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Ten reasons we should all be saving

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Rates may be dismal but there are still plenty of good reasons to save your hard earned cash.

UK savers have had a torrid time in recent years thanks to persistently low interest rates.

In fact, when the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announces it latest decision on 6 March it will be five years since the base rate was cut to 0.5% in March 2009.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, to learn that the number of people planning to save into a cash ISA this year is set to fall by 9%.

However, despite the dismal rates on offer by the majority of banks and building societies, there are still a number of very good reasons to put some money aside.

Here, Simon Rose of campaign group Save Our Savers reveals his top ten:

1. Saving is indispensable if a country is to prevent a decline in its standard of living. Economic growth requires investment, but you cannot have investment without saving.

It is no coincidence that the UK’s current record on investment is woeful, with the past five years seeing savings attacked from all sides. This assault continues while the government and the Bank of England encourage yet more debt, which is how we got into this mess in the first place.

2. By 2025 one in five of the population will be 65 years or older. Our ageing population will place a growing burden upon the state. Savers who try to provide for themselves in retirement will reduce the future state bill for old age and care provision.

3. If saving had been encouraged and taking on debt made more difficult, the effect of the financial crisis on UK households would have been much less severe.

4. It is morally unjust that the government and the financial authorities continue to help out those who have been imprudent or racked up debt, at the expense of those who have been prudent and responsible.

5. It is cheaper to save for an item than borrow. Buying a £2,000 item with a credit card charging 20%, if paid off in monthly instalments, would cost £2,223.23. A basic rate saver getting 1.2% interest net would need to find just £1,987.04, a saving of over 10%. The “put it on plastic” mentality, even if paid off quickly, is significantly more expensive.

6. The majority of people WANT to be able to save. The recent NS&I survey showed that, over the past decade, while income rose by only 3% and inflation soared by 36%, people are actually saving more of their income, entirely contrary to the Bank of England’s expectations when they cut base rate.

7. The Bank of England’s recent Inflation Report shows that the Bank wants people to eat into their savings to boost consumer spending. This follows a prolonged period where we have had the lowest rates of saving since the war. This is a highly short-sighted attitude. Without savings, the effect on any future downturn will have a far more savage effect upon UK families.

8. The Bank for International Settlements has warned that prolonged low interest rates are harmful: “The prolonged period of very low interest rates entails the risk of creating serious financial distortions, misallocations of resources and delay in the necessary deleveraging in those advanced countries most affected by the crisis.”

9. As Wilkins Micawber famously said: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Current economic policy not only spreads misery, it is also damaging the nation’s mental well-being. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, debt can be a cause and consequence of mental health issues, with one in two of those who are in debt, suffering mental health problems.

10. Saving is the route to financial freedom. Excess debt leads to financial servitude.

“Five years of artificially depressed interest rates have had not been the great boost to growth the Bank of England expected. On the contrary, they have caused hardship to millions of the most vulnerable and taken money away from UK households, while encouraging a continuation of the debt habit that got us into this mess in the first place. “

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