Money-saving advice series with Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood. The team help a former police officer whose daughter and pampered bulldog are draining her bank balance.
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Whether you're a spender or a saver,
we could all do without 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 aims to boost your coffers
by making simple changes to the way you spend.
Today, we're in historic Chester which was founded by the Romans
as a military base from which their armies could conquer the North.
And if it's one thing the Romans loved, Denise, it was money.
And here's how today we're going to help you keep hold of yours.
We help this former copper investigate the mysterious case
of her disappearing bank balance and we get the chief suspects in
for questioning - one daughter and one dog.
And we will see just what our money makeovers have done
as we catch up with some of the people whose finances
we've transformed in the past.
Without the show, I don't think I'd have been as happy as I am today.
I love it, I love it!
HE RINGS BELL
Good people of Chester!
Dom and Denise plan to make sure
that you are right on the money!
We certainly are.
Now, modern Chester is a pretty classy place.
But it's also a regular shopping haunt for a former policewoman
who desperately needs our help to sort her finances out.
Carol Owen from North Wales is devoted mum
to 15-year-old daughter Catherine.
Not forgetting the other baby,
three-year-old British bulldog, Stanley.
Am I boring you, Stanley?
At 54, Carol's been retired from the police for three years.
I've worked full-time all my life,
so this is the first opportunity I've had
to be home when Catherine gets home from school
and to have tea ready and to be around.
I love it. Absolutely love it.
With a decent pension pot,
you'd think Carol shouldn't have too many money worries,
but that's not the case.
When I look at my statements at the end of the month
and I find it ridiculous, really,
that I've got a good amount of money coming in,
but every single penny seems to go out, as well.
So, where on earth is this former police officer's money disappearing?
Let's look at the clues.
Exhibit one, Carol's very cute,
but very pampered British bulldog, Stanley.
Stanley! The most expensive bulldog in the world.
He snores, and he dribbles,
he costs the Earth and we love him to bits.
Exhibit two, Carol's daughter Catherine.
The pair are super-close
and Carol just loves to take her clothes shopping
and give her lots of treats.
But despite all this overwhelming evidence,
this former copper still can't see where all her money's disappearing.
I suspect that it might be paying over the odds on some things.
I'm sure there must be savings somewhere. I can't figure it out.
Carol's biggest fear is getting into debt
and she's afraid of what could happen
if we can't help her crack this case.
I'm terrified that I'll lose the house.
The house is my security, it's Catherine's security, it's our home.
Sounds like Carol needs the services of our special savings branch.
And here's our chief inspector, Sarah Pennells.
-You must be Carol?
-Nice to meet you.
-Really nice to meet you.
Let the investigation began.
You're saying that you don't like debt...
-Just tell me more about that.
When I got married, I never really thought much about finances,
to be honest with you,
because there was two of us bringing good money in.
And then, when it all fell apart at the end, I had a real...
really nasty shock...
..as to how much we owed.
-It caught me short.
-But you weren't aware of it
-or you just didn't realise...?
-I didn't realise.
But we lived to our means.
We did. And beyond. And we'd have credit cards and one credit card...
We'd get a credit card to pay off another credit card.
My mum and dad will cringe when they hear this!
THEY LAUGH They didn't know until now?
They didn't know! But it goes against the grain.
Carol's now divorced and out of debt.
But she's still overspending.
In fact, it's got so bad that she's got no money left
to cover two very important costs coming up.
Catherine's bedroom. It's the same furniture since she was five
that she's still got now, and she's coming up to 16.
So, that's the next project, that's really what we're looking at.
And Catherine's prom dress is a prime example.
That's something I haven't budgeted for.
That's a lot of potential spending on the horizon.
So, if Carol wants to avoid her worst fear, debt,
then Sarah needs to get on the case fast.
Time to turn her attention to the third member of the Owen household.
He's an important part of your family, I'm guessing?
He is. He absolutely is.
He's a big part of our family, we wouldn't be without him.
Tell me a bit more about Stanley.
How long you've had him and what you spend on him.
-His cost is bedding and everything like that, Christmas...
Yeah. Treats, that kind of thing?
Yeah. Food, he has a big 12 kilo...
bag of dog food every month, which is £25.
Pet insurance every month is about £67.
It's quite a lot.
It's quite a lot, bless him.
The average cost of keeping a dog over a lifetime is £16,900,
and a lot of that is swallowed up by vets' bills and pet insurance.
But it's always worth shopping around for a cheaper policy.
