Money-saving advice series with Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood. The team meets a man who has been left struggling with money since a life-changing incident outside his home.
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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 here to boost your piggy bank.
And we're going to do it in the easiest way possible.
Today, we are on the famous ferry across the Mersey
to the glorious city of Liverpool,
where we're going to find out if Scousers really are savvy with their money.
Well, I'm sure they are. I'm married to one, did you know?
-And here's what we've got coming up on the show today.
We come to the rescue of an ex-serviceman,
whose money worries are getting on top of him.
But he is savvy when it comes to some things.
How much does it cost, Sarah?
Well, actually, it's a special Yorkshire version. It's entirely free!
Oh, now we're talking!
And we've got some exclusive research into why so many of us run out of
money long before payday.
I think come payday, relatively speaking,
I do live like a king compared to later in the month.
Certainly, a marked difference from the rest of the month!
Now, Liverpool boomed in the 19th century when it became
one of the busiest and greatest ports in the world.
And more modern forms of trading are still at the very heart of things today
with a city centre buzzing full of shoppers and tourists.
And we'll be hearing from some of those shoppers later.
But first, a couple of hours away in Nottinghamshire,
we've been trying to help a couple who've been through some pretty tough times in the past few years.
Dennis Scafe and his wife, Barbara, have been together since 1969.
I just love him.
He's a pain in the backside at times.
But loved him from the day I met him,
and 45 years later we're still here.
She's my rock.
She stood by me through thick and thin, and there has been a lot of thick.
Dennis served in the Army in Northern Ireland and went on to become a police officer.
But one night back in 1997 changed their lives forever.
The couple were woken up by a car crashing into their neighbour's front garden.
Dennis went to investigate, and found himself in a struggle with the car's driver.
To cut a long story short, he ended up...
..with me on the floor, face down with his arm around my neck.
And my airway was completely blocked.
I couldn't breathe.
The next thing I knew, there was a third person and it turned out to be Barbara.
So I thought, "Well, there's only one thing here."
So, I grabbed his goolies.
And he jumped up.
Got off Dennis. If I hadn't done that, Dennis would have been dead by now.
There's no doubt about that.
It were a bit frightening at the time, but it's laughable after.
So I'm known as Grabby Goolies Barbara!
And I've got a certificate for it!
Barbara may have won a bravery award,
but nearly losing his life left Dennis with post-traumatic stress disorder.
One minute I'll be hyper and peaking,
and the next day I can be down in the dumps and just don't want to speak to anyone.
But she's learned to live with it.
And God bless her, she's always loved me.
And she continues to live with me despite the problems,
whereas a lot of soldiers have lost their wives because of PTSD.
So it's great that we...
-..that she still supports me.
Dennis has set up a weekly breakfast club for other former forces personnel.
And it's a great support for those who, like him,
have been left with PTSD.
But the couple are grappling with money problems, too.
After a failed investment, Dennis was forced out of retirement.
But because of his condition, he can't work the hours he needs.
He and Barbara have now racked up credit card debt
and still have a mortgage to pay.
So we sent him personal finance expert Sarah Pennells to see
if she can save them some cash and help take the pressure off Dennis.
Tell me about your overall financial picture.
-Yeah, the credit card is the main beast.
We're trying to recover that slowly but surely.
But the credit card certainly is the one that
kept us from bankruptcy, if you like.
So that's the thing we want to clear now.
Particularly now I'm 65 and Barbara's the same age.
It's... It's the thing that worries me the most.
Particularly with my condition.
So the credit card debt is the thing that you sort of...
Does that keep you awake at night?
Yeah. It does. Yeah.
Their £10,000 debt is a major burden for these two.
And they're particularly hopeful that Sarah can help,
because they've got big plans for what they'd like to do to the house.
I'd like to extend me kitchen.
OK. What would you...
What would you like to do, and why would you like to do it?
Dennis needs a bit of me time.
When he's a bit low with his mental condition,
he's better out the way of everybody.
-So if there was somewhere for him to sit, where he was on his own.
If Dennis and Barbara are to have any hope of extending their kitchen,
the first thing they need to do is to get rid of the credit card debt
they're so worried about.
And Sarah has found a way to smash that to bits.
By tapping into one of Dennis's favourite hobbies!
Tae kwon do.
He does twice it a week with grandson Jack after taking it up to help with his PTSD.
Well, you know my mental health condition with post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is great therapy for it.
And I find this just great.
Within three years I may, may be a black belt. But I'll also be 68!
