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.

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Helpdesk Analyst

    £23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

    Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

    £27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

    Senior Pensions Administrator

    £23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London