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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 15th Aug 06, 5:36 PM
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    MSE Martin
    Martin Q&A about his work and the site
    • #1
    • 15th Aug 06, 5:36 PM
    Martin Q&A about his work and the site 15th Aug 06 at 5:36 PM
    An interview by MoneySavers....

    Thanks for this idea go to MoneySaver Southern Scouser who asked if I'd be prepared to answer some questions (see it). Thankfully they weren't as scary as I suspected, I thought it was a good idea, so this is the 'interview me' thread. It's also now permanently linked to from my on-site Biography

    The Type of Questions

    I'm not going to get too detailed into my private life (the MSG would kill me) but am happy to answer questions about my work both on the site and on programmes etc.

    Also I'm sorry but I won't be able to answer personal MoneySaving problems.

    Martin

    The Answers So Far.......
    Click reply to ask a question, I'll try and answer in batches when I can.

    ANSWERS 13 AUGUST 2006

    What is your favourite board and why?

    The one I go to most often is The This Site and Martin's Appearances Boards, primarily because that's where people contact me. My favourite, will if I’m honest is DFW - because I genuinely find it very moving. Though one should never have favourite children.

    Would you run this site at a loss if you could afford it and to what cost would you?

    For the first nine months I did - it had no revenue raising ability on it. Though once the costs got over £5,000 a year - I tried to look at ethical ways to do it. Now there are 11 staff and I like them and want to keep their jobs safe. Would I run it at a loss - I couldn't afford to - I don't come from a rich family so I've no back up. Yet hopefully I'm canny enough to keep it going and ethical and the cash flow coming in!

    Did you set this site up primarily to make money while helping people or a bit of both? Or something different?

    I set it up to help people and promote my broadcasting work (I was hoping it'd help people see what I do) and The Money Diet. I didn’t plan to have any revenue raising features on it - so in that sense it wasn't to make me money - though obviously by having it, it would help my career so there's an indirect benefit.

    What is your honest reaction when you read about the debts a lot of people have on DFW and how they racked them up? (you have to answer this one)

    I often feel sad. I'm lucky I've always been good with cash. Yet we're a nation educated into debt at university, but never educated about debt. It's a disgrace the only place you can go for official one on one non-profit help is when you're in debt crisis - its no surprise so many people are.

    How many hours do you do when researching new things (rates, offers ect.) each day?

    I used to work a 90 hour week - week in week out. These days it’s about 60 or 70. My weeks are so variable there's no set rule. Also now I have a team, part of their main task is updating. So while I write the articles and think of the logic - they're job is to keep things up to date and often do the data collection. For example MSE Dan's main job is to keep the pure money articles up to date. When he spots something that he thinks should go in an article, he brings it to me and we discuss it.

    Of course I still look and keep track myself, I would lose my expertise if I didn't - and couldn't do 'live phone-ins' which are the ultimate test. Yet having a team means I spend more time on thinking through the logic and less on gathering the info.

    Are you tight with your money?

    I don't think so. But I am a MoneySaver, I follow the rules and hate giving money away to companies unnecessarily. I'm lucky though I make a good living, so I can afford the things that I want and can give to charity (the sites charity fund) without harming my own existence.

    Have you ever had a dream about the website? (or is that just me )

    All the time! It never leaves me. I do dream about it - but worse I sometimes just can't sleep for thinking about it!

    Do the MSE team ever post as you? Because you're too busy or away? In other words could you be on a par with Royalty or politicians

    Yeah right, the nearest I get to royalty is being a Royal pain in the bum.

    They never post as me as anything opinion based. Occasionally they post the raw basics of the tip link as me - and then I come in and redo it later on. E.g. last week's Great Things to Buy In the US Hunt. MSE Andrea wrote a brief paragraph on it as me, so we had something to link to when preparing the tip - and then later on I came in and rewrote it in full detail.

    So yes they do - but only really in those circumstances. Anything where I give my view, or state an opinion or chat with posters is always always me.