Time for Sarah to work her magic
and she very quickly finds a brilliant deal
that could give Stanley the same lifetime cover,
but for £400 a year less.
I think that's fantastic. I admit... For pet insurance I've just...
..paid when it's come round for renewal.
But I think that's really good, that's a big difference.
As long as it does cover...
Good work, Sarah.
Stanley, you're well covered.
With Stanley tucked up in his basket,
Sarah is tagging along on one of her daughter's regular shopping trips
and she's about to see how much Carol's splashing out
on extra clothes and make-up for Catherine.
Do you have a feeling of how much your mum spends on you?
I'd say is definitely more than it was,
and because it's coming up to my prom,
she's going to be spending money all on that, as well.
-Well, we've had a look back over the last few months,
and over a three-month period, it's about £800.
-How do you feel, hearing that figure?
£800 over three months.
I can't believe it. Really?
That's over £3,000 a year, if you're spending at that rate.
I know you're worth it, Catherine, but I'm sure we can cut back.
Wow, I wouldn't have thought that much.
The average cost of raising a child from 11 to 17 years old
is a massive £55,000.
But it seems like Carol has to cut back on her luxury spending
on Catherine if she wants to get her finances in order.
I think rather than saying,
you know, don't spend any money on your daughter,
maybe it's about giving Catherine the choice of, you know,
do you want some of this money to go in your prom dress fund?
-Or your bedroom fund?
-Or do you want a treat?
You know, you can't necessarily have them both.
How would that feel? Would that feel really tough or would that feel OK?
I'd say it would feel OK,
cos at least we're doing something about it.
And what about you? Would you feel,
if there was something Catherine wanted...?
It would probably be hard, but...
I'm still a bit in shock. I can't believe it's that much money!
-Do you want to sit down?
Well, on top of everything else...
Oh, my goodness, we're just throwing money away.
No wonder I'm struggling at the end of the month
with nothing to show for it.
I'm sure we can cut back, can't we? Good grief.
Yes, good grief indeed.
But at least Carol is slowly realising
she's going to have to change her generous spending habits
if she wants to remain debt-free.
As that £3,000 spend on Catherine was just on luxury items,
she could easily halve the amount, bagging Carol a £1,500 saving.
That's enough for five of these prom dresses.
Carol, your Cinderella can still go to the ball.
Shopping trip over and Carol gets the sit-down she needed,
giving Sarah a good chance to investigate
another one of Carol's costly habits.
How many coffees would you say you pay for
in an average week or month?
What would you say you'd buy?
In a week I would say...
So, you'll have a chocolate, I'll have a coffee.
We're sort of talking about probably six or so,
would you say, in an average week?
-An average week.
If it's £2, that's £12 a week.
Yeah. And over a year, that adds up to over £600.
-If you're spending more on your coffees...
That could be £700, £800.
-That's quite a lot.
-It's a lot when you say it like that.
Doesn't seem a lot at the time, does it? We just go for a coffee.
Has that surprised you,
that it does add up to that much over a year?
I suppose, in a way, when you say £600 or £700...
..that's almost your bedroom, isn't it?
Look, I'm going to hold my hands up, guys -
coffee's my big vice, too.
But if Carol cuts back on the bean,
she could save £500.
As they head home, Sarah finds another area
where Carol could save some hard cash - her car finance deal.
I paid £5,000 up front and then £210 a month for four years,
and then £6,000 at the end.
So, it's not cheap.
And with this payment, you've got to make at the end,
-do you have the money to make the payment?
-No, I don't.
Because you said that you have quite a fear of debt
and so going overdrawn makes you feel physically sick.
Does the car loan count as debt in the same way?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
That's a huge thing weighing around me at the moment.
So, this is the culprit.
This is the car, the expensive car.
So, over four years,
Carol will end up paying just over £22,000 for a car
that, by then, may not even be worth half of that.
For someone who's scared of debt, that's a puzzling choice.
And you, too, might be in a similar situation,
as 75% of all car sales are on some sort of finance deal.
As far as Carol is concerned, she's stuck with the deal.
But after combing the fine print, Sarah's found a way out.
So, with the kind of agreement that you've got,
you can actually stop making payments
once you've paid half of the entire amount.
You can just stop making the payments and there is no penalty.
Obviously, you'd have to hand the car back...
Oh, I didn't know that!
So, by ditching the car now,
Carol could save £11,000 over the next two years.
