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The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – the ANSWERS

The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – the ANSWERS

The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – the ANSWERS

On Tuesday I published the questions I put to the MSE Towers team at our annual Christmas party quiz. If you’ve not read it, then try your luck there before reading the answers below.

Round 1: What year did it happen in the 90s

There is one answer for each year 1990-1999, no year is duplicated.

  1. The Channel Tunnel opens
  2. Princess Diana dies in Paris
  3. The Summer Olympics are held in Atlanta, Georgia
  4. Nelson Mandela is released from jail
  5. John Major leads the Conservatives to a General Election victory over Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party
  6. Blur beats Oasis in the battle of the bands when Country House reaches number 1 in the charts ahead of Roll With It
  7. Google is founded
  8. Freddie Mercury and Robert Maxwell die
  9. The Grand National is cancelled after a false start
  10. Britney Spears hits number 1 with Baby, One More Time

Answers to Round 1: What year did it happen in the 90s:

  1. 1994
  2. 1997
  3. 1996
  4. 1990
  5. 1992
  6. 1995
  7. 1998
  8. 1991
  9. 1993
  10. 1999

Round 2: The Martin Round

This round has a proud tradition. All are questions I set without needing to reference research. You can probably tell a lot about me because of it!

  1. What is Picard’s Borg name?
  2. Who is on the back of a £50 note? NB: this is the question I got wrong on CBBC show ‘Hacker Time’ – luckily I got the rest right and ‘escaped’!
  3. What is the current year… in the Jewish calendar?
  4. Which is the only letter in scrabble all SIX vowels can be put after to form an allowed (SOWPODS) two letter word?
  5. Who were the three Kings who reigned in England in 1066 after Edward the Confessor?
  6. What is the Kobayashi Maru?
  7. What do you call the second in command of a Roman Century?
  8. How many months of the year are allowed at Scrabble (SOWPODS)?
  9. Who died first: Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun or Peter the Great?
  10. Which of the following words is derived from the Greek for Pebble Worm

A) Anaconda B) Crocodile C) Conger Eel D) Iguana

NB. This was the £250,000 question on Who wants to Be a Millionaire that Angela Rippon and I decided to ‘take the money’ instead of answering.

Answers to Round 2: Martin’s Round

  1. Locutus
  2. Matthew Boulton or James Watt
  3. 5775
  4. M
  5. William, Harold and Edgar Atheling
  6. The Star Trek academy test which was deemed unwinnable until Kirk won (by changing the programme, ie, cheating)
  7. Optio
  8. Three – March, May, August,
  9. Attila the Hun died 428 (Genghis Khan died 1223, Peter the Great in 1725)
  10. B. Crocodile

Round 3: News and Sport Round

  1. What is the shortest individual race in the Summer Olympics?
  2. What was the exact offence Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of?
  3. What is the men’s 100m running world record?
  4. Name the consumer minister and the shadow consumer minister?
  5. What group were England in for the men’s football World Cup round robin?
  6. Which country became the 18th to join the Eurozone in 2014?
  7. What’s the difference between running SPECIFICALLY the 400m at an outdoor track to an indoor track?
  8. In which city did George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin get married?
  9. What’s the maximum possible break at snooker?
  10. And we’d done news and sport, so what better way to finish than with weather… at what temperature does water freeze… in fahrenheit?

Answers to Round 3: News and Sport Round

  1. 50m freestyle swimming
  2. Culpable homicide (1 point) – if you said manslaughter, half a point
  3. 9.58 seconds
  4. Jo Swinson and Stella Creasy
  5. Group D
  6. Latvia
  7. Outdoors is run strictly in lanes, indoors you break after the first bend and then run together
  8. Venice
  9. 155 after a free ball and potting the black to start. It’s never been done in tournament play but has in an exhibition match
  10. 32

Round 4: the Movie Round
movie round

Answers to Round 4: the Movie Round

  1. Superman
  2. Jarhead
  3. 127 Hours
  4. Borat
  5. Rambo
  6. Scarface
  7. Karate Kid
  8. Napoleon Dynamite
  9. Sherlock Holmes

Let me know how you got on below.

Is it time to change energy pricing to ‘meter rent’ and ‘kettles boiled’?

Is it time to change energy pricing to 'meter rent' and 'kettles boiled'?

Is it time to change energy pricing to 'meter rent' and 'kettles boiled'?

I’m aware this is a bit of an off-the-wall idea, but I want to play with it and test the water. It’s all about the confusion over energy bills, which is one of the things that makes the market less competitive and leaves many – especially older people – overpaying.  I wonder if even just tweaking the language to something that is more visceral could improve it.

So let me make a first stab at it; I’d welcome suggestions for improvement. I’ve modelled it on the pricing of landlines.

Note: I’m deliberately avoiding changing the actual way energy is charged for – which I think could also improve things – but that’s a separate issue.

1. Change ‘standing charge’ to ‘meter rental’. The phrase standing charge isn’t intuitive, especially when "a standing charge is set to zero" (see cheap no standing charge tariffs for more on that).

So why not simply call this ‘monthly meter rental’, a term which I think most people would understand.

2. Change ‘kilowatt hours’ to "kettle boils’. A kilowatt hour is a complex metric. While I would suggest that it remains the underlying measure, I think it could also be explained as an easier term. So I’m going with ‘kettle boils’. This would be a standard unit I estimate to be about 0.15 kWh – but at least it’s understandable (though I’d welcome thoughts on a bigger measure that would make the resulting numbers simpler).

Therefore someone would have a bill saying something akin to:

“Your monthly meter rent is £7.80 and you pay 2p per typical kettle boil. You have used enough electricity to boil the equivalent of 3,612 kettle boils this month so your bill is £7.80 + £72.24 = £80.04".

