Money-saving advice series with Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood. The team are in Sheffield uncovering ways to look after children for less, whatever your age.
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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 helps you free up cash
by making simple changes to what you spend.
And today, we are in the city of steel,
Sheffield, which, despite its industrial heritage,
is actually one of the greenest places in the UK.
And with all our advice,
saving you money will be a walk in the park, too.
Here's what's coming up.
We help a cash-strapped pensioner save for the holiday of a lifetime.
The problem is the amount she's spending on this little one.
I don't think I've ever looked in such detail at my finances,
which is perhaps a bad reflection on me.
I'm hoping that I'll be a lot more aware
after this of what I'm spending my money on.
And how you can lose the pounds while saving the pennies
by keeping fit for free.
I'll tell you what, Denise,
you'd have to be pretty fit living in Sheffield.
This place is built on seven hills.
It's a good job they love their sport, then -
athletics, football and, of course, snooker.
Which is just as well because today,
we're going to be trying to help out a local grandmother
keep out of the red and into the black.
When Michele Lefevre from Leeds retired four years ago,
she was looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet,
but that plan went to pot very quickly.
Whoa. You can go really fast on that, can't you, hey?
Michele gets to look after her granddaughter Anouska
while the little girl's parents are at work.
I had a year of freedom where I could do what I like,
meet my friends for lunch, things like that,
before a certain little person came along
and I found myself looking after Anouska, as I do now.
These days, Michele spends, on average,
two days a week looking after Anouska.
But it's not just her time she's spending.
Thanks very much. Cheers. Thank you.
Right, sit tight.
It's £1.50, you know, but it's all those little £1.50s that add up,
isn't it? But she loves it.
You can't say no to a four-year-old, unfortunately.
But her granddaughter isn't Michele's only expense.
She and husband, John, love their holidays abroad.
This is, yeah, top of the Eiffel Tower.
Well, the deuxieme etage of the Eiffel Tower
-cos you wouldn't go up to the top, would you, love?
There's a bit of an age gap between us.
As old age looms nearer and nearer,
you know, you just want to make the most of life.
Michele's husband, John, works full-time,
but the two have separate bank accounts, and most months,
Michele uses up all her pension and has to dip into her savings
to the point where they're almost gone.
What worries me most about the future -
just getting to the situation
where my finances are getting out of control,
not being able to afford to do the things that we want to do.
And, again, you never know what's round the corner.
You never know what big thing is going to be lurking,
ready to spring out on you, that is going to require money.
I don't want to dip in to my lump sum any more.
I want it to be there, you know,
to cushion me against anything that happens like that.
With her cash cushion running out of stuffing,
it seems that Michele needs a financial reupholster
of the highest category, and fast.
So, we sent in personal finance expert Sarah Pennells
to see how Michele can keep enjoying her retirement
without running out of cash.
-Hello. Hiya. Come in.
-Nice to meet you. I'm Sarah.
-I'm Michele. Do come in.
-Thank you very much.
Michele, as you know, I'm going to have a bit of a delve
-into your finances.
-Oh, God, yes, you are.
-What do you have?
What do you live on at the moment?
My work pension is just over £1,000 a month.
A bit more. About 1,200, perhaps. So, that is what I live on.
I retired six years ago and I got a lump sum of £42,000,
which, at the time, seemed wonderful,
but then we bought a new car, had the back garden landscaped,
we had some nice holidays and it's kind of just drifted away.
So, I've got just under 1,000 left.
With almost no money left from Michele's lump sum,
Sarah's got her work cut out.
Do you feel in control of your money at the moment?
Not entirely, I have to confess. The money goes in on
the 16th of every month and I think, "Great. I've been paid again.
"My pension's gone through. That's fine."
And I don't really think that much about it
until it gets near the end of the month and I think, "Ooh,
"God, I've overspent again.
"I shouldn't have done this and I shouldn't have done that."
So, I do kind of feel, sometimes, it's slipping away from me.
So, what's important to you in your retirement?
Holidays are very important.
You know, we're planning to go to Venice next year
and that's going to be expensive.
Things that aren't really important to me -
I'm really not materialistic at all, so, as I say,
it's not things that are important. It's enjoying...
John and I enjoying ourselves and having fun while we can.
So, with a trip to Venice for Michele and John the goal,
Sarah gets to work and soon hones in on an area ripe for a saving -
Michele's broadband and telephone bill.
So, I just popped your postcode into one of the price comparison sites.
-But I have found a deal.
