Monday, May 28, 2007

Personal Finance Column

Here are two great money-saving ideas (writes our resident financial expert) that can save YOU money!

Thinking of having home improvements done? Found your tradesman? Thinking of giving him cash up front to buy materials? WRONG! Get a list of what he wants and order it yourself. That way it belongs to you, and you won't get into the situation that I heard about recently where a nice couple gave their plumber £2500 to buy the bits for their kitchen and never saw him again. He is now in custody awaiting trial for theft, but it has taken four years to track him down.

Owe fines and costs to a court? In arrears? Not answering letters or phone calls? Putting the whole thing off? WRONG! We recently had a very indignant chap in the Fines Court who had neglected to do anything about his fine and he came home one day to find that the bailiffs had pretty much cleared out his house, and sold the stuff at auction. What made him cross was the fact that goods that he claimed to have a replacement value of about £5000 had been sold for £350 or so after expenses, leaving him still owing the court £650 of his fines. He was rather excitable and was waving documents about and claiming that the court 'owed' him over £4000. I could understand why he was upset when I saw the auctioneers' report showing things like a flat screen TV sold for £22 and a kettle for 50p, but I had to tell him that he was the author of his own misfortune, that he could have avoided all this bother by paying the fine as ordered and that unless he wanted a return visit from the bailiffs he had better keep on paying £20 per week. We went out for a cup of tea and he was still ranting at the clerk.

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