    Occasionally also when I’m away people reply to my PMs - yet if that's the case it’s never signed as me - it’s signed as the person who sent it.

    SECOND SET OF ANSWERS 20 AUGUST 2006

    I'm not creeping here! Honest! But you are a bit of an inspiration! What inspired you to do what you do, if anything?

    Flattery will get you everywhere! When I was a student I was a student politician; the more I got involved the more I saw that if you wanted to have an impact, it's about taking on Corporates, and trying to put money in peoples' pockets. I believe there's a gap between the power of consumers and companies. Yet that's a high-falluting answer. In practical terms - I'd left the BBC, where I'd been a business and personal finance producer/reporter to go and work at a small TV channel, Simply Money, as a reporter, where they offered me a one minute programme every three hours. I said I wanted to do it based on detailed analytical research into consumer finance products and they said go for it. I did. Within six months the programme was on for 8 minutes every hour.

    Also do you send off for the freebies and stuff that you include in your email?

    I'm not the biggest freebie grabber. I take the stuff that I'll use, but much of it doesn't personally relate to me.

    And do you use Quidco?

    No, I have an account at Rpoints, but actually I tend to buy things direct through this site's links anyway - which actually for me personally works out better!

    I read that you set this website up for £100 - who did this for you and did you ever think it would become as popular as it is?

    I went to a website which was called (from memory) something like ecknowledge, where I wrote a brief and it went out to tender for the developers there to pitch for it. My friend Bryan who worked on developing sites helped me pick one, a chap called Ali who was in Uzbekistan, and he did the first incarnation of the site - for £100

    What's the most expensive thing you've ever bought yourself?

    My house

    My question is, do you ever feel nostalgic about the early days of the site? I mean when you popped in more frequently, had time to chat and share a joke and send the naughty members to the Sin Bin?

    Well I am still on the site a lot, and share many a joke. Yet it's so big most people don't spot individual threads. As for the sin bin - yes Nile I remember, and you can go in again for such a personally gratuitous question

    Can you tell us a bit more about The MSE Charity Fund you are setting up? What are the reasons and thinking behind it?

    To be honest I think this is a bit of a legacy thing. I'm in a very lucky position to be able to set up a charity - my work has been very good to me. There's more on this read in the blog on it here

    'Are you ever going to answer that scrabble question?'

    Erm... I'd forgotten about that one... and the honest thing is... sometimes when I pose such questions my idea is to judge the answer... it doesn't necessarily mean I know what it is

    My question to you is who inspired you to be good with money. Did you start at an early age. Were you always encouraged to be a MoneySaver?

    I always remember having money in my wallet even as a little boy. My sister and I always got the same pocket money, but for some reason while she spent it, I kept it and held it for when I needed it. Even as a child the joke was "Mart manages to leave the house and come back with more cash than he left with." Yet actually I think the key to my interest in Money Saving is I've always been very comfortable with maths and numbers - and this meant I grasped the concept of money quite easily.

    Also I do hope you realise how addictive your site is.

    Yes, for me too - hence writing these answers at 22.40 on a Sunday night!

    Can I ask a question to Martin, "what has been your best ever money saving tip?"

    Hmmm. Difficult. Yet I still think the Barclaycard 0% balance transfer for life loophole from a few years ago takes some beating. In a nutshell Barclaycard designed a product that aimed to profit out of credit card repayment schedules. So you got 0% for life but only if you spent £1 on the card a month. They knew of course either a. people would forget or b. people would spend a lot more. All spending was at a much higher rate and was trapped in until all the cheap balance transfer debts were repaid.

    After mulling it over for a while I got the NSPCC (actually I think, it may've been the RNIB) to set up a £1 a month Direct Debit scheme (they hadn't previously done credit card Direct Debits) - thus automating the process so that for a £1 a month charity donation you got 0% for life. Later I started a £1/month Paypal subscription to the site (donated to charity) to do the same thing. Three weeks later Barclaycard closed the offer and this site and I were cited in the press as the reason why. Seven months later the OFT ruled against such marketing, yet it shows that collected consumer power reacts quicker and is more powerful than the regulator. There are still many site users enjoying their 0% for life.

