Money-saving advice series with Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood. The team look at buying top-end goods from high street stores at a fraction of their normal price.
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Whether you're a spender or a saver,
we could all do with knowing how to make the most of our cash.
So we've found simple advice for you to do just that,
and taken it to towns and cities right across Britain.
Whatever help you need with your finances, we are Right On The Money.
Hello and welcome to Right On The Money,
the show that's all about saving you some serious cash.
And we're in the beautiful city of York,
which was once the trading hub of the Viking world.
And it's that history that attracts many people here today,
all spending their money,
and bringing the well-needed coffers to the city.
So, let's do the same for you. Here's what's coming up.
We try to restore the peace in this family of big spenders
as they battle to get their finances back on track.
Come in the supermarket, help me.
If you think we don't need it, as you say,
tell me rather than sitting in the car with the kids.
That's no good.
Plus, we visit a warehouse bursting with cut-price bargains,
but is it too good to be true?
It's a bit of a gamble to buy one
if you go and get it home and it doesn't work,
so I'd like to just check that it does work before we actually buy it.
Now, as well as being full of museums and historic streets,
York is jam-packed full of lovely shops.
But it's the discount end of the market that's proved the downfall
for one busy mum with a pound-shop addiction
that's driving her family mad,
so let's see if we can help.
Charlotte and Sergio have been together for ten years now,
but Charlotte has still only mastered the basics
in partner Sergio's native Italian.
Buongiorno, Sergio. Come stai?
Oh, brava. Well done, Charlotte.
When it comes to the English language, however,
she has got plenty to say about her husband.
He is so impatient.
He won't queue anywhere. He won't wait anywhere,
He gets fed up at the table
and, by the time we haven't even finished eating,
he's off because he's had enough.
Loads of things.
Chef Sergio is a man of fewer words.
She's a bit bossy -
a bit grumpy sometimes.
These two first met in a restaurant.
Charlotte was a waitress and Sergio was the chef,
but it wasn't exactly champagne and roses.
With Sergio, it definitely wasn't love at first sight
because he was a chef, and being Italian,
he can be quite feisty as a chef in the kitchen,
and as a waitress, at first, I was like,
"Oh, no, I don't like him. I don't like him at all."
" 'Please don't do that!', cried Ram."
Well, clearly, she changed her mind,
because Charlotte and Sergio now have two little nippers -
twins Ollie and Ben.
But, while on most fronts they've found the recipe for
a happy home life, there's one big problem -
the family is brassic.
"So that's what the tigers did."
Oh, I would describe my level of wealth as quite poor.
I only work part-time.
Sergio has a full-time job, but obviously we've got two children
and a house and we haven't got a lot of money spare
at the end of the week.
Sergio reckons one reason why the family are struggling to
make ends meet is because Charlotte buys more than they need.
You're a brave man, Sergio!
Cereal, cereal, cereal, cereal, more cereal,
and more cereal there.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight -
eight boxes of cereal.
I mean, that is a waste of money, isn't it?
Shopping - I like shopping.
Baked beans, sausage and baked beans,
and baked beans everywhere.
Charlotte particularly loves visiting pound shops.
She spends more than £700 per year in them,
finding it especially hard to resist the tins
and cleaning products.
What is that?
Crystal-Clean Ocean, whatever it is... Oh, bleach.
Up to now, Sergio has felt he's fighting a losing battle.
Oh, I don't believe it.
So let's see if we can turn things around
by sending over personal finance expert Simon Read.
-You must be Charlotte.
So you have had some money worries - tell me about them.
Well, I only work part-time, so we don't earn a great deal of money,
and I do spend quite a lot on unnecessary things.
Charlotte's a classic impulse shopper -
like many of us, picking up things she thinks are useful
but she doesn't need at all.
So, to find out how big a part that plays in why they're skint
at the end of each month, Simon has a plan.
He's brought Charlotte to one of her local pound shops
to see what happens when she's let loose in the aisles.
-In my pocket, I've got £20.
-Now, I want you to take that inside the store.
-I'm sure this is going to be easy for you.
I'm sure it is going to be, I tell you.
-Spend it on the things you'd normally buy...
..then come back and we'll look at what you've spent your money on.
-Are you up for that?
-I really am. Yeah.
And she's off - Charlotte's like a kid in a candy store.
Two for £1. I'm going to get those.
Well, actually, I need some more cereal.
Maybe I'll get this one - it's quite nice.
Do I get another one?
Simon's not just leaving her to it -
he's gone all Secret Squirrel on us.
Oh, I might buy this book for them to read, actually.
She's just round here,
I'm not sure what she's buying but she's fairly highly engrossed.
That seems nice, so I'm going to get some of that.
Red alert! She's just reached the cleaning products.
Oh, this is my favourite aisle.
Oh, I spend so much money down here.
I don't really need anything but I should probably buy something.
