Make Me Rich 8: Emotional, Challenging, Rewarding – sometimes it’s about more than money

It’s 9pm. I’m starting the 90 min return train journey from Eastbourne. I left home at 6.30 this morning. It’s been a tough day – in many ways the toughest so far.

Steve and Janice suffered the tragic bereavement of their son a number of years ago and it was quickly obvious money was a conduit for comfort. They’re a wonderful couple, both loving towards each other and their daughter. Yet Janice spends as her escape when she’s feeling low, and Steve works stoically hard as his duty to provide for his family – meaning he’s away mid-week, so the couple don’t see each other often – leaving some matters uncommunicated.

On the money side, this was a real challenge for me. No debts apart from the mortgage, Steve’s bright, works in financial services and is already a MoneySaver. He knows of me, my work and this site which I quickly discovered meant a number of avenues were closed off as ‘Done’ before I got there. Remember the Make Me Rich challenge is for me to save a family as much as I can in a day.

It was a ‘playing the tricks’ kind of day to push the savings higher, and while the MoneySaving was interesting – stoozing got its first mention – this day was really about more than that.

One of the show’s main format moments is a ‘visual demonstration of spending’ (no details, it’ll ruin the surprise). For Janice this was a ‘eureka’ moment, a dawning realisation that her shopping isn’t to fill a wardrobe, but to fill a void.

This led to a discussion about ‘managing your money together’ which after a time turned into talk about their son. We switched the cameras off and chatted for a good time. It’s a tricky moment for me as I felt a fondness for the two of them, but am also aware I’m not a ‘qualified counsellor’ and in my head debated whether I should say “it’s not for me to talk to you about these things”.

Ultimately though, I think sometimes we all need to step up to the plate as a human being. The nature of doing a TV programme like this means you involve yourself in peoples’ lives. Money shows a lot of issues and sometimes sitting and listening, when people want to talk to you, is the right thing. Janice’s wry, smiling comment as I left was ‘wow, I thought it was about money, but it was better than being on Trisha!”

So now I’m off home, a good day all round. Draining, but my fingers are crossed the mere fact of doing Make Me Rich today will have been a positive thing for them both.

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