Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Interest – Only Timebomb

News stories are starting to emerge about what’s being called the interest-only mortgage time bomb. Almost a million people have interest-only mortgages with no plan in place to repay the capital at the end of the term. I was alerted to this by reader Tony Cater who thinks he’s spotted an opportunity. And he could be right.

Tony points out that there is a  buy-to-let style opportunity as one of the range of solutions to this problem. The crux of the idea is that when the capital falls due for repayment, the house is sold to a buy-to-let landlord who rents the property back to the current ‘owners’.  Perhaps there is a business model that combines security for the occupants and an income stream for the new landlord.

This has hallmarks of equity release schemes, which tend to get a bad press, but I think that’s more to do with the implementation (and the people offering it) rather than something intrinsically wrong with the idea. If you can come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement, this could be an excellent opportunity with almost unlimited potential.

Solar Panel – Do It Now

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are substantial financial benefits (if not aesthetic ones) to installing solar panels through a combination of cheaper power and an additional feed-in tariff  payment guaranteed by the government.

Although the details have yet to be finalised, it looks almost certain that the tariff (which is guaranteed for 20 years) will be slashed by over 60% in January.

I won’t bore you with the nuts and bolts here, (if you’re interested it’s easy enough to find them online)  but the important thing is this – if you’re considering installing solar panels, you need to get it done and signed off before January. That way your feed in tariff will be guaranteed for 20 years. Leave it any longer and it probably won’t be worth it.

Lego For Investors

While equities are  widely regarded as one of the better ways  to invest your money, over the past 15 years, investors would have made three times as much cash if they’d bought Lego sets instead! Shares brought in an average 4.1% return for their owners, whereas the most prized Lego toy sets have leapt a staggering 12% in value. To demonstrate – The ‘Cafe Corner’ Lego set originally retailed for £89.99 when it was first launched in 2000, but would bring in a cool £2,096 today.

I recently touched upon the profits to be made with alternative investments like this in  an article about Disney’s ‘secret vault’. It’s worth keeping  an eye out for any bargain collectables whose market price are set to rise. Classics from companies like  Disney and Lego will always hold their value, and show that there are many ways to invest outside of the conventional path.

corner cafe

Stand Up At Work

Public Health England recently issued guidelines that aim to counteract the dangers of inactivity in the work place. They suggest office workers should be standing for a minimum of 2 hours daily in order to reduce the risks of several chronic diseases (such as heart disease)  that are associated with long periods of sitting – even  for those who exercise regularly. It is advised that high desks are provided by managers for employees to stand at, something which only 1% of UK workers have access to, compared to 90% of those in Scandinavia.

Employers offering these facilities are likely to attract high quality staff as it would demonstrate a clear sense of concern for employee welfare. So perhaps investing in this innovative way of working would actually improve productivity and profits.

Adversity Leads To Success

If you ever felt you got the worst of the deal as a kid, well take heart. It might actually have done you a favour. A study carried out on 1,000 Britons found 90% of those at director level had been dealt the misfortune of being made to sit in the middle on a long car journey as a child, with very little legroom and nowhere to lean. The researchers speculate that the injustice of being in the middle gives children the drive to succeed later in life.

So next time you catch your kids complaining about the inequity of your  families’ car seating arrangements…or anything else for that matter. I’m sure they’ll be delighted. Probably.