I'll actually get some bleach.
Mamma mia! I can't see Sergio being best pleased when she gets home.
Great, thank you so much.
So, Charlotte, here you are with all your shopping.
How did you get on?
Really well, yeah.
Are you...? Did you buy...? Did you stick to...?
-No, I bought cleaning products!
-You bought cleaning products.
I did, and I've got some bleach at home,
but I don't like the smell of it, so I've gone and bought another one.
Now, the funny thing is,
Charlotte knows that the pound shop is like a trap for her.
I feel that everything is a bargain
and it's really tempting for the consumer and I just love it.
I go in, and I see some cleaning stuff that
I've probably already got at home, but this is a new one.
I've got to have it because it's a pound.
Back home, let's see of how much of what Charlotte's bought
she actually needs.
-What else is down there? This is fun, isn't it?
-It is good.
It's a curry sauce.
Yeah, she doesn't eat curry. She doesn't like it, either.
You don't actually like curry?
-Not overly. It's not something...
-How about Chinese? Then...
I thought, "Oh, gosh, that's an easy way of making a nice curry,"
but, yeah, I would rather have Chinese. Yeah.
This is worse than I thought.
Charlotte doesn't even like what she's buying
and, by watching back the film of her shopping trip,
Simon discovered she needed just two out of the 20 items she bought!
Oh, actually, I need some more cereal.
Maybe I'll get this one - it's quite nice.
You bought some cereal, there.
-Yeah, I've got loads of cereal up there.
-And you've already got loads.
According to recent research,
18% of UK shoppers regularly buy items they hadn't intended to.
Weirdly, it's bananas that are the most common impulse buy.
I mean, it just was, fundamentally, when you're shopping,
you need to be shopping for the things you need,
so I think we need to fundamentally change the way you shop.
To be honest, it's partly your fault because you need to come in with me,
If you know I'm like this,
there's no point sitting in the car moaning at me.
You need to do shopping with me.
But, as I said, she's likely to end up in Poundland.
-If I follow, I say, "Why are you buying that? Take it out."
-And so you start to argue.
-But we wouldn't have to end up there
if you helped me with the shopping. Come in the supermarket. Help me.
If you think we don't need it, as you say,
tell me rather than sitting in the car with the kids.
That's no good.
Nobody does shopping like that.
Would it be better if Sergio did the shopping?
Hmm, sounds like a good plan to me.
So, number one, the two of you together work on the shopping list.
-You take things off - more cleaning products.
-You know, "I don't know that we need them." Check, check.
Two, I think Sergio should take control of the food shopping.
Yeah, definitely, he should. Yeah, definitely.
-Are you happy to do that?
-Yeah, yeah, easily, yeah.
-Easily, I think it can be done.
I have to keep more eyes on her.
If Charlotte and Sergio start working as a team on their shopping,
without buying the things they don't need,
Simon thinks they can easily save
more than £700 a year.
But Simon's work has only just started.
Now, it might sound strange,
but one of the biggest expenses with this chef's family
is the £4,680 a year they spend on convenience food.
Charlotte's not so keen on cooking as her husband,
but, with Sergio's job often keeping him out working late,
she relies on convenience food.
That's an expensive habit,
but Simon has a surprise in store.
-Can you see where we are?
-It's the Abinger Cookery School.
We're going to introduce you to one of the country's top chefs,
who's going to show you how to make a meal from fresh ingredients
which will work out cheaper, be better for all the family,
and this is going to be brilliant fun, I hope.
How exciting. But who will the top chef be?
Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay or...?
Here's the chef!
It's not a celebrity chef. It's Daddy!
-What are you going to cook?
Yes, it's hubby Sergio who's going to teach Charlotte how to turn these
ingredients into a delicious meal of pasta with prawns,
chorizo and broad beans in a white wine sauce.
If he succeeds, that's goodbye to the ready meals Charlotte loves
and hello, big savings,
and in no time at all, they're cooking up a storm.
-Hey, do you know what you haven't said once yet?
What? "Mamma mia"?
We Brits are apparently becoming a lot lazier in the kitchen,
We're now spending only half as much time cooking
as we did in 1980.
You have to use a bigger knife.
Watch out for your finger.
And UK families fork out a mouthwatering £1.6 billion a year
on ready meals.
-How many do you want? All of them?
-Yeah, all of it, please.
But how will Charlotte find this "cooking from scratch" malarkey?
-How are your stress levels?
-I'm quite stressed,
but I'll get there. I'll be all right.
SERGIO SPEAKS ITALIAN
Would you trust my cooking now?
So far, so good. Looks all right, yeah.
This looks fantastic.
-Can we give it a taste?
-Yeah, you can have a taste.
That's delicious, and you've got enough for three main meals,
and that works out at about half the price...
-..of the ready meals you buy.
Does it make you think again about buying ready meals?
