/ Money

Is money just too difficult to understand?

Money puzzle pieces

Two thirds of us find money matters too confusing to make the right choices, according to a recent poll. Isn’t it time our banks and building societies made things a little easier for us?

Do you know your Isas from your ETFs? How’s about your FOS from your FSA or your FSCS? Perhaps you’re perplexed by ‘with-profits’? And wouldn’t it be easier if packaged accounts were just called ‘bank accounts that you pay for’?

The world of money is confusing at the best of times, but jargon, acronyms and smallprint can make it about as easy to follow as a Heston Blumenthal recipe (after a couple of pints).

Where’s our financial know-how?

This lack of understanding is borne out in a new poll of 3,000 by LearnDirect. It found that four in five people were unsure of which benefits and allowances they were entitled to. A quarter admitted they weren’t sure how to go about shopping for the best electricity, gas, mobile phones and TV packages.

This shows that a crucial lack of financial know-how is preventing the UK public from getting the best value for money in many areas.

And to make matters worse, many thought that the coming year would add to their financial woes. Half the people surveyed thought they would have at least £25 per week less to spend in 2011, while more than a quarter were preparing to be at least £50 per week worse off.

Who’s to blame for lack of knowledge?

So who’s to blame for this? Perhaps, the public should be blamed for not questioning their banks. Or it could be teachers for not bringing financial education to schools. It might even be the government for putting economics lower down the curriculum than home economics.

Or could it be the financial institutions and energy providers that take our money without explaining exactly what they’re doing with it and blinding us with confusing statements and baffling vernacular?

At Which? Money magazine, we’re very proud to have recently been approved by the Plain English Campaign – the only personal finance magazine that has achieved such an accolade. On our website and in all our magazines we’re constantly striving to give impartial, crystal-clear and jargon-free advice.

We think those that look after our money should do the same. Or am I being unfair? Is your bank, building society or utility provider a paragon of precise prose?

Comments
Profile photo of una farrell media manager cccs
Member

Navigating personal finances can be very confusing and it is crucial that information is clear and honest.

The recent action by the Office of Fair Trading against Money Advice Direct Limited over their advertising, which misled customers into believing it was a non-profit debt management organisation, is an example that there is much room for improvement.

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

Money is only complicated if you have very little or you are a greedy person with an awful lot.
For most of us in between and if you’re not too thick the limited “real choices” are not that great when you get beneath the sales jargon.
Admittedly financial bodies make things far more complex than needed to con you into thinking their product is better but most financial products are very similar really.
Just make sure you’re in a pension, keep your credit under very careful control, don’t waste money on stupid things and you can’t go far wrong.
Of course having said that many do.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Money is only complicated if you are not actually interested in learning about it.

It is possible to find all you need to know about all aspects of money by RESEARCH – It’s there – you just have to look for it.

Far too many people are not interested in money – only the profit money generates – They are too lazy to read the small print – The small print is there – otherwise it is fraud.

It is also idiotic to assume that someone trying to make money FROM your money – will tell you all the pitfalls and downplay the advantages.

It does not occur in any other industry – so why should it occur in the money industry.

In fact the Banks are a perfect example of how self centred they are – not to mention dishonest.