The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin’s Money Tips weekly email list – thank you

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin's Money Tips weekly email list

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin's Money Tips weekly email list

In 2002 I began to send tips to my friends, as and when I spotted a good deal, and jokingly used the subject line ‘Martin’s Money Tips’. It went to about 40 people and it was only done when I discovered some info I couldn’t use in my then Sunday Express column, or on Open House with Gloria Hunniford.

A couple of months later I was at a party and people I’d never met before were thanking me for the emails. It turned out my friends were forwarding it to their friends (this was before most people had heard of the word ‘viral’).

To make it easier, I set up an email list built around a basic homepage so anyone could get the info.

The email grew quickly and soon hit 1,000 recipients. I decided the site had potential to help me promote my journalism work, so I paid a web designer in Uzbekistan £100 to design a more professional version. This was launched on 22 February 2003, which I count as the moment this site was born.

Fast forward to yesterday when…

The 10,000,000th email address was opted into the weekly email list. Quite simply a staggering number. I can quite genuinely tell you I never thought it’d get this big, in fact this is a quote from my 1,000,000 receiving the email blog in 2007:

As I mentioned to the MSG on Saturday, I actually felt a little depressed, I’m now not sure what the target should be. I’m very numbers driven, as I’ve discussed in a past blog I am obsessed by looking at the email list graph. Now I don’t really know what to do. The next obvious target is 10,000,000 yet actually I believe that’s beyond the capacity of any website, as it’s simply too high a proportion of web adults. So what do I base it on next? Without a number to go for I’m slightly lost –- stupid really as I should be over the moon, but being the slightly nerdy chap I am, I don’t know where to go next. Suggestions welcome."

NB. For those wondering, the MSG was the ‘Money Saving Girlfriend’ – who I now refer to (in blogs – not in person) as Mrs MSE – and of course this was long before Baby MSE came along.

I still write the email personally most weeks (it says when it’s not me) and I go through every word, though now I’ve a big and talented editorial team working with me and doing the research, writing the guides, and coming up with creative decision. But they’ll tell you I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to the email, quite pedantic, change a lot (too much in their eyes) and am an all over email diva.

Yet I hope that’s paid fruition, the progression has been truly remarkable…

The Growth Stats

For my fellow stats nerds here’s the progress chart for the weekly email (it includes links to the waybackmachine. However sometimes images go missing from old versions of the site, so to help improve that, I may have linked to version of the site that are a few days off).

  • August 2002… Home Page. I launched the site as a personal home page… See what it looked like.
  • 22 February 2003… The Site’s Birth. I had the site developed into the first version of what it is today… See what it looked like.
  • 25 April 2003… 10,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 11 January 2004… 50,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 30 July 2004… 100,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 28 April 2005… 250,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 3 March 2006… 500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 24 February 2007… 1,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 20 April 2008… 2,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 19 September 2008… 2,500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 20 August 2010… 5,000,000 on the email list See what it looked like.

As I’ve explained in past blogs 10,000,000 email addresses doesn’t equate to 10 million people. Some are duplicates and some are duds. We send to around 7.7 million live emails a week. I just use the total figure as it’s the most consistent for long term progression and I didn’t have other measures in the earlier days, so the next target is perhaps to be sending to 10 million live addresses. Even so this is quite a momentous day for the site.

I’d like to thank all the amazing advocates there are for the site out there. I constantly meet people who tell me they go on about MSE (and sometimes bore their friends to death) and recommend the email and the site. The team and I really appreciate that. It’s one thing to be passionate about your work, it’s a true accolade when many other share it. So thank you x 10,000,000.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not ‘bonkers’, ‘biased’ or ‘showing your true colours’

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not  “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

According to some on Twitter today I’ve been "duped". That’s because David Cameron has written a guest piece for the site called ‘We will give pensioners security and dignity’. He asked if he could do it and we said, "why not?" After all, part of what MoneySavingExpert.com is about is providing a forum for people to engage in the big discussions and debates on consumer finance policy. 

Yet predictably there was the classic backlash. Here’s just a selection of some of the (nicer) anti-comments. I’ve picked the twitter ones as they’re shorter. Of course there were many who were supportive and found it interesting too…

  • @newviv: "@MartinSLewis I don’t approve of @David_Cameron using your website as a political platform."
  • @mheave: "@MartinSLewis @David_Cameron shame on you Martin. This man is vile, pernicious and plain evil to those struggling you try to help #irony."
  • @BillyWits: "Political spinning. You’ve been used Martin, the [obscenity deleted] has used you as you are perceived as trusted."
  • @harriet1dog: "I thought your site was meant to be impartial not a party political broadcast, is it Nigel Farage next week?"
  • @exnhsnurse1: "DC blog is party political broadcast. You are being used because you are a trusted source of financial advice."
  • @meljhenderson: "I can’t believe you’ve let him use this great website as a political platform. #disgraceful"
  • @mathewtedwards: "I think this is a BIG mistake! My constructive criticism would be to politely tell @David_Cameron you have reconsidered."

