Click image to enlarge


Middle-class problems: Savings

By Marianne Levy

Have you used up this year's ISA allowance? Got any bonds? How's your pension doing?

Of course I can't say any of this to anyone, ever, because I am middle-class and Must Not Talk About Money. Those to whom I have confessed my most intimate secrets will never know what I am doing with my pay cheques. And I'm far more likely to discover the recent activity of their private parts than that of their spare cash.

The savers' super-injunction makes sense. I can well imagine the mutual embarrassment were I to enquire whether a friend has gone fixed-rate or easy-access, only to discover that they've just pawned the wedding rings. Or that they're tying up the purchase of a small island in the Caribbean. Either way, it's none of my business.

But it's not idle curiosity that makes me so eager to ascertain the contents of my mates' bank accounts – or rather, not just that. Whether it's a new bag or a new bond, I take my lead from others. Mine is a limited imagination, which is fine if I'm struggling to translate high fashion into something I might actually wear, but not quite so fine if it means I will die in penury.

So I resort to a watchful silence, broken only by the occasional fraught tête-à-tête with my parents. ("What do you mean you don't have a pension? No, don't change the subject, come back here…")

And I suppose, really, I'm very fortunate. Not only do I have some savings, however meagre and poorly invested, I also have friends who tell me all about their sex lives. It could be a lot worse.