Making time to save

Time to save

Dealing with money, like anything to do with maths or numbers, tends to get a bad press, with far too many people feeling that it is either too difficult or too boring – or both – to get to grips with. Unless, that is, you are blessed with limitless self-belief combined with a dangerous lack of financial expertise, like former Co-op chairman Paul Flowers, in which case the sky seems to be the limit.

So with so few of us either willing or able to keep tabs on our or other people’s finances it’s no wonder that banks and building societies feel so blasé about reducing ISA interest rates within days of the new financial year starting. Santander, Metro Bank and Skipton Building Society have all cut their rates for new customers and others are expected to follow. It’s enough to make you want to stuff all your spare dosh under the mattress and hope for the best. That was, until I read the inspiring tale of Margaret Dickson who, unbeknown to her friends and family, used her modest savings from her career as a teacher and police woman and a modest financial inheritance to earn over a million pounds by investing in shares.

In the true tradition of the eccentric older woman she left almost all of her fortune to charity, including a quarter of a million pounds each to Cancer UK and The British Heart Foundation and £180,000 each to Barnardo’s, The National Institute for the Blind and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, another reason for treating her as an inspiration rather than simply an oddity.

So how did she do it? It seems she was either well advised and/or learnt an awful lot from her stockbroker uncle who started her off on the magical world of investing. Despite a modest lifestyle (her only extravagance seems to have been travelling – her flat was worth £72,000 and she left just £2,000 worth of personal belongings behind, she held £230,000 in National Savings and Investments, £62,000 in Marks and Spencer shares and £63,000 in British American Tobacco. She also had thousands invested in various banks.

Should and could we all follow her example? And if so, have we got time? Well, apparently we have – inspired by Miss Dickson’s example I began to dig around a bit and came up with this encouraging tale tucked away in the financial pages of the Daily Telegraph (I knew it was worth getting those new glasses – it helps with all those itsy bitsy columns of numbers…) which showed that, with a good start and a following wind, it is possible to make a million pounds by investing the maximum level of ISAs in 24 short years.

So what are we waiting for!?

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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