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Three lessons about charity and money from Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert

A photo of Martin Lewis, who is giving millions to charity in a very smart fashion

I sometimes wonder how much money Monevator has saved people by warning them off high cost investing.

Our popular broker comparison table might account for millions saved on its own.

Egotistical? Perhaps, but given our lack of serious financial rewards to-date from blogging, we’ll take whatever motivation we can get!

On that note I was chuffed to to hear about the journey of Monevator reader The Rhino:

If I had to pinpoint the start of it, it was that portfolio post on Monevator. To cut a long story short, education is possible as I am an example of it.

Fast forward 5/6 years and I have a set-up where my salary typically only represents about 10% of my income and is pretty much optional.

The amount of stress that removes from operations at ‘The Rhino Plc’ (yes I am one of those saddos who views themselves as a business) is significant and can be thought of as the gift that keeps on giving..

So chapeau to all at Monevator. I don’t know for how many, but certainly for some, its educational value has been immense.

This is seriously inspiring – not just for me, but I hope also for any readers who are just starting to get to grips with their own investing adventure.

Expert execution

Still, whatever difference Monevator has made surely pales into insignificance compared to the billions the British public has saved thanks to Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert (MSE).

Lewis is a familiar figure these days thanks to his TV shows and his portrait being stuck all over his website. His site was already getting a thumping 1.5 million visitors a day in 2013, and given how it seems to have thrived since he sold it to Money Super Market, I expect it’s even more popular now.

So while I’m still looking for ad revenue like a child rattling around coppers in his piggy bank, Lewis processes to his office each day in a gilded carriage pulled by pandas.

And you know what?

I don’t begrudge him a penny.

Firstly, I know how hard it is to build up an independent website.

More people will visit MSE by the time you finish reading this paragraph than will ever read this article. To have created such a powerful media property from scratch is incredible, and I take my hat off to him.

Secondly, while I’m aghast at the stratospheric heights being reached by executive pay and was pointing out the banking emperors had no clothes long before it was fashionable to do so, I greatly admire entrepreneurs. As far as I’m concerned they fully deserve their rewards.

The incentives that turns a few rare risk takers into multi-millionaires are part of the scaffolding of capitalism that drives our economy and improves our lives – the complete opposite of the overpaid rent-capturing executives who’ve gamed the system and gnaw away at its credentials.

So well done Lewis for passionately executing on his good idea, and for making as much as £87m from its eventual sale, including £25m this summer and a final £19m earnout just last week.

Which brings me to the third reason I don’t begrudge Lewis his fortune…

He’s giving a big chunk of it away.

In the most recent announcement, Lewis said:

On the back of receiving this payment the charity, Citizens Advice, will receive another £1m.

Also from my existing charity fund, both the Trussell Trust and the Personal Finance Education Group will get £500,000 to fund their important work in financial triage and education.

It follows the pledge Lewis made when he first sold MSE that charities would receive £10m from the proceeds.

Since then the share price of Money Super Market has risen further, which has boosted the value of Lewis’ share donations.

Charities have already received around £4 million. Lewis calculates there’s another £16.5m to come.

Money Giving Expert

Carp if you want to that you’d give away millions too if only you had millions in the first place, but I’m impressed with Lewis’ generosity.

We all like to think we’d be more charitable “if only…” but would we?

I have my doubts.

Doesn’t the long history of the rich getting richer prove how hard it is to say enough is enough?

I read hundreds of financial press releases every week. Lewis’ charity pledge sticks out like an ATM in the Arctic.

As for needing to be wealthy already, I was reading the other day about a couple who live on 6% of their income so they can give the rest away. Extreme – and not for me – but eye-opening.

Here are three lessons I take from Lewis’ donations.

1. It’s easier to go without something you haven’t got

There are doubtless financial angles as to why Lewis declared his charity donations upfront when he sold MSE, and also when he received more money last week.

Perhaps it’s more tax efficient? If so, I’d expect no less of the man. He’s the Money Saving Expert, not the Moolah Splurging Moron.

But whatever the financial motivations, immediately giving away the money is also psychologically astute – and instructive to anyone trying to get control of their finances.

You see, it’s very hard to give up substantial money once you’ve got used to having it.

We know from the disposition effect in behaviorial economics how much people hate losses.

Or think of all the people who stay in jobs that they hate – even when they could change career or downsize and retire – just because they can’t face losing that big salary.

