Money Matters with Martin Lewis - ITV Money Matters with Martin Lewis - ITV

Monday, June 18, 2012

Money Matters with Martin Lewis - ITV

Money Matters with Martin Lewis - ITV

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting – hooyah! OK, not quite, but armed only with plastic, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with his financial self-defence class.

1. Don't stash cash under the mattress — it's only covered for £750

I was recently sent this tweet (to @martinslewis): "My grandad just passed away. Found £22,000 in his flat. £3k in various jacket pockets and drawers, £19k in a suitcase." It's a shocking amount, and fills me with fear. Not only is it forgoing interest, which could be tax-free in a top cash Isa, but most home insurance policies only cover up to £750 cash and require proof via a receipt/bank statement, meaning if something happened to it, it’d be very difficult to claim back.

Plus, as fireman @ddukeofdarkness told me: "Money under the mattress makes a nice accelerant in house fires for us to deal with."

2. Save in a UK bank and you're covered for up to £85,000

The alternative is money in a bank, building society or credit union savings account or cash ISA (not supermarket or savings schemes). Provided it’s UK-registered, if the bank were to collapse, the Government's Financial Services Compensation Scheme promises to pay out up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution.

Don’t think means UK-registered means only UK banks. The vast majority of big banks have this protection including Santander, HSBC, ICICI and more. The only major players that don’t are ING Direct and the Bank of Cyprus. With those, you’re reliant on the Dutch and Cypriot governments, respectively, for protection.

To check your bank's protection, see Martin’s Are My Savings Safe? guide.

3. Pay 1p on a credit card to protect a £5,000 purchase

Another tip inspired from a sad tweet: "My 86-year-old dad put a £120 deposit at a restaurant (he doesn't believe in plastic). It's gone into administration, what can he do?" Unfortunately, the answer is not much.

If you need to pay, the safest way, counter-intuitively, is by plastic. Buy goods for £100-£30,000 on a credit card, and legally the card firm's jointly liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, so you can claim a refund from it. This isn’t just for failed delivery but covers all your consumer rights (see trading standards info) so even if an item breaks later, you could claim from the card firm. Surprisingly, even if you pay just 1p on the card for, say, a £5,000 kitchen, it's still liable for the WHOLE amount.

So I always pay for big things on credit cards – yet crucially, set up a direct debit to repay in full each month so there’s no interest to pay, otherwise the cost dwarves the safety dividend.

4. Even debit cards have more protection than cash

While the credit card protection is legal, there is a lesser protection on a debit card. Pay on a Visa or Mastercard debit card (any amount on Visa, min £10 on Mastercard), and if a company goes bust or fails to deliver, you can ask your bank to get the money back from the firm’s bank via a chargeback scheme. It's only a last resort, and you must complain to your bank within 120 days of realising there’s a problem for it to work. But it's better than nowt.

5. Beware recurring payments

If a firm wants your long card number, beware. Direct debits are set up with bank account details, and allow easy cancellation rights. Yet if with subscriptions, eg, where telecoms firms, payday loan companies or websites want your credit OR debit card’s long number, it's a recurring payment (or continuous payment authority). These let them take payments when they want, and can be a nightmare to cancel.

They shouldn’t be a nightmare. In November 2009, rule changes now mean if retailers refuse to cancel, your bank/card firm MUST cancel if you ask – but they often don’t know this and it can be hell. If a bank refuses to cancel, take it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

6. Just because it's legal tender, shops needn't accept your cash

You may be surprised that NO bank notes are legal tender in Scotland. In England and Wales, only Bank of England notes are. Yet legal tender is meaningless in day-to-day life. Anyone can choose to accept or refuse any payment. Legal tender only means it can't be refused as settlement of court-ordered debt. But a quick word to English shopkeepers: please accept Scottish and Northern Irish notes. While not legal tender, they are UK Parliament-approved legal currency, which makes them a perfectly acceptable way to pay.

One last warning: As a last warning, I once put a pair of jeans with £60 in the pocket in the washing machine. Then I worried I'd be arrested for money laundering... (sorry).

Financial Times clocks up 1m followers on Google+ -
Financial Times Google Plus

The FT on Google+

The Financial Times has exceeded the one million followers milestone on Google+.

The news outlet with a metered subscription service online has more than double the number of followers of the New York Times and five times the number that the Guardian has acquired.

It is almost a year since the launch of Google's social network, with the Financial Times creating a page in November, when organisations were granted the ability to have a Google+ presence.

On Saturday (16 June) the FT thanked its one million followers on Google+ as it reached the milestone, a post which at the time of writing had generated 64 comments indicating the level of engagement.

