Your Money | Melanie Bien

Who said 'never a borrower be'?

Savers and investors should be happy to see the back of 2001. Those invested in shares watched in dismay as the market continued to disappoint. Those with money in savings accounts saw their returns plummet as the Bank of England repeatedly cut interest rates. Those with Equitable Life pensions watched with increasing despair as thousands of pounds were slashed from the value of their funds, leaving those nearest to retirement facing penury.

There was some good news, however. Low interest rates resulted in some of the best mortgage deals ever. A large number of people remortgaged their homes to take advantage of this, while others turned to buy-to-let, encouraged by a growing range of specialist loans and a booming rental market. What's more, as property prices steadily increased – although not at the levels we have seen in the past two years – capital appreciation made getting a foot on the property ladder ever more attractive.

So what does 2002 hold for us? Well, experts predict a recovery in the stock market, which is good news for investors, although it seems unlikely this will take place before the end of the year. In the meantime, it is probably worth drip-feeding your money into an individual savings account to give you broad exposure to the market. After all, a recovery will mean an increase in share prices, so it makes sense to pick up a few while they are cheaper.

The housing market is also expected to hold its value next year. There has been a slight slowdown in the number of viewings per property but, on the whole, values remain steady. Sharp increases in property prices are unlikely – that has already happened – but realistically priced properties should continue to sell. Mortgage rates are already beginning to climb, with Nationwide increasing its fixed rates last week – so move quickly if you are thinking of buying a property or remortgaging.

As far as pensions are concerned, the Government's consultation on annuities should be published by the end of this month and will be up for debate at the beginning of next year. The best solution seems to be not abolition but a tweaking of the rules, allowing people to guarantee a basic support level with an annuity and then do what they like with any funds above that.

As for Equitable Life, the result of the compromise vote will be announced next month, giving a clearer idea as to the future of the insurer. Let's hope that a compromise is reached: there is precious little alternative.

All we know for sure is that 2002 is bound to be full of surprises that will affect our personal finances – all of which we will follow in these pages. Until then, I would like to wish all of you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

m.bien@independent.co.uk

News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

    Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

    Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

    £Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

    Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

    £Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

    £90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game