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The future starts now

June 10, 2008

Most politicians will, given half a chance, wax lyrical about the virtues of saving for the future – saving for a rainy day.But in the kind of economic situation we currently find ourselves – uncertain, worrying, tough – there is less spare income around for ordinary families. Energy and fuel bills are on the up. Food is costing more. How to manage debts is the issue, and the possibility of saving is, for many, pie in the sky.

This is why there was such a furore about Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10p tax band, and why having spotted the gaffe last year, Liberal Democrats have been campaigning on the issue ever since.

In my family, we are lucky that both my partner and I have jobs, but we are very aware that, for our six month old daughter, the opportunities that were provided to us in our younger years by the state (particularly free higher education) will not be available to our daughter when, God-willing, the time comes around.

We have been forced to think for ourselves about how we can best try to put away some money for her on a regular basis.

So I was interested to read an article in The Times recently by James Charles entitled ‘Ten easy ways to save’ – here is the relevant link:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/money/savings/article4029355.ece

One of the ways suggested in the article is the possibility of using the Kidstart website (at http://www.kidstart.co.uk), free of charge, to save for children that you care about, via your purchases with the various retailers that are allied with the scheme. Kidstart guarantees a high level of security for your card data, and there is the possibility of getting as much as 20% back on items purchased for the relevant ‘Kiddybank’.

This is a great way in which to save, because you are doing so via the purchases you may have had to make in any case.

My partner and I have duly signed up, and I have sent the information on to my dad as well. However in doing so, it brought back to my mind a conversation I had in Rye at the end of last month about social exclusion.

In all of my angst about which schemes to sign up for I realised that such schemes are well and good if you have access to the relevant technology.

Older citizens may have more of an ethic of saving, but with the constant financial pressures faced by our older people, the wherewithal for many to save is at an all-time low.

We must not forget older citizens and others amidst the technology revolution. Exclusion from technology is a real and pressing issue. We should not underestimate the difficulties that it can cause.

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