Our guide on how to avoid the perfect storm of debt

This is the alarm sounded by the Personal Finance Society just as households are receiving their credit card bills, revealing the debt they have racked up over the festive period. It points to a 'perfect storm' of factors driving borrowers to the edge, including a continued love affair with expensive credit cards.

My dad invested £45k of his pension plan in storage pods. He has now been contacted by KB Financial Solutions, with an offer to buy his pods for £60k. Is it a scam?

City operators made millions following Carillion's demise

Sharp hedge fund investors cashed in on Carillion's woes by placing massive bets on the company's failure, our special report has revealed. The so-called short-sellers, who have hauled in profits following the collapse in the share price, include Marshall Wace, the hedge fund founded by Brexiteer Sir Paul Marshall. It held the largest short position in the firm last summer.

The Carillion collapse could cost the taxpayer more than £1 billion.Fees paid to liquidation advisers PwC could also run into hundreds of millions

What is likely to happen to the directors of Carillion who were in charge while the group lurched towards the rocks, leaving enormous debts, unbuilt hospitals, a black hole in the pension fund

The advisers, some of whom persuaded former British Steel workers to transfer out of their pension schemes, have been given fresh momentum following a series of failures.

The UK must strike a transition deal with the EU in 70 days, the CBI will warn tomorrow. Failure to do so would force firms to trigger contingency plans - involving the loss of investment and jobs

For current account rewards and interest conditions may apply eg. using provider's full switching service, min deposits and direct debits. For savings, access maybe limited, min/max deposits may apply. See T&Cs. Representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).





MIDAS SHARE TIPS: We look at the high street shops

More of us are shopping online. Last month, there was a 3.5% annual decline in footfall on the high street. We take a look at the shops who could still thrive, despite the gloom - and others who have a worrying future. Included in the round-up are M&S, Debenhams, Mothercare, B&M and Joules.

Short-sellers who cashed in on Carillion's collapse are targeting Interserve and other Government contractors. Their bets against firms in the building and outsourcing sector total £500m.

Four bosses at corporate raider Melrose are in line to share £285 million in bonuses if they make a success of their takeover bid for engineering giant GKN, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The new chief executive of Dixons Carphone has been awarded a suite of financial rewards that could earn him up to £15m over the next five years.

The RBS chief is also for the first time giving his public backing to The Mail on Sunday's campaign for a body to provide independent redress for entrepreneurs.

Discount food retailer Lidl has come under fire for an 'aggressive' expansion plan that has left local businesses struggling to find new premises.

The publisher of magazines for airlines ranging from easyJet to Etihad has been put up for sale amid predictions it will fetch £70m. Ink produces 28 magazines in ten languages

Best credit cards, savings accounts and personal loans

Bargain-hunters are still scouring the shops in the hope of picking up discounted clothes, gadgets and white goods in this month's sales. But banks and other financial institutions are also getting in on the act, launching special deals on a range of products. If you are looking to take out a new current account, savings account, loan, credit card or mortgage

Every Sunday, This is Money rounds up all of the share tips from the newspapers. This weekend, high street retailers, Boohoo, Diageo and Unilever.

This month marks three years at the helm for Ross Teverson, manager of investment fund Jupiter Global Emerging Markets. The performance numbers look good.

Fraud and hacking is now the most common crime

Official figures due out this week will show that fraud and hacking is now the most common crime in England and Wales. Reported cases of fraud are running at a frightening two million a year - with a staggering £2m a day being lost to criminals.MPs on the Public Accounts Committee recently concluded that Government, the financial services industry and the police are failing to keep pace.

Our Justice For Our Firms campaign was boosted this weekend when Barclays backed our calls for an independent body to settle rows between entrepreneurs and banks

To feel the real impact of the Carillion collapse on small firms and ordinary people, you have to leave the confines of Whitehall and the City and head to a place such as Liverpool

RAY MASSEY tests the new Nissan Leaf electric car

The zero-emissions hatchback will, Nissan says, travel 50 per cent further, deliver 38 per cent more power, and cost up to £1,500 less than the original. But does it live up to the high-voltage hype? This is the real deal; designed for the real world, less than £30,000, and a smart car that owes much to a new 'pedal power' system.

The company behind the Gumball 3000, the international 3,000-mile celebrity car race, is suing a provider of rally-driving holidays. Gumball 3000 has issued a claim against Cannon Drive 3000

Almost 3m cars were maliciously damaged last year across the UK, resulting in a collective repair bill of £1.9billion, up 9.5% from 2016 and equating to an average cost per victim of £661.