But this future black belt is currently being arm locked by the massive
debt that's built up on his three credit cards.
Luckily, Sarah can sort that out, with the help of Dennis's instructor,
Dennis, we know you've got different credit cards at different interest rates.
We're going to work out how we can deal with them, get you a better rate.
The first one is a store card.
No, you only owe £50 on that but it's a very hefty rate of 29.9%.
So, I reckon pay that £50 off, knockout blow, get rid of it.
To show you what we mean, will bring in the help here of Master Blinstone.
Strewth! Financial advice doesn't come more hard-hitting than that!
Good work, Sarah!
Let's see what she makes of Dennis's next credit card.
So, Dennis, the next card we're going to look at is your own card.
Well, the interest rate on that is 0%,
so I think the best thing to do is keep that one.
I agree with that, Sarah, thank you.
Dennis, the last card is actually Barbara's card.
Now, the interest rate on that is quite high, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
Well, I've been doing a bit of looking around, and I reckon I can smash that rate.
So, I think time for you, Robin, to step away.
This is the Scafes' main credit card.
Between them, they've used the cards to borrow approximately £10,000.
But Sarah's found a deal that will allow them to transfer their
outstanding balance onto a new card,
one that would give them a 0% interest rate for the next 15 months.
These kinds of balance transfers can be a really effective first step in
tackling credit card debt.
So if you've got repayments that are mounting up,
it could be an option for you, too.
Sarah reckons this could save Dennis
and Barbara up to £1,000
in interest over the 15 months.
Talking to a Yorkshire lad!
Thought that would go down well!
Back home, Sarah has a heart-to-heart with Barbara,
to understand why sorting out their finances and renovating their house is so important.
Do you feel that the fact that you sort of both worry about
this credit card debt, is that something that you think affects, you know, both of you?
It affects both of us, but it affects Dennis more than me.
Because he's got this PTSD and he can't cope with the worry and the stress.
Now, I know how you'd like to do things to the house and to extend it,
because of what Dennis has said about how he feels and how he wants to have this other room.
Yeah, yeah. It'd be a good idea.
He does need a bit of space on his own when he's really ill.
To do it is the way we're thinking of doing it.
Because we've only got one living room and... It's...
..he can't have his peace and quiet when he's ill.
Sounds like these home improvements might improve Dennis and Barbara's life, too!
So, Sarah has asked builder Sean Wilson to come and draft a plan for the extension.
Right, Sean and Sarah, this is the kitchen,
which you can see is quite confined.
One of the things I was going to suggest is to move this wall level with the garage.
It'll give you a nice big open plan room.
You'll have a perfect view across those open fields that you've got there.
You've got a brilliant view.
-I like the sound of that!
-So, what do you think, Dennis, of what you've heard so far?
Just the ideas that Sean's outlined for you?
Well, I'm a Yorkshire lad, so I've got, like, short arms and long pockets!
So, the cheaper the better.
Time for the moment of truth. How much is this going to cost?
Right, well, I've done some costings based on this idea.
Just to give you...
some idea of what the cost will be.
And the whole cost of the whole extension.
That's the price - will be £27,360.
-What do you reckon to that, Dennis?
Let me get my tablets and I'll answer that one.
Oh, dear! But fear not, Dennis.
Because Sean may be good at knocking down walls,
but Sarah is exceptional at knocking down prices.
So, Sean, is there any way that we can get the cost of this down a bit for Dennis?
If you decide to have a large pair of sliding doors as opposed to the folding doors,
then they would be half the cost.
So you'd probably save £1,500 just on those doors themselves.
-And then, obviously there's the lantern light as well.
It'd save you guys at least £3,000.
OK, what about other ways that Dennis could cut back?
Any other savings that could be made?
Yeah, there's lots of other ways to save on an extension.
Dennis is quite good at do-it-yourself,
so Dennis could do a lot of the work himself to bring down the cost. And he quite enjoys do-it-yourself.
-I'm quite happy to do that.
-If we just add these up, what do you think the cost might be then?
I think, Dennis, you could be looking at well under £20,000.
-Well under £20,000.
-That's more in line with what you were thinking.
-Yes, yes, indeed.
Gordon Bennett! Just by negotiating on the spot and taking on some of the work himself,
Dennis could bring down the price by not far off £10,000.
Time to start thinking about how to fund this project,
and Sarah's already identified plenty of ways Dennis and Barbara could slash
what they pay on their household bills,
starting with their electricity.
So, I've had a look at your bills earlier on.
