What I've learned from Moneywise

Laura Whitcombe's picture

It’s time for me to bid Moneywise a very fond farewell. I’ve spent the past five years learning about money and how to take charge of my own personal finances as well as, hopefully, helping you to do the same. And what a five years it has been.

I bought my first home, got engaged, planned my wedding and got married, wrote my first will, bought life insurance and became a Sipp investor. In short, I became a grown up – or a ‘financial consumer’ to use the proper term.

The world of finance can seem daunting at times, and it’s not always much easier for financial journalists. I’ve certainly made mistakes. I’ve been caught out by purchasing cheap travel insurance, for example.

I got so caught up in how much the policy cost and how much our luggage – which included my other half’s fairly pricey bike – would be covered for in the event of loss or theft that I overlooked how much we’d get back if we had to cancel our trip in the event of either of us being taken ill.

Unfortunately, the day before we were meant to travel illness struck me down and I found out exactly what we were and weren’t covered for pretty quickly. We got most of our money back but not all. Suffice to say, the oversight didn't help my recovery much.

I also made mistakes when buying my first home. A rubbish shower the previous owners dismissed as a simple problem that would require only a cheap pump to fix turned into our having to buy a new boiler a week after we moved in. It wasn’t such a cheap fix!

But the important thing is that I have learned from my mistakes. As for travel insurance, I’m now much more thorough when shopping around for a policy. And I make sure I take one out as soon as I book a trip – just in case illness strikes again. I also pay careful attention to all the different cover limits too, as well as the excess. And as for the house, I know that when it’s time to look for a new one, we’ll be investigating the plumbing more thoroughly.

My experience has also prompted me to seek out the providers with the best customer service. Saving a few pounds means little when you’re in a difficult situation and what you actually require is help. Not only was this driven by my travel insurance experience but also by planning my wedding, which put me in touch with John Lewis for the first time.

I wrote about the fantastic customer service I received from the retailer at the time, in a blog titled ‘John Lewis: the best customer service in Britain?’ I firmly believe that it’s when things go wrong that good customer service really shines. And even though a few of my purchases from the store have gone a bit pear-shaped, the company has always put things right quickly and politely. I know I’ll be a customer for life.

So if you take anything away with you from reading this blog, just remember, always be thorough in researching any purchase you make and always look for providers with the best customer service records.

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