And a quick visit to her local car dealer
shows that for just a few grand
and no finance, she could easily pick up a nice set of wheels.
Very neat, isn't it? In good condition.
It feels comfortable to sit in, does it?
There's plenty of room inside, plenty of room in the back.
It's a good-sized boot, isn't it?
You could get your dog and shopping in there!
So, Carol, what do you think now you've seen few of those cars?
I'm amazed. If I had done my homework earlier on I wouldn't...
Love the car, though, I do...
I don't think I'd have bought it.
So, if I was Carol, I'd think about taking Sarah's advice -
ditching her car and getting rid of her expensive finance deal.
But will she go through with it?
Well, you'll have to find out later
when we also discover that Carol has a hidden
and, potentially money-spinning, talent.
And Carol will be talking to us
about how she's got on a little bit later.
But first up, personal finance expert Fergus Muirhead
and Kalpana Fitzpatrick, who writes a blog
teaching families how to save money, are with us.
Kalpana, I'm going to come to you in a second.
Fergus - Carol, she didn't have a clue
about how much money she was spending, did she?
Is that quite common with families?
I think it's very common with families.
Research from The Money Advice Service earlier on this year
suggested that almost half of us don't understand how we spend money.
In fact, we couldn't tell how much is in our bank account
at any given time to within £50, and that's quite bad.
Kalpana, it's not easy for parents
to say "no" to their children, is it?
You know, you want to provide for them,
you like to buy them nice things, so what's the answer?
There isn't an easy answer. It is incredibly difficult to say "no",
and there's nothing worse
than a toddler screaming the supermarket down.
But, I think, what you need to do is be firm - "no" means "no".
Don't give in to the tantrums, and also,
if it's a treat, then let it be a treat.
If you're buying it all the time, it's not a treat.
Small children, it's probably easier,
but what happens if you've got teenagers?
How do you get that conversation going?
It gets a lot harder the older they get
and the things that they want obviously cost a lot more money.
So, what I think parents can do
is actually set the children some goals.
Say, "If you want this then you'll probably have to save up for it."
When I was young, and I come from a family with four children in,
we were made to work for our pocket money. It wasn't just given to us.
I remember having to sweep the stairs and then hoover them
and my brothers and sisters had the same sort of thing.
You guys have all got kids, I haven't,
but how do you feel about pocket money?
Do you just give it willy-nilly or do you make them earn it?
We've got one son who's 22 now
so his drain on us now is because he's at university.
Every time he phones he says, "Can I ask you a favour, Dad?"
"Can I ask you a favour?" means
-"Can I have some money, please?"
The UK is getting itself into a lot more debt,
but there are plans afoot, aren't there,
to teach kids a generation away from us now about the value of money?
Yeah, and I think that's important because we've got to start early,
we've got to start teaching the next generation
about understanding money, about how it works.
And the plans, in conjunction with The Money Advice Service,
I think the plans are to take into school
this idea of maths in context,
giving practical examples of how maths can be useful
and using maths teach young people
how they can actually manage their money better.
We've got huge problems with working out interest,
APR on money that we borrow,
so perhaps explaining what APR actually is, how it works,
how you can calculate the amount of interest you pay if you
borrow a certain amount of money
over a certain amount of time and what will happen -
what are the benefits of perhaps reducing the time span
that you borrow money on at the same interest rate?
How much more or less will it cost you if you borrow money over
different periods of time? And maybe it will help them enjoy maths
-a wee bit more, as well.
-Thank you both.
Now, Sarah Pennells has been busy helping Carol Owen
tackle her spending habits in the hope that, in the future,
she can stick to a budget.
But how easy is it to stay on track?
Well, to find out,
we caught up with some of the people our team of experts visited
on our last series of Right On The Money.
And 12 months after our money makeovers,
have our families managed to fall back into bad habits?
Exactly a year ago,
these people all asked for our help to tackle their money worries.
First up was 75-year-old Joyce.
We sent in financial expert Richard Fenton
to find ways to make her state pension last longer.
Hi, Joyce. Richard.
-Pleased to meet you.
The widow was left completely baffled by the bills
after husband Brian passed away.
He used to pay everything that came in and went out.
This folder had little notes in.
"Joyce, don't worry about this, it's done by direct debit."
This has been what I call my bible.
But Richard soon spotted that some of Joyce's outgoings had crept up
to more than she needed to pay.
So the actual cost of your current insurance is £666.91.
I can see you're a little bit shocked.
I am, actually. I... Truly, truly...I am.