It's better for you. Yeah, it does, because it wasn't that hard to do
and I think I was just being a little bit lazy, really.
Charlotte could halve the price of her food shopping
if she ditches those posh ready meals,
saving her around £2,340 a year.
But cooking's not the only thing she needs to learn
if she wants to give the family finances a jump-start.
If she knew how to drive,
it could be a short cut to earning more cash.
I mean, I've been offered jobs in schools which are full-time
-but I can't do them, cos...
-You can't drive.
..I don't get there and back in time.
-What's stopping you from learning to drive?
I just don't have enough money. Lessons are expensive.
-Lessons are very expensive, but do you know what?
I'm hoping that, by the time we've helped you sort out your finances,
you'll be able to free up enough money
-to be able to afford to get driving lessons.
-That'd be amazing.
Well, later in the programme,
we'll see what happened when Simon did get Charlotte behind the wheel
and she tried to beat the Stig's lap record on the Top Gear track.
And we're doing about 7mph.
Yeah, don't hold your breath.
Simon's with us now,
along with Ashleigh, who writes a blog called Ashleigh Money Saver.
Now, we're going to come to you in a second, Ashleigh,
and find out how you became so super-savvy, but first, Simon.
Charlotte and Sergio - I think they're like a lot other families,
who just seem to be caught in this financial rut,
where they're spending as much as they earn,
and by the end of the month, they've got nothing left.
Well, it's fairly typical of a lot of people.
They spend what they earn without thinking about it.
The secret is to plan carefully, budget carefully,
write everything down, and get on top of your money
so it doesn't get on top of you.
Now, Ashleigh, this must sound very familiar to you,
because your blog is full of the sort of hints and tips
about how you can save money around the house.
Tell us about that.
I first started the blog back in 2013, when I was made redundant,
and I had to save money, and I've managed to save £400 a month
just by following these simple tips.
So, come on, then, give us some of your tips.
Some of the tips are really simple, and anybody can get involved
and do them and save money, such as turning down your thermostat.
That can save you £65 a year if you turn it down one degree,
or, if you swap your usual cooker
and make all of your food in a slow cooker,
that can save you around about £90 a year,
and obviously closing any doors to keep the heat in, too.
But turning off radiators in rooms that aren't being used,
so you're not unnecessarily heating up a room
that you're not going to be using.
So turning off your devices at night can save you money?
That's right, yeah. Don't leave your phone on charge overnight,
because that's going to use electricity when you don't need to.
But hang on, you've got to charge your phone?
Well, you can charge your phone,
but charge it for an hour or two before you go to bed
and then turn off the plug, turn off your Wi-Fi and your TV.
And that can make a big difference to some people's lives.
It could make a massive difference.
To my life, I was able to pay off my debt by making these small changes,
and now I've got no debt left,
I'm able to book a family holiday for the first time.
Brilliant advice. Thanks, Ashleigh, and as ever, Simon.
Yeah, when I need something new, like a washing machine or TV,
I'll go online and I'll shop around for the best deals.
But there's another way to get big-brand goods
at a fraction of their cost, if you're prepared to take a punt.
If you've ever wondered what happens when you return unwanted items to
a major store, then this warehouse in Staffordshire holds the answer.
It's a bargain hunter's paradise -
an Aladdin's cave of high street brands at knock-down prices.
The man in charge is site manager Stephen Anderson.
We work with probably nine out of the ten
biggest high-street retailers.
It's returns, end-of-line, ex-display,
and sometimes liquidation stock.
Some stock will be absolutely perfect,
sealed up and never been touched.
Other stock might have a scratch or a dint,
or you might have a sofa with a leg missing,
so they need somewhere for that stock to go
and we're part of that solution.
Customers are told that all goods are a mixture of returns,
liquidated stock and ex-display.
They don't know the history of each individual item,
but that doesn't matter to these punters.
-Well, last week, I bought two chairs, didn't we?
We came and fetched them, and I was really pleased with the chairs,
because they're still on John Lewis's website at £85 each
and I got them for £28.
This site is one of 18 across the country
owned by auction company John Pye.
What started out 50 years ago with one man and his horse and cart
is now an international business.
Yeah, so this is one of the 15 artic lorry loads that we've had in,
or we're going to have in today.
One of our colleagues is unloading.
This looks like sofas and mattresses.
Despite being an auction house, you won't see an auctioneer in sight.
That's because all you can do on the day is browse,
then bids are made entirely online.
However, bargains can come at a cost,
because the law classes these goods as second-hand,
as solicitor Richard Nicholas explains.
Second-hand goods, particularly at a public auction,
where they've had the opportunity to inspect those goods beforehand,
whether or not they've actually taken that opportunity,
those consumers lose some of their rights
under the Consumer Rights Act.
So, the goods must still be as described,
but they wouldn't be able to complain, for instance,
that those goods are not fit for purpose
or not of satisfactory quality.