Yet many people when I responded were unaware of the wider context, some hadn’t actually read the blog, just responded to the fact Cameron was writing. This isn’t new, it isn’t biased, we have regularly offered oppportunities for senior politicians of all parties to write guest pieces for the site. (The only reason Ed Milliband hasn’t appeared is because we asked his team for a piece on energy and he didn’t seem keen; we have also asked for his comments on this issue today.)  

Here’s a list of just some of our past guest bloggers below. We’re also open to more guest pieces from senior politicians of all major parties (and it’d be nice to some get from SNP or Plaid Cymru too), as well as regulators and policymakers.

So, we haven’t been duped, what we have done, like many national newspapers also do, is provided a forum for important individuals who can change policy to try and justify their position, explain what they are planning to do and provided, within our own forum, a place for people to discuss it and give feedback about those issues. 

I consider that to be an important part of engagement with the political process within our MoneySaving community, which has 15 million monthly users. 

We are incredibly careful not to indicate in any way what our position is on these subjects. These are for the politicians to engage in. I think it is a perfectly decent way to behave – after all most national newspapers which do it tend to be biased towards an agenda. 

Our site’s stance is strictly apolitical. We do it as a form of engagement. We have even in the past done the MSE Leaders debate, where we asked all the parties for their views on key matters to consumers. 

So for those having a go, I think perhaps you needed to have done your research first.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we’re going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

Last March in the Budget, the Chancellor announced ISAs were to become new ISAs, or NISAs. The main changes were a bigger £15,000 limit, the ability for all of it to be cash savings (so more than doubling the tax-free savings cash limit in effect) and the ability to convert old shares ISAs into cash ISAs.

The new language of this was to call it a cash NISA – partly I suspect so the government could claim create for creating something new. When this started in July, we accordingly changed the name of our guides and started using the new language, as did many (N)ISA providers.

Yet the name hasn’t caught on, it’s confused many people and HMRC tells us "ISA is the correct term to use in line with HMT Regulations and HMRC Guidelines. NISA is purely a marketing/product/publicity term."

So from now, I’ve decided MoneySavingExpert.com is going to revert back to calling it the good old ISA (see the newly renamed Top cash ISAs and Top cash ISA transfer guides) and we suspect gradually over the next year to see everyone else who called it a NISA to retrench too.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is supposed to pride itself on treating its customers right.

Whether it lives up to it in practice is open to question, but I was shocked to see what I suspect is a deliberate attempt by the Virgin Atlantic credit card to befuddle consumers into signing up to its marketing, effectively a spammer’s charter.

I’ve written before about firms attempting to do this, see Is the Post Office playing fair over its marketing list? This is all about what I’m calling a hokey-cokey trick, deliberately changing whether the click means to opt in or to opt out.

The following is a print screen from its credit card application form…

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

As you can see, you have to change whether you need to opt in, opt out (or shake it all about) depending on your preferences for each line.  While they’re within the letter of the law by ensuring it’s written clearly, this is a trick to catch out people filling the forms in quickly. I suspect they’ve done A-B testing and discovered this has a higher sign-up rate.

All very well, but giving people communications due to confusing forms, when they don’t want it, is spam.

Do you agree?

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

Are mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Are Mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Are Mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Over the last year the regulator has introduced stringent affordability rules on mortgage lending. These check all of your incomings and outgoings to see if you can repay not just at today’s rate but at rates of 6% or 7%. The laudable aim is to try and robustly protect you from overcommitting in the event of an interest rate rise.

It’s caused some friction: some are struggling to get deals, others can no longer borrow as much as they want. However, in general I think it’s a sensible move, with one rather large potential hole – and having raised this in passing to concerned senior representatives of the FCA , I told them I’d bash out a blog to see if I could put some more meat on the bones.

So having told you I’m worried there is a problem, let me explain it…

Have affordability rules put the kaibosh on your remortgage?

For those who already have mortgages, right now it is crunch time. Rates for new deals are almost at an all-time low, yet a rise in the UK base rate is getting closer, with most now predicting this will happen in mid to late 2015. So many people are sensibly looking to cut the costs of their existing mortgage deal and lock in a cheap rate now before rates rise. 

However, I’ve heard from a couple of people that they’ve struggled to get remortgage deals due to affordability criteria. To clarify, when I say a remortgage, I’m not taking about borrowing more money, ONLY about borrowing what you currently owe, but on a new cheaper deal. 

If affordability criteria are blocking people from doing that this is a serious problem. After all, it means you are on an expensive mortgage deal and are being told you can’t afford to move to a cheap mortgage deal – nonsense, you can certainly afford to pay less, more than you can afford to pay more. If that is happening, the system is broken.

There is room for lenders to have flexibility, the concern is they’re too scared to use it.

There is flexibility under the affordability rules in the system, but I’m hearing many lenders are struggling to try and incorporate the rules.  We’ve seen an explosion in the length of time new mortgage interviews take, and banks’ systems are nowhere near as efficient as brokers’.  Therefore you can see the attraction of just operating from a standardised rule book

So, have you tried to remortgage to a cheaper deal recently? If so, what was the attitude? Did you find it easy to get accepted? Or did the affordability criteria stop you and are you trapped in your existing deal? Please do let me know using the comments section at the end.

NB. If you’ve very low equity in your property and a very poor credit score, these have always been conditions that stop remortgaging – this is more specifically about affordability

Related Help:

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com