-It's a bit slower than your current broadband,
but there's not that much in it,
and it does give you the weekend and evening calls
-you're currently getting as part of the package.
-You're currently paying £57.
So, that's an immediate saving of £22.50 per month.
-Right, OK. That sounds good, yeah.
That goes straight into your Venice fund.
Right, that sounds good to me.
£22.50 a month comes to
a chunky saving of £270 a year.
But those gondola trips don't come cheap,
so Sarah needs to find some more savings elsewhere.
Shall I go and put the kettle on?
-Perfect. Great stuff. Thank you.
Michele's work pension is just over £1,000 a month,
so while she brews a cuppa,
Sarah's scrutinising her bank statements
to see where that money's going.
I don't think I've ever looked in such detail at my finances,
which is perhaps a bad reflection on me.
I'm hoping that I'll be a lot more aware,
after this, of what I'm spending my money on.
Well, we certainly know one thing you spend your money on, Michele,
and right on cue, here she is.
-Are you going to say hello?
Have you got some brownie? It looks delicious.
Are you going to go home with chocolate all round your mouth?
What's your mummy going to say?
With Michele and Anouska cosily plumped up on their favourite chair,
it's time to hear Sarah's analysis of Michele's bank statements.
I bet that makes a change from watching Peppa Pig.
I was just looking at when you take money out of your account
by the cash machine.
And so, basically, again, over quite a short period,
-you'd taken out sort of about £150, I think.
I wondered whether you were aware that you did this.
Erm, yes, I think is the answer. Where do they go?
Cos that's what I lose track of, more than anything.
-I have something that I think might help you.
-Ooh, right. OK.
It's a magic book.
-Ooh, I like the idea of that.
-Basically, I'd like you to keep a spending diary.
-Oh, OK. Yeah.
-Every time you spend some money...
-..write down how much you spend...
-..what you spend it on.
It can be a real revelation.
Do you know, I occasionally do a food diary
cos I go to a slimming class,
and it's a very similar thing to that,
-so that's quite interesting.
-It's exactly the same,
and I guarantee that once you start writing it down,
there will be things that you discover
you've been spending money on that you probably didn't even notice.
Right, thank you. I shall definitely do that.
But Sarah's about to find out that there is a reason
why Michele's been spending like there's no tomorrow.
Well, I had breast cancer a few years ago - about ten years ago -
which, although I didn't think it'd change my attitude to life,
gradually, it's made me think, "Well, you know,
"you might as well spend it now cos you can't take it with you."
So, maybe there's a bit of that involved as well.
I think that, having been through something like breast cancer,
it wouldn't be at all surprising
if that has changed your attitude to money as well as life in general.
-But I would like to really sort of have a bit of a look
in some depth and to try and change some of those habits.
-Just shifting them.
-And it's not to say that money is not for spending...
..but it's trying to work out whether we can change those habits
-you may not even realise you've gotten into.
One area where Michele could cut some of her outgoings
is the costs of looking after Anouska.
I think it's pretty hard to think of your grandchild as being an expense,
but I'm going to be brutal about it.
I think we do need to look at all of your expenditure.
You're spending a lot of time looking after Anouska
and I'm guessing more money as well.
I think I must spend - trying to add it up, logically -
about £20 to £30 a week on Anouska.
Over a month, that comes to about a tenth of her income,
but Michele is not alone.
She's one of the 9.2 million UK grandparents
providing childcare for their grandkids.
And with the average cost of a childminder in the UK
rising by 5.1% last year,
Michele's daughter is getting a very good deal.
And I know your daughter Sacha does pay you.
What does she pay you for the childcare?
She pays me £80 a month.
Could you ask Sacha for any more money?
I wouldn't like to, to be honest,
because I think she gives me what she can afford.
And, you know, they're a young couple and they're struggling,
so, yeah, I wouldn't like to do that. We've all been there.
Looks like Sarah will have a hard time persuading Michele
to accept any more from her daughter.
If you can't ask Sacha for more, and I understand why...
-..then, instead, we'll just have a look at what you spend...
-..and making sure that you get the most value
-from every single pound you spend...
-..on the time you have with Anouska.
-Shall we go and play?
Later in the programme, we'll see there are plenty more ways
Michele can bring down what she spends,
and we'll see how anyone looking after children
can bring the cost right down.
And Michele will be joining us later to tell us how she got on.
Personal finance expert Simon Read is with us.
Simon, we gave Michele a spending diary.
Is that something we should all be doing?
-Is it a useful tool?
-It really is a useful tool.
I've done it myself and I was very surprised
how much money I'd wasted that I hadn't even realised I'd spent.
