While reminiscing, it just occurred to me I’ve now been the ‘Money Saving Expert’ for ten years. On 2 Jan 2000 I left the BBC to start at Simply Money TV as a reporter, soon being made ‘Business Correspondent’, then given the chance of my own programme, which is where it all began…
The Deal of the Day
The bosses said that on top of reporting, I was allowed my own 1-2 minutes show every three hours (the whole channel did 3 hours a day which was then looped into 24 hours) and so I came up with the idea of doing detailed research into consumer finance products, with a definitive best buy at the end, from credit cards to MP3 deals.
Very quickly this ‘Deal of the Day’ programme became a centre piece of the channel, and very popular (within the tiny number of viewers we had), so soon it was being shown every hour and was 5 to 7 minutes long. Part of this involved using my prior stand-up comedy background to have relevant ‘characters’ at the beginning and the end (click Martins comedy capers in this video downloads section to see some – my favourite’s Brief Beancounter at the end).
I remember later on that the ‘Deals of the Day’ section got so much traffic they had to do a ‘registration section’. At the time I went to the channel bosses suggesting there was real merit in developing it, and making it a MoneySaving site in its own light, but they told me they didn’t think it would work!
The start of ‘Money Saving Expert’
After around six months, in June or July 2000, as this had become by far the majority of my work, it was decided my ‘business correspondent’ title should change as it no longer really fitted. I was delighted, I’d never really liked it as my focus was personal finance but they had thought ‘business’ gave more gravitas.
So about five of us sat in a meeting and brainstormed a title. Saving money was definitely what I did, but we couldn’t incorporate that in a way that worked, so instead we went for ‘Money Saving Expert’. While it seems hard to believe now, actually back then that term simply wasn’t used so we went for it as it was original.
The big worry was “will people think it’s only about savings?” but we decided to go with it anyway. So the next day my Aston (what you call the small intro graphic at the bottom of the TV screen) became ‘Money Saving Expert’ and my job contract was changed to Simply Money’s ‘Money Saving Expert’.
MoneySavingExpert.com came years later
Many people assume that I started the website, and that all my broadcast work and columns came from there.
Actually its the other way round, when asked what gave me the inspiration for the site I say: “It was a no brainer, I’d been working as Money Saving Expert for years, had 100s columns, TV research scripts and articles about it on my laptop so I put them into a website” as the real key moment was coming up with the type of research I did for the ‘Deals of the Day’.