Should you copy hedge funds and sell Debenhams?

Hedge funds are tipping the share prices of Debenhams, Sainsbury's and pet supplies chain Pets At Home to plummet as the High Street continues its struggle against online competition. They can make hundreds of millions - or even billions - of pounds by betting that the businesses' share prices will fall.

In a multi-million pound revamp Thomas Cook is to transform family holidays by allowing customers to tailor individual bits of their trip to their needs.

If Polar explorer Craig Mathieson became Chancellor, he would throw all the accountants who set up offshore tax havens into prison - and chuck away the key.

I bought cryptocurrencies but still don’t understand them

Joe split his £600 savings between bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin. However, several weeks later and sitting on a loss he still has no idea what they are and how they work. He has a suspicion, though, that he is no more ignorant than the vast majority of people who have been buying into cryptocurrencies in recent months.

The bitcoin rollercoaster has continued to deliver spectacular price moves as the cryptocurrency dropped below $10,000 and then bounced 20 per cent to top $12,000.

Investor sentiment on unloved UK equities funds is turning the corner back to better levels according to the latest data from Lloyds Private Bank.

How safe is your final salary pension? How it is protected

Britain's private pensions were once the envy of the world. Long gone are those days of widespread world-class final salary schemes, but many still have some promises due and they are worth holding on to. The problem is that many people are worried about how safe their company's pledge to pay them is.

When fees for spending on credit cards were banned on Saturday, it was hailed as the end of a rip-off that meant shoppers were shelling out millions of pounds just to spend their own money.

A decision on the fees a cash machine operator can charge a bank when customers use one of its ATMs is imminent. If the proposed 20% cut is approved it could result in cash machine deserts

Where are the best places to invest in 2018?

Investors have been buoyed recently but markets in which everything seems to be going up, but that doesn't mean that they should not be more choosy about where to put their money in the year ahead. Ben Kumar, of 7IM, discusses the best places to invest for 2018 with Simon Lambert, of This is Money, and Richard Hunter, of Interactive Investor, on the latest Investing Show.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' December survey found that 86 per cent of its members reported no increase in first-time buyer inquiries following the changes.

Families owe £70bn on their cards, and in a letter to chairmen, the Bank said risks from bad lending 'remain elevated'. It added that some boards are not getting enough information to spot warning signs.

RAC launches flexible loan for used cars that mimics PCP

Used car buyers are to be offered the low monthly payments usually seen on new car finance deals after the RAC launched a flexible loan that mimics PCP deals. Similar to the hugely popular personal contract plan finance used to sell brand new cars, the RAC's Flexiloan offers the chance to put a deposit down and get lower monthly payments over a set period thanks to a larger set deferred final payment.

Fewer than half of the public consulted voted in favour of the extension, with the main concern being the safety risk involved with delaying the test for another year.

Excess energy collected via solar panels on sunny days and stored in a fridge-sized home-battery could be sold back to the national grid at peak times when demand for it is at its highest, the car giant says.

Waterstones profits soar 80 per cent

Thanks to a successful turnaround masterminded by managing director James Daunt, Waterstones made £18m in profits up to end of April 2017 compared to £9.9m the previous year.(its first annual profit since the financial crisis). Six years after the books chain faced a terminal threat from the Kindle that cost it £100m in sales, it recorded £404million in revenues.

There is no room for complacency about the impact of the Carillion implosion on private sector involvement in government projects and the reputation of the City.

Proactive Investors was set up in 2007 when City pals Ian Mclelland and Craig Ribton decided to turn the blog they had started as a hobby into a business.

While Carillion employees and sub-contractors are left reeling in the wake of the company's financial meltdown, innocent savers up and down the country will also take a hit.

He might sound like a dodgy brand of men's aftershave, but there is growing consensus that engineering tycoon Elon Musk might is an artificial cyborg, created by science to save mankind.

Deltex Medical lands big American deal

Budget cuts within the NHS have crippled Deltex Medical in recent years, leading the blood-flow-monitoring technology firm to try and seek its fortune elsewhere. One territory where it has shifted its focus towards is the US and this week it secured a 'major' new hospital across the pond as a customer - news which sent the shares soaring. The hospital - supposedly among the top ten in the States - will now use Deltex's oesophageal Doppler monitoring probes after a successful trial period just before Christmas

The firm was forced to issue a profit warning after customer footfall and orders dropped off significantly during its crucial post-Christmas sales period.