You know, even if you do it for a week, it's an eye-opener
to where your money's disappearing.
Now, Michele, like most people, is using her overdraft.
Because it's there, they think it's OK to use it,
when, really, it should be a buffer for emergencies.
I think you're exactly right.
An overdraft going into the red should only be used
if you really are in an emergency if you need the cash.
Too many people get in a habit
of falling into overdrafts every month because it's there.
And that's a really bad habit to get into, isn't it?
It's not just a bad habit,
it's a costly one because they will get charged...
You know, there's all sorts of fees that can come in.
If they really are going to go into their overdraft every month,
they should find an account that has lower fees
or has a buffer with no charges up to, say, £100.
You know what's really surprised me the most?
In an age where there's so much technology -
online banking, people are using banking apps on their phone -
and they still have no clue what their bank balance is.
Two thirds of people don't know what their bank balance is,
but even more scary and frightening is the fact
that only a quarter of people know how much debt they've got.
If you don't know how much debt you've got,
there's no way of controlling it.
The first step of getting clear of debt
is admitting to it and trying to find ways of clearing it.
-There's a lesson there for all of us.
Now, I tell you what - we should go round this lovely market stall
and just find out how many people out there
have actually got a clue what's in their account.
All right, then. Come on. Thanks, Simon.
-Can we just ask you a couple of questions?
-Are you into it? Do you do it?
Well, I do it, but I have to ring my daughter.
She does it for me cos I have to ask her.
-Do you know what's in your account right now?
-To the nearest what?
-Erm, to the nearest 50.
-The nearest 50?
-That's pretty accurate, I'd say.
If I was to ask you what your bank balance is today,
-would you have an idea?
I'd like to say within 50 quid, but don't quote me on that.
-How often do you go overdrawn?
-Maybe not every...
-Well, being honest, yeah.
THEY LAUGH Exactly.
That's obviously quite an expensive habit to get into.
Do you know how much it's costing you to use that overdraft?
-I don't, actually, no.
-Couldn't even hazard a guess?
I thought I knew a lot, but I don't, do I?
-Do you go overdrawn?
-Erm, I used to a lot,
which was not good, but now I don't as much, so...
-Like, I used to just completely lose track of everything,
never checked cos I was always too ashamed to check, I guess.
When you say ashamed,
you mean you stopped checking your bank balance...
-..because you knew you were going overdrawn?
I need a sit down right now, Denise,
because I'm worn out after all that running around.
But then, of course, I'm not as fit as you, am I?
Well, you could be because here are some nice and easy tips
on how to get fit without spending any money.
Four years ago, I was lucky enough
to be here at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
to witness many of Team GB's sporting triumphs.
The Games inspired people across the country
to get out there and be more active,
but keeping up your fitness long-term
can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you're on a budget.
With monthly gym fees typically costing
anything between £15 and £60,
it's easy to see why many people put exercise on the back burner.
But, in fact, there are numerous ways you can keep fit
without paying a penny.
The most obvious one is to go for a run
and Will Innes is one of thousands of Brits
using their local green spaces to stay in shape.
So, what do you love about running outdoors?
I love being out in the fresh air
and I find that running just helps me clear my mind.
I just don't like the atmosphere in gyms
and gym memberships are expensive.
-Come on, then.
But running's not the only way to get fit for free in your local park.
Councils all over the UK are investing in fitness machines
in public outdoor spaces that are free and easy to use.
Taking full advantage of the facilities
on his doorstep is Bill Jourdan.
How often do you use this outdoor machinery?
As often as I can. I live round the corner so it's quite practical.
There's a lot of variety.
A lot of the machines do different things, so...
It's pretty easy to fit around work. Just come down whenever I can.
-Excellent. How are you getting on with your reps?
-How are you?
-This is easy.
-Step it up.
-Step it up.
-Put some effort into it.
Recent research found that doing half an hour's exercise
five times a week can reduce your chance of illness by a third.
But one in four of us don't even manage 30 minutes a month.
That's why, since the London Olympics,
Sport England has had a real push
at finding ways to get more people active.
There's been massive investment since 2012.
We at Sport England have invested
over a billion into grassroots sport.
That's paying for coaches, come-and-have-a-go sessions,
fixing facilities at local clubs.
And one post-Olympic promise made good
has been the introduction of free swimming
for under-16s and over-60s at many council-run pools across the UK.
It's a move enthusiastically welcomed
by Manchester swimmer Brian Melling.
Instead of being sat in the house on their own,
OAPs come out and meet friends, so it's big that way.