By giving some of his fortune away before he’s had a chance to marvel Gollum-like at it in his bank account, I suspect Lewis knows he’s making things less emotionally painful for himself.

It wasn’t ever his to lose – not when it’s earmarked for something else.

We can use this trick, too, when trying to save more money:

  • Pay yourself first by spiriting away a chunk of your monthly salary to savings the moment it hits your bank account, and then live on what remains.
  • Set up your investing to run automatically. You won’t miss what you don’t see.
  • If you get a bonus, bank it.
  • If you get a raise, try saving half of it.

All this helps curb lifestyle inflation, where a higher salary just leads to higher spending that keeps your finances standing still, without making you any happier.

Controlling such inflation might mean you avoid wasting your raise taking Uber everywhere, instead of taking the tube.

For Lewis, giving away £10m might have put a private helicopter off the agenda.

Either way, setting it aside first stops it feeling like a loss, and so helps further your higher aims.

2. Giving makes you feel good

I am lauding Lewis quite a bit in this post, so let’s set the record straight.

Martin Lewis is selfish, and he’s interested in his own happiness.


Well, many studies have proven that giving things away makes us happy.

In one example, University of Columbia scientists said they:

…wanted to test our theory that how people spend their money is at least as important as how much money they earn.

[They learned that] regardless of how much income each person made, those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.

In another study, researchers scanning the brain found that even people forced to pay for the public good saw their neurons light up, but that:

…neural activity further increases when people make transfers voluntarily.

Both pure altruism and warm-glow motives appear to determine the hedonic consequences of financial transfers to the public good.

And in 2014, Harvard researchers chimed in:

…studies show that people who spend money on others report greater happiness.

The benefits of such prosocial spending emerge among adults around the world, and the warm glow of giving can be detected even in toddlers.

Giving is a feelgood drug, albeit a potentially expensive one.

3. Going full circle

Finally, it’s notable how Lewis has very particular aims with his donations, which are strongly linked to the educational zeal that brought him success with MSE.

Explaining why he’s donating money to Citizens Advice, Lewis writes:

I love the CAB, its voluntary ethos and the great work it does. Yet also because its debt counselling funding had just been cut by the Government at such a crucial time in the recession. It should not be for private individuals to make up this gap – but it was needed and I wanted to expose that.

Plus few people realise the CAB is a charity, even those who use its services.

So many who’ve been helped don’t consider giving back when things are better. This needs to change as the organisation desperately needs support.

Or consider another project he’s supporting, The Trussell Trust, which combines food banks with financial advice.

There are myriad excellent causes in the world, and lots of us reach for the obvious ones like curing cancer or heart disease when we want to do our bit.

Obviously I wouldn’t argue against supporting that great work!

However I do suspect that for those of us who’ve taken a greater interest in our finances – even if at a more modest level than Martin Lewis – there’s something to be said for thinking about what is closest to your heart, and to your success, when deciding where to direct your giving.

Wealthy donors are sometimes lampooned when they fund a library to be built on their old college campus.

They couldn’t get the tutors or the girls to pay attention when they were there, but now their name will be on everyone’s lips!

Well, perhaps there’s a bit of that, but I also think it’s a case of wanting to stitch a life story together.

Similarly, I have no evidence but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Lewis had the thrust of these charitable donations in mind long before he sold his website, perhaps even back when he was still pulling all-nighters to make it a success.

Very driven people often see a larger goal beyond themselves, and they can use that vision to help get past their more mundane targets, too.

Many personal finance gurus will tell you that if you aim to give away 10% of your income every year, you’ll get it back with interest.

I haven’t tried anything so concrete, but writing this post I am wondering if I should.

How do you feel about giving? Do you find it a present day motivation or something for the future? Or do you feel you do enough with taxes or bringing up a family, perhaps? Let us know below. No judging!

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • 1 Learner November 5, 2015, 11:54 am

    When I was younger and dumber and thought I could afford such charity (instead of saving for the future) I gave regularly to causes and disaster relief. 10 years on and a little wiser the future seems very bleak indeed. Every man for himself! I like to think I would be generous again if I manage to achieve financial security one day.

    Good on Lewis for recognising how much of his wealth is “enough”, and putting the surplus to positive use. Many people simply inflate their life proportionally or attempt to create an inherited fortune for future generations of their family.