Tapped in the details
and the cheapest deals that I can find you,
and based on how much electricity you've used in the last 12 months,
will save you about £198 a year.
-Not to be sniffed at, is it?
-Yeah. Not to be sniffed at, no.
It's better in my pocket than theirs!
That's the spirit, Dennis.
And while we're on
the subject of electricity,
here's a mystery that so far our former copper hasn't been able to solve.
He had solar panels installed five years ago,
hoping it would reduce their electricity bill. But it hasn't.
The electricity bills don't reflect any benefit
in that we've only got a two-bedroom bungalow.
And the electricity bills are just as much as if we hadn't got the solar panels.
So, what I'm also going to do is to get somebody who is an expert to come and
meet you and have a chat, and just find out whether this is all working
as it should do, and whether you're getting the deal you think you signed up for.
-That'd be brilliant, thank you very much.
-Thank you very much.
We'll find out later if there is any ray of sunshine over these solar
panels. And Sarah's got a whole host of other savings for Dennis and
Barbara, some of which may well work for you, too.
And we'll hear from Dennis and Barbara a little later on.
Now, money expert Andy Webb is with us.
Andy, most people on this ferry are commuters. They're on their way to the daily grind.
But that's a place you'd think you could be saving money.
But it's actually the opposite, isn't it?
-Yeah, we call it invisible spending,
because there are just things that we, you know, don't even think about buying.
-So, it's a coffee on the way to work.
-Maybe it's a chocolate bar in the afternoon.
It doesn't think it's going to affect our bank balance
because it's small amounts of money every day. So it becomes a habit.
We're not saying rob ourselves - we like our coffee and chocolate bars.
Yeah, everyone likes a little treat.
Yeah, you don't want to cut these out completely.
But they do really add up.
Two quid here, a fiver there and before you know it,
it's a huge amount of money which you spent on stuff which maybe you could kind of get cheaper elsewhere.
So, if you save £5 a day,
so maybe that's bringing your own packed lunch rather than buying it.
Over the entire year, that's £1,300.
It's a big amount of money you can cut just by thinking about it differently.
So, early preparation will mean saving pounds, basically?
-OK. Shall we have a chat with some commuters?
We want to know if this lot are guilty of overspending while they're at work.
Can I ask how much you actually spend on your lunch per day?
Um, about three to four pounds.
Over the course of the year that can be nearly £700 or more.
-Are you surprised by that figure?
-Yes, I am, yeah.
I would prefer to have something that I like for lunch,
rather than worry excessively about saving pennies.
I try not to think about it!
Try not to think about how much I've spent.
On average, at the moment, I think we're spending -
and I say we, because my colleagues are the same -
about £5, £5.50 a day on lunch.
And then that's every day, so it's on top of your travel and everything else! So, it's not cheap.
-Always buy lunch, yeah.
So, how much you spend on it?
It normally varies between about £2 and £4 or £5, top end.
You can get lunch for £2?!
-You sound like a very shrewd man.
-Is he quite sensible?
-He's been well trained!
If you're here in the captain's quarters all day long,
it must be quite hard for you to spend money on a daily basis. Is it?
I don't eat sweets, so I keep away from the sweeties.
-Just drink me tea!
-You seem quite savvy with your money.
-He sounds very frugal.
-You've got a big smile on your face.
-You're happy, aren't you?
-OK. Can I press your button, John?
-That's the one.
-Don't let him!
I didn't know it was going to be that loud!
Told you it was loud, Dom! Gordon Bennett!
I tell you what came across to me chatting to some of the people on
the ferry, there. Some people are wasting so much money on coffees
and lunches and sometimes the extras they don't particularly need.
Quite often, come payday, they're skint!
In this research that we've done for the Money Advice Service,
we found a third of our wages are spent within just seven days.
-Yeah, a third of their money is gone within a week.
That's some quite staggering figures!
Yes! One week and you're skint?
Exactly! And Andy's been meeting up with the locals in Liverpool to find
out what they think of that research.
Now, anyone working looks forward to payday.
But for many of the Liverpudlians I met,
it's the moment they really let loose.
Because I get paid every Friday, basically it goes on drink every Friday.
Every weekend is a going out weekend!
Come payday, relatively speaking,
I do live like a king compared to later in the month.
Certainly, it's a marked difference from the rest of the month.
For most of the people I spoke to,
paying out a third of their wages within the first week was the norm.
And in the survey by the Money Advice Service for this show,
15% of the people asked said it was a real struggle to make their wages
stretch until the next payday.
