The Guardian: He’s ashamed, I’m happy.

Every day this week, The Guardian’s got a special pullout focusing on saving money. To start the first one off, its main interviewer, Simon Hattenstone (not part of the money section, as you’ll see), came to spend a few hours with me.

You can read his article here: “I feel ashamed. Very ashamed”.

It’s hard to MAKE someone save

It was a fascinating experience. Normally when someone comes for a money makeover for a TV programme, it’s because they’ve asked for help. Some are in debt and some aren’t, but all are interested.

Simon, who’s a very charming chap, was there for work, to write an article about it; the saving money secondary. At times, and I do hope he’ll forgive me for saying it, it reminded me of the days when I worked on a US summer camp for kids with attention difficulties.

He’s obviously a clever man, read his article to see he’s witty and a master of his craft; yet when it comes to money, even though he was highly numerate it was a fight to make him interested. Before anyone assumes he’s a super-rich member of the London mediarati, it isn’t about that; his outgoings and incomings roughly match his life style, which is typical of many London professionals.

Yet even with super-speedy savings like using cashback cards, which in his case would net £750 a year, he didn’t really react – it seemed far more a psychological block towards dealing with money. The nature of my work means I rarely talk to people who react this way. And often those who have been like that are wanting to change their habits and are thus open to it by the time they meet me. You can read how I reacted in the article…

A quick note to Mrs. Hattenstone.

I first saw the piece on Friday, and smiled at the end bit when Simon talks about going home to his wife, who thankfully seems much more switched on with money.

I think perhaps though some of the notes were miscommunicated to her, so when I emailed him the other day to say how at a good number of places the piece had made me titter, I added this quick PS asking him to forward her the following info:

“M&S points are worth 1% for spending in M&S, and 0.5% for spending outside – so Amex Plat is over 10 times more for standard puchases and in cash.

The cheapest way to call Liberian mobiles costs 9p (I would’ve done this but Simon hadn’t said it was to mobiles). See the Callchecker’s Liberian mobiles result

Then the surprise reply…

In the reply to my e-mail about the piece I was very pleasantly surprised to receive this as the start:

“Hi Martin, thanks loads.

Was lovely meeting you too. In a weird way I think you have changed my life. Even though not yet v. successful, I am much more conscious of money – ie I was giving away £1k a year on stuff I barely knew about and have cancelled lots of direct debits cos they were over the top. Also, what was really shocking was when my statement came and i saw that every month I spent almost or just over what I earned. Every month there seems to be a different “Special” reason/occasion. So when I said I spent 2k or whatever a year it was much more like 3.5k – shocking, considering I have no extravagances.”

Perhaps a new convert?

PS. Someone’s just pointed out that the Guardian has a MoneySaving quiz…

I was very pleased that I got all right (though originally I had misclicked one and only got seven!) ironic considering this is what it says:

“You scored 8 out of a possible 8

You’re the kind of person who buys 120 boxes of fish fingers to get enough tokens for a trip to New York. But while you may bore your friends with your savvy ways they’re secretly impressed. Have you memorised our money saving guides? Are you Martin Lewis?”

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