YOUR LETTERS: EACH MONTH THE READER WITH THE BEST LETTER WINS £100 IN M&S VOUCHERS
THIS MONTH’S STAR LETTER ★
RUNNING A CAR DOESN’T HAVE TO DRIVE YOU TO RUIN
Ijust wanted to write in to say that running a car doesn’t have to be as expensive as some recent news stories suggest. I am a 66-year-old pensioner and drive a 17-year-old Volkswagen Polo. I cover about 2,000 miles each year. When a letter arrived in the post in April with my latest insurance quote, the price came in at £203 and included a £22 fee for paying this back monthly. I’m in a position to pay it all off in one go and because I’ve reduced my average mileage, I ended up paying just £160 – far less than some headline rates.
As for the cost of maintaining the car, that has also been minimal. The car has been pretty reliable. Thirteen years ago, I had a replacement rear exhaust fitted, which was £115 at the time from Kwik Fit. It came with a lifetime guarantee for an extra tenner, which I took up. In 2005, it needed replacing, but instead of coughing up another £120, it was free. Likewise, in 2010, the whole thing was done again for no extra cost – saving me about £250.
In total, my little car has completed 42,000 miles and passes its MOT each year without problems. In fact, the only major cost I’ve had to pay in 17 years was for a £250 throttle arm. As this shows, motoring doesn’t have
Blog of the month: A REAL STICKING POINT
to be a hugely expensive habit. MAC BRITTON/VIA EMAIL
Moneywise replies: It’s good to hear that not everyone is being driven off the road by soaring motoring costs.There’s a lot to be said for buying an older car and looking after it. While you may not be able to avoid soaring petrol costs, taking care of your car and holding on to it can save you money in the long run.
BY LAURA STAPLES BY
I’m 28 and I’ve just become a stamp collector! I have bought 200 second-class stamps for a whopping £72. “Why on earth did you do that?” I hear you cry. Well, there’s method in my madness. Royal Mail’s been given the green light to set its firstclass stamp prices at whatever level it sees fit. So, from the end of April, they’ll cost – wait for it – 60p. That’s an increase of more than 30%. And for my stamp of choice, although the price rise is capped for the next seven years, there’s still an increase of nearly 40%. A second-class stamp will cost 50p once the new pricing structure comes in, up from 36p.
So what’s behind the biggest rise in stamp prices for 37 years? The fact is that the way we communicate has changed massively over the past 15 years or so, thanks to the email and text message revolution. As a result, Royal Mail says it’s lost nearly £1 billion in the past four years.
Ok, so I’m not really becoming a philatelist – a display of 200 blue second-class stamps would surely be the most boring stamp collection on earth. The reason I’ve just splashed out in the Post Office is because I’ve reached an important life stage. I’m getting married.
The wedding’s not until summer 2013, but from here on in, Royal Mail and I are going to be working more closely. I have 150 guests I need to warn of my Sunday nuptials in case they want to book the following day off work to recover, so I’ll have to post them ‘save the date’ cards. Then, around two months before the wedding itself, I’ll have to send out the invites. And a couple of weeks after our big day, we’ll need to follow up with thank-you cards.
So by getting in the Post Office queue early – and, yes, there was a big queue at my local branch the day news of the price hike emerged – I’ve saved myself £28. It’s not a massive saving, but this wedding’s already costing an arm and a leg – and £28 saved in stamps is £28 to spend on something prettier.
8 MONEYWISE | MAY 2012