According to a blog post on the Financial Times, "Google+ is much more than a social network" as it gives the "ability to personalise content to specific audiences based on what users are interested in".

In the post the news outlet states that "this platform is an important new communications channel", with search facilities and hangouts, the chance to include the audience in debates.

Earlier this month the FT said it is looking at ways to allow those with a subscription to the news outlet to login and read the digital publication from social reader apps such as Flipboard and Zite, enabling its audience to read the FT on their platform of choice.

In today's blog post on the importance of Google+ as a platform, the FT states that it "also wanted to create additional touch points for our readers, allowing them to read FT content where and how they choose".

The post continues: "In developing its Google+ page, the FT opted to emphasise captivating content and exclusive reporting. As early adopters quickly took to Google+, it might have been easy to focus on highlighting tech and digital content on the platform, but the FT has gone far beyond this remit, sharing a wide variety of content from correspondents around the world and has seen a strong response.

"Part of the social media team’s strategy has also been to play up to the highly visual nature of the platform and rich-media content such as videos, images and infographics have proved particularly successful."

Spanish stocks up, bond rates dip on Greek vote - The Guardian

MADRID (AP) — Spanish markets breathed a sigh of relief Monday with stocks opening higher and the country's borrowing costs dipping slightly after pro-bailout parties won the elections in Greece.

The Ibex-35 stock index opened about 1.5 percent higher while the interest rate Spanish 10-year bonds — a benchmark of market confidence in a country's ability to pay down its debt — was down nearly 7 basis points at 6.86 percent. That is still dangerously close to the 7 percent rate considered by market watchers to be unsustainable over the long term and the point at which Greece, Ireland and Portugal sought a bailout.

Spain is a focus of fears it might be the next eurozone country to need a full bailout. The government is to announce this week how much of a €100 billion fund it will tap to rescue banks that got burned when a real estate bubble popped.

New Issue-TCF Financial sells $150 mln perpetuals - Reuters UK

Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.

Money talks and London listens to the yuan - People's Daily Online

The fashionable youths in hot pants flocking to high-end department stores in London and bankers in dark suits walking in and out of skyscrapers in the financial district have one thing in common, a growing interest in the Chinese currency.

During the recent holiday to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Harrods, a department store known for its ties with the British royal family, launched its own Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, to attract more Chinese customers. Shoppers can find "the very latest, limited edition and exclusive products", with Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton among the most popular brands, according to the store's spokesman.

More than 100 UnionPay payment terminals in the store also help to make Chinese shoppers feel more at home. Through the machines, part of China's unified bank card network, Chinese visitors can pay for their purchases with the same cards they use at home.

A few streets from Harrods, a billboard featuring a green jade dragon shaped like the yuan symbol stands outside a bank. The ad reads: "A new global currency is emerging. Be part of it." The commercial is for HSBC, a bank rooted in the silk and tea trade between China and Britain in the 19th century.

The UnionPay terminals, the jade dragon advertisements and the shops on the streets of London offering exchange services between the British pound and the yuan are the tip of the iceberg in the biggest story in the financial markets today: the internationalization of the Chinese currency.

As people search for a bright spot amid sluggish economic growth in the West, beset as it is by the European debt crisis, companies, investors and financial institutions are increasingly focused on the yuan. From Beijing to Hong Kong, Tokyo to London, policymakers and businesses are part of the push.

There are several forces driving this move, both at home and abroad. The People's Bank of China has made several moves this year to liberalize the exchange rate; George Osborne, the UK chancellor of the exchequer, took the initiative to develop London into an offshore trading center for the yuan earlier this year; and this month, the yuan became convertible with the Japanese yen under an agreement between the Chinese and Japanese governments.

"All of it demonstrates that the Chinese government is pushing forward the internationalization of the yuan and encouraging the use of yuan offshore. That will help the global economy in many ways," said Adam Tyrrell, head of European capital markets for Standard Chartered in London.

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Wasting Money: 29 Ways To Stop Throwing Away Cash - Huffington Post

Money Talks News:

I consider myself a Budget Jedi. I watch my accounts like a hawk, shop sales, and stay home more often than I’d like to save money. But back in February, I realized I was still wasting money. In fact, I blew $35.94 in one week. You can read my full money wasting confession here.

But I don’t think I’m the only one with a few leaks in her finances.

Scroll down to see the 29 ways you’re wasting your money.

