With the tag line ‘UK Consumer Revenge’ the moneysavingexpert.com website (the .co.uk extension redirect to the main .com website these days) is the brainchild of Martin Lewis, a financial journalist and TV personality in the UK.
The site in its current format has been with us since February 2003, but Martin was sending out Money Saving Tips via email to his friends even before that. His friends helpfully passed the email along, inspiring him to create a distribution list supported by a basic home page in June 2000. Originally working as a one man operation, Martin is now supported by a dedicated team of editors and researchers, who investigate a range of subjects to bring readers hints and tips for saving money.
The site includes a range of helpful tools from the Money Makeover guide to the Budget Planner designed to help users get and stay on top of their finances, and offers comparisons of credit cards, loans, bank accounts, utilities and phone deals, plus advice for saving on travel and motoring, insurance, shopping and generally making the most of your income.
Unlike most other comparison sites, the staff don’t simply regurgitate the offers’ main points and leave you to make up your mind. Instead, they investigate the hidden charges and clauses that might leave you out of pocket, warn you about them and provide instructions for staying on the right side of the money saving equation.
There is also a vibrant community forum where regular readers share their best bargain finds, and hints and tips for frugal living, the best of which often make it into the weekly email. The email also includes short term deals that are often little publicized, links to vouchers and warnings about when the best deals are about to end or change, with updates for new best deals and deadlines for action.
Martin himself is a much-loved figure in the UK, and not just for his looks. He’s warm and personable, with his loyalties firmly planted in the camp of the ‘little guy.’ He’s also charmingly nerdy about numbers, becoming animated and fascinated when most ordinary folks get confused and tune out, which is why so many trust him to steer them in the right direction.
The site is resolutely ad free, though it does receive revenues from affiliate links in many of the offers covered. However, the site is up front about this, and maintains a strict editorial policy of not being influenced by commissions. The journalistic integrity of the site is maintained by having one member of staff write the editorial content, then having another apply income generating links to it after it has been written.
The site policy also prevents companies from paying to have their products listed, so nothing is included on the site unless it’s there “because it’s the very best way to save money, based on independent, detailed and specialised journalistic research by members of the team.”
In fact, originally the site had no revenue generation at all, and it was only added to support the growing costs of the site, which it now does with a healthy profit, and then donates sizable chunk to charities, which are nominated by users on the forum.