Lisa Markwell: Pocket money

My paperwork is telling a sad story of great interest

A cursory glance at the paperwork on my desk suggests that I don't find my finances interesting. And – oh, the irony – interest is exactly what it's all about.

The piles of bank statements, credit-card statements and mortgage statements seem to have one thing in common – high interest rates. Looking at the small print reveals some large figures; even I am not dumb enough to be taken in by showing the monthly interest rate, rather than the annual. That's the credit cards. In the case of the mortgage, it's all about the interest, since I seem to have saddled myself with an interest-only mortgage without noticing. We'll come back to that.

A relatively new arrival is a bright, shiny letter from the bank (that's had my business for forever) outlining the way my current account works. By accident, while trying to find the bit of paper beneath, I noticed at the bottom of page four the interest rate for going overdrawn. It's rather steep.

I don't know when I got so blasé. It's not like I have so much money that interest rates don't matter to me. I am one of the little people. Perhaps I should read the leaflet enclosed with my bank letter, "Making Sense of Overdrafts". Hmmm, if only I could find it.

Things could be worse. At a particularly low point, I had seven credit cards on the go, the hangover of an attempt to juggle interest-free periods and low rates and all that jazz. Naturally I lost interest (there's that word again) in the terms and kept the cards after the promotional periods had ended and the rates went up into the stratosphere.

I'm now down to two, and it's been several weeks since I used either of them. Hey, don't knock it, that's a personal best.

So, even with my laissez-faire attitude, I've come to understand that it's worth paying attention to interest rates. A cautionary letter from my mortgage provider has been all the impetus I need to look properly at what's what.

I've been thinking back to when I remortgaged and trying to understand why I thought interest-only was a good idea. I don't suppose I was mis-sold the offending arrangement; it was more likely to have been a case of me saying "mmm", "uh-ha", and other non-committal noises to suggest that I was on top of the situation. There was also some need for money to tart the place up, so maybe that had something to do with it. Oh, for a lucid thought.

So, to action. The pile of offending documents is now on my desk, To Be Dealt With. Is it worth pointing out that the desk on which they sit is in a carved-out corner of the bedroom, built with money added to the mortgage? It seemed like a good idea at the time, after much discussion (nagging?) and much husband-grumbling about stepping over piles of discarded clothes, old magazines and the like.

It's a walk-in wardrobe cum office, a thing of beauty and a joy forever. (Well, until we move.) At one end, my embarrassingly large collection of footwear and bags is quietly breeding; at the other, the aforementioned desk is groaning under the weight of paper. In the middle is a filing cabinet filled with contraband sweets, but please don't tell my children. It helps enormously with the clothes-sorting and bill-paying procedures.

There I'll sit, sifting through the debris to find the "overdraft for dunces" leaflet, and trying to work out how to reduce the interest rates of my varying debts. (I shall not, at this juncture, attempt to address the terms of my various – ahem – personal loans.) I did hear from a financially astute friend that now is the moment to get a fixed-rate mortgage, before they rise again. So I'll be studying the pages surrounding this column with closer than usual attention, surfing the comparison websites and maybe even – hey, push the boat out – consulting a reputable financial adviser.

Let's hope that my interest in interest can be sustained long enough to get me in better shape, money-wise. Now, how about a Curly-Wurly?

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
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

    Lead Business Analyst - Banking - London - £585

    £525 - £585 per day: Orgtel: Lead Business Analyst - Investment Banking - Lond...

    Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

    Service Delivery and Support Manager

    £55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home