Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
The Money Watch team tackles savings, investments and pensions, in the final part of the series about family finances.
During the boom, people lost the savings habit. But now, in a new age of austerity, the public have rediscovered their appetite for putting money away, in the hope it will grow. Yet, as financial reporter Libby Potter discovers, despite being a nation of savers once again, it's almost impossible to find a decent return on savings. Is that simply because interest rates are so low – or could the banks do more to reward customers? And could customers do more to get a better return?
With returns from savings so poor, why don't the public put money in a nice, safe investment fund? That's what one high street bank told 83-year-old Heather Spicer. The result? She lost half her life savings – and paid a whopping fee for the privilege. Her nest egg meant everything to her, says Heather: "It was money that my husband had left me when he died."
And she's not alone; BBC business correspondent Andy Verity reveals that major banks have been giving some small investors disastrous advice. As a result, their customers have been fighting to get their money back.
With prices creeping back up after the recession crash, property may seem to be the best investment again – especially with interest rates so low. But, when ploughing money into bricks and mortar, do people act with their heads – or hearts? And with the economic outlook so gloomy, is now really the right time to buy? Andy meets a couple from Sheffield convinced that a new home is the best place to put their money. But investor Henry Pryor says property's only a proper investment if you view it with the cold eye of the professional.
What about saving and investing for the long-term, through pensions? Rajan Datar visits York, to find out how the economic downturn has affected occupational pensions, which millions once relied on to provide a comfortable old age. He discovers that, in these tough times, fewer employers can afford the generous schemes they once offered. And he meets hard-pressed employees who know they should be contributing more to their retirement, but simply can't afford to.
Finally, Martin Lewis offers some down-to-earth advice for viewers on how to maximise the chances of seeing their savings grow.
Magnets are put to the test as Richard Hammond takes the helm of another experiment-laden edition of the scientific game show.
Magnets both astound and baffle scientists around the world. But it's not just the science community that is intrigued by their power. The show hooks up with Magnet Man, otherwise known as Normal Ken, who has built his own electromagnetic gloves in a bid to become a real-life superhero.
When a magnetic photo of a cat becomes trapped at the top of a metal wall he attempts to use his new invention to save the photo of the cat. But will Normal Ken – sorry, Magnet Man – be able to use the gloves to climb the wall and save the day?
Back in the studio the two teams are put to work by Mini Miss (Richard's 65-year-old former science teacher who is now stuck as a 10-year-old, due to a failed time travel experiment) in Magnafind. The two teams have a range of household items and have to decide which ones are magnetic.
As ever, the programme reaches its climax with the gungy Messy Messy Mess Test. Today it's The Bridge Of Destiny where both teams have to find sections of a giant jigsaw bridge that are hidden in the gunge-filled tank. They must then attempt to complete the jigsaw of the bridge and send their truck full of prizes across it.
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