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Agent Million visits London and Dorset this October

Summer travels may be over, however NS&I’s Agents Million continue their tours, spreading
news of £1 million jackpot wins to two lucky Premium Bond holders in London and Dorset.

October’s first jackpot winner, a man from Inner London, becomes the 51st jackpot winner in
the whole of London. His winning Bond was purchased in February 2016 when he
purchased the maximum investment of £50,000 (Bond number: 267FW537456).

Another man, this time from Dorset, has also hit the jackpot, winning the £1 million from a
£25 prize that was won in October 2010’s draw and reinvested into his total Premium Bonds
holding (Bond number: 173HT264915). He has £19,725 invested and becomes the ninth
jackpot winner in the county since the jackpot was introduced in 1994.  Agent Million last
visited the region in April 2018.

The pair become the 395th and 396th winners of the £1 million jackpot prize.

Jill Waters, Retail Director at NS&I, said:
“Re-investing Premium Bond prizes can be a great way of saving and it has paid off this
month for Dorset’s jackpot winner, scooping the £1 million jackpot from a £25 reinvested
prize. While the London winners’ savings habit has proved particularly fruitful, winning the
top prize just over two and a half years after investing.”

Customers can opt to have their prizes paid directly into their bank account, or to have their
prizes automatically reinvested into their Premium Bonds account, as long as the total
holding is below the maximum threshold of £50,000. More information about these options is
available on nsandi.com.

Do you have an unclaimed prize?
There are over 1.5 million unclaimed prizes worth just over £60 million.
In Inner London, there are over 119,000 unclaimed prizes worth nearly £4.8 million. These
prizes date back to June 1960, with a prize of £100. The highest unclaimed prize in the
region is £50,000, having been won in May 2016. The customer has £9,175 invested in
Premium Bonds and the winning Bond number is 33XT435809. There is also one £25,000
prize and four prizes of £10,000 waiting to be claimed.

In Dorset, there are over 18,000 unclaimed prizes worth £672,000. These prizes date back
to February 1964 with a prize of £25. There are also 17 prizes worth £1,000 each in the
region, with seven of these being won by customers with less than £10 invested in Premium
Bonds.

October 2018 prize draw breakdown

Value of prize & number of prizes

£1,00,000  – 2
£100,000 – 5
£50,000 – 10
£25,000 – 20
£10,000 – 49
£5,000 – 99
£1,000 – 1,795
£500 – 5,385
£100 – 24,622
£50 – 24,622
£25 – 3,083,096

Total prize fund value
£89,743,200
Total number of prizes
3,139,705

In the October 2018 draw, a total of 3,139,705 prizes worth £89,743,200 will be paid out.
There were 76,922,736,910 eligible Bonds for the draw.

Since the first draw in June 1957, ERNIE has drawn 416 million winning prizes, to the value of around
£18.7 billion.

Customers can find out if they have been successful in this month’s draw by downloading
the prize checker app for free from the App Store or Google Play, or visit the prize checker
at nsandi.com. The results are published in full on Tuesday 2 October.

Some Premium Bond Facts

1. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
2. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of
savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital
security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
3. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.40% and the odds of each
individual Bond number winning any prize are 24,500 to 1.
4. Customers can buy Premium Bonds online at nsandi.com and over the phone by
calling 08085 007 007. This is a freephone number and calls to it from the UK are
free from both landlines and mobiles. Calls may be recorded. Customers can also
buy by post. Existing customers can also buy by bank transfer and standing order
and each investment must be at least £50 for bank transfers and standing orders.
5. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is
available on the website at nsandi.com. Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the
conversation on Facebook: Premium Bonds made by ERNIE

financial planning in your forties

It’s well known life begins at forty. Doesn’t it?

It should be an exciting decade, full of plans and aspirations. It’s also likely to be a time of optimum earning potential.

What’s more, it’s a crucial decade to take a step back and make sure your finances are on track to meet your goals.

There’ll be some decisions you’ll already have taken in your twenties or thirties, which will have had an impact. You may have bought your own home, for example, or put some savings away in cash, investments or pensions.

If things don’t look quite as rosy as you’d hoped, though, your forties are a good time to take stock, as there’s still time to make adjustments and give your investments time to grow.

Don’t forget, whatever savings you can make now will enable you to pursue your dreams later on.

Here are four key tips for shrewd financial planning at this important time of life.

Budget ruthlessly

Just because life may feel comfortable with regular pay rises and bonuses don’t fall into the temptation of spending more than you need. Do you really need that Costa coffee or M&S lunch every day?

Apps like Money Dashboard or Moneyhub can be helpful in showing you where your money’s going. Simple steps like cancelling subscriptions or switching bill providers can make a significant difference.

Historic studies show that investments usually outperform cash savings so any disposable income you can invest will be beneficial. If you can put money aside in a pension you’ll also be taking advantage of the tax relief available. Make sure you use your ISA allowance too for more accessible funds.