More On Money Talks News

8 Things Rich People Buy That Make Them Look Dumb

4 Prepaid Services You Don't Need

Bad Couponing: 9 Tips to Avoid It

  • 29. Impulse Buys

    Who doesn't know that impulse purchases are a bad idea? I've even realized it was a bad idea as I was doing it. So here are three quick tips: <strong>1. Make a shopping list.</strong> Take it with you and stick to it. <strong>2. Eat beforehand.</strong> An empty stomach can doom the most prepared shopper, especially at the supermarket. <strong>3. Shop alone.</strong> Bringing children (or a significant other who acts like a child) is a sure way to fill your cart with impulse buys.

  • 28. Buying Online Without Comparison Shopping

    When you shop online, there are hundreds of sites competing for your business. Buy those shoes at the first site you go to and you may be wasting money. Compare the purchase and shipping price at three or more sites before you buy anything.

  • 27. Paying For Protection You Don't Need

    While you need to protect some things in your life - like your car or your house - you don't need to insure everything. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">8 Types of Protection Not Worth Paying For</a> and see what you can live without.

  • 26. Being Disorganized

    Being disorganized about your finances leads to costly late payment fees and overdraft charges. You can easily rack up hundreds in fees. For example, even a single $25 late fee per month will cost $300 extra a year. Set up bill reminders and keep your checkbook balanced.

  • 25. Expensive Cell Phone Plans

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Consumer Reports</a> says the average person spends $600 a year on wireless service. But many people pay for services they never use. For example, I had an $85 unlimited plan and rarely used more than 1,000 minutes a month. So I switched to a cheaper 1,000-minute plan and saved $20 a month.

  • 24. Not Using Coupons

    Now that coupons are available online, you're wasting money if you're not using them. Do a quick coupon search before you buy anything, including clothes, groceries, and electronics. You can find coupons on our <a href="" target="_hplink">deals</a> page or on sites like: <a href="" target="_hplink">RetailMeNot</a>, <a href="" target="_hplink">Redplum</a>, and <a href="" target="_hplink"></a>.

  • 23. Oil Changes

    Cars don't need oil changes as frequently as they used to. If you're getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles, you're probably doing it too often (and wasting money). Follow the recommended mileage in your owner's manual.

  • 22. Premium Fuel

    Unless your car requires premium fuel, you don't need it. Buying premium isn't going to extend the life of your car or give you a significant MPG boost. In fact, Edmunds studied cars built from 2008 to 2012 and found that many models didn't even need premium fuel - even though the manufacturer recommended it. Here's what they had to say about it: <blockquote>In today's automobiles, advances in engine technology mean that even if the owner's manual recommends premium gasoline, the car will typically run on regular without knocking. Its performance will suffer only slightly: Perhaps it might be a half-second slower from zero to 60 mph. The key for drivers is to know whether premium gasoline is merely recommended or if it's required.</blockquote> Edmunds has a list of cars that need premium fuel (and a list of those that don't) in <a href="" target="_hplink">To Save Money on Gas, Stop Buying Premium.</a>

  • 21. Not Taking Advantage Of A 401(K) Company Match

    Many companies will match an employee's 401(k) contribution up to a certain percent. If you're not contributing enough to meet the maximum match, you're losing out on free money. Ask your HR department for information on your company match.

  • 20. Bill Pay Convenience Fees

    Some online or over-the-phone bill payment services come with fees. For example, my electric company charges $2.95 to pay online through their website. Instead, I use free bill pay through my bank. I still get to pay online, but I skip the fee and save $35.40 a year.

  • 19. Hotel Fees

    In many hotels, you'll pay automatic fees on top of your room price. Just paying those fees without finding an alternative (or fighting them) is a waste of money. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">7 Tips to Beat Hotel Fees.</a>

  • 18. Paying For Services You Don't Use

    Automatic withdrawals make us lazy with our money. If you're paying for something each month - like a gym membership, magazine subscription, or streaming service - make sure you use it, or those charges will add up to wasted cash. For example, here are mine:<br> 1. Gym membership - $29.99 per month<br> 2. Netflix subscription - $9.99 per month<br> 3. Popular Mechanics subscription - $1 per month<br> That's more than $40 a month. I make sure I get my money's worth out of them.

  • 17. Ignoring Your Insurance

    Becoming complacent about your insurance can cost you money. Stacy recommends shopping around for new insurance once a year - because when premiums drop or new, cheaper policies are available, no one's going to tell you if you don't ask. Check out our insurance comparison tool to shop for a better rate.

  • 16. Wasting Utilities

    Growing up, I got several lectures on leaving the lights on or keeping the front door open and "air conditioning the entire neighborhood." I didn't care too much then because I didn't pay the bill, but now I'm strict with my electricity usage. The result: My summer utility bills rarely top $100. If you've got lights on in a room you're not sitting in, you're wasting money.