Now of course many of the people who read this blog will already be pretty energy savvy, and won’t have an issue with standing charges and kWhs. If you are, please don’t think of your own reaction to this. The question is – do you think this would make it easier for many of the general public who find energy bills intimidating and thus never understand it enough to work through comparisons and switch supplier?

So I’d love your response to this below – please include how energy savvy you are – and any suggestions to improve it are welcome.

PS: If you haven’t switched I hope the Cheap Energy Club makes it easier.

The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – can you beat them?

The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – can you beat them?

The MSE Towers Christmas Quiz – can you beat them?

Each year at the MSE Christmas party the team are forced to love to play my Christmas quiz. So this year, ably aided by MSE’s Yasin and Catherine, I donned my sequined jacket (seriously), slicked back my hair (not seriously, I’ve not got enough) and turned Quizmaster.

Now it’s your turn to have a go (no googling), feel free to put your answers in the discussion below.

For obvious reasons I’ve left out the music round (which was name the song and the language it is in), the on-the-spot bonus questions and games and more – and the top two teams battled it out to win the overall contest in a tense rock, paper, scissors.

QUIZ ANSWERS PUBLISHED HERE

Round 1: What year did it happen in the 90s

There is one answer for each year 1990-1999, no year is duplicated.

  1. The Channel Tunnel opens
  2. Princess Diana dies in Paris
  3. The Summer Olympics are held in Atlanta, Georgia
  4. Nelson Mandela is released from jail
  5. John Major leads the Conservatives to a General Election victory over Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party
  6. Blur beats Oasis in the battle of the bands when Country House reaches number 1 in the charts ahead of Roll With It
  7. Google is founded
  8. Freddie Mercury and Robert Maxwell die
  9. The Grand National is cancelled after a false start
  10. Britney Spears hits number one with Baby, One More Time

Round 2: The Martin round

This round has a proud tradition. All are questions I set without needing to reference research. You can probably tell a lot about me because of it!

  1. What is Picard’s Borg name?
  2. Who is on the back of a £50 note? NB: this is the question I got wrong on CBBC show ‘Hacker Time’ – luckily I got the rest right and ‘escaped’!
  3. What is the current year… in the Jewish calendar?
  4. Which is the only letter in scrabble all SIX vowels can be put after to form an allowed (SOWPODS) two letter word?
  5. Who were the three Kings who reigned in England in 1066 after Edward the Confessor?
  6. What is the Kobayashi Maru?
  7. What do you call the second in command of a Roman century?
  8. How many months of the year are allowed in Scrabble (SOWPODS)?
  9. Who died first: Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun or Peter the Great?
  10. Which of the following words is derived from the Greek word for pebble worm?

A) Anaconda B) Crocodile C) Conger Eel D) Iguana

NB. This was the £250,000 question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire that Angela Rippon and I decided to ‘take the money’ instead of answering.

Round 3: News and sport round

  1. What is the shortest individual race in the Summer Olympics?
  2. What was the exact offence Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of?
  3. What is the men’s 100m running world record?
  4. Name the consumer minister and the shadow consumer minister?
  5. What group were England in for the men’s football World Cup round robin?
  6. Which country became the 18th to join the Eurozone in 2014?
  7. What’s the difference between running SPECIFICALLY the 400m at an outdoor track to an indoor track?
  8. In which city did George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin get married?
  9. What’s the maximum possible break at snooker?
  10. And we’d done news and sport, so what better way to finish than with weather… at what temperature does water freeze… in fahrenheit?

Round 4: the Movie Round

movie round

Let me know how you get on below.

Past year’s quizzes

The MSE Christmas pub quiz 2013
The MSE Christmas pub quiz 2012
The MSE Christmas pub quiz 2011…can you beat the team?
The MSE Christmas pub quiz…can you beat the team?

Some people just don’t recognise sarcasm – my bizarre conversation with Nationwide’s ad agency

Some people just don’t recognise sarcasm – my bizarre conversation with Nationwide's ad agency

Some people just don’t recognise sarcasm – my bizarre conversation with Nationwide's ad agency

I think this email conversation with Golley Slater, the ad agency for Nationwide, pretty much explains itself.

  1. Email from it to me: (via our press contacts, which are only for press, even though they are not press)

    “Good afternoon,

    I am working on a Direct Mail pack for home insurance for Nationwide and we have come across a quote from Martin which would fit perfectly with our pack and the concept we are trying to communicate which is ‘Never auto-renew. Loyalty is expensive’.

    We were wondering whether you would be comfortable with us quoting this in our pack? And if so, if you could let us know what we would need to do from here on to be able to use it.

    Many thanks”

  2. My reply (which I had thought was dripping in layers of sarcasm):

    “You can absolutely use it as long as we get firm commitment that Nationwide will never auto-renew any of its customers for any of its products.

    If not then you can use ‘Never auto-renew. Loyalty is expensive. This includes Nationwide products, don’t let it screw you at renewal’.

    Kind regards,

    Martin”

  3. Its response:

    “Hi Martin,

    If we are unable to get commitment that Nationwide will never auto-renew any of its customers, are we able to use part of the quote in our pack:

    ‘Never auto-renew. Loyalty is expensive.’

    Many thanks”

  4. My reply:

    “Nope then you have to use this full statement:

    ‘Never auto-renew. Loyalty is expensive. This includes Nationwide products, don’t let it screw you at renewal’”

    Oh well, if that doesn’t help it get the point, hopefully this blog will.

PS. While most people have found this amusing, a few have commented “they were just being professional”. Do remember this is a paid-for agency wanting to use my reputation to bolster it’s clients, even though this would be totally hypocritical as it’s client does exactly what I campaign against.

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.