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The New Year is always a good time to take stock of what has gone before and what’s lying in wait ahead.
As a comparison site, we’ve witnessed first-hand how significant monetary decisions – particularly in the second half of last year – have caused great unbalance in the personal finance sector.
The quantity and quality of savings accounts has plummeted with the introduction of the Funding for Lending scheme. The compromise, if we can call it that, is an improvement to mortgage rates. But this has been slow to filter down to those stuck in the rental cycle – an issue which the Bank of England has promised will change in the early months of 2013.
Better news for prospective homebuyers, then, though not for savers, who now have little option other than to minimise their real-term losses while food, travel, and energy prices are all rising.
These are deadly serious developments for us. Quite often, we’ve been resigned to the fact that no news is particularly good news. And so, we’ve tried to develop our niche here by doing things slightly differently. If anything, we’ve become more of a magazine.
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Not taking oneself too seriously is seen as an attractive quality. In the social media age – if we may call it that – it has also become a crucial strategy for firms attempting to build relationships with customers.
When a campaign is built upon humour, recognising when it’s gone stale is the important part. And sometimes, having the ability to turn it upon oneself is just about the only rescue mission available to keep the campaign alive.
In 2006, Family Guy was subject to a rather savage parody by the makers of rival animated favourite South Park, in which the latter produced a farcical scenario for how the former’s trademark ‘gag’ humour was produced at random.
The Family Guy creators, subtly amused by it all, eventually turned the joke upon themselves. In the 2011 episode ‘Back to the Pilot’, a cleverly constructed piece of metafiction, Brian and Stewie travel back in time to the original pilot episode to witness the old animation, allowing the show the perfect opportunity to poke fun at itself and its old habits.
Peering through the kitchen window, the two witness the family zoning out into periods of motionlessness, before eventually realising what’s going on:
The parallel is then switched to their ‘current’ incarnation, where the family set up a sketch, then, ‘off-air’, turn to their phones, make-up, cigarettes and licquor. The characters become actors as the show turns the screw upon itself to hilarious effect.
The result of this was that viewers who had long grown tired of the show found a reason to watch and laugh again. Even those who dislike it started begrudgingly admiring Seth Macfarlane’s ability to make fun of his own show. Turning the screw has rekindled a lot of interest, and worthily so.
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Do you have a money-saving story you want to share with the world? Do you want to feature in our weekly round-up? Well, we’re now giving you the chance to become the star of the show!
If you’ve made a great saving with Which4U.co.uk, we want to hear about it! If you’re happy to share the good news, we can even mention it in our weekly Friday audio bulletin.
The best way to do that is to get in touch with us.
On Twitter, hashtag #Which4USaver or send us a message on @Which4U.
Leave a comment on our Facebook page.
We look forward to making your good news the highlight of the week.
[Our most recent bulletin. Available with full transcript here]
The UK’s second biggest supermarket, Asda, is the latest retailer to announce new personal finance products as customers flock away from malfunctioning and scandal-struck high-street banks towards alternative providers.
The launch comes with a rename of the supermarket’s personal finance arm to Asda Money, and follows in the footsteps of high-street favourite, Marks & Spencer, which begins its banking operation this summer.
What’s on offer? How does it compare?
The supermarket’s force majeure is a credit card that will offer unlimited cashback of 1% on all Asda shopping (including petrol) and 0.5% on all other spending.
Asda entered the market for utilities recently, and it’s also offering a range of insurance products as part of its brand relaunch.
The appeal of the credit card has to be its rare combination of cashback together with a 0% offer on balance transfers for 12 months. However, does it really compete as the collective sum of its parts?
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- Save £100s by switching your credit card.
- In 3 easy steps, the new Beat My Card calculator compares your card against the market and lists up to 3 better cards.
- Win an iPad just by trying out the new feature!
As banks brace themselves for a fall-out from the crisis in Greece, the impact has been visible on personal finance products. Mortgage rates have hiked, while savings accounts and ISAs have plummeted. Hardly promising for a nation already in the grip of recession.
Credit cards stand out as the sole category of products that isn’t currently in meltdown. Which4U has come up with an ideal device that could help you make substantial savings on your credit card: the ‘Beat My Card’ credit card savings calculator.
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Q. What happens to my savings if my bank goes bust
MPs have been expressing their dismay that so few people are aware of the compensation scheme for UK based savings, which they believe could help to restore public faith in savings accounts.
It’s little wonder, either. At the close of 2011, it was estimated that only 3% of people were aware of the guaranteed compensation measures in place for UK savings deposits, despite a multi-million pound television advertising campaign designed to spread the word. [See our January editorial.]
A recent poll has shown that MPs would prefer it if financial bodies were required to tell consumers about the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection when selling relevant products and services.
To some degree, it’s in banks’ best interests to make sure that consumers feel at ease about the security of their savings – unless the bank is Passport protected or the customer has a large volume of savings at their disposal.
But as Secure Savings and Compensation is one of our favourite subjects – exemplified by an editorial, a savings guide, and a healthy proportion of the main saving account page – we are glad to oblige by spreading the word again.
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