Shares in Bonmarche plummeted almost 25% to 99p in early morning trading today after the women's fashion retailer reported a collapse in Christmas sales

The firm floated in March 2014 at 50p. Today the shares are 187.25p and should increase materially as Boohoo takes market share from less agile competitors.

Can I get my smart meter removed?

There is no obligation to have a smart meter installed and it is up to the consumer whether they agree to have one or not. But even if you've said you don't want a meter fitted, what happens if you move into a property which has one already?

Law firm Your Lawyers said it has been appointed to act as a lead solicitor to represent 10,000 UK drivers who bought VW cars fitted with emission-cheating devices.

The Committee for Climate Change said that three in five cars purchased in 12 years' time will need to be electric if the Government is serious about meeting legally-binding carbon targets.

Should I buy more Shell shares for the 5.7% dividend

One of the major attractions of Shell is that it pays a good level of income to shareholders. At the moment it is paying 5.7 pence for every £1 invested. Much of Shell's future success is tied to the price of oil, which plummeted to less than $30 (£22) a barrel in 2016 but has since recovered to nearly $70 (£50.80).

Firms are desperate to ditch gold-plated pension schemes as they are expensive to run. Savers are being offered big cash payouts if they give up modest incomes. But beware the tax sting.

The digital currency and others, including ethereum, ripple, bitcoin cash and cardano, tanked after officials in South Korea and China suggested they could try to block trading.

Everything you need to know about Tesco's Clubcard shakeup

In a controversial move the supermarket giant has written to customers to tell them that they can now only boost their points value up to a maximum of three times with some partners rather than four under when swapped for vouchers.

Metro Bank will now allow people to open its current accounts online rather than having to go into branch as it looks to attract customers from further afield, it revealed this morning.

Every year, thousands miss the self-assessment deadline. HRMC has revealed the most bizarre, if not imaginative, excuses given by those who failed to file their tax returns on time.

Is the open banking revolution a fraudster’s charter?

Under new laws, you can now ask your current account provider to share details of your income, spending habits and debts with third-party internet companies. You are also now allowed to hand over your password and log-in details to these firms. The idea is that the third party can save you money by helping you budget or shop around for cheap deals.

Yesterday Iceland - one of Britain's best-known supermarkets with more than 900 stores - pledged to remove all plastic packaging from its own-label products within five years.

I bought a Sony TV from Currys for £689 and my son fitted it to the wall. Seven months later, a white line appeared on the screen. I went back to Currys and was told I had to deal directly with Sony.

Scottish Power broke in and changed our locks over bill

James Mant, 44, and Victoria Parsons, 41, have filed a claim against Scottish Power after a year-long struggle following the break-in at their home in Whiteley, Hampshire. The company installed a prepaid gas meter during the break-in - even though it hadn't supplied gas to the home since 2015 and the unpaid bill related to electricity usage. Scottish Power has apologised for the distress and says it made a 'genuine error'.

Land Rover to revive the Defender with 150 reborn 4x4s

Just when you thought it was gone forever, Land Rover's classic Defender has bounced back from the dead with a collectors' edition run of 150 reborn models starting at a hefty £150,000. Jaguar Land Rover's Classic division is to fit 5.0 litre V8 engines to a selection of reincarnated, re-engineered and refurbished Defenders to produce 'the most powerful and fastest ever created', capable of accelerating from rest to 60mph in just 5.6 seconds.

The boxes measure how you brake and accelerate to work out an insurance premium based your safety as a driver. But they can also be used to thwart scammers.

West Yorkshire's speed cameras and police officers caught almost 46 times as many drivers exceeding limits than the force issuing the least tickets - City of London constabulary.

More than half of over-50s prefer to spend not leave money

Of those babyboomers surveyed, 56% said that they wanted to keep hold of their hard earned cash instead of passing it on to someone else, and 62% said that the money was 'there to be spent'. This is despite one in 20 people saying they are relying on their parent's cash, with one in ten complaining that their parents are having too much fun with their 'inheritance'

The lender is splitting its retail section off from its more risky investment bank. The aim is to keep ordinary customers sheltered from any problems which blow up in times of economic turmoil.

Property values in Cambridge and the West Midlands have rocketed in the last year according to latest official house price data - with annual inflation nationwide sitting at 5.1% according to the ONS.

The cryptocurrencies that could boom in 2018

Bitcoin and ethereum really took off last year, leaving many feeling that they've missed the bandwagon. So what are the other cryptocurrencies that could boom? Or are they more likely to bust? We look at some of the alternatives, including ripple, and Iota. But watch out - cryptocurrencies are volatile, complex, and there is a risk of losing a lot of the money you put in.

When pre-school worker Ami Hay took out a £15,000 loan, the last thing she expected was that she wouldn't have to pay it back - but she was the lucky beneficiary of a Halifax marketing ruse.

NatWest is offering current account switchers a £125 cash incentive to switch to one of its accounts.The new offer means you could pocket nearly £200 in the first year with a Reward Account

Entrepreneur Rob Moore shares his tips for earning more

Rob Moore started out with nothing, got into a lot of debt - and now 11 years on owns and manages 720 properties and employs over 200 staff. So what's the trick? On this episode of the Big Money Questions, Rob explains how he did it and his tips for getting the income that you need for the lifestyle that you want. He shares his own experiences, but also the guidance that he has gleaned in his study of successful entrepreneurs over the years.

The cashback offer is for a limited time only but if you catch it before it's withdrawn, you will receive £500 on the day that your mortgage completes.

Investing app Moneybox is the latest provider to announce it will offer a Lifetime Isa with the app's founders aiming it at those saving a deposit for their first home.

What will happen to Carillion pension savers?

The collapse of Carillion is devastating for its workers, but their pensions will be safeguarded by the official lifeboat scheme. How does the Pension Protection Fund work, and what will its existing staff and pensioners get now the building and services contractor has gone into liquidation?

50 ways to save money....

To clear the average national household debt of £13,000 at 6% interest with a monthly repayment of £100 will take around 17 years. There are, however, plenty of simple ways to make significant savings on your regular spending that could clear your debt - or boost your savings - in less than a year. This is Money's top 50 - updated - money-saving tips may appear light-hearted but are deadly serious.

Pick the best (and cheapest) investment Isa platform

Choosing the right DIY platform is crucial but a wealth of choice and changes to charges have left many investors scratching their heads. We pick some of the best. We also highlight why investing in an Isa makes sense, as it should protect your hopefully growing investments from tax forever.

We asked trusted experts to recommend the best funds that cover different investment sectors - and included This is Money's selection of active and passive options too.

Rightly or wrongly, some people simply want a quick, straightforward route map to investing in an Isa. To that end, this is our distilled guide to getting started.

How much money do I need to save for my pension?

The amount you can save into a pension ultimately depends on what you can afford - but the longer you leave it the more you will need to save. We tend to put ambitious targets on our hoped-for income in retirement and then underestimate how much we will need to set aside to achieve that. So how much should you save?

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Making the most of a pension is your best chance of securing a decent income when you retire. We explain what you need to know.

Even at a time when we are stretching our finances further to afford a home, moving less, and pushing mortgages beyond 30 years, we still remain captivated by two-year fixed rate deals.

When will UK interest rates rise?

All nine Bank of England policymakers voted to leave interest rates unchanged in December as they said inflation should start easing back next year. The Bank also said that different economic indicators suggested growth was likely to have slowed down as they year ends.

What next for mortgage rates?

Borrowers are being offered a raft of cheap fixed rate mortgages as lenders attempt to lure them into remortgaging or buying a home. But HSBC has decided to buck the trend and launch a new rate mortgage that is a tracker instead. We pick out the best fixed and tracker rate mortgages and look at what next for rates.

Ten tips for buy-to-let

For many buy-to-let looks an attractive income investment in a time of low rates and stock market volatility. Climbing house prices, rising rents and improving mortgage deals are tempting investors - although they will need a big deposit. Read This is Money's top ten buy-to-let tips

Best paid jobs and biggest pay rises of 2016 revealed

Compare your pay to the national average and see whether your employer treated you to a pay rise in line with the the rest of your profession. Farmers, care and air travel assistants were big winners on the pay scales in 2016. Travel agents, careers advisers and probation officers lost out.

Premium Bonds winners

January 2018
Prize value Winning bond No. Area
£1,000,000 1TA132848 Wiltshire
£1,000,000 112TQ018654 Kent
£100,000 189KL156240 Kent
£100,000 181WQ453770 Southampton
£100,000 179HF064246 Essex
£100,000 126GQ699112 Northern Ireland
£50,000 314SM472450 Wirral
£50,000 314PN128151 Nottinghamshire
£50,000 306FS870560 Croydon
£50,000 263DK009743 East Sussex
£50,000 249NH027648 Tyne and Wear
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