  • 2 ermine November 5, 2015, 11:55 am

    Much as I tip a hat to MSE, it was the second string to my bow. The first – well I for one would like to thank Monevator for similarly life changing hope in troubled times, and a turning point when I was stuck i na job I had loved but a system I hated and then I read this in the depths of the recession and though to myself that man isn’t wrong.

    Long story short, I have been out of there three years, my ISA makes more money than I do, I caould go out and enjoy the luminous fog earlier this week and on a grey day I am messign about with modelling ancient monuments to see what they looked like when they were first built. For the hell of it, and because it interests me.

    So thank you, sir, for Monevator – because it was investing and big-picture understanding that I needed, not how to make a budget, which my parents had taught me many decades ago… My ISA and my wealth is better for some of the information, and giving me the kick up the backside to take that understanding and turn it into action. It’s not the size of your readership that counts, it’s also the size of your impact. MSE is great on how to save cash. It’s pretty thin on investing, presumably for regulation or perhaps because many users need to fix debt first.

  • 3 ermine November 5, 2015, 12:05 pm

    And a tip on giving to charity – if you want to do it anonymously so you don’t get hounded by junk mail then I can recommend a Charities’ Aid Foundation card (if you need to track for tax reasons) or just using their website if you don’t need to track it 🙂

  • 4 AndyT November 5, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Firstly, this is very charitable, and you’re right, I’m not sure I’d find it that easy to give away such large sums. I think Martin has done a great job over the years at getting people thinking and talking about money and becoming more savvy consumers. And well done to him for monetising the site he grew out of that.

    I was reading an Ermine article lately though, and it got me thinking that much of the MSE newsletter these days is all based on perpetuating that endless consumption…

    – What stores are running offers or sales (GAP and cheap champagne this week)?
    – How can I avoid fines for taking my little darlings on holiday in term time?
    – And where next can I move the mountain of debt I’m accruing?

    The easiest way of really saving money is surely to just consume *less*, not to shop around more for it. :o)

    I try these days to only go on MSE, cashback sites etc. when there’s something that I definitely need to buy, to then see where I can buy it cheapest. I try and avoid all the enticements and “Offers” those site sling one’s way.

    “A bargain is only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway” as the saying goes. :o)

  • 5 vanguardfan November 5, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Interesting and thought provoking. I received a windfall a few years ago, and had the best of intentions of giving 10% of it away. Guess what though…although I spent quite some time thinking about how to do this, it all seemed too difficult to decide and procrastination ruled. A big name charity? My donation would be a drop in the ocean. A small local charity where it might really make a difference? Too public, I don’t want to be known in my small town as a loaded benefactor. So in the end I’ve just done ad-hoc gifts to appeals, more generously than I might have otherwise, I’ve joined various subscription organisations whose aims I support, and I have regular donations to a spread of small and large charities – but only to a value of about 1% of my income, which is shamefully pitiful. I have become too possessive of my nest egg – you are completely right that it is easier to give large chunks at the outset, before you start to feel ‘owner’s rights’ over them. After all, I don’t miss the large chunk that went to HMRC -so I could painlessly have made matched charitable donations at the same time.
    I’ll try and do better…

  • 6 Learner November 5, 2015, 1:00 pm

    I can’t remember precisely how I found monevator – probably a link from google or a forum. But it’s the one I follow and the one I recommend without hesitation to friends who are trying to get a grip on personal finance. Many thanks!

  • 7 Gedusa November 5, 2015, 2:01 pm

    (Avid reader but first time commenter, hi!)

    I absolutely agree with deciding on how much money is ‘enough’ to support your lifestyle and putting the rest to good use (whether savings, charity etc.). I give 10% of my paycheck away every month, and another chunk around christmas. I mostly give to charities that work in the developing world, based on research done on what interventions seem to work the best by these guys: http://www.givewell.org

    I’m not rich by any means (just started a graduate job in London) but I find that I have more than enough to get by on nonetheless – in fact I feel very well off compared to when I was a student!

    I find that giving money away is a big part of my life and makes me feel much more connected to the world, and also makes me feel like I have much more of a purpose than otherwise. FYI, I decided to do this when I was a student and joined a group of people (https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/) who also give away at least 10% of their income – the couple who live on 6% of their income are also members.

  • 8 Ed November 5, 2015, 3:04 pm

    I support charity work for disasters etc – thru taxation.

    A high percentage of charity donation does not go to the cause – it goes to employees’ wages, & council payments for High St charity shops.

