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November Newsletter

Welcome to our November newsletter. In this issue we have Financial advice as product of the month. Why social media could cost you a fortune. Why is the state pension being cut in 2020 and tips to get a good nights sleep.

Product Of The Month


Financial Advice. We are Independent Financial Advisers and we offer fully independent, professional and unbiased advice on a wide range of financial products. Please telephone 0161 702 0301 to arrange a mutually convenient appointment to discuss any financial matter or click here to arrange an advisor to contact you.

We offer independant advice on the following:

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Financial Advice on:
• Commercial mortgages
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• Wealth management
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Why social media could cost you a fortune


Why social media could cost you a fortune 


There have always been influencers. 

People whose words, actions and appearance affect those around them to such an extent that they emulate and copy them. 

To feel like part of the tribe, we have long invested in the same clothes, accessories, possessions and experiences as those we choose as the leaders of that tribe.


Duchesses and princes, religious leaders and travellers, authors and scientists, entrepreneurs and athletes have all had and have their huge followings. Many have used that fame to earn a crust (or maybe a whole breadbasket) through sponsorships, partnerships and associations. 


None of this is new. But today’s influencers have upped their game. The rules of engagement haven’t changed but the speed of that engagement has, according to leading psychologists. 


When once us mere mortals would have gone out to search the hillsides for the same feather a leading light of Georgian society had in their hat according to a newspaper a month old, today we click the Amazon Prime link included in their Insta post from five seconds ago. The shoes, tech or airline tickets could be in your hands the same day, maybe even the same hour. 

That instant gratification, that hit of dopamine that fades as fast as it arrives, can and regularly does spell financial disaster long after the Insta king or queen has moved on to the next “must have”.

But the average single post by the world’s top Instagrammers contains £6,700 of luxury items. With one in three of the under-40s aspiring to live the influencer lifestyle, according to research by fintech business CreditKarma, they’d need an annual salary of £1.7m to achieve it. Or £3.1m if you include the vehicles on display.

Real or not, Generation Z-ers and millennials collectively spend £400m every month imitating the stars of social media. Around 70 per cent are going into debt to do it. Others say so-called “social spending” is affecting their saving, including hindering long-term goals like buying a house, as well as their ability to cover everyday costs.


Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist who specialises in celebrity culture, warns that it’s especially hard to see through the smoke and mirrors to decide what’s real and what’s not on social media. “It’s essential to remember that posting about expensive items and lavish lifestyles is a full-time job for many social media influencers. Many of these ‘social celebrities’ have either been gifted these items or have been paid to promote them. You can see whether there is formal promotion behind a post by looking at the hashtags – influencers often reference #Ad at the bottom of a post. Others on Instagram have a disclaimer at the top that says ‘paid partnership’.”

She suggests that we gravitate towards those with similar values whom we see as authentic. We buy items related to those people, endorsed by those people as a validation, not just of the items we own or places we’ve been but who we are. And all that costs money. 


“When people buy the items being displayed on social media the values of each item often aren’t that much, but cumulatively, it becomes a lot of money,” Hemmings adds.


When it comes to luxury goods in particular though, part of the satisfaction of buying seems to be about setting yourself up as a special member of your particular tribe. 

Separate research from Hitachi Personal Finance released this week suggests that four in 10 UK adults prefer to buy expensive items rather than cheaper alternatives, but not simply because of the perceived or real quality of the item itself. In fact, the same proportion of people would buy an expensive item when lower priced alternatives were available because they know “not everyone could afford them”.

Meanwhile, the UK’s record personal debt levels keep on spiralling upwards.

“It’s vital we cut through the noise and look at the important facts when discussing debt,” says John Ellmore, director of comparison site Know Your Money. “That 69 per cent of under-40s have some form of debt is not surprising – indeed, our own research shows that 70 per cent of all UK adults are in debt. 


“What is important is that people feel in control of their debt, and unfortunately a quarter of consumers say this isn’t the case. Feeling out of control of your debt, which can result from taking on too much debt or not first considering repayment plans, can lead to significant mental health problems. We must ensure support and education is provided so people only take on responsible, manageable debt; in turn, this will help us break the taboo surrounding the subject and prevent debt being treated as a dirty word.”

So where does the Insta generation – and anyone else who tends towards a bit of Fomo or keeping up with the Joneses – go from here? 

“We’re still in the instant gratification stage of consuming,” says Hemmings. “We’re not in the habit of delayed return of even stopping to think about saving for something. We’re not questioning the thought process. I think will be some time before we get back to considering purchases like that. This bubble isn’t close to bursting.”

