SAM BARKER: Our financial futures as Moneywise comes to an end

It is testament to the title that so many passionate financial journalists have worked here

Sam Barker
Wed, 07/29/2020 – 09:00

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As you will have no doubt realised by now, Moneywise’s time is at an end.

“It is testament to the title that so many top-notch financial journalists either work here or have done so over the past 30 years.”

While some of my colleagues have been on the title for the better part of two decades, I joined in March this year.

I replaced the indomitable Edmund Greaves, whose ability, humour and extensive collection of cold-brew coffee apparatus now graces marketing company MRM.

But my experience here has been very different to most, thanks to coronavirus.

Every day on the job has been spent working from home as we put together a magazine from our studies and kitchen tables, a feat previously thought impossible.

I will have completed just four month’s service by the time we shut our doors.

My colleagues, blessed with longer service, can write final columns with passion and familiarity about their years of association with the title.

I cannot hope to match that here.

But I can talk about one aspect of Moneywise with absolute conviction – the loyalty of the readers and their great engagement with the title.

This was impressed upon me from my very first day. Moneywise’s inboxes are always full of messages from readers asking for help, alerting us to potential stories, thanking us and even pointing out when we get something wrong. Many have read the magazine for every one of its 30 years of existence.

Thank you to all of you. You are the reason we get out of bed in the morning and I hope the Moneywise staff are able to continue to help you in whichever jobs we end up in next.

But there is one last thing to say before I go.

It might appear our personal finances are in the middle of a raging storm, but the good news is you are already equipped to weather this, even if you don’t know it.

The problem affects investments, savings rates, mortgages, house prices, pensions and more.

Investors have been affected by falling stock markets and companies cutting dividend payouts. A similar issue has affected many pension pots.

Meanwhile savings rates have fallen to their lowest level on record.

House levels saw their biggest monthly fall in 11 years in May and could fall even further.

That is either good news or bad news depending on who you ask. Many first-time buyers desperate to get onto the property ladder will welcome falling house prices.

But then they run into a second problem – lack of mortgages. The choice of home loans for first-time buyers is bleak, as many lenders have stopped offering low-deposit mortgages altogether.

Layered on top of all this are scams. Fraudsters have taken advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to prey on the vulnerable, and the latest scam saw 300 investors lose a total of £3 million to fake financial companies.

Job losses will also affect many of us as businesses wean themselves off Government life support, and a major recession is predicted.

But the answer to any storm, as any British person knows, is to grit your teeth and make sure you’re wearing the right clothing.

Much of this financial turmoil is outside our control.

We have little influence over what financial companies do, or when we might lose our jobs.

So we should instead focus on the things we can do something about.

Yes, returns from investing and saving may not have looked great in recent months, but both remain crucial to planning for our futures.

Some savings deals still offer half-decent returns. National Savings & Investments has a pretty tasty easy access account paying 1.16% a year, for example, while a Coventry Building Society regular saver has a 1.85% rate on balances of up to £6,000 a year.

And there is still sense in investing too. Yes, markets are low, and investing always carries some risk. But getting into investing now means benefiting from pound cost averaging – a fancy way of saying your money can buy more shares when markets are low, meaning you stand to benefit when they eventually rise.

Likewise for paying into a pension, or saving for a home. There will come a time when you will be grateful you didn’t give up on these things now.

Financial prudence and a bit of luck will ensure we are all best placed to get through the trouble we are now facing. Thank you again for your continued support for Moneywise and I hope to speak to you again in the future.

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