    If there were no charities to fund research into illnesses, I’m sure research would not come to a grinding halt.

    You can give to charities for the ‘feel-good factor’. It won’t do a lot for the ’cause’. But do it anonymously. I don’t want to know how good you think you are.

    And instead of celebrities & others climbing mountains etc. for ‘charity’, they should go & help with the hands-on work (pay for your own fare & accomm.; & zero payment).

  • 9 theFIREstarter November 5, 2015, 3:11 pm

    +1 for Monevators impact. I “discovered” MSE years ago and thought it was a quaint site with some interesting ideas to save you money, but it’s not going to make anyone rich (apart from Martin Lewis, obviously!).
    So we could say overall impact = magnitude of impact x number of people reached then MSE might be a 10% improvement in finances x 1 million people but monevator might be 100% improvement x 100,000 people (or whatever) so the total impact might be a lot nearer than just going on numbers alone.

    Monevator is the place to come for a good UK investing education IMO and again I will happily recommend it to any mates that ask about the subject (I do not even tell them I run a PF blog if I’m honest!)

    As for Martin, fair play to the guy, you can’t fault him on the generosity and I agree I think he knows behavioural economics well and has used that trick on himself. Genius!

    I’m giving more generously nowadays than I used to but it’s still no where near 10% of income. I think as we live in such a high tax country there is not quite as much need to tithe as Americans often do at the rate of 10%.

    I’d like to think if I were in Martin’s situation I would do something similar. I think anything over 1 million is my mark to start giving a lot more generously. Hopefully one day I will find out! 🙂

  • 10 Bob November 5, 2015, 4:42 pm

    I had no idea that the CAB was a charity. One charity truly worthy of the often questionable blanket charity tax relief.

    Charitable giving as a general topic is noticeable by its absence in the personal finance/FIRE blogosphere, much of which I find somewhat too self obsessed.

    Whilst I’ve bought a few bat homes and sponsored the odd donkey in my time, I should do more. I’m reading the Isles of the West by Ian Mitchell at the moment which paints many of the conservation charities (in particular the RSPB) in a very poor light. It (and certain charities blind opposition to GM and fracking) has made me question donations to some charities where in the past I would have blindly donated.

  • 11 Jon November 5, 2015, 5:34 pm

    I earn a decent salary relative to my friends & family, but live semi-frugally relative to my salary.

    Other than occasional requests for sponsorship, etc. I don’t give to charity as I’m focused on reducing spending, and growing my net worth in order to achieve Financial Independence, possibly followed by Early Retirement with a view to then giving some of my time to help local charities.

    I’m increasingly aware that if I weren’t so focused on these goals I could afford to give financially to charity. I recently read a blog post on charitable giving, and was struck by one point in particular – rather than retiring early and donating my time I could help charities more by staying in work, earning money I no longer have a need for, and donating a decent chunk of this.

  • 12 weenie November 5, 2015, 5:36 pm

    My investment strategy is pretty much based on what I’ve read on this website (oh and Tim Hale’s Smarter Investing book) – I guess you’ve saved me from paying a lot of fees from active funds, so thanks!

    There’s always something new to learn here, eg I too didn’t know that CAB was a charity.

    I give sporadically, eg sponsor work colleagues for marathons, moustaches etc. Am a little disillusioned with some of the bigger charities and where the money actually goes, ie director’s pockets or recruiting third parties to hound people to donate. Might look at donating to smaller, less well known charities.

    Bravo to Martin for his very generous donations.

  • 13 Mr Tkmk November 5, 2015, 5:37 pm

    It would be good to hear a bit more about Rhino’s strategy and what steps he took to achieve that outcome. Perhaps a Rhino guest post?

  • 14 Brian Bennis November 5, 2015, 6:23 pm

    This is a great article. To some, Lewis is annoying, yet to others, he should be anointed. No matter what you think of ‘Marmite’ Lewis, you can’t deny the millions of people he’s helped. A true ‘money saving expert’. Good on him for that. And even better that he’s sharing his rewards with those less fortunate. Long may you prosper, Martin.

  • 15 Survivor November 5, 2015, 6:23 pm

    Apples vs oranges, Sir ….. as someone else posted, MSE is a website for beginners, [even leaving aside the still over-consuming aspect] teaching what which in all honesty, people really should know at some point in their very early adulthood if they are of average intelligence & care about their future.

