This summer on my journey back to Blighty, I have been making two lists. One list is things that people who are living in the UK take for granted and the second is a list of things that I still do not understand about the UK. These are the top items from both lists.

There is nothing finer in life than sitting in a beer garden in the north-west of England waiting for a pub meal to be delivered to your table. Sorry Yorkshire folks, but this truly is God’s own country. The sky is blue and cloudless and the sun is beaming down. People are smiling and talking to complete strangers. Little problems just disappear. This summer has been amazing. Vitamin D, I am your friend.

On the flip side, anyone who can watch television from the UK (only by legal and legitimate means by the way) cannot get away from the rise of companies offering short-term loans or so-called payday loans. These have sprung up to service those families who are a bit short of cash the week before payday and the boiler breaks down. They make it easy to get your hands on cash quickly to get it fixed. You pay back the money when you get paid and everything is sweet. Unfortunately, this is not the only way these loans are being used.

They are being used by people who can’t get credit from traditional lenders such as the high street banks. Pawn brokers have always offered these types of facilities but they take something as collateral that they will sell if you do not pay the loan back in time. Payday loan companies can’t do that so if you can’t pay the loan back within say, the given 30-day period, you may be able to increase the amount of time you pay back, possibly up to a year. This is where the APR will smack you hard. Let’s say they give you an Annual Percentage Rate of 2000% (I have seen them at over 5000%), this means that if paid back over a year, for every pound borrowed, you will be paying back 20.

Now this comes to the advice part for us living over in Asia. Of course we cannot get access to payday loans here and however quick the unlicensed money lenders are here, just stay clear of them. Use your emergency savings. I have long been an advocate of having at least three to six months salary sitting in a bank with easy access. This is also your payday loan fund. Take from it when you really need to. Your first thought should always be to save up but if it is time critical, use the money that is sitting there but with a few rules. Never borrow more than 50% of your emergency savings. Always pay back in full within three months and always fully repay before dipping back in. Finally, if you have had to dip in three or more times during a year, your budgeting isn’t working and you need to sit down and go through what, where and when you are spending. You will find that you are easily overspending your income and with a few little changes to your lifestyle, this will stop.

The next two things on my lists. Wine gums and hot and cold taps.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at