So, where is all our money going?
Rent, bills, car.
-Same for you?
-Yeah, same for me, yeah.
Sometimes, I just do like crazy stuff.
Just like spend £50, £40 on takeaways or just like,
buy a jacket that I know that...
that it's just stupidly expensive that I would never wear.
We have lots of habits and things that go on below the level of consciousness.
So we're doing lots of things that result in spending
money. That afterwards, "Oh, why did I do that?
"How did I manage to spend all that?"
And we genuinely don't know most of the time.
Our downfall, actually, is that we go out and have a coffee.
So, I'll buy one day, she'll buy another.
We're talking about £5 for a cup of coffee.
And we are conscious that that's a hell of a lot of money to spend.
People will get a coffee when they go to work or when they go out shopping or something.
And they'll do that and it's only a couple of quid so it
doesn't seem like it matters.
But then what will happen is that they'll do that every day five days a week, that's £10.
And a month is £40, £50.
Every year, that's £500, £600 net.
In our survey, a fifth of people told us they go on a big old
spending spree straight after payday.
And the top three things they blow their cash on are clothes, takeaways,
and nights out.
But when the spending hangover kicks in,
how do we get by for the rest of the month?
Well, it seems that most of the Scousers I met are dab hands at making those pennies last.
I'll budget going-out money within my weekly budget,
so it's, like, I'll know I'll have maybe £30, £40 to spend on going out.
Towards the end of the month, it's a lot more pressure.
You're a bit more careful about what you do.
I always, like, divide it by how many weeks are left.
And then, like, live to that budget as much as I can.
I work out what I've got left and divide that.
-You've almost got, like, a daily or weekly budget to kind of get you through?
And you find that works perfectly well for you. So you get to the start of the next month...
"Perfectly" is a bit of a... Ha-ha!
I heard plenty of ideas on what to do if the cash does run out.
You always struggle after Christmas, with things to pay off.
And what do you do?
Do you kind of have to borrow money for that?
No. Just, like, don't go out and live off pasta and chopped tomatoes!
-Does it work?
And then sometimes I might have to go to my savings.
You change your diet and stuff.
Get down to Super Noodles and baked beans and no more Nando's,
no more Domino's, no more McDonald's.
Counting down the days until payday. Sort of baked beans and porridge oats, really!
-That sort of stuff.
-I have an idea in my head of what I can spend, what I can't.
Then again, I do juggle it between a credit card and what I've actually got in my account.
Maybe I would not go out for meals as much or go to cheaper places to eat.
Have you had any situations, though, where you've been really tight,
you've had to try and get some extra cash?
Oh, yeah, yeah. I have done that.
In that case I would normally just go to my parents!
In fact, when their wages run out,
16% of the people in our survey admitted they asked family and friends to bail them out.
Another 28% turned to credit or store cards.
But 36% told us they just rein in what they spend.
So here's my advice for how to make each month's paycheque last.
So, we know that once you get paid,
some of the first things to go are the bills,
and they're the biggest things as well.
You can make some massive savings.
Don't put off switching your energy, don't put off your broadband,
changing that or looking for a better mobile deal.
We do go, "Oh, too much hassle!"
But actually, they can be really easy and they can save you hundreds over a year.
Another thing that's worth considering is when you go to the
supermarket or the high street,
you can make quite a few savings as well.
Just by being a bit smarter shopping and thinking about prices.
Don't just grab the thing you want. Look for the best value.
And the final thing you can do is what I call those daily habits,
those things that you probably aren't conscious of spending on, but they really add up.
So it's grabbing a coffee or a chocolate bar.
If you can just stop yourself from that unconscious spending,
you'll find those savings can be quite, quite big.
And they're a fantastic way to make sure you do have more money
by the end of the month.
Now, keeping food to a budget is no easy task for anybody.
But here in Liverpool, they seem to have cracked it.
Because they've got their very own dish called, you've guessed it, Scouse.
And I'm in the famous Maggie May's cafe with owner Andy Lee and local historian Mike Kelly.
I've got to say, it looks absolutely lovely.
Tell me what's in it. I'm assuming, it's very cheap to make.
It is. What's in it is there's beef, there's carrots,
there's onions and there's swedes in there. It's a hearty meal.
It'll keep you going all day long.
And it's quite an inexpensive meal to prepare.
It can feed a family of four to six, you know, easily under a tenner.
It looks like the sort of good, hearty meal
that probably would have been served pre-, post-Second World War time.