    My question is. Is there anybody you have worked with on TV who is really irritating or has really not "got" moneysaving. Obviously you don’t have to name names unless you really want to.

    The most annoying person I ever met in television wasn't someone on-air (though I did once walk out after a news interviewer had been incredibly patronising and tell the programme I'd never do it again).

    It was one of the editorial team for a programme I was doing (I'll keep that to myself). I'd just been talking to someone about severe debts, it was emotional for them and for me and meant their life needed radical changes. There were tears and once we finished the chat and the camera went off, they went "wonderful, that was really great thanks."

    I was furious, it was hideously insensitive and unnecessary. It was ignorant of the fact we were dealing with someone's real life, a damn site more important than whether it was a good shot, or made a nice 15 minutes of TV.

    It got worse, later in the day we were rushed and they wanted a few more cutaway shots (filler shots) with me. Yet I wanted to spend some time on the person's finances as I didn't feel we'd resolved everything. This person said "that's not what matters, we've got a show to finish." I replied with a technical explanation of where they could put the production tapes!

    FURTHER ANSWERS HAVE BEEN INSERTED IN THE POST IMMEDIATELY BELOW. AS THE CHARACTER LIMIT HAS BEEN REACHED IN THIS ONE.
    Last edited by MSE Archna; 05-09-2006 at 1:23 PM.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
Page 3
  • Edinburghlass
    It was Matthew Collins...

    http://www.matthewcollins.co.uk/acatalog/
    Martin has asked me to tell you that I'm the Board Guide of the Telephones, Reclaim Bank Charges, Silver Savers and Scotland boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Pease remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. Board guides don't deal with this. Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    • Mobeer
    • By Mobeer 10th Jun 07, 1:15 AM
    • 1,697 Posts
    • 4,369 Thanks
    Mobeer
    I met him on the QE2 - at the end of the series he finally got to have a nice holiday.
    • Forgetful
    • By Forgetful 23rd Oct 07, 5:03 PM
    • 1,556 Posts
    • 8,792 Thanks
    Forgetful
    Hi Martin dunno if thisis the place but u have the date of the end of BST time wrong on ur web site
  • iwanttosavemoney2008
    I am new to MSE site and I was wondering who inspires you most on a day to day basis and through life.
    LBM apr 2008,£94,761 Mad Ebay challenge #71 £2000/£106.62
    DFD DECEMBER 2024 OCTOBER 2013
    • Scarlett25
    • By Scarlett25 7th Jul 08, 10:48 AM
    • 148 Posts
    • 373 Thanks
    Scarlett25
    Hi Martin and a big thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions! Two questions from me......

    1 - If Gordon Brown asked you to be a Government Adviser (which he should do in my opinion!)......would you accept?

    2 - Do you ever get people asking you for advice when you're out and about?
  • techmax76
    Its great to read some information about how you started. Its very inspiring.
    • tinandsue
    • By tinandsue 20th Oct 09, 5:28 PM
    • 132 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    tinandsue
    Hi Martin,

    What would you do if you found an undated 20p?
    a) sell to the London mint for £50
    b) try to sell on ebay
    c) keep as an investment
    Last edited by tinandsue; 16-11-2009 at 7:29 PM.
  • spanner_man
    saw you on watchdog last night about the halifax charging, if those people lived withinn their means, and did not spend what they did not have, then they would not be overdrawn or have charges from the bank?? what do they expect?
    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 23rd Oct 09, 6:44 PM
    • 8,109 Posts
    • 42,243 Thanks
    MSE Martin
    saw you on watchdog last night about the halifax charging, if those people lived withinn their means, and did not spend what they did not have, then they would not be overdrawn or have charges from the bank?? what do they expect?
    Originally posted by spanner_man

