Your shout: Moneywise readers have their say in December 2017

5 January 2018

Each month we publish the best comments, emails and letters from our readers. Here are the best of December 2017.

THIS MONTH’S  STAR LETTER ‘Sell or give away unwanted gift cards’

Nobody likes huge financial waste, but fortunately there is one area of wastage that we could do something about. Gift cards are sold in abundance every year and while many are spent, huge amounts aren’t each year. The UK Gift Card & Voucher Association estimates that £300 million of gift cards are unused each year. People put them away and forget them until they find they are out of date. It is a good idea to make a note in your diary of the expiration date. They are sold with expiry dates of as little as 18 months, although the most common cards are 24 months. If you don’t want them, why not try and sell them on eBay or another selling place, or give them to charity?  


Moneywise says: It’s a good idea to note gift card expiry dates to ensure money isn’t wasted. If you no longer want gift cards, another place you can sell them is on online gift card marketplace, (although it does charge sellers up to a 15% or up to a minimum of £5 fee).

‘Stamp duty cut should have been for older people’  

Moneywise says: One reader is unhappy about the announcement in the Autumn Budget, which saw stamp duty removed for most first-time buyers.

I am gutted the Chancellor didn’t extend this so-called ‘stamp duty bonus’ to older people. I have had to move house three times in my adult life between 2000 and 2014. On every occasion, something like this has happened to give first-time buyers a boost. But the moves have cost me a small fortune as everything I wanted went up in value as I was downsizing, and first-timers always got in first. I have been thinking of moving again because I am about to inherit money and thought, for once, I stood a chance. But there’s no hope now as by the time I get my money, the thud of first-time feet will have hit the property market and I will yet again lose out on the massive stamp duty costs.



Ideas for pension articles

I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your magazine, particularly all the articles about planning for retirement. I am 59 and find planning with the new pension freedoms quite a challenge. I would like to begin semi-retirement at least, and do some other more relaxing things, but find so much of what is possible depends on future growth rates. There is risk, but also opportunity.

I have had some thoughts about articles which I would find even more interesting. In terms of risk, I do think there should be more coverage of what the situation would be if pension investments didn’t reach targets. For instance, what benefits could be available to supplement pension income if it fell below certain levels.

Also, for the current generation of 55-plus workers who are considering taking a lower private pension than they would get at 65, it would be interesting to understand what, if any, benefits would be available at their age, while they are waiting for their state pensions to kick in.

Anyway, thanks for all your hard work. I always look forward to your magazine coming through the letterbox and am amazed at how you find new things to write about.


Moneywise says: We’re pleased to hear you enjoy the magazine and we’ll certainly take your ideas on board. If anyone else has any ideas of what you’d like us to cover, please email

The importance of retirement planning

Thanks are due to Moneywise for bringing pensions and their freedoms, or lack thereof, to the readers’ consciousness. This is a very important matter for us to pay attention to as the population rapidly ages and we find many people with inadequate provision. It could have a knock-on effect on the wider economy if the spending power of retirees is weakened. 

I’m 40 and have had a rollercoaster financial life. I’m a 40% taxpayer, but there were times when I had to hover around the minimum wage and times when a year’s income was half or less than half the previous year’s income. This is very much like living on a state pension or a reduced pension. I found it very difficult to manage. But I’m thankful that I now realise what I could be in for if I don’t plan my pension provision well and far ahead. Seriously folks, we need to pull our socks up or risk a kind of austerity that is the stuff of nightmares! 


Moneywise says: You raise a very valid point about the importance of retirement planning. Pensions will be a key topic in our upcoming features.

Write to us

Each month the reader with the best letter wins a £50 M&S gift card.

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