Lisa Markwell: Pocket money
My paperwork is telling a sad story of great interest
Saturday 14 June 2008
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?
Buyers beware of new-build home headaches
Is 31 May really the day when we have paid all of our tax for the year?
Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help
Questions of Cash: We bought the special ceramic poppies. Then the saga began
Five Questions On: GB Energy's new tariff
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...
£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...
£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...
Day In a Page
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool