Is this the most dangerous man to corporate Britain’s profits? With a Consumer Revenge movement growing daily through regular broadcasts on radio and television, the largest money site in the UK, and chart-topping books, podcasts and newspaper columns - today he is effectively showing millions how to put more money back into their pockets without cutting back.
“Money Saving Expert” Martin Lewis is an ultra-specialised journalist, award winning TV & radio presenter, national newspaper columnist and bestselling author. He is the man behind MoneySavingExpert.com the biggest and most influential money site in the UK, which he created, writes and owns.
With a staggering 1.1m unique users each month looking for an ethical, ad-free and easy way to digest information and over 670,000 people opting to get his free weekly Martin’s Money Saving Tips e-mail, Martin is a modern day ‘money messiah’. His mission is simple, championing the fact people can give themselves an effective 25% pay rise by being savvier, smarter consumers; cutting bills, not cutting back; and taking companies on – and millions are following it.
The fast talking consumer king is regularly seen on the small screen and wildly listened to on radio; most recently twice weekly on BBC1's flagship The One Show, presenting money specials for ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald, being resident money expert on GMTV’s LK Today as well as presenting his own ITV1 show Make Me Rich (currently being repeated on ITV2). He is a regular contributor on FIVE’s The Wright Stuff and Martin has a massively popular regular hour long phone-in slot of BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Programme. His bestselling book, The Money Diet, spent four weeks at the top of the Amazon UK charts, knocking Jamie Oliver and Sharon Osbourne off their perch. Martin toppled Big Brother in the new pod cast charts.
Why interview Martin Lewis now?
Money Saving Expert – the most talked about money site in the UK
Martin set up MoneySavingExpert.com, in February 2003 for £100 and it is now by far the UK’s biggest money site, despite being started by an individual with no advertising or marketing budgets compared to the huge company mega-million operations of its competition.
The site is about completely changing the way people think about buying, spending and borrowing money. Martin undertakes primary, cutting edge research to offer consumers prescriptive opinion on how they can save money, exploit loopholes and take revenge on companies.
The site started almost by accident; during the course of his MoneySaving journalism work he started sending out urgent notes to friends, when there was a great deal launched that didn’t look likely to last long. Soon he found he was meeting friends of friends at parties who’d had these ‘Martin’s Money Tips’ e-mails forwarded on to them; so he decided to take charge set up a website and an e-mail distribution list. Just three and a half years later over 670,000 people have chosen to receive the same ‘Martin’s Money Tips’ e-mail.
While this website focuses on finding the best deals, it is not just about finance, Martin’s expertise stretches over a range of subjects. The ultimate clever shopper, Martin offers free expert information on a variety of topics: reclaiming bank charges, recycling mobile phones for cash, making free cash from credit cards, benefits, mortgages, finding train fare loopholes, to name but a few.
Plus there are a number of huge useful specialist tools developed, that usually haven’t been developed elsewhere because money can’t be made from them, thus others haven’t done it, so MoneySavingExpert stepped in. One example is the FlightChecker which will trawl budget airline websites to find the all flights to a destination for under £5 between e.g September and December.
There is an air of guerrilla warfare about MoneySavingExpert.com, as on top of Martin’s articles and tools, users sharing and swapping tips in the enormously populated web forums. This site's prime weapon is word of mouth, with hundreds of thousands of enthused individuals lobbying friends and family to join in, become MoneySavers, and fight back – using a site where informed decisions which are not dictated by large corporate advertisers.
Martin Lewis’s movement
Speak to Martin and within a couple of minutes the glint in his eye, and speed of his speech, makes its obvious why he’s accused of being a MoneySaving evangelist. He says ‘its not my job, it’s my passion and my politics’ and sees his mission is to put more cash in consumers’ pockets. Through MoneySavingExpert.com, his writing and broadcast work, he has set about showing consumers the myriad of ways they are being fleeced and brings logic into the 21st Century.
His aim is to show people the best deals to beat the system, and in doing so has caused a consumer revolution. Martin has already caused a number of major companies to remove financial products and change the way they do things by taking a more ethical stance.
He unashamedly uses the power of MoneySavingExpert.com to raise awareness of issues he sees as important. From campaigning to asking children’s TV channels to stop carrying secured loan advertising to organising a petition appealing to Carol Vorderman to ask her to please stop doing secured loan adverts. Over 60,000 people signed this in the first week of the campaign making it one of the biggest online votes since Jamie Oliver’s School Dinner Campaign.
Most recently he has been campaigning against what he believes are unfair and unlawful charges from the main high street banks; with thousands threatening to take their bank to Court, and almost all winning settlements often in the £1,000s
Martin believes we live in an adversarial consumer society, where a company’s job is to make money and a consumers job is to stop them. Yet companies spend billions on selling to us and training their staff to sell but we don’t get any buyers training. This means that there is an imbalance in our society between companies and consumers.
This doesn’t mean he’s anti-corporate or anti-profit, more he’s pro-active consumerism, “If a company makes £10 billion profits from selling the best value cheapest products, I’ll cheer for it; but if it’s profits are made from apathy, inertia, confusion and ignorance – then consumers need to learn contempt, ditch and switch. The first lesson is to always remember a company's job is to make money from us, and that is its prime driving force, therefore we should consider it with scepticism.”
Martin’s strategy for saving money works up via three levels: one is simply to start shopping around for the best deals, the second is to begin paying more attention to company thought-processes and marketing tricks, and the third is to spot the loopholes and manipulative offers to make money, and not just save it.
Martin Lewis’s broadcast work
Martin is the broadcaster of choice for many programme makers not least because of his highly energised delivery, access to unique primary source research and his focused ‘MoneySaving’ philosophy which means everyone wants to hear his strategies. There is no doubt that he has become the user-friendly face of finance on the telly.
He is the de rigueur expert on a range of subjects for both ITV & Sky News programmes, as well as almost every relevant programme you can think of, having appeared/presented BBC1’s Panorama, Watchdog and Debt Day; Radio 4’s Moneybox, ITV’s Package Holidays Undercover, and even for calculating lurid costs on Celebrity Sex Scandals.
Martin has also presented, 30 minutes on Channel 4, BBC2’s Webwise and Meridian’s Save Yourself a fortune. He’s also regularly presented the ‘Money Saving’ slot on ITV1’s This Morning, Richard Hammond 5 o’clock show and Channel 5’s Open House with Gloria Hunniford – where he made his name.
Martin has his own ITV1 series Make Me Rich (currently being repeated on ITV2), a hugely popular monthly Radio 2 advice slot on the Jeremy Vine show, appears regularly on Talk Sport phone-ins and is in constant demand as the regular face and voice of money on countless TV and radio programmes.
Martin Lewis’s Publishing Career
An updated edition of Martin’s book The Money Diet soon followed in the footsteps of the first edition with an additional 100 pages of money saving tips, and it stayed on to top the Amazon Bestsellers list – in combination the two editions have sold over 100,000 copies. In recent weeks it has returned to Number 3 in the charts as interest in Martin and his philosophy continues to grow. Expect a new book from Martin very soon.
He’s remains an ultra-specialised journalist, who spends his life focusing on how to cut bills without cutting back through national newspaper columns and his regular advice feature for Moneywise.
Martin Lewis’s background
Martin has a postgraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from Cardiff University, and is a graduate of the London School of Economics (where he was also President of the Students’ Union).
A career in politics looked probable, but close to graduation, the Chairman of LSE’s Court of Governors, Sir Peter Parker, recommended Martin to his son Alan Parker, the boss of Brunswick PR, arguably the City’s most powerful PR firm. He subsequently joined and learnt what he describes as the “black art of PR where 90% of the job is keeping clients out of the papers”. Yet Martin decided his politics didn’t lie in pushing companies over the consumer and quit, deciding to pursue a career in journalism.
So what makes a 34 year journalist morph into the anti-finance champion and the man who is taking on the mighty financial institutions? The fact that he is a self confessed ‘nerd’ has no doubt propelled him to where he is today. He has an obsession with lists and figures, a walking best-buys spreadsheet who can quote comprehensive details on almost any financial product at the drop of a base rate. Yet the instincts come from a honed sense of ‘empowerment politics’ learned from his days as a student union hack, it’s a simple belief that, “if you want to try and make a difference, the best place to start is putting money in their pockets.”
Martin, grew up in Cheshire and now lives in North Kensington, West London with his girlfriend Lara Lewington (weather and showbiz presenter for FIVE News). What people might not know about Martin is that he’s a keen dancer, and takes stints on the dance floor seriously and even dabbled at one stage as a stand-up comic.
What his TV and radio counterparts say about Martin Lewis
“Calm down Martin, it’s only a Radio Programme” – recorded specially for Radio 2 Vine programme by Michael Winner.
“The Dumbledore of debt” – Paul Ross, This Morning
“The UK’s biggest financial anorak” – Paul Lewis, Radio 4’s Moneybox
“If anyone can help, it’s this man. Martin Lewis knows more about credit cards than possibly anyone else in the country” - Justin Rowlatt, BBC1 Panorama
“Mr Lewis is to financial institutions what Kryptonite was to Superman” – Willesden and Brent Times
‘A Fiscal Superhero” – Channel 4, Teletext
“Stripy-shirted tightwad money saving expert Martin Lewis” – Michael Clarke, This is Money
What Martin Lewis says about himself
If you ask him what he does for a living he says,
“I’m a broadcaster by training, and presenting programmes or talking about money on the telly & radio is my job. When I originally set up this site in Feb 2003 for £100, it was barely more than a home page. Yet without spending on marketing or advertising, it has become the huge monster it is”.
“It staggers me that it’s now visited over a million times a month and is ranked the biggest consumer & personal finance site in the UK – for that massive thanks are due to many regular MoneySavers kindly recommending it to their friends”.
“I was hugely proud, gob smacked even, recently when there was a specific motion in the House of Commons to support the site. It’s one of the reasons I strive to keep the original intimate one-person feel of the site, and why every word of every article goes through me”. More importantly, I deliberately retain 100% ownership. This way regardless of scale it can retain its non-profit-driven ethical stance.”