  • 15. Dining Out

    I like to have a nice meal out every once in a while, but I've wasted a ton of money eating fast food I didn't really want because I didn't plan ahead. If I hit the drive-thru twice a week, I spend $12 on average. That is $48 a month - or enough for a really nice meal I actually wanted.<br> In <a href="" target="_hplink">30 Tips to Save Money on Food</a>, I've got a few ideas that will keep you out of the drive-thru lane - like keeping snacks on hand, freezing your leftovers to eat later, and planning your trips to the grocery store so that you always have something at home to eat. Check it out.

  • 14. Morning Lattes

    In my area, a Grande Caramel Macchiato costs $4.55. Buy one every weekday and you'll spend $22.75 a week, $91 a month, and $1,092 a year. By comparison, a 16 ounce bag of coffee costs me $5.99 and I can make about 82 cups per bag. That is 7 cents per cup, a savings of $4.48 a day. Make your coffee at home and skip the fancy coffee-house drinks.

  • 13. Buying Software

    Many popular software programs have free alternatives that are just as good as the paid versions. For example, the free <a href="" target="_hplink">OpenOffice</a> suite includes word processing software. <a href="" target="_hplink">Pixlr</a> offers free online photo editing with both vintage effects and a basic editor. For more advanced editing, use free software like <a href="" target="_hplink">Gimp.</a>

  • 12. Long-Distance Calls

    Most wireless plans include free long distance. If you call during off-peak hours, you won't use your minutes, either. You can also make long-distance calls over your Internet connection with <a href="" target="_hplink">Skype </a>and <a href="" target="_hplink">Google Voice</a> - both services offer free state-to-state calls. International calls cost 2 to 15 cents per minute through Google Voice. Check out their rate plans <a href="" target="_hplink">here</a>. Skype ranges from 2 to 23 cents per minute. Check out Skype's rate plans <a href="" target="_hplink">here.</a>

  • 11. Baggage On Airlines

    You'll pay up to $35 to check your luggage when you fly. Some airlines - like JetBlue and Southwest - don't charge extra for baggage, but most do. Check Airfarewatchdog's <a href="" target="_hplink">Airline Baggage Fees Chart </a>before you book. If you're getting charged, only bring a carry-on (they're free) or find a better airline.

  • 10. Full-Priced College Degrees

    Between 2009 and 2010, full-time students spent an average of $17,464 on tuition, room, and board, according to the <a href="" target="_hplink">National Center for Education Statistics.</a> But you can get a college degree cheaper (or even free) with scholarships. There are thousands out there. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">5 Ways to Score Scholarship Money.</a>

  • 9. Credit Reports

    By law, the three major credit bureaus have to give you a free copy of your credit report once per year. Don't buy one until you've used up your freebies at <a href="" target="_hplink"></a><br> Once you order your free credit reports, dispute any errors you find with the credit bureaus. Errors lower your credit score, and a lower credit score means higher <a href="" target="_hplink">interest rates</a> and wasted money. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">18 Tips to Give Your Credit Score a Boost</a> for more ways to improve your score (and your interest rate).

  • 8. Buying Books

    I'm an avid reader, but I haven't paid the suggested price in years. There are plenty of free or cheaper options for getting new books: <br> 1. Get them from the library for free.<br> 2. Use a book-swapping service to trade books you no longer want for ones you do. Check out the <a href="" target="_hplink">4 Best Sites for Trading in Your Old Books.</a><br> 3. Scour garage sales for books. I've bought many hardcovers for $1 this way. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">10 Ways to Save Time and Money at Garage Sales</a> for shopping tips.

  • 7. Brand Names

    Some brand names are worth paying a little more for, but in many cases, the cheaper generics are the same quality as the brand names. For example, basic food stocks like rice, sugar, flour, and butter taste the same no matter what the label says. And generic over-the-counter meds? They work just as well as the name brands. Check out <a href="" target="_hplink">7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic </a>before you buy anything else with a brand name.

  • 6. 411 Calls

    Use the search feature on your smartphone - connect to a WiFi network and you won't use your data - or dial <a href="" target="_hplink">free 411</a> (1-800-Free411.) The results are sponsored by companies, and you'll have to listen to a 10-second ad, but it's free.

  • 5. ATM Fees

    My bank charged a $2.50 "convenience fee" for using an ATM that's not in its network. Convenient for who? I didn't live by a branch, so I was paying around $130 a year to use my own money. I changed banks, and now I use an app - <a href="" target="_hplink">ATM Hunter</a> - to find a branch ATM.

