Journalist and TV presenter Martin Lewis, 41, is back with a new series of ITV's The Martin Lewis Money Show. He talks to Roger Crow about coping with the recession, why one size doesn't fit all and why he doesn't preach about making money.
WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THE NEW SERIES OF THE MARTIN LEWIS MONEY SHOW?
Well, it's the first time I've done the series in January, and January is money month. It coincides with when everyone is sorting their money out, when everyone gets their credit cards bills. We'll be focusing very hard one what I like to call 'The big and the easy'; the big: savings, mortgage, gas and electricity, credit card, debt; the easy: we've got hints on selling your gold, holiday haggling - because lots of people book holidays in January, and gas and electricity again, which I categorise as both big and easy.
The idea is to save as much as possible. In effect, it's the programme that pays you to watch.
YOU'RE READDRESSING A CASE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE EPISODE ONE
Yes, I'm doing a revisit of a money makeover I did nine years ago. The reason I wanted to do this one is because it is perhaps the most difficult money makeover I've ever been involved in. They were a family who were in terrible, terrible trouble. I had to cancel their Christmas. I had to tell them they had to sell their house - they'd run up £150,000 on the credit cards. It's easy to go back three months later and say, 'Oh yes, they've started to improve,' but nine years on... did it work?
AFTER FIVE YEARS OF ONE OF THE DARKEST RECESSIONS EVER, HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT'LL BE BEFORE WE SHOW SIGNS OF RECOVERY?
Well I tend not to look at the economy, I look at individuals, and I think it's wrong to say, 'This is the darkest time that anybody has faced'. We have a split economy. For those people working for private sector companies that tended to do rather well, and they have tracker rate mortgages, times have not been that bad at all.
For those working in the public sector or on benefits and have seen pay cuts, or those who have lost their jobs, who were seeing rents go up, even when incomes weren't, who were seeing gas and electric bills rise, it's been hellish.
I tend not to believe there's any sort of 'one size fits all' problem that's out there; it's different for everybody.
I IMAGINE THERE'S A LAG BETWEEN THE RECESSION AND ITS EFFECTS ON PEOPLE
Yes, the most number of bankruptcies tend to be 18 months after the time the recession ends.
Certainly I think we're going to be having problems at least for the next couple of years. Let's remember we're still in this ridiculously low interest rate environment, far and away below historic levels for a long time. It looks like things are starting to improve; we can cross our fingers, but we are still far from getting back to where we were before it all went bad.
FINALLY, CAN YOU GIVE US A POTTED HISTORY OF HOW YOU MADE YOUR MILLIONS?
No because that's never what I intended to do. I certainly don't preach about how to make money. That's not really my thing or my passion, to be honest.
I was very lucky is the answer. I set up a website I believed in, and it originally had no way of making money. I still don't consider myself to be an entrepreneur. I'm somebody who set up a website, and I consider myself to be a journalist and consumer campaigner.
Because the website got so big I needed a way to fund my servers, so I came up with the most ethical way I could think of to fund the site, and it did a lot better than I thought it would.
I don't ever talk about that because I don't really think that's what I did. I'm about providing information for consumers and fighting for consumer rights. I'm not about setting businesses up, and I think there are far more qualified people than me to talk about how to do that. I got lucky.
* The Martin Lewis Money Show can be seen Friday nights on ITV from January 3.