From Firewood to Finances: Our Team’s Year of Sparkling Savings

**From Firewood to Finances: Our Team’s Year of Sparkling Savings**

It’s not uncommon for even money experts to make financial mistakes from time to time, and the Money team is no exception. As we reflect on our past year, we want to share our greatest successes and our most significant failures. Each member of our team has had their own unique journey when it comes to managing their finances. Let’s take a closer look at the individual experiences and the valuable lessons learned along the way.

**Jeff Prestridge – Group Wealth & Personal Finance Editor**

**SUCCESS:** Jeff’s accomplishment in keeping his Mum’s finances in relatively good order throughout 2023 stands out. By exercising a lasting power of attorney, he has been able to oversee his Mum’s bank account, occasionally topping it up with transfers from a savings account when necessary. It’s a thoughtful way of reciprocating the care his Mum provided while he was growing up.

**FAILURE:** On the flip side, a decision to put years’ worth of possessions in self-storage without taking the time to declutter beforehand has led to unnecessary expenses. Jeff finds himself shelling out £161 a month to store items that may never see the light of day again.

**Adele Cooke – Money Reporter**

**SUCCESS:** Adele’s success story involves taking proactive steps to build a strong credit score by applying for a cashback credit card. By making responsible use of the credit card and setting up a direct debit to pay off the balance in full, she has not only improved her credit score but also earned £111.16 in cashback.

**FAILURE:** However, a summer filled with social activities and visits to family overseas took a toll on her bank balance, leaving her £200 over budget. Determined to stay on track financially, she aims to adhere to her budget more closely in the coming year.

**Rachel Rickard Straus – Money Editor**

**SUCCESS:** Rachel’s noteworthy success came in the form of investing in a heat pump tumble dryer, despite the initial cost. This decision proved to be a wise investment, as it addressed the practical need for a dryer, while being energy-efficient in the long run.

**FAILURE:** On the downside, she missed out on opportunities to reduce her monthly bills by not promptly seeking out a better mobile contract even after her previous one expired. It’s a reminder of the importance of staying vigilant and proactive when managing regular expenses.

**Lucy Evans – Money Reporter**

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**SUCCESS:** Lucy’s first year in full-time work presented her with the opportunity to make strides in building her retirement savings. By increasing her contributions and taking advantage of employer matching, she’s laying a strong foundation for her future financial security.

**FAILURE:** On the flip side, she confesses to holding on to gift money for too long without putting it to good use. Recognizing the need to make her money work for her, she acknowledges the missed opportunity to earn interest by not promptly putting the funds into a high-rate savings account.

**Toby Walne – Chief Money Reporter**

**SUCCESS:** Toby’s unique approach to cutting back on heating bills through foraging for fallen trees to fuel his woodburners demonstrates an innovative way to save on energy expenses.

**FAILURE:** On the other hand, parting with his beloved classic car at a loss highlights the unpredictability of certain investments. Despite years of financial commitment to the car, the eventual sale only yielded a fraction of the overall cost.

**Jessica Beard – Deputy Money Editor**

**SUCCESS:** Jessica’s success lies in the proactive step of taking control of her savings by seizing attractive interest rate offers through fixed-rate bonds and regular savings accounts. This proactive approach demonstrates the benefits of periodically evaluating and optimizing savings opportunities.

**FAILURE:** However, the practice of paying energy bills through bank transfers instead of utilizing direct debit is a missed opportunity to streamline and potentially save on utility expenses.

In conclusion, our team’s journey through the highs and lows of personal finance serves as a reminder that everyone encounters both successes and setbacks when it comes to managing their finances. By sharing our experiences, we hope to offer valuable insights and practical lessons that resonate with our audience as they navigate their own financial paths.

“From Firewood to Finances: Our Team’s Year of Sparkling Savings” – Daily Mail**Understanding the Cost of Paying Energy Bills by Bank Transfer**

For many years, I have been paying my energy bills by bank transfer, assuming that I was protected from excessive charges. However, it was only last month that I discovered the truth – my energy supplier had been charging me substantially more than the price cap set by the Government. This revelation left me astonished and frustrated. It turns out that the price cap guarantee only applies to those who pay via direct debit. This means that as a bank transfer payer, there is no upper limit to the amount my energy supplier could charge me. This mistake has cost me hundreds of pounds over the years, and I am determined not to let this happen again.

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**The Financial Lessons Learned**

Reflecting on this experience, I am reminded of the financial lesson that resonated deeply with me – Do you want it or do you need it? This thought-provoking question, posed to primary school children, struck a chord with me. As I have crossed the milestone of 50, I have realized that this is the year I stopped yearning for material possessions. The urge to acquire things has waned, and I have shifted my focus towards contemplating my legacy. I am now more inclined to consider what I can leave behind that holds more significance than mere material objects, which often end up gathering dust or occupying space in someone else’s home.

**Embracing Non-Material Gifts and Moments**

In line with my newfound perspective, I took the first step towards this transformed mindset by planting a tree in my garden, a Christmas gift that carries sentimental and timeless value. This act symbolizes a shift towards appreciating non-material gifts and cherishing moments that transcend the temporary allure of material possessions.

**Missed Opportunities and the Value of Time**

However, amidst these realizations and reflections, I acknowledge my shortcomings as well. The failure to capitalize on opportunities to make the most of unexpected windfalls is one aspect that I regret. Unlike my colleague Rachel, who utilized the money refunded through the Delay Repay compensation scheme to indulge in specific, uplifting experiences, I found myself overlooking this possibility. The prospect of turning a delayed train into a tangible gain eluded me. Upon reflection, I realize that my reluctance to claim compensation resulted in missing out on what could have been moments of joy and small indulgences. The thought of letting the opportunities slip away feels regrettable, especially considering the substantial weekly cost of my train ticket.

In conclusion, the realization of the uncapped charges imposed on bank transfer payers by energy suppliers, coupled with the valuable financial lessons and missed opportunities highlighted above, has prompted a significant shift in my mindset and priorities. The understanding of the true cost of paying energy bills by bank transfer has prompted me to reassess my financial choices and embrace a more mindful and proactive approach towards managing my finances and appreciating non-material gifts and experiences.

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