Britain is in the throes of a personal finance crisis. Dramatic figures out recently revealed that personal debt totals £1.43trillion and the average household debt is almost twice as high as a decade ago at £54,000. To some this would come as a surprise, but to many it is confirmation that they are not alone in their struggle.
If you are poor, living at the margins of society and excluded from financial institutions, can you really save? Do you have any 'spare' money? And if you do, can you save enough to make a difference? We often assume the answer is 'No', but I speak from personal experience when I say that the answer to these questions is emphatically 'Yes'.
The current 'see it, buy it' credit card culture has meant that for many people financial goals no longer exist. However, many major financial commitments such as buying a property, saving for retirement or investing in your business can't be paid for by credit card and take real planning and dedication to save for.
You remember Sid, right? Back when what then passed for the commanding heights were being privatised in the late 1980s, ad agency BMP got taxpayers' money to convince taxpayers to buy shares in the taxpayer-owned British Gas. No doubt Vince Cable is already taking pitches today from Soho ad agencies wanting to help him giveaway shares in the taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland.
Today it was Customer Service Day at my branch of Bank of Scotland. I know this because my visit - or if you will, 'customer experience' - was out of the ordinary. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that not only was it different to the other 300 or so visits I've made, but it was also the singular occasion when it was different in any respect at all.
There are so many places for shopping today. Little shops downtown, huge stores in the outskirts, glossy malls, flee-markets in the old city centres and in out of use stables out in the countryside. Woo, a choice for all tastes! And then there is the Internet with its regular virtual shops and its more exciting penny auctions.