    Hi

    This link isnt really about things like that - best to use the discussion links on articles such as http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/banking/2009/10/how-to-beat-halifaxs-overdraft-chagres for a debate on that

    Martin
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
    • tinandsue
    • By tinandsue 16th Nov 09, 7:29 PM
    • 132 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    tinandsue
    Bump! Come on Martin, I'd love to know your views to my question and also some of the other questions asked here...pretty please?!
    • bubbles0169
    • By bubbles0169 15th Dec 09, 2:07 PM
    • 6,172 Posts
    • 7,022 Thanks
    bubbles0169
    xmasise the site!
    please please can we 'see' you in a santas hat now? and maybe a covering of snow on the 'moneysavingexpert.com' letters?
    itll be over before long and i dont think youll have the use out of it else
    I am not bossy I just have better ideas
    • tinandsue
    • By tinandsue 20th Jan 10, 8:24 AM
    • 132 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    tinandsue
    Is this thread dying a death?:confused:

    Guess I'll never find out the answer to my question then.
    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 20th Jan 10, 10:06 AM
    • 8,109 Posts
    • 42,243 Thanks
    MSE Martin
    Hi Martin and a big thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions! Two questions from me......

    1 - If Gordon Brown asked you to be a Government Adviser (which he should do in my opinion!)......would you accept?

    2 - Do you ever get people asking you for advice when you're out and about?
    Originally posted by Scarlett25

    1. Difficult one: Not sure I would actually want to do it - but I shall ignore that element. Probably Financial Education Tzar, or Consumer Finance Bum (I dont know what you call it so lets go for a bum!)

    2. Yes very often - I do try and answer when I can - often its bank charges, credit cards or energy. In fact I went for a meeting at No. 10 the other day and as I went through the police scanners each of the three police officers had a question.

    Of course when out with friends and someone comes across and asks if you can spare an hour for a makeover on their finances it can be a bit tricky.

    Hi Martin,

    What would you do if you found an undated 20p?
    a) sell to the London mint for £50
    b) try to sell on ebay
    c) keep as an investment
    Provided it was obviously lost - if i spotted it was undated I would get on the internet research it and see what the best thing to do was. Simple and boring as that Im afraid.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • natweststaffmember
    Martin, I have two questions in relations to the reclaims section:
    1) The templates/new guides are not yet available and I do appreciate that it is taking time. My first question is whether there will be advice in the short term as all banks appear to be sending out rejection letters giving the customer 8 weeks before closing the complaint. Some letters are dated December 2009 and would require a response by the end of January?
    2) Currently on the Govan Law Centre website there are template letters to send to the bank and/or the FOS on their site which has been live since January 2010. Can I ask why they haven't been mentioned by MSE as a short term solution or whether you have a view yourself on them? (for reference, the link is here: http://govanlc.blogspot.com/ )
    I have not worked for NatWest Bank since February 2009

    This username is no longer active.
    • tinandsue
    • By tinandsue 20th Jan 10, 9:00 PM
    • 132 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    tinandsue
    Provided it was obviously lost - if i spotted it was undated I would get on the internet research it and see what the best thing to do was. Simple and boring as that Im afraid.
    Originally posted by MSE Martin
    Thanks so much for replying Getting on the internet and researching it was exactly what I did do but I came up with the 3 mentioned alternatives and I can't decide between them. Even the people on the forums here can't agree between them as to what the best course of action is which is why I thought I'd ask yourself.

    I've never been any good with maths, have made awful decisions in the past and don't want to make any more mistakes as I've 4 kids to think of now - I'd hate you to think I'm just wanting the answers on a plate and that I'm too lazy to do my research. Help!
    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 21st Jan 10, 10:26 AM
    • 8,109 Posts
    • 42,243 Thanks
    MSE Martin
    natweststaff member - this isn't what this thread is for.