But to Joyce's delight,
Richard soon found her a much better deal.
-We're in the money!
The car insurance was horrendous.
It was more or less £700 a year
where now I'm only paying £300 a year,
and hoping, this year, that I can even go for an even lesser one.
Joyce was desperate to save enough to visit her niece in Australia
but in the meantime,
a big wodge of her pension was going on costly calls
just to keep in touch.
Hello, good morning, sweetie.
Richard showed her how apps like Skype let you chat
without paying a penny...
You'll be able to do this with family over in Australia any time.
..which means Joyce can call down under whenever she likes
without it affecting that holiday fund.
-Look at you!
-I love it, I love it!
Wish I'd known about it years ago, I really do.
They're thousands of miles away across the ocean,
and yet, they're here with you in the room.
He's made a big difference for me, made a very big difference.
With being on my own, my phone bills used to come in at £100-odd,
which was ridiculous. Now they are coming in at ten, which...
There's no comparison.
Without the show,
I wouldn't be... I don't think I'd be as happy as I am today.
Our advice has also boosted the coffers
of newlyweds Chris and Sarah Glover,
who, when we met them last year,
were feeling the effects of a once-in-a-lifetime spending spree.
We've bought the house, the motorbike,
been eating out, the washing machine,
car loans, 13 grand each.
Sofa, and various bits and bobs.
If we see it, we buy it.
It took a visit from who else but Sarah Pennells...
Hello, hi, I'm Sarah.
Hello, nice to meet you. Come on in.
..for Sarah and Chris to face the true size of their credit card debt.
Adding up your credit card debts and your loans,
it's about £43,000 in all.
Is that what you thought it was?
No, that's a bit of a shock, actually.
I actually thought it was 20,000, so I'm completely off the ball there.
One year on, this young couple
have made clearing their credit cards their financial priority.
In order to make the debt a bit more real, to be honest,
we created a whiteboard with everything on there
just so we could highlight which parts we needed to hit first
in order to reduce the debt.
Every month when we overpay,
we come in here and we just change the numbers
to reflect the actual position. And it seems to work quite well.
Drawing up a realistic budget and sticking to it
is a million miles away from their spending habits of a year ago.
But staying on track has meant they've had to do some cutting back.
-Definitely don't go out during the week.
What we tend to do as well is batch prepare food for the week,
so that way... Well, Sarah batch prepares food for the week.
We stick to the meal plan, as well,
because it's already done and it's already prepared.
That's saved us a fortune.
By spending less and paying back more,
Sarah and Chris are moving closer to their goal of becoming debt-free.
We've paid off one of the credit cards
and we're just working directly through the list now.
It's such a nice feeling to actually have a credit card closed
and say, "Right, we're done with that now."
Let's move onto the next one.
Since we've been on Right On The Money,
we've really stuck to everything that's been suggested
-and we've saved around...
That's a fantastic result for Sarah and Chris.
But Tracey and Keith Hankinson
have been able to save themselves even more.
When we first met them,
their money worries were growing almost as fast as their two boys.
I think we're bad at saving our money.
We kind of live for the day.
If we had extra money,
I'd like to do definitely something as a family together.
Have a big holiday somewhere for once, like,
before the kids are too big and going to leave us.
I want them to have those memories, not just think,
"Oh, we couldn't afford to do that."
And it didn't take Fergus Muirhead long to work out
where the Hankinsons were wasting their cash.
He's like the supermarkets' ideal customer.
Several packets of biscuits,
there will probably be some cakes and scones and there.
But the family were paying a high price for Keith's sweet tooth.
I've got an average week's total here. What do you think it is?
But it wasn't just the biscuits
that were blowing the total shopping budget,
there were huge savings to be made
by switching the insurance on Keith's van.
The cheapest annual premium came out at £352,
compared to £1,080.
-That's a huge saving, isn't it?
After just one year of following Fergus's financial advice,
the Hankinsons are wasting less and saving more.
I think the shopping's made the biggest difference, definitely.
It's very rare now that we have those additional shops.
We tend to get such a big shop that it covers everything.
And by shopping around for better prices from utility suppliers,
there's more money in their pockets at the end of every month.
We've got the total monthly saving so far, which is 577.
And the yearly saving as well.
And that whopping saving comes to nearly £7,000.
All by making simple adjustments
that might very easily work for you, too.
When she wrote it down and showed me the other day
how much it's actually been, I was shocked.
