We are now on our fourth Chancellor of the Exchequer this year — the person who’s in charge of decisions about the nation’s finances.
Our guides you through how this might affect your personal finances in the months to come.
But here’s a suggestion. Why not appoint yourself chancellor in your own home, and devise a personal strategy for making your money work harder?
Savings to be made: Why not appoint yourself chancellor in your own home, and devise a personal strategy for making your money work harder?
I’ve decided to do just this in my fight against the cost-of-living crisis.
The role has taken on some urgency with higher energy bills looming as we head into winter.
I am not as brave as my colleague Harry Wallop, who tells, in our cover story, how he plans to keep his heating off for as long as he can.
However, I’ve tweaked our heating thermostat from a toasty 21 to a more refreshing 19 degrees, and turned down the heating flow temperature — the level at which the water leaves our combi boiler en route to the radiators — from 75 to 50 degrees.
This will apparently save up to 8 per cent on my gas bill.
As important to my household as heating is our broadband.
Like most families, we rely on it for work, rest and play. But I’m fed up with my provider, Virgin Media, kombi Servisi charging nearly £69 a month for kombi servisi our internet and phone.
It’s not only the cost, but we’ve endured constant buffering when streaming TV shows, and at the back of our London terrace there is little or no internet coverage.
When a leaflet arrived from Community Fibre — a provider serving parts of London only, with fast internet that’s received excellent Trustpilot reviews — we took the plunge.
It all happened smoothly and we now have internet in every room and no buffering — whoopee — and best of all, our bill almost halved to £35.
In fairness to Virgin, we opted to have no landline, which shaved the price. But we never used it anyway.
Hold your nerve
Speaking of savings, it was also time to check how my rainy-day sums were faring with Nationwide.
I’ve been saving with them much of my working life. I was slightly alarmed to see my last online visit was logged almost a year ago.
Oops. Not good for my chancellor credentials. But since my money is in their Loyalty Saver account, surely I was being rewarded for being a faithful member of the UK’s biggest building society for decades?
The rate on this account was just 1.6 per cent. It’s certainly not the worst deal, as plenty of easy-access accounts offered by High Street banks pay 0.5 per cent or less. But I know I can do better.
Since I had neglected my account for a year, I feel I can brave locking up my money for a further 12 months and earn a significantly better return.
Currently, one of the best one-year fixed-rate bonds is Aldermore Bank’s at 4.35 per cent, so I can earn more than two-and-half times as much on my savings.
Even if I lose my nerve and decide to stick to easy access, there are several deals out there outshining my ‘loyalty’ rate.
I was brave enough to peek at my savings because, even though high inflation and a low savings rate mean their value has fallen in real terms, the balance does not look dissimilar to a year ago.
But I have not had the same courage to glance at my pension, nor my stock market Isa.
The rocky markets have taken their toll on all our investments — the FTSE 100 alone is down 9 per cent so far this year.
But as any good chancellor knows, cutting spending is only one side of the balance sheet. You also need to invest to ensure a decent lifestyle in the future.
So, tempting as it is with higher bills to meet, I am keeping calm and carrying on, adding to my pension and Isa for as long as I am able.
History shows stock markets do eventually recover.
As Gary Smith, investment expert at UK wealth manager Evelyn Partners, says: ‘By ceasing contributions you are missing out on potentially good-value investments that could bear fruit over the long term.’
Finally, any real chancellor has to try to ensure government spending gets the best value for taxpayer pounds.
In my imagined chancellorship, I can do this by taking extra care booking my upcoming birthday weekend trip to Belfast.
People say booking flights on a Tuesday offers the best deals.
I have no idea if there is any science behind this idea, but doing so saved me £100 on the price that I’d seen two days before. I commend this Budget to the house.
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