    We've seen the govan letters which are for scotland and we've looked at them - we work with govan on this. Yet frankly knowing 'what to do' isn't easy - and we're coming unstuck slightly with the legal impact of telling people in court "what to do" that's legal advising and its not easy to work out how to do it without liability. More so our direction apart from the early days focused on the Ombudsman - not the court route - the truth is the answer isn't easy - and we dont necessarily have it yet.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • natweststaffmember
    natweststaff member - this isn't what this thread is for.

    We've seen the govan letters which are for scotland and we've looked at them - we work with govan on this. Yet frankly knowing 'what to do' isn't easy - and we're coming unstuck slightly with the legal impact of telling people in court "what to do" that's legal advising and its not easy to work out how to do it without liability. More so our direction apart from the early days focused on the Ombudsman - not the court route - the truth is the answer isn't easy - and we dont necessarily have it yet.
    Originally posted by MSE Martin
    Apologies I wasn't aware the thread wasn't for that sort of question. I can answer one question though which I posed because Abbey are sending out letters with a December 2009 date on. They have confirmed and I will forward to MSE Wendy that the 8 weeks commence 31st December 2009 which means end of February for a response.
    I have not worked for NatWest Bank since February 2009

    This username is no longer active.
  • cit_k
    Apologies if this has already been asked and answered before, but Martin, did you ever thank Ali, personally, and financially for his original work. Without his work, surely you would not be where you are today? He enabled you to get a break in life, did you return that favour?
  • orc
    We've seen the govan letters which are for scotland and we've looked at them - we work with govan on this.
    Originally posted by MSE Martin
    But,


    The good folk at Govan Law Centre say they are for the whole of the UK, Martin. There is no discrimination South of border control.

    So, they are not just for Scotland.


    Have I got it wrong? If so, apologies.

    Has Govan and Mike Dailey got it wrong?

    Are you actually working with Govan Law Centre or is that wrong also?

    I'm sorry, but I think you may be wrong regarding this and you might have overlooked it. I think it important that your team are informed accordingly.

    (There were never separate claim templates for Scotland in any case??????? Nor different arguments for FOS for Scottish cases. The court process is of course different, as are the arguments, but these templates are not for that.)

    Here is the link:

    http://govanlc.blogspot.com/2010/01/unfair-bank-charges-free-help-to-amend.html

    Here is the relevant advice:

    "What should I do now?
    If you have an existing complaint with your bank or the FOS, it is likely this will be rejected unless you AMEND your grounds of complaint, to take on board the impact of recent developments, and explain why you are still entitled to a refund of unfair bank charges. There is no need to pay for anyone to help you do this - you can do this yourself, or with the free help or support of a community law centre solicitor, money advice agency or Citizens Advice Bureaux. Details of where to locate free help is set out below.

    GLC has drafted the following downloadable example letters for use within the UK:......................................"

    (available at Govan using above link).



    As there was no mention of templates within this weeks edition of the MSE newsletter, perhaps reference could be made in next weeks newsletter to the Govan templates. Time marches on and the banks continue to trample over every claimant.

    Additionally, Penalty Charges have been successful with 2 strikeouts and perhaps reference could be made to that news, as it will be heartening for people in desparate circumstances. This could be included in the newsletter as well, perhaps, so it reaches a wide audience.

    PS sorry if this is in wrong place, site team please feel free to relocate it.
    Last edited by orc; 27-01-2010 at 8:17 PM.
    Please ignore those people who post on this forum who deliberately try to misinform you. Don't be bullied by them, don't be blamed by them. You know who I mean.
    You come here for advice, help and support- thats what I and like minded others will try to do.
  • bumnu
    I'm not sure if you have been asked this or not (there are too many search results to go through, for reasons that will become clear!), but don't you think you use the word 'yet' way too often? It's very distracting when I read your articles and, it may be just me, but I feel that you could benefit from varying your vocabulary?

    Meant in a light hearted manner (but still hoping for less 'yets'!)
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