Everything here is sold as seen.
We are an auctioneers.
We're not a shop,
and if you're in any doubt about the suitability of any lot,
then don't bid.
But it seems plenty of people are willing to take the risk.
Among those ready to take a chance are mother and daughter
Diana and Rebecca,
who've got their eye on a top-of-the-range fridge-freezer.
It's a bit a gamble to buy one
if you go and get it home and it doesn't work,
so I'd like to just check that it does work
before we actually buy it.
-Yeah, that's brilliant.
I think it's worth the risk to pay far less,
as long as you set an amount that you're prepared to risk.
Mum-to-be Kelly is a regular visitor,
and is here to save on her baby essentials.
If you don't come and look,
you can't guarantee what state the product's going to be in.
You can see the product, and you can see the condition it's in
before purchasing when you do it this way.
There could be slight faults with them,
but they do come at a cheaper price.
But before deciding whether to make their online bid,
our buyers check out the price they'd normally pay
on the high street.
This is the fridge that I'm looking to buy.
That is unbelievable.
So, if I make my maximum bid £400...
If you get that fridge for that price,
-that'll be amazing.
-Yeah, when really, it should be £1,200.
I'm going for the milk-prep machines, sterilisers,
a cot, and maybe a swinging chair or a bouncing chair.
It is worth checking when you enter into an auction -
typically you'll get terms and conditions,
or some set of rules that the auction runs by.
By law, you should receive information about delivery charges,
any extra tax that's payable, but it's worth just making sure
you've read through the terms and conditions,
cos that may be where those additional charges are.
With 185,000 customers registered to bid on this auction site,
competition is fierce,
so let's see who bagged a bargain.
OK, so I've just bid and won on
a Mamas & Papas music and lights swing.
I've bid and won on a cot,
and I've managed to get four milk-prep machines
that I've bid and won on, so...
And Rebecca's snapped up her fancy fridge-freezer
for a third of the named price,
but she's starting to panic.
I'm really nervous.
One, because I've made the decision to buy it.
Two, if it doesn't work,
my husband will probably go mad and think it's a waste of money.
It's up to the winning bidder to organise delivery,
and Rebecca's fridge-freezer is only a bargain
if it makes it to her kitchen in one piece.
Easy does it, Mark!
Oh, it's a tight squeeze.
Now, the moment of truth.
-That's a good start.
-The lights are on.
Well, the lights are on and you can see the temperature.
The lights are on in the inside.
Rebecca won the American fridge-freezer
with a winning bid of £310.
They had to pay fees on top, so in total, the cost was £446.40.
That's a hefty £753.60 off the high-street price.
I would 100% say it's definitely worth the risk
of taking a chance on buying something at an auction,
but I did get it tested at the auction site.
I got it checked that the electricity got to it and did work.
But over at Kelly's house,
her mum has spotted a problem with the blender.
The lid's broken, so I guess that's just been dropped.
The lid's broken on that, but that blender,
well, it cost me about £7,
whereas in the shop you're going to spend at least £30 on it,
so a replacement lid isn't going to cost that much.
Other than that, everything works, and we've saved hundreds of pounds.
For Kelly, one damaged item is worth the gamble,
and for his part, site manager Stephen Anderson insists that
the chance of a bargain outweighs the risks.
The risks are definitely worth taking.
Everything is as you can see it,
so, as long as you come to the viewing,
everyone will go away happy with the products
that they potentially might win.
Well, the people we saw there would all like to say
they got a good deal,
but it really is about weighing up the pros and cons.
Next is something we'd all like to save money on - a night out.
And I'm not just talking about the food and drink
because, unless you look like me,
you've got the cost of hair and beauty treatments to think about.
But there is a way of saving money and getting top service.
Meet Duncan, Kath and Liz,
who are all huge fans of cut-price fine dining and beauty treatments
at colleges around the country.
Liz, you're a huge fan of beauty treatments and massages -
the sort of things which, when added up,
would be a big drain on your bank balance,
but you've found a way to do it a lot cheaper, haven't you?
I certainly have, yes.
-I go down to the local college...
..where the students need somebody to practise on,
and you're, sort of, their guinea pig,
and I go and have a full-body massage or a back massage,
or have my nails done,
and it's a fraction of the price you would pay in a beauty salon.
Well, give me an idea of that fraction.
I would pay £15 for a full-body massage,
which lasts about an hour and a half.
What about the fact you've actually got someone who's not necessarily
trained at this point? They're a student, aren't they?
You know, they might not be too good at what they're doing.
Well, I've never had a bad experience.
There are some better than others and some are extremely good,
but I've always come out feeling it was very good value for money.
I'm going to come to you, Kath and Duncan,
because you've sampled the fare of an up-and-coming Jamie Oliver,
haven't you? At a fraction of the price.
Well, the last time we went, we had prelunch drinks,
we had a three-course meal, two bottles of wine,
and it was £22 per person.