  • 4. Credit Card Interest

    If you're not paying your credit card balance off in full each month, you're wasting money on interest. If you carry a $1,000 balance on a card that charges 18 percent, you'll waste $180 every year just on interest. If you can't pay off your credit card, check out our <a href="" target="_hplink">credit card comparison tool</a> and look for a card with a lower interest rate. Also look for money-saving <a href="" target="_hplink">zero-percent transfer offers.</a>

  • 3. Bottled Water

    A 16-ounce bottle of water costs about $1.50 at my local gas station. Buy a bottle of water five days a week, and you'll spend $30 a month and $360 a year. While it's not really free, water from your tap is much cheaper. If you hate the taste - and I do - you can buy a water-filtration system for as little as $20. Check out Consumer Reports' <a href="" target="_hplink">Water filters: green buying guide 2/12.</a>

  • 2. Checking Accounts

    Big banks charge an average of $110 a year for checking accounts if customers don't meet their minimum requirements, <a href="" target="_hplink">U.S. News & World Report </a>recently revealed. Your options? <br> Move your money to a community bank that will offer better terms, or head to a credit union. The National Credit Union Administration has a<a href="" target="_hplink"> Credit Union Locator</a> tool to help you find one in your area. <br> For those comfortable enough with the tech, consider going to an online-only bank. Without the overhead of brick-and-mortar branches, the terms are often much better. Consumerism Commentary offers two lists that are a great starting point: <a href="" target="_hplink">The Best Online Checking Accounts, June 2012</a> and The Best Online Savings Accounts, June 2012.

  • 1. Cable TV

    The average cost of cable is about $100 a month right now. And it's still rising. A recent study by consumer research firm<a href="" target="_hplink"> NPD Group</a> says it "expects the average pay-TV bill to reach $123 by the year 2015 and $200 by 2020." I canceled my cable about six months ago and haven't looked back. I keep up on the TV shows I like with <a href="" target="_hplink">Netflix </a>($9.99 per month for streaming) and Hulu (free for basic, $7.99 per month for extended). Many networks also stream their shows on their websites. For example: <a href="" target="_hplink">ABC</a>, <a href="" target="_hplink">NBC</a>, <a href="" target="_hplink">The CW</a> and <a href="" target="_hplink">Comedy Central</a>. To learn even more, check out <a href="" target="_hplink">You Don't Have to Pay for Cable TV.</a>

US SMALL/MIDCAPS-Stocks mixed as bearish outlook grows - Reuters

NEW YORK, June 18 | Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:51pm EDT

NEW YORK, June 18 (Reuters) - Mid- and small-cap stocks rose on Monday, but a survey of fund managers showed highly split views about the outlook for the sector as well as a rise in bearishness that could be an early warning signal for the stock market next quarter.

The survey by Credit Suisse showed that although there was an almost even split over the direction of smaller cap stocks over the next three months, the level of bullishness has nearly fallen back to the low seen in the second quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, the level of bearishness has nearly risen to highs seen in the first and second quarters of last year.

As Credit Suisse noted, those views last year were prescient, coming ahead of heavy market losses.

"Though we continue to think that the current period of distress in equity markets is presenting a buying opportunity, this piece of our survey results does cast some doubt in our minds as to whether the Russell 2000 (small-cap index) has seen its lows for the year," wrote Credit Suisse.

The survey was based on answers from 122 small and mid cap focused buy side and primarily long only investors on Credit Suisse's client list.

There is plenty of scope for the bearish scenario. Trading was volatile on Monday after election results in Greece staved off immediate fears of Greece exiting the euro zone but did little to clam concerns about Europe's debt crisis spreading.

On Monday the S&P MidCap 400 index gained 0.84 percent while the S&P SmallCap 600 index added 0.11 percent. In comparison, the benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.14 percent and the Russell 2000 index gained 0.16 percent.

Steel companies have been hit by the uncertain economic outlook. On Monday, AK Steel Holding Corp fell 2.8 percent to $5.17. The company forecast a second-quarter profit that fell short of analysts' expectations and said it could not predict full-year earnings because of volatile market conditions and a drop in steel prices.

Body Central Corp, the woman's retailer, slid almost 50 percent to $8.22 after it cut its second-quarter outlook as the company resorted to heavy discounting to clear out piled-up inventory.

On the upside, Ramtron International Corp rose 9.5 percent to $2.66. The chipmaker turned down rival Cypress Semiconductor Corp's offer to buy the company for about $87.6 million, and said it would explore other options including a sale.

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