    Your site on the other hand is the gift of the secret to setting yourself free for life as well as just not getting ripped off every time you breathe in the modern Neoliberal world. As such, you will have a very modest following in comparison because few people even think about this, let alone have the guts to give it a go, then the discipline to stay the course.

    If you cater to plankton, you will always win the numbers game ……. so if you focused on quality instead, you can only blame yourself, innit 🙂

    I agree that Martin is still head & shoulder above the rest for setting an example though & proving that unfettered greed doesn’t have to be.

    Personally, the first time I found your site, I scoured it end to end & immediately cancelled/changed my SIPP provider because whilst I had somehow felt I was on a closet tracker, I had no idea you could pay a small flat annual fee for the platform instead of being gouged for a %. Now that pension has grown like hell even in the 2 years since & one day will ensure I am not homeless & restricted to eating catfood – so I’m grateful for your existence & efforts 🙂

  • 16 Jim McG November 5, 2015, 7:13 pm

    It’s a good point about MSE – it does seem to champion relentless consumerism and spend, spend spend as opposed to save, save, save. I hadn’t thought about that before. Good luck to Martin. I hope he turns attention to educating the young, who probably need to be much more financially astute for the future. Adults, well, I would despair if I could give a toss. People need to take more personal responsibility. I think the same about most charities – I’d tend to want to support those that teach the men to fish. I’m not much of a giver. I’m not proud of it, I do believe that you probably will benefit from learning to share the wealth, and it’s something I’d like to practice going forward once I find the right mechanism for it.

  • 17 Dawn November 5, 2015, 8:40 pm

    Why did Martin Lewis feel the need to go public about his giving? mmm.
    MSE is for silly adults with no common sense.
    Monevator site is the place to go. This site is fantastic.
    Karma = You get back what you give out so Mr Monevator you’ve something good coming back to you somehow, some where, some day.

  • 18 Bob November 5, 2015, 9:03 pm

    I personally use his site to regularly to navigate the ever changing savings account landscape and switch accordingly. Sure 0.2% even on 70k isn’t much….but rather in my pocket than the banks.

    (silly) Bob

  • 19 Snowman November 5, 2015, 11:37 pm

    I’ve had a wonderful time volunteering at the CAB for the past 9 years. As well as helping people on all sorts of issues, you get to be friends with an extraordinarily kind group of volunteers and staff. It is the toughest ‘job’ I’ve ever done mind you, and its definitely the most skilled ‘workforce’ in any role I’ve ever done.

    We certainly struggle for funds. We are not a very sexy charity really, but that’s just the way it is. The CAB where I used to volunteer went bankrupt a few years ago but fortunately the neighbouring CAB is now covering the geographical area the bankrupt CAB used to cover. So the donation by Martin Lewis to the national organisations of Citizens Advice, who provide the infrastructure for the local CABs is very welcome. I think Martin Lewis’s awareness raising of what the CAB do is important too, so I am glad he made the donation public. It is also great that he is helping the Trussell Trust also. We work closely with them and refer a lot of clients; before they set up locally I had clients telling me they were going through the bins of local supermarkets to find food to eat.

    I was lucky to read George Orwell’s ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ when I was young, and it really made me realise the trade off you make when you choose between a high paid job and a job that you enjoy. I think it does require a very calculated decision and you are effectively putting a price on ‘happiness’.

    The monevator blog is an example of something worthwhile and rewarding. Even if it doesn’t make you (the Investor) a millionaire don’t ever forget to put a value on the happiness and help that it gives you and others when you crunch the numbers. Good karma is a feedback loop.

  • 20 Minikins November 6, 2015, 12:17 am

    Think of your free investment and financial advice as a charity, you give it for free to anyone interested and make us laugh aswell, can’t get better than that!

    Martin Lewis has always had a mission and it was always to help others save money and avoid debt. That mission remains and continues with his charity donations. The Monevator motive, if you will, is different. It is more discursive, not a way of life, not a movement nor a rally to get people to do stuff but to get people to THINK logically and not by rubbishing others or by bigging up the Monevator way. Indeed TI doesn’t even necessarily follow his own rationale and dabbles in territory beyond the slow and steady approach to investing espoused within this site. It is a non directive approach more easily described by what it doesn’t do rather than what it does. Anyway, enough hermeneutics. I work for a large charity and I donate to it too, it pays towards my wages amongst many other greater things 🙂 But I do have mixed feelings about the spend on marketing and some media. I think nothing works better than the snowball effect of dedicated individuals working in a charity who will naturally inspire loyalty and donations in others. It cannot be overestimated but it can’t be measured unlike marketing responses.