-Oh, don't forget the coffee, Duncan.
-No, exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
There must be some downside to it
compared to some very big, nice, flashy restaurant.
Surely, you're eating in a college, aren't you? What about the ambience?
I think they've achieved a good atmosphere.
People dress quite smartly,
and for the evening events, people do dress up,
and we had one evening event where we had venison
presented by the local aristocracy, from their estate,
and the gentlemen were in dinner suits,
and the ladies, of course, equally smartly dressed.
So, and they...
Although the staff are being trained, they are very good.
Well, thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us.
And if you'd like to enjoy the same service
at your local catering or beauty college,
just contact them and see what's on offer.
Back to Denise now, who's also having a taste of the high life.
She's at the races.
There's a reason for that, Dom.
A recent survey suggested people could knock around £80 off
their home insurance bill if they had haggled.
Now, my friend Mr Littlewood is a master at haggling
and can knock down the price of about anything.
Me? I'm not so good,
but later, I'm going to find out how to get better.
First, how good are you at haggling?
-On holiday I do.
-I like haggling, yeah.
You go into, like, markets or even shops, where you can't really...
-I don't feel you can do it, like, in city centres or normal shops.
I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it in, like, Leeds city centre
in just a normal clothes shop,
but abroad, I'd feel more comfortable.
I've got a bit of a habit, whenever I see something,
I always try figure out what it costs at cost price.
And then I'm like,
"Well, I know you didn't get it for this,
"so, come on, give me a bit of a discount."
When I bought... Your house? Yeah, you haggle, of course you do.
That's the whole idea, so... when it's appropriate.
Sometimes we do haggle. Like, we just bought a suit,
-and now we haggled £5 off.
-We got a discount of £5 for a suit...
-Better than nothing.
I can't be bothered with the effort of haggling.
If it's a good price, then it's...
Maybe I could get it a few pounds cheaper, or...
but I'd rather just pay the price.
I mean, we bought, like, 30 suits, as well, so...
We bought it in bulk, so we thought we'd get a discount.
I don't think the British are very good at haggling,
I think we're a bit too polite.
Trust me, there are some great deals to have out there
if you're just prepared to have a little bit of a haggle.
Now, I'm an old pro, but Denise here is not so good, are you?
No, I'm not.
We've been joined by retail analyst Tarlok Teji, and between us,
we're going to get Denise up to speed.
And you are a bag of nerves, aren't you?
No, I'm not looking forward to it,
but I'll do my best, if you can imagine.
Now, Tarlok, what would your top three tips be?
Well, the first one is,
because most people are shy,
-if you don't ask, you don't get...
..so you must ask.
The other one is, understand what it is you can haggle over,
where you can haggle and when you can haggle.
Those are very simple steps and you're on your way.
Denise, what I would say is, don't be scared of this.
Think of it as a bit of a game, a bit of fun,
but the important thing I will always say to anybody is,
build rapport, and Tarlok would agree with this.
They're just as nervous of you as you are of them,
so have a bit of fun.
You know, make it enjoyable.
If you get a bit off, great.
If you don't, then move onto the next shop.
-Now, I'm going to sub you 40 quid to go and do some shopping.
Thank you very much. OK.
I don't like handing money over.
-Go on, off you go. Have some fun.
-Come on, Tarlok.
I can tell you, she told me she never, ever haggles.
She really is going to feel awkward about this.
Well, while I'm here, I might as well do some shopping myself.
When asking for a discount,
always make sure you're speaking to the person
who's in a position to actually give it.
There's no point speaking to a teenage Saturday shop assistant -
they're only going to tell you to go speak to the manager.
Who's the person that'll be able to give me the best deal in here?
You need to speak to our manager, Jen.
I've even got the name.
-Jen, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
Dominic from the telly.
-Can we have a deal?
-I can see what we can do for you.
Hey, you see, I'm already on to a winner.
Hello there. This is a lovely little bag.
Yeah, it's beautiful, isn't it?
I've looked at these earrings as well - these are nice.
Goes with my jacket, actually.
It does, yeah. Do you want me to have a look at those?
-Can you look at the price?
-That'll be 35.
Do you think you could do a little deal for me?
The lowest I could go with it is 30.
-That would be what I would do.
I was hoping, you know, maybe 27.
-What about 29?
Mm, I'll have a little think about it.
-OK, no worries, thank you.
OK, well, the first and most important thing is, you've asked,
so that's a big hurdle.
-You automatically get a bronze medal for that.
-I guess, still keep pushing.
You can probably knock another pound or two off.
But I'm starting to feel uncomfortable now.
I think she'll be fine. Yeah?
-She was smiling, that's the thing.
Good work, Tarlok. Come on, Denise, let's see a bit of haggling.
Well, as I said, I really love this handbag.
-I know you've come in with £29.