Carry out a protection audit

Think about what if the unexpected happened. Your forties are a time of life where you may find yourself part of what’s known as ‘the sandwich generation’ i.e. caring for elderly parents at the same time as looking after young children. This can put extra pressure on you. Make sure you’re protected should the worst happen by ensuring you have a good emergency fund in place. Also think about critical illness cover and life insurance.

Property plans

Your home will be a fundamental part of your financial planning at this time of life. If you feel you need a larger property, these are likely to be your peak earning years so now is the time to secure the best mortgage you can and find your dream home. On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are, it may be a good time to remortgage to get a better deal.

Family spending

Everyone’s situation is different. You may have children at university or you may still be having to pay for nursery fees. Whatever your position, make sure you budget accordingly and allow for inflation, especially if you’re paying private school fees. Work out the priorities for your family – the best education now or a house deposit in the future. It’s important not to derail your own life savings for the sake of your children as no one will benefit in the long run.

By doing some sound financial planning now, you’ll have more hope of continuing in the style you want to live, well beyond your forties.

Sources
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/smart-life-saving-for-the-future/financial-advice-in-your-forties/?utm_campaign=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&plr=1&utm_content=2144&utm_source=tmgspk&WT.mc_id=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&utm_medi

explaining fund charges and investment fees

If you hold any investments or already work with a financial adviser then it’s likely that you are familiar with the fees you pay to invest or receive advice.

But what are these fees and why are they so important to keep a handle on?  This video gives you information on what fees you might be charged and why  you should keep track of them.

interest rate rise: what does this mean?

goldfish jumping from small bowl to big bowlThe Bank of England has raised interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75%, only the second rise in a decade. Currently, interest rates stand at their highest since 2009 and reflect what the Bank of England perceive as a general pick-up in the economy.

The Bank said that a rise in household spending has strengthened the British economy. Economic growth for the year is predicted to be 1.4% this year and the unemployment rate is expected to fall further below 4.2%, where it currently stands.

How does the rise affect you?
If you are on a variable rate ‘tracker’ mortgage, your repayments will increase. For example, if you have a £100,000 mortgage, this will add £12 to your monthly repayments.

It’s important to highlight that if you are on a fixed rate mortgage, your payments will stay the same until your base rate comes up for renewal. The Bank of England’s announcement does not mean that your rates immediately rise.

For prospective borrowers, the interest rate rise signals a change in the Bank of England’s tone. Further rate rises are a definite possibility. However, the Bank’s governor took a rather cautious tone which indicates that there are unlikely to be any more rises until 2019.

For the time being, base rates on mortgages are unlikely to rise above 3%. That said, the demand for rate fixes will be higher than usual this year.

Unfortunately for those of you going on holiday, after the announcement the pound fell by 0.9% against the dollar. This is due to the extreme political uncertainty surrounding the sterling with Brexit taking an unchartable track.

Reactions from U.K. businesses have been a mixed bag. The Institute of Directors, which represents about 30,000 members in the U.K., has said, ‘the Bank has jumped the gun’, whilst the British Chamber of Commerce similarly described the decision as ‘ill-judged’ at an uncertain time.

This negative perspective wasn’t unanimous among all lobbying groups. The Confederation of British Industry, the country’s biggest business lobby, welcomed the rise saying the case for higher rates had been building.

A small rise of 0.25% is likely to have a minimal impact on your finances. However, larger hikes down the line could have a substantial effect on the British financial landscape.

Sources
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/pound-fails-to-shake-off-blues-despite-unanimous-boe-rate-hike
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/02/how-will-interest-rate-rise-affect-mortgages-savings-and-property
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/-mark-carney-what-have-you-done-cry-u-k-business-bodies?utm_source=google&utm_medium=bd&cmpId=google

is the Bitcoin bubble close to bursting?

You may have seen Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson make the news at the end of January after becoming a Bitcoin millionaire. The rapper, actor and businessman made his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, available for purchase for a fraction of a Bitcoin upon release, making around 700 Bitcoin from sales. 50 Cent has admitted that he had forgotten about the earnings, which have sat untouched since 2014 and are now reportedly worth somewhere between £5 million and £6 million thanks to the meteoric rise of the cryptocurrency’s value in recent months.

Despite 50 Cent’s good fortune, those in the financial sector continue to warn against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a sound investment. Alex Weber, chairman of global financial services company, UBS, is one of the latest figures to lend his voice to these warnings, describing cryptocurrencies as ‘not an investment we would advise.’

There have also been warnings from consultancy firms that initial coin offerings (ICOs), which raise funds by providing cryptocurrency tokens, are prime targets for cybercriminals. Ernst & Young analysed 372 ICOs which had raised $3.7 billion in total and found that hackers were taking as much as $1.5 million in proceeds from these each month with approximately $400 million stolen in total.