Also, it's good for the health and you can come here free.
Quite honestly, it makes a big difference.
It really does.
It's worth contacting your local authority
to find out what free fitness options are available in your area,
and you could find a lot more choice than you expected.
You might have assumed that joining any exercise class
would mean you have to pay for it, but not always.
Sometimes, you can get those for free, too.
Decathlete Born Barikor runs 150 hours of free classes every week
in London parks.
And keeping fit isn't the only benefit.
There's a social side, too.
Born, this is such a great idea.
What inspired you to put on these free classes?
I felt kind of, in my community,
it would be great to have access to not only high-quality exercise,
but in local parks and local settings, really.
That inspired me to get out there and get funding to set this up.
So, what are the benefits for the community?
The social aspect is, for me, phenomenal.
So, for us, it's the benefits of not only getting fit for free,
but meeting local community and turning up to tone up.
So, why do you come to these outdoor classes?
It's just a good way to meet people and get fit, really.
I mean, it's a little bit different
and probably, from what I can see, better than going to a gym.
So, it's like, you know, building a community, getting exercise...
-..and having fun, I guess...
-..even though some of these are a little bit hard!
That was tough, but really enjoyable,
but the best part of it is that it's free.
One exercise that can sometimes feel more like a bank breaker
than a body bender is yoga.
A single class typically costs around a tenner, but even here,
a growing number of studios offer a yoga fix at a reduced cost,
or, in some cases, completely free.
This one is in London,
but we've seen others in Manchester, Birmingham,
Glasgow and Wales.
Lots of people pay a lot of money to do this sort of class.
Why have you gone for the free option?
Well, we do, obviously, run our usual full-price classes as well.
We have a really busy timetable,
but we just felt there were maybe a whole section of the community
that just weren't able to practise due to the cost.
We wanted to put these on so that everyone can join in
and enjoy the benefits of yoga, really.
A quick internet search revealed lots of other free activities
ranging from cycling to military fitness classes.
So, a bit of research and some get-up-and-go
should help you get fit for free in your area, too.
The best thing about today is that it hasn't cost me a penny.
The total price has been zero.
So, if you're using those high gym prices
as a reason for not getting out and about, no more excuses.
You can stretch your muscles without stretching your finances.
Good work, Denise. Looks like there's no excuse for the rest of us
to avoid getting in shape.
But while we may not all be sporty, we do all have some sort of skill,
and those skills could be an easy way to help other people
and save yourself some dosh.
It's called skill swapping
and websites are becoming increasingly popular around the UK.
Now, Ruth here, she runs a community-based one in Derby,
and also with us is Pam, who's been skill swapping for 20 years.
Ruth, I'm going to come to you first
-cos you're pretty good at gardening, aren't you?
-That's what I offer.
Describe skill swapping to me. Why is it so important?
It's a way of building community and it's a way of saving money.
With the credits that I've earned from gardening,
I got somebody to fix my computer.
Now, I don't know how much it would cost to have a computer fixed.
-Probably £60, £70.
It's something I could not do myself,
but I looked in the directory.
"Right, who does computers? Ah, John does computers.
"Right, I'll give John a ring."
John came round, fixed my computer and thank you very much.
And then he earns credits from doing that.
You know, I paid him the credits
and then he can then spend his credits on whatever he wants to do.
Can I ask you, have you ever had somebody skill swap with you
and you've been unhappy with what they've actually delivered?
To a certain extent, I have. Yeah, it has happened a little bit,
but not anything that you've had to sort of go back to them and...
-How did you handle the situation?
-How did I handle the situation?
I probably wouldn't ask them again to do that sort of job.
-Put it down to experience?
-But, actually, what we find
is that because we're quite a close-knit group,
if anybody did do a job which wasn't up to scratch,
-you would kind of feel able to say something.
What would you say to anybody watching this
who might be interested in joining one of these skill swapping sets?
I'd say go for it.
You know, find out if there is one in their area.
Because one thing a lot of people worry about
is that they haven't got anything to offer
and, actually, what we've found
is that everybody has got something they can offer,
whether it's just waiting in for a parcel
or, you know, if you've got a car, you can offer lifts.
Anybody can do dog walking.
You know, everybody's got something they can offer.
So, there's a good community spirit that's built up.
You get to know all your neighbours, which, actually,
there's a nice bit of bantering and bartering there, isn't it?
Yeah, and the nice thing, actually,
is that everybody's time is worth the same amount.