-But if you could do this for me for £27,
I will happily go off into the day as a happy woman.
What about 28? I'll meet you in the middle. How does that sound?
That sounds very nice, thank you very much.
Go, girl. Result.
I'll get you some change.
So, how did you feel about that?
I feel good that I've managed to get the discount,
but I'm a little bit nervous.
It was very good what you did,
but you may not realise that you got 20% then,
so you've not only asked and got your bronze medal,
you've gone straight to gold.
Not surprised for an Olympian, but not everybody can do that.
You've got a big smile on your face.
-That's a good sign.
-It is a good sign.
I actually quite enjoyed myself.
I got into the old haggling.
That's how it's... A lot of people don't realise,
once you start the ball rolling,
it's quite an enjoyable experience, isn't it?
And I've got a real buzz. I got a real buzz from it.
And I got change, which you'll be impressed with.
In future, will you always try and get a bit of money off?
I think there's deals to be had. You can just go for it.
And also, the stallholders,
I bet they quite enjoy the experience.
Well, at the end of the day, they are here to sell.
Yeah, exactly. They've had a good day. You've had a good day.
-Yeah, very happy.
-Everyone's happy by the sounds of it.
-Thanks very much, Tarlok.
-Dom, you're welcome.
Now, earlier on, we met the fantastic Charlotte and Sergio,
who were at loggerheads over Charlotte's pound-shop addiction.
Let's see if we've managed to get the family finances back on track.
Italian chef Sergio and his wife, Charlotte, have a big problem -
they get through their cash much quicker than they'd like.
Oh, I spend so much more down here.
Charlotte is a self-confessed shopaholic,
and goes through every single penny of Sergio's wages each month
by buying expensive ready meals and raiding pound shops.
Baked beans, baked beans, baked beans everywhere.
It just worries me that when I get older,
I'm not going to have a lot of money saved.
To help the couple free up more cash,
we sent in personal finance expert Simon Read.
He was determined to teach Charlotte how to resist
all those impulse buys.
So I think we need to fundamentally change the way you shop.
Now Simon's back to give this family's finances another boost,
this time by helping them to not just spend less money,
but make more.
Charlotte works one day a week on a make-up counter,
but dreams of starting her own business one day.
So far, she's been held back,
as she doesn't drive and has to look after the children,
but Simon has arranged for a surprise visit.
We've got a mystery guest coming.
And that mystery guest is - ding-dong - Avon lady Nicky.
Oh, perhaps knock-knock.
-Hi, who are you?
Hi, my name's Nicky. I'm from Avon.
I've come to have a little chat with you today.
Oh, lovely, come in.
Nicky's a busy mum, too,
but that hasn't stopped her from becoming a top sales rep.
Simon hopes that hearing this story
can inspire Charlotte to do something similar in the future.
Obviously, I guess, you work from home.
Do you find that a little bit easier with small children?
It's been fantastic.
I can work around the children.
I'm free to go to parents' evenings,
afternoons at the school, and things like that.
I run it around my family,
so you don't have to worry about being there nine till five,
you know, you run it your way.
I mean, obviously, with my knowledge of make-up,
because I have had quite a few years' experience,
do you think I'm more likely to be able to sustain good income from it?
I won't lie to you and say you're going to earn hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds in your first... first few months,
but it builds up.
Last year, I was actually top of our area for sales,
so it's doable, definitely.
This kind of work could help Charlotte top-up the family income
by around £4,000 a year,
but does Nicky think Charlotte's got what it takes?
Simon gets in a sneaky chat while Charlotte is out of the room.
Tell me, honestly, what do you think of her?
Definitely. She's got the personality.
She's got the knowledge.
I think she'd be fantastic.
But without a driving licence,
Charlotte is stuck at home and her ambitions won't get far,
so getting her mobile is Simon's next big challenge.
So, we're off to the next location,
and it's a surprise for you.
We're going to ask you to do something
which I hope you enjoy and find interesting.
We don't want you to know what it is until we get there...
-OK, cool. Yeah.
-..so I'm going to ask you to put on,
if you don't mind, this rather flamboyant blindfold.
-If you can...
-Yeah. Oh, gosh, really? OK.
-..just cover up your eyes for us...
-Yeah, yeah, I can do that.
..and then we'll guide you up the path, into the car,
and we'll be heading off.
After just ten minutes,
Charlotte and Simon arrive at the secret location.
-Here we are, and this is the moment we've been waiting for.
-You can take off your blindfold.
An airfield, in the middle of nowhere.
-Wow! It's Dunsfold Aerodrome.
-It's the Top Gear track.
-It is the Top Gear track.
And do you know what people like to do here?
-They like to drive.
-They like to drive.
-We are going to put you behind the wheel.
-I can't drive!
-Well, we'll see.
-That's really exciting.
Simon wants to give Charlotte the ultimate incentive
to boost her income by getting her behind the wheel.
