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

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

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

    £70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral