There have been calls in the press for Brits to “get the savings habit”: a habit that many of our parents had (or grandparents, depending how old you are, dear reader) but which we’ve lost along the way.

But if we decide to save, our next question might be “where do I invest my hard-won savings?”

That’s why I wrote recently that saving was a worthy thing to do; but that another option was to use any “discretionary income” we have, to pay down debt. As the saying goes (according to the Daily Telegraph): “Paying down debt … is the best tax-free, risk-free investment in town.”

There was more on this in a great piece yesterday (1 March 2013) by  Sean O’Grady of The Independent. It reminded me that I’d forgotten the “fun” aspect; that’s why shopping will for many of us be the most attractive option. His headline was “Shopping gets in the way of saving” and he says, even on the relatively mundane activity of food shopping:

“One of the most benign things that has happened to suburban Britain in the past 10 years or so has been the emergence of Tesco Metro, Sainsbury’s Local and the rest, which at least provide the option of a fresh apple or raw carrot in what used to be “food deserts”. For that alone, we should forgive them the horse-meat mistakes. As the current TV series chronicling the life of Mr Selfridge reminds us, we love shopping as a leisure activity in this country, and have done so for a very long time.

Contrast that with financial services. This is no one’s idea of fun. We know, instinctively, that providers of investments rip us off; annual charges, entry fees, financial advisers’ fees and all the rest of those little humiliating scams make us rightly suspicious of investing in even the soundest unit trust, investment trust, open-ended investment company, or whatever.”

O’Grady is right; no-one’s idea of fun. All those trip-wires he so graphically describes are indeed worrying.

So … “paying down debt remains the best tax-free, risk-free investment in town.” I rest my case.

PS You don’t have any debts? Good for you; but maybe you’re reading the wrong blog.


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