The announcements from governments worldwide that cryptocurrencies will soon be regulated has resulted in huge price fluctuations, with Bitcoin dropping from its high point of almost $20,000 in December 2017 to around half that towards the end of January 2018. The steep drop is due in part to the announcement by the government of South Korea, the third largest cryptocurrency market in the world, that its planned ban on the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading would be implemented from 30th January.

Another concern surrounding cryptocurrency technology is the continued hype surrounding it, with companies taking advantage of investor buzz. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned that companies will be scrutinised over name and business model changes which have been made to capitalise on the hype.

Due to these developments in recent months, many economists are now predicting the cryptocurrency bubble could be about to burst. When, or if, this will happen remains to be seen, but the risks surrounding these relatively new forms of investment continue to be a worrying reality.
Sources
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/23/bitcoin-ubs-chairman-warns-against-cryptocurrency-investment-currency-falls
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/01/25/50-cent-becomes-accidental-bitcoin-millionaire-forgotten-investment/

4 savings habits of millionaires

There are no shortcuts or guarantees when it comes to achieving self-made millionaire status. That said, it can’t hurt to look at the financial habits of those who have managed to do just that to try and boost your own coffers. Here are our top tips from looking at those who’ve become millionaires by age 30. Who knows, they might just lead to you being worth seven figures in the future.

  1. Don’t rely on your savings – The current economic environment makes it very difficult to become wealthy through saving, so increasing your income is an obvious but good way to boost your bank balance. Whilst increasing your main salary can also be a challenge, you might think about other ways to achieve this such as earning passive income through property rental, or taking on freelance or consultancy work on the side (just keep an eye on any tax repercussions).
  2. Invest, invest, invest – Instead of saving for a rainy day, put your savings into investments. If you choose investments and accounts with restricted access to your funds, not only will this ensure your investments pay off, but it will also help you to focus on increasing your income rather than relying on money you’ve put away.
  3. Change your mindset – Nobody has ever become a millionaire without believing that it’s something they themselves can both achieve and control. The best way to do this is to invest in yourself. Spending time educating yourself about both your business area and the financial world in general will help you to understand how to capitalise on opportunities and genuinely believe you can increase your net worth.
  4. Make plans and set goals – You’ll only boost your wealth if you actually plan out how you’re going to do it. Before you can make a plan, however, you need to decide what you’re aiming for. If you really do want to become a millionaire, then think big: if you have a certain figure you want to achieve, aiming higher will help ensure you reach it or even surpass it.
    Sources
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/9-things-to-do-in-your-20s-to-become-a-millionaire-by-30-a7377801.html

where did house prices increase and decrease the fastest in the UK in 2017?

Research into the housing market throughout 2017 has revealed the areas of the UK where property prices increased and decreased the most last year. Cheltenham in Gloucestershire was the place where prices grew at the fastest pace, with the average price of £313,150 marking a 13% rise – nearly five times the UK average increase of 2.7%. At the other end of the scale was the Scottish town of Perth, where prices dropped by 5.3% to make the average property price tag £180,687.

The places which saw the biggest growth were in southern England, with Bournemouth and Brighton coming in second and third place with rises of 11.7% and 11.4% respectively. At the other end of the scale, Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber were the areas where the biggest falls were seen. The second-biggest fall in house prices was seen in Stoke-on-Trent (4%), with Paisley in third position (3.6%).

Fifteen out of the top twenty areas for house price increases are located in London and southern England. This is in spite of the capital overall seeing its average house price fall by 0.5%, thanks to the economy slowing down and consumers continuing to feel the effects following the Brexit vote of 2016.

The outlook for the year ahead offers little reprieve: many in the property sector, including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, predict that the market in 2018 will, for the most part, remain flat, with some expecting property price growth to slow even further. Whilst this would be good news for those looking to take their first steps onto the property ladder, it’s more worrying news for people hoping to invest in the market.

It’s expected that the story will differ geographically, but property portal Rightmove has also predicted that different property types are likely to grow at different rates. They have forecast prices for homes with two bedrooms or fewer will rise by 3%, whilst three and four bedroom homes will see growth of only 2%.
Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42539137
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-house-price-increases-biggest-2017-cheltenham-bournemouth-brighton-london-housing-market-david-a8137366.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42555351

one for the kids? – if they’re saving for a home,check they’re making the most of the lifetime ISA

If you’re saving for a home through a Help To Buy ISA or know someone who is, it’s worth being aware of a planning opportunity which could boost your savings by an additional £1,100. But anyone hoping to take advantage of this opportunity needs to be quick, as it will only be available for just under four months more.

Any savings in a Help To Buy ISA which are transferred to the new Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018 will benefit from a top up of 25% from the government. The opportunity has arisen thanks to the Help To Buy ISA small print relating to the transfer of money saved before the launch of the Lifetime ISA on 6th April 2017.

