31/8/2014 – SELF-MADE millionaire Martin Lewis, whose campaign to get financial education on the school curriculum has paid off after just four years, gives Jon Coates some free advice.
With an almost messianic zeal, Martin Lewis has made getting value for money his life’s work. The founder of a money-saving website with 14 million monthly users has saved consumers an estimated £10billion over the past 11 years. Just don’t call him “tight”.
“I don’t get the idea of wasting money but that is not tightness,” he says. “The better you are with your cash, the better your life can be. People think I am telling them to stop spending money but I am simply telling them to spend it wisely.”
Lewis sees getting value for money as the best way of improving lives. After dabbling with politics while studying government and law at the London School of Economics, he felt he could have a greater impact on the welfare of society by championing financial education for the masses.
“When I was a student I realised that politics tends to tinker at the edges but if you really want to make a difference you put money in people’s pockets,” he says. “If you put money in people’s pockets, they have a better life. It’s very simple.”
Selling moneysavingexpert.com to the Money Supermarket group two years ago made him hugely wealthy, giving him £40million (£10million went into his charitable foundation) and shares worth millions.
Talking at lightning speed he says: “When I first got involved with the campaign to put financial education on the curriculum four years ago, I thought it would be a 10-year stint to get anywhere. It is quite staggering that we have made it happen so quickly, which is mainly due to the public’s appetite for this.
“From September financial numeracy will be incorporated into maths classes, educating on calculations such as working out APR and credit card minimum repayments. In addition to that, attitudes to money and debt will be taught during citizenship lessons. Things like how to budget and when it is right or wrong to borrow.”
While allowing himself to enjoy the triumph, Lewis is keen not to lose the momentum of the campaign, as the national curriculum applies only to “maintained” secondary schools, about 50 per cent of schools in the country.
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