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EDITOR’S BLOG: Rates are on the right track – you’re not!

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06/07/2007

So boring and predictable, isn’t it?

I mean all the bleating after the latest interest rate rise. The media, especially the terminally wimpish BBC, pulled its usual trick of running around looking for people who would “suffer” because of the decision and trawled up the usual motley rentacrowd of over-mortgaged, credit-binging whingers who claimed they were at destitution’s door because of a 0.25% rise in Base Rate.

Do me a favour. Any establishment that runs its finances properly would absorb such a piffling sum without any hassle at all. And if the sum involved isn’t piffling then someone’s borrowed too much money and shouldn’t be allowed within 10 miles of a household budget. It’s tough luck, mate, as my granddad used to say, and you’ll have to live with the consequences of your own lack of responsibility.

I was discussing this matter with a senior City analyst just the other day and he agreed with me that people have only themselves to blame for their predicament. As a man who once stayed in a council flat while he was at university (although he lives in Guildford now, thank goodness), I felt he was uniquely qualified to comment on the situation.

His angle was that the credit companies unfairly take the flak for people’s stupidity and that anyone on a decent salary and with a sense of proportion should be able to cope with minor inconveniences like rate rises. He himself was proof of his own assertions, he said, and that if the son of a senior Church of England clergyman could handle the financial ups and downs of life so well, then anyone should be able to.

Still, none of the moaning and groaning from more ordinary people than him comes as any surprise to me. Although this website is called yourmoney, after working on it for a year I get the impression most people know less about their money and how to handle it than they do the about the atmosphere of Uranus or calculus.

The only difference – in case you haven’t noticed – is that you’ll never have to try to breathe on Uranus or use calculus to work out the cost of that ill-advised second holiday in Crete this year. You WILL, however, have to engage with personal finance and the way to do that efficiently isn’t just to load it all onto a card and then hope you’ll win the Lottery before Christmas, which is the level a lot of people are at in this country. After all, you can’t run up over £1 trillion-worth of personal debt as a nation without millions of financial turnips adding their few quids’ worth, so where do you sit in that scenario? (Actually, don’t answer that because it will make me go all queasy.)

Anyway, here I sit, still tapping out these words for people who still don’t take out travel insurance when they go on holiday, still don’t cover their household goods or their life against disaster, still run up hundreds of pounds in bank (proud and decent institutions to a man) charges and then go running to the courts to get them back because it “isn’t fair”, still load impossible burdens on their credit cards and then borrow more in the form of “consolidated loans” to cover their debt because millionairess Carol ‘Countdown’ Vorderman says it’s OK, and still go cap in hand to an IVA sharp when that disastrously misguided policy inevitably goes wrong.

I mean, what are you like? (Don’t answer that either, because I don’t want whingers’ comments blocking up the email inbox below.)

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