Lifetime ISAs have an annual limit of £4,000, which includes money transferred from another savings account. However, money transferred from a Help To Buy ISA within the first twelve months of Lifetime ISAs becoming available does not count towards the contribution limit for the 2017-2018 tax year. As such, any money transferred into the Lifetime ISA from the Help To Buy ISA will be boosted by the government top-up, potentially resulting in hundreds of pounds being added to your savings.

For example, someone who had saved the £4,400 maximum amount into a Help To Buy ISA before April 2017 could transfer this into a Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018. As this wouldn’t contribute to their limit, they could then save a further £4,000 into the Lifetime ISA for a total of £8,400. The 25% bonus would then be added to the entire £8,400 in April next year, giving an additional £2,100. In any other year, the maximum top-up which could be earned from the Lifetime ISA would be £1,000.

So If you know anyone using a Help To Buy ISA to save towards a first home, transferring money to a Lifetime ISA to enjoy an additional top-up of up to £1,100 in April next year could make collecting the keys to their own place happen a little bit sooner.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/savings/use-isa-loophole-now-1100-savings-boost/

what does the first interest rate rise in ten years mean for you?

After months of speculation, the Bank of England finally raised interest rates in the UK for the first time in over a decade. The increase from 0.25% to 0.5% might seem small, especially when you consider that the last time the interest rate was increased in July 2007 it was up to 5.75%, but the fact that interest rates are going up at all after more than ten years at rock bottom is significant.

The rates rise will have an impact on the finances of millions of people in the UK, with those on variable rate mortgages likely to lose out the most. 46% of households with a mortgage are on either a standard variable or tracker rate, which are likely to move at the same time as the official bank rate.

These mortgages have an average of £89,000 left to pay off, resulting in a monthly payment increase of around £12. Those with higher variable rate mortgages will of course see their outgoings increase by a higher amount: payments on a £300,000 mortgage will go up by about £39 a month. Homeowners with fixed rate mortgages meanwhile can expect their payments to remain the same for some time following the interest rate lift, as can those with loans and credit cards to pay off.

Savers are likely to benefit from the rates increase having seen little growth on their savings for a number of years. On average, an easy-access savings account currently pays interest at 0.14% annually, meaning that £10,000 worth of savings would generate just £14 every year. If providers choose to pass on the rates rise in full, this will add another £25 to earn £39 annually. A typical ISA meanwhile will see the annual growth of £10,000 increase from £30 to £55.

Pensioners who have purchased an annuity can also expect to benefit from the rates rise. Annuities follow the yields on gilts, or long-dated government bonds. In anticipation of a rates rise, these have also increased, meaning those purchasing an annuity for retirement will receive better value for money on their investment. In November 2016, a joint annuity bought for £100,000 would receive an annual income of £4,086. That figure has risen this month to £4,468 and could continue to go up depending on how likely further base rate increases are – something which the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has indicated is likely over the next few years.

Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41846330
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41831777
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/special-reports/will-happen-investments-interest-rates-rise/

what impact will the election period have on my pension and ISAs?

The market reaction to Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election to take place on 8th June was, thankfully, relatively minor. After reaching a record high in March 2017, the FTSE 100 dropped by 3% following the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement last month. Compared to the negative reactions experienced following both the 2012 eurozone crisis and the Chinese economy concerns at the start of 2016, this was reasonably slight.

Whilst the election period brings uncertainty, almost every general election in the last two decades has not caused the FTSE 100 to become more volatile in the weeks either side of election day. It’s therefore more than likely that the markets will continue without any major disruption, even if a new government comes into power. It’s usually only genuinely unexpected results which cause markets to rise or fall considerably, with the most recent example being the referendum vote for Brexit last year.

There are, however, still things you can do to minimise any impact of the election on your pension pot or savings accounts.

A well-diversified investment portfolio – a mixture of bonds, shares, property and cash across different sectors and countries – means you’ll be spreading risk and making it more likely that a rise in one sector will soften the blow of a fall in another. It’s likely that you’ll have a particular outcome in mind for your investments, whether that’s securing your retirement in the future or reaching a particular financial goal by a certain time, so sticking to this is the right thing to do rather than becoming distracted by any short-term ups and downs in the markets.

Look out for any investment perks that are brought in soon after the election result as in order to raise revenue, most new governments will introduce policies to help you grow your finances. Don’t forget about the benefits already available to you either, such as ISA and pension allowances, as these can also be a good way to protect your savings from any market volatility. Lastly, drip feeding your investments month by month can be a good way to combat uncertain markets – you might not capitalise fully on a market high, but you’ll avoid losing out during any sudden lows.

Sources:
http://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/04/how-will-the-general-election-affect-my-pensions-and-isa/