It doesn't matter whether you're offering gardening, massage,
if you're offering something very skilled
-like car maintenance or fixing a computer.
The general rule is it's four credits an hour
and it doesn't matter what...
You know, if you're offering legal advice
or if you're fixing somebody's drains,
-everybody's time is worth the same.
-It's the old cliche -
scratching each other's backs, isn't it? You scratch their backs,
they scratch your backs - everybody's happy.
It's been lovely chatting to you two.
I'm really quite enlightened by it all, actually.
Thanks, Dom. Now, we all love a bargain, and, of course,
if you shop around wisely, you can save yourself a packet.
Here's a bunch of people who reckon they're pretty good
at hunting down the best deals.
Oh, yes. Bargains are it.
It's quite good at the moment cos most of the shops have bargains.
There's no thrill in shopping
if you're going to buy something that's at its normal price.
But if you get a bargain, I'm literally going home skipping,
happy, telling everybody I got a bargain. Love it.
-Oh, you should get a buzz.
-Get a buzz if you...
-A good buzz.
-..get a bargain.
No, no, it frustrates me. Can't stand it.
No, I'd rather just go into a shop and see what I like
and get it there and then.
I can't stand going through clothes. I don't like it.
When the sale's on, if I go back and it's what I want
and it's at a good price, I'll pay it then.
I paid £5 for an old TV.
I think it was 1940s.
I think it's probably worth about five, six grand now.
I won't buy anything unless I can get a student discount
or find it half-price cos I'm very poor, so...
-She is very poor.
-I am very, very poor.
I think, yeah, definitely in this country,
bargain hunting is a bit of a sport and we're really good at it.
If it was an Olympic event,
I think we'd come gold every year for bargain shopping.
Retail expert Clare Rayner is with me.
Clare, when I go shopping and get a bargain,
it's a huge adrenaline rush.
I love it. Is there anything wrong with that?
No, not at all. I think, actually,
that's one of the techniques retailers use
to encourage people to spend more -
making things look like a brilliant bargain,
giving them a limited amount of stock,
creating some sense of urgency,
almost a bit of a competition against other shoppers
to bag that bargain.
I think that's a strategy used
to encourage us to go out and spend more.
Well, I guess if you are spending more
and the thrill becomes getting that bargain
as opposed to what you've actually bought,
then that's a bit of an issue.
Yes, it can be, and I think some people do get a little bit caught up
in the excitement of getting the bargain.
Maybe they don't stop and ask themselves,
"Would I have bought this product had it been full price?
"Am I actually getting a bargain
"or am I buying stuff that I don't really need,
"which means that I'm not saving money,
"I'm spending money?"
I guess it can be a combination of factors.
Like, when I'm with my girlfriends and we go shopping,
I end up spending much more.
Yes, and I think that's the problem is that you egg each other on
and you're all feeling like you've won the bargains
and you want to come home with your prized purchases
and feel like you've got an achievement out of the shopping day.
And that can sort of take you into that realms of overspending
and buying stuff that you don't need.
I mean, everybody's on sale all the time
and now we're creating sale events,
like Black Friday's come over from the USA.
-Ah! I loathe it.
-In the last three years,
it's gone from nothing
to a huge amount of sales happening all on that one day.
And, actually, it became Black Friday Week,
so, obviously, the retailers are leveraging our hunger
to bag a deal and using these strategies
-to get us to spend more money.
-So, Clare, what's your top tip
for bagging a bargain without breaking the bank?
I think it's to not get carried away.
Just because something is heavily discounted
doesn't mean you need it or want it.
And it doesn't necessarily mean
that the original price was actually a fair price.
So, make sure you've done your research
and you know what the product should cost
and you can work out what you're really saving.
Plus, if you're spending money, you're spending money.
You're not saving money, no matter how big the discount.
Great. Thanks, Clare.
Now, earlier, we met local grandmother Michele
who couldn't stop spending on her gorgeous granddaughter.
Trouble is, that's put a big strain on her own finances.
Let's see how anyone looking after kids can save some cash.
Michele Lefevre is a gran with a plan -
to enjoy a stress-free retirement
and go on holiday with husband, John.
Well, the big aim is, next year, to go to Venice by train.
We'll find a nice hotel or a guesthouse
and just explore Venice. That's what we really want to do.
Trouble is, looking after granddaughter Anouska
two days a week
is one reason why Michele's savings are dwindling fast.
You can't say no to a four-year-old, unfortunately.
So, we've drafted in personal finance expert Sarah Pennells.
She's already tackled Michele's telecoms
and challenged her to get a better grip on what she spends
by writing it all down.