Some say he gave the Stig his first driving lesson -
let's see if driving instructor Paul can work his magic
on our Charlotte, too.
At the moment, you're just going to drive
-what you feel comfortable doing.
Charlotte's just about to start the engine.
-There it goes.
Handbrake off. You'll find that you start moving.
And they're off.
Look at that - smooth.
Well, that was much better than I thought it would be, to be honest.
Now what do I do? Do I have to steer?
Yeah, a bit of steering would be good.
Look at the concentration on her face -
and the speed.
And we're doing about 7mph.
RECORD SCRATCHES Ah, OK.
But remember, this is her first lesson.
According to the DVLA,
passing your driving test takes, on average, 45 hours of lessons,
and that's likely to cost over £1,000.
We're now up to about 15mph. Excellent.
But there are ways of cutting the costs down.
Shop around for the best deal when looking for an instructor,
and practice driving with friends or family members
so you can boost your confidence without forking out any money.
-What's your verdict? How did she do?
Really, really good. Yeah. She's quite the natural, I think.
Paul thinks Charlotte would only need about 20 lessons,
which would typically cost about £500.
So we know you can save money in other parts of your life -
at least £500 by not going to the pound shops any more.
Yes, true. I'd love to be able to drive, anyway.
So you think you might pick this up again?
I think I probably will.
I'll save a bit of money and then I will, definitely.
Good work, Simon.
Thanks to the savings he's found so far,
Charlotte's driving dream could be a reality,
putting her on the road to starting up her own business.
That night, with the kids' bedtime story done,
Sergio decides to treat Charlotte to her favourite guilty pleasure.
There you go, Charlotte. Look at this cake.
Alpine strawberry - they're beautiful. Look at that.
Wow. Charlotte treats herself to the occasional slice of strawberry cake
at the local cafe.
Embracing the spirit of money-saving,
Sergio wants to knock that on the head, but he's no killjoy.
He's got a way she can have her cake and eat it.
So, this cake, you can make easily -
Say, in the shop, you pay, what, £3 a slice?
Yeah, OK, yeah, about that.
But it only cost Sergio £7 to buy a very similar whole cake
in a supermarket.
By buying one slice at a time in a cafe,
you get charged six times more.
That is what? £35 saving.
Yes, all right. Gosh.
When you say it like that, it makes me never want to eat cake again.
Look, no-one's saying you can't eat cake,
but you can do it more cheaply.
Buy a whole one and freeze the individual slices
until you need them.
Sergio's well chuffed with the idea.
What do you think, Charlotte?
Well, I think he thinks he's turning into Simon, yeah.
-He's, like, becoming an economist.
-I'm no economist.
-He's whingeing about what I spend and what I buy
-and, yeah, I think he is.
-That is £35 on £7.
Are we still going on?
Yeah, he definitely is turning into Simon, definitely,
cos he is still going on about a cake.
Now, don't knock it, Charlotte.
If you cut back on the cake,
it will save you over £300 a year.
Lose the coffee you typically
buy with it as well,
and you're talking more than
£850 worth of savings,
and that could easily cover the cost of the driving lessons you need.
I have to say, Charlotte, that is yummy - the alpine strawberry.
Can I just say? You've said alpine strawberry loads and loads of times.
They're actually raspberries.
Yeah, they look like alpine strawberries.
-No, cos they're not alpine strawberries whatsoever,
they're raspberries. You bought it cos you thought
it was alpine strawberries and it would've been worth £7.
Now you know it's raspberries,
you might want to think about what you're telling me about cake.
Oops! Nice try, Sergio.
But don't worry, you can stand down now,
because Simon's back for one last visit,
and he wants to tackle the family's biggest money riddle.
These guys would like to get a new house
and move out of their current one,
which was left to Charlotte and her sister by their mother.
I'd like my own home,
and I'd like something that I could perhaps call mine and Sergio's.
Charlotte wants to sell up and move to a bigger house,
but there's a problem.
I've looked into a couple of mortgages
but I don't think that's going to be possible.
Why do you think you can't get a mortgage?
I've asked a few people and the most they're willing to lend is
just not even enough. Well, it's not going to get me anything.
-To get you a home?
-It's not even going to get me a bedsit.
Right, so you feel... You feel trapped.
-I am. I'm completely trapped.
To see what options might help,
Simon has called in top property advisor Henry Pryor.
Henry, this is Charlotte.
-Hi, Henry. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to see you.
When it comes to your earnings,
may I be impolite and ask, what do you earn roughly a year?
Yeah, I mean, between us, we probably only earn about 25,000,
so it is not really going to...
OK, so let's assume you've got £100,000 worth of equity,
and roughly £60,000 worth of borrowings.
That would get you another house that you could buy.
If you've got that kind of budget,
you shouldn't have to move a million miles
in order to find something that you can afford.
But you wouldn't get anywhere for that money, would you, 160,000?
