Brits resolve to get fit and sort out their finances


  • 13 million* people plan to make New Year’s resolutions
  • Fitness, exercise, healthy eating and losing weight top the nation’s New Year’s resolutions
  • Top financial resolutions include saving money on outgoings, putting more money on deposit and getting out of debt or reducing loans and credit card balances.
  • A fifth (21%) say they usually break resolutions within a month


A survey of New Year’s resolutions has revealed that getting fit tops the nation’s New Year wish list with millions of people resolving to exercise more and lose weight.  Money matters also feature high in the nation’s 2014 ‘to do’ list with a third of those making a New Year’s resolution to sort out their finances and reduce their outgoings.


28% of the 2,000 UK adults quizzed revealed that they are planning to make resolutions in 2014, many (46%) will do so because they genuinely want to change their behaviour.  However, the survey also revealed how hard it can be to keep resolutions, with 21% of people admitting they have usually broken their resolutions before January is out.


   Rank The UK’s top ten resolutions for 2014 %
1. Get fit/take more exercise 54
2. Eat more healthily/change diet 49
3. Lose weight 46
4. Sorting out finances/reducing outgoings 33
5. Take up a new hobby, sport or interest 27
6. Spend more time with friends/family 26
7. Looking for a new job 25
8. Stop/reduce smoking 22
9. Stop/reduce drinking 17
10. Stop/reduce time spent on social media sites 7



Financial resolutions for 2014 concern both reducing spending and increasing savings:


Rank Top financial resolutions for 2014 %
1. Save money on outgoings 38
2. Save more in a deposit account 32
3. Get out of debt or reduce loan and credit card balances 21
4. Shop-around for a better energy deal 17
5. Buy a house or move home 12
6. Invest some money 11
7. Shop-around for insurance 10
8. Put more money into a pension 6
9. Re-mortgage 3



Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, commented:

“For many of us, a new year represents a fresh start – a time to think about things we want to achieve or behaviour we want to change.  But, despite beginning the year with good intentions – our survey suggests that most people fail to keep their resolutions.


“Resolving to make a change is always a good start, but good intentions on their own aren’t sometimes enough.  If you really want to sort out your finances and reduce your outgoings you need to start taking action.  The good news is there are easy and practical steps you can take to change your finances for the better.  By using comparison sites like, it’s never been easier or quicker to shop around for the best deals on your energy bills, insurances, credit cards and other financial products.”

photo by: simplyla

Utility statements top Britain’s most baffling bills

Electricity bills top the nation’s list of the most baffling bills with 36% of people saying that they find them hard to understand, closely followed by gas and water bills.  While household utility bills head the list of daunting documents, most people find bank and credit card statements the easiest to read and understand:



Hardest to understand (%)

Electricity bill


Gas bill


Water bill


Council tax bill


Home insurance renewal


Landline/telephone bill


Car insurance renewal


Mobile phone bill


Credit card statement


Bank statement



The survey of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by, found that one in ten people don’t understand most of their bills, while 17% tend not to read bills which they find confusing.  Most people (59%) surveyed believe that companies deliberately keep bills unclear.


Companies’ use of technical calculations, jargon and abbreviations contribute to baffling bills.  The main reasons given for not understanding bills were:

  • complicated calculations (68%)
  • not understanding the terminology used (36%)
  • too much information (31%)
  • language used is confusing or not plain English (29%)
  • they include too many abbreviations (19%)


When asked if they were able to explain the meaning of different terms and abbreviations used on bills and other financial documents most people felt confident in explaining debt (71%), credit (70%), balance brought forward (64%) and tariff (59%).  But found other commonly used terms such as calorific value, compound interest, APR perplexing:



Percentage of people able to explain (%)

Volume correction factor




All risks




AER (annual equivalent rate)


Inclusive allowance


Calorific value (CV)


Compound interest


Kilowatt hours


Recommended repairer


Vatable charges


Economy 7






APR (annual percentage rate)


Credit score


Dual fuel




Standing charge





Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, commented: “Bank and credit card statements, household bills and insurance renewal documents aren’t riveting reading and are often criticised for being overly complicated.  But, it’s important that you take the time to understand them because collectively they provide essential information to help you manage your finances, helping you balance what you earn against what you owe.


