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Personal finance press round-up 4-5 January 2020

Happy new year to all Money & Media readers! Here’s a round-up of personal finance stories from the national press that appeared over the first weekend of January 2020. Getting financially ship-shape was the order of the day, plus there was great news for gold investors.

National newspapers are awash with diet plans at this time of year. But it’s not just health writers who rely on January to spout off about weight-loss, a “new you”, et al. This is also the month for money journalists to tell readers how to get financially ship-shape in the year ahead.

The Guardian
For example, take The Guardian’s Rupert Jones, who offered readers some timely advice in the first weekend of 2020 on how best to regain control of one’s cash in the post-Christmas period. Cut your credit card costs, get a better overdraft deal and consider consolidating your debts, he suggested.

The Times
Post-festivity advice was also the order of the day at The Times on Saturday where Kate Palmer led the charge with a couple of seasonal stories. One was to do with spreading the cost of soaring train fares (many ticket prices rose on New Year’s day), while the other was about knowing your rights when it comes to swapping those unwanted Christmas gifts. Elsewhere in the newspaper’s Money section, Katherine Denham considered the merits of investment trusts and Ruth Jackson-Kirby had advice for investors concerned about their Innovative Finance Isas.

The Independent
Also helping readers get financially ship-shape for the year ahead was The Independent’s Felicity Hannah who advised readers how to become debt-free in 2020. “If you really intend to defeat your debt this year, or at least start to bring it under control, then you need a plan,” she advised. Tips included: finding out how bad your financial situation really is; understanding your budget in order to take back control; knowing the cost of all your repayments; and cutting your outgoings to execute your plan even quicker.

Financial Times
At the Financial Times, a tinge of gloominess overlapped with timeliness when Lucy Warwick-Ching explained why she had ‘Divorce Day’ in her sights. “Lawyers are preparing for a spike in divorce inquiries from unhappy couples following the festive break,” she reported, before reminding readers of the serious financial ramifications that can be associated with a break-up. The main consideration in this situation can be the family home, but healthy pensions entitlements can play a factor also. Elsewhere in the Money section, Claer Barrett offered readers a seasonal workout for their finances while taking a ten-year view. In addition, Emma Agyemang reported that gold funds dominated the top-performing investment portfolios of 2019 thanks to a sharp rise in the price of the precious metal.

Daily Telegraph
The Telegraph’s Money section on Saturday was less seasonal compared with its rivals. Instead, Adam Williamssplash reported how “innocent pensioners and investors have been stranded without a vital protection as a year-long gap in the City watchdog’s register of approved financial advisers leaves savers susceptible to scams”. Elsewhere, Marianna Hunt’s money makeover looked at whether a salary of £34k pa was enough for a Devon-based vet to buy his first property (a couple of experts explained how he could achieve this). In addition, Sam Meadows reported that risky mini bonds continue to be promoted to armchair investors despite a ban.

The Sun
The following day, Alice Grahns had a grim warning for Sun readers of Scrooge-like proportions. “Over 10,000 retirees will see their state pension drop by more than £3,500 a year from April,” she reported. “That’s because the government is cutting the extra payments for ‘adult dependents’ worth up to £70 a week,” she explained. The news emerged following a Freedom of Information request by Royal London’s policy director (and former pensions minister) Sir Steve Webb.

The Mail on Sunday
Over at the Mail on Sunday, Jeff Prestridge offered readers an end-of-year investment report. “It was a pretty good 2019 for most equity investors, unless you were unlucky enough to be caught up in the Woodford quagmire,” he suggested. The fund formerly known as Woodford Equity Income nose-dived by 22pc over the year even though three-out-of-four of its 3,400 rivals actually managed double-digit returns. Elsewhere in the section, Toby Walne reported on the carnage being caused by banks as they desert the UK’s towns and villages. There was also travel money advice from Sarah Bridge for those heading off on winter holidays. In essence, swerve airport bureaux de change like the plague.

The Sunday Times
Finally, writing for the Sunday Times, Ali Hussain also turned his attention to mini-bonds and reported that sites offering near-impossible returns continue to top online searches despite a clampdown by the City watchdog. Elsewhere, Kenza Bryan brought news from Bristol on the phenomenon of local currenciesJames Coney kicked off 2020 with half-a-dozen new year’s resolutions for confused investors starting with a call for much clearer pricing when it comes to buying into a fund.