But what it was originally done,
it was brought over by Scandinavian sailors years ago.
And it was originally called lobscouse.
And it was anglicised and shortened over time.
We were called Scousers, and that's where we've originated from
and that's where we've got our nickname from. Scousers.
-It came after that dish?
Before I come to you, can I just have a little try of that?
You certainly can.
-Get something down me Gregory!
-Go on, fill your boots.
You don't know what I'm talking about, do you?
Down the Gregory Peck, down me neck.
That's a lovely bit of beef!
Mike, do excuse me eating.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of this?
Well, going back to the days when we had families of eight and nine
and ten, up to twelve children in a family.
So, if a mother had a big pan,
she could do a big pan of Scouse
and she could leave it there simmering on the stove all day.
And the longer she left it on the stove, it goes a little bit thicker
and a little bit thicker.
And the flavour - the flavour you get from it is just unbelievable.
Just what you needed when you had big families.
It almost cooks itself once you put it on the stove.
It did. This is one of the reasons why the Liverpool people,
through thick and thin, through the poverty, through the bad times,
the lean times, always had that as a standby.
Without that, I think half of us would have starved in Liverpool,
to be quite honest!
Now, Mike, Liverpool has got its Scouse.
We've got our jellied eels and our pie and mash.
There's variations all around the country, isn't there?
Of course there is, yeah.
You've got the haggis up in Scotland.
That again was another working-class dish
when people couldn't afford good food, because people were so poor.
And most the stuff that was in haggis in those days was the offal.
You know, the cheapest pieces you could get of meat.
But now, it's a delicacy, as you know!
What else have we got?
There's a black pudding, just up the road in Bury.
And I tell you what, you get black pudding from Bury. They're the best.
If you want a really good meat pie, you go to Wigan.
Because believe you me,
until you've tasted a meat pie or a meat and potato pie,
then you've never been to Wigan!
Let's just see. So we've got pies from Wigan, black pudding from Bury,
Scouse from Liverpool. No surprises there!
Pie and mash in London, jellied eels in London.
-We've got two.
-What we're talking about here is quality,
cost, of course, that comes into it.
You're making a lot of good quality food at good value for money.
Denise, you need to get down here and try some of this scran,
because it's lovely and it is very cost-effective.
It might even give jellied eels a run for their money!
-Not definitely, maybe!
Thanks, Dom. Save me a bit for later.
Now, there's been a huge surge
in how much we buy using contactless cards.
It really does seem we're moving closer to being
a totally cashless society.
But does this mean you'll actually end up spending more?
I spend more on card,
probably cos cash is a bit of a hassle to withdraw it.
It's just more convenient.
You can do, like, contactless.
If you lose your purse or something, you can replace your cards.
It's just generally easier than carrying cash all the time.
I prefer cards more than cash.
We always use cards, yeah.
I prefer cash!
I just use cash,
cos it's just easier for little things like going to the shops.
To buy, like, stuff from the newsagent's and things like that.
I prefer to spend more on cash
cos I can kind of keep track of what I'm doing a little bit more.
Whereas on card, you seem to impulse buy a lot more.
That's what I find.
You've got more control with cash than you do with cards.
-I don't like carrying money around.
-I don't like carrying cash around, either.
I just don't trust the cards and the computers.
If you did carry cash, I think...
-You'd spend less.
-You'd spend less, definitely.
-I feel safer with my card.
I feel like when I spend on my card,
it's almost like I'm one of the richest people ever.
But with cash, it's a bit harder to let go.
Well, I'm joined by business psychologist Gorkan
and super spender Robyn,
who we challenged to live without her plastic for a week.
I can't wait to see how you get on!
But first, Gorkan,
nearly all the people we spoke to spent more using their card
than they did using cash.
What actually is going on in the mind of the consumer?
The point is that our brain is actually really bad at calculating
how bad we will feel in a distant point of time.
So the motivation to shop in the present is much stronger,
because we have these impulses.
So we become much more like impulse buyers,
and we're more likely to buy impulse products and even unhealthy food.
Yeah, I can relate to that.
So, Robyn, tell us a little bit about your spending habits.
I'm quite an impulse spender,
so I will spend money on things like make-up, clothing,
going out for nice meals with my friends.
I'm quite a bad spender, actually!
You're not kidding there, Robyn!
This young lady loves to go crazy with her plastic.
So we set her challenge.
Could she manage live without her cards
and only use cash for an entire week?
So, how did you get on without your cards?
It was quite tricky.
Very interesting to see how I normally spend my money.