“As well as giving you an overview of your finances, it’s important to read through these documents to check for overpayments, changes to terms and conditions, errors or omissions.  For example, many people pay energy bills by direct debit and it’s not unusual to overpay during the summer months to offset higher winter bills.  But, often the level of direct debit payment is on the generous side and many people build up a surplus.  These overpayments will be shown on energy bills as credits and customers are entitled to ask for their money back.”


To help people make sense of their energy bills and other financial documents, has produced a range of guides and glossaries which explains commonly terms and abbreviations, as well providing tips to save money:

photo by: reynermedia

2013: a year of ‘Cautious Confidence’ as consumers start spending again

  • Increasing confidence amongst consumers has pushed spending up +3.3% – outstripping inflation for the first time in three years
  • Biggest increases in spending were on entertainment (+9.3%) and travel (+4.9%) as consumer spent more on treats and having fun
  • But sentiment remains fragile with fiscal responsibility and sluggish wage growth continuing to squeeze discretionary spend

After five years of rigid austerity, 2013 was the year when consumers loosened their purse strings slightly and spent more on treats and entertainment.

A review of the year’s consumer spending by Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, indicates that improving consumer confidence has pushed spending up +3.3% so far this year.

Over the course of the economic downturn consumers demonstrated strong fiscal responsibility – paying down debt, seeking greater value for money for everything they bought, and reducing their debt levels and increasing savings. In 2013, they increased their spending above inflation for the first time in three years.

The entertainment and travel sectors experienced the highest year-on-year spend growth, up by +9.3% and +4.9% respectively, as extra spending went mainly on enjoying ourselves and treating the family.

A much lower increase in general household spend (+3.4%) and clothing (+1.6%), suggesting that households are continuing to count the pennies and that having a good time needs to be off-set against spending elsewhere, for example by not updating their wardrobes.

Merging austerity with enjoyment

As consumers felt more confident about spending money on taking the family to restaurants, or going to see the latest blockbuster with friends, spending at restaurants grew +11.8% this year compared to last and spending on trips to the cinema and theatre was up +6.9%.

But budget-conscious consumers continue to seek out the best deals and only spend when they see a price they want to pay. So, whilst the number of trips to restaurants was up, the amount spent per trip was down -6.2% on last year, for example.

And consumers are not willing to give up the hard-won benefits of their prudence from the economic downturn and are resisting the temptation to splurge. A fall in spending on clothes – women’s and men’s clothing spend was down -0.5% and -0.9% respectively – and in department stores (down -3.0%), indicated that spending in one area is being substituted for spending in another.

The weather really does help

The scorching summer and improving economic sentiment meant spend growth was highest in the summer months: June (+4.9%), July (+4.8%) and August (+4.4%). Conversely, the extreme snowfall in the latter half of January saw flat growth of +0.1%, primarily caused by people staying wrapped-up inside, as in-store spend was down -1.9% on 2012.

Come fly with me

Spending on airlines and hotels was up, +7.5% and +4.9% respectively, compared to last year, as the annual family holiday made a comeback – although it wasn’t necessarily taken abroad.

Prompted by the bad weather at the beginning of the year and slow start to the summer, airline spend grew strongest in February (+14%), April (+14.5%), May (+13.9%) and June (+13.3%) – as families looked to escape what looked like another damp summer at home.

However, when the weather turned and one of the best summers in years arrived, spending on public transport (+6.0%) and hotel stays (+5.8%) boomed in July, suggesting that we made more day trips and took advantage of a last minute “staycation” in the UK.

