Fortnightly financial five minutes #6 Mel Wright
Nigel Yeates, Communications & Stakeholder Business Partner talks to Mel Wright, Money Editor at Rest Less about the value of financial community idea sharing and resources for financial management.
Rest Less is a community for the over 50s, can you tell us more about the organisation and your role at Rest Less?
The aim of Rest Less is that it is a trusted place where people can find helpful information about a wide range of topics and issues affecting the over 50s. Through Rest Less, people can apply for a new job or volunteering role, access thousands of courses, and get guidance on a whole range of subjects including money, health, travel, food, fashion and gardening. In a nutshell, you name it, we cover it! Importantly, our members can also connect with others by meeting and talking to people on the Rest Less community forum.
I am Money Editor at Rest Less and have worked for the company since 2019. My role is to ensure the money team covers all the important financial issues that affect the over 50s.
We want to provide ‘money news you can use’ so, for example, we’ve got plenty of in-depth pension guides that really drill down into some of the things people need to think about when planning for retirement, as well as a wide range of articles that look at ways people can manage their budgets and save money during the cost-of-living crisis.
You have a range of resources for your members from saving money, keeping costs down and income-boosting ideas, in the current economic situation what are the most popular resources, and what are you as an organisation getting the most enquiries about?
Any articles that explain how people can reduce their outgoings are always hugely popular, whether we’re focusing on keeping energy costs down, cutting back on food bills, or saving on car and travel costs. Our article 23 frugal living tips is one of our best-read articles and our community members have provided some really helpful tips which we’ve included in that piece. For example, one of our members uses pet heating pads to help him stay warm, which are gel-filled pads for animals that can be heated up in the microwave. They can be used to warm your bed or put under your feet when you’re at a desk or tucked into a jacket to keep you warm when you’re outside.
We tend to get a lot of enquiries about pensions, from people who are worried about the impact of stock market volatility on their retirement savings, or how to go about drawing an income from their pension when they retire. We also hear a great deal from people who are concerned about rising mortgage rates, and who might not be sure whether they can remortgage if they’re in their 50s or 60s. Fortunately, there is a much wider range of options available to people in this age group than there used to be, which we regularly highlight.
The feedback we’ve had about our free pension health check service has been overwhelmingly positive. There’s currently a real advice gap when it comes to pensions, with many people needing advice but not being able to afford it. People with smaller pension pots are particularly under-served when it comes to getting the help they need. Many of those who find the guidance provided by the free pension health check service useful then go on to arrange financial advice afterwards.
I’d very much hope that our members are aware of the FSCS protection checkers. We include links to these in our guide Are my savings safe? which outlines what would happen to your cash if your bank or savings provider were to fold.
As you have a large community of members, are the best ideas and guidance shared from Rest Less to your members or from idea sharing within the community discussions? What are some of the best ideas you have seen shared recently?
It’s definitely a combination of both. We have just under a million members, many of whom are wonderfully proactive and excellent at sharing ideas, so we often ask them for their input into our money articles. We also try to help them with any issues that are worrying them, so we regularly check what’s being posted in the community to see what the current ‘hot topics’ are. Sadly, we’re seeing a lot of members posting about scams at the moment, but this helps raise awareness and prevents others from falling victim to fraud.
Some of the best ideas shared recently relate to the cost-of-living crisis and ways to keep costs down and budget effectively. Members have shared the different ways they reduce food bills, with many using apps such as Olio and Too Good To Go to obtain free or cut-price food that would otherwise be thrown away. Members also reassure each other when times are tough, which can be invaluable, especially for those who might not have anyone else to turn to.
Now, on a more personal note, if £10,000 landed in your lap tomorrow, what would you do with it?
Now wouldn’t that be lovely! I think I’d probably split it into four, with £2,500 going towards paying down our mortgage, £2,500 into my pension, and another £2,500 going into an easy-access savings account, as it would be useful to have a bigger emergency fund available in case of unforeseen expenses.
Not very exciting I know, but we’re living in exceptional times, and like many people, I’m keen to shore up my finances as much as possible. The final £2,500 I’d donate to Hospice in the Weald, an amazing local hospice that does incredible work to support those living with a terminal illness.
Thanks very much Mel for those thoughts and that sounds like an incredible charity.
For more information on what FSCS protects, see our What we cover page.
The content of any discussions shouldn't be taken as an indication of future FSCS policy positions. The views expressed by guests are their own and don't reflect the views of FSCS.
We would also love everyone to dedicate a regular extra five minutes to check their financial products and services are FSCS protected.