Many of us are either lazy or uninformed when it comes to savings and investments, often both, and of course the JW past often meant we didn't put as much planning into our financial future as we should have done.
It's often difficult enough to save anything in the first place, never mind to then track how it performs and the major high street banks seem to take advantage of this by often offering terrible interest rates to savers (but called "high interest accounts") and doing the bait and switch where new accounts offer the highest rates to entice new customer which then drop to practically zero once they have your money.
Who has the time to keep up with all that?
If you are getting less than the rate of inflation on your savings then you're really losing money - it's literally being taken from you by the bank and lent out at much higher rates and they then keep the proceeds to pay out to their shareholders rather to you - who's money they used!
Now though, there are alternative "peer to peer" lenders that allow you to lend (almost) directly to other people. They get loans at attractive interest rates and you get much higher rates of interest in return. There is still someone in the middle to organize things, perform credit checks, chase up bad debts etc... but they take much less than the banks do.
I've used a couple in the UK and have got an average of around 6% ... way higher than the low 2%-2.5% that a bank savings account will offer for the same time commitment. It's actually a decent return for any investment and a decent way to diversify so all your investment isn't in stocks and shares / mutual funds.
Some let you set your own rate (and balance speed of lending vs returns), others provide a system with a guaranteed rate. All now appear to be better covered by their own protection funds (but not under bank deposit schemes ... for what they're worth).
If anyone is interested in trying them, here are some referral links to use:
http://link.ratesetter.com/4oy7rsl (you'll get 25 GBP credit if you become a customer)
https://www.zopa.com/member/caliban (you'll get 50 GBP if you lend out more than 2k)
Remember: compound interest + a higher interest rate = your bestest friends for a good retirement so don't delay, save something today!
Happy lending and may your savings grow, wherever they may live :)