    There are givers and takers in life. Either can become rich but I think good will and good fortune flows more easily to givers because they are not actually chasing it.

  • 21 Adnan November 6, 2015, 5:18 am

    Lewis has been a great source of information and savings for many but as for as I can understand from his writings and material present on his website, the guides are more of prolonged sales pitches. No doubt people save a lot but one basic question is that of trust- people trust Lewis despite the fact that his advice is mostly a sales pitch rather then real genuine advice to save money. MSE wants its readers to save money with vendors/providers/businesses of their choice.

  • 22 Neverland November 6, 2015, 9:59 am

    Martin Lewis and MSE illustrates the level of fortuitous luck that entrepreneurship often requires and sometimes just riding a wave can make you rich

    The entrepreneurs in this story to my mind are not necessarily Martin Lewis but two guys, one called Simon Nixon, who started moneysupermarket.com

    I don’t watch much TV now, but I think after Thats Life finished Martin Lewis effectively became the only personal finance journalist on TV

    Then the internet came along and financial services companies realised they could use it to generate sales leads

    Simon Nixon and his business parter started a links site, moneysupermarket.com, which compiled lists of best buy mortgages and insurance generating click through fees. It grew very fast as more and more people got online

    Independently Martin Lewis put himself and his tips on the internet and started a forum to generate some content for his site

    I’m not sure about the exact original link between MSE and moneysupermarket, but I think moneysupermarket provided MSE’s best buy tables and then shared the click through link revenues

    Moneysupermarket really had little content, little community and not much stickiness for people to stay around. MSE had loads of the latter. Pretty soon I think a huge proportion of moneysupermarket’s revenue was coming via MSE

    By this time moneysupermarket was on the stock market and run by a corporate guy, the founders had long since taken the money and ran

    Ergo moneysupermarket made a too-good-to-refuse offer to buy MSE and Lewis gets rich

    Its an interesting story of how circumstance and changes in society create accidental and deliberate multi-millionaires

  • 23 Survivor November 6, 2015, 11:06 am

    @ 16 Jim McG, I agree with you that organised charity has followed the path of organised religion in deviating from the whole point of the excercise. Just doling out ‘fish’ to the starving ultimately changes nothing if all the causal factors remain, they just have 10 kids each & a generation later, you have 5 times the number in desperate need of fish. As you say, teach them to fish, then they can stand on their own feet & not need anything – let’s face it, nobody wants to have to beg anyway.

    I grew up in the 3rd world & saw these charities’ ‘work’ first-hand, so have a jaundiced view of what difference they ever made, but check out this fascinating interview from a more neutral source – Merryn S. Webb at MoneyWeek – http://moneyweek.com/alex-perry-africa-interview/ which backs me up in my cynicism.

    Also, consider that charity can take many forms, not just money – time is money too [indirectly] for example & you actually educate via your blog. I try one-on-one to change those I care about by sharing what I know, to hopefully improve their finances …..if they want to listen.

    @Neverland – that was interesting about MSE & the large dollop of luck – I find that often these famous [for being successful] people are only very shy about admitting that they had a hell of a helping hand starting out in life. I read the other day that one of the most arrogant & unempathetic narcisists to disgrace this planet, Donald Trump, was gifted $300 million from Daddy to make his way in the world in the beginning.

    I’m not saying that all rich &/or successful people started out coasting on the momentum of their forebears, just that if the hand you are dealt at birth is full of aces, it’s a lot easier to do well in life than the others.

    And even with those who genuinely did it all by themselves, I would be willing to bet the majority had a random boost of luck unrelated to their abilities or efforts, whether they realised it or not.

  • 24 OldPro November 6, 2015, 12:39 pm

    Regarding Donald Trump… there was an article in the Monevator “Weekend Reading Links” that showed that Mr Trump would have been richer if he had bought a tracker fund with his inheritance and avoided going into business for himself…

    …with that allowed, I agree with “The Investor” that entrepreneurs deserve the rewards they accrue… of course some are lucky, perhaps most, but that is a necessary condition for success, rather than a cause… what is more we need these risk takers to quit their jobs and risk losing their homes to drive forward the economy — would you rather Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell were given the reigns of industry?

