It’s hard to be in good spirits with railway union boss Mick Lynch threatening to destroy the first normal Christmas in three years after these Covid lockdowns. But please don’t give in to despair.
There are positive signs for the year ahead. 2023 may not be as bad for your personal finances as 2022.
It’s hard to believe, as the cost of living crisis is forcing millions of people to choose between eating and heating, despite all those expensive government bailouts.
Yet there is now a chance that inflation has peaked, with last Wednesday’s figure showing it had eased to 10.7% in November from 11.1% in October.
Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at City Index, said one month does not trend, but added: “Inflation in the United States and the euro zone is also cooling.”
Pensioners have been hammered by the triple-lock suspension of state pensions for this financial year, giving them a pay rise of just 3.1% as inflation hit double digits.
Next year should be brighter as the triple lockdown is back and the state pension will rise by 10.1% from April.
If inflation falls to 5% as predicted by the Bank of England, pensioners could receive a pay rise of twice the current inflation rate.
It may not make up for this year’s losses, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Mortgage costs have soared as the Bank of England raises interest rates to curb inflation, putting pressure on homeowners.
Rates hit 7% in the wake of former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, but are now receding towards 5%.
Estate agency Chestertons predicts a slight fall in house prices in England and Wales next year of less than 1%, followed by growth of 1.3% in 2024, reaching 10% in London .
Head of research Sebastian Verity said: “The number of forced sales will be relatively low and weak supply and strong underlying demand will insulate the market from any dramatic falls.”
With stock markets, bonds, gold and Bitcoin plummeting in 2022, there’s no hiding place for investors, but they shouldn’t despair, said Darius McDermott, chief executive of the house of FundCalibre independent fund research.
“Today’s beaten markets look relatively cheap and 2023 could be the year things start to get better rather than worse.”
The rise brought long-awaited good news to savers in 2022, with the BoE’s bank rate being raised last Thursday to 3.5%.
Savers can now lock into fixed-rate bonds paying up to 4.5% a year, three or four times what they got last year.
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That’s still about half the rate of inflation, and savings rates might not rise much more now, said Anna Bowes, founder of Savings Champion. “It might be worth taking advantage of last week’s rate hike to secure a prime fixed-rate bond today.”
In other good news, 22million Britons holding premium bonds will benefit from an additional £80million every month from January.
National Savings & Investments (NS&I) raised the prize fund’s annual rate to 3% from just 1% in May, giving more savers that winning feeling.
Perhaps the biggest turnaround this year is in annuity rates. A year ago, a 65-year-old man with a £100,000 pension could buy a single life annuity for up to £4,800 a year. Now they can get over £7,000 a year, again, thanks to rising interest rates.
That’s an extra £2,200 each year for the rest of their lives, or £44,000 over a 20-year retirement, said Canada Life technical director Andrew Tully. “Unfortunately, this won’t help existing annuity holders, but retirees looking for a life annuity today are getting a much better deal.”
We all still have a lot of worries but there are a few reasons to be positive. Hopefully there will be more as 2023 progresses.