Quite exciting. It's... Yeah, I feel like we've achieved something.
Thanks to their Right On The Money makeover,
Tracey and Keith now have some spare cash
to put towards quality time with their family.
We're planning a weekend away in London,
we're going away to the Peak District,
so we've got things in the pipeline.
I think the experience will be everlasting for me.
I think it was a big wake-up call
when we realised how much money we could save
and I think I will always do that now.
I don't want to waste money any more.
And the lovely Joyce is here with me.
-Joyce, it's fantastic to see you again.
-Nice to see you.
Tell me, why do you think you got so much from the experience
-of being on the show?
-I've learned a lot from it.
I have learned how to say, "No, I'll look for something else."
They will come back to you and say,
"Just give me a few minutes, I'll have a look for you."
And they come back with an answer, "Well, we can do this for you."
So never take the first advice.
Always say, "I'll look somewhere else."
So, it's important for you to take a bit of a breather...
-..have a think whether you really do need it?
-Oh, yeah, definitely.
-Now, a lot of people are set in their ways,
cos it's not easy to change, but what advice would you give them?
Find your nieces or your nephews, if you've got them,
and ask them to just work things out for you
and I'd give anybody any advice -
don't take yes for the first answer.
Always say, "Well, I'll look round."
Try it, just try it - it can't bite you!
But you can get somewhere with it
and you can save some money on it as well,
because then you will be right on the money.
Oh, you are good.
Joyce, I could talk to you all day.
Friends, Romans, countrymen!
Lend us a fiver.
You're not impressed, are you?
Here's a tip for you - next time you're going on holiday,
unplug all your electrical items.
Don't leave them on standby, because, believe it or not,
by doing that, you save yourself about £80 a year.
Now, I'm not the only one with some good tips,
because here's some of your own.
Are your legs a bit cold in that skirt?
You're asking the wrong person.
-Best money-saving tip? We are pretty rubbish at that, aren't we?
Don't buy bottled water, because it's free out of the tap.
If you're a uni student, send your money to your parents
-and get them to send it over to you every week.
-That is a good tip.
Don't go food shopping when you are hungry.
That is always a good one.
You have got to do your research. Like, er, yeah...
I'll be on the internet first-thing - "best value for money?"
It takes, like, two minutes to do, and people save £300, £400,
£600 for the year that can go to anything.
Spend what you've got, not what you haven't got,
especially credit cards. They're a killer, unless you are rich
and you can afford it, that's different, yeah.
Start saving for retirement in your 20s.
Because it adds up very quickly
and you have to put a lot less towards it in your 20s
than you do in your 30s, 40s and so on and so forth.
I know it's a long time away, but I think that's probably the best bet.
Earlier on, we met Carol,
who was forking out a king's ransom on her pampered pooch Stanley,
but Carol is not alone, because, believe it or not,
us Brits spend a staggering £4 billion a year on our pets.
Now, Layla is with us because her little pooch here, Buttons,
actually gave you a money-making business idea, didn't it?
I spotted a gap in the market for animal actors.
-So, Urban Paws is an animal casting agency for dogs.
I have about 400 dogs on our books,
obviously, with all differing levels of skills, really -
the cute and fluffy handbag dogs to the stunt dogs to trick dogs.
-You name it, we have it.
-You charge for that - give me an idea...
Little Buttons here is so well-behaved, we like that.
How much did he earn you this year?
He's a earned about £2,000 this year.
I'd have to sell a kidney for that. What's he done?
His claim to fame, really, is just singing on command.
Come on, Buttons, where's Tilly?
-Come on, Buttons.
-Well done, Buttons!
You came in on time. I've got to be honest, he's earned you two grand
and I am going to be slightly rude here - here's not exactly
-the supermodel of the canine world.
-He is not,
but when you're talking about the dogs that are literally trained
to do whatever, any command,
there is a potential to earn so much money for them.
Earn fortunes? OK, I'm an animal lover myself, I love all animals,
but I have actually got my pet here.
He likes to sit on my head because he feels in control there.
-Do you think he would make the grade?
-Do you know what?
Funny you say this -
I am actually thinking of expanding to cater for all animals.
OK, get Maverick on your book.
If he can earn me two grand this year, I'll be very happy.
-Does he talk?
-Of course he talks!
He sings, he whistles, he laughs, he giggles, he's very cheeky.
-Pinches your food, drinks your wine, you name it.
-Nice talking to you, Layla.