Chris Wood, Managing Director, Barclaycard said:

“Consumers spent more in 2013 than we’ve seen them do for three years, as confidence in both the economy and their own financial situation increased. But they spent on having fun and enjoying themselves, rather than updating their wardrobes or buying new things for the home. Whether it was watching the newest blockbuster, taking a holiday, or enjoying a meal out, as a nation we decided to place a higher value on the things we did, not those we bought.”

“Looking ahead, though sentiment is still fragile, economic indicators are generally positive and consumer spending has outstripped inflation for seven out of the last eight months. So we are cautiously optimistic about the consumer spending outlook for 2014”


Growth in spend in 2013 vs. 2012
Category Growth
Restaurants +11.8%
Airlines +7.5%
Cinema\Theatre +6.9%
Public Transport +6.3%
Hotels +4.9%
DIY Stores +3.3%
Family Clothing +3.3%
Electronic Stores +1.9%
Furniture Stores +1.9%
Supermarket +0.7%
Garden Centres -0.2%
Women’s Clothing -0.5%
Men’s Clothing -0.9%
Petrol -1.3%
Department Stores -3.0%

The top family Christmas activities revealed

Parents fork out £45 per child on Christmas trips and treats

  • Trip to see Santa could cost as much as £11 per child
  • ‘Winter Wonderland’ and sporting activities challenge traditional Christmas treats and religious services


For many families a visit to Santa’s grotto is a big part of the magic of Christmas – and this year is no exception.  Most parents of children aged 12 or under are planning to take their kids to see Father Christmas – making it by far the most popular Christmas themed activity.


But, a trip to see the big man doesn’t come cheap.  Parents said that, on average, they spent around £11 per child on a visit to Santa, but a good number had spent considerably more.  Nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed said they had paid between £11 and £20, while 12% had spent over £20 per child.


The new survey*, commissioned by, questioned parents on their plans for Christmas themed trips and entertainment.  On average, parents said that they expected to pay-out £44.55 per child on a range of Christmassy activities, which in addition to seeing Santa, include watching the switching on of Christmas lights, a trip to the Panto or cinema and visiting a ‘Winter Wonderland’ type of attraction:


Top family Christmas activities


A visit to Santa


Watch the switch on of Christmas lights


A trip to the Pantomime


A trip to the cinema to watch a Christmas movie


A visit to a ‘Winter Wonderland’ type of attraction


A traditional carol concert


Winter sports activities (ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, sledging)


A Christingle church service


A religious service


A trip on the Santa Express train


A visit to a Christmas market abroad


A trip to London to watch a West End show


A trip to see Santa in Lapland



Commenting on the research, Claire Peate, customer insight manager from, said, “Christmas is traditionally a time of year when families get together to spend time with each other but, as our survey shows, it is also peak time for businesses to sell us Christmas experiences – from Winter Wonderlands and festive ice-skating rinks to visiting Santa ‘at home’ in Lapland.


“While as parents, we all want to our children to have a magical Christmas, the cost of Christmas presents, treats and activities can quickly mount up.  As a result, it might be wise to consider agreeing a budget for Christmas treats so that spending doesn’t get out of control.”

photo by: Trostle

Fighting back card fraud as methods are getting trickier



Card skimming – the process of electronically copying information from a card’s magnetic stripe and putting it onto an empty card – is fast emerging as the most common form of credit card fraud globally. With the successful adoption of EMV chip and PIN credit cards and card reading devices, countries such as the UKhas recorded a major decline in card fraud in recent years.


According to a new forecast report from Timetric, credit card fraud in the UK has declined at a CAGR of 18.8 % since 2008 to value US$ 491.9 million in 2012. The main reason for this positive trend has been the introduction of EMV chip and PIN credit cards and card reading devices. Although card fraud is much higher in value terms in developed economies such as the US, the UK and France, these countries have been successful in limiting the growth of fraud by adopting advanced security measures, innovative products and strict regulations in order to prevent fraudulent activities. Emerging economies like China and Russia have lagged behind in introducing such measures and have therefore witnessed significant growth in card fraud.