But, she adds, it may be close to being questioned as we become more aware of the damage our consumer spending is having – on our emotional wellbeing, the environment and on our personal finances.

Why is my state pension being cut by £70 a week from April 2020?


My state pension will be cut by £70 a week from next April - what's going on? Steve Webb replies



I am a 75 year old expat pensioner living in Spain. I recently received a letter from HMRC to say that from April 2020 a new law comes into place, meaning that I will receive £70 less a week in state pension because my wife won't have reached pensionable age until 2024.

I also received another letter saying I will receive the state pension increase until 2023. Although it didn't say in the letter what happens from 2023 onwards, I am presuming that I will not get an increase after that date.

I left school when I was 15 years old and got an apprenticeship as a design draughtsman, and have had a few other different jobs until I retired.


Fall in income: Why is my state pension being cut by £70 a week from next year? (Stock image)

I was made redundant three times over the years, but have never wanted to receive benefits, so I found jobs with less pay, like washing dishes in a local hotel for a few months, until I found a better paid job.


I have paid into the system all my working life, so that I would receive a full state pension.

I was wondering if you had any information as to what will happen after 2023. I have lived in Spain for over 15 years now, so I am not allowed to vote in any elections, including a second referendum if the UK decided to have one. I hope you can help.



Steve Webb replies: The letter that you have received from the Pension Service is to tell you that an extra payment that you currently receive on top of your state pension will cease in April 2020.

This relates to an extra amount which people used to be able to claim for what the system calls an 'adult dependent'.

Under the terms of a law passed in 2007, no new claims for this top-up have been possible since 2010, but those who were already getting the payment in 2010 (as I think you must have been) have been allowed to continue to receive it until now.

It may help if I explain a bit more about what that payment is and what is changing.


Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

When the National Insurance system was designed, the assumption back in the 1940s was that each household would have a male breadwinner whilst his wife would (often) spend part of her life bringing up children and out of paid work.

As a result, various rules were introduced to provide for couples which included a married woman who did not have much income or pension in her own right.


One feature of this system which arose from this view of the world was the idea of an 'adult dependency' increase.

Originally, most National Insurance benefits paid an extra amount to claimants who had a spouse who was financially dependent upon them. These have been gradually abolished and are now finally being removed from the state pension system.

For the avoidance of doubt, we are talking here about an extra payment that a married man might receive, as part of his state pension, because his non-pensioner wife was financially dependant on him.


We are not talking about pensions that women might claim in their own right when they reach state pension age.

As I mentioned above, since 6 April 2010 no new claims for this adult dependency addition to the state pension have been accepted.

But, as a concession, those who were already in the system by that point were allowed to continue to receive the payment for up to 10 years.

In most cases, the spouse would reach state pension age during that period and she would then claim a pension in her own right. This would generally lead to the removal of the addition to the husband's pension in any case.


Your case is slightly unusual in that your wife is significantly younger than you and still has not reached state pension age more than a decade after you started to receive your state pension.

Unfortunately, this means that there will be a gap between the date when your addition is stopped in April 2020 and when your wife's state pension starts in 2024.


You also refer in your question to 2023 but this relates to a different matter. Because you live in the EU, there has been some uncertainty about whether the annual pension uprating that you receive would be affected by the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.

The UK government has made a pledge to continue such upratings at least until 2023. What happens beyond that date will depend on decisions by the UK government at that point.


This commitment will however only apply to any pension that you are entitled to receive under normal state pension rules and I'm afraid will therefore not protect the 'adult dependency' addition which will stop next year.



From the right bedding to quality mattresses, follow these tips to aid a decent night sleep


Four rules for 40 winks: From the right bedding and a quality mattress to full body pillows, follow these tips to aid a decent night sleep


We've truly woken up to the merits of a good night's sleep. Almost every week, one study or other shows the importance of getting a proper 40 winks to keep body and soul in tip-top condition.

A U.S. study recently reported that if students really want to gain perfect grades they'll need a whole month of perfect slumber. No wonder sleep has become big business. Here are some of the latest advances in the basics of bedtime.


Beautiful bedding

Finding a pillow at the right height is key for premium comfort. That's why sleep brand Kally has launched an adjustable pillow (£39.99, kallysleep.com), which contains four independent, easy-to-remove hollow-fibre pads that allow you to adjust the height and density of your pillow.