    (I am too old to do a smiling face symbol… but you know what I mean, I am not serious and appreciate you’re not saying this… I am just having a little rib…!)

  • 25 The Rhino November 6, 2015, 12:49 pm

    My salary vs income comment is a bit naughty as I’ve just woken up to the benefits of extreme salary sacrifice and am now on min wage.

    A more traditional way of putting it would be that I managed to hit a net worth of 300x monthly spend. Thats a much more informative metric I think.

    I believe in order to handle that in a sensible way you have to have the skills that Monevator (and the other related literature) promotes.

    No intention of going into the details as I don’t think that sort of thing (i.e. doing a RIT) is wise. If I did I’d prob have a PF blog of my own.

    One thing I am prepared to share though is that I do suffer from genetic-frugality (border-line miserliness in other words).

    Two childhood experiences seem to be pertinent, (1) sitting on my school bus calculating the effects of various interest rates on compound returns, (2) performing a cost-benefit analysis on a £5 bottle of insect repellent whilst on an outward bound week in the lakes – subsequently getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

    I don’t think either of those things are normal or even particularly healthy – my issue (i.e. what I have to work hard at getting right) is spending, not saving so I was probably never going to be broke. What I needed was the framework to handle the disparity between income and expenses in a sensible way and thats where Monevator certainly paved my way.

    Despite this tight-fistedness, I have recently bought EREs book at great expense (a tenner, after scouring the internet for a pdf of course). Its a good read would recommend it.

  • 26 M from There's Value November 6, 2015, 5:53 pm

    I’m still cursing the internet gods for losing my first attempt at posting a reply… but here is roughly what I wanted to say:

    I think it’s important to give to charity. I really applaud Martin Lewis for doing so. However I am cautious about who gets my money. I don’t want my money going to line the pockets of the Director, so I do try to look at who gets paid what, in addition to the charity doing something I feel is beneficial. I did not know that the CAB was actually a charity, so I may have to look into them and start donating. I think they do a great job, although I find it rather odd that a previous commenter said a branch went bankrupt!!!

    I am committed to saving and investing a set % of my income each moneth, but I am also committed to increasing (annually) the proportion of my income that I donate too. I wrote a post about this a couple of months ago: http://www.theresvalue.co.uk/how-to-divide-your-income/ and I also was thinking about doing some of the ideas that D2 wrote about here: http://dividend-drive.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/big-change-from-small-change-marrying.html

    Overall, I would love to be a major philanthropist, and as such am thinking of changing some of my investing habits to grow my money faster (more risk though, oooo!!!) so that I can donate more and more… I like helping people in many ways, so donating my time once FI arrives would also be pretty sweet.

  • 27 Gally November 7, 2015, 2:03 am

    Having found out about the Charities Aid Foundation I now have a way of making regular donations to my CAF bank account and then writing cheques to charities or setting up standing orders anonymously.

    This way I can donate a regular payment to charity and when funds have built up in my CAF account respond to a particular cause by lump sum or a smaller donation.

    By this method I can invest in CAF Charity bank account on a regular basis without tying myself to a particular charity or cause. It becomes part of my ‘giving back’ investment strategy.

    If I neglect to check the account funds build up and I then seek out a diserving cause which I am happy to support. This is much more gratifying that just putting a few pounds in a box just by chance.

  • 28 Sean November 7, 2015, 9:17 am

    I have been reading monevator for a number of years and the things I have learnt has helped me save/invest/inspire me more than any other site. I always recommend it to anyone I know who is interested in looking after their cash. I always trust the advice as I don’t feel that I am being sold to ,the facts are laid out for me to make hopefully better and more informed choices. I look forward to the new articles weekly and always feel better for reading them so thanks.

  • 29 Snowman November 7, 2015, 10:03 am

    @ M from There’s Value

    Great to hear your support for the CAB.

    CABs are individual charities and typically get their funding from donations and grants. Some of the infrastructure, such as our information systems are provided by the national organisation Citizens Advice but each bureau pays a contribution for that. While it is volunteers that provide the generalist service, there is some skeleton support from paid staff, and there are building and rental costs, training costs etc.