I'm going to find some other pet owners now
-and have a little chat with them. Cheerio, bye-bye.
Now, what are you like at spoiling?
-I don't think I spend that much.
I probably buy things that she doesn't need.
What did you buy last Christmas?
I think my mum went berserk compared to me.
My mum bought her a few tug toys.
-She bought her some biscuits.
-I bought her a big ball.
My daughter bought her something that squeaked.
-He goes to doggy day daycare three days a week...
..cos I work long days. That's £120 a month.
If my maths is right, 12 x 12 is...
That's £1,440 a year just on doggy daycare?
Yeah. I suppose when I think about how much I spend on him a month,
you are probably looking about...
You're probably looking at about 220 quid a month.
-We love our dogs, though, we are known for it, aren't we?
Would you ever go without something for yourself
so you could buy the dog something?
If the dog needed it, without doubt. Yeah, I'm all he has got.
He relies on me for everything.
-Yeah, I would.
-Is he insured?
-He is not, but I have a savings account for him.
-You have got a savings account just for him?
Instead of paying an insurance company for a policy
-that you might not use?
That is very shrewd, I like the sound of that.
How much a month do you put away for him?
About 40 quid, same as I'd pay for insurance.
Now, earlier on, we met former policewoman Carol,
who was constantly running out of money.
Let's see if we've been able to help her put a stop to that.
Retired police officer Carol Owen
should have enough cash for a comfortable lifestyle,
but instead, every month without fail,
she runs out of money and just can't understand why.
When it gets to the end of the month,
if I go in the red, I feel sick, but I just can't work it out.
Luckily, personal finance expert Sarah Pennells
has gone through this former cop's spending offences
in forensic detail.
So far, she's already managed to save her £2,400.
That's by switching her beloved bulldog Stanley's pet insurance
and by cutting back on treats for herself and daughter Catherine.
£800 over three months.
That's over £3,000 a year.
Oh, my goodness, we are just throwing money away.
But Carol's biggest financial worry was the expensive finance deal on her car.
That is a huge thing weighing around me at the moment.
Sarah recommended that Carol ditch her costly finance deal
by giving her car back and avoiding £11,000 in repayments.
Sarah is not convinced she'll go through with it.
However, on her return, she is in for a surprise.
-Hi, Carol, I noticed you got a new car.
My new car. Your face!
I can't believe you sold the old one.
-Show me what you have been spending the money on.
-Come and have a look.
Carol is tickled pink at what she thinks is a brilliant deal,
but Sarah is not convinced that this particular case has been cracked yet.
So how much did this car cost?
2,754, I think.
Did you buy this outright?
No, I didn't, it is on finance.
I don't know about you, Sarah, but my alarm bells are going off.
The interest rate on this deal is 21.9%.
-Now, that is credit card rates of interest.
OK, so car finance is complicated,
but it does seem like Carol has saddled herself with another deal
she can't really afford.
I think you can get a cheaper deal if you just take out a loan
direct with a bank.
I reckon that you can borrow the amount you need to buy the car
for about 11% or 12% interest.
-With any kind of finance deal like this,
you get 14 days cooling off period,
so you can cancel the deal without any penalty,
but I would suggest you keep the car...
-..ditch the finance deal and take out a bank loan
-at a cheaper interest rate.
-Is that something you are happy to look at?
-Thank you again.
With just one day of the cooling off period left,
Sarah has come to the rescue in the nick of time,
saving Carol a further £300.
Now Sarah has spotted a way for Carol
to make some money by turning one of her hobbies
into a nice little earner.
So, Carol, a little bird tells me that you have got a hidden talent.
Tell me about this.
I'm the lead singer in a band, we're a covers band.
-There's four of us.
-I have arranged for you to rehearse
-in a top local studio.
I've also lined up a top agent just to see whether they can give you
some pointers and tips on how to make some more money.
-But there is a trade-off, there is always a catch.
In return, I want you to leave me here so I can just do a bit of
snooping around some more of your paperwork,
just to see if there is any more savings I can make. Deal?
As Carol heads off to the studio in her bargain motor,
Sarah can get snooping.
What do we have here? Hello, Stanley.
Home insurance policy.
I'll look at the price and see if I can make some savings.
I reckon I can.
Meanwhile, Carol is setting up for agent Chris Davies.
The bands Chris manage can earn up to £60,000 a year,
which is music to Carol's years.
The reason that we are concentrating on the band now is that
we are hoping that we're going to make some money from it.
