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* SOARING rail fares, set to climb an average of 6.2% in January, will cut back savings levels, warns Moneyfacts.

For a London commuter travelling from Colchester to London Liverpool Street, the predicted rise could cost an extra pounds 272 a year. Many people fund season tickets via work travel loans, while others use money saved for this purpose.

How easy is it to raise an extra pounds 272 from savings? A basic-rate taxpayer investing pounds 5,000 today in a market-leading instant access savings account (2.70% from Sainsbury's Bank) would have to invest for two years and six months to earn pounds 272 in net interest.

Higher-rate taxpayers would need to invest pounds 5,000 for three years and five months to earn pounds 272 in net interest.

Spokeswoman Sylvia Waycot says: "Bearing in mind interest rates on savings accounts are so low, finding the additional money from savings will be as hard as getting a seat on a busy commuter train, virtually impossible." * FOR young drivers who can't afford car insurance, there may be fresh hope from insurethebox, the company which accounts for at least 75% of UK telematics sales.

Its new 8,000-mile product brings pay-as-you-go motor insurance within reach of the typical motorist. Since launch in June 2010, insurethebox has targeted low-mileage drivers doing an annual 6,000 miles per year.

The new limit means customers who achieve the maximum bonus miles for safe driving can now go 9,200 miles a year without making any additional payment.

The new package works along the same lines as the 6,000-mile version, but is cheaper per mile.

A Clear Box, installed behind the dashboard, monitors driving and assesses safety performance by five different criteria. Good drivers get bonus miles each month.

Since launch, insurethebox has sold nearly 100,000 policies. Telematics cut risks of a young driver being responsible for accidents by 35-40%.

Inquiries: 0333 123 1308 and * LONG-TERM savers should invest in funds holding shares in global giants companies - the 'mega caps' - says Willem Sels, UK head of investment strategy at HSBC Private Bank.

"While markets continue to be buffeted by political decisions and sketchy economic data, mega cap equities offer an attractive way to build exposure to equity markets in a volatile time," he says.

"While equities have performed well lately, part of the rally is fuelled by expectations of further quantitative easing, especially in the US, rather than by fundamental improvement in the operating environment.

"Moreover, the recent rise occurred on the back of exceptionally low volumes. Many fear more volatility as the holiday season draws to a close."

HSBC Private Bank thinks shares could go higher if a solution to Europe's debt crisis is found.

It likes companies with high and sustainable dividends, while mega caps - typically household names and bellwether stocks in their respective industries - are best able to withstand periods of economic weakness but do not tend to grow as fast as smaller companies in good times.

With interest rates low around the world, mega caps have also seen borrowing costs plunge, potentially boosting profits and dividends Sels adds: "Although valuations have risen from low levels, the mega cap sector still compares favourably to the market as whole."

MOTORISTS face a postcode lottery on fuel prices, with some having to pay pounds 250 more in a year at the pumps than others, says Santander.

The price of fuel in rural Scotland has rocketed in the last few years, with petrol prices in Shetland - the highest in the UK - averaging 145.9p per litre.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 25, 2012
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