A week later and Sarah's back to see how that's panning out.
Now, Michele, last time I was with you,
I gave you a bit of homework - gave you a spending diary to keep.
-You did indeed.
-How have you been getting on with that?
I've been filling it in religiously. I've been very good about it.
So, you have. You've written down to the penny.
-A lot of the things, they're under a tenner,
but you were surprised at how it added up.
I really was surprised.
It's no wonder I'm overdrawn at the end of each month, basically.
So, what I had planned to do
is go through all the things that I've spent money on
and have a good look and just think, "What could I have done without?"
But you are going to carry on keeping a spending diary
-for a few more weeks, are you?
-I think I am, actually. Definitely.
Sarah's come across a big expense
by going through Michele's direct debits -
a dental plan which gives free yearly checkups.
Now, we're all for taking care of your gnashers,
but at almost £50 a month,
this particular plan is biting off quite a chunk of Michele's budget.
I think it is one of those things where, you know,
-you really do have to put your own finances first.
And £46 a month is quite a big chunk of money, isn't it?
It is. It's a big saving, yeah.
An occasional clear-out of your direct debits
really can pay dividends, and in this case,
it's spurred Michele into not just cancelling the plan,
but also finding a cheaper NHS dentist.
So, actually, what you're thinking of doing now, then,
is stopping the dental treatment plan...
-..and switching dentists
so you don't have to pay private costs either.
Yeah, I think I'll have to do.
I feel a bit disloyal,
but then I think, "Well, you know, it's my money."
And he's a dentist. He makes lots of money, so, sorry!
And it's not anybody else's money. You know, it's still your money.
It's just you're putting it aside for either when you need it
-or for your fantastic holiday in Venice.
-Yes. Yes, definitely.
Michele's dream trip is inching even closer.
Cancelling the dental plan
will free up another £552 a year.
It's been a productive morning at the soft play area,
and though Michele hasn't realised,
Sarah has even saved her money on coming here,
by choosing the right time to come.
-Here, today is grandparents' day.
-Ah, right. I didn't know that.
So, that means that you get half-price entrance.
-So, instead of costing £4, it's £2.
And loads of places have offers and discounts like these.
-So, if you plan...
-I didn't know that.
So, if you plan where you take Anouska and when you take her,
the chances are that you can end up spending less than the full price
and get a much better deal.
A fiver a week here, a tenner a month,
-£20, and it really will all add up.
Simply by planning which day to soft play,
Michele can save £10 a month.
That's £120 a year.
And soft play's not her only option.
By tapping into other local resources,
she could save even more while still keeping Anouska entertained.
Take this place - a social enterprise in Leeds
that is one of a growing number of its kind across the UK.
For an annual fee of £6,
Michele and Anouska can come and play as often as they like.
-Lots of nooks and crannies.
-Never get bored, would you?
-You could spend hours in here.
-No, too much stuff in here.
it sells waste materials from local businesses
that can be used for crafting activities at home.
Before she lets Anouska lose, Michele meets Laura Henry,
an Early Years adviser to Ofsted and the government.
So, Michele, tell me about the activities
-and experiences that you carry out on a day-to-day basis.
They're quite a long day.
To sort of try and entertain a child in the house all day
is quite tiring, so I sometimes take her to soft play places.
I'm guessing that if Anouska was with a child carer
where Sacha was paying a normal rate,
they wouldn't be dipping into their pocket,
-would they, to fund activities?
-No. No, exactly.
-So, what I think we need to start thinking is to change.
So, it's like wearing a hat.
So, on the two days that you're childminding,
that you're looking after your granddaughter,
that you become a child carer.
With a bit of thought, the things Michele's buying today
could keep Anouska entertained for weeks.
-Here we are.
-Thank you very much.
We think it's about £13.20.
I've been keeping a record as we've been going round.
I believe I think it's a good investment
because I think you pay the annual membership fee of £6
and you can come here whenever throughout the year.
But it's about the long-term investment,
which will save you money.
Yeah, I agree cos, I mean, this that we're getting here today,
I reckon that's going to last us for several months, to be honest.
Sarah's convinced that coming to places like this
rather than relying on old favourites such as the soft play
will quickly save Michele a bob or two.
I know that you said you spend between £10 and £20 extra a week.
-Now, if we can, say, save you £15...
-..every week - £60 a month.
After a year, that's over £700.
-Not to be sniffed at, is it?
-No, not at all.
Another £720 saved
and there's still more where that came from.
Back home, Laura introduces Michele
to the website of the local toy library.