# I wish I knew you before... #
But will Chris think they have got what it takes?
I'd say you could be making upwards of £300-£400 a gig.
That is, sort of, even before
you would approach an agency.
Looks like our secret-copper rocker Carol impressed.
Time for the sums.
If they did just two gigs a week, that could mean £7,200 a year.
Meeting Chris has been brilliant,
because he's going to be able to show us loads of ways to carry on
from where we are and to, erm, start us off on the right track.
But Carol's not the only one who's had a productive morning.
Sarah's found some new money-saving leads.
I think my snooping time's up, it looks like Carol's home.
-I've been having great fun.
I think I've found that I can make you some savings,
so shall we come on through and have a chat?
-I'll tell you about it.
-Come on, Stanley.
OK, what new evidence has Sarah found
in this former police officer's house?
Exhibit one, the gas bill, found in a dining-room drawer.
It looks to me like you've been with the same supplier for some time
and you're on their standard tariff.
Yeah, I always thought that was the cheapest.
It's actually the best one for the energy company
because it's generally the most expensive,
and it's the one that almost three quarters of people are on.
Having had a look at your energy usage,
I reckon that we can save almost a third on the cost
of your energy bill if you switch.
-A third on the cost of your energy bill.
-Yes, a third.
Sarah does it again, another £300 saving.
Next up, exhibit two, a forgotten direct debit found on the fridge.
The other thing I noticed,
that you're paying for a monthly credit-monitoring service.
-Can you just tell me why did you sign up for that?
-Is that something you...
-It was free!
It was one of these 30-day free trial, erm,
and then to be honest I'd forgotten about it completely.
I think we can just cancel that straightaway,
so that's another £200 saved.
-Sarah's tactics have saved Carol a bundle of cash.
But between us Brits waste more than £5 billion a year on long-forgotten
direct debits, so you need to do some detective work
on your own bank statements.
With plenty of money saved,
Sarah has one last surprise in store for animal-loving Carol.
You might wonder why I've brought you to an animal rescue centre.
The reason is, when I was going through your finances I noticed that
you give regularly to a couple of different animal charities.
Yes, I've done it for years.
So what I've done, I've organised for a volunteer induction course for you today.
And give to charity in that way instead.
Fantastic, I'd love to.
So what I need you to do is take all the bedding out...
-And then we'll give it all a good spray around.
-Am I doing this right?
-Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.
-As you can see...
What a brilliant name. I think that's fantastic.
As you can see, he's really affectionate.
Carol's in her element here.
She's time rich and cash poor, so for her,
swapping her charity donations for volunteering means that everyone's
Carol, how have you been doing on your induction course?
-How's she been getting on?
-I've enjoyed it.
-Definitely want to take you on as a volunteer.
-I'm definitely going to take it up.
And you seem to have a new friend.
-Who's this? Someone seems very keen on you.
-This is Russell.
-Russell's rather cute. He is, and he's good with dogs.
Oh, Carol, what are you like?
You're not going to be keen on this next bit, Sarah.
And, you know what, think I might take him home!
Carol, that was...
Thanks for saving me all that money, I've bought a cat!
The plan was not to save you money elsewhere so you spend it on a cat.
-I know, I know.
-But are you seriously... I mean, are you
seriously thinking that you might adopt Russell?
I am serious. Yeah.
We've been thinking about it for a long time and...
Yes, I know, it's just that I want to come home!
Look out, Stanley, you'd better make the most of the peace and quiet
while you can.
Carol has enjoyed her experience so much that she's going to
volunteer once a week,
but with Russell the cat now added to her household costs,
it's just as well Sarah has managed to make
these other spectacular savings.
She's slashed £400 off Stanley's pet insurance,
halved what Carol spends on treats for Catherine,
netted another £500 by cutting down on coffees,
saved £8,000 by securing a better car deal,
Carol's singing gigs could earn her £7,200 a year,
£300 by switching energy provider
and another £200 dumping that direct debit.
That's a stonking saving of £18,100.
But have all those savings
made a difference to Carol and Catherine's life?
What advice am I going to stick to?
All of it. Absolutely all of it.
Everything Sarah said, just I can't fault the advice at all.
Knowing that every month we're going to be in the black,
we're not going to be overdrawn, we're going to have money to spend,
we're going to have money to save, it's life-changing.
It really is.
And Carol and Catherine are with us.
Carol, first up, how's Stanley getting on with Russell?
They're getting on like a house on fire, love each other, yeah.