I think you'd be pleasantly surprised.
The average deposit in this country is roughly £40,000,
that people save from taxed income.
You have got a thumping great deposit of nearly £100,000.
But Charlotte and Sergio haven't enough money to renovate the house
before they put it on the market.
Will this scupper their dreams of moving on?
All you need to do is make sure the house looks presentable
because, invariably, if you rip out the kitchen
and put in a new bathroom,
the chance of it being someone else's taste is remote...
-Yeah, of course.
-..so don't go to the expense and the trouble
of doing major works to your house.
That's great news.
Not only does Henry think that Charlotte and Sergio can get
a decent house by putting down a big deposit,
but they don't even have to renovate their current one
before they sell it.
Molto bene, Simon.
Your work here is done.
Time for the figures.
Tightening the purse strings on the shopping,
the ready meals and the weekly treats,
plus adding on the likely revenue
from Charlotte potentially selling make-up,
should put this family's finances back on track.
CASH REGISTER CHIMES The £7,898 saved won't just cover
the cost of Charlotte's driving lessons -
there'll be plenty left at the end of each month.
Well, I've learnt a lot.
I've learnt that I really, really need to save money
and think more about what I can cook
and how I can save money by doing so.
She is more attentive about what she buys, you know,
what she needs.
Cos he's not nagging at me for once, which is lovely.
"Don't spend too much money. You're buying rubbish."
So, yeah, it's lovely. Yeah.
Good stuff, Charlotte and Sergio.
Well, Simon, it's been a few weeks since you helped them.
How are they getting on?
I've spoken to them recently and they're doing really well,
and they're working hard to keep to their spending habits.
In fact, they sent us this little message.
Hi, Denise. Hi, Dom. How are you?
It's been really, really good being on Right On The Money,
and obviously I haven't been into value shops hardly at all,
apart from once.
I have started to save a little bit of money in my tins for a rainy day.
We are obviously looking around for a house.
It's still in the early stages.
It's been a really, really good experience. Thank you very much.
A rainy day? It's been raining for five months.
We should have a lot of money, then.
Now, Simon, what advice would you give to families
who are on a tight budget to try save some cash?
The key thing is to budget carefully.
They know how much income they've got coming in.
They should know how much money they will need to spend
on their essentials and bills.
They should be totting it all up and writing it down
to make sure they don't overspend.
They should then only start buying the treats
when they've paid off everything else.
It's not easy, though, is it?
They've got to be really disciplined.
They've got to be very disciplined.
When you are short of money, you can get by, but only if you are,
as you say, very disciplined, budget carefully, writing everything down,
and planning your spending properly.
Well, if you'd be interested in having one of our experts come round
to sort out your finances,
then e-mail us at...
And if it's some quick and easy money-saving tips you are after,
here's where you can get a few golden nuggets of advice.
Our website has everything you need to sort out your spending.
We've teamed up with the Money Advice Service to bring you
easy-to-use money-saving tools to plan your budget,
calculate the cost of your car or credit cards,
and give your money a complete health check.
Download them at...
..where you can also take our interactive spending test,
and you'll find plenty more tips and advice
to keep your finances on track.
Now, Simon's still with us to answer some questions from
the people we've met in York today.
Yeah, we've got one from Tracy,
who says she needs to rely on payday loans.
Is there a better alternative?
That's really worrying,
because payday lending is one of the most expensive ways to borrow,
and if she's doing that every month, she's on a cycle of disaster,
frankly, and what she needs to do is firstly try to not overspend,
so she doesn't have to borrow money.
If she is struggling towards the end of the month,
then maybe an overdraft could be a lot cheaper,
or she could contact a credit union.
They have lots of good deals to help people,
and they can help people get their finances back on track, too.
Now, Helen says, "My current mortgage deal is about to run out.
"How can I now get the best deal?"
It's a good question.
There are thousands of mortgage deals out there,
so it's pretty impossible for one person to know the right answer,
so that's why I would go to an expert.
You can do it yourself. You can go on the internet,
and find comparison sites that will tell you the best deals,
but you need to talk to your own lender first,
and see what they've got to offer,
but I would certainly go to an expert.
Thank you, Simon,
and thanks to everybody else we've spoken to today.
Not forgetting the good people of York - you've been brilliant.
That's it for now, so until next time, keep saving.
In this episode Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood present from York. The team meet a busy mum with a pound shop addiction that's driving her family mad. With her spending habits leaving them struggling every month, will personal finance expert Simon Read be able to restore harmony to the household and boost how much is left in their pockets?
There is also a look at how you can buy top-end goods from high street stores at a fraction of their normal cost. But is it all too good to be true? Plus Dom sets first-time haggler Denise a challenge to find out whether she has got what it takes to bargain down the prices at a vintage fair, and there is advice on how to pamper yourself with three-course meals or beauty treatments, absolutely free.