Each month we publish the best comments, emails and letters from our readers. Here are the best of February 2018.
This month’s star letter: Beware hidden costs of volunteering overseas
I have been subscribing to Moneywise magazine for several years, and it always contains interesting articles.
I just felt I should add my own viewpoint to Holly Thomas’ article in the February 2018 magazine on volunteering overseas.
Last year, I was interested in undertaking some volunteering work with orphaned and disabled children in China.
I was happy to give my time and incur all the necessary expenditure including travel, internal documentation, board and lodgings, supplementary costs to the charity, etc. What I was not prepared, or able to do, was pay several hundreds of pounds on top as a hidden donation.
As a mental health worker on a zero hours contract, I cannot afford to pay such exorbitant sums over and above the necessary expenses of the trip.
I knew how much the trip would amount to, but what the charity was asking was well in excess of this amount. This means that volunteering becomes just the realm of the wealthy or those able to obtain sponsorship, which is unfair.
I am not criticising the charity in question because, on checking others, it seems to be the standard practice. Holly does touch on this in her article, but it is not made clear what a high percentage this contribution is.
I just wanted to paint another picture. Wonderful work: yes. Wonderful practices: no.
Moneywise says: Thank you for flagging this issue to ourselves and to other readers. It is important that anyone considering volunteering overseas is comfortable with the costs involved, what their money is being used for, and can afford to pay for such trips without putting themselves into debt.
Shoppers remain loyal to the high street
Since B&M, Fultons, Heron, Iceland, Poundland and Poundworld are all within 100 metres of each other on our high street (Redcar, Yorkshire), we call in all for different items we know to be cheap and keep an eye out for new bargains. Those retailers that have left our high street to go “out of town”, principally M&S, have therefore lost our business. Our local council re-introduced one-hour free parking, which was instrumental in this return, though we still use the “majors” when their promotions suit.
How to buy Bitcoin
I would like to know how to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Iota or Ripple. Can I buy them through an app? I only have an Android tablet and I can’t open Revolut on it. What would the safest option be?
Moneywise columnist Jasmine Birtles says: “There are a few exchanges where you can buy these coins. The best known one for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin is Coinbase. Its fees are quite high, though. There’s also Quoinex, where you can buy all the coins mentioned above, but also Bitfi nex, Bitstamp and Poloniex.
With all of these, it can take a while to set up a trading account. They want your identity details uploaded and then it can take a few weeks before they accept you and you can start trading. This will improve over time as the exchanges get bigger and the rush to buy levels off, but for the moment you just have to wait.
Christmas doesn’t happen in December
In December’s Moneywise, columnist Jasmine Birtles said that the best way to save money is to have Christmas in July, not in December. One reader comments:
Dear Jasmine, I can imagine you buying up cheap stocks of electric fans in December, and electric heaters in June, and selling them six months later!
AH/ VIA EMAIL
The best magazine I’ve read in years
Thank you for a splendid Moneywise magazine. It’s well laid out and easy to understand. It’s the best magazine I’ve read in years.
For future magazines, could I suggest more information on open banking, which is still new? I’m not for it, but it’s early days.
My sister told me that she was charged £10 a month for her bank account. She lost £100 before she realised. Seemingly, it was in the Ts&Cs. Perhaps we could have an article on the pitfalls of opening a new account and what to look out for?
Moneywise says: Thank you for your feedback. We have a feature about open banking on page 38 of this issue and we hope it answers any questions you have on the new initiative, plus read our blog below about switching accounts.