Six months ago your personal finances were in a bit of a mess.
Yeah, they were. How are you feeling now?
Erm, a weight is lifted off my shoulders.
I feel much better, much happier, much more secure for the future,
for both of us.
I know that what we've got, we can live on.
Our lifestyle hasn't changed, to be honest with you,
it hasn't changed at all, and yet every month we're saving money.
-It wasn't that hard, was it?
It wasn't that hard, no, it wasn't.
-And has your philosophy on spending actually changed?
-Yes, it has.
-Absolutely, totally, it's changed.
-Catherine, I know that
mother-daughter relationship is such a strong bond.
The little bit of pressure, like my daughter always says,
"Mum, can you buy me this, can you buy me that?"
Do you think you've learned something about, you know,
just stop asking Mum for little items?
-Yeah, I feel...
-To try and assist her a little bit.
Yeah, I feel like instead of getting her to buy me things, just
spending time at home watching the telly and just being together,
-would be fine.
-Are you managing to curb the big spends?
Yeah, I look in the shop prices and then I'll look online to see if
there's anything cheaper, so that's helped and I do save money that way.
Catherine, I've got to come to you,
because I was chatting to you a couple of minutes ago and
you're disappointed that Mum swapped her car.
-You loved that little Mini!
And now you're in a sensible family car you're devastated, aren't you?
Erm, it's very embarrassing!
Teenagers are more fussy about cars than parents, aren't they?
They are, but you know, I'm saving enough every month now,
I will soon have paid my new car off.
-Thank you, Sarah. Again!
Didn't hear a "yay" from Catherine!
-That is incredible.
-Yeah, it is.
Catherine, have you seen a big change in your mum?
-Have you noticed her, say, worrying less?
-Yes, very much.
I feel that she's much happier
and I just feel there is a very big change in her.
The big question is,
can you stick to the saving habits long-term?
Absolutely. It's a lifestyle change and a lifetime change.
-Yes. Yeah, we will.
-Good on you both.
-Yeah. Keep it up.
If you'd like one of our experts to come round and sort out your finances,
as they did for Carol and Catherine here, e-mail us at...
Or, if you're after more ways you can save money right now,
here's what to do.
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.
You'll find more tips and advice to keep your finances on track.
Personal-finance expert Fergus Muirhead is back with us to answer some questions
from the people we've met today.
Question from Becky,
who is looking to buy a new house but is worried about all the hidden costs.
What kind of things should she be budgeting for?
There's some research by a bank that I read the other day that said
that we spend six months looking at some of these big purchases
like houses and then we spend 15 minutes looking at how we're going to finance these purchases.
So, 15 minutes looking at how we're going to pay back the
most amount of money we're ever going to borrow.
You need to sit down and do your sums,
because it's not just about your monthly mortgage repayments,
it's not just about the deposit you're going to have to pay,
you've got to remember that you're going to have to pay solicitors,
you'll have to pay surveyors,
you might want to get the house redecorated,
you'll have to pay removers when you move in,
so always add 15% or 20% onto the money you think you'll spend.
At least, because it's going to cost a lot more than you think
-it will cost you.
"I've ordered and paid for some goods but the shop's gone bust.
"Can I get a refund?"
If the shop's shut its doors and it's no longer trading
and you're waiting on an order to be delivered from that shop,
the chances are that you won't get it.
You will go to the bottom of the queue of creditors,
so the chances are slim that you'll get your money back if you're waiting
on an order, unless you've used your credit card,
and there's a golden nugget here which people don't know about.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says that if you buy goods that cost
more than £100 and less than £30,000 on your credit card then
the credit-card company is equally liable if something goes wrong with that contract.
So, rather than the retailer or the manufacturer,
you can go to the credit-card company
and say, "I'd like my money back."
I've used it a few times myself and it does work, it does protect you. Thank you.
In fact thanks to everybody who's joined us in Chester today.
And not forgetting you at home, too.
That's all from us today, so until the next time, goodbye. Cheerio.
In this episode Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood present from Chester, where they help a former police officer baffled by the case of her disappearing bank balance. With the chief suspects her teenage daughter and pampered bulldog Stanley, the team reveals how making a few simple changes could help her save thousands.
Also in this episode is an update on how some of the people helped by the programme's experts in the first series have got on in the 12 months since. How much have they managed to save?
Plus, as the amount of money we spend on our pets continues to rise, one dog owner explains how she's been able to turn her pooch's musical talent into a lucrative money-spinner.