mumsnet

Iceland is set to partner with parenting website Mumsnet to launch a range of children's products.

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts, and the brand's partnership director Sarah Murray-Muncila, met with members of Iceland's innovation team last week to work on the products.

According to The Grocer, the new products will hit the stores in early 2025.

"We've been working on something truly special in partnership with Iceland Foods," Mumsnet said.

"Big things are happening for little ones."

Iceland has launched several new collaborations in recent months, including exclusive products with brands such as Slimming World, MyProtein and boxer Tyson Fury's Furocity.


New record high for US stocks - as FTSE indexes also up

It's not just a big day in the UK with voters heading to the polls but also in the US with 4 July celebrations taking place.

And there's plenty to celebrate for those with a stake in US stocks.

Last night, there was another record high for the S&P 500 index that tracks the share price performance of the 500 largest companies listed on US stock exchanges.

The performance of companies on the tech firm-heavy New York-based NASDAQ too reached a new high.

It came as Elon Musk's Tesla saw its share price reaching a six-month high, along with the rise and rise of trillion-dollar AI microchip maker Nvidia.

Today and tomorrow will likely be quieter as the US markets close.

In the UK, both the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 and 250 indexes are up - 0.76% in the list of 100 most valuable companies and 0.42% in the 101st to 250th most valued firms.

While the pound does by buy less euro than it did earlier this month, with £1 equal to €1.18 it's still buying more than during most of the last year.

Against the dollar, sterling has held the gains of the last few weeks and a pound will get you $1.2749.

There is no let up for motorists as the oil price is sticking around the two-month high mark. A barrel of the benchmark Brent crude oil costs $86.59.


Great British mortgage divide - as people pay off all debt seven years earlier in some parts of country

As house prices continue to rise, so too does the age at which young people can expect to own their own home.

Unfortunately, even the ceiling of the term "young people" isn't far off from being challenged - with fresh research suggesting that the average age of a first-time buyer in the UK is 33 years and 8 months old, according to Mojo Mortgages.

In comparison, in 1960, the average first-time buyer was 23 years old, according to separate research by Keepmoat Homes.

Comparatively, however, the average age of a first-time buyer in 2014 was 32 years, 6 months old, according to the Office for National Statistics.

During the same period, the average price of a house in the UK rose from around £188,000 (January 2014) to £282,000(January this year).

Back to today's figures - and those in Wales are able to buy their homes the youngest, with the data suggesting the average first-time buyer there is 31 years old.

Naturally, the older you buy a home, the later in life you'll pay off a mortgage.

With an average mortgage length of 30 years, it seemsthe average UK first-time buyer isn't expected to be mortgage-free until they are 63 years and 8 months old.

And if you live in the capital,you'll surpass the current retirement age at 66 years, 8 months.

Here's a full breakdown of how old first-time buyers are, the average mortgage length and age they can expect to be mortgage-free by region...

A lot of people have had to renegotiate or extend their mortgages thanks to soaring interest rates in recent years - and the data from Mojo tells us a little about that too.

The study found extending your mortgage term by 10 years (to 35 years) will cost today's average first-time buyer an extra £110,640, which may impact later life planning and their pension.


Barclaycard cutting minimum repayments - but it could cost you a lot of money

Barclaycard is cutting the minimum amount its customers have to repay each month.

While the move may sound like good news on the surface, it could well mean you're in debt for longer and end up paying more interest.

At the moment, most Barclaycard customers have a minimum repayment of 3.75% of their balance, 2.5% of their balance plus interest, or £5.

But, from 22 July, that will change to the highest amount out of:

  • 1% of their balance
  • 1% of their balance plus interest
  • £5

This means if you are currently only paying the minimum on your card, you'll likely repay less each month.

But, minimum amounts are designed to keep people in debt for as long as possible, and lowering them just makes this period even longer.

MoneySavingExpert says the change means it could now take a customer with a £1,000 debt an extra decade to pay it off, if they only pay the minimum amount.

On average, it says it will take 19 years and three months to clear and the interest will total £1,655.

Founder of MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis says the change is "worryingly under the radar" and urged customers to check if their repayments are set to the minimum amount.

"Minimum repayments have always been credit card firms' secret weapon. Letting people repay little looks appealing – hence why Barclaycard says this is about 'flexibility'. Yet it takes flexibility to kick your own backside, and this will hurt some just as much," he said.

A Barclays spokesperson told Sky News: "We regularly review our products and from July, some Barclaycard customers will see changes to their minimum monthly payments, alongside adjustments to the APR.

"Customers will benefit from a reduction in their minimum monthly repayment and the vast majority have no change to APR, while some will receive a decrease.

"We have made these changes to increase flexibility for our customers and have been clear in our communications that paying more than the minimum can help customers clear their balance sooner and pay less interest."

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