    What happened with the bankrupt bureau was that one of the grants was cut by 20% and then frozen in subsequent years, so reduced in real terms. There are some specialist projects also and typically these involve restricted funding that is used to cover some specialist workers’ salaries, but can make a contribution to the fixed costs of the bureau. A significant reduction in some of the specialist projects, for example following the legal aid cuts, meant that the specialist projects’ contribution to the fixed costs reduced significantly.

    It was a case that expenditure was more than income following the grant cut and loss of income to cover the fixed costs, and because everything was already cut to the bone, there was nothing further that could be cut. The already low reserves started to dwindle and a slow death followed and the bureau I mentioned eventually became insolvent, at which time it had to cease operating.

    We can often get funding for specialist projects but it is funding the generalist service (the service that covers all subject areas) that can be difficult to obtain.

  • 30 Russ November 7, 2015, 12:26 pm

    “sticks out like an ATM in the arctic”… You may be surprised to hear that their are ATMs in the Arctic and Antartic [manufactured by my employer]…


  • 31 The Investor November 7, 2015, 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the great comments everyone, including the nice ones about Monevator.

    (@Minikins in particular you have a knack of presenting us in the better than really possible light, and “hermeneutics” was new to me!)

    @Russ — That’s incredible. (Is it a little bit of a shame, too? There is no escape from the filthy lucre… 😉 )

  • 32 Pete November 7, 2015, 4:48 pm

    I do give to a couple of charities direct from the payroll but I have an issue with charities per se.
    In the UK there are far too many charities covering similar causes driven by egos of good intentions but have big overheads to run them (admin/CEO etc)
    Fewer big charities would have lower running costs and more to distribute to the causes.
    Have you ever seen how much of your £ reaches the cause?

  • 33 living cheap in London November 7, 2015, 6:47 pm

    Trying to work out who has saved me most money…. Monevator or MSE.

    Lately it’s been Monevator with some huge savings when i woke up to the costs eating into my personal pension: I consolidated 2 small pensions into one larger one & thus got into a bigger tier of discounts… this simple move is going to save me thousands over the coming years. Plus of course encouraging good discipline with passive investing costs within my ISAS.

    MSE saved me a lot earlier in life: helping guide me onto the best mortgage choices & encouraging me to remortgage promptly. On my last mortgage I even got money back for taking it out.

    So for me, the 2 sites have both been invaluable, but in very different ways.

  • 34 Mathmo November 7, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Fit your own oxygen mask before helping others, the lady said.

  • 35 educatedinvestorbymonevator November 8, 2015, 7:42 am

    I have saved a lot of money by using MSE in comparison to my friends who are spending 600 pounds a year alone on broadband bill itself.MSE saved my money towards gas/electric and insurance bills.The forum threads discussion on various matters for example maximum house rental payout by insurers in case your property get damaged was a really eye opener.However,I believe MSE is not good in terms of investment advice when they mention about zopa ,bonds, hedging of foreign exchange ,etc. MSE readers lost a big chunk in foreign exchange hedging couple of year ago.

    Monevator on the other hand is gives useful information about importance of saving,share market investment through funds & investment trusts ,long term expected growth, brokers and educating people in detail about risks .
    MSE never detail the risks involved in investment links they promote.The comment section on monevator is controlled by experts in investment sector. If you look at MSE forum section , all these tom & harry giving wrong and dangerous advice.The recent one is about some bond which has been diversified into 90 companies.Are these loans backed by assets ? If they allow this sort of discussion then they should have some educational section as they have it for personal borrowing.

  • 36 smiling vulture November 9, 2015, 2:12 pm

    I set up a standing order to a charity,within two months,they asked for more.

    I cancelled,obviously my amount wasn’t appreciated

    M.S.E site is worth its weight in gold,i became debt,mortgage free using it

  • 37 Brendan November 11, 2015, 1:26 pm

    Might want to correct the heading – I’m not sure it’s supposed to be a ‘risky’ premium!

  • 38 Brendan November 11, 2015, 1:27 pm

    Er…this was supposed to be a comment on the latest article.

  • 39 The Investor November 11, 2015, 3:42 pm

    Oh dear, thanks for that spot Brendan — bit of an embarrassing slip! 🙂

  • 40 Corvid May 29, 2021, 10:05 pm

    Well Monevator made a difference to me! I was completely unclear on how the stock market worked and scared to try it out before I found you. (Another complication was that I’m not from the UK and needed a primer on how things work here). Your “basics” articles were perfect, laid it all out and helped me to get started (with the help of your broker table). Much appreciated.

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