So, the beauty of it is it's free.
-So, you can go along and Anouska can choose as many...
-Wide selections of toys, materials, puzzles etc.
Bring them home, play with them for about a week or so, or two weeks,
then go back and then get a fresh set again.
Amazing. That sounds brilliant, yeah.
Borrowing toys rather than buying them
will save Michele
another £120 a year.
And a quick search on your own council's website
should point you in the direction of a toy library in your area, too.
Michele's getting nearer to actually saving money
on her childcare duties rather than losing it,
but that's not good enough for Sarah,
who's off to meet Michele's daughter Sacha.
Now, Michele said she doesn't want to take
any more money from Sacha, but Sarah's a tough cookie
and she's determined to boost Michele's coffers.
Sacha, I'll get straight to it.
I want to have a bit of a chat with you about your mum
and how much help she gives with you for looking after Anouska.
I'm giving her £80 a month for looking after Anouska.
And I know it's nowhere near as much
as I would have paid out for childcare.
But if you were to try and offer more money now,
assuming you could afford it,
-would your mum even accept it, do you think?
-I don't know.
We're still trying to build a life for ourselves
and for Anouska as well.
One idea might be to give Anouska a packed lunch.
-In fact, to make something for your mum as well.
So, when she spends time with her,
she doesn't have to pay for that food. Would that be possible?
Yeah, I'll definitely consider doing that.
I mean, it's tough cos you've got your own life
and you're working and you're busy, but a tenner a week -
£500 at the end of the year.
Yeah, that is a lot of money, isn't it? Yeah, yeah.
What did I tell you? There ain't no stopping Sarah Pennells.
Those sandwiches will save Michele
another £520 a year,
which means she could even make a little bit of money
on her childcare duties.
Now, I think that deserves a bit of a celebration, don't you?
Now, I thought I might find you eating in here...
-..having a nice meal out.
-Oh, no. There's no escape.
Too right, Michele. Sarah's always on money-saving duty.
So, what would you reckon you would spend
in a month eating out?
I don't know. Would you say about £100 a month, possibly?
I think it might be.
-Nearer 200, possibly.
-No wonder I'm skint.
-Now the truth's coming out.
-Oh, it is, isn't it? Yes, I'm scared now.
Is there any way we can get you to reduce that figure at all?
Well, we did have a bit of talk about it.
I mentioned it to John
and, actually, he came up with quite a good idea.
The friends that we eat out with regularly,
you know, he said, "Well, maybe they'd like to alternate.
"One week, we'll go out for a meal.
"The next week, you know,
"we'll go to their house or they'll come to us."
So, you know, that way, we're going out less often to eat,
but we're still enjoying...
We're getting out of the house and we're enjoying the company
and, you know, still having a good time, basically.
I like your thinking, John. This is...this is great.
Now, how much, roughly,
do you think that doing it that way might save you over a month?
Well, I think, like Michele says, possibly it'd half it and...
-So, £100 a month?
-Yeah, I think so.
-Now we're talking, aren't we, Michele?
-I know what you're going to say.
So, that's £1,200 over a year.
-Where's it going?
-Into the Venice fund.
With another £1,200 a year saved,
I think these two might be heading
-for Venice sooner than they thought.
-Oh, thank you.
-This last saving,
along with £1,480 less spent looking after Anouska,
£552 saved by cancelling that direct debit dental plan
and £270 on her broadband
makes a grand total of £3,502.
Before this experience, I don't think I really thought much
about saving money towards our dream holiday
cos it just didn't seem to be a possibility at all.
But now, it seems achievable
and I think I can do it and I'm looking forward to it.
MUSIC: La Donna E Mobile by Verdi
Well, Michele, Anouska and Simon are with us now.
-Nice to meet you, Michele.
-And, Anouska, high-five.
-Hey! She's very good, isn't she?
Now, it's been a couple of months since Sarah's visit.
-Have you managed to stick to Sarah's suggestions?
-Pretty much, yes.
Sarah's made lots of little suggestions
that we're implementing and it's gradually sort of having
a knock-on effect on what I'm spending.
-And so many grandparents find themselves in this situation.
-I mean, she's your only grandchild.
-She is, yeah.
You do want to give her treats,
-but are you managing to curb that a little bit?
-A little bit.
Another suggestion that Sarah made was to use a toy library.
-I've never heard of those.
-Well, I've also -
hot off the press - discovered that the Leeds Library Service
is starting a toy library in a few months' time,
-and that's just up the road.
-So, that's ideal.
I'll definitely be checking that out.