Kally’s full body pillow, £49.99, kallysleep.com

Alternatively, you may want to plump for Kally's full body pillow (£49.99), which was developed by osteopaths. It's shaped like a tube so you can wrap yourself around it, and aims to keep your neck and back perfectly aligned to relieve pressure for back and neck pain and support for pregnancy, recovery and restless sleepers.

Kally offers a 14-night guarantee — if you don't like it, they'll refund you.

Designed to provide a warm, gentle pressure to give the sensation of a comforting cuddle, weighted blankets are part of the latest wellness trend.


In place of a duvet, they aim to maximise relaxation and minimise body movement to encourage a deeper sleep.


Historically, these have been available only online. But John Lewis recently began stocking quilted cotton blankets in a neutral grey shade which are made with weighted glass beads (from £48, johnlewis.com).

There are six different weights to choose from, and getting the correct one is crucial. 'We recommend customers select a blanket weight that is about 10 per cent of their body weight,' says Unna Patel, a buyer at John Lewis & Partners.

Online brands include Mela Comfort. Its blankets are also filled with glass beads and come in five weights. They cost from £124.99, though the company offers a 100-night trial, so if you don't like it, you get your money back (melacomfort.co.uk).


Fabrics for all seasons

Body temperature plays an important part in getting a good night's sleep. Look out for duvets that have fillings or fabrics that change their state to keep you at a comfortable level. Soak & Sleep promises to keep you at a constant ambient temperature in winter and even in summer.

They are filled with a 'technical blend' of material, including Lyocell and polyester. The company claims the filling will absorb heat from your body when you're too warm and release it when the temperature drops.


Sleep tight: Bedding from The White Company, thewhitecompany.co.uk.

If you're a hot sleeper, this might appeal as it's a lightweight 4.5 tog (from £70, soak andsleep.com).

For something warmer, try wool-filled duvets. Penelope Bedroom's Woolly Pure duvet is 10.5 tog and promises exceptional sleep thanks to its British wool filling, proven to improve sleep quality by 25 per cent (from £140, penelopebedroom.co.uk).

The right fabrics will aid your sleep if you choose well. While cotton and polyester blends are much cheaper, you could pay in other ways. 'The perfect sheets need breathability, and that means 100 per cent cotton,' says Jed Coleman, founder of Rise & Fall bedding (riseandfall.co.uk).


Don't be duped by sheets that have a high thread count — the number of fibres per square inch of fabric. There is a sweet spot for each type of weave and you need to get the right balance between the two if you want the perfect night's sleep.

Coleman reckons the perfect thread count for a percale — a traditional one up one down weave — is 400.

'Anything above or below that figure does not get the balance right. For sateen (satin weave), the perfect balance is 600, making the sheets buttery soft and easy on the skin.'


No lumpy mattresses

There's no one-size-fits-all mattress. People have different needs based on size, shape, weight, sleeping positions.

Adam Black, co-founder of Button & Sprung, is one of many advocates of natural and chemical-free mattresses.


'Natural fibres facilitate a cooler and more comfortable night's sleep,' he says. 'It also means you sleep on a chemical-free, more sustainable and more environmental-friendly bed than the foam-based alternatives.' Pocket-sprung mattresses are popular. Going one step further, Button & Sprung mattresses (buttonandsprung.com) use mini springs in addition to the core pocket ones, providing contouring support at the body's pressure points throughout the night.


Prices range from £545 for 2,822 springs and from £2,600 for 29,760 springs.

A mattress topper can help a good night's sleep even further. The White Company's reversible topper is perfect for all-year-round comfort; use the merino wool side for that extra layer of warmth in the colder months, then flip it over to the crisp cotton side for something cooler in the summer. Prices from £150 for a double.


Find the right frame

When it comes to selecting a bed frame, there are sizes, styles and storage to consider — all in a seemingly endless pool of price ranges and brands.

Of course, choosing a bed is a very personal task, however, there are some frames that are bound to please the most difficult of sleepers.

Loaf's Chit Chat bed has a stylish, squishy headboard in plush velvet — perfect for night-time reading or breakfast in bed — solid oak legs and sprung birch slats. They also offer a 100-night free trial on all of their mattresses (from £1,245 loaf.com).

Get Laid's bedframes have a totally different look — made from super-sold durable wood.

The frames are handmade and come in a range of finishes, and each bed comes with an 11-year guarantee and slats which are twice as wide and thick as average beds (from £259, getlaidbeds.co.uk).




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