Spend or save?
It seems that British families are among the least likely in Europe to leave a windfall inheritance to their relatives. According to the Ways To Richness study, which surveyed the over-50s in 16 developed countries, the Brits prefer to give their money away in dribs and drabs over their lifetime rather than leave a huge fortune to their children. We also tend not to, um, accumulate vast fortunes to give away either…
We tend to tie up all our money in houses and give bits of cash away when we have it rather than build a Trump-like empire to hand over. Is that a bad thing? It might be nice to inherit a secret off-shore bank account on a sunny island – so long as that sunny island isn’t Cyprus where people are waking up to find the cash machines emptied by savers panicked by a 6% to 9% overnight European tax.
The midnight raid on savings is the Cypriot government’s last-ditch attempt to stop European banks calling in their loans and causing complete economic collapse. Could it happen here? Possibly, especially if you believe the more excitable financial writers who love a good run on cash (gives them a chance to dig out those old photographs of people with wheelbarrows of cash just to buy one loaf in the 1930s).
But money is like water – it runs through your fingers if you don’t find somewhere safe to keep it. Which is why now, as the end of the tax year looms on 1 April, it’s time to tuck whatever savings you do have safely away into a tax free ISA. Find out more at moneysupermarket.com. If we don’t look after our money, it will, again like water, follow the path of least resistance – down the drain. And if through panic and greed, we start emptying our own bank accounts, the country will run out of cash – it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as sure as eggs is eggs. Try starting a rumour that there’s an egg shortage and see what happens – SWAT teams of mums would scramble and clear the supermarket shelves in the blink of a Tweet.
Talking of the power of Twitter – hats off to Fiona Mactaggart, the MP who made a spontaneous decision to announce on Twitter that she would donate a pound to Comic Relief for every time someone retweeted her by 9pm. Three hours and 14,000 retweets later, she had one big cheque to write, but she honoured it with style and grace and said that she was fortunate to be able to honour the cheque thanks to money her father had left her. Call her naïve, and many have, but she is also generous to a fault. And how much better to be able to do that – knowing that every fiver of it can potentially save a child’s life – than to continue to save for a rainy day while a downpour is lashing down outside your window.
Judging by this weekend’s Comic Relief final tally of £75 million, Fiona Mactaggart wasn’t the only one who was generous to a fault – no wonder we won’t be leaving our children a financial empire to inherit …
Are you a spender or a saver – and if you’re a saver when do you know when your rainy day has arrived? Let me know by posting a comment below or tweeting me @AmandaAtCandis.