Simon, I think there's a lot of grandparents around the country
who can totally relate to Michele's scenario.
-You're a huge help, obviously, to her parents...
-..but, financially, it's costing you a few quid.
-It can do.
If you're getting into financial difficulty, that's wrong.
That's why I think it's important to actually sit down
and talk to children about the money you're spending. Clear the air.
You don't want to end up feeling a bit resentful
-because you're, you know, helping your grandchildren.
And children would feel awful to think that their own parents
were struggling just because they were spending too much.
Would you have known about all these things going on
had you not met Sarah?
Certainly wouldn't have known about the toy library
and the recycling place. They were new to me.
And the sort of cheap grandparents' days
at the soft plays. That was a new thing to me as well.
That never occurred to me to even ask about it.
So, yes, it's starting to make a difference to my finances,
but it's a slow process, yeah.
Now, you are in a perfect position - because you've tried it now -
-to give advice to anybody else out there in your scenario...
..sitting here watching. What would it be?
Erm, just look very carefully at what you're spending
on your grandchildren when you look after them
cos it surprised me, when I kept my spending diary,
just how much I was actually spending on her.
It creeps up on you.
So, I think that's the first thing I'd say.
-To dollarize everything?
-Yeah, I think so.
And that whole process of physically writing it down
not only gives you a lot of information -
-probably a little bit too alarming...
..but it is a useful exercise.
It is cos it just makes you stop and think,
"Do I really need to be buying this or doing that?"
You know, you tend to be a bit indulgent, really.
-Get a cup of coffee to drink while they're playing.
-And the snacks.
Snacks and a drink, you know, and you think, "Crikey!
"That's 15 quid gone already, you know. And for what?"
So, yeah, that was an eye-opener, was that,
and that is something to think about.
And has it been a bit of an eye-opener for Sacha,
-your daughter, as well?
-I think it was, actually.
I don't think she realised quite how much I was spending
-on looking after Anouska.
-It mounts up.
-It does, yeah, yeah.
-So, here's the golden question now.
Are you going to stick to this reformed Michele now?
I think I'll have to do, really.
I don't think I can get away with it.
Since Sarah decided this was going to be my Venice fund...
-We want to go to Venice next year.
So, if we want to get there, I'm going to have to stick to it.
-Well, good luck to you.
-Yeah, and all the best.
-Nice to meet you, Anouska.
Thanks, Anouska. High-five. Last one.
Brilliant. Well done. Now, if you'd like to be considered
for one of our money transformations,
e-mail us at...
But if you're after some general tips
on how to save cash, here's a few.
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.
Simon is still with us to answer some questions
from the good people of Sheffield.
Now, first up, Richard says he's about to start cycling to work
to save money on transport.
Is it worth him getting a bike
through the cycle to work scheme offered by his employer?
It certainly is because it can save him between 30% and 40%,
depending on what kind of taxpayer he is.
So, you could save between £300 and £400 on a brand-new bike,
-and, of course, you'll get fit, too.
-That sounds like a good deal.
Burn off a few calories, eh, Denise?
Now, Nicola would like to know...
She says, "My car insurance policy is about to run out.
"How do I find a good deal as I've heard that not all deals
"are on price comparison websites?"
-It is too true, that's right.
Some of the biggest insurers in the country
don't let their policies appear on comparison websites,
so if you really want to get the best deal
and check the whole range, you need to be calling them
as well as going online to check on the comparison sites.
And Samantha, who's 25 years old, wants to know
how much she should be putting away for her pension each month.
OK, there's a simple rule of thumb
when thinking about how much you need to put into your pension
to ensure a wonderful retirement. It's this - put half your age.
So, Samantha, who's 25,
needs to put 12.5% of her wages into a pension.
That's not too bad.
By my calculations, that should be about 30% for you.
Ouch! That hurt, Lewis.
And I thought we were mates. THEY LAUGH
-Leave it there, please.
and thanks to everyone who's taken part in our show today.
And, of course, to all you at home. Now, that's it for today,
but if you want more money-saving advice, we'll be back soon.
-So, until then, cheerio.
In this episode Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood present from Sheffield. With nine million grandparents in the UK now thought to look after their grandchildren during the working week, the team helps one Yorkshire gran who is struggling to make her pension stretch. As personal finance expert Sarah Pennells finds ways to cut her spending, there is plenty of advice on how to look after little ones for less, whatever your age.
And Denise finds out it is easy to keep fit on a tight budget, as she uncovers classes, swimming and even yoga sessions that are absolutely free.