I found that when I have my cash in hand,
I was hesitant to actually spend money.
Compared to when I usually have my card,
and I would just tap it on a £30 top.
Well, we're going to have a quick look at your video spending diaries,
see how you got on.
So this morning I've withdrawn the money from the cash machine that
I think I'm going to spend this week.
I've already come across my first obstacle.
I actually bought, well, went to buy some make-up,
and put it back at the till because
I looked at it in my cash and I thought, "Do I really need that?"
It was quite a lot of money.
Considering it's only day one, it's having quite a good effect on me.
So I just had a situation where I had to pay on my card.
I was at the petrol station
and my petrol came to more than I had actual cash on me.
So, I had to put that on my card.
But it made me realise that I feel a little bit more comfortable in
situations like that, not having a large amount of cash on me.
So, Robyn, we're in a wonderful new shopping centre.
And I just want to get my card out and spend money!
I do, I do. I'm not going to deny it!
But what has this sort of exercise taught you?
It has definitely taught me to cut down on the little luxuries
that I am treating myself to. So, yeah.
Did you actually spend less, then?
Yeah, I think I have done.
Just purely for the fact that I put things back,
through realising just how much I was spending.
It's made me double think how I do actually spend my money normally.
So, Gorkan, it seems to me that we need to retrain our brains
every time we go and reach for our plastic.
I think retraining our brains is going to be very difficult.
I think we need different strategies.
You could try to kind of become more conscious
of each item that you spend on.
That's one way of kind of trying to deal with that abstract thing
that you have when you pay by card.
But I think the simplest way of retraining our brains, in a way,
is simply to carry that cash with you.
-Or potentially have a shopping list with you.
-A lot of food for thought there. Thank you both.
-Thank you very much.
It seems that Robyn has managed to save herself some serious money.
But it's time to find out whether Sarah Pennells has managed to do
the same, as she overhauls the finances of Dennis and Barbara.
Dennis and Barbara Scafe have a dream -
to save enough money and build an extension to their house.
And there's a good reason why they need it.
Dennis has had post-traumatic stress disorder since an incident
when he was in the police.
And the extra space is something he really needs.
Dennis needs a bit of...
-Because when he...
When he's a bit low with his mental condition,
-he's better out the way of everybody.
So if there was somewhere for him to sit, where he was on his own and
he couldn't be, you know, tormented.
Personal finance expert Sarah Pennells
has already found ways to kick their credit card debts into touch,
and started lowering their monthly bills.
But then, she got an eyeful of these -
the solar panels that Dennis had installed five years ago
hoping to cut his bills.
But, so far, they haven't saved him a bean!
The electricity bills are just as much as if we hadn't got
the solar panels there.
To find out if there's anything wrong with their panels,
"Our Pennells" calls in another expert - David Dean,
from the National Energy Foundation.
What have you found so far?
Well, Barbara and Dennis have a very standard solar panel system.
And looking at the figures,
they seem to be generating a reasonable amount of electricity
for their size and for where they are on the house's roof.
So there isn't a great deal of problem there.
Hmm, the plot thickens!
If the panels are working fine,
why aren't they saving Dennis and Barbara any money?
Well, it turns out that they're not quite making the most of them,
because the way they thought the system worked isn't quite right.
The question is, will it store any power?
-No, it won't, no.
-Cos that's what we were told.
Well, that's wrong.
Solar panels systems don't have the capacity to store electricity
for use at future time, so people really do need to
get the best out of their solar panels by using their
electricity household appliances during the day.
For example, ovens, tumble dryers,
and making best use of the electricity
that the system generates.
Dennis had been left with the impression their energy
was being stored, but that's not the case.
So they haven't really adjusted how and when they use their electricity.
If you've got solar panels like these,
and you're hoping they'll cut a bit off your bills,
you have to use your electrical appliances when the panels
are actually generating power.
In other words, during the day.
There are good examples of people having systems like yours
saving on their electricity bill,
and I've certainly saved money on my electricity bill
in the two years that I've had it.
I would estimate that I've saved probably about £100 or £150 a year.
If Barbara and Dennis start using their solar panels correctly,
they, too, could save up to £150 a year.
But with the cost
of the extension nearing £20,000,
Sarah needs to free up a stack more cash - and pronto!
And she's come up with a simple way
Dennis could make quite a wad of extra cash,
all thanks to his pride and joy -
this state-of-the-art caravan.
-Little kitchen, yeah.
-Gas and electric hobs.
It really has got everything, hasn't it? It's brilliant.
