Tips for Brits on holiday etiquette

CASHPOINTS

Nearly 50 per cent of British holiday makers are unsure about whether and how much to tip when abroad, according to a survey by Visa. Brits are regular but conservative tippers, with most leaving less than 10 per cent. Visa's free 1997 Holiday Money Guide gives practical advice for 12 of the most popular holiday destinations. Call 0171 231 5432.

Eagle Star claims to be the first home insurer to offer a discount, 10 per cent, for homes with full double glazing. The company's research suggests that homes with double glazing are less likely to be burgled.

The average Briton is now worth nearly pounds 40,000, with pounds 17,000 of that in savings and investments that can be readily converted into cash, according to a report by Datamonitor. Britons have got more money in pound terms, but after inflation is taken into account we are poorer in real terms, thanks to falling property prices over the 1990s.

Two-thirds of employers say the Government should require employees and employers to make higher pension contributions, according to a survey by Alexander Clay, a firm of actuaries. Compulsory saving is favoured by parts of the Labour Party; the problem is that it would be criticised as a "tax by another name".

Borrowing for home improvements is on the increase, according to Colonial, a financial company. Its research shows that on average people borrow pounds 5,500 for an extension, pounds 4,000 for a new bathroom or kitchen and pounds 2,000 for maintenance.

A survey by American Express has found that Britons are divided over whether they feel richer or poorer than last year. More than a quarter think they have less to spend, while a fifth feel they are better off; around half think their financial position is unchanged. Consumers remain cautious: three-quarters would rather "do without" than take out a bank loan or go overdrawn, and more than eight in 10 always check their monthly bank statements.

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Thorn in our side? Some in the pension industry are warning of chaos in the run-up to 6 April

Simon Read: "Pension freedom is months away but if we don't act soon, the freedom may be to make an expensive mistake with our future"

The introduction of the new pension freedoms has been "alarmingly chaotic", reckons Nigel Green, chief executive of the financial consultancy deVere Group, He said this week: "The implementation of changes appears to be being rushed in a cynical attempt to woo older voters ahead of May's election."

The total bill for the scandal could top £24billion

City Watchdog to investigate banks' handling of PPI compensation claims

There has been continued criticism of banks' delaying tactics and failure to find those affected by by the UK’s biggest-ever financial mis-selling scandal

The new rules will come into effect on 6 April

Pension firms must ask consumers more questions, says City Watchdog

Companies will be required to ask about health and lifestyle choices or marital status, to protect consumers who do not take up the government’s offer of the Pension Wise guidance guarantee service

Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal

I had dinner with the pensions minister Steve Webb this week. There was a wide-ranging discussion about the new pensions freedoms starting in April, and changes to the state pension. Crucially, I also got to ask Mr Webb whether he had any plans to have another look at the injustice that is frozen pensions.

Number of serially under-performing investment funds has increased by a fifth, survey reveals

The new Spot the Dog survey shows that even famous fund managers, holding billions of pounds of our money, can make mistakes

Mark Dampier: We always bring down Britain. But there's plenty in the tank

While the health of the economy is not insignificant, Mark Dampier finds it incredibly unpredictable in terms of its impact on the stock market

If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff in the last 12 months then you could almost certainly save money by doing so

There are easier ways to save hundreds on your energy bills

A new free app is aimed at the three-fifths of Brits who have never switched supplier

Worse hit are loyal customers with long-standing accounts – their loyalty is rewarded with lower interest rates than more recently-launched accounts

Savers are being let down by banks and building societies, says Financial Conduct Authority

Regulator’s investigation into the market found that around £160bn was held in easy access savings accounts that pay interest lower or equal to BoE base rate

What to do if you're facing repossession: However far you fall, you're not on your own

Helen Fisher had to become a 24-hour carer, and then she faced repossession. But going to the right places for help changed everything, writes Simon Read

Simon Read: Information is power. And it's in the wrong hands when people are cold-called by companies that know they're in debt

In debt? You're likely to be targeted by unscrupulous companies that hope to profit from your misfortune. They may try to pretend to be your friend by offering what they call "help" – but almost certainly that help will come with a cost and leave you worse off than you were before they got in touch.

Mark Dampier: So you've got pension freedom... will it end up as a cold shower?

In less than three months' time radical changes to pensions will take effect, providing investors with more freedom. Yet for those who prefer to make their own investment decisions, the choice of funds available is overwhelming. And an income drawdown account is also not particularly easy to manage.

The move marks the culmination of a long campaign by debt charities and insolvency firms and follows a call for evidence launched by the Minister last August

Bankruptcy rules to change, Business Minister announces

The minimum amount for which you can be forced into bankruptcy is being raised from £750 to £5,000

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