Card skimming is the most common form of credit card fraud

Every year millions of dollars are lost around the world due to credit card fraud – and fraudsters are only getting more innovative and technological advanced in their hunt for credit card information. Card skimming is the most common form of credit card fraud globally, especially in countries where magnetic stripe cards are still in use. Fraudsters carry pocket skimming devices, which is a battery-operated electronic magnetic stripe reader that can be used to swipe customer’s cards to steal information encoded in it. Skimming devices can also be fitted into the swiping area of POS terminals and ATMs. Since cardholders normally feel safe in such payment situations and do not suspect any malicious activity to happen, skimming can be very difficult to trace. According to Timetric’s new report on trends and issues in managing credit risk cycle, the adoption of EMV chip and PIN credit cards has proven successful in preventing card fraud in the UK and other European countries.


China records largest growth in card fraud

Among the developed markets, the value of card fraud was highest in the US, growing at a CAGR of 2.9% to value US$3.55 billion in 2012. Among the emerging markets, the value of card fraud in China increased at a staggering CAGR of 36.3% to value US$173.3 million in 2012. China was followed by Brazil with a card fraud value of US$150.3 million in 2012 while, in terms of growth, Russia gained the second spot with a CAGR of 28.2%.


#  #  #


Timetric’s report, ‘2020 Foresight: Best Practices in Managing Credit Risk Cycle’ was published on the 29th April 2013

US Investors Not Investing Enough Internationally

U.S. investors said they have just 11% on average of their income producing assets invested internationally.  As measured against investors from 12 other countries surveyed by Legg Mason, the U.S. investor has the least amount invested internationally.

According to the survey, 64% of U.S. investors said that “global uncertainty” was their major barrier to international investing for income, followed by “too much risk” (50%), “currency risk” (45%) and “not enough transparency” (44%).

That said, fully 60% of all U.S. investors said they would be open to considering international for equities and 53% said for fixed income; while 34% of investors who are investing internationally said they were focusing more on international opportunities compared to five years ago.

Where would they invest?

Per the survey findings, U.S. investors inclined to consider international markets are most likely to look for equity or fixed income opportunities in the United Kingdom and Japan, followed by Europe (excluding UK), Brazil, China, and other Emerging Market countries.  They are least likely to consider Russia.

Money as important as health for millionnaires

Millionaire investors say maintaining their health is as important as maintaining their current financial position, according to new research by online investor center Millionaire Corner. But they spend much more time managing their investments than their health.

Six out of 10 Millionaire investors, with $1 million up to $5 million in net worth not including their primary residence, cite their health as a top personal concern while 62% worry about maintaining their current financial position. Health concerns edge out financial concerns for Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) investors, who have $5 million to $25 million in net worth, with 56% concerned about their health compared to 55% concerned about maintaining their financial position.

Yet, while 53% of Millionaire investors and 62% of UHNW investors are actively involved in the day-to-day management of their investments, far fewer are exercising more, trying to keep their weight down or eating healthier foods than five years ago. Just 9% of Millionaire investors and 7% of UHNW investors are eating more healthy food than five years ago. More have worked on overcoming a bad habit, such quitting smoking or consuming too much caffeine, in the past five years: 24% of Millionaire investors and 30% of UHNW investors.

More insights on this topic form Millionaire Corner include:

Twelve Things That Will Likely Be More Expensive in 2013


Whether it be a gradual price increase due to supply and demand, or a noticeable spike in costs as a result of a change in inventory, here are12 things that will cost more in 2013.



12 Things That Will Be More Expensive in 2013


1.       Cars The Obama administration issued new standards that require automakers improve fuel efficiency, and the cost of upgraded engines alone is driving up prices.
2.       Groceries Meat, poultry, and dairy prices are all expected to rise thanks to this summer’s drought.


3.       Grain Cereal and bakery product prices will rise too, as a result of the 2012 drought and lower wheat yields.
4.       Health Care Premiums Employers will face higher premiums and the increased cost will be passed along to employees.
5.       High-End TVs & Home Theater Systems While there will always be budget home entertainment options, high-end TV and audio manufacturers are incorporating premium features which will drive up cost.
6.       Computers As tablets continue to gain momentum in the consumer electronics realm, computers are returning to their original function as work-related machines — albeit more powerful and expensive.
For the remaining 7 – 12



Thanks to and this article.

The True Cost of Car Ownership

The True Cost of Car Ownership

Seven Steps To Take Before Disaster Strikes Your Home

You can never tell if or when disaster strikes your home but you can always be prepared:


1.) Protect your property. Think about ways you can avoid or reduce property damage if a disaster were to strike again. A few ideas:

  • Know where to turn off water, gas, and electric lines. Install smoke detectors.
  • Clear surrounding brush to protect your home against wildfires, install hurricane shutters on windows, use wind-resistant shingles on your roof, and secure objects that could fall and cause damage.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, contact your local fire department for recommendations.


2.) Conduct a household inventory. Make a list of your possessions so you can estimate their value for insurance or tax purposes.

  • Include model and serial numbers. Computer software programs are available to help with this task.
  • If possible, take photos or your possessions or videotape them. Don’t forget to photograph your property’s exterior, your vehicles, and contents of your garage, closets, and attic.
  • Save receipts for valuable items and get professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, and artwork. These expensive items need to be listed individually in your insurance policy.
  • Store this list in a safe place away from your home, such as a safe deposit box at a bank located away from disaster prone areas.
  • Update your inventory annually.


3.) Have adequate insurance. If necessary, seek special or additional coverage for floods, earthquakes, or other losses not covered by standard insurance.

  • If you own a home, buy at a minimum, full replacement or replacement cost coverage. This means the structure can be replaced up to the limits specified in the policy. Even better protection, although not always available, is guaranteed replacement cost coverage. This means the policy will pay to rebuild your house at today’s prices, regardless of the limits of the policy. However, you must make an effort to keep the policy coverage amount current.
  • Check to see if the policy covers building-code changes, and look for a policy that covers the replacement cost of your possessions, not just the actual cash value.
  • If you rent, buy renter’s insurance, which pays for damaged, destroyed, or stolen personal property. You also may need special insurance if you live in an area prone to floods or earth movement. Ask your insurance agent.
  • Finally, don’t overlook the importance of wind and hail, health, disability, long-term care, umbrella liability, life insurance and flood insurance. Standard home-insurance policies don’t cover flooding, but the federal government does through the National Flood Insurance Program. You may need to draw on benefits from one or all of these policies if you are ever faced with another disaster.


4.) Keep cash available.

  • Stash a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a place where you can get at the money quickly in case of a sudden evacuation, or if a disaster shuts down local ATMs and banks.
  • Set aside extra money in an emergency fund in a bank savings account, and keep your credit cards paid off so you will have enough credit to get you through a disaster.


5.) Use an evacuation box and safe deposit box.

  • Put important papers in a box that you can grab in the event of an emergency. Some items to put in the box: traveler’s checks, a few rolls of quarters, negatives of important personal photographs, a list of emergency contacts, copies of prescriptions and medical records, copies of insurance policies, backup disks of critical computerized information, copies of other important family and financial records, and your safe deposit box key.
  • Store original documents, property deeds and birth certificates, in a bank safe deposit box.


6.) Make an evacuation plan. Imagine that you could take only one suitcase or pack a single carload in the event of a disaster. What would you take, how would you leave your home, where would you rejoin your family, and who would you call if you became separated?


7.) Do additional research -keep reading MoneyAdvice HQ and other sites for money saving ideas and tips.