-I can see why you love it so much.
Nice little number indeed, Dennis.
But all Sarah can see is pound signs.
She knows Dennis only uses his caravan a few weekends a year.
So she reckons he could be quids in if he occasionally rented it out.
The way it would work is that you would drive the caravan
to wherever the person wanted to be, whether that was a caravan site,
or maybe they wanted to go to a music festival,
and you'd charge them mileage for that journey
and then they'd hire the caravan for a week, or weekend, whatever it was.
I wouldn't be tempted at all, Sarah,
because I also think there's insurance implications.
Dennis doesn't sound keen,
but he could rake in around £500 a week if he rents out his caravan
in peak season.
As for the insurance?
Well, we all know by now, Sarah doesn't miss a trick.
I've looked into this
and I've spoken to a couple of insurance brokers.
You can buy an ordinary policy for all year round, and then,
when you hire it out, basically you buy an add-on, just for those days,
and that covers your caravan when somebody else is basically paying
you to use it.
-I'd be interested to see the details of that on their website.
Well, I'll see if I can find some paperwork for you.
-Hmm, thank you.
-More bedtime reading.
You know, you might be winning him round, Sarah.
And if Dennis does choose to rent out his caravan
for just four weeks a year,
that could be a very easy two grand!
But there's an extension to build here, so back at the house,
Sarah is on a mission to save as much as she can.
She's blitzing those household expenses
that can all too quickly mount up,
starting with their home phone and broadband package.
Dennis and Barbara pay extra for an anytime calls option.
But with a similar offer on their mobile phone contracts,
they really needn't bother.
You could actually save, well, £8 a month, 7.95,
if you made calls on your mobile.
That's over 90 quid a year, and there's more.
Sarah tells Dennis to call up their broadband supplier
and simply ask for a discount.
And they said that, straightaway, they would give you £10 a month off,
if you rang them back at the end of your contract,
so that's another £120 that you'd save over a year.
Everything adds up, doesn't it?
You know what they say, "If you don't ask, you don't get."
And that easy request
has bagged these two another £120.
There's even more to be saved
if they cut back on another
everyday expense - their shopping.
Barbara spends £80 a week on food,
compared to the national average of almost £60.
If she reins that in, she could save another £1,000 a year.
It's a fair few quid
that Sarah's been able to free up for them so far.
And Dennis would like to invest some of that money to make his home
improvement pot grow more quickly.
But his last investment went disastrously wrong
and cost him 40 grand,
so he's understandably cautious.
Luckily, Sarah has one final tip
on where he can get some proper guidance.
Choosing where to invest your money can feel like quite a minefield
for people, I think.
Many financial advisers will now only give you advice
if you have a minimum amount to invest, such as £50,000.
-So I've been doing a bit of research.
There are a couple of courses that might be quite useful,
and one is an Open University course, which you can do online.
And it has different sort of modules to talk about.
Managing your money, and budgeting, and pensions.
Sounds good. But I can tell that Dennis is just bursting to ask
that all-important question.
Well, how much do they cost, Sarah?
Actually, it's a special Yorkshire version. It's entirely free.
Ooh! Now we're talking.
-Have I sold this...?
-Have I sold this free course to you?
If it's free... Keep using that word, Sarah.
Yes, I love that four-letter word.
If you fancy getting more clued up on the world of investing,
that free course might help you, too.
To find out more, go to the Open University website
and look under "managing my money".
In the meantime, let's see just how much Dennis and Barbara could pocket
if they follow all of Sarah's advice.
Put together, the savings from sorting their credit card debt,
switching electricity provider,
making better use of their solar panels,
cutting back their shopping, plus renting out the family caravan,
and reviewing their phone and broadband costs,
and you get a total of £4,558.
Add to that the ten grand Sarah negotiated
off the cost of building their extension
and they could be more than £14,500 better off!
Had we not taken this route,
we wouldn't ever have experienced what is available,
and how to seek out the best deals.
It's been an eye-opener.
I'm delighted that Dennis is here with us now,
along with money-saving expert Andy Webb.
Dennis, you've had a couple of tough years, we know that.
How has taking part in this programme helped you?
Sarah Pennells has been exceptional.
She's really easy to communicate with
and she gave us some fantastic advice.
But the hardest bit is usually sticking at it,
and how are you and Barbara coping with that?
Well, as a Yorkshire lad, we've got short arms and long pockets,
so it's not been too difficult for me, I'm glad to say.
We will stick with it.
Andy, for somebody like Dennis,
there must be some good help out there, and free help, I'm hoping?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that something that people do,
when they've got worries is not doing anything about it.
You know, they sort of put their head in the sand
and it's, "I hope it'll fix itself," or just too scared to deal with it,
and that's the worst thing you can do.
The Money Advice Service website has got a tool
where you can put your postcode in and find who there is going to be
who can do that for you nearby.
Once you start having that conversation,
much like Sarah did with Dennis,
then you can start solving problems and getting back on your feet.
Dennis, I know you're very proud of the fact that you run a veterans' club, don't you?
Yes, a veterans' breakfast club,
and I'm quite proud of the fact that they can help a lot of the veterans
who have got problems from various conflicts,
whether it be the Falklands,
Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland as...was where I served.
There's quite a number who have got post-traumatic stress disorder
and we're able to signpost them to the various organisations,
including Combat Stress, from which I received treatment for PTSD.
how are you hoping things will change for you and Barbara?
It will be so nice to have that disposable income back once again.
We're not particularly poor people.
There's a lot worse off than us.
But I would just like to get back on a level plain again.
Dennis, we'd both like to wish you all the best for the future.
-Yeah, thank you for sharing your story.
-Thank you, you're very kind.
Now, if you'd like our experts around
to help sort out your finances, contact us at...
And here are some other ways you can end up
with a bit more cash in your pocket.
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 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, Andy's still with us, along with the Fab Four.
I never realised they were 7" 6' tall, did you?
No, I didn't, but they're looking fantastic.
They're looking wonderful!
Andy, we've got some questions from people we've met today.
Yes, first question is - can money buy you love?
I couldn't resist it!
No, seriously, Leanne from Bootle says she's getting married in 2018
and, along with her partner, they need some advice on how to pay for
and save for their wedding.
Yeah, I got married last year and it can be a fantastic day,
but it doesn't necessarily come cheap.
The most important thing to do is have a budget.
Work out exactly what it is you can afford to spend,
how much you think you're going to be able to save by, you know,
the next couple of years, and then stick to that,
do not be tempted to go over it.
Doesn't matter whether it's a little bit here or there, stick to that money.
-Or be like me and just don't get married! Save your money.
-Oh, don't be boring!
-You're happily married?
-Six months in.
-Did you stick to your own advice?
-Yeah, I did. We did just about.
Right, Mike from Allerton says,
I need to access some of my pension fund
and I've heard it might be available.
To get a pension release, what are the things I need to be wary of?
This can be quite tricky.
If you're under 55 years old,
it's very unlikely you can get your money early.
So if anyone's saying they can do it for you,
it's probably too good to be true, and I would be very, very careful.
But if you're over 55, it can be possible to get maybe 25% as a cash sum,
but with all of this, get regulated advice from a financial adviser.
They'll take you through, because if you do take the money early,
that's going to have an effect on your retirement.
You'll have less to live on, so there's lots to think about. I'd say get some advice.
-Advice is the key?
-Yeah, and watch for scams, because there are scammers out there.
Good advice, thank you.
Sue from Wavertree says she's keen to move house,
but her current house is in negative equity.
What are her options?
Negative equity's when the house value's current value
is less than when they bought it in the mortgage that they got,
so really they owe even more money, and it's very difficult.
One option might be just to wait and hope that the price goes up again,
so they don't lose out,
or it can be try and pay off some of that money they owe in other ways.
There's new rules where you can get £7,000 a year
for renting out a spare room and things like that.
Try and get as much money as they can to pay it off early.
But, again, if they talk to someone, a financial adviser,
there might be some special sort of ways to help them with that.
-She's got to get more of that mortgage paid off and get equity, basically?
-Yeah, she really does.
-Otherwise, you're in a sticky situation.
OK! Thanks, Andy.
As always, great advice.
And that's it from us in Liverpool.
Thanks to all our guests, and for you at home for watching.
-And until next time, from us, it's ta-ra!
In this episode Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood present from Liverpool, where they meet a former police officer and army veteran who has been left struggling to maximise his money since a life-changing incident outside his home. Personal finance expert Sarah Pennells attempts to get his bank balance back in the black, beginning with simple changes to his household expenses and credit card bills.
There is also a look at the long-established regional dishes that are as cost-effective as they are tasty and, as exclusive research for the programme reveals why so many people run out of money long before payday, there is advice on how to make a budget stretch further.
And, with the increasing use of contactless cards rather than cash, an impulse spender is challenged to live without her plastic for a week.